The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and leading global professional services company Accenture are teaming up to help shape how the fashion industry integrates technology and consumer insights into its business practices.

The initiative, launched last week, will help emerging fashion designers to develop customised retail strategies and equip them with key business knowledge and digital skills to stay competitive.

In addition, Accenture and CFDA will develop a series of thought leadership articles and hypotheses on the future of the fashion customer experience and test these ideas in live pilots with CFDA members.

This will provide CFDA with a new method to deliver value and insights to its members and, using the insight and feedback, help Accenture create solutions that it can share with its clients.

Last year, the CFDA launched Retail Lab with Cadillac to help emerging designers make their foray into the retail world, with Retail Lab's first physical store at Cadillac House, in New York.

The programme enables select designers to open a retail installation for three months and learn skills integral to succeed in the industry, under the mentorship of fashion industry experts.

Following on from this, Accenture will be the first official innovation partner of CFDA's Retail Lab.

"CFDA's new collaboration with Accenture will provide our design community with an invaluable resource to help navigate retail and business technology," said Ashley-Brooke Sandall, CFDA's director of strategic partnerships.

The collaboration will be supported by Fjord, the design and innovation unit of Accenture Interactive and Accenture Labs, which prototypes and pilots new concepts through applied R&D projects.

Plans include inviting fashion designers to participate in Fjord's design studio in New York and leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence and mixed and virtual reality from Accenture Labs to bring customer engagement to the next level. 

Combined with CFDA+ – CFDA's virtual talent lab – these initiatives will connect designers with Accenture's design and innovation capability. Select designers will engage with a design challenge that extends their academic work in a fast-paced design-intensive program. Outcomes range from enhanced research to physical prototypes, with the benefit of collaboration and input from Accenture.

"The CFDA represents the fabric of the fashion industry and has been instrumental in giving emerging talent a series of platforms to gain real-world business and retail experience," said Jill Standish, senior managing director of Retail at Accenture.

"Working together with such a prestigious organisation, we can help these designers acquire highly sought-after digital skills needed for them to be at the forefront of industry innovation, grow their businesses and drive tangible business results."

The CFDA hosts the CFDA Fashion Awards, owns the Fashion Calendar and stages the bi-annual New York Fashion Week: Men's.