Fashion week in Milan, but 2022 will be the year of fashion-tech (by A. Premoli)

Fashion week in Milan, but 2022 will be the year of fashion-tech (by A. Premoli)

The second week of January sees the beginning of a new cycle of fashion presentations every year. Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence kicked off on Wednesday 11, next Friday it’s up to fashion week milanese. The baton passes immediately after to the Parisian fashion weeks: the one dedicated to men’s collections from 18 to 23 and that dedicated to Couture starting from 24.

In 2021, textiles and apparel re-emerged from the shock caused by the pandemic explosion of the previous year (+ 11.9%) seemed to be on the way to reaching the higher numbers of 2019 … then Omicron appeared. The presentations scheduled for the first quarter of 2022 are now in trouble: the London fashion week has been canceled, the Ann Demeuleemester fashion show in Florence has been canceled, the Mido eyewear show has been postponed to April. The suffering is general and not exclusive to this sector: the uncertainty regarding the movements of buyers from abroad weighs heavily.

Florence, Milan and Paris therefore. If Armani has thrown in the towel, it will be Zegna (after last month’s successful debut on the Wall Street stock exchange) that will open the Milan show. No quotation expected for Dolce & Gabbana, but the show in the Milanese venue will take place anyway. Fendi and Etro (controlled by LVMH super group of French luxury where finance, clothing, tourism and champagne happily coexist) parade on the 15th and 16th. in 2021. The patrol in Paris should be more dense: there will be Louis Vuitton, Dior and Kenzo for LVMH, Jil Sander (OTB group) Hermes, Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Yoshji Yamamoto … however, at the moment there is no news of the brands by Kering, the second luxury group in the world.

In this climate it is obvious to ask what is the function of these presentations. Their organizers flaunt optimism and speak of reshaping: rightly – in this second case – because after the outbreak of the pandemic many things have changed in this sector. First came the massive use ofe-commercethen introductions omnichannel (in presence and virtual at the same time), last year what would have been incredible until recently took off: the branded sale of skin for Metaverse avatars. A step considered mandatory in order not to lose contact with the affluent generations (51% of world consumers starting from 2025, 60% from 2030), assiduous frequenters of digital platforms.

For 2022 it is easy to foresee a further enlargement of the fashion-tech arena. NFTs designed to allow limited online and offline access to events that “reward” their buyers are already a reality. Last December Balmain launched an NFT dedicated to the B-Bold Dogpound sneaker: owning it means getting not only its digital image, but also a token with which to access a personalized session with the founder of Dogpound, the New York celebrity gym. York and Los Ageles; win two tickets to the next Balmain show; even getting two backstage entrances.

Shortly thereafter, Adidas showed up: the German sportswear giant launched an NFT collection of both physical and digital products. Nerd stuff? For nothing. Gucci and Balenciaga (Kering group), Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Givenchy (LVMH) had already experimented in the same direction, while there was no lack of (unauthorized) Nft sales dedicated to the famous Hermes Birkin.

Operations like these require dedicated digital spaces in which to operate. And in fact, the Metaverse “real estate market” is in full effervescence. Brands and brokers will build, purchase and rent digital properties for events and virtual stores, open to meetings with (the avatars of) celebrities and designers. As already happens with Gucci Garden, or with Nikeland, the digital playground built by the most powerful of the existing sportswear companies: both present on the Roblox platform.

Are these the new forms of presentation (and consequently of distribution) destined to replace traditional fairs and fashion shows? One thing is certain: the pace of technological change seems unstoppable, and somehow cruel as well: there is no room for resistance or laziness of any kind.

This “progress” also touches the margins but not the heart of the problem gripping the sector. The elephant in the room it is always there: the current business model based on rapid consumption and always growing given the dangerous situation in which the planet finds itself is unsustainable. In 2021 the emissions caused by the fashion production chain (8-10% of the total on the planet) have increased again, the circularity has remained elusive, the new generation fabrics very little used and countless workers (all or almost all located in the South East Asia) who are having a terrible time. If all this is not curbed in 2050 it is estimated that 25% (!) of carbon emissions will come from this sector.

The picture is simple: advanced technologies in distribution do not match those used in production. As we have known for at least 2000 years the techne it is the most extraordinary of the inventions of us humans: it has lengthened the span of our lives and reduced the risks of existence. However, in the last two centuries it has unhinged many natural processes, probably creating irreversible damage. The survival of the planet is not an option or a trend to play with. It affects everyone: policy makers, industries and individual consumers. None exempt from liability.

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