This content is brought to you by Incubit, providing early-stage deep-tech entrepreneurs with a strategic investment as well as 360° services, including offices, legal, and marketing & business advisory. Learn more.
The connection between fashion and technology may not be the most intuitive at first glance. Some may consider fashion to be a somewhat lighter field, which makes it hard to understand the role of science in this industry. When we think of fashion-tech, we might imagine outfits inspired by Sci-Fi hitting the runway, or images that covered magazines as the world was preparing for a new millennium back in 1999.
The truth is, however, that technology, especially what we consider deep tech, plays a major role in today’s fashion industry and is one of the most powerful forces marching fashion forward. Some of the biggest trends in fashion are made possible thanks to advanced, deep technologies, that offer new ways of dealing with long standing, complex problems. New innovations transform the materials we use, the manufacturing process, and the connection between customers and fashion brands. This article will dive into the details of several such transformations, while focusing on an exciting area: eyewear.
While famous fashion houses have been around for decades and even centuries, we’ve seen a few fascinating shifts in the business take place in recent years. Here are a few worth focusing on:
● Personalization: Today’s shoppers are no longer interested in looking like everyone else and instead want their looks to express their unique personality and sense of style, and to match their exact measurements, body type, etc. Companies like Frilly allow users to customize every item in their closet and leading fashion brands started making significant strides in this area as well. Nike for example acquired Invertex, a computer vision startup dealing with 3D scanning of feet, for exact matching of shoes size. Also, with every outfit finding its way to social media, it’s important that it is different and interesting, as well as sends a message to the world regarding the person wearing it. Retailers that understand this trend create much smaller collections that shift according to the latest mood and trend.
As we can see, new technologies entering the fashion business answer emerging market needs, lower business risks and environmental damage, while boosting versatility and profit.
The changes we’ve discussed are also evident in the business of fashion accessories, and more specifically eyewear. In a way, this is a particular area of fashion where we would expect to see science and technology more involved, as prescription glasses or sunglasses serve physical functions that require much more than a lovely appearance. Companies that manage to connect both worlds in the eyewear industry include Luexexcel, which developed a unique technology for 3D printed ophthalmic lenses; Safilo, which takes a holistic approach to eyewear fashion by bringing together multiple independent brands under one roof; GlassesUSA, which offers the online matching and purchasing of eyeglasses, and many others.
Having said that, this specific corner of fashion-tech also presents certain challenges, since we’re used to thinking of eyewear purchasing as a process that has to be conducted physically. However, the natural bond between eyewear fashion and deep tech solutions can transform any part of the business we can think of. This includes the materials and manufacturing procedures involved in the creation of eyewear, optometry services, online matching capabilities, an improved shopping experience, and more.
One example I want to focus on is photochromic, light-adaptive lenses. These lenses, which turn regular prescription glasses into sunglasses depending on the level of sun exposure, pose a difficult challenge for prescription labs. They require a specific coating, using a chemical photochromic material that needs specialized handling and care. This is why, unlike other lens coatings, such as anti-scratch or anti-reflective coatings, which can be added independently by the lab to any purchased prescription lens, photochromic lenses require a separate manufacturing process, in separate specialized factories. This means that prescription labs and other eyewear sellers are unable to adjust existing lenses themselves and instead have to keep an additional, costly stock of pre ordered photochromic lenses, in various (yet limited) colors.
One company that is active in this space, transforming the photochromic lenses manufacturing process from analog to digital, is Ujett. The company reinvents the manufacturing process and gives labs new in-house coating capabilities that no longer require external assistance. In addition, they enable eyewear retailers to customize the lens, control the color and shade (gradient lenses, anyone?), and add their brand’s name or any other personalization element to the lense itself (not the frame).
Smart coatings are relevant to eyewear and fashion but also to many other industries that make use of smart, unique optics.
Although we are focusing here on technologies that influence the fashion industry, it’s important to remember that many of these technologies are in fact dual use technologies that have important implementations in other industries such as medical, defense and more.
The fashion industry impacts us all on a daily basis, because even less technology-inclined people wear clothes and glasses. With such a massive influence on our world, it’s even more thrilling than usual to follow the advancements in the field. We don’t know which color or fabric will dominate the runway in the following years, but we can be certain that innovation and technology will remain in style for a very long time.
You May Also Like