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Editor's pick technology

5 tech innovations we’re talking about from fashion week season

Balenciaga SS19

The latest fashion week season was marked by conversations on inclusivity, from celebrating diverse models at Ralph Lauren and Savage x Fenty, to industry experts openly criticizing the new era of Celine by Hedi Slimane for having 91% white models.

On top of that was a continued question mark around the validity of the see-now-buy-now business model, the ongoing impact of streetwear on the catwalk, and endless pop-up installations celebrating all things fashion.

And yet underlying this activity, though it may not have been obvious on the surface, was a tech-led narrative, with projections, hackers and immersive experiences all demonstrative of how fashion continues to push forward in the space.

Check out our round-up of the catwalk innovations to know…

LED Sculptures
Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary installation

Ralph Lauren celebrated the 50th-anniversary of his brand with a digitally-driven immersion. So-called LED sculptures, otherwise known as large scale digital displays, appeared under Central Park trees showcasing cuts from the designer’s most memorable collection reels. Campaign archive imagery as then projected across the walls of two T-shaped chambers that told the brand’s story through Lauren’s narration himself. The installation is now at the flagship store in NYC. An app launch was also part of the celebration: in addition to shopping, the platform gives consumers insider access and exclusive content.

Female Hackers
CyFi for Nicholas Kirkwood SS19

At London Fashion Week, footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood’s show saw teenage hacker CyFi walk the runway alongside actress and #MeToo activist, Rose McGowan. Set in an underground bunker, with flashing monitors and LED lights, their appearance was tied to an underlying political message from Kirkwood against conformity. His latest shoe collection was inspired by tech and cyber-reality, with details including graphic TV static–style print and constructions that looked like tangled computer wiring. The show also featured a hologram technology that showed the collection’s main shoe, a boot with neon yellow detail, in 3D by UK company Hologrm.

Robotic Debut
House of Honee featuring OhmniLabs robot

A robot debuted on the catwalk of London Fashion Week adorned in head to toe crystals. Part of the show of LA-based designer Honee, the telepresence machine was created in partnership with Silicon Valley-based OhmniLabs. Honee said the show “celebrates the human spirit via the robots”. Her vision was to marry fashion, culture and technology through the experience.

Massive Projections
Miu Miu using projectors for SS19

At Paris Fashion Week, Maison Margiela surprised guests with 12 enormous projections alongside the catwalk at the launch of its new fragrance, My Mutiny, the first to be released under John Galliano. The film showed a behind-the-scenes look at the campaign. Miu Miu also decided to use projections, with models’ faces featuring bold lips and vivid red streaked across their eyelids, placed onto bubble letters spelling out the brand’s logo. It was a way to complement the theme of the collection: “Deconstructing beauty”.

360-Degree Kaleidoscope
Balenciaga’s 360-Degree Kaleidoscope

If there was one show that stole the tech limelight this season however, it was Balenciaga. Taking immersion to the next level, the set saw a 360-degree kaleidoscopic tunnel designed to replicate the inner workings of a computer. Projectors cast multicolored lights onto the walls of the auditorium, which changed color and speed depending on both the model walking and the track playing. With set design by Jon Rafman, the idea was to draw influence from and attention to modern technology and digital media. The most controversial part of the show was actually on the clothes: Powerpoint Clip Art effects and Comic Sans adorned some of the prints. After turning ugly daddy sneakers into the hypest pair of shoes, Balenciaga is the right brand to end the ban of Comic Sans.

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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data social media

Melissa Shoes launches interactive in-store social hubs to gain customer insights

The M-ND Matter display at Melissa Shoes in Orlando
The M-ND Matter display at Melissa Shoes in Orlando

Brazilian footwear brand Melissa Shoes is launching interactive experiences in two of its US locations in a bid to drive engagement and gain customer insights.

Teaming up with social experiential technology company, M-ND, the retailer will introduce digital displays in both Orlando and Miami, this week. The M-ND Matter displays allow shoppers to explore and share seasonal lookbooks, upload and print branded social media photos, and access special deals, giveaways and loyalty rewards.

“We’re always exploring new innovations that extend the in-store experience to digital channels,” said Michele Levy CEO of Ilhabela Holdings, the exclusive distributor of Melissa Shoes in the US.

“M-ND is unique in that it introduces a new interactive element to the in-store shopping experience – encouraging customers to engage with our digital lookbooks and tell the world about the shoes they love over social media – while simultaneously generating widespread word of mouth. Our goal is to learn from the insights we’ll gain about customer preferences, and put those to use to continually improve our loyal customers’ experiences.”

The M-ND Matter display at Melissa Shoes in Miami
The M-ND Matter display at Melissa Shoes in Miami

The aim is to then use that data around in-store customer preferences, social media influence and behaviour (the displays provide the brand with direct access to profile data, based on customer permission). The team suggests that such a steady stream of engagement analytics will help inform current and future business planning around styles. They will also use this data for remarketing.

The initiative is attached to social media otherwise with the hashtag #melissashoesusa and a geotag of the store’s location. By printing any pictures taken, the user gets access to discount coupons and Melissa Shoes tote bags. They also get entered into a contest to win free membership to the exclusive Melissa Plus Club loyalty program for VIP customers, which usually costs $50.

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business mobile

Digital ads: Surging sales, video, mobile and the social media effect

H&M, April 2016
H&M, April 2016

US digital ad revenues reached an all-time high of $59.6bn last year, according to a new report. That’s a 20% surge over the previous record-breaking year. And the pace is quickening: Q4 saw a 23% year-on-year rise to $17.4bn and an 18% surge over the previous quarter.

The full-year IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, produced in association with PwC US, also offered up some even more interesting stats when it got down to the detail of just what that advertising was all about.

  • Mobile advertising skyrocketed (66%) to $20.7bn last year, reflecting the migration of consumers to mobile devices.
  • Non-mobile digital video, a component of display-related advertising, rose 30% to $4.2bn as advertisers targeted increasingly video-focused Millennials and Generation Z consumers.
  • Social media advertising rose 55% to $10.9bn as advertisers convinced themselves that social networks were the place to be.
  • Non-mobile search revenues rose a slower 8% to $20.5bn.
  • Retail advertisers continue to represent the largest category of internet ad spending, responsible for 22%.

“Internet advertising was a disruptive innovation when the industry was formed,” said PwC’s David Silverman. “Twenty years later we still see double-digit growth rates. Three key disruptive trends, mobile, social, and programmatic, continue to fuel this exceptional rate of growth.”

“There’s no question that interactive screens are attracting consumers and the advertisers that want to reach them where they live, increasingly on mobile devices,” added IAB’s Sherrill Mane.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Categories
business e-commerce social media

Search marketing tops customer acquisition tactics for retailers – study 

search

Paid search is still considered to be the most effective customer acquisition tactic, according to the 2014 State of Retailing Online study, released by Shop.org and Forrester Research in the US this week.

A survey of 81 retailers during May and June 2014, showed search engine marketing is considered top by 85% of them, and they’re accordingly spending more of their interactive marketing budgets on it than on anything else.

Also on the list for acquiring customers were organic traffic (41%), affiliate programs (40%) and remarketing/retargeting through online ads (29%). The latter, alongside behavioural targeting, sees display ads now ranked as the second highest area of marketing spend behind paid search.

Meanwhile, social media is also getting increased attention from retailers. Over half of those surveyed said they are dedicating more spend to the likes of Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter in the coming year, while 62% plan to spend more on Facebook interactive marketing efforts this year than last.

“Thanks to the effectiveness and renewed budget focus on display advertising, Facebook cannot be counted out from a retail advertising standpoint,” said Forrester VP and principal analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru. “People think of Facebook as a social network, but in reality it’s another medium for personalised display advertising – likely explaining why Facebook has surfaced so high in planned budget spend this year.”

The study also found that 42% of retailers’ email opens now happen on smartphones, up from 28% in 2013, while email open rates on tablets grew from 16% to 17%.

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social media

French Connection launches in-store #selfie campaign

#canthelpmyselfie_press_small

French Connection is launching the “ultimate selfie challenge” in the UK this spring.

Kickstarting officially in London on April 24, the retailer is introducing a campaign called #canthelpmyselfie, inviting shoppers to snap pictures of themselves to create a live display of its seasonal collection in store windows.

Fans are invited to book an appointment via the website for a variety of stores around the country (starting in Regent Street this week before touring to five other cities including Manchester and Newcastle through May) – once there they will select their favourite pieces from the line to wear, indulge in  a mini makeover session and then jump into an interactive selfie booth to snap their photo for the whole high street to see.

Jon Carney, creative partner at digital agency Somewhat, which collaborated on the project, said: “Mobile and social channels are an essential part of how millennial consumers interact with brands, and especially how they can experience fashion brands. As consumers’ physical and digital worlds are increasingly converging and colliding, brands need to respond with campaigns that bridge both worlds seamlessly.”

The real-time “phy-gital” initiative, as its being referred to, simultaneously employs live engagement with passersby by inviting them to ‘vote’ for their favourite look by placing their hand in front of sensors in the windows. The best selfies selected will be in with a chance of winning a £1,000 shopping spree.

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digital snippets social media

All the digital highlights from #NYFW: 360° live-streams to Twitter trolls

It might have been the season that everyone played with Twitter’s new video-sharing app, Vine, but so too were there numerous other digital happenings around this New York Fashion Week. Here are the highlights:

KennethCole_Smartphone_NYFW

  • Tommy Hilfiger hosted a display featuring real-time updates from backstage, as posted on Twitter here and here
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technology Uncategorized

Transparent display could spell future for shop windows – CES

samsung-transparent-displaycase

Amid all the tech trends to come out of CES this year, it was the Transparent Display Case from Samsung that particularly stood out from a fashion perspective.

Seemingly a glass box (in the above example holding a shoe), the front is in fact a see-through screen linked up to a built-in PC and speakers. What that means is videos are able to play over the top of real-life items, enhancing rather than distorting their view.

It might just be a 22″ screen at the moment, but as PSFK reports, what place does that sound more relevant than in the store windows and retail shelves of the future? See it in action in the video below.

“[The display] allows images and animations to dynamically interact with the merchandise inside the showcase while still enabling passers-by to view the product,” reads the write-up from Samsung, who refers to it as “a new era of creative display in digital retail design”.

Now, add that idea to the transparent smart window it launched last year, and we might be on to something.