From a trend forecaster to an alchemist, these are the women driving the future of the industry
Words Fay Cowan
Influencers come in all forms – from the well-known faces on our social feeds, to the people working behind the scenes to ensure our needs and dreams as shoppers are met.
Customers’ changing requirements and the rapid growth of technology in retail has created a potential minefield for fashion and beauty brands. To ensure their retail offering is up to scratch, our favourite labels are on constant watch for inspiration, knowledge and best practice.
Enter the influencers: the people and companies pushing the boundaries of where tech meets fashion, beauty and retail. This is where community becomes so important. I currently head up global fashion tech events series Decoded Fashion and beauty tech series Decoded Beauty. Since we launched in 2012, it’s been our mission to bring together the disruptors, the innovators and the visionaries who are defining the future of fashion and tech. We aim to expose the fashion and beauty community to new ideas and future trends, demystify technology and encourage creative partnerships and collaboration in the industry.
The best thing about my job is the people I get to meet; the individuals shaping the fashion, beauty and retail industries of tomorrow. Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, and here’s just a handful of the influencers in the space who are rocking my world right now.
Author, trends forecaster and brand strategist
Katie is head of retail at leading research and advisory company Stylus, where on a daily basis she delves into how consumers engage with changing retail environments, their evolving desires, developments in tech and how all of this will impact the retail experience of the future. As well as navigating brands into the unknown, Katie’s got her fingers in a few other pies! She currently supports Mastered, a startup disrupting the world of education for creatives in the fashion industry. She’s also a regular (and honest) commentator on the state of play in fashion. And to stop herself getting bored, she’s written a couple of incredible books. The latest, Fashion & Music: Fashion Creatives Shaping Pop Culture explores the fascinating relationship between fashion and music.
Alchemist and founder of ‘The Unseen’
Lauren is someone who sits on the science side of fashion and technology, mixing up the most incredible spells that realise the magic we might’ve dreamt of as kids. Her work fascinates me, and speaks to the idea of real fashion enhanced by technology. One of her stand-out projects is Fire, a colour-changing hair dye that launched as part of London Fashion Week in Feb 2017. The product reacts to external factors such as heat, cold and environment, causing a wow-inducing colour change to hair. Most recently she launched a pH-responsive t-shirt in partnership with eco-lifestyle brand The Lost Explorer to visualise climate change. Her use of fashion and tech as a storytelling tool not only engages consumers, but makes them interact with key issues and challenges the way they think – she’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Founder of WAH NAILS
Straight talking, no nonsense and definitely no bulls**t, I don’t think I’ve come across a more refreshing entrepreneur. Sharmadean has firmly cemented herself as a figure of female empowerment and a role model for many girls looking to progress their careers – in beauty and beyond. What I love most about her is the pace at which she works. If she has an idea then she sits down and makes it happen. She admits her mistakes, learns from her failures and is always looking to learn. In the past year, she’s opened the doors to her VR-enhanced flagship in Soho and is working on the launch of a beauty chatbot booking system to revolutionise salons.
Senior Fashion & Retail Analyst, EDITED
The second Katie to grace the list – it must be something in the name – is an encyclopaedic source on the world’s biggest fashion and retail brands. EDITED is a retail technology company that helps companies to use data, in real time, to understand where and when they should stock their products. You could describe Katie as a data storyteller. She’s a genius. She manages to turn (what some may consider) boring facts and figures into compelling digestible content for all us mere mortals. She is important for the future of fashion because she’s helping brands realise what all this data means for them and how they can action this information in their businesses.
Co-founder and Creative Director, Milk Makeup
From out-of-the-box thinking, to disruptive business models and brands willing to get behind a new niche, the beauty industry right now is fearless. Georgie is one for the founders behind the coolest New York beauty brand right now. Georgie and Milk Makeup are tapping into millennial desires, championing diversity in the beauty industry, inclusivity, and self-expression plus encouraging us all to live in the moment. In line with this, the brand’s content series Generation Milk highlights the “rebels, thinkers, and makers that shape our vision and bring it to life”.
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