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mobile product technology

Fashion and tech collabs continue with Opening Ceremony x Google tie-up

Opening Ceremony's Artworks Live Case by Google
Opening Ceremony’s Artworks Live Case by Google

New York based fashion brand and retailer, Opening Ceremony, isn’t new to the world of collaborations. Over the past couple of months alone it’s worked with the likes of Canada Goose, Everlane, Esprit, H&M via Kenzo, and others. It’s also worked in the tech space – teaming up with 3D-printed knitwear start-up, Unmade, recently on a customisable capsule collection, and with Intel in the past on its MICA connected bracelet.

Now, it’s continuing with the technology focus, albeit in a more straightforward sense, and introducing a collaboration with Google under its Artworks project. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Jeff Koons and Jeremy Scott, Opening Ceremony designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have created four limited edition designs for Artworks Live Case by Google.

What that means, is exclusive prints inspired by their own archive, applied to cases for Pixel or Nexus phones. There are two faux fur animal prints, a patchwork and folk flower one and another called Liquid City.

Shoppers on the Google Store can customise each by zooming in on, dragging and rotating the patterns. There’s also a companion set of wallpaper that lives on the phone, featuring the complete set of designs from the collection.

Head over to Forbes to read the rest of the story, including insights from the designers on the future of fashion and tech collaborations.

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Editor's pick product Startups technology

Unmade’s knitting tech brings one-of-a-kind designer pieces to Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony and UMD by Unmade
Opening Ceremony and UMD by Unmade

There’s nothing quite like a personal gift for the holiday season. In fashion, that usually refers to monogramming – the odd initials on a scarf or a handbag, even some unique embellishments on footwear or denim. Standard protocol is for the base of the design to be entirely controlled, while the customised part is merely a miniature accent on top.

Turn to London-based start-up Unmade, however, and what we’re talking about is knitwear that the user can manipulate until it really suits what they’re looking for. Indeed, the name “Unmade” comes from the fact no garment is finished until you, the shopper, come and complete it, as previously covered.

Now, the team is bringing that concept to the US (and beyond) with a unique collaboration with Opening Ceremony. ‘Opening Ceremony and UMD by Unmade‘, as it’s called, is a customisable capsule collection available exclusively on e-commerce platform, Farfetch.

What that means, in a literal sense, is sweaters and accessories that can be adjusted merely with the click of a mouse to suit individual style. Users can drag the tromp l’oeil of traditional knit motifs into all sorts of variations, also selecting the colours they like and adding original, varsity-inspired monogram letters alongside. With Farfetch as the host platform, the resulting designs are also shoppable worldwide.

On the backend, that is of course incredibly complicated – the endless variations of the designs means producing such knitwear on-demand isn’t possible in the traditional way, where machines do mass runs of the same pieces. Unmade’s technology however, transforms each choice into a back-end automation of industrial knitting machines, so individual products are manufactured for the same unit cost and speed as mass production. This has been referred to previously as a knitting version of 3D printing – the info goes in, and the different knitwear comes out.

Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, founders of Opening Ceremony, said: “We are huge supporters of companies that use technologies in interesting ways to elevate fashion, and when we learnt about Unmade, we felt an instant connection.”

I sat down with Ben Alun-Jones, co-founder and creative director of Unmade, to find out more. Head over to Forbes to read the full interview.

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business Editor's pick social media

As digital overturns New York Fashion Week, here’s what to look out for this season

Tommy x Gigi NYFW
Gigi Hadid’s collection with Tommy Hilfiger will be unveiled at New York Fashion Week this season

“The system is broken” is a phrase oft bounced around between those working in the fashion industry these days.

In a bid to keep up with increasing consumer demand, designers are not only overworked, but ultimately creating too many collections that only tend to hit shelves once shoppers are already fed up with them (or have bought versions of them via their fast fashion knock-offs), leading to more discounted product than ever before and retail sales slipping further and further as a result.

One of the catalysts for all that: fashion week.

Once an event for those in the industry only, it has of course become a truly fanfare occasion complete with more elaborate than ever runway shows, an ongoing street style circus, and above all else: access for anyone and everyone via the means that digital provides. And yet, the collections it showcases have largely remained for preview purposes only, still only heading to stores anywhere up to six months later.

Enter then, “see-now, buy-now”; the idea that rather than having to wait all that time, we can indeed watch it on the runway and immediately make a purchase. While there’s no unanimous decision on exactly what that business model looks like (as outlined in the CFDA’s report in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group), a number of brands are trying to shake things up and give it a go in their own differing ways during the New York shows this season. That means several big consumer-facing affairs, as well as some innovative uses of social media to do it all a little bit differently.

Head over to Forbes for the full lowdown on what to look out for during the week including details on what Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff, Misha Nonoo, Opening Ceremony, Yeezy and Tom Ford are doing.

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digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: Black Friday, high tech holiday, Michael Kors, Burberry, Gap, Chanel, Asos

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

MICHAELKORS_fashion-model-on-iphone

  • Fewer shoppers hit the stores on Black Friday, but retailers engaged for a marathon rather than a sprint [CNN Money]
  • Black Friday embrace by British retailers brings discounts and disorder [NY Times]
  • This holiday season, high-end retailers go high-tech [The Washington Post]
  • The biggest names in fashion are trying to make Instagram a shopping app, Michael Kors is the latest (as pictured) [Quartz]
  • Christopher Bailey’s Burberry vision: tech-driven yet personal [WWD]
  • Gap introduces an augmented reality experience called Play Your Stripes for holiday [DigitalBuzzBlog]
  • Chanel is pairing Pharrell Williams and Cara Delevingne in a romantic fantasy [Creativity Online]
  • Small wins: Asos’s data-driven male models [WGSN/blogs]
  • Why fashion marketers should be paying attention to Ello [Fashionista]
  • Intel, Opening Ceremony and CFDA unveil MICA wearable for market [BrandChannel]
  • A Zappos pop-up shop becomes a test to change the nature of mom-and-pop retail [VentureBeat]
  • New York subway riders can now shop on Amazon while underground, with digital pop-up stores [AdWeek]
  • Snapchat launches Snapcash payment feature with Square [BBC]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce Editor's pick social media technology

All the digital activity (outside of live streaming) happening this #NYFW

If watching dozens of Hyperlapse videos from day one of New York Fashion Week is already starting to grate, here are some of the other digitally-enabled or tech-themed plans that might appeal instead…

OpeningCeremony_Intel

  • For those in New York looking to explore what else wearables currently offer, it’s worth checking out Chelsea concept store, Story’s new Style.tech installation in partnership with Intel. There’s everything from Ringly to Cute Circuit pieces on show, as well as 3D-printed heels from Continuum and more. It’s open until October 5
  • Back to Rebecca Minkoff, and social media is helping with decision making for tomorrow’s show. The designer posted an Instagram shot featuring two looks from the spring 2015 collection – a printed or an indigo pair of dungarees. The one that got the most likes will walk down the catwalk
  • Tommy Hilfiger is also focusing on social with the announcement of an initiative called First Timers, which will bring together “a diverse group of digital influencers from different fields and areas of expertise outside the fashion industry to document the unique experience of viewing a fashion show for the first time”. More details are reportedly set to follow on that soon
  • BCBG Max Azria meanwhile partnered up with Liketoknow.it to make its new collection shoppable instantly via Instagram today. Followers were encouraged to first sign up to Liketoknow.it and then to ‘like’ any image featuring the LTK link in the caption to receive an email with details of how to buy said piece online. This initiative came together in the end, but was a little confusing initially – reports around the campaign didn’t make it entirely clear the images wouldn’t be posted on the BCBG account but on that of a series of influencers involved. Finding them wasn’t therefore as straightforward as it could have been, although a significant number of them are now all featured on the @liketktit page as well
  • Michael Kors is expanding its All Access Kors social program this season – with behind-the-scenes photographs, in-depth stories on design inspirations and videos of the show all featured on Destination Kors. New for SS15 however is also the announcement of a campaign specific to China-based platforms Weixin and WeChat. Here users will be able to personalise a range of All Access Kors imagery – adding their name or uploading a photo that then becomes a bold silhouette against the New York City skyline. Shaking the phone or swiping the screen then reveals a different silhouette or city angle
  • Last but not least, here’s a particularly fab reminder from Véronique Hyland at The Cut for editors to spare us the typically poor fashion week images on Instagram. “The blurry runway photo is not really, strictly speaking, a picture — anyone who wants to can see better photos instantaneously online. No, the blurry runway shot is a trophy. It says, ‘I came, I saw, I sat front row, within 100 feet of Vanessa Hudgens’,” she writes.
Categories
Blocks Editor's pick technology

Designers are jumping into the wearable tech space this #NYFW – should we care?

RalphLauren-smart-tshirt

Tomorrow marks the first official day of New York Fashion Week, and with it a month-long series of runway shows that will next travel to Europe – to London, Milan and Paris – to highlight what all we’ll be wearing for spring/summer 2015.

Attention won’t just be on the new clothes in New York on this occasion however, but on the wearable accessories set to hit the catwalks too. Designers including Rebecca Minkoff and Opening Ceremony are each expected to unveil new tech-enabled pieces, while simultaneously over at the US Open, Ralph Lauren’s biometric t-shirts are already being worn.

The question is, after all the hype that will no doubt follow – will any of the new releases actually provide something that has true market appeal beyond the early adopter set?

Read the full story via Forbes.com to find out.

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Comment technology

Why is wearable technology so damn ugly?

This piece first appeared on The Telegraph

Rachel Arthur, a fashion business reporter, was dismayed by the wearable technology on offer at CES last week. Not only were most devices useless, they were also utterly unwearable by any self-respecting woman

ces-pebble

Stick 150,000 tech people in the middle of the Nevada desert and what do you get? Well for one thing, no queues to the ladies room I can assure you.

I hit Las Vegas last week for my very first experience of CES, the consumer technology tradeshow, and wasn’t in the least surprised at the ease to which I could nip to the bathroom in between traipsing around the exhibition halls. This wasn’t ever going to be an event for battling my way through any kind of female crowd, unless you include the countless number of “booth babes” hired to help sell the gadgets (sporting a variety of rather oddly sexual mermaid, kangaroo and nursing costumes).

Gender observations aside, like everyone else; I was hitting Sin City for the products. I work as a business reporter and trend forecaster in the fashion industry, but largely cover technological developments. So CES for me was all about one thing: wearable technology.

After all, if it’s ‘wearable’ it must mean fashionable right? Wrong. More of that later. But first up, let’s deal with a big myth: women don’t buy technology. Also wrong. Women are more likely than men to purchase tablets, laptops and smartphones. We also use any internet-connected device, not to mention social networking sites, our mobiles and GPS more than our male counterparts, according to a 2012 report from Intel researcher Genevieve Bell.

Now most of you may not care about wearable technology very much, just yet. But its overwhelming presence at CES, usually a great place to figure out ‘the next big thing’, is telling. This is the annual showcase where the latest and hottest devices are revealed – that you and I will soon start using. (Aside from wearable tech – you can look forward to watching telly on curved TV screens, the chauffeur experience for all with the advent of self-driving cars and become your own newsagents with the dawning of 3D-printed sweets. Believe they taste good, I tried one.

The ‘wearables’ space is already burgeoning, but remains for the time being an enthusiasts’ market. Think early adopting sports fanatics who like to quantify their own data with the Nike FuelBand, the FitBit or the Jawbone. Outside of that niche there are also smart watches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear or the Pebble, as well as items like Google Glass.

The fact is, wearable technology is predicted to leap from a $1.4 billion industry in 2013 to $19 billion in 2018, according to Juniper Research. So it’s pretty safe to say, a lot of us will be buying it and sporting something tecchy – beyond our watches.

However, the big gap between what was on show at CES and what consumers will be willing to buy is quite simply design, especially if these companies want to attract female shilling. At the moment, all of the aforementioned devices are unbelievably masculine. I mean I do like my sportswear, but I also like delicate accessories. A big chunky (and by that I mean, ugly) cuff (digital or not) on my wrist is not something I enjoy wearing, meaning a couple of weeks into owning something like that, I am likely forgotten to have forgotten about it. The novelty has worn off.

A friend said to me as we walked around the show that most tech companies aim their product at men in the hope that women might still buy it, rather than aiming it at women knowing that men will never buy it. This pal was a bloke. And an honest one at that.

Naïvety won’t pay off

In part, that may be true, but it’s a naïve and short-sighted strategy by these companies, hoping to crack wearable technology.

First of all, let’s consider the real estate opportunities of the human body. Without delving into the realm of clothing and soft accessories, men are – broadly speaking – limited to their wrists and to eyewear. Most women on the other hand, will wear a watch, bracelet, ring, necklace, earrings and glasses, and often multiples of all of those at the same time. The female form, simply put, is far more valuable.

So where has this disconnect come from? Why were vibrating pants one of the most memorable ‘female’ bits of wearable tech on offer? Is it as simple as men designing wearable technology for men?

Jennifer Darmour, design director of user experience at product design firm, Artefact, has recently been working with a large brand (which she cannot name) that is about to launch a whole line of wearable devices aimed at women. “I went to meet with them recently, and was shocked that not one person in the room was female despite what they’re aiming to do.” It’s not that encouraging is it?

Female designers anyone?

We’ve been saying for a long time we need more female engineers, computer scientists and coders. Well how about the tech industry focuses on recruiting some female designers too? Of course the issue might also be that design hasn’t been a consideration for wearables full stop so far, rather an afterthought to the technology. But turning that on its head is precisely why the likes of Apple have done so well. The technology and the design of its devices are both equally impressive.

As Sonny Vu, founder of Misfit Wearables, tells me: “Wearables is a bit of a misnomer, because not many of them [the devices] are that wearable.” His company’s fitness tracking tool, Shine, is the closest there is to elegant on the market right now.

The development of Shine, unlike many others where pastel coloured straps are the typical nod to a female consumer (pur-lease – do they think we are children?) has focused on what people actually want to wear and will feel good wearing, he explains.

Others at CES this year looked to be tackling jewellery, but most of it was sorely disappointing (and again by that I mean unsightly). Think human Christmas tree – as with one company trying to sell the idea of a ‘crystal necklace’ which with just a click of a button makes these puppies light up.

Design, or lack thereof, was a big debate throughout the week. Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Devices Group, said: “If we want the premise of wearable technology to come forward we really have to think about going back to the drawing board with the hardware, moving beyond the idea of a square block on your wrist.”

One of Intel’s announcements at the show was a smart bracelet launching later this year designed by Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York. This could, for the first time, suggest fashion or aesthetics have been a consideration from the outset rather than an add-on. As Liza Kindred, founder of Third Wave Fashion, says: “In order for people to adopt wearable tech, the tech must disappear and the item must be beautiful.”

Let’s focus on purpose shall we?

Of course we also need a device that we – as women – want to use. It needs to have a purpose that we’ll genuinely buy in to. Vibrating pants, USB bracelets or tweeting shoesjust aren’t going to cut it, but actually things we want. Jennifer Darmour refers to the necessity of “meaning”; not just something we want to wear but something that will add value to our lives.

There are endless possibilities in terms of functionality as wearable technology continues to evolve, but it needs to feel useful and worthwhile. It can’t just be a gimmick if women are going to buy into it. June by Netatmo, which also launched at CES, is one such example – it’s a bracelet that measures sun exposure, tracking UV intensity and advising women on skin protection on a daily basis. The design isn’t totally there, but it’s not half bad either.

Personally I would totally buy into a wearable device that would automatically adapt the heating in my house based on my body temperature, alert me to retail sales I would be interested in based on my location, or detect what nutritional value I’m missing from the day and suggest a recipe for dinner on my way home.

In this billion dollar industry, I can guarantee the brand that manages to make wearable technology beautiful as well as incredibly useful, will be the one with the key to women’s wallets the world over.

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technology

More detail on what the Opening Ceremony x Intel smart bracelet may look like

OpeningCeremony_YokoOno

While the exact details of Intel’s new smart bracelet, created in partnership with Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York, are yet to be determined, a few hints were revealed during CES as to what it might be like.

Speaking at a press conference during the Vegas show, Susan Barber, art director at Opening Ceremony, said: “We want to emphasise the tech aspects of the bracelet but so that it doesn’t feel like hardware. It has to be something we’ll be excited to wear [ourselves].”

This fits in with a broader theme at CES this week for more appealing design in the wearables space. Speaking on a separate occasion, Mike Bell, VP and GM of Intel’s New Devices Group, said: “If we want the premise of wearable technology to come forward we really have to think about going back to the drawing board with the hardware, moving beyond the idea of a square block on your wrist.”

While Intel reportedly has a rough prototype already developed, Opening Ceremony will have full input on both the functionality and the design to go to market with. Barber said work is yet to truly start on it, but ideas are percolating.

The team will be looking to both the past and the future for inspiration, she revealed. The aesthetic for instance will be informed by other partnerships the company has been involved in, including a project with Yoko Ono based on a series of her drawings titled ‘Fashions for Men” from 1969 (as featured above).

The recent capsule collection Opening Ceremony created for Spike Jonze’s new film, Her (as featured below), will also serve as inspiration. Said Barber: “This product is supposed to make your life more seamless and more effortless, and be beautiful at the same time. If technology and design are totally separate you don’t get to bridge that gap.”

Matthew Woolsey, SVP digital at Barneys, agreed: “A lot of functionality is very appealing, but the design elements are going to be paramount in terms of how our customer engages with it. The product needs to stand on its own, and the Opening Ceremony creative vision will be incredibly important to making that happen.”

As for who it’s aimed at, Barber said they are exploring all options at the moment, but are unlikely to make it gender specific. “It certainly won’t be pink or purple,” she said, mocking the stereotyped approach the technology industry often has to appealing to women. The goal with the device is also to speak to a broad generational audience. It is expected to hit in the autumn.

OpeningCeremony_SpikeJonze3 OpeningCeremony_SpikeJonze1OpeningCeremony_SpikeJonze2

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technology

Wearables key message at CES, Intel leads fashion charge

Intel_wearables_OpeningCeremony_Barneys

If there’s one key theme at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, it’s wearables. Smart watches, fitness wristbands, earbuds, the works. Functionality is being heavily discussed, but even more so is design. The tech industry, it seems, has finally figured out that aesthetics are what’s going to make the difference when it comes to something people actually want to wear if we want to move this sector forward. An obvious statement to those of us in the fashion industry, but arguably not something anyone has yet done something about.

Enter Intel, who is aiming to change all of that, and with any luck in a beautiful way. It’s launching a smart bracelet later this year in partnership with Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York.

Rather than “fashion” being an afterthought, as is more common with technology partnerships – a bit of branding slapped on, or some neat product placement during fashion week – Opening Ceremony will play an integral part in what the item looks like as well as how it functions using Intel’s tech.

“Our shared vision is to accelerate wearable technology innovation and create products that both enhance peoples’ lives and are desirable to wear,” said Ayse Ildeniz, vice president of business development and strategy at Intel’s New Devices Group. Speaking at the press conference today, she added: “The smart wearables we see on the market today are very much led by technology companies. But what we wear are personal things, reflections of ourselves and we often get emotionally connected to them. The fashion industry must therefore be in the driving seat. Without the aesthetics and the design, wearables are not going to become a big thing.”

Daniella Vitale, COO of Barneys New York agrees: “One of the greatest opportunities for wearable technology as a concept to be successful is fairly simple – to design a beautiful accessory that our customers would desire.”

Intel’s initiative will not be exclusive with Opening Ceremony and Barneys, suggesting further brands are being approached. The CFDA is accordingly also involved, having entered into a strategic collaboration with Intel to create a community for technology developers and fashion designers to network, match-make, cultivate and exchange ideas on wearable technology.

Interestingly Ildeniz said the most important thing for all those involved was to be humble. Once the egos go out the room, there’s a good chance technology and fashion can work pretty well together, she suggested.

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film Uncategorized

Chloë Sevigny stars in new short for Opening Ceremony

 

Opening Ceremony has released another short film starring Chloë Sevigny, this time called “Where’s Bambi?”

Created by William Strobeck, it’s a retro-looking clip featuring the actress and fashion icon trying on numerous pieces from the Chloë Sevigny for Opening Ceremony archive collection.

It is set to the track “Fly the Sky” by Colony Farm.