Why it matters to you
Google’s supplying its tracking expertise to produce a dress that’s individually tailored.
Have you ever used your smartphone to search for the a bespoke dress or suit for a special event or night on the town? If Google has its way, your phone may soon do the searching for you.
On Monday at Fashion Week in New York City, Google announced a partnership with online-only Swedish fashion house Ivyrevel to “bring couture into the digital age.” The first fruit of the collaboration is the Data Dress, a custom gown with a design reflecting the would-be wearer’s habits and history.
The Data Dress’s embroidery will reflect your daily activity. Over the course of the week, you’ll be able to watch the design unfold as the app gets to know you better.
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It is core to Ivyrevel’s ambition to “merge fashion creativity with technological innovation,” co-founder Aleksandar Subosic said. The digital retailer’s skunkworks Fashion Tech Lab, which counts PayPal and H&M Group among its backers, uses trend analysis to develop algorithms that “enhance the direction” of the clothing’s design.
“It’s such an exciting moment,” Subosic said. “The only option today is to buy custom clothing or design it yourself, but many can’t afford to or lack design skills.”
You’ll have to get Google’s Coded Couture app to get started. Once you’ve completed that step, you must grant it permission to monitor you daily activity. Finally, choose the occasion for your Data Dress — Party, Gala, or Business — and the app will take care of the rest, recording context signals like your location, physical activity, weather, and nearby locations over the course of a week. It’ll note where you eat out for dinner or hang out with friends, for example, and whether the meetups are casual or formal.
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A dashboard presents those data points in an easy-to-read timeline. You’ll see the locations you’ve visited over the past seven days and a top-down map of your movements.
At the heart of the Coded Couture app is Google’s Awareness API, a platform that lets developers program reactions on contexts. Trulia, an online real estate app, uses it to suggest open house listings when the weather is pleasant. SuperPlayer Music suggests playlists to match your mood.
But Coded Couture is the first to tap that data for a tangible product. And it’s on trend: A survey of 1,000 shoppers by Bain & Company found that 25-30 percent were interested in designing their own clothing, and that one-of-a-kind products lower return rates, fetch higher prices, and create a “deeper connection” between shoppers and retailers. “While it’s hard to gauge customization, if 25 percent of online sales of footwear were customized, that would equate to a market of $2 billion per year,” Bain partners Elizabeth Spaulding and Christoper Perry wrote in their report.
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Ivyrevel hasn’t announced the price of the Data Dress, and the Coded Couture app won’t be made broadly available until fall. It’s launching in “closed alpha stage,” Google said, and is currently being tested by “a selected group of global style influencers” who will post stories over the next few months as their Data Dresses are created. You can sign up for a future trial, if you’re interested.
The Data Dress isn’t Google’s first foray into fashion. In September 2016, it launched Shop the Look, a search tool that surfaces photos of fashion bloggers, brands, and retailers and their corresponding clothing and accessories. Additionally, the company’s Project Jaquard, a pioneering method of interweaving touch panels with conventional fabrics, produces textiles that can respond to taps and swipes like a smartphone touchscreen.
Levi’s Commuter jacket will be the first to feature the technology technology. A touch-sensitive tag will and pair with a phone to perform functions like pinning a location to Google Maps, answering calls, and more. It’s expected to hit retail in the Spring of 2017.
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“We’re about to change the fashion industry by bringing the wearer’s personality into the design process through data technology,” Subosic said. “The Data Dress enables women around the world to order a dress made completely for them, that reflects the way they live their lives.”