How China tariffs could make your sweaters and pants cost more [BoF]
Catwalk cover-up: how the west is falling for modest fashion [The Guardian]
Miley Cyrus takes a stand for reproductive rights with Marc Jacobs [Vogue]
‘The models have bellies, hips and thighs that jiggle’: the rise of body-positive swimwear [The Guardian]
The Nike London flagship now has plus-sized mannequins [Teen Vogue]
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.
Instagram Stories is the current darling of the fashion world, or so it seemed in New York this past week as each and every designer brand took to the platform alongside their runway shows.
Fashion week has long been a central part of the social media strategy for these businesses – a ripe opportunity to capture what’s being putting out into the world with their new collections and build noise around their brands accordingly.
Providing fans with a “first look” or a step “behind-the-scenes” is somewhat par for the course these days, however. Much like live-streaming is no longer newsworthy (though Instagram Live was also in heavy use this season), neither really is a glimpse backstage or front row – more par for the course.
What Instagram Stories has provided however is an opportunity to do all of that at a rapid pace, without having to worry about the quality of the content. As with Snapchat before it, it’s the fact this content disappears 24-hours later that’s so appealing to these brands. Blink-and-you-miss-it as standard provides the exclusivity they appreciate, while not compromising on the beautiful feeds they are otherwise curating on their main accounts.
What’s more, this is a space that can generate big numbers – of the 700 million users on Instagram worldwide, 250 million are viewing the Stories feature everyday. What’s interesting to look at then, is how exactly brands are taking things a step further and playing with content in this environment. Head over to Forbes to read the highlights straight from Instagram Stories this season, including from Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors.
There’s a lot to catch up on from the past fortnight – from news of the see-now-buy-now revolution’s fading, to LVMH’s e-commerce plans and Gucci’s meme campaign, not to mention the creative director shifts happening at the likes of Givenchy and Chloé.
On top of that however, is also a special digest of everything you need to know from SXSW – from our own round-up of the top technologies on show and the numerous Levi’s, Marc Jacobs and Bolt Threads announcements, through to varying views on areas including chatbots, drones and more.
If that’s not enough, do also take time to read the much deeper dives on artificial intelligence we’ve highlighted both under the top stories and tech headers too.
The see-now-buy-now revolution is fizzling [Glossy]
LVMH goes digital with all its brands under one luxury goods e-commerce site [FT]
#TFWGucci is the new viral campaign merging memes and fashion [Sleek]
WWD worked with IBM Watson’s AI to predict the biggest trends of the season [WWD]
Why Cosabella replaced its agency with AI and will never go back to humans [Campaign]
SXSW 2017: Tech takeaways from AI to blockchain for the fashion and retail industries [F&M]
Trying on the Levi’s and Google smart jacket at SXSW feels like the future [Forbes]
Why Marc Jacobs’ cynical view of fashion and technology at SXSW won’t last [Forbes]
Bolt Threads is launching its first bioengineered spider silk product at SXSW – a tie [Forbes]
My afternoon at the virtual reality cinema, including trying the Spatium Philip Treacy experience [USA Today]
For fashion brands flocking to SXSW, what’s the ROI? [BoF]
Spotify lets The North Face release campaign where it rains [BrandChannel]
New York designer Marc Jacobs isn’t interested in technology becoming a part of the fabric of his fashion collections, he explained to a crowd at SXSW earlier this week.
The idea of tech-enabled clothing, or indeed wearable technology, doesn’t feel important to him at all, he noted – making him an interesting choice for a festival focused on, indeed, tech.
But the self-proclaimed luddite believes the industry at large doesn’t see this view as the future either. “When fashion talks about the future, it usually ends up silver… and that’s not a new conversation,” he explained.
But Jacobs’ talk at SXSW, which focused primarily on his personal use of Instagram for the past two years, nods to somewhat of the old guard of designers heading up the industry. Where he was once known for reading culture and society better than so many of his peers, the gap between traditional dressmaking and new technology is making that feel further away than ever.
Admittedly, the vision for a future of intertwined fashion and technology is still a ways off. We are early on this train, and we’ve been intensely distracted by many of the more hardware-focused devices put out there so far, not to mention the lacking value around use cases.
But, what if we were to turn those ideas on their heads, and instead think about technology in fabrics that could provide true purpose aligned to what a designer looks to achieve? What if they could result in say making outfits more beautiful, more relevant to life, more empowering for the woman wearing them, or even to provide her with an easier means of getting dressed in the morning?
That sounds like a big leap forward from wearable communications tools to replace our phones (yet synced to our phones) or even fitness tracking opportunities, let alone the myriad of options that have enabled items to light up. And the point is, it’s also where we’re likely headed.
In reality, that sort of progress is not going to come from the designers, mind you. It will be from the R&D teams of big tech organisations, textile companies and emerging start-ups. Think about where the likes of Lycra came from, and then think about what Google is doing with Project Jacquard. Whether you like the initial jacket launched in partnership with Levi’s or not (focused heavily on communications no less), this does suggest a significant opportunity for the mass implementation of conductive yarn within our garments down the line.
Where designers will need to eventually play a part is in the buy-in of this world. Advanced fabrications aren’t new in luxury, which bodes well for the long-term uptake of this even more developed space. But these brands should at one point be leading this, not following it.
Jacobs, by his own admission in comparison, is “quite cynical about it”. He explained: “I like shirts and dresses and pants, and until people think about covering their body in a different way, it still doesn’t feel that important.”
He does, however, believe technology at large is relevant to the fashion industry if we’re looking at digital and social media. “I find it hugely important, but I don’t know how to engage with it as much as I wish I did. I don’t have a block because I’m against it; it’s just not the way I’m wired. It’s such a foreign language to me… I don’t have [the] ability to absorb or comprehend how it works.”
It’s for that reason he did indeed only take up Instagram a couple of years back too – until then, he was completely against the whole idea of it, preferring instead to be “in the real world”. It took an interview with journalist Suzy Menkes for him to change his mind. “Being the person I am… as soon as that was recorded and documented, I decided the next day I was going to join Instagram.”
If history teaches us anything then, there’s hope yet for a Marc Jacobs fashion and technology collection. At some point, the tide will turn, it’s just a question of what will convince him, and perhaps more importantly, who will beat him.
For anyone heading to Austin for SXSW Interactive this year, you will no doubt be entering into those few days ahead where you realise not only how much else there’s still to be done at work before you go, but just how little time you’ve had to prep for what’s to come.
Never fear! On the one hand, there’s something incredibly beneficial about the serendipity of going with the flow at this event. Plus the app is pretty spot on for getting you figured out hour by hour. That said, on the other, there’s a need to do several RSVPs to make sure you can get in to the parties you want to etc, and having a rough idea of your itinerary for the week, never harms.
So on that note, here are our highlights for the best of each day, designed specifically with those working in fashion and retail in mind. There’s also a link at the bottom to my full schedule for the week should you wish to see a more detailed, but still filtered version of the programme.
Look forward to seeing lots of you there. Don’t forget, we have #FashMash drinks at 6.30pm on Friday, March 10. If you didn’t get an invite, do drop me a note. Last but not least be sure to check out the survival guide Olly Rzysko of Primark wrote for us last year, complete with insanely relevant Kanye GIFs throughout.
FRIDAY, MARCH 10
Friday is a real ease-in kind of day, with a slow start to allow you to get your badges, and only a handful of highlights throughout the programme. One of the true beauties of SXSW is stepping outside of your usual remit and learning from other worlds, so don’t miss Cory Richards’ keynote at 2pm – a climber and visual storyteller, he was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year (2012) and a National Geographic Fellow (2015).
Also worth checking out is the 11am session on how tech is shaping the future of entertainment. Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable, will sit down with leaders in the entertainment and technology space to discuss how television and film are working hand in hand with Silicon Valley to not only reach consumers in the new ways they’re watching videos, but adjusting their creative process based on new advances in audience data.
Saturday is a real conundrum with multiple incredible sessions all planned at the same time. Here’s where the luck part comes in at SXSW: some of them will be the talk of the week, others will be a total fail, and some you may not even be able to get into (if it’s a popular subject or speaker, be sure to arrive at least 30 mins early). For the 9.30am session for instance, it’s a toss up between learning about where artificial intelligence is headed from Microsoft, the real application of it in Disney’s case, or a talk from Bolt Threads’ CEO on their progress with spider silk as a new fibre for the industry – an exploration of how his team is using biotechnology to design protein-based materials at the molecular level. That’s a tough choice.
Sunday is Decoded Fashion’s day, meaning if it’s really fashion content you’re after, you may not need to move from their Hangar Lounge location. That said, if you’re looking to mix it up and step out of your comfort zone, several other talks look very promising, including Fjord’s 2017 trends report examining not only trends that will impact consumers, but those set to impact design, business, organisation, culture and society in the next 12-18 months.
As for other events, ModCloth and Wrangler have teamed up for a reception early evening, while Intel also has their AI lounge (running March 10-12) to head over to and learn from. If that wasn’t enough: Liz Bacelar (founder of Decoded Fashion) also launches her new business, TheCurrent, with a VIP programme from 4pm-7pm looking at innovation in the fashion and retail industries featuring speakers from Under Armour, Ford, Google, Parsons and more. There’s also a live podcast recording on Saturday morning with Rebecca Minkoff.
MONDAY, MARCH 13
If you haven’t had too much in the way of tacos and magaritas yet, and you can still manage to get up early, kickstart Monday with Ford’s session with executive chairman, Bill Ford, all about smart mobility. Make sure to get out on time however, because Marc Jacobs is up at 11am in conversation with Vogue’s Sally Singer and the queue is likely to be popular. The discussion is around designing in the age of the social media, which isn’t exactly a new topic (for anywhere, let alone SXSW), but it is Marc Jacobs.
A true highlight of the day (in fact the whole week), mind you, comes from futurist Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, with his daughter Amy Kurzweil, who works at the Fashion Institute of Technology no less, at 12.30pm. Ray is one of the best speakers I’ve ever seen, so all hopes are pinned on this session being one of the best.
The big hitter, however, will be Yasmin Green of Jigsaw (of Alphabet variety, not the British fashion store), who leads the team’s innovation efforts, overseeing projects on counter-radicalisation and fragile states.
And last but not least, it’s not a true SXSW experience until you attend one of Bruce Sterling’s closing keynotes. “The future: history that hasn’t happened yet”, as he calls his session, will whip the slider-bar between the unthinkable and the unimaginable, which is exactly what you’ll need to cap off your Austin week.
Marc Jacobs is running a cute campaign via YouTube documenting the commute of various members of its staff around the world. Using the hashtag #mjcommute, the 15-second clips speed through each employee’s journey from home to the office or store as they narrate through what their job role is and what pieces from the brand’s collections they are wearing.
Individuals from Tokyo to Chicago are featured, not to mention London, Milan, Paris, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco and more.
A total of 25 have been published so far. This is a simple, but effective series that’s making for some strong editorial content on its YouTube channel. A handful of the videos were previously published on Instagram.
Marc Jacobs is sparing no effort to promote its fragrances in London at present. The all-new Daisy Dream scent has been supported by both an online competition and an offline interactive Dream Room, while the Daisy fragrance theme at large will play host to a pop-up Tweet Shop in Covent Garden later this week.
The online Daisy Dream Capsule works like this: users can choose four images out of a selection on the dedicated website. These are then added into a square frame that carries the hashtag #MJDaisyDream. The resulting collage, which slightly resembles a polaroid, represents the ‘dream capsule’. After entering one’s country, name and email, the capsule can be submitted and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr.
An intermediary step involves the opportunity to opt in to a competition, of which the grand prize is a three-day trip to New York City that includes a £500 shopping spree.
The Dream Room (as below) that was open in London’s Westfield until July 30 with the help of Fuse Sport & Entertainment and ClinkClink, served as an offline extension of the Dream Capsule website. Set in the atrium of the shopping centre, it was designed to fully immerse consumers into the ‘Dream’. Shoppers were able to upload their Dream Capsule directly from the space via iPads and were offered souvenirs of the experience in the form of cloud-shaped cookies and photos.
The second campaign, a pop-up Tweet Shop, will open its doors in London for the first time on Friday August 15 until Sunday August 17, at 4 East Piazza, Covent Garden. As per the teaser below, shoppers will be able to purchase items with social currency by using the hashtag #MJDaisyChain – no card or cash accepted. The more creative effort they put into their post – from a simple text through to an image, or even a Vine video – will lead to greater prizes, including the chance to win a Marc Jacobs handbag each day.
The space will also feature Daisy-themed artwork by Langley Fox, a Marc Jacobs nail bar, as well as a live Daisy photo booth and Vine booth.
This is not a new concept for Marc Jacobs; the brand opened a Tweet Shop in New York back in February to mark New York Fashion Week. Like the London version (already), this launch was preceded by an enormous amount of press coverage and hype ahead of opening.
The premise in reality, is actually a very simple and effective way to build social engagement while simultaneously ensuring a following around a pop-up physical space. In fact the locations in which both campaigns have been executed were well thought-out. Westfield and Covent Garden not only enjoy exceptionally high footfall, but are prime areas for tourists – the latter especially is becoming increasingly known as a go-to destination for beauty retail, following the launch of dedicated boutiques from the likes of Burberry and Chanel.
Did you know, there were already 884 brands running #selfie competitions on Twitter by October 2013 (the year of the selfie), according to social media benchmarking company, Unmetric. Safe to say, that number has only risen since, as everyone from French Connection to Calvin Klein, not to mention Marc Jacobs and DKNY (and that’s in the fashion industry alone) have likewise jumped on the bandwagon.
In theory it’s a quick win: stick a contest up on social that taps into this hashtag phenomenon, sit back and wait to see your consumer engagement sky rocket.
Or so you hope.
In practice, if everyone else is calling for that content too, it doesn’t take long before standing out from the noise is as hard as it’s ever been. Selfie fatigue, or indeed hashtag fatigue is undoubtedly on its way (as so eloquently demonstrated by the lovely Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake). To really find success in this space, what that means is brands need to dedicate as much of a focus to creativity as they would with any other marketing activity.