18 Oct 2017

Luxury, Fashion and Technology: How to Utilize this Powerful Trifecta with Muchaneta Kapfunde, EIC of FashNerd.com

When the two worlds of luxury fashion and technology collided, vibrant new ideas were created and strewn across the digital universe. Not that long ago, a rigid boundary separated the two; they were as far apart as the East is from the West. Over time, intriguing new advancements in the technology realm emerged, setting the stage for luxury brands to push the boundaries and stretch their imaginations. The luxury consumer was captivated by this radical blending of high fashion and tech, and those distinctive lines of separation vanished. Today, they are intricately woven together as the luxury fashion brands and technology collaborate to design wearables that appeal to the consumers’ lifestyle. 

We wanted to talk to an influential woman entrepreneur who possesses a wealth of knowledge about these two industries. We recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking exclusively with Muchaneta Kapfunde, founding Editor-in-Chief of FashNerd, where fashion and tech intersect.

The tech-savvy entrepreneur has an unrivaled journalistic gift for invoking the senses with her writing style. During her career, she has captured the attention of luxury brands and often shares her insights at prestigious conferences around the world The enthusiastic University of Arts Media graduate with a Journalism background launched Fashnerd.com as the preeminent destination for other fashionistas. Her passion and strengths include Fashion PR, Creative Direction, Brand Development & Social Media. As one who thrives on encouraging and teaching others, Muchaneta is also a Student Mentor volunteer at the University of Arts. In this interview, Muchaneta shares her penetrating insights into what she expects to emerge on the 2018 world stage of fashion and technology.

On what’s transpiring in the state of the luxury, fashion and technology industries as a whole:

As the digital revolution changes the luxury business landscape, luxury brands are starting to overcome their conservative thinking. For some, their adoption of technology was a necessity not a choice.  

Concentrating more on retail tech than fashion tech, luxury brands are transforming the ways they reach out to consumers and how consumers interact with their brand. Examples include the increase of in-store technology by brands like Burberry. The inclusion of personalization which relies on machine learning to offer customers the ultimate shopping experience. Then there is my favourite AI, which has been largely applied in the messaging space by brands like Tommy Hilfiger, who experimented with machine-led customer service tool chatbots on social media platforms like Facebook.

On what a female luxury entrepreneur should have on her radar screen as we move into 2018 that pertains to luxury and technology:

As technology transforms the luxury landscape, female luxury entrepreneurs should first look to developing new digital innovations to scale their brand. 2017 has been all about focusing on understanding customer behaviour and personalising their shopping experience. In 2018, I think that luxury brands should look to using technology to appeal to the millennials, who are predicted to become the fastest growing spending power by 2018-2020.

On what the luxury brands are innovating via tech that we should pay attention to in the coming year:

Although some long-standing luxury brands are still refusing to innovate via technology, there are brands that have slowly been embracing it, like fashion giant LVMH. They are quietly implementing tech into their brands. You just have to look at the innovation behind Sephora. The beauty brand, owned by LVMH, {leveraged} technology to allow users to experiment with} different lipsticks using a mobile app. The technology used facial recognition software to allow users to test products and purchase directly in the app.  

On how a woman entrepreneur can embrace technology to enhance her fashion brand:

I think that when it comes to embracing technology the challenge is finding compelling use cases, therefore, if you want technology to enhance your fashion brand make sure you do your research first.

On what is generating the most buzz in technology in 2018?

Invisible technology woven in the fabric. Luxury brands know that their customers will most likely not appreciate wires and big batteries attached to an expensive product. It all needs to be seamlessly integrated. Due to this demand, I foresee the coming year introducing us to products that are less robotic and more fluid. 

On how a woman entrepreneur in the fashion industry can include luxury technology:

Look to your customer first and ask yourself, what kind of technology would they benefit from? At this moment in time, it is probably easier to embrace retail tech, than fashion tech. That being said, if you are looking to technology complementing} your brand, make sure you research, discuss and educate yourself about what is currently available {to ensure} that the technology adds to your brand, not take away from it.

 On how a women entrepreneur can differentiate her brand from her competitors by incorporating technology?

Know your market. It is not just about incorporating technology in your brand. There needs to be a demand for the kind of technology that you want to invest in. I think that the problem has been that brands are adding technology for technology sake and that is a big mistake. Technology is there to improve your brand, to give you a better serving product, it should not be an afterthought. 

On how women entrepreneurs are taking their brands to the next level in luxury and technology:

Women entrepreneurs like Jasna Rok are using different techniques such as virtual and augmented reality to rethink clothing, textiles, and the fashion industry as a whole. In order to take your brand to the next level you also need to sift through the hype and gadgets to get to the core of the innovation taking place. 

On influential women to watch in the FashTech field and the revolutionary milestones they have achieved (luxury or high fashion geared):

When it comes to 2 or 3 influential women to watch in the fashion tech field, there is Rana Nakhal Solset of Emel+Aris, who has brought to market a cashmere coat infused with technology. Her revolutionary milestone is that her coat is embedded with a very small battery. As you might know battery size and power is a problem with wearables, and she knew that when it comes to producing a luxury product, it cannot have a big heavy battery attached. Then there is Regina Polanco of Pyrates. Only in her early 20s, she has already launched a luxury line of athleisure immersed in active components that heat, soothe and care for your body.  

On how a woman entrepreneur can select the best designers and tech specialists to assist her in elevating her luxury brand:

Women entrepreneurs should select the best designers and tech specialists who understand how their customers see the world and what they expect from a luxury brand. Also, make sure you look at their previous work and before you sign on the dotted line ask yourself, do they have technology in their DNA? and do they have the courage to think big? 




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