Footwear was looking forward on Wednesday night in New York. Industry leaders and disrupters were on hand for a panel discussion to talk about the impact of Generation Z, customization and technology in fashion.
The discussion, called “The Next Big Thing,” was hosted by the Two Ten Footwear Foundation women’s focused chapter WIFI and Marie Claire magazine.
Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox was there to talk not just about her customizable shoe brand but how she sees the customization trend expanding throughout fashion. Fox said she thought customization was just one part of the business challenge today. She said as more consumers demand see-it-now and buy-it-now products, manufacturing was the one space that would see the most disruption.
“Department stores have to stock loads of shoes, but who can afford that minimum?” said Fox. She said that on-demand manufacturing was the next step in the future of footwear and fashion.
On a panel discussion about Generation Z (young people born after 2000), Patrick Finnegan and Luka Sabbat both talked about tastes and trends of these up-and-coming consumers. Lives dominated by social media and a lack of brand loyalty, Finnegan and Sabbat said, were important elements that would shift retail and brand focus even more once they come of age.
Todd Harple, from the smart device division of Intel, Amanda Parkes, chief technology officer of Manufacture New York, and Billie Whitehouse, CEO of Wearable Experiments, closed out the night with a conversation about how technology can be better incorporated into fashion. The three used their mix of social science background and tech experience to talk about better fashion design. From totally re-engingeering the stiletto to crafting a jacket that uses built-in sensors to communicate directions to a wearer, the panelists said that ultimately wearables would be most successful when they blend what fashion and technology does well independently.