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From Pharrell to Barneys: the importance of collaboration

Pharrell Williams at the Fast Company Festival
Pharrell Williams at the Fast Company Festival

Collaborations were a recurring theme at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, which took place in New York this week, with a push for retailers to increasingly step out of their comfort zones.

On a panel about strategies for wooing younger customers, Daniella Vitale, CEO of Barneys New York, said that finding good partners to collaborate with is hard. “They need to have a willingness to look outside the model that already exists, but there’s this desire to control the brand a certain way,” she explained. “It’s not all the time that it’s easy to convince people to do it our way.”

This is an even bigger challenge when working with legacy brands that have been successful with the same approach for 30 years, she added. “Brands have to think about how Barneys can add value when they participate in a drop, or by doing an exclusive capsule line with us, or doing something online when normally they don’t sell their product online. We need partners to come on this journey with us.”

The creative industry has a lot to teach retail about the importance of taking a risk in order to achieve success through collaboration, other speakers noted. Pharrell Williams, for example, talked to taking a leap of faith when he recorded Happy, the 2014 best-selling single that earned him an Oscar nomination. “The career risks we take are the ones most rewarding,” Williams remarked in a panel about creativity and collaboration.

Pointing across the stage to Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of film and animation studio Illumination, and his collaborator on the track, Williams added: “I’m grateful when people see things I can’t see.” The two worked together on Happy for 2010’s animated film Despicable Me. This was the first time the artist had ever recorded a soundtrack.

Melendandri, who was previously president at the 20th Century Fox Animation studio, also weighed in on the importance of constant self-disruption. “The natural tendency when you hit a period of success is to stop taking risks because you think there’s safety in replicating what you’ve done before. That’s the greatest danger,” he warned.

“Comfort is very sneaky,” agreed Williams. “It feels good, and sometimes you don’t even realize you’re comfortable. But to get the best out of yourself, you have to put yourself into positions where you’re uncomfortable or vulnerable.”

Collaborations between brands that complement one another from a lifestyle perspective have long been a successful recipe for many brands, as also noted earlier this year at the SXSW festival, in a discussion between SoulCycle, Madewell and Milk Bar.

Increasingly, however, legacy brands and retailers are deploying a collaborative approach to target a younger consumer who thinks beyond seasons, and shops and discovers brands in a much less linear fashion. Many would argue that collaborations with younger, more cult brands are also a shortcut into getting the consumer to think differently about a more established player, as recently seen by the announcement of Ralph Lauren’s first collaboration with British skatewear label Palace.

How are you thinking about brand collaborations? 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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digital snippets e-commerce film social media technology

Digital snippets: eBay, Westfield, Harrods, wearables, Macy’s, Uggs, Mercedes-Benz, adidas

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

ebay_ninewest

  • eBay unveils retail platform: all about omni [WWD]
  • Kevin McKenzie, global chief digital officer at Westfield Group, on the mall of the future [BoF]
  • Harrods to focus on gamification after being ‘undeterred’ by mixed results [Retail Week]
  • The 7 best pieces of wearable tech we saw at CES [Fashionista]
  • Macy’s restructures to boost digital marketing, mulls off-price plans [MediaPost]
  • Uggs tests RFID in a bid to close the online-offline gap [Retail Week]
  • Mercedes-Benz just made a great fashion ad, and it’s a total piss-take [The Drum]
  • adidas launches Superstar campaign video featuring Rita Ora, David Beckham and Pharrell Williams [The Independent]
  • Lady Gaga has turned her Instagram selfies into ads for Japanese beauty brand Shiseido [Business Insider]
  • Max Factor puts a twist on the no-makeup selfie with #GlamJan campaign [Creativity Online]
  • Moncler creates fake snow app for online fun [Luxury Daily]
  • Montblanc announces a smart bracelet for your fancy watch [TechCrunch]
  • From robots to beacons, the future of retail is at hand [BrandChannel]
  • Snapchat wins hearts and minds on Madison Avenue [Digiday]
  • How Snapchat can help retailers kill ‘showrooming’ [AdAge]
  • As Pinterest pitches ads, brands flock to ‘Pinfluencers’ [WSJ]
  • Google stops selling Google Glass [Marketing Magazine]
  • How jewellery makers (not a tech company) finally cracked the battery problem for wearables [Forbes]
  • Cuff raises $5 million Series A and partners with Richline to bring smart jewellery to the mainstream [TechCrunch]
  • Materials science is the new black: 3D and 4D printing the future [Apparel]
  • Disney and McLaren to fund wearable tech competition for start-ups [The Drum]
  • “Back To The Future” power laces herald quantum wave of shoe tech at Nike [PSFK]
  • The patented Nike shirt that could track your heart rate and blood pressure while you exercise [Quartz]
Categories
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]
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Lanvin turns to stop motion to animate decadent models in SS12 campaign film

Despite a lot to live up to following the success of its Pitbull-backed dancing short last season, Lanvin has managed to outdo itself in the video stakes for spring/summer 2012, this time with a stop motion spot shot once again by Steven Meisel.

It stars models Aaron Vernon, Angus Low, Aymeline Valade, Johannes Schulze, Marte Mei van Haaster, and Othilia Simon.

Set around a somewhat debauched dinner table complete with snakes, it ties together images of the group by animating them to the tune of Maxine Ashley’s ‘Cookieman’, produced by Pharrell Williams.

Watch it below: