Categories
Podcast Retail sustainability technology

Peter Diamandis: A look to the future

We have the tools today to make the change the world needs, says engineer, author and futurist, Peter Diamandis, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

Speaking from Summit LA19, an annual gathering of today’s brightest leaders, he explains why we must remember that our mindset matters more than ever before as we head into 2020. 

“I think this is the most extraordinary time ever to be alive. I think that we are living in a time where if you want to make a difference in the world you can. You’re more empowered as individuals to take on the world’s biggest problems than heads of nations and kings and queens were just decades or centuries ago,” he explains.  

During a time when we’re surrounded by negative news – something we pay 10x more attention to than anything positive – it’s easy to get dragged down. But it’s time to feel optimistic, he notes. We have a new decade ahead of us, which presents more opportunity than ever before. 

“I’m more bullish than ever before. Yes, we have problems. Yes, we have environmental problems. Yes, we have political problems. Yes, we have all those things. But the fact the matter is, we also have the tools to challenge them and change them and make the world a better place. We’ve romanticize the past, but the past was pretty brutal, pretty brutal compared to today.” 

During this conversation, Diamandis explains why there’s a crazy idea behind every breakthrough innovation, how the next decade will be a critical time to reinvent much of humanity, and the one thing you need to know to prepare for this future.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how 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. 

Categories
Editor's pick sustainability

Calvin Klein encourages recycling of packaging with labeling program

Calvin Klein Underwear has partnered with standardized labeling system How2Recycle to provide customers with details on how exactly they can recycle the packaging that items come in.

Labels on each product will provide clear information to shoppers about the components of the packaging, and instructions on whether to consult a local recycling program or use a store drop-off station at a participating retailer in order to save from throwing the wrapping straight into landfill.

“As a global apparel company, we recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce waste, and one key way to do so is by minimizing our packaging and making it recyclable,” said Marissa Pagnani-McGowan, group vice president of corporate responsibility at Calvin Klein’s parent company, PVH Corp. “How2Recycle labels will make it easier for our consumers to understand how to discard unwanted items in the most sustainable way possible.”

Target and Walmart are also working with How2Recycle on similar initiatives. “PVH is blazing the trail by being the first company in the apparel space to commit to featuring accurate, consistent recycling labels on their packaging,” said Caroline Cox, project manager of How2Recycle. “The reach of their iconic brands will empower a new sector of consumers to recycle more, and more accurately.”

The move comes as more brands within the fashion industry are taking sustainability and waste more seriously. Packaging is one major focus as consumers increasingly look to recycle or reuse what their items come in and there’s a greater call for reduction in the amount of materials used. Just this past week, a number of consumer goods companies, including Procter & Gamble and Nestle, teamed up on a new packaging solution called Loop, which is focused on reusable stainless steel.

It also ties to PVH’s broader focus on sustainable packaging. The group has a commitment to reduce the overall amount of packaging used for products and work toward sending zero materials to landfill. Its statement on the matter says that 78 million tons of plastic packaging is currently produced globally each year, yet only 14% is collected for recycling.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation 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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Editor's pick Retail technology

Cannes Lions 2018: Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on the human side of retail

Angela Ahrendts of Apple at Cannes Lions
Angela Ahrendts of Apple at Cannes Lions

“We decided it was important that the largest tech company in the world, makes the largest investment in humans in the world,” said Angela Ahrendts, SVP of retail at Apple, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, with regards to her ‘Today at Apple’ initiative.

The scheme, which picked up the Brand Experience & Activation Grand Prix at the festival’s awards last night, sees 18,000 events held in Apple stores around the world every week. The focus particularly is on education, both in terms of helping consumers understand technology, but also the creative or liberal arts.

This links back to something founder Steve Jobs said in 2011: “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

As a result, the teams at retail had to evolve too. While Ahrendts has been leading a mass redesign of the stores to what are now referred to as “town squares”, in a bid to drive a sense of community, she has also been rethinking who services those spaces.

The renowned Apple Geniuses continue to exist, but so too do new “creative pros” as a result. These are to the liberal arts what the genius is to technology, she explained. Today there are 3,500 of them worldwide, who all teach everything from photography to art, music and design skills in store.

“These people are our secret sauce,” Ahrendts explained. “This is something Apple has, and Amazon or Alibaba doesn’t: people on the front line.” What’s key is that they are hired for their empathy, rather than their ability to sell. In fact, no one who works at Apple is on any quotas or commission, which is also something that goes back to Steve Jobs’ original vision.

“He told all of the original employees when he opened the first Apple stores, that they weren’t allowed to sell, that their job was to enrich lives and they had to do so through the lens of education,” Ahrendts outlined.

That objective is currently rolling out worldwide, with Apple upping the size of its retail footprint (doubling and tripling some of the existing ones in the process) in order to make space for the boardrooms and educational forums accordingly. Upcoming new openings include a legacy theatre renovation in Milan, a five-storey flagship on the Champs Élysées in Paris, and a reworking of the Washington Carnegie Library in DC.

Retail isn’t dying, said Ahrendts, but it’s evolving fast and it’s only through focusing on human needs that you can today survive. Apple dedicates 40% of its staff hours to service and support and a third of its square footage, she noted. All of that is aiming to cement the notion of the company being primarily a “human” business.

Categories
Editor's pick sustainability

Gucci launches online platform to promote sustainable purpose

Gucci launches Gucci Equilibrium

Gucci has launched Gucci Equilibrium, an online communications platform designed to connect “people, planet and purpose” and to bring positive change in order to secure our collective future.

The aim is to promote the label’s commitment to sustainability and transparency both to its customers as well as internally to its 13,000 employees, its suppliers and the wider Gucci family. Focusing on purpose, the site explains, is about demonstrating integrity.

“These are critical times when we can all play our part in helping to deliver on the UN Global Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement,” Gucci CEO Marco Bizarri told WWD. “The only way to do that is by bringing people together, sharing ideas, innovation and experiences. This is the objective we have set for Gucci Equilibrium.”

The name reportedly comes from a balance between the aesthetic of what the brand produces, with the ethics in which it believes. The launch is accordingly part of a 10-year sustainability plan announced by the brand, which will be anchored in three pillars: environment, people and innovation.

“Environment” sees Gucci setting the target to guarantee the traceability of 95% of its raw materials, as well as the recent announcement it is banning furs; “People” includes a series of empowerment and diversity campaigns and social initiatives; and “Innovation” focuses on scouting and incubating startups, an approach also seen with the launch of its ArtLab space.

Visiting the platform allows the user to learn more about each specific initiative Gucci is embarking on under each pillar. In doing so, the brand is providing a content platform not only to celebrate and promote its achievements, but ensure it is held accountable for its actions in-keeping with its newly announced purpose.

Gucci has also announced a company-wide program alongside encouraging staff to dedicate 1% of their working time to volunteering in local communities.

Categories
technology

Google and the BFC launch educational platform for British fashion

Google and the BFC's new platform for British fashion
Google and the BFC’s new platform for British fashion

The British Fashion Council has partnered with Google’s Arts & Culture team to celebrate British fashion via a new educational platform that includes several virtual reality experiences.

Launched ahead of last night’s new Fashion Awards, which honoured designers and other industry players from around the word, the g.co/britishfashion site is designed to inform and inspire future generations of young fashion creatives and students.

Support the BFC’s Education Foundation, it brings to life the creativity, heritage and craftsmanship of British fashion, pulling together content from big names in the space – including brands, designers, craftspeople, photographers, stylists, models and more – and using technology to tell their stories.

There are immersive digital exhibits from the likes of Burberry, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood for instance, a virtual reality experience of Manolo Blahnik at work in his atelier, and a high resolution capture of a couture dress from Alexander McQueen’s SS17 collection, allowing people to zoom in and see its threadwork in never-before-seen detail.

To mark the launch of the project, Paul Smith has also designed a special-edition Google Cardboard to enable the virtual reality viewing, and created online exhibits around five objects that represent his creative vision and brand.

Caroline Rush CBE, CEO of the BFC said: “The internet has been an incredible resource for opening up the fashion industry to a new audience, giving young people access to information not previously available. This collaboration represents a new step, bringing together diverse information into one, engaging place. We hope this legacy project will not only inspire but also educate – allowing young people wanting to get into fashion to see the breadth of individuals, skills and careers that make up this multifaceted industry.”

In total, there are over 1,000 assets to explore, including 20 multimedia exhibits, 25 videos and three virtual reality experiences, all accessible from anywhere in the world, on desktop, laptop or mobile.

Sarah Mower MBE, American Vogue chief critic and BFC ambassador for emerging talent, has also directed a short film captured in 360 VR so viewers can come face-to-face with industry luminaries. Included are Naomi Campbell, Anya Hindmarch, Edward Enninful and Joan Burstein.

Users can also search archive material from British fashion houses by colour and chronology, explore profiles of numerous of the industry’s other key players, and go behind-the-scenes with top craftspeople and producers of British fashion, including the Royal School of Needlework and Brora Cashmere.

Categories
business data digital snippets Editor's pick film product social media Startups technology

What you missed: Fashion-tech education, Burberry’s see-now buy-now plans, Dior bags on WeChat

Burberry see-now buy-now fashion
Burberry’s first see-now buy-now campaign

One of the most interesting things about taking a decent summer break, and particularly one in August, is observing what happens during that time. Traditionally still the month that most of Europe closes down, it is also the time just before fashion weeks begin again and therefore the perfect opportunity for quiet on the news front full stop. We’ve certainly noticed that with regards to digital campaigns or tech stories over the past six years that Fashion & Mash has been running. And yet, not so much this year…

August 2016 proved busier than ever in terms of news in this space, ranging from Burberry’s new see-now buy-now campaign to Kate Spade’s wearables launch, Dior’s WeChat moves and various new high-tech store openings. What that does of course is continue to prove the relevancy of this world to the industry’s growth and success.

Read on for a full breakdown of what you might have missed…

PS. We’ve rebranded our regular “Digital Snippets” series to this “What you missed” feature in a bid to bring you a broader range of relevant stories, as well as a breakdown by category to make your consumption that much easier. Note: this version includes a month’s worth of links – normal weekly service will now resume. 

PPS. A new must-read site/newsletter in this space is LeanLuxe – edited by Paul Munford, and providing “stories, analysis, and opinion on the world of modern luxury business”.


TOP STORIES
  • Fashion needs a more robust approach to technology education [BoF]
  • Burberry reveals campaign it hopes will woo shoppers to first ‘straight-to-consumer’ collection [The Drum]
  • Dior in first with luxury WeChat handbags [China Daily]
  • Consumers prefer see now, buy now, wear now model, says Verdict [The Industry]

BUSINESS
  • Luxury armageddon: Even Chanel takes a hit as sales and profits plunge [Trendwalk]
  • Gucci among world’s hottest fashion brands, while Prada cools [BoF]
  • Prada sales slide as weak demand weighs on luxury-goods maker [Bloomberg]
  • Macy’s to shutter 100 stores as online players pressure brick-and-mortar [WWD]
  • How Demna Gvasalia is revolutionising Balenciaga from the inside out [Vogue]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Burberry sponsors Snapchat Lens for My Burberry Black launch [The Industry]
  • For Kit and Ace, Snapchat doubles as a TV channel and customer service assistant [Digiday]
  • Nike and others dive into Instagram Stories: why marketers already like it better than Snapchat [AdAge]
  • While some retailers ignore Snapchat, others are killing it with lens and geofilter ads [AdWeek]
  • Snapchat found a way to bring its ads to the real world [QZ]
  • Burberry becomes first luxury brand to personalise on Pinterest [Marketing Week]
  • Grindr officially gets into the menswear game [Fashionista]
  • Chatbots are thriving on the Kik chat app [Business Insider]

RETAIL
  • Westfield’s new World Trade Center mall puts in-store tech centre stage [Glossy]
  • Sephora’s Chicago store has new, high-tech look [Chicago Tribune]
  • After digital spree, retailers spending on stores again [WWD]
  • Malls aren’t dying. They’re changing [Racked]
  • Retailers look to high tech to engage visitors to their store [Journal Sentinel]
  • London is getting the first YouTube store, where online video stars can sell merchandise to the public [PSFK]
  • Retailers like J Crew are obsessed with data. (And it’s killing your shopping experience.) [LeanLuxe]
  • Neiman Marcus launches high-tech sunglass try-on mirror [WWD]

ADVERTISING
  • Watch Spike Jonze’s electrifying short film for Kenzo [Dazed]
  • Kate Hudson makes her new Fabletics spot ‘feel like you’re scrolling through her Instagram feed’ [AdWeek]
  • Cotton Inc.’s interactive video ad lets viewers determine how a day plays out [AdWeek]
  • L’Oreal celebrates diversity and targets men with new ‘Truly Yours’ positioning [The Drum]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Fashion’s fourth industrial revolution [BoF]
  • Kate Spade’s new wearable tech collection is fun and full of personality [Wareable]
  • Wearable technology: Amazon’s next big step? [Trendwalk]
  • Adidas ups athleisure-technology ante with Atlanta Speedfactory announcement [Trendwalk]
  • What 3D printing means for fashion [BoF]
  • Why STEM subjects and fashion design go hand in hand [The Conversation]
  • Athleta goes beyond wicking with new technical fabric [Glossy]
  • Cotton Inc. bonds with Nanotex on Dry Inside technology [WWD]
  • The MIT lab that’s quietly pioneering fashion for everyone [Co.Design]

START-UPS
  • Ignored by LVMH, Richemont, and Kering, modern luxury upstarts gain traction with Silicon Valley [LeanLuxe]
  • Eureka! John Lewis’ TrueStart deal to boost brave new tech world [Trendwalk]
  • This New York-based start-up accelerator is supporting the next generation of retail disruptors [Fashionista]
  • Topshop throws its weight behind wearables [Co.Design]
  • Start-ups in Target’s Techstars accelerator race to finish line [Star Tribune]
Categories
product Startups technology

Crowdfunding find: This wearable helps kids learn tech skills through active play

moverkit1

The latest launch from start-up Technology Will Save Us is a wearable device for kids called The Mover Kit. One part accessory, and the other an educational tech toy, it comes as a series of components, including a set of eight RGB LEDs, printed circuit board, motion sensor (or accelerometer), compass and rechargeable battery, that need to be put together. Doing so is said to be as easy as building a LEGO house or paper airplane. Once done, a band is added that snaps around the wrist.

The idea of the device is it then reacts as the wearer moves; illuminating different lights based on different actions. Twist it one way and it turns red, the other way and it’s changes to white, for instance. Move a lot, and all eight “rainbow” LEDs will trigger. The intention is to encourage active play.

But the kit isn’t just about such building – the real creativity lies in the fact kids can code what the rules are themselves. Head over to Forbes to read all about how.

Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Asos relaunches members-only platform as mobile-first, focused on education

AAA_anchor

Asos HQ dispatched 1,300 shiny parcels last week and it had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. The free gifts were instead part of a campaign to celebrate the relaunch of Access All Asos.

#AccessAllAsos, as it’s known, is a members-only platform where the UK-headquartered e-commerce site communicates and collaborates with a small selection of brand advocates. These “insiders” (including bloggers Laila Daho, Olivia Purvis and Robin James) get things like early access to new product and invites to brand events. In return, they inevitably provide thoughts and feedback to the company, as well as share all things Asos with their own growing fanbases.

While decreased activity in the program of late suggested the e-tailer was intending to abandon it, it turns out it was instead undergoing a dramatic makeover.

Central to those plans is its relaunch initially as a mobile-only platform, which is testament to its commitment to developing and expanding its mobile offering, and evidence of the intended millennial userbase. Unsurprisingly, a core part of the Asos strategy going forward is “to offer a totally optimised digital experience on any device”.

Accessallasos_gifts

Collaboration remains a key part of the all-new #AccessAllAsos but there’s also a distinct shift towards education. The University of Asos has been introduced, which aims to give users “the tools you need to grow your media savvy”. Rather than inspiring influencers and ambassadors with the standard freebies, this is about offering its loyal members the opportunities to gain new skills as well as exposure around building their own businesses.

This change of direction was also reflected in the selection of gifts Asos sent out in those shiny parcels, including new notebooks, pencil sets and a book on how to speak emoji.

Watch this space for further news: a spokesperson at Asos told us to expect a lot more with the initiative in 2016.

Images via @phasesofrobyn and @leebenecke

Categories
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