The success of Stadium Goods comes off the back of unprecedented consumer desire for sneakers and the need for a rich brand experience in which to buy them, says the platform’s co-founder and co-CEO, John McPheters, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast.
“For me the light bulb was that demand had never been higher. It was continuously growing, there were more and more people that wanted to buy our products, but there wasn’t a rich experience that consumers could go to to buy that stuff that was trusted, where they knew what they were getting, where they could really hang their hat on the brand experience and the presentation.” he explains.
As a result he and his partner, Jed Stiller, set about creating a site that is focused on consignment – meaning it resells existing sneaker stock as well as broader streetwear – but it only does so with unworn and authentic styles. That focus on trust is the key, he says.
Only launched in 2015, the site was acquired by ecommerce marketplace Farfetch in 2018 for $250 million. Very few emerging businesses have seen such rapid growth. It’s now considered such a market leader, it recently announced a partnership with auction house Sotheby’s to sell 100 of the rarest, most coveted sneakers ever produced.
The site’s explosion aligns with the growth of sneaker culture worldwide. Expected to hit nearly $100bn in global sales by 2024, sneakers are outpacing much of the rest of the industry, including that of handbags. As a result, they have become the new ‘cash cow’ and awareness driver for all manner of brands, not least those in the luxury space, wheresuch products are used as entry to otherwise more aspirational price points.
In all parts of the market this has resulted in ‘cult’ or ‘it’ sneakers to own as a result. A rare pair of Nikes today can easily sell for as much as those from Gucci or Balenciaga as a result. This means it’s increasingly a race, with some limited edition styles going for $10,000 or more.
In this episode, recorded live at the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Forum, we chat to founder John McPheters about the cultural relevance of such products, the evolving role of exclusivity and desire in luxury today, and just how what he’s doing is really about teaching the industry to give up control.
The British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Forum curated and produced with Current Global, extended to two days this year with a focus on “Investing in the Future”.
A think tank dedicated to industry leaders from fashion, investment and technology, it invited experts to share knowledge and debate subjects ranging from business and growth, to sustainability and inclusivity.
Attendees also got to experience some of the latest innovations in the market up close, thanks to an innovation showcase pulled together by Current Global. This included some of the world’s best tech companies carefully selected for their focus on areas such as customer service, personalization, supply chain, traceability, AI, augmented reality and more.
The on-stage program was designed to both inspire and inform the audience, with sessions geared to key subjects such as driving efficiency in the supply chain, how new business models are affecting culture, the role of data and experience in retail, designing for circularity, creating a fair supply chain and more.
One of the keynotes of the event came from John McPheters, co-founder of Stadium Goods. In a fireside chat with Current Global’s Liz Bacelar, he spoke about how he grew his sneaker and streetwear marketplace to its successful acquisition by Farfetch in 2018. Current Global’s Rachel Arthur also hosted a keynote with Jo Malone about her experience growing global brands, including her latest, Jo Loves.
Victor Luis, CEO of Tapestry, opened day one talking to his role at the US luxury group, while Emma Grede, founder and CEO of Good American brought the topic of entrepreneurship to size inclusivity and Roland Mouret honed in on his sustainability journey.
Arthur also took to the stage to discuss investing in innovation. She broke down the evolution of big tech and what it means for brands today, including a deep-dive on how it is blending and bending our perception of reality, the role of data within the balance of experience and privacy, and where brand activism is stepping in over pure brand management.
Other key speakers at the event came from brands including Burberry, Rapha, Lululemon, Rixo, Timberland, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co, Lyst and more.
Christopher Wylie, director of research at H&M, and Tom Berry, director of sustainable business at Farfetch, joined Bacelar for a panel on how technology will shape the future of sustainability, covering topics from predictive analytics and AI to new business models. Another conversation focused on Google’s work in the sustainability space with Current Global. Ian Pattison and Maria McClay of Google both joined Arthur alongside Claire Bergkamp, sustainability and innovation director at Stella McCartney, to talk about the data analytics and machine learning tool powered by Google Cloud technology they are currently building.
Gwyneth Paltrow closed the event in a conversation with British Vogue’s editor in chief Edward Enninful. She shared lessons from her entrepreneurial journey launching Goop, the successful lifestyle brand she founded in her kitchen in 2008.
Throughout the event, our Innovators podcast team was also onsite, recording upcoming episodes with experts including Adam Brown, founder of Orlebar Brown; Nicolaj Reffstrup, founder of Ganni; John McPheters, co-founder of Stadium Goods; and designer Roland Mouret. Stay tuned for the first of our new series in July.
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“Purpose is the new luxury,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, at the British Fashion Council’s annual awards last night, which celebrated creativity and innovation from across the industry.
He picked up the Special Recognition Award for Innovation, for his work recycling plastics recovered from the ocean into new products for brands including adidas, G-Star and Stella McCartney.
He echoed a theme that resonated throughout the evening focused on pushing for a positive revolution in light of climate change. “The planet is broken, the oceans are nearly dead and we need a dream of a magic blue universe that is well protected – something that we actually fight for together,” he said.
Also focused on this message was Dame Vivienne Westwood, who picked up the Swarovski Award for Positive Change. She used the occasion to give an impassioned speech about capitalism and the industry’s enormous responsibility to protect the planet.
Activism continued as a theme throughout the evening, with references made to Brexit, the Paris riots and even the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal revealed earlier this year.
Miuccia Prada, on reception of the Outstanding Achievement Award, added: “Just a little note for fashion, I think more and more we should feel a responsibility for defending human rights and freedom.”
A surprise for guests meanwhile came when HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, arrived on stage to present the British womenswear designer of the year award to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, who was of course the designer behind the dress for her wedding to Prince Harry.
Meghan took the opportunity to reference female empowerment: “As all of you in this room know, we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes it’s very personal, sometimes it’s emotional. But for me, this connection is rooted in really being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women. When we choose to wear a certain designer, we’re not just a reflection of their creativity and their vision, but we’re also an extension of their values, of something in the fabric, so to speak, that is much more meaningful. I recently read an article that said, ‘The culture of fashion has shifted from one where it was cool to be cruel to now, where it’s cool to be kind’.”
Other awards during the evening went to Craig Green as menswear designer of the year, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga as accessories designer of the year, Marco Bizzarri for Gucci as business leader, and Virgil Abloh for Off-White, in the Urban Luxe category. Gucci won the brand of the year, while Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino picked up the overarching designer of the year award.
Emerging talent accolades went to Samuel Ross for A-COLD-WALL* and Richard Quinn, while Kaia Gerber picked up model of the year. There were also special recognition awards to Kim Jones as the 2018 trailblazer and to Mert & Marcus, who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator.
This year also marks the first time the awards have celebrated a young global creative community with the launch of the“NEW WAVE: Creatives”, which recognized 100 of the most innovative and inspiring young creative talent from around the world.
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 British Fashion Council (BFC) is turning to data for the upcoming London Fashion Week, by releasing an eye-catching visual display of live conversations happening about the event.
Using data derived from social media and other digital channels, it will unveil the so-called “Blossoming Fashion Conversation” at the 180 Strand venue that hosts the bi-annual event.
The visualization, developed in partnership with Google and technology company Holition, will be shaped like a tree. It will showcase the most talked-about topics on its roots, while its branches will show the number of social outlet mentions.
Conversations will be collected from social media mentions, as well as from Vogue UK and Harper’s Bazaar UK.
Subject matter is expected to be diverse, including relevant conversations on sustainability, the luxury and streetwear sectors, diversity, and innovation in general.
The installation will kick off on Friday September 14, to coincide with the official start of LFW, and stay on display for the duration of the event.
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.
How to break through barriers was the overarching topic at the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Forum, curated and produced in collaboration with Current Global, in London yesterday.
Held at The Ned hotel, the event welcomed BFC members to an exclusive day-long learning experience where they heard from pioneers across fashion and technology and got face-to-face with some of the latest innovations in the market.
Under Current Global’s curation, this year’s content saw experts across the industry discussing topics that are particularly in line with the modern consumer’s fast-changing expectations. Topics covered included everything from the store of the future to the importance of ensuring a code of conduct is present across the industry in light of the #MeToo movement.
Meanwhile, a panel hosted by Current Global’s founder, Liz Bacelar, saw the founders and CEOs of direct-to-consumer brands Away, Allbirds and Heist Studios, who we previously interviewed for Current Innovators podcast, discussing the importance of creating products that are anchored in consumer insights.
Another conversation saw skater and artist Blondey McCoy with Ferdinando Verderi, creative director of Johannes Leonardo, Stavros Karelis founder of store MACHINE-A, and Tammy Smulders, president of fashion and luxury at Vice Media, focused on how streetwear culture has reached an inflection point and how luxury brands can learn a thing or two about how to engage with passionate consumers.
For this year’s event, Current Global also brought keynotes including Ulric Jerome, CEO of MATCHESFASHION.COM to open the morning, and designer Tommy Hilfiger with chief brand officer Avery Baker to close, with a series of stellar conversations about brand growth and innovation.
Our chief intelligence officer Rachel Arthur, meanwhile, spoke to a packed room on three major trends impacting how consumers currently interact with brands, including a deep-dive on the importance for technology to be more invisible and increasingly humanised – a topic we saw beginning to bubble up at this year’s SXSW festival.
Much like 2017’s event, Current Global also curated an innovation room where 10 of the world’s best startups showcased their products and services to guests. These carefully selected ready-for-market partners, showcased innovations across digital, customer service, personalization, supply chain, loyalty, visual augmentation and more.
Throughout the day, Current Innovators team was also on-site recording upcoming podcast episodes on topics ranging from sustainability to leveraging counter-culture, and why physical retail matters even for brands born online. Stay tuned for our first of this series publishing next week.
Support the BFC’s Education Foundation, it brings to life the creativity, heritage and craftsmanship of British fashion, pulling together content from big names in the space – including brands, designers, craftspeople, photographers, stylists, models and more – and using technology to tell their stories.
There are immersive digital exhibits from the likes of Burberry, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood for instance, a virtual reality experience of Manolo Blahnik at work in his atelier, and a high resolution capture of a couture dress from Alexander McQueen’s SS17 collection, allowing people to zoom in and see its threadwork in never-before-seen detail.
To mark the launch of the project, Paul Smith has also designed a special-edition Google Cardboard to enable the virtual reality viewing, and created online exhibits around five objects that represent his creative vision and brand.
Caroline Rush CBE, CEO of the BFC said: “The internet has been an incredible resource for opening up the fashion industry to a new audience, giving young people access to information not previously available. This collaboration represents a new step, bringing together diverse information into one, engaging place. We hope this legacy project will not only inspire but also educate – allowing young people wanting to get into fashion to see the breadth of individuals, skills and careers that make up this multifaceted industry.”
In total, there are over 1,000 assets to explore, including 20 multimedia exhibits, 25 videos and three virtual reality experiences, all accessible from anywhere in the world, on desktop, laptop or mobile.
Sarah Mower MBE, American Vogue chief critic and BFC ambassador for emerging talent, has also directed a short film captured in 360 VR so viewers can come face-to-face with industry luminaries. Included are Naomi Campbell, Anya Hindmarch, Edward Enninful and Joan Burstein.
Users can also search archive material from British fashion houses by colour and chronology, explore profiles of numerous of the industry’s other key players, and go behind-the-scenes with top craftspeople and producers of British fashion, including the Royal School of Needlework and Brora Cashmere.
When the Burberry show walked out at London Fashion Week last night, absolutely everything was available to buy for the first time. The womenswear and menswear apparel, the accessories, even the make-up was shoppable. That’s a total of 83 looks, comprising over 250 pieces. They’re being sold through Burberry’s physical and digital retail network, shipping to over 100 countries.
This shift is what’s being called “see-now, buy-now”, a lengthy phrase for what is essentially the showing of current season stock over the traditional six month timelag.
As perhaps the brand making the biggest move in terms of sheer volume of stock already produced, it was a notable occasion that had to be geared around relevancy – showcasing things one not only wanted to buy, but actually wear right away as the weather starts to draw in. For those of us seeing the collection for the first time, it worked; offering an experience that enabled us to view it as though through the eyes of the excitable consumer (heavily aided by the live orchestra and incredible Makers House setup, which is open to the public for the rest of the week). Many of us, of course, then did become the consumer too.
For others, including long-lead press, it wasn’t of course their initial viewing having had access ahead of time to see the collection in its developmental stages. Many of them commented so during the evening – noting that in some instances they’d even already shot it. And there we have a little hint as to the future of what fashion week is going to look like – an elaborate showcase, a series of consumer events, a collection instantly available to buy, and a trade audience still willing to attend even if they’ve been privy to the line during its creation process beforehand.
If you’re Burberry that is…
Or perhaps if you’re Tom Ford too. Speaking ahead of his show in New York, he told Vogue: “It’s [all ready to go] at Bergdorf’s, it’s at Neiman’s. They’ve photographed it for their catalogs, they had to sign non-disclosure agreements, they couldn’t leak any pictures. So it’s done. It’s all over the world ready to go into our stores.”
Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff and Topshop Unique are all also playing with full collections available immediately, albeit largely through their own distribution channels (and in some cases, like Tom Ford, a handful of select retail partners).
The entire strategy raises concerns for many businesses otherwise – especially those who are significantly smaller, either without the budget for such extensive showcases, or heavily reliant on winning numerous wholesale partners, making the close-to-season launch less feasible. The outcome of the CFDA’s commissioned report with the Boston Consulting Group into all of this, essentially said every brand would need to look at their own situation differently and try to define where they sit within it accordingly.
Speaking at a pre-fashion week breakfast hosted by Fashion & Mash in partnership with Soho House, Clara Mercer, communications director for the British Fashion Council, largely agreed, suggesting that what we’ll see is varying strategies over the next few seasons before some kind of shape and order is pulled together to make everything clearer.
As Tom Ford said: “I don’t know if this will be sustainable. We’ll have to see. I’ll have to see how it works; see how our customers respond to it.”
Experimentation is what’s been evident throughout both New York and London so far, with many brands trying see-now, buy-now in different ways, several of them releasing just a handful of exclusive products for sale.
Take Tommy Hilfiger for instance. Hosting what was undoubtedly the most extravagant of shows during New York, complete with full-fledged carnival, it showcased a capsule collection designed in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid. In that instance, the Hilfiger brand is capitalising on a big name collaboration in order to shift not only this limited edition stock, but the significantly broader lines it has in place all around the world. It’s not so much about numerous wholesale partnerships for this particular collection therefore, but a broader marketing move.
Michael Kors meanwhile made around a dozen products available to purchase straight away, noting ahead of the show: “We’re finding that a hybrid blend is really what works for us.”
Then there’s Alexander Wang, who previously said he wouldn’t participate in see-now, buy-now, but instead surprised his audience by introducing a collaboration with adidas Originals live at the end of the show. Nine items from that 84-piece line were immediately available to purchase the next day via trucks across New York City, and following that in London and Tokyo. The rest goes on sale, as per usual, in spring 2017.
On a smaller scale, Temperley London sold just three pieces from her new collection – a printed dress, embellished jumpsuit and embroidered top. In doing so exclusively via social app Vero, she became one of the first brands to tie together the idea of see-now, buy-now as a fashion week strategy with the trend for social commerce. (Others including Burberry again are selling pieces immediately on channels like WeChat).
And then there’s Hugo Boss, which unveiled just a single bag, the Boss Bespoke Soft, in four colours for sale immediately after its New York show. This is much in line with what Prada did in February – jumping in to the see-now, buy-now world, but only via the delivery of two handbags. And that from one of the slowest brands to the e-commerce game, having literally only launched online via Net-a-Porter this July.
Katie Baron, head of retail, innovation and insights at Stylus, calls these variances in approach part of an understanding that a tiered system might be the outcome of such experimentation. Of note of course is the fact Burberry has long sold the odd item for immediate purchase or at least pre-order from its catwalk.
“The first wave of see-now, buy-now generated a major panic within the luxury sector because it was largely taken as read that it would force luxury businesses anchored in long lead-time, high craft to whip their collections into being at high speed, pulling them uncomfortably close to the mass market. What we’re now seeing is an understanding that see-now, buy-now needn’t be so all-encompassing, as shrewd brands release either selected, controllably limited edition pieces (see Prada) or spin-off collaborations tacked onto the main show (see Alexander Wang X adidas),” Baron explains.
“It’s effectively creating a kind of tiered system to satisfy both the need for instant gratification and possibly younger consumers looking for a way into an otherwise prohibitively expensive world. This notion of ‘tiering’ is only going to become more important as retail, overall, becomes less one-size-fits-all.”
At the other end of the scale therefore are also the brands that have changed tack entirely, opting to forego wholesale models in the main to rather sell direct-to-consumer in the right season, and thus do so at greater speed and flexibility – not to mention regularity.
In London, Matthew Williamson is one of them. Net-a-Porter remains its only retail partner, meaning that team see the line in advance, but for everyone else, it happens in real-time. The latest “Calypso” collection, for instance, went on sale just ahead of London Fashion Week this season, launching with a digital influencer event, coverage on Vogue Runway, and instant pushes to relevant e-commerce pages. For them, this is a no-brainer. Ask Rosanna Falconer, business director at the brand, as to why, and the answer is incredibly simple: consumers have never been happier.
Digital competency and a greater opening up of the industry through technology, was at the heart of a briefing delivered by Natalie Massenet ahead of the official start of London Fashion Week tomorrow.
As chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC), Massenet (who also collects her Damehood from Buckingham Palace tomorrow) reflected on the successes seen in London over the three years of her tenure, weighting much of that towards the digital space.
“It is exciting to see so much talk of a new focus on the consumer, a re-thinking of the platforms we can use to engage with them and an embracing of change. From the outset of my time as chairman we have been championing opening up our world and sharing the experience – so many designers have supported that vision including Burberry’s recent news that shines such a strong light on our leadership in this field. We are very proud that this started in London,” she remarked.
“We were the first capital to live stream our shows from our central venue in 2009 making London now a capital for fashion and technology. As an organisation we are fiercely proud of that reputation – FashTech is essential to growth in our sector and it keeps us well ahead of the competition.
“Living and breathing in the digital world informs everything that we do. As an organisation we amplify our events to a global audience through live streaming, social media and content distribution. This season we will be taking the world of London Fashion Week to outdoor digital screens in London and around the UK thanks to Ocean Outdoor and Land Securities (with viewing figures of beyond 37 million people over the week). Our sponsor Sunglass Hut are powering content into over 3,000 of their global stores and giving our international guests an incredible welcome in Terminal 5.
“In addition to this, the majority of designers questioned in our recently conducted survey are now online compared with a much smaller numbers three years ago. 97% of our designers are on Instagram, 87% on Facebook and 86% on Twitter, reaching millions of fashion fans across the world – importantly they are all starting to embrace e-commerce and via all of their social platforms, engage with and listen to their customer.”
Her focus at the BFC has been to reposition British fashion in the global economy as one that champions creativity, innovation and business, she added. At last official count, the industry was worth £26bn to the UK economy and employed 800,000 people.
“I believe that London is really the greatest fashion capital in the world, the centre of creative talent, a hub of technological innovation and a vibrant business community – with Fashion Week at its creative and commercial heart – attended by thousands and watched by millions worldwide,” she said.
She also announced she will stay on as chairman of the BFC for another year. “We are of course ambitious and there is much more to do.”