We have the tools today to make the change the world needs, says engineer, author and futurist, Peter Diamandis, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast.
Speaking from Summit LA19, an annual gathering of today’s brightest leaders, he explains why we must remember that our mindset matters more than ever before as we head into 2020.
“I think this is the most extraordinary time ever to be alive. I think that we are living in a time where if you want to make a difference in the world you can. You’re more empowered as individuals to take on the world’s biggest problems than heads of nations and kings and queens were just decades or centuries ago,” he explains.
During a time when we’re surrounded by negative news – something we pay 10x more attention to than anything positive – it’s easy to get dragged down. But it’s time to feel optimistic, he notes. We have a new decade ahead of us, which presents more opportunity than ever before.
“I’m more bullish than ever before. Yes, we have problems. Yes, we have environmental problems. Yes, we have political problems. Yes, we have all those things. But the fact the matter is, we also have the tools to challenge them and change them and make the world a better place. We’ve romanticize the past, but the past was pretty brutal, pretty brutal compared to today.”
During this conversation, Diamandis explains why there’s a crazy idea behind every breakthrough innovation, how the next decade will be a critical time to reinvent much of humanity, and the one thing you need to know to prepare for this future.
We all know that reality TV continues to bring in the big bucks – especially for those stars who front it.
Love them, or hate them, one only need look at the continued success of the Kardashian/Jenners to see this in action – each of them developing their own business empires with the various ventures they’ve explored. Kylie alone now has a real-time net worth of £1bn, thanks in the main to her eponymous cosmetics line.
Then there’s the return of The Hills – another example of an enormous US show that made stars of, and fortunes for, its participants over its many years.
But there’s also a lot to be said for the brands that have associated themselves alongside – a classic case of product placement with “real-life” influencers in order to drive sales.
One of the new episodes of The Hills for instance sees L’Oréal placed front and center in a scene. As The Fashion Law reports, there is no specific disclosure as to how the items are there, despite them almost certainly being the result of a behind-the-scenes deal between the television network and the Paris-based beauty giant.
Which is why it’s interesting to pivot over to the UK and look at this week’s announcement that dating show Love Island, which has been a television network and advertiser’s dream, is intending to extend to two series in 2020 rather than one annual one as it has previously done.
This year’s ITV2 show, which aired in June, pulled in a reported five million viewers a night, making it the most popular on television in the UK for the 16-34-year-old market. It made fast influencers out of its stars, and importantly out of its sponsors too.
The episodes were sponsored by Uber Eats, which paid £5m for the privilege – more than double previous deals – while further commercial relationships were in place ranging from product placement to podcast sponsorship, brand licensing, exclusive product lines and merchandise. Love Island water bottles through to luggage sets are currently dotted throughout the UK market. According to reports, the broadcaster made an extra £8m on 2018 due to this boost.
This isn’t just a TV phenomenon but a social obsession in this country. As The Guardian reported: “The reality show has managed to pull off the increasingly difficult trick of getting young audiences more used to an on-demand world to tune in to a show at a set time each night. It has also become a creature of social media, with an enormous following on Instagram and more than 3 million people downloading the programme’s app for updates.”
One of the biggest success stories from the brand side within all this was I Saw It First – a fast fashion business from Boohoo co-founder Jamal Kamani. According to the Business of Fashion, the company spent between £1-2m to secure its spot as the show’s official fashion partner, replacing Missguided who has held the post in previous years.
Seemingly, it paid off. I Saw It First had a 67% increase in sales month-on-month and a 254% increase in Instagram followers. Those are some solid numbers.
We might be living in a world heavily pushing micro influencer strategy – which continues to have its merits – but there’s a lot to be said for this sort of spend big strategy on traditional media. More to come, one assumes, next year when Love Island will be aired just after Christmas and again in the summer.
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In a bid to make money beyond ad revenue while raising brand awareness, editorial companies including Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping all recently launched physical retail stores in the US.
Merging content and commerce has long been a topic of discussion within the industry, both from how brands are thinking about their editorial voice, and – in this instance – how media businesses are monetizing their content prowess.
That’s meant all manner of e-commerce entities especially, but numerous experiments in the space have been met with mixed results. NET-A-PORTER may have nailed how to do content both online and offline, for instance, but Style.com in return flopped at the first hurdle when it shifted to a commerce model.
Others however have steamed ahead and found legs in this space balancing both angles. Marie Claire’s beauty store, Fabled, launched in 2016 and continues with a successful online and brick-and-mortar store in London.
Read on to find out how Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping are similarly thinking about physical retail experiences in order to capture consumer attention.
Online news and media outlet Buzzfeed opened a toy shop called Camp in December. Located in the Flatiron District of New York, the space also has an experiential area that’s ready for Instagram-worthy photos. With rotating decor that changes every few months, ‘Summer camp’ is the first theme chosen for the store. Think of a “campitheater”: a sports field, a dance hall, some real bunks, a radio lab, and even s’mores ice cream sundaes by Milk Bar.
Good Housekeeping ‘s GH Lab pop-up
Good Housekeeping magazine opened a three-month pop-up at the Mall of America in Minneapolis that capitalized on the busy holiday shopping period by running until December 30. Called “GH Lab”, the store offered only one item per product category. Unlike regular retailers that sell several brands of the same item, each pick was tested and recommended by experts from the GH Institute. The shoppable showroom had more than 40 curated products, and most of them had earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, which provides buyers with a two-year limited warranty guaranteed by the magazine.
The store was cashless, with all merchandise shoppable through Amazon’s app and its SmileCode scanner. Shoppers used their smartphone’s camera to scan a code that went straight to Good Housekeeping’s Amazon seller page where they could place an order for home delivery.
New York Magazine’s The Strategist
The Strategist, New York Magazine’s product recommendation site, also opened its first pop-up for the month of December, this time in Soho, New York. The store curated beauty brands and products, including haircare, bed sheets, and self-care products. The space also hosted events, including a beauty panel with The Cut’s beauty director Kathleen Hou, and offered workshops and free blowouts.
With so many other publishers playing in the product review and recommendation field, Camila Cho, General Manager of e-commerce for New York Media, said the pop-up was an opportunity to raise brand awareness. “Offline allows more flexibility to showcase our brand personality and how we are different,” said Cho in an interview for Fipp.
How are you thinking about interactive retail experiences? 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.
The all-female content is targeted at busy, commuting women. It will see eight episodes focusing on subjects including boobs through to breakups, as well as careers, friendships and more.
Chief marketing officer, Laura Simon, said: “Freya is a fun, modern brand for fun modern women. That means engaging directly with our audience in the most entertaining way possible – and the smartest way to do that is by being exactly where they are.
“Podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums amongst our target audience, so our aim was to create a brand new channel that would entertain and inspire them as they go about their busy day – giving them support, laughter and great advice direct in their ear.”
The Podcast will be amplified across Europe through social media, PR and via talent and influencers, echoing media consumption habits of the Freya audience. Its reach will also be extended further through media partner Refinery29, who will push the campaign on both its UK and German sites via editorial features, social media takeovers, display media and product articles.
When Life Gives You Melons is available to download via iTunes and podcast provider, Acast. It was developed with creative agency The Romans.
US teen retailer Hollister has launched a retro, 16-bit game for mobile in partnership with TreSensa to promote its new denim line.
The skateboarding-themed interaction sees two characters, Waxer and Betty, making their way around various parts of Venice in California on their boards, including the pier, the boardwalk and the bike path.
As they go, they have to navigate over and around various obstacles such as lifeguards, traffic cones and hotdog vendors, all the while collecting coins for points and denim items for super powers.
On completion, users can share it with friends via social media, opt to play again, and be in with the chance of winning prizes.
This game follows the success of an earlier surfing-themed one launched by the brand in March. Designed to live in ad space, it gained 27.6 million impressions during that month alone. Users spent an average of 43 seconds playing it, compared with a benchmark of eight seconds for interface with a mobile video ad. Furthermore, a video or display ad interaction rate is usually 5% and the Hollister game saw a 42% average game start.
Said Will Smith, chief marketing officer at the company, at the launch of that first iteration: ” It keeps the brand breaking through in new and unique ways and helps us maintain our relevance day to day. This comes at the customer in an unconventional way and that’s part of our brand ethos of not being staid and traditional—we want to be young, credible and authentic.”
The new game will again live in the ad space, distributed via the TreSensa engagement platform, which has a global reach of over a billion devices. It will also be promoted via Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
The Business of Fashion is introducing a paywall in front of much of its content in a bid to move forward with monetisation, it announced today.
From October 25, BoF Professional, as the subscription setup has been dubbed, will be the only way to get unlimited access to its content as well as exclusive analysis, special briefings and networking events. There are both monthly and annual payment plans available.
“For almost a decade, The Business of Fashion has been a trusted source of independent, authoritative analysis on the global fashion industry, arming fashion professionals all over the world with a powerful competitive advantage in today’s turbulent times. Now, it’s time for BoF to take the next step in our journey as a business,” founder Imran Amed wrote in his post about the plans.
Students and occasional readers will continue to have access to five articles per month free of charge, as well as unlimited access to the site’s Daily Digest Newsletter, BoF Fashion Week galleries, the BoF 500 and BoF Careers.
There will also be a special discount to students who wish to upgrade to BoF Professional, as well as special group rates to companies and other organisations of 10 people or more.
BoF has been steadily moving towards more of a revenue-driven model over the past couple of years, with services including a careers site, education platform and offline events under the header BoF Voices all bringing in money to the growing company.
The team raised £1.3m in seed funding from a group of investors in 2013, including Index Ventures, LVMH, Carmen Busquets and Felix Capital. This was followed by a Series A round in 2015.
For those looking to subscribe, the team is offering a 50% early bird discount to the annual subscription of £9 per month. The monthly subscription is £18 per month.
Work in (or with) the fashion industry and heading to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year? Then we’ve done you a solid… Here’s a list of all the relevant sessions you should attend directly related to this industry, from Anna Wintour and Christopher Bailey in conversation, to exciting start-ups including MikMak and Wearable Experiments, not to mention keynotes from Kevin Plank of Under Armour, and John C Jay from Uniqlo.
We’ve also outlined a few bonus must-see talks from other verticals each day in order to get your creative juices flowing.
10.45am: Digital Darwinism: From the Makers of Monty the Penguin The creative team at MPC will be sharing the process behind the CG character work they do, exploring the science behind ‘Monty the Penguin’ for John Lewis.
5pm: Want Brand Fans? Create a Movement Sports performance clothing manufacturer SKINS is teaming up with BBD Perfect Storm for a conversation around building fans by challenging what harms the sports industry: corruption and cheating.
Sunday’s bonus content – 11am: Can Good User Experience Change the World? If you want any insight into what works in China, this is the session to attend – a deep dive into how one app – WeChat, owned by Tencent – has become an essential part of everyday life by focusing on the user experience.
Monday, June 20
3pm: Adobe Experience There are a series of speakers in this session, but the one to look out for is Billie Whitehouse, CEO of Wearable Experiments who will be demonstrating how physical, digital and emotional connections are shaping our future and culture (and yes, through clothing).
3.15pm: Creativity Under Pressure In the world of sporting performance, innovation and new technologies operate at speed, so to remain relevant without sacrificing authenticity, a brand has to continually innovate both products and creativity. Adidas global CMO Eric Liedtke is in the hotseat for this one, exploring co-creating the brand with its consumers.
4pm: Capturing Short Attention Spans: Custom Video Creative for Social Media If you want insights on video content, hearing from Adaptly and Refinery29 is a good place to start – this session will explore research around short attention spans through to the evolution of long-form media.
Monday’s bonus content – 1pm: Brian Chesky in Conversation with Joanna Coles Cosmo’s editor-in-chief sits down with Airbnb’s CEO to discuss the vision for his company and the current state of today’s sharing economy. This is a not to miss session as one of the world’s hottest start-ups. Other Monday highlights include Samsung’s virtual reality experience at 12pm, NASA in IPG Mediabrand’s session at 4pm and Mattel in 360i’s reimagining of play at 5pm.
Tuesday, June 21
10am: Anna Wintour in Conversation with Christopher Bailey For those in the fashion industry, this is one of the most-anticipated sessions of the week, Condé Nast’s infamous artistic director starting off talking about breaking through the noise with an authoritative editorial voice, followed by a conversation about creativity with Burberry’s chief creative and executive officer. Never have the obstacles to true innovation been so real, Wintour explains – but never have the opportunities been as great.
12.15pm: From Roman Emperors to Roman Orgies Strictly speaking this is a talk about the world of agency and client relationships, but the fact United Colors of Benetton and its history of creative campaigns is the subject makes it a worthwhile one to attend. The brand’s chief product and marketing officer, John Mollanger, will be in conversation with 180 Amsterdam.
12.30pm: Invisible UI – Transforming the Way We Think About Wearables Another wearable technology conversation takes place courtesy of Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive) during Lions Innovation, this time focusing on moving beyond wrists stacked with smart watches and fitness trackers to integrating tech seamlessly into what we already have and do.
1pm: The Gang of Four As part of Lions Innovation, L2 Inc’s Scott Galloway will explain the race to grab share in the retail and media industries between Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – outlining who will thrive and who will die in the digital age. Knowing Galloway’s style of presenting, this will be a fast-paced delivery of data and insights, meaning it’s rich in information even if your head is left spinning.
Tuesday’s bonus content – 5pm: The Art of (Brand) Seduction There’s Will Smith at 11am and Usher at 2pm, but the session we don’t want to miss is rather from FCB in conversation with the chief scientific advisor for Match.com. In a complex life, building enduring connections is difficult – whether you’re shopping or looking for life partners. The hypothesis here is there’s a lot for brands to learn from the social science behind how the world of dating has changed.
Wednesday, June 22
1pm: Stephen Sackur Interviews Gwyneth Paltrow This year’s BBC Hardtalk session – a live on-stage recording for TV – is with award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow. For industry folk, it’s her role as the driving force behind health and wellness platform Goop that will likely be of most interest though.
5pm: Inside the Innovator’s Mindset Forbes has pulled together two entrepreneurs for its session at Lions Innovation this year – exploring what innovation and creativity means to them as game-changers. One of them is the co-founder and CPO of smart jewellery brand, Bellabeat; the other the founder and CEO of mobile video shopping network, MikMak. Both are well worth a listen.
Wednesday’s bonus content – 1pm: Wired’s Kevin Kelly on Where We Are All Heading Today’s must-see: It clashes with Gwyneth Paltrow, but if you’re happy to “consciously uncouple” yourself from her, head over to Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly’s conversation with PHD Worldwide instead. The session will explore 12 inevitable technological forces that will revolutionise the way we buy, work, learn and communicate. Failing that, you’ve also got Simon Pegg at 10am, Unilever’s Keith Weed at 11am and Iggy Pop at 3pm.
Thursday, June 23
12pm: Kevin Plank and David Droga: from Underdogs to Challengers Another big highlight of the week comes in the form of this conversation between the founder of Under Armour and the founder of Droga5 – a duo who have both built successful, innovative companies with authenticity at the core. Hot on the heels of his talk at SXSW, Plank particularly is one not to miss.
5pm: Spike Jonze & Shane Smith: Making Content We Care About How do we make content that young people genuinely care about? A key question for brands today, and who better to share key insights than Oscar winning director Spike Jonze and Vice founder Shane Smith. The discussion will be a broad one, but there should be lots of applicable snippets to learn in this session.
Thursday’s bonus content – 10am: Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase On the off-chance the pace of Cannes has started to catch up with you, there’s nothing better than Thursday morning’s New Directors’ Showcase for a spot of recovery. It’s a good excuse to sit in the dark for an hour and a quarter on the one hand, and on the other a flood of inspiration from some of the best new global creative talent. If that doesn’t take your fancy for the day, you’ve also got Oscar winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu at 2pm, plus a view on cracking China from Nils Andersson at 11am.
Friday, June 24
11am Beyond the Big Screen: The Future of Storytelling in Hollywood The relationship between entertainment and advertising is increasingly a fine one when storytelling comes in. At a time when multiple industries, fashion included, are looking to nail how they create engaging content, who better to learn from in this space than one of Hollywood’s most-awarded storytellers and visionaries, Harvey Weinstein. He’ll join Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.
12.30pm Future Five: The Next Five Fashion Influencers As part of Lions Entertainment, StyleHaul has curated a video presentation of five key influencers to know about in the fashion space. This content will be followed by a discussion about who they are and what you need to know.
2.15pm Isobar Presents ‘Icons Of Creativity’ with Uniqlo’s John C Jay It’s a rarity to have someone from Uniqlo talking, let alone its president of global creative, John C Jay. He believes the world today is experiencing a creative revolution, changing culture and business simultaneously, and will be discussing how his organisation works to maintain its creative edge and relevancy in this fast changing, brand commerce era.
Friday’s bonus content – 3.15pm: How to Do Terrible Work Wrapping up your Friday, how about a view on how not to win, how to be maliciously obedient and how to kill things? That’s the crux of the session between the global CMO of Mars and worldwide CCO of BBDO. Also don’t miss the Lion of St Mark interview, this year with Marcello Serpa at 4.15pm, and the Cannes Debate with Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, at 12pm.
Saturday, June 25
11am: The Future is Rebellion For those making it all the way through to Saturday, there’s a session hosted by DigitasLBi featuring two rebel heroes of the internet: Ari Seth Cohen, founder of Advanced Style, and Amani Al- Khatachtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl, that’s definitely worth listening to. “These rebels have one thing in common: they saw an accepted wisdom and faced it down with technology and content,” reads the write-up.
Saturday’s bonus content – 3.30pm: Out With a Bang And last but not least, be sure to head to the closing session of the 2016 Cannes Lions programme. This year’s guest is yet to be announced, but in the past, this slot has featured Heston Blumenthal, Bono and Johnny Ive. Stay tuned.
In what seemed like a really smart move, British Vogue announced during February it was introducing a Whatsapp group.
Sound like an opportunity to be front and centre with what’s going on in the fashion industry at the drop of a hat in a group with other fashion people? As Vogue put it: “Joining our group means we’ll message you as soon as the creative director of Dior is announced, or the Chanel catwalk pictures go live, or the Oscars dresses land on the site: no more scouring Twitter or relying on tabloids for your latest fashion fix.”
Slightly punchy comments there (note both channels will definitely still be used) but, it does make an enormous amount of sense as a media entity to push the instant message route. I’ve been tracking how such closed networks can be a wonderful means for communicating directly with fans and customers on the brand and retail side – the power of Whatsapp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger means there’s growing expectation for personalised communications, the issue really is just being able to get in front of customers in the first place.
To do it on Vogue’s Whatsapp doesn’t actually mean in a “group” per se as there’s no conversation going on. Which is actually a real shame. Control worries aside (this is Vogue), being able to strike up a dialogue on the feed about whatever news is coming in seems like a far more appealing and native use of the platform.
Instead, this is about Vogue creating a broadcast list. To turn to the Whatsapp explanation: “A Broadcast List allows you to create, save and message a list of contacts instantaneously. Recipients receive your broadcast message like a regular message – directly in the individual chat. Recipients also do not know who else received the message and do not know that it was sent as part of a Broadcast List. When they respond, they only respond to you individually. In this sense, it works like the bcc (blind carbon copy) function in an email. In order for specific contacts to receive your broadcast message, they must have your phone number saved in their address books. This allows our users to control from whom they wish to receive broadcast messages. We work hard to curb spam in WhatsApp so that everyone has a positive messaging experience.”
Of course, the publicity around Vogue’s plans means it’s phone number was pushed out so creating a weighty broadcast list must have been fairly straightforward.
I finally joined it yesterday morning, and over the course of the day got three messages:
“JUST IN: See every look from this morning’s Chloé AW16 show here: LINK”
“JUST IN: See the Balmain #AW16 show – complete with corsets and model hair colour swaps LINK”
“Introducing British Vogue’s April 2016 cover girl – Rihanna: LINK”
Note every comment comes with a link meaning it does indeed feel very much like broadcast and not so much the personable messaging tone you’d expect on Whatsapp. Considering it’s landing in my app – otherwise a very personal space – it feels out of place, cold and not very different to what you’d see on Twitter. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting move, and one that could easily be adapted over time to better suit the audience it’s targeting. If Vogue’s sensible, it has those links set up as trackable so it can at least see just how much traffic the platform is driving.
As an aside – whoever is running this channel is always online. Always. Got to imagine it’s pretty likely they’re also running their own personal Whatsapp convos on the same handset (work phone or not) as a result, which could make the endless requests to join the group pretty tedious. If you’re keen, the number is: +44 7481 340261.
If it’s not on Snapchat did it really happen? Or in Burberry’s case, if it IS on Snapchat did it happen really at all?
The British heritage brand – due to show at LFW today – took to the platform with a big focus on storytelling this weekend. The short version: two models planned to break into the Burberry flagship store on Regent Street, cue lots of security footage, references to numerous heist films, and entertaining moments before they eventually find the locked collection, play dress up in it, and then get caught.
“Break in at Burberry!” reads the headline on the front of the newspaper the next morning, accompanied by sub-stories including “Not so model behaviour”, “Snapchat gets the scoop”, and “High fashion heist”.
It’s a mega example of creativity on the platform; something the brand has been experimenting with since last season, but this time done in a way that really brings a fresh view to fashion weeks.
Content from other brands and showgoers / influencers alike, is inevitably heavily focused on the catwalks themselves. While a few sneak peeks have been revealed in numerous cases at the likes of Topshop and Mulberry, Burberry is the only example of a brand thinking outside the box to appeal to its digital audience.
If you’re anything like me, you constantly have dozens of tabs open, bookmarks saved, emails placed in a strategic folder, and apps in use to keep track of all the stories you’re intending to go back and read.
It’s all too easy to let that accumulate, put off by the fact some of the pieces are just that little bit too long (#TLDR) to comfortably whizz through in a spare moment, rather needing you to find some dedicated time to sit down and concentrate on them. But, while we might be used to shorter and shorter formats through our social media postings – 140 characters here, six seconds there – not to mention an entirely visual-based strategy through Instagram particularly, there’s a growing trend for a lot more in the way of this long form content. Twitter itself is indeed thinking about extending to a 10,000 character limit, first page results on Google reportedly contain an average of 1,890 words (that’s mind blowing), and platforms like Medium have taken off for the very fact they enable users to easily spout words without any true perimeters.
Media companies from Buzzfeed to The Guardian, Esquire, The New York Times and Wired all also publish dedicated “long reads” or “big stories” today. The move comes down to an understanding that readers increasingly desire access to longer form content (and the involved insight, knowledge and informed opinions it provides). And more importantly, though counter to popular belief, they’re willingly engaging with it on mobile. In fact, a 6,000-word piece from Buzzfeed in early 2014, saw readers on tablets spend an average of more than 12 minutes with the story, while those on phones spent more than 25 minutes. As The Atlantic wrote: “[That’s] a small eternity, in internet time.”
No surprise then, there’s an increasing number of highly relevant fashion stories being released that also tick the box for indulgent consumption. As Imran Amed of The Business of Fashion wrote this weekend in a post about his venture into long form with a landmark piece on the Net-a-Porter / Yoox merger (as below): “The idea to do this kind of story came during a conversation I had in September with Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, who advised me: ‘Every once in a while, write an in-depth story that everyone in the fashion industry would want to read’.”
So here are five lengthy pieces (2,500-10,000 words) truly worth carving out some time for. Some of them date back to early 2015 (courtesy of my aforementioned bookmarking habit and some power reading this weekend), but if you didn’t get through them then, like me, now is your chance to revisit.
1. The secret deal to merge Net-a-Porter with Yoox – The Business of Fashion
Needless to say, top of this list of long reads, is the aforementioned story from The Business of Fashion last week. If you haven’t yet bitten the bullet, it’s broken down into four parts, chronicling exactly what happened between both parties and Compagnie Financière Richemont (much of which was behind the back of Natalie Massenet). This one is time consuming, but it’s insightful and worthwhile. As someone posted in the comments below: “Noting the tell-all film trend: fun to imagine who will be cast as Massenet, Marchetti and Rupert.”
2. A huge underclass of ghost workers are making your shirts in their homes – Quartz
Informally employed homeworkers in developing countries make up a substantial portion of the (subcontracted) manufacturing process for fashion retailers. This story dives into who they are, what they do and how to go about changing it so that they’re treated fairly and under the same laws as other workers. “The first step is to bring them out of the shadows and acknowledge that they exist,” writes author Marc Bain. It’s an insightful piece – detailed and warranted of its length – on an area rarely touched upon elsewhere.
3. Losing the thread: how textiles repeatedly revolutionised human technology – Aeon
With all the obsession with wearable technology of late, there’s a lot to be said for this essay, which outlines the very fact that textiles are indeed a technology of themselves. “More ancient than bronze and as contemporary as nanowires,” it reads. It goes on to highlight how pertinent textiles have been on economic development and global trade, and calls the industry out for thinking that ‘wearable tech’ is about gadgets pretending to be accessories rather than the cloth we actually wear against our skins. The piece takes us from the development of aniline dyes and cellulose-based synthetics to the performance-based materials we take for granted today. There’s also a great analogy of weaving (the original binary system) rather than mining when referring to the Bitcoin Blockchain.
4. Fashion week, reinvented – The New York Times
Vanessa Friedman penned this piece on how New York Fashion Week is evolving at the beginning of last season (September 2015). Largely a focus on how WME/IMG were bringing designers into its new venues, it explores how the aim is to make the whole affair seem less commercial yet simultaneously a feat of entertainment for the masses. It sets the scene comprehensively, and outlines the ambition on many fronts to evolve what fashion week is and what it could be. Since then, there have been multiple additional stories released, especially around the CFDA’s plans to hire the Boston Consulting Group to conduct a study on whether or not NYFW should become a consumer-facing event presenting collections more closely aligned with retail drops. Lots of food for thought as we approach the autumn/winter 2016 shows.
5. How menswear took over the internet – Esquire
Men’s fashion is growing by more than 100% a year. With that as context, this long form story from Esquire dives into where and how that is happening, talking to executives from Luisa Via Roma, Mr Porter and Matches Fashion. According to the latter, the online men’s market is highly valued for the fact returns are lower and loyalty often higher. Some 50% of its male customers return to buy something else within a year. The story also highlights such tidbits as more money coming from shoes on Mr Porter than Net-a-Porter, and Natalie Massenet saying that the rise of a more creative economy could lead to menswear becoming as big as womenswear over the next decade.