12 April 2021

Can you imagine a blanket that hugs its owner and changes its color and temperature to match the mood? It is not sci-fi but one of the products described by Maria Terekhova, co-founder of X-tend Group, managing partner of the New Fashion Zone, and MIM-Kyiv graduate. She also talked about the fashion industry in Ukraine and the pandemic implications for the industry. 


Digital Apparel

Digital apparel is one of the startups’ darling. Those are virtual garments created by designers. They are often 15% - 20% cheaper than real clothes and are bought to be worn on social media. For example, you can wear your t-shirt in front of your screen but appear wearing the evening gown. Those startups are now popular and are raising their first rounds of investments globally. There are a few such companies in Ukraine. There are digital fashion shows when apparel is walking the runway without models, or virtual models, or even agencies of virtual models. It is safe to say that a whole digitalized industry has emerged. It is difficult to predict the outcomes. I do hope we will soon be socializing face-to-face rather than sitting in front of our screens wearing our T-shirts and jogging pants and putting on digital designers’ outfits for online meetings. However, digital fashion will stay. According to some forecasts, the share of digital apparel will account for up to 10% - 15% of the total market within the nearest decade or two. 


Fabrics of Mood

Currently, much is being invested in the development of new textiles. One of those innovations is fabrics that are changing colors to match the mood. It is going to make changes easier. Can you imagine dressing up in the morning and changing your outfit with the move of your finger later? Such innovations are the response to the pace of our lives rather than to the pandemic. Many designers use fabrics that change colors. I think we all be using our gadgets to manage our clothes. The fashion industry is a bit traditional. However, many analysts forecast substantial changes pretty soon. I think we are in for dramatic changes to the production of our fashion items. 


Open Borders and New Agreements

The lockdown proved that borders do not exist everywhere. If you can speak a couple of languages and understand what you want, you can get in touch with anybody from an investor to a partner, from a small customer to a multinational decision-maker. Everything is quicker, cheaper, and simpler. This year for the first time, the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation made the Ukrainian New Fashion Days possible. Our Ukrainian designers were mentored by experts from Dior and Lanvin fashion houses. Our fice designers managed to run their shows in Paris right before the lockdown. Although they were not physically present in the showrooms, they managed to negotiate unbelievably favorable conditions. Having all five designers strike deals on such good terms is quite a breakthrough. I would say even for our society. Crisis as an opportunity to negotiate unheard-of earlier conditions is one of the best lockdown takeaways.  


Carved in Stone. Yet

Designers’ apparel requires fittings. You can’t do without real-life fitting yet. Buyers used to complain through the last and this year about different effects of virtual and real-life clothes. Many things were much liked on pictures but failed to stand the real-life test. However, there are companies, Ukrainian are developing virtual fittings as well. I do hope that this will not fly. Fitters are critical in establishing and developing a relationship with customers. Their work is a true performance, especially in tailoring. It makes the industry human.