Fashion developed in the last few years new and innovative connections with technology: on one side technology has inspired designers to experiment via state of the art techniques to create new materials and futuristic shapes and effects; on the other, technology is giving fashion the possibility to get to know better consumers and their needs and choices, thanks to algorithms that can predict their behaviour.
Yesterday a new step towards technology was announced when online luxury fashion retailer Yoox Net-a-Porter Group ("YNAP") launched coding sessions to celebrate Computer Science Education Week (from 5th to 11th December).
Taking place in the UK and Italy (London, Milan and Bologna - the cities where the Group has its main offices), the classes are part of the "Hour of Code" initiative, the biggest technology learning event globally created by the non-profit association Code.org.
The event is set to raise awareness of computer science and teach people the basic skills of computer programming. The "Hour of Code" involves tens of millions of kids aged 4 and beyond and adults, with over 100,000 events being held in more than 180 countries, but the YNAP classes will be offered to children and young people aged 4 to 16 at a number of primary and secondary schools, higher learning and training centres.
The classes help young people learning the fundamentals of programming and coding processes, testing out coding programs and enhancing thinking skills and the logical aptitude and ability to solve problems creatively and efficiently.
"The demands of tomorrow's workplace are rapidly changing and it is critically important that we equip future generations with the skills they need to thrive. Our tech teams in the UK and Italy look forward to being part of the Hour of Code, sharing their passion for combining creativity and technology to code the future," Alex Alexander, Chief Information Officer, of the YNAP Group stated.
The "Hour of Code" is obviously a praiseworthy event (its site offers a lot of educational materials for learners and teachers as well) that would make Ada Lovelace happy, but maybe the creative industries should't just stop at offering classes about coding, but should also introduce via lectures to older participants (starting with ages 13 to 16 for example, but moving also to university students) the opportunities such skills may offer in various disciplines.
As you may remember, last year Zac Posen launched a gown with a pattern of multi-coloured LED lights designed by students from organisations such as Black Girls Code, the Flatiron School, Girls Who Code and Lower East Side Girls Club and, while the final effect was still "Christmas tree meets black dress", the technological idea behind it was good. So it would be interesting to do more round tables with programmers and people from the creative industries to see what kind of applications coding would have in future.
As it stands, while YNAP joinin in the HoC fun sounds brilliant, it also proves that the fashion industry may be jumping on a crowded bandwagon. In a nutshell, while promoting sessions with Scratch for early learners is a good thing, pushing the boundaries with young people wouldn't hurt since bringing the concept to higher levels would inspire students to develop innovative ideas and projects via generative art as well and not just prompt them to create the next Minecraft (maybe with a fashion theme?), while they should also be aware of the fashion faults caused by technology in recent projects.
For the time being, though, YNAP's "Hour of Code" sessions reveal one trend that will become more popular and stable in 2017 - coding and fashion - while advertising at the same time YNAP's Technology Hub. Announced in October at the former BBC base in West London - a short distance from the Net-a-Porter HQ at Westfield's White City shopping centre, this new space designed by British architects Grimshaw will open in March 2017 and, according to an official press release, the teams working here will focus on technological breakthroughs also thanks to a strategic technology partnership with IBM. Looks like the binomial theorem of fashion and technology will be in expansion throughout 2017.