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business Editor's pick product Retail technology

Why Nike is betting on an Amazon-free future

Last month, Nike announced it would be pulling all of its products from Amazon in a bid to refocus its distribution strategy and “elevate consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships”. 

Leaving one of the world’s biggest e-commerce platforms after a two-year pilot is a bold move. So what does the divorce mean for the sportswear giant?

In leaving Amazon, the company is joining a roster of others, from IKEA to Birkenstock, who have tried and failed to make it work on the platform. Amazon has developed a poor reputation when it comes to how it treats its sellers – and it’s doing very little to change it. But as retailers depart the platform to deliver a more personal customer experience – while keeping a tight leash on their product offerings – the e-commerce giant needs to start thinking damage control.

Selling on Amazon comes with an ever-changing set of challenges. While it has been busy expanding its fashion offering, the website is still designed for the convenience shopper, and not the one looking to be wowed or to discover a new favorite brand. Search ranking results can be confusing – for example, searching for sports shoes will not necessarily bring up the Nike sneakers immediately at the top of the page, even though it is a market leader. It is also often hard to find out whether you are buying the item directly from the brand, or a third-party seller.

Then there is the big elephant in the room: counterfeiting. Recently, The Wall Street Journal wrote that the website “increasingly resembles an unruly online flea market.” For the US site, it is now attracting Chinese sellers to post their goods directly to consumers, rather than through North American middlemen. This means a proliferation of sold goods that are deemed either counterfeit, or banned or unsafe for consumption, which are virtually impossible to keep track of.

But Nike’s exit is coming from a privileged position. It has built a community outside the retailer’s website, and will exist just fine without it. For brands of its caliber, this is a good chance to take a leaf out of the direct-to-consumer rulebook and create a distribution approach that not only gives it more say, but enables more direct conversations. 

Nike is now working on strengthening its relationship with other smaller retailers. At Foot Locker’s new NYC flagship, for example, NikePlus app users can reserve shoes in advance and pick them up from dedicated lockers.

On a direct-to-consumer level, it is launching services like the Nike Adventure Club, a sneaker subscription for kids aged 2-10 where for a monthly fee, they receive a certain number of sneakers a year. The brand is targeting time-strapped parents who live in areas that perhaps don’t have a shoe store nearby. Instead of restoring to the convenience of Amazon when their child has moved up a shoe size, Nike is hoping these parents will choose a box service with a trusted brand instead.

This is also a chance for the brand to test out the subscription model, and potentially apply it to other consumer groups in the future, says David Cobban, general manager of Nike Adventure Club.  “We’re starting to think about what other athletes have problems that could be very easily solved by a subscription,” he said. “This is the beginning of something pretty exciting for Nike.”

For all of the sales volume that Nike will be losing by exiting Amazon, the sports brand is hard at work building a tight strategy where convenience meets personalization, which will likely pay off in the near future. 

This is perhaps where Amazon continues to falter – both in the eyes of its vendors and consumers. Next day delivery and low prices come at the price of the user experience, which still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to discoverability and bringing up (relevant) recommendations. 

Consumers may currently be fully onboard with the endless hamster wheel of speed and low value, but only time will tell if that will be enough to fulfill their more nuanced needs, such as creating emotional connections. Nike is betting on the latter.

How are you thinking about experience? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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business Editor's pick product Retail technology

6 brands driving consumer engagement through customization

The availability of data and an increased purchasing power has pushed retailers to create products and services beyond the standard selection. Whilst traditionally customization was seen as a luxury feature, the democratization of fashion has led to many high street retailers offering the service as another way to engage consumers.

In today’s digital era, the abundance of data has made it easier for retailers to personalize marketing content, but this is now going one step further to individual design and styling. Consumers want products tailored to their own specific needs and style, and by offering customization, retailers can increase their value and differentiate from the competition. 

From a business perspective, offering customization can be financially rewarding too, as 1 in 5 consumers will pay a 20% premium for personalized products or services. Customization can also be a sustainable method of production, as products are created to meet the exact demand, thus minimizing the risk of excess stock. 

Meanwhile, as manufacturing processes become more sophisticated and streamlined through features like 3D printing and automation, customization is something we will see more of in the future. As we continue to watch this trend develop, here are 6 brands driving engagement  through customization.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton custom Run Away sneaker

The sneaker industry is expected to be worth $95.14billion by 2025, and Louis Vuitton is another luxury brand hoping to tap into that booming market by offering consumers customized sneakers. Consumers will have the option to customize the Run Away sneaker by changing its colour, material and stripes and for an extra personal touch, get their initials printed or hot stamped on the shoe.

Fame & Partners
Fame & Partners bridemaids dresses

Fame and Partners is a contemporary womenswear brand based in LA trying to combat overproduction in the fashion industry by offering made-to-order garments. Through their Custom Clothing studio, consumers can customize any item by choosing the silhouette, sleeve length or neckline. The brand’s strategy eliminates the need for excess stock, helping to reduce waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. 

Function of Beauty
Function of Beauty custom hair care

This DTC beauty brand has taken over social media with its Instagrammable hair care line that target Gen Z consumers who are seeking products unique to their needs. Consumers can go online and take a quiz to determine their hair profiles, selecting up to five hair goals, ranging from color protection to curl definition. They can also choose both the scent and color of their products, creating a customized product from design to function. Each bottle is then formulated using clean ingredients, which are cruelty-free and 100% vegan.

Rapha
Rapha custom collection

Cult British brand Rapha is disrupting the cycling market by partnering with Unmade to create a customizable team collection. Customers are given the opportunity to create their own unique jersey designs, including team logos, which are then manufactured into a bespoke product. Poor user experience and long lead times are usually a set back when it comes to customization, but Unmade’s print solution allows for quick bespoke manufacturing on a smaller scale.

Puma
Puma’s new NYC flagship

To enhance customer experience in store, Puma has created an exclusive customization studio at its new flagship store in New York. Customers can customize a range of footwear and apparel using paints, patchwork, embroidery, 3D knitting, laser printing and material upcycling. The studio also collaborates with new artists on a bi-weekly basis, with Sue Tsai, BWOOD and Maria Jahnkoy being the most recent.

Levi’s
Levi’s customization patches

Levi’s brand strategy has revolved around making products your own since the original blue jean was patented in 1873. These days, many Levi’s shops have a dedicated tailor shop that can customize and repair products, such as adding patches, studs, embroidery, stencilling and distressing, so consumers can have a one-of-a-kind product. To align with its sustainability initiatives, the brand also offers a full repair service which does anything from fixing rips and holes to color fading, helping well-worn jeans gain a new lease of life.

How are you thinking about 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 Editor's pick Retail sustainability technology

9 brands pushing sustainable store design

With sustainability an increasing priority on the agenda for fashion and retail businesses around the globe today, attention is also turning to their brick-and-mortar stores – how they’re resourced, designed and constructed. 

According to Schneider Electric, retail buildings are the largest consumers of energy among non-residential buildings in Europe, contributing $20 billion each year. Factors such as electricity, air conditioning and lighting all contribute to a brand’s carbon footprint and emissions. 

The interesting thing is that going green is proven to not only help retailers reduce their impact on the planet, but significantly save them money. A 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales, according to Carbon Trust. 

Investing in sustainable store design, therefore, has a positive effect on profit, people and the planet. From locally-sourced materials, to energy saving light bulbs, and even the removal of any plastic packaging, there is an incredibly wide range of ways retailers can make their stores more environmentally friendly. 

Here we highlight some of the best examples of brands going above and beyond with their stores in order to do so: 

Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney London flagship store

Last year Stella McCartney opened a new flagship store in London that expands four floors and embodies sustainability throughout. The outposts of the store are lined with recycled foam and card that were made from waste paper from the London offices. The space is also the first to use biodegradable mannequins,  made from 72% sugarcane bioplastic, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions. To help combat air pollution, the store has a hidden ventilation systems that removes 95% of air pollutants and harmful gases, such as nitrogen dioxide. At launch, Stella herself said: “The store really tells the story of the world of Stella McCartney, seamlessly incorporating sustainability, fashion and luxury.”

Ikea
Inside Ikea’s Greenwich Store

Ikea opened a sustainable store in London’s Greenwich, built from a range of renewable materials in 2019. The roof is covered with 75% solar panels, which power the store, and rainwater is harvested to help reduce the store’s water consumption by 50%. The store not only helps the environment, but is also working towards improving the community around it. Ikea holds an array of classes such as bunting making, which utilizes off-cuts of IKEA fabric, helping spread the message of full utilization. The design of the store has been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM certification, which is the highest award for sustainable construction, covering areas such as energy, land use and materials. Efforts to incorporate geothermal heating, 100% LED lighting and textile recycling, have also elevated it to become the most sustainable retail store in the UK.

Patagonia
Patagonia Store in Victoria, Canada

Patagonia is not only leading the way with sustainability in manufacturing, but is going above and beyond with its store design strategy. Each outpost is uniquely designed to reflect the history and culture of its location, while simultaneously keeping the planet in mind. The Victoria store in Canada, which opened several years ago now, for instance, had three main goals when it was being designed: to use sustainable construction methods, utilize reclaimed materials and become the best retail space for outdoor activities in the area. It features a range of wooden details throughout, from wall decorations to shelving units, giving it a grounded earthy feel. The wood was wastage retrieved from the Pacific Ocean and leftover material from the local yacht club.

Country Road
Country Road store in Melbourne

Australian fashion retailer Country Road opened its flagship store in Melbourne this summer also with sustainability in mind. The space is made from recycled materials such as yoghurt containers, fishing nets and recycled paper. It is the first to receive a 5-star Green Design review from the Green Building Council of Australia. It also includes details like fitting room hooks that have been made using ocean plastic and tables from recycled plastic. The brand hopes this store design will be the first of many, as it continues to expand in the country.

Starbucks
Starbucks sustainable store design

Starbucks is leading the way in the coffee sphere by building LEED-certified stores, which stands for ‘leadership in energy and environmental design’. These green stores use LED lighting, recycled flooring tiles and wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship council. They are 25% more energy efficient and 30% more water efficient. In countries with solar and wind projects, the stores are run on   100% renewable energy. Starbucks already has 1,612 LEED-certified stores, but is intending to extend the framework to 10,000 by 2025, which could save $50m in utility costs over the next 10 years alongside reducing impact on the planet.

Bottletop
Bottletop’s London store

Sustainable accessories brand, Bottletop, opened the world’s first 3D printed store, created by robots using upcycled plastic, in London. Based on Regent Street, it is zero waste and home to the brand’s sustainable handcrafted collection of leather goods. The space embodies the company’s core mission to empower people through sustainable design and creative culture. The flooring of the store is made from reworked rubber tyres and the interior is made from 60,000 upcycled plastic bottles. Overall, the store aims to re-imagine the future of ecologically responsible construction through zero waste design.

Ganni
Ganni store

Danish fashion brand Ganni recently opened its new London store following a number of doors in Copenhagen and Stockholm. While it features bubblegum pink walls fit for every Instagrammer’s dream, it is also underpinned with a green strategy in mind. The store incorporates  sustainable features such as recycled plastic displays made from old plastic bottles, plant pots, food packaging and coffee grounds. Decorations throughout are either vintage pieces or upcycled products, including rugs that have been remade from old Ganni collections. The company also uses renewable energy across all of its stores, with the aim to have 100% green sources by the end of 2019. 

Lush
Lush’s plastic free products

As one of the sustainability leaders in beauty, Lush recently stepped up its game by stripping back several of its stores in Berlin, Milan and Manchester, in a bid to go entirely plastic free. The ‘Naked’ stores, as they’re called, are part of the brand’s initiative to tackle the plastic waste problem in the cosmetic industry. They all feature products like the brand’s solid shampoos, which don’t necessitate any packaging. Each of them further serve as an open space for NGOs and activist groups to educate and increase consumer awareness on the topics of zero waste and ocean plastics.

Reformation
Reformation store

Cult fashion brand Reformation puts sustainability at the core of everything it does, from local manufacturing and sustainable dyeing to green buildings and fabrics. Its Los Angeles stores and headquarters are all Green Business certified, meaning they implement strategies to save energy, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. Reformation offsets its store build by 100%, by calculating the construction footprint. The materials in store are also sustainable with LED fixtures,  recycled fabric insulations and natural rammed earth materials.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovations? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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Events mobile Retail social media technology

Balmain launches app to connect customers to brand universe


Luxury label Balmain has released an app that aims to give consumers more access to the brand’s universe, in a mission championed by creative director Olivier Rousteing.

The app, which was released on iTunes yesterday, will allow users to engage with the brand in a multitude of different ways.

“The app is the final element of the strategy we are rolling out to launch the new monogram, the new logo, and to support overall the new communication strategy of Balmain,” the label’s CEO Massimo Piombini told WWD. “This is a way to connect with the next generation, with new customers, with a segment of customers that are close to the brand that are expecting from us these kinds of new features.”

For example ahead of the label’s upcoming couture show which takes place on January 23, users will be able to scan posters through the streets of Paris to trigger augmented reality content. Users will also be able to watch a livestream of the show, the house’s first couture collection in 16 years, as well as footage of the menswear show that is happening tomorrow.

To give brand fans a further glimpse into the brand, there will also interactive content around its new Saint Honoré flagship, which is due to open in February. The brand has announced that it will also be launching similar initiatives at key European cities in the future.

Under Rousteing’s helm, the 82-year-old label has been increasingly connecting with younger consumers through the lens of digital. In April 2018, it created a virtual reality experience at its Milan store based on the designer’s inspirations for the brand’s collections, while its latest campaign featured a cast of virtual models.

How are you thinking about digital 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 product Retail technology

Chanel’s new Paris flagship will test augmented retail concept

Chanel
Chanel

Chanel’s newly-opened flagship in Paris will serve as a testing ground for the label’s digital initiatives, aiming to create an increasingly omnichannel retail experience. 

This is part of an innovation partnership with Farfetch announced earlier this year, which will see the luxury brand develop new clienteling tools both online and in-store. Called Augmented Retail, the vision will use data and other digital capabilities to create a personalized shopping experience, according to Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves.

Speaking on the partnership in February, he said: “It is truly an honour to be partnering with Chanel to accelerate the development of technology-driven initiatives which will ensure they remain at the forefront of retail excellence and elevate the already unparalleled level of luxury experience for its clients that Chanel is renowned for.”

Among the digital features set to be rolled out over the next six months is the launch of a dedicated Chanel app, which will focus on giving its most loyal shoppers more access to the brand, as well as a more tailored shopping experience.

Beyond tech enhancements, the five-storey space has a heavy focus on its VIP customers, with the two top floors dedicated to exclusive experiences, such as enjoying private meals and even taking a shower. 

Luxury brands and retailers are increasingly dedicating shopfloor space to providing its most engaged customers with experiences that go beyond shopping. Earlier this year, online retailer Matchesfashion.com opened its first physical space at a townhouse in London, featuring floors with the sole purpose of hosting events such as book signings, podcast recordings, exhibitions and exercise classes.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? 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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Retail technology

CoverGirl’s new tech-enabled flagship focuses on discovery and personalization

Covergirl
CoverGirl

Makeup brand CoverGirl’s new Times Square store in New York is encouraging shoppers to immerse themselves in an experiential playground with tech-enabled experiences that include a virtual greeter and AR glam stations.

The store, which is the first under the brand’s new “I am what I make up” philosophy, is designed to be a shared beauty experience, where consumers are encouraged to discover, try on and express themselves through makeup in several different ways.

“We can’t wait to open our doors to the public and let our fellow CoverGirls in to play and to ‘make up’ what CoverGirl means to them,” says Coty’s Consumer Beauty CMO Ukonwa Ojo. “The CoverGirl flagship represents this incredible moment in beauty – where rich experiences matter most and where true self-expression and experimentation are the only beauty standards.”

Upon entering the store, customers are greeted by Olivia, an AI virtual greeter powered by Google’s Dialogflow that can answer questions, share beauty trends or simply direct customers to their desired products. A try-on station allows shoppers to pick up a lipstick or eyeshadow from a tray and have it automatically overlaid onto their faces via augmented reality mirrors, similar to Coty’s Bourjois boutique that opened in Paris earlier this year; to provide the personalization that consumers crave, another station allows them to customize a lipstick and/or makeup bag; lastly, in-store staff, or CoverGirl BFFs, will be on hand to provide advice, tricks and recommendations.

The store’s design has also been developed with the young beauty consumer in mind, with every corner providing a selfie-ready backdrop that allows shoppers to share their looks and shopping experiences.

Being that the new flagship is at one of the world’s busiest areas for footfall, it will be open daily from 10am until midnight.

Increasingly, beauty brands are deploying augmented reality to further engage with a consumer who is prone for interaction. Beyond Coty’s new Bourjois and CoverGirl stores, this year L’Oréal also announced the introduction of digital beauty assistants that use AR to show consumers looks via video on the NYX app.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? 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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Editor's pick Retail technology

Mulberry focuses on omnichannel experience with new London flagship

Mulberry's new London flagship
Mulberry’s new London flagship

British luxury label Mulberry is introducing a connected retail experience at its new London flagship store, as part of a wider strategy focused on customer experience.

The brand is working with payments platform, Adyen, and mobile assisted selling platform, Tulip, to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. In store, this will include mobile checkouts and an endless aisle feature, where customers can purchase items that are out-of-stock in-store, online. Additionally the store will also feature click-and-collect and two-hour same-day delivery across Central London.

Using Adyen’s platform, Mulberry will also be able to offer overseas shoppers their preferred local payment methods.

“I’m excited to be opening our new global flagship at 100 Regent Street where we have created a rich and vibrant store concept that brings to life all the elements of British landscape and architecture that inspire us,” said Johnny Coca, the brand’s creative director. “The pace and energy of Regent Street captures the spirit of Mulberry and is the perfect setting to unveil this new chapter of our brand.”

In celebration of the launch and London Fashion Week commencing, Coca and Stephanie Phair, chairman of the BFC, will be co-hosting a supper club this Friday (September 14).

On Saturday (September 15), the brand is inviting customers in-store to enjoy cocktails and become a #MulberryMuse for the AW18 campaign through a bespoke interactive studio that creates customized portraits that are played onto the store windows.

The London flagship launch comes following Mulberry’s major push in Asia earlier this month, through a four-day event in Seoul called “Mulberry x Seoul”. The initiative featured a series of events including a runway show at the K Museum of Contemporary Art showcasing the AW 18/19 collection, which was also broadcast live across social media.

Mulberry’s new London flagship

For the remaining days the same venue also hosted a gala, while customers could further discover the brand through a pop-up store, a selfie studio and films. The initiative also gave brand fans the chance to win gifts and buy a limited edition handbag, which was only available in Korea for two weeks.

“Korea was the second [biggest] country in terms of revenue so it was important to be part of that expansion and to communicate more about the brand and its heritage to the Korean customer,” said Mulberry’s creative director Johnny Coca about the event.

Luxury labels are increasingly looking to diversify their storytelling strategies, and over the past few years this has included taking the brand on the road to markets it has a solid customer base, or a huge potential in. Last week, Tommy Hilfiger hosted its Tommy Now runway event in Shanghai, China. The event acted as an anchor to a content ecosystem that helps customers – who are often new to the brand – better understand its DNA. This strategy and more was the subject of our latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, featuring Tommy’s chief brand officer, Avery Baker.

How are you thinking about retail 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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Editor's pick Retail social media

Burberry to drop first Tisci products through exclusive 24-hour releases

Burberry
Burberry

Burberry is releasing limited edition products through a series of 24-hour releases across its Instagram and WeChat channels, as well as in-store at its flagship in London.

The move is to launch the inaugural collection from new chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci. It will see the first product released 30 minutes after the beginning of the brand’s show at London Fashion Week, happening on September 17 at 5pm.

This ‘drop’ culture is reflective of the strategy applied in the streetwear market, whereby new items are released on given days, often for a set amount of time only, in order to drive hype around their exclusivity. The luxury industry is increasingly jumping in this same direction in order to capitalize on the consumer appetite it’s created, and arguably build conversions in the somewhat complicated see-now-buy-now era.

For Burberry, the initiative also marks another step towards a complete brand overhaul under Tisci’s guise. The Italian designer has also recently introduced a rebrand that modernizes Burberry’s traditional logo.

During the month of September, he will translate this new aesthetic via an installation at the brand’s London flagship. Commissioned British artist Graham Hudson, will create ‘Sisyphus Reclined’, an immersive three-storey installation in the store, with themed rooms celebrating the brand’s rich history.

Burberry’s London flagship

The reimagined flagship will be open to the public from September 15, with Hudson’s installation remaining on display until early October.

It’s 24-hour product drops are also expected to continue beyond fashion week. This is not the first time Burberry has launched a bespoke e-commerce experience through its social channels. The luxury retailer has previously tapped into the potential of WeChat to sell product – for Chinese Valentine’s Day this year, it launched a WeChat mini-program that encouraged couples to take a quiz which, once completed, gave them access to a range of products created exclusively for the event.

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

ICYMI: Macy’s buys Story, Gucci’s new flagship, AI and the future of fashion

Futuristic fashion by Tim Walker
Futuristic fashion by Tim Walker

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

TOP STORIES
  • Macy’s buys Story concept [RetailDive]
  • Gucci plants its flag in Soho [BoF]
  • How artificial intelligence will impact the future of fashion [Vogue]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Can AI and AR turn your prospects into customers? [Inc]
  • How beauty brands like Coty and Shiseido are using voice assistants [Glossy]
  • Ticketmaster to trial facial recognition technology at live venues [Venture]
  • Verisart brings blockchain certification to the global art auction market [TechCrunch]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Fast fashion goes green with mushrooms, lumber scraps, and algae [Bloomberg]
  • Applied DNA Sciences confirms traceability of leather [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Walmart.com redesigns as the anti-Amazon [Co.Design]
  • Farfetch partners with Stadium Goods on sneaker hub [WWD]
  • Brandless’ pop-up is focused on community engagement rather than selling products [AdWeek]
  • China’s live-streaming fashion boom changing the way Gen Z shops [SCMP]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside the bitter war to bring Tupac and Michael Jackson back to life [Wired]
  • Diet Prada unmasked [BoF]
  • Instagram quietly launches payments for commerce [TechCrunch]
PRODUCT
  • Amsterdam is solving its gum litter problem by making shoes out of recycled gum [AdWeek]
  • ElektroCouture: Inside the fashion house behind Swarovski’s $60,000 light-up dress [Forbes]
BUSINESS
  • Over 400 startups are trying to become the next Warby Parker. Inside the wild race to overthrow every consumer category [Inc]
  • Prada: Making the most of its moment [BoF]
  • Alibaba’s anti-counterfeit group now has 105 brand members, including L’Oréal and Bose [TheDrum]
Categories
Retail technology

Balmain takes customers on a creative journey using virtual reality

Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing
Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing

Balmain has unveiled its new concept store in Milan, featuring a virtual reality experience based around the dream-like inspirations behind the designs of creative director Olivier Rousteing.

The experience, named “My City of Lights” aims to take visitors into the mind of Rousteing; to follow the creative influences behind his collections. Visitors putting on one of the custom Oculus VR headsets, designed by Rousteing himself, will find themselves inside the empty rooms of a Baroque castle, a high cathedral and even the rooftops of Paris.

The store showcases the first in a series of VR experiences as part of Balmain’s Wonderlabs marketing strategy focusing on entertainment and technology. Balmain’s strategy demonstrates its desire to transform the retail experience and forge the way in using technology in fashion retail.

Balmain

Speaking to Vogue, Rousteing revealed that democracy is a driving force for these kind of experiences in store. “Fashion is more inclusive than ever, and there’s no better way to include more people than through technology and digital,” he said.

Rousteing isn’t new to technology collaborations in store. The opening of Balmain’s Melrose Place site also marked the launch of a collaboration between Rousteing and Beats headphones.

The Milan store however, is the luxury brand’s first flagship in Italy and has been launched to coincide with Salone del Mobile, the international furniture and design show taking place in the city. The My City of Lights experience in it will next travel to other Balmain stores around the world.