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Can emerging designers and technology reinvent the creative processes in fashion? | Sponsored feature




London, United Kingdom – Selected by the founder of the magazine focused on sustainable development More or less and former british Vogue Creative Director Jaime Perlman, four emerging designers were invited to reinvent their creative process using Microsoft Azure and Azure Spatial Anchors, as part of Microsoft’s Augmented Atelier program.

“I wanted to find four designers who each had some sort of unique perspective – something slightly different to contribute,” Perlman tells BoF.

Queen Elizabeth II Prize-winning sustainable designer Bethany williams, Fredrik Tjærandsen, Phoebe English and Rottingdean Bazaar, supported by Fashion East, were both invited to experiment with Microsoft technology to help create life-size mixed reality clothing that only exists in a virtual showroom.

“I focused on this rising generation, [designers] that prioritize sustainability as well as concept, ingenuity and innovation. [Sustainability] didn’t last long in the fashion industry. It took us a while to see sustainability as fun, digestible – a way of being creative with fashion, ”Perlman continues.

Jaime Perlman By Fernando Jorge | Source: courtesy

Perlman believes that the application of Microsoft Azure Computing has the potential to improve the industry as a whole and can be carried out across the value chain, from design to presentations and retail. “As we move forward in an increasingly digital media landscape – Fashion Week is practically happening online – [the industry] must learn to embrace technology. It is an exciting experience. “

While the application of technologies such as Microsoft’s Azure program and spatial anchors in fashion design processes is still in its infancy, emerging designers share that, cumulatively, the technology has been effective in enabling them to rethink their design process, overcome creative constraints, achieve more sustainable workflows and practices and unlock the potential for a positive impact on the industry across the entire fashion value chain.

“This project will demonstrate the capabilities to a lot of people – or plant the seeds of ideas in the minds of certain brands. Yes [brands] are grappling with mass production, with factories that don’t work, so this technology is a way to collaborate with your audience online and create something on demand as a shift from ready-to-wear, ” explains Perlman. “Custom design rather than mass production may be a more waste-efficient option for brands in the future.”

Indeed, the production and demand for virtual fashion – or digital-only products – is increasing. Nike and Gucci have made inroads into the market, allowing shoppers to follow trends without having to worry about the sustainability issues of fashion, while earning coveted social currency through social media.

Now, BoF is sitting down with the four designers to learn more about their background and the potential they believe technology has to help reinvent the creative processes in fashion.

Phoebe English | Source: courtesy

Phoebe English – Reduce dependence on raw materials

Its eponymous label was founded in 2011 and now aims to reposition itself as a brand working for less wasteful practices and solution-based design within the context of our planetary borders.

What challenge have you sought to overcome using the technology?

There is a lot of talk in the design aimed at sustainability by minimizing waste and the use of valuable raw materials and resources. The challenge that intrigued me the most was, without the use of raw materials, without physical paper […] what are the possibilities in terms of design development. It was a fascinating exercise to see how technology could be used. There are a lot of Fabric use in the initial testing process and canvas. The use of Microsoft technology has the potential to help reduce this, if used effectively.

How could you use technology in the future?

There is a tendency to think [technology and craft] as opposing forces, but it is possible to see them as complementary. For example, making handmade textiles is a laborious task, and with the use of technology, it could be tested and tested in an augmented way before having to commit to the physicality of it.

What relevance do you think this exclusively digital product could have in the future?

Working on Zoom starts to relate to the way we dress – how you dress as a human. Over time we can get over it more – maybe there will be [digital] dress up box? The possibilities are limitless.

Without the use of raw materials, […] what are the possibilities in terms of design development?

As cultures and nations, our lives, capacities and digital potentials are developing. We’ve only been using this digital technology for a nanosecond – we’re not even touching the tip of the iceberg.

Rottingdean Bazaar by Dexter Lander | Source: courtesy

Rottingdean BazaarUnlock the digital aesthetic and product

First presented under the aegis of Fashion East, the artist duo successfully engaged the industry through irreverent aesthetics and witty references to mundane objects. Creative direction and styling allowed the duo to express other conceptual ideas in a variety of formats and media. They also give lectures at universities such as Central St Martins, Westminster and HEAD in Geneva.

How has technology allowed you to innovate in your creative process?

Often times we have ideas for things that are not well suited or doable, or that we do not want to do in the physical world. It’s interesting to think of other possibilities for us […] an image, a film or, in this case, a digital 3D object. Our type of work is often digested online, through these [mediums]. Over time, we become more and more interested in creating images and often reflect on how the physical parts we make are viewed through digital media. Even 3D work becomes 2D again, when viewed as an image or video.

How could you apply the technology in your business in the future?

We are very interested in thinking about fashion and costume […] the relationship between the two. In a digital space, we can bring them together – create something that can act like a filter, that is temporary, momentary, and can change. The project got us thinking, “if you’re let loose in a digital landscape, [could] it looks like?

What relevance do you think this exclusively digital product could have in the future?

It was exciting for us to think of this as a new medium to work in. One that has the potential as another way for people to interact with fashion. We probably can’t even think of what might be done eventually.

Bethany Williams by Amber Nixon | Source: courtesy

Bethany Williams –Reinventing materiality

The designer founded her brand in 2017 and has chosen to source waste books, second-hand denim and hand-woven textiles to create 100% recycled clothing for her projects. With only three collections to her name, the newcomer quickly gained recognition from people like Anna wintour and Nicolas Ghesquiere for her work with homeless shelters, food banks and recycled clothing co-created by inmates.

What industry challenges have you sought to overcome

When we create samples, we sketch, create a pattern, and then fabricate a canvas to test the fit, but the canvas is not created in the exact fabric of the final garment.

This 3D element can skip steps and remove waste from the design process. Through [Microsoft technology], you can see exactly how the final material would perform and drape, eliminating the need for a canvas.

What creative opportunities has technology enabled you to exploit?

We were [able] to get an idea of ​​how exactly he might drape himself over the body. For this project, the material is made from old books from a publishing house. It mimics the way it’s going to behave, so it could also eliminate waste in that way.

How could you use technology in your business in the future?

My collections are textile-oriented and feature hand-woven materials. [Buyers] like to come to our showroom to see and touch. It would be useful to be able to present the crafts digitally.

It would help to digitally present the craft to buyers.

The technology will produce new materials, as well as provide a new era of original clothing deconstruction. We need to keep traditional crafts alive, and technology is a way to showcase these crafts. I am still a strong supporter of “slow”.

Fredrik Tjaerandsen by Carlos Jimenez | Source: courtesy

Fredrik Tjærandsen – Richer connections for consumers

Her 2019 grads show at Central Saint Martin quickly caught her media attention with inflatable ‘balloon style’ dresses, setting the precedent for her exploratory and repulsive approach to design.

What creative opportunities has technology opened up?

With the help of Microsoft experts, converting our 2D designs to 3D models allowed us to implement new ideas almost instantly. Technology has broadened creation [design process] beyond the typical material and logistical restrictions which can be costly, time consuming and unnecessary.

Moving Photoshop designs directly into Microsoft technology provided 3D views of digitally manipulated clothing, adding new aspects of experimentation and presentation to this stage of the design process.

This project [emphasised] the limits of physical design, especially with regard to the number of ideas that can realistically be attempted. Hardware restrictions are easily eliminated with current technology, as are broader physical limitations such as gravity and size.

How could you apply the technology in your business in the future?

With technology, much of the shipping and purchasing of hardware could be eliminated, massively speeding up the design process. That would do [the process] much simpler, more efficient and more durable.

Hardware restrictions are easily removed, and physical limitations such as severity and size are broader.

Customers could get a better idea of ​​what product they are buying, just by seeing the designs displayed digitally and maybe even trying on the clothes virtually – lots of overbuying, returns and, again, wasted resources would be reduced.

What potential do you see for other exclusively digital products?

I want to explore digital-only products more, as technology advances and people spend more time in the digital space. My customers are also very open to these technologies – it’s so relevant to [find ways] to better communicate with people through digital platforms and [consumers] obviously want to be dressed for the occasion, trying on hairstyles and accessories alongside digital clothing.

This is a sponsored feature paid for by Microsoft as part of a BoF partnership.

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