Categories
business Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick product Retail

The rise of livestream shopping: From Kim Kardashian to hypebeasts

In the build up to this year’s Singles’ Day event in China (Nov 11), Kim Kardashian West took to TMall to co-host a live streaming shopping session with one of the country’s top-selling influencers, Viya Huang. The event drew in 13 million viewers and helped Kim K sell her entire stock of 15,000 bottles of KKW perfume in just a few minutes.

Broadcasting shopping events have long been a success in Asia, a region that often leapfrogs the West when it comes to responding to its audience’s want-it-now behaviors with digital tools. In 2018, the genre generated $4.4bn in sales in China alone. 

To further put in perspective the success of the feature on TMall, Huang, who joined Kardashian West on-screen during the broadcast, previously broke a record on the platform in October when she sold almost $50m in one day. 

In this case, the benefits of the partnership were twofold: while for Kardashian West it meant tapping into a mature audience and expanding her already huge visibility in Asia, for TMall, this served as a testing ground for its Global Influencer Ecosystem, a program that aims to train and support 2,000 influencers around the world.

Kim Kardashian’s TMall livestream

Live streaming has its origins beyond retail, and is part of a much wider voyeuristic nature the internet helped incubate – from watching people play video games on sites like Twitch, to the huge popularity of unboxing videos on YouTube. 

Brands following suit feels only natural as a result. Sprinkle in some influencer dust, and you’ve got a recipe for success. 

But this fairly new behavior is also an offshoot of a much wider trend for immediacy, or blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tactics that retailers have long deployed with flash sales and limited edition products.

You only need to look at the long-standing popularity of shopping channels like QVC and HSN, which combined brought in $3.1bn in sales during Q1 2019, to find the winning strategy: a charismatic host who sells a single product with a masterful sense of urgency, either focusing on its price or exclusivity, urging viewers to call in. But how do you refresh that model to suit the younger generation whose mobile-first behaviors mean they don’t watch live television, or even pick up the phone?

Enter platforms like NTWRK, a self-described QVC for Gen Z and Millennials, whose second round of funding included the likes of Foot Locker, Live Nation and rapper Drake. The app broadcasts live sessions where hosts, who are often celebrities or musicians, will sell limited edition goods – from sneakers to concert tickets – only available for the duration of the show. This, according to the platform, is “shopping at the speed of culture.” 

NTWRK could also represent the next step in hypebeast – or urban streetwear – culture, adding an extra level of exclusivity now that queueing outside stores has become a secondary market in itself.

Meanwhile H&M’s young brand Monki recently hosted an experience on its own e-commerce site where its fashion editor and a buyer discussed fashion trends and their favorite products of the season, while viewers could shop the products and even replay the video once it had ended.

Monki’s livestream

The popularity of these platforms and one-off events show that appetite is definitely there, much like in Asia. But in order to create a seamless shopping experience and keep customers coming back, brands and tech platforms still have a few kinks to resolve. 

Firstly, there is the issue of internet connection, which will undoubtedly improve once 5G has hit the masses. Then, there is creating a user experience that enables viewers to shop while never having to leave the stream to add their payment information or check out. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it will be up to brands and retailers creating these streams to enlist hosts and create experiences that will grab and keep the attention of a notoriously fickle demographic.

It will be interesting to watch this space mature. A trend that is so clearly influenced by a tried-and-tested retail format – TV shopping networks – highlights how innovation is often about evolution, and not reinvention. Finding what works, and updating it to the digitally-led generation.

How are you thinking about new 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. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Campaigns Retail

American Eagle targets Gen Z with sneaker resale pop-up

American Eagle has teamed up with sneaker resale retailer Urban Necessities to host an in-store pop up in NYC in a bid to further engage with its Gen Z clientele and the new ways in which they shop.

The 1,900-square-foot pop up, which is located at an American Eagle Manhattan location, features a selection of streetwear merchandise which includes rare sneakers like the Nike MAG Back to the Future, which retails at $50,000. Other highlights include a Supreme-branded pinball machine and a claw machine, which will give customers the chance of to win $300-$500 worth of merchandise.

For the American Eagle brand this is more than just a temporary retail installation, however. The company has taken a stake in the hip Las Vegas-based retailer for an undisclosed sum, as it hopes to forge a longer-term relationship with the company and continue to tap into the younger consumer shopping behavior.

“Sneakers are about self-expression,” Chad Kessler, global brand president for the American Eagle brand, told Forbes. “Our brand is built on individual style. We are about self-expression. We have the second-largest (U.S.) jeans business (after Walmart). Jeans and sneakers are great pairs. … Urban Necessities has a loyal following and is able to get the most exciting sneakers out there.”

Kessler also said he hopes that eventually in the future, it will open more Urban Necessities stores inside other AE outposts.

The pop up is also part of a series of strategies the brand is developing to continue to attract its core demographic, which includes introducing alternative retail channels that reflect how they now shop more flexibly. Also this year, it announced Style Drop, a clothing subscription service that allows customers to rent up to three items at a time for a flat fee of $49.95 a month.

How are you thinking about retail 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. 

Categories
business Editor's pick Events product

ComplexCon: key takeaways from the streetwear mecca

Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon
Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon 2018

Now in its third year, Complexcon, a consumer-focused event targeting streetwear fanatics, took place to much expected hype last weekend in Long Beach, California.

The event, which is a spin-off of media company Complex, focused on feeding its Gen Z and Millennial community through a series of retail experiences, activations and panel discussions. Here we highlight the key takeaways of the weekend:

Retail frenzy

An adidas cube at ComplexCon
An adidas cube at ComplexCon 2018

For the consumer, the biggest goal of the two-day event was to shop, plain and simple. But for an audience that is prone to forming lines outside of stores for days before a drop, brands had to think creatively on how to create shopping experiences that blended that thrill of the chase with physical and digital tools.

Adidas was arguably the biggest name on the floor, hosting two experiences – one which involved a physical booth and another which took visitors on a wild goose chase for physical cubes that unlocked a new sneaker drop every hour. These gigantic cubes were seen throughout the venue, and on the hour, the user had to stand under the cube to scan it using the Complexcon app to unlock the ability to shop for the specific style. Unsurprisingly, Adidas fanatics were seen standing under the cube for hours before their preferred drop would take place.

Gradual product drops kept the customer engaged and most importantly, wanting to attend both days of the Con for fear of missing out. Reebok’s booth featured perspex cubes filled with fog, while timers underneath each individual plinth counted down the hours until the content inside the cube (a sneaker) was revealed.

The festival also teamed up with Frenzy, a location-based drop app, to allow consumers to shop for exclusive collabs through their phones while at the venue. The fulfilment of that experience left room for improvement, however, as shoppers could only pick up their goods four hours after purchase, a wait which for many stretched to 24 hours.

Experiential moments

HBO's The Shop
HBO’s The Shop at ComplexCon 2018

In such a noisy environment of endless queues and product drops, independent brands worked hard to stand out with booths that encouraged discovery and social sharing. Cult streetwear label Lotas, for example, chose to spend its budget not on an attractive booth, but by casting a group of The Sopranos lookalikes to play poker throughout, creating an unusual opportunity for visitors to snap and share.

The Pangaia, a global collective investigating the future of sustainable clothing, showcased its inaugural collection among a floor of empty plastic bottles, encouraging visitors to dispose of the same as they walked past. On Sunday, the collective also co-hosted a beach clean-up nearby with the support of ComplexCon.

Meanwhile beyond fashion, brands across food, automotive and media were on hand to talk about the bigger lifestyle that this community is a part of. Cadillac created a booth that showcased one of its models amid a digital jungle of screens and a photo backdrop; similar to SXSW, HBO recreated the classic barbershop experience to promote the launch of LeBron James’s new unscripted series, The Shop, featuring free haircuts and sneaker cleaning; and to promote the release of Creed II, guests could join in a VR experience, as well as watch boxing matches taking place in a life-sized ring.

Finally, McDonald’s quickly became a fan favorite as it hosted a customization station with special guests and, most importantly, free hamburgers for all.

Practical conversations

Issa Rae at ComplexCon 2018
Issa Rae at ComplexCon 2018

Conversations on the floor flip-flopped between who ‘copped’ the latest drop and what new endeavor someone may have been working on, from promoting their new podcast to monetizing their photography work. As a result, ComplexCon worked hard to promote conversations that had an underlying entrepreneurial spirit and was particularly relevant to the younger generation that is multifaceted in their goals.

“How to make it in America”, saw entrepreneur and social media star Gary Vaynerchuk talking about how to avoid the pitfalls and be part of the small percentage that does succeed in the country. Meanwhile actresses Issa Rae and Yara Shahidi, joined a conversation on females in media and how to overcome hurdles and balance public and personal life. And Louis Vuitton and Off White designer, Virgil Abloh, brought on stage three designers he believes are the next generation of fashion.

The spirit of giving visitors the tools to succeed and thrive also permeated throughout the festival booths. Entrepreneur Karen Civil was on hand at the Simple Mobile stand to offer one-to-one career advice, while the festival’s creative director, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, worked with six relatively unknown footwear designers to reimagine his artwork on limited edition sneakers, which were being auctioned off on eBay.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
business Editor's pick

ComplexCon: Virgil Abloh on community and taste

Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh

“I believe that collectively we’re all the next generation of designers”, said Virgil Abloh at this year’s ComplexCon festival, which took place in Long Beach, California, this past weekend.

Abloh was leading a conversation with a group of young streetwear designers including Bstroy, Ev Bravado and Rhuigi from Rhude, handpicked by the Off White and Louis Vuitton creative director for their strides in making culture a part of the fashion discourse.

The conversation consisted of a mix of insights and industry advice for the many streetwear fanatics and bushy-eyed entrepreneurs in the audience. The biggest topics, however, revolved around how to foster a community and remain authentic to taste:

It takes a village

Early in the conversation Abloh brought to stage long-time collaborator Tremaine Emory, and emphasized the importance of acknowledging the teamwork that makes or breaks a brand. Every creative needs someone who likes an Excel spreadsheet, he said, referencing the relationship between Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy. “We’re all in one community,” he added, urging for designers to put an end to individuality.

It is often easy for those on the outside looking in to idolize the figure who sits at the top, but streetwear in particular thrives on creatives collaborating and lifting each other up, summarized the panel. Prior to securing the top spot at Louis Vuitton menswear and spearheading his own brand, Abloh worked with Kanye West on many of his creative endeavours, from fashion to an award-winning album with Jay Z.

There also seems to be little emphasis on where the designer came from, Abloh said. “It has become ‘cool’ to pretend like you don’t have parents. It’s become part of the culture to pretend you’re brand new.”

A matter of taste

The designers on the panel hailed from Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta, and spoke about how they balance what fashion expects of them, and what truly inspires them.

“On one hand [taste level] is great, but something from our community growing up that we thought wasn’t the highest taste is equally important,” said Abloh. Emory compared it to Picasso being inspired by African art but the latter not receiving the same esteem. “As young people we have to discard the old ways and see the beauty in everything and push it forward,” he explained.

Elevating every day objects or brands is key to this new generation of brands and designers, who appropriate and remix aesthetics that were once considered mundane or uncool. It is the irony itself that makes it all so appealing, as seen by the overnight success of Vetements and its collaborations with the likes of DHL and Eastpack. For Abloh, his Off White label has become known for surfacing brands that were not previously linked to pop culture, such as Ikea and Rimowa.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
business Campaigns Editor's pick

ComplexCon: Tommy Hilfiger on aligning with the cultural conversation since the 1990s

Tommy Hlifiger and Gigi Hadid
Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid

Tommy Hilfiger has always had culture and music at the forefront of how it communicates with consumers, said its namesake designer at ComplexCon this weekend.

The designer was headlining a conversation at the consumer-facing event held in Long Beach, California, alongside Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and 90s rapper Grand Puba. He used the opportunity to explain that incorporating artists and celebrities who are at the peak of the cultural conversation is core to the brand’s strategy, as seen by the highly popular collaboration with model Gigi Hadid, as well as racing driver Hamilton and Gen Z actress Zendaya (upcoming).

“Doing collabs is really part of the excitement I look forward to every day,” Hilfiger noted. But he believes that in order for them to remain authentic, the brand should only guide and execute their artist’s ideas. This is something he has always focused on.

Aaliyah for Tommy Hlfiger
Aaliyah for Tommy Hlfiger

Although the American brand is soon to be celebrating its 35th anniversary, it was the mid 90s and its popularity among hip hop artists that truly propelled it onto the world stage, Hilfiger explained. Pushing a contemporary aesthetic with an urban New York style of big logos and baggy clothes made the brand stand out among other American names that were expanding at the same time.

Grand Puba first referenced the then mid-sized brand in a 1992 single with Mary J Blige, titled “What’s the 411”. This soon caught Hilfiger’s attention, who started dressing more artists and eventually included singer Aaliyah in a 1995 campaign. From then, the brand featured hip hop and R&B performances on its runways, which Hilfiger cites as the beginning of its entertainment-based fashion shows.

The most recent iteration of this approach lies in the brand’s see-now-buy-now strategy, which has seen elaborate fashion shows taking place for the last several seasons in different locations – from Los Angeles to London, Milan and Shanghai, with the aforementioned current celebrities fronting each occasion.

“We believe consumers want immediate gratification and great experiences,” Hilfiger explained. “My idea is to disrupt and continue to break the rules.”

Earlier this year, Tommy Hilfiger’s chief brand officer, Avery Baker, joined us on the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, to talk about how risk, authenticity and understanding your consumer are the keys to innovation.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Podcast

How luxury can learn from streetwear’s hype culture

Bia Bezamat and Ferdinando Verderi
Bia Bezamat and Ferdinando Verderi

Luxury has a lot to learn from the way streetwear brands trade on creating desire, says Ferdinando Verderi, co-founder and creative director of NY-based agency Johannes Leonardo, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

As the creative lead behind the adidas Originals and Alexander Wang collaboration, his experience shows that relevancy in today’s market is all about bringing the customer close, but keeping products scarce.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Accordingly, tapping into a mentality of belonging is at the heart of what makes the streetwear industry so successful and as a result, a strategy that luxury is keen to follow, he explains. “It’s easy to forget how the streetwear phenomenon started. [It] started with the will of people to belong to a real community that has a point of view that is different from others,” he says.

His award-winning work for adidas Originals has involved unpicking what creativity stands for, and how a sportswear giant can challenge the status quo. This has meant ideas like crossing out the brand’s iconic three stripes, expressing the importance of being a work in progress (see “Original is never finished”) and even turning the brand’s logo upside down.

When the agency helped broker adidas Originals’ partnership with Alexander Wang, it consequently ended up almost laying the groundwork for what luxury-meets-street collaborations, now popularized through many other deals, entail.

The collab was built on the concept of purposively disrespecting industry rules, says Verderi. Over three seasons they have done everything from a reseller-inspired retail strategy to analog marketing activity that involved text messaging.

During this conversation with TheCurrent’s innovation strategist, Bia Bezamat, Verderi dives into what all of that has meant, all the while also talking about why brands need to think like publishers in the way they drop content over product, how another movement will come to replace streetwear now that it’s become so mass, and why distilling a point of view needs to be done in a very careful way.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Campaigns Editor's pick product

Diesel teams up with cult Berlin kebab shop for latest collab

Diesel x Mustafa
Diesel x Mustafa

Diesel has teamed up with cult Berlin-based kebab kiosk, Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, for a limited edition collection drop.

The line launched last weekend at Zalando’s customer-facing trade show, Bread & Butter, a model aiming to emulate the success of ComplexCon in the US by hosting immersive customer experiences, exclusive drops and live music. At the event, Mustafa himself was also serving his popular kebab creations.

In line with the Italian brand’s satirical approach to fashion, Diesel is hoping to challenge what is expected of typical collaborations with this launch – where one brand piggybacks on another’s ‘cool’ factor through limited edition clothing that targets the trend-driven demographic. It also serves as commentary on how collab-obsessed the younger generation (and subsequently, brands who wish to target such customer) have become.

The Diesel x Mustafa collaboration includes jumpers, t-shirts and hats, and will also be available for sale on diesel.com and at selected Diesel stores worldwide.

Diesel’s latest initiative follows on from previous marketing activity that serves to reinforce the brand’s commitment to celebrating the unusual, and doing so with a sense of humor.

In January this year, it launched its “Keep the World Flawed” campaign, which included a video with digital Easter eggs in which everything was just slightly off; in February, it launched a “Deisel” pop-up store at NYC’s Chinatown neighborhood, selling ‘fake’ versions of its designs; and most recently in May, it launched the prototype for the world’s most uncomfortable meeting room, aiming to keep meetings as short and efficient as possible, while making fun of the fact they are often unnecessary.

Earlier this year, TheCurrent also featured Stefano Rosso, Diesel’s CEO of North America, on TheCurrent Innovators podcast, where he talked about the idea of challenging conformity.

Diesel x Mustafa
Diesel x Mustafa

Are you thinking innovatively enough about your brand messaging and collaborations? 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.
Categories
Campaigns Editor's pick film

Human rights foundation highlights modern slavery with unboxing video stunt

Unboxing the Truth - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Unboxing the Truth – Thomson Reuters Foundation

The Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), which works with journalists and organizations to bring to light human rights abuses and corruption, is tapping into the millennial behaviour of unboxing videos to highlight one of its causes.

To do so, the foundation teamed up with Jacques Slade, a YouTube personality known for videos where he unboxes sneakers to a 851,000-strong audience, to highlight the plight of modern slavery.

Slade’s video begins with a disclaimer explaning that he was sent a mystery box and viewers should stick around to learn a really important message. He then proceeds to open the package, to reveal a high-end shoe box where the word “Humanmade” is replaced by “Slavemade” once it is fully opened. As the pair of shoes is revealed so are stats about modern slavery, which can be found on the shoe’s tongue, laces and soles.

Stats disclose that slavery still exists in 161 countries and counting, while also highlighting that less than 2% of slaves will ever be rescued. Slade then shows the shoe’s dust bag, in which a printed letter addressed to him and his viewers explains that they do not expect people to stop buying sneakers, but rather to stop and ask themselves: “What is the human price of the products you buy?”

Slade, whose core audience is men aged 13-24, explains that he was initially contacted by a creative agency on behalf of an “unspecified nonprofit organization” to take part in a video about forced labour, and that was the extent of what he knew prior to recording the video.

The stunt aimed to tap into an audience who is highly engaged about their passion, which in this case is owning and cherishing limited-edition footwear by the likes of Nike and adidas.

As part of the campaign, the organization is asking for donations towards its fight against slavery and human trafficking. Donations will go towards funding media coverage, training and mentoring journalists in specific geographies with a high prevalence of slavery, and bringing frontline activists to the Trust Conference where they would learn new skills.

Unboxing the Truth - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Unboxing the Truth – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Categories
product Retail

Justin Timberlake pop-up cements the mass appeal of hipster tour merch

Justin Timberlake and Heston Preston at the pop-up
Justin Timberlake and Heston Preston at the pop-up

To promote the launch of his fifth album titled “Man of the Woods”, pop singer Justin Timberlake has hosted a NYC pop-up offering products developed through several brand collaborations.

Inside the Wooster St, Soho space, visitors encountered a hipster and nostalgically American aesthetic, similar to Timberlake’s personal style reinvention. Walls were framed with branches, while burgundy rugs and comfortable chairs lined the space. Products were then displayed against a white wall on hooks, plinths and shelves, accompanied by museum-like plaques.

Customers could only order items on display by filling out a paper form, thus giving the shopping experience a more exclusive touch.

Available to buy were one item per song in the album, which included: a Lucchese workman’s boot inspired by “Young Man”, a letter to the singer’s son; a Levi’s flannel jacket inspired by “Montana”; a Moleskine notepad inspired by “Say Something”; and a Pendleton blanket inspired by “Morning Light”.

Also on display was a Nike Air Jordan 3s collaboration with legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, inspired by the fifth track, “Higher, Higher”. The shoe was first available for purchase on Nike’s SNKRS app during Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII half-time show on February 4, and it will go back on sale once the singer’s tour commences.

Adding to the momentum, the singer also worked with Heston Preston, a designer who consulted on early seasons of Kanye West’s Yeezy and has worked with the likes of Nike and Nasa, to design the tour’s apparel (such as t-shirts and hoodies).

Over the last couple of years, artists such as Jay Z, Frank Ocean and Justin Bieber have leveraged hype beast culture to stimulate similar buzz with temporary retail environments promoting their upcoming tours or album releases. Launched in 2016, Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” album pop-ups across multiple cities elevated the artist’s merchandise to cult-like status, and ignited a much-needed refresh of artist merchandise.

Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” pop-up

Categories
Editor's pick product

These Adidas sneakers double as transport passes in Berlin

adidas BVG sneakers collaboration metro tickets
adidas EQT Support 93/Berlin sneaker

Adidas collaborated with Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), Berlin’s transport company, to create a limited edition collection of 500 pairs of shoes fitted with a season ticket worth €730.

The EQT Support 93/Berlin shoe, as it’s called, uses the same camouflage pattern used on the city’s train seats. Embedded in the tongue is a fabric version of the BVG annual ticket, which can be used as a regular ticket covering the bus, tram and underground in zones A and B.

The shoe, which is now sold out, retailed for €180, therefore attracting a mix of sneaker heads and those seeking a commuting bargain by saving significant money off their €730 annual travel pass.

adidas EQT Support 93/Berlin sneakers train ticket BVG berlin collaboration
adidas EQT Support 93/Berlin sneakers

The launch aimed to modernize BVG’s 90-year-old image, and also tapped into a wider trend of fashionable labels elevating traditionally uncool companies, such as Vetements’ recent collaboration with DHL.

The design was launched in January at Overkill, a shoe store in Berlin’s hipster Kreuzberg neighbourhood. Fans queueing outside were treated to Mettbrötchen, a minced raw pork on a bread roll, which is a decidedly untrendy breakfast that Overkill owner Julian Kalitta described as something you would imagine the city’s tram drivers eating before work.

adidas EQT Support 93/Berlin sneakers
adidas EQT Support 93/Berlin sneakers