Since 2012, Decoded Fashion has been hosting summits, hackathons and mentor sessions around the world, in places ranging from Tokyo to Milan. This week, the event had its two-day New York summit in Midtown and for the first time, introduced a day packed with beauty panels and events centered on the discussions of technology and what’s new when it comes to all things makeup, hair and skin care.
“I’ve never seen as much innovation and excitement in my many, many years as I have in the last five years. Of all businesses, beauty cannot survive without innovation,” said Linda Wells, founding editor of Allure, who acted as a host for the beauty summit. Full disclosure: I was asked to moderate a panel on the what’s to come for beauty e-commerce (you might be seeing a lot of augmented reality apps that allow you to see the affects of skin care and makeup products soon!) and to interview the founding investment partner of BeautyCon, Kevin Gould, on how to connect with Generation Z when it comes to beauty (hint: mobile everything.)
In the hallway, outside the overbooked meeting rooms where panels took place, there were informational booths on technology startups that are challenging the way we shop, changing how we wear clothes and innovating the overall approach to fashion. Here are five of the most innovative.
1) Avery Dennison
Avery Dennison works with retailers from Ralph Lauren to Rebecca Minkoff to implement new technology related to their brands. Specifically, they use RFID enabled clothing to identify the piece and to tell a story about it. They created “smart mirrors” in collaboration with Oak Labs, which allow users to send messages to store employees about any questions they may have and to show information about the clothing they’re trying on. They also recently collaborated with CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Rochambeau to create #BornDigital jackets that unlock exclusive events, such as a tasting menu dinner for two or a club experience, available as you scan the RFID tag with your mobile phone. Jewelry designer Sarah Angold partnered with Avery Dennison to create accessories that interact with the mirror. Angold explained that if you lose a piece of the accessory (for example, a pom pom on one of her crowns) the chip will allow you to track where to find the exact replacement.
2) Wide Eyes Technologies
Have you ever seen a pair of shoes on instagram you absolutely need, but no one tagged the exact brand or style? Wide Eyes is a new search engine technology that allows people to search for fashion without using a single word. The company is inspired by the fact that most of the time, text based searches fail when it comes to shopping. By simply zooming into an outfit on a pair of shoes, a dress, coat or anything else, the search will generate visually similar options that can be purchased immediately.
FitCode breaks down the barriers of inconsistent sizing and puts an emphasis on how to find clothes that fit like a glove, no matter what your body type is. The founders are ex-models, and were inspired to bridge the disconnect between the perfect (or, fake) product imagery you see online versus how clothing looks on real women. They recently partnered with Hudson Jeans to help users find their perfect size by taking a short quiz, no measurements required. A unique code is then generated for your fit, which matches certain products.
This knitting company makes use of old meets new by using a 3D knitting machine to create gorgeous, high-quality sweaters out of six-ply cashmere. They use surplus stock of yarns from around the world and only knit the garments as they are ordered, reducing waste and inventory costs. In turn, they’re completely disrupting the typical retail calendar, where pieces are often designed and manufactured without a knowing how well an item will sell. Every piece is made in their studio in Penland, North Carolina.
If you’ve ever wanted to try on clothes from the comfort of your living room while shopping online, Perfitly can help. For shoppers, you can download the app and simply enter your exact measurements to get a 3D computerized version of yourself. Shop with Perfitly’s partners and you can see how your size, as well as the next size up or down, will fit on your rendering. It’s so detailed, you can see how jeans may or may not sag in the back, and how fabric will lay or stretch against your curves. The app functions as a virtual fitting room and takes away the guesswork of trying to choose the perfect size online.