The role iOS technology plays in the design and fashion industries is both varied and integral to operations, influencing the design process, creative workflows, business management and retail sales systems. Macworld Australia ventures into three important aspects of the fashion world to discover why iOS looks set to be more than just a flash fad.
Many spectators, insiders and designers have pegged the fashion industry as a fickle ‘one day you’re in, and the next you’re out’ place in which to work. And while this might be true of colour palettes and faux fur, there are some constants in the industry that have cemented themselves as ‘must-haves’.
Fashion and design have not been immune to the charm and capabilities of iOS devices and compatible apps in recent years, with all facets of the business being affected by what Apple technology is able to offer. From creation to execution and sales, iPhones and iPads have become as essential to the industry as the Little Black Dress or Paris Fashion Week.
We take a sneak peek into the different ways in which iOS is being utilised by artists, designers and retail outlets in Australia.
Birdy & Me
Kelly Smith, is a freelance artist who works in both portrait and fashion illustration. Her label Birdy & Me produces a variety of art-based work for clients in the fashion industry. Among the extensive portfolio of brands she has designed for are L’Avion, Mambo, Vogue Australia, Russh, Portmans, ROC Eyewear, Frockshop and General Pants Co.
Part of Kelly’s creative process involves a ‘hunt and gather’ period where anything from photos to feedback help shape her vision and meet the client’s brief.
Birdy & Me is predominantly run by Kelly herself, and a skeleton staff of Apple devices including an iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone 4 and iPod. Her Macs handle the production side of her work, but it’s the ideas and inspiration and client liaison that come mostly from her iPhone and a handful of apps.
“There is a whole community of Australian artists, designers and bloggers who use apps to share their work and inspirations with each other. It’s really one of the best ways for all of us to communicate visually with each other, whether it be sharing colour palettes, mood boards or our work.”
Kelly also keeps her iPhone handy to quickly converse with a client mid- project, making use of the mobility and convenience that it affords her.
“If I’m on a roll with an artwork and I don’t want to stop to scan and create a jpeg, I often snap a photo on my iPhone and email it through to my client so that they can keep updated on the progress. I find it really convenient,” Kelly explains.
“We live in an age where so many people in this industry work on either a freelance level or in a position that requires them to be in multiple places at once. Things like an iPhone and apps allows us all to work together from literally anywhere in the world.”
“Fashion journalists, bloggers, illustrators can update each other almost instantaneously with Australian Fashion Week, for example, became a front-row spectacle for almost anyone with a Twitter or Instagram account.”
Kelly has also started using various apps to edit graphic work, adopting the use of photo filters to tweak the overall effect of photos and illustrations.
“I’ve recently started playing with an application called picfx which, in a similar vein to Instagram, applies various filters to existing images and allows you to edit them creatively on the go. It can take a mundane picture of your office space, for example, and turn it into something prettier and more in keeping with the general aesthetic of your work,” Kelly says.
Mobile Muse, an Australian-based app development company, works primarily in the fashion industry, building apps for major events such as the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFF) and retail brand Forever New, among others.
LMFF is the world’s largest consumer fashion event and an annual celebration of fashion, design, business and creative endeavours. Mobile Muse is an integral part of the event, having worked on providing official iOS support for media, featured designers and consumers for a number of years.
In an initiative to showcase innovative ways for retailers to connect with consumers, Mobile Muse developed the event’s official app and provided iPad kiosks at particular venues for LMFF. Attendees were able to use the kiosks to catch up or revisit the latest runway shows and view behind-the- scenes photos and videos.
The iPad kiosk and app was a cost-effective way for retailers and exhibitors to leverage the mobility and features of the iPad to engage with consumers anywhere, anytime.
The company hopes to implement the system for in-store look books or catalogues, other events, exhibitions and launches. There are also plans to use the kiosk to enable purchases.
“In future we may see consumers swiping their credit cards or tapping their phones to buy directly from the kiosk,” Mobile Muse’s Carol Barton says.
This year’s key initiative for LMFF was to incorporate QR scanning into the iPhone app. The Mobile Muse software supported a ‘Shop The Runway’ campaign and ‘Windows By Design’ concept.
“LMFF’s Shop The Runway tool provided consumers with access to imagery, videos and stockist information from their smartphone or tablet directly after attending a runway show,” Barton says.
“Consumers could scan a QR Code printed onto collateral distributed at the shows for quick mobile access.”
The Windows by Design feature invited key Melbourne retailers to partner with local design talent from a range of creative industries to collaborate and develop eye-catching and engaging window displays during the month of March.
Each window displayed a QR code for iPhone app users to scan for more information. The iPhone app also promoted a feature to take photos, edit them and then share them with others via social media.
Barton says the process of developing a successful fashion app is determined by asking key questions: “It starts with the strategy and key objectives. What do you want to achieve and can mobile help enable that?” she says.
“One of the biggest benefits of mobile over traditional desktop access is that it is location aware; enabling consumers to find the nearest location based on their current vicinity.”
Mobile Muse continues to innovate apps for local designers to showcase their collections through alternate communication channels.
“The App Store is a large, global channel that opens up new markets and exposure,” Barton says.
“We’re only just starting to touch the surface of what’s possible.”
At the Speed of Light
On the other end of the fashion spectrum is retail, the act of purchases and sales, and at the forefront of developing POS systems for mobile devices is LightSpeed.
LightSpeed for iPad brings point-of-sale functionality to the tablet platform, enabling retailers to showcase their products with Show & Tell features and to conveniently process transactions anywhere. Australian fashion outlets have adopted the software in-store, with successful results among staff and consumers.
The software is the first of its kind to provide an interactive point of sale system in the retail industry, combining personalised selling with inventory scanning, wireless payments and an efficient retail workflow. The program allows staff to engage and interact with shoppers, as well as offer a unique and creative way for buyers to look at fashion from another perspective.
Swatch this space
The fashion industry is moving full speed ahead, in terms of making its mark in the digital and social media world. With no signs of slowing down, the inventions are an exciting prospect for retailers and buyers.
Iconic Australia fashion chain store Sportsgirl recently fitted out its Chadstone Melbourne store with high-tech mirrors in the change rooms that let users photograph themselves wearing put-together outfits; the images can then be uploaded to Facebook for users to rate and comment on the clothes.This is just one example of the way in which the ‘traditional’ shopping experience is changing, allowing customers to try before they buy.
eBay by the numbers
Most people rightly assume that eBay is one of the world’s largest online retail spaces, and now that the company has gone mobile with apps for iOS and Android, shopping trends have skyrocketed. We got our hands on a bunch of startling statistics that are bound to blow your mind!
● A fashion item is bought on eBay mobile every11 seconds.
● Over four million Australian smartphone owners used their mobiles to compare prices on eBay before purchasing, and 37 percent who researched a product using their mobile did so while looking at the product in a bricks-and- mortar store.
● With more Australians using their mobile phones to research, shop and browse, 7 out of 10 top 3000 eBay sellers said mobile commerce will play an important role in their business strategy in 2012.
● 85 percent of all fashion sales on eBay.com.au are for new clothes, shoes & accessories.
● 1.4 million items of women’s clothing and 500,000 men’s items were sold on eBay AU in 2011.
Bets on Etsy
The e-commerce website that sells handmade and vintage items, from bags to shoes, bridal and more launched its free iPhone app in November 2011. For buyers, the Etsy app lets you explore and browse items by category, channel or your activity feed. For sellers, the app displays your shop metrics, and even sends alerts when a sale is made.
Since the 2011 launch of Etsy for iPhone:
● 1.5million downloads were tracked in less than six months.
● There have been an average of 30 page views per visit.
● 1 in five visits are accessed via a mobile device.