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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail Startups sustainability technology

ICYMI: Chinese moguls rebooting fashion, biotech shaping the industry, smart checkouts rising

China’s internet moguls are rebooting fashion
China’s internet moguls are rebooting fashion

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • How China’s internet moguls are rebooting fashion [BoF]
  • How biotechnology is reshaping fashion [BoF]
  • Smart checkouts will process $45B in transactions by 2023, study says [MobileMarketer]
  • 5 tech innovations we’re talking about from fashion week season [TheCurrentDaily]
TECHNOLOGY
  • When it comes to technology, fashion is still a laggard [BoF]
  • How Diageo is using Amazon Echo and Google Home [Digiday]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • John Lewis invests in plastic reduction [Drapers]
  • Why does so much ethical fashion look the same? [Fashionista]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Express is the latest retailer to launch a clothing rental service [CNBC]
  • Fruit of the Loom celebrates Seek No Further with interactive shopping experience [FashionUnited]
  • Forever 21 invests in online styling service DailyLook [RetailDive]
  • Is the future of online deliveries allowing drivers access to your home? [TheIndustry]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Hollister partners with Sit With Us [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • Why mainstream brands are embracing modest fashion [CNN]
BUSINESS
  • Revolve officially files for IPO [Fashionista]
  • Walmart buys Eloquii for undisclosed amount [RetailDive]
  • Anya Hindmarch losses mount to £28.2m [Drapers]
  • Payments startup Klarna raises $20M from H&M, its second backer from the fashion world [TechCrunch]
CULTURE
  • The London Underground is getting vending machines to clean all your dirty clothes [Wired]
  • Meet the robotic museum guide that will turn art into sound for the visually impaired [FastCompany]

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.

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Editor's pick Podcast sustainability

How bioengineered spider silk from Bolt Threads is driving a more sustainable fashion future

Dan Widmaier and Rachel Arthur
Dan Widmaier and Rachel Arthur

In order to get sustainable products out the door we have to create the kind consumers actually want to buy, Dan Widmaier, CEO of advanced materials technology company, Bolt Threads, says on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Rachel Arthur, he says it’s all very well having a vision for the future driven by deep technology – in his case, best known as spider silk – but if the consumer doesn’t like it, it’s irrelevant.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

“Ultimately it is up to the consumer,” he says. “[We’re] seeing the speed at which consumer taste is changing – 2017 was a transformative year for sustainability. It is getting big really fast and it’s becoming one of the issues at the forefront of the industry because it touches everyone… No one wants to work in an industry where you say, hey, you know what I’m going to do today, I’m going to mess up the world for the future. Everyone wants to make it better. So it’s not surprising. We all want to feel like we are working towards some greater good in the world.”

His team is doing that by mimicking spider silk found in nature and reproducing it in a lab. This is about harvesting proteins to ultimately create sustainable, high-performance fibers and fabrics that will eventually find their way into our clothes. He launched his first product – a tie – at SXSW last year. And has since partnered with fashion designer Stella McCartney in order to drive that real consumer drive.

You can’t buy any of the McCartney products yet, but he promises there are big things coming up later this year.

Bolt Threads x Stella McCartney
Bolt Threads x Stella McCartney

His work is oft referred to as the beginning of a new material revolution – one that looks at bioengineering, thus focused on what comes from nature, rather than from chemistry to produce polymers and plastics, as was the drive throughout the 20th Century.

In an age driven increasingly by a focus on sustainability, he says it’s about time there was a greater push around new materials. His team has recently closed $123 million Series D investment round, so the next step is about getting to scale.

Listen to the podcast to hear how Widmaier thinks his team can get there, the kind of challenges that stand in his way between now and then, and just why sustainability is such a big agenda for fashion.

The big thing, he says, is about balancing impatience with reality. “Big innovations around fundamental technologies that are at the cutting edge are more fragile in the world than people realise. So we try to balance the desire to go as fast as humanly possible with the desire to see it be a success in the long term, because we think the good transcends beyond just Bolt. We can be an example that investing in deep science and deep technology can really create lasting good and commercial value in the world.”

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how 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 digital snippets e-commerce product social media sustainability technology

What you missed: Amazon’s AI designer, sewing robots at Nike, AR iPhone apps

Inside the Grabit robots making Nikes
Inside the Grabit robots making Nikes

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • Amazon has developed an AI fashion designer [MIT]
  • A new t-shirt sewing robot can make as many shirts per hour as 17 factory workers [Quartz]
  • These robots are using static electricity to make Nikes (as pictured) [Bloomberg]
  • A preview of the first wave of AR apps coming to iPhones [Techcrunch]
  • In a Zara world, who orders custom clothing? [Racked]
  • What happened to wearables? [BoF]

BUSINESS
  • Matchesfashion.com sells majority stake to Apax after fierce bidding war [NY Times]
  • Making sense of Chanel’s secret filings [BoF]
  • Is Nordstrom the next acquisition target for Walmart or Amazon? [RetailDive]
  • North Korea factories humming with ‘Made in China’ clothes, traders say [Reuters]
  • Is counterfeiting actually good for fashion? [HighSnobiety]
  • C&A Foundation highlights ‘gaps to overcome for clean and circular fashion’ [Fashion United]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Maisie Williams will kick off new Twitter series for Converse [Creativity]
  • How Instagram and Snapchat are benefiting from Facebook’s declining teen and tween numbers [AdWeek]
  • Facebook furthers WhatsApp monetisation efforts with verified business pilot [The Drum]
  • Condé Nast and Facebook are debuting a virtual reality dating show [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Zalando turns festival into three-day live marketing campaign [BoF]
  • Donatella Versace works with eight creatives for new versus ads [WWD]
  • 40% of consumers want emails from brands to be less promotional and more informative [AdWeek]
  • In first-ever TV ad, Patagonia targets Trump administration [MediaPost]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • What is Amazon, really? [Quartz]
  • How Westfield is combating the Amazon threat with digital upgrades at its malls [Digiday]
  • Betting on brick-and-mortar: Alibaba’s billion-dollar retail experiment [Forbes]
  • H&M’s Arket encourages transparent shopping on its new e-commerce site [WGSN]
  • Uniqlo’s retail empire embarks on a digital revolution [Nikkei]
  • Farfetch Black & White partners with Certona to offer personalised e-commerce to luxury brands [The Industry]
  • Shopify’s e-commerce empire is growing in Amazon’s shadow [Bloomberg]
  • Voice search, 3D modelling and chatbots named as 2017’s most significant e-commerce trends [The Drum]

TECHNOLOGY
  • 11 tech leaders share the real truth about artificial intelligence (and what really matters) [Forbes]
  • How Bitcoin is making waves in the luxury market [CNN]
  • How blockchain could boost the fashion industry [BoF]
  • Walmart and Google partner to challenge Amazon’s Alexa [Retail Dive]
  • Google and Vogue are bringing voice-activated content from the magazine to home devices [AdWeek]
  • Latest Magic Leap patent shows off prototype AR glasses design [Techcrunch]
  • ‘Self-driving’ lorries to be tested on UK roads [BBC]

PRODUCT
  • Everlane’s quest to make the world’s most sustainable denim [Fast Company]
  • The zipper: the innovation that changed fashion forever [Bloomberg]
  • A new high-tech fabric could mean the end of bulky layers in the winter [Quartz]
  • Watch how Vans can now put any custom design on your shoes in under 15 minutes [Fast Company]
  • How RFID tags became trendy [Engadget]
  • Leather grown using biotechnology is about to hit the catwalk [The Economist]
  • These brands are teaming up on smart hang tags [Apparel Mag]
Categories
Editor's pick product sustainability technology

Biotech gets the luxury nod with Bolt Threads x Stella McCartney tie-up

Stella McCartney's lab coat at Bolt Threads
Stella McCartney’s lab coat at Bolt Threads

British fashion designer Stella McCartney, long known for her focus on sustainability, is teaming up with San Francisco-based Bolt Threads, a biotechnology company dedicated to creating the next generation of advanced materials.

The duo will together pursue the next chapter in innovative luxury fabrications in a bid to reduce the fashion industry’s reliance on petrochemicals and damage to the environment.

The first piece from the partnership will be a one-off gold dress made from Bolt Threads’ signature “spider silk”; a lab-made protein-based yarn. It will feature in an upcoming exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art called Items: Is Fashion Modern?

“From the day we founded Bolt Threads, we’ve dreamt of partnering with Stella McCartney,” said Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads. “Not only does she have an unparalleled aesthetic, but her values and pioneering sustainable fashion align perfectly with our vision for the future of fashion.”

As highlighted by Bolt Threads in a blogpost about the partnership, McCartney is constantly looking for how to step away from the very traditional way in which the fashion industry operates. In 2015 she said: “We’re excited by risk. We’re excited by thinking outside the box. We think that’s modern. And I think the fashion industry is supposed to be modern, and I find it so extraordinarily old fashioned at times that I can’t really get my head around it.”

The Bolt Threads protein-based yarn used to make the limited edition Stella McCartney dress that will feature at The Museum of Modern Art
The Bolt Threads protein-based yarn used to make the limited edition Stella McCartney dress that will feature at The Museum of Modern Art

On today’s announcement, she noted: ‘’On a personal and professional level partnering with Bolt Threads is so exciting, because it feels like everything is finally coming together and the dots are being connected between fashion, sustainability and tech innovation. This is something that I’ve been personally on a journey to find for much of my career and I just feel like there is finally a new opportunity to bring so many industries together and for them to all work as one for a better planet. It is a truly modern and mindful approach to fashion.

“The industry has so much heritage, but at times it can be damaging to the environment and it can also drag you in a backwards direction and for me I always want to move forward in fashion and this is truly a moment to celebrate technology and the future of fashion.”

McCartney’s continual pursuit for more sustainable materials also recently saw her introduce a new viscose program that addresses the issue of deforestation. She also uses organic cotton, regenerated cashmere, vegan leather and recycled soles on her footwear, as further examples. Her focus even extends to alternative glues for her bags and sustainable woods in her stores, while her most recent ad campaign draws attention to overconsumption, set in a Scottish landfill site.

Speaking in November 2016, she said 53% of her womenswear collection can currently be considered sustainable, up from 30% in the early days. Her new menswear line is at 45%.

Stella McCartney with Bolt Threads CEO Dan Widmaier
Stella McCartney with Bolt Threads CEO Dan Widmaier

Bolt Threads, which has a new 11,000 sq ft fiber spinning facility, is also focused on closed-loop processes for manufacturing, using green chemistry practices. The company, which was founded in 2010, released its first ever product in March 2017 – a knit necktie made of its 100% Boltspun spider silk. At the time Widmaier explained: “We see this as the beginning of the story. We’re releasing it in limited quantity to put a statement out there, but there will be more to follow.”

The partnership with Stella McCartney promises to continue to announce and reveal new initiatives throughout the remainder of 2017 and beyond.

This post first appeared on Forbes