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From Designing to Marketing: Major Tech Trends Shaping the Future of Luxury Apparel and Retail

RFID, NFC, the Internet of Things and other disruptive technologies are riding the wave of the digital revolution in the luxury apparel market.
By Swamini Kulkarni

The Advent of Chatbots
While people were speculating the advent of chatbots in the apparel world, the fact is, they have already arrived. For now, AI is being largely applied in the messaging space. Fashion brands such as Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Everlane and American Eagle have been experimenting with chatbots. Launching dedicated chatbots has been one of the major marketing campaigns so far. However, with the pace at which technology is developing, chatbots are bound to improve as they learn from every customer with which they interact.

Mobility
Today's generation turns to their smartphones for everything from buying clothes to making payments. Luxury fashion retailers are chasing the consumer's desire to shop anytime, anywhere using smartphone apps and mobile payment options. With the help of real-time promotions and integrated return options, retailers have upgraded the consumer experience. Moreover, several retailers are incorporating push notifications and beacon technologiess to engage a larger online audience. For instance, the online luxury retail platform FarFetch was driven by the "Store of the Future" concept that enabled deep customer engagement through mobile, benefiting from pay-by-app option, digital wardrobes and social media marketing.

Blockchain in Retail
It is no secret that blockchain has a huge potential to change the luxury apparel ecosystem. The technology, which was primarily launched for virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, now offers retailers a competitive edge by ensuring safe data exchanges as represented in the digital data record. For instance, microchips connected to blockchain could provide customers with complete knowledge regarding whether the apparel they want is genuine or not, or from which materials it was made. In short, apparel embedded with blockchain would give unprecedented access to the history of the product via smartphone within seconds.

AR and AR Technologies
Artificial and and virtual reality technologies are rapidly being deployed across online luxury apparel platforms. Moreover, several startups have helped brands enter into the era of experimental shopping. For instance, retailers are now letting their customers view products in 3D and are using AR technology to let them access digital media about in-stock merchandise. Several luxury apparel companies have integrated VR and AP into their shopping experience by enabling customers to create personalized avatars with accurate measurements and according to their personality types and physical attributes. Additionally, shoppers can try on new garments and test their choice before purchasing anything with just one click on their mobile phones.

Alternative Material
Alternative material will be the most talked-about technology in the fashion world. During the Met Gala in New York, IBM and Marchesa worked together to manufacture a high-tech dress that would light up in response to the sentiments expressed in tweets. Now, after three years, advanced material technology has evolved and grown to create a new type of fabric. Furthermore, customers demand eco-friendly alternatives to traditional raw materials, including animal-free leather and waste-produced garments.

The wave of the digital revolution has offered the luxury apparel market more than just trendy garments and easy-to-purchase options. Moreover, technologies such as contactless shopping are expected to provide a further boost to the market. According to Allied Market Research, the global luxury apparel market is estimated to reach $81.23 billion by 2023, registering a CAGR of 3.9 percent from 2017 to 2023. For this colossal growth, rapid advancements in technology will be the most vital driver.

Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor's degree in engineering and works as a content writer. She is deeply fascinated by technological advancements and the trending topics in the world. When Swamini is not glued to her computer, she loves to read, travel and spend time thinking about how she could read and travel more often.

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