Is Accessible Fashion the Real Future of Fashion?

Video Transcript

Hi I’m Collette Costello for http://www.fashiontechnology.co.uk. Quite often the world of fashion is quite ruthless very money orientated and not very inclusive, if you don’t fit into their stereotype of the average consumer you can find it to be very inaccessible. There is a lot of thought that the future of fashion and what fashion technology, wearable technology can bring is more personalized products and a more personalized service. Fashion does make attempts to try and be more inclusive, more accessible, by doing things such as, Asos recently designed a jumper which will fit people in a wheelchair and is wather proof that we can wear to festivals, the other thing that they might do is to make shops more accessible so again usually people with a wheelchair can get round to shop with wide aisles and ramps at the doors, this seems to be about as far as their thinking goes and as much effort as the fashion world seems to make, to make things accessible, they don’t really seem to be thinking beyond this. The reason is the moment they design a product that is personalized, tailor-made to a user’s needs, costs go up dramatically and their customer base is reduced, in fashion it’s all about mass production which keeps costs low, stack them high and sell them cheap. Traditionally fashion has always worked on the idea of creating these aspirational lifestyles and these aspirational looks that the models in their advertising campaigns have often which are completely unachievable and I think the fear is that if they feature anybody in a campaign that maybe has a slight impairment, they have this massive fear that maybe they’ll lose customers, so when in fashion people with impairments are seen it’s may be on the catwalk or in an advertising campaign to make quite a big statement and it’s also usually quite gimmicky. So can the world of fashion become more accessible does it have the potential to, well as I said before fashion is all about making money so if the companies think they can make money they will make changes, I think the first changes will come about online first of all the online shopping experience will become more accessible, it’ll be kick-started by one of their competitors say having a more accessible website so therefore getting more customers and more sales. When this starts I think it willl start the ball rolling, that people with visual, hearing, cognitive and motor impairments will have their needs meet so they can comfortably shop on line, so for the first time fashion will maybe have to recognize that not all their customers are average. Offering a more personalized shopping experience online could potentially open up other opportunities such as a customer when logged in could view models that actually represent them, that actually represent their impairment. One idea for the future is that we’ll be able to scan our own bodies and a 3d digital model of our body should be able to appear on a screen, in fashion clothing can be applied, so rather than the fashion companies going to the expense of employing many different models with different impairments to personalized the shopping experience, instead you could be able to see yourself and the clothes could just be digitally placed on your body and you could take part in catwalk shows to show off how the clothes will look before you buy them. Other ideas are that with technologies such as artificial intelligence, that shopping for clothes may not even be a visual thing that you may not even need to see how clothes look before you buy them, so the idea would be that you have a virtual stylist who hand picks a wardrobe for you based on things like your complexion, your hair, eye color, clothes that you usually wear, activities that you take part in and comes up with a style look for you based upon this, however what this does take out of it is the fun that people do simply enjoy shopping and some people do just love scouring through hordes of clothes to pick out what they want to wear for a Friday night. So the technology is there to make the shopping experience more accessible now and in the future, fashion websites could easily become more accessible, using technology that’s out now and ensuring that they can be read by screen readers and are designed to be usable easy for everybody to use, with big buttons, east ways to checkout without complicated forms and without complicated payment methods. I’ve given examples about how in the future argumented reality, artificial intelligence will make it possible to have a more personalized shopping experience, the biggest problem that is going to face fashion becoming more accessible is the manufacturing process, the making of the actual clothes that are on sale, with very often clothes being made in developing countries in quite archaic dangerous conditions for their workers and very often the workers are still exploited to keep costs down. So the minute you start talking about personalization it takes away that ability to mass-produce clothes in such conditions by people that are maybe not skilled in these areas, the minute you have skilled workers you have to start paying people a livable wage and very often it’s still the consumer spending power which makes the difference. People just want cheap clothes, people want to be able to easily buy a new outfit for a night out without having to spend a lot of money, if there was that need and want for personalized clothing maybe if people were willing to pay more, maybe it would already be out there and available. thats they way it doesn’t seem to be, the only hope for the future really is with technology such as 3d print that make it easier to print personalized garments, however to do this is still slow and it’s still costly so it’s not a technology which has been adapted in the mass production high street fashion market. I think we still have a long ways to go before a truly accessible fashion world, fashion culture is created. To learn more about accessibility and fashion technology see the rest of my blog http://www.fashiontechnology.co.uk the link is below I’m Collette Costello.

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