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digital snippets technology

Covid-19: Luxury stocks fall, fast fashion’s vulnerability, marketing amidst the crisis

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Luxury stocks fall as global markets tank (WWD)
  • Are fast fashion’s giants more vulnerable to coronavirus than other retailers? (Quartz)
  • Amid Covid-19, marketing changes shape (Vogue Business)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Copenhagen Fashion Summit postponed due to coronavirus (Fashion United)
  • As fashion churns out more ‘sustainable’ goods, why is so much made from plastic? (Vogue Business)
  • More companies want to be “carbon neutral.” What does that mean? (Vox)
  • Are consumers finally sick of consuming? (Fast Company)
RETAIL & COMMERCE
  • Reliance is launching an online luxury shopping portal in India (Vogue Business)
  • Do you honestly find spas kind of boring? (New York Times)
  • Why luxury brands must embrace digital outlets ASAP (Jing Daily)
  • Dazed Beauty to debut experiential pop-up in Selfridges (WWD)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • This guy got a million TikTok followers. Now he tells brands how to do the same. (The Goods)
  • China’s live streaming boom (Vogue Business)
  • Luxury brands join Shipinhao, WeChat’s answer to Instagram (WWD)
  • Why are luxury brands advertising on Twitter? (BoF)
PRODUCT
  • Everyone loves sweatsuits and fashion is cashing in (BoF)
  • In China, a beauty incubator is bridging the gap for global brands (Vogue Business)
  • Dior’s Kim Jones designs stage costumes for Maluma (WWD)
  • This new Rick Owens collection is designed for goths at the gym (Dazed)
BUSINESS
  • How the Coronavirus’ effect on the fashion industry reveals flaws in the global economy (Time)
  • 2020’s Top M&A Targets in Luxury (BoF)
  • For lingerie brands, taking on Victoria’s Secret is harder than it looks (BoF)
  • How Under Armour bet everything on the wrong customer (Medium)
  • Yoox Net-a-Porter begins search for CEO Federico Marchetti’s successor (Vogue Business)
  • Givenchy taps De Lesquen as CEO (WWD)
  • Gap chooses insider to take over as CEO (WSJ)
CULTURE
  • The inevitable collision of gaming and athleisure (Wired)
  • How Instagram killed the It Girl (Dazed)
  • Do fashion prizes still matter? (Highsnobiety)
  • Modest fashion, on display (The Cut)


How are you thinking about innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business data e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

2019 highlights: The year in innovation news

2019 was a big year for innovation and the Current Daily has been tracking it all throughout – from the rise of 5G-enabled experiences to the continued push towards a circular economy. 

Here, we highlight some of the most interesting stories from the year, outlining why they are an important indication of where the industry is moving in 2020 and beyond.

5G will drive 100m people to shop in AR

Augmented reality took center stage this year as its user-friendly features meant a growing number of brands – and social media platforms like Instagram – started adopting it as a core engagement strategy.

In April, a Gartner report highlighted that 100 million people will shop in AR once high-speed 5G mobile services roll out more extensively. This means the experience is going to be more seamless than ever, giving it better real-time rendering, shorter download times and reduced latency. Retailers seem to be on board, as 46% of them plan to deploy either AR or VR. Check out our piece exploring what other benefits 5G will bring retail.

Fashion brands have only met 21% of their circularity targets for 2020

If there’s one thing to be sure, there’s no escaping the growing momentum around shifting to more sustainable practices as an industry. But is there really progress being made? In July, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) launched its second yearly assessment of fashion brands and retailers to find that only reached 45 (21%) of the 213 targets the industry has set for 2020 will be met. 

This means the 90 signatories of the GFA’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, which includes fashion companies like adidas, PVH Group and Inditex, will have to hurry if they want to achieve more in the next year. We talked a lot about the need for action in this space when a further collaborative group was announced: the G7 Fashion Pact. If you ask us, it’s time to say enough to the pledges, rather give us some tangible outputs.

H&M to trial clothing rental for the first time

Talking of sustainability, one are where we have seen a lot of action and experimentation this year is in new business models. Rental is making serious strides at all ends of the market, but perhaps most interestingly within fast fashion just recently as the H&M Group announced it will trial clothing rental at one of its H&M Stockholm stores. Members of its customer loyalty program can now rent selected party dresses and skirts from its 2012-2019 Conscious Exclusive collections.

Recently, its brand COS also launched a pilot where it is renting out clothes through Chinese subscription rental platform YCloset, which customers can access through a monthly flat rate. We also published a deep-dive into the different opportunities we see for the industry in rental, here.

Allbirds CEO calls out Amazon product copying

In November, Allbirds’ co-founder and CEO, Joey Zwilinger, wrote an open letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos after discovering the e-commerce platform was producing its own wool sneakers similar to the brand’s most popular style.

Instead of going the usual lawsuit route, the founder took this as an opportunity to highlight his brand’s sustainability mission. In the letter, Zwilinger highlights that Allbirds’ sustainable philosophy is open source, and it has thus far helped over 100 brands who were interested in implementing its renewable materials into their products, suggesting Amazon might like to do the same. It was a bold move but one that sparked a conversation around the role of collaboration once more, and its critical place in true innovation.

Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too?

Gen Z quickly adopted Chinese social media platform TikTok as their app du jour this year for its bite-sized video content. Currently, 66% of the platform’s 500 million global users are under 30, according to data analytics firm, Business of Apps.

Brands have started to follow suit, tapping the app to drive engagement and ultimately sales. Content varies from crowdsourced, as in a recent Burberry campaign that saw users challenged to create the brand’s logo with their fingers, through to more refined, such as in a snippet of an interview with singer Shawn Mendes for Calvin Klein. We explored various other brands setting TikTok precedent, here.

Lush abandons social media

While TikTok has been taking off, elsewhere social media is slowing for some. Vegan cosmetics brand, Lush, for instance decided to shut down all of its activity in the UK as it became “tired of fighting with algorithms” or paying to appear on news feeds. Instead, it suggested a hashtag where fans would still be able to speak to the brand.

Lush’s bold move speaks to fight playing out for anything still resembling organic reach. As consumers become jaded over being ‘sold to’, brands are having to find novel ways to reach them, beyond the influencer route. One other area we’re tracking here is those owning their own conversation channels, as with both Glossier and H&M of late.

Coty acquires majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business

2019 was the year of major acquisitions in both beauty and fashion. While LVMH recently announced it was snapping up Tiffany & Co for $16bn, other names included Farfetch buying New Guards Group, which operates streetwear favorite Off White for $675m; Shiseido acquiring cult skincare brand Drunk Elephant for $845m; and more recently, Coty acquiring a majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business, Kylie Cosmetics, for $600m. 

The latter served as particular confirmation of how brands build and grow in this day and age. Jenner, who was 18 when she started a single ‘lip kit’ line, used Instagram to form a direct conversation with her audience. In 2019, this seems like an obvious strategy, but the reality star’s foresight to do so in 2015 has undoubtedly been her recipe for success.

How luxury fashion learned to love the blockchain

Amid growing concerns over the proliferation of counterfeit goods, luxury brands also began to embrace blockchain as an important authentication tool this year. 

Earlier this year, we heard about how LVMH launched its own platform, Aura, which is currently being piloted with some of the brands in its portfolio and will further expand in the future. Kering and Richemont meanwhile are said to be exploring this too, while De Beers is using it to trace its diamonds. Once matured, the technology will undoubtedly make its way into the hands of the consumer, who will be able to better understand where their possessions are coming from. We also tracked some of the other innovations in the transparency space; an area that continues to heat up.

Automation in retail: an executive overview for getting ready

Automation was another big tech focus this year, particularly for its potential impact on retail, from supply chain management to last mile delivery. This shift is putting pressure on retailers to rethink their operating models, distribution centres and headquarters, with McKinsey warning that brands that fail to implement it into their strategy risk falling behind. 

Automation is something we’ve long been talking about for the sake of efficiency, but there also comes a significant ethics conversation to be had here, which the industry is exploring. We agree, now is the time.

What Fortnite could mean for fashion

The global gaming market is expected to reach $180bn by 2021, and fashion brands are realizing the valuable potential in this. Free-to-play video game Fortnite has grown into a multi-million dollar business by selling clothing to image-conscious gamers, for instance. This monetization of player aesthetics, more commonly known as ‘skins’, has opened the door for retailers to cash in on the virtual world. 

Going forward, we expect more brands to invest in digital garments or utilize gaming to drive product discovery. We accordingly explored how gamification is being used in the shopping journey by brands like Kenzo and Nike to both increase engagement and build brand loyalty.

How are you thinking about innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Editor's pick product Retail technology

Why Nike is betting on an Amazon-free future

Last month, Nike announced it would be pulling all of its products from Amazon in a bid to refocus its distribution strategy and “elevate consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships”. 

Leaving one of the world’s biggest e-commerce platforms after a two-year pilot is a bold move. So what does the divorce mean for the sportswear giant?

In leaving Amazon, the company is joining a roster of others, from IKEA to Birkenstock, who have tried and failed to make it work on the platform. Amazon has developed a poor reputation when it comes to how it treats its sellers – and it’s doing very little to change it. But as retailers depart the platform to deliver a more personal customer experience – while keeping a tight leash on their product offerings – the e-commerce giant needs to start thinking damage control.

Selling on Amazon comes with an ever-changing set of challenges. While it has been busy expanding its fashion offering, the website is still designed for the convenience shopper, and not the one looking to be wowed or to discover a new favorite brand. Search ranking results can be confusing – for example, searching for sports shoes will not necessarily bring up the Nike sneakers immediately at the top of the page, even though it is a market leader. It is also often hard to find out whether you are buying the item directly from the brand, or a third-party seller.

Then there is the big elephant in the room: counterfeiting. Recently, The Wall Street Journal wrote that the website “increasingly resembles an unruly online flea market.” For the US site, it is now attracting Chinese sellers to post their goods directly to consumers, rather than through North American middlemen. This means a proliferation of sold goods that are deemed either counterfeit, or banned or unsafe for consumption, which are virtually impossible to keep track of.

But Nike’s exit is coming from a privileged position. It has built a community outside the retailer’s website, and will exist just fine without it. For brands of its caliber, this is a good chance to take a leaf out of the direct-to-consumer rulebook and create a distribution approach that not only gives it more say, but enables more direct conversations. 

Nike is now working on strengthening its relationship with other smaller retailers. At Foot Locker’s new NYC flagship, for example, NikePlus app users can reserve shoes in advance and pick them up from dedicated lockers.

On a direct-to-consumer level, it is launching services like the Nike Adventure Club, a sneaker subscription for kids aged 2-10 where for a monthly fee, they receive a certain number of sneakers a year. The brand is targeting time-strapped parents who live in areas that perhaps don’t have a shoe store nearby. Instead of restoring to the convenience of Amazon when their child has moved up a shoe size, Nike is hoping these parents will choose a box service with a trusted brand instead.

This is also a chance for the brand to test out the subscription model, and potentially apply it to other consumer groups in the future, says David Cobban, general manager of Nike Adventure Club.  “We’re starting to think about what other athletes have problems that could be very easily solved by a subscription,” he said. “This is the beginning of something pretty exciting for Nike.”

For all of the sales volume that Nike will be losing by exiting Amazon, the sports brand is hard at work building a tight strategy where convenience meets personalization, which will likely pay off in the near future. 

This is perhaps where Amazon continues to falter – both in the eyes of its vendors and consumers. Next day delivery and low prices come at the price of the user experience, which still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to discoverability and bringing up (relevant) recommendations. 

Consumers may currently be fully onboard with the endless hamster wheel of speed and low value, but only time will tell if that will be enough to fulfill their more nuanced needs, such as creating emotional connections. Nike is betting on the latter.

How are you thinking about experience? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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business Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick product Retail

The rise of livestream shopping: From Kim Kardashian to hypebeasts

In the build up to this year’s Singles’ Day event in China (Nov 11), Kim Kardashian West took to TMall to co-host a live streaming shopping session with one of the country’s top-selling influencers, Viya Huang. The event drew in 13 million viewers and helped Kim K sell her entire stock of 15,000 bottles of KKW perfume in just a few minutes.

Broadcasting shopping events have long been a success in Asia, a region that often leapfrogs the West when it comes to responding to its audience’s want-it-now behaviors with digital tools. In 2018, the genre generated $4.4bn in sales in China alone. 

To further put in perspective the success of the feature on TMall, Huang, who joined Kardashian West on-screen during the broadcast, previously broke a record on the platform in October when she sold almost $50m in one day. 

In this case, the benefits of the partnership were twofold: while for Kardashian West it meant tapping into a mature audience and expanding her already huge visibility in Asia, for TMall, this served as a testing ground for its Global Influencer Ecosystem, a program that aims to train and support 2,000 influencers around the world.

Kim Kardashian’s TMall livestream

Live streaming has its origins beyond retail, and is part of a much wider voyeuristic nature the internet helped incubate – from watching people play video games on sites like Twitch, to the huge popularity of unboxing videos on YouTube. 

Brands following suit feels only natural as a result. Sprinkle in some influencer dust, and you’ve got a recipe for success. 

But this fairly new behavior is also an offshoot of a much wider trend for immediacy, or blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tactics that retailers have long deployed with flash sales and limited edition products.

You only need to look at the long-standing popularity of shopping channels like QVC and HSN, which combined brought in $3.1bn in sales during Q1 2019, to find the winning strategy: a charismatic host who sells a single product with a masterful sense of urgency, either focusing on its price or exclusivity, urging viewers to call in. But how do you refresh that model to suit the younger generation whose mobile-first behaviors mean they don’t watch live television, or even pick up the phone?

Enter platforms like NTWRK, a self-described QVC for Gen Z and Millennials, whose second round of funding included the likes of Foot Locker, Live Nation and rapper Drake. The app broadcasts live sessions where hosts, who are often celebrities or musicians, will sell limited edition goods – from sneakers to concert tickets – only available for the duration of the show. This, according to the platform, is “shopping at the speed of culture.” 

NTWRK could also represent the next step in hypebeast – or urban streetwear – culture, adding an extra level of exclusivity now that queueing outside stores has become a secondary market in itself.

Meanwhile H&M’s young brand Monki recently hosted an experience on its own e-commerce site where its fashion editor and a buyer discussed fashion trends and their favorite products of the season, while viewers could shop the products and even replay the video once it had ended.

Monki’s livestream

The popularity of these platforms and one-off events show that appetite is definitely there, much like in Asia. But in order to create a seamless shopping experience and keep customers coming back, brands and tech platforms still have a few kinks to resolve. 

Firstly, there is the issue of internet connection, which will undoubtedly improve once 5G has hit the masses. Then, there is creating a user experience that enables viewers to shop while never having to leave the stream to add their payment information or check out. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it will be up to brands and retailers creating these streams to enlist hosts and create experiences that will grab and keep the attention of a notoriously fickle demographic.

It will be interesting to watch this space mature. A trend that is so clearly influenced by a tried-and-tested retail format – TV shopping networks – highlights how innovation is often about evolution, and not reinvention. Finding what works, and updating it to the digitally-led generation.

How are you thinking about new Innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product Retail social media

3 ways streetwear is reinventing the product ‘drop’

The streetwear ‘drop’ model of drip-feeding products in order to generate a constant sense of newness is now a tried and tested one. But as luxury brands and retailers borrow from its success recipe, the big question is: is the hype bubble about to burst?

While many of streetwear’s forefathers now claim the once-niche movement is long-dead, brands are still finding different ways to capitalize on such an invested audience. Beyond product releases that draw crowds outside stores at major capitals, from New York to Tokyo, there is a new level of creativity being deployed in order to keep the momentum going.

Here, we highlight the most disruptive ways in which streetwear brands are continuing to achieve the same level of frenzy:

Reinventing the scavenger hunt
Fred Perry x Raf Simons

The traditional ‘drop’ strategy involved feeding the audience with specific release dates and locations, and waiting for the masses of eager streetwear fanatics to show up and queue. But as a system of resale and unfair buying behaviors began to develop, brands had to rethink their strategy.

By gamifying the drop experience, consumers feel a bigger sense of ownership and emotional response to the whole experience – in other words, by making them work for it, they value their purchases, and the brand, more.

At last year’s ComplexCon taking place in Long Beach, California, adidas was arguably the biggest sportswear presence with a number of activation booths throughout. But it took advantage of the larger-than-life venue by deploying giant cubes that hung from the ceiling and facilitated the purchase of limited edition shoes.

Through the ComplexCon app, it told Con-goers of the exact time a new model was about to drop. Users were then encouraged to stand under one of the cubes and scan to gain access to the e-commerce page and proceed to purchase. As a result, before the clock struck every few hours, one could see small crowds gathering under the cubes, hoping to be able to ‘cop’ the shoe before anyone else.

Fred Perry meanwhile, took it to the digital sphere to promote its latest collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons. It created a Google Streetview-like experience where, by visiting a virtual map of a suburban English town, users could navigate its empty streets to spot people wearing the latest collection. Once they found someone sporting the new look, they could click it to purchase, and be led to an e-commerce page.

Rewarding post-purchase
Converse’s Chuck Stop café

If digital channels have made it far too easy to get one’s hands on a limited edition item, then brands should also be focusing on the important post-purchase moment as an opportunity for creating longer-term bonds. In doing so, brands are creating a never-ending cycle of engagement, with a clear reward keeping fans coming back for more.

To promote Air Max Day, Nike’s yearly celebration of the Air Max shoe, the brand launched a virtual store where limited edition items could only be accessed if the consumer showed proof they had already purchased the latest model of the shoe in the first place. Logging in a purchase number generated Air Max ‘credits’ that were put into a virtual wallet, which then allowed access to items such as bottles, socks and stickers.

Meanwhile, when launching the latest iteration of its much-hyped collaboration with Off-White last October, Converse rewarded consumers with access to an exclusive experience at Selfridges in London. Any consumer wearing any item of Chuck Taylor clothing, and having bought the new shoes at sneaker retailer Offspring’s concession at the store, were given a Converse “coffee loyalty card”.

This granted them access to the Chuck Stop café, where they could enjoy a drink and a bagel, pick up freebies like tote bags and socks, and add their own graffiti to a wall.

Tapping into social
Nike x HQ Trivia’s limited edition kicks

Social media is arguably the most important driver of the popularity of streetwear – from enabling users to discover and covet new brands or products, as well as connecting labels to a larger community that keep their popularity going.

Ultimate rivals Nike and adidas are often the first ones to tap into new channels of engagement, in a constant battle for the top spot in positive consumer sentiment (and spending). Last year, amid the craze surrounding live gaming app HQ Trivia, Nike sponsored a live game that included access to exclusive shoes and a cash giveaway of $100,000. Previously, it had taken to Snapchat to pre-release Air Jordans at an NBA after-party in Los Angeles. Only guests on-site could scan Snapcodes to gain access to purchase.

Adidas has also played with Snapchat, and recently used Apple’s “AirDrop” functionality on the iPhone to gift attendees at Coachella Valley Music Festival with a new shoe collaboration with musician Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino).

Also leveraging social is NTWRK, a new social media platform by Aaron Levant, the former founder of Complexcon. Dubbed as the “HSN of streetwear” and with ambitions to become a full-on entertainment platform, the app works by broadcasting live bite-sized ‘shows’ that feature exclusive product drops. Users who wish to get their hands on product, which includes collabs with the likes of Levi’s and New Balance, need to log into the app at the exact time the show airs.

How are you thinking about retail and product innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick Retail technology

Walmart “IRL” concept investigates the future of retail through AI

Walmart is investigating the future of retail with the launch of the Intelligent Retail Lab (or “IRL”), a concept store where AI will be playing a major role at delivering convenience and relevancy.

For this concept launch, led by Walmart’s tech incubator Store N8, the retailer transformed one of its busiest locations, in Levittown, New York, into a 50,000 sq ft space where features such as intelligence-enabled cameras and interactive displays aim to enhance customer experience.

“The scope of what we can do operationally is so exciting,” says Mike Hanrahan, CEO of IRL. “Technology enables us to understand so much more – in real time – about our business. When you combine all the information we’re gathering in IRL with Walmart’s 50-plus years of expertise in running stores, you can create really powerful experiences that improve the lives of both our customers and associates.”

IRL is set up to gather information about what is happening inside the store, and how consumers are behaving, through a variety of sensors, cameras and processors, all of which are connected through a powerful data processing center.

The initial focus is on product inventory and availability, says Hanrahan. In this instance, an example sees a combination of cameras and analytics that will automatically trigger out-of-stock notifications to an internal app when a shelf is empty, alerting staff of the need for restocking. Other applications will look at practical solutions that keep the store running smoothly, such as making sure shopping carts are available and registers are open.

This is because at this initial phase the main focus will be on data-gathering and learning about the technology and its potentials and pitfalls, rather than implementing it across operations in haste. “You can’t be overly enamored with the shiny object element of AI,” added Hanrahan. “There are a lot of shiny objects out there that are doing things we think are unrealistic to scale and probably, long-term, not beneficial for the consumer.”

Adding an element of science fiction to the whole experience, customers will be able to glimpse through a glass wall at the store’s large data center, which will process 1.6tb of data per second – which can be compared to downloading three year’s worth of music (27,000 hours) each second. They can also become better informed about the features being tested in store through information stations scattered throughout. Lastly, an AI-enabled wall adds an element of play by imitating shopper movements as they walk by.

The Data Center inside Walmart’s IRL store

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

Adidas, Reebok & Patagonia top Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index

Sports and outdoor brands adidas, Reebok and Patagonia are leading the charge in the fashion industry’s mission towards transparency, according to Fashion Revolution’s latest index released today.

This year, the three brands are tied at the top reaching 64% of 250 possible points, marking it the first time any fashion brand has crossed the 60% threshold since the report’s first edition in 2017. Completing the top five is Esprit (62%) and H&M (61%). H&M will likely soon move a few points ahead as only yesterday it announced it is now listing all supplier and factory information on individual products on its e-commerce pages.

“The progress we are seeing this year, coupled with the feedback Fashion Revolution has received from brands, suggests that inclusion in the Fashion Transparency Index has motivated major fashion brands to be more transparent,” says Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution’s policy director and report author. “We are seeing many brands publishing their supplier lists and improving their scores year on year,” she adds.

The Index rates fashion brand’s and retailer’s transparency levels by measuring their performance in five key areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, supplier assessment and remediation, and spotlight issues.

This year, the list of brands analyzed increased from 98 to 200. Other brands ranked include C&A, Puma, Marks & Spencer, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, all who remained in the top 10 from 2018, scoring between 51-60%. Luxury, specifically, is beginning to open up to displaying supply chain information, though numbers are still low compared to high performers: Gucci and Bottega Veneta, the highest scoring brands to be reviewed, make the 31-40% score.

“There is still a lot of work to be done”, adds Ditty. “Detailed information about the outcomes and impacts of their efforts is still lacking. The average score amongst the biggest fashion brands and retailers is just 21%, showing that there are still far too many big brands lagging behind.”

“Major brands are disclosing very little information and data about their purchasing practices, which means that we still don’t have visibility into what brands are doing to be responsible business partners to their suppliers.”

This year, the report also deep dives into four of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which it believes is imperative to achieve greater transparency in the fashion industry. These are: Gender Equality, Decent Work, Sustainable Consumption, Production and Climate Action.

For example, findings highlight that brands are not disclosing enough information on their efforts to empower women and girls and increase gender equality, or how they are addressing gender-based labor violations in garment factories. Furthermore, it emphasizes that although 55% of the 200 brands publish annual carbon footprint in their company websites, only 19.5% disclose carbon emissions within their own supply chains, which is where over 50% of the industry’s emissions occur.

Since Monday, Fashion Revolution has been running its annual Fashion Revolution Week, a global series of activations and marketing efforts that aim to advocate for increased transparency in the industry, while calling for consumer to ask brands about who made their clothes. The report’s publishing date, as well as the accompanying global awareness campaign, aligns with the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people on April 24, 2013.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your sustainability strategy. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Podcast product

Universal Standard on leveling the playing field for ‘plus-size’ fashion

“We really and truly believe that the plus size woman will never be serviced as well as she will be when there’s no such thing as plus size,” say Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler, co-founders of size-inclusive label, Universal Standard, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Fashion tends to segregate women who are on the larger end of the spectrum, they say, and so they’re on a mission to level the playing field and make clothes for everyone. To that end, the brand, which had already gained a cult-like following for its size-inclusive clothing since launching in 2015, introduced an even larger range in 2018, from 00 to 40 – an industry first.

Understanding how women of all sizes shop has been key to the brand’s success, which last year also raised its first round of investment from the likes of GOOP’s Gwyneth Paltrow, TOMS’ Blake Mycoskie and Imaginary Ventures’ Natalie Massenet. They’ve also introduced collaborations with brands including J.Crew and as of just this week, Rodarte.

Much like many direct-to-consumer counterparts, the e-commerce experience is playing a major part in its popularity: all of its SKUs can be viewed at every size available within the range, making it easier for women to compare and make confident decisions; and its Universal Fit Liberty Program allows shoppers to replace their purchase, free of charge, within a year of completing it, should they go up or down in size.

During this conversation, recorded at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion at SXSW this year, Waldman and Veksler break down the many product development challenges that come with the industry’s traditional fit formula; tell co-host Rachel Arthur what they’re putting in place to reduce hostility to women of larger size ranges, and share why their bold moves are shifting the way the whole industry approaches this market.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick Retail

Macy’s rolls out experiential Story retail concept across 36 locations?

Macy’s is launching Story, the narrative-driven shop-in-shop concept across the country, one year after purchasing the retailer as it boosts its experiential capabilities. 

The original STORY concept started as a standalone retail space in NYC where the overarching theme and merchandise would change every six weeks, offering customers a constantly evolving shopping and events experience. Now within Macy’s stores, the inaugural theme will be “Color”, as customers can explore the theme through a curation of giftable products and more than 300 colour-inspired events.

“The discovery-led, narrative experience of STORY gives new customers a fresh reason to visit our stores and gives the current Macy’s customer even more reason to come back again and again throughout the year,” said Jeff Gennette, Macy’s, Inc. chairman & chief executive officer. “We’re excited about the potential for STORY and are happy to be launching Color STORY in 36 stores today.” 

Like the original concept, themes will change every few months and feature brand collaborations and dynamic event programming. For this iteration, more than 70 small businesses featuring 400 products will come together under the multicolored space, which allows guests to shop cross-category – from womenswear to home. This includes brands selling everything from gourmet chocolate bars to sunglasses and DTC kidswear clothing. Known names such as MAC Cosmetics, Crayola and Levi’s are joining in with exclusive merchandise and activations.

For example, MAC Cosmetics will offer its “Make Your Own” palette stations across 30 select STORY at Macy’s locations, while shoppers will also be able to book in beauty classes with makeup artists. Crayola will be hosting hands-on workshops that hope to inspire inventive uses of its products, such as creating custom patches to adorn Levi’s Kids denim jackets. Levi’s Kids will also be previewing a selection of the wider Levi’s x Crayola collaboration which will debut during the back-to-school season.

Ahead of the launch, Macy’s trained and hired more than 270 dedicated STORY Managers and STORYtellers in its new “Know + Tell” training programme, which aims to arm staff with skills in experiential retail – from building fixtures to customer engagement and event production.

Speaking of the launch, Rachel Shechtman, founder of STORY who joined Macy’s as its brand experience officer 18 months ago, said: “The simultaneous launch of STORY at Macy’s in 36 stores across 15 states is the successful outcome of a reimagined approach to cross-functional collaboration and the work of more than 300 Macy’s colleagues who contributed to creating this new, scalable business model nationwide.”

At the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in NYC earlier this year, Schechtman took the stage with Gennette to talk about how she has been approaching the STORY integration into the legacy retailer over the past 18 months. The major focus is on curation and scalability, she says, while staying true to the Macy’s DNA.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Bose and Coachella team up on audio augmented reality festival experience

Festival-goers at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this weekend will be able to access exclusive audio content via Bose’s new audio augmented reality sunglasses.

The audio company has worked with Goldenvoice, the creators of the festival’s app, to enhance the platform with audio features that only work once paired with the smart glasses.

“We’re proud to see this exclusive content made available through Bose AR at Coachella,” said Crystal MacKenzie, head of marketing for Bose AR. “Fans who pair their Bose Frames with the app while attending the show will be able to spend more time looking up and seeing what’s going on around them, while accessing information that will help make their experience even better.”

The Bose AR sunglasses feature small speakers integrated into its frame, which for this experience will push real-time updates on the festival’s schedule, as well as notify wearers of when their favorite act is about to perform.

The smart frames will be available to buy at the festival grounds and Bose’s ecommerce website, for those who wish to purchase it beforehand.

This marks the first time that Bose’s new smart glasses and audio augmented reality technology will be featured fully operating in a consumer-facing scenario. At this year’s SXSW festival, the company introduced the glasses for the first time alongside a host of apps that have its technology plugged in. The aim was to showcase the many different applications the smart feature has, such as a tool for the blind, or enabling golfers to know the next hole information without having to check their phones.

Recently Huawei and Gentle Monster also announced their take on smart glasses, which allow for phone calls and voice assistant interaction. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft are also all said to be working on their own versions.

Additional reporting by Camilla Rydzek.

How are you thinking about product innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.