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The UK has become the centre of global fashion tech innovation.

Fashion & StyleThe UK has become the centre of global fashion tech innovation.

The UK has been home to fashion innovation since the mid 1800s, when Thomas Burberry patented his trench coat. The UK has always pushed the boundaries of fashion, and was responsible for the innovative minds of Alexander McQueen and Paul Smith. A new generation of fashion tech startups has ridden the UK's tech wave, finding new ways to transform fashion and retail. Matthew Drinkwater, head of innovation agency at London College of Fashion, says that the UK has always been blessed with a sense of creativity and experimentation. The institute sits at the cutting edge of fashion technology and is trying to understand how emerging technologies may disrupt a trillion dollar industry.

There are huge opportunities in being able to predict what will be popular in the future in both fashion and technology. Matthew sees his work at London College of Fashion as an indicator of where things are going. We don't try to sell anything particular, but rather show what you can and can't do.

In how we design we are moving from pen and paper to digital platforms and 3D tools. The prototyping phase in fashion is notoriously wasteful, an element of the design process that is ripe for disruption. A real-time cloth simulation built in Unreal could be a breakthrough that could revolutionise virtual production and fitting. Matthew identifies the creation process as a key area. Matthew says that if we can create products digitally before you physically produce them, then you can begin retailing before you need to start manufacturing. The development of new materials and even recycled ones can help fashion be more sustainable. Matthew says that the key to fashion is telling stories: if you see something you fall in love with it.

The UK has a mature film industry, as well as the gaming industry, which has led to bold collaborations with fashion brands looking to engage consumers. Lucasfilm and Steven Tai created an augmented reality experience that transformed Durbar Court within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office into Downtown Macau. The Moncler Genius show packed 100,000 people into the Olympia for a performance to close out the week.

The brand pioneered the use of gaming technology in the clothing design process, using a software that enables you to place a 2D print onto a 3D design template. They hosted a series of virtual reality experiences with Harrods to launch their new signature bag. Craig Green, a British fashion designer who pioneered new techniques for clothing production, has been honoured with an MBE in 2022. Gymshark and Castore are two of the fastest growing sportswear brands, applying innovative manufacturing techniques to create affordable performance-level clothing. There is a growing number of tech platforms that are transforming how we shop. The rental market has been helped by platforms like Hurr and Hirestreet.

Matthew expects the UK fashion industry to remain focused on the omnichannel experience over the next decade. The Outernet, a new entertainment district in central London, has the world's largestLED screen deployment. Matthew used to look at a three to five year horizon. Matthew believes that the traditional ways of working will never go away and will always be appreciated. There will always be new ways to communicate.

The UK has a rich heritage of luxury fashion and is a great place to start a fashion business.

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