Technology brought us mass production, took manufacturing offshore and lost London its rag trade. Fifty years on, fashion-tech is bringing us mass personalisation, grounded in artificial intelligence and machine learning. This time, London needs to grab its advantage.
Even now, fashion-tech is weaving wearables into our clothes, alongside haptic feedback and conductive yarn that enables touch interactivity. Garment construction now uses 3D printing and laser-welding. Retail will be among the first industries disrupted by mixed reality. Blockchain will safeguard luxury goods from counterfeiting.
Like hi-tech, fashion-tech is a London story. As this research shows, hundreds of fashion-tech businesses have grown up organically in London. Some of the leading companies in this field are British. It should be no surprise. London is the creative capital of the world, and East London is the heart of the UK’s digital and knowledge economy.
But as the research also suggests, these businesses can only achieve growth with significant support in skills, advocacy, innovation and investment. To deliver this support, we are creating an industry-led partnership which will reinforce this creative strength, giving fashion-tech the boost it needs in the Fashion District, East London.
This is a pivotal moment in London’s story as the world’s capital of fashion. Let’s make London the home of fashion-tech.
Professor Frances Corner OBE
Head of London College of Fashion
Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London