FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

11/11/16

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

1. What Trump’s Win Means for the Luxury Industry in China

After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States last night, global stock markets went on a roller coaster ride and are expected to remain volatile for the foreseeable future. For luxury companies in particular, a big part of how they fare will come down to whether or not Trump follows through on his vows to take a protectionist stance on trade with China.

Trump’s victory “appears to be a clear negative for luxury goods stocks,” wrote Exane BNP Paribas Managing Director of Global Luxury Goods Luca Solca in an investor note on the election’s impact on luxury, saying that its effects on emerging market economies such as China would play an outsize role in brands’ stock price fluctuations. The reason outlined is pretty clear—Trump’s stated plan to impose a 45 percent tariff on imports from China would dent China’s growth, prompting “higher financial and economic tensions,” and as a result, lower consumer confidence and luxury demand in China, one of the world’s most important luxury markets.


Read the full story here

 

2.  Could Reinvention Solve Our Shopping Addiction?

Swedish retail giant H&M seems an unlikely poster child for ecological living.

The High Street group, which owns brands including Monki and Cos and has more than 4,000 shops across the world, is one of the best known proponents of fast fashion.

It's a cheap and reliable source of trendy clothes which can be discarded as soon as another trend comes in.

Yet it has pledged to become "100% circular", ultimately using only recycled or other sustainable materials to make its clothes.

It's a journey that more fashion firms are beginning to take, with the so-called "circular economy" - which eliminates waste by turning it into something valuable - being seen as a possible solution to the vast amount of clothes that end up in landfill.

Last year, a fifth of the material H&M used was sustainably sourced, and it has gathered 32,000 tonnes worth of old clothing in the collection bins it has had in all its stores since 2013. The move was aimed at keeping the garments out of landfill, where three-fifths of clothing ends up.

H&M's sustainably sourced material makes up the equivalent of 100 million t-shirts - yet that is still a mere fraction of the £18bn worth of clothes it sold last year.

Read the full story here

 

3. Exploring European Consumer Views On Connected Technology At Retail

While interest and uptake in connected technology in retail is growing – from wearables to smart fitting rooms – levels of consumer usage and acceptance fluctuate from country to country across Europe, according to Retail Week’s latest report.

It compiled research from seven territories, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, as per the infographic here.

Titled The European Connected Consumer, and written in association with Osborne Clark, the study outlines the fact European consumers should not be targeted as one homogenous group by retailers. Understanding behavioural nuances presents great opportunities to businesses whether interacting with consumers in retail, digital health, transport, logistics or emerging innovations, it explains.

“By discovering the game-changing shifts in European consumer behaviour we believe your business will be better equipped to navigate the digital revolution and drive future innovations,” writes Laura Heywood, commercial editor of Retail Week Connect.

As an integral part of the consumer’s need to be constantly ‘on’, there’s a growing appetite for connected wearables, for instance. Fitness trackers take the lead, with Italy, the world’s second healthiest country according to Bloomberg, showing the highest take-up (48%), followed closely by Spain (47%) and Germany (36%). Moving forward, trackable devices will need to seamlessly blend into busy lifestyles, as demonstrated by Levi’s’ and Google’s Project Jacquard jacket, it outlines.

The UK meanwhile shows the lowest adoption of fitness tracking and virtual health technologies – 68% use neither, compared with 59% across Europe. The report indicates this could be a result of public concerns following recent high profile data breaches, such as TalkTalk’s cyber attack in October.

One of the areas to have shown the biggest improvement and uptake is payment and shopping technologies, exemplified by the rise of contactless cards. These have been widely adopted across Europe, with 45% of respondents having used them in the past three months. Spain has the highest usage at 57% and Italy the lowest at just 26%.

Alternatively, only a minority of consumers in the UK (33%) and the Netherlands (40%) use mobile payments apps like Apple Pay. This may soon change as big retailers such as Tesco in the UK and Inditex in Spain, which owns Zara and Pull & Bear among others, launch their own mobile payment apps in the near future.

See the infographic and read the full story here 



4. What President Trump Means for Retailers

After a long election night that defied many pollsters' predictions, Donald J. Trump is set to become the next president of the United States, beating out Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by razor-thin margins in key battleground states.

The specifics of what this election means for the retail industry will become clearer once Trump and his team produce a budget and lay out their policy agenda. But regardless of the winner, American consumers signaled they aren't happy with the current political climate, with both Trump and Clinton facing historic levels of unfavorability. And that’s not just a problem for Trump, but for retailers, too.

Read the full story here


5. FashTech Talks: Digital Customer Journey

For the third in a series of talks at Shoreditch House, FashTech Talks: Digital Customer Journey on Thursday, November 24th at 7pm.

In an age where consumer power is stronger than ever, FashTech brings together a panel discussion with some of the most dynamic leaders in e-commerce discussing the customer today. How do they want to interact with brands and retailers? What is the new normal? How can we use insight to create authentic brand experiences?

This is a Soho House Members event and booking is available on House Seven.

Book now on House Seven HERE

 

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

04/11/16

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

1. What Happens When Big Data Meets High Fashion

In the world of high fashion, the most important models aren't the ones sauntering down the catwalks—they're the statistical models used to drive decision-making.

Smart apparel retailers are turning to big data and analytics to give them a leg up in a market that is in the midst of enormous disruption. Sales at big-name department stores and major mall outlets are falling. Instead, consumers are turning to discounters, making online buys from pure ecommerce shops such as Zulilly and Zappos or subscribing to custom-fit subscription services such as Stitch Fix, Trunk Club and LeTote.

According to data from Cardlytics (based on purchases of 120 million consumers), shoppers—and in particular millennials—are increasingly fickle. They may be abandoning traditional stores, but they're open to a broader menu of shopping experiences. They like to shop 24/7, they appreciate good deals and they prefer more personalised service. In this category, one size definitely does not fit all.


Read the full story here

2. Mobile web browsing overtakes desktop for the first time

Mobile devices are used more than traditional computers for web browsing, as smartphone and tablet use overtook desktop for the first time, October figures show.

Mobile web browsing has been steadily growing since 2009, while the desktop’s share of web traffic has steadily decreased. In October, the two crossed over, with global mobile and tablet browsing accounting for 51.3% versus the desktop’s 48.7%, according to the latest data from web analytics firm StatCounter.

Read the full story here

3. How Virtual Reality Is Changing The World

Crouching low amid the sparse vegetation of the African bush, a trio of lion cubs lollop towards me. Our eyes meet. Branches crack. It’s hot, bright and as the evening sun beats down, I spin around to find myself completely alone. Bathed in a golden light, the cubs come within a few centimetres, their already-giant paws crunching through the long grass and off into the distance.

Seconds later, the C-shaped curve of Rio’s Copacabana reveals itself from a rooftop swimming pool 16 floors up. It’s a cloudless day and Sugarloaf Mountain is visible at the mouth of Guanabara Bay far in the distance. Then I’m in the middle of a crowd of partygoers dancing the samba in a favela, drinks raised aloft, before riding a thermal, bird-like, high above Ipanema beach on a paraglider, able to gaze up, down and all around as seemingly miniature cars and office blocks the size of Lego bricks zip by hundreds of feet below. All I can hear is the whistle of the wind in my ears.

If all this sounds unrealistic, that’s because it is. Indeed, it’s rather a let-down to find myself still perched in my south London sitting room when I leave the virtual-reality (VR) world. In VR – the much-hyped, much-talked-about and certainly much-invested-in new storytelling format – the impossible is seemingly made possible.

Read the full story here

4. Will.i.am Moves Wearables Off the Wrist With the Help of Kendall Jenner and Apple

Wearable technology is finally beginning to go beyond the wrist.

“Why should you have to take off your earphones when you finish listening to something and put them back in a box or bag, instead of just wearing them around your neck like jewelry?”

That was Will.i.am, the musician/TV personality/entrepreneur, co-founder of the Black Eyed Peas, and founder of i.am+, a wearable technology company with a focus on youth education, during an interview by telephone while traveling by car from Manchester, England, to London.

It is the kind of question that, when voiced (especially by a coach of “The Voice UK”), seems enormously obvious, but, apparently, has not occurred to any of us to ask. And it clearly reflects some of the issues in bridging the gulf between fashion and technology: It’s not the products that are the problem, but figuring out what the products should be and what we want our stuff to do.

The question did occur, however, to Will.i.am, whose full name is William Adams. So he created an answer.

Read the full story here


5. Will the Next Alexander McQueen be a Biologist?

While much of fashion-tech is focused on retail environments and web-based platforms, scientific discoveries are reinventing the materials, function and properties of our clothing. Watch Debera Johnson, Executive Director, The Pratt Institute / Brooklyn fashion + Design Accelerator fantastic presentation, as she explores the other side of fashion-technology with a look into how biology, nanotechnology and additive manufacturing are changing the future of fashion.

Watch HERE

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

28/10/16

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

1. Apple Retail Chief Angela Ahrendts on Turning Stores Into Town Squares

“The store is now the biggest product we produce,” said Ahrendts.

Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts has spent the past two years revamping the technology company’s retail stores, where it sells iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Watches. That’s no small business—there are nearly 500 Apple stores worldwide, and retail sales are responsible for some 18% of the company’s $233.7 billion in sales, amounting to $42 billion in yearly revenue.

But Ahrendts views the company’s newly redesigned retail outlets not just as stores, but as the company’s next big products, she explained at the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference in Laguna Niguel on Monday night, in her first public interview about Apple’s retail redesign. In fact, she and Apple view their stores as potential town squares within each of the cities they reside.


Read the full story here

2. Why Chat May Be King of The New Mobile Landscape

Like tens of millions of teens across the world, 15-year-old Emma rarely surfs the web or tries out new apps. Instead, she conducts her digital life through a collection of social apps, from Facebook to iMessage to Instagram to Snapchat. On all of them, she’s messaging. "There are always messages for me to check," she says. And though she picks up her phone every 15 minutes or so, her friends still complain that she’s slow to respond. We are all becoming like Emma that way: Recent studies show that Americans use their phones to message far more than anything else. Increasingly, companies eager for our attention online have to be part of these conversations. And increasingly, they’re doing it through chatbots.

Read the full story here

3. Charlotte Tilbury's New Virtual 'Magic Mirror' Serves As Active Make-Up Selling Tool

In just three short years, Charlotte Tilbury make-up has become somewhat of an obsession among its fans. Heralded by the celebrities and models the namesake artist has long worked with herself, it’s transposed into the consumer market at a rapid rate, popping up with counters all around the world and a second standalone store opening in Westfield London this week.

Core to the offering from a marketing perspective is a strong digital presence anchored by beauty tutorials, an eagerness to experiment with new technologies, like virtual reality for its Kate Moss-endorsed fragrance launch for instance, and a true sense of experience in the stores themselves.

Shoppers can book makeover sessions to recreate one of the 10 signature looks Tilbury products are built around – from Bombshell to Dolce Vita. Each takes around 45 minutes, and unsurprisingly, serve as an opportunity to sell the items being used, either as a package or individually.

Read the full story here

4. The Problem With Fashion Awards

Last spring, the British Fashion Council unveiled what it described as a plan for The Fashion Awards (actually, it called the event “the Met Gala meets the Academy Awards”): a glammier, glitzier, more global version of ye olde national industry prize fest.

In case anyone was wondering exactly what that meant, on Tuesday the council took its show on the road — to Los Angeles, with a simultaneous screening in London — to announce a shortlist of nominees for the prize, to be awarded on Dec. 5. Karlie Kloss, the American model and Swarovski ambassador, was on hand for the event with Natalie Massenet, the British Fashion Council chairwoman, and Caroline Rush, its chief executive.

So far, so international. So celeb-y! So fashion-y! And so on.

Except once the nominees’ names were revealed, it was hard not to think: So much for change.

Read the full story here

5. New Data Shows Surprising Ways This Holiday Season Will Be Different

As the holidays approach, retailers should be brushing up their stores, websites, apps and social media pages to make sure they are spick and span for shoppers. That’s because this year’s holiday sales are predicted to overtake last year’s -- with a 3.6 to 4 percent sales growth, according to a new study by Euclid Analytics. The recently released “Evolution of Retail, 2016 Holiday Consumer Mobile Usage” report polled more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, highlighting shopping preferences and behavior, while also uncovering how smartphones are changing the physical retail industry.

Ninety-one percent of respondents say they visit physical stores at least once a week, while only 49 percent say they shop online at least once a week. The experience of seeing and trying products, browsing stores and getting to have the product right away are of the top reasons consumers shop in-person. Waiting in lines, going to the actual store and having a limited selection are why some people resort to online shopping.

Read full story here

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

 

1. How Brands are Cashing In on Snapchat’s Long-Awaited API

Snapchat's long-awaited API (application programming interface) is officially out in the wild with a handful of creative agencies and ad-tech companies selling ads on behalf of the mobile app. Brands are also finally getting a look under the hood at the data that powers their campaigns.

Among the companies working with the API is VaynerMedia, which is on both the creative and media-buying side. Since the API launched this summer, the digital agency has run two Snap Ads—one for USA Networks and one for Nordstrom. Gatorade, Nissan and McDonald's have also run API campaigns through other partners.

While programmatic-like buying on Snapchat is still new for brands and agencies, VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk said that his shop is "probably getting 25 to 50 inquiries a day" about the API.

"It's a new execution within a scalable platform," he said. "It's not that the platform is new. It's that reality is new. We've never had the ability to put creative between people's stories."

Read the full story here 

2. A Fashion Tech Giant Makes It’s Commitment to London

In the last two decades, London has forged a reputation as the technology capital of Europe and as a global capital of the fashion technology sector — a competitor to New York and Silicon Valley, where creative, commercial and digital talent thrives in a single cosmopolitan place. Some of the biggest names in the fashion industry, especially in e-commerce — such as Asos, Farfetch, Lyst and Yoox Net-a-Porter — have headquarters in the British capital.

Yoox Net-a-Porter, a British-Italian company, said on Monday that it planned to accommodate about 600 staff members in its new technology hub by March, taking two floors — about 70,000 square feet of state-of-the-art (and expensive) office space — in the new MediaWorks building at White City Place. That represents a 20 percent increase in the size of the group’s technology team, which the company says will have as many as 1,000 employees in Britain and Italy.

Read the full story here

3. First Marmite, Next Our Clothes? How Brexit is Set to Affect How We Shop.

It felt like we got our first true taste of the post-Brexit era last week when confronted with the threat of life without Marmite. The panic was palpable. Twitter was flooded with people madly stockpiling, savvy eBay users started flogging their cupboard wares for vast profits and politicians waded into the furore sparked by a price row between Marmite-maker Unilever and Tesco.

But while the two corporate giants resolved their disagreement within 24 hours of the spat being reported, there are now signs the same pressures could spill over into the world of fashion – affecting high street favourites from Topshop and Next to top end designers such as Jimmy Choo.

Read the full story here

4. We’re Getting Closer to Clothes Being Made by Robots

When it comes to stitching together complex garments, dexterous human hands are still far superior to rigid robot arms.

Much of the garment production process is already automated, from picking cotton to spinning yarn to cutting clothes. Some specialist machines can even sew buttons or pockets. However, no commercial robot had been able to piece together all the different materials to create an entire item of clothing, like a pair of jeans or a t-shirt.

But last month, Jonathan Zornow, founder and sole employee of Seattle-based startup Sewbo, claimed a breakthrough: He says he overcame a common hurdle to clothing automation—the challenge of working with weak, flexible fabrics—and successfully used an industrial robot to sew together a t-shirt.

Read the full story here

5. Neon pound: How Generation Z Took Over the High Street

It seems bizarre that not long ago, fashion was cradling the idea of the older woman. The august figures of Joan Didion, Joni Mitchell and Grace Coddington featured in ad campaigns (for Céline, Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein respectively), while the first generation of supermodels appeared in group adverts (Cindy, Claudia and Naomi for Balmain and Eva, Yasmin, Stella and Nadja for Armani). Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent.

 

 

But as much as there are these infrequent nods to getting older, there has been a more consistent attempt to court a younger market. In fact, in 2016, it seemed like fashion had traded a grey pound in for a neon one. Even the thirtysomething consumer has been ignored, according to a recent article in Racked, which suggested Generation X have been forgotten about in favour of Generation Z.

Fashion’s thirst for eternal youth has been seen more keenly through the teaming up of the Instafamous with fashion houses; Cameron Dallas with Calvin Klein, Gigi Hadid with Tommy Hilfiger, Zayn Malik with Versace, Alexa Chung with Marks & Spencer and Coco Gordon Moore with X-Girl. There’s common-sense economic logic to this: millennials are now the largest generational demographic in the US, according to the Pew Research Centre. So, goes the thinking, their spending power is huge

Read full story here

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

14/10/16

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

1. How Silicon Valley (and other global tech hubs) Are Helping Luxury Return To its Roots

The original principles of luxury were led astray by conglomerates’ mass market motives. Tech is helping new brands bring those standards back.

A luxury brand that avoids the internet is effectively refusing to engage with its customers. . . . It is not listening to what its customers want, which is dangerous in any consumer-facing industry.” This is the thinking of Lyst CEO Chris Morton, and he gets it completely right. For some time now, esteemed brands under the umbrellas of luxury’s ‘Big Three’ — LVMH, Kering, and Richemont — have initially refused to embrace e-commerce. Many of them still lag behind even today. But this is to their detriment.In its relatively brief history, the tech world (Silicon Valley and other tech hubs around the globe) has laid many a complacent industry in its disruptive wake. With its rapid innovation and intense growth, it’s kept old industries honest, on their toes, and in a permanent sweat.

The luxury sector is certainly no exception. Here, the tech sector has forced even the most stubborn of luxury luminaries — Chanel, Fendi, Celine among them — to (reluctantly) embrace e-commerce. At the same time, it’s allowing emerging brands to equal or surpass existing companies like these in quality, and keep costs low by avoiding the need for a storefront. Furthermore, new technologies are also enabling new brands to create custom, made-to-order garments for shoppers. And in the process, the tech world is pushing luxury to return to its roots.

Read the full story here 
This article is by Amy Boone and originally featured on Lean Luxe  

2. Is it Even Possible to Sell “Luxury on Amazon”?

While much of Amazon’s sales volume in diapers, blenders and other unglamorous products , the e-commerce behemoth is also a fashion giant. Next year it’s expected to become the biggest seller apparel seller in the US, and it boasts and enviable base for higher-end brands:Penetration of it’s “Prime” membership program is greater among upper-income households, and they are incredibly loyal repeat customers who like to shop for clothes.

And yet high-end luxury labels aren’t biting . Jean-Jacques Guiony, CFO of LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and other luxury labels, told analysts on an earnings call Oct. 11 that there is “no way” it would do business with Amazon.

Read the full story here

This article is by Marc Bain and originally featured on Quartz

3. Digital Luxury: Who Are 2016’S Winners (And Losers)?

Luxury was late to the digital party and for the most part hasn’t acquitted itself well ever since. Which is why the regular ContactLab/Exane BNP Paribas reports into just how good the purchasing experience is for consumers is always interesting.

The report looks at factors such as digital touchpoint like abandoned carts, customer service, ease of ordering and general communications, plus physical touchpoint like packaging, delivery and much more.

Last year it did this from a Milanese viewpoint and this year it was New York. So what did it learn?

Well, Balenciaga and Fendi topped the performance ranking this time after ContactLab did its usual practical tests. It bought and returned products from 31 brand websites and five multi brand e-tailers.

Kering (Balenciaga owner) and LVMH (Fendi owner) must be happy as they were joint first. Kering scored again in number three position as Saint Laurent (or is it YSL these days?) took the bronze medal. Chanel and Coach shared fourth place, just missing the medal-winners rostrum.

Dropping back this time were Cartier, which had scored well last year but was in eighth spot this time, plus former high-ranker Louis Vuitton at only number 17. Hugo Boss was a lowly 31. Gucci stayed at number 16.

Burberry and Prada both improved. But given that Burberry was only at number 13 when it prides itself on being very digitally-focused, that’s not great. And poor old Prada only managed a rise to number 27 so its much-talked-about digital turnaround obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.

What’s so interesting about this particular report is that it’s not about the things we often notice first, such as high profile websites or social media engagement; it’s purely about the nuts and bolts of buying and returning goods, because that’s what the customer does and that’s how the customer interacts most with a brand. Given that online accounted for all of luxury’s growth last year and is expected to do so for the next few years at least, you’d think the experience would be prioritised.

You’d also think luxury retailers rather than monobrands might perform better with their long traditions of customer service, but some of those don’t acquit themselves that well. Saks was only in 13th place, Nordstrom 18th, Barneys 26th and Bergdorf Goodman an unimpressive 35th.

Who was the top retailer? Net-a-Porter in sixth place. I must admit, the experience of buying from this company (and its Yoox arm) is generally excellent. It wasn’t always. Many a time I’ve paid extra for Saturday delivery from Yoox only for something to arrive on Monday. While Net-a-Porter once took five months to refund me for an item returned the day after delivery. It was only a small amount and I completely overlooked not getting the refund until it just showed up nearly half a year later.

But that was five years ago, since then the company has shown why it’s the luxury e-tail leader.

“Net-A-Porter is digital native and is extremely consistent in assuring a top luxury performance in the majority of the more than 100 digital and physical touch points we have been evaluating along the online purchasing process,” said Marco Pozzi, senior advisor at ContactLab. He added that US department stores came out better on the digital touch points (especially Nordstrom and Saks) but they’re “average or lagging on physical touch points”.

“It should not be difficult for department stores to improve packaging, fillers, documentation and overall care in order to give a more luxury and less Amazon-like feeling to online customers,” Pozzi said. “Of course this requires focus on the problem, and for sure additional costs.”

The stores do rate highly on returns though, especially Nordstrom, which is unsurprising as multibrand retailers have a long tradition of liberal returns policies while luxury brands themselves are frequently very unforgiving if you change your mind. However, ContactLab said Burberry and Cartier top the returns service rankings.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.

4. Alibaba's New Payment System Lets Virtual Reality Shoppers Pay by Nodding

Alibaba Group Holdings' finance arm on Wednesday demonstrated a payment service that will allow virtual reality shoppers to pay for things in future just by nodding their heads.

VR Pay, the new payment system, is part of Alibaba's efforts to capitalize on the latest technology in online shopping. In 2015, for example, it introduced a facial recognition technology for Alipay mobile payments service advertised as "pay with a selfie".

The VR payment technology means people using virtual reality goggles to browse virtual reality shopping malls will be able pay for purchases without taking off the goggles. They can just nod or look instead.

Read the full story here

This article is by Sijia Jiang and originally featured on Reuters

5. Nike’s Mark Parker on Imagination, Innovation and Art

It takes a truly insatiable creative appetite to find your way to the top at Nike, a company which has long been acclaimed for gnawing at the bit when it comes to innovation in design. In the case of Mark Parker, who this year celebrates his tenth anniversary as chief executive officer of the company (and his 37th, no less, as a designer there) his hunger for the new is as acute now as it ever was. By placing values accrued through his rigorous design training at the forefront of what the sportswear behemoth does, Parker has played a key part in revolutionising sportswear. In short, form follows function, and there is always potential for more change, more innovation.

On this he is resolute. “When I started at Nike as a designer I was always asked, ‘what more you can do with shoes that hasn’t already been done?’” he told AnOther, in a moment out from the action-packed Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer. We're sat in the cool, air-conditioned Nike headquarters, overlooking Copacabana beach and the noisy volleyball stadium situated there. “That was over 30 years ago, and I see more potential for change and innovation, meaningful innovation, today than I did then. It’s a case of asking, how do you get the best combination of performance, sustainability and aesthetic? This stuff is always changing, so there are more and more possibilities, and that’s always exciting.” Often, in fact, the company’s strongest ideas are put on hold while the technology necessary to execute them catches up, he tells me. “That’s okay, it’s part of being an innovator, but it also makes it fun because we’re constantly pushing. I like the fact that we can work with people in other fields to solve those problems.”

Read full story here

This article is by Maisie Skidmore and originally featured on AnOther

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Chanel’s “Data Centre” Runway

Chanel fashion shows have been quite the spectacle in recent seasons, placing its models in the middle of amazingly ‘Instagrammable’ settings such as a pop up airport terminal and a casino. Paris Fashion Week’s runway setting was no less original and eye-catching, but took on a somewhat deeper meaning than previous shows, by reflecting the digital disruption currently occurring within the fashion industry.

By taking the “off-catwalk commotion” (The Guardian) of the current season and placing it centre stage, Chanel retained its status as the biggest show in Paris. By opening the show with an anonymous model in a white plastic robot mask, Lagerfeld went against the current trend of using a supermodel with an enormous social following, and instead focused the viewers attention towards the “slightly sinister, unknowable might of data centres and servers racks”. 

To read more about the electrifying show, click here.

2. The Model-Free British Vogue Issue

This month’s British Vogue is set to be unlike any other that has come before it, as there won’t be a single model in sight amongst the pages of the world-famous publication. For one month only, the latest designer clothes will be showcased by ‘real’ women, such as an architectural historian, a charity director, an ice-cream creator, and FashTech friend Kate Unsworth, CEO of Vinaya.

“I feel strongly that women who are in positions of authority or power, or who work in professions should be able to indulge their interest in clothes and fashion without it seeming frivolous or that they don’t care about their jobs enough,” said British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman. “In this country there is still a stigma attached to clearly enjoying how you look and experimenting with it if you are a woman in the public eye and not in the fashion or entertainment business.”

To read more about the upcoming issue, click here.

3. Facebook’s New Marketplace

This week, Facebook expanded its horizon once again to incorporate a new Marketplace functionality to compete with the likes of Craigslist and eBay. Described as “a convenient destination to discover, buy, and sell items with people in your community”, it sounds like the social media giant could be on to a winner.

“Marketplace makes it easy to find new things you’ll love, and find a new home for the things you’re ready to part with,” says Facebook’s Director of Product Management, Mary Ku. “We’ll continue to build new options and features to make this the best experience for people.”

Want to get started? Simply update the Facebook app on your phone, open it, click on the new shop icon at the bottom of the screen, and shop away! You’ll see photos of items for sale, and will be able to filter your searches in the same way as other online marketplace sites. Find a product you want and send the seller a direct message from Marketplace to make an offer. It is then up to you to complete the transaction; “Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items in Marketplace,” Ku explains. 

The new feature will be available to all Facebook users over the age of 18 in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Next up is expansion across more of the globe, as well as introduction to desktop.

4. Farfetch’s #TheOne Campaign

Online retailer Farfetch has launched a new campaign in which chosen influencers are promoting posts highlighting the one item they could not live without this autumn and winter. “We worked with creative agency Wednesday on the campaign,” said Farfetch CMO Stephanie Horton. “The premise of the campaign is to communicate that Farfetch lets you access and explore the world’s greatest selection of luxury from our global curators of boutiques and brands.”

The company is trying to initiate consumer engagement, getting them involved in the conversation and sharing the one dream product they have found through the website. In order to help them with this aim, Farfetch have created three video spots, each promoting a different product based on a specific scenario a consumer could be looking for, e.g. “The bag, for a lunch by the pool with friends in West Hollywood.” 

Not only are they using influencers to promote the campaign, but also their own staff members, asking them to share their own stories of finding the perfect product. To read more about the campaign, click here.

5. Five Tech Highlights From This Season’s Fashion Weeks

This fashion week season was a fairly momentous one in terms of the level of innovation and originality presented, with so many designers and major fashion houses responding to the fast-paced ever-changing current consumer climate with big statements such as the new ‘see now, buy now’ movement. But aside from this prominent favourite, we also saw some fascinating new tech and digital launches across the New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks. 

Rachel Arthur listed five of her favourites for a Forbes article this week, including Hussein Chalayan’s Intel wearables, Chanel’s data centre, Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger’s chatbots, Hololens’ fashion week debut, and Rebecca Minkoff’s virtual try-on. To read about all five (plus one bonus) in more detail, click here.

Winter Summit Postponed to 2017

Dear FashTech Community, 

We’ve just had a really tough decision to make and it’s with great sadness that we’re writing to tell you that the FashTech Winter Summit has been postponed to Spring 2017.

Why?

Well, when you’ve been let down, as we have been, and you’re suddenly unable to secure in time the full sponsorship required to host the amazing FashTech Summit we had planned, what do you do?  You face some difficult choices.  If you go ahead, you are almost certainly going to lose money and put FashTech in jeopardy.  Hardly a sensible choice.  If you reduce the quality of the event, you are not going to be able meet the expectations of your guests, your speakers or your sponsors.  An even less sensible choice.

We decided that postponing the event was the only sensible course of action, because what we wanted most was to protect the relationships we’ve built with all of you – the FashTech community – the people we really care about.

To all those who bought tickets, fear not.  We’ll be in touch in the next couple of days to organise a refund and you should receive an email confirming it shortly afterwards.
We want to say a massive “THANK YOU” to a lot of people:

  • First, to all our speakers for their willingness to share their thoughts and, often, to reveal truths based on their very personal experiences.  The energy and excitement they brought to our Summit has been an inspiration.
  • Second, to everyone that came forward to help in all sorts of ways - you're all amazing and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  Your kind efforts have been hugely appreciated.
  • Third, to all those who bought tickets and believed the Summit we had planned was going to give them insights they badly needed.

At FashTech HQ, we’re sad about what’s just happened.  However, we’ll pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and carry on planning the next great events. We have some very exciting plans in the pipeline and we look forward to sharing what the future looks like very, very soon.

Regards, 

Alex Semenzato
Founder & CEO

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Mario Testino’s ‘Mira Mira’

This week, world-renowned photographer, Mario Testino, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the advertising industry’s annual Clio Awards for his ongoing phenomenal contribution to and innovation within the fashion industry. His latest creation to justify this honourable award? Miramira.tv, Testino’s new content play, “which collects together never-before-published photographs, travel diaries, behind-the-scenes takes from his popular Instagram “Towel Series”, his philanthropic work and a podcast that is launching with a conversation between Testino and his longtime collaborator Kate Moss” (Business of Fashion).

Testino is an active and popular face across social media, with 2.5 million followers on Instagram and more than 500,000 likes on Facebook. It is through these platforms that he has been able to make a special connection with his fans, one that few other peers of his generation can boast. Mira Mira is the next significant step for Testino in his journey of digital content creation. Suki Larson, chief executive of Mario Testino+ (the photographer’s business), explains: “Mario has many for projects, people he would like to collaborate with, aspects of his life he would like to share, people in his life he would like to celebrate, etc. We are launching Mira Mira as a means to create and activate new content, which we will disseminate through social channels, media partners and other partners. Once disseminated the content will ‘land’ on our own URL, which will curate the content into various features and series that end up serving as a sort of ‘World of Mario Testino.’”

To read more about the Business of Fashion’s article on Mira Mira, click here.

2. Adidas’s First Robot-Made Trainer

Adidas has launched its first shoe made almost entirely by robots. In Germany, the athletic footwear giant’s new ‘Speed Factories’ are up and running, working towards the company’s long-term aim of adding robot-staffed, custom shoemaking facilities to its current global supply chain. Adidas plans to utilise the Speed Factories to finish 500 prototypes of the trainer this year, as a starting point before no doubt growing the factories’ production outputs on a much larger scale.

Speed Factories will be more cost-effective and time-effective than current factories, and after the opening of a second robot-staffed facility in Atlanta in 2017, the number of quick-produce shoes is set to increase to a million pairs annually. And whilst the idea of an increase in robot-fuelled factories might spark unemployment worry for some, the Atlanta factory is expected to create 160 new human jobs when it opens its doors.

Projected to be able to make a pair of shoes in roughly five hours, instead of the current timespan of weeks, the new manufacturing process could spell huge improvements for Adidas’s production and sales rates.

3. Vogue.com vs. The Influencers & Bloggers

On Sunday night, vogue.com’s editors published a reflective recap of MFW in which a rather brutal attack was fired upon fashion bloggers and influencers, blasting them as “pathetic”, “heralding the death of style”, “sad”, “looking ridiculous”, “embarrassing”, and comparing them to strippers. Harsh, to say the least, even if you might agree with their overall sentiment.

Naturally, bloggers and influencers from around the globe were quick to speak out in response, fighting their corner and blasting Vogue for their bullying and hypocrisy. In a very well-considered reply to her critics, one influencer called Shea Marie (@peaceloveshea), seemed to nail the counter-argument, earning 18K likes and counting from her 1 million followers and undoubtedly others as well:

“Please read!! Dear a certain few Vogue.com editors- The only thing that is "pathetic" here is this jealous, catty and hypocritical article you've just published. You are exactly the type of people that have given the fashion world the cold, unwelcoming and ruthless reputation it has had in the past. Thankfully those times are changing. I'm sorry if you can't accept that what a "public figure" wears on the street is undoubtedly more influential than your post-fashion week column. That the fashion world isn't controlled by you alone anymore. You even criticize the brands, for what? For having figured out the obvious: (news flash!) what people choose to wear and purchase is greatly inspired by the people they admire- the public figures (influencers, actors/actresses, musicians, bloggers, models). I respect you all deeply and the hard work you put into the industry. I look up to you. Which is why I feel so taken aback now at how tasteless and classless the words are that you chose. I would think an institution such as Vogue would respect young entrepreneurs instead of belittling them. It's ironic how you make degrading comments about influencers, and then put them on your international covers to boost sales. And to echo the statements of others- how many of your covers are paid for "head to toe looks" by brands? What about the daily "street style" pictures and articles on your website homepage. Why? Because-guess what?-that's what gets the clicks. As for your "get a real career" comment- I'm not sure exactly who you're referring to; surely not me or someone like me. I built and design my own successful line, I style and creative consult for countless brands, and am invested in numerous other successful businesses behind the scenes. I grew up in a small town and came from nothing- I'd call that pretty impressive and admirable. I take pride in giving hope to young women around the world that they too can build something from nothing. I think I speak for "us" all when I say the bottom line here is that if you weren't threatened you wouldn't care at all.”

What are your thoughts on this Vogue vs Influencer debate? Is it a case of the traditional vs the new? Do you think Vogue’s comments are fair, or as ironic, archaic and hypocritical as Shea and the others targeted claim? Are you a fan of influencers and influencer marketing or would you rather see your tastemakers in the pages of a magazine like Vogue? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Email us, Tweet us, Instagram us, Facebook us!

4. Fashion Forums: Why They Still Matter

This week, blogger Susie Bubble wrote an article for the Business of Fashion on the importance of fashion forums. Whilst in today’s Snapchat/Instagram-obsessed world, we might see this ‘old fashioned’ platform of communication as somewhat antiquated, but Susie argues that fashion needs them now more than ever.

“There’s something about the anonymity (and notoriety) afforded by avatars, the moderators chiming in with reminders of posting rules, the threads of discussion that can go on for pages and pages with back-and-forth replies”, she writes. Without the hold of an IRL identity, contributors are free to be as frank, brutal and honest as they please about the industry.

Fashion forums create a community of like-minded people, where discussions and debates can really delve deep; something that is an impossibility on fast-paced social media platforms. “If you look at the ‘Fashion in Depth’ forum [on The Fashion Spot] you will see almost no photos and there are real discussions going on about various topics. You can’t really do that on Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter and many of our members prefer the forums to other platforms for that reason,” says a moderator from TFS. Forums are now becoming somewhat of an intellectually stimulating oasis amongst a sea of vapid, unchallenging content.

To read more about Susie Bubble’s article, click here.

5. Mr Porter x Apple TV

Mr Porter has announced this week that it will be launching a shoppable app on Apple TV. Created for tvOS, the operating system Apple TV runs on, the app will allow shoppers to browse through The Journal, the e-tailer’s weekly digital magazine, which will offer shoppable content such as clothing, accessories and lifestyle products.

Not only will you be able to shop on the app, but also watch exclusive video content in each issue, including tutorials and behind-the-scenes footage. “As we aim to create innovative new omnichannel retail experiences by combining TV and e-commerce,” said Yoox Net-A-Porter CEO Federico Marchetti, “the vision of shopping luxury via Apple TV is now a reality. We are pleased that Mr Porter is among the first to give luxury customers a great new way to shop.”

Jeremy Langmead, Mr Porter’s brand and content director, said: “We’re now pleased [users] will be able to connect their shopping experience with the viewing pleasure of video series and short films within Apple TV’s network of innovative channels and first-rate content.”

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Mixed Reality Hits LFW

See-Now-Buy-Now has been the stand-out talking point of NYFW and LFW, with some of the biggest names in the industry listening to consumer demand and creating instantly shoppable collections. But what other innovative new tools are appearing in the shows this season?

We’ve all heard of virtual reality before, but this week Martine Jarlgaard transformed her LFW presentation with the use of mixed reality. Instead of the normal runway set up, the designer’s show room was nothing but an empty space, creating the perfect back drop for a Hololens-assisted show. When wearing a Hololens, a Microsoft mixed reality headset, the viewer could see the full spring/summer 2017 collection coming to life in the form of holograms in front of their eyes.

As the first use of mixed reality during a fashion week show, Martine Jarlgaard’s presentation hopes to reimagine the catwalk show, removing the barrier between the physical location and the audience. Unlike virtual reality, you can simply add apparitions to your natural environment, instead of being transported somewhere entirely separate. “For me it’s very important there’s a link to reality; that you don’t remove yourself completely. It’s quite a desirable thing - you still have your point of reference, but there’s another layer on top,” says Jarlgaard.

To read more about her use of mixed reality, read Rachel Arthur’s Forbes article here.

2. Burberry Leads The Show At LFW

Burberry made quite an impression on LFW this season, following the see-now-buy-now trend in spectacular fashion, making absolutely everything available to buy for the first time, including the menswear and womenswear apparel, the accessories and even the makeup. That meant a total of over 250 pieces being sold through Burberry’s physical and digital retail network, shipping to over 100 countries.

Not only did they accomplish “see-now-buy-now” on a mammoth scale, the British fashion house also turned its LFW show into a weeklong event, in which the ideas and inspirations behind the collection were brought to life at London Maker’s House.

“The show, which is the brand’s first straight-to-consumer collection that features men’s and women’s collections together, will include art exhibitions and activities, theatrical performances, as well as a pop-up shop. It’s a move that signals how designers are shifting from a traditional fashion show, and approaching them in more consumer-facing ways” (Glossy).

With this ongoing beautifully experiential show, alongside a week’s worth of social media content for its platforms, from Facebook Live and WeChat to the newly trialling Facebook Messenger Bot, Burberry aimed to create the biggest social media buzz at LFW.

To read more about Burberry’s LFW extravaganza, click here.

3. Technology: Fashion Weeks’ Real Winner

With each season that passes, fashion week shows are becoming more and more breathtakingly elaborate in their presentations. The amount of time, creativity, and money that goes in to making these shows the most spectacular and eye-catching they can be is growing by the year; because if it’s not ‘Instagrammable’ then what’s the point!

And the latest tools, tricks and treats being used by the biggest fashion houses to try to steal the top spot? Technological innovations such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. We’ve been championing the intersection of fashion and technology since our founding day (hence the name!) and it is brilliant to see technology now being used so blatantly and so openly across all of the biggest designers in the world. We’ve seen Alexander McQueen use holograms, Ralph Lauren Polo present a 4D fashion show, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry create Facebook Messenger chat bots, Misha Nonoo present her collections on Instagram and Snapchat, and a huge number of the biggest names in the business creating see-now, buy-now collections to satisfy their consumers’ want for instant gratification.

Technology is accelerating the progress of fashion set designs and presentations at a rate that no one would have predicted, and I cannot wait to see what new innovations next season might have in store for us.

4. Is ‘See Now, Buy Now’ Driving Sales?

Having considered the negative repercussions of the current ‘see now, buy now’ trend in last week’s digest (i.e. designer burnout), we can now start to see if fashion weeks’ most popular new movement is proving successful in terms of sales figures. Business of Fashion spoke to a number of brands and retailers to find out how the collections have faired in the days following the runway shows, and on the whole, the results are looking encouraging.

Bergdorf Goodman stated that they had their largest Tom Ford day of the year immediately after his New York see-now, buy-now show: “Typically, these sales would be spread over many weeks as the deliveries arrive piecemeal. The immediacy of being able to buy immediately after the show, combined with the impact of seeing the whole collection on the floor at once, gave our customers a sense of urgency to buy now”, said Joshua Schulman, president. Meanwhile, mytheresa.com noted an instant uplift in sales for their Burberry collection following the LFW show on Monday.

Other key pieces from the Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Topshop Unique collections are selling out on online platforms at an unprecedented rate; and even some of the most extravagant expensive pieces, such as Burberry’s $5,249 Cavalry jacket, are in the best-selling items since the runway shows.

Not all retailers have seen sales increases as a result of the fashion week presentations, but they have still witnessed a substantial spike in consumer interest, even if not in immediate sales. The ‘see-now, buy now’ model appears to have initiated more searches on Lyst for said brands after these fashion weeks than after previous fashion shows, implying the new format is undoubtedly having a beneficial immediate effect. Will this interest and spike in sales tail off over the coming months though? Time will tell.

To read more about BoF’s findings, click here.

5. FashTech Winter Summit - Final Agenda Now Live!

Our Winter Summit Agenda is now live! With presentations including “Tapping into Consumer Interest with Pinterest” with Ayumi Nakajima, Partner Manager, Pinterest; “Growth Hacking Your Content Marketing Strategy to Blow Up Your Fashion Brand” with Vincent Dignan, Magnific; and “Growing A Brand Organically” with Finery London Founder & CEO Luca Marini, this is one NOT to be missed!

If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, click HERE.

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Alexander Wang x Adidas: The Secret Collaboration

American fashion label, Alexander Wang, revealed via NYFW that it has partnered with Adidas Originals on an 84-piece line of unisex apparel and footwear, set to launch in spring 2017.

The fashion show, following a spring break-theme, concluded with a finale walk in which the models were decked out in an array of black tracksuits, sweatshirts, polos and basketball shorts, branded with an upside down Adidas logo. To celebrate the launch of the collaboration, the brands put on a mini music festival, called #WangFest, which included performances from CL, Tyga, Skrillex, Travis Scott, Desiigner, Post Malone and Juicy J, and pop ups from McDonald’s, Slurpee and McGriddles. The final touch? Limited edition capsule collection merch sold out of the back of a truck and packaged up for partygoers in garbage bags, tied up with an Alexander Wang ribbon.

2. Ralph Lauren Takes The See-Now-Buy-Now Plunge

On Wednesday night, Ralph Lauren hosted a second Autumn/Winter 2016 collection catwalk, in the shape of a “jewel box” outside of the designer’s Madison Avenue flagship store. At this show, viewers were able to shop 150 items immediately at ralphlauren.com and in direct-retail stores across the globe.

This is the company’s first step forward in a new, consumer-facing direction, at the hands of Ralph Lauren’s replacement CEO, Stefan Larsson, and his “Way Forward” manifesto. “Showing clothes, then delivering them six months later… it’s over,” Lauren said in Vogue’s October issue. “With the Internet, social media… you have to change.”

“For a company with the means and reach, why not show a collection in-season and make it instantly shoppable?” (Business of Fashion). Are the clothes up to par though? Read BoF’s thoughts here.


3. Tommy Hilfiger Launches Facebook Messenger Fashion Bot

Following on from the hype surrounding Tommy Hilfiger’s “Tommy Pier” carnival-runway show last week, the major fashion brand has already moved on to its next innovative step towards world domination; in the form of Facebook Messenger’s first “fashion bot”, which uses artificial intelligence to provide a guided shopping experience through the new collection.

“TMY.GRL” can be accessed via the “message” button on Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook page, and will then proceed to do anything you require, from tell you information about the collection (e.g. #gigifunfacts), ask you what you’re looking for, and show you behind the scenes content from the runway show.

The bot is a huge fashion step for the tool: “What Tommy Hilfiger did that was interesting was tie its bot to see-now-buy-now. Other bots were service-based, but linking one to a readily available fashion week collection, and making it specific to that, brings up a new avenue for communication. It’s going to drive a lot of awareness,” says Neda Whitney, group account director at agency R/GA.

“Bots are still such a new space that we still have to see how customers react and grow with it, but there’s a lot of room for brands to start that,” Whitney continued. “Fashion and luxury brands like Tommy Hilfiger adopting this type of technology is really interesting and exciting, though. Anything you can do to spend some time with your brand is always a smart move.”


4. The See-Now-Buy-Now Backlash

As I’m sure you will have seen, this season has been the season of see-now-buy-now. From Tommy Hilfiger to Hugo Boss and Tom Ford to Ralph Lauren, the biggest names in fashion are all beginning to adhere to the changing (social media-saturated) times, giving their consumers the immediate gratification they are so clearly craving.

It’s all been very exciting, helping to reinvent the fashion industry’s failing system. However, it also already seems to be showing its fall-down, adding to the ever-so-prevalent “designer burnout”. As if fashion designers didn’t already have enough work on their plate at this time of year (I have friends who are designers, and the amount of work they have to do in the lead up to fashion week has always astounded me; they literally do not sleep), this new trend is adding even more work.

“When high fashion is trying to follow the cadence of fast fashion, and when you ca buy and see everything online so quickly, that changes the entire system,” said Rony Zeidan, founder of luxury agency RO NY. “There’s no time for the designer.”

Some designers, including Alexander Wang, have previously been heard to say that the see-now-buy-now model just would not be a logistical option for them, before having to go back on their word in order to meet the consumer demand and compete with their fellow designers.

Is this new see-now-buy-now trend really working to fix the fashion system, or is it in fact stunting it even more? “Fashion has to evolve, it’s not a negative thing,” said Zeidan. “But to bend over backwards like this creates stress and reduces creativity. It’s all a bit of a mess.”

Read the full Glossy article here.


5. Michael Kors’s Fashionable Smartwatch

Michael Kors may be, in his own words, “a fashion freak, not a tech geek,” but that hasn’t stopped him from making his very own smartwatch; the new Michael Kors Access smartwatch, unveiled on Sunday night at his SoHo flagship store.

Competing with the likes of Apple and Samsung, the Access watch is intended to be a best-of-both-worlds option; more fashionable than the tech giant competitors, but far more techy than your usual fashion accessory. The aim was to create something that “people could personalise and put their own stamp on” but also “makes life easier,” said Mr Kors. And thus the Access was born; an aesthetically familiar fashion piece, with all the latest Silicon Valley technology (voice-activated Google search, fitness tracking, social media alerts) included.

Coming in two different styles, the sporty black Dylan and the all-metal Bradshaw, and with totally customisable faces, there should be a style to fit most needs and wants. But can they compete with Apple and Samsung? Time will tell.

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. H&M’s Second Annual Innovation Grant is Now Open for Applications!

H&M’s “Global Change Award” is back for a second year to give budding innovators a chance to win a life-changing grant and a place in a one-year accelerator. The Swedish retailer has been very vocal in its efforts to support sustainability in recent times and this €1million grant is all part of this endeavour.

Last year, more than 2,700 applicants applied from 112 countries and in February this year five winning teams were entered into the innovation accelerator and awarded varying shares of the money. This year’s grant application process opened on Thursday and will close on Halloween. You can enter at globalchangeaward.com for one of three categories: "circular business models" for the reuse, repair and extended life of products; "circular materials" for new new fibres and recycling techniques and "circular processes" for new chemical, dyeing and 3D printing processes.

H&M CEO and board member of the H&M Foundation, Karl-Johan Persson, said of the endeavour: “The Global Change Award aims to speed up the transition to a circular business model for the entire fashion industry. I am excited to see what ideas the next round of the Global Change Award can generate.”

Judges Amber Valetta (actress and entrepreneur), Ellis Rubinstein (The New York Academy of Science), Rebecca Earley (Textile Futures Research Centre), Franca Sozzani (Vogue Italia), David Roberts (Exponential Leadership), Lewis Perkins (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute), Vikram Widge (World Bank Group), Johan Kuylenstiern (Stockholm Environment Institute), and Dame Ellen McArthur will select the final teams before the public vote online to decide how the €1million prize money is to be shared out.

2. Tommy Pier - #TommyNow

“In the 40-some years I’ve been in business, I’ve always been inspired by pop culture from the aspect of fashion, art, entertainment and, today, social media and celebrity,” says the designer Tommy Hilfiger. “Those are the drivers that our company is fuelled by. It’s really about listening to the consumer and being able to mould and shape our business around consumer needs through pop culture.” And today’s consumer needs? Immediacy. Cue: #TommyNow.

Today, Hilfiger will be taking over South Street Seaport’s Pier 16, rebranding it “Tommy Pier”, and creating a fashion show bonanza of carnival rides, games and a runway show as part of his vision of the "Democratisation of the Fashion Show". The catwalk extravaganza will be live streamed on www.tommy.com where you will actually be able to buy the designs as you see them appear on the runway. “It’s about delivering on the instant gratification that consumers are really seeking,” explains chief marketing and brand officer Avery Baker. “Closing that gap between the visibility of a fashion show and the moment of purchase.”

To read more about the phenomenal fashion show experience, click here.

3. Retailers Need More Women in Tech Positions

Coding is the next big thing; those who are learning to code are going to be indispensable to businesses in the imminent future. Hence the creation of Girls Who Code. Coding is not just for boys, and the need for coding is extremely prevalent in the fashion world. So why, then, are no retailers appearing to take it seriously? Whilst a growing number of brands, including Kate Spade New York and Sephora, are participating in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, retailers are noticeably absent.

Women account for 70-80% of all consumer purchases in retail, and women innovators, such as Madison Maxey of The Crated and Nancy Tilbury of Studio xo, are at the forefront of the latest developments in wearable tech, and yet women can’t seem to land top tech positions in retail. Whilst women tend to be well represented in entry- and mid-level tech positions in the retail world, employers “struggle to promote [women] to top-level executive positions” (McKinsey & Company report, May 2016).

However, Girls Who Code founder, Reshma Saujani, argued that it’s not through lack of desire for a stronger women workforce: “Companies want to hire more women to join their tech teams because for the most part women are their leading consumer base. Having more women involved means that the people buying their products are building their products. It’s purely down to the fact that many retailers are unsure of how to navigate the gender gap.

In need of a little inspiration on how to promote and retain women at high position in your tech teams? Then look to the likes of Barbara Sanders, chief IT architect at The Home Depot, Julie Bornstein, former Sephora chief digital officer and now chief operating officer at Stitch Fix, and Sona Chawla, chief operating officer at Kohl’s Department Stores. “When you have the people who are buying the products building the products, you’ll only produce better products,” said Saujani.

4. Launch of the iPhone 7!

Apple’s new iPhone has arrived and, in classic fashion, is already setting tongues wagging - for both good and bad reasons.

With an upgraded camera, water resistance, stereo speakers and a longer battery life, it sounds like the answer to all our prayers; “The world’s most advanced smartphone - the best iPhone we have ever created” says Tim Cook. But, does the public agree? One of the most controversial new features on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is the wireless headphones called AirPods. Apple has removed the headphone jack in what seems to many like a fairly blatant attempt to encourage users to buy these new AirPods at the costly price of £159. Of course, the Internet has reacted with many a tweet and meme blasting Apple for these rather fancy, very expensive and extremely easy to lose new accessories.

Mean-humoured tweets aside, you can’t argue Apple’s continued groundbreaking levels of innovation with each upgraded model it launches. Whilst the AirBuds may be a point of contention for some, I don’t think it’ll be long before everyone’s an iPhone 7 adopter.

Read more about the latest features and when you can get your hands on yours here.

5. FashTech Talks: Brands After Brexit

Last night we hosted our second FashTech Talk at Shoreditch House, on the topic of “Brands After Brexit”. Our expert panel consisted of Heidy Rehman, Founder and MD of Rose & Willard, Jerome Laredo, VP EMEA at Lightspeed POS, Petah Marian, Senior Editor Retail Intelligence at WGSN, and was moderated by William Hutchings, Former Head of European Consumer Luxury Goods at Goldman Sachs.

It was a hugely successful evening, full of great insight and contrasting views. To read the key takeaways, please click here.

FashTech Talks: Brands After Brexit

FashTech Talks: Brands After Brexit

Last night we hosted our second FashTech Talk at Shoreditch House, on the topic of “Brands After Brexit”. Our expert panel consisted of Heidy Rehman, Founder and MD of Rose & Willard, Jerome Laredo, VP EMEA at Lightspeed POS, Petah Marian, Senior Editor Retail Intelligence at WGSN, and was moderated by William Hutchings, Former Head of European Consumer Luxury Goods at Goldman Sachs.

Will kicked off the discussion by first explaining that to draw a definitive conclusion at this moment in time on the repercussions of our Leave vote is virtually impossible. So instead, he asked for examples of the immediate impact, and what it may mean for the coming months. To begin, he asked, when considering the retail and fashion worlds, what do we think is the immediate impact of Brexit on the consumer?

Heidy explained how for her personally, at Rose & Willard, she saw a huge spike in overseas orders, which was arguably to be expected, but perhaps more surprising, was that she saw no decline in British orders. Heidy explained that this may be due to our country’s current impressively low unemployment rate. Whilst the pound may be weaker, the impact of inflation is yet to slow things down so, for now at least, people are still out there spending. This is a chance to be opportunistic, she said. As a British made product, now is a great time to use the post-Brexit repercussions to ones advantage. However, the long term game isn’t as straight forward. Our panel explained how British brands will ultimately have to lift prices when manufacturing costs rise, but can they really pass this increase on to the consumer? Not really; it’s a hit that the retailer will have to take themselves, sucking up the margin. Hence the need to better our internal manufacturing; a topic that we cover in more detail slightly later in the conversation. For now though, Jerome is adamant, it will be business as usual, taking at least 10 years for the reality of Brexit to really start affecting the retail business as we know it. Regardless of this though, he argues, retail brands must always be ready for uncertainty, and what this might mean for your customers. How do you continue to attract your consumers in a tumultuous climate? Brexit or not, brands need to put their consumer first and recognise and adapt to their changing needs.

In terms of the implications for the brands themselves, Will asked, who do we think are the winners in this situation, and who are the losers? “Brexit gave Britain a lot of publicity, you know. Everyone’s been talking about us, there’s been an awful lot of awareness, and that we could see as a short term positive. All publicity is good publicity!” Jerome said, of which Heidy concurred. There is currently a vast and genuine interest in British made brands and British products, she said, but this ‘hype’ isn’t sustainable. This is the immediate post-vote furore, which will die down and leave us with a challenge.

One way in which we can try to seize this opportunity and make the positive last, is to harness the consumer’s growing desire for fast fashion. Social media has made us all want everything the minute we see it. “See-Now-Buy-Now”, which is making the global supply chain “unworkable”, meaning a chance for us to start bringing the supply closer to home; an opportunity to start seeing more manufacturing in the UK, supplying for the demand of immediate gratification. However, this leads us on to the topic of Brexit’s focus on anti-immigration. It has been such a key topic in the ongoing political parties’ debates, and if we are to start losing migrants back to their home countries then the fashion and retail industry is going to be one of the worst affected in the UK as so many skilled labourers are migrants. The influx of creative talent and low-cost skilled labour will suffer hugely, because young British workers do not have the same level of skills. We are not brought up in an environment that encourages these skill sets or career paths. If we are to maintain the same level of manufacturing without the employment of European workers then the government is going to need to plan a serious PR campaign that changes the way in which these industries are viewed and made accessible to the younger generations.

Some may argue that this conversation will become irrelevant in the not too distant future anyway, as we won’t even need people to work in these sorts of roles because we’ll have machines who can do the work for us. Is this a realistic expectation? Technology is indeed having a very broad and disruptive impact on the fashion industry at the moment, but it’s been exciting for both brands and consumers along the way. Do we see Brexit as a catalyst for further change? New amazing creations are often born out of periods of real disruption, Petah explains, so by all means this period of unknown and transition brought on by Brexit may well lead to the “next big thing”. “Absolutely,” agreed Jerome. “Disruption creates creativity. You have to think harder to survive and thrive.” Will asked our panel if they could name any examples of exciting and important new technologies that might be helping to shape our post-Brexit future, and Heidy named virtual reality as one; “it’s going to be transformative - will catwalks continue? Or will we just be sat at our desks watching what we want to see, manipulating the shows to see models in any brand we choose, putting ourselves in outfits virtually, trying on looks?” And from a manufacturing perspective? Robotics, she said, which we’ll be able to use to localise costs and help with time to market. It may displace human capital, but it is inarguably an amazing advancement in tech innovation.

Jerome also agreed that VR will become part of everyday life, because it provides an experience and, nowadays, experience is essential. Petah, meanwhile, believes that whilst VR will be huge in the long term, augmented reality will be more impactful in the short term. We haven’t been aware of AR for long and yet already, one app (in the form of Pokémon Go) has completely changed the consumer attitude towards it and its possibilities. Currently, when you shop online, 50% of purchases are returned, which is obviously a huge problem for retailers, and very expensive. But if you can make sure a customer knows how a product is going to fit before they order it, then you can solve the problem.

So is Brexit going to vastly affect the UK’s fashion industry in our foreseeable future? Not really, according to our panel. We will continue to disrupt the fashion and tech worlds just as we have been in the lead up to the Leave vote, and whilst we may have a little bit of damage control to do for “Brand Britain”, it’s looking like it might be some time before we start to see the repercussions of our exit from the EU. It may have given the other English speaking centres of the fashion world, such as New York and LA, a little window of opportunity to capitalise on our time of uncertainty, but we will hopefully manage to maintain our booming fashion industry which is of such great importance to the British economy.


Thank you to our sponsor, Lightspeedfor their involvement in last night’s event.  

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Misha Nonoo Announces Snapchat Fashion Show

Having pioneered the #InstaShow this year, in which you simply had to go to @mishanonoo_show on the popular social media platform and turn your phone vertical to experience her SS16 line, Misha Nonoo has now announced her next show will be the first ever Snapchat fashion show.

The fashion calendar has been well and truly shaken up over recent seasons, with the ramifications of many designers going direct-to-consumer affecting the age-old established fashion week set up. With this has come a plethora of original and dynamic ways of presenting one’s new line, and now innovative designer Misha Nonoo has announced that she will be presenting her current-season, fall 2016 collection on Refinery29’s Snapchat channel.

“When I discovered Snapchat, I could see that it brought verve back into social media,” Nonoo told Refinery29. “I hope to bring the same experimental and innovative spirit into how I present my collection; to be the first fashion brand to experiment with Snapchat’s native functions to present a collection is very exciting.”

To read more about Nonoo’s “live lookbook”, click here.

2. River Island Teams Up With Snapchat To Launch In-Store ‘Snap & Share’ Campaign

As Snapchat continues on its rise to world domination amongst millennials, brands are continuing to find new ways to harness its wide spread power in new campaigns. This week, River Island announced a partnership with the social media platform which allows users to access a variety of branded River Island filters whilst in the fashion stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The ‘Snap & Share’ campaign launched this week in over 280 shops and will run for three months to work alongside the brand’s new polaroid-inspired advertising campaign. The campaign also includes a competition element whereby users who share their bespoke filter snapshots will be in with a chance of winning a £1,000 shopping spree and digital camera.

“When devising a plan for the launch of our new Autumn/Winter campaign, we wanted to explore new innovation and technology, seeking a fresh way for us to connect and engage with River Island customers,” said River Island’s marketing director, Josie Roscop. “We decided to use Snapchat for its mass reach, popularity and ability to cut through to consumers with strong, creative content.”

3. Google’s Fashion Week Makeover

Tech has been sneaking its way into fashion weeks for some time now, from Tommy Hilfiger’s Instapit to J W Anderson’s Grindr collaboration, and now even Google is making itself seen over the most important weeks in the fashion world’s calendar. Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, is giving the number one search engine a new look from Thursday until the end of the fashion weeks, by experimenting with search carousels created and curated by catwalk brands.

Sitting atop Google’s usual list of algorithm-generated links, this new layout will enable the brands themselves to manage what consumers see first when they search for the likes of “Prada” or “Burberry”, thus giving the fashion houses a huge amount of control over people’s responses to their content. For example, if you enter “Marc Jacobs” into Google over the coming fashion weeks then you will find messages from the designer about his collection and BTS videos of the show, and “for brands on a see-now-buy-now schedule, Google will allow people to shop for the latest looks directly from the search page” (New York Times). It is little surprise then that this new brand-curated search style has already signed on more than 50 brands, including Tom Ford, Christopher Kane, Prada, Burberry, Hermès and Marc Jacobs.

To read more about Google’s new look for Fashion Weeks, click here.

4. The Power of the Product ‘Drop’

Every Thursday morning there’s a line around the block outside Supreme stores as a mass of people await the much-anticipated weekly product ‘drop’. “The drop generates so much interest that entire forums are dedicated to celebrating purchases and guessing which particular pieces will sell out first. What’s more, on the first “drop day” of a new season, traffic to the brand’s website can spike by as much as 16,800 per cent, according to Samuel Spitzer, who leads Supreme’s e-commerce operation” (Business of Fashion).

So then, why is high fashion not following in the footsteps of this innovative streetwear market? Comme des Garçons USA general manager James Gilchrist, explains how the approaches of the likes of Supreme and Palace “makes a lot of sense compared to the way high fashion brands are currently delivering.” It isn’t just as simple as deciding to do a weekly ‘drop’ for high fashion brands, however, as the internal structure is so different. Chris Gibbs, owner of multi-brand retailer Union Los Angeles, describes how the drop model works more successfully for vertically integrated businesses, as “piecemeal delivery of a collection can be challenging for both multi-brand retailers - which pride themselves on maintaining a carefully calibrated merchandise mix - and brands that depend on wholesale distribution for a significant chunk of their income” (Business of Fashion).

To read more about the product drop process and which brands benefit from it and which don’t, click here.

5. Winter Summit Agenda - First Look!

This week we revealed the first draft of our Winter Summit agenda, downloadable on our website, for a sneak peak into what we have in store for you on Friday 11th November at The Yard in Shoreditch.

To see the list of presentation and panel topics, including “How To Use Offline Behaviour for Online Advantage”, “Growth Hacking your Content Marketing Strategy to Blow Up your Fashion Brand”, and “The Future of Digital Publishing”, click HERE.

There will be more speakers announced over the coming weeks so be sure to keep an eye out and download the updated version at the end of each week. In the meantime, get your spot booked early and buy your ticket HERE

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Kate Spade to Launch Wearable Tech Collection

NYC based accessories brand Kate Spade is set to venture into the fashion tech world for a second time this year with a wearable tech collection launching in just three months’ time. The news of the collection has taken the Twitter world by storm, with fash tech fans very excited to see what it may hold.

Featuring a smartwatch, a bangle tracker and a silicone tracker, the collection will range from $125-250 at retail, and will initially be sold on just the company’s own website and speciality stores, before rolling out via wholesale channels. The products’ features include tracking one’s activities and sleep patterns, controlling music volume, selfie-taking, time-zone updates and notification technology, and a countdown function.

Having already teamed up with Everpurse to create handbags and accessories that charge iPhones last year, it is clear that Kate Spade’s interest in fashion tech is ongoing and we are very excited to see the reaction to this new collection at the end of the year.

2. Consumer and Retail Innovation: Where Do Investors Look For Innovation?

In a two-part piece for Forbes on what drives consumer and retail innovation, Ryan Caldbeck has this week been unearthing where investors may go looking when on the hunt for innovation.

Caldbeck lists the biggest and the best industry tradeshows (the likes of SuperZoo, HBA, Outdoor Retailer, Cosmoprof, Natural Products Expo West, Natural Products Expo East, Fancy Food Show, and Global Pet Expo), as the home of young, innovative consumers brands looking for investment; a place where not only retailers, but also more recently, private equity investors, are on the lookout for interesting new products. Due to the recent (and ongoing) explosive growth in the consumer and retail sectors, the market is attracting an increasing number of smart investors. However, early-stage consumer investing is notoriously rare because of a lack of financial infrastructure supporting these new talented start ups, and thus investors are left with antiquated, laborious methods for sourcing.

Private equity investors’ role is to raise a fund, deploy the capital and generate returns, but with small, new consumer brands, this is not always possible. Small deals like this take time, which investors don’t really have to give when the result is unlikely to make a dent in capital deployment, and thus it’s nearly impossible to get anything moving. “The clock is ticking,” Caldbeck concludes.

3. The Fashion Publishers Nailing Instagram Stories

Since the launch of Instagram’s new Snapchat-like feature, brands and publishers have been grappling with how best to utilise their Stories for maximum impact. Many brands began using the feature immediately, in exactly the same they would Snapchat Stories, to broadcast live raw BTS footage of ‘a day in the life of’ their working world, but some of the major fashion publishers have been somewhat more methodical in their approach.

Cosmopolitan’s social media editor, Elisa Benson, described how they are trying to be original and innovative with their use of the platform: “Any time a new product like this launches from a major [platform] I’m always pushing my team to do something bigger and more exciting than just a standard office tour.” An example of this is the magazine’s “Cosmo Around The World” Instagram Story this week, featuring 24 hours of updates from editors around the globe.

Vogue acted as a launch partner to Instagram Stories when it first debuted, sharing a series of stories from ambassadors of the magazine around the world, such as Suki Waterhouse and Cindy Crawford. Sally Singer, digital creative director at vogue.com, said of the platform: “Instagram stories allows us to connect with our followers with greater depth, humour and immediacy than ever before. We’ve found that it’s a great way to engage our fanbase, who is hungry for live, on-the-ground content.”

GQ meanwhile is using the new medium to share teaser posts that tie directly to upcoming online and print content, so that is designed like a “package straight out of a magazine”. John Lockett, the publication’s engagement editor, explained: “Our Snapchat strategy is to capture really ephemeral moments. On Instagram, we’re curating a feed that presents the GQ universe in a bold, visually striking way with incredible imagery. We definitely want to translate that experience to Stories without jeopardising quality.”

Marie Claire, in another considered approach, is utilising Instagram Stories to share exclusive NYFW looks from major celebs and industry icons. “The idea is to give the reader a guided seven day tour of the full Fashion Week experience,” Jessica Pels, site director of Marie Claire, told Glossy.

4. Why Fashion Needs STEM

A number of aspiring fashion students often jump at the chance to drop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM skills) as soon as possible in order to take up more creative practices such as textiles and art, but these former challenging industries are fundamental to many areas of the fashion world.

Due to rapid developments in technology, we know that the fashion industry is experiencing a number of disruptive changes, from e-commerce sites to ‘buy it now’ app buttons and even 3D printing. Sports companies are working with the latest technologies to create cutting edge almost ‘superhuman’ garments. Athleisure clothes can now boast an “anti-bacterial” feature.

“Fashion is a unique blend of business, science, art and technology. It requires a polymath, a person who can understand all of these skills. The most compelling reasons to learn STEM skills is because technology and rapidly changing business models have made surviving in the business more competitive than ever,” writes Mark Liu for theconversation.com. If you want to get ahead and make a name for yourself in this extremely demanding, ever-so-quickly developing, technologically-enhanced fashion world, then STEM skills are your ticket to the top.

To read more about Liu’s thoughts on this subject, click here.

5. Summit Videos Now Online! 

Full video content from our London April Summit is now online!

Simply go to our YouTube channel HERE and watch hours of exclusive panel discussions and presentations from some of the industry’s most exciting thought leaders.

If you want to experience this sort of content yourself first hand, then you can get your tickets for our Winter Summit now HERE.

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. How A Social Networking App Became A Clothing Line

Grindr, the all-male dating app, has been a firm favourite in the fashion world for some time now, having hosted the exclusive live-stream of J.W. Anderson’s fall 2016 show this January, given away prizes from a host of different brands, co-hosting a Pride part with Visionaire, and being used by Paper Magazine (a FashTech favourite) to cast their very raunchy ‘Sexy’ issue in June. But now, the app has gone one step further, launching its very own menswear line called The Varsity Collection this week.

The collection consists of 29 pieces, ranging from $25 - $130, and boasting a strong athleisure theme, including swimming trunks, tracksuit bottoms and mesh tops, and intricate prints created in collaboration with design studio Print All Over Me. All proceeds from the collection will go towards Athlete Ally’s Principle 6 campaign, a charity benefitting LGBTQ athletes. “As we keep evolving, we are looking for ways to combine things people enjoy with ways to help the community globally,” said Landis Smithers, creative director of Grindr. “The collection feels sexy, cheeky, fun, but in the end, all profits are going to an amazing group that helps athletes with the issues the gay community faces all around the world.”

Sold on grindrstore.com, this is just another way in which we are seeing the digital world branch over into the retail world. With Grindr leading the way for app-initiated clothing lines, it may not be long before others start following suit. E-commerce sites are frequently being seen as a quick and easy way to enter into the retail world, and with the tech-savvy team of a successful app behind you, it may well be a recipe for ongoing success.


2. Hybrid Future: The MET’s Andrew Bolton Talks Hands and Machines

This week REDEF’s Adam Wray met with the Met’s Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton to reflect on his latest exhibition, Manus x Machina, and discuss the future of fashion, creativity and manufacturing.

Bolton explains his apprehension of the exhibition not matching up to people’s expectations as the common association with technology in fashion is wearable tech and he feared many would go anticipating such displays. Fortunately, the public embraced the exhibition and appreciated it’s thesis, appreciating the materiality and the difference between what was made by hand from what was made by machine. As the fashion tech industry continues to evolve and starts to spread across a number of other different industries, the Met’s exhibition has acted as a brilliant introduction and insight into this world for those who are unfamiliar with it, or perhaps familiar but unaware.

To discover more of Bolton’s exclusive insights into the exhibition, and to read which emerging technologies he thinks could reshape the fashion industry, click here.


3. Instagram’s New Business Tools

Instagram has launched three new tools to help its 200,000 advertisers make an impact on the Facebook-owned app. The toolkit, consisting of business profiles, analytics and the ability to promote posts, will help small businesses grow their network and find new customers. With over 300 million active users, it’s not surprising that the app is becoming a hub for businesses to promote their products and reach new customers.

The new “Business Profile” feature will enable businesses to turn their Instagram profile into a mini website of sorts, by allowing them to clearly show they are a business and giving them a ‘contact’ button so that potential customers can get in touch, either by phone, text or email; a much easier means of communication than sifting through and replying to comments under each post.  Meanwhile, the “Insights” tool is designed to allow businesses to analyse which of their posts are connecting the most with their followers in a simple format that doesn’t overwhelm. Instagram explained: “By learning more about the behaviour and demographics of your audience, you can create more relevant and timely content.” Lastly, “Promote” gives businesses the chance to promote well-performing posts as adverts in order to reach a larger demographic of would-be customers. Similarly to Facebook sponsored posts, companies can either choose a target audience or let Instagram do it for them before deciding how long they wish the promoted advert to run.

The tools will roll out in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months and will be available worldwide by the end of the year. Having more than doubled in size over the last two years, with a current 300 million people using the service every day, it seems the perfect platform for small businesses to make their mark. 


4. How Should Luxury Brands Navigate Creative Shift on Social Media? 

This article originally appeared on Luxury Daily.

As fashion houses make the transition from one creative director to another, the opportunity at a fresh start presents itself in both design and social media presence.

Brands including Brioni, Saint Laurent and DKNY have literally wiped the slate clean as they welcomed a new artistic vision into their brand, deleting all trace of their former creative directors or brand managers on Instagram or Twitter. While this enables brands to focus on creating a cohesive presence under a new vision, this tactic destroys elements of a brand's history.

"New creative directors are hired to bring a new creative vision to a brand, and in that sense, their job is to wipe the slate clean," said Ana Andjelic, senior vice president and global strategy director at Havas LuxHub. "They are brought in to make a brand more culturally relevant, more appealing to consumers and/or more financially successful.

"But brands’ communication teams seem to have taken this too literally," she said. "They also show a thorough failure to understand what social media are about.

"Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and even Facebook are all momentary, instantaneous. They don’t exist beyond a moment. They are reflection of the now. No one cares about a Tweet from a month ago or an Instagram post from last year. Snapchat doesn’t even allow us to care.

"There is no point in deleting legacy posts. For one, no one cares, and second, it’s bad professional practice. The message you are sending is that you want to undo everything that a previous creative director has done. That shows a lack of respect."

Leaving no trace
Brioni cleared out its Instagram the day it announced Justin O’Shea’s appointment as creative director, leaving a solitary picture of the new hire.

Considered at the time to be an unconventional choice, as he had come from the world of retail, Mr. O’Shea has taken Brioni in a decidedly rock ‘n’ roll direction, casting Metallica in his first campaign and remaking the Brioni logo in a gothic font.

Saint Laurent similarly let go of its Instagram footprint as Hedi Slimane left after four years at the helm. Mr. Slimane is credited with rebranding the house. He first revised its name from Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris, secondly embraced a rocker aesthetic which often saw music icons in campaigns and reestablished the brand’s couture collection.

After Mr. Slimane exited the brand in April, Saint Laurent was quiet on its social channels, sharing nothing but a headshot of new appointment Anthony Vaccarello on April 6. In June, Saint Laurent began teasing the first campaign envisioned by Mr. Vaccarello, and as of press time, the campaign remains the only content on Saint Lauren’s Instagram.

"I don’t think that we should necessarily link the continuity of social media accounts with a brand heritage," Ms. Andjelic said. "Sure, social media accounts are a modern 'archive' of looks and brand imagery, but if they are done well, they are also more of a reflection of consumers’ desires, street looks and an embodiment of fashion as material culture.

"They are more outward than inward facing - they are an active cultural dialogue," she said. "In that sense, wiping a brand’s social media account away means deleting part of this brand’s dialogue with culture and with consumers. Why would they want to do that?"

The same strategy has been used when the face behind a brand’s Twitter account departs.

U.S. fashion brand Donna Karan International completely overhauled its Twitter and Instagram accounts surrounding the departure of longtime employee Aliza Licht, who spoke for the brand on social media as DKNY PR Girl.

The brand deleted all of the past posts from the two platforms, which represented both Donna Karan Collection and the diffusion line DKNY, as part of a renewed social strategy. With DKI’s social media presence inherently tied to the PR representative’s personality, this transition will be a time of rebuilding for the brand’s online persona.

Taking away traces of a brand’s past under another creative director can offer a chance at a fresh start. However, at the same time, it destroys any brand image and voice the label had developed on the platform.

"It's a shame that these brands have chosen such a permanent removal strategy as they've chosen to erase some of the history of the brand and how it's evolved," said Dalia Strum, professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and founder of Dalia Inc. andMommysToolbox.com, New York.

"There's something to be said about the brand's story, their relevancy and how do they emotionally connect to their customer," she said. "Essentially, those personalities were the aspirational clientele of the brand and they could be utilized moving forward.

"As these brands have spent years curating their brand personalities, it would be simple to replace their voice with a similar one whom has an aligned vision."

Changing hands
In the midst of fashion industry musical chairs, this drastic approach at repositioning or regrouping that is often taken by celebrities is still the exception rather than the rule.

After months of swelling speculation, PVH Corp. has officially announced that Raf Simons will be the chief creative officer of the Calvin Klein brand.

Mr. Simons, who exited his lead design role at Dior last fall, will now be in charge of all Calvin Klein labels, from its runway Calvin Klein Collection to its Calvin Klein Underwear, overseeing design as well as marketing and communications. With this appointment, Calvin Klein is uniting all of its entities under a singular vision, enabling the brand to ensure cohesion.

Despite this strategic move by Calvin Klein, the brand has retained its social media history.

Creative director tenures are becoming shorter, as designers at brands including Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta and Sergio Rossi lasted for about two to three years.

"[Labels] shouldn’t obsess about it," Ms. Andjelic said. "If their brand has a strong attitude and a clear point of view, then any creative director is going to offer their interpretation of that attitude and POV. But the underlining thread is going to be the same.

"People interact with brands when they are intrigued by this attitude, when they can identify with it, when they can make it their own," she said. "That’s what fashion brands should strive to achieve on social media - to put forward imagery that invites conversation, not to use it as a shrine to some personality.”


5. Luxury’s Need For The Middleman

A number of newer luxury start ups are bypassing retailers to go direct-to-consumer, painting them as an unnecessary meddling intermediary, but for growing luxury brands these intermediaries can be critical.

Whilst some e-commerce pioneers, like Warby Parker, take pride in their omission of third-party retail distributors, these so-called ‘baddies’ are often there for a very valid reason, offering clear business benefits by taking on the task of merchandising and selling product and thus enabling brands to focus on design. Whilst this could be enough to convince one of their importance, they hold even greater significance to the luxury fashion market, playing a fundamental role in the earliest stages of luxury brand building.

Luxury goods companies, which are usually prided on the beauty of their products rather than the practicality, require a powerful brand identity and a strong customer desire in contemporary consumer culture in order to sell at such high price points. This is where the middlemen of the fashion system are so necessary. “From niche boutiques to the biggest department stores, these institutions already possesses a core customer base that sees some type of intrinsic value in the retailer — whether it is a sense of prestige, a tribal sense of belonging or an artistic cognisance of something innovative or avant-garde. Through being stocked at a particular retailer, the perceptible values of said retailer, in turn, become available to newly established labels, a brand-building phenomenon impossible to replicate with the direct-to-consumer model. After all, who can deny the fact that consumer perception of a brand is shaped by where the customer buys the product?” (Business of Fashion). 

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Retailers' Rallying Cry To Recycle

H&M may be one of the key culprits in the fast fashion epidemic seen across the Western world, but in one of its latest celebrity-filled promo videos, the brand proclaims: “There are no rules in fashion but one: Recycle your clothes.” H&M is one of the most vocal retailers in the quest to turn old clothes new again, and with Nike, the Swedish brand is a global partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “whose mission is to drive a transition to a circular economy” (The Guardian), whereby goods are made into something new at the end of their lifetime, instead of being thrown away. Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M, said: “We have to change how fashion is made. We have to go from a linear model to a circular model, and we have to do it at scale.”

Other established global brands working towards the cause are American Eagle, Levi-Strauss & Co, Nike, Patagonia and Zara; all of whom collect old garments in their stores to recycle. “Our ultimate goal is to harvest our raw materials from our consumers’ closets,” says Michael Kobori, VP of sustainability at Levi-Strauss. Meanwhile, newer startups on the rise are developing chemical processes to take cotton, polyester, or blended apparel and transform them into new fibres.

The quest for a circular economy is not an easy one, however. Despite efforts to collect old clothes by retailers and charities, the large majority of contributions will still end up in landfills. The US dispose of roughly 12.8 million tons of textiles annually; a figure that is going to take some serious time and effort to cut down. If retailers want to decrease their negative environmental impact, it is going to take some radical action.

Hannah Jones, Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer, believes that if Nike is going to reach its goal of cutting its environmental footprint by half, whilst doubling its business, the company “will need to forget the linear and move to a circular model. Incrementalism and efficiency measures will not get us there.” Anna Gedda, H&M’s head of sustainability, says the company wants to “decouple growth from resource use, so that economic and social development can happen, but within planetary boundaries.”

However, this is not an easy task. Firstly, because very few consumers actually return their old clothes, despite discount incentives. And secondly, because there is such a long way to go. Some insiders say that “the hype about closing the loop in fashion is outpacing actual progress.” Not only that, but the difference between recycling and actually closing the loop is a big one. A closed loop or circular economy is “restorative and regenerative by design,” says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “For the apparel industry, this means designing a system that will keep textile resources in use for a long as possible, and then recover the materials at the end of life to make new high-value products. No company today is doing this on a commercial scale, but several are trying” (The Guardian). Hopefully this means the beginning of the end of the throwaway clothing culture.


2. The Midyear Luxury Consignment Reports Are In

This article is from Glossy.

Midyear luxury resale reports from companies like The RealReal and ThredUp shine a bright light on the trends and challenges in retail. Chief among them are a focus on menswear and the revival of legacy brands previously on the decline.

“What we find is what’s happening in our business in the secondary market is a direct reflection of what’s happening in the primary market,” said Rati Levesque, chief merchant at The RealReal. The report found a rising interest in menswear consignment, which dovetails with the larger market.

Reports also show a resurgence of legacy brands like Chloé and Gucci, both of which recently experienced leadership changes and increased digital offerings that have bolstered sales.

In the menswear market, suit sales rose by 60 percent and men’s consignment has more than doubled, growing at a rate of 108 percent year over year, according to the The RealReal report. Levesque said one of the most surprising findings was that the men’s Birkin bag sold 100 percent of its inventory, demonstrating a mounting interest among men in consignment luxury apparel and bags.

“Men are becoming more engaged in consignment. They’re thinking more about what they’re purchasing and what has value in the secondary market,” she said.

This could be in part due to the lower stakes involved with investing in resale. As Jian Deleon, menswear editor at WGSN, told Glossy, “given the market, the general men’s consumer is not someone who take risks.”

According to ThredUp, the total resale market is poised to reach $25 billion at a total growth rate of 82 percent for online apparel resale by 2025. The company anticipates this is expected to outpace both e-commerce and retail in the next 10 years, and will be aided by the consolidation of the resale market from 14 major companies to six, in part due to changing sentiment toward resale.

“The secondhand industry is gaining incredible momentum,” Paula Sutter, former president of Diane Von Furstenberg and ThredUp board member wrote in the report. “With heightened interest from consumers, investors and retailers, online resale is becoming a way of life.”

Levesque said ongoing changes in creative leadership at major fashion houses often have a major impact in consumer sentiment in both the resale and wholesale marketplace. Since Phoebe Philo took control of Céline in 2008, The RealReal has seen a continued increase in Céline sales, which was traditionally “a hard brand to move.” Philo’s ascension included launching a series of iconic handbags that helped bring sales up to more than $500 million as of February. In the LVMH Group earnings report shared on July 2016, Céline and Kenzo are noted as brands that specifically demonstrated “strong growth” in the first half of 2016.

The company is now seeing similar trends with Gucci. Levesque said The RealReal was systematically lowering prices in response to lowered demand, until Alessandro Michele took the helm of the brand last year. Over the course of 2015, Gucci overtook Prada to be the fourth biggest seller, the report’s data shows. Prada is now at number six. This echoes Gucci’s overall growth, which earned a total of $1 billion in Q1 of 2016, up by 3.1 percent from Q1 2015.

“Now you see everything Gucci,” she said. “Older, newer, it’s all moving very quickly at a higher average selling point.”

Brands like Chloé, which is in the midst of a major digital transformation with its first foray into e-commerce, also performed well. The report showed that sales of the Chloé Drew handbag increased by 18 percent and the Chloé Marcie bag by 15 percent, and the online store will only enhance the resale market, Levesque predicted.


3. Indie Fast Fashion: A Force To Be Reckoned With

Fast fashion has taken the Western world by storm in the form of retail giants like Zara and H&M, but recently, a new wave of retailers are coming up the ranks. Indie, low-priced, trend-driven fashion start ups armed with e-commerce skills are carving out a niche in the market.

Brands like Finery London, W Concept and Style Mafia, have honed their e-commerce and branding to perfection, appealing to niche demographic groups, in particular catering to the rise of trend-hungry Millennial consumers. Finery’s founder, Nickyl Raithatha, came up with the idea to build a “premium high street” brand online after watching the rise of similar companies in the US. “That approach wasn’t really being done in Europe. I felt that there was about to be a whole new generation of brands that would be built online, and would offer the consumer a new experience and a new retail channel,” he said. “What we saw since the financial crisis is that a lot of product on the high street became deflationary, and prices were always coming down. As a result, the product was becoming slightly more risk-averse, more homogenous and less brave and exciting.” Therefore, he sought to create garments with edgy, trend-driven elements at a price point slightly above the high street standard. They also operate more like a designer brand by currently releasing just six collections a year, but are able to adjust their merchandising strategy quickly to address consumers’ immediate needs, giving them an edge over traditional retailers in the UK. “Because we’re direct-to-consumer on our website, we have that flexibility to push product that’s more relevant to the consumer, says Raithatha. “We might drop a new collection on the site but not highlight it. For instance, if we drop a summer pack and it’s raining and could out, we probably won’t push it to our customers.”

“Fast fashion has yet to be an online phenomenon,” says John Thorbeck, chairman of analytics firm Chainge Capital LLC. “Zara and other big names were relatively late to online. So it’s really been a store-driven experience and the online existed to drive traffic to stores. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a young brand.”

Style Mafia, another Indie startup making a name for itself, is keeping its prices low and its retail strategy nimble. “We’re not Zara, or this huge multi-million dollar retailer, so we don’t make crazy amounts of one style, says founder Simonett Pereira. “We make a lot of different styles, but not a lot of each.” This allows her to keep inventory low and move quickly with the current trends. She monitors what’s hot on social media, jots out a design based on her findings and sends it to her manufacturer in China where it can be made in just 15 days. “The time frame being so immediate allows us to respond to what the customer wants right now, right away,” says sales manager, Sarah Humphries. “It’s instant gratification.” Or fast fashion nailed to a T.

“I really think we’re moving toward seasonless merchandising that brings freshness and newness almost on a weekly basis versus focussing on the big seasonal trend,” says Thorbeck. “The advantage for these startups is they’re starting with this new culture, and don’t have to go through the agonising change that older retailers will have to do to address it.” For now, though, these start ups are a long way from threatening the established fast fashion giants. “We haven’t seen anything explode on the level that they could even be competing with Zara or H&M,” says Euromonitor’s Kissane. “If there’s potential for that to happen, they’ll have to offer something more than just clothes at a low price. It can’t just be another fast fashion brand.”


4. Are Fashion Designers Undermining Their Own Products By Supporting Apple?

This article is from The Washington Post.

In the ongoing legal wranglings between tech giants Apple and Samsung, a group of fashion industry luminaries recently weighed in on behalf of Apple. They include designers Calvin Klein, Lanvin’s former creative director Alber Elbaz, Alexander Wang, Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière and Sacai’s Chitose Abe. They’ve all taken Apple’s side in a lawsuit that dates back to 2012 in which the creator of the iPhone accused Samsung of copying some of the smartphone’s technical features as well as its design. Fashion folks might know very little about software and coding, but they understand the importance of aesthetics. And so in a friend-of-the-court brief, they extol the power and importance of design. As attorney Mark Davies, the brief’s counsel of record, noted in an interview: “It’s the design that sells the product.”

Four years ago, a jury awarded Apple just over $1 billion in damages after finding that Samsung infringed on, among other things, the iPhone’s design patents — namely those protecting the phone’s rounded-off rectangular shape, its screen and its grid display. Essentially, the jury found that the average observer could be misled into purchasing one of Samsung’s phones believing it to be an iPhone. As a matter of law, the offender has to turn over the profits made from selling the copy.

Over time, the award has been reduced to $548 million. But Samsung believes that it should be reduced even further, saying the company shouldn’t have to turn over all the profits, just a certain portion of them. Samsung says a cellphone is made up of discrete elements that comprise both form and function, each of which is dutifully considered by a consumer. Design is just part of what sells the product. Apple says design is wholly and inexorably linked to function. The debate is headed to the Supreme Court this fall in search of a resolution.

A host of companies such as Google, Facebook and eBay have lined up in support of Samsung. They argue that in the case of a product as complicated as a cellphone, Samsung shouldn’t have to relinquish all its profits because of an overlap of a few design elements. Aesthetics matter, but not that much.

The counter-argument, which the fashion community has embraced, is that design is everything. And it should be aggressively protected.

The fashion industry has grappled mightily with the problems of knockoffs and outright counterfeiting. Although the law recognises some unique and iconic designs, the Council of Fashion Designers of America has tried unsuccessfully to lobby Capitol Hill for legislation that would extend greater copyright protections to clothing designs. Critics believe extending copyright laws could hurt competition and stifle commerce by making it more challenging for mass merchants to create cheaper iterations of designer looks. This trickle-down process has helped democratise fashion and fuels no small number of Instagram feeds. Meanwhile, designers have recounted how distinctive handbags, for instance, have been reproduced lickety-split at bargain basement prices, cutting into their profits and, possibly, diluting the prestige of their brand. The travails have Seventh Avenue testing a see-now, buy-now schedule that would have original products available for purchase before the copies can arrive in stores.

Over the years, in an attempt to protect their work, fashion folks have essentially been arguing aesthetics: That dress looks like my dress. The Apple brief goes further.

It argues that “Appearance becomes identified with the underlying functional features and with a particular level of product quality … ”

It’s a line of thinking that raises an uncomfortable question: Does a consumer presume that a $200 copy of a dress is the same quality as the $2,000 original? If so, one could say that while fashion may win the battle on copying, it most certainly will have lost something far more valuable, which is the integrity of its wares. Designers, after all, have always noted that part of the high cost of their work is due to the luxurious hand of the fabric, the clarity and stability of the colors, the skill of artisans whose knowledge has been passed down through generations and the magical voodoo in the fit. It might be enraging to have a fast fashion merchant whip up a look-a-like copy of a runway garment, but at least the runway version could be proudly billed as offering more than just a bedazzled bodice. The friend-of-the-court brief casts a shadow of doubt over that assertion.

Charles Mauro, founder of Mauro New Media, which helps companies make their technology both user-friendly and useful, rallied Apple’s champions. But many of them already had relationships with the Silicon Valley behemoth. In the past few years, Apple has been strengthening its bonds with the fashion industry by inviting designers to collaborate on assorted projects. Abe created wristbands for the Apple Watch and Wang edited personal playlists for Apple music. Apple has also been drawing top executives from the fashion world. In 2013, Paul Deneve, the president of Saint Laurent, and before that Lanvin, was hired as a vice president at Apple. In 2014, Angela Arendts left her post as CEO of Burberry to head up Apple retail. And this spring, Apple sponsored the fashion industry’s biggest celebration of design, the Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This year’s exhibition is Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology.

Fashion has begun to express its love for technology — beyond simply using high-performance fabrics. At Ralph Lauren, for instance, the company has embedded an athletic shirt with biometric sensors that can give an athlete real-time updates on his workout and make suggestions on how to work harder or smarter.

But fashion is not technology. In tech, elegant design may imply a certain level of function and quality. But in fashion, aesthetics tell consumers almost nothing about function and only hint at quality. Beautiful shoes do not have to be comfortable in order to sell. Consumers have purchased dresses that can be neither washed nor dry-cleaned or that weren’t made for sitting. They buy pencil skirts that are hobbling, sheared fur coats that don’t keep them very warm and mohair sweaters that make them itch. They buy for beauty. They buy for function. And every now and then, the gods smile and a gorgeous product is astonishingly practical.

Apple believes it has blended form, function and quality in a single elegant device. It sees design as essential to its identity as its proprietary algorithms. Fashion has signed onto this notion of the unbreakable relationship between form and function. But it’s still struggling to turn that philosophy into practice.


5. FashTech Winter Summit Announcement!

We are delighted to announce that tickets for our Winter Summit are now ON SALE!

After the brilliant success of our inaugural April Summit, we are very excited to be hosting our second London event, on Friday 11th November, at The Yard in Shoreditch.

Following a similar structure to our first, this Summit will look a little something like this…

- 40 speakers challenging the norm
- 300 industry leaders in fashion, retail, beauty and technology
- Dynamic Agenda authentic to fashion
- Thought provoking discussion over the course of one killer agenda in East London.
- Extensive Networking over beautiful breakfast and delicious organic lunch with drinks reception at the end of the day.

However, being held on a Friday this time, we feel compelled to extend our event hours and invite our attendees to join us for an evening of entertainment (music, networking, drinks and nibbles) to kick off the weekend.

Don’t miss out on this brilliant one-off day of fashion tech insight and extravaganza. Buy your tickets HERE.

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Post-Brexit Britain: The World’s Cheapest Luxury Market

With the value of the pound down about 10% against the euro in the wake of our vote to Leave the EU, Britain has now become the cheapest luxury goods market in the world; something for us to revel in, at least in the short term. “A weak British pound will boost travel to the UK, helping British luxury goods players like Burberry, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo,” reports Luca Solca, the head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas.

Luxury goods sold in Europe are already amongst the cheapest in the world, costing less than i the US and far less than in Asia. So with a weakened pound, Britain’s market has suddenly become the most preferable place to buy luxury goods in the world. Some predict an impending tourist spending boom in the UK as a result of not only the weakened pound, but also the recent terror attacks in France, which have significantly decreased foreign footfall to the normally very popular tourist destination.

Tourists tend to love a bargain, and even more so when the price-slashed product is from a far and distant land to give it that extra bit of ‘ooh la la’. So with the weakened pound creating a more pronounced pricing difference between us and the rest of the luxury goods markets (that leans in our favour), it is not surprising that our British luxury brands like Burberry, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo are being set up to expect a boost in sales. With a high store count across the country, including its largest flagships, Burberry “should experience a significant tailwind, especially as it reports its profits in pounds” (Business of Fashion).

However, whilst this may all sound like a surprisingly positive turn of events following our shock Leave vote, “smaller brands like Kering’s Stella McCartney and Prada’s Church’s, which also have a high exposure to the UK, are unlikely to see any material boost to the profits or their respective owners, who would be negatively impacted by currency exchange losses” (Business of Fashion). So not all good, but we must appreciate the pros whilst we can, and give Burberry it’s time to shine.

2. Instagram Stories: Marketers’ New Favourite

Big news this week. Instagram has completely ripped off Snapchat and started it’s own ‘Stories’ feature that allows you to upload real time photos and videos to your followers that delete themselves after 24 hours. So literally, exactly the same. All that Instagram Stories is missing is the beloved (dog) filter options.

Despite the copycat nature of the feature, however, brands seem to have already decided on it as the favourite over Snapchat. Reason being? Instagram is apparently more welcoming, and bigger. Nike jumped on the Insta Stories on the first day of its launch, and generated 800,000 views in 24 hours with its story. On Snapchat, Nike’s most viewed video got just 66,000 views, reports social media agency Laundry Service. Nick Sheingold, associate director of strategy, said “Instagram is really brand friendly, so that’s a huge opportunity. Those numbers are staggering.” Whilst Snapchat is extremely popular, and a vast amount of brands have been using its Story feature successfully to market to its large (mostly millennial) user base, the platform doesn’t embrace brands in the way that Instagram does, allowing for prolonged engagement and greater conversion rates, by making it easy to follow them and like their posts. Instagram makes searching easier, and it lets brands buy ads that have “follow” buttons in their posts.

“Instagram is a follower platform where Snapchat is more of a best friend platform,” said Dan Grossman, vice president of platform partnerships at VaynerMedia. “Snapchat hasn’t encouraged brands to build up huge followings.” The Story style is clearly one that brands are a fan of and that translates well to consumers, but the Snapchat app was perhaps not the best platform for this medium; not allowing the brands to get the full potential out of their stories. When integrated into Instagram, it suddenly becomes that much more connected.

A huge number of brands have already taken to Instagram to post stories this week, e.g. Mountain Dew, Coach “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, and the Miami Dolphins, and it is likely this list will continue to grow at a rapid pace as promotion of the feature spreads. Sheingold said: “It’s just another way to communicate with fans on their terms. We know users love Snapchat, and since the Instagram experience is so similar it makes it a little easier for brands. They don’t have to develop a totally unique strategy.” One thing that Instagram does do differently to Snapchat, is allow you to restrict your video to certain users, which is a huge pro for alcohol brands, wanting to promote new drinks to 21s and overs.

With double the number of users, Instagram now poses a substantial threat to Snapchat and its longevity. The Snapchat users are suitably obsessed with the platform, however, and its ad suite and products are still the best creatively in the industry, so it’s by no means over and out. I personally am not sure how I feel about yet another variation of a virtually identical social media feature that takes us more into the virtual worlds of ourselves and the distant celebrities and brands we so avidly follow… But unfortunately, as a sufferer of FOMO, I feel the wait until my first Instagram Story is going to be a short one. Then it’s just the question of whether I delete my Snapchat, or end up posting the same story twice across two different platforms and thus decreasing my time in the real world even more. I’m hoping I’ll be strong enough to make it the former.

3. Snapchat Develops “Snappable Ads” Feature

Snapchat isn’t bowing out any time soon, though, with a new feature of the app apparently currently in development…

Do you ever see an ad for something that takes your interest so you take a photo to remind yourself about it at a later date? I actually do, so Snapchat’s new “snappable ad” feature sounds pretty interesting to me. It will apparently allow Snapchatters to use the app’s camera to scan an image or barcode on a poster or website to receive a special deal on a product.

In July, Snapchat published a patent application that shows how users can scan Snapcodes, its custom QR code system, in the real world to unveil exclusive content within the app. This, plus the app’s introduction of an API and better analytics, demonstrate a increased focus from the company on its advertising strategy. The new QR code system could be the best development by the app so far, as having a user take an action like scanning a QR code would make an ad more valuable by increasing engagement.

The codes, which can be scanned with mobile phones, have been around for a while, but have been particularly popular. That is until Snapchat has started to see surprising success with the format. “In 2014, it acquired Scan.Me, a QR code company, for $50 million, and used its tech to release Snapcodes in January 2015. Each user has a unique Snapcode, and users can scan those codes to quickly add each other on the app. The feature has been so popular that messaging apps like Facebook Messenger have copied it” (quartz.com). This development could pay off greatly for Snapchat in the form of this “shoppable ad” feature, which is due to roll out in Autumn, allowing users easy access to exclusive content and freebies from companies working alongside the app.

4. Technology in Rio: Creating Super Olympians

This article is from FashNerd.

With the Rio Olympics looming, big brands like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour to name a few, are not being shy about putting their best tech foot forward. They are scaling technology to deliver greater performance and innovation. Recently, Nike hit the headlines with their Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit track spike that they had designed and created for sprinter Allyson Felix using rapid 3D prototyping. We love that they did not stop there, they also came up with a cooling hood prototype for decathlete Ashton Eaton and a Nike football Rebento duffle bag that was made with a 3D-printed base.

Then there is Adidas. They are all about using the latest technology advancements in body scanners to create custom form fitted suits that would help athletes be the best they can be. On this, director of future at Adidas, Deborah Yeomans admitted that besides their contribution to this year’s Olympic’s in Rio, their engineers are already at work on designs that will be available 10 years from now.

We also have to mention Swiss cycling specialist Assos. As the official supplier for the US cycling team, ASSOS clothing has been predicted to most likely give athletes a powerful advantage whilst competing in Rio. Such a perk does bring to mind the question of whether such tech advanced clothing could be the apparel equivalent of doping. Well, Adam Clement, senior creative director for team sports at Under Armour explained, “We make sure we stay inside those rules, but we will get to the very edge of them if we can. Our goal is to innovate in a way that ultimately makes the Olympic rules change. We’ll adjust, but we’ll feel proud of that accomplishment.”

When it comes to innovation’s role in sports, one needs to first realize that technology is not the fairy godmother of athletes waving its innovative magic wand and turning them into ‘the Avengers’. A great example is Under Armour’s high-tech suit for speed skating. There was a lot of high hope for what their design could do for the US team, but following their poor performance, some of the blame was laid at the feet of Under Armour, but the thing is technology is a work in progress and is anything but perfect. Instead, it gives brands like Under Armour the opportunity to learn from what went wrong and create an even stronger product. Now this year, Under Armour has designed uniforms for the Canadian rugby and the Swiss and Dutch beach volleyball teams. Using NASA spacesuit technology, their smart sports clothing will reduce body temperature with the help of crystal-pattern sheets that will absorb heat from the athlete’s body.

Then there is the running shoe. A collaboration between running specialist Brooks and Linden gave birth to Hyperion shoes. The light road-running shoes were engineered for maximum efficiency. Believing that they are light years ahead of the competition, Linden shared that when it comes to their products, “There’s no wasted energy. It’s going right back into you. It feels fast.” With their Hyperion shoes already available for consumers to purchase, there has been some added value given to the Olympian pairs. They brag extra laser perforations that will assist with ventilation during Rio’s heat.

Accelerating towards the future, fashion tech designers like Pauline van Dongen, who recently worked with Skyn, are taking on the challenge to study the behavior of materials, so they can push and manipulate the boundaries. The collaboration between Pauline van Dongen and Skyn gave life to the long jump suit. Designed with the objective to show expressive motion during the jump, they integrated a geometric structure in the polyisoprene and created an upward lift that would help the athlete to stay in the air a little longer. By combining functionality and performance, the concept brags the ability to be worn like a second skin. Still considered an experimental and speculative project, the concept piece will not be developed into a marketable viable product, as of yet.

5. Sustainable Fashion: The New Cotton Alternative

As we know, the fashion industry in its current state is a threat to our planet. It is the second-most-polluting industry in the world, just after oil, and one of the main culprits of this pollution is cotton. Whilst it may be a wardrobe staple, regarded as the most breathable and natural fabric, it actually takes acres of land to grow and significant inputs of water, thus draining our planet of two of its key energy sources. But recently the fashion world has been waking up to the dangers of the fashion’s carbon footprint, and has begun to make changes, discovering and developing “a whole new set of fabrics that go beyond the polyesters and synthetics of previous generations to find solutions that are both eco-friendly and fashion-forward” (vogue.com).

Amongst these sustainable fabrics, is a new alternative to cotton that is, believe it or not, made of wood. More specifically, eucalyptus trees. Tencel is a wood-based fibre which is being used by celebrity-favoured labels like DSTLD to create tight hip-hugging skinny jeans. The pulp from the sustainably harvested eucalyptus trees is converted to produce cellulose, which is then processed, and the result is a fibre that breathes more than cotton, is softer than cotton, and that wrinkles less than cotton. Tick, tick, tick. Lenzing, an Austrian supplier of environmentally conscious brands, uses a “closed loop” production cycle that is nontoxic and runs on renewable energy more than half the time. “Add to this that Tencel, which Lenzing refers to as a “botanic fiber,” is completely biodegradable, and you have something close to a completely green fashion product” (vogue.com). And yet the quality is still completely luxurious.

There are cons to this super fabric, however, as it is not as widely available as cotton, nor as cheap. Hopefully this won’t deter the masses though, as a slightly increased price tag is a small price to pay for the longevity of our planet. Brands such as Reformation are champions of the “Beyoncé of fabrics”, with founder and CEO, Yael Aflalo explaining: “Tencel has pretty much all the same characteristics of cotton, so it’s a very easy alternative to knit fabric. It’s pretty much a ‘no trade-off’ fabric for us.”

Aside from Tencel, other eco-friendly and fashion-forward fabrics are being brought to the forefront of fashion brands’ minds, such as moisture-wicking MicroModal, being used for men’s and women’s underwear. Another discovery has been bamboo towels, which is breathable and offers durability, and even has antibacterial properties, making it “the opposition of disposable fashion”, says London-based designer Alice Asquith, who discovered the fabric in 2007. Asquith’s lounge pants, tanks and tees are made with 95% bamboo fabric and 5% elastic, and she has recently developed a blend of bamboo and organic cotton for her leggings which she calls “Bambor” (60% bamboo, 30% cotton).

Hopefully these new alternatives to standard fabrics will start to spread to the mass markets, and education of what synthetics and cotton are doing to our planet will also spread. With enough development and understanding, sustainable fashion can become the future. 

FashTech Talks: "Age of the Influencer?"

FashTech Talks: "Age of the Influencer?"

On Wednesday 27th July, we took over The Yard in Shoreditch, IPR London’s amazing adaptable space, to host the next in our series of FashTech Talks. During the sold out event, we discussed the very current topic of influencer marketing; the huge growth of it in recent years, the implementation of new laws and the ramifications of these, the relationship between influencers and brands, and the possible future of this particular marketing strategy.

Our fantastic panel consisted of Diipa Khosla, India’s most successful global lifestyle and fashion blogger; Debbie Cartwright, MD of IPR London; Amber Atherton, Entrepreneur and Founder of myflashtrash.com; Samuel Barrett, Head of Business Development at Takumi; all overseen by moderator John Harrington, Deputy Editor at PR Week. John kicked off the discussion by defining an influencer as a consumer/blogger/‘normal’ person who has become influential for brands by building up an organic following on social media. For the purposes of this discussion, we did not want to include celebrities under the term influencer, as their social power is built upon a very different foundation.

Our panel (from left to right): Samuel Barrett, Diipa Khosla, Amber Atherton, Debbie Cartwright

Our panel (from left to right): Samuel Barrett, Diipa Khosla, Amber Atherton, Debbie Cartwright

So why are brands investing in these influencers? Why has there been a shift away from celebrity endorsements and towards influencer endorsements? Debbie explained how it is largely down to the fact that consumers are just wise to it now; they know it’s for money and that the celebrity will often have no genuine interest in the product. Influencers, on the other hand, are far more trusted, having built up organic relationships with their followers. Diipa explained the importance of being relatable; if you are a successful influencer then you are relatable to your audience because they have seen you from the beginning and been on your journey with you, creating a bond, like a friendship, and they trust you not to promote something you don’t believe in. Sam concurred, saying that word of mouth advertising is key for all brands, and this is essentially what influencers are doing; they are spreading the word of a new product to an engaged following of people likely to be compelled to buy.

However, whilst this may all sound fantastic and fool-proof, how tangible is the influencer effect in reality? How can one measure the ROI of an influencer’s involvement? Debbie explained that a lot of her clients ask this question and it isn’t always easy to give a solid answer, but if it is a specific product the influencer is posting about, then the most obvious and strongest ROI will be the direct increase in sales. Diipa argued that it was not just down to sales figures, though, but also brand profile. Influencers can help to hugely increase awareness of a client’s profile, but understandably it is more difficult to measure this tangibly. She explained that two of her clients, Timberland and North Face, are both currently in the process of researching the true ROI of influencers and how best to quantify it. Amber added that, in her personal experience, the reach you get from working with ‘real’ girls; cool genuine fans of your brands, is so much more tangible than the reach of one big influencer. This is of course dependent on the brand, however, and the specific campaign. The influencer needs to fit the brief in order to gain maximum impact.

Our audience in The Yard

Our audience in The Yard

Diipa, a hugely successful influencer herself, has worked with a plethora of brands and clients since starting her journey just two years ago, and answered a number of different briefs. Having come across ‘fashion bloggers’ for the first time in her gap year from studying law, she decided to try it out with her sister who had just started photography. Very cleverly, she saw a gap in the market for her; no one was doing it in India so she saw an opportunity to spearhead the movement before it reached her home country, and there didn’t seem to be any “exotic” bloggers in the UK or US so she thought she could be the first of her kind to make an impact over here. Watching how it was done through the agencies she was working with in her gap year, she has used smart strategy from day one in order to get her to where she is now. When she started, she was buying clothes, taking photos with the tags still in, and then returning them, but when she hit 100K, suddenly brands were asking “how much for a post?” and from there she’s been able to make it her livelihood. Whilst the “here are our shoes, take a photo and post” requests are easy, Diipa says that her favourite way to work is to collaborate on a brief with the brand in order to create a new and original way of using social media and lifestyle to promote a product. She loves to “think outside the box and create new amazing content.” Sam agreed with this, stating that the most successful campaigns they’ve worked on have always been the ones where the influencers are the content creators. A post won’t be effective unless the blogger gets some creative control, otherwise it’s just not authentic. If the brand guidelines are so tight that it essentially becomes a contrived advert then it’s never going to work. Amber cited the perfect example of that being the ridiculous amount of Coachella posts that pop up over the dreaded festival fortnight every year. The posts are becoming so unauthentic that it can actually start to have a negative impact on the brand. “The hashtag this year was #nochella”, Debbie reminded us. Not exactly the picture of beautiful original content most brands would have in mind to achieve.

The question of authenticity is a valid one. There is definitely the danger of going so far with brands and sponsored content that you risk jeopardising your integrity; something that Diipa said she thinks about a lot. As your sole job, you have to think about your livelihood and being able to pay for everything you need, she said, and thus sometimes you may feel you need to take the bigger paying jobs even if they may not be the products or brands you favour the most. Your followers aren’t stupid as well, they know that some posts will be more sincere than others; they know you’re being paid for the sponsored posts. Celebrities do it as well; take Beyoncé and her deal with Pepsi - we all know she wasn’t drinking that in real life on the regular! Having said that, you have to check yourself and your moral compass to make sure you’re not straying off in to territory that you wouldn’t have wanted to when you first started. Diipa said that she is lucky now though to be in a position where she can have a selection of offers and can usually take her pick of the ones she wants, meaning that most of her content is genuine.

Amber also wanted to mention that the notion of brands working with people on the basis of big follower numbers is extremely outdated. There are smaller bloggers out there who are a lot cooler and have far more influence over their smaller follower numbers than influencers with huge numbers who have lower conversion rates. “We often have to educate our brands on this,” said Debbie. “The power of micro influencers is often far greater than that of the bigger bloggers.” “Yeah, fans who just love the product are great influencers”, said Amber. Sam: “You may not be reaching the whole room, but you’re reaching the people who need to be touched.” So in the world of influencer marketing it seems that sometimes less is, in fact, more.

Amber and Debbie mid discussion

Amber and Debbie mid discussion

Moving on to the regulatory side of influencer marketing, John wanted to know how the new laws for sponsored content are affecting the process. Sam described how the new laws have taken a pretty hard stance on transparency, meaning that any brands not complying (e.g. Warner in the US) are getting burned for it. In this case, honesty is the best policy. If a follower finds out retrospectively that they’ve been advertised to then there is a sense of trust lost, and trust is one of the key components to a successful influencer’s relationship with their followers. Sam explained that at Takumi, they always use ad hashtags now for paid posts in order to protect their clients and ensure 100% transparency at all times. Not all influencers actually get paid for their posts though, as Debbie explained. IPR can still get quite a lot from their influencers for no fee, because of being with them from the very beginning and having built a strong mutually beneficial relationship. They may incentivise them in other ways, for example through experiences rather than through money. Millennials are a huge fan of experiences and love to be part of the overall journey of a brand or product so paying them in this way is a great avenue to explore. Amber says that this is something she’s done with her influencers before, as well as been on the receiving end of herself.

On the note of millennials, John queried: “Have influencers been created by and for millennials?” Yes, millennials are the key demographic on the whole, but Debbie was keen to also champion the scope for influencers in the older demographic, for example for the Good Housekeeping or Red readers. Diipa said it depends on the location and the platform. “My Instagram is mostly millennials in the west, but my Facebook is mostly the post 45 category in developing countries. If you want to advertise to an older generation, try Facebook. If it’s teens, go for Snapchat or Instagram. If you want to reach the Middle East, Asia etc, then get on Facebook.”

Finally, with a look towards the future, John closed the evening’s discussion by asking our panel: “What will influencer marketing look like in five years time? Could it even replace traditional ad spend?” Whilst social media is infiltrating our society at break-neck speed, Debbie still believes that “If you want to sell a product, you still want to see it in Vogue. You still need to have a broad spectrum, you still need traditional ad spend. That medium will always be there, for me at least.” Amber cited the future as a shift towards democratisation; working with small social groups at scale to create an impact that matches that of Kendall Jenner. Diipa said: “Social media has put the power to the people. The future is for the people. We can try to influence it a little bit, but I think whatever’s going to happen will happen and we will learn to keep up with it.”

John Harrington, moderator, taking questions from the audience

John Harrington, moderator, taking questions from the audience

We'd like to say a big thank you to our headline sponsor, Takumi. To find out more about Takumi, who specialise in end-to-end influencer marketing on Instagram, click here

FashTech Digest

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Personal Stylists To The Physical Store’s Rescue

In the ongoing battle between e-commerce and physical retail, bricks-and-mortar stores are playing their personal stylist service as an Ace card to win over uncertain customers. E-commerce may be more painless and practical in the first instance than offline shopping, but you can’t know if the items are actually going to look good on you until you take delivery of them and try them on. Whereas when shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores, you know then and there, and will rarely leave with an item that you plan to return. And not only can you rely on the assurance of your own eyes, but also on those of a professional personal stylist, if you so wish; something that can never be utilised when purchasing online.

By making their styling services more accessible, the likes of Topshop, Anthropologie and Club Monaco are hoping to gain an edge over their e-commerce competitors. Personalisation and experience are two key areas to nail if you want to rise to the top in the fashion retail world, and stylists are a brilliant way for bricks-and-mortar stores to answer this call, in a way that online stores simply cannot match. Rachel Venrick, a personal stylist at the Nordstrom in the Mall of America, spoke to The Atlantic about her experiences as a stylist and described how “the use of technology, the internet, our cell phones, and the app” has totally altered the way that we shop now compared to the pre-tech era. She can style her clients remotely via their store app, as well as communicating with them via text or email in between meet-ups. This creates a hugely personal customer-stylist relationship, consequently building a strong trust and a loyalty with the brand. It also actually creates a bridge between online shopping and offline shopping for those stores with both physical stores and e-commerce sites, as it allows the customer to message and ask the stylist for advice on size and colour etc for particular pieces, meaning an increase in conversion.

Stylists are an acquired taste; not everyone wants them, not everyone can afford them, but for those who do it’s an important area for brands to maintain and update to meet their customers’ changing needs. Create a personal experience that no other store, online or offline, can match, and you’re creating a safety net for your brand.


2. Confessions of a Fashion Start Up Founder

This is a Glossy article. The original can be found here.

The collision of fashion and tech has spawned a cottage industry of those looking to shepherd the would-be disruptors into the ways of the industry.

Fashion incubators and accelerators like Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, the New York Fashion Tech Lab and the CFDA Fashion Incubator have sprung up, designed to help budding industry talent get off the ground. The idea: new designers and young fashion-tech startups enter these programs to get access to resources and to find a sense of support through a likeminded community. In exchange, the teams running the incubators and accelerators get access to the industry’s upcoming technology and talent, helping them build relationships with investors and retailers.

While each incubator and accelerator offers its own benefits to participating startups and designer — a partnership with a major retailer, a grant, a workspace — they’re not all created equal, and some don’t always have the young companies’ best interests at heart. For entrepreneurs with an idea and a dream, choosing the right incubator or accelerator is an important decision — and not an easy one.

In this edition of Confessions, in which we exchange anonymity for honesty, one fashion startup founder who’s been through seven different incubators and accelerators shares what the experience is really like for newly launched companies.

Which model provides a more beneficial experience?
The accelerator model is intense. Either you bring your business to a whole new place, or you fail, and very quickly realize the faults of your business. In an incubator, you can make your own timeline. There are good and bad sides of both. The incubator is less taxing, but the downfall is that you have to create your own milestones and goals and be more proactive, so a lot rides on the personality of the team to get something out of it. The accelerator makes you accountable and forces you into a tight timeline, which can be good for testing new things, but puts a lot of stress on the team and its founders.

Can you talk more about the stress of the accelerators?
Accelerators will have mandatory meetings, hours and KPIs that the company has to outline with advisors and investors, and it usually ends in a Demo Day for a new product at the end, which is a lot to prepare for. It’s not realistic for all companies in the timeframe of the accelerator. Some businesses can’t accelerate as quickly as they’re pushed to. It can be frustrating.

If you don’t hit certain milestones, you can’t continue. In one accelerator, they gave us a grant — but only half of it was given at the beginning. We had to hit big milestones halfway through to receive the rest of the grant. I really didn’t like that model, because with what they outlined for our goals, we were pushed to be very aggressive. It was a very stressful time for us. We were in jeopardy of not getting the rest of the grant, which, as a startup, we needed 100 percent. That wasn’t a positive experience.

You’ve had experience in both fashion-specific and general incubators and accelerators. Did you see a difference?
The retail and fashion world is so unlike every other industry out there. It’s very traditional, and it’s all about who you know and how to get people to trust you. The traditional incubator doesn’t have that clout in the fashion industry. We started in tech incubators, but moved to fashion incubators for the connections. Otherwise, we would still be trying to get established, and even still, it’s been a very long process.

Fashion incubators and accelerators often promise to help match startups to established retailers. Do they deliver?
It’s important to understand the terms of the business relationship and the motivating factors behind each party. Some incubators cater to certain retailers and brands, so those retailers are paying them. You have to understand where the incentives lie, and that sometimes it’s about what works best for the incubator, not you. It’s about educating yourself — who is benefiting here and what are the goals?

When a retailer is paying to participate in an incubator and have access to the companies first, there’s an underlying reason to force deals to happen quicker, which can actually be detrimental to your company. In the beginning, we were naive, and thought everything was in our best interest. But now we ask ourselves in the beginning: why are we here and what do we want to get out of this? You want to make sure you’re actually going to bring value to whomever you’re partnering with.

What solutions are retailers looking for in fashion tech?
Most of them don’t even know what they’re setting out to get. Fashion tech is the Wild West. I’ve met with brands who don’t even do e-commerce, which is shocking. It’s 2016. Many are working off of Excel spreadsheets. There hasn’t been a ton of technology implemented. There’s so much that can be done to make more efficient supply chains, or to rethink the business model entirely. Nothing has changed in 100 years — it really hasn’t. The business model hasn’t changed at all, and that’s what’s needed.


3. The Latest on 3D Printing: What The Fashion World Thinks

3D printing isn’t new. It was born in the 1980s and has been slowly spreading its name across different industries until it reached the fashion world. And it hasn’t had the smoothest or most positive of inductions. However, it seems the luxury fashion world may be changing its tune on the multi-functional printing trend. The technology is accelerating at great speed at the moment due to progress in materials science and software, making it unimaginably easy to “scan an object, turning its atoms into bits, and then print it out, turning those bits into atoms” (Business of Fashion). 3D printing incorporates three main technologies, of which stereolithography (SLA), “where a polymer liquid deposited into a tray solidifies, layer by layer, under the effect of a light radiated by an ultra-violet laser that sweeps the surface”, is the most prevalent in the luxury fashion world.

Generally speaking, however, 3D printing is far better suited to hard materials over soft which is why the most common 3D products in the fashion world are jewellery, eyewear and watches. This characteristic of 3D printing has created a sense of it being fairly stiff and unstylish overall, but one person who believes strongly in 3D printing’s future is Pascal Morand, executive president of the governing body of French fashion: the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode. “Make no mistake, 3D printing is nothing short of a new industrial revolution that also holds potential for major innovation in terms of economic models, not least via on-demand production.” Morand believes that this current association with rigidity will soon be long gone, as research is progressing into developing soft materials using thermoplastic polyurethane.

Not only does it have implications for bags and jewellery and the like, 3D printing is also proving hugely successful beyond this, with the likes of customisation in sportswear. We wrote about Adidas’s new 3D-printed midsole for its new trainer in a recent digest, which can be printed to create the perfect fit, and Nike’s COO imagines that customers will soon be able to purchase a file for a sneaker, customised to your liking, and then print it at a nearby Nike store.

However, there is still a lot to do to allow 3D printing to reach its full potential. Currently, it is a very slow process, with the creation of a sophisticated object of just a few cubic centimetres taking hours. So “reducing printing time is a major factor in the growth of the technology, but progress is encouraging.” And whilst 3D printing can allow us to save huge amounts of material and thus aide the sustainability of our planet, it also raises issues with the recycling of unused powder.

Morand is hugely positive about this new industrial revolution, however, which can put more power in the hands of the consumers, and believes it will undoubtedly help to “enrich the dialogue between the consumer and the designer and give rise to a wider range of goods than ever before.”


4. Responsive Design: An E-Commerce Site Must

This week, Brian Rigney, CEO of Zmags, told the readers of Apparel the importance of responsive design for e-commerce sites to drive customer value. The vast majority of our western world owns a smartphone. 68% of US adults, in fact, and 86% of 18-29 year olds. Tablet ownership has also edged up to 45% of adults in the US. Therefore, a responsive website is now a complete and total must-have for e-commerce retailers. If you want to compete in this hugely oversaturated market, you have to be offering a user experience that is simultaneously “understood” across all devices and is the best it can possibly be across every digital touchpoint.

Mobile shopping is growing, with customers having the means to be much more spontaneous, clicking the buy button on their commute to work or on a tablet on holiday. However, conversion rates are still low in comparison to the amount of visits mobile sites get. So how can e-commerce sites obliterate this discrepancy? Optimised content. It’s a long and arduous process to create effective device-specific content. You need to think about experience considerations; what the visitor wants to see, what they want to do, and how to make that journey as simple as possible for them. Make your content engaging and, more importantly, shoppable, and you will see the difference in conversion rates imminently. Use rich imagery, HTML5 animations, high-res product images, and easy to access “buy now” buttons. Essentially, “the shorter the path to purchase, the more likely it is that she will actually buy.”

The importance of responsive design is clearly tangible. “For retailers that successfully combine the elements of responsive design and inspiring graphics and images with short, simple paths to purchase, mobile conversion rates often can exceed 30%, which is 25% higher than the Demandware Review study.” So the lesson? Get your brand on every device, and make it as simple as can be.


5. FashTech Talks: “Age of the Influencer?” Round Up

On Wednesday evening, we took over The Yard in Shoreditch, IPR London’s amazing adaptable space, to host the next in our series of FashTech Talks. In this week’s sold out event, we were discussing the very current topic of influencer marketing; the huge growth of it in recent years, the implementation of new laws and the ramifications of these, the relationship between influencers and brands, and the possible future of this particular marketing strategy.

Our fantastic panel consisted of Diipa Khosla, India’s most successful global lifestyle and fashion blogger; Debbie Cartwright, MD of IPR London; Amber Atherton, Entrepreneur and Founder of myflashtrash.com; Samuel Barrett, Head of Business Development at Takumi; all overseen by moderator John Harrington, Deputy Editor at PR Week. John kicked off the discussion by defining an influencer as a consumer/blogger/‘normal’ person who has become influential for brands by building up an organic following on social media. For the purposes of this discussion, we did not want to include celebrities under the term influencer, as their social power is built upon a very different foundation.

So why are brands investing in these influencers? Why has there been a shift away from celebrity endorsements and towards influencer endorsements? Debbie explained how it is largely down to the fact that consumers are just wise to it now; they know it’s for money and that the celebrity will often have no genuine interest in the product. Influencers, on the other hand, are far more trusted, having built up organic relationships with their followers. Diipa explained the importance of being relatable; if you are a successful influencer then you are relatable to your audience because they have seen you from the beginning and been on your journey with you, creating a bond, like a friendship, and they trust you not to promote something you don’t believe in. Sam concurred, saying that word of mouth advertising is key for all brands, and this is essentially what influencers are doing; they are spreading the word of a new product to an engaged following of people likely to be compelled to buy.

However, whilst this may all sound fantastic and fool-proof, how tangible is the influencer effect in reality? How can one measure the ROI of an influencer’s involvement? Debbie explained that a lot of her clients ask this question and it isn’t always easy to give a solid answer, but if it is a specific product the influencer is posting about, then the most obvious and strongest ROI will be the direct increase in sales. Diipa argued that it was not just down to sales figures, though, but also brand profile. Influencers can help to hugely increase awareness of a client’s profile, but understandably it is more difficult to measure this tangibly. She explained that two of her clients, Timberland and North Face, are both currently in the process of researching the true ROI of influencers and how best to quantify it. Amber added that, in her personal experience, the reach you get from working with ‘real’ girls; cool genuine fans of your brands, is so much more tangible than the reach of one big influencer. This is of course dependent on the brand, however, and the specific campaign. The influencer needs to fit the brief in order to gain maximum impact.

Diipa, a hugely successful influencer herself, has worked with a plethora of brands and clients since starting her journey just two years ago, and answered a number of different briefs. Having come across ‘fashion bloggers’ for the first time in her gap year from studying law, she decided to try it out with her sister who had just started photography. Very cleverly, she saw a gap in the market for her; no one was doing it in India so she saw an opportunity to spearhead the movement before it reached her home country, and there didn’t seem to be any “exotic” bloggers in the UK or US so she thought she could be the first of her kind to make an impact over here. Watching how it was done through the agencies she was working with in her gap year, she has used smart strategy from day one in order to get her to where she is now. When she started, she was buying clothes, taking photos with the tags still in, and then returning them, but when she hit 100K, suddenly brands were asking “how much for a post?” and from there she’s been able to make it her livelihood. Whilst the “here are our shoes, take a photo and post” requests are easy, Diipa says that her favourite way to work is to collaborate on a brief with the brand in order to create a new and original way of using social media and lifestyle to promote a product. She loves to “think outside the box and create new amazing content.” Sam agreed with this, stating that the most successful campaigns they’ve worked on have always been the ones where the influencers are the content creators. A post won’t be effective unless the blogger gets some creative control, otherwise it’s just not authentic. If the brand guidelines are so tight that it essentially becomes a contrived advert then it’s never going to work. Amber cited the perfect example of that being the ridiculous amount of Coachella posts that pop up over the dreaded festival fortnight every year. The posts are becoming so unauthentic that it can actually start to have a negative impact on the brand. “The hashtag this year was #nochella”, Debbie reminded us. Not exactly the picture of beautiful original content most brands would have in mind to achieve.

The question of authenticity is a valid one. There is definitely the danger of going so far with brands and sponsored content that you risk jeopardising your integrity; something that Diipa said she thinks about a lot. As your sole job, you have to think about your livelihood and being able to pay for everything you need, she said, and thus sometimes you may feel you need to take the bigger paying jobs even if they may not be the products or brands you favour the most. Your followers aren’t stupid as well, they know that some posts will be more sincere than others; they know you’re being paid for the sponsored posts. Celebrities do it as well; take Beyoncé and her deal with Pepsi - we all know she wasn’t drinking that in real life on the regular! Having said that, you have to check yourself and your moral compass to make sure you’re not straying off in to territory that you wouldn’t have wanted to when you first started. Diipa said that she is lucky now though to be in a position where she can have a selection of offers and can usually take her pick of the ones she wants, meaning that most of her content is genuine.

Amber also wanted to mention that the notion of brands working with people on the basis of big follower numbers is extremely outdated. There are smaller bloggers out there who are a lot cooler and have far more influence over their smaller follower numbers than influencers with huge numbers who have lower conversion rates. “We often have to educate our brands on this,” said Debbie. “The power of micro influencers is often far greater than that of the bigger bloggers.” “Yeah, fans who just love the product are great influencers”, said Amber. Sam: “You may not be reaching the whole room, but you’re reaching the people who need to be touched.” So in the world of influencer marketing it seems that sometimes less is, in fact, more.

Moving on to the regulatory side of influencer marketing, John wanted to know how the new laws for sponsored content are affecting the process. Sam described how the new laws have taken a pretty hard stance on transparency, meaning that any brands not complying (e.g. Warner in the US) are getting burned for it. In this case, honesty is the best policy. If a follower finds out retrospectively that they’ve been advertised to then there is a sense of trust lost, and trust is one of the key components to a successful influencer’s relationship with their followers. Sam explained that at Takumi, they always use ad hashtags now for paid posts in order to protect their clients and ensure 100% transparency at all times. Not all influencers actually get paid for their posts though, as Debbie explained. IPR can still get quite a lot from their influencers for no fee, because of being with them from the very beginning and having built a strong mutually beneficial relationship. They may incentivise them in other ways, for example through experiences rather than through money. Millennials are a huge fan of experiences and love to be part of the overall journey of a brand or product so paying them in this way is a great avenue to explore. Amber says that this is something she’s done with her influencers before, as well as been on the receiving end of herself.

On the note of millennials, John queried: “Have influencers been created by and for millennials?” Yes, millennials are the key demographic on the whole, but Debbie was keen to also champion the scope for influencers in the older demographic, for example for the Good Housekeeping or Red readers. Diipa said it depends on the location and the platform. “My Instagram is mostly millennials in the west, but my Facebook is mostly the post 45 category in developing countries. If you want to advertise to an older generation, try Facebook. If it’s teens, go for Snapchat or Instagram. If you want to reach the Middle East, Asia etc, then get on Facebook.”

Finally, with a look towards the future, John closed the evening’s discussion by asking our panel: “What will influencer marketing look like in five years time? Could it even replace traditional ad spend?” Whilst social media is infiltrating our society at break-neck speed, Debbie still believes that “If you want to sell a product, you still want to see it in Vogue. You still need to have a broad spectrum, you still need traditional ad spend. That medium will always be there, for me at least.” Amber cited the future as a shift towards democratisation; working with small social groups at scale to create an impact that matches that of Kendall Jenner. Diipa said: “Social media has put the power to the people. The future is for the people. We can try to influence it a little bit, but I think whatever’s going to happen will happen and we will learn to keep up with it.”

We'd like to say a big thank you to our headline sponsor, Takumi. To find out more about Takumi, who specialise in end-to-end influencer marketing on Instagram, click here

FashTech Digest

5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Entirely VR Clothing Collections: Yay or Nay?

A recent project by Dutch artists Pinar & Viola consisted of a holographic catwalk show of an entirely VR clothing range (but showcased on a real model) during Amsterdam Fashion Week. The theme of the show was animism; the belief that a soul or spirit exists in everyday objects, and they reflected this by presenting clothes imbued with characteristics like eyes and mouths, which became animated characters through the combination of the holographic screens and the model’s movements.

“We believe that people buy, throw and mistreat their clothing because we do not feel connected with the inanimate objects around us,” explained Pinar & Viola. “That is the reason why, with this catwalk experience, we intended to make people empathise with their clothing the way they do with their friends, by creating a catwalk experience where the spirit of the clothing was visualised.”

Pinar & Viola’s holographic catwalk was a collaboration with Amber Slooten, a Dutch fashion designer and AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) graduate, who had worked with virtual reality clothing and holograms as part of her degree. Slooten created the 3D models for the clothes simulations whilst Pinar & Viola worked with catwalk choreographer Kim Vos for the movements of the real-life model, Nelle Swan, who was motion captured. Slooten, inspired by the mixed reality concepts of companies like Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens, wanted to explore how a future of holographic garments might work.

She said: “I realised that I did not want to make a collection in real life. It will end up in the back of my closet and it would have served for a couple of nice editorial pictures but that’s it. We already carry such a big virtual identity, but it is hidden behind screens. Why not make it visible in the space around you? I am a fashion designer and what I am interested in is the body, and the way it moved through material. Whether it is a virtual fabric, flames, hair or other virtual entities doe not matter to me. The virtual world has so many materials I could never use in real life and this would also be the goal for the next collection.”

It is also far more eco-friendly. By creating a world for fashion in the virtual environment, “we can inspire others to save resources, time, space and the ecosystem,” say Pinar & Viola. “With this catwalk, we wanted to show that technology plays a fundamental role in the future of fashion, industry, and our planet.”


2. The Hamptons = Summer’s Home of Luxury Retail

You may have heard of the Revolve House in the Hamptons. A waterfront mansion that online retailer Revolve has taken over for the summer months, it opens its doors to a different celebrity host each weekend; from Kim Kardashian to Hailey Baldwin to Chrissy Teigen, all the American ‘It’ ladies are doing it. With these celebrity fashion bloggers, models and actresses, comes a plethora of fashion pop-up shops taking over the Hamptons’ beach towns. Moët Chandon provides the champagne, and the guests provide the social media promo through the hashtag #RevolveintheHamptons.

Even outside of the Revolve House and the Kim Kardashian clan, The Hamptons are a hot bed for luxury retail during the summer months. “The Hamptons are always a desired consumer audience that brands are trying to connect with,” says Maurice Bernstein, co-founder and CEO of experience brand agency Giant Step. “It’s seasonal, though, it doesn’t make sense for most brands to set up there all year.” Whilst the likes of Gucci and Stuart Weitzman are frequent summer habitants of the town, smaller more niche luxury brands are also looking to get their names and products in front of the extremely wealthy customers that populate the Hamptons. New to the area this season are brands like The Line, a luxury clothing company that is using the retail space to host events with designers like Joseph Altuzarra.

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson, said: “The Hamptons is less about revenue from sales as publicity and connection to the influential audience who will be there - who in turn will share their presence on social media channels. Providing an experience, novelty, and visually striking activities are key here.”And now that more and more luxury brands are seeking a space in the Hamptons to provide this experience, competition is high and locations are being secured for the following year from the moment the current season ends. Brands are using any and all tools in their arsenal to be able to maintain their prime summer spot and to continue nurturing their relationships with these high-flying consumers. For example, Net-a-Porter brought its same-day delivery offering to the Hamptons in June, as well as setting up a concierge line that customers can call for personalised style tips and extra errands. Not only this, but the luxury e-commerce giant also launched a $1,400 “Getaway Kit” that offers a curated selection of summer gear plus two tickets on the Blade, the helicopter that takes the wealthy from Manhattan to the Hamptons in style.

As discussed in previous digests, and as a hot topic of the moment, it is acknowledged now that e-commerce brands need to get offline, and physical retail stores need to get online. All brands need to have an omnichannel setup if they want to stay ahead in the game. And with this in mind, the Hamptons are the ideal platform for the likes of Net-a-Porter and Revolve to expand to the offline world.


3. Could Brexit Help Revive British Manufacturing?

Whilst the majority of articles I’ve read on Brexit (both those related to fashion and those on a more general note) have seen the population’s majority vote to leave the EU as an entirely wrong decision with only negative repercussions, this week Heidy Rehman wrote a piece for the Guardian with a different spin. “Brexit could help revive British manufacturing”. And not only this, but she believes it to be the luxury brands who can help to drive this revival.

Rehman is the founder and manager of Rose & Willard, a womenswear brand that designs, manufactures and retails their products all in one single London location. Whilst she can of course see the downfalls of us voting ‘Leave’, namely the depreciation of the pound and the repercussions of this, she also sees this as an opportunity to alter the structure of the fashion world for the better. Brands may soon have no choice but to produce in the UK, and is that such a bad thing? Provided our politicians do their part in the wake of this referendum, and help to make the transition as easy as possible by ensuring British brands choose British manufacturers over competitors in Poland, Portugal or Hungary, then it could be the start of a very exciting future for UK fashion.

It is here that Rehman believes that the luxury brands can take the reigns and drive the change. The majority of luxury brands currently manufacture in low-cost regions and focus the wealth of their outgoings on big advertising budgets and trophy shops. Due to globalisation, and a shift in the consumer demographic, scale is now hugely important, and this can only be provided by low-cost overseas manufacturers. Rehman’s company uses the same luxury fabrics and materials as high-end brands, but they manage to manufacture here in the UK. By working out of a non-prime location facility and using pop-ups rather than expensive shops, Rose & Willard manage to keep their fixed costs low. The resulting product? Affordable yet high quality products. So it can be done! Luxury brands just need to take the time to investigate and make the change.

However, it is not all down to the brands to initiate the change. If we are to see long term alterations to the system, it needs to start with education. Rehman explains that schools need to take responsibility for including manufacturing courses and awareness in the curriculum so that it can become a common and desirable career for young students. Otherwise the UK is not going to be able to match up to the workers in Europe and even further afield and local production just won’t be possible on a large scale.

Finally, and most relevant to our “FashTECH” digest, is the necessary involvement from technology that Rehman cites. Tech investments are needed, she says, in order to “compete with the luxury of Italian products and the technical performance of Swiss and Japanese materials.” More specifically, she explains: “If British mills could provide the stretch in fabric that is required for professional women’s workwear there would be a ready market.” There are also some technical fabrics available overseas that can’t currently be sourced in the UK, such as crease-resistant fabrics and ones that can wick away sweat.

Rehman is optimistic about the future of British fashion as a result of Brexit, but she is clear in her statement that “there needs to be a clear plan.” Something that I’m not sure anyone has just yet, but hopefully over time the politicians can prove us wrong.


4. What a Pokémon Go Experiment Taught Us About AR Marketing

This article is from Huge and can be found here.

Huge is known as a digital agency, but since last year, we’ve operated a café in Midtown Atlanta. Huge Café is our real-time, real-life test lab where we can connect innovation and customers quickly. It helps us understand the challenges, considerations, and implications our retail clients face when they contemplate making changes to their business. We put our theories into practice at the café first, at our own expense, so we can say with conviction that they work.

Leveraging the popularity of Pokémon Go—the mobile augmented reality game where players try to capture Pokémon creatures in the wild—was the café’s most recent proof of concept. We made a limited investment in the form of in-game currency in the first days of the craze to make the Huge Café a part of the overall Pokémon Go game play—and yielded an astonishingly high return on investment.

Activating Pokémon Go at the café just as the phenomenon took off helped us glean early insights about augmented reality’s potential implications for businesses and marketers. Studying user behavior and analyzing sales trends during the week we paid for active “Lures,” which attract Pokémon creatures to a specific location, yielded tangible data about how AR can impact retail businesses.

A 400% ROI.

Pokémon Go launched in the U.S. on July 6 with a slow build through the weekend, when usage of the app exploded. Within days of launch, Pokémon Go had more daily active users than Twitter, and players were spending more time in the app than on Facebook. Players walked (and walked, and walked) in search of more Pokémon to catch, to bars and restaurants and, yes, coffee shops. Hoards of people hit the streets to try out the game; strangers were talking to one another, bonding over Pokémon Go. Cars were rolling by the café with drivers yelling "Did you catch the___?” The energy and excitement was palpable.

A few establishments (some justifiably) found Poké hunters to be a nuisance, but we wanted to invite in as many as possible. Since we were located between two Pokéstops (virtual depots for picking up free game-related loot), we also had a geographic advantage.

On Monday, the first day we used the Pokéstop lures, most of the activity remained on the street, with a few new customers showing up inside the café for a drink. Activity spiked on Tuesday as Pokémon Go achieved scale and players experienced one of the game’s unfortunate side effects: battery drain. As a courtesy, we offered free device chargers in the café. This service brought players in and gave them the chance to cool off, rest up, and recharge. Many also placed an order. Sales were 27.4% higher than an average Tuesday.

On Wednesday, exhaustion started to set in. Active players had been walking in the Atlanta heat for days on end, as hatching some of the eggs meant walking up to five miles. Visitors to the café held down tables for hours at a time thanks to the proximity of our two lured Pokéstops and the convenience of charging, WiFi, and air conditioning (the high temperature on Wednesday was 93 degrees). Sales were 28.4% higher than average that day, and the upward trend continued for the rest of the week.

Across the week, we saw an ROI of 400% on activating Lures. More important than the payout, however, was what we learned about leveraging the transformative power of AR in retail spaces, and the potential impact of mixed-reality game play.

The Future of Mixed Reality.

This was not a one-time thing or a gimmick. It is the start of what we believe is one of the most significant and potentially disruptive trends and dynamics in digital and retail; investors have directed more than $1 billion into AR/VR technology in 2016 already. Pokémon Go is the current craze, but the larger phenomenon is about the convergence and rapid adoption of pervasive gaming, location-based activity, and mixed reality. This represents a new dynamic that brands, marketers, and especially physical retailers need to acknowledge and understand. There is a lot to consider and learn about AR, what it means for users, and what it means for businesses. A few initial thoughts based on our experience with Pokémon Go:

1. Pokémon is just the beginning.

Pokémon is the standard-bearer for AR gaming now—but it’s obviously not the singular future of this type of experience. While you need to understand the nature of Pokémon to successfully play the game, it is more important to have a handle on the model and mechanics of these types of games, as well as the role and power of the game maker.

Beyond the in-game micro-transactions, the game has not yet been commercialized. There is no way yet to buy or sponsor a Pokéstop, build your own Gym, or introduce your own character. There is also no way to bait Lures from a distance to scale this beyond an immediate location. This will likely change as Pokémon matures, offering a greater variety of options for activating the game as a media property or event. It’s a useful exercise to imagine and plan out how you’d activate this game, or this type of game, across your footprint and within your locations. Also, consider the power making a game people fall in love with. In our small-scale and highly localized test, we saw how the game itself could dramatically affect foot traffic and migration patterns of individuals and groups on the street.

2. Games can stress the service model.

What do you do, and how do you react, when the primary reason certain people visit your business is not the primary reason you are in business? Games like Pokémon Go have the potential to turn any physical location into an attraction. Any corner or block could attract a Times Square—sized crowd if the mixed-reality game creates enough excitement and payoff for people to visit or converge. Retailers should consider how to do business with incidental visitors, asking themselves questions like: How do we accommodate customers who aren’t there for the direct service we provide? Do we merely tolerate them, or do we support—and even court—them? For example, we offered cards for free steamed buns at lunchtime to players who showed us their captured Pokémon, giving them an excuse to stick around or come back later. Exclusion is an option—but not a good one. It’s a potential loss of opportunity, as we saw with frustrated businesses putting up signs warding off players.

We advocate the opposite approach: Borrow inspiration from Starbucks’ policy of opening up bathrooms and WiFi to everyone, building up some goodwill, and then converting strays into paying customers.

3. Location, location, location means what?

The Huge Café is on a nice corner in Atlanta’s Midtown district. There is good Monday—Friday foot traffic from offices and neighborhoods during business hours, but it’s quiet in the evenings and dead on the weekends. Last week, however, we enjoyed a spike in traffic and activity as a result of our proximity to two Pokéstops. Our rent does not today take into account the virtual attraction created by the game and our lease rate is based on the known population and traffic counts. What will happen when there’s a virtual overlay on the physical world that creates new traffic patterns that defy the conventional real estate models upon which rental rates have been established? Will we see the equivalent of Pokémon premiums for real estate? Again, this change isn’t coming tomorrow or necessarily in the next couple of years, but you can expect this will be a conversation in lease negotiations and renewals five years from now.

4. You’ve got to play it to get it.

You can’t figure this out just by reading about it. You have to get the app, play the game, and cast yourself in the role of the user to truly understand what it really means.

5. Virtual experiences create real connections.

Gamers are after virtual rewards, but they pick up Pokémon in real locations, which form a part of the entire memory. In other words, players don’t just remember catching a monster, they recall where it happened in the real world. Case in point: Last week, a customer tweeted his thanks for both a free steamed bun and a fairly scarce Pokémon called Starmie.

Have we earned a repeat customer? We think so, and we’re counting our lucky Starmie.


5. FashTech Talks: “Age of the Influencer?” last few tickets!

We are very excited to be hosting the next in our series of FashTech Talks on Wednesday evening at the Yard in Shoreditch. In association with IPR London and Diipa Khosla (India’s most successful global fashion and lifestyle blogger), our expert panel will be discussing how effective brand ambassadors and bloggers are to a brand’s digital strategy and the real level of ROI they provide for the companies employing them. 

The talk comes at a very interesting time, with new laws having just been implemented to make sure followers are aware when 'influencers' are being paid to promote products. We'll be looking at how this will affect the way in which brands, and more importantly followers, react to sponsored content.

The panel’s stellar line up includes: Diipa Khosla, India’s largest global fashion & lifestyle blogger; Debbie Cartwright, Managing Director at IPR London; ^^ and ^^, moderated by Sam Burne-James, News Editor at PR Week. After an hour’s discussion and Q&A, we will then be providing complimentary drinks and a chance to network with your fellow attendees.

If you’re interested in attending please click HERE now as we are down to our last 18 tickets! Looking forward to seeing you all there!