Explore or Expire | Avery Dennison

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Explore or Expire

RBIS leads in fashion tech, creating solutions with the consumer in mind

Julie Vargas, director, Digital Solutions, RBIS

"We explore or we expire."  This was the response from astronaut Buzz Aldrin when asked why he was passionate about space exploration at the South by Southwest, SXSW, festival last week.

It was a powerful analogy to the broader themes at the interactive festival and resonates with the strategy we consistently embrace at RBIS. Innovation, exploration and pushing boundaries are woven into our culture, and it was great to share that in an environment like South by Southwest.

RBIS attended SXSW with NYC-based menswear brand Rochambeau and retail media company The New Stand to share insights surrounding our digital collaboration featuring our Janela™ solution, powered by the EVRYTHNG Smart Products Platform. During our panel, The Future of Fashion: Products #BornDigital, we discussed how providing unique serialized labels with a connection to the EVRYTHNG cloud platform enabled digital capabilities in the bright BMBR and Thinking Cap solutions. 

During the festival and during our panel, several key themes echoed what we’re seeing in the market:

Technology is a design material and it has to look good.

In her Fashion is Your Business Podcast taping, Rebecca Minkoff said it best: "Fashion cannot be compromised for tech's sake." The term wearable was coined by DARPA in 1996 to refer to portable computers. Unfortunately, some wearables are still that clunky. One of the key themes at SXSW was that the technology either has to be part of the design or seamlessly integrated. 

During the RBIS panel, we discussed how we made this happen with Rochambeau, by incorporating the designer elements into the connector: we integrated beautiful art onto the care label directly and used a heat transfer logo to indicate where the technology resides in the jacket. The technology is a feature of the jacket, not a detractor.  

It has to be relevant and it has to work.

During a brand leadership panel with Liz Bacelar, founder of thought leading fashion+tech platform The Current, there were clear themes of relevance and reliability. The entire panel agreed that the big shift this year from a simple hunger for great ideas to a new hunger for great execution. Technology that is not reliable or relevant will inherently fail, regardless of how great the idea may be.

Nilofer Vahora, VP of Product Innovation at Rebecca Minkoff, agreed and specifically highlighted the RBIS smart bag collaboration, which launched last month during NY Fashion Week. She explained how we partnered to explore a wide variety of connector technology and experiences, narrowing the opportunities down to focus in on what would resonate most with a Rebecca Minkoff customer. Ultimately, while there are a lot of options out there, technology has to be something that is relevant and reliable to gain traction with consumers. 

Physical things are now digital assets.

During the panel with RBIS and EVRYTHNG, Lex Kendall, COO and founder of The New Stand, shared his thoughts on how truly special products provide a surprise and delight moment. In the case of the smart BMBR BMBR jacket,  

You can cut a line and get into a club, and that is a huge asset.

When these experiences are layered into a physical garment, there is a huge possibility to significantly increase their functionality and value. You can connect the wearer to communities nearby, curated experiences and suddenly the digital world can unlock physical experiences that were never there before. It brings the digital into the physical in new ways. (Move over Pokemon Go!)

SXSW showed us that the internet of clothing is starting to revolutionize the consumer experience.

RBIS has much to offer in that revolution, and we will continue to seek new possibilities and opportunities with incredible partners and collaborators.

Julie Vargas is director of Digital Solutions at RBIS. She’s inspired by technology’s application in reality, and organizing her closet with help from Janela™.

To learn more about our creative and tech solutions, contact an expert or visit a Customer Design and Innovation Center.

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