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Campaigns product Retail

Nike is dropping a new Air Jordan 1 sneaker everyday this week

Nike's "The Week of The Ones"
Nike’s “The Week of The Ones”

Nike UK will be releasing different iterations of its iconic Air Jordan 1 sneaker everyday this week as part of an event series it is calling “The Week of The Ones”.

The aim is to “celebrate the icon” of the Air Jordan 1 sneaker, which was first released in 1984 and has since cemented its status as “sneaker royalty, forever associated with streetwear, style and His Airness himself”, according to the brand.

The exclusive sneakers are available for European customers, and can only be purchased through the brand’s SNKRS UK app.

Upon opening the app, a GIF on an all-white design of the coveted sneaker will flash up in different colorways to reveal the editions available throughout the week.

The first two styles have already been confirmed at this point, called the “PSG” and “Not For Resale”.

Such a move from Nike comes at a time when we’re seeing an increase in retailers capitalizing on the hype around the streetwear inspired drop-culture. Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus recently embraced limited releases in their respective department stores in June of this year, and the newly opened MatchesFashion.com store in London is investing in refreshing its product assortment every two weeks.

Luxury brands have also been embracing this model, with Burberry as one example introducing monthly-recurring product drops of exclusive merchandise under the supervision of its new creative director Riccardo Tisci.

The phenomenon of streetwear culture and its impact on luxury specifically is analyzed in more depth on an episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, where we interviewed Ferdinando Verderi, co-founder and creative director of NY-based agency Johannes Leonardo, and the man responsible for much of the work between Adidas and Alexander Wang.

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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business Editor's pick Retail

Community and causes: Highlights from the Fast Company Innovation Festival

Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.
Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.

Experiences that attract young customers, engaging with the community and taking a stance on social issues were the major topics of conversation at this year’s Fast Company Innovation Festival.

Speaking at the conference, brand experts highlighted the growing importance of listening to their consumers, and reflecting their lifestyles and values.

Shopping as an experience

“Experience today is a younger generation’s currency,” said Daniella Vitale, CEO of Barneys New York. “They’re less motivated by money and more motivated by an authentic experience.” At a panel about the company’s strategy for reaching young customers, Vitale mentioned the success of “The Drop”, an elaborate, experiential program that involved a retail model inspired by streetwear, as well as parties and workshops. “We were willing to forfeit profitability and sales for an incredible experience.”

Vitale stressed, however, that the program ended up generating a huge return on their investment by converting visitors to repeat customers while retaining the ones they already had. ”The Drop is way beyond merchandising. It’s about working with large-scale brands on creating exclusive projects.”

Companies as communities

Tina Sharkey, CEO of FMCG startup company Brandless, says the company thinks of itself less as a company and more like a community, which includes constant communication with its customer base.

Social networks are its go-to channel for those conversations. “We are constantly asking what do they think, what we can do better, what they are looking for?” Sharkey said. “People want to answer these questions because people want to be seen. It amazes me that direct-to-consumer companies think of [social media] as a channel as opposed to a direct relationship.”

For Sharkey, the brand becomes a platform for customers to be heard and for products to tell their own stories. For instance, Brandless does weekly Facebook Live events with its buyers so that customers can ask questions in real time. “Companies shouldn’t be creating false narratives around the products. The products need to be able to speak for themselves. Therefore the quality of the product is foundational.”

Brands weighing in on activism

For Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, countries are so politically divided at the moment that CEOs have a great obligation to weigh in on causes. Recently, the company pledged $1M to gun control organizations, as well as signed a letter asking Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act. It has also also teamed up with over 200 brands, including Patagonia, in the “Time to Vote” campaign, which grants employees time off to vote.

Levi’s isn’t afraid of losing customers, Bergh said. “When we took action on gun control, I got lots of emails of people saying they would stop buying Levi’s, but I also got thousands of other ones from people saying they would buy even more from us.” The risk seems to be paying off, however. “We’ve had four quarters of double-digit roll growth. That’s on top of last year’s 8% growth. So our business results are actually accelerating.”

Bergh also said that becoming political was never an issue for the talent the company works with. “Having the courage to stand up and take a stand has always been a part of our lifeblood, and it’s who we are. And our employees expect it.”

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? 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.

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business Editor's pick product Retail

From Pharrell to Barneys: the importance of collaboration

Pharrell Williams at the Fast Company Festival
Pharrell Williams at the Fast Company Festival

Collaborations were a recurring theme at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, which took place in New York this week, with a push for retailers to increasingly step out of their comfort zones.

On a panel about strategies for wooing younger customers, Daniella Vitale, CEO of Barneys New York, said that finding good partners to collaborate with is hard. “They need to have a willingness to look outside the model that already exists, but there’s this desire to control the brand a certain way,” she explained. “It’s not all the time that it’s easy to convince people to do it our way.”

This is an even bigger challenge when working with legacy brands that have been successful with the same approach for 30 years, she added. “Brands have to think about how Barneys can add value when they participate in a drop, or by doing an exclusive capsule line with us, or doing something online when normally they don’t sell their product online. We need partners to come on this journey with us.”

The creative industry has a lot to teach retail about the importance of taking a risk in order to achieve success through collaboration, other speakers noted. Pharrell Williams, for example, talked to taking a leap of faith when he recorded Happy, the 2014 best-selling single that earned him an Oscar nomination. “The career risks we take are the ones most rewarding,” Williams remarked in a panel about creativity and collaboration.

Pointing across the stage to Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of film and animation studio Illumination, and his collaborator on the track, Williams added: “I’m grateful when people see things I can’t see.” The two worked together on Happy for 2010’s animated film Despicable Me. This was the first time the artist had ever recorded a soundtrack.

Melendandri, who was previously president at the 20th Century Fox Animation studio, also weighed in on the importance of constant self-disruption. “The natural tendency when you hit a period of success is to stop taking risks because you think there’s safety in replicating what you’ve done before. That’s the greatest danger,” he warned.

“Comfort is very sneaky,” agreed Williams. “It feels good, and sometimes you don’t even realize you’re comfortable. But to get the best out of yourself, you have to put yourself into positions where you’re uncomfortable or vulnerable.”

Collaborations between brands that complement one another from a lifestyle perspective have long been a successful recipe for many brands, as also noted earlier this year at the SXSW festival, in a discussion between SoulCycle, Madewell and Milk Bar.

Increasingly, however, legacy brands and retailers are deploying a collaborative approach to target a younger consumer who thinks beyond seasons, and shops and discovers brands in a much less linear fashion. Many would argue that collaborations with younger, more cult brands are also a shortcut into getting the consumer to think differently about a more established player, as recently seen by the announcement of Ralph Lauren’s first collaboration with British skatewear label Palace.

How are you thinking about brand collaborations? 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.

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Campaigns Editor's pick film technology

Barneys unveils VR film with Samsung and contemporary dance company

Mantle by Barneys New York
Mantle by Barneys New York

Barneys New York has launched Mantle, a virtual reality film and experience in collaboration with New York-based Martha Graham Dance Company and Samsung as its tech and distribution partner.

The film aims to blend fashion, technology and contemporary dance as it showcases dancers wearing exclusive designer looks straight from the runway.

“Barneys New York has always been centered around fashion and its role within culture,” said Matthew Mazzucca, creative director of Barneys New York. “By partnering with another iconic New York institution, the Martha Graham Dance Company, along with Samsung, we are proud to give our customers an immersive experience in our stores and on Barneys.com that fuses high design with art, performance, and technology. All of these elements are pillars of the experiences Barneys New York is known for.”

Mantle features four principal dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, each embodying different parts of the human psyche – power, ethereal, possessed and the cleaner – as well as former company members ranging up to 70 years of age. The cast wears designs by Prabal Gurung, The Row, Rick Owens, Loewe and Craig Green, all of which will be on display in the department store’s windows, as well as in the Mantle viewing experience inside.

The film is available to watch in virtual reality in-store with Gear VR powered by Oculus headsets through the Samsung VR app, and online on Barney’s online platform The Window. Users of Samsung’s VR content service app can also access it from home through their own headsets.

“No other medium can really envelop consumers into a brand universe and create brand affinity like virtual reality. We are thrilled that Barneys New York was inspired by our Gear VR technology and the immersive storytelling that VR can facilitate,” said Zach Overton, VP of brand experience at Samsung Electronics America. “At Samsung, we aim to create innovative partnerships, like our relationship with Barneys New York, to help brands reinvent how they connect with consumers.”

Filmed using a 360-degree camera, the short film was by Theo Stanley and choreographed by former MGDC teacher Cynthia Stanley. Additional collaborators include set designer Stefan Beckham and composer Sam Wagster.

“We’re creating a new experience,” Mazzucca told WWD. “We’ve gotten into pursuing what the idea of storytelling means. There’s a lot of great innovations happening in AR and VR. We understand what the retail experience can be. Seeing apparel in a VR space and how it’s captured will start something. Having immersive experiences is something we’re going to keep hammering at.”

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technology

More detail on what the Opening Ceremony x Intel smart bracelet may look like

OpeningCeremony_YokoOno

While the exact details of Intel’s new smart bracelet, created in partnership with Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York, are yet to be determined, a few hints were revealed during CES as to what it might be like.

Speaking at a press conference during the Vegas show, Susan Barber, art director at Opening Ceremony, said: “We want to emphasise the tech aspects of the bracelet but so that it doesn’t feel like hardware. It has to be something we’ll be excited to wear [ourselves].”

This fits in with a broader theme at CES this week for more appealing design in the wearables space. Speaking on a separate occasion, Mike Bell, VP and GM of Intel’s New Devices Group, said: “If we want the premise of wearable technology to come forward we really have to think about going back to the drawing board with the hardware, moving beyond the idea of a square block on your wrist.”

While Intel reportedly has a rough prototype already developed, Opening Ceremony will have full input on both the functionality and the design to go to market with. Barber said work is yet to truly start on it, but ideas are percolating.

The team will be looking to both the past and the future for inspiration, she revealed. The aesthetic for instance will be informed by other partnerships the company has been involved in, including a project with Yoko Ono based on a series of her drawings titled ‘Fashions for Men” from 1969 (as featured above).

The recent capsule collection Opening Ceremony created for Spike Jonze’s new film, Her (as featured below), will also serve as inspiration. Said Barber: “This product is supposed to make your life more seamless and more effortless, and be beautiful at the same time. If technology and design are totally separate you don’t get to bridge that gap.”

Matthew Woolsey, SVP digital at Barneys, agreed: “A lot of functionality is very appealing, but the design elements are going to be paramount in terms of how our customer engages with it. The product needs to stand on its own, and the Opening Ceremony creative vision will be incredibly important to making that happen.”

As for who it’s aimed at, Barber said they are exploring all options at the moment, but are unlikely to make it gender specific. “It certainly won’t be pink or purple,” she said, mocking the stereotyped approach the technology industry often has to appealing to women. The goal with the device is also to speak to a broad generational audience. It is expected to hit in the autumn.

OpeningCeremony_SpikeJonze3 OpeningCeremony_SpikeJonze1OpeningCeremony_SpikeJonze2

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technology

Wearables key message at CES, Intel leads fashion charge

Intel_wearables_OpeningCeremony_Barneys

If there’s one key theme at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, it’s wearables. Smart watches, fitness wristbands, earbuds, the works. Functionality is being heavily discussed, but even more so is design. The tech industry, it seems, has finally figured out that aesthetics are what’s going to make the difference when it comes to something people actually want to wear if we want to move this sector forward. An obvious statement to those of us in the fashion industry, but arguably not something anyone has yet done something about.

Enter Intel, who is aiming to change all of that, and with any luck in a beautiful way. It’s launching a smart bracelet later this year in partnership with Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York.

Rather than “fashion” being an afterthought, as is more common with technology partnerships – a bit of branding slapped on, or some neat product placement during fashion week – Opening Ceremony will play an integral part in what the item looks like as well as how it functions using Intel’s tech.

“Our shared vision is to accelerate wearable technology innovation and create products that both enhance peoples’ lives and are desirable to wear,” said Ayse Ildeniz, vice president of business development and strategy at Intel’s New Devices Group. Speaking at the press conference today, she added: “The smart wearables we see on the market today are very much led by technology companies. But what we wear are personal things, reflections of ourselves and we often get emotionally connected to them. The fashion industry must therefore be in the driving seat. Without the aesthetics and the design, wearables are not going to become a big thing.”

Daniella Vitale, COO of Barneys New York agrees: “One of the greatest opportunities for wearable technology as a concept to be successful is fairly simple – to design a beautiful accessory that our customers would desire.”

Intel’s initiative will not be exclusive with Opening Ceremony and Barneys, suggesting further brands are being approached. The CFDA is accordingly also involved, having entered into a strategic collaboration with Intel to create a community for technology developers and fashion designers to network, match-make, cultivate and exchange ideas on wearable technology.

Interestingly Ildeniz said the most important thing for all those involved was to be humble. Once the egos go out the room, there’s a good chance technology and fashion can work pretty well together, she suggested.

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e-commerce Uncategorized

Barneys.com launches international shipping

Luxury US department store Barneys New York has expanded its e-commerce offering to 90 countries.

The launch is in partnership with FiftyOne Global Ecommerce, the recognised market leader in international e-commerce. Shipping will span from the UK to Australia, South Korea, China and more.

“Barneys has always been a destination for International tourists and it is a natural step to offer our web services to the rest of the world. Barneys has incredible global brand recognition, but we could only service here in the US. International shipping has fundamentally changed that reach,” says Daniella Vitale, chief merchant and executive vice president at the retailer.