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business Editor's pick Startups technology

One year on: How Westfield Bespoke, the retail tech space piloted in San Francisco, is winning

Westfield Bespoke
Westfield Bespoke

100,000: that’s the number of additional customers Westfield Bespoke is estimated to have brought in to the Westfield San Francisco Centre since it opened last year. In the grand scheme of the millions of shoppers who visit the mall annually otherwise, that’s may not seem too much – but this was initially a mere experiment by the company.

Bespoke is a community based on those exploring how shopping evolves at the hands of technology. Situated on the fourth floor of the centre, it offers a trifecta of co-working space for retail tech start-ups, event space for numerous partners to use, and demo space to make testing of retail formats and new tech all the more possible with real world consumers.

It not only helps brings in extra traffic, therefore, but more importantly enables the company to better understand the technologies its retailers needs to be aware of in the future. Indeed the Westfield Corporation has shifted from landlord to broad retail partner. It now goes above and beyond offering tenancy agreements, to helping shape more successful commercial businesses with those it houses in its malls worldwide.

Head over to Forbes to read the full interview with Lindsey Thomas, VP of marketing and communications at Westfield Labs, the group’s digital lab under which Bespoke falls. She uncovers more about the past year, how the new space is evolving and the plans to work with additional start-ups under its Connected Commerce Accelerator in collaboration with R/GA Ventures.

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business Comment data Editor's pick mobile Startups technology

Where image recognition technology is headed for retailers: Cortexica interview

Cortexica_findsimilar

Visual search is one of those technologies we know is set to impact the future of shopping significantly, we’re just not quite there yet. The ability for consumers to snap a shot of something they like on the street, then find the same, if not similar item somewhere for sale immediately, is an appealing concept – who hasn’t fancied the look of someone’s coat on the subway, or shoes in a bar.

At this point in time, there are numerous apps out there promising to offer this sort of service, but the results are mixed – surfacing ideal product on occasion, and total misses on others. One of the companies backing it to get it right, is Cortexica.

Its findSimilar™ software leverages sophisticated algorithms to mimic the way the human visual cortex within the brain interprets images that we see everyday. It white-labels this technology for use by retailers including Macy’s, Zalando, Rent the Runway and more. The Macy’s launch, just announced last week, sees the image recognition and visual search offer embedded in its iOS app in time for the holiday season. Users are able to upload their pictures, find equivalent product on Macys.com and make purchases immediately.

I spoke with Steve Semenzato, co-founder and VP of business development at Cortexica about where visual search is headed, the role deep learning and data will play in its development, and the fact we’re five years out from this having true mainstream application.

Head over to Forbes.com for the full interview.

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Comment social media

How digital innovation is changing the face of fashion

Interested in some key thoughts on where the fashion industry is at with social media, mobile and digital strategy? My knowledge has just been tested by Poq Studio, a company making apps and mobile sites for brands and retailers in this space, and posted in the form of a Q&A over on their blog.

Do check it out – I would love to hear your feedback.

Thank you in the meantime to the team over there for both the invitation and the kind introduction in the piece!

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film

Video highlight: Jean Paul Gaultier talks 2014 Barbican exhibition

There’s three types of good fashion films these days: the conceptual creative type (think features for seasonal campaigns), the product shots (more for selling, a lot shorter in length but ideally still tied to a story), and then the interview. That was an idea coined by Harriet Mays Powell of The Look Now (formerly fashion director at New York Magazine), speaking at the first Fashion Forward conference in 2011.

Her focus was that each needs investment, not just in terms of money, but in terms of a strategic approach. The better interviews for instance aren’t haphazard behind-the-scenes clips that don’t do a high fashion house any justice, but well-shot and insightful pieces in their own right.

This one (below) just released by The Barbican Centre in London serves as a great example. It captures designer Jean Paul Gaultier animatedly discussing his upcoming exhibition in its art gallery in April 2014. Set in his Paris studio, with shots of various items from his collections interspersed, he jokes about the retrospective being shown while he’s still alive, and highlights his appreciation for the city of London.

The entire video is such an enthusiastic insight into him and his brand, that when he says, “I am very lucky because I am living my passion”, at the end, the viewer truly believes him.

 

The exhibition itself also sounds like a winner. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, as it’s called, will see more than 140 garments from 1970 to today presented. Included will be the infamous conical bra from Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour, as well as costumes for Kylie Minogue and films such as The Fifth Element.

The exhibition will also comprise catwalk footage, music videos, films, dance performances and snippets from Gaultier’s cult TV show, Eurotrash. It will be accompanied by an events programme and film season.

It has been initiated and produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, and will tour worldwide.