Q&A: Matthew Drinkwater. The future of fashion, wearables, and creating new experiences by using data.
by Kasia Gola
Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency at London Collage of Fashion, was named one of 100 most influential people in the world of Wearable Technology. He creates fashiontech projects in co-operation with designers and technology specialists. During WebSummit, we talked about the future of wearables, fashion power moves, and the importance of data.
Kasia Gola: How can we bring fashion and tech to work together?
Matthew Drinkwater: It’s really difficult. The two industries are so far apart that it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work to bring them together. I think what we see is a lot of interest from the technology industry, I think fashion is still struggling to find the best way to integrate technology with the industry. It’s really our role to be that bridge between two industries. We’re looking to help and to change the way that designers are making their clothes. To introduce them to smart materials and to change the way they design and show their collections. So I think there are a lot of opportunities. We are really ambitious about bringing to life that digital design to business.
The fashion industry likes to position itself as an early adopter of technology. This is not true and the industry is really far away in introducing the technology. Typically, when you see designers graduating, they set up labels, they have their ambition to sell their collection in the department stores, show their collection in London Fashion Week or New York Fashion Week. And that’s really it. Not many of them have an e-commerce platform, not many of them understand how to use social media, not many of them really understand how using digital can take them closer to customers. They usually see their business as b2b, for example, designer to department store, boutique. They don’t really understand how to use technology to get to the end consumer.
Technology and startups work in the completely opposite way to fashion designers. They need to scale really quickly. We have an ambition to incubate designers and to bring them on the same route as technology. We’ve done projects with startups and fashion designers. We crowdfound products which has been great and really successful.
KG: Recently, during a panel at Wolves Summit, I heard an opinion that wearables will not make it in the fashion industry. What is your thought on that?
MD: That is a massive challenge. The expectation is that technology will be integrated into garments. And it’s a very long way to go. If you make a thing that will have an emotional connection to consumers they will want to buy it. But the problem is there is no production chain.
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