Fashion

London College of Fashion: Incubating the future of fashion

Students at London College of Fashion, UAL are using Microsoft technology to disrupt the fashion industry.

Microsoft partnered with London College of Fashion, UAL to find out what happens when the future leaders of the fashion industry get their hands on the innovative technology of today.

Microsoft co-created a custom curriculum for a semester-long incubator with LCF’s Fashion Innovation Agency and Digital Learning Lab. Students across multiple majors in both the bachelor’s and master’s programs applied to participate in this advanced course that challenged them to use cutting-edge technology like mixed reality, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence to disrupt the fashion industry.

"That’s what this partnership is about: to find new ways of working with these technologies and finding the new creative possibilities they bring."

– Matthew Drinkwater, Head of LCF Fashion Innovation Agency

Matthew Drinkwater from LCF

Working in groups, students spent the term developing prototypes and proposals for their projects, which they presented at the LCFBA18 Degree Show in June. Technological assistance came from specialists at Microsoft, while special mentorship came from industry insiders including: sustainability-minded designer Charli Cohen; fashion creative Sofia Barattieri; Bia Bezamat, innovation editor of TheCurrent; Sophia Matveeva, cofounder and CEO of Style Counsel; designer Hayley Elsaesser; and Natasha Franck, founder and CEO of EON and a past winner of the H&M Global Change Award.

Profile pic of designer Hayley Elsaesser standing and smiling.

"Technology is the reason that I have a brand. I think it just helps speed up and streamline the whole process."

– Hayley Elsaesser, Industry Ambassador

The students’ innovations went above and beyond everyone’s expectations. On June 5, industry, press, and students gathered in east London to examine the results. From a mixed-reality visual merchandising tool to an IoT-powered exercise app and an AI-assisted billboard that delivers hyper-targeted ads, these students offered a real glimpse of the future of fashion.

Students workshopping
A woman and a man in conversation.
Students collaborating with Future of Fashion ambassador
Future of fashion ambassadors listening to student presentation
Future of fashion showcase event on June 5

Learning more about mixed reality via HoloLens

Discussing the impact of data on fashion and advertising

The Hololux project team collaborates with Future of Fashion Ambassador Sofia Barattieri

Future of Fashion Ambassadors listen to student presentations during the showcase on June 5, 2018

Future of Fashion Showcase, held in London June 5, 2018

The Incubator empowered us because they gave us full liberty and full freedom to do not only our idea, but to take it as far as we wanted it to go.

Antonio Arocho, Student

Explore the 6 Future of Fashion Incubator Projects

During the Future of fashion incubator

Using AI and Azure, Group 1 developed AI-assisted digital signage for fashion retail, called SmartSigns. This interactive display uses computer vision to identify a customer‘s style, suggesting local shops and similar styles available in the immediate vicinity.

SmartSign working model
SmartSigns presentation demostrations Future of Fashion showcase
A woman and a man in conversation.
Group 1: SmartSigns

Brainstorming notes from an Incubator workshop

SmartSigns demonstration at the Future of Fashion Showcase on June 5, 2018

Discussing the possibility of SmartSigns

Also working with AI, Group 2 created a style assistant app called Janet. After digitizing their existing wardrobe, customers would use Janet in-store to locate complementary garments to add to their collection. The app also highlights the most convenient (and cost effective) way to find and buy a specific garment.

Three women stand in front of a brightly painted wall.
Student from group Janet with ambassador Sophia Matveeva, cofounder and CEO of Style Counsel
Group 2: Janet

The students behind AI voice stylist, Janet

Students from group Janet with Ambassador Sophia Matveeva, cofounder and CEO of Style Counsel

The Janet group poses with their Ambassador, Sophia Matveeva, during the Future of Fashion Showcase on June 5, 2018

Group 3 explored IoT and wearables, building a gamified exercise app using wearable tech. Instead of using a phone or wristband, the Heroes mobile app would be embedded in athletic wear via insole tilt sensors, accelerometers, and flex sensors within the garments. It offers the added benefit of helping users to find like-minded and similarly skilled fitness enthusiasts.

Portrait of IOT Group at LCF Future of Fashion Incubator
The Heroes Team poses with their Ambassador, Charli Cohen, at the Future of Fashion Showcase
The Heroes team prototype
Group 3: Heroes

The Heroes group at the LCF Future of Fashion Incubator

The Heroes group poses with their Ambassador, designer Charli Cohen, and their prototype at the Future of Fashion Showcase

Group 4 also focused on IOT, examining ways to embed an RFID thread into a garment to track its life cycle. Called Design by Data, or DiDi, this nearly imperceptible thread would collect data for designers and brands to inform future improvements, from fabric choices to lessen wear and tear to more ergonomic designs.

LCF project team on Skype call with Amabassador Natasha Franck
Initial concept presentation of DiDi
Group 4: DiDi

The Design by Data, or DiDi, group at LCF

The DiDi group collaborates with Ambassador Natasha Franck via Skype

The initial concept presentation of DiDi

Group 5 built a mixed reality store for an immersive, multi-brand luxury experience. Hololux is ideal for online-only retailers who lack a physical presence, and have more stock than can be artfully displayed at a shop or boutique. It’s also great for areas with high opportunity but small available footprints, like airports.

MR Alpha Student Group LCF Future of Fashion Incubator
Students collaborating with Future of Fashion ambassador
A man points to a computer screen. To his left is a woman wearing a Hololens headset.
Group 5: Hololux

Team Hololux at the LCF Future of Fashion Incubator

Students collaborate with Future of Fashion Ambassador, digital creative consultant Sofia Barattieri

Demonstration of Hololux during the Future of Fashion Showcase

Finally, Group 6 used HoloLens to create a tool for retailers to experiment with elements like store layout, visual merchandising, and customer flow. With Augmenta, computer vision and machine learning tracks customer behavior, and owners can then use this info to build their models.

A woman and a man pictured. The woman is wearing a Hololens headset and smiles as she engages with the technology.
Augmenta project team working with ambassador
Augmenta presentation on stage at LCF Future of Fashion Showcase
Group 6: Augmenta

Demonstration of Augmenta, a visual merchandising application in HoloLens

The Augmenta group works with their Ambassador, fashion designer Hayley Elsaesser, via Skype

The Augmenta team presents their concept at the Future of Fashion Incubator on June 5, 2018, in London

Microsoft has been proud to empower this next generation of fashion talent, and wishes the very best of luck to all these talented students.