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business Campaigns Podcast Retail sustainability

Katharine Hamnett: Backing a Global Green New Deal

Introducing legislation along the lines of a Global Green New Deal is mandatory for the future of our planet and the existence of the fashion industry within it, says designer and activist Katharine Hamnett on the Innovators podcast. 

“That’s the dream, isn’t it? We reclaim the destroyed lands, we get out of burning fossil fuels and killing the planet, we go to renewables. People find interesting jobs, rewarding jobs… you know, building a better world – it’s exciting for everybody and is the way that we’ve got to go,” she explains. 

A Global Green New Deal suggests investment in key areas such as net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, clean air, water, access to nature and more. It’s not brand new, it’s an evolution on from a United Nations paper in 2009 that focused on helping power a job-rich global economic recovery through decarbonization, and before that a Franklin D Roosevelt term from the 1930s.  

While it’s got a lot of mixed opinions, it supports the idea ultimately that we need a stronger push around climate change legislation, and that the needs are now too big for businesses to do it alone. 

The commercial endeavours of industry full stop mean there just isn’t incentive enough there to do so in a way that results in any tangible change. So we have to make it mandatory, and, as per Hamnett’s thoughts, we have to lobby existing governments to introduce the sort of regulatory methods that will actually lead us somewhere. 

Rachel Arthur, co-founder & chief innovation officer of Current Global, with Katherine Hamnett

Hamnett herself is one of the original fashion activists. Her brand is now celebrating its 40th anniversary, but she is a designer that has become particularly well known for her t-shirts supporting various movements, from helping refugees to indeed, supporting a Global Green New Deal. And she’s now lobbying for it too. 

Join us as we dive into what her view is on the sort of regulations we need in the UK and Europe particularly, what activism today should really look like both for businesses and for us as individuals, and why she doesn’t believe the answer is about reducing how many clothes we all actually buy.

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

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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business Editor's pick sustainability Uncategorized

Patagonia is in the business to save the planet, says CEO Rose Marcario?

 

As climate change becomes real, Patagonia is striving to do more good, rather than just less harm, said its CEO, Rose Marcario, at NRF’s Big Show in New York yesterday.

“Patagonia is in the business to save our home planet,” reads the outerwear brand’s updated mission statement.

In the 90s the company’s strategy around sustainability was considered groundbreaking because supply chain wasn’t so much in the consumer’s mind, she adds. But with consumers being more informed than ever and climate change becoming increasingly tangible –  as the recent fires in California have shown – brands should strive to be much more proactive. 

The California-based company has been working on its activism for the past 35 years, but recently it has upped its efforts in speaking up for environmental issues, and supporting its consumers to do the same.

“The reality is we have been proportionally responding to what’s happening,” explains Marcario, rather than making a conscious effort to be louder. For example, it recently donated $10m from tax cuts it received from the Trump administration to environmental causes. It also openly backed two political candidates in Nevada and Montana who had sustainability at the core of their campaigns, and launched the Patagonia Action Works platform, enabling its community to give back locally. 

One could argue that being sustainable is a risky move. Marcario however believes the brand’s success has been a natural evolution, as it started as a catalog company in the 70s and therefore has always had a close relationship with the consumer. “For us it hasn’t been a big risk. We’ve been funding activism for three decades,” she adds, saying that so far the company has given over $100m dollars to grassroots environmental programs, partly because it knows how little funding goes towards environmental NGOs.

The future of the planet is not entirely bleak, however. Although some brands are still nervous to step out of their comfort zones, Marcario believes a lot of them recognize the importance of working together in order to address more transparent supply chains as well as wider activism. For example, Patagonia and 400 other companies recently participated in the Time to Vote campaign, which gave employees time off to vote on the midterm elections in the US. As for climate change, when President Trump pulled the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a lot of US companies vouched to remain in.

“Anybody who is running a business recognizes it is important to keep going, and the cautionary tale is: don’t just stop on the first level,” Marcario says. “Keep asking questions and go deeper.”

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your sustainability strategy. TheCurrent 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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business Editor's pick sustainability

Clare Press on why brand activism matters today

“I think that it is absolutely indisputable that customers are asking for brands to have vision and to have purpose and to stand for more than just making something pretty,” says Clare Press, sustainability editor-at-large at Vogue Australia and author of the book Rise & Resist, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

This new wave of brand activism is backed by the fact there is plenty of evidence younger consumers are the most socially-engaged generation we’ve seen, she explains. The fight for social and political justice that is happening around the world, is feeding into a demanding for more from the goods and services they consume. “They’re looking for brands to represent something that strikes a chord with them, and that is meaningful to them,” she adds.

We haven’t seen consumer restlessness in as big a way as we’re seeing right now since the 1960s, she explains. But addressing that as brands, also comes with balance.

Gucci pre-fall 2018 campaign, #GucciDansLesRues


Numerous businesses have stepped into this space – Gucci for instance made headlines when it donated money to March For Our Lives, and the gun control movement in the US, in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Meanwhile Patagonia announced it is donating all of the $10m it saved from a tax cut in the Trump presidency towards environmental protection groups. But that only works when it’s authentic, Press notes.

“Customers can see when they’re being green washed; when things completely lack integrity, and it can backfire. Let’s not pretend that brands aren’t in the business of making money. Of course, they are. However, if we can use that in order to also try to do some good, well, doing good business, I think that’s a valid thing.”

Press’ role at Vogue Australia is the first dedicated to sustainability in any of the Vogue titles worldwide. It comes at a time when the industry is increasingly focused on making sustainability and purpose a long-term business imperative, which ties to her mission to continue driving momentum in this space. It’s on that basis she believes everything from climate change to gender equality, modern slavery and more are intertwined.

In conversation with TheCurrent’s Rachel Arthur, she explores exactly what that means, talks about the importance of every individual voice in the supply chain, and reveals just what feminism really has to do with fashion.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, 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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business Editor's pick sustainability

Purposeful innovation leads British Fashion Council award winners


“Purpose is the new luxury,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, at the British Fashion Council’s annual awards last night, which celebrated creativity and innovation from across the industry. 

He picked up the Special Recognition Award for Innovation, for his work recycling plastics recovered from the ocean into new products for brands including adidas, G-Star and Stella McCartney.

He echoed a theme that resonated throughout the evening focused on pushing for a positive revolution in light of climate change. “The planet is broken, the oceans are nearly dead and we need a dream of a magic blue universe that is well protected – something that we actually fight for together,” he said.

Also focused on this message was Dame Vivienne Westwood, who picked up the Swarovski Award for Positive Change. She used the occasion to give an impassioned speech about capitalism and the industry’s enormous responsibility to protect the planet.

Activism continued as a theme throughout the evening, with references made to Brexit, the Paris riots and even the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal revealed earlier this year.

Miuccia Prada, on reception of the Outstanding Achievement Award, added: “Just a little note for fashion, I think more and more we should feel a responsibility for defending human rights and freedom.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood

A surprise for guests meanwhile came when HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, arrived on stage to present the British womenswear designer of the year award to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, who was of course the designer behind the dress for her wedding to Prince Harry.

Meghan took the opportunity to reference female empowerment: “As all of you in this room know, we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes it’s very personal, sometimes it’s emotional. But for me, this connection is rooted in really being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women. When we choose to wear a certain designer, we’re not just a reflection of their creativity and their vision, but we’re also an extension of their values, of something in the fabric, so to speak, that is much more meaningful. I recently read an article that said, ‘The culture of fashion has shifted from one where it was cool to be cruel to now, where it’s cool to be kind’.”

Other awards during the evening went to Craig Green as menswear designer of the year, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga as accessories designer of the year, Marco Bizzarri for Gucci as business leader, and Virgil Abloh for Off-White, in the Urban Luxe category. Gucci won the brand of the year, while Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino picked up the overarching designer of the year award.

Emerging talent accolades went to Samuel Ross for A-COLD-WALL* and Richard Quinn, while Kaia Gerber picked up model of the year. There were also special recognition awards to Kim Jones as the 2018 trailblazer and to Mert & Marcus, who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator.

This year also marks the first time the awards have celebrated a young global creative community with the launch of the“NEW WAVE: Creatives”, which recognized 100 of the most innovative and inspiring young creative talent from around the world.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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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business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Brand activism, Adidas on evolving dark social, the role of augmented reality this holiday


TOP STORIES
  • The thorny business of brand activism [BoF]
  • How Adidas is evolving dark social to stay ahead of the game [Marketing Week]
  • Target’s Christmas tree sales aided by augmented-reality feature [Bloomberg
TECHNOLOGY
  • DeepMind’s AlphaZero now showing human-like intuition in historical ‘turning point’ for AI [Telegraph]
  • Alphabet’s Wing spinoff is about to launch drone deliveries in Finland [Technology Review]
  • Robot janitors are coming to mop floors at a Walmart near you [Bloomberg]
  • Athlete’s Foot announces new 3D tech [Retailbiz]
  • eBay will now authenticate luxury jewelry items [TechCrunch]
  • YNAP supports Hour of Code with fashion hackathon for London children [The Industry
  • 70% of consumers still want human interaction versus bots [Retail Dive]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • UN climate change chatbot makes saving the world personal [CNET]
  • Stella McCartney is on a quest to save you from the fashion industry [Wired]
  • Kering partners with Savory Institute for regenerative sourcing plan [WWD]
  • United Wardrobe launches program for brands to sell unsold stock [Fashion Network]
  • Why Chanel’s exotic skins ban is wrong [BoF]
  • Can transparency solve the consumer trust deficit? [BoF]
  • Stella McCartney, Burberry among fashion brands uniting against climate change [CNN]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Amazon Go cashierless stores are coming to airports [Venture Beat]
  • Alibaba signs agreement with Belgium for e-commerce trade hub [Fashion Network]
  • Why luxury shopping via WhatsApp, WeChat may be the future [SCMP]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Under Armour is running a YouTube series on IGTV [Digiday]
  • Love Magazine bringing video issue to YouTube [WWD
  • Coty unveils Google Assistant tool for Clairol [WWD]
  • Swiss hotel chain offers a ‘social media sitter’ to handle your Instagram while you relax [TheNext Web]
PRODUCT
  • Marc Jacobs set to launch affordable ‘The Marc Jacobs’ line [FashionNetwork]
  • Heineken launches capsule collection with Union [FashionUnited]
BUSINESS
  • Just 20 fashion companies are making almost all of the industry’s profits [Quartz]
  • Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin to take leave of absence [TheGuardian]
  • Calvin Klein is facing the fact that it’s a jeans-and-undies company now[Quartzy]
  • L’Oréal launches VC fund [WWD]
CULTURE
  • Virgil Abloh on the power of being creative without limits [Dazed]
  • K-pop’s popularity is starting to shape fashion worldwide [Vox]
  • The $4 trillion reason so many companies are rebranding for wellness [Quartzy]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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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business Campaigns

3 ways fashion brands weighed in on the US midterm elections

Tory Burch
Tory Burch

Fashion companies used to avoid dipping into politics, but with society facing greater polarisation than ever, consumers are expecting their favorite brands to speak up.

More than half of US consumers (52%) said a brand’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions this year, up three points from 2017, according to research published this week by The NPD Group.

“In this midterm election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor of The NPD Group.

With customers becoming more aware of what they support with their dollars, retailers don’t want to look like another callous corporation, but getting activism-based association right, is a challenge of authenticity.

Check out these three initiatives major brands took in the run-up to the US midterm elections:
 

Political backing from Patagonia

Patagonia
Patagonia

Known for its environmental activism, outdoor brand Patagonia took a step further this election. Not only did it join the Time to Vote campaign by closing stores nationwide to give employees the opportunity to get to their local polling stations, but it also made its first political endorsements in the brand’s history, supporting Democratic candidates Jackie Rosen and Jon Tester.

“The company is endorsing candidates for the first time this year because of the urgent and unprecedented threats to our public lands and waters. Nevada and Montana are two states where Patagonia has significant company history and a long record of conservation accomplishments, and where the stakes are too high to stay silent,” the company said in a statement.

In addition, the brand launched an entire section of its website to help customers “make a voting plan”, with links to information about candidates and polling places.
 

T-shirt endorsement from Moda Operandi, Tory Burch and Carbon 38

Moda Operandi
Moda Operandi

Limited-edition tees with “Vote” signs were on sale at numerous retailers to drive awareness around increased voter turnout. Moda Operandi even created a trunk show called “Vote 2018” dedicated to selling them. Tory Burch’s tee was among those featured on the luxury e-commerce site, with the proceeds going to Yara Shahidi’s Eighteen x 18. Prabal Gurung’s bamboo-cotton tee was also on sale, and sold out, with proceeds supporting Rock the Vote.

Activewear brand Carbon38 created 300 tanks emblazoned with “I Am a Voter”, producing a second run after selling out. All of the proceeds support groups including Democracy Works, Headcount, Nonprofit Vote, Rock the Vote, Vote.org, #VoteTogether, Voto Latino and When We All Vote.

“We noticed heavier-than-usual traffic on our site and likely reached a broader demographic than just our core customer since so many people are proud and compassionate about this,” said Carbon38 co-founder and CEO, Katie Warner Johnson, to WWD.
 

Voting booths at Levi’s

Levi's
Levi’s

Another participant in the Time to Vote campaign, Levi Strauss & Co also went above and beyond to encourage turnout. The brand worked with Rock the Vote to install 40 voter registration booths in Levi’s stores.

According to the brand’s president and CEO, Chip Bergh, the current divided political climate and government’s failure to provide for society are pushing companies to weigh in. “We are a $5 billion company. I have a platform that would be wasted if we are not taking advantage to make a difference in this world”, he said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York last week.

Bergh explained the business operates with a concept called “profits through principles”: every year it gives a certain percentage of its profits as a company to its foundation. “Through the foundation, we execute a lot of goodwill towards the communities and the society.”

With so many different social issues to choose from, brands have a responsibility to pick causes that align with their values. As Bergh puts it: “If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. We’ve had to be deliberate about the spots we’re going to weigh in on.”

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Magic Leap revealed, Amazon Prime Day, Kylie Jenner’s $900m beauty fortune

Magic Leap
Magic Leap

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

TOP STORIES
  • How Amazon turned Prime Day into a dizzying shopping extravaganza [Wired]
  • Believe it or not, Magic Leap says its headset will ship “this summer” [Fast Company]
  • How 20-year-old Kylie Jenner built a $900 million fortune in less than 3 years [Forbes]
  • PrettyLittleThing suspends next-day delivery as it struggles to keep up with demand [TheIndustry]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Stella & Dot is using AI to guide its 30,000 global sellers into apparel business [Glossy]
SUSTAINABILITY
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • US malls haven’t been this empty since 2012 [CNBC]
  • First Nike LIVE store opens with #NikeByMelrose Los Angeles [BrandChannel]
  • How Michael Mente took Revolve from an E-commerce start-up to a global powerhouse [Fashionista]
  • How Zalando is fighting off Amazon and building the Spotify of fashion [BoF]
  • John Lewis about to unveil biggest facelift in its 154-year history [ThisIsMoney]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Social commerce on the rise as more brands adopt shoppable content [RetailDive]
  • Snapchat is working on a feature that can find products you snap on Amazon [TheVerge]
  • Versace hires 54 models for fall ads [WWD]
  • Aerie uses new bra campaign to celebrate women with disabilities [FashionUnited]
  • China’s hottest new social media app [BoF]
BUSINESS
  • Prada is making progress [BoF]
  • UK retailers spend more than £1m on failed and cancelled digital transformation projects [Internet Retailing]
Categories
sustainability

New Patagonia microsite connects hyper local activists

Patagonia Action Works
Patagonia Action Works

As part of its continued focus on the environment, Patagonia has launched Patagonia Action Works, a microsite intended to facilitate interactions between like-minded activists.

In a video announcing the initiative, Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder, compared the venture to a dating site, for the way in which it links customers with worthy organizations and events.

Users can select their location and the causes they care about, including biodiversity, climate, communities, land and water. The website then generates a list of relevant organizations divided by grantees that have received support from the brand, related events nearby and skilled-volunteering and petition opportunities. The platform also enables organizations themselves to apply for grants.

Patagonia Action Works
Patagonia Action Works

Adding to the sense of urgency to take charge of the planet, which is at the core of Patagonia’s communication strategy, Chouinard explains: “If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that things aren’t going very well for the planet. It’s pretty easy to get depressed about it.”

He adds a call to action: “I’ve always known the cure for depression is action. Patagonia’s reason for existence is to force government and corporations to take action in solving our environmental problems.”

Patagonia Action Works is part of the company’s 1% for the Planet program, which has donated almost $90 million to grassroots organizations over the past 35 years. To activate the launch, the company is hosting a series of events, including a panel discussion in Santa Monica, California on Friday, February 8.

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business digital snippets e-commerce product social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Wang’s text-to-buy line, Stitch Fix to IPO, activism from outdoor brands

The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launched via text message
The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launched via text message

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


TOP STORIES
  • The second Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launches via text-to-buy event [Racked]
  • Stitch Fix has filed confidentially for an IPO [Recode]
  • A call to activism for outdoor apparel makers [NY Times]
  • How Reebok, Adidas and Y-3 will dress future space explorers [Fast Company]

BUSINESS
  • Jimmy Choo bought by Michael Kors in £896m deal [BBC]
  • MatchesFashion.com could enter stock market [Fashion United]
  • Bangladesh to digitally map all garment factories [JustStyle]
  • Fashion must fight the scourge of dumped clothing clogging landfills [Guardian]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Vogue takes ‘hub and spoke’ approach to Snapchat editions in Europe [Digiday]

MARKETING
  • Why Helmut Lang hired an editor-in-residence in place of a creative director [Glossy]
  • Amazon and Nicopanda launch LFW ‘see now, buy now’ range [Retail Gazette]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • China’s store of the future has no checkout, no cash and no staff [BoF]
  • Saint Laurent to launch online sales in China [WSJ]
  • You will soon be able to search eBay using a photo or social media web link [CNBC]
  • MatchesFashion.com’s Tom Chapman: Amazon’s missing the ‘magic’ of high-end fashion [Glossy]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Walmart is developing a robot that identifies unhappy shoppers [Business Insider]
  • For the first time ever, you can buy your own 3D-printed garment online [Fashionista]
  • MIT’s living jewellery is made up of small robot assistants [TechCrunch]
  • Intel axed its entire smartwatch and fitness-tracker group to focus on augmented reality, sources say [CNBC]

START-UPS
  • John Lewis unveils retail tech start-ups for JLAB 2017 [The Industry]
  • Spider silk start-up spins into retail by buying an apparel company [Fortune]