London College of Fashion: Incubating the future of fashion

Students at London College of Fashion, UAL are using Microsoft technology to disrupt the fashion industry.

Microsoft partnered with London College of Fashion, UAL to find out what happens when the future leaders of the fashion industry get their hands on the innovative technology of today.

Microsoft co-created a custom curriculum for a semester-long incubator with LCF’s Fashion Innovation Agency and Digital Learning Lab. Students across multiple majors in both the bachelor’s and master’s programs applied to participate in this advanced course that challenged them to use cutting-edge technology like mixed reality, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence to disrupt the fashion industry.

"That’s what this partnership is about: to find new ways of working with these technologies and finding the new creative possibilities they bring."

-Matthew Drinkwater, Head of LCF Fashion Innovation Agency

Matthew Drinkwater from LCF

Working in groups, students spent the term developing prototypes and proposals for their projects, which they presented at the LCFBA18 Degree Show in June. Technological assistance came from specialists at Microsoft, while special mentorship came from industry insiders including: sustainability-minded designer Charli Cohen; fashion creative Sofia Barattieri; Bia Bezamat, innovation editor of TheCurrent; Sophia Matveeva, cofounder and CEO of Style Counsel; designer Hayley Elsaesser; and Natasha Franck, founder and CEO of EON and a past winner of the H&M Global Change Award.

Designer Hayley Elsaesser transformed her passion for design into a clothing line

"Technology is the reason that I have a brand. I think it just helps speed up and streamline the whole process."

-Hayley Elsaesser, Industry Ambassador

The students’ innovations went above and beyond everyone’s expectations. On June 5, industry, press, and students gathered in east London to examine the results. From a mixed-reality visual merchandising tool to an IoT-powered exercise app and an AI-assisted billboard that delivers hyper-targeted ads, these students offered a real glimpse of the future of fashion.

The Incubator empowered us because they gave us full liberty and full freedom to do not only our idea, but to take it as far as we wanted it to go.

- Antonio Arocho, Student
During the Future of fashion incubator

Explore the 6 Future of Fashion Incubator Projects

Using AI and Azure, Group 1 developed AI-assisted digital signage for fashion retail, called SmartSigns. This interactive display uses computer vision to identify a customer‘s style, suggesting local shops and similar styles available in the immediate vicinity.

Also working with AI, Group 2 created a style assistant app called Janet. After digitizing their existing wardrobe, customers would use Janet in-store to locate complementary garments to add to their collection. The app also highlights the most convenient (and cost effective) way to find and buy a specific garment.

Group 3 explored IoT and wearables, building a gamified exercise app using wearable tech. Instead of using a phone or wristband, the Heroes mobile app would be embedded in athletic wear via insole tilt sensors, accelerometers, and flex sensors within the garments. It offers the added benefit of helping users to find like-minded and similarly skilled fitness enthusiasts.

Group 4 also focused on IOT, examining ways to embed an RFID thread into a garment to track its life cycle. Called Design by Data, or DiDi, this nearly imperceptible thread would collect data for designers and brands to inform future improvements, from fabric choices to lessen wear and tear to more ergonomic designs.

Group 5 built a mixed reality store for an immersive, multi-brand luxury experience. Hololux is ideal for online-only retailers who lack a physical presence, and have more stock than can be artfully displayed at a shop or boutique. It’s also great for areas with high opportunity but small available footprints, like airports.

Finally, Group 6 used HoloLens to create a tool for retailers to experiment with elements like store layout, visual merchandising, and customer flow. With Augmenta, computer vision and machine learning tracks customer behavior, and owners can then use this info to build their models.

Microsoft has been proud to empower this next generation of fashion talent, and wishes the very best of luck to all these talented students.