Fashion Forward: What’s In-Store as Technology Reinvents the Retail Experience

More than 50 professionals from the realms of fashion, retail, advertising, media, finance, academia, data science, and more, were in attendance for Digital Diversity Network’s fashion tech reception and panel on Tuesday, April 9th at Spaces in New York City’s Meatpacking District.  The evening included a networking reception and program focused highlighting the impact of technology in the fashion and retail sectors.

The panel was moderated by Danielle Prescod, Style Director, BET.com and featured the following presenters:

  • Kirat Anand, Founder & former President, KAS New York & Co-Founder, NYU Stern Retail & Fashion Tech Accelerator
  • Liz Bacelar, Co-founder & CEO, Current Global
  • Marie-Jean Baptiste, E-Commerce Entrepreneur, Fashion Designer & Founder/CEO, Rue107
  • Felita Harris, Co-founder & CEO, ENFORM
  • Stacie Henderson, Fashion & Lifestyle Consultant and Co-founder, Fashion Tech Connects

The panel delved into the Top 3 Sins Committed by Tech Startup Founders and how to avoid them:

Sin #1: Making too many assumptions about the problem their clients are trying to solve and tries to explain the problem to the experts, the client.

Don’t hide your fears or stretch your knowledge or perception of the client pain point. Become masters of your solution/offerings.

Sin #2: No direct access to industry knowledge/insights. 

Hire someone on the team who has been on the “other side “and has direct knowledge of the industry.

Sin #3: Not understanding competitive research and assuming they’re the “only game in town”. 

Do your homework and know your competition. 

Other key take-aways from the conversation included:

  • Launching a fashion brand without a tech strategy is a fatal flaw, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There’s so much technology that’s available off-the-shelf (e.g., Shopify).
  • Another option for filling capability gaps is through strategic partnerships. It’s a lot more expensive to build new capabilities in-house. If it’s a huge component of your strategy and it doesn’t exist, hire engineers. But first, do your homework.
  • Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your strategy or scrap your original plan and start over again.  After all, Instagram, was first called “Burbn.”
  • The fashion industry’s reluctance to embrace technology may be attributed to its lack of diversity.  It is very insular and has not always welcomed new ideas.
  • Technology has made the industry much more inclusive—especially with e-commerce sites that cater to a diversity of sizes and body types. 

For more insights, we encourage you to tune in to Innovators by TheCurrent, a podcast about the leaders pushing the boundaries of fashion, beauty, and retail. Hosted by Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur, each episode is a frank conversation about the challenges and opportunities faced by top brands and retailers around the world today, through the lens of technology.