Two weeks ago, the Product Innovation (PI) Apparel conference in Los Angeles brought together forward-thinkers and executives from both the retail and technology sectors to discuss how the rapid pace of technology is transforming the global fashion industry.
We spoke to Whitney Cathcart, 3DLOOK Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, and a speaker at the event, about her time at PI Apparel LA and the emerging trends set to transform fashion.
Q: You’ve recently returned from PI Apparel LA. Could you tell us about the conference and your experience?
Whitney: PI Apparel LA provided attendees with opportunities to learn from some of the most innovative companies globally about how the pace of technology is pushing transformation throughout the apparel and footwear sectors. Taking advantage of LA, the epicenter of the entertainment industry, companies like Pixar were invited to speak about some of the hurdles they have overcome to embrace 3D, AI, and immersive technologies to engage and surprise audiences.
Q: Were there any standout speakers? What did their talks cover?
Whitney: Barry McGeough, Google’s Director of Advanced Technology & Projects, gave an amazing and engaging talk on Google’s innovations in ambient computing – where consumers interact with calm technology. Google has crossed into the apparel and footwear markets through its Jacquard division by weaving wearable technology into items of clothing, allowing users to control their devices and environment through actions such as touching their sleeve. Google’s work in fashion is really exciting and something that the industry should be following.
Teodora Nicolae, Head of Marketing for Lectra’s Fashion & Apparel portfolio and Edward Hertzman, Founder and CEO of Sourcing Journal, gave a very engaging presentation on digital transformation in an end-to-end supply chain and its relevance to offering consumers more personalized products and experiences. Using data they had collected from a joint survey, they discussed critical topics around customization, sustainable business models, reducing waste, and how important it is to understand Gen Z.
Suuchi Ramesh, CEO & Founder of Suuchi Inc., also gave a great talk on utilizing data analytics to build next-gen supply chains, and the approach apparel companies should take. There are vast amounts of useful data being generated, and utilizing this data improves speed to market, bottom line revenue, and leads to more sustainable apparel production, among other benefits.
Q: You were also among the speakers at PI Apparel. What was the focus of your talk?
Whitney: My talk, Mobile 3D Body Scanning Technology & Its Implications on Digital Commerce Over the Next Decade, looked at three different paradigm shifts that have drastically changed, or are set to change, the retail landscape – the internet and the foundations of online shopping; mobile computing platforms and the growth of direct-to-consumer brands, the subscription economy, and social commerce; and then spatial computing as the future of fashion and retail.
The goal of my talk was to educate attendees on what shopping is set to look like in 10 years’ time, in contrast to where we are today, and how vital 3D assets will be to retail and customer engagement over the next few years. I also looked at some of the major problems that are a result of the second paradigm shift and the importance of how solutions, such as what we have built at 3DLOOK, approach returns, waste, and customer engagement.
Q: What is the one thing you hope the audience gained from your talk?
Whitney: What I hope that the audience took away from my talk was just how quickly technologies like 3D, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) will transform shopping and customer experience as we know it today, both online and instore. I wanted to highlight how important it is for retailers to understand that we are sitting on top of the next massive paradigm shift, and that the technology is already here.
Q: In a few sentences, what is the biggest positive you took from PI Apparel LA?
Whitney: These next ten years will be the most disruptive and transformative decade the fashion industry has ever seen. 3D and immersive computing will create the most social and engaging technology of this century driven by a generation that has both grown up digital and is faced with the impact of a challenged planet. This opens amazing opportunities for brands, retailers, and manufacturers who understand and embrace this change.