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business Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

From G7 to fashion weeks – why the industry needs to cut the sustainable chat and take action

One minute we’re talking all about saving the planet, the next, it’s onto the indulgence and excess of fashion weeks. No wonder there’s so much questioning around what the industry is about right now. 

At the G7 Summit last month, François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of luxury group Kering, introduced the Fashion Pact, a deal that saw 32 brands from Adidas to Prada, coming together to commit to stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. 

The initiative was mandated by French President Emmanuel Macron, who asked the industry to set practical objectives for reducing its environmental impact.

Practical is the keyword here. While collaboration between so many different players is in itself great progress, reflections on many of the goals are that they have been light on detail as to how they’re going to be achieved. 

Meanwhile, as has been pointed out by others this past fortnight, fashion week season has kicked off and we’re back into that completely contrasting feeling of celebration and excess once more. “Fashion month is a party,” Orsola de Castro, co-founder and creative director of non-profit Fashion Revolution, told the Business of Fashion. “It’s huge fun, but it’s the kind of fun that is no longer funny.” 

Within that is of course the volume of waste and climate impact generated from the shows themselves, but in addition, the culture of consumerism they continue to feed.  

In London we have Extinction Rebellion protesting against the very existence of fashion week itself, while in New York, the biggest stories have conversely been about the large-scale theatrics of shows from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty. Let’s not forget, fashion weeks are about marketing – appealing to buyers, press and consumers individually to encourage them to buy and buy-into the new collections in one or other of their relative ways. 

By their very nature, they therefore clash with a more sustainable approach to supply and demand. All of which makes one question how much hot air really surrounds the topic of sustainability – no matter how much it’s “trending” – when looking across the industry at large. 

Back to the G7 pact and the biggest question that sits there then, is how will any of these promises turn into reality? As in, literally what are the methodologies behind them? 

The fact is, what we really need is less talk more doing. To put it into the simplest terms, the contradiction of fashion week doesn’t sit well with the notion of ‘actions speaking louder than words’. But neither do promises that aren’t backed by some tangible outputs to follow. 

The same goes for the sheer volume of broader sustainable pledges being made by the industry. Everywhere you turn you see promises to use 100% renewable energy by 2020, to become carbon neutral by 2022, to reduce water consumption by 2025. The same can be said for chemicals, materials, recycling, waste… the list goes on. 

That’s all well and good, but only if progress towards those things actually happen. On our side, we’re tracking them all, and the list of promises is growing at a substantially faster rate than that of the actions being made in response. This is absolutely key. It means that currently the announcements are serving in the main as PR initiatives – a way of hiding behind something that is several years away, or about buying time while you figure out what to actually do. 

The result is that we either have too many pledges that risk not being met, or those offering too little too late – such as to be carbon neutral by 2050. In Greta Thunberg’s words, this is a climate emergency

Last year, Fast Company reviewed various environmental goals set for 2020 by large corporations as well as countries, questioning which of them were on target to actually be met in time. It reads like a mixed bag, though does demonstrate progress in parts. 

The same can be said for fashion. Kering itself has always been one of the most vocal about its goals, setting them out in 2012, then reporting back on what it had and hadn’t achieved in 2016. It reset its targets in 2017 with a broader 2025 sustainability strategy in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Included in that was cutting the group’s carbon emissions by 50% and reducing its overall environmental impact by at least 40%. Not small aims. An update is expected in 2020. 

H&M is another that’s always gone big. It’s reportedly on target to hit its goals of both using 100% organic or recycled cotton, and eliminating hazardous chemicals in its production, by 2020. Future aims include becoming climate positive by 2040. 

The difficulty with all this is the sliding scale of what attaining such goals mean, not to mention how they’re measured. 

One of the ones I have the biggest issue with in the industry broadly is the idea of moving to entirely “sustainable cotton” by 2025. This isn’t so much in the goal itself by any means, but in the naming of it. What is sustainable cotton? Strictly speaking, most of the time what we’re talking about is rather “better” cotton. As in, it is literally better for the environment than that which is otherwise farmed in the conventional manner. Usually this falls under those certified via the Better Cotton Initiative and others including Organic and Fair Trade. 

This sort of language use is critical because of how misleading it can be to the consumer. It instantly gives the impression that fast fashion, like Zara as well, for instance, will be absolutely fine by 2025 because the materials used will indeed be entirely sustainable. Not true. They’ll just be less bad at that early part of the supply chain. Arguably, that’s not enough. 

The same goes for what is the lesser of two evils when we hear certain companies have managed to achieve zero waste to landfill targets, yet are continuing to incinerate items. Does the ban on incineration in France mean landfill will then be on the up? 

When it comes to greenhouse gases, there was a feeling in a recent meeting I had with some members of UK parliament, that regulation for companies to declare their emissions makes the industry immediately more accountable.

What didn’t seem to be acknowledged is that the fashion industry doesn’t know the true numbers around its emissions. As I’ve written about before, it’s not completely possible right now because there is simply not enough accurate information out there for it to report this – and it doesn’t have direct control of its supply chain in the majority of cases to discover any of it itself further. 

We know this from our work with Google to build a tool that shines a light on the raw materials stage of the supply chain – Tier 4. What’s available right now is at best globalized averages, at worst, completely unknown. The result, therefore, is guesswork. How for instance can H&M become climate positive in a true sense, if it can’t trace back the impact it is actually having? It can’t. You can apply the same to Burberry, to Nike, to whoever else you like.

A few years back there were headlines about 2020 being the “magic year for fashion” based on the industry embracing sustainability. Arguably, even in the midst of fashion week season, that has already happened. But it doesn’t mean anything if it’s just being talked about.  

Change can only take place if these goals become tangible. That’s our entire mantra as a business – drive transformation by enabling action. Enough with the pledges therefore, what we’d rather see is the industry diving deep, staying quiet, building new solutions and starting to show us some results. 

How are you thinking about sustainability? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

Shopify’s $6.6m sustainability fund, TikTok’s global rise, the new lure of the mall

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

TOP STORIES
  • Shopify looks to fight climate change, commits $6.6 million to new sustainability fund (BetaKit)
  • The strategy behind TikTok’s global rise (Harvard Business Review)
  • Can rollercoasters and a bunny garden lure shoppers back to the mall? (BoF)
  • Germany unveils Green Button: what you need to know about the worlds first sustainable textile label (Fashion United)
TECHNOLOGY
  • Pentland brands trials AR app (Drapers)
  • How technologies like RFID elevate the customer experience (Fashion United)
  • Luxury retailers are ladling on perks to please ultra-rich clients (Wired)
  • Coca-Cola cans activate animated stories in AR (Mobile Marketer)
  • Entrupy is an app that helps authenticate your grails (Highsnobiety)
  • McDonald’s uses AI for ordering at drive-throughs (BBC News)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • How designers are trying to make NYFW more sustainable (Nylon)
  • Gucci vies to be even greener (NYT)
  • Stella McCartney pens an urgent letter to the fashion industry (The Times)
  • Biodegradable clothes may fix fashion’s huge waste problem (Wired)
  • Second-hand fashion hits £187m on eBay (Fashion United)
  • Harvey Nichols dips a toe into the circular economy (Vogue Business)
  • H&M announces initiative to increase e-commerce sustainability (Fashion United)
  • Sainsbury vows to halve plastic packaging by 2025 (Retail Gazette)
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
BUSINESS
  • Philip Green’s Topshop & Topman report £505m loss (The Guardian)
  • New York’s Fashion Week revamp: did it work? (BoF)
  • New MD at Net-a-Porter (Drapers)
  • C&A files to begin IPO Process in Brazil (BoF)
  • Q&A with Mark Parker, CEO of Nike (Fast Company)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • ‘We’re doing an evolution’: Inside Playboy’s extreme makeover (Digiday)
  • In London, is Extinction Rebellion out-marketing fashion? (BoF)
PRODUCT
  • Kim Kardashian’s Skims solutionwear launches online (Fashion United)
  • Duchess of Sussex’s new charity workwear collection (Vogue Business)
CULTURE
  • James Scully calls out ‘distressing’ treatment of models at NYFW (Dazed)
  • Macy’s announces 5-point plan to promote diversity and inclusion (Fashion United)
  • How to prevent your company from cultural appropriation (Forbes)
  • How cancel culture is affecting brands (Digiday)
  • PrettyLittleThing champions diversity at NYFW (Fashion United)
  • CurvyCon proves the future of fashion is fat (Fashionista)
  • M&S presents sunflower lanyards to support customer with disabilities (Retail Gazette)

How are you thinking about innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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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. 


Categories
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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Podcast Retail

Misha Nonoo on pivoting direct-to-consumer

Liz Bacelar and Misha Nono
Liz Bacelar and Misha Nono

“The scariest thing [in the world] is doing something different and not having an example to follow,” says designer Misha Nonoo on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators.

Speaking at a MouthMedia recording, live at Spring Place in New York with TheCurrent’s founder Liz Bacelar, the designer discussed how she pivoted her contemporary namesake brand in 2016 to focusing on selling direct-to-consumer instead. “It was scary and I was doing something completely new, but at the same time it was very exciting,” she explains.

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

Such disruption is something that has become second nature to Nonoo in recent years. In 2015, she was one of the first in the industry to forgo an official fashion week presentation and host an Instagram one instead. The next year, she returned to the platform with a see-now-buy-now presentation, which users could shop via influencer platform, rewardStyle.

For a designer who sees herself as an entrepreneur holding the reins for her brand’s success – and her personal happiness – switching to selling directly to the consumer was a very clear direction, she explains. That said, challenging the industry’s statusquo comes with a lot of hard work, which Nonoo does not shy away from.

“One of the most enlightening things that I was ever told was by Anna Wintour (…) she said to me ‘an overnight success is 10 years in the making’,” Nonoo explains. Seven years on, she feels she is just ‘making it’ now.

Time has also given Nonoo the confidence to know that a lot of the industry is based on smoke and mirrors. As a small, independent brand, she now feels confident in having the choice of what to subscribe to.

During this conversation, Nonoo also talks about the importance of building a business based on values, how fashion week has become obsolete, and the challenges of running an on-demand business.

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 Editor's pick technology

Ralph Lauren celebrates 50 years with immersive installation and epic NYFW bash

Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey
Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey

Ralph Lauren celebrated its 50th anniversary at New York Fashion Week on Friday night, with a star-studded affair that kicked off with an immersive installation.

Held at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park, guests were welcomed into the venue with a journey through the brand’s history. Enormous LED screens towering like sculptures played some of the designer’s most memorable collections, while iconic campaign imagery was next projected across the walls of a tunnel. Ralph Lauren himself narrated the tale.

The show that followed saw a diverse cast of over 150 models, followed by a dinner, with guests including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Kanye West. It was more than just a fashion week show, and rather a slice of Hollywood entertainment.

The company called it “a multi-brand, multi-generational celebration of the World of Ralph Lauren and the next chapter of iconic American style”.

Chief marketing officer Jonathan Bottomley added that it was all about storytelling and the power of a story. He accordingly built the event out online too, with a strategy that spanned IGTV, WeChat, Line and live streaming, as well as via 125 digital influencers and celebrities.

That move was aiming to build on the success of last September’s show in the designer’s classic car garage, which saw over 1 billion social media impressions.

Ralph Lauren's 50th anniversary installation
Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary installation

For those who weren’t there in person, the digital strategy now extends in person, with the installation otherwise appearing at the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship in New York, and in additional locations worldwide in the coming weeks.

Building on the brand’s see-now-buy-now strategy, a selection of the 50th-anniversary collection has also been made available to buy immediately following the show, both online and at the brand’s flagship stores, as well as via key partners including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

In a continuing use of technology, Ralph Lauren was also awarded Design Legend of the year award by GQ magazine last week in London, for which he beamed in via hologram.

Such a move is classic from the brand. Though it has been quieter in recent times, for many years it led the way with innovative uses of technology, especially around fashion week. It has previously showcased its Polo Ralph Lauren collection via holographic water projections for instance, and used architectural mapping to bring a variety of its stores to life in an experiential way. There’s also been everything from connected fitting rooms to wearables.

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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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 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]
Categories
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.

Categories
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.