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Chapter 2’s Kenneth Loo on what to expect from fashion tech in 2024

By Rachel Douglass


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Business |Interview

Louis Vuitton is adding another bag to its digital collection. Credits: Louis Vuitton

“I can see aspects of how we’re going to implement technology to allow us to fix what I think we can all agree on as those in the fashion industry is a pretty broken system,” Kenneth Loo said in a conversation with FashionUnited on the future possibilities of Web3 and emerging tech. Through such systems, the co-founder and chief executive of the communications company Chapter 2 envisions an industry in which creators can visibly see the benefits of aftermarket and resale value, bolstered by a heightened sense of transparency made possible through a more robust blockchain.

It is this sector that Loo’s firm had only just entered about two years ago, after having already cemented its place in the world of fashion and supply chains, both of which he believes seamlessly intertwine with the ongoing developments within emerging technologies. Chapter 2 boasts an impressive client list in the realm of fashion, having worked with the likes of Nike, Filling Pieces, No Sesso, Puma and Huf. Its list from the emerging technologies industry, however, is already extensive, and is beefed up by names like 9dcc, The Fabricant, Mason Rothschild, Trame, and Ledger, all of which have been influential players in the world of digital fashion and Web3.

Direct-to-fan gatekeeping

Loo’s enthusiasm for this sector’s future is clear, too, as he sees such projects enabling more possibilities in terms of consumer-brand engagement. He believes this will particularly be in the impending shift away from direct-to-consumer (D2C) towards direct-to-fan (D2F), a different approach to standard direct selling. “When you’re dealing with a D2F mentality, you’re looking at how to convert this person into an ambassador,” Loo explained. “How do I get them to be our number one customer?”

At the core of this is the combination of various technologies that are currently in use today, which Loo believes will help to create a dynamic that allows loyal customers to benefit from their commitment. This could see tech that we are already familiar with, like artificial intelligence (AI), emerging tech, blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – an element of this sphere that Loo believes have been poorly branded at the start and are, therefore, yet to see a rebirth – come together to generate new ways of engaging and interacting with audiences. Loo added: “The consistency in programmes based on emerging technologies are starting to develop from brand to brand about how they’re going to use these types of technologies as gatekeeping access.”

Powered by 9dcc product line with "networked product technology". Credits: 9dcc, gmoney.

Loo elaborated on such features, beginning with ‘Access Passes’ – or brand’s genesis NFTs – which will act as ecosystem entry points to token gate content, discounts and events, moving away from NFTs initial starting point as digital artwork and manifesting the technology into a means to reward loyalty. Evidence of such features have already been readily adopted by the likes of Diesel and Louis Vuitton, both of which have launched initiatives that allow their fans to purchase NFTs and gain access to exclusive shows or products.

Digital twins replace receipts

In contrast, another development Loo is anticipating is the evolution of the ‘digital twin’ – a term that has been coined to reference products that have a blockchain-based presence and therefore exists in both the digital and physical world. He linked the rise of this feature to the over-production of clothing, the increase in knock-offs and the integration of EU regulations, one of which will soon require EU-operating brands to adopt digital passports and, as a result, digital twins.

“This technology is going to provide the opportunity to authenticate actual products, utilising these digital twins and, at the same time, infusing those products with a lot more utility,” Loo noted. In his eyes, these utilities can range from pushing forward digital fashion offerings that can be worn in online worlds, to acting as a receipt at certain points in a customer's engagement with the product, replacing the physical element.

Not in Paris 5, Parisian Mirage jacket. Credits: Highsnobiety x The Fabricant.

Loo also referenced a possibility to shift current processes that are already prevalent in the industry. Speaking on one, he said: “I think what’s going to end up happening is we’re going to finally achieve success in the pre-sale model, because it’s something that has eluded fashion for a number of decades. You can put a pre-sale out and nobody will buy it up until the point that the product is made. What we’re looking at now is the opportunity that you can buy something on pre-sale, and receive a digital fashion asset that is infused with utility. The asset will captivate, involve, and thrill you about your purchase and the brand you are growing fond of, while the physical item is being tailored, produced, and delivered.”

Products are now enhanced with innovative utilities. Along with it the supply chain will be connected from seed to shelf and now shelf to infinity, with the adoption of digital twins. Factories are integrating digital twins early in the manufacturing process, a trend accelerated by the pandemic and the growing reliance on computer-aided design.This approach in sampling guarantees the establishment of a digital twin at the start of garment manufacturing. This enables manufacturers to utilise it as a tool for inventory tracking and identification, linking the product from the point of sale and extending into the coveted opportunity in royalties at resale.

“This is where I see us pushing forward strongly with promises of blockchain accellerating sustainability and waste management in manufacturing. By making that digital twin from the onset of the product creation, and then using it as an inventory marker. Then, as it gets closer to the shelf, that asset becomes infused with more, and more capabilities, providing a space to entertain the customer as they wait for a product's fulfilment,” Loo concluded.

Kenneth Loo, co-founder and CEO of Chapter 2. Credits: Chapter 2.
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Digital Fashion
The Fabricant