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Editor's pick product sustainability

9 brands rethinking textiles for the circular economy

Fashion's Impact on Water
Fashion’s Impact on Water

From sustainability guru Stella McCartney to German premium label Hugo Boss, brands across the spectrum have been experimenting with textile innovations that aim to push the industry towards a greener future.

This mission comes with a sense of urgency, with several reports predicting the uncomfortable reality of resource scarcity. A statistic from The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that humans were using the equivalent of 1.7 planets’ worth of natural resources in 2017.

Such resources, and water specifically, are central to the fashion industry’s supply chain. From planting and irrigating cotton fields, to dyeing and washing fabric – a world without enough water and raw materials spells out an uncertain future.

Infographic of The Circular Economy - Ellen MacArthur
Infographic of The Circular Economy – Ellen MacArthur

“In the worst case, the fashion industry will face distinct restrictions on one or more of its key input factors, leaving it unable to grow at the projected rate and in the long run unable to continue under its current operating model,” said the Global Fashion Agenda in its The Pulse of The Fashion Industry report.

It’s for that reason, the industry is exploring the circular economy, which takes the traditional, make-use-dispose model in fashion, and rather promotes a closed-loop where items are reused, recycled and reduced.

We’ve seen numerous startups playing in this space for years, experimenting with different natural ingredients and formulas to create textiles ready for market. Today, a number of brands are jumping on board and partnering with such teams in order to replace traditional materials.

Here are nine of the strongest examples…

STELLA MCCARTNEY

Stella McCartney has been championing sustainable fashion since the formation of her namesake label, pushing the envelope of what circular textile innovation means for the industry at large.

One stand-out circular textile from the brand is Re.Verso™, a regenerated cashmere made from post-factory cashmere waste in Italy. According to the brand’s self-implemented Environmental P&L account, using this alternative material reduced its impact by 92%.

EVERLANE 
Everlane's ReNew Line
Everlane’s ReNew Line

Direct-to-consumer brand Everlane, which pioneered the concept of a transparent supply chain through its “radical transparency” approach, announced its newest sustainable material just this month – a fleece called ReNew, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

The brand also pledged to replace all materials made of virgin plastic (including polyester and nylon) with material made of plastic water bottles and renewed materials by 2021. It expects to be recycling 100 million water bottles through its supply chain.

ADIDAS X PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS
Adidas x Parley
Adidas x Parley

Adidas’ partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a non-profit organization set to remove and recycle waste from the ocean, has been an elemental part of the brand’s sustainability strategy.

In 2015, the two companies teamed up to make a sneaker that was made entirely of yarn recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gill nets. While the shoe was impressive in both design and sustainability, the partnership really started to come to fruition last year when sneakers like the Parley x Adidas Ultra Boost became more widely available to the public.  Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at the company, said each pair of shoes uses the equivalent of 11 plastic bottles, which means that Adidas has recycled some 55 million plastic bottles this year.

ALLBIRDS
Allbirds' SweetFoam flip-flops
Allbirds’ Sugar Zeffer flip-flops

In August 2018, direct-to-consumer footwear brand Allbirds announced the launch of “SweetFoam”,  a biodegradable and environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based materials traditionally used in the manufacturing process of shoe-soles. The first product the brand created with SweetFoam was a range of sustainable flip-flops called Sugar Zeffers.

The new material, which is made up of a sugarcane base, marks an important achievement in the industry, as it is the first ever carbon-neutral green alternative to the traditional EVA foam. To inspire industry-wide change, Allbirds also made this technology open-source and therefore available to everyone.

REEBOK

As part of its Cotton + Corn initiative, sportswear brand Reebok released its first-ever biodegradable sneaker range in August of this year. The product launch was part of the brand’s larger aim to reduce the brand’s environmental footprint with biodegradable products.

The shoe, which is also called the Cotton + Corn sneaker, is made with a cotton top and a bioplastic sole created from a corn-derived alternative material. It is also the first in its category to be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to consist of 75% bio-based content.

REFORMATION
Reformation Intimates
Reformation Intimates

Los Angeles-based sustainable fashion brand, Reformation, has been making fashion using end-of-roll fabrics for years, but through its newest category, underwear, it’s taking things a step further.

The intimates collection is made using a mixture of sustainable fabrics such as recycled lace, eco mesh (a recycled type of yarn) and Lenzing TENCEL, a patented fabric derived from a wood cellulose material.

ADAY
Fashion's Impact on Water
Fashion’s Impact on Water

For its new Plant Bae collection, direct-to-consumer fashion brand, Aday, wanted to trial a new fabric composition using SeaCell, a fiber created from seaweed from the Icelandic coast.

Every four years, the seaweed is harvested and spun into fiber together with lyocell to stabilize. For the Plant Bae collection, it was also enhanced with cellulose and modal to create an additionally soft fabric composition. The innovative material has seen previous incarnations in Falke socks and Lululemon sportswear in its VitaSea collection.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO
Salvatore Ferragamo
Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo created a capsule collection in 2017 made from an innovative new material derived from leftover orange peel. The brand partnered with Italian company, Orange Fiber, to product the silk-feel line, which included apparel such as t-shirts and delicate scarves.

This material is, for now, aplenty: a recent figure from the Italian Agricultural Department revealed that waste from the juice industry resulted in 700,000 tonnes of discarded orange peel on a yearly basis in Italy alone.

HUGO BOSS
Hugo Boss "Boss"
Hugo Boss “Boss”

German brand Hugo Boss released limited collection footwear in April 2018 using discarded pineapple leaves that imitate the texture of leather. The material, called Piñatex, has been used by smaller footwear brands such as Bourgeois Boheme, although Hugo Boss is one of the first mainstream brands to adopt it.

Piñatex is derived from the leaves of the pineapple plant, a byproduct of the pineapple harvest that has no other use for farmers. The creation of the textile therefore provides local farmers with an additional income.

How are you thinking about sustainable 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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business e-commerce Editor's pick

Burberry leads see-now, buy-now fashion week charge amid tiered industry strategy

Burberry's see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week
Burberry’s see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

When the Burberry show walked out at London Fashion Week last night, absolutely everything was available to buy for the first time. The womenswear and menswear apparel, the accessories, even the make-up was shoppable. That’s a total of 83 looks, comprising over 250 pieces. They’re being sold through Burberry’s physical and digital retail network, shipping to over 100 countries.

This shift is what’s being called “see-now, buy-now”, a lengthy phrase for what is essentially the showing of current season stock over the traditional six month timelag.

As perhaps the brand making the biggest move in terms of sheer volume of stock already produced, it was a notable occasion that had to be geared around relevancy – showcasing things one not only wanted to buy, but actually wear right away as the weather starts to draw in. For those of us seeing the collection for the first time, it worked; offering an experience that enabled us to view it as though through the eyes of the excitable consumer (heavily aided by the live orchestra and incredible Makers House setup, which is open to the public for the rest of the week). Many of us, of course, then did become the consumer too.

For others, including long-lead press, it wasn’t of course their initial viewing having had access ahead of time to see the collection in its developmental stages. Many of them commented so during the evening – noting that in some instances they’d even already shot it. And there we have a little hint as to the future of what fashion week is going to look like – an elaborate showcase, a series of consumer events, a collection instantly available to buy, and a trade audience still willing to attend even if they’ve been privy to the line during its creation process beforehand.

If you’re Burberry that is…

Burberry's see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week
Burberry’s see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

Or perhaps if you’re Tom Ford too. Speaking ahead of his show in New York, he told Vogue: “It’s [all ready to go] at Bergdorf’s, it’s at Neiman’s. They’ve photographed it for their catalogs, they had to sign non-disclosure agreements, they couldn’t leak any pictures. So it’s done. It’s all over the world ready to go into our stores.”

Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff and Topshop Unique are all also playing with full collections available immediately, albeit largely through their own distribution channels (and in some cases, like Tom Ford, a handful of select retail partners).

The entire strategy raises concerns for many businesses otherwise – especially those who are significantly smaller, either without the budget for such extensive showcases, or heavily reliant on winning numerous wholesale partners, making the close-to-season launch less feasible. The outcome of the CFDA’s commissioned report with the Boston Consulting Group into all of this, essentially said every brand would need to look at their own situation differently and try to define where they sit within it accordingly.

Speaking at a pre-fashion week breakfast hosted by Fashion & Mash in partnership with Soho House, Clara Mercer, communications director for the British Fashion Council, largely agreed, suggesting that what we’ll see is varying strategies over the next few seasons before some kind of shape and order is pulled together to make everything clearer.

As Tom Ford said: “I don’t know if this will be sustainable. We’ll have to see. I’ll have to see how it works; see how our customers respond to it.”

Experimentation is what’s been evident throughout both New York and London so far, with many brands trying see-now, buy-now in different ways, several of them releasing just a handful of exclusive products for sale.

Tommy Hilfiger see-now, buy-now
Tommy Hilfiger teamed up with Gigi Hadid for New York Fashion Week and its version of see-now, buy-now

Take Tommy Hilfiger for instance. Hosting what was undoubtedly the most extravagant of shows during New York, complete with full-fledged carnival, it showcased a capsule collection designed in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid. In that instance, the Hilfiger brand is capitalising on a big name collaboration in order to shift not only this limited edition stock, but the significantly broader lines it has in place all around the world. It’s not so much about numerous wholesale partnerships for this particular collection therefore, but a broader marketing move.

Michael Kors meanwhile made around a dozen products available to purchase straight away, noting ahead of the show: “We’re finding that a hybrid blend is really what works for us.”

Then there’s Alexander Wang, who previously said he wouldn’t participate in see-now, buy-now, but instead surprised his audience by introducing a collaboration with adidas Originals live at the end of the show. Nine items from that 84-piece line were immediately available to purchase the next day via trucks across New York City, and following that in London and Tokyo. The rest goes on sale, as per usual, in spring 2017.

On a smaller scale, Temperley London sold just three pieces from her new collection – a printed dress, embellished jumpsuit and embroidered top. In doing so exclusively via social app Vero, she became one of the first brands to tie together the idea of see-now, buy-now as a fashion week strategy with the trend for social commerce. (Others including Burberry again are selling pieces immediately on channels like WeChat).

And then there’s Hugo Boss, which unveiled just a single bag, the Boss Bespoke Soft, in four colours for sale immediately after its New York show. This is much in line with what Prada did in February – jumping in to the see-now, buy-now world, but only via the delivery of two handbags. And that from one of the slowest brands to the e-commerce game, having literally only launched online via Net-a-Porter this July.

Vero see-now, buy-now London Fashion Week
Blanca Padilla, Isabeli Fontana and Ana Beatriz Barros pose with Alice Temperley in the three exclusive Temperley London see-now, buy-now pieces available only on Vero

Katie Baron, head of retail, innovation and insights at Stylus, calls these variances in approach part of an understanding that a tiered system might be the outcome of such experimentation. Of note of course is the fact Burberry has long sold the odd item for immediate purchase or at least pre-order from its catwalk.

“The first wave of see-now, buy-now generated a major panic within the luxury sector because it was largely taken as read that it would force luxury businesses anchored in long lead-time, high craft to whip their collections into being at high speed, pulling them uncomfortably close to the mass market. What we’re now seeing is an understanding that see-now, buy-now needn’t be so all-encompassing, as shrewd brands release either selected, controllably limited edition pieces (see Prada) or spin-off collaborations tacked onto the main show (see Alexander Wang X adidas),” Baron explains.

“It’s effectively creating a kind of tiered system to satisfy both the need for instant gratification and possibly younger consumers looking for a way into an otherwise prohibitively expensive world. This notion of ‘tiering’ is only going to become more important as retail, overall, becomes less one-size-fits-all.”

At the other end of the scale therefore are also the brands that have changed tack entirely, opting to forego wholesale models in the main to rather sell direct-to-consumer in the right season, and thus do so at greater speed and flexibility – not to mention regularity.

In London, Matthew Williamson is one of them. Net-a-Porter remains its only retail partner, meaning that team see the line in advance, but for everyone else, it happens in real-time. The latest “Calypso” collection, for instance, went on sale just ahead of London Fashion Week this season, launching with a digital influencer event, coverage on Vogue Runway, and instant pushes to relevant e-commerce pages. For them, this is a no-brainer. Ask Rosanna Falconer, business director at the brand, as to why, and the answer is incredibly simple: consumers have never been happier.

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business e-commerce Editor's pick

Hugo Boss: Forget tier-2 stores, it’s all about digital

hugoboss

You know times are tough when high-end brands rein-in their store opening plans and start talking up their web strategies instead. The latest to do so? Hugo Boss.

Because the Chinese and US markets will remain challenging next year, the only locations to get shiny new stores will be top global ones. Meanwhile, the digital business, which is more profitable, will be expanded faster than physical stores. It makes good business sense. The luxury sector lags its middle- and mass-market peers in maximising digital, even though the high-spending customer is just as digitally focused as those more driven by price.

Hugo Boss, which boasts Jason Wu as its womenswear designer, will still open stores (about 10-15 a year rather than the 20 it has averaged in the last half-decade) but expects tepid sales growth next year as tough times in China and the strong dollar hurt turnover into two of its key markets.

This places even more of a focus on a good digital strategy. CEO Claus-Dietrich Lahrs said the second-tier regional hubs that luxury has spread into over the past decade “will lose interest for our industry long-term,” as e-commerce becomes more prominent.

Hugo Boss’s e-sales are currently growing at double-digit rates and Lahrs expects this to continue.

To achieve it, the company will continue to make major investments in its online ops with e-commerce logistics going in-house next year and the entire business being better integrated. Yes, luxury is finally realising that omnichannel is key.

That will mean simple-but-attractive features like collect (and return) in-store, something mass-market retailers have found beneficial for some time. At the moment, Hugo Boss offers several delivery options but ‘express’ costs just shy of £20 and takes one-to-two days. I’ll be watching this one with interest.

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

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digital snippets film mobile social media technology Uncategorized

Digital snippets: Chanel, Hugo Boss, Warby Parker, My Flash Trash, CES

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

 

  • Gamines and a godson star in Karl Lagerfeld’s new Chanel film [Telegraph Fashion]
  • Hugo Boss bolsters runway live-streaming via mobile, Spotify [Luxury Daily]
  • Warby Parker’s latest annual-report infographic is a sight for sore eyes [AdWeek]
  • 12 fashion forward tech accessories from CES [Mashable]
  • What can we learn from the top five retail brands on Twitter? [Econsultancy]
  • Hearst to host technology event during NYFW [WWD]

And as bonus, here’s an incredible deck on social, digital and mobile stats from China. It’s bulky, but well worth the read: [We Are Social]

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digital snippets e-commerce Uncategorized

Digital snippets: Oscar de la Renta, Hugo Boss, Nike, Michael Kors, Dove, Target

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

  • Oscar de la Renta sells five Resort tees in first day via TheFancy (as pictured) [NY Times]
  • Hugo Boss hosts New Dimension Beijing event, live-streams new collection and campaign in 3-D [Hugo Boss]
  • Nike’s interactive ad challenges viewers to find secret content [PSFK]
  • Michael Kors opens new store via email, social video invite [Luxury Daily]
  • E-commerce in China: how the world’s biggest market buys online [Mashable]
  • Op-Ed: Are we failing to fulfill the potential of fashion film? [BoF]
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Uncategorized

HUGO fragrances makes use of head-tracking technology with new interactive video

 

Hugo Boss has created an interactive video experience for the launch of its new men’s HUGO Just Different fragrance.

Based on the idea of seeing things through new angles and perspectives, the video – called Kino – uses real-time head-tracking technology to let the user take control.

As you turn your head from left to right, your webcam switches between three different stories that are seamlessly integrated together under the headings of ‘movie’, ‘story’ and ‘theatrical’.

For those without webcam capability, it also works by using your mouse keys.

It was directed by video artist and filmmaker Marco Brambilla.

The TV ad campaign for the fragrance, meanwhile, features musician and actor Jared Leto.

“The idea of the campaign is about turning things on their head. It’s about new perspectives, exploring new territories and eventually going on a journey and finding out something about yourself,” he said.