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Six Trends in Fashion Tech for 2021

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Dakota Murphey kicks off 2021 for WhichPLM by exploring some possible trends in fashion technology for this year. Dakota has more than a decade of experience in business growth, working independently as a business consultant for a number of years.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on many industries, and it has certainly been felt in the fashion sector. In 2021, the industry needs to embrace change and innovation in order to grow and recover – and a great way to do this is through technology.

We are already seeing a range of different technology trends becoming important to the fashion sector. Whether it’s in wearable tech, eCommerce, or even cyber security – technology has become a vital aspect of fashion.

Here we take a look at six growing trends in fashion tech that could be important for the industry as it rebounds in 2021.

1.   Wearable tech and IoT

Wearable technology has been around for a while – and we are already used to the idea of smartwatches and fitness-tracking bracelets. This is a trend that looks set to continue. And what is fuelling it is the concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT refers to devices with any kind of sensor, software or connection to the internet.

While the initial impetus of wearable tech and IoT devices has been quite functional, it is now being embraced by the fashion industry. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, has produced items with an inbuilt chips which measures how often they are being worn.

2.   VR and AR

As mentioned above – fashion is very much moving into the realm of eCommerce. However, this has left an issue for businesses and brands: how to retain the experience of shopping without the physical retail space?

One growing trend in the industry is to look towards technological advances in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Where a VR headset could allow shoppers to experience a virtual version of walking around a shop, AR offers the ability to visualise how a particular garment will look when you are wearing it.

There are already examples of AR apps allowing users to try on shoes or hats to see how they would look.

3.   3D printing

In an industry always attempting to provide customers with personalisation, 3D printing appears to be (apologies for the pun) a natural fit. On-demand production has impressive potential not only for customisation but also for creativity and even sustainability.

3D printed couture has already wowed on the runway – but it is likely to become an aspect of everyday fashion soon too.

4.   High-tech fabrics

Technologically-designed fabrics are another growing trend in the fashion industry. These synthetic fabrics are optimised and improved to offer many of the same benefits as many other different types of natural fibres.

Whether they are breathable, moisture wicking, lightweight or quick-drying, technology-designed fabrics can be ideal for many different uses and features. They also come with the benefit of being cheaper to produce.

5.   Rise in eCommerce-specific cybersecurity

As with many other industries, fashion has moved significantly towards online shopping and eCommerce in recent years. There is a greater need than ever before for websites to offer a fantastic experience for their customers, akin to stepping into a boutique and seeing individual pieces in person. But great websites require powerful security.

High profile fashion websites with high online visibility can be targets for cybercriminals. Many of these attacks are designed to operate in a way that is very difficult for the website to detect, but also are not obvious for the customer until it is too late.

Thankfully there are no cybersecurity products designed around ensuring eCommerce sites stay as secure as possible. For example, vulnerability assessments have become an essential cybersecurity measure for fashion eCommerce sites. According to cybersecurity specialists Redscan, these assessments “can help to identify misconfigurations, out of date software plugins and use of unsafe user credentials”.

6.   Long-term sustainability

There is no doubt that there has been a switch towards customers looking for sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to the past. Fashion, unfortunately, has sometimes been a contributor to poor sustainability efforts. The fashion industry typically runs in a cycle of the season – spring/summer and autumn/winter – which has been valuable for the sector, but also creates the issue of significant waste and other issues for the environment.

Fashion is embracing this move towards sustainability – looking for better ways of working that avoid textile waste and harmful environmental practices.

Final thoughts

Technology can have a hugely positive impact on fashion – whether it is in the design and creation of products, or ensuring that your business is able to function optimally. Look for technology to play a growing role in the fashion industry as time goes on.

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Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for over six years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like the Annual Review, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.