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How technology companies have forever changed the fashion industry

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How technology companies have forever changed the fashion industry

Their names are Apple, Google and Amazon.

These household names bring in millions of revenue dollars every year and sell a wide-range of products: Everything from high-end plasma TVs to smartwatches. Each company offers up a variety of goods, but they all have one thing in common: They’re hellbent on using technology to disrupt the fashion industry.

In the future, companies that manage to merge the best of fashion and tech stand to reap the biggest rewards in an industry worth trillions.

A recent McKinsey report found the fashion sector was expected to reach a high of $2.4 trillion in 2016. If it was a country, that would place it in the top 10 economies in the world based on its GDP alone. It also found fashion companies that incorporated emerging technology into their work were more likely to beat out their competition and see the biggest gains in the future. “The winners of 2017 will probably be those companies that invest in the right technology to help them understand and serve their consumers and tap into their currently unmet needs.”

The future is now

 
Popular fashion may have been slow to fully embrace the tech trend, but that’s not the case anymore. Even Hollywood’s glitterati — today’s quote-unquote fashion gatekeepers — are committed to a fashionable tech-infused future with its annual Met Gala.

High-end designers are also taking advantage of wearable technology to boost their brand. Last year designer Rebecca Minkoff took a gamble when she created a line of wifi-connected handbags and introduced smart mirrors into her standalone stores. The idea paid off. Her store saw a 200 per cent increase in sales and her purses sold out.

When asked about the decision to make her namesake label more tech-savvy Minkoff scoffed. A growing appetite for fashionable technology made the idea a no-brainer, she said. The key to success for her team was creating designs that fix problems and are fashionable.

“It starts with authenticity. We discovered the pain point of our consumer and tried to use those to pain points for designing our wearables,” she told Fortune magazine last year. “I think tech for tech’s sake is like ‘oooh, that’s flashy and looks cool’ but I don’t know how it helps me or solves a problem. I think our approach is always about solving a problem.”

What’s next

 
Still, blending the two worlds isn’t always easy. Smaller labels and fashion stores might not have the money to invest in new, groundbreaking technology. That’s where partnerships can help. They provide a comfortable middle ground for designers.

For example, American designer Misha Nonoo skipped fashion week altogether when she debuted her line with Snapchat. Other ways include using technology to give consumers more shopping choices. Big labels like Burberry are using that idea to switch up their supply chain efficiency to employ a ‘see now, buy now’ strategy. The model lets shoppers watch runway shows and then order those same outfits in real time. No more waiting. No more delays.

Fortune telling and trendsetting has never been a precise art. It’s impossible to ever truly discern how the world will change, but most experts agree that technology will play a major part in the near future. Tomorrow’s fashion leaders will likely be those that embrace today’s new technology.

How to lure and hire top talent before your competitors do

Canada’s tech scene is on the rise.

Toronto, its largest city, is home to a booming artificial intelligence ecosystem. It also boasts an enviable research center that includes the country’s first technology supercluster and an entrepreneurial drive that’s second only to the U.S.

It also doesn’t hurt that Canada’s Global Strategy program helps fast track immigration for talented workers. The new law makes it one of the most liberal programs in the world. In as little as two weeks workers can get visas and working permits — making the talent search that much easier.

But, despite all this good news Canadian startups still have a difficult time finding tech leaders to help them grow. While the country has the right people on hand onboarding them isn’t always easy. That’s why recruitment strategies are playing a much bigger role than they ever have before.

Engaging with talent before they apply

For Dave Savory — co-founder of a startup called Riipen that connects young jobseekers with companies — finding the best talent quicker and more efficiently means shaking up how HR engages with talent. The old-school recruitment method that requires applicants to fill out page-by-page forms online just won’t do anymore. Engaging with emerging talent sooner through games, brain teasers or social media yields better results.

“Having a new entry point based on merit and skills instead of how many buzzwords you can fit in your cover letter is what you should look for. People are now trained on how to get passed automatic resume filters that companies set up,” he explains. “It ends up making more work for people at a company because they spend time interviewing people who may not be a great fit or miss out on really great people.”

Savory knows better than most about what companies look for in employees. Riipen, founded in 2013, works with 140 post-secondary schools and 7000 companies in North America to help students find work. His clients vary and include tech giants, like Microsoft, and food businesses, such as restaurant chain Joey Restaurants.

“It’s all about how good companies authentically engage with emerging talent,” he adds. “Companies know [young people] are an important demographic as older workers retire, so they need to find new ways to get their attention before their competitors do.”

Check out the weirdest interview questions Fortune 500 companies asked prospective employees last year, courtesy of GlassDoor.

Businesses suffer without HR innovation

Robert Sher — who works in San Francisco, a city with an unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent — put it best. “Flawed hiring processes” play a role in hiring and retaining the best people, which impacts a business’s bottom line.

“Companies that can’t find creative ways to find the employees they need can’t grow,” he explained. “Business leaders who can win the talent war (and it is a war) will be able to say yes to new business opportunities while their talent-strapped competition will have to walk away.”

Bryan Rusche, Soapbox’s marketing director, believes the hiring landscape has changed in recent years. While his company doesn’t directly work on recruitment processes, their platform allows employees to share ideas and feedback that can impact how companies attract new talent.

“The best strategy for attracting talent is having a reputation for being an amazing place to work,” he says. “The slickest recruitment strategy in the world isn’t going to work for you if your employees don’t back up your claims that you have something special,” he explains.

As times change, businesses will be forced to change their hiring policies as well.  They’ll increasingly need to rely on better ways (and platforms) to connect with talent if they want to succeed. “This will be the new normal in the next three to five years” says Savory. “Engaging talent through skill-based assessment or challenges will be the new starting point of the recruiting process.”

5 essential tech-y Twitter accounts to follow

Like everything in life, success is often all about who you know, or in some cases who you follow. If you’re looking for advice on how to land your next VC or beat the mid-day energy slump, here are the people (and news organizations) you should follow to stay motivated and in the loop.

1. @TechCrunch

If you don’t already follow them, TechCrunch may soon become your go-to source for tech news. The tech blog has got your back when it comes to providing real-time breaking news.  Find out exactly what’s happening in Silicon Valley and around the world, plus read interesting analysis and opinions from the best in the industry.

2. @RyersonDMZ

Looking for the latest gossip the upcoming entrepreneurs or where you can find the latest accelerator programs? Then our online channel is a must follow and also includes exclusive news about new startup partnerships, programs across the globe, seminars and success stories. Craving more startup news? Check out our online magazine here.

3. @TheNextWeb

The Next Web caters to early-stage entrepreneurs by keeping readers in the loop about all the remarkable stories and updates taking place in the exciting world of tech. Widen your knowledge on tech news by reading opinionated perspectives and get access to exclusive TNW deals on the hottest gadgets and services, here.

4. @BetaKit

Rather than just giving you breaking news, BetaKit focuses on telling you only what you need to know about the Canadian startup landscape and why. BetaKit provides in-depth analysis of everything you want to know about the tech industry with a focus on the Canadian market. For more than 140 character tweets, check out their website.

5. @AnilDash

If you’re looking to learn more about venture capitalists, how to attract investors, diversity in Silicon Valley and abroad then Anil Dash is your guide. He offers knowledge on how to help people of colour break into tech and why it’s important to diversify the tech industry.