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Ralph Lauren goes virtual, SMS marketing, Thom Browne expands footprint

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

TOP STORIES
  • Where are people shopping again? (BoF)
  • Wounded by pandemic, online luxury faces long road to recovery (WWD)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Canada Goose launches Humanature sustainable initiative (Fashion United)
  • H&M’s green machine: a recycling solution? (Vogue Business)
  • Chasing the holy grail of circular fashion (BoF)
  • Supreme, Allbirds, Everland among Remake’s sustainability offenders (WWD)
RETAIL & COMMERCE
  • What to know about virtual stores (Vogue Business)
  • The not-so-darling side of DTC brands (Retail Dive)
  • Ted Baker launches virtual shopping option in US stores (WWD)
  • Peace Out skincare looks to SMS marketing to drive holiday sales (Glossy)
  • How beauty stores have changed during the pandemic (BoF)
  • Ebay holds first drive-thru luxury authentication in L.A. (WWD)
  • Facebook debuts shoppable livestream with Anne Klein (Retail Dive)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Why social media advertising is still necessary (BoF)
  • In a digital world, first impressions can make or break a luxury brand (Jing Daily)
  • The power of Youtube in the era of COVID-19 (Retail Dive)
  • Ralph Lauren going virtual for the holidays (WWD)
PRODUCT
  • H&M’s latest Conscious Exclusive collection made from waste (Fashion United)
  • Canada Goose to introduce sustainable parka in January (WWD)

BUSINESS

  • Target continue to grow, in-store and online, even as COVID-19 cases surge (WWD)
  • Zalando expects faster growth in 2021 (Reuters)
  • Leading luxury brands are more dominant than ever (Vogue Business)
  • Alibaba Group’s sophisticated game of monopoly (Jing Daily)
  • Richemont needs a transformational move (BoF)
  • Thom Browne expanding retail footprint significantly (WWD)
CULTURE
  • Angelica Cheung left Vogue China, what’s next for Chinese media? (BoF)
  • Seizing fashion’s homeware opportunity (BoF)
  • As Instagram becomes a shopping mall, Twitter becomes Instagram (High Snobiety)
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business data e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

2019 highlights: The year in innovation news

2019 was a big year for innovation and the Current Daily has been tracking it all throughout – from the rise of 5G-enabled experiences to the continued push towards a circular economy. 

Here, we highlight some of the most interesting stories from the year, outlining why they are an important indication of where the industry is moving in 2020 and beyond.

5G will drive 100m people to shop in AR

Augmented reality took center stage this year as its user-friendly features meant a growing number of brands – and social media platforms like Instagram – started adopting it as a core engagement strategy.

In April, a Gartner report highlighted that 100 million people will shop in AR once high-speed 5G mobile services roll out more extensively. This means the experience is going to be more seamless than ever, giving it better real-time rendering, shorter download times and reduced latency. Retailers seem to be on board, as 46% of them plan to deploy either AR or VR. Check out our piece exploring what other benefits 5G will bring retail.

Fashion brands have only met 21% of their circularity targets for 2020

If there’s one thing to be sure, there’s no escaping the growing momentum around shifting to more sustainable practices as an industry. But is there really progress being made? In July, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) launched its second yearly assessment of fashion brands and retailers to find that only reached 45 (21%) of the 213 targets the industry has set for 2020 will be met. 

This means the 90 signatories of the GFA’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, which includes fashion companies like adidas, PVH Group and Inditex, will have to hurry if they want to achieve more in the next year. We talked a lot about the need for action in this space when a further collaborative group was announced: the G7 Fashion Pact. If you ask us, it’s time to say enough to the pledges, rather give us some tangible outputs.

H&M to trial clothing rental for the first time

Talking of sustainability, one are where we have seen a lot of action and experimentation this year is in new business models. Rental is making serious strides at all ends of the market, but perhaps most interestingly within fast fashion just recently as the H&M Group announced it will trial clothing rental at one of its H&M Stockholm stores. Members of its customer loyalty program can now rent selected party dresses and skirts from its 2012-2019 Conscious Exclusive collections.

Recently, its brand COS also launched a pilot where it is renting out clothes through Chinese subscription rental platform YCloset, which customers can access through a monthly flat rate. We also published a deep-dive into the different opportunities we see for the industry in rental, here.

Allbirds CEO calls out Amazon product copying

In November, Allbirds’ co-founder and CEO, Joey Zwilinger, wrote an open letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos after discovering the e-commerce platform was producing its own wool sneakers similar to the brand’s most popular style.

Instead of going the usual lawsuit route, the founder took this as an opportunity to highlight his brand’s sustainability mission. In the letter, Zwilinger highlights that Allbirds’ sustainable philosophy is open source, and it has thus far helped over 100 brands who were interested in implementing its renewable materials into their products, suggesting Amazon might like to do the same. It was a bold move but one that sparked a conversation around the role of collaboration once more, and its critical place in true innovation.

Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too?

Gen Z quickly adopted Chinese social media platform TikTok as their app du jour this year for its bite-sized video content. Currently, 66% of the platform’s 500 million global users are under 30, according to data analytics firm, Business of Apps.

Brands have started to follow suit, tapping the app to drive engagement and ultimately sales. Content varies from crowdsourced, as in a recent Burberry campaign that saw users challenged to create the brand’s logo with their fingers, through to more refined, such as in a snippet of an interview with singer Shawn Mendes for Calvin Klein. We explored various other brands setting TikTok precedent, here.

Lush abandons social media

While TikTok has been taking off, elsewhere social media is slowing for some. Vegan cosmetics brand, Lush, for instance decided to shut down all of its activity in the UK as it became “tired of fighting with algorithms” or paying to appear on news feeds. Instead, it suggested a hashtag where fans would still be able to speak to the brand.

Lush’s bold move speaks to fight playing out for anything still resembling organic reach. As consumers become jaded over being ‘sold to’, brands are having to find novel ways to reach them, beyond the influencer route. One other area we’re tracking here is those owning their own conversation channels, as with both Glossier and H&M of late.

Coty acquires majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business

2019 was the year of major acquisitions in both beauty and fashion. While LVMH recently announced it was snapping up Tiffany & Co for $16bn, other names included Farfetch buying New Guards Group, which operates streetwear favorite Off White for $675m; Shiseido acquiring cult skincare brand Drunk Elephant for $845m; and more recently, Coty acquiring a majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business, Kylie Cosmetics, for $600m. 

The latter served as particular confirmation of how brands build and grow in this day and age. Jenner, who was 18 when she started a single ‘lip kit’ line, used Instagram to form a direct conversation with her audience. In 2019, this seems like an obvious strategy, but the reality star’s foresight to do so in 2015 has undoubtedly been her recipe for success.

How luxury fashion learned to love the blockchain

Amid growing concerns over the proliferation of counterfeit goods, luxury brands also began to embrace blockchain as an important authentication tool this year. 

Earlier this year, we heard about how LVMH launched its own platform, Aura, which is currently being piloted with some of the brands in its portfolio and will further expand in the future. Kering and Richemont meanwhile are said to be exploring this too, while De Beers is using it to trace its diamonds. Once matured, the technology will undoubtedly make its way into the hands of the consumer, who will be able to better understand where their possessions are coming from. We also tracked some of the other innovations in the transparency space; an area that continues to heat up.

Automation in retail: an executive overview for getting ready

Automation was another big tech focus this year, particularly for its potential impact on retail, from supply chain management to last mile delivery. This shift is putting pressure on retailers to rethink their operating models, distribution centres and headquarters, with McKinsey warning that brands that fail to implement it into their strategy risk falling behind. 

Automation is something we’ve long been talking about for the sake of efficiency, but there also comes a significant ethics conversation to be had here, which the industry is exploring. We agree, now is the time.

What Fortnite could mean for fashion

The global gaming market is expected to reach $180bn by 2021, and fashion brands are realizing the valuable potential in this. Free-to-play video game Fortnite has grown into a multi-million dollar business by selling clothing to image-conscious gamers, for instance. This monetization of player aesthetics, more commonly known as ‘skins’, has opened the door for retailers to cash in on the virtual world. 

Going forward, we expect more brands to invest in digital garments or utilize gaming to drive product discovery. We accordingly explored how gamification is being used in the shopping journey by brands like Kenzo and Nike to both increase engagement and build brand loyalty.

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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product sustainability technology

Nike creates circular design guide

Nike has created a circular design guide that aims to give the fashion industry a common language for circularity.

The guide comes with 10 principles of circular design, including topics such as “material choices” and “waste avoidance”.

Nike’s 10 principles of circular design

Each of these are explained in more depth within it, including via case studies of successful design innovation by Nike and other brands.

They include video footage of a Central Saint Martins student and Nike staff talking on the principles, as well as an inspirational quote.

What follows are thought-starters for designers to think about the concept in more depth. Under the “material choices” principle for instance, it asks: “How could your material choice increase the lifecycle or durability of the product?”

A number of case study examples then follow, such as an outline of Nike’s Flyleather material, a sustainable leather alternative made of leftover factory off-cuts. Other case studies come from brands such as Levi’s, Fjallraven, Patagonia, Outerknown and Eileen Fisher.

The last section features inspirational publications, including “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, which outlines the founding principles of the circular economy, according to the non-profit Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

It is freely accessible to anyone interested in knowing more about circularity. The launch coincides with the annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit, one of the industry’s most important sustainability events of the year.

How are you thinking about your sustainable innovation strategy? Want to learn more about how we worked with Google? The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion 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 hear more.

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Editor's pick product sustainability

57% of H&M Group’s material mix is now sustainably sourced or recycled

57% of all materials used by the H&M Group now come from either recycled or sustainable sources, according to its annual Sustainability Report released yesterday.

This is a considerable increase from last year, in which recycled or sustainably-sourced materials made up 35% of the company’s material mix – thus inching it closer to its ambitious circularity goals for 2030.

“Big change requires bold actions and the courage to aim high. At the same time, we have to be humble to the challenges our planet is facing,” said Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at the H&M Group.”So if we want to make a real change, we have to be brave, push the boundaries and not be afraid to fail.”

At present, 55.2% of the Group’s material mix is sourced from sustainable origins that are verified by third-party bodies. For example, 95% of is cotton comes from certified sources such as organic cotton (14.6%) or sourced from the Better Cotton Initiative (79.9%).

The remaining 1.4% of the mix comes from recycled sources, a small percentage that the report highlights is due to the “lack of viable recycling solutions [which] either do not exist or are not commercially available at scale.”

Other highlights include a reduction of 11% in CO2 emissions in its operations, moving it closer to its target of becoming climate-positive by 2040; a new commitment to making all of its packaging designed to be reusable, recyclable and compostable by 2025; reducing water usage in production by 25% by 2022, supported by WWF; and the announcement that 655 factories and 930,000 garment workers are now covered by the Group’s key programmes for workplace dialogue and wage management system.

Technology is also playing a major role, with artificial intelligence being deployed to ensure production and demand are more aligned from a sustainability perspective. This follows an announcement in late 2018 that Christopher Wylie, of Cambridge Analytica fame, is joining as a consultant on all things AI.

From the consumer side, its Take Care initiative, which offers customers guidance, repair services and products to care for their garments in order to extend their lifespan, has now moved into further four markets; and in June 2018, the company launched of Afound, a new brand giving unsold products a new life.

Additional reporting by Camilla Rydzek.

How are you thinking about your sustainable strategy? 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 sustainability Uncategorized

ASICS gives used sportswear a new lease of life for 2020 Japan Olympic uniforms

Japanese sportswear label ASICS has introduced a program that will use donated sportswear as the raw material for the official uniforms of the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic teams at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. In order to collect the unwanted items, the brand is placing collection boxes across Japan, including at own stores, partner retailers and sporting events, up until May 31.

The “ASICS Reborn Wear Project” hopes to gather approximately 30,000 items of sportswear and give the Games’s competitors uniforms rich with the memories of the people who have worn them, in order to further spur them on. 

Anyone is allowed to donate clothing, and collection boxes will also display a barcode that once scanned opens a dedicated website inviting people to sign up for a special newsletter. Users will then receive messages from athletes, information on Tokyo 2020 and progress reports on what is happening with all donated clothing. There will also be a digital tool that enables people to digitally frame photos of their own sportswear that holds sentimental value and share it on social media, hoping to further build up a sense of positive energy ahead of the Games.

Former freestyle wrestler Saori Yoshida

To promote the program, ASICS will also roll out advertisements featuring the brand’s staff members, as well as Japanese sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu and former freestyle wrestler Saori Yoshida, showcasing their own personal sportswear.

The sustainable initiative is a part of the brand’s bigger ambitions towards sustainability. It has also announced a target to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will include replacing polyester materials used on its shoe uppers and sportswear products with 100% recycled polyester. 

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

Eileen Fisher concept store teaches consumers how to recycle and repurpose garments

Eileen Fisher
Eileen Fisher

American label Eileen Fisher has opened a concept store in Brooklyn where it will be running workshops that teach consumers how to live more sustainably.

In line with the label’s long-established mission of creating ethical, ‘timeless’ clothing that inspires simplicity and creativity, the store, called Making Space, focuses on “community-centered retail”. It does so by engaging with locals and visitors through workshops, movie screenings, gallery exhibitions and other events.

A workshop under the “Renew” theme will help consumers understand how the company’s take-back program, which started three years ago and now receives back over 800 used garments a day, helps clothing receive a second life, for instance.

Meanwhile, “Lifework” workshops will aim to help consumers live more mindfully from the inside out, and will feature experts and teachers whose work the brand is passionate about.

Lastly at the front of the store, a dedicated area will have artists-in-residence demonstrating their craft and teaching techniques like dyeing clothing with flowers and food byproducts, as demonstrated by the inaugural artist, Cara Marie Piazza.

Artist Cara Marie Piazza will be teaching how to dye garments using plant and food-based ingredients

Eileen Fisher merchandise will also be on display, through four different product categories: Remade, which are one-of-a-kind pieces made from worn Eileen Fisher clothing; Renew, which are older, worn styles that have been cleaned and mended; 111, of limited-edition samples; and lastly, current collections. Color-coded rings on individual hangers will identify each collection accordingly.

Throughout the store the designer’s commitment to sustainability affects every element of its design and decor, from seat cushions made from recycled denim, to the worn Eileen Fisher clothing that has been repurposed as rag rugs and fitting room curtains. The pièce de résistance however is a seven-foot by six-foot sculpture by artist Derick Melander, which features a tower comprised of 2,000 reclaimed garments.

The Brooklyn store represents the future of the Eileen Fisher brand. It is also currently designing a “Brooklyn Lite” prototype to test the concept at two existing stores in Seattle and Michigan, before rolling it out to its remaining 65 outposts.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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product sustainability technology

Fashion Positive launches ‘Innovators Hub’ for circular materials development

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute's Fashion Positive Initiative has launched the Innovators Hub
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive Initiative has launched the Innovators Hub

Fashion Positive has launched a new resource centre for the growing circular fashion movement; aiming to facilitate material innovation.

The Innovators Hub is created with funding from the non-profit H&M Foundation. It provides access to critical resources for innovators working to drive circular materials development.

Fashion Positive is an initiative from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The hub accordingly provides direction on the innovation of safer, healthier materials developed in accordance with the principles of the Cradle to Cradle Certified product standard.

“At a time when resource scarcity and growing global population make positive change ever more urgent, the rapid innovation of safer, healthier materials offers one of the fastest routes to achieving a circular economy. The Fashion Positive Innovation Hub aims to accelerate this process for the fashion industry,” said Lewis Perkins, president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

“The momentum for a better future for fashion is growing quickly. Finding ways to improve the health, safety and recyclability of materials already in production, as well as innovate new materials made for the circular economy, will transform the fashion industry from the designer´s drawing board to the supply chain and consumer. This ultimately benefits the global environment, people and communities,” said Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at H&M Foundation.

The hub offers a library of videos and interactive tools on circular economy, as well as access to the Fashion Positive network, which includes investors, accelerators, brands and manufacturers in a bid to connect innovators with the resources and support necessary to bring projects to scale.

There’s also the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute MaterialWise tool, which allows users to screen for known hazards via free access to the Cradle to Cradle Certified v3 banned list and v4 restricted substances list, as well as the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) manufacturing restricted substances list v1.1.

“Until now, creating safe, healthy circular materials that also meet designers’ requirements for performance, quality and aesthetics has been a notoriously challenging process,” said Annie Gullingsrud, director – textiles and apparel sector for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “The Fashion Positive Innovators Hub has been designed to simplify the material innovation process by addressing the three biggest challenges currently faced by material innovators in fashion: education and know-how, technical assistance, and funding opportunities.”

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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]