business digital snippets mobile social media Startups technology

What you missed: endangered fashion unicorns, Dior’s YouTube moves, Facebook marketplace

fashion unicorns
Fashion ‘unicorns’ have become an endangered species

This week’s round-up of relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech news neatly sums up a series of things to be tracking at present: the evolution of social media businesses into greater advertising and commercial retail opportunities, the role customer service and messaging apps play together, the explosion of all things virtual and augmented reality, and an ongoing bevy of start-ups to know about.

Meanwhile, also worth reading this week is detail on David Lauren’s promotion to the role of chief innovation officer over at Ralph Lauren, Dior’s catch up strategy on YouTube, and the growth of physical stores by online players including Warby Parker and Bonobos.

  • Fashion ‘unicorns’ have become an endangered species [BoF]
  • Dior’s borrowing Chanel’s strategies to catch up on YouTube [Glossy]
  • Mastercard launches ‘selfie pay’ [FT]

  • LVMH to buy majority stake in Germany’s Rimowa for $716 million [BoF]
  • Swarovski, maker of all things bejewelled, refashions itself as a tech company [NY Times]
  • As their incomes rise, Chinese consumers are trading up and going beyond necessities [McKinsey]
  • Ralph Lauren promotes founder’s son to chief innovation officer [Bloomberg]

  • Facebook launches Marketplace for local buying and selling [Reuters]
  • For young brands, is the Instagram opportunity shrinking? [BoF]
  • Pinterest Promoted Video lands in the UK with Hunter on board as a partner [The Drum]
  • Snapchat users are spending 78 seconds on average playing Under Armour’s Cam Newton game [AdWeek]
  • An inside look at Snapchat’s new advertising API technology [AdAge]

  • Reebok adds Gigi Hadid to #PerfectNever campaign [MediaPost]
  • Farfetch inspires consumers to find the perfect product in new #TheOne campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Google, Facebook become focus of holiday digital campaigns [MediaPost]

  • Warby Parker, Bonobos have big plans for physical stores [WSJ]
  • Shopify adds Facebook Messenger direct sales channel [Retail Dive]
  • Salesforce launches LiveMessage to provide customer service across messaging apps [VentureBeat]
  • Cocktails, cinemas and concierges: Malls weave a web of their own to entice customers [Financial Post]
  • Now you can sign up for a “.shopping” domain name [Apparel]
  • The Outnet launches first android app [Fashion United]

  • Japanese brand Anrealage hosts augmented reality fashion show [Glossy]
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s VR selfie is a bigger deal than you realise [Wired]
  • Will Google’s ‘soft and cozy’ approach to VR headsets make the space more mainstream? [AdWeek]
  • The mainstreaming of augmented reality: a brief history [HBR]

  • Venture capitalists invest $56 billion in start-ups so far in 2016 [Reuters]
  • New app co-created by Elon Musk’s estranged wife could be a game-changer for retail [BGR]
  • Online fashion retailer Grana raises $10M led by Alibaba’s entrepreneurship fund [TechCrunch]
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…

  • 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]

  • 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]

  • 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]

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

  • 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]

  • 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]

  • Carmen Busquets, fashion e-commerce’s fairy godmother [NY Times]
  • Where is the Uber of fashion? [Forbes]
business data e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

10 things fashion retailers need to know from Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report

Internet Trends Mary Meeker
Mary Meeker delivering her 2016 Internet Trends report

If there’s one place to get a good overview of shifting digital consumption habits, it’s from Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers’, annual Internet Trends report. To save you having to trawl through the 200+ slides from the 2016 release, here are a handful of need-to-know insights for those in the fashion and retail space:

1. Visual platforms continue to win, particularly for those in the Millennial generation (aged circa 18-34 years old today). Leading platforms in terms of both engagement and reach include Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.


2. This is even more the case with Generation Z, who communicate via visuals far more so than text. They also operate more screens than their Millennial counterparts at once (five versus two), and tend to be creators and collaborators over curators and sharers.


3. This visual playground is Snapchat’s world, and everyone else is just living in it. Snapchat has nailed how to host visual content in an advertising sense that works because it’s authentic, entertaining, in context and often brief, said Meeker. As a result, it now sees users playing with things like its sponsored lenses for an average of 20 seconds at a time.


4. Let’s not forget, when we’re talking about visual content, video plays a massive role. Its usage, sophistication and relevancy continues to grow rapidly, explained Meeker. Facebook now sees 8bn video views per day, while Snapchat is getting 10bn.


5. Live video is also becoming more important. Over the past century we’ve moved from live linear viewing on the TV to on-demand streaming, to semi-live content like that of Snapchat Stories in and around 2013, to today’s “real-live” feeds via the likes of Periscope and Facebook Live. Meeker referred to the recent Chewbacca Facebook Live video, which referenced retailer Kohl’s, as “user generated content at whole new orders of viewing magnitude”. Kohl’s not only sold out of the Star Wars mask at the centre of the video, but became the leading app in the iOS app store in the US.


6. Getting video right – being authentic, creative and valued through your content – is key by the way because ad blocking is also majorly on the rise. Today, 93% of internet users have or will consider using ad blocking software, according to Unruly. This software is especially a big deal in China, India and Indonesia, and around the world 420m users are now using it, which is a rise of 94% year-on-year. “If there has ever been a call to arms to create better ads, this is it,” said Meeker.


7. The role of messaging apps is also growing and especially relevant for retail businesses. The secret sauce is the magic of the thread – it’s conversational, it remembers identity, time, specifics, preferences and context. Using such platforms is a boon to customer satisfaction, Meeker added, explaining that it’s also leading, of course, to commerce.


8. Brands emerging in the retail space (and playing with all the aforementioned tools) are being heavily impacted and influenced by the Millennial generation, Meeker explained, with the below chart showing the sorts of companies founded by decade over the past 100+ years. Today, internet-enabled retailers, products and brands are significantly on the rise, bolstered by always-on connectivity, hyper-targeted marketing, the role of images and personalisation. StitchFix is a great example of this, said Meeker, for the fact it brings Spotify and Netflix-like discovery to fashion, with each customer getting a differentiated experience thanks to its advanced algorithm.


9. All of this also means there are numerous internet brands that have managed to reach $100m in annual sales within five years (including the likes of Birchbox, Everlane, Rent the Runway, Bonobos, Nasty Gal and more), compared to Nike, which took 14 years, Lululemon, which took nine years and Under Armour, which took eight years. “It’s fast and it’s impressive,” said Meeker.


10. Lastly, when it comes to customer service, no surprises here: social media and instant chat is preferred by Millennials than the telephone is.


Editor's pick mobile

Snackable shopping is changing the mobile commerce scene as users buy little and often


It’s said that we check our phones on average up to 85 times per day. We do so in bed, on our commutes, in the office, in front of the TV, even while we’re on the toilet. We’re doing so to browse content and connect with friends of course, but increasingly we’re also doing so to shop.

Mobile commerce jumped 56% to $49.2bn in the US in 2015, which is double the previous year’s growth, according to comScore. While desktop sales were still substantially higher at $256.1bn, growth slowed to 8.1% from 12.5%.

“Mobile devices are driving demand,” Andrew Lipsman, a comScore vice president, told The Wall Street Journal. “They can create an impulsive buying moment at any point in the day because they are with you all the time, right in your pocket.”

It’s on that basis that retailers are seeing consumers increasingly making a number of quick and cheap purchases throughout the day, rather than gathering things in their baskets and buying all at once. Referred to as “snacking”, this new mode of commerce places the smartphone as an “all-day impulse aisle”.

Speaking at the FashTech Summit in London last week, Daniel Murray, co-founder of shopping app Grabble, noted a similar trend. Grabble originally had a traditional cart, or basket, in place that would gather items users wanted to buy, but no one was then actually making their purchases. “We ripped [the basket] up and did it item by item instead,” he explained. “If you ask a user, they say they want to add everything to a basket, but then they do that and abandon it. They’d see a £300 bill and decide they don’t want to buy it after all. Now we have users who compulsively repeatedly buy item after item.”

It’s a straightforward concept; a matter of psychology convincing people to purchase little and often rather than shelling out huge sums. But Murray says it’s also about simplicity in the process. “If there’s any friction, then there’s going to be a problem with conversion. You have to make the experience as simple as possible, otherwise you miss out.”

Grabble has made the steps in between wanting to buy and completing checkout as short as possible in order to enable it.

This “snacking” particularly takes place in apps, rather than the mobile web. For retailers however, app visits are an ongoing battle – stats from Forrester demonstrate US and UK consumers now spend more than 88% of their app time on just five downloaded apps. Within that, aggregation apps and platforms like Facebook and WeChat that provide content and services in one contextual stream, are the most-used. “As an app, you have an existential crisis every day of why you exist on [consumers’] phones,” Murray noted.

Yet eMarketer shows US consumers spent 3 hours and 5 minutes a day using apps last year, compared to 51 minutes surfing the mobile web. In 2016 that’s expected to increase a further 10 minutes for apps, and stay at 51 minutes for mobile browsers. To be one of those top five then, is about creating consistently relevant needs for consumers.

The ability for push notifications helps, especially if targeting a younger consumer. According to messaging app Kik, which particularly appeals to US teens, users are three times more likely to open a notification than they are an email.

Retailers have to become increasingly savvy about how they position such updates however, sharing content that appeals to and not bugs the user on what’s considered their most personal device, said Murray. A savvy combination of geo-activated messages, right time rewards, and more personalised offers and content, are routes to success thanks to the data collection such apps now enable.

But it’s that simple one-click purchase to satisfy an always-on culture of snackable shopping, that’s making the real difference.

data digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: all about chatbots, Burberry’s ‘Snapcode’ products, Ralph Lauren’s connected fitting rooms


If there’s one story dominating tech titles at present, it’s the role of chatbots in our messaging apps. That was especially the case following Facebook’s F8 developer conference Tuesday, but is also reflected through numerous other recent stories focused on brand uptake across messaging channels. Read on for your round-up of all that, as well as other latest fashion and technology stories to know about…

  • Shopping start-up Spring launches one of first bots on Facebook Messenger [Forbes]

  • Kik launches a ‘Bot Shop’ because bot shops are the new app stores [Fortune]

  • Why brands from Barbie to Uber are so hot on chatbots [AdWeek]

  • Sephora launches chatbot on messaging app Kik [Forbes]

  • WTF is all the fuss with chatbots? [Digiday]

  • Chat bots, conversation and AI as an interface [Benedict Evans]

  • Snapchat takes on Facebook with huge new upgrade – messaging is the focus [Vanity Fair]

  • Data alone can’t decode the fashion consumer [BoF]

  • Is fashion ready for the AI revolution? [BoF]

  • Burberry first to create a ‘Snapcode’ on their products to nudge shoppers onto Snapchat Discover [The Drum]

  • Inside Ralph Lauren’s connected fitting rooms [Digiday]

  • Express leverages Snapchat with in-store checklist campaign [Mobile Commerce Daily]

  • Snapchat is ‘increasingly important’ for Asos customers [Marketing magazine]

  • Your ad here: why Grindr, Pornhub and YouPorn are fashion’s new billboards [It’s Nice That]

  • Even in a mobile world, retailers aren’t convinced social media can sell [AdWeek]

  • Facebook said to face decline in people posting personal content [AdAge]

  • Pinterest opens up Promoted Pins for UK advertisers, with John Lewis and among launch partners [The Drum]

  • Flush with tech wealth, San Francisco warms to fashion [BoF]

  • Manufacture NY and FIT partner to bring revolutionary textile innovation to New York [Manufacture NY]
digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Valentino’s Instagram strategy, YNAP and IBM team up, Lacoste’s AR book


Beyond Paris Fashion Week, and on past SXSW, here’s your round-up of the latest fashion and technology stories to know from the month of March…

  • In the age of the algorithm, top Instagram brand Valentino needs to rethink its strategy [Digiday]

  • Yoox Net-a-porter Group, IBM partner on software, tech development [WWD]

  • Lacoste enriches its brand campaign with augmented reality book [PSFK]

  • The North Face to launch insanely smart Watson-powered mobile shopping app next month [Venture Beat]

  • True Religion is equipping its sales staff with Apple watches [Apparel News]

  • ‘It can bottle our energy’: Why Bloomingdale’s is going all in on Snapchat [Digiday]

  • Bloomingdale’s spurs branded conversation through emoji app [Luxury Daily]

  • Why Uniqlo is now selling through mobile shopping app Spring [Fashionista]

  • American Apparel offering on-demand delivery via Postmates partnership [TechCrunch]

  • Alibaba spreads its wings into VR sector [China Daily]

  • L’Oreal creates unbranded content hub to woo beauty fans [AdAge]

  • Net-a-Porter’s digital chief on how brands can get up close and personal to consumers [Marketing Magazine]

  • In the store of the future, your shopping bag connects to the internet [Fast Company]

  • How do you bring personalised shopping technology to stores? Adobe has an idea [Fashionista]

  • More influencers, fewer posts: How Instagram’s algorithm will affect fashion brands [Digiday]

  • In the future, Instagram and Facebook could be amongst the largest retailers online [WWD]

  • To big brands, from a millennial: Snapchat filters are where it’s at [AdAge]

  • How Pinterest knows who’s down to shop and who isn’t [AdAge]

  • Personal shopping services seek scale [BoF]

  • Brotailers market to millennial men who hate to shop [BrandChannel]

  • Venture capitalists: e-commerce funding to tighten [WWD]

  • Flush with tech wealth, San Francisco warms to fashion [BoF]

  • E-commerce in Brazil gets more mobile [eMarketer]

  • FedEx to expand e-commerce reach in China, Japan [WSJ]
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Facebook is pushing the idea of “conversational commerce” hard



In what will come as little of a surprise, Facebook is backing the idea of consumers being able to shop directly through messaging apps.

Speaking at Retail Week Live, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said shoppers will be able to increasingly contact retailers and brands directly through Facebook Messenger, and use that conversation to order products instead of leaving to go to a website.

She referred to this as the next big digital retail trend, according to Drapers, and highlighted that 800 million people worldwide now use Facebook messenger and one billion use [Facebook-owned] WhatsApp.

“Six out of the top 10 apps in the world are messenger apps and it will not be long until brands are integrated into that space,” she added.

Indeed, stats released last year by Business Insider show that four of the biggest messaging apps have now met (and no doubt since overtaken) the number of people using the four biggest social media platforms.




It’s on that basis Facebook Messenger is believed to be heavily following in the footsteps of its Chinese counterpart WeChat and aiming to become more than just a place for conversation, but for everything from banking, to travel, customer service, and yes, shopping.

It released its business offering on the platform in the US in 2015, with the likes of Everlane as launch partner.

Everlane shoppers can now receive updates about their order via FB Messenger rather than just email. For those wanting to, they can just leave it at that. For those more inclined, they can use the app to then spark up a conversation with the customer service rep on the other end of it. Given payment details are then stored, they can order anything they like through that discussion, but better yet, also receive personalised recommendations and the such like given their history is stored in that one app.

“It is instant communication and a different type of commerce. It allows shoppers to shop whenever they like,” said Mendelsohn.

At this point for Everlane, it’s reportedly still a human at the other end beyond those initial shipping updates, by the way. But the bigger part of this conversational commerce trend – a term first coined by Chris Messina, developer experience lead at Uber, in a must-read blogpost earlier this year – will be the role bots play to automate much more of that back and forth.

This is something WeChat is already heavily invested in, and others including Kik, Slack and Telegram all too. It’s also a step Facebook is rumoured to be announcing at its next developer conference in April.

As Messina wrote: “Computer-driven bots will become more human-feeling, to the point where the user can’t detect the difference, and will interact with either human agent or computer bot in roughly the same interaction paradigm.”

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Zalando and Target: M-commerce and omnichannel drive growth


Competition in the pureplay fashion e-tail sector is heating up, but omnichannel retailers are also upping their game, which means yesterday’s news from Zalando (pureplay) and Target Corp (omnichannel) makes interesting reading.

Basically, Zalando is powering ahead, investing in expansion, and has the rise of m-commerce to thank, while Target is going hell-for-leather into click and collect as it sees this as key to its future. And it’s bagged a top exec from Amazon to help it get ahead.

Zalando: M-commerce and apps

Europe’s biggest pureplay online fashion store is investing heavily in growth and said m-commerce is becoming even more important to its business.

The eight-year-old German company offers over 1,500 brands in 15 European countries and is going head-to-head with Asos. The UK rival is building a massive warehouse in Berlin, moving physically into Zalando’s home market as well as virtually after its EU sales rose 29% in the last quarter.

Is Zalando worried? It doesn’t seem to be. Management board member Rubin Ritter told a conference call that “we don’t have to be overly concerned about what the competition is doing”. He’s not worried about Amazon growing its fashion footprint either as he says Zalando has more fashion expertise.

I suppose it’s easy to be that dismissive when last year’s sales rose 33.6% to €2.96bn, when it made adjusted operating profit of €107.5m and when it’s predicting 20% to 25% growth this year. OK, that 2016 estimate is a slowdown, but the bigger Zalando gets, the slower its growth rate has to be. Yet even at the lower end of that forecast, it’s an impressive rate.


What was particularly interesting about the latest figures was that 59.9% of site visits came from mobile devices in Q4, up from 47.9%, as the firm focused on app development. Its apps downloads more-than-doubled from 7m in 2014 to 16m in 2015.

The point about m-commerce is that it drives sales growth by its very nature because we don’t have to be sat at a computer to shop. We can do it on the bus, while walking the dog, just about anywhere we can get a mobile signal. It’s one of the reasons Zalando’s number of active customers rose 22% to almost 18m at year-end with average orders-per-customer at an all-time high. 

The company is investing around €200m this year in driving further growth (it spent €70m last year) and hopes this expansion will allow it to take a 5% share of the European fashion market soon, up from 1% now.

Target: Collect in-store

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a currently-buoyant Target Corp is showing that pureplay retailers don’t have the online fashion space to themselves. In fact, it’s showing that the existence of physical stores can boost online sales for a company.

And it hopes an exec from a pureplay background can help boost those sales even more. It just announced the appointment of Arthur Valdez, who was an Amazon exec, to head up its omnichannel supply chain transformation.

His appointment is part of a process during which the firm has been boosting stock levels at its stores in order to fulfil more online orders via click and collect. The company said its increased stock levels in its 1,800 stores helped boost its click and collect orders to 30% of all online orders in Q4.

The company’s online sales are surging (by 34% last quarter) and it wouldn’t have been able to offer click and collect so widely if it hadn’t put in place various improvements to the availability of its in-store stock for online customers. Last week it said out-of-stock metrics were 20% better than they were a year ago. Newcomer Valdez, who spent 16 years at Amazon, will be in charge of making sure that improvement continues.

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

Comment Editor's pick film mobile social media

From the archive: How Hermès is winning with creative online content


Last year’s list of the 100 most innovative companies, according to Forbes, saw French luxury brand Hermès sitting at number 13. Though it dropped to 22 in 2015, it can still be credited as a leader in creating desire coupled with mystique.

This article documenting why, and originally published in Forbes in October 2014, remains as relevant now as it was back then. Yes the elusiveness of its famous handbags is one important factor, but the part you may know less about is the way it consistently defers to creativity online.

While Burberry might be shouted about as a digital pioneer or Chanel heralded for its elegant YouTube channel, not to mention statement-worthy catwalk shows, Hermès should be regarded for the creative content it is pushing out across channels. It regularly, and always quietly, releases everything from quirky illustrated videos to pop-up e-stores that tick every box associated with the brand craftsmanship it is engaged in, setting it apart from many others in the space.

The Forbes list is determined by measuring which companies trade at a level incongruous to their underlying financials and assets, leading to an Innovation Premium (IP). Hermès set a record in 2014, reporting an operating profit of $1.69 billion with $5 billion in sales – the fastest growing business in its industry over the past six years. In fact the only others categorized as ‘luxury goods’ on the list from Forbes were Li & Fung at 41 and Luxottica Group at 51 (in 2015, Luxottica sat at 65, while Li & Fung dropped off the top 100 entirely).


An article in the September 8, 2014 issue of Forbes magazine accompanying the list highlighted the fact Hermès doesn’t have a marketing department. “Why should it? McKinsey doesn’t have a consulting department nor does Microsoft have a software department. Marketing is Hermès’ core business,” writes author Susan Adams.

She quotes the company’s CEO, Axel Dumas (as pictured above): “Our business is about creating desire. It can be fickle because desire is fickle, but we try to have creativity to suspend the momentum.”

Taking it to that online space therefore, one such exercise in creativity in 2014 could be seen in the pop-up virtual store launched, dedicated to the brand’s silk squares, shawls, twills, scarves and stoles. Illustrated in typical Hermès style by Pierre Marie, Lamaisondescarré looks like a grand house with an intricate interior and a diverse series of characters and creatures all featured. There’s a gardener floating on a hot air balloon, sunflowers twisting in the breeze, a play slide atop a large giftbox, a gentleman lying in a hammock and more.

The team behind it referred to it as “playful, welcoming, immersive and surprising”. Created in partnership with agency AKQA, it allows users to explore different rooms featuring 600 models of Hermès signature silks, all of which can be clicked to purchase.


There’s also a link through to two of the brand’s apps – further explorations of creative content, this time with a functional edge. The first, called Silk Knots, is a how-to guide on 24 different ways to tie your scarf through images and videos. The second, the Tie Break app, is aimed at men and includes a variety of GIFs, games and comics as well as collection insights.

There’s a real sense of fun permeating Hermès’ work, and the same can be said for film. Stop motion has been a go-to for the brand for some time, from China plates playing ping-pong while handbags spectate, to pairs of shoes leapfrogging one another. Previous holiday seasons meanwhile have seen illustrated versions of its infamous orange boxes captured iceskating. Each clip is far worthier than the 20-60,000 views they’ve received (for reference, 2015’s holiday clip has been viewed over 600,000 times to current date).

Earlier in 2014 there was also a campaign starring Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris dancer, Jérémie Bélingard. Directed by Romain Laurent, the 60-second spot – called Man on the Move – saw Bélingard walking around an “urban playground”, as he did so automatically transforming from one outfit to the next.

Like a fashionable shafeshifter, when he bumps into a lamppost, his jacket and granddad-collar shirt are replaced with a white printed shirt and green trousers; when he hits the wall with the chime of a pinball machine, the green jacket to match those trousers arrives… and so it continues.

Each piece is peppered with an eccentric, playful and quirky feel. Above is another strong example – Hermès taking its signature equestrian reference, and bringing it to life in an unexpected manner. Despite the fact that means models acting out being a horse (#jesuisuncheval is the hashtag), somehow there remains a chic French sophistication to it.

Hermès’ US CEO, Robert Chavez, is quoted in Adams’ piece: “We’ve always said we don’t take ourselves too seriously at Hermès.”

Arguably it’s this combination of creativity and light-heartedness that is making this 177-year old brand relevant in today’s digital world. A beautiful sense of humour anchors it, all the while an air of aspiration is maintained, resulting in content that is some of the best we’re seeing out there from a luxury house to date.

As the intro to the magazine article reads: “Quietly and diligently, the family behind Hermès has become one of the world’s richest, to the tune of more than $25 billion. They’ve done it by not only selling beautiful luxury items but also by selling aura as beautifully as any company on this planet.”

e-commerce mobile technology

Future world revisited: Welcome to cashless Sweden


Three stories have really excited my interest this week. And no, it’s not the Burberry ad campaign nor all those pre-fall collections. Instead it’s:

Think about it, that trio of stories is real world-of-tomorrow stuff, the kind of developments people, say 50 years ago, expected to happen sooner. But back then they also expected us to be walking around wearing silver space suits and driving flying cars.

The fact is that we still do normal stuff (wearing jeans, driving cars, doing the dishes, taking the dog for a walk, watching sitcoms…). But the future has crept up on us, if not imperceptibly, at least very fast and in ways we didn’t always expect.

So, to the point of the story. In Sweden, cash is no longer king, according to a new report. If you ask people on the shopping streets of Stockholm when they last paid for something in cash, many have to think a bit. Was it yesterday, or perhaps last week?

Digital payments via card or mobile app have become so widely accepted that many Swedes no longer carry cash at all. Indeed, there’s such a high level of trust in the digital transaction system, even children often pay with their debit cards.

And perhaps it’s that level of trust that’s key – such a situation may take longer to happen in countries like the US or the UK. There even the most digitally-focused millennial still worries about trusting their entire financial life to a card or an app and many parents would be horrified at the thought of giving little Jack or Amy a debit card.

While card and other digital payments are key for retail sales in many other countries too, a scenario where consumers would leave the house without any cash is still some way off. Cash is still a must-have and there are still situations where you’d be laughed at for offering payment via a digital alternative.

But not in Sweden. According to the study from KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden can currently claim to be the world’s leader in cashless trading. “Our use of cash is small, and it’s decreasing rapidly,” said Niclas Arvidsson, researcher and author of the study. “Cash is still an important means of payment in many countries’ markets, but that no longer applies here.”

In the retail industry in Sweden, about 80% of all transaction are made by cards and this number is increasing, Bengt Nilervall, Head of Payment Systems at the Swedish Trade Federation, said. He added that “we have a big trust in the government, the system, the banks, and the authorities.”

According to the study, in Sweden there is less than SEK80bn (about €8bn) in circulation, a sharp decline from just six years ago, when the total was SEK106bn.

For most private consumers, being able to pay with a card or via the very popular mobile payment app Swish, is convenient, secure, and free. Cards are used for purchases both small and large, and there are many instances where only digital payments are accepted.

Not everyone is convinced, of course and older consumers, plus people who live in rural areas still cling to cash, as does anyone who prefers the anonymity it permits.

On the retailer side, it seems that most welcome the security and convenience of cash-free sales. For small businesses and street vendors, the Swedish iZettle mobile payment solution for cards, or mobile app Swish, allow for easy payments.

But as with traditional credit card transactions, the new digital solutions are also starting to charge fees for businesses, frustrating some vendors who must cover such costs, even for small purchases.

That aside, it’s a model of the future that’s actually working (and working well) today.

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