How mobile technology is disrupting fashion from the runway to the showroom floor to the dressing room

By Katie McWilliam

| Retail

Mobile is more than just fashionable. As the go-to device that majority of people depend on, it transcends utility to impact us at a deeper psychological level. In fact, being without one’s smart phone has real and measurable physiological impacts to our body. Besides the emotional tie and the obvious impact of wearables on the product lines of the fashion industry, mobile is also changing the industry itself. It’s altered how fashion is created, supplied, perceived, sold, worn and shared.

Like many industries, fashion is being disrupted by technology, particularly mobile tech in the form of smartphones and today’s wearables, like smart watches. The wearable technology market is set to surpass $72 billion by 2021, with much of it attributed to the health, wellness, and fitness segment. Just look at the Marchesa cognitive dress as an example of a high-fashion wearable. It absorbs data to express color as the gown is worn. Fashion is expected to continue to integrate these mobile technology advances and we’ll start to see a shift from buying smart devices to buying products that can become smart.

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Even with this growth, fashion was not known for being the fastest adopter of new technology, and it was particularly slow to embrace the internet. But, mobile has been a game changer in its reach directly to the customer.

The main areas of focus for mobile technology in the retail industry are:

At fashion shows

With fashion shows, mobile is playing a larger role in the staging, sharing, and planning for fashion events. So much so that there were predictions after last year that there may be some overdose on smart phones and social media from the large fashion shows, with runway models running rampant with selfies on the catwalk.


In fashion trend identification and buying

Mobile has changed the way trends are spotted and influenced buying decisions by retailers. For instance, Dynamic Buy is an App for employees that helps to identify hot items or items that might become big sellers so that buyers can stock up for customers yet to come.

On the store floors

The experience your customers have is impacted substantially by the help you can provide them and the inventory you have. While having the inventory enables sales, providing customer assistance facilitates sales. Great salespeople can become even better salespeople when they’re given a mobile device to provide customer assistance and quickly access more inventory. The difference on upselling can be margin-making for retailers who are increasingly under pressure.

As mobile technology continues to influence all facets of fashion, we’ll see its advancements affect everything from how fashion is made, how it’s sold, and how it can provide us with greater utility.

Written By

Katie McWilliam

Social Business Manager for IBM Mobile

Katie is the Social Business Manager for IBM Mobile, maintaining the social presence across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. She helps develop the content marketing strategy to create engaging social content. Katie is aluma of Virginia Tech. Prior to IBM, Katie developed…