Balmain to host public music concerts around menswear show

Balmain is adding a musical element to its spring/summer 2020 menswear runway show in Paris, with a series of live concerts that will follow the close of the catwalk.

In the spirit of Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing’s ambition to “democratize and modernize fashion”, the events will also be accessible to the public. A total of 1,500 free tickets will be made available on the Balmain website.

The show’s musical elements tie into the annual Fête De La Musique, a celebration that takes place on the same day, June 21, throughout the French capital.

For the activation, Balmain is set to take over the Jardin des Plantes, erecting a temporary space for its audience. The runway show’s soundtrack will be provided by French DJ Gesaffelstein, whom Balmain dressed for his show at Coachella.

Olivier Rousteing has in the past already championed his ambition to democratize customer’s access to the brand’s universe. In January he launched a dedicated app that allowed fans to see the houses couture live on their phone, as well as play with augmented reality content. In 2015, the French luxury brand also collaborated with fast-fashion retailer H&M on a capsule collection at affordable prices.

This menswear show also encompasses a philanthropic element, supporting the fight against AIDS through the RED organization. All revenue made from food and drink served at the event, alongside merchandise of limited-edition products, will be donated to the fund.

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

business Podcast

Ozwald Boateng on why creatives need to think like startups

Ozwald Boateng
Ozwald Boateng

Designers need to reposition their businesses as startups to tap into much-needed investment, says menswear designer, Ozwald Boateng, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

In conversation with Liz Bacelar at a Spotify event in Paris, Boateng, whose body of work propelled the craftsmanship of London’s Savile Row to international recognition, says he believes the creative world needs to learn from technology in terms of how it approaches funding.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

The fashion industry’s model of investors taking control of designers’ names early on is broken, he explains, saying that we can all learn from new direct-to-consumer businesses that have overcome this by approaching differently the way that they’re backed instead.

“What amazes me is when you see these young creative talents, still owning sizeable chunks of the business after raising so much money and getting these valuations of a billion plus – you kind of go, my god, can that really happen, it’s almost like a dream, but in the tech world, it’s the norm,” he notes.

“This creates a huge amount of independence and opportunity for the designer – you’re no longer forced to follow the rules, so that’s exciting. For me as a business, I’m looking at ways to take advantage of that.”

Conversely, he says the technology world also needs to learn from creatives. “I think if more designers looked at the world of technology and applied their creative to the tech, I am sure we would see some very interesting and groundbreaking ideas,” he comments.

He explains that designers are trained to always look forward, to spot trends and understand needs, so it’s something he believes would work exceptionally well when applied to technology.

“I would happily use a body scanner [for my made-to-measure suits], it makes a lot of sense. But there’s a lot of things I could add in terms of how I need the technology to work,” he notes.

“So I see a partnership. Eventually both [designers and tech companies] will see they need each other, and then they’ll just make it work.”

During the conversation, the duo also talk about his new uniform designs for British Airways, his time as creative director at Givenchy and the role of race and diversity in the industry.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how 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.

Campaigns film

Dollar Shave Club breaks down gender stereotypes in Get Ready campaign

Dollar Shave Club, Get Ready, Grooming, Bathroom Rituals, video, campaign, advertisment
Get Ready

Dollar Shave Club is focusing on breaking down gender stereotypes in a new campaign that marks its biggest video production to date.

Get Ready, as it’s called, is a short film from the subscription razor company that shows 26 different bathroom sets and their accompanying consumers, each demonstrating a particular grooming ritual.

Included is a man enjoying a luxurious bubble bath in a pink-tiled bathroom, for instance, or a woman shaving her bald head. The aim of the video is to show customers who are far more varied than the archetypes the shaving industry usually portray. 

Each of the 26 scenarios shown are all based on the responses of a consumer survey. 

The film also sees a cameo from the brand’s CEO, Michael Dubin, who in once scene puts toilet paper in his underwear and views himself expectantly in the mirror. It’s a move that only reinforces the deliberately not-so-serious tone that made the very first Dollar Shave Club video, Our Blades Are F***ing Great., such a success.

With the Get Ready campaign, it is continuing to demonstrate its distinctive marketing voice, while also emphasizing its creative independence after being acquired by Unilever for an estimated $1 billion in 2016. In a strategic decision to not seek help from an external agency, the company employed its in-house marketing team for the entire creative process. 

The finale of the video sees all characters unite (breaking down bathroom doors, climbing over tiled-walls) and leave the purposefully obvious TV-set design. The caption reads “Welcome to the Club”, which then cleverly shows all the different bathroom essentials the company can now provide its customers with, following its expansion beyond razors and into other grooming essentials.


Bonobos campaign features 172 models in diversity push

Bonobos Project172
Bonobos Project172

Bonobos is thinking about diversity in a big way in its latest campaign – hiring 172 different models to show off all the variations of its pants.

The resulting 30-second spot features all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities. “However you fit, Bonobos fits you,” reads the tagline from the direct-to-consumer menswear company that sold to Walmart last year for $310 million.

“There’s a really interesting conversation to be had around the evolution of masculinity, and the power of diversity and inclusivity,” Micky Onvural, co-president of the brand, told AdAge. The company has been exploring “how Bonobos as a brand could not just have an impact on the men that [it sells to] and how they see themselves, but have an impact on the conversation.”

Bonobos Project172
Bonobos Project172

She added that things have become even more topical in the context of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement in terms of the way that men should look at themselves and behave.

This Project172 campaign was created by Observatory Marketing, formerly known as CAA, and is reportedly the brand’s costliest to date. It will air in Austin and Chicago and be complemented by a push across radio, digital and social media. There’s also a 90-second video and a seven-minute documentary featuring interviews with many of the models talking about their definition of masculinity. It follows the brand’s ‘Role Model’ campaign in late 2017.

Editor's pick Retail technology

Nordstrom’s new NYC menswear store is enhancing the retail experience with technology


Nordstrom is opening a new tech-enabled menswear store located in the heart of New York City, as part of its ongoing focus on new retail formats.

The three-floor location at 57th Street and Broadway, aims to combine an old school retail experience with cutting edge technology to provide a unique shopping experience to its customers.

It will be home to Nordstrom’s full-line of menswear, shoes and grooming supplies with a focus on streetwear. Brands that will be present in the store include high-end names like Comme des Garçons and Christian Louboutin, as well Vans and Adidas.

While shoe shines and tailoring are part of the traditional focus of the store (there are 16 tailors on staff, contributing to one of the largest network of tailors in North America, as well as five personal shoppers), there’s also a big interactive element enabled to drive both convenience and experience for shoppers.

Technology in its tailoring section for instance, includes digital screens that display an avatar of the shopper so they can try on an array of custom-made jackets.

Meanwhile, a new fully digital returns system will also be in place to assist on the customer journey. Returned items can be scanned at a digital kiosk and deposited in a bin, limiting the need for human contact throughout the process. The only other Nordstrom store to use this system is in Seattle.

The store also enhances the online shopping process by offering 24-hour collection. This means customers can order items online and collect them from the store – a Nordstrom employee will meet them at the store entrance no matter the time of day.

Nordstrom already operates two of its Nordstrom Rack discount stores in the city, but the investment will serve as a test of the future of department stores as people choose to shop online more frequently.

It also follows the launch of the retailer’s Nordstrom Local concept, a service-orientated store that doesn’t hold any inventory, and instead focuses on appointment-only services including alterations, tailoring and personal styling, as well as online collections and returns.

The store serves as a prelude to the opening of Nordstrom’s womenswear location, expected in 2019.

data e-commerce technology

The simple ways Topman is thinking about a personalised customer experience

Topman's student prices toggle on its homepage
Topman’s student prices toggle on its homepage

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, took to the stage at Shoptalk Europe this week with a welcome reminder of the things it’s possible to do without huge budgets.

He noted how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, and said his focus is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

The key, he said, is about doing things the retail board will understand – referring to Sir Phillip Green as an owner that is becoming increasingly tech savvy but still at his roots a traditional shopkeeper – and said it’s about nudging people along.

He highlighted three simple ways his team is personalising the e-commerce experience for shoppers in order to help drive conversions.

The first is dedicated to students. A simple switch at the top of the website, facilitated by SaaS company Qubit, enables users to toggle all products to student prices – a 10% discount. “Normally we see 38% of spend on the website is with students, when we do this then we see 50%, so it’s huge – just by taking the friction out,” Rees-John explained.

The second he said is about personalising the website based on geography. “We see trends in the data as to what people are buying and where. Sterotypically, for instance, we don’t sell as many coats in [the northern city of] Newcastle – it’s all lads in short sleeve shirts – compared to in the south-east.” So the website is set up to over-show on categories where they do sell.

The last pulls in artificial intelligence: Canadian company Granify helps optimise Topman’s conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Long-term Rees-John is looking to streamline the creative process for personalised content. “One of the biggest barriers to personalisation is the creative output – dynamic ads have their limits and if you have multiple segments then you need multiples of artwork. Our view is by the end of the year to have six different modules on the homepage and every person will see them in different orders but only see three at one time.”

The result will equal 720 different permutations of the website. “It isn’t a big data exchange it’s just a different experience of the brand going forward,” he said.

e-commerce Editor's pick technology

ICYMI: Perry Ellis offers voice-activated menswear style advice via Amazon Alexa

Ask Perry Ellis on Amazon Alexa
Ask Perry Ellis on Amazon Alexa

Perry Ellis has introduced “Ask Perry Ellis”, an Amazon Alexa skill that aims to give style advice and outfit options to men using the voice-activated artificial intelligence.

The brand created the skill based on a study it commissioned that found more than one-third of men admit to having skipped an event because they didn’t have the right clothes to wear, said president Melissa Worth. Meanwhile, 76% of men said they would be interested in using a technology that would help them find outfits for occasions they find challenging to dress for.

The skill launches as a time when Amazon is upping its range of Echo devices that house the Alexa AI. It is triggered when the user says: “Alexa, ask Perry Ellis what I should wear to… [a specific occasion].” Alexa then replies by offering an appropriate look for over 150 occasions, including jury duty, a wedding, a networking event and even Mardi Gras.

Ask Perry Ellis on Amazon Alexa
Ask Perry Ellis on Amazon Alexa

The aim is to drive engagement and ultimately push users to purchase. When asking for advice on what to wear to a Skype interview, for instance, Alexa creatively replies: “Look sharp on screen in our Slim Tech Washable Suit jacket and stay comfortable in a pair of Conformity boxer briefs.”

The app also takes into account the venue, weather and dress code, and then sends a selection of outfits to the user’s Alexa app, and email address. Interestingly, they can then click through to to complete the purchase, rather than the more obvious route of Amazon itself.

Editor's pick social media

Zegna introduces Instagram Stories illustration series to support AW17 campaign


Ermenegildo Zegna has introduced a series of short videos on Instagram Stories telling the remarkable tales of real people through the mode of illustration.

The Italian brand collaborated with 30 artists globally to achieve the project, inviting each of them to creatively respond to each real-life story with the animations. The videos are being posted on Instagram Stories throughout the months of September and October, and will then live permanently on the brand’s profile.

“We wanted to explore a new digital creative element to our global Defining Moments campaign and put the consumer at the heart of the story. We collaborated with artists from around the world to bring to life our consumers stories in an unexpected creative way that speaks to the dynamic video landscape of social media. Instagram Stories provided the perfect playing ground for this type of storytelling which could be consumed in a short snackable and tappable way,” says Zegna’s creative director, Alessandro Sartori.


The social activation is part of the brand’s Defining Moments campaign for the AW17 season, which started in SS17 and aims to reinforce a spirit where “every story begins with a moment”. This season, the campaign stars American actor Robert de Niro and French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who share a passion for New York and, according to the brand, a natural penchant for elegance.

As a wider part of the campaign, the Defining Moments platform on will feature conservations from successful individuals of different ages and cultural backgrounds. On the microsite, users are also able to submit their own Defining Moments story for the chance to win a Made to Measure Zegna suit.


Stella McCartney debuts haunting menswear film from Sean Ellis for AW17

Cillian Murphy in Black Park for Stella McCartney menswear
Cillian Murphy in Black Park for Stella McCartney menswear

Stella McCartney has unveiled a short film directed by Sean Ellis and starring Cillian Murphy for her new autumn/winter 2017 menswear collection.

Black Park, as it’s called, is a darker more ominous piece of creative than you’d normally expect from the designer – one that’s more fitting to the director, who is known for features including The Broken and Anthropoid. He was also a fashion photographer before he started making films.

This 90-second spot opens on a sombre Murphy lying in the woods – next there’s a flash of him running, then of a deserted cabin before said cabin is on fire. Throughout the film also returns to, and ends on, a line of strip lights pulsating in the darkness. The overall feel is an unsettling one, albeit unclear as to why.

“There’s a beautiful precision in Sean’s work,” McCartney explains to The Business of Fashion. “I don’t like that much precision. Most things I do, I really rebel against that. But with Sean and the menswear, it just felt right to respect the level of quality in the manufacturing.”

Paul McCartney meanwhile, created the soundtrack, which is as haunting as the film itself. Stella refers to her brief as wanting “weird shit”, which she knew her Dad was capable of.

Editor's pick film product social media technology

Gant spoofs the GIF format in new menswear performance campaign

Gant's Never Not Comfortable campaign touting its new Tech Prep line
Gant’s Never Not Comfortable campaign touting its new Tech Prep line

US lifestyle brand Gant has launched a campaign touting its new Tech Prep moisture management technology within its classically preppy garments.

The “Never Not Comfortable” ads aim to demonstrate the fact the line is made for performance without compromising on style. Developed by agency Highfield, it’s a social-first, multichannel campaign that highlights uncomfortable scenarios its men are able to seamlessly move from.

Central to that is the fact it has spoofed the GIF format to demonstrate it. The men are seemingly caught in awkward situations on a loop as per the classic GIF, but are then able to walk out thanks to their Tech Prep shirts.

“The clothes we wear today are not designed for the active lifestyle we are living – that’s why we created the Tech Prep feature. You get your favorite preppy look, never compromising on style, comfort or the hand-feel of the shirt, but with all the tech features that enables you to jump straight from your bike into a meeting feeling,” says Gant CMO Brian Grevy.

?“For such an innovative product launch, there was no other way than to create a global social media-first campaign unlike anything our consumers have seen before. The idea of spoofing the GIF and cinemagraphic format is something we believe will create attention and interest around both the brand message and the product itself,” says Eleonore Säll, ?global brand marketing director at Gant.

Gant's Never Not Comfortable campaign touting its new Tech Prep line
Gant’s Never Not Comfortable campaign touting its new Tech Prep line

Beyond the spoof GIFs (or videos), the campaign also appears in print, OOH, across digital and social, through influencer content and in-store. It’s targeting “active, well-dressed men” between the ages of 25-45.

Tech Prep is a high-performing microfibre polyester, which supports three key features for the wearer: quick drying, breathable and moisture wicking. It currently comes in a chambray shirt, check shirt and blue stripe shirt, with plans to extend it across further lines in the future.