Fifth #FASHIONTECH Berlin: The Virtuality of Fashion


"How to close the loop ..." panelists

Kitted out with virtual reality glasses and motion capture suit presentations, fashion experts gathered at re:publica TEN. Read up on the most exciting topics and themes from the #FASHIONTECH Berlin sub-conference. 

From emphatic technology, Internet of Things (IoT) for textiles, Fashion Hack Day results to an open hardware activity tracker – the digitisation of the fashion industry brought together many disciplines in our sub-conference. Together with our partners at PREMIUM International Trade Fair, #FASHIONTECH Berlin celebrated its 5th iteration of its one-day event format. One central topic, which filled up the Kühlhaus with participants, was “The Future of E-Commerce“. In what directions is digital retail trending? Three startups presented their projects: combyne is a mobile app which allows users to put together an individualised piece of clothing from a curated fashion database. Smartzer is an interactive video player which makes it possible for users to shop whilst watching videos. EasySize is an online tailoring service which automatically calculates sizes and measurements for repeat shoppers.

Fotini Markopoulou's “Emphatic Technology“ talk was another big success. As a co-founder and CEO of wearables startup doppel Fotini works in psychophysiology and the interplay of mind and body. She aims to develop new applications that influence how we experience things and how we react to them, specifically wearables that can influence a users mood and feelings. Smart-trackers and fitness wearables only supply us with heavy sets of data which, according to her, can be too overwhelming for most users. The focus should instead be on the experience that these technologies can provide. This topic struck a nerve and generated a lot of interest and questions from the audience following the presentation. 

The panel discussion “How to close the loop – A discussion about the circular fashion industry“ also generated a lot of interest. Rebeca Duque Estrada, Annette Kres, Frans Prins and Mayya Saliba discussed new methods of production to create more sustainable materials. Annette Kres stood out with her unusual and exciting work: she cultivates bacteria and fuses them together into an organic fabric which she then integrates into high tech materials for her collection. This includes the cultivation of “kombucha textiles”, a fabric-like material made from fungus. The result is a leather-like material which Kres uses to produce organic shoe soles. While the prototype is not fully waterproof yet the project is moving into interesting areas of sustainability and production.

Slightly less organic, but more digital: Anja Rojahn's talk “A Brand(ed) New World: Welcome to Virtual Commerce“ on virtual commerce. What opportunities does virtual reality have for e-commerce solutions in the retail branch? Some see it as a hyped topic, with some predicting that virtual commerce has the potential to replace e-commerce altogether. Anja Rojahn provided an introduction to the technologies behind this, talked about the requirements from a technical as well as retail side and showcased some future possibilities. We look forward to seeing how this technology develops and where it might be implemented.

Christian Zöllner on VR glasses as fashion item

Last but not least, Christian Zöllner opened #FASHIONTECH Berlin with a talk focusing on virtual reality and the world of fashion. In “I VR my sunglasses at night! – Fashion and Virtual Realities“ he analysed the history behind sunglasses and suggested that VR glasses are a natural evolution. Could they in future establish themselves as a fashion accessory despite their continuous and rapid redevelopment and iteration? We look forward to following these developments.

The day was closed out with the “Fishbowl” discussion round focusing on the potential of VR. First the panel reflected on the historical development of the fashion industry and our perception of what is “in style”. Lisa Lang from ElektroCouture opened with the statement “fashion as we know it has been standing still for a long time” which summarised the other panel members' views as well. All panelists also agreed that this static nature of the fashion industry's old ideas and ways can be reinvigorated through new technologies, which have the potential to create new identities. This current situation also fuels young designers and fashion startups to fill this creative vacuum. Active audience participation helped to produce visionary discussion about the opportunities and risks of increasing merger between fashion and technology. VR in particular was seen as having a relevant future in fashion retail. The classic sales models have long been supplanted by digital shopping experiences. Virtual reality has the potential to maximise the shopping experience, both on- and offline, by influencing and intensifying the immersive experience of brand awareness and recognition amongst consumers. However, as with all areas of life now affected by digitisation, the world of fashion must ensure that their industry doesn't become the next data-obsessed time bomb ready to explode.

As we can see, the energy around fashion-meets-digital is buzzing. That's why we're keeping the momentum going:
29 June 2016 will see the next #FASHIONTECH Berlin event take place in parallel with the Berlin Fashion Week!
More on the programme content can be found in our topics preview here. More information and registration for the event at

We look forward to seeing you!

Credit: re:publica/Jan Michalko (CC BY 2.0)