NYC Fashion and Technology Conference

Source: Forbes, May 2012

Designers were also quick to outline the limits to social engagement. “Crowd sourcing is about allowing fans to participate and contribute rather than them designing for or with you” said Miller.

Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Venture complained that many of the companies that approach him for funding are too focused on the wrong things. “People try to pitch me on the fashion. I’m the wrong guy for that, because I don’t know that much about fashion. What I care about is the business model.”

The investors believe that there are big opportunities for new and different business models in the fashion industry.

“Everything in fashion that doesn’t work will be reinvented in 5-10 years” said Lawrence Lenihan of Firstmark Capital. “If you know how to use technology, you have an enormous advantage.”He urged the attendees to anticipate future changes, rather than just be reactive. “How will YOU use technology to disrupt your industry?”

Previously, designer would “guess” at what consumers want. Now, using analytics, they can get information directly from customers, and many of the disruptions to the fashion industry will be driven by the insights gained.

Conference attendee Anthony Santagati III agreed. “This consumer behavior panel is THE most important panel for any brand today.” He explained that in his opinion many people in the fashion industry don’t understand the importance of analytics to business success. “But the longer people have worked in real-life operations, the more they get it.”

The general consensus was that the future will see retailers moving away from defined “sizes” to a more general notion of “fit.” To achieve this, the industry will need better tools to gather and store the real measurements of clothes and customers.

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