Sustainable textile start-ups focused on everything from mushroom leather to nanotechnology tracers are among the first cohort for Plug and Play and Fashion for Good’s new accelerator programme in partnership with Kering.
A total of 12 young businesses have been selected from over 250 applicants, based on the impact their innovations can have on the supply chain. They vary from new raw materials that will reduce fashion’s environmental impacts, to alternative production methods that will increase clothes’ longevity, and the development of new processes that will enable closed-loop product lifecycles.
They include Agraloop, which collects waste from fibrous food-crop production and transforms them into textiles; Amadou, which is a renewable, biodegradable and low-environmental-impact leather made from mushrooms; Dragon, a novel water purification technology that operates off light energy; Dropel, a bio-degradable polymer that repels watery or oily substances;
ICA Bremen, which uses nanotechnology to introduce scan-able tracers into fibres of organic cotton; and MySource, which is a network matching fashion professionals to the connections and information they need to build successful, sustainable businesses.
Also securing a place are MycoTex, another mushroom-based textile shaped on custom-fitted moulds; Pili-bio, which uses microorganisms in a bid to phase-out petrochemical, non-renewable dyes; RePack, which is looking to reduce the carbon footprint of e-commerce packaging by 80%; Sundar, a supply chain platform connecting manufactures and suppliers of textiles, trims, accessories and garments with brands and retailers; Tersus, a water-free technology offering a replacement to conventional high-polluting fibre and apparel cleaning processes; and Tipa, a biodegradable and compostable packaging solution made from bio-plastics.
“These 12 exciting start-ups are helping the world reimagine how fashion is designed, made, worn and reused. They were chosen because they can all play a pivotal role in achieving the Five Goods of a new, transformed fashion industry: Good Materials, Good Economy, Good Energy, Good Water and Good Lives. The Plug and Play – Fashion for Good Accelerator nurtures and funds early-stage ideas, business models and technologies likes these to scale them and embed them into the industry. We can’t wait to get it started,” said Leslie Johnston of C&A Foundation, the founding partner of Fashion for Good.
The 12 start-ups will now enter a three-month programme during which Plug and Play, Fashion for Good and Kering will support them in scaling-up their innovations by providing mentoring, training, networking opportunities and other valuable resources.
“The key to sustainable progress is innovation, and the ingenuity and endless possibilities that these 12 start-ups have brought to us is truly impressive,” said Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs of Kering. “We look forward to working closely with them to achieve operational practicality, and at the scale required for widespread adoption so that we can support the transformational change that is critically needed in our industry.”
Kering’s aim is to stimulate disruptive innovation, transform conventional processes in luxury, and enable the widespread adoption of sustainable practices.
The wider Fashion for Good programme also includes an apparel acceleration fund that aims to catalyse access to finance, an open-source guide proving that Good Fashion is feasible today and shows brands how to embrace it, and a launchpad exhibition to inform and inspire the public to be part of its larger movement.
It’s also heavily focused on a sense of community along with its other partners beyond the accelerator supported by Plug and Play and Kering, including C&A, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Impact Hub Amsterdam, McDonough Innovation, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).
There’s a lot to catch up on from the past fortnight – from news of the see-now-buy-now revolution’s fading, to LVMH’s e-commerce plans and Gucci’s meme campaign, not to mention the creative director shifts happening at the likes of Givenchy and Chloé.
On top of that however, is also a special digest of everything you need to know from SXSW – from our own round-up of the top technologies on show and the numerous Levi’s, Marc Jacobs and Bolt Threads announcements, through to varying views on areas including chatbots, drones and more.
If that’s not enough, do also take time to read the much deeper dives on artificial intelligence we’ve highlighted both under the top stories and tech headers too.
The see-now-buy-now revolution is fizzling [Glossy]
LVMH goes digital with all its brands under one luxury goods e-commerce site [FT]
#TFWGucci is the new viral campaign merging memes and fashion [Sleek]
WWD worked with IBM Watson’s AI to predict the biggest trends of the season [WWD]
Why Cosabella replaced its agency with AI and will never go back to humans [Campaign]
SXSW 2017: Tech takeaways from AI to blockchain for the fashion and retail industries [F&M]
Trying on the Levi’s and Google smart jacket at SXSW feels like the future [Forbes]
Why Marc Jacobs’ cynical view of fashion and technology at SXSW won’t last [Forbes]
Bolt Threads is launching its first bioengineered spider silk product at SXSW – a tie [Forbes]
My afternoon at the virtual reality cinema, including trying the Spatium Philip Treacy experience [USA Today]
For fashion brands flocking to SXSW, what’s the ROI? [BoF]
Spotify lets The North Face release campaign where it rains [BrandChannel]
Personalisation looks to be at the heart of what L’Oréal is focusing on with the first five start-ups selected to participate in its accelerator programme with Founders Factory.
Unique skincare solutions, customisable nail design and offline-to-online targeting feature among the early-stage companies, which pitched for their place amid a group of 180 other start-ups.
InsitU is a personalised, natural skincare brand available online and founded by a scientist who holds a nuclear medicine PhD, for instance, while Preemadonna is a nailbot device and app that enables users to design and print art onto their nails using their phones.
Cosmose, founded by a Polish entrepreneur and already successful in Asia, uses location technology to target offline customers via online channels. There’s also Veleza, an app-based community of beauty consumers that helps users discover products that best match their needs, and Tailify, which connects brand to social media influencers.
Over a six-month period, the group will receive intensive support from the Founders Factory in-house operations team as well as deep scientific insights from L’Oréal, alongside access to their marketing, research and innovation departments. Head over to Forbes to read more about it.
100,000: that’s the number of additional customers Westfield Bespoke is estimated to have brought in to the Westfield San Francisco Centre since it opened last year. In the grand scheme of the millions of shoppers who visit the mall annually otherwise, that’s may not seem too much – but this was initially a mere experiment by the company.
Bespoke is a community based on those exploring how shopping evolves at the hands of technology. Situated on the fourth floor of the centre, it offers a trifecta of co-working space for retail tech start-ups, event space for numerous partners to use, and demo space to make testing of retail formats and new tech all the more possible with real world consumers.
It not only helps brings in extra traffic, therefore, but more importantly enables the company to better understand the technologies its retailers needs to be aware of in the future. Indeed the Westfield Corporation has shifted from landlord to broad retail partner. It now goes above and beyond offering tenancy agreements, to helping shape more successful commercial businesses with those it houses in its malls worldwide.
Head over to Forbes to read the full interview with Lindsey Thomas, VP of marketing and communications at Westfield Labs, the group’s digital lab under which Bespoke falls. She uncovers more about the past year, how the new space is evolving and the plans to work with additional start-ups under its Connected Commerce Accelerator in collaboration with R/GA Ventures.
One of the most interesting things about taking a decent summer break, and particularly one in August, is observing what happens during that time. Traditionally still the month that most of Europe closes down, it is also the time just before fashion weeks begin again and therefore the perfect opportunity for quiet on the news front full stop. We’ve certainly noticed that with regards to digital campaigns or tech stories over the past six years that Fashion & Mash has been running. And yet, not so much this year…
August 2016 proved busier than ever in terms of news in this space, ranging from Burberry’s new see-now buy-now campaign to Kate Spade’s wearables launch, Dior’s WeChat moves and various new high-tech store openings. What that does of course is continue to prove the relevancy of this world to the industry’s growth and success.
Read on for a full breakdown of what you might have missed…
PS. We’ve rebranded our regular “Digital Snippets” series to this “What you missed” feature in a bid to bring you a broader range of relevant stories, as well as a breakdown by category to make your consumption that much easier. Note: this version includes a month’s worth of links – normal weekly service will now resume.
PPS. A new must-read site/newsletter in this space is LeanLuxe – edited by Paul Munford, and providing “stories, analysis, and opinion on the world of modern luxury business”.
Fashion needs a more robust approach to technology education [BoF]
Burberry reveals campaign it hopes will woo shoppers to first ‘straight-to-consumer’ collection [The Drum]
Dior in first with luxury WeChat handbags [China Daily]
Consumers prefer see now, buy now, wear now model, says Verdict [The Industry]
Luxury armageddon: Even Chanel takes a hit as sales and profits plunge [Trendwalk]
Gucci among world’s hottest fashion brands, while Prada cools [BoF]
Prada sales slide as weak demand weighs on luxury-goods maker [Bloomberg]
Macy’s to shutter 100 stores as online players pressure brick-and-mortar [WWD]
How Demna Gvasalia is revolutionising Balenciaga from the inside out [Vogue]
Burberry sponsors Snapchat Lens for My Burberry Black launch [The Industry]
For Kit and Ace, Snapchat doubles as a TV channel and customer service assistant [Digiday]
Nike and others dive into Instagram Stories: why marketers already like it better than Snapchat [AdAge]
While some retailers ignore Snapchat, others are killing it with lens and geofilter ads [AdWeek]
Snapchat found a way to bring its ads to the real world [QZ]
Burberry becomes first luxury brand to personalise on Pinterest [Marketing Week]
Grindr officially gets into the menswear game [Fashionista]
There are lots of updates this past week on interesting textile developments – from the spider silk of Bolt Threads to Spiber, both of which have announced new deals with Patagonia and The North Face respectively. Also worth a read is the anonymous social media exec spilling secrets to Digiday, not to mention the idea that we will all indeed be buying our designer clothing in the future on Amazon. If that’s not enough, further fashion and tech news from the past fortnight spans Birchbox’s use of Facebook Live to a breakdown of how brands are using Snapchat. Read on for all…
L’Oréal invests in Founders Factory digital start-up incubator [BrandChannel]
Bolt Threads raises $50 million to brew spider silk, inks deal with Patagonia [TechCrunch]
Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: ‘We threw too much money at them’ [Digiday]
People will eventually buy their designer clothing on Amazon, because they buy everything there [Quartz]
Everlane’s Shoe Park interactive pop-up offers self-guided shopping [Footwear News]
How Birchbox uses Facebook Live videos to engage consumers [Retail Dive]
How Frank + Oak built a modern loyalty program for men [Glossy]
ASOS is the latest retailer to announce plans to support start-ups with a dedicated accelerator programme. The London-based e-commerce company is partnering with Wayra UK (part of telecommunications company Telefónica’s Open Future division), to run a search for the world’s most innovative young fashion technology businesses.
The aim is to find those that will make the ASOS experience easier, more enjoyable and more personalised for its 11 million customers around the world.
This translates to meaningful solutions that allow customers to find the perfect item among the 80,000+ products on ASOS.com; native mobile and web experiences; technology that can further the company’s fulfilment proposition; and new ways of understanding and rewarding customers.
“ASOS has always been known as a digital leader and this partnership will help us continue to serve the needs of our customers as they evolve. There are specific areas where we would like to accelerate innovation, but we are also excited to hear what ideas come back from the start-ups themselves,” says Cliff Cohen, ASOS CIO.
Importantly, the team is not looking for start-ups in the wearable tech, 3D printing or fashion design space. What they do want are mature start-ups with proven track records of developing technologies, products and services that will complement the ASOS experience.
Over the course of eight months, the chosen start-ups will have access to office space within Wayra UK’s academy in central London, intensive mentoring, and £34,000 in direct investment. The businesses will also have potential access to Telefónica’s customer base (more than 300 million) and ASOS’s networks locally and globally.
Telefónica has previously worked with start-ups including RotaGeek, which enabled O2 to reinvest £2.5M in customer experience with its smart scheduling system, and Qudini, which is now the preferred queue management system for Telefónica across 21 countries.
“[These] are great proof-points as to how we can help ASOS disrupt the fashion retail space and internationalise the propositions our start-ups are developing,” says Bridget Lea, retail Director at Telefónica UK.
The call for start-up submissions is open until 9am on Monday May 23 via Wayra.co.uk/ASOS.
British retailer Topshop is aiming to bring technology-enabled fashion product to its consumers with the launch of a start-up programme focused on wearables.
Top Pitch, as it’s called, aims to discover and co-develop prototypes that move wearable technology further into the fashion arena while retaining functionality that delivers for the user. The initiative is run in collaboration with corporate innovation and early stage investment company, L Marks.
It comes at a time when wearable technology is an increasing consideration in the retail market; the outcome of ever-connected consumers, coupled with advances in technology (proliferation of sensors, evolution of batteries, cloud computing and such like) making product delivery increasingly possible.
While the fashion industry has been playing in the space for some time, there’s not yet been anything that has truly resonated to a mass audience. Early examples varied from garments that light up for stage performances, or quirky t-shirts and footwear that can send and receive Tweets on the user’s behalf, for instance.
More recently, a shift was seen towards collaborations with technology companies to produce accessories for existing devices (Tory Burch and Public School for FitBit and Hermès for Apple, for instance), or with Intel to create new products like Opening Ceremony’s MICA bracelet.
The aim with each was to demonstrate the role design must play in making wearables that consumers actually want to “wear”. From a functionality perspective, however, the majority of releases to date have still been geared around the fitness or communications space.
Seemingly, there’s a space in the market for something that not only appeals to consumers from an aesthetic perspective, but offers broad desired utility. Wearables will only get to the point of mass adoption if indeed they provide something to the user that is in-keeping with what they like to wear and don’t just do something they get bored of and discard.
Which is what Topshop is hoping to find. “The merge of style and function has yet to have been seen in a true consumer-ready sense and our aim is to discover new-to-market, highly desirable product at accessible prices for our fashion-savvy customer,” says Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director at Topshop.
Top Pitch then is an invitation for start-ups in the smart accessories or emerging apparel space to participate in a month-long bootcamp, which culminates in a presentation to Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green. Each will have access to a group of mentors* from across the fashion and technology world, including Maddy Evans, fashion director at Topshop, Bethany Koby, co-founder and CEO, Technology Will Save Us; and (full disclosure) myself – Rachel Arthur, journalist and founder of Fashion & Mash.
It’s a move that makes sense for such a brand: one with a tech-savvy youth consumer keen to explore in this space, an attitude to democratising fashion – thus drive to find the right products at the right price – and an ongoing commitment to supporting and championing emerging talent across the creative industries.
Adds Stuart Marks, chairman of L Marks: “Top Pitch is such a great opportunity for entrepreneurs working on a wearable technology product. When presenting to buyers, it is always better to know them really well. What better way is there to learn about Topshop than work in collaboration with them for four weeks, developing your brand and strategy as well as the direction your product will take.”
At the end of the programme, the most promising team (judged on designing a product with utility, relevance and style for the Topshop customer) will be awarded the chance to secure equity investment and potential to see their product in Topshop stores in the future.
For further information or to apply for a place, visit www.toppitch.co. Closing date for applications is May 22, 2016.
The initiative is looking for applicants that can impact connected commerce, redefine the mall or in-store experience, or enhance a consumer’s engagement with brands at any stage of the transaction process. It will run with other program partners including Macy’s, Shopify Plus, Bank of America Merchant Services and Verizon.
“Access to these diverse commerce leaders will provide unparalleled opportunities for start-ups seeking to create innovative experiences and technologies at the intersection of digital and physical commerce,” reads the write-up.
Those participating will also have the opportunity to join roundtable discussions on innovation and forward-looking research with the program partners as well as third-party experts from around the globe. The aim of doing so is to inspire and inform as well as help identify potential market opportunities for the program start-ups.
“At Westfield Labs we are committed to building digital experiences that connect consumers with our retail partners,” said Kevin McKenzie, global chief digital officer at Westfield Corp. “Our team is thrilled to collaborate with top ranked agency R/GA and world-class retail partners to evangelize and promote talent and innovation in the commerce space.”
“R/GA is honored to work with partners who are leading the discussion about the future of commerce,” added Stephen Plumlee, global chief operating officer of R/GA and managing partner of R/GA Ventures, which is the division behind the R/GA Connected Commerce Accelerator. “We look forward to bringing the unique value of our award-winning global talent pool and client relationships to this program. Our model has proven that it creates incremental long-term value for founders, investors, and our program partners.”
The program is looking for start-ups focused on in-store experiences, mobile commerce, payments, merchandising, customer service, analytics, CRM and loyalty, conversational and social commerce, blockchain, POS, delivery and distribution, VR/AR commerce experiences, inventory and workforce management, and more.
Up to 10 start-ups will be selected to participate in the program, which will take place in San Francisco starting on August 1, 2016. The program will conclude in late October with an invite-only Demo Day at which each start-up will have the opportunity to present to investors and industry leaders from across the retail, e-commerce, and technology industries. Applications are open worldwide until May 23, 2016.