Balenciaga is launching a capsule collection exclusive to luxury e-tailer Farfetch with the aim to raise awareness to the conservation of endangered animal species. Having a positive impact on animal welfare is also key to the design of the collection, which will be entirely free from leather, fur and down materials.
Available in a limited edition across ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories for women, men and kids, a few of the collection pieces will feature illustrations of threatened animal species, such as the North White Rhinoceros, the Asian Elephant and the Blue Whale.
“Balenciaga is pleased to launch this exclusive collection. Bringing awareness to threatened species and supporting the conservation actions of IUCN is part of our vision,” said Cédric Charbit, CEO of the label.
Last year in March, Lacoste also showed support to animal conservation with the Lacoste x Save Our Species collection where it replaced its well-known crocodile logo with those of endangered species. Shirts were available in limited editions that corresponded to how much of each individual breed remained in the wild, such as the Javan Rhino (67).
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How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.
The latest fashion week season was marked by conversations on inclusivity, from celebrating diverse models at Ralph Lauren and Savage x Fenty, to industry experts openly criticizing the new era of Celine by Hedi Slimane for having 91% white models.
On top of that was a continued question mark around the validity of the see-now-buy-now business model, the ongoing impact of streetwear on the catwalk, and endless pop-up installations celebrating all things fashion.
And yet underlying this activity, though it may not have been obvious on the surface, was a tech-led narrative, with projections, hackers and immersive experiences all demonstrative of how fashion continues to push forward in the space.
Check out our round-up of the catwalk innovations to know…
Ralph Lauren celebrated the 50th-anniversary of his brand with a digitally-driven immersion. So-called LED sculptures, otherwise known as large scale digital displays, appeared under Central Park trees showcasing cuts from the designer’s most memorable collection reels. Campaign archive imagery as then projected across the walls of two T-shaped chambers that told the brand’s story through Lauren’s narration himself. The installation is now at the flagship store in NYC. An app launch was also part of the celebration: in addition to shopping, the platform gives consumers insider access and exclusive content.
At London Fashion Week, footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood’s show saw teenage hacker CyFi walk the runway alongside actress and #MeToo activist, Rose McGowan. Set in an underground bunker, with flashing monitors and LED lights, their appearance was tied to an underlying political message from Kirkwood against conformity. His latest shoe collection was inspired by tech and cyber-reality, with details including graphic TV static–style print and constructions that looked like tangled computer wiring. The show also featured a hologram technology that showed the collection’s main shoe, a boot with neon yellow detail, in 3D by UK company Hologrm.
A robot debuted on the catwalk of London Fashion Week adorned in head to toe crystals. Part of the show of LA-based designer Honee, the telepresence machine was created in partnership with Silicon Valley-based OhmniLabs. Honee said the show “celebrates the human spirit via the robots”. Her vision was to marry fashion, culture and technology through the experience.
At Paris Fashion Week, Maison Margiela surprised guests with 12 enormous projections alongside the catwalk at the launch of its new fragrance, My Mutiny, the first to be released under John Galliano. The film showed a behind-the-scenes look at the campaign. Miu Miu also decided to use projections, with models’ faces featuring bold lips and vivid red streaked across their eyelids, placed onto bubble letters spelling out the brand’s logo. It was a way to complement the theme of the collection: “Deconstructing beauty”.
If there was one show that stole the tech limelight this season however, it was Balenciaga. Taking immersion to the next level, the set saw a 360-degree kaleidoscopic tunnel designed to replicate the inner workings of a computer. Projectors cast multicolored lights onto the walls of the auditorium, which changed color and speed depending on both the model walking and the track playing. With set design by Jon Rafman, the idea was to draw influence from and attention to modern technology and digital media. The most controversial part of the show was actually on the clothes: Powerpoint Clip Art effects and Comic Sans adorned some of the prints. After turning ugly daddy sneakers into the hypest pair of shoes, Balenciaga is the right brand to end the ban of Comic Sans.
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.
In 2019, we’re returning to SXSW in Austin, Texas – but we need your support! The festival is a hotbed for innovation and while TheCurrent will be on site gathering insights and producing exclusive events like podcast recordings, we are also aiming to host three panels. But we can only get on the official schedule with your vote.
One of our panels, “How streetwear turns hype into $$$”, will look at how streetwear labels are now catering way beyond hip-hop artists and skater kids on the fringes of society. Trading on scarcity and hype, this is a business on an unstoppable rise, with its poster child, Supreme, now estimated to be worth $1bn. From coveted collaborations to luxury department stores releasing ‘drops’, everybody wants to satiate the young consumer’s appetite.
But what can other industries learn from such masters of frenzy? Listen from a group of experts that include Swan Sit, VP of global digital marketing at Nike; Ferdinando Verderi, creative director at Johannes Leonardo, the global ad agency for Adidas Originals and responsible for the Alexander Wang x Adidas Originals launch; and Aaron Levant, founder of the ultimate streetwear festival ComplexCon and now CEO of NTWRK, an upcoming HSN-like shopping channel for Millennials and Gen Zers.
The panel will dissect this highly engaged community, and help the audience better understand what makes the thrill of the chase such a successful retail strategy.
So if you want to see this panel at next year’s edition, please vote! But be quick, as public voting closes this Thursday (August 30). Doing so is easy, just login or create a quick PanelPicker® account via panelpicker.sxsw.com. Then find our How street turns hype into $$$ and all you have to do is click on the “Vote Up” button in the top lefthand column.
Streetwear has had an increasingly strong influence on how young people consume fashion trends and engage with brands, and the luxury industry in particular has taken notice. Last week, Balenciaga launched exclusive sneakers at Selfridges, but they can only be purchased by appointment; earlier this year, Moncler announced it will launch monthly collections, as opposed to seasonal, in a collaboration model not too dissimilar from the streetwear industry; and lastly this November, TheCurrent will be present at ComplexCon for the very first time.
Balenciaga is launching a new shoe, named the ‘Track’, by appointment only at London department store Selfridges.
In order to book an appointment however, shoppers must visit a dedicated site to reserve a pair, and collect at a designated time slot at the store’s Corner Shop.
“This service model has been in place for brand launches for a few years, and it has helped eliminate queues and customer dissatisfaction,” Sebastian Manes, Selfridges buying and merchandising director, told Vogue ahead of the launch.
The retail strategy demonstrates once again the influence that streetwear’s drop culture has had on luxury as a whole, from product to shopping experience. Under Demna Gvasalia’s tenure, Balenciaga has borrowed from the hype generated by the Georgian designer’s other role as the head creative of Vetements, which gained him cult following by playing up irony in fashion.
With that mindset, Balenciaga led the trend of the ‘ugly’ sneaker in luxury fashion with its Triple S model. This new model, however, takes inspiration from traditional hiking and running styles, using similar high tech materials that aim to enhance performance.
“Balenciaga sneakers have been one of the most in-demand pieces of footwear since last year,” continued Manes. “Every time we restock the Triple S, it sells out within hours thanks to a growing waiting list. Our clients can’t wait to see what’s next from Demna Gvasalia – he has truly reinvented the house for the modern day woman and man.”
The new model will come in four styles, which can be previewed on the interactive site. Given the popularity of its predecessor, both the brand and retailer expect it to become another cult classic.
Selfridges’ Corner Shop, which is the store’s pop-up space, will also host artworks by artist Mark Jenkins at the same time that the coveted sneakers are on sale.
How are you thinking about product and retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.
E-commerce player Lyst has teamed up with The Business of Fashion to introduce a new ranking of fashion’s hottest brands and biggest products.
The Lyst Index relies on information pulled from the Lyst site – which tracks 4.5 million data points per hour from over 65 million annual consumers, 4 million products and 12,000 brands – as well as Google search data. The formula takes into account search, page views (across devices), engagement, intent rate and conversion.
For Q2 of this year, Gucci comes out top, rising three places since April 2017 to overtake Yeezy and Vetements, which ranked in second and fourth place respectively, with Balenciaga rising from ninth to number three. Gucci also sees four products listed in the 10 best-selling products globally, with its GG Blooms slides topping the list overall.
The Business of Fashion puts that rise down to Gucci’s ability to connect with millennial and Gen Z consumers. The report reads: “Alessandro Michele’s maximalist-magpie aesthetic translates extremely well to digital channels, while the brand’s marketing strategies, such as the meme-led campaign for Gucci watches in March, and Glen Luchford’s recent ‘50s sci-fi inspired video have proved successful experiments.”
It highlights the fact sales to millennial and Gen Z consumers grew at double-digit rate in the first of the 2017 fiscal year, and retention is high. It also outlines that Gucci sales rose to €1,48 billion in Q2, up 39.3% year over year and beating analysts’ expectations by 7%. Operating profit for H1 was over €907 million, up 69% from about €537 million last year.
Yeezy at number two it puts down to the ongoing buzz around founder Kanye West and the fact he’s married to one of the most photographed women in the world, as well as the clever pricing and distribution strategy that Adidas has deployed.
Meanwhile, Balenciaga at number three is attributed to the streetwear attitude to couture that Demna Gvasalia has introduced as well as some clever marketing plays. But it was reportedly its inadvertent part in the Ikea shopping bag viral meme that caused its biggest search increase in the quarter.
Other brands listed in the top 10 include Givenchy, Valentino, Y-3, Prada, Nike and Fendi, while those with winning products further include Saint Laurent, Chloé, Diane Von Furstenberg, Common Projects and Comme Des Garçons.
This is the first in a series of four quarterly Lyst Index reports.
Given the way the world has changed over the past 12 months, it’s no surprise to see pieces of work that have something truly meaningful behind them walking away with the big prizes at this year’s Cannes Lions.
Where in 2016, we were all about new technologies and looking to the future, for 2017 it’s really been about what makes a statement, moves people, plays on human truths and ultimately initiates some kind of real impact. That’s not entirely new for the creative and advertising industry, of course, but it stood out more than ever against a backdrop of growing consumer uncertainty.
State Street Global Advisors’ Fearless Girl by McCann New York for instance was the big winner of the week. This bronze statue, which stands opposite Wall Street’s Charging Bull, launched on International Women’s Day (the first under President Trump) in a bid to prove that companies with strong female leadership perform better than their male-led counterparts. It won a huge four Grand Prix awards, praised for the fact it was “disruptive, irreverent and broke the mould”.
The Film Grand Prix meanwhile went to Channel 4’s We’re the Superhumans, while other Grand Prix awards touched on the environment, on traffic accidents, on refugees and on equal voting.
The Innovation Grand Prix winner also came under the impact header. Awarded to The Humanium Metal Initiative by Åkestam Holst for IM Swedish Development Partner, it is the world’s first supply chain distributing metal made from destructed illegal firearms. The aim is to promote weapon destruction programmes in affected regions and financial support to victims of armed violence.
The first commercial items from the initiative are due to launch in September this year, and will include all sorts of partnerships with a variety of brands, including those in the fashion industry by turning the metal into jewellery, buttons and more.
Elsewhere, there were other winners in the fashion industry too – albeit more traditional in their campaigns than as purpose driven as this year’s headliners. Notably Kenzo picked up a number of accolades for its My Mutant Brain ad, including two golds, three silvers and four bronzes across the Film, Film Craft, Cyber and Entertainment for Music categories, as well as a Titanium Lion.
Sport of course picked up multiple titles once more. Nike scored a huge 13 Lions just in the Film and Film Craft categories alone, while also winning in Digital Craft, Integrated, Entertainment for Music and Design.
It was its Unlimited Stadium campaign from BBH that picked up the highest number however, winning four golds, five silvers and six bronzes across Design, Cyber, Promo and Activation, Outdoor, Creative Data and Entertainment. Created to launch its Lunar Epic Mid shoe, this was an interactive LED running track set up in the Philippines during the Olympics. It took the data of each runner on each lap, and turned it into a digital avatar they could then run against as they continued.
Head to head came Adidas of course, which picked up a Grand Prix for its Original is Never Finished campaign in the Entertainment for Music category, as well as three further bronzes for the same ad. Other accolades went to its Alexander Wang collaboration launch, its Adidas Odds initiative for the Paralympics and its Adidas Neo Snapchat campaign. Green Light Run, which enabled urban running in Tokyo, picked up four awards, and Breaking the Pattern with Adidas Glitch, which launched a football boot exclusively through a dedicated mobile app, collected five.
The North Face, Converse, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Under Armour also scooped awards, while others went to Amazon for its Tokyo Fashion Week opening, Marks & Spencer for its Mrs Claus film, Diesel for its Make Love Not Walls campaign and to Harvey Nichols and Havaianas for various efforts in print and publishing.
If we count Snap Inc’s Spectacles under the header of “wearables” then they also did a sterling job at the awards this year – picking up three golds across Design and Product Design, and silver and bronzes in Mobile.
And then there’s Ikea, as pictured top. Not a fashion retailer per se, but it took full advantage of a connection with luxury when Balenciaga sent out a blue bag on the runway earlier this year; one that looked distinctly similar to its own plastic carry-all it offers to shoppers.
The brand jumped on the social media conversation that was flowing around it, launching a campaign that helped consumers identify a “real FRAKTA bag”, which instantly went viral. The results saw over 165 million media impressions amounting to over $6m in earned media against zero ad dollars spent. It won a silver in PR and bronze Lions in Direct and Promo and Activation.
Luxury was late to the digital party and for the most part hasn’t acquitted itself well ever since. Which is why the regular ContactLab/Exane BNP Paribas reports into just how good the purchasing experience is for consumers is always interesting.
The report looks at factors such as digital touchpoint like abandoned carts, customer service, ease of ordering and general communications, plus physical touchpoint like packaging, delivery and much more.
Last year it did this from a Milanese viewpoint and this year it was New York. So what did it learn?
Well, Balenciaga and Fendi topped the performance ranking this time after ContactLab did its usual practical tests. It bought and returned products from 31 brand websites and five multi brand e-tailers.
Kering (Balenciaga owner) and LVMH (Fendi owner) must be happy as they were joint first. Kering scored again in number three position as Saint Laurent (or is it YSL these days?) took the bronze medal. Chanel and Coach shared fourth place, just missing the medal-winners rostrum.
Dropping back this time were Cartier, which had scored well last year but was in eighth spot this time, plus former high-ranker Louis Vuitton at only number 17. Hugo Boss was a lowly 31. Gucci stayed at number 16.
Burberry and Prada both improved. But given that Burberry was only at number 13 when it prides itself on being very digitally-focused, that’s not great. And poor old Prada only managed a rise to number 27 so its much-talked-about digital turnaround obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.
What’s so interesting about this particular report is that it’s not about the things we often notice first, such as high profile websites or social media engagement; it’s purely about the nuts and bolts of buying and returning goods, because that’s what the customer does and that’s how the customer interacts most with a brand. Given that online accounted for all of luxury’s growth last year and is expected to do so for the next few years at least, you’d think the experience would be prioritised.
You’d also think luxury retailers rather than monobrands might perform better with their long traditions of customer service, but some of those don’t acquit themselves that well. Saks was only in 13th place, Nordstrom 18th, Barneys 26th and Bergdorf Goodman an unimpressive 35th.
Who was the top retailer? Net-a-Porter in sixth place. I must admit, the experience of buying from this company (and its Yoox arm) is generally excellent. It wasn’t always. Many a time I’ve paid extra for Saturday delivery from Yoox only for something to arrive on Monday. While Net-a-Porter once took five months to refund me for an item returned the day after delivery. It was only a small amount and I completely overlooked not getting the refund until it just showed up nearly half a year later.
But that was five years ago, since then the company has shown why it’s the luxury e-tail leader.
“Net-A-Porter is digital native and is extremely consistent in assuring a top luxury performance in the majority of the more than 100 digital and physical touch points we have been evaluating along the online purchasing process,” said Marco Pozzi, senior advisor at ContactLab. He added that US department stores came out better on the digital touch points (especially Nordstrom and Saks) but they’re “average or lagging on physical touch points”.
“It should not be difficult for department stores to improve packaging, fillers, documentation and overall care in order to give a more luxury and less Amazon-like feeling to online customers,” Pozzi said. “Of course this requires focus on the problem, and for sure additional costs.”
The stores do rate highly on returns though, especially Nordstrom, which is unsurprising as multibrand retailers have a long tradition of liberal returns policies while luxury brands themselves are frequently very unforgiving if you change your mind. However, ContactLab said Burberry and Cartier top the returns service rankings.
This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.