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How Technology is Revolutionizing the Apparel Industry

Erin Ollila
April 10, 2019

3 minute read

The U.S. apparel industry market is the biggest in the world, according to Statista. With revenues of over $328 billion in 2017 and a projection of $390 billion in 2025, there are many ways technology can influence these numbers. Here are 4 ways newly introduced tech is revolutionizing how apparel is made, sold, and worn.

Tech tailors

Long gone are the days of having to go to a tailor to order custom garments created to perfectly fit your body. Now, companies like MTailor have technology that measures your body for perfect-for-you fit. In fact, MTailor claims that by using their app, their machine learning algorithm can measure you 20% better than a tailor would be able to, and all in 30 seconds or fewer. All it requires is a smartphone or tablet’s camera to take 9 upper body measurements and 7 lower body measurements. Then, a customer can purchase tailored blazers, suits, pants, and shirts for men, as well as jeans for women.

Smart apparel

While wearable accessory tech like smart watches, bracelets, and now rings may be commonplace, there are new intelligent clothing choices transforming the apparel industry — specifically shoes. You may think that measuring performance is one of the reasons for smart shoes, but that option existed for quite some time — the Nike+ training shoe debuted in 2012. However, the newest smart shoe, Nike’s Adapt BB, pairs with an app to adjust for fit. Sayonara, shoelaces.

In a company article, Michael Donaghu, Nike’s VP of Innovation, describes the shoe by saying, “It remembers, via a paired app, how tight or loose you prefer your footwear — not just one setting, but in different situations like warm-ups, gameplay and while resting on the bench…And with your own personal fit, Nike has finally made countless dreams come true: a custom shoe for everyone.”

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) mirrors are changing the way consumers try on clothes, and for many reasons. In an interview for this article, digital strategist Adam Riemer says, “A person can stand in the mirror and get to see what the apparel is going to look like. Not only does this save time and help them to visualize the fashion, but there is a side benefit that doesn’t often get discussed — some people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) could be germophobic. By eliminating the need to try on clothing that hasn’t been cleaned or has been tried on by many people, that person can experience what the clothing would look like on them.”

Arming retail workers

Outdated tech makes it impossible for retail workers to live up to the standards consumers are used to. By given them access to options such as enterprise mobile computers (EMC), tablets, and RFID tags, they’ll be better able to move customers through a sale. “It’s common for shoppers to expect their in-store experiences to be just as seamless as online shopping which places significant pressure on retailers to deliver,” says Tim Kane, a Zebra Technologies retail-solutions’ industry consultant, in an interview for this article. “Much like consumers would use their smartphones to “pre-shop” (ex: pull up product information and in-store availability) prior to visiting a store, store associates equipped with enterprise mobile computers and tablets are able to instantly access product information, inventory data and more — allowing them to provide customers with a higher level of service on the sales floor without leaving their side.”

While Statista may be able to project industry revenue in 2025, it’s impossible to know how technology will change and improve the apparel industry even more in these next few years. Until then, we can all enjoy the ways tech is improving how we wear and buy our clothes.

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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