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e-commerce Editor's pick mobile technology

Are we really going to shop from the Apple Watch? What retail apps are trying to achieve

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When Apple makes a major announcement like a move into the wearables category, it’s guaranteed a long line of other businesses will jump on board any which way they can; aiming for success by association with relevant launches of their own.

Needless to say there were multiple new apps created in time for the Apple Watch hitting stores in April on that very basis. 3,500 to be precise. Retail is one of the key categories within that, with Target, Asos, Amazon, JC Penney and Marks & Spencer just some examples of those who introduced new applications specifically.

Many of these brands aren’t normally what we’d consider early movers in such a tech game. So what are they trying to achieve? Are such efforts merely about benefitting from the media coverage likely to follow, or do they actually think there’s potential to be shopping from our wrists?

Head over to Forbes.com for my full story exploring the answers to those questions.

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data digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Apple, Michael Kors, Chiara Ferragni, Crocs, Snapchat, Neiman Marcus, Gap

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

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  • Apple runs first watch ads: 12 pages in Vogue [AdAge]
  • Michael Kors is getting into wearable tech [Bloomberg]
  • 10 things we learned about the business of blogging from Chiara Ferragni’s Harvard Study [StyleCaster]
  • Drones to fetch orders at Tokyo Crocs store [WSJ]
  • Luxury brands on Snapchat? Why Michael Kors is taking the plunge [Digiday]
  • Asos plots further Snapchat activity despite admitting it provides ‘virtually no data at all’ [The Drum]
  • Neiman Marcus integrates interactive tables for unbridled selection [PSFK]
  • Gap launches Instagram soap opera with Jenny Slate, Paul Dano [Mashable]
  • Nordstrom shrinks Innovation Lab, reassigns employees in shakeup of tech initiatives [Geekwire]
  • Apple stores will implement jewellery store practices to help sell the Apple Watch [TechCrunch]
  • I wore a Fitbit during fashion week [Fashionista]
  • What the tech world doesn’t understand about fashion [Racked]
  • The future of retail is the end of wholesale [BoF]
  • Will drones fly in retail? [Stores Magazine]
  • Jeff Bezos makes another push for Amazon Fashion. Will it work? [Bloomberg]
  • How Code and Theory’s Brandon Ralph gained the trust of everyone from Anna Wintour to Burger King [Fashionista]
  • Victoria’s Secret ads warm up People Magazine’s Snapchat Stories [AdAge]
  • Adidas app lets sneakerheads wait in virtual lines for limited editions [Bloomberg]
  • River Island moving IT ‘out of the back room’ with tech hub collaboration [The Drum]
  • ‘Lucky’ launches LuckyShops.com [MediaPost]
  • Face hacking: transforming our future visages with digital make-up [Motherboard]
  • How start-ups are beating Burberry to DIY fashion [Marketing Magazine]
  • How Line is turning Instagram into an e-commerce app in Thailand [TechInAsia]
  • First digital measuring tape to make online shopping less risky [PSFK]
Categories
e-commerce mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: Amazon, Burberry, Apple Watch, Bloomingdale’s, L’Oréal, Selfridges

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

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  • Amazon to open first brick-and-mortar site in New York [WSJ]
  • Burberry remains digital luxury leader, while Céline trails industry [BoF]
  • Apple Watch graces cover of Vogue China (as pictured) [Mashable]
  • Bloomingdale’s tests “smart” fitting rooms [Fortune]
  • BuzzFeed steps into e-commerce game with “buy now” button on L’Oréal post [WSJ]
  • Selfridges in £40 million website revamp [The Independent]
  • Spring app: what’s working – and what isn’t – six weeks in [Fashionista]
  • Gap’s new CEO is its digital guy, Art Peck [Business Week]
  • Why Dove is trying Snapchat for self-esteem effort [AdAge]
  • This is why Facebook was so aggressive about migrating users over to messenger: mobile payments [Fast Company]
  • Facebook and Twitter are making a push as social shopping destinations [Business Insider]
  • Retailers will win holidays with omnichannel [USA Today]
  • Apple Watch, smartwatches and the wearables fashion gap [The Guardian]
Categories
Comment Editor's pick technology

How the fashion press critiqued the all-new #applewatch

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It’s somewhat hard to imagine the scene in Cupertino earlier this week – savvy tech journalists alongside a bevy of Apple employees, a handful of celebs and some of the world’s most-established fashion editors.

Like a who’s who of Angela Ahrendts’ fashion contact book, everyone from Olivier Zahm, founder of Purple magazine, to Vogue editor-in-chiefs including Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue, Angelica Cheung of Vogue China, Emmanuelle Alt of Vogue Paris and Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia willingly took a break from their New York Fashion Week schedules to fly in especially. When Apple calls…

But what all did the industry’s critics think of the much-anticipated Apple Watch? Here are some choice highlights:

  • Lisa Armstrong at the Daily Telegraph suggested if the Apple Watch is to seduce us, first it must be able to woo us with its looks rather than its brains. Was she impressed? Ultimately, yes. Like others, the customisation factor particularly resonated: “Where Apple’s watch leaves others standing is in the almost infinite ways it can be further individualised.” Indeed to many, this was the surest sign of Apple attempting to align itself with the way the fashion industry treats accessories.
  • It was this very focus on customisation, however, that led to Time magazine giving one of the toughest reviews out there. Author Misty White Sidell referred to the launch of the Apple Watch as an attempt to kill the joy of personal style. “In a worst-case scenario for fashion, Apple will not only attain a monopoly on the timepiece market, but also the confidence to wield a larger impact on how we dress ourselves each day. The watch is no doubt an indication of how Apple will approach future fashion products, offering the masses a constrictive framework in which to dress themselves, all under the guise of customizable ‘self expression’. And that places personal style in its purest form at risk—inhibiting a consumer’s right to varied choice.” She referred to every additional fashion creation from Apple as inadvertently likely to create a less diverse shopping landscape. “The more Apple invades the fashion market, the more it will look to create a robotic consumerist culture (something it’s already done with tech)—in turn manipulating the greatest enjoyments of style and personal expression.”

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  • Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times, though providing a positive review overall, went in relatively hard as well. “It’s definitely a step forward,” she wrote. “But does it rewrite the rules of our aesthetic expectations? No.” On that customisation element, she added: “The funny thing is, while I understand why they find this sort of choice extraordinary in the tech world, it’s par for the course in fashion, which points up some of the gulf between the two sectors; What they find revolutionary makes us want to yawn.”
  • Over at Vogue International, Suzy Menkes wasn’t overly fussed by the design either. “From a fashion point of view, the external aesthetic seemed neutral: neither super-stylish nor repellent. I would imagine that geeks would love it more than aesthetes,” she wrote. But she peppered her story with what feels almost like conceding to its inevitability: “Yet smartphones have already transformed the fashion world in a way we never imagined, bringing backstage to the wide world and turning shows into a forest of phones and instant images and videos. The phone and the computer have been responsible for bringing fashion to everyone. I suspect that I, as a non-digital specialist, would fail to use this device to its full capacity. But I like the idea of setting the visual aspects according to my mood. And perhaps my wardrobe.”
  • In comparison, Fashionista very openly referred to the Apple Watch as one of the best wearable tech offerings out yet. It also praised its design, associating it very smoothly with the luxury market. “We may have just been imagining things, but the combination of the display’s smooth gradients, the leather band and the high-shine metallics gives the watch a distinctly Burberry feel. Not that Apple changed its design philosophy based on hiring Angela Ahrendts, but the vibe is there. In any case, all those luxury hires seem to have paid off.”
  • WWD [subscriber access] questioned whether Apple’s marketing savvy and brand reputation would be enough to beat out the more accessories-focused brands like Swatch group (due to unveil its own smartwatch next year), or even Will.i.am, who is plotting his own for introduction in 2015. But the fashion trade publication also highlighted an important point for retailers — the fact Apple has created an entire platform that provides new methods of interaction in the retail environment. “The Apple Watch allows a consumer to confirm a purchase via fingerprint with iTouch and now with the release of Apple Pay, there is a financial system and a platform that allows developers and retailers to integrate this into their payment transactions,” wrote digital news and features editor, Rachel Strugatz.

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  • The Business of Fashion provided a comprehensive overview of the device, outlining six underlying principles it believes form the foundations of the company’s strategy for “igniting and dominating the rapidly emerging wearable technology market, just as the iPod did for music, the iPhone did for smartphones and the iPad has done for tablets”. In doing so, it likewise highlighted some other areas of consideration beyond design, one of the most interesting ones of which was in its analysis of the need for new selling spaces for the more luxury version of the watch. “Can Apple really expect to sell a luxury-priced Apple Watch Edition in crowded stores staffed by personnel in blue t-shirts and khakis?” editor-in-chief Imran Amed asked. He expects Apple’s hire of Angela Ahrendts to lead to the brand rolling out a unique selling environment that lives up to the new product – perhaps a luxury Apple Watch shop-in-shop or a standalone deemed high-end and tailored enough to support it. From a design perspective, he also said he didn’t expect the impact on the fashion and luxury watch market to be too significant just yet. “Having seen and touched Apple Watch in person, I think traditional Swiss luxury watchmakers can rest easy — for now,” he wrote.

That “for now” comment from the BoF is particularly pertinent. As I myself wrote for WGSN [subscriber access]: “Apple has, time and time again, taken a category that already exists (mp3 players, smartphones and tablets as the most obvious examples) and redeveloped it in such a way, with design so succinctly at the heart of it, that it becomes a game changer. Comparative to all the other options out there in the wearable tech / smart watch / fitness tracking device market, this absolutely feels like that again.”

Indeed to return to Amed: “This is just the beginning for the Apple Watch and like its iPod, iPhone and iPad predecessors, I’d expect the product to evolve significantly over time.” Down the road, there’s a wealth of disruption looking likely, especially when you turn to the Millennial market (and under), who are no longer used to wearing a traditional watch, but rather relying on their smartphone. Here’s betting Apple doesn’t have too much trouble getting them back to looking at their wrists.

As Sir Jonathan Ive, SVP of design at Apple, narrates in the video: “I think we’re now at a compelling beginning – actually designing technology to be worn and to be truly personal.”

Let’s not forget, this is just version 1.0.