Fashion Design and the Contextual web

The times they are a-changin’.

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design in context at bonniesandy- com

In the image is a sketch of a lace bias cut top rendered in black lace over white! Next to it various body types.  If I’m dealing directly in the store it is easy to gauge the customer and even fit the garment. I can observe coloring and select the best choices. My goal is to develop a technique to work with any customer anywhere in the world… regardless of where I am! What tools exist, can be adapted or will I need to develop.

Even as we get set to launch TibiaeTech, I’m still exploring the full potential of what technology can do  for  a small creative business. This focus comes across directly  after hurricane sandy as I saw businesses loose entire inventories! I am also recently become fascinated with a concept of  a “digital nomad’ one who works from various corners of the world. Easy if you’re a writer, but how would someone who designs fashion, and specifically custom design make that shift!

When a client or potential customer walks into a store or boutique a good sales person subtly maneuvers to discover their needs wants and desires, with a view to converting to a sale. In fact were we to leave well stocked shelves and a cash register the result would be similar to what currently happens online -Disappointments and chargebacks. The sales person intuitively puts the customer’s needs and desires “in context”.

So what exactly is “context?”

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “CONTEXT” as

  • 1: the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning
  • 2: the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs : environmentsetting


Context gives meaning… it changes the relationship.

In July  2012 Robert Scoble and Shel Israel announced their book  “The Age of Context: How it Will Change Your Life and Work”,

That, however, was not the first time I had heard about the “contextual web”Rohn Jay Miller in January of that year pointed to Dakota Reese Brown as the first person he read who said this.  He adds

“ the biggest frame of context will be our complex, nuanced personal psychology each of us brings along from moment to moment as we consider what to engage with, when and how online.”

Dakota Rees Brown defines Web 3.0 as

 “The Contextual Web” It is a robust procedural grid that understands us, and responds appropriately given the user’s current context.”

My first interaction with the concept of contextual web came in a 2008 article on Read Write  in which   “the key properties of the contextual web experience” were discussed.

So why is context important even in Fashion ?

I operate and have operated in a seldom publicized genre of  fashion that of a custom designer… the garment gains value not for their aesthetic relevance on a ten head figure, but how I (and others) are able to translate that into context  for each individual client! body-shape,lifestyle, budget, even allergies, all come into play in delivering the perfect choice. As I seek to make technology relevant, I look at the practical interpretation of what seems to be an irrelevant hypothesis.  How the hell do i do this…

How does one garner that information, retrieve and utilize it!

In a one on one live setting, facial expression, subtle nuances are vital keys. When taking measurements a casual “joke’ that emits laughter… really forces the customer to relax and breathe out so more accurate numbers are taken.  Leaving self-description up to individuals… often results far right or left of reality! Bad for fit…  I’m leaning towards tele-presence but even then some adjustment is needed. I am assuming that practice and constant use will make it easier… we’ll see!

For now I need to grapple with listing this as a product in the shop simple but still complicated..

Now to get  consumers willing to explore!



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