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Events technology

Rag & Bone hosts fashion week dinner with AI attendee

NY-based label Rag & Bone explored the relationship between AI and humankind with a fashion week dinner featuring an artificial intelligence system as a special guest.

Titled “A Last Supper” the dinner, which accompanied the launch of the label’s fall 2019 collection in New York this week, saw guests sitting around a U-shaped table while having their conversations and actions filmed and analysed by a number of cameras. This was then fed in real-time into an AI system, referred to as “Distinguished Guest.”

Towards the end of the night, words and phrases used by guests were transformed into a piece of work displayed on a screen in front of their eyes, in the voice of musician Thom Yorke which was recorded prior to the event.

Guests, which included celebrities such as actors Emma Roberts and Justin Theroux, were further immersed in the experience with a dance performance choreographed by Damien Jalet, while the food menu was developed by chef Ignacio Mattos.

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

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Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick Retail

Calvin Klein to launch interactive NYC Market with Amazon Fashion

Calvin Klein Jeans Fall Campaign

Calvin Klein is partnering with Amazon Fashion to bring to life its Fall 2018 jeans campaign through an immersive retail experience in New York.

The Calvin Klein x Amazon Fashion NYC Market, as it’s called, sees three major attractions – a photobooth with flying popcorn, a photoshoot set-up themed around the brand’s “Together In Denim Billboard” campaign, and a giant water-box installation.

Visitors will also have the chance to win exclusive Calvin Klein products such as jeans and underwear designs, as well as Amazon devices, by playing games on site.

Calvin Klein Jeans “Together In Denim” billboard

 

“By joining Amazon Fashion’s digital expertise with Calvin Klein’s physical presence, we are creating a ‘phy-gital’ experience in the middle of New York City, reinforcing our commitment to a consumer-first strategy,” Marie Gulin-Merle, chief marketing officer of Calvin Klein Inc. told WWD.

Further detail show the interactive photobooth will feature levitating popcorn that visitors will be able to take a picture with. It was inspired by the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC Fall 2018 runway show, which saw the floor covered with the white snack.

The re-enactment of the brand’s “Together in Denim Billboard” campaign, which saw models posing on an oversized billboard, will have a professional photographer on site ensuring social media-ready snaps.

And the giant water-box will house vending machines where visitors have the chance to win limited edition artworks from the Fall campaign.

Calvin Klein Fall 2018 runway show

Amazon will also host an Amazon Alexa Jukebox Lounge, where an analog Juke Box enhanced through the Alexa voice technology, will allow visitors to interact with the music played on digital screens. Guests will also have the chance to use their voice to control the music and lighting.

Any visitors keen to purchase Calvin Klein merchandise on site will be able to do so smoothly through Smile Codes (Amazon-branded QR codes), which will give visitors access to the dedicated Calvin Klein website on Amazon Fashion. A dedicated #MyCalvins Campaign Shop will allow them to try things on when on site.

To further encourage consumer purchasing, the brand has also created a denim jacket in collaboration with rap star A$AP Rocky, exclusively available on Amazon Fashion.

This is the second time the brand has partnered with Amazon Fashion for an interactive experience. In November of 2017 the brand opened a tech-enabled store in Los Angeles and New York, selling exclusive stock and offering in-store customization stations.

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

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Editor's pick Retail

Maybelline unveils branded concept space at NYC’s Color Factory

Color Factory in NYC
Color Factory in NYC

Maybelline is launching an immersive experience at NYC’s Color Factory that will invite fans to play and share. The space will feature a dance floor, bar, photo booth and glitter wall, all while promoting existing and exclusive products.

“We want to have true consumer-facing experiences [as we continue to evolve Maybelline],” said Amy Whang, senior vice president of marketing at Maybelline in the US. “The younger consumer today is looking beyond just the regular shopping experience. Basically, we want to show that we’re not just an old heritage brand of drugstore makeup, and that we can provide them with high-performance products that are on-trend.”

For this experiential push, Maybelline is focusing on promoting the Super Stay Matte Ink liquid lipstick, which is a key product category for the brand. However over the course of the nine months that the installation will take place, the cosmetics brand intends on launching exclusive products tied to the experience.

In September, Maybelline will also open the Maybelline House pop-up during New York Fashion Week, a consumer-facing space that will host master classes and also welcome editors and influencers.

Color Factory in NYC is an offshoot of the original SF-based outpost that opened in 2017 as a month-long celebration of colour and creativity. For this outpost, 16 artists will also be exhibiting their work, while LA-based kidswear brand Gymboree, a brand who following bankruptcy has recently undergone a revamp, will also be hosting their own room.

Retail with an element of escapism and play has gained traction among experience-hungry consumers. Interactive pop-up spaces have become a successful tool to not only increase brand awareness, but drive exclusivity around its products, which are often tied to that specific time and place. For instance in June, Coach hosted a self-discovery fairground experience, also in the American city.

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

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Editor's pick mobile technology

Why it matters: Eminem enhances Coachella set with augmented reality

Eminem AR experience at Coachella
Eminem AR experience at Coachella

The new ‘Why it matters’ content series from TheCurrent Daily highlights cross-industry innovations and analyses why they are relevant to the fashion and retail space. 

Eminem may not be a name that first springs to mind when considering innovation, but during his headline slot at this year’s Coachella music festival, the rapper used augmented reality to enhance the live music experience.

Coachella goers could download the Eminem Augmented app and throughout the set see visuals surrounding the stage that will be present during Eminem’s upcoming US and European tours.

Footage of the show highlights just how powerful adding a digital layer to live experiences can be, and accordingly the potential this could present to fashion and retail brands.

Given the growth of e-commerce and the increasingly connected expectations of today’s younger consumer, it has become vital for brands to develop engagement strategies around enhancing the physical world with a digital layer – from the new role of a flagship store to creating consumer-friendly immersive experiences.

While we have seen the likes of Zara, Outdoor Voices and Gucci experiment with AR technology to trigger small experiences on mobile, Eminem’s larger than life feature shows an unforeseen layer of immersion suitable for a group setting.

Unlike virtual reality, which isolates the user to a new alternate reality, AR is by its very nature a more communal, sociable technology because of the way it layers on top of the existing world around you.

The music industry is frequently vocal against fans viewing gigs through their mobile phone screens, but in Eminem’s case comes a certain sense of not just accepting this as standard but innovating on it accordingly.

As the CEO of his record label, Def Jam’s Paul Rosenberg, said: “We figured, if the phones are going to be there and people are going to be putting them up in the air and looking at them anyway, why don’t we provide a way to maybe change the way they’re perceiving the show.”

The Coachella experience was time-stamped and geo-tagged to ensure that the visuals were exclusively available to attendees and could only be seen within a few hundred yards from the stage.

The app also provided access to some other exclusive AR content, including a humorous ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ interface that used image recognition to identify the festival’s universal food containers and layered graphics over it.

According to Rich Lee, creative director of Drive Studios who developed the experience, the app is an initial step that could signify a new portal to connect with music fans.

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Retail technology

Balmain takes customers on a creative journey using virtual reality

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

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

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

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

Balmain

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

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

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

 

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Retail technology

Westfield launches immersive and theatrical VR experience

"Alien Zoo" by Dreamscape and Westfield VR experience
The “Alien Zoo” VR experience by Dreamscape and Westfield

Westfield Century City in Los Angeles has partnered with Dreamscape Immersive Inc to launch a pop-up virtual reality (VR) experience that invites visitors to explore an imaginary world.

The 13-minute “Alien Zoo” experience invites guests to walk aboard a spacecraft, select their own avatars and interact with different creatures from across the universe.

The aim was to combine the thrill of an epic theme park attraction with the awe and wonder of a great film, according to the team. The “extraterrestrial journey”, as it’s referred to as, allows viewers to witness first-hand the galaxy’s most endangered species.

“Walk side by side massive beasts, play with adorable and exotic creatures, and not only fight for survival against the most deadly predator in all the cosmos, but prove that there is still hope for humanity in our exciting, yet unpredictable, universe,” the write-up explains.

“When you think of VR, you tend to be in the world of gamers and high-tech and we try to take the virtual out of virtual reality,” Walter Parkes, Dreamscape co-chairman, said. “So let’s make it as real as possible, make it tactile. All of the animals we’ve created have deep histories. We could actually write a book about what planets they come from. It’s a narrative-rich approach to VR and much more inclined toward our backgrounds. Texture’s everything.”

As malls in America continue to struggle with the advent of e-commerce, large brick-and-mortar retailers are expanding their remits to engage with experience-hungry consumers through new types of environments. Converging retail, entertainment and technology is a primary focus to drive footfall.

“We’re at a time when movies and malls are getting a lot of competition from digital distribution. So one way to counteract that is to offer irreplaceable, unique experiences and that idea was certainly embraced by our studio partners and our retail partners,” said Parkes. “That’s why the malls that are doing well are as much entertainment centers as they are retail centers.”

As he explains, you can’t get anything at a mall that you can’t get online, thus creating environments that offer more is key.

Following the Westfield pop-up, the company plans to take the concept to other markets, envisioning its final version as true VR multiplexes, where different rooms can offer different experiences, much like a cinema.

Dreamscape Immersive has a number of big names backing its vision of VR for entertainment – in December, it closed a $30 million Series B round that included investors from Nickelodeon and VR Sense Solutions Ltd, while companies such as Warner Bros, 21st Century Fox and Westfield Corp are among its initial investor pool. Executives on staff include Parkes, a film producer, and CEO Bruce Vaughn, a Walt Disney Co alumni.