- Noelle Tassey - CEO of Alley
- Whitney Cathcart - Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of 3DLOOK
- Camilla Olson - CEO and Co-Founder of Savitude
- Amanda Curtis - CEO & Co-Founder of N.A.bld + Nineteenth Amendment
For decades fashion has been bucketed as “behind the times” in technology and innovation, but there simply isn’t room for that anymore. Fashion is taking a pivotal role across sustainability and innovation, and technology is at the center of this conversation.
In this event we dive deep into the brands, companies, and leaders who are doing it right and the opportunities yet to be discovered in the future of fashion.
Verizon 5G Labs:
Verizon's 5G Labs works with startups, academia and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. We work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges and more.
- N.A.bld | On-demand Production Management Platform - It's time manufacturing got digital. Meet your smart and sustainably minded production management platform for digital brands of the future.
- Small Batch, Quick-Turn: fashion’s sustainable opportunity to localize production supply chains in the wake of COVID19
- How to Work Remotely as a Fashion Brand - Product Development + Production Learn tools and tips for setting up and managing your Brand's remote teams and workflows
- Assess body shape before determining size for best fit — Savitude- Assessing body shape is best before assessing size. Measurements impact fit; Shape also impacts fit. Dresses that fit don’t always flatter. Turning boring dresses that fit into exciting purchases. Tops that fit don’t always flatter.
- [VIDEO] Savitude AI Design Intelligence: Personalized Design Detail Library & Sketching
- [VIDEO] S AI DI Custom Manufacturing - This video is about S AI DI applications for custom and on-demand manufacturing.
- Fashion’s new future: Pandemic-inspired change in fashion & retail
- 3D Look Mobile Tailor - Get precise body measurement of your customers remotely — with just 2 photos. Easy as 1, 2, 3.
Noelle Tassey 0:00
Welcome to our Future of Fashion event on this wonderful Thursday afternoon. I'm waiting for the last four panelists to come online, there we go. And we're going to be ready to kick off. A big thank you in advance to all of our panelists for agreeing to share an hour of their day with us and you know, their thoughts and insights. I'm so excited for this. This is going to be a very fun panel. And thank you to our participants as well for choosing to spend your afternoon with us. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Noel Tassey, I'm CEO of Alley. For those of you who don't know Alley, I'd actually love to know how you found this Zoom. But if you don't know us, we are a community-driven innovation agency. So we unite rich, diverse, communities around the country with our corporate partners to provide the resources and catalysts for growth. Both for corporate innovation programs and the communities themselves that we work with. All with the goal of driving positive change in technology and society at large. And also big thank you to our partners and sponsors, 5G Labs, Verizon 5G Labs, excuse me. 5G Labs, if you don't know them already, you should. They work with startups, academia, and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. So we work with them on 5G trials, hackathons, partnerships, event series, and more. So that's enough about us. I'm going to hand it over to our incredible panelists to introduce themselves and tell them a little bit about— tell you guys a little bit about their background. So Camilla, do you want to kick us off?
Camilla Olson 1:37
Sure. Thank you so much to you, Noelle, and to Alley, and to Verizon 5G Labs. Very excited that Savitude can be on this panel with these terrific panelists. So Savitude offers an AI-designed assistant and recommendation system. Our SAS design intelligence technology enables fashion designers to deliver the latest styles that fit most bodies. So I'm the co-founder and CEO of Savitude and I spent decades in the pharmaceutical industry. And I originated two successful predictive modeling companies. And then I went back to school and earned my MFA in fashion and textile design. I then ran my own eCommerce label for five years, and earned my— learned about returns, and that is where I learned about the half a trillion dollars in returns that ends up mostly in the landfill. I didn't contribute all of that to a little part of it. But I spent about four years researching fit, and in the context of my label, and I realized that that's when I needed to start Savitude, a technology company. So initially, we started a recommendation system to recommend clothes, but then we shifted to now we deliver designs so that you, brands, can make clothes that fit your customer base. The reason we do this is that the fashion industry is focused on the hourglass body shape. And in our lexicon, our vocabulary, there are nine body shapes and 729 body types. And our core technology can fit all of those to make the best looks that will look good on each of those people. So we get to market faster, we make— sell more, and less goes into the return— into the landfill.
Noelle Tassey 3:54
I love that. Super cool, the work that you guys are doing at Savitude, especially the environmental impact. And you know, just on a personal note, like, I remember as a kid, kind of like, you'd pick up like, Cosmo or Elle and they'd be like, okay, like, these are the three body types. And you're like, well, I don't know, I don't think I'm like an apple, or a pear, or a rectangle. But okay, what does that mean? So super cool. And just love the, like, inclusivity aspect of it as well. So, Amanda, I think, you're up next, if you'd like to introduce herself.
Amanda Curtis 4:30
Hi, everyone. I'm Amanda Curtis. I'm the CEO and co-founder of N.A.bld + and indie, inventory-free designer marketplace Nineteenth Amendment. A little bit about me— so I grew up in the fashion industry. I went to Parsons, studied fashion design, worked for multiple big designers like Richie Rich and Diane von Furstenberg, and was actually funded for my own collection at the age of 25. And basically what I saw across the board when I was working on the design side of the business was just a total lack of sustainability on both the business end and on the sustain— actual environmental impact side. So decided alongside my co-founder Gemma Sole to create a platform where brands could do a lot more with less and do so ethically. So we launched N.A.bld a platform where brands can connect with manufacturers all across the United States who do not require minimums to do quick-turn production, and therefore, enable inventory-free retailing. We've worked with thousands of brands all over the world. We have a network of amazing manufacturing partners all across the USA, who are vetted by us and are on our technology. The brands that we work with are either just starting out, they don't have to have experience, you could come to us with just a sketch, and actually make that a reality. Or you could be Disney or NBC/Project Runway coming to us saying we want to make our show shoppable but we don't want to spend millions in inventory, and we don't want to miss the mark on what to actually make. So we've been able to reduce our environmental impact for brands by over 500X through our platform and just reach a whole different type of consumer who's looking for new product that's made authentically. And I just want to add a little bit of history here, because we have a history with Alley, specifically because we launched Nineteenth Amendment back in 2014 at the Alley, they were our first co-working space, so we have a strong affinity for everything that you guys do, and it's definitely a part of our story. So I'm really excited to share where we've been since, with the Alley community.
Noelle Tassey 6:51
We love that so much and like I love hearing stories like that. It's always really exciting for us, obviously, you know, I'm kind of second generation of Alley in its current iteration, it's nice to be able to take people from our businesses, people, community from our physical space and connect online in a digital space. And I'm sure that like Alley, you've been through quite a few evolutions since then. I think— it's like I didn't use the word coworking once in our intro, and it's just, it's always like so fun to remember just all of the journeys that we've been on since then, so it's awesome having you on here. And, Whitney, over to you. I think you're on mute Whitney.
Whitney Cathcart 7:42
Yeah, there you go. Hi, everybody. Noelle, It's awesome to be here, thanks for having us. And thanks to Alley and Verizon 5G. So I'm Whitney Cathcart and I am co-founder and chief strategy officer of 3DLOOK. So for those of you who don't know who 3DLOOK is, we are an AI-first technology company. And we've developed a patented core technology that recognizes the human body from two photos. So, from those photos, we create a very accurate statistical 3D model that is detected by key points in body contour. And once we have that really accurate statistical 3D model, we generate measurements from that. So hypothetically, we could generate, you know, hundreds of measurements. We currently, in our API, generate about 70 measurements. So this core technology functions as the basis of our solutions and our fit in sizing recommendation system, and our contact list measurement solutions for the made to measure and uniform sectors. So we're a body data fit company, at our core, we're all about measurements, and I'm sure we'll get into some of this later. Prior to 3DLOOK, the company was founded back in 2016, so we just celebrated our fourth birthday, very excited about that. Prior to 3DLOOK, I spent almost 30 years in manufacturing and retail. So I've, you know, seen the rise of fast fashion, see the rise of the teen mall. I was here when we were still manufacturing in the US and I saw go offshore. So it's been very cyclical these last almost 30 years. I kind of got out of the product side and moved over to the tech side back in 2015. And mostly because I was frustrated with kind of how slow the industry was moving and I live in San Francisco and I'm surrounded by technology. So I did spend a couple of years doing a deep dive there. I took an AI certification course through MIT and learned as much as I could around AI and immersive computing, and along that journey, landed here. So it's been a wild ride, it's been super exciting. It's amazing to be part of a solution that is truly changing the future of how we think about shopping and buying and manufacturing all the things that we'll talk about today. And having— you know, being part of something that has been, you know, part of me for the better part of my life. And, you know, for me, it was kind of looking out into the horizon and knowing that, you know, towards the end of my career that I wanted to look back and say I was part of something that was truly disruptive. So, super excited to be here today with this great group of panelists and Noelle, back to you. Thanks.
Noelle Tassey 10:41
Awesome. Thanks, Whitney. Yeah, I'm so excited about today's panel. You know, we've done a few other direct-to-consumer focused panels, talked about eCommerce, fashion, but this is the first one where we really have a lineup of women who are all pioneering, you know, solutions that have a heavy emphasis on kind of fixing the back end of the fashion industry. And when I look at, you know, the approach that you're all taking to solving some of these problems, especially around sustainability, around waste and kind of the pioneering, you know, work that you're all doing, the first thing that comes to mind is like how you think that technology is going to start driving shifts in the business model of your average fashion company. I think you've all— you know, Amanda is literally blazing a trail on this, and Camilla and Whitney, I know that you both are pioneering solutions that'll make that even easier. So I'd just love to hear from all of you how you see that playing out.
Camilla Olson 11:45
Well, if I could— I'm happy to start on that. But first, I wanted to jump in here to say that last fall, we participated in a showcase— a 5G— an Alley/5G showcase with you. So we've developed our first prototype in your labs. So we have a little bit of history here, too. So I apologize for not mentioning that in my introduction. So thanks, Amanda, for bringing that up. So I wanted to thank you, Alley, for that. But in terms of technology, I wanted to put it— talk about in the context of where's fashion going, in what's happening, like today. So before COVID, it looked like fashion was going in a certain direction, and it was very slow and in how it was moved, transforming it with technology. So fashion is defined really as experience, journey, fantasy, and transaction, right? And there's some joy in it. And with the help of Amazon, we've got the transaction down pretty much, and Target helped a lot with that as well. But we're stood there still a lot of work on the joy of it, and I think we're in the thick of it. And fit I think has a lot to do with joy with the customer, and the profitability of it too. And so I think that's what we're working on. So I think when, when Savitude was founded, we knew that about half of women were really frustrated and hated shopping. And we think that's because they're just not— they don't have the joy. That is not part of their vocabulary when it comes to shopping. And we think that that's because they're not dealt— they're not served. And we hear that, it's not being served with body shape. Clothes aren't meant for them. And if you could just look down the street, any street in America, or across the world and see that that's true. So in terms of our technology, we think that looking 3D has a lot to do with, you know, getting shape moving forward. People like what Whitney is doing is moving that forward a lot in terms of getting the right specs, the right patterns being made. But there's a whole aesthetic side of it that needs to be dealt with, like putting the right design details, right silhouette, the right shapes to the body shape. That whole— the way that the designers are thinking the ideation piece. And so what we're looking at is the let's get the aesthetics, help designers get the aesthetics right for all people. And this brings in, you know, race and the whole diversity side of it as well. So we're thinking not just the people we know that are sitting next to us, but the people across the world. And so— and with AI, we can do that.
Noelle Tassey 15:02
I love that. I love the flexibility that introduces in terms of just opening up fashion, all the fashion, to a much wider audience. I think it's a— you know, it's a very timely— certainly a very timely topic and one that we can't talk about enough, really.
Camilla Olson 15:16
Noelle Tassey 15:18
It's really, really important. And I— yeah, it's— the industry has come an incredibly long way, in some ways in the last like 10 years, but it's so overdue and still so much more to go. I do love looking on a website and seeing things on like bodies of women who aren't all exactly the same size zero. That's a big step forward, but not, not. Amanda, I would love to hear from you on this if you—
Amanda Curtis 15:43
Yeah, so the industry, I think the past 10 years has slowly started to catch up to other industries in the amount of tech that they're integrating and willing to accept, which is interesting because you think fashion's so fast-paced, things must be happening all the time. But fashion is one of the most archaic industries out there in my perspective in how they approach technology. I think that COVID has exposed a lot of the fragility of the fashion industry overall, specifically supply chain. We've seen complete supply chain breakdown over the past five-plus months. And also the consumer is changing totally. Like, the consumer was changing prior to COVID, but now we're seeing just complete trends really come to fruition. So on our side, we're helping brands adapt very quickly and rapidly because we have had this business model that, as you kind of mentioned, is sort of radical and very different and totally opposite to how the fashion industry operated. The beauty of it is we've been working on this and it's been operational for the past six years. So we've really been able to work out the technology, build it out, prove it out, have case studies. So right now we're helping brands adapt, go direct-to-consumer, to launch product in a matter of weeks, not six to 12 months to fulfill on-demand, which is totally radical. A lot of brands, you know, they rely on placing inventory, and trying to merchandise out, and trying to understand the consumer as the consumer's buying instead of in that design process. So we're really trying to rework and help brands rethink their entire supply chain. And I think this is a huge opportunity for designers, for brands to do things right. To really look at the entire system that they put in place because you can't hide behind "I don't know how it works," or "I have a factory in China and they just do things and I place my order and that's it." The consumer is now demanding more transparency. They want to know how their product is made, where it's made, what goes into it. And technology can help. Like, this is not an impossible problem. It is if you are looking at it from the standpoint of, "Oh, I have to go back and dig into my supply chain." But if you're literally starting over or thinking about technologies that can help you give— help your entire company have insight into how things are made, why they're made, how the consumer is adapting what they want, that's a huge game changer. And I think that really plays into sustainability as well. Because if you can really get down to the microscopic pieces, you can start changing little pieces of the supply chain or little pieces of the design process to be more applicable to your brand, into who you are, what you stand for. So, I'm so excited by all of the changes that are happening because I think without COVID this probably— this process would have taken us another 10 years to even get like halfway to where we are right now. So I'm really, really excited about what the next few months look like and how that's going to change an entire industry, hopefully, for the better.
Whitney Cathcart 19:00
Yeah, and actually, you're so spot on with that. And so thanks for all of that. And I am going to take this from a little more macro philosophical because I think a lot of what COVID has driven as well, is this idea of how do we live more meaningful lives. And that kind of mindset was actually happening certainly in younger generations, even before COVID. And I think COVID, in many ways, has served as a reset for all of us, right? So what are we putting on our body? What are we putting in our bodies now that we're all at home? You know, there are two ways, right? You could curl in a ball and eat a lot, drink a lot, not exercise, or you could actually take the opportunity to engage with your family, to you know, try and smell the roses a little bit in this mess. But one of the things that, you know, we've always thought about at 3DLOOK is how does our technology enable an ecosystem where actually, we're making less of better and that we're holding on to things more, and that we're waiting for things. And maybe we're waiting— we're willing to pay more for that. And there's a lot of data out there that supports that. And we see that in our own customers. But I think it's a really interesting— if you look at kind of all the macro factors that have been hitting the industry over the last, you know, really decade, but particularly last couple of years, there was so much shift that was already happening. And Amanda, you're so right, because it was happening way too slowly. There's lots of amazing technology, not just what, you know, we do or you guys do, but there's many folks around the world working on incredible technologies that you know, over the next zero to five years, and then on another kind of five and 10-year horizon. You know, the idea of like, oh, I'm going on a website today, and I've got to search through just tons of product, and this idea that I don't know what size I am, and I have to figure it out, and I'm going to, you know, use my bedroom as a dressing room, and buy three and return two and blah— all that stuff that's already been happening, like, that experience is going to be completely flipped upside-down. It was going to happen anyway, I do think COVID has certainly accelerated it. But you know, this whole idea of like, you know, single-ply production and on demand and how do we again, manufacturer less of better. One of the things that you know, certainly we at 3DLOOK had seen even pre -OVID was these— this kind of underbelly rise of companies that were really building business models that weren't based on having a website of hundreds or thousands or more of product, but of fewer pieces that maybe are offered in more sizes and really trying to understand what the consumer looks like. A lot of them are customization made to measure. One of the things that we did in April— actually, we pulled it together in April, but we launched it just a couple of weeks ago, is a product called Mobile Tailor, which is a made-to-measure product that is pure SAS plug-and-play. And we developed it because we had so much inbound from all of these startups around the world or companies that weren't digital at all, but that were all about, you know, making things— making beautiful things for customers that were willing to pay a little bit more and literally they couldn't run their businesses when COVID happened because you couldn't physically touch them. And at our core tech has always been measurements. And so for us to be able to take a step back and again, think about like, how can we support companies and what does this mean to the industry and release a product that, you know, enables essentially anybody to plug and play and be able to get measurements of their customers. So this all feeds into at the end of the day, how do we think about the industry as something that can truly be more sustainable? Certainly coming off the heels of fast fashion.
Noelle Tassey 23:05
Definitely. And I'd love to dig into that a little bit more, actually. So for all three of you, sustainability, fast fashion, and consumer behavior. You know, we're talking a lot about trends that are accelerating, how do you see, you know, even just what consumers are looking for in that area, shift? We talked a little bit when we were catching up earlier this week about, you know, a new generation of consumers coming in and demanding more transparency, more accountability from brands, you know, things that, frankly, for millennials were like, "wow." You know, like, let's say Reformation, it's so sustainable, I love it. Now, like the next generation's, like "it's not good enough." Or even you know, I— a brand I hadn't thought of in a long time actually is Everland. Yeah, I remember when they like put the factories on their sweaters, it was a big deal. Now I'm going to go buy some cashmere and like, know the name of the goat that it came from. Like it's, you know, changed a lot. So curious, where do you guys see that going? Y
Amanda Curtis 24:07
Yeah, I'm— I mean, it's something that we've built into our technology because we did see first that millennial consumers starting to ask those questions. And then Gen Z is going to ask even more. And I think just in general, everyone is going to demand that level of transparency, especially now. So what we've done on our end is we basically digitize the manufacturing process. So basically, the brand is always getting updates along the process of how their product is being made. But if they choose to sell in pre-sale, they— which means that the product is made specifically for the end consumer, they can also update the end consumer in real-time about where their product is in the process, who's making it. The factory is totally connected into this platform as well. And I do think it gets down to the level of like, where did this wool come from? Like, where was it sourced? Like, how long did it take to get to the factory? What's like, the carbon footprint of my product? And that's the beauty of technology. Like that's— without technology, that is such a burden on a brand to actually track accurately. But basically, what we've created is a way to do that at scale for each individualized customer. So they're not just getting a product that they don't know anything about, they're getting a product that is also a fashion experience. And especially now when you can provide so little fashion experiences like this is probably the most authentic way to give your customers the transparency and insight that they want right now. So I see that you know, going even further down into the supply chain. And we're excited to add in to our own technology, you know, even more insight about like that carbon footprint. And something that we do on our end right now as far as carbon emissions is to really start tracking, you know, and trying to localize manufacturing as much as possible. So being able to produce in the US next to the end consumer, how do we inform the brands too? So like, that's exciting for me to see, like, how nitty-gritty we can really be, and then also provide that insight so that brands can make better decisions during the design process because there is no traditional fashion calendar as far as I'm concerned anymore. They're going every single day, taking that information, and then deciding, okay, what am I going to make? How am I gonna make it better? And what's important to my consumer?
Whitney Cathcart 26:39
And if you think about it, it's really all about data, right? So all— everything you're talking about is based on data and everything is being driven by the consumer because she has so much access to data and she has so much access to brand, and design, and beauty. And so that whole model of a designer or a brand is going to make a decision and push it off to the consumer, that whole model has been flipped over the last 10 years that's been part of the, you know, disruption or whatever you want to call— apocalypse. I'm a little sick of the word. But I mean, that truly was the beginning of it. And it didn't happen in the last five years. It started, you know, essentially back in 2007. But it's really all about data. And so if you think about it from a consumer experience, and we're so like, consumer-obsessed, and 3DLOOK, thinking about what is her journey, it starts with what she wants, who she is, what's relevant to her, and what she looks like, too. So if you give her the power of owning all of this data, I think Amanda, you're super well set up for a consumer-to-factory model down the road, because she will essentially have all— she'll own all of her data from her avatar, to measurements, to what Camilla's technology is allowing her to be designed for, all the way through to the supply chain. So, you know, I think we're going there and all grounded in tech is setting Amanda up to be in the perfect place.
Camilla Olson 28:13
Exactly. Lets' all invest in Amanda. So our— I think this whole concept of data and the— is interesting and what dat— because we all looking at different kinds of data. And so our vocabulary, our data is in design details. So we have a knowledge base that curates all types of design details and how they map and what— how they flatter, and what they do when they are on different bodies, different places, and bodies. And so we've done a lot of work on why people return clothes and discovered that 20% of returns are because of quality, 36% of returns are size, and 44% are because of silhouette or design detail-related issues. So, one of the things that, you know the three of us collaborating can do is understand someone's measurements and get her size, right? But then when we have— when a designer has that collection made, it may not work for her, she may want that in the right— in the same size, but because she's large-breasted, you know, and that particular design has a round neck, and like, a round neck is really like, not the best thing for large-breasted woman. A V-neck— so a slight change with that design would be a lot better for her. And that's the kind of information that we can do, and then forming that decision to help make it a more successful sale. So I think that adding some knowledge and interpretation can help as well.
Noelle Tassey 30:14
Definitely. And I love, you know, to the first point you made there, the— looking at this panel and the thought of these three solutions all fitting together into a brighter, bolder world where we're sustainably manufacturing clothing that fits and flatters for women, by women end-to-end is a pretty exciting one. And, you know, so let's hope, right? And I— yeah, I do want to talk— so you know, we wanted to touch on gender and fashion. And definitely want to like, shift to that at some point. But also want to make sure we talked a little bit about Amanda's earlier point that fashion is an incredibly backwards industry. Just technologically. I think anyone who's touched like— honestly consumer products in general, you dig one layer underneath the Shopify integration and you're like, you run this on faxes? What? Like, I went through this one time, like going from like, a pure, like SAS tech, FinTech background where you're like, talking about blockchain, and then kind of walking into a warehouse and just being like, "oh my god." So, you know, you guys are all kind of taking these much more tech-forward approaches. In the case of, you know, Whitney and Camilla actually going out and kind of trying to sell this technology, right? I'm curious just like what you see is like the biggest hurdles to adoption given that you are like actually going out to an industry that is run, like, the same way really back of office the way it was being run in like, the 70s?
Whitney Cathcart 31:50
I mean, I was— I wasn't in the 70s, but I started in the late 80s, and I can tell you, we did everything with pencils and paper including, like, supply chain demand forecasting. So it's come a long way from those, you know, is it— if you look at, say other manufacturing industries, right? If you look to Aero, you look to Auto, I mean, you know, those industries have been working in VR and AR for like, 30 years already. So it's complex because if you think about like even the robotic arm in manufacturing, you're taking a piece of metal, right? I don't have a piece of metal here, but you know what I mean, versus, imagine trying to put like the shirt that you're wearing, the blouse that you're wearing through full automation, it's a much more complex procedure. They're definitely folks around the world working on the automation of something like what you're wearing. It still has a ways to go, but there are lots of different ways to automate you know, the entire process right? From bodies all the way through design, 3D design, and all of that. I— you know, I think the biggest hurdles kind of pre-COVID is surrounded in fear. Customer journey, what's going to happen if, you know, for whatever reason, whether you're in 3D design or you're in, you know, putting out a size recommendation, what if the customer doesn't like it? And I think there's a lot of fear around that. Look, our perception, my perception personally, is nothing in life moves forward, unless you're willing to embrace the unknown. And I think COVID has really kind of dropped a bomb on that. I'd like to see retailers lean in a little bit faster, you know, look, to their— to them, they're still dealing with a lot. I mean, we've got stores opening and closing here in the US on a daily basis based on our COVID rate. I have Gen Z kids and they're not going back to college as— like day-by-day, yesterday, one college isn't going back now. So we'll start to see that spiral into the Fall, which means for retail, we've got a long road ahead of us, I think. And so for us, however, because of what we do, our growth has actually been exponential since COVID. And the reason for that is contactless measurements. So if you are, for example, a made-to-measure company, whether you're pure-play, eComm, or you're a brick and mortar, so you're small or you're a billion-dollar public company, one of the hurdles that retailers are facing right now is this fear of like, what happens when the consumer comes in? And there are two things there, number one is my sales associates don't want to touch the consumer. And the second thing is the consumer doesn't want to be touched by somebody. So how do you as a brand today go about, you know, marketing, like, "Hey, we get it. We're consumers too. We understand your fear."So you've got the fear factor, and then you've got the inventory problem, right? So when people come into stores and they want to try something on, that inventory now is being pulled into the back room, and it's taking two days to clean or more. So fitting rooms are closed. So now you've got the complexities of "Okay, I've got sizes off the floor, which means I don't have inventory. So how—" so there's complexities here that simply didn't exist five months ago, right? And there's no playbook for it. So I do think companies that are leaning into technology are— well, first of all, I thought this before COVID, but even more so now. I do think companies that are leaning into technology are going to come out on the back end better. And if you look at the amount of bankruptcies that were happening, pre-COVID it was companies that honestly, I had a piece of paper in my purse from five years ago that I was predicted who was going to go under, when. It wasn't that hard, because if you're not offering up the consumer the same kind of amazing digital experience in-store and online, that consumer doesn't even know who you are, right? The department stores, the retailers we all grew up with. 21-year-olds, they're digital. So like, I don't know what retail is waiting for. That's my perception.
Noelle Tassey 36:13
I would love to know what's on that post-it note. I feel like Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus.
Whitney Cathcart 36:21
I won't say. won't say. But, I don't know for me it wasn't that hard.
Noelle Tassey 36:27
The Brooks Brothers eCommerce experience left much to be desired, let alone fit problems. Anyways, super, super interesting. I don't know— Camilla, somebody actually just chatted in the Q&A and they wanted to hear the return percentages again if you don't mind sharing those.
Camilla Olson 36:50
Now, which—? Oh, 20% is due to quality. 36% is size And 44% is due to shape. I can actually show you. There's a— I have a little finer breakdown, and I can show it to you here right behind me.
Noelle Tassey 37:20
It's like a TED talk. I love it.
Camilla Olson 37:23
Yeah. So you can read that. I can't read it from here, but there's a little finer breakdown on both sides.
Noelle Tassey 37:32
Awesome. Yeah, we're— you know, that's a great way to use it. So a question that we've talked about, we've touched on this, but haven't really explored so much. We talk about, you know, the consumer behavior shift, what consumers want, and you know, what they're willing to pay for, and kind of how to maybe change like, things like manufacturing, make that part of the experience, which I think is really cool. We have somebody writing in, somebody— Mickey is an R&D for a sustainable lingerie startup. Very, very interesting. Lots to be done there. And so the question is, it seems that there's still a disconnect between consumers who care about sustainability and want it but aren't actually willing to spend more on it. What's the opinion of the panel?
Amanda Curtis 38:24
It's changing. It's definitely changing. They're starting to spend more, but they need to know why they're spending more. So it's all about how you're communicating and how you're giving them value beyond just saying it's sustainable. So they do need to know that information of exactly what goes into your materials, how long the process takes, etc. And the beauty you know, with N.A.bld, it's a plug-and-play platform to be able to do that. But we started with Nineteenth Amendment, which is a marketplace for brands to sell in this way because it was such a new process, we needed to create that ecosystem and test this process ourselves. But we're glad that we did because we were able to see consumer behavior starting to shift over the past six years. And what we found is that when people were tied into the process and like, knew from the point of clicking that they were going to not only get information about their product right away but actually get proof points along that journey saying like, okay, yes, this is actually what's happening. This is— I can verify because I have these data points, we found that consumers will spend a lot more on the product. Obviously, it depends on product category, happy to chat offline about that. And they're less likely to return the product. So our product return rates— and this is without us having any sort of like, merchandising oversight was around 7% for clothing, which is really, really, really low and that's been that way since like, 2014. So, definitely digging deeper into that side and see how you can really inform the consumer and provide value for that. So that information is something that really resonates with them. And that's something that they can point to throughout the process of them getting your product.
Whitney Cathcart 40:13
You know, I'm going to add to that. There's a lot of data out on this, in fact, and there was an article on— I'm sorry, I don't remember which journal it was published in. But something in my inbox, which is generally a big, you know, fashion— whether it's BoF or Women's Wear Source name, or TechCrunch, something, but there was actually an article earlier this week, that backs up this data again— I can see the sun is coming in. So there's quite— there's more and more data that supports this. And we were actually seeing this in some of our customers who, you know, it's 10 days because you're getting something made for you and the consumer's willing to pay more for it and is willing to wait for it and we'll see— that behavior is going to continue to increase. So I agree with Amanda there.
Noelle Tassey 41:09
Camilla, did you want to jump in on this one?
Camilla Olson 41:12
Yeah. That's some of the consumers. And then there is a definite move towards that. But I've just— I feel that we need to speak for all the consumers who can't even find clothes to fit their body. And we don't know what they're willing to pay for it yet. They just need to find clothes that will fit their body. And I know that using, when— if you have an ideation process that includes them, you don't have to pay more for it or wait more longer for it. So that's what I'm thinking.
Amanda Curtis 41:51
I totally agree. I think like, just look at consumers in general, no one's going to compromise at this point. Like, everyone wants something that is designed for them, that fits them and fits within their own code of ethics and how they want to be consumers. So look at Netflix, if Netflix can start creating content specifically tailored to me based on my past suggestions and turn that around in a matter of months instead of years, like, this should be the fashion industry. And it can be.
Whitney Cathcart 42:22
This is where all the customization tools come in too, right? Like, here, we have— here, now you have your measurements, you've got your body shape, here's the garment, you're able to customize the garment, the— whoever's manufacturing it is able to pull in the measurements. Change, you know, change the pattern, and off you go. And that I mean, there are lots of people out there doing that and it's exciting to see.
Amanda Curtis 42:46
Noelle Tassey 42:48
Yeah, I think it's definitely interesting you know, too, the comparison to other industries, right? Like that's where like, content is and fashion is still in this place where like, what is it— like, when Universal Standard like, released, like, really beautiful, high-quality, high price point, extended size-first designs, everyone was like, "Oh my god," Like, of course, all— you know, all women at any price point want to look good and you know, there's willingness to spend the money if it's on something really nice. I love their stuff. It's just like so beautiful, great brand.
Camilla Olson 43:23
Yeah, they're a great brand.
Noelle Tassey 43:25
Yeah, they're really, really cool. So, you know, I think that this is like, a great segue into just representation as a topic. So obviously, this is a panel of all women, which is surprisingly rare in fashion. Certainly, not a racially diverse bunch, which is something that we're just— at Alley, we're pretty committed to trying to remedy as much as possible. But I'd love to talk about where you guys see gender and racial diversity in fashion going. Both in terms of the consumer side and appropriately serving a wider range of consumers again, to the point of like, why nobody ever thought that extended size women had purchasing power is like, honestly, stunning to me. And, you know, men designing for women as well. And since that's like, then really the history of the whole industry, so really just like looking at both sides of that, and—
Camilla Olson 44:28
There's also the age diverse— age issues as well.
Noelle Tassey 44:33
Amanda Curtis 44:36
I think it starts from the lack of diversity on the design side. So if you look at the fashion industry, it's the whole— it's the majority or— you know, middle-aged white men running the show. And through my own experience of having a brand and even having funding and you know, having some success, I didn't have enough connections. I didn't have enough money. I didn't— it just wasn't enough to get me to the next level. And I see that every day with such talented designers and people who aren't even designers who just want to start a business. And fashion has probably, I guess, one of the highest barriers of entry of any industry, I think. So what we've really tried to do on that side is to democratize it. To lower that bar to the lowest we can possibly be to create more diversity and more brands out there who understand different consumers, who understand the problems that are unique, who have a different viewpoint. And I think that has made a lot of difference. Like, I look at Nineteenth Amendment, we just did a survey just to kind of understand— you know, what products we were putting out there. We offer plus size for some of our brands, but also just like model diversity. Like, who are the models that are out there and showcasing to the end consumer? And we actually did a survey and over 50% of our models who we don't choose, our designers do, are of color. And that's awesome. That means it speaks to a different customer. That's, you know, showing representation. And that means, you know, we don't know who our designers are, because we don't always— you know, we don't survey that, we don't get information on that. But they're definitely, you know, showcasing their work in different ways and speaking to different audiences. And I think that overall, what we're going to see is a democratization and leveling of the playing field. So that consumers do have different options and different product choices and that they are heard. And obviously, new technologies can really help them on the other side of those things and push that demand forward to the design community.
Whitney Cathcart 46:41
Yeah, and I also think there's a little bit of a— you have to relook at how your business model is on the design and manufacturing side. You can't look at a cost card the way you've always looked at it, right? So over the last, you know, better part of the decade, first of all, there's little data on exactly how many different body shapes, right? I mean, you can buy a lot of data from big companies and most of us in manufacturing for 30 years were doing that. But the reality is you don't really understand what the customers are unless you're actually measuring each customer. So the tech's never been there, so therefore, if you think about, I'm going to make many, many, many different sizes, but I'm going to make far less units per size. If you're still structuring your costing model on the way you've always done it, the numbers just don't compute. Not until more of what you're doing throughout your whole manufacturing process is automated. So with new technologies today, we're getting the— big companies are trying to get there. But it's not an overnight shift, right? I mean, this whole idea of at least— like, 3DLOOK's mission from Day One was, how do we understand what everybody on the planet looks like? So that they are in control of what it is they're purchasing. So it's made for them, because this is who they are, and more importantly, this is what they love and what they want. But you can't get there without technology. So it's kind of a— it's moved so slowly because there's never been technology there that has been able to allow brands to understand just like, who their actual customers are and what they actually look like. And so I think that's a significant shift, and disruption in what's happening here right now and how much it's gonna disrupt over the next couple of years.
Noelle Tassey 48:41
Definitely. So in terms of kind of pushing that forward even further into the future, and again, sort of talking about the change in consumer standards around where they're trying to put their money. I would also love to just talk about the theme of empowerment through where consumers are buying and you know what they're looking for, right? So like, I think that— we talked about this a lot as it regards to sustainability, but not as much on the diversity side. There's a big push now to think about how— where's your money going? Is your money staying in, you know, your community? Is it going to other people who look like you? Or are you actually like, using your purchasing power to really put your money where your mouth is? And, you know, I guess we've been touching on this a lot. But I'm curious if you guys see that shift in mindset kind of having other effects on the customer journey in fashion?
Amanda Curtis 49:50
Yeah, we're definitely seeing it. I'm seeing consumer— like, demand even more transparency. They want to know who the designers are, where they're located beyond just the manufacturing of their product. They want to know the inspiration. They want to know, you know if they make it in their size, which it's great. It's— sometimes we have to push the designers to really put forward that information. But I'm definitely seeing that from consumers. And I think it just adds to the overall threat of transparency. Like it goes— at the end of the day fashion is so personal, why don't you know the whole story behind it? Which goes even further beyond the manufacturing, the sourcing, and everything else. It starts with the inspiration, the designer, the story that's coming across, and how you, as the consumer, represent that or resonate with that in some way. So definitely.
Whitney Cathcart 50:50
Yeah, I agree. It's a lot about the storytelling. And, you know, I think there's a lot of education that goes into there, too. You know, how do you change behavior of consumers, you know, buying two or three of something and not thinking about what it does to the environment, to the effects on the business, how it affects the world? There's an education there. And we certainly see a shift towards— in fact, we just did a survey and we asked that specific question: are you aware of the effects of returns? And, you know, return rates, I mean, we're talking to brands where return rates are upwards of 60% or 70%. I mean, forget your own business model, because it doesn't work. It's not a sustainable business model, but it's even more unsustainable for the planet. So there's a bit of an education that goes in there, but I do think with younger Millennials, and particularly with Gen-Z's, there is an understanding, and this falls into are we willing to wait longer and pay a little bit more to have a product that's made for me, essentially. I think you'll see a lot more made for me. You know, we love brands that are rethinking sizing completely. We— one of the things that that I've always thought about at 3DLOOK is, how are we actually enabling a world where we are Amanda's size or Camilla's size or Noelle size versus a number or a letter? How do we look out on a 10 or 20-year horizon, and we're not numbers and letters anymore? And I— that's something that's super exciting for us to be working on.
Camilla Olson 52:29
At Savitude, we're B2B, so this question doesn't, you know, doesn't really impact us directly. However, I see the draw to want to put— give the consumers the opportunity to decide— you know, because we're an ideation company, and, you know, to give the consumer the opportunity to design her own, for whatever reason, to put in maybe the four favorite items that she has in her closet. And we can, you know, complete that collection to tell— guide her on what she could be shopping for to give a more complete wardrobe. So, that's where we would learn more of how to answer this question in the future. But we hear indirectly, that this is something that she's interested in and toying with the idea of maybe crossing over a little bit to getting closer to her.
Noelle Tassey 53:41
Whitney Cathcart 53:43
You know, you're also— we haven't even talked about 3D in general, but you know, big brands, little brands, the amount of 3D adoption that we'll see over the next couple of years, I mean, we— look we're talking to a brand that has 100% of their product are developed in 3D. And that's game-changing really. And when that becomes a consumer-facing try me on product, it's, you know, you're talking about totally different experiences. Putting your avatars in AR, VR— XR when glasses come out. The next 10 years on fashion is just going to be amazing, amazing, and very different from what it looks like today.
Noelle Tassey 54:28
Definitely. I know that we're almost up on time, but I do want to just do one last lightning round of just the soundbite. If there's one thing you would like, love for our audience to take away from this panel today, what is it? The high level thought about future of fashion.
Camilla Olson 54:52
From Savitude's perspective— so in the 90s, there was a change you know, the whole thing industries of film and music were completely democratized where technology came in and allowed everyone to be able to change how they were— it was made. So no movie or film you— or music you hear now is made without the technology that was developed there and that's how we see what we're doing now is that we're completely changing how fashion is created, how the ideas are coming, that it— that before fashion touches 3D, the ideation of it will be much more carefully thought through and analyzed so that when you get to 3D to perfect that pattern, it has a much surer shot of getting through being sustainable and loved by the consumer.
Whitney Cathcart 55:52
So I think the future of fashion is 100% the intersection of gaming and entertainment and fashion all playing together. It's completely 3D. It's built on 3D platforms, spatial computing. And, you know, to what Camilla just said, this intersection of those three is going to be amazing. So my advice to designers today and I am asked often: I'm a designer, I'm out of a job, what should I do? And I'm like, if you do not understand 3D, you will not be employable. I mean, if it's you and somebody that understands 3D, where do you think the brand is going to go today? They're going to pick up the person that has the 3D because we're leaping into a world of 3D.
Amanda Curtis 56:45
For me, the future of fashion is democratized. The industry itself, prior to COVID, it's— basically technology has come into play and is allowing for pretty much anyone to create beautiful product the right way and the smart way and get it to consumers. So I believe it's going to be a democratized system where the consumer is giving input, saying this is what I want, or in helping to create those products and brands are able to use technology to do things smarter, and faster, and ethically, and financially sound. I think gone hopefully, are the days when brands spend half a million dollars just even developing a collection, trying to get it to a runway, trying to sell it into a store that then trickle down to the consumer. Done. Now the consumer is going to be in that process giving feedback in real-time and designers are able to use this kind of plug-and-play technologies that we all have, and there's plenty more out there, to create product authentically for the consumer in niche ways, and to react to data and to build better, stronger businesses so that the next time this happens, they're not in the same place, and they can move forward. And as an industry overall we can be more responsible, and more importantly, accountable for all of our actions throughout the entire supply chain and throughout every process within the buying and selling experience.
Noelle Tassey 58:31
Love that. And when I think about the future of fashion, I'll think about the faces on this panel. So I'm— thank you all so much for joining us. It's such a pleasure. I've learned a ton. And thank you to our audience for joining us as well. It's been wonderful to spend Thursday afternoon with all of you. This entire conversation has been recorded and it'll be available tomorrow on our website if you'd like to share it with your community. We're doing a lot of these panels right now as we are all remote, so please feel free to join us. You can see it on Alley.com/events. And again, a big thank you to all of our panelists. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you.
Whitney Cathcart 59:11
Camilla Olson 59:12
Thank you so much. Thank you, it was great. Thank you.
Noelle Tassey 59:16