On March 22, 2023, at The Times Center in New York, BoF hosted the BoF Professional Summit: An Inflection Point in Fashion Tech, presented by Bolt.
Across a content-rich half-day of programming, business leaders from some of fashion’s biggest brands, including Gucci, Puma, StockX and Levi’s, were joined by technologists from buzzy tech start-ups, like Hyran Technologies, Quilt.AI and Cala.
Speakers offered exclusive insights and expertise across three key technology themes shaping the industry — artificial intelligence, web3 and operational tech solutions. Discover key highlights and takeaways from the talks below.
Opening Keynote: Engaging with Customers Across Technology, Media and E-Commerce
The programming opened with Michael J. Wolf, co-founder and chief executive of Activate, Inc., a management consulting firm specialising in technology, internet, media and e-commerce.
From NFTs to the gaming space, the metaverse and e-commerce, Wolf shared where customers are spending time, attention and money — and the opportunities in this space.
- “Seventy-seven percent of 148 million gamers in the US are participating in non-gaming activities. It’s where they’re being social, building virtual places, and it’s driven not by money, but prestige.”
- “Thirty-five percent of adults want to create and personalise these spaces — you can’t have a metaverse environment unless you give people agency.”
Session 1: The Use-Cases of Artificial Intelligence in Fashion
From forecasting demand and setting prices to product design and new ways of connecting with customers, the use cases of AI in fashion are expanding at a fast pace.
- “In the past, your consumer was ‘Customer 136′. Now, you can capture where they live, what they like, how they want to receive their emails,” said Dr Ahmed Zaidi, CEO and co-founder of AI platform Hyran Technologies.
- “Tech should be an accelerator for the priorities and initiatives you, as a business, have already deemed important,” said Dr Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy of Levi’s, who announced a new AI-driven initiative on stage.
- Quilt.AI has taken “more than 22 billion images [online] and indexed them … to find the proximity between brand messaging and consumers’ messaging. We take all the learnings we have from this massive archetypical model,” said Anurag Banerjee of Quilt.AI in conversation with BoF’s Rahul Malik.
- Sharing some use cases on stage, from Chanel to Tommy Hilfiger, Malik asked: “Does this mean that the brand should go to where the consumers are? Or should the brand be trying to lead consumers to where they want to go?”
Session 2: Tech Solutions to Optimise Fashion Operations
Speakers discussed how technology can innovate the fashion value chain, from transforming the path-to-purchase to understanding how to use platforms like Discord to connect with customers.
- “Balancing [consumer] intent with discoverability is incredibly nuanced. [We] do it at scale for large retailers for every consumer, [like a] personal shopping experience,” said Anabel Maldonado, founder and CEO of Psykhe AI.
- “While [AI] has democratised the ability to get creative ideas out in the world, true creative genius … will shine through, as everyone will have the same capability,” said Andrew Wyatt, co-founder and CEO of Cala.
- “[Virtual] try-on will augment the shopping experience. It will never replace the look and feel of the garment but will be a powerful tool to make a purchase decision,” said Vadim Rogovski, co-founder and CEO of 3DLook.
- If you’re looking to join next-gen community platforms like Discord, “be ready for negative feedback and be ready to respond … Engage the audience with transparency,” said Adam Petrick, chief brand officer of Puma.
- “[At StockX,] we use Discord as part of our customer insights programme. With every learning agenda, we go to Discord and ask that question in a community that is interested,” said Deena Bahri, chief marketing officer of marketplace StockX.
- “Don’t get lost at a high level as you miss out on individuals. Focus on the consumer, move extremely fast with the tech available — don’t wait for 12 months as the world will be a different place. Learn, experiment and learn again,” said Maju Kuruvilla, CEO of summit presenting partner Bolt.
Session 3: The Web3 Reality Check
The final session explored the long-term opportunity of web3 as brands look for new uses relating to creativity and community, debating the longevity of this technology and the return on investment for businesses.
- “There are buyers who try to flip [virtual products], but we’re not making it for them. I’m trying to use web3 technology to accelerate and make the core [AMBUSH] business vibrant,” VERBAL, co-founder and CEO of AMBUSH.
- “For a brand like Gucci, we see through the test and learn experiments loyalty, community building, authentication, but ultimately, revenue,” said Robert Triefus, CEO of the Gucci Vault and Metaverse Ventures.
- “The metaverse is real … and in these spaces, people care as much about their identity as they do in the real world … The ability to express yourself in those spaces will be a huge part of the future,” said Alice Delahunt, founder and CEO of Syky.
- “Web3 has always been about taking control of your identity digitally, your data and doing whatever you want with it — delete it, hoard it, monetise it, that’s your choice, that’s your freedom,” said Milton Pedraza, founder and CEO of Luxury Institute.
- “It starts with what one can do with their own data, and what sort of composable things web3 can enable. That’s why loyalty and rewards are dead-centred on this issue,” said Brian Trunzo, metaverse lead at Polygon Labs.
The BoF Professional Summit: Artificial Intelligence, Web3 and an Inflection Point in Fashion Tech is made possible in part through our partners Bolt, ShopRunner, SKYPAD and Invisible Collection.