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e-commerce Editor's pick product

Amazon Fashion takes a leaf out of streetwear’s game with The Drop

Amazon has teased a new fashion line called The Drop, which will see limited edition collections launching for 30 hours at a time.

The e-commerce giant unveiled the news this week, referring to it as “limited-edition street style, designed by global influencers”.

Those influencers include Paola Alberdi, Sierra Furtado, Patricia Bright, Leonie Hanne and Emi Suzuki, all of whom will be involved in creating looks for the exclusive drops, which will be released every few weeks.

Users are invited to submit their phone number to receive text updates when the latest drop comes in.

The company also promises a sustainability play in all this, highlighting how the initiative will mean less waste because of the fact things are only made to order. Alongside the limited edition pieces released will also be a handful of “staples” in order to complete each look.

The website of The Drop reads: “Trends move fast. The Drop does, too. Each collection is live for 30 hours or less because fabrics are limited. Then we make each style only when you order it to reduce waste.”

Amazon is of course jumping on the bandwagon of streetwear’s drop collection game, looking to emulate the scarcity and hype factor that has seen such huge success stories as Supreme and others. Broader fashion and luxury brands have also been exploring such opportunities, from Burberry to Ralph Lauren, through a combination of new business models and collaborations.

The idea of made-to-order however is also something Amazon has been hinting at for sometime. It filed a patent in 2017 for an on-demand clothing manufacturing process, which does indeed suggest speed as well as volume.

How are you thinking about retail and product 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 data e-commerce Editor's pick product Retail sustainability technology

Innovation 2018: A year in review

Innovation in the fashion, beauty and luxury industries during 2018 focused on everything from more experiential retail to streetwear collection drops and a growing push around sustainability.

Here are the five big themes to know about based on insights from our strategy team combined with data from the most-read stories on TheCurrent Daily this year:

Streetwear’s influence
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton

Streetwear continued to have a significant influence with the announcement of Virgil Abloh taking on the role of artistic director at Louis Vuitton menswear. Riccardo Tisci meanwhile arrived at Burberry, quickly launching collection drops to compete in the hype world of Supreme, Off-White, Palace and others. Palace also had one of the most successful collaborations of the season with Ralph Lauren.

Rounding out the year otherwise was Farfetch’s acquisition of sneaker and streetwear marketplace, Stadium Goods., which came off the back of its IPO at the end of the summer. And our mega personal highlight: experiencing the frenzy firsthand at ComplexCon.

Experiential retail
MatchesFashion.com at Carlos Place
MatchesFashion.com at Carlos Place

Retail meanwhile was unsurprisingly all about experience. MatchesFashion.com opened a new five-storey townhouse in London focused on shopping, live events and art exhibitions. It also features in-built recording facilities, a fully functioning kitchen and a courtyard garden. Meanwhile, pop-ups from brands including Cartier, Moncler, The Arrivals, Google and many more all honed in on this idea of experiential and immersive initiatives.

Alongside that is the fact we saw numerous direct-to-consumer brands opening brick-and-mortar stores this year, from Heist to Casper, Everlane, Away and beyond. And that at a time when elsewhere much of traditional retail continues to flail.

Connected retail
Amazon's 4-star store
Amazon’s 4-star store

Otherwise, the role of technology played a big role in physical retail too, from Zara’s new London store and augmented reality tie-in, to the announcement of Chanel’s “augmented retail” space and the opening of Nike’s new flagship, which unlocks a new level of convenience by allowing customers to navigate the shopping experience in-store entirely on their phones.

Amazon also continued to push forward – launching an interactive pop-up with Calvin Klein on the one hand, while introducing its own 4-star store, which only stocks products based on favorable customer reviews, on the other. It also continued with its automated Amazon Go stores, announcing it will open 3,000 of them by 2021. But it wasn’t the only one – numerous others from Jack & Jones with WeChat and Hema with Alibaba in China, to Albert Heijn in the Netherlands and Lotte in South Korea, all experimenting in this space.

Artificial intelligence
Uniqlo IQ
Uniqlo IQ

Voice technology’s role in retail also pushed full steam ahead, with numerous new launches built for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant particularly, including from H&M Home, Uniqlo and ASOS within the fashion space, and from Coty, Kohler and others within beauty.

Artificial intelligence (AI) otherwise continued to make an impact on the design side of the industry. Yoox particularly made a splash when it announced the launch of 8 by Yoox, a new collection that is generated by data. According to Federico Marchetti, CEO of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, the line is informed by AI, but still designed by a creative team.

Sustainable progress  
Adidas x Parley for the Oceans SXSW 2018
Adidas x Parley for the Oceans

Last but not least, sustainability undoubtedly continued as the single biggest challenge facing the industry, with a multitude of big announcements and a continuation of experiments pushing things forward in 2018. From a negative perspective came news of the waste produced (and often burned) by brands such as H&M and Burberry, which resulted in big headlines calling for change. Sometimes it takes such insight to spur brands into further action of course.

Elsewhere, Adidas announced a moonshot to only use recycled plastics by 2024, Gucci launched an online platform to promote sustainable purpose, Levi’s focused on a more sustainable supply chain, and Kering introduced an organic cotton that is 100% scientifically traceable, thanks to a new supply chain transparency innovation. On top of that, just this month, Stella McCartney rallied the industry to come together to launch the United Nations’ new Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action.

Here’s to much more in the way of innovation for 2019! Happy New Year everyone.

How are you thinking about 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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data Editor's pick technology

Yoox to introduce AI-generated designs for new private label

Federico Marchetti of Yoox Net-a-Porter spoke at the Wired Smarter conference
WIRED Smarter

Yoox is due to introduce a new private label generated by data, according to Federico Marchetti, CEO of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group.

Speaking on stage at the WIRED Smarter conference in London today, he said the collection – the name for which he declined to yet share – will be informed by artificial intelligence (AI), but still designed by the creative team.

“By using the data, we think the creative team can interpret better our customer needs going forward,” he explained. In other words, he sees AI as an opportunity to enhance humans in their design process.

That focus on man versus machine is at the very heart of business today, he argued – and especially luxury. The challenge is how to balance the two.

“Man is about emotions. It’s about beauty. It’s about feelings. The machine is about speed, information power and the future. Can these two worlds co-exist?” he asked. “We must make choices to strike the right balance.”

In the future, he imagines clothing labels such as “Made in Italy” will be replaced by “Made by Humans”. But he said that’s a choice for us to do so: “This is only going to get harder as technology accelerates – it’s not always the efficient choice to use humans, it will probably be easier to let a machine do everything in the future. It’s a choice to stop ourselves from allowing technology to replace what we truly value.”

The YNAP Group can already demonstrate a variety of examples where man and machine come together out of choice. Its logistics center is fully automated, for instance, apart from at the final point, which is where the box is put together and the bow is tied around it. “This intersection with the final customer needs to have the human touch,” Marchetti explained.

It’s the same for the e-commerce company’s personal shoppers, all of whom now have an AI tool to help them give advice to customers. This is a data-led system that learns tastes from stylists and then hands that information over to be scaled.

Yoox also isn’t the first to think about a data-generated collection. Companies like Stitch Fix in the US, have also been experimenting with collecting data from customers and feeding it through an algorithm to create new designs. The idea of “cognitive creativity” is also something the likes of IBM Watson has been playing with in partnership with a variety of brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Marchesa and Australian designer Jason Grech.

The new AI-generated line from Yoox will launch in a couple of weeks, Marchetti said.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 6, 2018: Yoox has announced the brand will be called 8 by Yoox, and consist of a collection of stylish essentials for women and men, powered by artificial intelligence alongside human designers. It launches on site today.

The team have used advanced AI tools to review content from across social media and online magazines in key markets with a particular focus on fashion influencers. This insight is combined with predictive indicators into emerging lifestyle and style trends, analysis of own data from products sold on its site, customer feedback, industry purchasing trends as well as text search and image recognition. The result is a dynamic mood board that allows the design team to tap into the pulse of the Yoox customer, providing inspiration before they start to conceive items for the collection including everything from shape trends to colours, sleeve lengths, neckline shapes, fabrics, textures, heel heights and price points.

8 by Yoox
8 by Yoox

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 Retail

Benetton launches Selfridges line featuring 109 colorways

United Colors of Benetton
United Colors of Benetton

United Colors of Benetton is teaming up with Selfridges on an exclusive capsule collection that will feature items in 109 different colors.

The collection will draw from the Italian brand’s archives and aims to reiterate its colorful history, with a modern British twist. Meanwhile, the vast color choice aims to pay an homage to Selfridges itself: the department store’s iconic yellow is number 109 on the Pantone palette. Shades will vary from bright pop hues to more pastel tones.

“It’s our first collaboration with a department store and it is an exciting new line that celebrates the colorful look, history and Italian ethos of the brand,” said Tommaso Bruso, chief operating officer of the Benetton Group. “It’s a confirmation of the brand’s history. From the Sixties to today there have been social and cultural revolutions and this has become the essence of the brand.”

The unisex collection, which will launch as a pop-up at Selfridges this Friday (September 14) to coincide with London Fashion Week, will feature sweaters, co-ords and accessories such as caps and duffel bags. Prices will range from £10 to £180.

In line with the nostalgia trend that has pervaded fashion for the past few years, sportswear and 90s favorites such as Benetton are increasingly coming back into the spotlight and joining the cultural conversation with collaborations with contemporary brands or retailers.

Sportwear label Champion is another example, teaming up with the likes of Danish cult label Wood Wood and Japanese streetwear retailer BEAMS on exclusively collaborations; meanwhile this month, Polaroid celebrated its 80th anniversary by releasing a limited edition sneaker with Puma that features its iconic rainbow stripe; and from a luxury standpoint, subversive French label Vetements has been responsible for resurrecting a few old favorites on its runways season after season, such as Juicy Couture, Eastpack and Umbro.

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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Campaigns Editor's pick film technology

Moncler explores emotional intelligence with Sophia the Robot

Moncler - "Emotional Intelligence"
Moncler – “Emotional Intelligence”

Moncler has enlisted Sophia the Robot to launch a digital campaign exploring the relationship between man and machine.

The campaign, which was developed by the New York Times’ creative agency T Brand Studio, promotes the label’s newest collection under the Genius line, this time by Japanese designer Kei Ninomiya. In the short film, Sophia is accompanied by actress and musician Ryan Destiny in a garden, exploring the definition of friendship.

“Sophia’s presence catalyzes new questions about the future of the social zeitgeist,” reads the accompanying copy. “In a new age of art and technology, will A.I. beings — all far more advanced than Sophia — become our friends? Will they develop their own capacity for thought and free will?”

The choice of Sophia comes down to not only its realistic features, but how it was conceived in the first place: the robot has been developed to portray emotions and warmth, not too dissimilar from a real human.

Moreover, the man versus machine theme is particularly relevant to Ninomiya’s collection as its clothing merge traditional origami traditions with futuristic designs, thus converging craft and technology.

The short ad campaign is available to watch on Moncler.com and through paid advertising on Instagram Stories.

This is Moncler’s sixth iteration of the Genius line, which takes inspiration from the ‘drop’ model made popular by streetwear labels, where merchandise is released on a recurring basis, rather than the traditional seasonal retail model. In following suit, the Italian brand hopes to engage with a younger generation who has become accustomed with having faster and more differentiated access to fashion.

As for Sophia the Robot, the humanoid has quickly catapulted into pop culture for its extensive coverage across TV and print. Earlier this year, it graced the cover of UK-based Stylist magazine, which dedicated an entire issue to machines. In June, TheCurrent’s founder Liz Bacelar interviewed her on stage at Impact festival in Krakow, Poland.

This month, the Italian luxury label also launched Moncler Beyond, a wider advertising initiative highlighting 19 men and women who are “pushing the limits”, including British actor John Boyega and Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown.

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? 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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product sustainability

Gant is latest brand to launch products made from recycled plastics

Gant Beacons Project
Gant Beacons Project

Lifestyle brand Gant is launching a line of shirts made out of recycled polyester-fibres gathered from the ocean under its new “Gant Beacons Project”.

The collection is the latest initiative by the brand in its ongoing commitment to build a more sustainable business. It follows numerous others from the world of fashion and sport introducing recycled plastics into their products, led by the likes of adidas working with Parley for the Oceans.

In this case, Gant employed Mediterranean fishermen to help gather and remove some of the estimated 165 million tons of plastic floating in the sea. This was then used to produce an upcycled polyester in partnership with fiber brand Seaquel.

As Brian Grevy, CMO at Gant, said: “Through the Gant Beacons Project, we launched a completely new process for creating beautiful products via a conscious, sustainable approach, which will grow and evolve with time. We do everything we can to ensure we take responsibility and do what we can to make the planet even better because the ocean belongs to everyone after all.”

A statement on the website, adds: “We believe this conscious, sustainable approach to designing beautiful products is the future of good business.”

To make the resulting Tech Prep line shirts comfortable for the wearer, Gant used a cotton blend and classic weaving, as well as adding breathability, wicking and quick-drying properties. The shirt buttons and packaging were made from recycled plastics as well.

The shirts, which are now available online, come in a variety of styles and colors for both men and women.

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Editor's pick product Startups technology

Why the next big streetwear brand could be a wearable tech one

TwentyFour15
TwentyFour15

The biggest observation from Benjamin Males, CEO and co-founder of new fashion and technology brand TwentyFour15, which launched at London Fashion Week this past weekend, is that no one asked how it worked.

“It was a room full of Gen Z consumers, and they all just accepted it existed,” he explains. “This new generation don’t see sci-fi as sci-fi, they see it as a prototype for the future. This consumer we’re going after – they’re not technologically insecure, and the launch proved that – they’ve grown up in a world with ubiquitous internet and smart devices; they have this tech in their DNA.”

TwentyFour15 is a line of app-connected, fibre optic, colour-changing apparel. Males refers to is as a “fashion brand for the digital generation with technology in its DNA”, but what it’s also about is wearable tech moving beyond fitness devices and into popular culture by way of a youth-focused streetwear brand.

In a literal sense, that means t-shirts, a backpack and a bomber jacket (to start with) that are connected via bluetooth to an app that controls the LED lights otherwise embedded in them. Initially, the functionality is kept simple – there’s a colour wheel to shift the shade of the lights and a music feature that lets the user sync them so they also animate to the beat.

The potential longer-term, however, is much wider. The key here is that TwentyFour15 is powered by XO, the agency behind well-known wearable technology feats of the past including Lady Gaga’s flying dress and Richard Nicoll’s light-up Tinkerbell dress.

Head over to Forbes to read more about exactly what this new brand is hoping to achieve and how its streetwear approach is in line with a Silicon Valley hardware company.

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

What you missed: Wang’s text-to-buy line, Stitch Fix to IPO, activism from outdoor brands

The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launched via text message
The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launched via text message

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


TOP STORIES
  • The second Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launches via text-to-buy event [Racked]
  • Stitch Fix has filed confidentially for an IPO [Recode]
  • A call to activism for outdoor apparel makers [NY Times]
  • How Reebok, Adidas and Y-3 will dress future space explorers [Fast Company]

BUSINESS
  • Jimmy Choo bought by Michael Kors in £896m deal [BBC]
  • MatchesFashion.com could enter stock market [Fashion United]
  • Bangladesh to digitally map all garment factories [JustStyle]
  • Fashion must fight the scourge of dumped clothing clogging landfills [Guardian]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Vogue takes ‘hub and spoke’ approach to Snapchat editions in Europe [Digiday]

MARKETING
  • Why Helmut Lang hired an editor-in-residence in place of a creative director [Glossy]
  • Amazon and Nicopanda launch LFW ‘see now, buy now’ range [Retail Gazette]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • China’s store of the future has no checkout, no cash and no staff [BoF]
  • Saint Laurent to launch online sales in China [WSJ]
  • You will soon be able to search eBay using a photo or social media web link [CNBC]
  • MatchesFashion.com’s Tom Chapman: Amazon’s missing the ‘magic’ of high-end fashion [Glossy]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Walmart is developing a robot that identifies unhappy shoppers [Business Insider]
  • For the first time ever, you can buy your own 3D-printed garment online [Fashionista]
  • MIT’s living jewellery is made up of small robot assistants [TechCrunch]
  • Intel axed its entire smartwatch and fitness-tracker group to focus on augmented reality, sources say [CNBC]

START-UPS
  • John Lewis unveils retail tech start-ups for JLAB 2017 [The Industry]
  • Spider silk start-up spins into retail by buying an apparel company [Fortune]
Categories
Editor's pick social media

#NYFW: All the looks from Misha Nonoo’s “live lookbook” on Snapchat

Misha Nonoo's "live lookbook" on Snapchat during New York Fashion Week
Misha Nonoo’s “live lookbook” on Snapchat during New York Fashion Week

New York designer Misha Nonoo took to Snapchat yesterday to reveal her latest collection in place of a traditional fashion week runway show.

Hosting the affair on Refinery29’s account, she slowly drip-fed the content throughout the day as the shoot took place in real-time.

For those waiting to watch it, the effect was less dramatic – a single shot at a time (some still, some video) felt relatively mundane, but watching the story unfold later in one go paid off to a far greater degree.

mishanonoo2

It was over on Nonoo’s own Snapchat account where the best content was however. Here’s the designer showed behind-the-scenes action, including the fact that each shot was taken directly in Snapchat and then handed over to illustrator Ana Strumpf to be decorated using the app’s own functionality. (Some impressive work on that side of things, you’ll agree).

Tying in with this season’s move to more see-now, buy-now collections, every piece shown was immediately available for purchase via the brand’s new direct-to-consumer site MishaNonoo.com. The move to use Snapchat marks a significant moment for the brand of exiting from all wholesale accounts in order to focus solely on e-commerce.

A photo posted by MISHA NONOO (@mishanonoo) on

It also follows a number of previous experiments by Nonoo using Instagram as a shoppable lookbook.

Said Nonoo on the campaign plans: “Our customers lead enriched, full lives, they are constantly on- the-go. I want to reach them where I know they are, on their mobile devices. Snapchat is a recent discovery for me, and it has put the fun back into social media. I want to inject that same creative, experimental energy into how I present and share my collection.”

mishanonoo3

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Categories
Editor's pick mobile social media

Prism launches emoji app to introduce new pre-fall line

PRISMoji emoji app
PRISMoji emoji app

Hot on the heels of #worldemojiday on July 17, the push for branded emojis continues – this time with British resortwear label, Prism, introducing a series of shareable characters to support the launch of its pre-fall 2016 collection.

Available on the new PRISMoji app, the emojis include swimwear, sandals, eyewear and beach cover-ups from the new line, alongside tropical lifestyle accessories as well as versions of celebrities ranging from Rihanna to Beyonce and Kate Moss. There’s even a swimwear-clad model lounging in the mouth of a shark.

“I chose emojis as we all kind of speak in this language now and use emoji’s so much in daily chat online,” founder Anna Laub told Vogue. “I thought PRISMoji was a cute way to get people involved in the world of Prism. It’s also a fun way to shop the collection and see it in action, engaging the consumer in another light.”

Emojis from the PRISMoji app
Emojis from the PRISMoji app

Laub won The Emerging Accessory Designer of The Year for Prism at the 2014 British Fashion Awards. The brand has also been nominated for the 2016 BFC Fashion Fund.

Other brands experimenting with emojis in the past have included Footlocker, Harper’s Bazaar, Ikea, McDonald’s and more. According to emotional marketing platform Emogi, emojis are used by 92% of the online population, with the face with tears of joy the most-used globally.