Zara is launching a pop up customization service at three global stores where customers will be able to embroider words on a selection of the brand’s denim products.
Launching on March 27, the service, titled Zara Edited, will be available at specific stores in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Milan. Customers will be able to choose from 13 different denim pieces, from shorts to jackets, and embroider them with letters from a selection of fonts and colors. Meanwhilethose shopping in Italy, Britain, Holland and Spain will be able to order personalized items online.
In-store personalization services have become an effective way to engage with consumers who are seeking products that allow them to express their individuality. Brands across the spectrum – from Coach to Levi’s and GAP – have deployed it for years. Zara’s sheer size as a fast fashion brand, however, coupled with the service also being available online, speaks to the potential experiences like this may have as on-demand technologies mature.
The Spanish brand is increasingly focusing on add-on services and technologies to enhance the in-store experience. Last year, it hosted a tech-enabled pop up at London’s Westfield mall ahead of the opening of its first new concept in the same location months later; meanwhile also in 2018, it introduced an interactive AR experience to over 100 stores worldwide.
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Personalization previously only existed in a high-end couture world for private clients. Now, Italian luxury shoe brand Sergio Rossi grants a similar sense of privilege to a wider range of consumers and delivers it right to the fingertips of Chinese customers with a new WeChat campaign that showcases the brand’s ambitions to court digital-savvy Chinese consumers.
Launched on September 10, customers can access the personalization service through Sergio Rossi’s WeChat mini-program. The homepage includes an English-language video, demonstrating how consumers can design a shoe. They can experiment with a wide variety of elements to create their very own Sergio Rossi shoe – from the material, color and length of the heel to plate and customized letters. And the vehicle, the WeChat mini-program, empowers a one-stop shopping experience, from design and payment to social media sharing.
Participating customers can see how each customization option alters the price of their shoes in real time. Of course, design decisions need to be made carefully, as there is no refund or return option for the customized footwear once it is ordered. Thankfully, the mini-program provides a 360-degree digital preview, which can help customers gauge the look and feel of their personalized footwear.
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While thousands of new beauty products hit the shelves every year, 2018 is proving to be the year that customization is really taking hold, incorporating skincare, hair products and cosmetics.
For customers, having bespoke products created just for them to address their individual concerns is becoming more important. As a result, personalization of beauty products is an area where brands seem set to invest.
Here are five examples of those experimenting in the space.
Skinceuticals D.O.S.E laboratory
Debuted at SXSW, L’Oréal’s D.O.S.E acts as a mini skincare laboratory creating custom-made serums. Developed for L’Oréal-owned brand, Skinceuticals, the experience starts with a one-to-one consultation with a professional who can advise on which skincare ingredients would be most beneficial. The information is then transferred to the D.O.S.E machine, which creates the serum in a matter of minutes. This just one of the ways L’Oréal is tapping into customization in the beauty industry – they’ve also launched the L’Oréal Professionel’s Style My Hair app, which suggests real-time hair colour services, and the Le Teint Particulier Unique custom foundation for Lancôme.
Toun28’s subscription skincare
Korean skincare brand Toun28 is also tackling customization in skincare. The subscription service delivers fresh, organic skincare products to its customers each month wrapped in recyclable paper. While the process is started with an in-person consultation, the bespoke products are created using facial analysis. Once a 28-day cycle is complete, the company also uses its own algorithm to predict the customers needs and keep delivering new product.
Schwarzkopf’s custom hair analysis
It’s not just skincare where advances in customized beauty are being made; Schwarzkopf launched a handheld device during CES that analyzes hair condition and color, and then provides personalized recommendations of products and hair care services. The SalonLab Analyzer uses near infrared spectroscopy and a multi-channel color scanner. While it isn’t intended to replace the expertise of a hair stylist, the technology arms them with the information they need to take the best care of a customer’s hair both in the salon and in between appointments.
Wella Professionals’ Colour DJ
Wella Professionals is also exploring customization for hair – it has launched Colour DJ to create an ultra-personalized hair gloss service. Customers have a one-to-one consultation with a stylist and then using a digital application, the Colour DJ device is programmed to create the perfect mask – right down to color intensity, level of care needed and even what scent it should have. The products can be used in the salon and at home so customers are able to maintain their desired color consistently.
Bare Minerals’ Made-2-Fit foundation
Customization is also big news for makeup brands. Shiseido-owned Bare Minerals introduced the Made-2-Fit Fresh Faced Foundation, which can be created in bespoke shades to cater to all skin tones. Fronted by an app, powered by MATCHco, it asks users a series of questions to determine an exact color match. Sophisticated technology is then used find the ideal foundation shade that can be delivered to them within 72 hours. As it’s estimated that 94% women are using the wrong shade of foundation, customizable options are proving increasingly relevant and sought after, as demonstrated by numerous other brands including the aforementioned Lancôme, as well as the likes of Sephora.
The Polo Custom shop dominates the lower ground floor of the new Polo Ralph Lauren store on Regent Street in London. If you want to embroider personalised patches or monogrammed blazers, a few taps on a tablet is all that’s required. Similarly, at the Tommy Hilfiger store down the street, shoppers can pick any item in stock and have it customised in store while they wait. At Burberry, meanwhile, you can monogram a scarf; at Gucci it’s possible to appliqué designs on jackets; and Louis Vuitton lets its customers initial luggage under its Mon Monogram programme.
According to Deloitte research, one in three consumers surveyed were interested in personalised products, with 71% of those prepared to pay a premium for such embellishments. Moreover, focusing on the fashion sector, 15% of those asked are prepared to pay a substantial markup – more than 40 per cent over the asking price – for such items.
“Luxury consumers are increasingly expecting products that feel special and distinctive to them, such as monogrammed iPhone cases from Chaos Fashion,” says Tammy Smulders, global managing director of Havas LuxHub, the media group’s division dedicated to fashion, luxury and lifestyle business. “Equally, brands are using technology and data to segment their customers and provide the right kinds of products, services and brand communication.”
Technology will continue to drive this trend, according to José Neves, founder and CEO of online retailer Farfetch. “Customisation will be the next revolution in luxury,” he says. “We wanted to find a way of offering luxury and bespoke products to an audience that’s increasingly knowledgeable about style and quality.”
Underpinning the fashion and luxury industries right now is both a tough retail environment and a landscape of intensifying competition – from Amazon to the bevy of new direct to consumer players. While sales are steadily on the rise, with The McKinsey Global Fashion Index projecting global industry growth from 3.5 to 4.5% in 2018, there are still big challenges ahead.
As we’ve seen time and again, survival is no longer a guarantee merely based on heritage; innovation in an age of rapidly evolving consumer expectations is what will drive staying power.
However, while that word – “innovation” – means newness in a literal sense, when it comes to looking at trends for the year ahead, we are very much talking about evolution not revolution in terms of what matters for retail and fashion brands.
For 2018, then, the big areas of focus will continue to be around augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the voice interface, blockchain, the circular economy, new materials, customisation and fulfillment.
Those tech terms tie into some big overarching trends shaping the future of the industry too; namely the sense of an increasingly frictionless shopping experience, more personalised and relevant consumer interactions and the drive of a serious sustainable agenda.
Here are the things you need to be thinking about…
In 2017 we saw the launch of Apple’s ARkit and Google’s ARcore, making augmented reality development on the devices we all use everyday incredibly simple. This push into the mainstream has led to a forecast of 900 million AR-enabled smartphones by the end of 2018, according to consulting firm Digi-Capital. With that of course comes increased consumer expectation – research from Digital Bridge shows that 69% of shoppers now want retailers to launch AR apps within the next six months.
We’ve already seen the likes of Ikea, Anthropologie and Burberry doing so to both facilitate shopping and make for some fun experiential use cases. As Apple CEO Tim Cook told Vogue: “Over time, I think [these features] will be as key as having a website.” 2018 then is your year to tool up. What is your AR strategy going to be?
Big data strategy is more of a reality for retailers and brands than ever thanks to the role of machine learning within artificial intelligence. Now, decisions can be made based on detailed and real-time consumer insights. The largest benefit for businesses at this point lies in providing greater relevancy or personalisation to the consumer – from tailored recommendations to highly individualised messaging.
There will be an estimated 1.8 billion users of voice assistants – like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri – by 2021, according to Tractia. That kind of progress is already well underway, hot on the heels of simple facts like Amazon’s Echo devices being the biggest sellers on its website this holiday season. Last year we saw retailers starting to figure out where their place was in this landscape – Walmart teamed up with Google Home; others like Perry Ellis launched a fun personal styling app through Alexa.
Based on the simple mantra of needing to be where your consumers are, it’s time for the rest of the industry to start exploring how they too can use voice. At some point we’re going to see such technology assistants as the gatekeepers to shoppers, turning traditionally targeting and messaging on its head.
Blockchain is another tech word that’s been bandied about nonstop of late, but the chips are starting to fall as to what this can really mean for the industry. While cryptocurrencies are having a real do or die moment, the more relevant applications of blockchain for fashion brands lie in authenticity and transparency. Authenticity is about anticounterfeiting above all else, while transparency sits alongside sustainability. Both are about validating supply chain data, with blockchain by its immutable nature supporting that very fact.
London designer Martine Jarlgaard recently led the charge in terms of transparency, turning to storytelling to showcase each step of her supply chain through blockchain company Provenance. Expect 2018 to see more of these types of initiatives on a marketing level, as well as a broader movement to start thinking from the ground up in terms of integrating such technology into the foundations of the organisation.
The circular economy
On the subject of sustainability, the drive for less waste, and the move towards a true circular economy is also gaining headway. In 2017 we saw H&M announce its goal to be fully circular by 2030 and to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials. No small task, but a bold statement highlighting the work that’s got to go in between now and then.
The key, according to Nielsen, is that 72% of millennials and 73% of Generation Z say they would pay more for brands with sustainable offerings, meaning doing good is also key to strong business today. It’s not possible to be in this industry without thinking about this side of things in some way or another as a result, making this year a critical time for all involved. Strategy around the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle, will be a big focus for 2018, from new innovations shaping the possibilities around recycling techniques themselves, to a continued focus on areas like the sharing economy and resale sites.
Other names like VitroLabs are also worth keeping an eye on, as well as those experimenting with different fibres produced from the byproduct of harvests including pineapples, mushrooms, oranges and grapes. If last year was about experimentation, 2018 gives us the opportunity to move towards application and real commercial viability.
If you pull together some of the above trends – personalisaton and sustainability fundamentally – there’s little escape from the idea of customisation as a penultimate thought for 2018. If you can make something tailored to the individual, waste is lower, usage lasts longer, conversions are higher… the list goes on.
This is not new – we’ve been monogramming for decades – but the continued roll out of flexible manufacturing options from start-ups like Unmade, or with Shima Seiki printers as the likes of Ministry of Supply have used, as well as large scale automated systems like the Speedfactory from Adidas, are making this both quicker and more possible at scale. If that wasn’t enough, beware the A word once more: Amazon recently won a patent for an on-demand manufacturing system for apparel. That could be a game changer.
In case Amazon hasn’t yet been mentioned enough above, one final point to note continues around just how to make your time from order to delivery faster than ever. With the e-commerce juggernaut setting the precedent amid a consumer landscape of instant gratification in the on-demand economy world, it’s become somewhat of a race to the bottom for fulfillment.
The fact is, if we’re offered 30-minute drone delivery down the line, or even more realistically the 90-minute arrivals of our Gucci wares from Farfetch, as we saw launch in 2017, we’re more than likely going to take it. The question of need no longer comes into it. This space is ripe with start-ups offering all manner of assistance – from types of delivery options to opportunities for simplified returns. So what are you doing to pick up the pace? Time is quite literally of the essence.
The much-anticipated John Lewis Christmas film from Adam&Eve/DDB has been revealed, this time featuring a friendly monster called Moz alongside all manner of interactive campaign components.
#MoztheMonster, which was produced by award-winning film director Michel Gondry, best known for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, tells the tale of an imaginary creature that lives under the bed of a little boy called Joe.
As with many of John Lewis’s annual campaigns, it follows a similar formula of friendship with a heartwarming ending. Following a round of snoring and farting, Joe and Moz play together every night until it all gets a little too much for the former and he can barely stay awake during the day. Moz comes up with a solution in the Christmas present he then gives him – a night-light that takes away the monster whenever he needs it to.
The soundtrack to the film is a cover version of The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers by Elbow.
“This year’s Christmas campaign brings to life the power of children’s imaginations and the joy of great friendships,” said Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s customer director. “Moz and Joe’s story is magical and heartwarming and I’m sure it will be loved by all of our customers, young and old.”
As with previous years, the film itself is only one part of a much wider integrated campaign. John Lewis first started teasing it with short #underthebed clips on social media, alongside changing some of its store signs around the country so that the “o” and “e” of its logo were eyes instead.
Innovative approaches this year then further include a partnership with voice activation device Google Home, through which users can download and personalise the story with their own sound effects. The story, which is read by actress Sally Phillips, can also be downloaded on the John Lewis website and via Sky boxes.
The retailer has also become one of the first to make use of Facebook’s new augmented reality feature, enabling fans the ability to “Mozify” their faces. In 10 stores around the country, they can also do so in person at a Monster Maker station. At Johnlewismonstermaker.com, meanwhile, there’s an interactive experience where users can customise their own version of Moz – changing his shape, colour and smile, before adding their own scribbles all over him and choosing their favourite “fart” sound. He then dances depending on which area you press on him.
Further in-store activations include “the world’s first farting and snoring window” on Oxford Street, and a range of merchandise including toys, mugs, pyjamas and more. Proceeds of the sale of certain items go to charity partner Barnardo’s.
Seth Aaron, two-time winner of Lifetime’s Emmy award-winning TV show, Project Runway, has introduced a line of 3D printed designer shoes.
Teaming up with 3D printing footwear company, Feetz, the collection launched at fashion and technology event, FashioNXT, in Portland on Friday, October 13.
The concept is all about enabling custom-fit designs for consumers. As Feetz founder and CEO, Lucy Beard, said: “Seth Aaron’s creative design vision will explore the reach of 3D printing in fashion, enabling him to produce what only could have been imagined. That vision will be translated into ready-to-wear, customised for each customer’s unique needs.”
In the past, much of the experimentation with 3D printed footwear remained as concept pieces – rigid resin designs that were impossible to wear for their lack of flexibility. As the technology and materials have improved, that’s begun to shift quite rapidly forward. Adidas for instance, has started to 3D print the soles of a sneaker called the Futurecraft at scale; the first in the sportswear industry to do so beyond prototype or bespoke stage. It aims to produce 100,000 of them by the end of 2018.
Feetz meanwhile, uses proprietary polymers to 3D print the entire shoe; uppers and tread. Head over to Forbes to hear more about how Feetz produces its shoes, the details of the Seth Aaron collection and the sustainability focus that such footwear also provides.