Digital Fashion: the Intersection of Fashion & Technology

With the talk of internships and on-campus recruiting inundating Penn’s campus, I’ve been forced to think about what I want to do this summer, and scarier, the after-college future. I’m studying business and engineering, but I think both of those degrees can be applied in pretty much any field; I certainly don’t feel as if my career path is constrained in any way. While I was thinking of things that I’m passionate about, two areas stuck out to me: fashion and technology. You might be thinking that the two are worlds apart, but in this day and age, I think that pretty much any industry is connected to technology. So, I decided to write this blog post about fashion companies that I think utilize technology well, as well as products that combine fashion and tech in an interesting way.

Pinterest is the company that comes to mind first to me, probably just because I am such a frequent user. Granted, stereotypically, it is associated with recipes, but it is an amazing resource for fashionistas and fashion houses alike. I am constantly pinning looks from blogs and websites, as well as from other Pinterest users and brands that have Pinterest boards of their own. To be honest, I don’t understand why any fashion company today WOULDN’T have a Pinterest…it’s free advertising! Pinterest also has some pretty cool technology behind it; I particularly like that they have some sort of algorithm that matches you to new pins and boards based on what you have already pinned. I recently clicked on an Facebook advertisement (Facebook is really targeting those ads well) and found the website Keep. It reminded me of Pinterest a little bit, but was actually a purchasing platform, so people “keep” (read: “pin”) items that they want to buy, and you keep into different collections. I also enjoy Fancy, also similar to both Keep and Pinterest. You “fancy” items you like and you can be directly linked to the website to purchase it. It’s a little less fashion focused and more gadgets and “cool stuff”.

Pinterest
Pinterest

I recently read an article about mobile fashion apps, and downloaded as many of them as I can (I’m unfortunately stuck on iOS 4 till I get an Android in March…I have very limited app access!) One that I really liked was Cloth (clothapp.com), which is an app that allows you to organize your closet on your phone. You do have to take pictures of all your clothes, but I thought it was a great way of knowing what’s in your closet; if you’re like me, your clothes are all over the place and sometimes you just can’t find that one shirt that goes with the skirt you just pulled out. I haven’t quite started using it, but I think it’s a great concept. Another app I liked was Snapette, which uses GPS to track down boutiques around your location. You can search sales, stores as well as specific items (say, “denim jacket”) to find what is available near you.

cloth

There is definitely a trend with stores that are only online: ModCloth and NastyGal are the first ones that come to mind. In case it wasn’t clear, these stores do not have any brick-and-mortar shops, it’s just their website. What that means to me is that they have to create that in-store look and feel solely through their website. I think ModCloth does this well; their site incites a vintage, cute feel that is also evident in their clothes. They also maintain a blog, which adds to a lifestyle sort of element that I think a lot of online retailers are trying to get at: “it’s not just buying ModCloth apparel, it’s living the  ModCloth lifestyle” type of thing.

Another brand I think does the lifestyle thing very well is Free People. Every time I’m in a Free People store, or even on their website, I feel like I’m in some sort of bohemian dream. Like ModCloth, Free People also has a blog (blog.freepeople.com) featuring not only fashion, but DIY ideas, music, and much more. My absolute favorite Kate Spade also does the lifestyle thing well – its slogan “Live Colorfully” symbolizes what the brand stands for. Their blog, “Behind the Curtain”, is also one of my favorites, especially for their featured patterns, music, and celebrity fashion ideas.

ThreadFlip
ThreadFlip

I also am warming up to ThreadFlip. I plan to clean up my closet soon, and want to sell a lot of my clothes, and a friend suggested using ThreadFlip instead of dragging clothes to Buffalo Exchange. ThreadFlip is great because you can “heart” clothes that you like and buy clothes (and there are some REALLY nice clothes on there), but also sell your own. Their philosophy is that if you sell to other ThreadFlip users, they will take the same care of your beloved clothes that you have, so you don’t have to feel bad about parting ways with them. I am looking forward to making as much use of it as possible!

I think I could go on forever about things like this but I’ll stop now… there is so much to explore on the internet in terms of fashion! Other things I like that I didn’t specifically mention include IdeeliRent The RunwayAsos, and more. I’m looking forward to discovering more of what “digital fashion” has to offer and how it evolves in the future! 

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