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Innovation Mansion brings “human factor” to NRF

The Current Global’s Innovation Mansion came to New York last weekend exploring how retail’s future needs to focus on technology and humans working as one.

Attended by c-suite executives from Fortune 500 companies and the world’s leading brands, the experiential activation aligned with NRF’s Big Show event happening this week.

Under the theme of “The Human Factor”, it examined the techniques used by top innovators, showcased rising technologies and explored how tech can deliver personalization, experience and convenience while being increasingly led by emotion.

One of the highlights was a live Innovators podcast recording with retail trailblazer, Ron Johnson, who is best known as the man behind the Apple store and the Genius Bar concept, and then CEO of JC Penney. Today, he is the founder and CEO of Enjoy, an e-commerce company that aims to reinvent the last mile.

Speaking to Current Global’s co-founder and CEO, Liz Bacelar, Johnson discussed the importance of deepening relationships with consumers at every step of the shopping journey. He explained how he believes the future of commerce is mobile retail, and how he is focusing on helping premium brands deliver joy and convenience to the consumer’s home.

Co-founder & CEO of Camp, Ben Kaufman and Co-founder & CEO of Current Global, Liz Bacelar

Meanwhile Ben Kaufman, co-founder and CEO of family store Camp, and former CMO of Buzzfeed, talked on the podcast about how his retail concept is using the winning recipe of merchandise, theatre and experience. Described as the “Speakeasy for kids”, the store brings a fresh perspective to traditional brick-and-mortar, with a rotating schedule of activities and themes, allowing customers to always find something new.

“We find a way to integrate productive retail space into even the big immersive experiential set pieces,” he explained to Bacelar, demonstrating how every square foot of the store is used to its best potential. 

Wrapping up the day was a panel focused on direct-to-consumer brands. It featured sunscreen brand Supergoop!, DTC incubator dtx company and retail concept SHOWFIELDS. The discussion explored how to build a brand for modern consumers, who see no boundaries between physical and digital.

Guests also had the opportunity to explore the latest technologies set to transform your business in 2020 with “The Hot 12” tech exhibit from Current Global, which included everything from smart mirrors to cutting-edge vending machines.

Look out for our Innovators podcast episodes with Enjoy’s Johnson and Camp’s Kaufman, publishing soon. Meanwhile, subscribe here to keep up with the latest episodes.

A special thank you to our content partner Bellwether Culture and partners United Talent Agency and Membrain.

Want to know more about how our technology partners can help you reach your innovation goals? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Podcast product Retail

Thom Browne: Choosing authenticity over hype

A brand’s success depends on authentic relationships and good design over hype, says Rodrigo Bazan, CEO of designer label Thom Browne, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

“I tend to like less anything based on hype or cool, or the hot thing of the moment, because by definition that’s going to cool down at some point. So I still believe that the big things that are happening are led by a very, very strong design idea,” he explains.

It’s for the same reason that dressing rapper Cardi B for this year’s Met Gala in a larger-than-life ruby ballgown made sense for the luxury label, he notes. 

The Thom Browne team does little PR and has no internal VIP team, meaning the relationship with Cardi, as well as sports superstars like basketballer LeBron James, happen organically.

Since launching in 2004, the brand has gained a loyal audience that appreciates its modern take on classic silhouettes. The designer’s discrete nature (he himself is not on social media) and timeless designs mean it has managed to stand out in a world of overconsumption and celebrity designers that rule social media, from Virgil Abloh at Off White and Louis Vuitton to Olivier Rousteing at Balmain. 

Bazan explains how the brand is averse to overexposure and flashiness, instead focusing on creating more of these meaningful partnerships, from dressing Barcelona FC players off the field to creating bespoke tailoring with Barneys. As a result, it is steadily growing a business aiming to survive the influencer fatigue that is starting to pick up speed. 

Join us to learn more from Bazan about what that means in practice, including how music and celebrity help fuel its success, why the brand believes in sportswear over streetwear, and just how its thinking about the balance of data and design today.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, 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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Campaigns Comment digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

Vivienne Westwood calls to ban land ownership, Shiseido acquires Drunk Elephant, Hong Kong protests hit luxury

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

Top Stories
  • The ‘only way to save the world’ is to ban land ownership, says Vivienne Westwood (Dezeen)
  • Why Shiseido bought Drunk Elephant for $845million (BoF)
  • Hong Kong protests could hit Burberry sales by up to £100million (Quartz)
Technology
  • Adidas 1st to sell shoes via Snapchat game (Mobile Marketer)
  • 5G smartphone sales will top 1B by 2025 (Mobile Marketer)
  • Unicef now accepting donations through bitcoin and ether (The Guardian)
  • 3D-printed smart textiles consume less energy, water & chemicals (Sourcing Journal)
  • GOAT showcases world’s rarest sneakers with AR try-ons (Mobile Marketer)
  • Personal stylists are using data to strengthen relationships (Vogue Business)
  • O2 launches ‘worlds first live ad’ powered by 5G (Campaign)
Sustainability & Purpose
  • California bans animal fur products (Drapers)
  • Kat von D launches vegan footwear line from apple ‘leather’ (Sourcing Journal)
  • Farfetch partners with Thrift+, a second hand donation platform (Retail Gazette)
  • Chloe forges three-year partnership with UNICEF (WWD)
  • Forget carbon neutral, Patagonia wants to be ‘carbon positive’ (Sourcing Journal)
  • Little Mistress launches sustainable packaging (Fashion United)
  • John Lewis launches sustainable ‘buyback’ trial (Retail Gazette)
Retail & Commerce
  • Stance opens Carnaby Street flagship store (Retail Gazette)
  • Morphe launches in-store Youtube studios to drive foot traffic (Glossy)
  • H&M outlet brand Afound shifts focus towards online (BoF)
  • Rental service HURR Collective to stage pop-up shop (The Industry)
  • Vans brings new boutique concept to Covent Garden (Fashion United)
  • Givenchy unveils US e-commerce site (WWD)
  • HMV launches Europe’s largest music store (Retail Week)
Business
  • Ganni’s guerrilla approach to global growth (BoF)
  • New CEO at Stella McCartney (Drapers)
  • Race to buy Barneys heats up (WWD)
  • Toys R Us relaunches website amid Target partnership (Charged Retail)
  • Victoria’s Secret store exec departs (Retail Dive)
  • LVMH luxury venture fund invests in streetwear brand Madhappy (Fashion Law)
Marketing & Social Media
  • Instagram launches Threads, a close friend chat app with auto-status (TechCrunch)
  • The next generation of menswear designers might be on Youtube (Fashionista)
  • Teens choose Youtube over Netflix for the first time (CNBC)
  • Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister launch Instagram checkout (Retail Dive)
Product
  • Mens beauty grooming retailer Beast Inks deal for U.K rollout (WWD)
  • SprezzaBox and Esquire team up to launch subscription box (Fashion United)
  • Everlane launches ReCashmere sweater collection (Dezeen)
Culture
  • Adidas teams up with Universal Standard for a truly size-inclusive collaboration (Adweek)
  • Why 5,000-year-old fashion is making a comeback (BoF)
  • Lululemon partners with United Nations Foundation (Fashion United)
  • Kellogg’s autism-sensitive packaging for kids (Stylus)
  • Victoria’s Secret hires first plus-size model (Fashion United)
  • Havas and CALM team up to create self-care labelling for Topshop and Topman (Campaign)
  • The business of casting queer models (BoF)

How are you thinking about innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business

Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri on why consumers are “Feeling Gucci”

Gucci's CEO Marco Bizzarri at the WWD CEO Summit. Photo Credit: Patrick MacLeod/WWD
Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri at the WWD CEO Summit. Photo Credit: Patrick MacLeod/WWD

Gucci’s strong momentum has continued entering the second half of this year. The Italian heritage brand delivered another spectacular earnings result earlier this week, reporting a 49% jump in sales in the third quarter. The Asia-Pacific region sales, led by China, increased 36%.

This higher-than-expected growth proves the continuous influence of the brand’s creative director Alessandro Michele in dictating the fashion taste of global consumers. Michele, who has helmed the house since 2015, is the hero behind Gucci’s latest turnaround.

In China, Gucci is leading the way in profiting from the recovery of the country’s luxury market in recent years. The bold and imaginative design has impressed and won over the hearts of Chinese millennial consumers. Aside from the impressive sales figure, younger generations’ high interest in the brand’s new product lines such as home decor, furniture and perfume, along with the constantly organic promotion by a slew of top-tier online influencers including celebrities Liu Wen and Yang Mi, and fashion bloggers gogoboi and Becky Li, are all signs of Gucci’s success with this demographic.

There are still some who question the sustainability of Gucci’s growth, however. Some fashion critics and industry observers hold the view that Gucci may soon lose steam if it cannot catch up with the fast-evolving appetite of Chinese young customers, who are known to be one of the most demanding and least loyal buyers of luxury brands.

To Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri, who, under his leadership, has put creativity at the core of the brand culture, this pessimism may not hold true. During the WWD’s CEO Summit on October 25, Bizzarri was confident enough to say that almost every consumer on the planet (no matter the age and nationality) is “Feeling Gucci”.

“Feel Gucci” is a term coined and defined by Bizzarri’s 16-year-old daughter, meaning, “feel good”. The term reflects the authenticity and the sincerity of the work of Alessandro Michele. Bizzarri further explained that the brand culture that he instilled, which now values creativity, instinct, and intuition, has made him firmly believe consumers’ enthusiasm that Gucci could continue strong.

“Creativity was put again at the center of Gucci,” he said. “[And] respect, happiness, passion, empowerment, inclusivity are values that foster creativity.”

Upon his arrival at Gucci in 2015, Bizzarri revolutionised the office atmosphere through removing all the black-and-white images of the brand’s deceased supporters like Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The change was meant to make Gucci set apart from its glorious history and bring in fresh ideas, creativity, joy and emotion.

The “Shadow Executive Committee” is another example of how he empowers a bottom-up idea transfer. The unofficial organ is where Bizzarri can listen to the opinions of lower-level employees. He disclosed that “Gucci Places”, the new travel app released in August this year, was the outcome of the committee.

“You need to listen to consumers, but not too much,” said Bizzarri, who acknowledged the significance of customer’s ideas but also the need to set some distance from them in order to avoid their opinions completely dominating the company’s vision.

He believes “intuition and instinct are ultimately more important than intellect and rationality”. He firmly stated that one of the best professional choices he made — appointing Michele, a person who was not even on the list of candidates for Creative Director — was based entirely on his intuition and instinct.

“[Alessandro] opened the door and was wearing the Princetown fur loafers,” said Bizzarri. “We were thinking the same way — for me, it was from a business standpoint, and for him, design. It was very much about empathy. You feel like you found the right person immediately.”

From Bizzarri’s talk at the Summit, it is clear that his approach to managing this 95-year-old iconic fashion label is to preserve the most human side of luxury culture, which prioritises creativity, instinct, and intuition over rational, strategy, and technology.

In today’s fashion world, the advance of technology and data science has brought assistance as well as distraction to the business. Some high-end brands tend to focus on the modern, superficial metrics such as social media and KOL (influencer) traffic while neglecting the real factor — namely, human creativity, that can differentiate them from rivals among consumers.

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

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business e-commerce Editor's pick

Victoria Beckham CEO on relevancy, openness and why he’s against the see-now, buy-now model

ZachDuane_VB
Zach Duane, CEO of Victoria Beckham, in conversation with Katie Baron of Stylus

Zach Duane, CEO of Victoria Beckham sat down at Decoded Fashion in London yesterday to share insights on how he believes the brand has managed to gain credibility in the tough celebrity designer space, how VB is viewed in China, and exactly why he thinks the whole see-now, buy-now model can’t work for everyone.

Here’s a recap of the highlights…


On openness

“There was obviously huge cynicism around Victoria in the fashion world to begin with. We wanted her to be taken seriously as a designer, so we tried to learn our craft and convince through the collection and the value of the product. From day one every media outlet was following our steps, so it was a very public journey from the beginning. It therefore worked to be very open. Victoria is very like that anyway; she’s prolific on Instagram. But it’s not contrived. The content we share is very natural and real even though the concept behind it is a strategy we have – it’s always carefully considered.”


On relevancy

“We know it’s not ok to film a highly produced and polished video and push it out three months later and assume that’s going to be a relevant story. You have to be a bit raw these days. It’s not that it’s dumbing it down, it’s just that people are so used to seeing stuff so constantly on social that it’s fine to post iPhone photos, or mash a collage together. It’s the idea that has to be right – as long as it’s relevant to your brand. The world has moved in that direction in my view. There are some things we do that are much higher production value – like our look books or our show – and it’s fine to have a mixture like that. We’re not, and we don’t pretend to be, a heritage brand. If you’ve got a history of crafting leather goods, or a designer that founded the house in the 50s, then maybe you have to take a certain approach. But for us, in the lifespan of fashion, we’re a new thing, and we’re not shackled by the rules of the past. We’re doing what’s relevant now.”


On a welcoming store environment

“From day one Victoria had a global audience. Spice Girls were a global phenomenon and everyone was interested in her. So we now try to cater to everyone – our current customers, future customers or people just interested in us and what we’re doing. In our first store on Dover Street we really made sure that everyone who came in would feel very welcome. And I really mean that. We headhunted and Victoria and I personally interviewed every single person for it. Our store manager Lin [Aima Hellem], got the job because when asked what she would do if 200 Spice Girls fans come in, she said she would give them the best tour of the store possible. It shouldn’t be a closed space – a student who wants to come in and understand Victoria’s vision should be as relevant as someone spending £10,000.”


On perception in China

“We don’t ship to Asia which is a slight anomaly, but we do trunk shows there; e-commerce pop-ups basically. What we’ve learnt from China is that our shopper is much younger, and she didn’t know Spice Girls at all. She knew Victoria was famous, but she thinks it’s because she’s a designer. So the way we treat them is so different to someone who has lived and breathed that journey with Victoria. Those insights are so important for merchandising, for comms direction and more. With China we don’t have to focus on the credibility part. It’s about immersing [consumers] in the collection, getting them to understand the theme of the season. It’s much more of a fashion-focused educational process. If we’re talking about new clients in other markets like America however, then it’s about going back to basics a little bit. We have to tackle the fact they may think of Victoria as a Spice Girl first; so it’s about credibility and then about getting them into fashion later.”


On the see-now, buy-now movement

“The media is always looking for headline problems for headline solutions. But whether we’re showing in February and shipping in August is a basic issue – there are much bigger problems around things like international shipping and so forth. What Burberry is doing makes total sense for them – it’s a retail business, they sell predominantly through their own stores. If you’re going to spend millions of pounds on amazing shows, you may as well do it when collections are in store so you convert those consumers. But for emerging brands, it’s just impossible. Your business is predominantly a wholesale business. Your show is a trade show; it’s to buyers and editors. They’re coming to have a view and see what resonates with them, and if it does then they come and place their orders. In terms of what the consumer accesses – the answer is not ‘one size fits all’. Our ready-to-wear line needs to be reviewed; it needs that industry perspective and buy-in, that’s the nature of it. But with our Victoria Victoria Beckham line, then it’s different. We’ve done a show in Korea for instance, we’ve partnered with an artist, we’ve done events in London as it hits the store – so we’re constantly connecting with the consumer with it; it’s just a different rhythm. You have to be specific about who you’re trying to talk to, why you’re trying to talk to them and what the message is.”


On never standing still

“We were very humble at the beginning. Victoria really felt, and she still does to this day, that she had to earn her place in fashion. She’s always challenging herself. From a creative standpoint, that is a constant in our business – never stand still, constantly push yourself. We’re always questioning whether the business model we’ve got is innovative enough too. Could we be doing more? It’s that push to prove ourselves that has kept us driving forward.”

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digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Diesel’s ads on Pornhub, Chanel’s Instagram battle, why the fashion world hates wearables

Your round-up of the latest stories related to fashion and technology…

diesel

  • Why you’ll soon be seeing Diesel ads on Grindr, Tinder and Pornhub [i-D]
  • Chanel may have just won a battle for the Chanel Instagram account [The Fashion Law]
  • Why the fashion world hates wearables [Co.Design]
  • High tech innovation wears well at Ralph Lauren [Forbes]
  • Burberry debuts on Apple TV with menswear fashion show [Mashable]
  • Misha Nonoo will skip fashion week to follow a consumer calendar [Fashionista]
  • Everlane’s starting a private Instagram account for new products [Digiday]
  • How Belstaff maintains a strong defense against counterfeiters [Stores]
  • How Urban Decay gets its 4.1 million Instagram followers to shop [Digiday]
  • Victoria’s Secret furthers organic storytelling mastery via Angel-endorsed Snapchat takeover [Mobile Marketer]
  • Crocs bows to critics, deletes David Bowie tribute tweet [Brand Republic]
  • Meet the female CEOs running fashion’s biggest brands [Fashionista]
  • What fashion needs to know about cyber security [BoF]
  • Shoppers are choosing experiences over stuff, and that’s bad news for retailers [The Washington Post]
  • Do ‘digital flagships’ deliver? [BoF]
  • The myth of the physical versus digital retail battle [WWD]
  • Why the social media ‘buy button’ is still there, even though most never use it [The Washington Post]
  • Inside the hidden world that handles your holiday returns [Wired]
  • Retail writes an obit on flash sale sites [Marketplace]
  • The blogosphere pays off more than ever [WWD]
  • What’s Grindr’s new agenda? [Dazed]
  • Instagram and the watch world [NY Times]
  • Why women aren’t buying smart watches [Racked]
  • Apple acquires Emotient, start-up that reads emotions from facial expressions [Fortune]
  • Why visual search will become a marketing obsession in the coming years [AdWeek]
  • These vibrating yoga pants will correct your downward dog [Fast Company]
  • 30 under 30 retail and e-commerce 2016: meet the millennials changing how we shop [Forbes]
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business e-commerce Editor's pick Startups

Theory CEO Andrew Rosen on the evolution of retail, working with start-ups and what he thinks about wearables

ftf_andrewrosen_

Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory, and investor in labels including Rag & Bone, Alice & Olivia, Proenza Schouler and Reformation, took to the Fashion Tech Forum stage in New York yesterday to share his insights on everything from content to wearables. Here are six of his most interesting comments…

1. On online shopping: “For 10s of thousands of years, we’ve been doing traditional retail through brick and mortar stores; it’s 10 years or less that we’ve been doing digital commerce. All the metrics we once knew have been disrupted by digital. It’s going to take some time for all of this to work through the system and for all of us to have a good understanding of how it works and needs to work.”

2. On content: “I believe you have to be authentic and your message has to be simple and straightforward. Brands try to confuse everything with a lot of bells and whistles. Whatever it is, it has to be authentic to the brand and the experience has to be seamless for consumers.”

3. On working with start-ups: “Everything has changed over the last few years in our lives and the industry, but the thing that hasn’t changed is that if I find a brand I want to invest in, it’s about their point of view; I’m betting on the people that are running it. I’m not going to do the work – I can [just] help and guide them, so I have to understand their vision, ideas and culture and I have to be able to plug into that to help.”

FTF_Event_0013

4. On what he thinks is worth investing in: “I like start-ups to like to be very singularly focused on a very narrow product range and not spread out. A singular voice in a single product category; do that well and then over time gain authority and then expand.”

6. On who is doing tech and fashion well: “Burberry and Tory Burch. But I also like Reformation [who he invests in] and the whole factory-to-closet concept. Through digital commerce and brick and mortar retail they have developed a direct-to-consumer business that’s really exciting.”

7. On wearables: “I don’t wear one, but I like the idea of them and the possibilities there. I think there’s a big future; there’s a new industrial revolution going on with all sorts of possibilities. It’s happening in the tech world enormously and in fashion also. At the end of the day, companies can’t follow the same paths anymore, there has to be a new mindset and innovation in order for progress.”

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs
Pic via @debweinswig

Categories
Blocks business e-commerce film

Video: Net-a-Porter gives outgoing CEO send-off to remember

NetaPorter_marksebba_worldsmostlovedCEO

#Worldsmostlovedceo is the hashtag Net-a-Porter is using to say goodbye to its CEO of 11 years, Mark Sebba. That and a series of exotic dancers, steel drum players, Mariachi musicians, acrobats, a gospel choir and more.

The luxury e-tailer surprised Sebba on his final day at the office, with the entire staff lining the corridors holding placards featuring his face and applauding their boss as he was led past by a gentleman singing a cover of Aloe Blacc’s hit single, “The Man”.

Teams around the world including in New York and Hong Kong were also featured dancing to the tune, while an overwhelmed Sebba wandered his way through the company’s headquarters in Shepherd’s Bush, London, before being handed a cup of coffee at his desk by Natalie Massenet.

A film has been released of the event, as below. It’s a lovely example of company culture, not to mention the industry not taking itself too seriously. Let’s see how quickly it spreads.

H/T Daily Mail