Design and Technology: Transforming Fashion
Infor and FIT
Building on the work of Infor's Education Alliance Program (EAP), which partners with member institutions to provide Infor technology for classroom and extra-curricular educational activities, Infor and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) have created a design and tech lab (DTech Lab) on FIT's New York City campus to provide an environment for experiential learning based around innovative technology research and ideation for fashion and related industries.
The DTech Lab reinforces one of Infor's core tenets: industry expertise to provide last mile functionality to its customers. The Lab is a hub where design, technology, and industry expertise fuel the innate curiosity and desire of innovative of FIT students who are the next-generation workforce.
The student team challenge
The gown was one project created in the DTech Lab in response to a challenge presented by Neue, a fashion tech company from Sweden that helps companies connect clothes, wearables, and accessories to the internet. The company's technology platform drives innovation in the fashion wearables market.
Working under faculty supervision for three months, teams of students explored incorporating wearable technology into the designs of two innovative Swedish brands: POC, a high-end sports brand; and BACK, an iconoclastic fashion brand. Teams were given access to Neue's A2 Playground platform, a tiny custom designed circuit board with sensors that measure, among other things, foot falls, humidity, and temperature, and controllers for electroluminescent materials.
POC strives to reduce the consequences of accidents for gravity sports athletes and cyclists. By improving biker safety, POC hopes to increase the number of individuals that cycle for their daily commute, reducing the impact of carbon emissions as a result of the rise in commuters that cycle.
The FIT/POC team embedded Neue's A2 custom microprocessor, wearable sensors and electroluminescent fabric into commuter wear for bikers including cycling pants, helmets and bags to increase biker safety. The teams also incorporated haptic motors (vibrations) and electroluminescent pads to provide screen-free directions and better visibility in traffic for the rider.
Ann-Sofie BACK signature pieces are often clever plays on the concept of what is fashion. Embracing a characteristically subversive theme of self-love, the FIT/BACK team explored ways to change fashion's environmental footprint by leveraging Neue's A2 technology platform to support a better informed, smarter apparel rental industry.
For garments designed for the sharing economy, the interconnected software enables wearers to unlock exclusive rewards such as BACK's Spotify playlist based on rental frequency and duration of wear time which also provides valuable information for the brand. Electroluminescent wires and vibrating knickers which are controlled through the A2 Playground app and voice control, allow for customization of frequencies and intensities to create unique experiences for each wearer.
Presenting the next generation of designers
In June 2018 the Swedish Fashion Council sponsored an event at the Residence of the Swedish Consulate General in New York City where the student-designed creations were presented to the press, industry leaders, and academia. In attendance—in addition to the FIT student and faculty participants—were Dr. Joyce F. Brown, FIT President, Leif Pagrotsky, Swedish Consul General, and Ann-Sofie Back.
The FIT student teams had unique access to brands, technology and guidance and the opportunity to research, design and "build" innovative high-end products. These hands-on projects gave them real world problems to solve and a supportive environment constructed to spark and cultivate their creativity.
POC and BACK were able to directly engage with their target audiences and invite them to be part of the creative process of conceiving and building the future state of their brands. The projects are microcosms of how the new brand/customer relationships that are being forged through connectivity, data, and communication.
Infor gains valuable insights into how the next generation of technology users would design the next generation of technology. These projects reveal the advent of "fashion users" as opposed to "fashion consumers" and that could profoundly change the demands on and requirements for next-generation ERP, CRM and POS software—and not just for fashion industries.
Infor has already been exploring the potential of wearables in other industries, and projects like these emphasis the importance of user inputs in the software design and development process. As the world moves to a more fully connected Internet of Things (IoT), this student work from the DTech Lab demonstrates that the next-generation workforce—the next generation of fashion designers, software designers, fashion consumers, and technology users—sees the value and impact of this connectiveness in ways they have only just begun to imagine.