Below is the article featured in WWD.
EXCLUSIVE: NYFTLab’s New Cohort Showcases Retail’s Priorities
Tech’s growing role in retail has brands flocking to NYFTLab, and their choice of startups is pretty revealing.
The New York Fashion Tech Lab, which connects women-led, business-to-business, fashion- and retail-focused technology companies to advance the industry, will reveal its latest cohort on Wednesday, and the list, shared with WWD ahead of the announcement, looks like a snapshot of the fashion industry’s priorities of the moment.
Naturally, the metaverse looms large, but it doesn’t dominate. The lineup of six women-led businesses looks like an even split of technologies aimed at traditional and newfangled challenges, which is notable because the finalists were selected by a discerning panel of major brands and retailers. Think of it as something akin to a tech wish list, curated by some of the world’s top fashion houses and other industry leaders.
“Of these six businesses, it’s like existing problems and the new world, in a sense,” explained Jackie Trebilcock, NYFTLab’s managing director. “We had a lot of applicants in the metaverse, NFTs, digital skins, gaming and all that, and I wasn’t sure if we would have a whole cohort of that. I think it’s so cool that it’s really a mix between the two. So they haven’t lost focus on the core things.
“It’s like, yes, the metaverse is great. But we still have to figure out returns.”
The metaverse — or perhaps metaverse-adjacent themes — accounted for half the list, alongside focus areas like returns, personalization and social shopping. While diverse, all of them fall within NYFTLab’s mission to further technology advances in fashion and retail.
Founded by Springboard Enterprises, the nonprofit offers a 12-week program beginning this month and running through June. During that time, the businesses will meet with senior business executives, investors and experienced entrepreneurs, as well as attend workshops and panel discussions on issues relevant to fashion tech companies, such as data optimization, proofs of concept, technology architecture and scalability, privacy, security and broader industry trends.
The program culminates with the founders making presentations to fashion and retail executives, investors and media representatives at the Tech Runway Demo Day.
The concept of bringing rising stars together with some of the world’s top design houses and stores draws plenty of interest, and not just from start-ups.
For most years, the lab attracted six or seven companies, according to Trebilcock, but more than a dozen signed on for the 2022 program. Many are returning partners, such as LVMH, Burberry, Richemont, Levi Strauss & Co., Macy’s, Perry Ellis International, Estée Lauder Cos., PVH, Tapestry, Kate Spade, Tory Burch and Accenture.