What happens when fashion meets data: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Liza Kindred on the evolving role of data in fashion and the growing relationship between tech and fashion companies.

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In this podcast episode, I talk with Liza Kindred, founder of Third Wave Fashion and author of the new free report “Fashioning Data: How fashion industry leaders innovate with data and what you can learn from what they know.” Kindred addresses the evolving role data and analytics are playing in the fashion industry, and the emerging connections between technology and fashion companies. “One of the things that fashion is doing better than maybe any other industry,” Kindred says, “is facilitating conversations with users.”

Gathering and analyzing user data creates opportunities for the fashion and tech industries alike. One example of this is the trend toward customization. Kindred explains:

“The idea of personalization, or what we call mass customization or mass bespoke, is another great example of how the fashion industry is beginning to influence other industries. A lot of that customization is happening through the use of data and algorithms. We see that people now want their experiences and they want their products to be tailored exactly for them. We call that ‘me-commerce.’

“I think it’s probably no coincidence that we started first seeing that in menswear. We saw that in men’s suits, and in custom dress shirts, and shoes, and ties, and things like that. Now, that’s spreading all across different parts of fashion — if we want to buy a product, chances are that we can go online and get a custom, well-made product for a really similar price as something that everyone else is wearing.”

Kindred also talks about what kinds of changes we can expect in the future as hardware and software — and soft materials — continue to merge:

“There are some really obvious ways that the fashion industry is changing. Probably the buzziest thing right now is to look at wearable tech, which I do think will start to change the fashions that we’re buying. I think wearable tech is much more of a part of the Internet of Everything. Those are connected devices that we’re happening to wear right now. I don’t think we’re going to be wearing clothing, for the most part, that’s Internet enabled, although having that ability can be interesting.

“There’s a lot that’s happening in materials science in fashion right now. Of course, there’s connected materials, but there’s also materials made from all kinds of different technologies — algae, materials that can charge devices, those kinds of things. I think we’re going to start to see a lot more adoption of innovative materials.”

The future of how we buy all these products is going to change as well. “This idea that a store is a store and a website is a website is going away entirely,” Kindred says. “We’re seeing that merging of online and offline, and then we’re also seeing a merging of content and commerce, which is something that the fashion industry is starting to do really well but is applicable to a lot of other industries.”

Also in this podcast …

In the second segment, I chat with Max Firtman, founder of ITMaster, about the state of the HTML5 space and the future of mobile. He stresses that the change the Internet of Things will bring to the space will be significant and companies need to prepare. “There are still companies today that don’t think they need a mobile website,” he says, “so for them, talking about IoT is the super-future, but they need to understand that the service they’re providing right now will change, so they need to embrace the change…All we know for sure right now is that everything is going to change.”

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