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ICYMI: ‘Sustainability’ arrives in annual reports, Prada goes fur-free, a lack of female fashion CEOs

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week. 

TOP STORIES
  • Tracking sustainability’s rise as one of fashion’s favourite words [Vogue Business]
  • Prada is the latest brand to go fur-free [Dazed]
  • Fashion has shockingly few female CEOs [Quartz]
  • What’s stopping the fashion industry from agreeing on climate action? [BoF]
  • E-Commerce giant Alibaba to integrate blockchain into intellectual property system [Yahoo]
TECHNOLOGY
  • World’s first digital only blockchain clothing sells for $9,500 [Forbes]
  • San Francisco becomes the first US city to ban government facial recognition [Wired]
  • AI avatars could be the next generation’s favorite entertainers [TNW]
  • Driverless electric truck starts deliveries on Swedish public road [FashionNetwork]
  • Future smart clothes will keep you the perfect temperature at all times [Digital Trends]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • How charitable are fashion’s biggest companies? [Vogue Business]
  • The young activists fighting to ‘rebrand’ air pollution [Dazed]
  • Walmart agrees to power more than 40 stores with solar energy [Bloomberg]
  • Kering sets new animal welfare guidelines [FashionUnited]
  • The Body Shop launches fair trade recycled plastic scheme [i-D]
  • Single-use plastics a serious climate change hazard, study warns [Guardian]
  • Scientists devise ‘breakthrough’ plastic that can be recycled again and again [Sourcing Journal]
  • Why Russia still loves fur [Vogue Business]
  • This clothing brand’s new repair program shows that the future of fashion can be circular [Fast Company]
RETAIl & E-COMMERCE
  • How department stores are using services to convince customers they’re still convenient places to shop [Digiday]
  • Urban Outfitters tries to stay relevant with an $88 monthly rental service [Fast Company]
  • Walmart’s ambitious plan to beat Amazon on free one-day shipping is here [Fast Company]
  • Why online fashion retailers are experimenting with invite-only access [Forbes]
  • Klarna announces first UK immersive pop-up [FashionUnited]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Calvin Klein apologizes following “queerbaiting” accusations for Bella Hadid & Lil Miquela ad [Hype Bae]
  • Nike runs shoppable Snapchat lens to support women’s soccer [Mobile Marketer]
  • How will in-game advertising change as Google, Facebook, Snap and Apple level up? [Mobile Marketer]
PRODUCT
  • So what does Rihanna’s first Fenty collection actually look like? [NY Times]
  • PrettyLittleThing launches recycled collection [Drapers]
  • Vivobarefoot launches plant-based shoe [FashionUnited]
BUSINESS
  • Body Shop owner to buy Avon for £1.6bn [BBC]
  • Topshop is closing all its US stores [Refinery29]
  • Farfetch revenue soars [Drapers]
  • Richemont profit misses estimates on online investment costs [BoF]
  • Nike, Adidas and others call on Trump to remove footwear from tariff list [RetailDive]
CULTURE
  • ‘I want to tilt the lens’ – Sinéad Burke’s fight to make fashion more diverse [Guardian]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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. 

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What recent H&M investments in AI, recycling and payment tech mean

Thread
Thread

H&M has invested in several major startups in recent months indicating a direction of travel for the retailer that’s related to greater personalization, a circular economy and increased convenience for shoppers.

The group announced it is backing men’s personal styling service, Thread, this week through its venture arm, CO:LAB. It is putting $13m into the artificial intelligence-based startup, which has just closed a $22m Series B round.

The UK-based service offers recommendations for men on what to wear by combining data with a layer of human insight.

The team behind it said the funding will go towards “hiring data scientists and engineers to make the artificial intelligence much more powerful”, according to CEO and co-founder Kieran O’Neill. The site sells 536 brands, including Paul Smith, Diesel, Barbour and Hugo Boss, among others.

What Thread has alongside that, of course, is data into how men shop and what their tastes are. H&M says its interest lies in exactly that to strengthen the personalized shopping experience that it too can offer shoppers at a time when such expectations are only increasing.

With that same consideration comes the fact shoppers now demand better options around payments, it has also noted. Enter its $20m investment in Klarna, a Swedish fintech startup.

The funding, announced just last week, signals a global partnership that will see Klarna’s digital payments technology integrated into H&M’s physical and digital stores. The outcome will “provide an enhanced omnichannel customer payment offering [and] a streamlined post-purchase service in the H&M app”, according to the company.

What Klarna is particularly known for is its “try before you buy” service, which gives shoppers the flexibility to pay for their items later. That will be available eventually to H&M customers in 14 markets, starting with the UK and Sweden in 2019.

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of the H&M group, referred to the move as part of a strategic and relentless focus on creating great customer experiences.

Both come at a time when H&M, which has been struggling in the market, has promised its shareholders that it will focus on improvements around not only inventory, but the shopping experience directly, based on understanding the changing retail and consumer landscape it sees before it.

“We know the industry is undergoing a huge shift – the catalyst for this transformation is technology. It’s not just one technology, but a set that includes artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics and more,” he said back in February at the company’s Capital Markets Day.

“There are changing consumer behaviours as a result – they are expecting more and more. They expect a more tailored offering in how we set up our stores, in how we communicate with [them]. They want a hassle free shopping experience, and the ability to shop anywhere and anytime. And they want even better designs at higher quality and better prices.”

Meanwhile, the company is also placing a big focus on sustainability. One of its other broad ambitions is to move to a 100% circular model by 2030, which means that everything it uses will go back into the system to be either recycled or reused.

Another, quieter investment it announced in August helps with this – it led a £5m round for polymer recycling technology startup, Worn Again Technologies. This is a business focused on how to drive circularity for the fashion industry by separating, decontaminating and extracting polyester polymers and cellulose from cotton to create new products as part of a repeatable process.

As Cyndi Rhoades, Worn Again Technologies’ CEO, said: “There are enough textiles and plastic bottles ‘above ground’ and in circulation today to meet our annual demand for raw materials to make new clothing and textiles. With our dual polymer recycling technology, there will be no need to use virgin oil by-products to make new polyester and the industry will be able to radically decrease the amount of virgin cotton going into clothing by displacing it with new cellulose fibres recaptured from existing clothing.”

At present, less than 1% of non-wearable textiles are turned back into new textiles due to technical and economic limitations of current recycling methods. This will therefore help with H&M’s goal.

As the group’s head of sustainability, Anna Gedda, explained on TheCurrent Innovators podcast recently: “We only have one planet, and the toll [the fashion industry] has on resources today is simply unsustainable.”

How are you thinking about 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 Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail Startups sustainability technology

ICYMI: Chinese moguls rebooting fashion, biotech shaping the industry, smart checkouts rising

China’s internet moguls are rebooting fashion
China’s internet moguls are rebooting fashion

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • How China’s internet moguls are rebooting fashion [BoF]
  • How biotechnology is reshaping fashion [BoF]
  • Smart checkouts will process $45B in transactions by 2023, study says [MobileMarketer]
  • 5 tech innovations we’re talking about from fashion week season [TheCurrentDaily]
TECHNOLOGY
  • When it comes to technology, fashion is still a laggard [BoF]
  • How Diageo is using Amazon Echo and Google Home [Digiday]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • John Lewis invests in plastic reduction [Drapers]
  • Why does so much ethical fashion look the same? [Fashionista]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Express is the latest retailer to launch a clothing rental service [CNBC]
  • Fruit of the Loom celebrates Seek No Further with interactive shopping experience [FashionUnited]
  • Forever 21 invests in online styling service DailyLook [RetailDive]
  • Is the future of online deliveries allowing drivers access to your home? [TheIndustry]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Hollister partners with Sit With Us [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • Why mainstream brands are embracing modest fashion [CNN]
BUSINESS
  • Revolve officially files for IPO [Fashionista]
  • Walmart buys Eloquii for undisclosed amount [RetailDive]
  • Anya Hindmarch losses mount to £28.2m [Drapers]
  • Payments startup Klarna raises $20M from H&M, its second backer from the fashion world [TechCrunch]
CULTURE
  • The London Underground is getting vending machines to clean all your dirty clothes [Wired]
  • Meet the robotic museum guide that will turn art into sound for the visually impaired [FastCompany]

How are you thinking about 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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data digital snippets e-commerce mobile product social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Pokémon Go, McQueen’s DNA, luxury’s executive changes, AI, VR and more

McQueen pure human - digital snippets
Alexander McQueen’s DNA turned into leather in designer Tina Gorjanc’s Pure Human project

If there’s one thing that’s grabbed everyone’s attention this past fortnight, it has of course been Pokémon Go. The augmented reality mobile game has reportedly gained as many users as Uber and Tinder, topped Twitter’s daily users, and started seeing people spend more time with it than in Facebook. It also caused Nintendo’s share price to increase by more than $7bn.

We published a great piece looking at what retailers can learn from it in a broader location-marketing sense.  Also worth reading is this story tracking the retail invasion of Pokémons, via Racked, and another looking at why retailers should care about Pokémon’s forthcoming ads.

Beyond that, the news to know in the fashion, digital comms and technology space this week (and there’s a lot of it!), spans everything from an experiment with DNA in textile design to the plethora of changes at the helm of the industry’s luxury houses, the impact artificial intelligence might have on brands, not to mention how we’re faring with virtual reality so far…


  • Fashion that gets under the skin – designer creates leather prototypes grown from Alexander McQueen DNA (as pictured) [NY Times]

  • Luxury fashion: a year of big moves [The Industry]

  • Amazon Prime Day: Wow… but not yet a fashion must-buy [Trendwalk]

  • What Amazon could learn from Yoox Net-a-Porter, the “world’s biggest luxury fashion store” [Quartz]

  • Fashion apparel retailing in the age of artificial intelligence [WWD]

  • Luxury brands get off to an awkward start with virtual reality [Glossy]

  • Is a holographic fashion show for VR clothing the future? [The Creators Project]

  • The store of the future: physical retailers must stage experiences, embrace omnichannel and harness data [BoF]

  • 5 ways shoppers are using mobile to make purchase decisions, according to Google [Fashionista]

  • Sephora is driving mobile sales with Tinder-like features and digital mad libs [Ad Week]

  • Stores must learn to think like Facebook [BoF]

  • Warby Parker is offering Snapchat-exclusive sunglasses [Techcrunch]

  • Birchbox tests Snapchat for customer service – turns to revamped video and voice calling feature [Digiday]

  • Why advertisers are forking over big bucks for custom Snapchat lenses [Ad Week]

  • Snapchat is looking at a way to recognize objects in your snaps and serve you related ads [Business Insider]

  • New study says people are more likely to buy from brands that use virtual reality [Ad Week]

  • Luxury brands embrace digital, but still wary of programmatic [The Drum]

  • Using an algorithm to figure out what luxury customers really want [HBR]

  • Amazon is developing a 3D modelling system to solve online clothes shopping’s biggest problem [Quartz]

  • How the future of fit could spell the end of retail returns [Retail Dive]

  • Back to bricks and mortar: how e-commerce has embraced the real world [The Guardian]

  • Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet) [McKinsey]

  • Confessions of a fashion start-up founder: ‘Fashion tech is the Wild West’ [Glossy]

  • 3 need-to-know live streaming apps in China (and how bloggers & brands are using them) [WGSN]

  • Payments firm Klarna adds Lyst to its collection [Reuters]

  • How valuable is trend forecasting in the post-internet age? [NJAL]

  • These acrylic nails double as an Oyster Card [PSFK]