Schools Showcasing the Latest Advancements in Fashion Design and Technology for Better Education and Career Development
Fashion and business education share the common goal of advancing the industry. Yet, presently they run the risk of falling behind.
In 2021, industry advancements are being driven by the adoption of innovative technology, which has already proven a major force in streamlining production processes. Such advancements are being quickly adopted, greatly improving the workload and efficiency of businesses. However such technology requires educated employees who can solve minor issues and use such tools with efficiency.
The need for skilled specialists has influenced the most recent developments in education. There are more programs than ever offering students the opportunity to learn how to interact with and use the latest tools of the trade. Classes can provide training for a variety of positions such as CGI Artist, Data Editor, Virtual Showroom Designer, Smart Inventory Manager, and Virtual Showroom Designer, which have all been transformed dramatically in regards to the importance and technological support.
The pandemic required several school shows and designer showcases to transition to a virtual platform. This transition proved a reminder for certain organizations, showing the potential and opportunity for classes establishing the most effective ways to use these technologies.
The following are some of the best examples of the work higher education has done to help prepare future generations to carry the torch of advancement.
The UK Leads the Way: London College of Fashion
Across the pond, within the University of the Arts London, the London College of Fashion made impressive progress in ushering in advanced learning based on mixed reality, AI, and IoT. Following the success of the inaugural Future of Fashion Incubator last year, Microsoft joined forces with London College Fashion, UAL to explore how emerging technology is inspiring new possibilities for design, advertising, and retail. There was an impressive turnout regarding both students for design and computer science majors intent on exploring other industries of interest.
“By building scalable ideas across artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and the Internet of Things, Microsoft and London College of Fashion will showcase a road map towards truly digital retail businesses,” mentioned Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency, London College of Fashion, UAL.
While Microsoft sent representatives to display their latest software, student projects were also highlighted within the showcase. Among these were Brick & Pixel, a provider of responsive smart fitting rooms, founded by MAs in Strategic Fashion Marketing: Abdul Haseeb Azizi, Noelia Fernández Galian, and Julia Karolina Frey. The three were inspired by classes detailing the potential of such interactive tools for personalizing the consumer journey.
Brick & Pixel employs smart mirrors, RFID tags, and Microsoft Kinect technology to create an interactive fitting room that reveals the product and brand’s story while elevating the retail environment.
New Ideas in New York: Parsons School of Design
As the urban landscape of New York was changed with quarantine and the pandemic, the schools of the area were also forced to adjust. This greatly affected creative schools who were required to establish their own forms of student presentation without large gatherings. With the medium of digital presentation, greater focus was placed on digital aspects of the industry, an area that has grown immensely due to COVID-19.
“Fashion Management graduates looked at ways to reinvent the fashion system, creating solutions for social media and e-commerce, exploring rapid innovation methods, unlocking opportunities in retail, developing strategies to influence consumer behavior, and integrating sustainability and social responsibility at all levels of the fashion industry,” said Keanan Duffty, MPS Fashion Management Program Director.
Students were given the opportunity to expand their own designs beyond the traditional interests of in-person showcases. Jesse Prince, AAS Fashion Marketing, was able to develop her focus as a direct reaction to the confinement she experienced due to COVID. Her interest has developed more so into the marketing aspects of the online clothing world.
The digital platform provided even more opportunity to explore different creative directions within the expansive world of online clothing with a new focus being added on the 3D design.
AI Artists: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
“Education for Fashion Tech — Design and Technology for Future Fashion Creatives” was a digital livestream conversation hosted by MIT in partnership with fashion design and technology schools across the globe*.
The goal of the event was to show students the impact that technology is having/ will have on the industry as well as the best areas to get involved with, such as fashion AI. There were in total three roundtable discussions for the event: first, the experts worked to define technology in its present state, then discussed the means of education for using such technologies, and finally proposed future scenarios and developments within the industry.
The effects of the pandemic were also discussed, sharing statistics such as how 30 percent of clothing industry employees perceive their company’s post-pandemic recovery planning to be ineffective. Technology can be a way to realign goals lost to pandemic setbacks, as stated by the experts at the discussion. The majority held an optimistic outlook on the job market, believing that the jobs lost to new technologies will be replaced by even more jobs using such tools.
A report by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) supports their conclusion, estimating that no less than 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. However such jobs will remain out of reach if higher education doesn’t begin preparing its students to work with the latest innovations.
While technology alone cannot change the fashion industry, with the addition of trained professionals, the potential of these technologies is unchecked. The responsibility of the future lies greatly upon the next generations, who in turn rely upon their education to form a basis for their post-graduate careers and achievements.
As shown above, several schools have already taken that first step toward closing the gap between the latest clothing tech developments and the skills being taught in programs. However, the few schools adjusting are not enough. As the direction of careers changes so must the curriculum of fashion schools worldwide in order to provide their students a worthy starting point in this competitive job market.
Jobs and creative works will not be lost but simply evolved by different methods, showcasing the benefits of the latest innovations. In the words of iconic creative director, Karl Lagerfeld on this constantly evolving industry, “Only the minute and the future are interesting in fashion”.
*Politecnico di Milano’s Design Department, theUniversity of Borås’ Swedish School of Textiles, the School of Design and Technology, the London College of Fashion, the UAL, and the Erasmus+ Project “Education for Fashion-Tech” (E4FT).