Working at the cutting-edge of fashion, technology and retail, Matthew demonstrates how the fashion industry is being changed in every facet of its operation. From what clothes can do (monitoring your activities, charging your phone) to how VR could replace high street shops, how robots could replace craftspeople to the future of manufacturing he finds important lessons for any industry in collaboration, disruption and future strategy.
Matthew Drinkwater is Head of the Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) at the London College of Fashion. His work brings together diverse industries to create a vision of the future that incorporates wearable technologies, AR, VR, robotics, IoT, AI, materials technology and a host of cutting-edge developments. It also covers areas of design, manufacture, retail and supply that have parallels in a host of sectors.
Coming from a career on the frontline of fashion and retail, Matthew has worked for brands including Harrods and Casio. He joined the College of Fashion to lead research, teaching and industry partnerships at the intersection of fashion, retail and technology.
The college, one of the leading fashion training institutions in the world, is now leading the way in the growing business of fashiontech. Whilst preparing the future generation of designers, buyers and brand and retail bosses, Matthew and his team have built innovative, showcase projects. Projects like the world’s first digital skirt for Nokia, a working, 3D-printed bionic arm for a Star Wars event, and what Forbes magazine described as 'the first example of truly beautiful wearable tech' for Disney.
Whilst examining the creative impact of technology, Matthew also considers the wider effects. How will new materials and manufacturing processes change what we wear, its cost, how we buy it and how often, and what it can do? As wearable technology becomes more integrated with everyday clothing, what are the implications for businesses who use the data provided? What are the pros and cons of clothing that monitors you, tells shops your preferences, and charges your phone as you move?
As well as these areas affecting fashion and retail, Matthew draws parallels with other sectors and looks at the lessons in disruption and collaboration. Using an industry that everyone one can relate to (everyone that’s ever bought or worn clothes) he asks if fashion can explore the worlds of VR and AR in retail and design, nanotechnology and robotics in manufacturing, and even Blockchain in supply logistics, what can others do? Like many industries, fashion has both embraced and resisted the changes imposed on it by technology. Matthew considers an industry which, despite appearing youth-driven and innovative, is in fact traditional and intransigent. There are vital lessons for how businesses can believe themselves prepared for or immune to the dramatic changes ahead.
Matthew was named in the 100 most influential people in the world of Wearable Technology, amongst the Top 15 people in UK tech by BBC3, and as a 'fashion-tech trailblazer changing the course of retail' by Drapers magazine.
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