How Blockchain Is Changing the Face of the Fashion Industry
From the advent of the sewing machine to the rise of e-commerce, fashion has always been on the cutting edge of innovation. Like technology, trends in the fashion industry are both forward-thinking and cyclical. This intersection between the two sectors has played a major role in the growth of the fashion industry in particular; CB Insights’ Industry Analysts estimate that its value will balloon to over $3 trillion by the end of the decade.
And now more than ever before, new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Blockchain are completely changing the face of the fashion industry.
AI algorithms that predict design trends, virtual reality garments, blockchain supply systems – a slew of innovations in these niches are leveraging technology to automate, customize, and speed up invention in the fashion industry.
In the next section of this article, we will highlight in detail how some of these modern-day technologies are making an impact on the advancement of the fashion industry.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Design Concepts
Dating back to the 1950s research in formal or ‘mechanical’ reasoning, AI has morphed into one of the most futuristic technologies. Today, some of the common AI integrations include advanced web search engines, self-driving cars such as Tesla, and fashion design. You might be wondering how the latter works, but the logic is pretty much the same; AI machines are trained to understand style preference, color, and other ‘aesthetic parameters’ based on the data available through online search engines.
For a better context, some of the tech industry titans like Google and Amazon are already trying out AI design experiments. Google partnered with German-based fashion platform Zalando back in 2016 to train a neural network that would later use algorithms to generate designs based on user interests and aesthetic preferences recognized by the network. On the other hand, Amazon’s Lab126 R&D arm in California has previously experimented with images to learn and create specific fashion styles.
Of course, the results of human-free AI design aren’t always ready for the runway. This is why despite adopting AI, fashion designers still have significant input in the final product. Nonetheless, the gap between AI-created designs and human-created designs is gradually closing with the debut of more advanced algorithms.
3D Metaverse Fashion Worlds
Last year, the concept of Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse took the tech industry by storm. What’s more striking, however, is the adoption of the metaverse ‘virtual worlds’ by notable fashion brands, including Nike, Prada, Forever 21, and Balenciaga. This paradigm shift from physical stores has given rise to digital fashion; instead of using textiles and fabric, brands are now creating digital garments with special 3D computer programs.
Overall, virtual fashion worlds come at a cheaper cost and are easily accessible to the target market. The emergence of decentralized Web3 platforms such as Fashion League has also introduced a range of new opportunities for both brands and prospective shoppers. Today, it is possible to earn virtual money by becoming a 3D fashion designer and setting up your own store within a metaverse ecosystem like the one offered by Fashion League.
Going by the rate of innovation in Web3, it is likely that the digital fashion market could soon evolve into a permissionless market where anyone can express and monetize their creative ideas.
“In the same way that retailers need a brick-and-mortar or eCommerce store (Web 1.0) and a social media page (Web 2.0), they should have a metaverse presence (Web 3.0). Virtual stores in the metaverse are more efficient, immersive, and accessible than any other retail experience.” – Nico Fara, Founder of Chief Metaverse Officer.
Blockchain Supply Systems
According to a recent report by Avery Dennison, the apparel sector loses $15.3 billion annually in supply chain waste. A majority of this waste is attributed to inefficient tracking systems; luckily, blockchain technology directly addresses this challenge by allowing brands to assign a unique digital ID for every commercially produced well. The digital ID is stored in a decentralized and tamper-proof ledger which enables companies to create end-to-end digital records for their inventories.
Some of the fashion brands that are already exploring this nascent technology include Nike, the company patented ‘Crypto Kicks’ in 2019 to launch a shoe line that would be tracked and authenticated via blockchain tech. The patent envisions shoes being linked to their owner through a unique Non-fungible token (NFT) hosted on the Ethereum blockchain. Besides tapping into the popularity of NFTs, blockchain-oriented supply chains can help reduce counterfeit issues in the fashion industry.
While blockchain-based approaches to supply chain management are still largely in the experimental phase, the drive toward a more ethical and sustainable design process means we could see massive adoption in the near future. The fashion industry will likely follow the footsteps of other sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing which have begun using blockchain to bring more transparency.
Technology is changing the game for all fashion industry stakeholders, particularly retailers, producers, designers, and, of course, prospective clients. As a result of all of the integrations mentioned in this article, it is highly likely that the fashion industry will become more streamlined while also offering more options than ever before. After all, we are living in the digital age.