TEN UK companies shaping the future of fashion


Fashion Stephen Tai 650px

(Above: A digital collaboration between FIA, Lucasfilm and designer Steven Tai. Image credit: FIA)

The UK is a global hotspot for fashion start-ups exploring the commercial potential of emerging technology such as blockchain and augmented reality.

Here are ten innovators poised to shake up every aspect of the sector, from manufacture to marketing and retail.

1.) Threads

Luxury styling service Threads has pioneered the use of chat messaging to serve its high-end client base. A team of personal stylists communicate with clients via WeChat, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram, before despatching items to their doorstep

2.) Fashion Innovation Agency @LCFLondon

FIA helps designers and brands (including several in this article) use emerging technology to change the way they make, sell or show their collections. Earlier this year FIA worked with Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment lab to digitally augment fashion designer Steven Tai’s AW18 presentation. Special effects transformed the venue’s classical architecture into scenes from Tai’s native Macau, while a virtual model was beamed onto the catwalk.  

3.) Saveyourwardrobe 

Built on the insight that the average person wears only 20% of their clothes, this wardrobe management app aims to help customers make the most of their garments. By combing through email receipts and retailer accounts, the app builds a record of the user’s wardrobe contents. Items can also be photographed and uploaded manually. The app provides new outfit suggestions, shopping recommendations and curates services to clean, repair, sell or donate garments.

4.) Provenance

Provenance is helping food and fashion businesses to increase trust and transparency by  documenting their supply chain. Blockchain technology is used to securely store information in a way that’s tamper-proof and auditable. The company recently worked with fashion designer Martine Jarlgaard to track freshly-sheared alpaca fleece from the farm to a finished garment.  

 5.) Metail

Metail’s software aims to solve the biggest problem with online clothes shopping - getting the right fit. Using 3D visualisation technology developed at the University of Cambridge, Metail enables shoppers to try on virtual clothes, as well as generating personalised size and style recommendations. Its Composed Photography product allows e-commerce retailers to cut the cost of photo shoots by convincingly blending product shots with model images from Metail’s library.

6.) Unmade

Unmade’s platform gives brands the ability to offer customisable products and manufacture the results. British designer Christopher Raeburn worked with Unmade to enable customers to create their own bespoke, made-to-order version of his Ribbon Sweater.  An order management system for Scottish knitwear manufacturer Johnstons of Elgin has enabled the firm to create bespoke orders as quickly and cheaply as mass produced garments.

 7.) Glitzbox 

Customers of subscription service Glitzbox pay £50 per month to receive a curated box with three items of designer jewellery. Subscribers try out the trinkets, keep what they want and return the rest.

8.) Intelistyle 

Described as ‘Spotify for fashion’, Intelistyle’s app uses artificial intelligence to help users put together the perfect outfit. Users upload pictures of their existing clothes and then get suggestions for which items in their wardrobe work together, along with recommendations for items to buy from retail partners.

9.) Solely original 

After studying Footwear Design at the London College of Fashion, founder Iris Anson realised many women were sacrificing style for comfort. Sole Original provides a bespoke fitting service for customers - either by post with a casting kit or a 3D scan at the brand’s East London studio. Customers can then order a shoe that’s the perfect fit, with options to customise material, heel height and colour.

10.) Lylie’s

A typical smartphone contains 0.2g of gold, yet few are recycled, even with a lifespan that averages just 22 months. Jewellery company Lylie’s transforms gold and silver ‘mined’ from electronic devices into delicate pendants, earrings and cufflinks - all stamped with a special ‘salvage’ hallmark.

Many of the above companies are listed in the Createch Resource Book which details 200 creatively-led and tech-driven organisations.