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7 ways fashion brands are harnessing hologram technology

We all remember the vision of Tupac being brought back to life by hologram technology during Coachella in 2012. 

Divided though opinion was, the interesting fact lay in the advance of the tech itself. Today, it is entirely possible for life-like constructs to be achieved in 3D so as to be visible to the naked eye. And more to the point, increasingly in a cost-effective way too. 

Today, it is estimated that the holography market will be worth $5.5 billion by 2020.

Fashion is one industry that has been experimenting in this space for some time, using holograms as both elaborate marketing techniques, as well as more immersive in-store opportunities aiming to drive brand engagement. 

Here are seven of the most interesting examples we’ve seen released over the years…

Alexander McQueen
Kate Moss hologram

In 2006, Kate Moss became the first human hologram to be featured as a part of a major fashion show. Alexander McQueen presented the 3D rendering of the supermodel as the finale of his ‘Windows of Culloden’ show in Paris. The hologram of Moss in a flowing white gown appeared out of nowhere to the audience from inside an empty glass pyramid following an elaborate puff of white smoke. The model danced for a few seconds before shrinking and dematerializing.

This iconic hologram, designed by video maker Baillie Walsh and directed by Lee McQueen himself, has become an iconic moment in fashion history and as such even saw revivals in 2011 and 2015 at the Savage Beauty Exhibits, dedicated to McQueen, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London respectively.

Diesel
Diesel SS08

In 2007, contemporary denim brand Diesel took the concept one step further from McQueen’s show the previous year by creating the biggest holographic fashion show to date for its Summer 2008 collection in Florence. The ‘Liquid Space’ show incorporated holograms that were created using the Pepper’s Ghost effect, an optical illusion that uses angled glass and hidden spaces, the technology for which was provided by tech specialist company Vizoo.

The campaign centred around marine creatures in space and used hologram technology to merge 2D projections of a high definition multi-screen video of the creatures with the real life models. The video images? were projected onto multiple transparent screens while careful lighting illuminated the catwalk with little or no scatter on the holographic screens. The virtual and real life elements on the catwalk consequently appeared as one to the audience.

Pinar&Viola
Pinar & Viola hologram

Dutch artists Pinar&Viola also used hologram technology to project an entirely virtual fashion line onto real life models in 2016 at their Amsterdam Fashion Week show. The occasion was designed to prompt emotions about clothing and encourage consumers to reconsider their rate of consumption in order to reduce wasted resources. The show was created in collaboration with AMFI student Amber Slooten and inspired by the mixed reality concepts of companies like Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens. Its aim was to explore how a future of holographic garments might work. 

The technology also allowed each piece of clothing to be animated through the allocation of characteristics such as eyes and mouths to further emphasize the conscious theme and help viewers to greater connect with the clothes despite them being inanimate.

Ralph Lauren
Holographic Ralph Lauren

The 2018 GQ Men of the Year Awards saw another first on the holographic medium front as pioneering designer Ralph Lauren beamed in via the medium to accept his ‘Design Lead of the Year’ award. The innovative concept was also created in celebration of the brand’s 50th anniversary. The realistic installation was created by Cinimod Holograms and used a staged box located away from the stage to create the theatre. The concept enabled the real life presenter at the awards to stand alongside and interact with Ralph’s hologram in a highly realistic and entertaining way for the audience.

This spectacle followed a series of other hologram integrations by the brand in previous years, including holographic window displays of sparring boxers in its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York in 2017 to promote the release of the new Polo Sport line, and the virtual spring 2015 Polo Womenswear show back in 2014  in Central Park.

Nicholas Kirkwood
CyFi walking at the Nicholas Kirkwood show

Footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood is another that has utilized holograms by incorporating them in his inaugural London Fashion Week show in September 2018. Current Global worked with the brand to strategize the theme of the show, enhancing its cyber-reality theme by showcasing innovative visual technologies and integrating the experience of “white-hat” hackers in the presentation.

The result also saw a number of 3D hologram displays integrated throughout the show venue in order to enhance its underlying message of non-conformity. Created by tech company, Hologrm, they presented an animated 3D version of the collection’s main boot with neon detailing.

Wrangler
Wrangler’s immersive pop-up

US denim brand Wrangler also recently got on board with holograms, marking its Wrangler Icons launch with a 360-degree immersive pop-up experience that incorporated musicians and actors as well as numerous uses of the technology. The London experience paid homage to the brand’s musical heritage and iconic star-studded clientele from across the years. 

A continuous hologram feature was used to modernize the initiative, as well as helping to link the music theme back to the brand’s western image. A small black room at the back of the space appeared at first glance to house just drums and speakers however, broadcasted on top of the various instruments were holograms of dancing Wrangler cowboys wearing jeans and cowboy hats. The futuristic projections ran on a loop throughout the duration of the event.

Cartier
Cartier holographic watch

Of all of the fashion brands that have used holography over the years, luxury jeweller Cartier has perhaps one of the longest standing relationships with the technology. Back in 1972 the brand generated a lot of attention through its projection of a diamond bracelet dangling from an elegant wrist onto the Fifth Avenue pavement from its store window, which aimed to entice customers in. The piece, which was created by artist Robert Schinella, elicited so many enquiries that it was later revived again in 1979.

Cartier has also harnessed other forms of holograms as the technology has developed over the years, including a virtual craftsman working at a physical station at the Tokyo National Museum’s Cartier Exhibition in 2009, and a store windows campaign in 2015 where a hologram story mapped onto a physical watch face showing the inner workings and intricate parts involved in a watch.

How are you thinking about new technology? 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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ICYMI: LVMH’s digital strategy, feathers in fashion, the McQueen documentary

Proenza Schouler
Proenza Schouler

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

TOP STORIES
  • Decoding LVMH’s digital strategy [BoF]
  • Is the use of feathers in fashion any more ethical than fur? [Fashionista]
  • The McQueen documentary tells the story of the people who carry his legacy [Vogue]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Why Nordstrom is betting on high-touch tech [Fortune]
  • Avery Dennison and SoftWear Automation to create digital supply chain for manufacturers [SupplyChainDigital]
SUSTAINABILITY
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • How Sephora built a beauty empire to survive the retail apocalypse [CBInsights]
  • This is how a brick-and-mortar store can thrive in the age of Amazon [NYMag]
  • Urban Outfitters launches third-party marketplace, tests self-checkout [RetailDive]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Nike sells out of Facebook Messenger sneaker drop in less than an hour [RetailDive]
  • Givenchy and Stella McCartney score on Instagram at Royal Wedding [WWD]
  • Victoria’s Secret is still advertising to women like it’s 1999 [Bloomberg]
  • Esprit’s Instagram posts are now shoppable [FashionUnited]
  • This Ikea print ad is designed to put you to sleep [CreativityOnline]
  • Do influencers need regulating? [BoF]
BUSINESS
  • Balenciaga is now the fastest-growing label at Kering? [Harper’s Bazaar]
  • LVMH invests $60 million into fashion platform Lyst [HypeBeast]
  • Richemont clinches takeover of Yoox Net-A-Porter [Reuters]
  • Can the Model Alliance Respect program make a difference? [Vogue]
Categories
Editor's pick product technology

From the archive: 8 outrageous future tech ideas we wish would happen at fashion week

fashion tech Y-3's space apparel for Virgin Galactic
Y-3’s space apparel for Virgin Galactic

Fashion and technology are increasing bedfellows, but at no time of year do we see experimentation between these two worlds integrate more than during fashion week season. In the past, we’ve been welcomed by drones flying overhead at Fendi, virtual reality adopted at Topshop Unique, and Google Glass (ahem) walking down the catwalk at Diane von Furstenberg. More often than not, such moves are part of an elaborate scheme to generate press headlines and consumer interest as the shows become re-engineered to appeal to the public rather than the trade audience they once were.

Meanwhile, in the technology realm, corporations are turning to the fashion world to a greater degree than ever before too. Apple teamed up with Hermès to launch a special luxury edition of the Apple Watch in 2015, while Virgin Galactic announced a partnership with Y-3 (the adidas and Yohji Yamamoto line) to create the outfits for its future astronauts, pilots and passengers (as pictured above).

So all of that got us thinking: If budget were no issue and innovation truly knew no bounds in the traditional fashion houses of New York, London, Milan and Paris, what dream technology tie-ups would we really love to see hit the catwalks? Read on below for everything from artificial intelligence to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop playing a part.

Call them all a gimmick, but they beat another Instagram takeover or Snapchat reveal… no?


Burberry and the invisibility “poncho”

fashion tech - blue Morpho butterfly
A blue Morpho butterfly (Photo credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Wearable technology has been pretty disappointing from a fashion perspective thus far. Smart watches and fitness tracking devices aside, the only thing that’s ever really stood out is Hussein Chalayan’s animatronics-based show in 2007, which presented the idea of clothes that changed shape. The question on everyone’s lips now then, is when will tech advancement actually hit the design of our clothes? Fibre science is the key, with smart textiles evolving so they’ll eventually be able to do everything from alter colour to indeed shift shape as Chalayan imagined. The one to really be excited about though? Scientists are exploring the way refracted light creates the bold colour of the Morpho butterfly in a bid to understand how we can create that much-desired invisibility cloak. Given the success of Burberry’s monogrammed ponchos, our first technology wish would be for such a collaboration on the London Fashion Week catwalk. Magic.


Alexander McQueen’s global holographic show

Speaking of illusions, we’ve seen a number of holograms being used in fashion shows in the past, from Polo Ralph Lauren’ 4D water projection for spring/summer 2015, to Alexander McQueen’s Kate Moss trick (as per the video above) in 2006. But these concepts are improving all the time. What if we took the idea further and had tele-presence technology in place so that when McQueen’s show occurred in Paris, it could also be seen in Shanghai, Dubai, Moscow and São Paulo at the same time – with a different audience but the same models, looks and experience portrayed. A win for VIP customers around the world.


Louis Vuitton as sponsor of the Hyperloop

fashion tech - Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and Jim Lovell in Louis Vuitton's Core Values campaign
Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and Jim Lovell in Louis Vuitton’s Core Values campaign

Transport around fashion weeks is constantly troublesome for attendees. Heavy traffic, poor weather not to mention high heels makes for a laborious experience, especially if you’re in it for the full month of shows. If only there were some speedy way to get from one venue to the next? Or one city to the next even. Elon Musk is who we need, and more specifically, his vision for the Hyperloop – a high-speed transportation system enabled thanks to a reduced air pressure tube that could carry pods at up to 700mph. Originally imagined to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco (with an average travel time of 35 minutes), we quite fancy a short version of it like the High Line in New York to take us from say Milk Studios to the new Hudson Yards. Or from Milan to Paris perhaps. As far as luxury travel goes, Louis Vuitton inevitably springs to mind. Even more appropriately, it already ran a campaign with Buzz Aldrin some years ago (as pictured above), so has an interest in space travel, meaning its team is bound to get along like a house on fire with Musk, who does of course also run SpaceX.


Alexander Wang and data visualisation

fashion tech - The Unseen's EIGHTHSENSE scupture
The Unseen’s EIGHTHSENSE scupture

Last year, fans of Swedish designer Ida Klamborn were able to watch her Fashion Week Stockholm show from home via virtual reality using Google Cardboard. Better than that, they were also able to leave feedback on their favourite looks, providing data that showed in real-time on robots put in place to represent them on the front row. Those sorts of insights are hugely valuable for a brand, but what about if they could be gleaned from the audience of influencers actually present too? London-based science and design company, The Unseen, unveiled a sculpture called EIGHTHSENSE in 2015 that changed in colour based on the wearer’s brain patterns. Created in collaboration with digital studio Holition, it read EEG data through a headset and reflected different signals accordingly. That sort of sentiment analysis could make for a beautiful visual feast during a fashion show (albeit potentially a controversial one), if the audience were looped up in the same way. This one’s got Alexander Wang written all over it.


Gucci’s downloadable dreams

fashion tech - Gucci's spring/summer 2016 show at Milan Fashion Week (Photo credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Gucci’s spring/summer 2016 show at Milan Fashion Week (Photo credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

While we’re on the subject of the brain and data, dream reading is another science being explored. What could we do if we could not only understand dreams and be able to re-watch them, but also share them from one person to the next? By monitoring electrical activity in the brain it’s not impossible we’ll get to that stage; even a future where we can interact with what we’re experiencing too. Apply that to fashion week and perhaps we’ll have a future show taking us one step on from virtual reality and instead able to enter the dream of the designer and eventually manipulate what they see. We’ll take an Alessandro Michele at Gucci dream tonight; perhaps a Miu Miu one tomorrow.


Net-a-Porter and the 3D printer

fashion tech - Net-a-Porter
Net-a-Porter

One of the most concerning issues with fashion weeks as they stand, is the distinct separation between the digital experience consumers have with such events, and the lack of ability to buy the actual products shown. Usually it takes up to six months for the collections to hit the shop floor, by which point the hype generated at the reveal has all but died. Numerous brands are now looking to release items in-season in a bid to capitalise on the engagement achieved, but it’s a complicated model. Which is why 3D printing could be interesting, particularly as such tools become more able to create materials as soft and supple as what we’re used to wearing. Imagine a future where Net-a-Porter, as the luxury e-commerce giant in the space, can offer looks from the catwalk (rightfully gained from the designers) ready “for print”. Customers would be able to download their styles and customise them as they go.


Tommy Hilfiger’s shared deep learning

fashion tech - Models backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger spring/summer 2016 show at New York Fashion Week
Models backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger spring/summer 2016 show at New York Fashion Week

One thing always missing from fashion weeks in my humble opinion: live commentary of the shows, preferably from the designer themselves. Short of ruining the experience of the event – the music, the set, the lighting – a lot could be achieved by sharing the thoughts of the creative director relevant to each piece as it comes out, especially if such insights could be personalised. Enter artificial intelligence. If Hermès is working with Apple and thus perhaps they’ve got Siri, then how about Tommy Hilfiger and Google Brain? Imagine a process of deep learning enabling the machine to understand what every audience member has bought, featured in their mag, mentioned on social media, reviewed positively or otherwise in the past. From there, it would be able to temper its commentary accordingly. By knowing the new season inside out too, it would be able to provide live intelligence to the viewer via in-ear headphones as the show takes place, helping them do their job better and enjoy the experience all the more as it goes.


Chanel’s robot plant

fashion tech - Alicia Vikander as AI in Ex Machina
Alicia Vikander as AI in Ex Machina

We’re used to elaborate and theatrical sets during fashion weeks – with everything from a supermarket to casino or airport terminal playing out at Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel in recent years. In a well-rounded view of future tech, and one step on from its data centre last season, the French fashion house will turn to robotics for it’s next endeavour. Imagine a robot plant ready to create the dystopian future of man versus machine we’re so used to seeing from Hollywood. Conveyor belts would circle around the floor churning out next generation robots created as lifelike as in film Ex Machina, but this time kitted out in next season Chanel of course. There’d be the Cara, the Kendall, the Baptiste… even the Karl. While this sort of humanoid artificial intelligence is somewhat of a controversial move (have you seen the end of that movie?), there’s a lot to be said for also having a robotic version of Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette. It doesn’t, after all, get more Instagram-worthy than that.

This post first appeared in Forbes in 2016.

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technology

Google and the BFC launch educational platform for British fashion

Google and the BFC's new platform for British fashion
Google and the BFC’s new platform for British fashion

The British Fashion Council has partnered with Google’s Arts & Culture team to celebrate British fashion via a new educational platform that includes several virtual reality experiences.

Launched ahead of last night’s new Fashion Awards, which honoured designers and other industry players from around the word, the g.co/britishfashion site is designed to inform and inspire future generations of young fashion creatives and students.

Support the BFC’s Education Foundation, it brings to life the creativity, heritage and craftsmanship of British fashion, pulling together content from big names in the space – including brands, designers, craftspeople, photographers, stylists, models and more – and using technology to tell their stories.

There are immersive digital exhibits from the likes of Burberry, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood for instance, a virtual reality experience of Manolo Blahnik at work in his atelier, and a high resolution capture of a couture dress from Alexander McQueen’s SS17 collection, allowing people to zoom in and see its threadwork in never-before-seen detail.

To mark the launch of the project, Paul Smith has also designed a special-edition Google Cardboard to enable the virtual reality viewing, and created online exhibits around five objects that represent his creative vision and brand.

Caroline Rush CBE, CEO of the BFC said: “The internet has been an incredible resource for opening up the fashion industry to a new audience, giving young people access to information not previously available. This collaboration represents a new step, bringing together diverse information into one, engaging place. We hope this legacy project will not only inspire but also educate – allowing young people wanting to get into fashion to see the breadth of individuals, skills and careers that make up this multifaceted industry.”

In total, there are over 1,000 assets to explore, including 20 multimedia exhibits, 25 videos and three virtual reality experiences, all accessible from anywhere in the world, on desktop, laptop or mobile.

Sarah Mower MBE, American Vogue chief critic and BFC ambassador for emerging talent, has also directed a short film captured in 360 VR so viewers can come face-to-face with industry luminaries. Included are Naomi Campbell, Anya Hindmarch, Edward Enninful and Joan Burstein.

Users can also search archive material from British fashion houses by colour and chronology, explore profiles of numerous of the industry’s other key players, and go behind-the-scenes with top craftspeople and producers of British fashion, including the Royal School of Needlework and Brora Cashmere.

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business digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

What you missed: Snapchat’s spectacles, driving see-now buy-now sales, Cartier’s sponsored content

Snapchat spectacles
Snapchat spectacles

It might have been Milan Fashion Week, but the majority of musing worth knowing about in the digital space this past week surrounds the launch of Snapchat’s (now Snap Inc’s) new camera glasses. On top of that has been everything from whether see-now, buy-now fashion week shows are actually driving sales, the fact McQueen and Chanel top a new CoolBrands list, and why LVMH’s digital drive is taking time despite its big Apple hire. Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know…


TOP STORIES
  • Why Snapchat’s spectacles can succeed where Google Glass failed [AdAge]
  • Are ‘see now, buy now’ shows driving sales? [BoF]
  • Neiman Marcus is encouraging brands to adopt ‘see-now, buy-now’ strategy [Fashionista]
  • Alexander McQueen and Chanel make top 20 global CoolBrands list [The Industry]
  • Inside Cartier’s sponsored content strategy [Glossy]

BUSINESS
  • LVMH’s digital drive takes time despite Apple hire [Reuters]
  • Adidas and Under Armour are challenging Nike like never before [Business Insider]
  • Tiffany proposes growth through engagement in the digital age [BrandChannel]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • YSL Beauté reveals first ever UK Snapchat lens [The Industry]
  • Adidas claims retention on Snapchat is ‘insane’ compared to YouTube [The Drum]
  • Teens talk Instagram beauty influencers and what makes them buy [Racked]
  • Here’s how much engagement brands got from back-to-school social posts [AdWeek]
  • Google launches messaging app with chatbot [Campaign]
  • Branded emojis coming to messaging apps [WSJ]

MARKETING
  • Gap teams up with Mr Black to raise awareness for denim care [Fashion United]
  • Bobbi Brown initiates mobile makeovers with Uber [WWD]

RETAIL
  • How designer Rebecca Minkoff uses technology to create a better shopping experience [The Street]
  • BHS to launch online a month after last store closed [Guardian]
  • Zara fashions an expanded online growth strategy [BrandChannel]

TECHNOLOGY
  • The secret lab where Nike invented the power-lacing shoe of our dreams [Wired]
  • No. 21 Sends shoes that glow in the dark down the Milan Fashion Week runway [Footwear News]

START-UPS
  • Carmen Busquets, fashion e-commerce’s fairy godmother [NY Times]
  • Where is the Uber of fashion? [Forbes]
Categories
data digital snippets e-commerce mobile product social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Pokémon Go, McQueen’s DNA, luxury’s executive changes, AI, VR and more

McQueen pure human - digital snippets
Alexander McQueen’s DNA turned into leather in designer Tina Gorjanc’s Pure Human project

If there’s one thing that’s grabbed everyone’s attention this past fortnight, it has of course been Pokémon Go. The augmented reality mobile game has reportedly gained as many users as Uber and Tinder, topped Twitter’s daily users, and started seeing people spend more time with it than in Facebook. It also caused Nintendo’s share price to increase by more than $7bn.

We published a great piece looking at what retailers can learn from it in a broader location-marketing sense.  Also worth reading is this story tracking the retail invasion of Pokémons, via Racked, and another looking at why retailers should care about Pokémon’s forthcoming ads.

Beyond that, the news to know in the fashion, digital comms and technology space this week (and there’s a lot of it!), spans everything from an experiment with DNA in textile design to the plethora of changes at the helm of the industry’s luxury houses, the impact artificial intelligence might have on brands, not to mention how we’re faring with virtual reality so far…


  • Fashion that gets under the skin – designer creates leather prototypes grown from Alexander McQueen DNA (as pictured) [NY Times]

  • Luxury fashion: a year of big moves [The Industry]

  • Amazon Prime Day: Wow… but not yet a fashion must-buy [Trendwalk]

  • What Amazon could learn from Yoox Net-a-Porter, the “world’s biggest luxury fashion store” [Quartz]

  • Fashion apparel retailing in the age of artificial intelligence [WWD]

  • Luxury brands get off to an awkward start with virtual reality [Glossy]

  • Is a holographic fashion show for VR clothing the future? [The Creators Project]

  • The store of the future: physical retailers must stage experiences, embrace omnichannel and harness data [BoF]

  • 5 ways shoppers are using mobile to make purchase decisions, according to Google [Fashionista]

  • Sephora is driving mobile sales with Tinder-like features and digital mad libs [Ad Week]

  • Stores must learn to think like Facebook [BoF]

  • Warby Parker is offering Snapchat-exclusive sunglasses [Techcrunch]

  • Birchbox tests Snapchat for customer service – turns to revamped video and voice calling feature [Digiday]

  • Why advertisers are forking over big bucks for custom Snapchat lenses [Ad Week]

  • Snapchat is looking at a way to recognize objects in your snaps and serve you related ads [Business Insider]

  • New study says people are more likely to buy from brands that use virtual reality [Ad Week]

  • Luxury brands embrace digital, but still wary of programmatic [The Drum]

  • Using an algorithm to figure out what luxury customers really want [HBR]

  • Amazon is developing a 3D modelling system to solve online clothes shopping’s biggest problem [Quartz]

  • How the future of fit could spell the end of retail returns [Retail Dive]

  • Back to bricks and mortar: how e-commerce has embraced the real world [The Guardian]

  • Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet) [McKinsey]

  • Confessions of a fashion start-up founder: ‘Fashion tech is the Wild West’ [Glossy]

  • 3 need-to-know live streaming apps in China (and how bloggers & brands are using them) [WGSN]

  • Payments firm Klarna adds Lyst to its collection [Reuters]

  • How valuable is trend forecasting in the post-internet age? [NJAL]

  • These acrylic nails double as an Oyster Card [PSFK]
Categories
Editor's pick technology

Fashion and tech announced as theme of 2016 Met Gala, sponsored by Apple

met-gala-theme-2

Technology is due to get a big nod of acceptance from the fashion industry in 2016 as the theme of the next Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”, will focus on the dichotomy between handmade haute couture and machine-made fashion, according to Vogue. It will showcase over 100 pieces of fashion, and unsurprisingly, be sponsored by Apple.

“Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made,” explains Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute. “But recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other.”

Expect to see traditional techniques including embroidery, pleating and lacework placed alongside new technologies such as laser cutting, thermo shaping, and circular knitting. Workshops on areas including 3D printing will also allow the public to see designs taking shape in real-time.

While there’s no information yet as to whether the exhibition will span into the embracing of digital by the industry thus including brands such as Burberry through to Ralph Lauren, there will no doubt be pieces on display from the likes of Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen and Issey Miyake.

Further hints lie in the fact Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada will serve as honorary chairs of the Met Gala due to take place on Monday, May 2. Apple’s Jonathan Ive as well as Idris Elba and Taylor Swift will join Anna Wintour as co-chairs.

You might also like: Robots, holograms and wearables: a tech history of fashion week

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Blocks Editor's pick social media technology

Robots, holograms and wearables: a tech history of fashion week

This post first appeared on Fashionista.com

DVF_googleglassSS13
Diane von Furstenberg spring/summer 2013

Memorable moments during fashion month used to surround incidents like Anna Wintour being splattered with paint by anti-fur protesters, or Naomi Campbell taking a tumble in those sky-high Vivienne Westwood shoes. There have been incredible sets – Fendi on the Great Wall of China, everything from an airplane to a supermarket at Chanel and a giant steam train when Marc Jacobs was at Louis Vuitton.

Today, however, technology is becoming the new differentiator and the main means of grabbing attention — not to mention press headlines — during the shows. Thus far this season, Ralph Lauren has streamed his runway show on billboards in London’s Piccadilly Circus via Periscope, Zac Posen partnered with Google to reveal a dress coded with moving LED lights and Intel introduced drones to fly overhead at numerous shows.

“Technology can be a point of differentiation and a source of competitive advantage in a crowded fashion marketplace,” says Karinna Nobbs, program director and senior lecturer of digital fashion strategy at the British School of Fashion. “If you do something well you can really get good PR coverage and be seen as a first mover/innovator, which should translate to sales and loyalty.”

Even if it doesn’t add to the user experience, nor directly impact a brand’s bottom line, technology integrated into a fashion show is often about a designer exercising his or her creative freedom, in a similar way to theatrical extravagances of the past. That said, some of the most elaborate tech ideas showcased during fashion weeks past actually took place well before you could Instagram them. Here’s our history of technology and the designers who have embraced it since 1999.

Robots

mcqueen
Alexander McQueen spring/summer 1999

There might be hot debate in current times about where artificial intelligence is likely to lead us, but robots in some form or another have long appeared at fashion week. For spring/summer 1999, Alexander McQueen presented one of the most famous moments of his career when two robots spray-painted a dress worn by model Shalom Harlow in shades of black and yellow as she spun on a revolving platform.

In 2007, Hussein Chalayan showcased a vision of our future wardrobes based on garments that changed shape. A Victorian dress unfurled to reveal a flapper style and a tiered design shortened into a mini, all thanks to microchips and animatronics. This was wearable tech before wearable tech.

Fendi_droneAW14
Fendi autumn/winter 2014/15

Jump to autumn/winter 2014, and drones hit the runway at Fendi, circling above the heads of show-goers to live stream content back to viewers at home. The resulting experience was terrible, but it grabbed headlines for Fendi all over the world.

Wearable technology

Speaking of wearable technology, it goes without saying that designers today are increasingly experimenting with how to embed things like electronics and connected devices into their collections. To highlight that fact, Diane von Furstenberg provided a particularly noteworthy story when she sent Google Glass down her runway in September 2012. Models wore the augmented reality eyewear as they paraded the designer’s spring/summer 2013 looks, capturing the scene around them for a video released at a later date. The finale saw DVF herself dragging Google co-founder Sergey Brin, along with her then-Creative Director Yvan Mispelaere, down the runway to take a bow with her.

RichardNicoll
Richard Nicoll spring/summer 2015

Last year we also saw the likes of Rebecca Minkoff and Diesel Black Gold featuring wearable tech accessories in their shows — and let’s not forget the work Dutch designer Iris van Herpen has been doing for a long time in 3D printing. Richard Nicoll, meanwhile, unveiled a slip dress made from a fiber-optic fabric activated by high intensity LED lights for spring/summer 2015 in partnership with Disney and Studio XO. The question remains, however, as to when the wearables trend will become more widespread.

Virtual reality

topshop_virtualrealityAW14
Topshop autumn/winter 2014/15

If you’re into gaming, you’re probably all over virtual reality (VR). Maybe you’ve already got your own headset. Fashion brands have been experimenting with those, too. Topshop first offered up such an opportunity when it provided customers with a VR experience in its London flagship store for autumn 2014. Specially commissioned Oculus Rift-based headsets enabled shoppers to see its catwalk show in real-time through a 3D virtual world. The aim was to make them feel as though the models were walking in front of their eyes and the celebrities were sitting right beside them.

DiorEyes
DiorEyes virtual reality headset

Dior captured in 3D a backstage view of its show earlier this year, and proceeded to offer up that experience in select stores through its own VR headset, called DiorEyes. Users were able to explore the full 360 degrees of the backstage space, seeing the models during their final prep for the show surrounded by makeup artists, photographers and designer Raf Simons.

RebeccaMinkoff
Rebecca Minkoff Google cardboard headset

Rebecca Minkoff filmed her February 2015 show for VR viewing, too. The process reportedly required two cameras with three dozen separate lenses to create footage that has just this week been released on a specially designed Google cardboard headset, into which you stick your smartphone. Democratising fashion week indeed.

Holograms

If you weren’t already convinced Alexander McQueen was an innovator, then consider his autumn/winter 2006 collection, which featured a hologram of Kate Moss in the finale. The projection appeared within a glass pyramid surrounded by billows of white smoke. It was deemed fashion magic.

Holograms were also central to Polo Ralph Lauren’s spring/summer 2015 show. In what the brand referred to as a 4D holographic water projection, it showed models wearing the new collection against a 60-foot high fountain in Manhattan’s Central Park. The images were pretty blurry, making it hard to decipher much about the new collection, but like many other tech experiences, it grabbed headlines around the world.

Live action

With all these innovative ideas in mind, hearing that a brand is merely live streaming its show doesn’t really do it for us anymore. But once upon a time, this alone was big news. When Alexander McQueen streamed his spring/summer 2010 show — yes, it really is only that old — the event drew in so many fans, it crashed SHOWstudio’s website. While the fact that Lady Gaga was performing was arguably the biggest contributing factor there, it was also an early sign of just how much interest there was in fashion week happenings from fans around the world, especially when mixed with a little extra entertainment.

As the late designer said at the time: “I wanted to create a sense of inclusion for all those in the world who are interested in my work and the world of fashion. This is just the first step towards revolutionising the ‘show system’ as we know it.” While he personally never did do another live stream — that collection was to be the last before his death — the concept rapidly spread.

BurberryTweetwalkSS12
Burberry Tweetwalk spring/summer 2012

Designers providing ever-greater access through digital means has grown season after season. Burberry has been the pioneer in this sense. Its now iconic campaigns have included everything from a “Tweetwalk” that showcased images of the new line on Twitter before those sitting in the front row saw them, to its “Runway to Reality” (later “Runway Made to Order”) concept that offered consumers the ability to instantly purchase specific items from the new collection for delivery within seven weeks, instead of several months. There have also been personalised GIFs, digital kisses and the ability to buy nail polish via Twitter, but this season it’s been all about Snapchat.

Bring on the rest of spring/summer 2016, we say.

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Editor's pick technology

You can try-on legendary Alexander McQueen make-up looks with this virtual tool

Holition-Virtual McQueen Warpaint - ANCHOR

One of the most relevant applications for virtual try-ons has got to be for the beauty industry. Walk in to any retailer and the cosmetic counter is relatively restrictive in terms of actually being able to see what a certain eyeshadow or shade of lipstick looks like on your face.

Ease, simplicity, seamless interactions are what we’re after when shopping today, meaning dabbling with a dodgy tester or being patient enough to wait for one of the sales associates to apply products for you, doesn’t usually cut it. If you’re anything like me therefore, you have a drawer full of 20+ red lippies, most of which just aren’t quite right.

Which is why I’m excited about “Face”. This is a virtual reality app created by London-based digital creative studio Holition that allows you to see exactly what the make-up you’ve selected will appear like when you put it on. Others have tried this before, but Holition have nailed it in terms of the tracking technology – meaning it does actually attach the product to your lips, your eyes, your cheeks and more, as though you were just looking in a mirror.

I know that because I tried it at the London College of Fashion recently, where the app is part of an exhibition focused on the beauty looks that dominated Alexander McQueen’s catwalk shows during the tenure of its late founder, Lee McQueen.

Take a look at the full story over on Forbes.com for insight into all that it entails.

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Style.com, Etsy, The Iconic, Dezeen, DVF, Uber, Alexander McQueen

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

dezeen-watch-store

  • What the end of Style.com means for the rest of fashion publishing [Fashionista]
  • Post IPO, Etsy CTO on its conservatively crafty tech philosophy [TechCrunch]
  • Online retailer The Iconic considers drone deliveries [AFR]
  • Old-school timepieces take a stand against the Apple Watch in humorous Dezeen campaign (as pictured) [PSFK]
  • Diane von Furstenberg and that Bruce Jenner Instagram gaffe [WWD]
  • Uber is quietly testing a massive merchant delivery program [TechCrunch]
  • Alexander McQueen explores fashion’s relationship to dance in new video campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Reebok launches ‘Hunt the Pump’ Instagram treasure hunt [Marketing Magazine]
  • Japanese salarymen unleash their inner surfers with Quiksilver’s amazing wetsuit [Creativity]
  • Google didn’t kill Glass, it’s just making it sexier [Fast Company]
  • Nike and Under Armour look increasingly like tech companies; spending wildly to watch your every step [The Washington Post]
  • Why are major tech brands so obsessed with fashion? [i-D]
  • As technology and fashion converge, get ready for 3D-printed shoes, special parkas for smoggy days, and maybe even jeans that fit [The Atlantic]
  • Something old (bridal wear) meets the new (3D printing) [NY Times]
  • 3D-printed swimsuit’s design mimics water movement [PSFK]
  • Will drones take fashion into the future? [i-D]
  • Online fashion marketplace Poshmark raises $25 million funding round [BoF]
  • What does the ideal click and collect service look like? [Econsultancy]
  • In customer service, online-only retailers are beating out brick-and-mortar [Fashionista]
  • Refinery29 fetches $50 million investment from WPP and Scripps [AdAge]
  • WeChat publishing is changing China’s mediascape [BoF]