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product Startups technology

Telekom Fashion Fusion challenge searches for fashion of the future

Telekom Fashion Fusion
Telekom Fashion Fusion

Deutsche Telekom has launched its second annual ideas competition supporting the future of fashion and technology; inviting young talent to realise visionary concepts for high-tech apparel through to digital lifestyle products.

The Telekom Fashion Fusion challenge, as it’s called, is looking for creative ideas from across Europe in three categories: connected devices and smart accessories, haute couture and show fashion, and business solutions and smart services.

Entries are open until November 17, following which a shortlist of 10 finalists will be empowered to develop quality prototypes of their concepts in the Fashion Fusion Lab in Berlin from February to May 2018, before presenting them at an exclusive award show at Berlin Fashion Week in July 2018.

International coaches from the nexus of cutting-edge fashion and technology, including designers Pauline van Dongen, Julia Körner, Jasna Rok and Danit Peleg, will support the initiative.

“In our Telekom Fashion Fusion competition, young talents are given the unique opportunity to realise their dream of high-tech clothing, wearables or digital lifestyle products and bring them to market with the help of experts from the industry, the fashion world and the start-up scene,” says Antje Hundhausen, VP of brand experience at Deutsche Telekom.

The 2016 edition of the challenge saw 120 applicants from 25 countries. Trainwear, a virtual personal trainer integrated in smart fitness clothing, emerged as the winner, closely followed by Mimime, an augmented reality app that allows consumers to add patterns, accessories and artistic forms to clothing. Third place went to TranSwarm Entities, which combines 3D printing and drone technology, alongside music producer Beorn Lebenstedt (Newk), to curate a fashion performance.


This year’s entries will be judged by an esteemed jury including Dirk Schönberger, creative director at Adidas and Anita Tillmann, managing partner at Premium Group.

True to the slogan for this year’s edition – Technology becomes Fashion – the seamless integration of technology and the need to keep an eye to marketability of a product, all the way from initial concept to readiness for market, will play a central role in choosing the three eventual winners.

The Telekom Fashion Fusion competition is sponsored by Adidas, Intel, Lufthansa, Zeiss and Wired Germany. It is open to start-ups, entrepreneurs, engineers, fashion designers and students of the European fashion, design and technology scene, to apply either individually or in teams.

To do so, they need to send in information about their idea of concept, illustrative material that supports and visualises it, and information about the people behind the project and their motivation to participate.

The challenge can also be followed on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by using the hashtags #FashionFusion and #Telekom.

(This is a sponsored post)

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Comment Editor's pick technology

Comment counts: Fashion must lead technology in the wearables space

The next generation of designers will be the ones who bring wearable technology to the fore, writes Tito Chowdhury of FashioNXT, but we have work to do to help get them there.

wearables
The Apple Watch featuring the Hermès strap is one example of technology and fashion working together, but it didn’t go far enough, says Tito Chowdhury

Up until last year, much of the personal technology industry was holding its breath for the Apple Watch to open up the wearables ecosystem. Perhaps predictably, it failed. Sales of this “me too” product remain significantly below market projection for an Apple device, app development has been weak, but most importantly, the rectangular computer-on-the-wrist look, despite some high-fashion brand collaborations, are fundamentally uninspiring to many.

As a result, the industry is spinning on its head after hitting this huge wall. The name of that wall is the human body, and importantly, the human psyche of what we’ll put on them: fashion.

Technology and fashion, anthropologically, are two very different animals; so are technologists and fashion designers. Technology thrives on mass adoption and scale-ability; fashion thrives on exclusivity and aspiration. Fashion designers have been fine-tuning their craft for tens of thousands of years, technologists barely a hundred or two (and for personal technology that time period is just a few decades). When it comes to what people desire, fashion designers have got it down; technologists often don’t deal with people at all.

Therefore, when it comes to wearable technology, fashion has to take the lead.

But why is it this simple one liner isn’t getting put into practice? The answer lies in the aforementioned anthropological reason – old habit dies hard, or should I say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Technology companies are still making billions through existing business practices and from enterprise clients, making it less motivating for them to go through the steep learning curve of making the necessary changes for the consumer. The old guard of computing technologists from the PC/Laptop era, or of late industrial designers of the cellphone era, aren’t going to concede their leadership positions to the newcomers from the fashion industry unless they have to.

Nowhere has this been more obvious than with Apple, which was the most proactive in hiring high profile fashion influencers, including former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. Yet, when Apple sponsored the biggest technology-inspired event to date by the fashion industry, the 2016 MET Gala for the Costume Institute’s Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, exhibition, Apple put industrial design-era Sir Jonny Ives front and centre, not Ahrendts. Yes, Ives is the design lead, and Ahrendts is retail, but what face of Apple would the fashion industry likely get more inspired by? It’s an obvious choice, as even pointed out by Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times.

Other major companies trying to participate in the wearables world are truthfully still barely dipping their toes, rather than plunging into it. And the fashion industry doesn’t reward those who don’t take a leap of faith.

So what’s to be done? Wearable technology has to create a paradigm shift in the qualitative difference it brings to clothing, and it will require a fundamentally different thought process of the designers of the clothing to materialise such vision. In short, the change has to be lead not by technology, but by fashion.

This will require current leaders in the fashion-technology space to get in the trenches and work with the next generation of designers; enabling them to flourish with the art of the possible. At FashioNXT, we started such a program three years ago in collaboration with numerous leaders in that industry. Intel’s venture lead Mark Francis, Samsung’s design lead Howard Nuk, Nike’s global design director Matt Rhoades, and Digital Trends’ executive editor Jeremy Kaplan, all joined hands with us to launch a wearable tech fashion competition.

The aim of FashioNXT is to bring technology to the attention of fashion influencers, providing the critical audience and critique that wearable technology needs. One success story is Q Bracelets, an iPhone-charging piece of jewellery that was a finalist in 2014, and has continued on to have successful market adoption since. In 2015, the competition saw further excitement from the industry as Google Wearable’s creative director Shiho Fukuhara joined the panel, and submissions to the competition skyrocketed – from 11 countries across four continents. This year’s competition is still open for designers and wearable brands to apply until September 8, 2016.

The fact of the matter is, people will be wearing smart clothing and accessories as the norm, not by exception, in the future. What we can do in the meantime, is help shape what that landscape looks like by connecting the dots between relevant parties.

Tito Chowdhury is an Intel engineer turned fashion experience executive who runs FashioNXT, a platform that creates access to fashion experience for the world in innovative ways. Its annual fashion show documenting what’s next in the industry, runs from October 5-8, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. 

Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via info@fashionandmash.com.

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Blocks Editor's pick technology

The future of shopping according to today’s tweens

johnlewis

What do you get if you ask a bunch of school kids how they envision the shop of the future? Lots of things related to pets, sweets and games inevitably, but better than that, a series of inspiring answers that tie together everything from the most out-there technologies to a practical view on what would make the whole experience a heck of a lot better.

That was the result for British department store John Lewis recently, which tasked 9-11 year olds across the UK with answering an innovation challenge through its ongoing Bringing Skills to Life education programmme.

Over 164 entries were collected, with a shortlist of 10 placed in front of a judging panel comprised of various John Lewis representatives as well as external specialists, including myself. Better than any adult brainstorm meeting I’ve been in (horrendously referred to as “blue-sky thinking” in the corporate world), this was a whistle-stop tour through ideas like 3D-printed dresses, robodogs, holograms and conveyor belts designed to escort you around.

One team envisioned a future consisting of personalised wardrobes with customised interfaces acting as a door that would then open to a series of options matching the user’s style, age and size information. It sounds like a retail version of Cher’s digital closet in Clueless, though these pupils are far too young to remember that.

There were also a number of virtual fitting rooms that combined biometric body scanners with holographic technology to allow shoppers to completely visualise what they would look like in an outfit. In another entry, the selection chosen from a magic mirror was then produced on a 3D printer while you sat and enjoyed a coffee in the café next to it.

The ideas were fresh, fun, thoughtful and not completely unfeasible, frankly.

John Vary, IT innovation manager at the retailer and one of the judges on the panel, said: “It’s good to look at how kids look at things. We try to do that in the innovation process; it’s all too easy to miss the obvious by focusing on what is too complicated.”

If there was one thing tying the majority of the entries together in that sense, it was convenience. You could see these kids thinking about those laborious shopping trips with their parents where they’re dragged around unwillingly. The only thing a pre-teen wants is some fun in their day (disco lifts in one of the entries was by far a judging highlight), but even more than that it seems, any chance to not have to stand in yet another queue.

Beating long lines at the checkouts with quick and seamless payments was a no-brainer to them. But that focus on the customer experience also extended to sat nav systems embedded in trolleys, setups to ensure more efficient discounting and a translation assistant to help global visitors. There was real empathy to the end user, with the pupils identifying problems and figuring out how to solve them in ways many retailers don’t do anywhere near as efficiently today.

We could all learn from what school children want it would seem. If anything, maybe we should stop focusing quite so heavily on phrases like omnichannel in such turgid ways, and think more openly about how we can make shopping, in the words of one of the entries, “a little easier, quicker and more enjoyable”.

The winners of the John Lewis Innovation Challenge were from Broughton Fields Primary School, Ridgefield Primary School and Christchurch Academy.

This post first appeared on Forbes.com

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Editor's pick Startups technology

John Lewis returns with JLAB start-up contest

jlab

It was a start-up based on beacons that won John Lewis’ inaugural JLAB tech accelerator programme last year, now the department store is turning to the likes of the connected home, effortless payments and meshing the digital and physical for a second spin of the contest.

The initiative is breaking down entrants into specific categories for its 2015 return in an overall bid to “develop products and services that will shape the retail experience of the future”.

Applications are now open until May 1 for the chance to win a place as one of 10 start-ups within JLAB for 12-weeks this summer, and I am honoured to be one of a number of mentors helping the participants in developing their ideas. My contemporaries will be announced in due course.

An overall winner will then be decided at a pitch day in September, receiving up to £100,000 in further investment as well as a contract to trial their solution in stores.

Said Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis: “As an established business we have certain ways of doing things and JLAB is an opportunity to inject the start-up spirit into our innovation efforts. Our inspiration is our founder Spedan Lewis – what new things would he be doing today? After the success of last year, I’m looking forward to working with a fresh group of start-ups with exciting ideas that could help shape the customer and Partner experience at John Lewis for years to come.”

The 2014 winner, Localz, is currently trialling its micro-location technology at Peter Jones. One of its key solutions surrounds triggering a customer’s Click & Collect order to be packed up for them as they enter the store in order to speed up collection times.

See more via www.jlab.co.uk, and watch this space for further news.

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Blocks mobile

Harrods enters gaming space with shoe-based app challenge

Harrods_stilettowars

Harrods is celebrating the opening of its new luxury shoe salon with the launch of a mobile game called Stiletto Wars.

Introduced as part of the Harrods magazine app, which has been downloaded over 100,000 times worldwide, the game challenges users to form as many rows of three of more designer shoes against a timer. Scores can be sent to a leaderboard where prizes are up for grabs including gift cards and VIP shopping experiences with the department store.

“We are delighted to be adding this fashionably fun game to our ever-evolving app. Every secret geeky pleasure needs a stylish outlet – and Stiletto Wars brings together the fun of game playing, the luxury of designer shoes and the possibility of winning prizes – a perfect combination,” says Harrods’ director of creative marketing, Deborah Bee.

A giant interactive version of the game will also be in the store’s windows on Brompton Road from August 27 – September 22.

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Editor's pick social media

Marc Jacobs launches digital-themed fragrance pop-ups in London

Daisy Dream Capsule

Marc Jacobs is sparing no effort to promote its fragrances in London at present. The all-new Daisy Dream scent has been supported by both an online competition and an offline interactive Dream Room, while the Daisy fragrance theme at large will play host to a pop-up Tweet Shop in Covent Garden later this week.

The online Daisy Dream Capsule works like this: users can choose four images out of a selection on the dedicated website. These are then added into a square frame that carries the hashtag #MJDaisyDream. The resulting collage, which slightly resembles a polaroid, represents the ‘dream capsule’. After entering one’s country, name and email, the capsule can be submitted and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr.

An intermediary step involves the opportunity to opt in to a competition, of which the grand prize is a three-day trip to New York City that includes a £500 shopping spree.

The Dream Room (as below) that was open in London’s Westfield until July 30 with the help of Fuse Sport & Entertainment and ClinkClink, served as an offline extension of the Dream Capsule website. Set in the atrium of the shopping centre, it was designed to fully immerse consumers into the ‘Dream’. Shoppers were able to upload their Dream Capsule directly from the space via iPads and were offered souvenirs of the experience in the form of cloud-shaped cookies and photos.

MJ Dream Room

The second campaign, a pop-up Tweet Shop, will open its doors in London for the first time on Friday August 15 until Sunday August 17, at 4 East Piazza, Covent Garden. As per the teaser below, shoppers will be able to purchase items with social currency by using the hashtag #MJDaisyChain – no card or cash accepted. The more creative effort they put into their post – from a simple text through to an image, or even a Vine video – will lead to greater prizes, including the chance to win a Marc Jacobs handbag each day.

The space will also feature Daisy-themed artwork by Langley Fox, a Marc Jacobs nail bar, as well as a live Daisy photo booth and Vine booth.

This is not a new concept for Marc Jacobs; the brand opened a Tweet Shop in New York back in February to mark New York Fashion Week. Like the London version (already), this launch was preceded by an enormous amount of press coverage and hype ahead of opening.

The premise in reality, is actually a very simple and effective way to build social engagement while simultaneously ensuring a following around a pop-up physical space. In fact the locations in which both campaigns have been executed were well thought-out. Westfield and Covent Garden not only enjoy exceptionally high footfall, but are prime areas for tourists – the latter especially is becoming increasingly known as a go-to destination for beauty retail, following the launch of dedicated boutiques from the likes of Burberry and Chanel.

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social media

Instagram to celebrate creativity at Cannes Lions, calls for exhibition content

CannesPosterRevisedInstaHighResFIN2

Instagram is inviting brands and consumers alike to submit their most creative images for potential inclusion in a gallery space at next month’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

La Galerie d’Instagram will showcase a small collection of the best photos pulled from the Instagram community, for festival-goers to enjoy from June 15-21. Those who tag (up to three of) their shots by June 13 with #instagramcannes could be included in the exhibition. Winners will be selected based on the “originalitytechnical execution, and subject matter” of their submission.

“Both Instagram and Cannes Lions celebrate the world’s best visual imagery, so we’re planning to bring that connection to life at the festival,” it said Instagram in a blogpost.

Cannes Lions is an annual gathering honouring the best work in advertising and visual communications. As reported last year, it’s slowly becoming a space for the fashion industry to both be seen and recognised in too.

That’s looking set to also be the case this year, with speakers on the agenda including Melisa Goldie, CCO of Calvin Klein; Raphael Elicha founder of The Kooples; actress Sarah Jessica Parker with Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles ; and supermodel Gisele Bündchen.

Highlight names otherwise include Ralph Fiennes, Sheryl Sandberg, Aaron Sorkin, Sir Patrick Stewart, Spike Jonze, Sir John Hegarty and more.

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e-commerce

Cath Kidston, Bauble Bar driving traffic with Christmas treasure hunt campaigns

CathKidston_SantaBanner

UK home furnishings brand, Cath Kidston, is running a cute campaign on its website in the run up to Christmas that invites shoppers to hunt through its pages to try and find Santa.

Every time they spot him they could be in with the chance of winning the products found on that page.

Based on the idea that Santa’s gone into hiding due to having too many wish lists to read through from the retailer’s main Christmas competition, the initiative sends fans on a hunt around its day bags, zip wallets, baby sleep suits and Christmas stocking fillers.

It is of course a clever move to get shoppers searching through the whole site, not to mention popping back on a regular basis, at a time when present inspiration doesn’t go amiss.

US online jewellery retailer, Bauble Bar, is running something similar for the festive season too. Email subscribers are being sent clues to “Buried Baubles” each day – items with serious markdowns hidden somewhere on the site. Meanwhile, its “30-days of Sparkle” campaign – as below – also sees daily discounts and offers being unveiled in the run up to Christmas.

BaubleBar_30daysofsparkle
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social media

Warehouse fans go #knitbombing in recent social campaign

Warehouse_knitbombing1

As mentioned in a recent post about the #topmansprayonjeans campaign, there’s a big focus on user-generated content being seen from a multitude of retailers of late.

One of the others referenced in that same story was Warehouse. The UK retailer launched a campaign in late September focused on #knitbombing, a street art craze involving knitted items being placed to decorate public spaces – think trees, bollards even bikes. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s one that hasn’t been claimed by a fashion brand before (to my knowledge).

In a nice example of physical meets digital, Warehouse invited its followers to snap photos of their knit-bombing attempts and upload them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag. The best would go on to win a £250 gift card.

To help facilitate the campaign, it offered shoppers free knit-bombing kits in-store when they bought certain knitwear items. It also posted a series of inspirational woolly shots of its own across its Facebook and Pinterest pages (a couple of which are above and below).

Read its blogpost about the initiative: “Knit-bombing groups have been springing up everywhere – warming the soul of grey urban spaces with colourful knitted artwork or ‘graffitti’. Obviously we had to share this amazing phenomenon with you.” It also called for participants to “flex some creative muscle; remember the city is your playground.”

According to @Editd, the campaign saw Warehouse’s fanbase grow 10%.

Warehouse_knitbombing2 Warehouse_knitbombing3 Warehouse_knitbombing4

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social media

Rebecca Minkoff launches talent contest via Tumblr

New York-based designer Rebecca Minkoff is using Tumblr as a platform to call for artists, models and photographers to enter a competition being run in partnership with Nordstrom.

The initiative invites artists to submit collages, graphics, illustrations or prints inspired by “strong and feminine” women. Those will be used to create a graphic t-shirt and canvas tote for Minkoff’s upcoming spring/summer 2014 fashion week show.

It also asks would-be models to send in their headshots and photographers to send in their portfolios. All will be judged by Minkoff, as well as David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr, and Jeffrey Kalinsky, EVP of designer merchandising for Nordstrom.

The winning designs will not only appear on the New York catwalk on September 6, but be sold in Nordstrom on the same day. They will also feature in a campaign worn by the winning model and shot by the winning photographer.

“My main purpose in doing this contest is to give talent on Tumblr a voice and an opportunity to be discovered. I am also excited by the opportunity of providing my customers the exciting, groundbreaking initiative of buying my product the same day they see it on the runway,” said Minkoff.

Submissions should go to tumblr@rebeccaminkoff.com by July 25, 2013. Winners will be announced on July 30. For more details see Rebecca Minkoff’s own Tumblr post about the contest.

Tumblr_RebeccaMinkoff