Matthew Drinkwater

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Fashiontech Innovator

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Synopsis

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 manufacture and supply chain to retail and design. From what clothes can do (monitoring your activities, charging your phone) to how VR could replace high street shop to how robots could replace craftspeople, he finds important lessons for any industry in collaboration, disruption and future strategy.

Biography

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, and looks at how a traditional industry adapts to disruption.

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. He considers how traditional businesses can embrace innovation, new supply chains and new financial models. He looks at the effects of new materials and manufacturing processes (including manufacturing locally and on demand) as well as potentially huge shifts in retail. As wearable technology becomes more integrated with everyday clothing, he asks what are the implications for businesses who use the data provided, and their customers?

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? He considers an industry which, despite appearing youth-driven and innovative, is in fact deeply traditional and slow to change. There are vital lessons for how businesses can believe themselves prepared for or immune to the dramatic changes ahead; lessons he’s shared with industries including banking, automotive and engineering.

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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