Fashion week may be long over, but the real couture having an impact on consumer experience is still sorting its collection. If you’re not familiar with the program, the New York Fashion Tech Lab, founded by Springboard Enterprises, is the oldest non-profit, fashion-technology program in the world. This program provides an opportunity for women-led, fashion-focused technology companies to collaborate with iconic fashion brands, retailers, technology partners and well-known industry experts on new solutions at the forefront of innovation and integration.
Going into its seventh year, the program has worked with fashion and retail elites like Bloomingdale’s, Global Brands Group, Lands’ End, LVMH, Macy’s, MATCHESFASHION.COM, Perry Ellis International and Tory Burch. Tech partners like Accenture and Microsoft bolster the prowess of the program, helping the selected Lab Companies to quickly iterate and fine tune their solutions to become impactful applications that ultimately benefit the consumer experience.
Applications for the 2020 class are closing soon, and I had the privilege to catch–up with Jackie Trebilcock, the Managing Director of New York Fashion Tech Lab to get the inside scoop on the upcoming program.
What will be different about NYFTL as it goes into its seventh year?
“Each year, the New York Fashion Tech Lab works closely with our partners to target new, innovative solutions to advance and push the industry’s traditional boundaries forward. In our seventh year, I have a feeling we’ll see an even broader remit of global participation. We focus on recruiting, qualifying and catalyzing companies whose innovative approach to creating solutions and services have the potential to address an area of friction experienced by our retail brand partners, and ultimately consumers.”
What have been some standout moments in the program for you overall?
“Technology is now seen as an intersection for all industries, including retail. Lab companies have created and implemented solutions in the areas of visual search, AI, fit technology, AR/VR for shopping, and consumer insights to name a few. Our goal is to bring together technology solutions that are innovating at the intersection of fashion, retail and technology and help the end consumer be more efficient and direct in their shopping experience and process. The standout moments have been those where we’ve seen the Lab companies translate their technologies into successful applications for our stable of incredible fashion and retail partners at Demo Day.”
Which technologies have you seen come through that have really changed the game for retailers?
“In the past few years, we’ve seen AI pervasive in nearly every participating Lab company. As the program evolves, we are seeing a greater influx of tech that may not have been created for the fashion industry, but that certainly has an impactful solution or application. Our search for promising innovations in 2020 has expanded to reach global markets, with the intention being to engage our fashion and retail partners with the most ground-breaking innovators worldwide. “
Is the program now global? What spurred action for the global markets?
“New York Fashion Tech Lab launched in 2014 as one of Springboard Enterprises’ industry sector programs, with the mission of engaging fashion and retail leaders headquartered in what is known as the fashion capital. As NYC’s premier business catalyst program for emerging tech innovators, we began to receive an influx of requests from interested applicants and new partners spanning from Russia, Singapore, China, Paris, London, Switzerland, Tel Aviv, as well as other major cities in the U.S., allowing us to expand our recruitment and selection of entrepreneurs and brand partners globally.”
What’s the deadline for applications and when will the selected companies for the 2020 Lab Class be notified?
“The Lab runs for 12 weeks annually from March until early June each year. Recruitment for the program takes place the prior year in October, after which the reviewing process of applicants begins in November. This year’s application opened Oct. 7, 2019, with a deadline of Nov. 15.
A number of selected finalists are invited to interview with our partners each February, in order to decide which companies will be selected for the program. We will then announce the selected lab companies along with their 2020 fashion and retail partners to the general public in early March.”