Fashion & Technology

In a new era, new challenges

Text by Inês Graça - PFM Team
Insights Think Piece
November 24, 2016 13:37

If fashion has proven anything, it is that there is no such thing as universal business models. Creative markets that have emerged in the technological era have led us to question traditional models, and are now challenging brands in a context that is increasingly nimble, immediate, collaborative and sustainable. Most importantly, clients seem to have taken the leading role – they generate contents, they design, they are a brand’s best marketing strategy.

Which is why, for the third time, CINM - Congresso Internacional de Negócios de Moda – has taken place in Porto, from 17 to October 19, where business owners and entrepreneurs had the opportunity to discuss emerging new languages in the fashion business. The event, organised by IBModa - Instituto Brasileiro de Moda – left many questions unanswered, having, first and foremost, raised new questions, which is only to be expected when there is so much talk of a fourth Industrial Revolution, one which will be as fast as unpredictable.

P&R Textiles, based in Barcelos, has been playing all the right cards and owning it in the high-tech sportswear area. The company presented by Hélder Rosendo already produces sweaters made from a high performance technical mesh which are lighter, more comfortable, and have anti-bacterial properties that control body moisture. 


© Ani Oksana

And if the collaboration between fashion and science seems to be gathering momentum, co-creation has been also been standing out, encouraging consumers to play an active role when it comes to brand building. The online clothing platform Away to Mars allows for the creation of clothing items that relies on the support of a worldwide community. It resorts to crowdfunding to finance the production of its pieces and profit is split among all that have been involved in designing the final product. But there are other examples out there: Descience is a project by Yuly Fuentes-Medel that marries scientific knowledge and creativity, creating pieces that are both unique and innovative. 

Daniel Agis has used the two parts of an iceberg as a metaphor for the importance the impact of new technologies has: ‘That which lies at the surface, namely the ability companies have to adapt and process information, means nothing if they are unable to generate emotions and create new business models.’

Susana Barros, Sports & Fashion Business Developer at Sonae, adds that the company’s omnichannel approach has made it possible to provide a better experience when it comes to customer service. The ability to collect information about consumers – whether it is coming from call centres, its online shop or social networks – is both an opportunity and one of the main challenges they need to meet.  The company has recently adopted RFID, a software that allows them to optimize stock management and swiftly keep track of the information using small labels in products – this technology can cut down time spent doing inventories by 90%. 


Parfois © Dconcept

But technology has been gaining ground in areas other than operating systems. New technologies are in full force and changes occur at the speed of light – the way you communicate can sometimes be more powerful than  what you are communicating. Power lies in service, and content takes the backseat, which has led giants such as Uber, Airbnb and Facebook to become world leaders in the areas they operate in.

Over the last few years, Parfois has been strongly invested in organising bloggers’ events, offering them activities that go beyond their core business. This is a relevant strategy when they target a generation that enjoys sharing – to exhaustion – everything happening around them. Being able to adapt to digital media has become vital when it comes to positioning brands, as acknowledged by Ana Campos, Fashion Director at Vogue, that validates the growth of the online magazine. 

In this context, the Porto Fashion Makers platform was also on the spotlight, its creative community being noteworthy and having built a network with strong potential. 


© Porto Fashion Makers

At a time when over-choice is the rule and the pace at which new collections are launched is faster than ever, knowing your consumers must be the guiding principle for any business aiming to grow. Engagement, customization and swiftness are essential for a consumer who is well informed and thinks sustainable, which is why it is no wonder that fashion will always be out of fashion.