Disruption in the Fashion Industry
Fashion and technology will continue to merge in 2017 as consumers turn to “smart fabrics” in an effort to simplify their lives. It’s a matter of convenience for most millennials who want to eliminate dry-clean only garments from their wardrobe in favor of easy-care pieces that are machine washable. Big fashion brands like Uniqlo are already using innovative fiber technology to give garments added benefits like heat-retention, but smaller brands are also exploring the use of nanotechnology to eliminate inefficiencies in clothing and add value with features like moisture-management and stretch recovery.
One such brand at the forefront of the fashion and technology conversation is Buki, a Seattle-based sportswear line founded by designer Joey Rodolfo. “In the future, consumers will expect more from their clothing, that’s why we’ve added fiber technology into the actual construction of the garments in our line,” says Rodolfo. While other brands are enhancing garments using chemical dips and coatings, Buki is knitting these benefits into the garments by using a proprietary plating process that increases the functionality of the fabrics used in the line. The result is a collection of products designed with today’s modern lifestyles in mind that are seasonless, functional, and effortless to care for.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Buki founder Joey Rodolfo to discuss the changes coming to the fashion industry in the year ahead. His responses may surprise you.
How would you describe the current state of fashion today?
Billion dollar companies are spending 12 to 18 months to hit the sales floor with clothing. The timeline doesn’t work for today’s consumers and we are seeing smaller brands interrupt the timeline by delivering product faster to keep stores feeling fresh and relevant.
How will Buki standout from the crowd?
Fabrics have been made the same way for the past 50 to 60 years. Buki is working to redefine the process. A good comparison would be the difference between a rotary phone and a smart phone. Knitting and weaving haven’t yet caught up to fiber technology and only a few factories have gotten new equipment to weave or knit cloth. The perfect partnership would be to work with fiber companies that make fiber and weaving/knitting mills that have made big investments to get the innovation and technology in place. Buki has an edge because we are working with a vertical factory that has made an investment on progressive knitting and weaving machinery.
How will you target a more mature customer?
Naturally, young people would expect Baby Boomers in the 50 to 70 year-old age range to be the toughest generation to target but they are actually starving for change. There is a large group of customers for Buki and they have quickly grasped the benefits of the line.
Where do you see Buki heading in the future?
Buki clothing will occupy a large portion of people’s wardrobe. We are coming out with women’s dresses and men’s travel blazers with hybrid technology. Buki is a non-seasonal sportswear brand that will be essential any time of the year, especially relevant for those that travel. The fashion industry is continuing to transform in so many ways and technology plays a big part in that.
Check out the Suited Soor SoundCloud page for the full audio clip of my interview!