How has the Samsung project changed the way you relate to fashion and technology?
Working with creative minds such as Bazaar's fashion director Katie Trotter and the Samsung team has really opened my mind to so many new ideas. I realised that using the latest technology can give a brand access to unlimited possibilities when it comes to communication. I like to look forward in all aspects of what I do, so the whole experience was very inspiring for me.
How has technology influenced your business in the last year?
All of my photo shoots in terms of concept, setting and location have been influenced by technology. For example, social media platforms, our e-commerce website and other digital applications are all thought about when filming or taking pictures of our collections. We had so many ideas that I’d like to do for our shoots with the latest technology. Take the Samsung Gear 360 as an example, you really have to think of ways to present the collection without affecting the quality of the shoot. This is one area I am enjoying exploring.
What is the most exciting development within fashion and technology you know of?
The engineering of new textiles. It is difficult to imagine new kinds of textiles and yet companies are coming up with progressive ideas such as bioengineering using spider silk. It is apparently stronger than Kevlar, but more flexible than lycra. Biotechnology is something that I find fascinating however, I am concerned with possible contaminations caused by industrial manufacturing and farming. It’s very important that it is done in a conscientious way.
What benefits has the fashion industry gained from digital technology so far?
Digital technology software is slowly moving into the industry, digitizing traditional workflows such as offering efficient delivery logistics. But the real impact that can be seen from digital technology is online conversations. Of course, customers have benefited from digital technology such as receiving information on products that fit their profile or even viewing detailed information about a product. However, the companies have used algorithms to predict what shoppers are looking for which in turn has created a spike in conversion rates. Key word match searching is one example I have also been looking into.
What are the most important digital technologies currently used in fashion?
There has been a lot of digital tools available for designers to better market their products to buyers. For example, we have been using a platform for a few seasons now that allows us to easily create our line sheets in a few clicks, manage our products and inventory with which we can take orders. The buyers can create a login and view all our products and place their order directly on the platform or Mobile friendly app. Another one would be Virtual Reality, some think this could radically transform the way people consume content, giving birth to new virtual reality marketing experiences.
What developments are you currently working on that bridge technology and fashion?
I am currently trying to use digital printing on fabrics, but I am still testing different ideas at this stage.
Why do you feel fashion is behind many other industries when it comes to tech development?
In the recent years, there have been some interesting developments in the fashion industry relating to technology. Take 3D printing for instance - it has somehow affected the traditional design process, the materials, and the production of jewellery and accessories. Another observation is that clothes and accessories are becoming more integrated with the body. With that being said, there is visible resistance from fashion brands to adopt these technologies because it means they would have to give up many of their brand’s ideologies. I am not sure when and if the fashion brands are going to adapt to new technology full heartedly, but when and if they do it could change the industry drastically.
What brands are ahead of the game and why?
I have read about various brands such as Burberry, Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren using technology to further elevate the customer experience when interacting with the brand, whether it is an in-store or e-commerce experience. But I have to say that Burberry is at the forefront when it comes to pushing the tech agenda.
Technology is changing the way we shop – how is a small business such as yourself going to keep up with these changes?
I believe that small companies can cope with such changes, embrace them even. It is the big companies that face a much greater challenge since it could mean a major variation to their business model. In my company, I can change plans or strategies very quickly without having to go through many processes and without involving many people. Whereas bigger companies have to get various internal approvals and evaluate all options to make even small changes in the company.
What differentiates a Middle Eastern customer from a western one in terms of shopping and tech?
I would say that there isn’t much of a difference since Middle Eastern customer are now very much at ease with shopping online.
What next in the tech world for Bouguessa?
I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!
Watch as Faiza Bouguessa explains how she integrates fashion and technology here: FASHION NOW: Part Three | Beyond The Veil