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2019 highlights: The year in innovation news

2019 was a big year for innovation and the Current Daily has been tracking it all throughout – from the rise of 5G-enabled experiences to the continued push towards a circular economy. 

Here, we highlight some of the most interesting stories from the year, outlining why they are an important indication of where the industry is moving in 2020 and beyond.

5G will drive 100m people to shop in AR

Augmented reality took center stage this year as its user-friendly features meant a growing number of brands – and social media platforms like Instagram – started adopting it as a core engagement strategy.

In April, a Gartner report highlighted that 100 million people will shop in AR once high-speed 5G mobile services roll out more extensively. This means the experience is going to be more seamless than ever, giving it better real-time rendering, shorter download times and reduced latency. Retailers seem to be on board, as 46% of them plan to deploy either AR or VR. Check out our piece exploring what other benefits 5G will bring retail.

Fashion brands have only met 21% of their circularity targets for 2020

If there’s one thing to be sure, there’s no escaping the growing momentum around shifting to more sustainable practices as an industry. But is there really progress being made? In July, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) launched its second yearly assessment of fashion brands and retailers to find that only reached 45 (21%) of the 213 targets the industry has set for 2020 will be met. 

This means the 90 signatories of the GFA’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, which includes fashion companies like adidas, PVH Group and Inditex, will have to hurry if they want to achieve more in the next year. We talked a lot about the need for action in this space when a further collaborative group was announced: the G7 Fashion Pact. If you ask us, it’s time to say enough to the pledges, rather give us some tangible outputs.

H&M to trial clothing rental for the first time

Talking of sustainability, one are where we have seen a lot of action and experimentation this year is in new business models. Rental is making serious strides at all ends of the market, but perhaps most interestingly within fast fashion just recently as the H&M Group announced it will trial clothing rental at one of its H&M Stockholm stores. Members of its customer loyalty program can now rent selected party dresses and skirts from its 2012-2019 Conscious Exclusive collections.

Recently, its brand COS also launched a pilot where it is renting out clothes through Chinese subscription rental platform YCloset, which customers can access through a monthly flat rate. We also published a deep-dive into the different opportunities we see for the industry in rental, here.

Allbirds CEO calls out Amazon product copying

In November, Allbirds’ co-founder and CEO, Joey Zwilinger, wrote an open letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos after discovering the e-commerce platform was producing its own wool sneakers similar to the brand’s most popular style.

Instead of going the usual lawsuit route, the founder took this as an opportunity to highlight his brand’s sustainability mission. In the letter, Zwilinger highlights that Allbirds’ sustainable philosophy is open source, and it has thus far helped over 100 brands who were interested in implementing its renewable materials into their products, suggesting Amazon might like to do the same. It was a bold move but one that sparked a conversation around the role of collaboration once more, and its critical place in true innovation.

Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too?

Gen Z quickly adopted Chinese social media platform TikTok as their app du jour this year for its bite-sized video content. Currently, 66% of the platform’s 500 million global users are under 30, according to data analytics firm, Business of Apps.

Brands have started to follow suit, tapping the app to drive engagement and ultimately sales. Content varies from crowdsourced, as in a recent Burberry campaign that saw users challenged to create the brand’s logo with their fingers, through to more refined, such as in a snippet of an interview with singer Shawn Mendes for Calvin Klein. We explored various other brands setting TikTok precedent, here.

Lush abandons social media

While TikTok has been taking off, elsewhere social media is slowing for some. Vegan cosmetics brand, Lush, for instance decided to shut down all of its activity in the UK as it became “tired of fighting with algorithms” or paying to appear on news feeds. Instead, it suggested a hashtag where fans would still be able to speak to the brand.

Lush’s bold move speaks to fight playing out for anything still resembling organic reach. As consumers become jaded over being ‘sold to’, brands are having to find novel ways to reach them, beyond the influencer route. One other area we’re tracking here is those owning their own conversation channels, as with both Glossier and H&M of late.

Coty acquires majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business

2019 was the year of major acquisitions in both beauty and fashion. While LVMH recently announced it was snapping up Tiffany & Co for $16bn, other names included Farfetch buying New Guards Group, which operates streetwear favorite Off White for $675m; Shiseido acquiring cult skincare brand Drunk Elephant for $845m; and more recently, Coty acquiring a majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s beauty business, Kylie Cosmetics, for $600m. 

The latter served as particular confirmation of how brands build and grow in this day and age. Jenner, who was 18 when she started a single ‘lip kit’ line, used Instagram to form a direct conversation with her audience. In 2019, this seems like an obvious strategy, but the reality star’s foresight to do so in 2015 has undoubtedly been her recipe for success.

How luxury fashion learned to love the blockchain

Amid growing concerns over the proliferation of counterfeit goods, luxury brands also began to embrace blockchain as an important authentication tool this year. 

Earlier this year, we heard about how LVMH launched its own platform, Aura, which is currently being piloted with some of the brands in its portfolio and will further expand in the future. Kering and Richemont meanwhile are said to be exploring this too, while De Beers is using it to trace its diamonds. Once matured, the technology will undoubtedly make its way into the hands of the consumer, who will be able to better understand where their possessions are coming from. We also tracked some of the other innovations in the transparency space; an area that continues to heat up.

Automation in retail: an executive overview for getting ready

Automation was another big tech focus this year, particularly for its potential impact on retail, from supply chain management to last mile delivery. This shift is putting pressure on retailers to rethink their operating models, distribution centres and headquarters, with McKinsey warning that brands that fail to implement it into their strategy risk falling behind. 

Automation is something we’ve long been talking about for the sake of efficiency, but there also comes a significant ethics conversation to be had here, which the industry is exploring. We agree, now is the time.

What Fortnite could mean for fashion

The global gaming market is expected to reach $180bn by 2021, and fashion brands are realizing the valuable potential in this. Free-to-play video game Fortnite has grown into a multi-million dollar business by selling clothing to image-conscious gamers, for instance. This monetization of player aesthetics, more commonly known as ‘skins’, has opened the door for retailers to cash in on the virtual world. 

Going forward, we expect more brands to invest in digital garments or utilize gaming to drive product discovery. We accordingly explored how gamification is being used in the shopping journey by brands like Kenzo and Nike to both increase engagement and build brand loyalty.

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.

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Cannes Lions 2016: a content guide for the fashion industry

Christopher_Bailey_Cannes_Lions
Burberry’s Christopher Bailey is one of the headline speakers at this year’s Cannes Lions

Work in (or with) the fashion industry and heading to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year? Then we’ve done you a solid… Here’s a list of all the relevant sessions you should attend directly related to this industry, from Anna Wintour and Christopher Bailey in conversation, to exciting start-ups including MikMak and Wearable Experiments, not to mention keynotes from Kevin Plank of Under Armour, and John C Jay from Uniqlo.

We’ve also outlined a few bonus must-see talks from other verticals each day in order to get your creative juices flowing.

And don’t forget to check out our tips and tricks for spending the week in Cannes too, from how to keep up with all the content to the best rosé to drink. Do look us up if you’re in town…

Sunday, June 19

10.45am: Digital Darwinism: From the Makers of Monty the Penguin
The creative team at MPC will be sharing the process behind the CG character work they do, exploring the science behind ‘Monty the Penguin’ for John Lewis.

5pm: Want Brand Fans? Create a Movement
Sports performance clothing manufacturer SKINS is teaming up with BBD Perfect Storm for a conversation around building fans by challenging what harms the sports industry: corruption and cheating.

Sunday’s bonus content – 11am: Can Good User Experience Change the World?
If you want any insight into what works in China, this is the session to attend – a deep dive into how one app – WeChat, owned by Tencent – has become an essential part of everyday life by focusing on the user experience.

Monday, June 20

3pm: Adobe Experience
There are a series of speakers in this session, but the one to look out for is Billie Whitehouse, CEO of Wearable Experiments who will be demonstrating how physical, digital and emotional connections are shaping our future and culture (and yes, through clothing).

3.15pm: Creativity Under Pressure
In the world of sporting performance, innovation and new technologies operate at speed, so to remain relevant without sacrificing authenticity, a brand has to continually innovate both products and creativity. Adidas global CMO Eric Liedtke is in the hotseat for this one, exploring co-creating the brand with its consumers.

4pm: Capturing Short Attention Spans: Custom Video Creative for Social Media
If you want insights on video content, hearing from Adaptly and Refinery29 is a good place to start – this session will explore research around short attention spans through to the evolution of long-form media.

Monday’s bonus content – 1pm: Brian Chesky in Conversation with Joanna Coles
Cosmo’s editor-in-chief sits down with Airbnb’s CEO to discuss the vision for his company and the current state of today’s sharing economy. This is a not to miss session as one of the world’s hottest start-ups. Other Monday highlights include Samsung’s virtual reality experience at 12pm, NASA in IPG Mediabrand’s session at 4pm and Mattel in 360i’s reimagining of play at 5pm.

Tuesday, June 21

10am: Anna Wintour in Conversation with Christopher Bailey
For those in the fashion industry, this is one of the most-anticipated sessions of the week, Condé Nast’s infamous artistic director starting off talking about breaking through the noise with an authoritative editorial voice, followed by a conversation about creativity with Burberry’s chief creative and executive officer. Never have the obstacles to true innovation been so real, Wintour explains – but never have the opportunities been as great.

12.15pm: From Roman Emperors to Roman Orgies
Strictly speaking this is a talk about the world of agency and client relationships, but the fact United Colors of Benetton and its history of creative campaigns is the subject makes it a worthwhile one to attend. The brand’s chief product and marketing officer, John Mollanger, will be in conversation with 180 Amsterdam.

12.30pm: Invisible UI – Transforming the Way We Think About Wearables
Another wearable technology conversation takes place courtesy of Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive) during Lions Innovation, this time focusing on moving beyond wrists stacked with smart watches and fitness trackers to integrating tech seamlessly into what we already have and do.

1pm: The Gang of Four
As part of Lions Innovation, L2 Inc’s Scott Galloway will explain the race to grab share in the retail and media industries between Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – outlining who will thrive and who will die in the digital age. Knowing Galloway’s style of presenting, this will be a fast-paced delivery of data and insights, meaning it’s rich in information even if your head is left spinning.

Tuesday’s bonus content – 5pm: The Art of (Brand) Seduction
There’s Will Smith at 11am and Usher at 2pm, but the session we don’t want to miss is rather from FCB in conversation with the chief scientific advisor for Match.com. In a complex life, building enduring connections is difficult – whether you’re shopping or looking for life partners. The hypothesis here is there’s a lot for brands to learn from the social science behind how the world of dating has changed.

Kevin Plank Under Armour
Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour

Wednesday, June 22

1pm: Stephen Sackur Interviews Gwyneth Paltrow
This year’s BBC Hardtalk session – a live on-stage recording for TV – is with award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow. For industry folk, it’s her role as the driving force behind health and wellness platform Goop that will likely be of most interest though.

5pm: Inside the Innovator’s Mindset
Forbes has pulled together two entrepreneurs for its session at Lions Innovation this year – exploring what innovation and creativity means to them as game-changers. One of them is the co-founder and CPO of smart jewellery brand, Bellabeat; the other the founder and CEO of mobile video shopping network, MikMak. Both are well worth a listen.

Wednesday’s bonus content – 1pm: Wired’s Kevin Kelly on Where We Are All Heading
Today’s must-see: It clashes with Gwyneth Paltrow, but if you’re happy to “consciously uncouple” yourself from her, head over to Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly’s conversation with PHD Worldwide instead. The session will explore 12 inevitable technological forces that will revolutionise the way we buy, work, learn and communicate. Failing that, you’ve also got Simon Pegg at 10am, Unilever’s Keith Weed at 11am and Iggy Pop at 3pm.

Thursday, June 23

12pm: Kevin Plank and David Droga: from Underdogs to Challengers
Another big highlight of the week comes in the form of this conversation between the founder of Under Armour and the founder of Droga5 – a duo who have both built successful, innovative companies with authenticity at the core. Hot on the heels of his talk at SXSW, Plank particularly is one not to miss.

5pm: Spike Jonze & Shane Smith: Making Content We Care About
How do we make content that young people genuinely care about? A key question for brands today, and who better to share key insights than Oscar winning director Spike Jonze and Vice founder Shane Smith. The discussion will be a broad one, but there should be lots of applicable snippets to learn in this session.

Thursday’s bonus content – 10am: Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase
On the off-chance the pace of Cannes has started to catch up with you, there’s nothing better than Thursday morning’s New Directors’ Showcase for a spot of recovery. It’s a good excuse to sit in the dark for an hour and a quarter on the one hand, and on the other a flood of inspiration from some of the best new global creative talent. If that doesn’t take your fancy for the day, you’ve also got Oscar winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu at 2pm, plus a view on cracking China from Nils Andersson at 11am.

Friday, June 24

11am Beyond the Big Screen: The Future of Storytelling in Hollywood
The relationship between entertainment and advertising is increasingly a fine one when storytelling comes in. At a time when multiple industries, fashion included, are looking to nail how they create engaging content, who better to learn from in this space than one of Hollywood’s most-awarded storytellers and visionaries, Harvey Weinstein. He’ll join Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.

12.30pm Future Five: The Next Five Fashion Influencers
As part of Lions Entertainment, StyleHaul has curated a video presentation of five key influencers to know about in the fashion space. This content will be followed by a discussion about who they are and what you need to know.

2.15pm Isobar Presents ‘Icons Of Creativity’ with Uniqlo’s John C Jay
It’s a rarity to have someone from Uniqlo talking, let alone its president of global creative, John C Jay. He believes the world today is experiencing a creative revolution, changing culture and business simultaneously, and will be discussing how his organisation works to maintain its creative edge and relevancy in this fast changing, brand commerce era.

Friday’s bonus content – 3.15pm: How to Do Terrible Work
Wrapping up your Friday, how about a view on how not to win, how to be maliciously obedient and how to kill things? That’s the crux of the session between the global CMO of Mars and worldwide CCO of BBDO. Also don’t miss the Lion of St Mark interview, this year with Marcello Serpa at 4.15pm, and the Cannes Debate with Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, at 12pm.

Saturday, June 25

11am: The Future is Rebellion
For those making it all the way through to Saturday, there’s a session hosted by DigitasLBi featuring two rebel heroes of the internet: Ari Seth Cohen, founder of Advanced Style, and Amani Al- Khatachtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl, that’s definitely worth listening to. “These rebels have one thing in common: they saw an accepted wisdom and faced it down with technology and content,” reads the write-up.

Saturday’s bonus content – 3.30pm: Out With a Bang
And last but not least, be sure to head to the closing session of the 2016 Cannes Lions programme. This year’s guest is yet to be announced, but in the past, this slot has featured Heston Blumenthal, Bono and Johnny Ive. Stay tuned.

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Louis Vuitton video highlights 2012 digital activity

Louis Vuitton has released a short video summarising its digital efforts during 2012.

In it is everything from its partnership with The Selby to 10 million fans on Facebook, highlights from its mobile initiatives, its campaign with Muhammad Ali as well as all-things polka dot with Yayoi Kusama. So too are there multiple backstage shots and product close-ups throughout, as well as Instagram pics and catwalk videos. It closes on frames from its L’Invitation au Voyage ad, shot over the Louvre in Paris.

Reads the write-up: “As an innovative and creative fashion brand at the forefront of digital, Louis Vuitton aims to produce qualitative and diversified content, highlighting the different aspects of the House, its values, heritage and the Art of Travel.”

[via BrandChannel]