Digital craftsmanship: notes on an ongoing evolution

Ferragamo calls it the Future of Craft. For many other labels, it represents a turbulent conceptual, creative, production and marketing transition, exploring unknown territories, such as gaming. Creating virtual “immersive experiences”, it aims to give a new meaning to the value of craftsmanship

Let’s call it evolution. Or else, as people like it most lately: transition. In both cases, what we are witnessing is the fashion system’s advanced chase (all along its production chain) after an extreme digitalization of all processes involving product management, from creation to sale. In this context, Covid was a mighty trigger to search for new solutions. However, the ongoing evolution is actually much more powerful. It is heading to the creation of an innovative horizon, that here we call “digital craftsmanship”.

Digital craftsmanship

Now more than ever a remarkable number of fashion houses have expressed their pride of their craftsmen’s know-how. Which is a full reward of made in Italy. Those brands, as well, started an active exploration of a varied virtual dimension, involving thoroughly even the creative phase. Here lies the meaning of these notes, by which we would like to offer some food for thought, telling about some experiences underway.

For Ferragamo, it is the top of customization

Four models of Tramezza men’s shoes: Baron, Barclay, Brighton, Ronald. Five materials: betis, suede, crocodile, lizard, croco nabuk. Nine colours. Those are the grounds of Tramezza Made-to-Order, the virtualization project launched by Ferragamo “to make the customization and online purchase experience – the label explains – even more engaging”. But also “to enhance customer experience and meet the expectations of clients, who are more and more digital.

Thanks to Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Mixed Reality technology, on which the platform Augmented Store at Home by Hevolus is based, the brand is going to offer their customers an innovative service of choice and customization of the Tramezza men’s shoes collection”. The service “can be used in-store or online through an immersive and very high-resolution experience”. The “digital craftsmanship” factor, in this case, stands out entering Ferragamo’s portal dedicated to the project, which is called “future of craft”. It is told through the pictures of a craftsman manufacturing a Tramezza shoe.

For Hugo Boss (and not only) it is a creative factor

In November 2018, the YOOX e-tailer launched the 8 by YOOX collection. It is designed with the support of artificial intelligence, produced in Italy (especially all that is made of leather) and sold at affordable prices. It is based on the processing of big consumption data, managed by an advanced software which scans the web and memorizes the taste of magazines, celebrities and influencers matching it with trends, sales data, feedback from customers and purchase trends of the sector.

Two years ago, it looked like science fiction (maybe). Now it does not, considering that Hugo Boss decided to create in a 100% digital way 105 articles from the Pre-Fall 2021 collection. “With this collection – Ingo Wilts, Chief Brand Officer of the German label, comments – we are among the first ones in the fashion system to build a whole digital universe, ranging from development of the collection to orders”. Boss’s is not an experiment, but a real prelude. In fact, the German brand intends to manage the creation of 80% of their lines in digital mode within the end of 2022.

For Burberry & Co. it looks like a game, but it is not

The world of gaming has become an extraordinary communication setting for fashion houses. Examples, according to the portal, are many. Between 2019 and 2020, Burberry launched online games, such as B Bounce and B Surf, to promote their monogram between bits and luxury shopping experiences. The LuisaViaRoma e-tailer bet on Mod4, a game-app focusing on a shopping experience, permitting to dress an avatar with clothing and accessories chosen by the user.

This is a more rewarding experience than simple online purchasing. “The conversion index of the app is three times higher – Nicola Antonelli, Chief Marketing Officer at LuisaViaRoma, explains – compared with the online and also the length of stay is more: 15 minutes at Mod4, while the average in the e-commerce is 3-4 minutes”.

Let’s not forget about real games. In this case, the only example we make (out of many) is that of Animal Crossing, whose characters can choose to wear Craig GreenMarc JacobsGCDSBottega Veneta and Chanel outfits. And they are doing it collaborating closely with the marketing departments of the brands mentioned above. Even Valentino dressed those avatars with 20 looks from their summer 2020 and pre-fall 2021 collections. The outfits composed by players, thanks to the Pro Design function, are available at the Instagram page animalcrossingfashionarchive.

For Gucci, virtual sneakers are a challenge

Finally, Gucci gave a further burst of speed to all this gamification, challenging everybody with their first virtual sneakers. You can buy them for approx. 10.00 Euro and they only exist on the screen of your smartphone. They are a kind of filter: you can put it on to take pictures to share on social media or to move and interact inside gaming platforms. The Gucci Virtual 25 have fluo colours and a special closure with   small wheels instead of laces.

The fashion house developed them with Wanna, a fashion-tech company specialised in turning your smartphone into a dressing cabinet by using augmented reality. Those who did not get the manufacturing and commercial sense of the operation are helped by Sergey Arkhangelskiy, co-founder and CEO at Wanna. “Within five or maybe ten years – he tells Business of Fashion – a quite consistent part of the income of fashion brands is going to come from digital products. Our goal is actually to substitute the pictures of products with something much more engaging and closer to offline shopping”.

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