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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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Calvin Klein to launch interactive NYC Market with Amazon Fashion

Calvin Klein Jeans Fall Campaign

Calvin Klein is partnering with Amazon Fashion to bring to life its Fall 2018 jeans campaign through an immersive retail experience in New York.

The Calvin Klein x Amazon Fashion NYC Market, as it’s called, sees three major attractions – a photobooth with flying popcorn, a photoshoot set-up themed around the brand’s “Together In Denim Billboard” campaign, and a giant water-box installation.

Visitors will also have the chance to win exclusive Calvin Klein products such as jeans and underwear designs, as well as Amazon devices, by playing games on site.

Calvin Klein Jeans “Together In Denim” billboard

 

“By joining Amazon Fashion’s digital expertise with Calvin Klein’s physical presence, we are creating a ‘phy-gital’ experience in the middle of New York City, reinforcing our commitment to a consumer-first strategy,” Marie Gulin-Merle, chief marketing officer of Calvin Klein Inc. told WWD.

Further detail show the interactive photobooth will feature levitating popcorn that visitors will be able to take a picture with. It was inspired by the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC Fall 2018 runway show, which saw the floor covered with the white snack.

The re-enactment of the brand’s “Together in Denim Billboard” campaign, which saw models posing on an oversized billboard, will have a professional photographer on site ensuring social media-ready snaps.

And the giant water-box will house vending machines where visitors have the chance to win limited edition artworks from the Fall campaign.

Calvin Klein Fall 2018 runway show

Amazon will also host an Amazon Alexa Jukebox Lounge, where an analog Juke Box enhanced through the Alexa voice technology, will allow visitors to interact with the music played on digital screens. Guests will also have the chance to use their voice to control the music and lighting.

Any visitors keen to purchase Calvin Klein merchandise on site will be able to do so smoothly through Smile Codes (Amazon-branded QR codes), which will give visitors access to the dedicated Calvin Klein website on Amazon Fashion. A dedicated #MyCalvins Campaign Shop will allow them to try things on when on site.

To further encourage consumer purchasing, the brand has also created a denim jacket in collaboration with rap star A$AP Rocky, exclusively available on Amazon Fashion.

This is the second time the brand has partnered with Amazon Fashion for an interactive experience. In November of 2017 the brand opened a tech-enabled store in Los Angeles and New York, selling exclusive stock and offering in-store customization stations.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent 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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ICYMI: Calvin Klein opens tech-enabled pop-ups with Amazon Fashion

The Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience
The Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience

Calvin Klein has opened two pop-up stores in collaboration with Amazon Fashion this holiday season, offering an interactive shopping experience throughout.

The Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience, as it’s called, sees two tech-enabled spaces, one in New York and the other in Los Angeles, as well as an online brand store on Amazon.com/mycalvins.

Each one will sell exclusive styles available only to Amazon customers, focusing on men’s and women’s underwear and loungewear offerings in the physical spaces, as well as jeans online.

In terms of technology, offline visitors are able to easily make purchases by scanning a barcode within the Amazon app to have their items then delivered home. They can also interact with Amazon Echo devices within the fitting rooms, allowing them to ask Alexa various questions about the Calvin Klein product and experience, as well as to control the lighting and play music of their choice.

Amazon Echo in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience
Amazon Echo in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience

Customisation stations meanwhile enable them to personalise their underwear with special embroidery. And content creation spaces will encourage them to create and share their own clips to social media.

In a lounge area, visitors can also connect with shoppers on the opposite coast via video using the Amazon Echo Show, in a bid to allow them to interact and share content in real time, the company said.

”We are proud to collaborate with Amazon Fashion on this exciting retail concept,” said Cheryl Abel-Hodges, head of Calvin Klein Underwear and president of The Underwear Group of PVH. “It is our goal to deliver an immersive and content-driven shopping environment to the consumer, and we are thrilled to introduce this experience to Calvin Klein and Amazon shoppers, both online and offline, just in time for the holiday season.”

Customisation in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience
Customisation in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience

Throughout the holiday season, the shops will also host special events with the likes of supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss and comedian and author Lilly Singh.

“The holiday season is one of the most important shopping times for our customers, and we are delighted to team up with Calvin Klein to provide a fun, interactive experience that connects our customers to product in an engaging way,” stated Michelle Rothman, VP at Amazon Fashion.

The stores are open now through December 31.

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What you missed: Amazon Fashion developments, the Farfetch and JD.com deal, London’s smart street

Amazon Prime Wardrobe - Amazon Fashion
Amazon Prime Wardrobe

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


TOP STORIES
  • Will Amazon eat fashion? [BoF]
  • Farfetch boss hails US$397m tie-up with JD.com, says partnership will speed up luxury fashion portal’s growth in China [SCMP]
  • World’s first “smart street” launches in London [The Industry]
  • For brands, fitting rooms are the key to unlocking valuable customer data [Glossy]

BUSINESS
  • Why Walmart bought Bonobos [BoF]
  • Inside the costly fashion faux pas that was ill-fated Style.com [Telegraph]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Amazon Pay rolls out its first payments integration on Instagram [GeekWire]
  • Fashion retailers are reconsidering their chatbot strategies [Glossy]

MARKETING
  • The xx’s new music video is also a Calvin Klein ad [Campaign]
  • Asos praised for using ‘natural’ unretouched images of models [The Drum]
  • Has Unilever’s ambition to eradicate gender stereotyping from its own ads been successful? [The Drum]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Why retail flagships are running aground [AdAge]
  • In the Amazon era, debating the store of the future [Glossy]
  • Amazon, now a physical retailer too, is granted an anti-showrooming patent [TechCrunch]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Why retail labs are toast [AdAge]
  • Survey: 45% of retailers plan to use AI in next 3 years [Retail Dive]
  • How L’Oréal uses virtual reality to make internal decisions at its New York HQ [Glossy]
  • Google Glass is apparently back from the dead, starts getting software updates [ArsTechnica]

START-UPS
  • Stitch Fix has hired a new CFO. An IPO probably comes next [Recode]
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business digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: Brexit fallout for fashion, big brands hit Reddit, Uniqlo’s digital identity

sibling_brexit
Sibling’s designers showing their support to stay in the EU during their menswear fashion show ahead of the referendum

We’re back with another round-up of everything you might have missed in fashion and technology news (and beyond) over the past week or so. Needless to say, Brexit has been the big subject as the industry tries to weigh up what such a result means for them going forward. We’ve highlighted some of the must-read pieces on the subject. Beyond that there’s an update on the value of Reddit for brands, insight on Uniqlo’s evolving digital identity and to cheer everyone up, Amazon’s new #saysomethingnice campaign…


  • Britain votes to exit EU, unleashing untold damage on the fashion industry [BoF]

  • Brexit: Retail chiefs must lead in the creation of a prosperous future [Retail Week]

  • What Brexit means for British fashion brands [Esquire]

  • Here’s why Brexit might not be so bad for… Burberry [Yahoo]

  • E-commerce winners and losers in the wake of Brexit [Glossy]

  • Why big brands are suddenly getting cozy with Reddit [AdWeek]

  • How fashion brands are starting to design like tech companies [Co.Design]

  • How Uniqlo plans to establish a digital identity [Glossy]

  • Amazon Fashion launches #saysomethingnice social campaign [The Industry]

  • Online fashion curator FarFetch, which links shops to customers, grows in China [SCMP]

  • Nicola Formichetti on subcultures, digital life & advertising on Pornhub [Oyster]

  • Augmented reality bot brings virtual lipstick try-on to Facebook Messenger [Forbes]

  • Target shoppers love this superfan account [Racked]

  • Snap, swipe, like: The mobile future of fashion retail [BBC]

  • The evolution of the mobile payment [TechCrunch]

  • E-commerce is supposedly capital intensive. So why do the companies that raise the least tend to do the best? [Pando]

  • How social media turned into shoppable media [The Industry]

  • Pinterest adds a shopping cart and visual search to challenge Amazon [AdWeek]

  • Refinery29 is building a 10-person Facebook Live team [Digiday]

  • Meet the new wave of wearables: stretchable electronics [Fast Company]

  • Iris Apfel emojis are happening with Macy’s [Fashionista]
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e-commerce film

Amazon loves Chiara Ferragni and airs free daily fashion show

amazon

Amazon’s going all out to boost its fashion credentials at the moment with a new daily TV show and a collab with Chiara Ferragni.

In the US, it aired its first live show for its streaming video service this week, and it’s all about fashion. The half hour daily Style Code Live show will be free to all viewers and gives them “a first-of-its-kind daily style and entertainment experience”, said executive producer Terence Noonan.

It’s an interactive show with live chats and offers fashion and beauty each weeknight with guest experts, celebrities, and viewer tips. It’s hosted by ABC TV correspondent Rachel Smith, MTV host Lyndsey Rodrigues and actor Frankie Grande.

chiara-ferragni-x-amazon-fashion-ss16

Meanwhile in Europe, Amazon has just launched its SS16 campaign starring blogger-turned-brand Chiara Ferragni of TheBlondeSalad.com.

Shot at the company’s giant Shoreditch studio by photographer Cass Bird, she’s seen wearing a number of key pieces from the spring offer.

Juliet Warkentin, who’s Amazon Fashion Europe’s director of brand and creative, said: “Chiara is a smart business woman with a strong sense of personal style and is a great advocate for our ‘Don’t look like me, look like you’ campaign.”

Find out more at www.amazon.co.uk/chiara.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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Digital snippets: CFDA’s study results, Rebecca Minkoff on women in STEM, Courrèges’ wearable tech

courreges

Your round-up of the latest stories to know about related to fashion and technology…

  • CFDA releases its (slightly) obvious study results on the New York Fashion Week format [Fashionista]
  • Rebecca Minkoff: The fashion-tech revolution needs more women [BoF]
  • Courrèges coat has a warming system like a heated car seat [Quartz]
  • Dolce & Gabbana under fire for name “slave sandal” [NY Times]
  • Topman sets up newsroom to make sure its daily videos are always on trend [The Drum]
  • Wayfair launches a catalogue with a tech twist [Fierce Retail]
  • Amazon selling its own clothes actually makes a lot of sense [Wired]
  • Adidas’s $600-a-year subscription for workout clothes is testing the limits of a big shopping trend [Washington Post]
  • Digging into Reddit: does it work for fashion brands and retailers? [Fashion & Mash]
  • All was quiet on Instagram and Twitter for New York Fashion Week – is Snapchat the reason why? [Digiday]
  • Why retailers should take note of fashion week’s popularity on Instagram [Washington Post]
  • Burberry, Coca-Cola and Gucci among first brands to test Facebook’s new ‘Canvas’ ad unit [Marketing]
  • 3 technologies that are shaping the future of fashion: instant messaging, 3D printing and virtual reality marketing [BoF]
  • Hear the newest looks: Why fashion podcasting is seeing a boom [Digiday]
  • Will 2016 be the year of Snapchat for advertisers? [The Drum]
  • Why newsletters are the teen magazines of 2016 [WGSN Insider]
  • The fashion industry is pouring money into VR, with no idea how to use it [Motherboard]
  • Brexit falls out of favour with luxury brands [Independent]
  • Brands are watching social media reactions to red carpet looks [WWD]
  • Designers: Robots are coming for your jobs [Co.Design]
  • Getting YouTube stars to sell your product [NY Times]
  • Why retailers are missing out on mobile with millennials [AdAge]
  • Why nobody’s wearing wearables [Bloomberg View]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: shoplifters at Harvey Nichols, Iris van Herpen on fashion and science, Rakuten’s virtual fit start-up

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

harveynichols

  • Harvey Nichols features genuine CCTV shoplifting footage in new Rewards ad (as pictured) [Creative Review]
  • Iris van Herpen’s science fashion [BoF]
  • Rakuten buys virtual fitting room start-up Fits.Me in a fashion commerce play [TechCrunch]
  • Why an “Amazon for high fashion” is a really bad idea [HighSnobiety]
  • Amazon Fashion, playing the long game [BoF]
  • ShopStyle figured out how to monetise Snapchat [Racked]
  • Why it took Zappos Labs five tries to admit failure [Fast Company]
  • Stamp your in-store Snapchats with custom Lilly Pulitzer prints [Digiday]
  • Crocs bets big on interactive Twitter videos with ‘Funway Runway’ effort [AdWeek]
  • Online jewellery start-up Bauble Bar to open retail stores [Forbes]
  • Matthew Williamson to sell part of pre-fall collection exclusively on Lyst [Fashionista]
  • Net-a-porter partners with Tom Ford on e-commerce exclusive [WWD]
  • Nike quickens plans to ‘seamlessly connect social platforms to commerce’ [The Drum]
  • How artificial intelligence is powering e-commerce in India [TechinAsia]
  • Fashion apps continue the trend for mobile swiping [The Telegraph]
  • Six futuristic retail displays that will change your idea of ‘e-commerce’ [Time]
  • Luxury brands dip toes in e-commerce waters [WSJ]
  • Why the Internet of Things won’t be about the ‘things’ for retailers [Retail Dive]
  • The man who wants to turn our clothes into modular gadgets [Wired]
  • Meet Mona, the world’s smartest personal shopper [PSFK]
  • Why the Apple Watch is flopping [Co.Design]
  • 3D-printing has stagnated, says pioneering designer Francis Bitonti [Dezeen]
  • We did not expect Vogue’s native advertising to be this good [Brand Republic]