Saturday, May 18, 2024

Is VR A Good Enough Replacement to the Trial Room? Expert Talk

From AI Fashion Insights to Sustainable Tech: French Crown Founder Delves into the World of Fashion Tech

Introduction: In a captivating conversation on Industry Innovators this month we have fast fashion brand French Crown Founder and CEO Ilesh Ghevariya who shares his insights with senior journalist Mahima Sharma. They talk about the future of Fashion Tech, innovations that will reshape your style, and how technology will change your shopping experience. 

Mahima: How do you envision the future of fashion and technology over the next 5-10 years, including the most exciting potential innovations?

Ilesh Ghevariya: In the next 5-10 years, the convergence of fashion and technology will usher in transformative changes. One exciting innovation is the integration of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the fashion industry. Picture this: While shopping online, you can virtually try on clothes and accessories, eliminating the uncertainty of how they might look on you. AR allows you to use your smartphone or a device to superimpose clothing items onto your body through your camera, providing a realistic preview.

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VR takes the experience further by creating virtual shopping environments. Wearing a VR headset, you can explore a virtual store, select items, and try them on avatars resembling your physique. These technologies not only enhance the online shopping experience but also have the potential to reduce the necessity of physical fitting rooms in brick-and-mortar stores. Ultimately, they promise to make fashion retail more efficient, offering consumers a convenient and immersive way to discover their perfect style from the comfort of their homes or in-store.

Mahima: What role does data analytics and AI play in understanding consumer preferences and driving fashion-related decisions? 

Ilesh Ghevariya: Data analytics and AI play a crucial role in understanding what consumers prefer and in making fashion-related decisions. For instance, AI can sift through vast sources of data like social media and surveys to gauge sentiments and spot trends. Imagine it as analyzing social media posts to figure out which fashion styles are currently popular.

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AI also helps with personalization. It powers recommendation systems that suggest fashion items based on an individual’s preferences and past behavior. Think about how e-commerce sites recommend clothing based on what you’ve bought before or what you’ve looked at.

Furthermore, AI assists in design and production. It analyzes trends and consumer data to guide designers in creating fashion collections. For example, AI can identify popular color palettes and styles to inspire upcoming fashion lines.

Virtual Reality (VR) in the fashion industry

Mahima: Sustainability is a critical concern in the fashion industry. What are some technological advancements that are helping fashion brands become more environmentally friendly?

Ilesh Ghevariya: Sustainability is a pressing issue within the fashion industry, and several technological advancements are playing a pivotal role in helping fashion brands become more environmentally friendly. Please allow me to share the same in a bit detailed manner. 

  • Innovative materials like lab-grown leather and recycled textiles are made possible by technology, reducing the need for resource-intensive processes and cutting down on waste. 
  • Advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and automation optimize production, saving energy and reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. 
  • Technological solutions like blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) enhance transparency in the supply chain, ensuring ethical material sourcing and fair labor practices. 
  • Circular fashion, where products are designed for durability and recyclability, is supported by technology, with apps and platforms facilitating clothing swaps, rentals, and recycling programs. 
  • Big data and artificial intelligence help brands better understand consumer preferences, reducing overproduction and waste. 
  • Sustainable fashion apps and augmented reality (AR) enable consumers to make informed choices and try on clothes virtually, reducing returns and emissions from transportation. 
  • Technology also helps reduce water usage in textile production, with processes that use minimal water and wastewater treatment systems. 
  • Finally, fashion companies can adopt renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, for their operations, further contributing to sustainability.

It’s a long way to go and make this a reality at par in the entire industry, but the good changes have begun. 

Mahima: In your opinion, what are the challenges or barriers in integrating technology seamlessly into fashion, and how can these be overcome?

Ilesh Ghevariya: So, let me assert again that integrating technology into the fashion industry comes with several challenges, but we have found ways to overcome them. I wish to showcase just five of them. 

  • Cost and Investment: One big challenge is the initial cost of bringing in technology. Fashion brands need to set aside budgets for research, development, and making technology a part of their operations.
  • Resistance to Change: Sometimes, people within the industry may resist adopting new technologies. To overcome this, it’s important to educate and train employees so they feel comfortable and confident with these advancements.
  • Privacy and Data Security: With technology comes the collection of consumer data, which can raise privacy concerns. Brands must prioritize protecting this data and be transparent about how they use it.
  • Sustainability: It can be tricky to balance technology with sustainability goals. To tackle this, brands should focus on using eco-friendly tech solutions and sustainable materials in their products.
  • Consumer Adoption: Not all consumers are tech-savvy, so fashion brands need to ensure that the technology they use is easy for customers to understand and enhances their overall shopping experience.

To overcome these challenges, the fashion industry should commit to being innovative, collaborate with experts, and always keep the customer in mind. This means investing wisely, prioritizing sustainability, and maintaining open communication with consumers to ensure that technology seamlessly becomes a part of the fashion world.

Mahima: How can small and emerging fashion brands leverage technology to compete with larger, established ones in today’s digital landscape?

Ilesh Ghevariya: Small and emerging Indian fashion brands can effectively compete with larger, established ones in today’s digital landscape by harnessing technology. I would like to throw light upon a few trending aspects. 

  • Robust Online Presence: Craft user-friendly websites and e-commerce platforms for wider accessibility. Brands like Ajio have excelled by offering seamless online shopping experiences with intuitive interfaces and convenient payment options.
  • Strategic Social Media Marketing: Leverage social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to connect with your target audience. Analyze data to identify peak engagement times and create visually captivating content. For instance, Ritu Kumar engages customers through Instagram by showcasing her latest collections and behind-the-scenes content.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Collect and analyze customer data to gain insights into preferences. Use these insights to tailor your product offerings and marketing strategies. Biba, a prominent Indian brand, utilizes data analytics to personalize product recommendations, enhancing the shopping experience for customers.
  • Exceptional Customer Engagement: Prioritize top-notch customer service and engagement. Utilize chat support, email marketing, and social media to stay connected with your customers. Implement loyalty programs like Pantaloons’ Green Card, offering exclusive discounts and rewards to loyal customers.

By embracing technology, small Indian fashion brands can not only compete but also thrive alongside their larger, established counterparts, solidifying their presence in the ever-evolving market.

Mahima: Any great tech-driven fashion brands that you would like to talk about, which are leading the innovative-fashion landscape?

Ilesh Ghevariya: There are some fantastic tech-driven fashion brands that I would love to recommend beyond my own. These brands represent the intersection of fashion and technology, providing innovative solutions to elevate your style and shopping experience.

The first one is Nike since it stands out for its remarkable blend of innovative sportswear and cutting-edge technology. They offer the Nike Training Club app, which provides personalized workouts and training plans, enhancing your fitness journey. Additionally, their Nike Adapt self-lacing shoes showcase futuristic technology, allowing you to customize the fit and style with a mobile app.

The second one on my list would be Stitch Fix because if you’re looking for a fashion experience tailored to your unique style, Stitch Fix is a top choice. They harness the power of data and AI algorithms to curate fashion recommendations specifically for you. Through your style preferences and feedback, Stitch Fix continually refines its selections, ensuring a personalized and satisfying shopping experience.

And the third one would be Farfetch- a luxury fashion retailer that seamlessly integrates technology into your shopping journey. They offer features like augmented reality try-ons, allowing you to virtually try on clothing and accessories before making a purchase. This immersive technology enhances the online shopping experience, helping you make more informed choices.

AI in Fashion

Mahima: What advice would you give to young professionals or entrepreneurs looking to enter this dynamic and evolving field?

Ilesh Ghevariya: Definitely they need to pursue the Fashion Designing Courses as per the University they choose in India and abroad. But what I wish to focus at here is not just the degree, but the skill set. Se, we also, consistently keep hiring young professionals since we are expanding our business and team from time-to-time. For young professionals or entrepreneurs looking to thrive in the dynamic and ever-evolving field of Fashion Tech, I have some advice based actually on what skills we also look for in these young buds. 

1. Develop a Strong Tech Background: Building a solid foundation in relevant technologies is paramount. Embrace fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Analytics, and Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR). These technologies are the backbone of Fashion Tech, enabling you to create innovative solutions and stay competitive.

2. Understand Fashion Inside Out: Beyond tech, immerse yourself in the world of fashion. Gain a deep understanding of fashion trends, design principles, and the intricacies of the industry. This knowledge is essential for creating tech solutions that resonate with the fashion-conscious consumer.

3. Combine Your Skills: The real magic happens when you blend your fashion knowledge with your tech skills. This fusion allows you to bridge the gap between fashion and technology, coming up with groundbreaking ideas and products that cater to the needs of the fashion industry.

4. Stay Perpetually Updated: Fashion Tech is a rapidly evolving field. Make continuous learning a part of your journey. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and emerging technologies. This will keep you agile and adaptable in an industry that’s always on the move.

5. Network Effectively: Building a robust network is crucial. Connect with professionals in both the fashion and tech sectors. Seek out mentors who can provide guidance and insights. Networking opens doors to collaborations and opportunities that can accelerate your career in Fashion Tech.

In essence, a tech-oriented approach is recommended because it empowers you to leverage cutting-edge tools and techniques to revolutionize the fashion industry.

About Ilesh Ghevariya

Ilesh is the Founder and CEO of French Crown – a made-in-India D2C menswear premium fashion brand established in 2017. Today, French Crown has a presence in 84 countries including the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, and Australia (the major markets), and solely generates over 60% of its revenue from international markets.

Image Courtesy: French Crown, Freepik.com 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists. The facts & statistics, the work profile details shared by the protagonist/ protagonists do not reflect the views of TechThirsty or the Journalist. Neither TechThirsty nor the Journalist hold any responsibility or liability for the same.

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Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is an Independent Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR known for her multi-niche news reach. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 (earlier additional three years in the allied media). With a rich professional history at CNN-News18, ANI - Asian News International (in collaboration with Reuters), Voice of India, and Hindustan Times, Mahima is also the Founder & Editor of The Think Pot. Recipient of various awards for different works beyond journalism as well, Mahima Sharma was conferred with the REX Karmaveer Chakra (Silver) 2023, presented by iCONGO in partnership with the United Nations. Known for her Digital Media Strategy skills, in 2022 she was assigned the pivotal role of Entrepreneurship Education Mentor at Women Will, a Google-backed program in collaboration with SHEROES.

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