As the traditional fashion week runways come to a close, there is another, not so traditional type of ‘style and fashion’ emerging from an organization called the Global Fashion Technology Federation.
This 21st-century visionary company is the brainchild of entrepreneur Tanya James, a New York City-based fashion, and tech consultant. We caught up with her at the debut of her Internet of Fashion runway show in Manhattan.
Tracey Fitzpatrick: What inspired you to create the Internet of Fashion runway show and how does technology play a role in it?
Tanya James: In this show designers created their collections with some form of technology. The goal is to educate the mainstream fashion industry how designers are utilizing the technologies. Some designers created with 3D printers, some with the 3Doodler pen, others with smart textiles and some had a combination. We had fabrics that responded to lights that illuminated when a photo was taken. Others combined 3D printing with knits. We had leather that did not come from an animal but was processed liquid and responsive feathers. Shoes were created with hydraulic heels; 3D printed heels, cork, and other techs.
TF: What makes this collection unique or different from what we see in stores?
TJ: The collections are unique because of being created with some form of technology. Most of these products are not found in retail stores. Retail buyers do not understand how to incorporate some of these customized designers into the brick and mortar supply chain. However, you can make purchases on many of the designer’s e-commerce websites. Not only are we in a technological age, but we are also in a customized, personalized commerce business model.
TF: What was your inspiration for creating the Global Fashion Technology Federation/Internet of Fashion?
TJ: My primary motivation for creating GFTF.org and Internet of Fashion, or IoF, was to help facilitate the needs of the mainstream fashion apparel, accessory and footwear industries that lack understanding of technology and how technology can improve business. Also, more importantly, was my desire to create wearable’s that would help caregivers of people with disabilities.
I learned that Barbara Smith, founder of the famous restaurant, B.Smith was suffering from Alzheimer’s and had gone missing from her home in Sag Harbor. She was later found in Manhattan battered and very disoriented. I thought to myself this must stop. I decided I wanted to create fashionable wearables for people that needed to be monitored carefully. Thus began the Global Fashion Technology Federation. It is the only organization in the fashion industry housing wearable technologies. The organization has a vision of interweaving technology into fashion apparel, accessories, and footwear. This will be accomplished through the multiple learning components and of the various technologies that will be utilized in fashion projects directed at either enhancing or extending functionality of clothing or accessories.
TF: What is the role of the Internet of Fashion or IoF?
TJ: The IoF is our corporation that sells existing and emerging technologies. At the IoF, we represent the best in designer items created with technology, best in breed 3D printers, 3D scanners, robotics for manufacturing and retail display, Virtual Reality, and Beacons, just to name a few.
TF: How important is technology now to fashion and vice versa?
TJ: Technology is not just important to fashion. Technology is essential in every business sector. Our society has moved from the industrial age into the technological age. The fashion industry will no longer exist without embracing technology. Consumer demand will dictate fashion. The fashion industry will not be able to keep up with consumer demand without technology.
TF: What is the mission of IoF?
TJ: Our mission is to offer the mainstream fashion apparel, accessory and footwear markets the technological tools that will improve their current business model and increase revenue while decreasing operation costs.
TF: Whom do you see embracing this new fashion trend?
TJ: I feel the millennial demographic will embrace this trend first. However, moving forward, the entire society will embrace personalization and customized fashions and footwear.
TF: What other insights do you have on the future of fashion and technology that will be coming down the runway and in retail?
TJ: Look for the educated consumer demands to take precedence. We will customize and personalize for our customers. We are in global competition. If we do not give the client what they want, when they want it, another global retailer will. E-commerce is King, and customizing is Queen.