5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. High Fashion x Video Campaigns

Gucci’s name has been mentioned many times across all fashion forums, including our digest and our most recent FashTech Talk on Luxe in Flux, since its hugely successful appointment of new creative director, Alessandro Michele. The luxury fashion brand is nailing its content across all platforms, and now it has entered into the realm of the video campaignto promote its 2016 pre-fall collection.

Teaming up with filmmaker Gia Coppola and Condé Nast’s content studio 23 stories, the four part video series presents a modern day, Manhattan-based recreation of the Greek romance story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The four parts each represent different pivotal moments in the story: their marriage, their happiness, Eurydice’s murder and Orpheus’s visit to Hades; all enacted by models wearing Gucci’s new collection.

The multi-part video series is the first of its kind in Gucci’s branded content strategy, and is part of Michele’s “plan to turn its current cultural buzz into a lasting brand for today’s younger consumers” (glossy.co). The video is not only another piece of beautiful content, helping to add to the aspirational quality of the brand, but it also “connects the dots”, says Tony King, founder of creative agency King and Partners, as it is accompanied by the full list of products and outfits featured in the series with links to shop.

Gucci may be less present on the everyday video-friendly platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram, but that just means that when they do release a longer video like this, it intrigues the consumer far more, and also allows them to maintain the control over how their brand is perceived by the wider world.

Meanwhile, Italian fashion house Fendi has recently joined forces with Elle International to create a video campaign with a different approach. Similarly to Gucci, it is a multi-part video series promoting its pre-fall 2016 collection, but in this case, there is just three videos, and they are interactive, allowing the consumer to guide the story of the videos.

The star of the “Where in the World is Karlito?” campaign is a miniature doll resembling Fendi’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, whom the viewer can send to either Shanghai, New York or Italy for an adventure. Once landed in your destination, you can then experience the behind-the-scenes world of high fashion through Karlito’s eyes. For example, you might go BTS at a photoshoot, which then in turn allows you to see real-life photos of the shoot giving you a glimpse of Fendi’s pre-fall collection.

Kevin O’Malley, Senior Vice President, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer at Elle US, said: “The idea behind the campaign is about brand relevancy. While you want to maintain a certain level of polish to protect the brand’s position, you don’t want to be precious because you want it to be shared. It’s all about content being shared.” Whilst there’s always an intent to drive sales with campaigns like this, O’Malley explained that it is more about helping build the brand’s digital presence after moving into e-commerce just last year. “The answer is all about consumer experience”, he says.

2. Barclaycard x Topshop = Contactless Wearables

In November last year, Topshop launched a range of cartoon-like bPay wearables with Barclaycard in a bid to make contactless payments more ‘fashionable’. And after the success of the first range, the retail giant has now launched a second collection, with a rather more luxe aesthetic. The accessories line includes bracelets, phone cases and keychains, all in gold metallics and faux snakeskin detail. By embedding bPay contactless chips in to these wearables which is linked to a secure digital wallet, completing a transaction will be as easy as tapping the accessory against an NFC-capable payment terminal. Therefore hoping to eradicate one of the Brits’ biggest hates: queueing.

Whilst slightly dearer than their predecessors, the luxe contactless wearables still only come in at £25-£35 and can be bought both online and in store. And whilst competitors Apple and Android pay have been slower to catch on than expected, we may see the likes of these fashionable accessories bringing the quick purchase market to a wider consumer-base more successfully. The accessories are undoubtedly for a niche demographic, but if they are to succeed when put to market, then this could be just the start of contactless wearables. A stylish way for consumers to pay for everyday goods is a bold move from Barclaycard, but one that may well pay off and lead to many more collaborations between bPay and other big fashion brands, all creating their own bespoke contactless accessories with which to make a quick and easy purchase.

3. Adidas x ARAMIS: NASA Technology Shaping The Trainers of Tomorrow

Adidas’s latest running shoe is called AlphaBounce, and we’re betting they’re going to be pretty great. Incorporating ARAMIS, a motion-capture system that NASA has used to inspect the outer hull of space shuttles, these trainers are the epitome of what it means to join the forces of fashion and tech to make something amazing.

The ARAMIS software maps skin, bone and muscle, meaning that it can determine the amount of strain and tension caused by different materials, and thus allowing Adidas engineers an insight into how they can design the most comfortable running shoe. By visualising the level of comfort on every area of an individual’s foot, as well as indicating when and where the fabric may be affecting performance, this technology is sure to be the key to creating the world’s best trainer.

George Robusti, senior design director of global running at Adidas, of the ARAMIS system said: “It’s a really versatile tool. The technology enabled us to fine-tune how we approach the functionality of the product. You shouldn’t need to think about the shoe being there.” In other words, the trainer will become a mere extension of the athlete’s foot, helping to improve their natural performance and never hinder it.

Compared to Adidas’s most popular recent products, the AlphaBounce is by far the most technical, but they still wanted to make sure to also maintain their high level of fashionable aesthetic for the consumer. Thus the “speckled pattern” was formed. To give the shoe a modern look, the designers created a limited-edition look by mixing black, purple and orange colours with a pattern that is meant to evoke the motion-capture testing that Adidas used in the creation of the product.

With only the latest and greatest materials and technologies used within the product, Adidas explains that this product is typical of the brand’s signature approach of seamless intergration between hardware and software: “We’re always trying to create the new thing tin the market”, said Andy Barr, Adidas’s category director of global running. “It maybe doesn’t feel familiar straight away, but we know in a year, year and half, it’s going to push the whole market forward.” And they don’t just want to stop at trainers. The sports retail giant intends to bring AlphaBounce’s core technology to a whole host of their other products, from sports bras to apparel. We’re looking forward to trying them all out!

4. Facebook’s Interactive Map Ads

We all see the Facebook ads popping up on our homepage, which somehow spookily know exactly what we’ve been browsing on Google the day before, but do we ever actually spend money on purchases as a result of those ads? Facebook is now implementing an ad update to try to help them monitor exactly that.

When we see something we like on a Facebook ad, we may end up buying it, but it may be on another day, or on another device, or heaven forbid actually IRL at the shop instead of online. So how can Facebook attempt to track the conversion rate of their advertisements? On Tuesday, the social media giant released an ad update specific to offline shopping, in which their “advertisers can now include an interactive map displaying their physical store locations as part of a carousel ad so users can find, and maybe even visit, the actual stores” (recode.net). Facebook is then able to use the phone’s GPS to track how many users saw the ad and then subsequently visited the store; information they can then relay to their advertisers to demonstrate how successful their campaigns are in driving footfall to their stores. If successful, then Facebook benefits through more ad sales. However, the success of these new interactive ads is yet to be seen. The ability to measure how effective ads are in driving bricks-and-mortar sales has been an ongoing challenge for retailers, but up until this point it has seemed nigh impossible.

Maz Sharafi, Facebook’s director of monetisation product marketing, told Ad Week: “This is one of the biggest partner challenges that exist in a digital and mobile world. Consumers are increasingly spending their time in mobile and online, but transactions are happening everywhere.” And it seems the social networking platform may have cracked it. “From what I’ve seen, this new Offline Conversion API brings Facebook up at least to what Google has been offering, but probably goes beyond it,” said eMarketer analyst Yoram Wurmser. “By virtue of the behavioural and interest data it gets from its social networks (FB and Instagram), the additional insights about store traffic are likely beyond what Google can offer. So, I think it’s going to be pretty attractive to retailers.”

5. Welcome to the Macy’s Store of the Future

So Macy’s has had a bit of a tough time of it recently, with Amazon threatening to de-throne the once unparalleled king of department stores in a pretty tremendous fashion. However! Macy’s doesn’t plan to go down without a fight. In an attempt to put an end to its lengthy sales funk, thedepartment store’s Columbus, Ohio branch is undergoing a huge renovation; the end product serving as a prototype for how the Macy’s stores of the future will operate and look. With larger spaces for their latest-trend-wearing mannequins, an over hauled area for selling athletic wear and wellness products, and areas for master classes demonstrating new beauty products, the store is Macy’s way of telling Amazon, and any other competing department stores, that they are still very much in the game.

Kathi Newton, vice president and store manager, explained the reason behind the changes: “It’s really about letting the customer experience the products.” Every retailer is growing wise to the idea of consumer experience now, realising the importance of updating the layout of the bricks-and-mortar shops to allow them to compete with the flourishing online world. The Columbus overhaul is doing exactly that, giving Macy’s the new lease of life that it has been so desperately in need of. With both shares and sales at an all-time low, Macy’s executives has acknowledged the need to innovate and have decided to focus on revamping its 150 best stores across the country, in an approach they call their “Top Door” strategy.

Examples of this innovative revamping include: new fixtures and counters in the cosmetic departments, with salon services such as microdermabrasion and brow tinting available to passing shoppers; more interactive counters with vendors like Chanel and Estée Lauder; an event space at the front of the store for daily mast classes held by different brands; a Connect @Macy’s kiosk for one-on-one customer service; a collection area for online purchases; more focus on their already existing My Stylist @Macy’s personal shopping service; and the creation of a wellness area called “The Restore, Nourish and Strengthen” department which holds all fitness items, cookbooks, healthy snacks, yoga gear, and various brands like Fitbit. As Newton says, “Floor space isn’t just about selling,” and the hope is that these new and improved Macy’s stores will be more than just a collection of shops.