Will digital fashion labs change the way we shop?
Tech meets fashion. Source: Stears Business

I've never been a fan of tech.

You can ask my sister. She has pegged me as the annoying sibling (it doesn't help that I'm the last of 4 kids) who is overly curious. She studied computer science, has launched two tech startups and has me to deal with when I ask her questions like "what is a blockchain?"

But it's 2021, and terms like 'metaverse' and 'non-fungible tokens' (NFTs) are filling up my search engines daily. Additionally, with phrases like "technological transformation" and "market disruptors" being thrown around, I'm learning to get with the program—tech is here to stay.
 

Some takeaways

  • The fashion industry—the second global polluter after the oil industry—has driven many companies to seek alternative solutions to combat waste.

  • Balms Labs, an African 3D technology company, is at the forefront of this shift by helping businesses adapt tech-based products into the production cycle.

  •  Adopting these solutions may be a slow climb for the African continent due to limitations in IT literacy.


Since the pandemic, a lot of consumer shopping habits and experiences have shifted drastically. The way we shop and dress increasingly relies on the internet. While pandemic-related health and safety measures are becoming relaxed, the knock-on effect of policies like social distancing has highlighted the importance of digital channels now more than ever. And because of that, most companies and fashion designers seek to capitalise on this intersection between fashion and tech. But survival in this new digital world will not come easily. So how can companies adjust and adapt new tech-driven strategies to help their businesses stay updated?

One example is the 2020 digital-only runway show by fashion brand—Hanifa—which took place on Instagram live. According to this article, the designer, Anifa Mveumba, decided to tow the digital route following the cancellation of New York Fashion week as news of the coronavirus spread. Undeterred, Mveumba took matters into her own hands and furloughed her way into the world of 3D technology and held one of the industry's most innovative events to date. She has leveraged technology and social media to build a business worth $1 million in revenue as of 2019.

But things aren't so different on the continent. Designers like Tongoro Studio and Christie Brown are finding innovative and cleaner ways to not only digitise the fashion production process but simplify it through the help of Balm Labs. This digital fashion lab creates digital assets for fashion brands. In the coming sections, I'll take you through the world of fashion beyond its perceived glitz and glamour and introduce you to a space where tech geeks like my sister can find their bearing in the industry as well. But let's highlight the possible reason or two why this move to tech-focus fashion activities is necessary.

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Anne-Marie Amadi-Emina

Anne-Marie Amadi-Emina

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