Op-Ed | The Fashion-Tech Revolution Needs More Women
NEW YORK, United States — Six words are all it took to undo months of work and countless dollars of research and development: “This mirror makes me look fat.”
It was the last thing that anyone on our team wanted or expected to hear during the pre-launch preview of the interactive dressing rooms for our flagship store. Until that day, despite an extraordinary investment into our vision of building what have been called the “store of the future,” we somehow forgot to properly solicit the opinion of female millennials. They simply hadn’t been on the engineering team.
I started my company by breaking the rules in fashion from a sixth floor walk-up apartment. Everyone told me there was a certain way to do things: keep your customers at arm’s length and build your brand using glossy print campaigns, even at a time when everyone my age was beginning to use social media to engage with each other. But together with my brother Uri, a former software executive, we rewrote the industry’s rulebook, routing around traditional gatekeepers and speaking directly with our consumers through creative uses of emerging technologies. We couldn’t afford to advertise in fashion magazines anyway and, instead, grew our business by being smarter on social media and by adopting the kind of cutting-edge data analytics tools that have helped us see and be seen by our customers. As a result, we’ve managed to build one of the fastest growing brands in the fashion industry and the largest label led by a millennial female designer.
When it came time to design our first store, we spent months figuring out how to use technology to enhance the in-store experience and deployed, among other innovations, interactive digital dressing room mirrors that customers can use to seamlessly request specific items and sizes, or call a sales assistant. But our state-of-the-art dressing rooms made her look terrible and our developers didn’t even notice, because there wasn’t a single woman working on the engineering team. As someone who starts my design process with my customer in mind, this feedback hit hard. In an instant, I realised that in order to design a technology experience that resonated with our audience, it was essential that our audience be part of the process.
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