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.