Julie Vargas: The Digital Wardrobe

07 : 03 : 2017 Avery Dennison : Wearable Technology : Fashion
The Bright Bmbr by Rochambeau, Avery Dennison and EVRYTHNG, US The Bright Bmbr by Rochambeau, Avery Dennison and EVRYTHNG, US

I am that person. I have clothes for every occasion. I don’t remember what they are or when I wore them last, but they are crammed into every corner of my closet. Every year I plan to pack away my winter clothes when the season ends, and every year I end up with sweaters stuffed next to sundresses on mismatched hangers. I also have different sizes all mixed together. Sometimes I buy things with a purpose in mind and then forget that I have them. The biggest challenge? I still feel like I have nothing to wear.

So my mission is personal. I want to sort and swipe and see suggestions so I can manage my wardrobe in the same way that I manage my newsfeed or inbox. I want my wardrobe to show me options based on my calendar and the weather. I want to receive an alert when I’m reaching maximum mileage on my running shoes and guidance on which pair to buy next. I want to know about what I no longer wear and have my wardrobe suggest if and where I should donate. I want to be styled like a celebrity. I want lifestyle brands to curate my actual lifestyle. I believe this is the next revolution in apparel and footwear design, and I am dedicated to exploring how to achieve this.

Believe it or not, all of this is already possible. We already have the ability to stitch a digital life and tailored experiences directly into products. A solution currently exists to create a fingerprint and digital profile on every piece of clothing or pair of shoes.

That solution is Avery Dennison’s Janela™, powered by the EVRYTHNG Smart Products Platform. Apparel and footwear products around the world can now be ‘born digital’, opening up new opportunities for brands and retailers to capture real-time data, enhance consumer experiences and drive proactive marketing campaigns that are unique to each product and customer.

With the smartphone becoming a remote control for the physical world, Janela™ transforms the one-to-one conversation between brand and consumer by merging the physical product with the digital interaction to provide a new frontier for dialogue, personalisation and curated content. While application, integration and adoption will take time, this type of connectivity will be the revolution my wardrobe needs.

Now that I have the world’s largest store in my pocket, brands are struggling to build a direct relationship with me, and I’m not alone. According to a recent Forrester report, 40% of customers have a high willingness to shift spend to a competitor and 25% are building that mindset. Forrester predicts that brands will experience a 25–50% increase in revenue risk as a result.

Losing a loyal customer is pricey. Not only can it cost anywhere from five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits anywhere from 25–95%, according to a Bain & Co study.

The on-demand retail environment means that everyone is selling everywhere, including in-store, online and on social media. So how can brands reach out? The wardrobe. My clothes. If my wardrobe could talk and the product was our connection, you would know me better than any other brand and know how to speak to me directly. I could receive tailored and relevant suggestions about similar options and styling trends, making the connection more authentic and valuable for both of us.

Experience is another big opportunity. According to Gartner, 89% of companies believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition, yet clothes and shoes are mostly an analogue component of that experience – and our lives – right now. They look great. They can be expressive. They are lifestyle-inspired. But what do they actually give us? Can we change that? What if they were our ticket into a VIP event? What if they could connect us to a community? What if they could show us exactly where they have been?

We are already working on this with some forward-thinking brands. The Brght Bmbr connected jacket, a collaboration between Avery Dennison, EVRYTHNG, The New Stand and menswear designer Rochambeau, enables the wearer to access unique experiences.

EVRYTHNG and Avery Dennison also partnered with designer Rebecca Minkoff to launch one of the world’s first smart bags for her spring/summer 2017 runway event, which featured our Janela™ solution. Each bag came with a hangtag that unlocked a ticket to the event when scanned. As we look ahead, we will partner with Rebecca to ensure that all of her bags are smart by summer 2017, reinforcing the vision of #BornDigital wardrobes.

These products are about so much more than brand campaigns that inspire a certain lifestyle. They can help us to discover new places. They can connect us to new communities. Clothing often helps us to express who we are. Now, it can also give us direct access to the things we love to do.

Julie Vargas is director of product management for digital solutions at Avery Dennison.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and should in no way be attributed to Avery Dennison Corporation or its affiliates. Various third-party trademarks or trade names used herein are the property of their respective owners or for identification purposes.