Clothing and technology are having a moment. From smart garments to virtual fitting rooms, companies are establishing more seamless experiences for shoppers everywhere. Below are the cutting-edge apparel startups to keep on the radar this year.
The beauty of a wearable garment is its smart fabric capabilities. Brooklyn-based Loomia is taking wearables to the next level with circuit boards. Instead of rigid wires, Loomia uses cost-effective, bendable and softer fabric for wearables. Fabrics are transitioned into fabric boards with Loomia’s custom conductive ink wire replacements and other advanced processes. Manufacturers experience better integration, while consumers feel more comfortable when they wear smart apparel products.
Fitting room experiences aren’t only confined to brick-and-mortar retail settings. The Zeekit app allows shoppers to virtually try-on garments from e-commerce sites and digital magazines. Created by a former Israeli Air Force captain, the app renders 3-D photos over 2-D images, for a more accurate portrayal of body measurements. Shoppers can upload a full-length photo on the app, try-on, save favorite apparel and create their own closet without leaving home. With the app, shoppers reduce the risk of buying the wrong size and minimize their apparel returns.
Apparel innovations are gaining momentum in the activewear sector. Ontario-based Adrenalëase Inc. takes athleisure to new heights with its Posture Performance Shirt, the first-ever smart garment that improves posture. The shirt’s reflex elastic straps stretch out the back muscles to prevent slouching and are adjustable for the wearer’s desired support level. In addition to improving posture, the shirt has antibacterial and wicking capabilities to stabilize body temperature. Adrenalëase Inc. is currently facilitating research with the University of Toronto to understand the long-term benefits of the garment.
According to Radius8, more than 90 percent of retail transactions still happen in-store. Although brick-and-mortar retailers are still seeing foot traffic, they are highly separated from the e-commerce hubs where many shoppers conduct their product searches. New Jersey based-Radius8 is bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and digital shoppers with its online-to-offline (O2O) cloud based platform. Physical retailers can connect with online consumers, digitally track online browsing data, curate merchandise on both channels and heighten shopping experiences.
Fashpa, short for “Fashion Parade,” isn’t just another chic e-commerce platform. Nigerian businesswoman Honey Ogundeyi launched Fashpa to boost fashion accessibility in Africa. On the platform, consumers from Nigeria, the U.K. and the U.S. may shop the latest trends from Africa and other nations. Apparel items sold on the site vary from shoulder tops to iro and buba sets. With Fashpa, women are united under style and not disconnected by the growing global fashion market. In the coming years, Fashpa aims to become one of Africa’s leading fashion destinations and a catalyst for the apparel sector’s prosperity on the continent.
Successful branding is a possibility with the help of social media influencers. Vancouver-based Sidebuy helps retailers achieve better ROIs with its digital influencer catalog. Brands have access to over 10,000 influencers that are able to reach more than 875 million consumers on social media. While conducting searches, retailers may filter influencers by demographic, location, platform and desired reach. Brands may also contact influencers on Sidebuy’s dashboard to initiate a more seamless marketing experience.
Porfefini is bringing consumers a comfy and versatile alternative to outerwear. The Chicago-based company created a blazer that won’t restrict movement or be relegated to fancy occasions. Manufactured with technical cotton spandex and designed with functional features, the blazer is suitable for everyday style. Inner pockets provide extra room for belongings and a pop-up lapel transforms the garment from office attire to leisurewear. Portefini held its Kickstarter campaign until Dec. 22 and has already surpassed its $15,000 goal with 252 backers.