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business Editor's pick sustainability

Clare Press on why brand activism matters today

“I think that it is absolutely indisputable that customers are asking for brands to have vision and to have purpose and to stand for more than just making something pretty,” says Clare Press, sustainability editor-at-large at Vogue Australia and author of the book Rise & Resist, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

This new wave of brand activism is backed by the fact there is plenty of evidence younger consumers are the most socially-engaged generation we’ve seen, she explains. The fight for social and political justice that is happening around the world, is feeding into a demanding for more from the goods and services they consume. “They’re looking for brands to represent something that strikes a chord with them, and that is meaningful to them,” she adds.

We haven’t seen consumer restlessness in as big a way as we’re seeing right now since the 1960s, she explains. But addressing that as brands, also comes with balance.

Gucci pre-fall 2018 campaign, #GucciDansLesRues


Numerous businesses have stepped into this space – Gucci for instance made headlines when it donated money to March For Our Lives, and the gun control movement in the US, in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Meanwhile Patagonia announced it is donating all of the $10m it saved from a tax cut in the Trump presidency towards environmental protection groups. But that only works when it’s authentic, Press notes.

“Customers can see when they’re being green washed; when things completely lack integrity, and it can backfire. Let’s not pretend that brands aren’t in the business of making money. Of course, they are. However, if we can use that in order to also try to do some good, well, doing good business, I think that’s a valid thing.”

Press’ role at Vogue Australia is the first dedicated to sustainability in any of the Vogue titles worldwide. It comes at a time when the industry is increasingly focused on making sustainability and purpose a long-term business imperative, which ties to her mission to continue driving momentum in this space. It’s on that basis she believes everything from climate change to gender equality, modern slavery and more are intertwined.

In conversation with TheCurrent’s Rachel Arthur, she explores exactly what that means, talks about the importance of every individual voice in the supply chain, and reveals just what feminism really has to do with fashion.

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Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent 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.

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Editor's pick Podcast

Bumble on innovating through kindness

Rachel Arthur and Louise Troen

Emotion holds huge value for modern business, says VP of international marketing and communications for Bumble, Louise Troen, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Rachel Arthur on-site at the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Forum in London, Troen says that while there is no shortage of entrepreneurs and incredible ideas, Bumble’s success is based on a very simple premise. “Often people turn around and say ‘what is the magic?’ And really it’s the fact that we built a business based on kindness,” she notes. “We really think that there is a value in a company that bases itself on fundamental values.”

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Bumble launched in 2012 as the antithesis to successful yet problematic dating apps that had been crowding the market with their models of placing men in charge of making the first move. From the get-go, founder Whitney Wolfe Herd wanted to create a platform where women could feel both empowered and protected.

This, paired with the notion of kindness, is particularly resonating at a time when movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are taking hold. As a society there’s a shift in behaviour happening, Troen notes, which the business has always been focused on.

What’s been critical, she explains however, has been to do this with authenticity. Her advice to every other business in the space is to think about it in the same way – to question whether it is authentic to the brand to be taking a standpoint that is affecting the social agenda, or placing messages that are politically charged.

For Bumble, it’s working. Since launch, it has evolved into two new verticals – Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz – which similarly take the startup’s motto into other areas of their female users’ lives, in this case friendships and careers respectively. It now has a reported 22 million users across all services.

But this has only been made possible because users have helped the platform evolve, Troen explains. Her second piece of advice to brands is to give the product to real people and have them tell the story. “We do our focus groups and we can understand what they want from protection services, what they need feature-wise in the product, what they can see, and manage the algorithm based on feedback, as opposed to drafting a marketing plan set in stone 12 months in advance, which obviously will change within a month.”

Through this approach, the business is able to be nimble with its responses, evolving in time with its community and the broader societal conversations alongside.

Tune into the interview for a further deep dive with Troen on the importance of giving female users a voice, how the company’s consumer-facing values seep into its own office culture, and how Bumble is dreaming of global domination with its steady country-by-country rollout.

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.

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Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Burberry and Farfetch, Natalie Massenet on exiting BFC, Alibaba’s retail strategy

Cara Delevingne in Burberry latest collection
Cara Delevingne in Burberry’s latest collection

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

TOP STORIES
  • Burberry to expand online reach with Farfetch tie-up [Telegraph]
  • For Natalie Massenet, change brings opportunity [BoF]
  • Alibaba invests another $1.3 billion into its offline retail strategy [TechCrunch]
  • Can Marchesa survive in a post-Weinstein world? [Refinery29]
  • NYFW roundup: #MeToo conversations, immersive runways and supersized robots [TCDaily]
TECHNOLOGY
  • In-depth: H&M puts tech at the heart of action plan to turn the brand around [TCDaily]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • When it comes to millennials’ fashion buys, price and convenience trump sustainability [WWD]
  • If you care about ethical fashion, it’s time to stop sleeping on G-Star Raw [Fashionista]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Selfridges opens in-store boxing gym in “world first” [RetailGazette]
  • WeWork moves into retail with new partnership with J.Crew [Glossy]
  • Mulberry takes over Spencer House for London Fashion Week 2018 [Campaign]
  • Fewer happy returns in retail land as companies tighten generous return policies [Fung Global Retail Tech]
  • Target will roll out same day delivery in Twin Cities next month as it faces off with Amazon [StarTribune]
  • Google wants to change the way we shop online, beginning with beauty brands [Campaign]
MARKETING
  • How Nike’s “Nothing Beats a Londoner” advert taps into real London culture [HypeBeast]
  • PORTER becomes editorial voice across Net-A-Porter as it goes digital with daily updates [TheIndustry]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside Vans’ social media strategy [Digiday]
  • Pinterest now lets you archive boards, rearrange pins and more [AdWeek]
PRODUCT
  • This blouse comes with free performance coaching sessions [FastCompany]
  • Macy’s is making history with its new hijab-friendly clothing line [Brit+Co]
  • Customization in beauty is on the rise, but its scalability is uncertain [Glossy]
BUSINESS
  • Blockbuster Gucci continues to boost Kering [BoF]
  • Fashion unicorn Farfetch will soon interview bankers for its New York IPO [CNBC]
  • Richemont uncovers counterfeiters abusing customer service line to copy designs [WWD]
  • The future of luxury: 7 trends reshaping the luxury industry [CBInsights]
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Editor's pick Events technology

NYFW roundup: #MeToo conversations, immersive runways and supersized robots

Models close the Prabal Gurung AW18 show
Models close the Prabal Gurung AW18 show

It was a quieter New York Fashion Week season than usual, as big-name designers including Altuzarra and Tommy Hilfiger chose to decamp to other cities – Paris and Milan, respectively – to host their much buzzed-about runway shows. Even fashion week parties, which in the past provided magazine fodder for weeks to come, have also been scaled down, with the industry seemingly more subdued in general.

That didn’t stop various buzzworthy moments however, including subtle nods to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, various more immersive runway presentations, and a dash of the futuristic with Google TiltBrush and an oversized robot.

Here we highlight some of the most interesting conversations that took place, and where there was still room left for improvement…

Cultural statements

There was little direct acknowledgement of the powerful conversation around the #MeToo movement, but shows attempted to create a stage for female empowerment. For Tom Ford, the approach was literal and included models strutting down the runway donning shoulder pads and a “Pussy Power” handbag. For Prabal Gurung, which The Washington Post has previously described as the “most woke man in fashion”, it was a nod to the #TimesUp conversation as models closed the show as a group, carrying white roses.

Tom Ford AW18
Tom Ford AW18

Also alluding to the message of empowerment, designer Jonathan Simkhai presented a Suffragette-inspired collection, while Kesha’s song on speaking out on harassment, “Praying”, greeted guests.

Following the second yearly Woman’s March, which took place globally on January 20, Brother Vellies teamed up with a roster of labels, such as Clare V. and Rachel Comey, to design a capsule collection benefitting the march and Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile designer Rebecca Minkoff, who was due to give birth to her third child during the week, forwent a formal presentation, instead opting to showcase her see-now-buy-now on 20 powerful women online. That cast includes members of the Women’s March committee, as well as actress Zosia Mamet and fashion presenter Zanna Roberts Rassi. The designer also teamed up with networking app Bumble Bizz to host a speaker night titled “Trailblazers: Women who have started their own company or have forged their own way within their industry”.

The topic of diversity was ever-present during NYFW too, though perhaps rather positively it was less buzzed about as more designers included a variation of ethnicities and sizes on their runway. Designers such as Christian Siriano and one of this season’s favourites, Eckhaus Latta, enlisted models at each end of the spectrum. Meanwhile model Kendall Jenner hosted an Adidas Originals presentation that featured a colourful cast and the showcase of the brand’s first hijab.

Alternative runways

In addition to the designers whose presence was missed in New York this season, many others moved away from formal runway shows to explore new ways to engage with a new, savvier audience.

Kirsten Dunst for Rodarte AW18
Kirsten Dunst for Rodarte AW18

Adidas teamed up with trendy New York label and lifestyle store VFiles to host a multimedia photoshoot at the Terminal 5 venue in Hell’s Kitchen, for instance. As music played for partygoers, models stood on stage posing against white backdrops, thus partaking in a live photoshoot. The immersive event aimed to respond to a community who wants to participate, rather than watch from the sidelines, said Julie Anne Quay, founder of VFiles.

Online, Zac Posen launched his collection via a photoshoot starring actress and friend Katie Holmes. Similarly the Rodarte sisters published the “Women that Inspire Us” lookbook, which features a pregnant Kirsten Dunst and young R&B duo Chloe x Halle, among others.

Perhaps cleverly steering clear from live presentations, which have in the past not received the best of reviews, Kanye West leveraged his online fandom by releasing his Yeezy Season Six collection online, in a lookbook starring women such as Paris Hilton and actress Sarah Snyder dressed up as Kim Kardashian look-a-likes, as well as the woman herself.

The future is here?

In a week primed for entertainment and participation to take place, designers were surprisingly timid when experimenting with technology this season.

Irina Shayk and robot companion at Philipp Plein AW18

As previously reported, Rebecca Taylor teamed up with Google’s Tilt Brush to create an immersive in-store environment for customers to enjoy her collection in, while Badgley Mischka harnessed technology to better receive their immediate audience’s feedback.

Meanwhile, Nicole Miller teamed up with AI and image recognition company RevelGlam to pilot their software on her runway show. The software analyses insights from fashion shows as well as celebrity sightings and influencer activities in order to predict trends.

Never one to shy away from the spotlight, it was German designer Philipp Plein who became a major topic of conversation however; giving the week a much-needed injection of futuristic tech. In a display of extravagance he has become known for, model Irina Shayk entered the runway from a spaceship and strutted alongside a giant bot with the designer’s logo plastered all over it.

In a week where most designers arguably played safe on many fronts – from not taking a truly clear stand on serious conversations to engaging with new technologies – Plein’s stunt may have trumped the collection being shown, but it simultaneously provided an irreverent and timely take on the future.

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business Campaigns digital snippets Editor's pick film product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Industry faces its #MeToo moment, tech hits Olympics, Vogue and Amazon Echo Look

Tom Ford - ICYMI #metoo metoo fashion week
Tom Ford

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

TOP STORIES
  • New York Fashion Week: industry faces its #MeToo moment [TheGuardian]
  • Can an app launch the fashion world’s #metoo reckoning? [Vanity Fair]
  • Olympic clothing designers try to beat the cold with technology [Scientific American]
  • Vogue and GQ will test content inside Amazon’s Echo Look [Digiday]
  • Can Christian Louboutin trademark red soles? An EU court says no [NY Times]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Intel unveils smart glasses that you might want to wear [Engadget]
  • Walmart’s tech incubator buys VR startup Spatialand [Reuters]
  • Opinion: Blockchain technology will make true luxury more lucrative [JingDaily]
  • JD.com and Fung align for AI development [RetailDive]
  • Asics Ventures invests in conductivity textiles [FashionUnited]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Eileen Fisher, Columbus Consulting reveal details for sustainable design plan [WWD]
  • Primark publishes global supplier map showing all of its factories [TheIndustry]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Target CEO: Our personal shoppers will deliver to ‘your kitchen table’ [CNBC]
  • Macy’s plans pop-ups to amplify discovery [RetailDive]
  • Malls are dying, but things remembered is still hanging on [Racked]
  • Tips from the e-commerce giant Zalando [Maize]
MARKETING
  • Benjamin Millepied directs Ansel Elgort and Kate Mara in a mesmerizing film for Rag & Bone [CreativityOnline]
  • Nike rolls out NikePlus membership benefits [WWD]
  • Asics personal trainers will kick your butt as you use its fitness app [CreativityOnline]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram entices brands with new shopping-enabled ads [TheDrum]
  • Pinterest sees 600 million visual searches every month [VentureBeat]
  • Swarovski and KiraKira+ launch fashion week ‘brilliance’ filter [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • UA HOVR, ushering in a new chapter of sneaker tech innovation [FashNerd]
BUSINESS
  • Canada Goose craze continues as shoppers flock to new stores [BoF]
  • British designer Misha Nonoo is rewriting fashion’s playbook [FastCompany]
  • The cautionary tale of H&M and digital disruption [BoF]
  • LVMH Luxury Ventures backs Stadium Goods [WWD]
  • Tapestry shares rise after earnings beat expectations [BoF]