As some of our readers may remember, Nu-vel was introduced as the industry collaborator for the MBA Fashion Technology program last term. Recap: Nu-Vel is a fledging startup fashion brand based in London that caters to the city cyclist. Their innovative ‘Commuter’ trouser is the core product in their collection and is packed with cool features including super stretchy fabric that is waterproof yet breathable, and integrates a proprietary movement insert to allow better function on the bike. The trouser served as the starting point for the students to work with on their project.
Spread across 3 modules on the MBA Fashion Technology program including: Consumer Psychology, Human Engineering and Rapid Prototyping. The students were set the challenge to research, design and prototype a piece of wearable fashion tech that enables the wearer to have an enhanced experience whilst wearing the trousers on their daily bike commute. This also required taking the physical into the digital world to create a Nu-vel universe. A tough challenge indeed! The students worked in close collaboration with Nu-Vel’s founder, Matt Boulton, throughout the 3-month project that included workshops, feedback sessions and a final presentation of the proposals. This provided the MBA Fashion Tech students with hands-on experience in dealing with a fashion brand.
The students were guided by the team inside our fashion technology lab, Foundry Powered by IFA Paris, and user research agency, Fast & Fresh, on their journey to some innovative proposals. Here are some of the findings and ideas that the IFA Paris students concluded with:
- Safety: this was a big concern for many research participants interviewed. Safety on the bike, such as safer cycle routes (traffic and environment), and off the bike, such as anti-theft, were highlighted. This lead to several ideas with integrating cameras, tracking devices and alarms into fashion products.
- Motivation: many people need to get inspired to travel on a bike to their destination. Research concluded that if deals, social, community and fun were integrated more into the riding experience then this may encourage more people to get on their bikes. Ideas included integrating NFC devices into the products to unlock treasures and deals in places like coffee shops.
- Gamification and social: riding on a bike to work is most likely a solitary activity. Therefore, by bringing people together it may create an engaging and interactive experience and thus turning a mundane commute into a one filled with surprise. Ideas included setting up challenges between friends to gamify the cycling experience.
Many more ideas were explored than listed in this article. As Matt notes:
‘Working in collaboration with the students at IFA Paris has given us an incredible foundation to build on with our app development. The user-research that the students conducted with the team at Fast & Fresh has enabled us to better understand our target audience, allowing us to focus on solving the problems faced by commuters cycling in the city. The students were extremely creative with their ideas for the app and removable device and the work conducted has provided a fantastic platform for us to explore further. I would definitely recommend other brands in the fashion-tech area to collab with IFA Paris students to gain insightful knowledge and ideas for early concepts.’
What would you design if proposed with the same challenge? If you want to explore such themes, then check out our MBA Fashion Technology program.