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Editor's pick Events technology

7 tech activations that stood out this fashion week season

Brands are constantly evolving their approach to tech during fashion week. This season we saw designers reinvent the show space yet again by using tools including artificial intelligence, LED sets and mixed reality powered by 5G to create memorable (and shareable) experiences for their guests.

Here are seven of the most interesting ways brands did so…

Rag & Bone’s AI guest
Rag & Bone’s “The Last Supper”

Rag & Bone decided to throw a fashion week dinner with one very special attendee: an artificial intelligence system designed by artist and creative technologist, Ross Goodwin. At “The Last Supper”, guests sat at a U-shaped table while their conversations and actions were filmed and analyzed by a series of cameras. Towards the end of the event, the guests were treated to a video that showed the AI’s view of their dinner party interspersed with models wearing Rag & Bone’s new collection.

Central Saint Martin’s mixed reality show powered by 5G
Central Saint Martins 5G mixed reality fashion show
Central Saint Martins 5G mixed reality fashion show

Mixed reality animations illuminated looks designed by MA students from Central Saint Martins university for their annual showcase during London Fashion Week. Imagine lightning bolts, skulls and even tiger heads beaming/ moving around the models. The university teamed up with mobile network, Three, and creative agency, Rewind, to bring the animations to life. 10 attendees, including Jourdan Dunn and Natalie Dormer, sported Magic Leap’s One mixed reality headsets, while others could see the animations on screens around the catwalk. “The future of design and fashion is intrinsically linked with the evolution of tech and we are seeing more and more disruptive and innovative technologies shaking up the way the design and fashion industries operate,” said Jeremy Till, head of Central Saint Martins.

Gucci and Saint Laurent’s LED runways
Gucci’s Fall Winter 2019 Fashion Show

LED bulbs decorated the runways of two major shows: Gucci and Saint Laurent, this season. As an experiment in futurism, both hosted mirrored LED runways that further illuminated their colorful garments. Gucci’s Alessandro Michele installed more than 120,000 LED bulbs to cover the walls around the 100-meter long circular runway for his Milan fashion show. The kaleidoscope of lights created a dramatic and theatrical experience for show-goers. Meanwhile, Anthony Vaccarello turned the Saint Laurent showspace into a runway rave in Paris. Wearing glow-in-the-dark shoes and garments, models strutted down the catwalk alongside hundreds of pulsing bulbs and infinity mirrors.

Real-time shopping at 11 Honoré
11 Honore fashion show
11 Honore NYFW show

There are always new ways to innovate even when using long since established technologies like QR codes.The luxury, size-inclusive ecommerce retailer, 11 Honoré, created the ultimate see-now-buy-now experience for its New York Fashion Week debut, enabling guests to shop the runway through a lookbook distributed to them containing QR codes. Using their phone to scan the codes, attendees could then purchase looks in real time. This was part of a partnership with Shopify, which wanted to showcase yet another functionality for mobile shopping.

Christian Siriano’s crowdsourced feedback
Christian Siriano RTW F19
Christian Siriano RTW Fall 19 show

To make fashion more accessible, designer Christian Siriano decided to take advantage of crowdsourcing and let the audience vote in real time on the looks on his New York runway. To do this, he partnered with SAP technologies to create an app that allowed both attendees and remote viewers to select if they “liked” or “loved” the looks. Powered by machine learning, the app was able to identify looks regardless of show order changes because the design team had uploaded stock images of each one into the app prior to the event. This created a more direct connection between the customers and the designer. According to WWD, the SAP runway app was previously piloted by Badgley Mischka, and there are potential plans for further rollout during September’s fashion week season.

Tommy Hilfiger’s Instagram Stories templates
Tommy Hilfigers Instagram Story templates
Tommy Hilfigers Instagram Story templates

Tommy Hilfiger partnered with mobile app Unfold on an Instagram Stories template collection that was released during the brand’s show for Paris Fashion Week. To spice up their Instagram Stories, users could choose from 15 limited-edition templates when uploading photos and videos. Designs included variations of the Tommy Hilfiger logo, as well as colorful prints exclusive to the Tommy Hilfiger’s spring 2019 TommyXZendaya collection, which features 22-year-old actress and singer Zendaya.

Rebecca Minkoff’s audience-driven social campaign
Rebecca Minkoff Runway SS19
Rebecca Minkoff Spring/Summer 19 show

With social sharing front of mind, Rebecca Minkoff’s New York show saw guests able to be part of a digital collage created by artist Rosanna Webster, who designed the brand’s female empowerment campaign “I Am Many”. As a way to incorporate them into the campaign, guests took selfies with a camera that worked as a portable photobooth. These photos were then worked into a collage that appeared in a mini-video inspired by Rebecca Minkoff’s brand campaign. The experience was meant to promote brand awareness and generate ROI. According to the designer, fashion shows aren’t just about posting pictures, but also a way for the consumer to embrace the experience. “Today, the [fashion] landscape isn’t about commerce; it’s about experience and standing for what you believe in; consumers want to be in a tribe,” Minkoff herself said.  

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. 


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Events technology

Rag & Bone hosts fashion week dinner with AI attendee

NY-based label Rag & Bone explored the relationship between AI and humankind with a fashion week dinner featuring an artificial intelligence system as a special guest.

Titled “A Last Supper” the dinner, which accompanied the launch of the label’s fall 2019 collection in New York this week, saw guests sitting around a U-shaped table while having their conversations and actions filmed and analysed by a number of cameras. This was then fed in real-time into an AI system, referred to as “Distinguished Guest.”

Towards the end of the night, words and phrases used by guests were transformed into a piece of work displayed on a screen in front of their eyes, in the voice of musician Thom Yorke which was recorded prior to the event.

Guests, which included celebrities such as actors Emma Roberts and Justin Theroux, were further immersed in the experience with a dance performance choreographed by Damien Jalet, while the food menu was developed by chef Ignacio Mattos.

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. 

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business Campaigns digital snippets product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Angela Ahrendts exits Apple, Ralph Lauren’s streetwear obsession, the ethical case for fur

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

TOP STORIES
  • What fashion can learn from Angela Ahrendts’ Apple exit [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren is loving streetwear right now [Quartz]
  • The ethical case for leather, fur, and silk [Quartz]
  • Why Fashion Week doesn’t make sense anymore [Vox]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Why high-tech beauty is a high-stakes game [BoF]
  • ‘Fortnite’ held a marshmello concert—and it’s the future of the metaverse [Wired]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Volcom introduces traceable organic cotton initiative [Fashion United]
  • Study measures economics of closing the fashion loop in UK [Apparel Insider]
  • Tokyo succeeds in plan to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled gadgets [The Verge]
  • Made for next to nothing. Worn by you? [New York Times]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • A shopping mall near Edinburgh sold for less than a London flat [Sourcing Journal]
  • Matchesfashion.com bringing temporary townhouse to Frieze L.A. [WWD]
  • The pitfalls of investing in experiential retail [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Victoria’s Secret Pink champions women with new ‘Grl Pwr’ initiative [Fashion Network]
  • The Instagram account black market, explained [Vox]
  • Pentland-owned Ellesse launches campaign with AI model [Fashion Network]
PRODUCT
  • Tarte Cosmetics unveils brand new foundation range in 50 shades [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Michael Kors drags down Capri [Retail Dive]
  • LVMH creates secret company named Project Loud. A corporate structure to welcome Rihanna? [Fashion Network]
  • Jeweller Pandora’s plan to regain lustre lifts shares [Reuters]
CULTURE
  • Dapper Dan is holding Gucci accountable for controversial ‘blackface sweater’ [Fashionista]
  • What brands are doing to be more inclusive for people with disabilities [Marketing Week]
  • New York Fashion Week launches with a statement on diversity [Glossy]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The 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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Campaigns Editor's pick technology

New Balance deploys AI to spot trendy NYFW attendees 

New Balance
New Balance

New Balance is deploying artificial intelligence to track the outfits of New York Fashion Week showgoers, rewarding those whose style truly stands out.

On September 6, the sportswear company will set up a booth in the Soho neighborhood with cameras facing out in every direction, in order to scan as many people as possible walking the streets. The cameras will track outfits in real-time, analyzing features such as colors, patterns, shapes and styles, using AI to identify the ‘anomalies and exceptions to the norm’.

New Balance representatives will then approach passersby who are identified as truly stylish, and reward them with a pair of the brand’s Fresh Foam Cruz Nubuck sneakers.

“The idea is to celebrate people who go left when everybody else is going right,” says Allie Tsavdarides, director of global marketing at New Balance, of the “Be the Exception” campaign. “During a week where there is incredible emphasis and excitement around new trends and fashion, New Balance wants to celebrate individuals who are expressing themselves in independent and distinctive ways.”

The experience, called “Real Time Exception Spotting”, will be powered by TensorFlow, which will gather information about what people are wearing, in most part devoid of human intervention or bias. In the run-up to fashion week, a team of computer scientists has been going around the city collecting baseline data about fashion trends in order to feed the system.

According to Footwear News, the brand plans to use the technology again in Toronto, Stockholm and Madrid over the upcoming months. The use of it could also potentially be deployed in other scenarios such as at its own stores, with such data eventually helping inform R&D, says the brand. In line with recent concerns around data protection, the brand will not be collecting or storing any personal data, nor will it be deploying facial recognition, it notes.

New Balance’s “Be the Exception” campaign aligns with the brand’s strategy of speaking to those who sit outside fashion and don’t follow trends. As sportswear giants Nike and Adidas fight for the top hypebeast spot, by purposively removing itself from the race, New Balance is potentially positioning itself as a timeless and trusted alternative.

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? 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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Campaigns Editor's pick Uncategorized

alice + olivia host yacht sleepover with Booking.com

alice + olivia
alice + olivia

alice + olivia is teaming up with Booking.com to create an immersive branded space on top of a 74-foot yacht during New York Fashion Week, in a bid to reflect the collection’s enchantment with traveling.

The Booking.com-sponsored experience, promoting the brand’s S/S19 collection, will also offer fans the opportunity to book an exclusive night’s stay at the same vessel.

According to the label’s CEO and creative director Stacey Bendet, the collection, “Passport to wonderland”, as well as the collaboration with the travel booking site, was inspired by her love of travel.

“I wanted the collection and experience to reflect the women of the world and the vibrant countries and cultures they represent; the prints, patterns and colors from each destination continue to inspire me,” comments Bendet. “Through this partnership with Booking.com, I’m excited to merge the world of travel with fashion, to highlight the influence fashion has on travel and vice versa.”

The experience will begin on September 11 when fashion guests board the vessel, which has been named the “Wonderland fashion yacht”. Guests will be transported up the Hudson River to Pier59, the venue that will host the presentation.

The immersive space will transport guests to coveted holiday locations such as Paris, Morocco and the English countryside, inspired by destinations that can be booked on the travel site.

alice + olivia x Booking.com
alice + olivia x Booking.com

Additionally between September 5-7, Booking.com will enable three consumers to book for sleepovers on the two-bedroom yatch for $59 a night. Each day will include a perk, such as tickets for the upcoming alice + olivia show on night one, as well as alice + olivia shopping experiences on September 12 and 13.

The partnership developed from the fashion label’s approach to drawing inspiration from travel, as well as the mindset that fashion itself inspires confidence in travelers when exploring new locations.  According to research by Booking.com, 57% of respondents cite they plan their travels based on where they can shop, while 42% of travelers feel compelled to make changes in their personal style after being on vacation, inspired by local shops and the people.

“Fashion plays a big part in our customers planning and preparations for their vacations all around the world. We are excited to embrace the confidence and joy that fashion brings them through our partnership with alice + olivia,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “This New York Fashion Week activation celebrates the best way to experience fashion and travel with the ultimate New York fashion experience in a cool and unique place to stay.”

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent 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.

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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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Campaigns Editor's pick Retail

Diesel pop-up sells limited edition “fakes” as part of SS18 campaign

Deisel pop up from Diesel
The “Deisel” pop-up from Diesel

Diesel is looking to reinforce its authentic roots with a “fake” pop-up store during New York Fashion Week. As part of its latest campaign celebrating imperfection, the brand opened “Deisel” in NYC’s Chinatown – a neighbourhood known for touting knockoffs – selling seemingly fake goods.

The stunt was eventually revealed on social media, as Diesel shared a video depicting footage of the store. Inside, the pop-up space was set up to look improvised and blend in with its Canal Street neighbors, while shop assistants tried to convince confused passersby that the goods were real.

Once the secret was out, Diesel fans began to form long queues outside the store, trying to get their hands on the limited edition goods, which were also available for purchase in Europe online.

Speaking to reporters, Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel and president of its parent company OTB Group, said the aim of the campaign is to play on the irony and sense of humor he believes the brand has always relied on, which has been lost over the past few years.

“Diesel is back,” he said. ”Diesel is modern. Diesel is a unique brand. Diesel is still alive with the real irony and with the real DNA that it used to have before.”

Andy Bird, chief creative officer at Diesel’s recently appointed agency Publicis, told Adweek: “I think a brand like Diesel has the balls and the right to talk like this. There aren’t many brands that would take a calculated risk like this, but because they kind of know that they already have the cachet with the past history of advertising, they’ve always been a bit more adventurous and it fits perfectly with their outlook.”

Moving forward, the brand believes social media and campaign stunts are becoming a major focus for engagement. According to Rosso, the next soon-to-be-released stunt will see an individual jump from atop St Marcus tower in Venice, Italy.

In our recent episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, Stefano Rosso, Diesel’s CEO of North America, talked in-depth about the brand’s approach to challenging conformity.

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data mobile

Badgley Mischka teams up with SAP to launch live NYFW app

Badgley Mischka SS18
Badgley Mischka SS18

American label Badgley Mischka is partnering with enterprise software company SAP to launch a live and interactive app for guests of their upcoming show at New York Fashion Week.

The partnership aims to highlight the evolving relationship between fashion and technology, and how designers rely on the latter to quickly understand and respond to consumer needs.

Available from today (February 9), the app will enable audience members to interact in real-time with the collection, as models walk down the runway. The app will feature details on each look as they come out, with users able to vote whether they ‘like’ or ‘love’ it. All data is relayed live to the designers backstage, and after the show will help inform production and design decisions.

“Fashion is a fast-paced industry — not just during fashion week, but year-round,” said Mark Badgley, co-founder and designer of Badgley Mischka. “Through our work with SAP at New York Fashion Week, we are excited to be receiving real-time insights about our collection from industry insiders and consumers, which will ultimately help us bring these looks to market.”

Following the show on February 13, SAP will host a panel, titled “Demystifying Digital: The Future of Fashion Is Now”, which will discuss how the intersection between fashion and technology will help more effectively reach digitally-connected consumers.

“How brands connect and engage directly with consumers creates the greatest opportunity for business in the 21st century,” said Jen Morgan, executive board member of global customer operations at SAP. “SAP is at the center of helping companies meet this challenge, and we’re thrilled to partner with an iconic brand like Badgley Mischka to showcase how our innovations are shaping the future of retail and connecting businesses, consumers and designers alike.”

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Editor's pick technology

Rebecca Taylor to debut 3D installation with Google Tilt Brush at NYFW

 

Rebecca Taylor illustration by Wesley Allsbrook 3D google tilt brush
Rebecca Taylor’s Google Tilt Brush illustration by Wesley Allsbrook

Rebecca Taylor has teamed up with Tilt Brush by Google for an in-store installation during the brand’s fall 2018 NYFW presentation.

Tilt Brush is a VR app that lets users paint in three-dimensional spaces, thus rendering any room a blank canvas for interaction. At Taylor’s Meatpacking District store, guests will be able to immerse in a space that uses light-infused 3D projections, further enhanced by Tilt Brush and augmented reality effects.

To achieve the feat, the designer collaborated with Wesley Allbrook, an illustrator who is part of Google’s Artist in Residence campaign, to create the 3D environment; and Pendnt, an independent art studio, to introduce AR elements.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Roald Dahl, where he talks about watching the world with glittering eyes because the world’s greatest secrets are hidden in the most unlikely places. This quote really resonates with me because I love the idea of finding a little bit of magic in everyday life and translating that into my collections. I want our customer to feel inspired when she’s wearing our clothing, and I think this collaboration with Tilt Brush really allows that magical vision to be brought to life,” Taylor told WWD.

The installation will be open for interaction on February 7 by invitation, while consumers will be able to visit the store, pre-order the collection and experience the Tilt Brush project from February 8.

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2017: A designer meets digital year in review

Chanel's spacecraft at Paris Fashion Week (Image: Vogue Paris) - space technology - space race
Chanel’s spacecraft at Paris Fashion Week (Image: Vogue Paris)

It’s always interesting looking back at the most-read stories on the site for the year – a hugely indicative view on what the big subjects have been and the direction of travel accordingly for the industry.

This year – while we’ve been living a particularly tough time for retail, with multiple bankruptcies and ongoing store closures – the lens through which we report, has only been a positive one.

There’s been a big focus on sustainability for instance, from new bioengineered materials actually hitting at a commercial level, through to the role blockchain can play in enabling greater transparency.

Artificial intelligence has also been a particularly pertinent subject – ranging from the impact it’s having on personalisation, to the future of automated stores and the role of voice technology.

On the subject of the future, our ongoing fascination with space travel hit fever pitch this year too – as a society at large, and within the fashion industry itself once more – which was reflected in our long-read on the future branding opportunity that lies in spacesuits.

On top of that in our 10 most popular stories on Fashion & Mash this year was a look at augmented reality, the evolving view on the store of the future and the way in which Instagram Stories is being used.

Enjoy!