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Rapha launches custom cycling kits on demand

British cycling brand Rapha has teamed up with software company Unmade to launch a personalized design service that enables customers to create their own team kits.

Rapha Custom allows cyclists to design their team’s own kits by starting from a template, and then choosing from a variety of layouts (such as plain or chevron) and over 40 color combinations. To further personalize it, they can upload their team logos and add text. The software will then show photorealistic renders of the final design onto any photography, including lifestyle imagery of a group in any location-based scenario. Designs are digitally printed on demand, and delivered within eight weeks.

“When launching Rapha Custom we looked to address some of the biggest constraints for groups of cyclists creating custom kit,” said Ed Clifford, head of Rapha Custom. “The market was crying out for a design led and fully digital customer experience that was seamless in manufacturing and delivery. Unmade’s software provides us with a best in class system that is fully automated and integrated throughout the entire process.”

Traditionally, creating a custom team kit requires long lead times and a poor experience for the user, as well as from a production perspective, high manual involvement in the design and production of it. This service however offers brands seamless integration through a dedicated platform within the e-commerce site, and a much more efficient customer journey as a result.

Rapha Custom
Rapha Custom


“At Unmade it is extremely important for us to work in partnership with forward-thinking brands who share our vision for creating real change within the fashion and sportswear industries, through bespoke experiences and collections that are both innovative and efficiently manufactured,” said Hal Watts, co-founder and CEO of Unmade. “Working in collaboration with the world leading cycle brand Rapha has allowed us to expand our capabilities from a knitwear focus into print.”

Beyond the customer-facing element of this service, Rapha will also be able to create time-limited content or designs for special editions, partner collaborations as well as internally, bespoke products on-demand for prototyping and short runs.

How are you thinking about e-commerce innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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MOMA exhibition highlights biofabrications and new technologies as the future of fashion

The Stella McCartney x Bolt Threads dress on show at the MOMA
The Stella McCartney x Bolt Threads dress on show at the MOMA

The Museum of Modern Art’s first exhibition dedicated to fashion design since 1944 presents garments and accessories that have had a profound impact on global culture over the last century.

In “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, a total of 111 pieces span everything from the Little Black Dress and Levi’s 501 jeans, to the hoodie, the bikini, the stiletto and the Sari. About 30 of the items are also complemented by a new prototype, however – a commissioned or loaned piece inspired by advancements that signify where the industry is moving next.

These have been created by designers, artists, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers – those able to respond to the idea of these “indispensable items” with pioneering materials, approaches, and design revisions. Included is a t-shirt featuring the first lab-grown leather from bioengineering firm Modern Meadow; a dress woven from artificial spider silk by Bolt Threads marking a new partnership with designer Stella McCartney; and a new take on a customisable Breton shirt by 3D knitting company Unmade.

There’s also a fibre-optic Richard Nicoll dress on loan, created by wearable technology company XO, in partnership with Disney, as well as newly conceived versions of the pencil skirt, the biker jacket, the jumpsuit and more. Meanwhile, a wider zone in the exhibition devoted to new technologies and visions of the future, also features Issey Miyake’s A-POC and Pierre Cardin’s Cosmos Collection along with Gore-Tex, the leotard, and the Moon Boot.

Paola Antonelli, the MOMA’s Senior Curator for the Department of Architecture and Design, and its Director of Research and Development, shared her insights on the forward looking aspect of the exhibition and what it means for the future of fashion. Head over to Forbes to read the full interview.

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Editor's pick product Startups technology

Unmade’s knitting tech brings one-of-a-kind designer pieces to Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony and UMD by Unmade
Opening Ceremony and UMD by Unmade

There’s nothing quite like a personal gift for the holiday season. In fashion, that usually refers to monogramming – the odd initials on a scarf or a handbag, even some unique embellishments on footwear or denim. Standard protocol is for the base of the design to be entirely controlled, while the customised part is merely a miniature accent on top.

Turn to London-based start-up Unmade, however, and what we’re talking about is knitwear that the user can manipulate until it really suits what they’re looking for. Indeed, the name “Unmade” comes from the fact no garment is finished until you, the shopper, come and complete it, as previously covered.

Now, the team is bringing that concept to the US (and beyond) with a unique collaboration with Opening Ceremony. ‘Opening Ceremony and UMD by Unmade‘, as it’s called, is a customisable capsule collection available exclusively on e-commerce platform, Farfetch.

What that means, in a literal sense, is sweaters and accessories that can be adjusted merely with the click of a mouse to suit individual style. Users can drag the tromp l’oeil of traditional knit motifs into all sorts of variations, also selecting the colours they like and adding original, varsity-inspired monogram letters alongside. With Farfetch as the host platform, the resulting designs are also shoppable worldwide.

On the backend, that is of course incredibly complicated – the endless variations of the designs means producing such knitwear on-demand isn’t possible in the traditional way, where machines do mass runs of the same pieces. Unmade’s technology however, transforms each choice into a back-end automation of industrial knitting machines, so individual products are manufactured for the same unit cost and speed as mass production. This has been referred to previously as a knitting version of 3D printing – the info goes in, and the different knitwear comes out.

Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, founders of Opening Ceremony, said: “We are huge supporters of companies that use technologies in interesting ways to elevate fashion, and when we learnt about Unmade, we felt an instant connection.”

I sat down with Ben Alun-Jones, co-founder and creative director of Unmade, to find out more. Head over to Forbes to read the full interview.

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Snapchat, Burberry and Grindr win big at Fashion Futures Awards

decoded_fashionfutures

There was a healthy dose of optimism in London last night as the industry’s leading fashion and tech names gathered to celebrate this year’s Fashion Futures Awards.

“What fashion and tech have in common is they’re both about the future,” said host Angela Scanlon, as she opened the Decoded Fashion evening in partnership with the British Fashion Council.

Big winners during the night included Snapchat, which walked away with the tech visionary award for the fact it’s giving fashion brands new ways to infuse storytelling into their marketing. And Grindr, which picked up the Beyond the Runway title, for its collaboration with JW Anderson in January 2016, which saw it live stream the brand’s menswear show to its audience of predominantly gay men. The judges crowned the collaboration’s “out of the box thinking” and focus on brilliantly connecting consumers in the moments that matter.

Burberry was also celebrated – winning the fashion visionary award for the way in which it has helped make the idea of “disruption” more of a norm in the industry. That came in spite of the fact it’s operating in increasingly tough market conditions; announcing adjusted pre-tax profits were down 10% for the year to March 31, just yesterday morning.

Other brands with prizes included ASOS in the Killer Experience category for its new A-list loyalty programme, and Sephora in Bytes and Bricks, for its high-tech concept Flash store in Paris.

The awards are as much about those daring to innovate on the brand side, as it is about the tech founders that have created the best new tools that allow them to do so. On that basis, digital knitwear start-up Unmade won for its collaboration with designer Christopher Raeburn, for instance, while personal stylist site Thread won in the Real-Time Innovator category for its application of artificial intelligence alongside human insight to provide a particularly unique and forward-thinking proposition for menswear.

Meanwhile, delivery start-up Parcel for Me walked away with two awards – one for being the Master of Mobile and the other as this year’s Game Changer: the entrant considered most likely to disrupt fashion and retail in the future.

Other winners in the start-up space included Semaine, a content meets commerce platform taking home the New e-Store on the Block title, and custom footwear line Myswear, which scooped up the Big Idea award.

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Editor's pick Startups sustainability technology

Unmade: the London start-up ‘publishing’ clothing on-demand

Unmade

For those in London this festive season, there’s a pop-up shop in Covent Garden worth taking the time to visit. Unmade, as it’s called, is tucked down an unimposing side street off the main piazza. Away from the street entertainers and busy Christmas shoppers, it’s a minimal showcase of a knitwear brand currently considered one of London’s most disruptive start-ups.

Sweaters, scarves and a full-sized industrial knitting machine are on display. You can’t walk away with an item there and then, but you can use iPads to design your own and have it made especially for you thereafter.

And that’s the USP. The name “Unmade” comes from the fact no garment is finished until you, the shopper, come and complete it.

Born through frustration at the fashion industry’s stagnant approach to mass-consumption, it’s about bespoke, personalised knitwear, produced on-demand, yet at an industrial scale. Think of it as a 3D printer for fashion, yet using the same machines that make up the $200bn knitwear market worldwide.

Head on over to Forbes to read my interview with co-founder Ben Alun-Jones.

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Editor's pick technology

10 wearable tech gifts for the fashionistas in your life

wearabletech_GIFTGUIDE

If the new Hermès Apple Watch is a little out of price range, but you’re after something more than the standard fitness band to fulfill your wearable tech gift giving quest this holiday, look no further…

In honour of those thinking about fashion and not just function, our Forbes round-up of 10 wearables now on the market, is well worth checking out. Ranging from Everpurse x Kate Spade New York, to Altruis, The Unseen and Topshop x bPay, they not only do neat things like pay for products or help charge your other devices, but look pretty good too. There’s also Unmade, Gemio, Ringly, Away, Misfit x BaubleBar and Love & Robots.