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Orlebar Brown: Trusting partners for growth

When you start a business, you should always be thinking about what your end goal is, says Adam Brown, founder of luxury swimwear brand Orlebar Brown, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. In Brown’s case, it was the eventual acquisition by none other than Chanel.

Many founders pride themselves on being scrappy, and figuring it out as they go along. There is an element of truth to that approach – Brown spent the brand’s first two years in a storage unit in West London learning every aspect of the business, from pressing shorts to talking to customers on the phone. 

But he knew from the get-go that one of the strongest tools he could have under his belt was finding the people he trusted to do the things that were beyond his expertise. That is a surprisingly rare trait for a founder, who often have so much emotional stake in the game that it is hard to let go of the control. 

Brown, however, always knew he didn’t want to be a CEO with 300 stores across the globe. He also doesn’t consider himself a designer, but rather a curator. So his focus became the product, and creating a process to perfectly tailor swim shorts that fit every body shape, and could take you from the beach to a fancy dinner party. The brand filled a gap in the market and quickly created its own niche.

And in 2018, just at the right time, Chanel came knocking. The acquisition, says Brown, represents the perfect marriage of aspirations that both sides have for the swimwear brand, as well as the chance to leverage many of Chanel’s mature capabilities in brand positioning, sourcing, e-commerce, and so on.

During this conversation, Brown tells us just why the Chanel partnership is a match made in heaven, how they are looking to connect sustainability with the brand in a creative way, and just what is needed to make the luxury consumer forget the price tag.

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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business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: UK gov rejects sustainable recommendations, celebrating Karl, GenZ and TikTok

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

TOP STORIES
  • UK ministers reject plans for 1p per garment levy to tackle fast fashion [The Guardian]
  • ‘Karl for ever’: a joyful celebration of Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy [WWD]
  • Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too? [BoF]
  • How a £1 bikini revealed the changing shape of fast fashion [The Guardian]
TECHNOLOGY
  • The world is a mess. We need fully automated luxury communism [NY Times]
  • John Lewis to trial VR experience in shops [Fashion Network]
  • Amazon deploys ‘Pegasus’ robots in sortation centers [Retail Dive]
  • Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes [Technology Review]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • H&M called out on “illegal” sustainability marketing [Eco Textile]
  • Net-a-Porter has started telling customers which brands are sustainable [The Independent]
  • More than half of British and American consumers want a more sustainable fashion industry [i-D Vice]
  • Prada sets goal to phase out virgin nylon by 2021 [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren unveils new sustainability goals [WWD]
  • Banana Republic announces waterless dyed denim for 2020 [Fashion United]
  • Why we can’t relax about vegan leather [Vogue Business]
  • The North Face teams with National Geographic for upcycled plastic line [Fashion United]
  • Asos unveils ‘responsible edit’ [Drapers]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Verishop’s plan to be the Amazon of “affordable luxury” [Vogue Business]
  • Carrefour opens store with facial recognition and sensors [Retail Dive]
  • Pablo Isla defends ‘integrated model’ as a way to differentiate Inditex [Fashion Network]
  • Backstage and Story are very pretty. But, will they lure shoppers to Macy’s? [Retail Dive]
  • Gamification: the future of luxury retail in China [Jing Daily]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The AI-driven social media network hailed as the next Tumblr [Dazed]
  • Mountain Hardwear launches AR app to bring outdoor gear to life [Retail Dive]
  • The future of marketing is bespoke everything [The Atlantic]
  • Mulberry bases new marketing campaign on British pub culture [Fashion Network]
  • MAC Cosmetics tries on YouTube’s newest AR ad formats [Retail Dive]
PRODUCT
  • Dolce & Gabbana becomes the first luxury fashion house to extend sizes [Fashion United]
  • Adidas and Ikea to develop products for home workouts [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Unilever acquires beauty brand Tatcha for a reported $500 million [AdWeek]
  • Chanel dispels rumors of sale after announcing a strong financial year [Fashion United]
  • Mulberry falls into the red [Drapers]
  • Kenzo parts ways with creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [WWD]
  • Topshop owner’s fall is fastest in UK high street memory [Vogue Business]
  • Revenue jumps 39% at Boohoo Group [Drapers]
CULTURE
  • Unilever boss warns of dangers of ‘woke-washing’ in ad industry [Sky News]
  • As drag goes mainstream, queer fashion designers reap business benefits [Fashionista]
  • It’s long overdue for fashion to think about people with disabilities [Hypebeast]
  • Streetwear’s big opportunity: women [BoF]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. Current Global 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. 

Categories
digital snippets Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Lush abandons social, buyers send sustainability message, learning resale from Nike

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

TOP STORIES
  • Lush abandons social media: it’s ‘getting harder’ to talk to customers [The Drum]
  • The world’s fashion buyers are sending a strong message to designers about sustainability [Quartz]
  • What Chanel can learn from Nike about the resale market [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Amazon readies Alexa-powered earbuds [Retail Dive]
  • Ikea’s new smart speaker looks like a HomePod crossed with a lamp [The Next Web]
  • Everything you need to know about the Pinterest IPO [NYT]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • ‘Buy local’ seeks to reduce fashion’s environmental footprint [Vogue Business]
  • Salvatore Ferragamo promotes sustainability with art and fashion exhibition [WWD]
  • Galeries Lafayette launches second-hand fashion platform [Fashion Network]
  • Fur supporters plan to keep fighting New York City’s proposed ban on fur sales [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • According to Amazon’s new horoscopes, the stars want you to go shopping [Vox]
  • The line between social media and e-commerce is beginning to disappear [Fashionista]
  • Gucci opens doors to pop-up apartment [Campaign]
  • The new retail: today’s China is tomorrow’s America [Jing Daily]
  • Singapore’s $1.3 billion airport expansion is half botanical garden, half mega-mall [Fast Company]
  • H&M subsidiary to start trialing secondhand sales next week [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Ermenegildo Zegna introduces new fragrances with special installations [WWD]
  • New Balance invests in gamified mobile ads to win over young, global customers [Glossy]
  • Asos ‘upweights’ digital spend as it puts focus on acquisition [Marketing Week]
PRODUCT
  • Rodarte unveils a collaboration with Universal Standard [Vogue]
  • Guess to sell vintage capsule via Fred Segal [Fashion Network]
  • How Cos is changing the way we think about design [Vogue]
BUSINESS
  • Asos pre-tax profits plunge 87 percent [Fashion United]
  • Why Tommy Hilfiger is selling better than ever [Vogue Business]
  • Sales surge at LVMH [Drapers]
  • Allbirds goes all-in on China [WWD]
  • Debenhams falls into administration [Drapers]
CULTURE
  • Estée Laundry: the Instagram collective holding the beauty industry to account [The Guardian]
  • The shady truth about inclusive beauty (and how brands can improve) [BoF]
  • Virgil Abloh’s real value to Louis Vuitton isn’t about the clothes he can sell [Quartz]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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 Campaigns digital snippets product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Chanel announces successor, Amazon scraps Dash buttons, Ted Baker boss steps down

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

TOP STORIES
  • Virginie Viard to fill Karl Lagerfeld’s brash boots at Chanel [The Times]
  • Amazon stops selling Dash buttons, goofy forerunners of the connected home [CNET]
  • Ted Baker boss Ray Kelvin quits after ‘forced hugging’ claims [The Guardian]
  • Gap to spin off Old Navy into separate public company [Retail Dive]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Apple is releasing a foldable iPhone, and it’s not only about all those patents [Tom’s Guide]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • New York City launches project to promote fashion recycling [Fashion United]
  • Launch of Australasian Circular Textiles Association (ACTA) means business for sustainable fashion [Fashion United]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Harrods targets online growth with Farfetch partnership [The Industry]
  • Ted Baker launches monthly product drops [Fashion United]
  • Pinterest expands the ability to shop on its platform [PYMNTS]
  • J.C. Penney pulls plug on clothing subscription service [BoF]
  • QVC UK introduces social commerce for ‘discovery-led’ shopping [Fashion United]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • New Balance pub only accepts miles ran as currency [TheCurrent Daily]
  • Louis Vuitton unveils digital ‘Postcard’ window displays [WWD]
  • Rebecca Minkoff partners with Yelp to support businesswomen [Fashion United]
  • Ralph Lauren opens Ralph’s Café on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris [Fashion Network]
PRODUCT
  • Meet Glossier Play, the new high impact makeup brand from Glossier [WWD]
  • Net-a-Porter teams up with prominent female designers for international women’s day capsule [Fashion United]
  • Bonobos to unveil first women’s capsule [WWD]
  • Target is the latest retailer to take on Victoria’s Secret [Quartz]
BUSINESS
  • Swarovski, CFDA part ways for Fashion Awards [WWD]
  • LVMH plans London hotel and new flagship in experiential push [BoF]
  • Anya Hindmarch to split with partner Mayhoola for investments [WWD]
  • Burberry launches staff training plan after ‘noose’ hoodie row [The Guardian]
  • L Brands to shutter 53 Victoria’s Secret stores [Retail Dive]
  • Puma signs mega global deal with Manchester City owner, its biggest deal ever [Fashion Network]
  • Macy’s new restructuring to cut 100 senior positions, save $100 million annually [Fashion Network]
CULTURE
  • Sesame Street’s turning 50, and InStyle dressed our favorite characters for the party [InStyle]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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. 

Categories
business digital snippets Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Lagerfeld passes at 85, Gucci and the blackface scandal, fashion preps for Brexit

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

TOP STORIES
  • Karl Lagerfeld dies in Paris [BoF]
  • Internal memo from Gucci CEO shows he’s taking the blackface scandal very, very seriously [Fashionista]
  • Fashion prepares for Brexit disaster [BoF]
  • Levi Strauss files for initial public offering [Fashion United]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Brands are testing augmented reality’s influence on e-commerce [Digiday]
  • Amazon opens up Alexa store for anyone to create and publish custom skills [The Verge]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Government considers clothing levy to reduce fashion industry waste [The Industry]
  • 6 years after Rana Plaza, worker safety is under threat in Bangladesh again [BoF]
  • 3.1 Phillip Lim to go fur-free from autumn 2019 [Fashion United]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Bonprix’s latest high-tech shopping experience [Fashion United]
  • Barneys to open luxury cannabis shop [Chain Store Age]
  • Le Bon Marché to showcase technology with ‘Geek Mais Chic’ theme [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
PRODUCT
  • Cannabis couture: MedMen unveils apparel line [WWD]
  • Vans partners with Led Zeppelin on capsule collection [Fashion Network]
  • Here’s why luxury shoe brand M.Gemi releases new shoes every Monday [AdWeek]
BUSINESS
  • Kering sales rise 24.5% in Q4 as Gucci growth normalizes [WWD]
  • What’s ailing Mulberry? [BoF]
CULTURE
  • How to address fashion’s racism problem [BoF]
  • Blackface fashion is officially the worst fashion trend of 2019 [Quartzy]
  • Prada introduces Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council [Retail Dive]
  • Burberry’s new campaign aims to be inclusive—sort of [Quartzy]
  • Who needs Kanye? Amazon wants to be the biggest thing at Coachella 2019 [Fast Company]
  • The plus-size era is over before it began [Retail Dive]
  • Barbie is now in a wheelchair and has a prosthetic leg [Teen Vogue]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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 product Retail

Chanel’s new beauty wonderland invites fans to slow down and discover


Chanel has launched a new beauty retail concept in NYC where it is inviting fans to discover and play with the line’s range through interactive experiences that encourages them to slow down. The store, called Atelier Beauté Chanel, offers trial experiences as well as appointment-only events and services, such as makeup lessons, with the brand’s artists-in-residence.

Upon entering the store, guests are given personal lockers to keep their belongings in, so they are free to browse the displays. They are then prompted to create a personal profile on their phones in order to keep track of the items they have tried and liked. This profile will also allow them to book for other one-to-one experiences in the future.

Sinks for hand and face washing are also available at the store entrance, further setting a tone: this is not a place where clients are encouraged to rush in and rush out.

The space is heavy on experiences, such as encountering a mysterious black door labeled “Atelier Parfum Chanel”. Guests must make a reservation to visit this space, which is a no-spray counter where they are invited to blindly sniff scented porcelain testers labeled with numbers instead of names. It’s an exciting way to discover a scent without being influenced by the color of the perfume or the design of the bottle, but simply its smell. It’s also a great way to step outside the box of feminine and masculine labels: according to Chanel’s perfume expert, most women choose a men’s fragrance and vice-versa.

At the perfume bar, clients save the numbers of the scents they like through the mobile website. After they’re done, the site reveals the names of the fragrances and saves their order. Guests leave with a doubled-C branded bracelet dipped in their preferred scent to take home.

Atelier Beauté Chanel

Other experiences in-store further push the discovery of the label’s makeup and skincare ranges. At the makeup area, counters are divided by different areas of the face. For example “Skin Enhances” for foundation and concealers, and “Eye Definers” for mascaras, eyeliners, shadows and brow products. A lip bar is by far the most visually appealing, as it displays lipstick pigments on a wall not too dissimilar from an upmarket paint store.

Meanwhile over at the skincare counter, store associates are on hand to talk customers through their personal skincare routines. Customers are then offered two different sample packages to purchase, varying by length of the routine they hope to achieve. Once the customer is happy with their purchase at home, the purchase price can be redeemed against store credit to buy any full-size foundation or skincare products on Chanel.com

As brands strive to become increasingly digitised and push for convenience at their retail spaces, Atelier Beauté Chanel proves the opposite. Here, slow luxury still has plenty of room to play and engage with an audience that is craving experiences that allow them to take a minute and wander.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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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Events mobile Retail social media technology

Balmain launches app to connect customers to brand universe


Luxury label Balmain has released an app that aims to give consumers more access to the brand’s universe, in a mission championed by creative director Olivier Rousteing.

The app, which was released on iTunes yesterday, will allow users to engage with the brand in a multitude of different ways.

“The app is the final element of the strategy we are rolling out to launch the new monogram, the new logo, and to support overall the new communication strategy of Balmain,” the label’s CEO Massimo Piombini told WWD. “This is a way to connect with the next generation, with new customers, with a segment of customers that are close to the brand that are expecting from us these kinds of new features.”

For example ahead of the label’s upcoming couture show which takes place on January 23, users will be able to scan posters through the streets of Paris to trigger augmented reality content. Users will also be able to watch a livestream of the show, the house’s first couture collection in 16 years, as well as footage of the menswear show that is happening tomorrow.

To give brand fans a further glimpse into the brand, there will also interactive content around its new Saint Honoré flagship, which is due to open in February. The brand has announced that it will also be launching similar initiatives at key European cities in the future.

Under Rousteing’s helm, the 82-year-old label has been increasingly connecting with younger consumers through the lens of digital. In April 2018, it created a virtual reality experience at its Milan store based on the designer’s inspirations for the brand’s collections, while its latest campaign featured a cast of virtual models.

How are you thinking about digital innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so.TheCurrent Global 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 digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Brand activism, Adidas on evolving dark social, the role of augmented reality this holiday


TOP STORIES
  • The thorny business of brand activism [BoF]
  • How Adidas is evolving dark social to stay ahead of the game [Marketing Week]
  • Target’s Christmas tree sales aided by augmented-reality feature [Bloomberg
TECHNOLOGY
  • DeepMind’s AlphaZero now showing human-like intuition in historical ‘turning point’ for AI [Telegraph]
  • Alphabet’s Wing spinoff is about to launch drone deliveries in Finland [Technology Review]
  • Robot janitors are coming to mop floors at a Walmart near you [Bloomberg]
  • Athlete’s Foot announces new 3D tech [Retailbiz]
  • eBay will now authenticate luxury jewelry items [TechCrunch]
  • YNAP supports Hour of Code with fashion hackathon for London children [The Industry
  • 70% of consumers still want human interaction versus bots [Retail Dive]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • UN climate change chatbot makes saving the world personal [CNET]
  • Stella McCartney is on a quest to save you from the fashion industry [Wired]
  • Kering partners with Savory Institute for regenerative sourcing plan [WWD]
  • United Wardrobe launches program for brands to sell unsold stock [Fashion Network]
  • Why Chanel’s exotic skins ban is wrong [BoF]
  • Can transparency solve the consumer trust deficit? [BoF]
  • Stella McCartney, Burberry among fashion brands uniting against climate change [CNN]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Amazon Go cashierless stores are coming to airports [Venture Beat]
  • Alibaba signs agreement with Belgium for e-commerce trade hub [Fashion Network]
  • Why luxury shopping via WhatsApp, WeChat may be the future [SCMP]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Under Armour is running a YouTube series on IGTV [Digiday]
  • Love Magazine bringing video issue to YouTube [WWD
  • Coty unveils Google Assistant tool for Clairol [WWD]
  • Swiss hotel chain offers a ‘social media sitter’ to handle your Instagram while you relax [TheNext Web]
PRODUCT
  • Marc Jacobs set to launch affordable ‘The Marc Jacobs’ line [FashionNetwork]
  • Heineken launches capsule collection with Union [FashionUnited]
BUSINESS
  • Just 20 fashion companies are making almost all of the industry’s profits [Quartz]
  • Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin to take leave of absence [TheGuardian]
  • Calvin Klein is facing the fact that it’s a jeans-and-undies company now[Quartzy]
  • L’Oréal launches VC fund [WWD]
CULTURE
  • Virgil Abloh on the power of being creative without limits [Dazed]
  • K-pop’s popularity is starting to shape fashion worldwide [Vox]
  • The $4 trillion reason so many companies are rebranding for wellness [Quartzy]

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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Campaigns Editor's pick product Retail sustainability

Chanel to ban exotic skins due to lack of ethical sourcing

Chanel is banning exotic skins
Chanel is banning exotic skins

Chanel announced on Monday (December 3) that it is going to stop using exotic skins in its future collections, as well as furs. This is mainly to do with an increased difficulty in sourcing these materials from ethical suppliers, as the French label continues to crack down on its supply chain. 

“We are continually reviewing our supply chains to ensure they meet our expectations of integrity and traceability,” the brand said in a statement.

Exotic skins include crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray, which adorn many of its iconic handbags.

Animal rights organization PETA celebrated the brands announcement on social media as it had been lobbying for the label to ban exotic skins for decades, it said. Next on the non-profit’s agenda is urging consumers to encourage LVMH to do the same with its portfolio of brands.

Chanel is the first luxury brand to take the major step of official banning exotic skins, and it is joining the ranks of the Arcadia Group, ASOS, H&M, L Brands (which owns Victoria’s Secret), Nike and Puma. 

The banning of fur however has been previously embraced by a wider range of luxury brands, including Armani, Versace, Gucci, Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Furla and many others. Chanel, however, had never used much of the material in its collections to begin with, making the ban relatively easier to implement. 

This changing perception of luxury materials comes at a time when luxury brands and the wider fashion industry is embracing values of the circular economy and looking for alternative fabrics that are more sustainable, all while keeping the same level of quality found in more traditional luxury materials such as leathers and silks.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your sustainability strategy. 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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data product Retail technology

Chanel’s new Paris flagship will test augmented retail concept

Chanel
Chanel

Chanel’s newly-opened flagship in Paris will serve as a testing ground for the label’s digital initiatives, aiming to create an increasingly omnichannel retail experience. 

This is part of an innovation partnership with Farfetch announced earlier this year, which will see the luxury brand develop new clienteling tools both online and in-store. Called Augmented Retail, the vision will use data and other digital capabilities to create a personalized shopping experience, according to Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves.

Speaking on the partnership in February, he said: “It is truly an honour to be partnering with Chanel to accelerate the development of technology-driven initiatives which will ensure they remain at the forefront of retail excellence and elevate the already unparalleled level of luxury experience for its clients that Chanel is renowned for.”

Among the digital features set to be rolled out over the next six months is the launch of a dedicated Chanel app, which will focus on giving its most loyal shoppers more access to the brand, as well as a more tailored shopping experience.

Beyond tech enhancements, the five-storey space has a heavy focus on its VIP customers, with the two top floors dedicated to exclusive experiences, such as enjoying private meals and even taking a shower. 

Luxury brands and retailers are increasingly dedicating shopfloor space to providing its most engaged customers with experiences that go beyond shopping. Earlier this year, online retailer Matchesfashion.com opened its first physical space at a townhouse in London, featuring floors with the sole purpose of hosting events such as book signings, podcast recordings, exhibitions and exercise classes.

How are you thinking about 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.