Industry Articles





Why IFAB? And a brief overview of the past 20 years in fashion & tech


On reflection, it's important to keep asking why? IFAB was an idea that came from several years of quiet observation, a constant stream of thoughts and a fiery passion for style, experience and brand.

During my time working in a tech consultancy as B2B marketing manager, I saw just how much of a challenge it was for ASX listed organisations, government agencies and the private sector to digitally innovate.  Their legacy systems were a bottle neck to innovation. These clunky programs weren't built for seamless integration or an intuitive user experience.   On a side note, we’ve come leaps and bounds with regard to system design, and UX has a huge role to play in this.

The mounting pressure to transform businesses with stale processes into agile and forward thinking organisations really wasn't to be taken lightly, and took much more than an IT project to transform, but teams had to start somewhere.

It was no surprise with the eagerness to advance, SAAS and mobile connectivity were gaining serious momentum. From plugins to app integrations within CMS and CRM platforms, an infatuation began with customising business systems.

This opened up a plethora and or perception of added data insight and maybe, just maybe a simpler way of doing things.  This approach though, led to many companies adding plugins without a full understanding of their own digital transformation strategy, implementation, data analysis objectives and actual usefulness. Essentially, it was fast fashion for software systems, and very quickly their wardrobes filled with old-trends, poor fit garments and terrible quality fabric.

Meanwhile, jump over to Fashion which was and is also booming, the focus wasn't so much on digital transformation but trends, product, bricks and mortar, e-commerce and more recently digital and physical shopping experience.

Transformation conversations hadn't really begun in fashion, not for small to medium size businesses anyway, which is why it’s crucial for our community to advocate digital and business transformation in fashion.  

There’s huge risk that without curiosity to evolve and stay relevant, fashion businesses will fall through the cracks and the remnants will be articles informing their unfortunate demise, or worse - sold their soul to a department chain.

Many fashion companies that have been around for years are lacking the guidance and collaboration to evolve. The fashion industry needs people like us to understand and protect the fashion experience, because for a long time yet fashion will underpin the way we communicate ourselves to the world.

It's not all doom and gloom though, when things start to feel like they're dragging along or innovation projects have slowed down, just remember how far we've come in 10-20 years. 

Two decades and two industries both inventing, learning and pushing the boundaries of possibility.    Fashion has experimented with technology for years, but not really in the capacity to innovate and transform a business, in many cases it's been to make a bold statement of artistic opinion. Only more recently has there been a heavier convergence of tech with fashion including wearables, sustainable textiles, retail specific SAAS, mixed reality and personalisation.

Below are some highlights and even though only a handful are featured, it's a testament to you and those around you who are willing and brave enough to experiment, try and make a bold statement.

98-99 //

  • First virtual fashion show, Fall 1998 Helmut Lang

  • Alexander McQueen Spring Show with spray painting robots

  • Netflix, Paypal & Zappos, Alibaba launch

  • Amazon patents its 1-Click service

07-09 //

  • Farfetch kicked off in 07

  • Global Financial Crisis

  • Bitcoin launches in 09

  • Amazon acquires Zappos

16-17 //

  • Online styling service - Stitch Fix IPO's

  • 3D printed fashion - Interdimensional Collection by threeASFOUR

  • Blockchain and fashion start to merge for greater transparency

  • Westfield Corp accepts $32.8b deal

  • Sophia - AI human-like robot, granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

Written by Saskia Fairfull, Founding Member

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Saskia Fairfull