This technology will have a profound effect on the fashion industry


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Your smartphone has already familiarized you with what is called an “operating system”. An operating system allows applications to communicate with the device. You know it either like Apple

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iOS or Android. Conceptually, an operating system is a simple idea: a series of rules that software uses to interact with other software and hardware.

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Now the concept of operating systems goes beyond software and applies to physical things; this is called the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT allows previously separate objects, like your lights or air conditioning, to communicate with other devices. You’ve seen the IoT when an Alexa device adjusts room lighting or garage doors or temperature settings. Over time, there will be many more interactions of this type between devices and objects; operating systems facilitate these interactions.

How the Internet of Things will work with the fashion industry

Inevitably, the connections between software and physical objects will extend to the fashion industry. Imagine scenes like these:

  • You want to recycle old or worn clothing so that it does not end up in a landfill. But you don’t know what the buttons are made of or what kind of thread is used on the seams. This lack of information means that the only place for the garment is the trash; it cannot be recycled because no one knows what is in it and where it should go. But if the garment had a unique label attached to the manufacturer, a recycler could immediately know how to handle the product. Raymond Randall, senior director of business development and innovation at Waste Management, the global leader in waste management, thinks this is a business opportunity and told me that Waste Management is exploring garment recycling. “Aggressively [and] working on a number of pilots with brands and retailers.
  • You bought a vintage product but you don’t know if it’s real or not (this happened to me when I bought a $ 3600 Christian Dior bag on The RealReal

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    as you can read in this article). You can instantly connect to the manufacturer via the unique product identifier to know it’s real and how the product was made, where and by whom.
  • You are in front of your wardrobe and you scan the IDs of your favorite clothes and share the information with your favorite brand or retailer. They instantly select new items to buy that have a similar fashion sensibility and are in your size and price range.

What is happening right now

You might be saying this all sounds good, but it’s far into the future. It may be, but we are seeing critical steps being taken right now for all of this and for services yet to be imagined. A company called Eon Group has created an operating system that allows manufacturers, recyclers, dealers, consumers or anyone to access complete and correct information about a garment or consumer product as easily as your messaging app receives your messages. messages and displays them on your smartphone. Randall of Waste Management says Eon’s system “allows us to get more material to the top of the pyramid” where it can be recycled and reused.

Eon’s operating system is growing in popularity:

  • Yoox, owner of Net-A-Porter and other fashion retailers with a market value of over $ 4.5 billion, is deploying an Eon-connected system on all of its private label clothing.
  • Walmart

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    The foundation has committed $ 1.2 million to test recycling circularity using Eon’s system.
  • President Biden recently issued an executive order that attacks “unfair anti-competitive restrictions on third party repair or self-repair of items” that require an operating system like Eon’s to provide the information needed for repairs .
  • The European Union advocates a “digital product passport” that allows consumers to access detailed information about each consumer product for exactly the same reason.

Natasha Franck, Founder and CEO of Eon, says: “The relationship between the brand and the customer ends the moment this product is sold. But that’s really just the beginning of the product and brand experience life cycle. Being able to use communication to extend that cycle and that experience improves opportunities for the brand and experiences for consumers.

Annie Gullingsrud, Strategy Director at Eon, said: “Eon is introducing a language for these connected products. “Franck d’Eon says:” Basically what we do is very simple. Were [allowing brands or retailers] to manage it throughout its life cycle. This includes knowing what a product is, where it came from, who made it, and what happened to it over time.

Recycling, reselling and equipment are obvious uses of a fashion operating system. But like your smartphone, once the system is in place, inventors and entrepreneurs are likely to develop more innovative ways of using information. Industry analysts speculate that this technology will improve supply chain efficiency, reduce stockouts, and improve marketing performance. Given the scale of the fashion and accessories industries, it is likely that the impact of this type of information will create opportunities that are not yet possible.

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Data in a recently released report by Sharpend, an IoT advisor at PepsiCo

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, Campari, Levi’s and other consumer companies claim that 53% of consumers would pay more for a connected product. 78% of U.S. consumers have used a QR code on the packaging to interact with the product in the past, and a majority say they expect to do so more often in the next year or so. More than three-quarters of U.S. consumers have used connected packaging to inquire about recycling or disposing of the packaging or product.

Different visions

Cameron Worth, founder and CEO of Sharpend, believes the fashion industry is not developing this new technology in the most efficient way. About Eon, Worth said: “We are big fans of Eon’s proposition in the market, we believe… they have the strongest brand for fashion designers who want to engage in the market. connected space. But he thinks the technology is distracting for brands. He said brands need to “put experience before technology and right now … most people are putting technology before experience.” Worth thinks there needs to be more focus on identifying “a problem for the consumer or exploring a transformation of new business opportunities with connected products”. But the consensus among executives is well articulated by renowned Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, a great thinker of business strategy. He says these “smart and connected products” are likely to be the biggest IT-driven transformation to date, creating more “innovation, productivity gains and economic growth” than previous technology developments. some information.

We have seen this before

When personal computers were first created, it was not known that the companies that made the operating systems for them would become more important and valuable than the makers of the actual hardware. Operating systems have proven to be the basis of communications, and operating systems are now on the verge of moving beyond computers. Today, the apparel, fashion, and accessory industries are still making products that cannot connect with their customers or manufacturers. With an operating system for industry, recycling can take off, resale will be much easier and more reliable, supply chains will be more efficient, and the stage will be set for the development of new and innovative services. Like Uber

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/ Airbnb / Doordash / Instacart, an operating system makes physical objects more accessible and usable. It’s hard to predict all the ways these services will work before they start, but the impact on how consumers access and use fashion products will be huge.

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