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LVMH’s $16bn Tiffany&Co deal, Coty’s Kylie Cosmetics takeover, H&M’s size-free denim

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

Top Stories
  • LVMH confirms deal to acquire Tiffany&Co for $16.2 billion (CNBC)
  • Coty acquires majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business for $600million (Retail Dive)
  • H&M’s Weekday Denim to sell ‘size-free’ jeans in 2020 (WWD)
  • The State of Fashion 2020 report (BoF)
  • Adidas AR activation drops shoppers into a trash-filled virtual ocean (Mobile Marketer)
  • 4 ways to address gender bias in AI (Harvard Business Review)
  • Chipotle rolls out Alexa voice ordering (Mobile Marketer)
  • Tesla’s new Cybertruck smashed during demo (BBC)
  • JC Penney rings in holiday proposal season with AR ad driving virtual try-ons (Retail Dive)
  • Amazon launches a Dash Smart Shelf that automatically restocks supplies (TechCrunch)
  • 3D configurators aren’t a gimmick – they’re the future of shopping (The Next Web)
Sustainability & Purpose
  • New senate bill proposes animal-testing ban for cosmetics (WWD)
  • Sainsbury’s opens ‘giving store’ to collect food and gift donations (Campaign)
  • Etihad, Boeing announce first-of-its-kind eco-friendly plane (Khaleej Times)
  • Gucci boos Marco Bizzarri urges CEOs to fight climate change (Retail Gazette)
  • Everlane has eliminated 75% of virgin plastics from its supply chain (Vogue Business)
  • Retailers take a stance on ‘dirty viscose’ (Drapers)
  • Air Co launches as ‘worlds first carbon-negative vodka’ (Dezeen)
  • Conde Nast to rethink plastic packaging (WWD)
  • Boots scraps plastic pharmacy bags for compostable bags (Retail Gazette)
Retail & Commerce
  • Patagonia opens first Worn Wear store (Retail Dive)
  • Cartier unveils digital platform: Cartier Care (WWD)
  • Mulberry to open new store concept at Victoria Leeds (Fashion United)
  • Amazon opens four-day Black Friday pop-up (Campaign)
  • Collagerie is a new online shopping platform that will take the confusion out of what to buy (Vogue)
  • Posti to open a new parcel centre, with fitting rooms, for online shoppers (Helsinki Times)
  • Whistles collaborates with Goldfinger Factory for sustainable Christmas window (The Industry)
  • Estée Lauder companies to acquire k-beauty company Dr.Jart+ (Fashion United)
  • Nike invests in adaptive footwear (BoF)
  • Uber wants to deliver drugs to your home (Mashable)
  • PayPal acquires Honey for $4billion (Adweek)
  • After Barney’s Bankruptcy, ex-CEO joins Tiffany&Co (Bloomberg)
  • Jennifer Lopez named global ambassador of Coach (WWD)
  • Victoria’s Secret cancels fashion show amid ratings drop (BBC)
  • Arcadia appoints Andrew Coppel as new chairman (Retail Gazette)
  • Inside Iran’s underground fashion industry (BoF)
  • Il Makiage acquires Israeli tech start-up NeoWize (WWD)
  • Subscription bag rental service Cocoon launches (Fashion United)
Marketing & Social Media
  • Pantene teamed up with the Dresscode Project for Trans Visibility Campaign (Teen Vogue)
  • Dove drives change in beauty ads with ‘Project #ShowUs’ (WARC)
  • European Retailers Lure Chinese Shoppers with WeChat Pay (Jing Daily)
  • Oasis converts with social proof messaging (Retail Technology)
  • How to sell fashion on Instagram without traditional influencers (Vogue Business)
  • Stella McCartney and Adidas are releasing vegan Stan Smiths (Teen Vogue)
  • Missguided extends brand into travel market with MISSGUIDED VACAYS (The Industry)
  • Victoria Beckham expands into skincare, plans fragrance launch for 2020 (Fashion Network)
  • Advent calendars are big business for beauty (Vogue Business)
  • Louis Vuitton debuts customizable sneaker trunk (Highsnobiety)
  • Serena Williams debuts first jewelry line (Fashion Network)
  • Prada & Adidas unveil first set of limited editions bags and sneakers (WWD)
  • Vogue Mexico spotlights transgender ‘muxe’ women (BoF)
  • Is ‘incubating’ influencers the future? (Glossy)
  • Why fashion needs chief diversity officers (Vogue Business)
  • The future is fluid as labels sign up for gender-free fashion (The Industry)

How are you thinking about innovation? 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. Get in touch to learn more.

Campaigns film

Dollar Shave Club breaks down gender stereotypes in Get Ready campaign

Dollar Shave Club, Get Ready, Grooming, Bathroom Rituals, video, campaign, advertisment
Get Ready

Dollar Shave Club is focusing on breaking down gender stereotypes in a new campaign that marks its biggest video production to date.

Get Ready, as it’s called, is a short film from the subscription razor company that shows 26 different bathroom sets and their accompanying consumers, each demonstrating a particular grooming ritual.

Included is a man enjoying a luxurious bubble bath in a pink-tiled bathroom, for instance, or a woman shaving her bald head. The aim of the video is to show customers who are far more varied than the archetypes the shaving industry usually portray. 

Each of the 26 scenarios shown are all based on the responses of a consumer survey. 

The film also sees a cameo from the brand’s CEO, Michael Dubin, who in once scene puts toilet paper in his underwear and views himself expectantly in the mirror. It’s a move that only reinforces the deliberately not-so-serious tone that made the very first Dollar Shave Club video, Our Blades Are F***ing Great., such a success.

With the Get Ready campaign, it is continuing to demonstrate its distinctive marketing voice, while also emphasizing its creative independence after being acquired by Unilever for an estimated $1 billion in 2016. In a strategic decision to not seek help from an external agency, the company employed its in-house marketing team for the entire creative process. 

The finale of the video sees all characters unite (breaking down bathroom doors, climbing over tiled-walls) and leave the purposefully obvious TV-set design. The caption reads “Welcome to the Club”, which then cleverly shows all the different bathroom essentials the company can now provide its customers with, following its expansion beyond razors and into other grooming essentials.

business Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

In-depth: The big takeaways from Cannes Lions 2018

Cannes Lions 2018
Cannes Lions 2018

Pivotal societal movements from gender equality and diversity to environmental sustainability, have been a part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for many years, but there was a greater sense of urgency and action tied to their delivery for 2018.

Beyond the talk

It’s all too easy to step on stage – onto the influential platform that Cannes Lions represents – and talk about a need for change. A need for the industry to be more inclusive, to represent women in positive roles or to bring about a sense of brand purpose that will shift mindsets across consumer groups at large. But it’s another thing altogether to really put that into action.

In a panel focused on female empowerment, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, said the reason we’re still talking about the same old things is because of the fact progress is frustratingly slow. In a recent review of 40,000 ads, for instance, 29% negatively or inaccurately portrayed women in some way due to objectification, stereotyping or some kind of diminished role.

The landscape is changing, he said, but not fast enough. “There are some good examples, and we should feel good about that, but we know it’s not enough. I am optimistic however. We are getting close to that tipping point. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements changed the narrative forever. So let’s double down, and come together to be agents of change to achieve gender equality in the creative world.”

What’s key to driving this, he said, is seeing equality behind the camera, and throughout the entire creative pipeline. We can’t expect equality in the creative output until we have equality in the creative input, he explained.

Pritchard further highlighted that getting this right is also impactful on business results. Gender equal ads perform 10% better in trust and equity ratings, and 26% higher in terms of sales growth, he noted.

Beyond the trend

Driving change or action was also applied to the diversity conversation this year. Much like with gender equality, the focus here was on getting to the point of not needing to discuss it as a key subject at such an event anymore.

Said Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief: “For the future, I want to see the marginalized, normalized… I don’t think we’re doing enough, but we’re all here doing our best. It will never be done until we’re not having this conversation anymore, until we’re not talking about diversity.”

Supermodel Naomi Campbell suggested that we’re currently at crunch time as to whether this diversity “trend” has sticking power. It’s got to be more than just a hot topic, she noted.

In an interview that dove into how she spent her early career being paid significantly less than her white counterparts, she explained: “I’m giving diversity another six months to see if it’s a trend, or something that’s here to stay and really change.”

Beyond purpose

Indeed, when something is deemed merely a trend, there’s also risk for brands of being perceived as jumping on the bandwagon should there not be authenticity in their approach. Having “brand purpose” or brands that “stand for something” are fellow trendy phrases, but it’s only through longstanding values that any such focus can ever ring true, speakers agreed.

The current era is a battle for truth, which is what’s placing trust at an all-time low for consumers, explained Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, which publishes the annual Trust Barometer. “The idea for big brands has to be how do we become part of this ecosystem pushing change? Beyond the idea of purpose is the notion that somehow we’re relevant, and pushing for better,” he commented.

Patagonia hit the stage with an exploration of its ongoing focus on the environment and active support of a better planet, on that note. That wasn’t something that happened overnight however, but a program of belief in the company established over a 20-year period, the brand’s European marketing director, Alex Weller, explained.

What’s key right now, he said however, is that consumers want to take action themselves. “In what increasingly feels like a stormy world, people are looking for hope. They’re looking for it in grassroots organizations, and increasingly in brands…. People are asking what can I do, how can I help, how can I take action.”

What the team realized was that if it really wanted to scale the movement, it needed to get out of the way a bit. “That bottleneck was us,” Weller said. The Patagonia Action Works platform, a microsite intended to facilitate interactions between like-minded activists, was the resulting initiative. “The end goal is that we and our community get to participate in things we care about to actually take action. To go from giving a shit to actually doing something,” he explained.

Once again, proof lies in the pudding. Weller explained that Patagonia has been growing at between 15-20% year-on-year. “We believe there is correlation between our movement building and our commercial performance. And the more direct correlation is, that the more we grow, the more we can do,” he noted.

business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion’s woman problem, the hologram reality, Zara’s digitally-integrated store

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

  • Fashion’s woman problem [NYTimes]
  • Holograms: are they still the preserve of science fiction? [Guardian]
  • Zara opens its pioneering digitally integrated store at Westfield Stratford [TheIndustry]
  • plans to make courier robots smarter by enabling them to ‘talk’ to lifts, ascend towers [SCMP]
  • Loving the alien: Why AI will be the key to unlocking consumer affection [Forbes]
  • How to succeed at being a crypto and blockchain influencer without really trying [NewCoShift]
  • China’s government casts uncertainty on blockchain evolution [JingDaily]
  • Nike, H&M and Burberry join forces for sustainable fashion [Reuters]
  • Sephora is launching in-store beauty classes for trans people [Them]
  • Burberry is successfully steering sales into its own stores [Glossy]
  • Alibaba’s newest initiative aims to make Hong Kong a global AI hub [TechCrunch]
  • This new company is about to make fast fashion even faster [Racked]
  • How we made our own CGI influencer in 48 hours [TheCut]
  • Fabrics of the past, present and future and the best ways to wear them [ManRepeller]
  • Hue breakthrough: Scientists engineer first active, color-changing fabric [WWD]
  • MatchesFashion gets a royal wedding boost to top off bumper year [CityAM]
  • Can Walmart crack fashion? [BoF]
  • Nordstrom wants brands to embrace the ‘size spectrum’ [Glossy]
  • New Look accused of ‘fat tax’ by charging more for outfits after size 16 [Telegraph]
Campaigns data digital snippets Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Plastic waste becomes Adidas tees, how Bitcoin went luxury, data to reduce returns

Adidas for Earth Day
Adidas for Earth Day

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

  • Adidas created Earth Day soccer jerseys made from ‘upcycled’ plastic ocean waste [AdWeek]
  • How Bitcoin went luxury [Vogue]
  • How retailers are crunching data to cut losses from returns [Glossy]
  • The fashion world after Anna Wintour [NY Times]
  • Alibaba is becoming a major investor in facial-recognition technology [Quartz]
  • Retail’s adapt-or-die moment: how artificial intelligence is reshaping commerce [CB Insights]
  • Leap Motion’s “virtual wearables” may be the future of computing [Co.Design]
  • Why beauty giants are snapping up technology startups [BoF]
  • Farfetch launches startup accelerator [BoF]
  • LVMH’s Ian Rogers on Station F [WWD]
  • The beginner’s guide to how blockchain could change the ethical fashion game [Fashionista]
  • Why brands are under increasing pressure to be transparent about what they believe in [AdWeek]
  • Stella McCartney: ‘Only 1% of clothing is recycled. What are we doing?’ [TheGuardian]
  • Brandless, the ‘Procter & Gamble for millennials’ startup that sells everything for $3, is launching a pop-up, but you can’t buy anything [Business Insider]
  • Glossier opening permanent retail space in LA [WWD]
  • Two computer-generated influencers are at war right now, and nothing is real anymore [W Magazine]
  • With privacy updates, Instagram upsets influencer economy [BoF]
  • How Vans is shaking up its experiential marketing to get more personal [BrandChannel]
  • Snapchat has launched in-app AR shopping, with Adidas and Coty among the first sellers [TheDrum]
  • Adidas partners with Lean In to promote equal pay for women [WWD]
  • Gap CEO Art Peck: Big data gives us major advantages over competitors [CNBC]
business Comment Editor's pick fashmash

Fashion takeaways from Ben Horowitz book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things


The inaugural #fashmash book club was held in London earlier this month, with a group of digital individuals from the fashion industry meeting at the all-new Library private members club in London.

The book in question for this first get-together was leading venture capitalist Ben Horowitz‘s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. The aim wasn’t just to dissect the chapters and share our impressions on each of them, but apply them (and their learnings intended for the world of tech start-ups) directly to what they mean for the fashion industry, enabling a broader discussion on business strategy as a result.

What ended up was quite a critical look at what needs to shift in our industry. Here then are some of the takeaways – a series of considerations designed to be thought-starters rather than fully formed arguments.

“Dogs at work and yoga aren’t culture”

Culture doesn’t make a company, but once you’ve nailed the product, it’s an essential part of building and maintaining it, Horowitz suggests. This isn’t about team drinks or gym classes as the easy option, but an ethos that determines who you are both internally and externally. In fashion, an obvious example is Zappos. As a brand that stands for customer service, it inducts all its employees no matter what level they’re starting at into that way of thinking with a mandatory four weeks training in the call centre.

Much of the industry comes with a significant heritage in tow, however – 150 years for a department store here, 168 for a designer brand there – which make cultural shifts, if necessary, all that much harder to achieve. In the most traditional of senses, the biggest barrier is still that feeling of fashion living in an ivory tower.

Despite a move at large to new ways of thinking thanks to digital, there remains very much a culture industry-wide of there only being one voice, a focus on the idea of that being ‘the way things have always been done’, and significant barriers to internal innovation as a result. Even some of today’s youngest and most successful online companies are beginning to battle with this as their teams grow and become increasingly siloed seemingly overnight. Tweets and Facebook posts planned three months in advance aren’t uncommon, especially in certain European cities, neither are rigorous sign-off processes that make simple tasks significantly more laborious than they need be.

“Create a culture that rewards, not punishes people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved,” writes Horowitz. For culture to evolve in fashion, the starting point is still internal communication, development of trust and a willingness to become more open, our members suggested.

“Technological advances have dramatically lowered the financial bar for starting a new company, but the courage bar for building a great company remains as high as it has ever been”

Courage, as with risk or failing fast, is a common concept for those in Silicon Valley. For fashion however, as with many other industries similarly based on cumbersome legacy systems, it remains somewhat foreign, despite words like “disruption” regularly being banded about off the back of association with new business models, like that of Warby Parker. For a young designer entering the market otherwise, there is little choice but to follow the established distribution model or not be in with the chance of getting picked up from a buying perspective.

The closest the industry at large comes to consistently courageous activity is instead with a constant obsession with the shiny and the new. But is this to our detriment?

Take seasonal collections. The fashion cycle is becoming increasingly transseasonal; fast fashion ever the norm, even at designer level where there can be anywhere in the region of 12 collections per year nowadays. The sustainability of that is another discussion, what’s interesting here rather is what’s happening to seasonal campaigns alongside. From the highest fashion house to the most basic high street brand, we are still obsessed with twice yearly print ads (with the addition of the odd film alongside) that focus on the newness of the product. What’s lacking then is a reflection on the continuity of the brand.

Fashion is so obsessed with its visual representation, it forgets to portray bigger ideas that help maintain and entice a customer base. Sir John Hegarty of BBH gave a great example of the value of this at Cannes Lions this year by comparing Nike and Reebok. The former launched its strapline “Just Do It” in 1988 – a brand identity in three words that it has kept ever since. Reebok in the meantime, has changed its message near on every year, which is perhaps why so few of us can remember any of them. It’s hard to believe the two had equal market share at that point in time in the 80s.

Shiny and new is also seen with our focus on introducing buzzy technology concepts. Are the high profile, often gimmicky (though duly press-worthy) initiatives seen around fashion weeks worthwhile? As Horowitz writes: “It’s quite possible for an executive to hit her goal by ignoring the future.” In other words, it’s all very well pushing a piece of innovation tied to a specific initiative at a point in time, but is it something that fundamentally fits authentically with the business so it impacts down the road efficiently. True courage lies in building blocks that shape the future.

“When you are a start-up executive, nothing happens unless you make it happen”

There is of course an enormous place for innovation in the fashion industry when done right. It’s important to note the difference between innovation and technology here – in fact some of the most successful examples in our industry are those businesses innovating in areas that aren’t hugely press-worthy. Those figuring out how to decrease e-commerce return rates, or strategising on updating those aforementioned legacy systems to an all-new omnichannel approach. Behind-the-scenes work initially, but innovation that absolutely impacts the future.

This fits with the fact an increasing number of new job roles are being created with retailers in so-called innovation labs. What we’re accordingly starting to see is a big focus on how to actually make things happen.

In the recent WGSN Google Hangout on this very subject, John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewis, and Will Young, director of Zappos Labs, highlighted the necessity of the role of ideas managers in their organisations. Having an innovation team is all very well, but someone needs to execute on those ideas for them to be at all worthwhile. Importantly, these tend to be very different skill sets.

As Horowitz outlines in a chapter about leadership, there’s a big difference between knowing what to do, and doing what you know. Some people lean more heavily towards setting the direction, while for others enjoyment comes from making the company perform. All businesses, fashion included, do of course need both.

“You should strive to hire people with the right kind of ambition”

It mightn’t come as a surprise the #fashmash book club, though spinning off from a network that’s more evenly split, was entirely comprised of women on this first occasion. It’s also not surprising then that everyone in the room picked up on the fact Horowitz consistently referred to the CEO and executive subjects in his book as ‘she’ and ‘her’ throughout. It’s interesting in itself that that stands out as being so different when you read it. For a fashion crowd, however, it also sparked yet another conversation.

Despite the female association, this is an industry still dominated at the top level almost entirely by men. When Angela Ahrendts was the CEO of Burberry, she was one of only three females on the FTSE 100, a loss the UK mourned on her move over to Apple. But one the fashion industry did too. Technology as an industry is battling a lack of women at exec level, but has the fact so few have studied computer science or engineering, frequently to blame. That’s certainly not an issue in our world.

More disappointingly however, this is an industry that still operates under a very stereotyped “mean girls” sensibility, especially in increasingly competitive organisations where egos play a significant part.

With Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In as the go-to reference, not to mention this Pantene ad from the Philippines that went viral worldwide after Sandberg herself shared it, women already have to deal with being perceived as ‘bossy’ or ‘selfish’ compared to men being seen as ‘powerful’ or ‘dedicated’. Bitch is another frequent term referred to. So why aren’t we supporting each other more?

Horowitz defines ambition as a particularly interesting game. “When hiring a management team, most start-ups focus almost exclusively on IQ, but a bunch of high-IQ people with the wrong kind of ambition won’t work,” he writes. He emphasises the importance of distinguishing whether candidates see the world through the “me” prism (their own personal success) or the “team” prism (how the company will win). “Nothing motivates a great employee more than a mission that’s so important that it supersedes everyone’s personal ambition,” he adds.

In closing…

Safe to say, and no doubt this isn’t new to hear for most readers (nor is it unique to this industry), fashion needs a bit of a wake-up call. We’re very good at resting on old laurels, tired ways and the way things have always been done. But increasingly these traditional means don’t match a modern world or a modern consumer. This book is a great example of what the industry should know, what they should look at, and where they should learn from. In general for those managing, hiring, training or firing, there’s also some very practical insights to glean as well.

Do check out Horowitz’s book on Amazon here. And keep up with the #fashmash hashtag on Twitter too to see what titles we’re looking to dive into next.