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Tom Ford or TKMaxx? #fashiontech must be focused

Posted by Paula Fifield on 22nd March 2018

According to MarketLine, the market size of the apparel industry is expected to reach $1.65 trillion sales in US dollars worldwide. Given that the fashion industry has never been seen as the most tech-forward, it’s easy to see why technology companies are keen to move into this sector.

I’m not sure how many fashionista technophiles there are roaming the world, for the most part, I doubt dedicated followers of fashion perceive their favourite brand’s use of technology as having much of an impact on product desirability. Why then should the fashion industry be concerning itself with technology?

Where fashion is concerned, the consumer is indeed king/queen, and brand fanatics expect the object of their desire to be readily available wherever they are, across every type of digital device and channel but also physically available on-demand too. Consumers aren’t particularly concerned with the technological challenges that this in itself creates, it is simply taken for granted. Those brands that struggle to fulfil against buyer expectations will ultimately fail and that is why technology is supremely important to fashion.

Technology is not just about enhancing the buyer journey

Behind each brand lies a business, and it’s that business that directly gains from understanding the relevant technologies that exist, how to use them and how to benefit from them — including how to derive competitive advantage.

Beyond the (vitally important) consumer experience and related perceived value, B2B stakeholders including existing and prospective suppliers, partners, investors and staff will (subconsciously or consciously) evaluate the longevity of the business and how well prepared it is to operate in the future as they consider the risks and rewards of engagement. Huffington Post’s article last year on how ‘Technology is shaping the future of fashion’ provides more detail.

If HuffPo’s headline is to be believed, it appears that fashion companies are open for business in terms of technology, and demonstrating a clear tech strategy will give stakeholders a sense of confidence that the business has a handle on its destiny.

Selling technology in the fashion industry

As if by magic, a plethora of new ‘fashion-tech’ companies have arrived on the scene over the past few months. Many of these are already-existing marketing and retail technology companies applying their solutions to the fashion industry. Others have been built from the ground up with purely fashion in mind (true fashion technology?); and at the other end of the scale there are tech companies making wearable products and solutions that right now, are often deemed to be a little dorky!

There is an argument that wearable tech companies need fashion companies in order to make their products cool and/or mainstream (more on this in the coming days!).

As a PR agency dedicated solely to representing technology companies, we’d begin with giving tech companies who are targeting fashion businesses the following advice…

  1. Understand your client

Are you selling to a small/independent fashion label or to a huge retail clothing brand? What pain points is your client currently experiencing? How can you help to address these challenges and why is your solution the best choice and the right fit for them specifically? Be mindful that the pressure points will vary greatly depending on the size, scope and focus of the company you’re selling to.

  1. Understand values

Even though the B2C element is less concerned with technology per se, the brand has an image to protect and consumers can get, ahem, “shirty” if they feel their values are being compromised. Make it easy for your client to justify working with you to their own stakeholders by demonstrating how you can uphold and promulgate their values.

  1. Beyond your point of contact, other decision-makers will exist

If you’re targeting a large company, you may find that your point of contact is the CTO or another senior tech role. However, even in large companies be mindful that the decision to buy your tech may also involve non-technical types. Give your point of contact the support they need to convince their upward reports that your company will deliver business benefits, minus the technobabble. It’s a #fashionfactoid that Tom Ford doesn’t even carry a mobile phone as he’s simply not interested! So, you’re stuck in an elevator (he spends most of his time in the US, right?) with Mr Ford, you’ve got 60 seconds to convince him to do business with you… What do you say?

If you’d like to speak to us about how we could help your company to raise awareness, establish credibility and carve out a position within the fashion-tech sector, please contact us on

Photo cred:

Paula Fifield

Paula began working with the agency in 2007 as Business Development Director and was appointed as a board director in 2011. Prior to Wildfire, Paula worked at Sun Microsystems, Orange and Morse Group in a range of marketing, customer relationship management and business development roles.