January 12th, 2016
And for our next trick: iDrops’ Nathalie Goethals on Digital Fashion LAB
Still buzzing with ideas from the Digital Fashion Conference 2013, Fashion Popcorn heads back to LCF tomorrow for iDrops’ Digital Fashion LAB, a rare and exciting opportunity for hands-on exploration of the intersection of fashion and technology with likeminded fashion guys as well as retailers, academics and technologists. It’s a new kind of day out for us, and we wanted to find out a little more about the event and how it came about: so we checked in with Nathalie Goethals, co-founder of Ghent-based digital innovation agency iDrops, which co-hosts the event with LCF’s Peter Mills.
‘The Digital Fashion LAB is a way to accelerate the opportunity process within the digital fashion landscape. It’s a platform for people to discover new connections and possibilities,’ says Goethals. Sounds like just what the style doctor ordered to us!
‘I founded iDROPS in 2010 out of need for digital innovation and change within the audiovisual industry. I was convinced this could bring many opportunities artistically but also economically, this quickly expanded to covering other creative and cultural industries and the social sector, and besides how these two fields could interact thanks to digital technology.’ explains Goethals. ‘Our mission is to create social and economical impact by using digital tools and media. How? On one hand, by setting up workshops, labs and events where we think about the future and try to find digital solutions for needs and questions: on the other hand, we research these topics and ask ourselves which methodologies work, which processes add value and which don’t.’
‘I hope the LAB will stimulate people to develop new ideas and concepts, and that it also will give a network opportunity for two groups that aren’t naturally connected,’ continues Goethals, referencing the fact that – while the intention might be there – the fashion cognoscenti and technology’s finest minds don’t, shall we say, gravitate towards one another. ‘We saw that in Europe there’s a need for creating awareness in this field, if you look at the US and Asia, we are not that far yet in the digital fashion cycle. So we thought let’s bring fashion folks and game people together to create new ideas and concepts. This is what we did in December in Ghent, Belgium, last year. Combined with the fact that LCF and KTN are partners, and with the digital fashion conference the two days before the lab and the Digital Fashion Contest organised by IC Tomorrow next week, it all fell into place.’
All sounds good to us here at Fashion Popcorn. But, while I have participated in ‘hacks’ and workshops in the context of work projects, I am still not totally sure what to expect. So I asked Goethals to tell us a a bit more about the day: ‘First we will map out the fashion value chain and have a look where in which entry points in the chain digital is implemented, including 3D printing, virtual catwalks, e-commerce. Next we give an overview of what exists already, where there is opportunity and need. Then we present three case studies – two UK, one Spanish – to give a bit of a flavour, including how they got started, was it hard, where did they get the money to develop, and their business model. And after this part of knowledge input it’s time to play!’
In short, it’s a great opportunity to get inspired and to expand knowledge, networks and creativity with technology, with the real potential of being the breeding ground for active digitally-based fashion projects: ‘following the LAB, the next step is our fashion hack which we will organise in Autumn, where people will be able to prototype and do a financial pitch at the end. So the LAB is the first step in the process.’
Watch this space, folks: it sounds like this should be the start of something beautiful. What do you think we should be exploring? Let us know and let us represent!
The Digital Fashion LAB, at London College of Fashion, May 18, is organised by iDROPS and Digital Studio/London College of Fashion in collaboration with KTN Creative Industries and Shareplay (DK).