Sunday, November 4, 2018

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming The Fashion Industry

Any fashion enthusiast will know what an insurmountable task it is to keep up with changing and capricious fashion trends. With ecommerce leading the way for the Indian startup ecosystem, fashion websites have carved a niche for themselves. With Indian ecommerce slated to touch the $100 Bn dollar mark by 2020, the fashion industry stands to own up to 35% worth of shares in the pie.

These improving prospects of online fashion retail only add to the increasing competition. Confronted with the challenges of longevity and sustainable growth, fashion sites are keenly turning towards artificial intelligence (AI) to rise over the challenges and provide customers with a customer service that is truly extraordinary and next generation.

Indigenous AI startups are working in close sync with the fashion industry, to identify upcoming trends, automate repetitive tasks that often lead to massive cash burns, whilst making the platform truly intuitive. Here’s a list down of 5 ways in which AI is assisting the fashion industry evolve and combat the present challenges!

Making Product Discovery A Cinch for Users

Searching for the apparel by its name, if even a possibility, is a herculean task nonetheless.

Let’s say, you, a user or a fashion enthusiast, watched a movie in which the actor wore a beautiful dress. You want to own the exact some dress but the problem is – you can’t describe it in text. After all, the human brain cannot convert every scene/image into text.

For such problems, an AI-powered image search is a really helpful technology which can assist the user to search an item just by clicking the pic.

Curating Fashion Trends Effortlessly

In general, when we search for any particular apparel on any of the ecommerce websites, the results shown are based on current fashion trends in the market. For example, if you are searching a shirt on some ecommerce platform, there is only a niche collection of results curated by the platform.

Currently, choosing which items to show is done manually by fashion curators which not only makes it a time-consuming task but also economically unfeasible. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is capable of learning the fashion trends by analysing social media feeds and based on that analysis, it can assist ecommerce companies in incorporating those trends while showing the results.

Product Description Simplified And Automated

For the sake of better understanding, let’s take an example of a user searching for a “Floral Anarkali Kurti.” There are typically three tags in the search, namely, “floral”, “Anarkali” and “kurti”. In general, if this particular tag is not present in the product descriptions of ecommerce platforms, the same will never be discovered by the end users. This is the reason why every ecommerce company invests a lot of money in generating relevant tags for their end products.

However, describing the entire myriad of products for the purpose of cataloguing and meta tagging, is not only tiresome but also lavishly cost-intensive.

Artificial intelligence is supporting some of the big ecommerce brands to generate such important tags with just the image of the product. Our proprietary AI technology at Staqu is reducing the time and cost involved in this operation for ecommerce portals.

Making Recommendations Really Relevant

Proper recommendations play a critical role in increasing the sales of online shopping sites. By recommending similar or complementary products, fashion brands not only have a wider scope for upselling, but also connect better with the customers, extending a better experience.

The same process can be automated with AI. After carefully analysing the popular trends and studying the images a user has typically searched for, artificial intelligence makes room for real-time and most precise recommendations.

Deep Analysis And More

Given the present state of the economy, data is the new oil.

Companies today are fastidiously leveraging the power of data, in order to predict users’ behaviour. The learnings from the same can be further utilised to improve the service, product positioning, pricing and more. In order to extract such crucial information from the raw data that is getting accumulated every day is another area where AI is utilised. Although there is limited penetration of AI in analysing data, for now, the same functionality is going to hold greater significance in times to come.

In Conclusion

In essence, artificial intelligence is not only helping the fashion industry to cut down costs and overheads but is also making the entire platform superior, intuitive and smart. Given the bloodbath set between the fashion ecommerce players, with Amazon India, Snapdeal and Flipkart vying to get their hands on a bigger share of the pie, AI is only going to increase in its scope and utility.

The young brands, established OEMs and other aspiring players in the fashion domain, would have to welcome the technology, in order to maintain their edge in the industry and make their pursuit of long-lasting business success, a reality.

Courtesy : Atul Rai  - Inc42

Revolutionizing Fashion Through Blockchain

Blockchain has taken the world by storm and it has proven that it is here to stay. The technology behind its distributed ledger and decentralized system was initially applied in the finance and banking sector, however, with the potential it holds and the ways it has been applied, Blockchain is now expanding to revolutionize many other sectors.

The fashion industry, in particular, has shown an inclination towards adopting new technologies with the rise of competition, however, nothing has been as revolutionizing as the different applications of the Blockchain technology on the industry.

Product Authenticity:
With the counterfeit goods market reaching over $450 billion, it is gradually becoming one of the biggest threats facing the global fashion industry. Not only is it stealing from the sales of the brands, it is also damaging reputations that brands have put so much effort and resources in building. However, with the use of Blockchain, fashion and luxury brands are able to put an end to this problem.

With the use of a unique serial number attached to each item at the point of production, blockchain technology is able to verify the originality of every item. Later on, when customers purchase the product, they are able to verify the authenticity and declare official ownership.

Supply Chain Transparency:
With the demand for sustainability in the fashion industry higher than ever, fashion brands are being pushed to become more transparent and ethical about their supply chain and ways of production. With the implementation of Blockchain, brands will be able to build customers trust and deliver transparency by providing products information, permanently stored in the database, through tracking and recording every step of the production process, from its manufacturer to its end user.

A best practice that has demonstrated the potential success of such implementation is the collaboration between Provenance and designer Martine Jarlgaard during the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2017. In their experiment, they placed a unique digital token on each garment that enabled every step of the production process to be registered and tracked through Blockchain on the Provenance app. This information was then made available to consumers by simply scanning the QR code on their item.

Retail Opportunity:
What Blockchain can contribute to in terms of retail is truly unprecedented in the fashion industry. With its decentralized system, every SKU produced by every brand would be accessible by any retailer worldwide. Hence, creating a universal pathway for retailers to report back directly to suppliers. This can be used not only to report stock levels but also to communicate customer feedback to suppliers/producers and optimizing production levels.

Environmental Sustainability:
Using blockchain to understand the complexity of creating a product can alter the perception of users regarding their consumption habits. Consumers will understand that with every clothing there is a story, they will be able to see how every item was made and shed a light on the craftsmanship and manpower behind it. This can eventually reduce the huge number of clothes that end up in landfills every year.

It is important to remember that blockchain doesn’t stop at the last point of production, it also records the end user who buys the product. Later on, they can transfer ownership to new future buyers, and those “new owners” will be able to access all information about the garment and its previous owners, as well as confirm its origins.

Seeing how the Blockchain technology can be employed in decentralising the fashion industry and curating new tools and methods from production to consumption, we, at Lablaco, truly believe in the potential of blockchain and the power it holds in becoming the new ISO (Standards Body) for the fashion industry, and we look forward to implementing this technology in the near future.

Courtesy :  Lablaco

Brands are using blockchain to promote sustainable products

Customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products — and brands are betting on blockchain to make that happen.
The technology, best known for underpinning bitcoin, is being used by brands to develop a shared electronic record that tracks a product’s origins from farms, factories and across transportation routes to the store.
Recent examples cut across product categories, including food, apparel and jewelry. Walmart has been using the technology to track food items’ trajectories, following successful trials with pork in China and sliced mangoes in the U.S. two years ago. In May, diamond company De Beers rolled out a blockchain tool called Tracr to track the paths of diamonds from mines to cutters to polishers to confirm they’re not being used to support violence. In the fashion world, designer Martine Jarlgaard last year began a pilot program with startup Provenance using a digital platform to track the path of raw garments to consumers’ shelves. Companies using the technology have promoted these efforts through media outreach over the past year; Walmart said it will eventually introduce ways for customers to interact with its blockchain solution.
Brands say blockchain can be used to meet consumer demands for sustainability and safety. Sustainability has an important marketing side effect — through a transparent history of product transactions, companies can more effectively tell brand stories and build consumer confidence. Through a shared ledger where all transactions are visible, brands can reassure customers that products are safe and sourced legally and ethically.
“We are headed into an era where there will be waning trust in online marketplaces because it is increasingly difficult to verify the quality of the products or sellers,” said Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Kodali. “Quality product and sellers will be a parameter of differentiation.”
Walmart currently uses blockchain to track 25 types of food products, including a selection of berries, chicken and milk, according to Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vp of food safety and health. While he said food safety is a non-competitive issue (Walmart uses an IBM blockchain platform along with handful of other retailers, including Kroger, Driscoll’s and Unilever), he acknowledged that building consumer trust is an important consequence of these efforts.
“Customer expectations are changing — they want to know more about where their food comes from, how it was grown, if it’s organic; we strive to be the most trusted retailer,” he said, in an interview at the Bloomberg Value of Data conference in New York this week.
Marie Wieck, gm of IBM Blockchain, said blockchain has potential for retailers who are looking to prove product origins to customers, adding credibility to sustainability claims.
“We’re seeing use cases that get at the sourcing decisions, like ‘I want to support sustainable farmers,’ or ‘I want to support local retailers,'” she said. Retailers and CPG companies are using blockchain for good as part of their own corporate social responsibility efforts, including, for example, fair-trade certification, she added.
In addition to its blockchain-based food tracking platform that Walmart uses, last month, IBM and Maersk rolled out a blockchain-based shipping solution called Trade Lens — a shared digital repository of transactions. Ninety manufacturers and retailers globally are currently on board, according to IBM, but it wouldn’t say which ones.
Despite blockchain’s promise as a tool to build credibility among consumers, the technology is still in its infancy, with brands and providers still trying to address data-quality issues, including building technology to detect when errors are introduced. Others question whether use of blockchain product tracking itself will result in a brand lift, arguing it’s one component of a larger strategy to build consumer confidence.
“I’m not sure that blockchain is directly tied to brand equity,” said Kodali. “It could be an enabler.”
Implementation is also concern, particularly challenges involved in embedding tracking devices in physical goods at scale.
“When you start to take [tracking] and put it into the physical world across a very complex and multinational supply chain, things get complicated, like how are you going to embed a chip into a luxury bag and how do you verify that the chip is safe?” said Josh Ong, director of global brand strategy at the Blockchain Wave Lab, Cheetah Mobile’s blockchain product studio.

Courtesy : Suman Bhattacharyya -

Saturday, September 1, 2018

House of Lonali: A Promising Sign of Sustainable Fashion in Sri Lanka

Within Sri Lanka’s illustrious fashion industry, sustainability hasn’t traditionally been a top-notch priority.
In an era of conscious consumption, however, where ethical production, recycling, and up-cycling are now entering the mainstream, House of Lonali has more than just a few tricks up its sleeve.
As Lonali Rodrigo, Head Designer and Founder of the brand passionately explained to me, up-cycling refers to the process where waste material is recreated to produce high-quality items. Through this process, House of Lonali transforms discarded or unused material into bold pieces of clothing, perfect for individuals with a taste for clean and classic looks.Imbued with a real cosmopolitan edge, the brand’s designs are both versatile and fit for the unforgiving Sri Lankan climate. More than just its fancy floral printed tube tops, conversation-stopping Honza shirts, and reverse print dresses, House of Lonali is also known for its signature line of footwear, featuring both striking prints and more subtle designs. The label is also increasingly popular for its stylish and practical clutches, which are frequently paired with high fashion get-ups.
Women’s clothing and accessories, however, are only the tip of the iceberg for the savvy designer.
With a repertoire of unconventional design work, the label is soon to launch not just a menswear and children’s line but also its second rainwear collection with Rainco. Following up to a daring collection two years ago, the pieces are set to take the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week by a storm later this year.
In my conversation with the powerhouse behind this global brand, which has an established arm in the UK, one thing I was made to understand is that sustainable fashion is often mired with mistaken beliefs.
Lonali keenly pointed out that unlike other sustainable practices, opting for up-cycled fashion does not mean you compromise on style, comfort or affordability. In fact, you only access high-quality materials that are stylistically redesigned to provide fresh and daring looks. The bonus here is that all the processes behind the sourcing and manufacturing of the clothes are entirely ethical, allowing buyers to sleep soundly knowing they’ve done their duty by the unsung heroes of the clothing industry.
In my conversation with Lonali, I asked her what’s in store for the brand in the near future. Here, she informed me that a couple of exciting lines are soon to be released, including an eye-popping collection that features the work of a young, talented typography artist, as well her aforementioned raincoat collection.
Available at The Design Collective, Zudora (with whom the brand has its own collaboration), and directly from the House of Lonali store, products are available either for direct purchase or through delivery. Orders are accepted through the brand’s keenly-followed Facebook andInstagram profiles.
With players like House of Lonali leading the sustainable fashion niche in Sri Lanka, it’s not long before these efforts make a significant impact on the lure and appeal of local designs in the international market.

Courtesy -

Monday, August 13, 2018

What Steps towards Sustainable Textiles will be Beneficial for Future

There is almost no part of the globe where the sustainability movement has not knocked. Textiles are a significant part of our life, and just as we ensure making responsible lifestyle in the food products we consume, we require being aware of the effect of our role as a consumer of textiles.

Related imageToday, industries pursue sustainability goals more assertively; they realize they cannot work in isolation from their surrounding eco-system. They require working with their stakeholders like suppliers, vendors, industry peers as well as customers closely. Therefore there is a mounting need for textiles industry community to reply to this demand for shared actions.  In agreement with that trend or agenda, many people across the globe are pushing for more sustainable textiles or ethically created fabrics.
Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability in Textiles 
Image result for Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability in Textiles
Environmental sustainability is and may be the most observable in future textile industry prospects. 
This means that we want to persuade habits that will not have off-putting long-term impacts on the environment, including the safeguarding of resources.
Social sustainability refers to building a balance of social equity of even-handedness. We must stay away from practices that are inherently exploitative or which are only advantageous to some communities at a loss to others.

Economic sustainability means crafting products that can realistically be integrated into the present and future markets.  

Sustainable Materials 
Image result for Sustainable Materials textile

Sustainable textiles commence with sustainable materials. Many of our modern textiles are produced utilizing synthetic textiles. Many people don't comprehend this, but most synthetic materials are in fact developed using petroleum. Petroleum-based fibers comprise nylon, polyester, and spandex. Anything dependent on petroleum, which is naturally limited in capacity and naturally extractive, is not sustainable or beneficial for future.

Hemp, bamboo, and soy are strong, adaptable plants with minimum environmental impact. Sheep have a lesser environmental impact than goats. Cotton is not as environmentally pleasant as hemp but is softer. Cashmere comes only from goat wool and not sheep wool. So, to ensure that textiles are economically sustainable, we require learning to develop them in new sustainable ways.

Image result for Sustainable Materials textileSustainable Production

Once we have sustainable materials in hand, we require ensuring that even the definite production of textiles is responsibly done. Taking an example, dyes are a key part of the textile production, but they create a large quantity of chemical wastes. We can solve this issue by utilizing low-impact dyes, produced from natural ingredients with some salts and without any metals.

Image result for Responsible Products for Future sustainable textileResponsible Products for Future
You can build the most responsible products for the future, but that won't matter if you can't create it at a price people can pay for and consume it. In terms of textiles, this is additionally essential as design matters a lot. So, a responsible or reasonable product will still won't work if it's unattractive.

Moving Forward
It is important that every stakeholder realizes that sustainable products are essential for the prolonged existence of the planet earth. It is also up to the customer to have sustainable clothing or fabrics through their designers and manufacturers. However, in future, one of the strong ways that can transform the sustainable habits is if economic aspects sturdily come into the picture.