Académie des technologies

Technology and soft power: the case of the fashion and luxury industry

How can technological changes best benefit the fashion and luxury sector, allow the emergence and diffusion of new skills and amplify France’s Soft Power in the world?
Scenarios and recommendations of the National Academy of Technologies of France.

Fashion and luxury, like all sectors of industry and the economy in general, are affected by the digital revolution and the technologies related to the industry of the future. The new functionalities that they engender intersect and interact with traditional technologies. The continuous and subtle interplay between reason and emotion, inherent in fashion and luxury, is taking new paths, just as the interplay between innovation and creation. The multiple nature of this mutation has led to a concentration of analysis on clothing and its value chain, the centre of gravity of the fashion system. Without limiting itself to this, the approach is in any case applicable to all fashion and luxury products.

The first part of the report provides the reader with the information necessary for to understanding the fashion industry in the broadest sense, as well as the issues linking fashion, creation, technology and innovation.

The second part deals more particularly with what is usually called Fashion Tech, which concerns on the one hand textile innovation and on the other technological innovations resulting from the digital revolution. The typology used refers to the Internet of Things, blockchain, artificial intelligence, automation, additive manufacturing and immersive technologies. Thus, big data is not taken into account as such but as a component of the intangible technologies mentioned, in particular artificial intelligence.

The third part examines all the implications and transformative actions emanating from the sector’s actors/stakeholders (companies/brands, schools, professional institutions, public authorities, etc.) as well as the new legal issues raised by the new technologies.

At the end of this general diagnosis, three scenarios are identified to capture what the future of the fashion and luxury industry may look like: a transformation limited to the major players in the sector, or a transformation extended to institutions capable of training new skills and accelerating the process, or a transformation extending to the entire sector. Recommendations are then formulated so that technological change, which is still in its infancy, can best benefit the fashion and luxury sector, allow the emergence and dissemination of the new skills required and, finally, amplify the economic importance of the sector as well as the soft power it exercises in the world, and through the success of this sector the soft power of France.


(Report and recommandations in French)