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London’s CFE introduces fashion tech start-ups for second incubator programme

Centre for Fashion Enterprise
The Centre for Fashion Enterprise has been supporting fashion businesses since 2003

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise has announced the latest businesses to be joining its FashTech Pioneer Programme.

The London College of Fashion-based incubator aims to support entrepreneurs who want to redefine the future of the industry, and it believes technology is at the forefront of that world.

Among its latest cohort is a diverse spectrum of SMEs accordingly, including a co-creation and crowdfunding platform called Awaytomars, a fintech for fashion app called Cashmere, and a customisable fine jewellery brand called Gilded Lab. Also included is Meame, a performance fashion brand; Tinker Design, which provide massaging insole artisan shoes; and the customisable footwear of Solely Original.

“Through this programme, we aim to bridge the gap between fashion, technology and digital industries and support product and process innovation,” says Ishwari Thopte, fashion tech project officer at the CFE. “With the decline of traditional fashion business models and changing consumption patterns, there’s an urgent need for emerging designers and brands to find innovative and disruptive routes to market. We firmly believe that the future of the fashion industry lies in the intelligent use and adaptation of technology.”

Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the six-month programme is designed to offer fashion tech brands a wide range of business support. Each of the start-ups chosen were done so on the basis of having a unique and scalable business idea, having the potential to disrupt existing industry models, and being at a stage where the scheme can add adequate value, Thopte explained.

Said the team from Awaytomars: “As a fresh start-up we’re looking forward to benefiting from the CFE mentors’ years of experience in a variety of sectors. We want to build collaborative relationships with them and the other programme participants. We’re hoping to use the opportunities provided by taking part to challenge ourselves and develop a strong, positive and sustainable brand offer for our community members and for the fashion industry.”

Megan Aylot, co-founder of Meame, added: “It will be great to have mentors with knowledge in the tech side of fashion and be able to help strategise a way to increase sales. I’m looking forward to the diagnostic meeting and creating a personalised programme for our business. Contacts and referrals to retail buyers that are relevant will be a great bridge for Meame and I’m hoping will lead to firm sales. Finally access to finance and direct links to investors will be a big part of moving our business forwards.”

The CFE ran its first FashTech Pioneer Programme in 2015, taking on nine businesses across a variety of subsectors including e-commerce, smart textiles and big data. The idea came off the back of networking events, Thopte explains: “We started organising fashion tech meet-ups in 2014 in an attempt to get fashion, tech and digital creatives together and start facilitating conversations that would lead to cross pollination of ideas across different sectors. We soon realised that fashion tech businesses were unique when compared to the two different sectors they fused together and needed tailored support in order to succeed.”

The CFE is otherwise in its 13th year of operating and has helped designers including Erdem, Peter Pilotto and Mary Katrantzou fast-track into businesses.

product technology

Crowdfunding find: Pebble designer creates smartwatch-friendly hoodie

The Betabrand Smarthole Hoodie
The Betabrand Smarthole Hoodie

There was a genius campaign run this past April Fools that saw H&M “releasing” a capsule collection in collaboration with Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, you’ve got it – grey t-shirts and blue jeans; a humorous take on the fact the Facebook founder does indeed wear the same outfit everyday in a bid to put the mental energy such decisions take to other more important things.

The only thing missing in this case was the dark grey hoodie he also frequently dons.

Otherwise known as the mainstay of the Silicon Valley uniform, the hoodie as a key item continues to get all sorts of attention. Now, it’s also at the heart of a new initiative from the head of industrial design at Pebble in a bid to come up with something that works better with smartwatches.

Head over to Forbes to read the full story on the all-new “Smarthole Hoodie“, currently in Think Tank stage on crowdfunding clothing platform, Betabrand.

product Startups technology

Crowdfunding find: This wearable helps kids learn tech skills through active play


The latest launch from start-up Technology Will Save Us is a wearable device for kids called The Mover Kit. One part accessory, and the other an educational tech toy, it comes as a series of components, including a set of eight RGB LEDs, printed circuit board, motion sensor (or accelerometer), compass and rechargeable battery, that need to be put together. Doing so is said to be as easy as building a LEGO house or paper airplane. Once done, a band is added that snaps around the wrist.

The idea of the device is it then reacts as the wearer moves; illuminating different lights based on different actions. Twist it one way and it turns red, the other way and it’s changes to white, for instance. Move a lot, and all eight “rainbow” LEDs will trigger. The intention is to encourage active play.

But the kit isn’t just about such building – the real creativity lies in the fact kids can code what the rules are themselves. Head over to Forbes to read all about how.

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Digital snippets: Ralph Lauren’s connected fitting room, IBM Watson predicts holiday shopping, Burberry customers can star in new campaign

Here’s a round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

A Polo Ralph Lauren associate trying out the interactive fitting

  • Ralph Lauren and Oak Labs debut interactive fitting rooms [WWD]
  • IBM Watson trend app predicts hot holiday shopping items [AdAge]
  • Burberry makes customers the star of their own fashion campaign [Brand Republic]
  • Sephora’s new retail stores will take cues from YouTube [Digiday]
  • New Balance will sell 3D-printed shoes in Boston starting next year [Beta Boston]
  • Target’s big digital holiday campaign combines Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram [AdWeek]
  • J Crew and American Girl embrace social commerce ads for the holidays [AdWeek]
  • Andy Dunn’s plans to build a digital native brand empire with Bonobos [Redef]
  • Burberry receives top ranking in L2 digital index [Yahoo]
  • Macy’s imagines the shop of the future in time for Black Friday [PSFK]
  • What’s behind the exodus from Rent the Runway? [Fortune]
  • Amazon touts new drone prototype [WSJ]
  • Brooklyn’s Catbird prioritises digital over brick-and-mortar expansion [Fashionista]
  • Is there still hope for fashion crowdfunding? [BoF]
  • Can artificial intelligence sell shoes? [WSJ]
  • Three ways data is transforming fashion retail [WGSN]
  • Instant messaging will change the way brands talk to customers, says Tictail [Wired]
  • The potential of geolocation for revolutionising retail [HBR]
  • Retail enters third phase of digital evolution [FT]
  • Will social selling work in fashion? [BoF]
  • Hands-on with Facebook’s haphazard shopping feed [TechCrunch]
  • The future of shopping is… Second Life on acid? Imagining a virual reality mega mall [Co.Design]
  • Stitch Fix creates an army of brand advocates, one social share at a time [The Future of Commerce]