On Tuesday, FashionTech TO’s triannual event took place once again at the Design Exchange with talks from Facebook, Tribal Scale, Fitted and more, followed by tech demos and networking. With the focus on consumer engagement in a digital shopping world, the evening really honed in on human connection in the shopping experience.
Here are some of our key takeaways from the evening.
As the largest website for human interaction in the world, it’s no surprise that Facebook’s main focus is on the users. But it’s not just about building better UX formats, it’s about continually solving the biggest ongoing issue of our internet-ruled world. Alex Penseney, Client Partner at Facebook, gave us some insight into how Facebook is trying to bring back the element of human connection to their current and future shopping products. While she highlighted the current Marketplace as a key example, Penseney discussed how companies can improve human connection through improved shopping experiences for both current models and beta-stage products. Facebook’s approach starts with reducing friction, increasing personalization, breaking down silos (smaller, more fractured groups) and prepping for innovation, thereby streamlining the entire experience from communicating directly with brands to making a purchase to feeling a sense of fulfillment from the entirety of the transaction. Shopping has never felt so personal.
Prior to this event, I thought that Arc’Teryx was just the new MEC— outdoorsy and well, not overly stylish. Turns out, this is one of the most innovative and engaged brands in the sportswear space. Arc’Teryx is a leading designer and creator of highly functional, quality materials for a myriad of outdoor and indoor activities like rock climbing, hiking in the mountains and more. They have a very strong relationship with Gore-Tex to make top-of-the-line items, and the staff even tests the clothing directly in the environment they were designed for.
On top of all of this, they give back to the community. Arc’Teryx provides free classes so people can try out their products, but in a way that brings in all sorts of communities and people together for local sporting events. And they even do projects globally to help communities live a healthier lifestyle. For example, in Mongolia, they helped the local people improve their air quality and overall health by providing a breathable door for their homes. As Mongolians live in Ghers (a type of yurt) they tend to burn materials inside, which creates toxic fumes and thick smoke. Arc’Teryx designed a physical membrane that allows these harmful substances out while keeping the warmth in. They are a great model of what social responsibility should look like today, and will hopefully provide inspiration to others in the industry.
For the demo part of the evening, there was one particular company that stood out, especially in terms of sustainable fashion. Sprout is a 15-month-old Canadian company that operates like Rent the Runway—but for maternity wear. After finding it difficult to find quality, affordable maternity-wear for her growing bump, lawyer and co-founder Joyce Lim realized there was a gap to be filled in the market. So she and her husband, a serial entrepreneur, set out to create a company that offers mid-to-high end clothing brands for pregnant women.
After taking off almost instantly through word of mouth, the company is in its second round of seed funding and will be launching a full rental service for all women kicking off next week.
That’s all for our round-up, but stay tuned to FashionTech Toronto as they will be announcing a new event taking place this coming January.