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Brief Published: 19 Mar 2013

SXSWi: Fashion & Retail Preview


Personalisation was a key theme to emerge from the fashion and retail panels at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference in Austin, Texas (March 8-12 2013).

On the retail front, much discussion revolved around the use of mobile devices and data to customise the shopping experience and enhance service, both in-store and online. Jennifer Hyman, co-founder of US online dress rental site Rent the Runway, predicts: “In the next five years, [store staff] will know who you are when you walk in the door, and the experience will be personalised based on the things you’ve purchased and viewed in the past.”

Barry Bourbon, a principal at US design firm Gensler, noted that facial recognition technology will also play an increasing role in physical retail spaces, tailoring everything from digital window displays to in-store ads and even music based on the customer’s age, gender and data profile.

Personalisation was also a hot topic surrounding fashion design, especially considering the rise of 3D printing. “3D printing will empower the consumer, because it will allow them to customise the material or colour of something I’ve designed,” says New York-based womenswear designer Kimberly Ovitz, who featured 3D-printed jewellery in her Autumn/Winter 2013-14 show at New York Fashion Week. “If we can include them in the process, only good things can come out of it.”

Look out for full coverage of the interactive themes mentioned here – and more – in our SXSW reports, which will also address directions in film, entertainment and music.

For more on these topics, see Stylus’ reports 3D Printing: From Gimmick to Game Changer, The Science of Recognition  and In-Store Interactive.