Interview for So Soir: Mode & Techno

So Soir, October 21st, 2023


An expert in the intersection of fashion and technology, Belgian innovator Ann Claes underscores the pivotal role science can play in advancing sustainability throughout the entire lifecycle of a product. To achieve this, industry stakeholders need to embrace these cutting-edge technologies with an open mindset. For instance, adopting waste-free patterns, eschewing water-based dyes, and utilizing soluble threads can significantly enhance recyclability during the design and production stages.

Furthermore, the integration of blockchain-type databases introduces a new era of transparency, enabling a comprehensive view internally and among brand partners. This transparency proves crucial in the sales and communication phases, empowering consumers with detailed insights, fostering confidence in their shopping decisions, and allowing them to appreciate the sustainable strides taken by each company.

In the realm of online shopping, tools such as pruning, adjustment features, virtual trials, and robust visualization tools simplify the process. Personalization not only enhances customer engagement but also forges a unique connection and emotional value, showcasing a commitment to a more sustainable and personalized future.

Ann Claes also welcomes the arrival of gaming in the world of fashion:  immersive experiences allow you to create a real connection with a brand. Also sustainable consumption can be improved: I am thinking in particular of care labels, smart devices, that can be connected to your washing machine or even resale applications and platforms. 

For luxury brands, tech is already a daily reality: from Patou, who uses AI to track down counterfeit products, to Zegna which attempts to improve the purchasing experience in this way, including Valentino and Prada which, for their campaigns, mix real images and machine intervention.

Robot dog at the show of Coperni


When asked about the future of fashion, Ann Claes is very positive. For her, the technology is not about to replace the human, quite the opposite. Each technology requires a starting point, whether it is a handmade sketch or choice of pattern. If, at otherwise, we continue to repeat data existing or to create copies of copies, the creativity could, it is obvious, disappear, she warns.

It is also impossible to talk about AI without mentioning the range of new talents that these advances make essential. In the Tian Su team, in charge of personalization concepts for consumers at Zalando, the human brain indeed remains central: Technological progress in the fashion industries are the result of combined efforts of numerous collaborators from varied areas of expertise. In the team of Stacia Carr, this collaboration takes the form of heads of product, UX/UI designers, product analysts, data, engineers, scientists, project leads and fashion experts. To this are added technical groups, business units, studios, distribution centers, etc.  The synergy resulting from skills and unique perspectives from these diverse teams stimulates a global approach to innovation.

In the near future, Ann Claes looks forward to more systematic use of the passport digital (a sort of identity card of the clothing), already implemented by some brands. And if you, as a fashion consumer, are in a fun, ecological (and innovative) mood, the expert suggests that you buy, why not, a pair of virtual earrings for your next Zoom meeting.