Singapore Fashion Week

Where fashion and technology collide

Designer Jason Wu (left) at a Zipcode talk with moderator Kenneth Goh, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar Singapore.
Designer Jason Wu (left) at a Zipcode talk with moderator Kenneth Goh, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar Singapore.PHOTO: HARPER'S BAZAAR SINGAPORE

For the first time, Singapore Fashion Week (SGFW) 2017 veered away from a full-on focus on runway shows and introduced a series of fashion technology talks to its line-up.

With the theme Futurists And Disruptors, the 10 talks last week featured more than 20 speakers who discussed ideas and issues revolving around digital marketing, developments in technology and the changing face of retail, as well as how all of these could impact the fashion industry.

The talks opened with a sharing session by New York designer Jason Wu, who also showed his Spring 2018 collection on the SGFW runway.

The 35-year-old spoke about how he started his eponymous label, adapting to the many ways in which fashion is viewed and consumed including online, and how he thought designers could make their runway shows stand out. He also shared his tips for young designers, saying: "Never think you know everything."

He was then joined by Australian influencer Nicole Warne of fashion and lifestyle website Gary Pepper Girl. The two spoke about their social media strategies, covering topics such as how designers ought to curate their social media content and using distinct approaches to Instagram posts and Instastories. For instance, Wu likened his Instagram posts to his high-fashion label and his Instastories to his more relaxed sister label, Grey Jason Wu.

They also revealed that they are both exploring the use of new technologies such as 3D printing in fashion, although they remained tight-lipped about the details.

Wu's talks were popular with aspiring designers such as 24-year-old Mack Lee Han Chong and 25-year-old Nazly Bayu Marco Pratama, fashion media and industry students at LaSalle College of the Arts. "I liked it when Wu said that, in your 20s, you think you know everything. We are Level 3 students and we think we know everything, (but) soon we will face the real world," Mr Pratama says.

Mr Lee saw the relevance of the topics discussed, saying: "Recently, we have been hearing a lot about how technology is changing the world and how it will eventually change our industry, so we decided to come. It gave us some insights."

The programme of talks, titled Zipcode, attracted a total of 500 participants and was held last Friday and Saturday at LaSalle SIA Theatre and co-working space The Great Room.

Other Zipcode speakers included local clothing label Love, Bonito's co-founder Rachel Lim, who discussed her online and offline retail experiences; and Goldman Sachs' South-east Asian head of media and technology investment banking Andy Tai, who shared his thoughts on what investors are looking for.

Some common themes throughout the talks, which had titles such as "What is the impact of disruptive technology on the fashion industry", "Brands in an omni-channel world" and "What's sexy about fashion for investors", were how developments in artificial intelligence might change the industry, how the new face of marketing involves striving to use data intelligently and the role of digital influencers in marketing.

Local modestwear designer Adlina Anis, 34, spent last Friday afternoon attending several talks, seeking insights on how to grow her five-year-old label. The subjects discussed, she says, were relevant to her business. "They helped me think out of the box even more and added to what I thought I already knew," she says.

SGFW chairman Tjin Lee shared that Zipcode, having exceeded her expectations, is likely to return next year.

"We had targeted about 400 attendees and instead received more than 500 attendees over the two days. The attendees were a good mix of business investors, tech entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and fashion retailers," she says.

"Our aim was to lay the foundation for Singapore Fashion Week to pivot towards thought leadership and a 'business of fashion' angle. We had excellent feedback from speakers and attendees and, based on the overwhelmingly positive response, we are already in discussions about how we can make it bigger and better for 2018."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'Where fashion and technology collide'. Print Edition | Subscribe