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Fashion’s space race: Why the spacesuit is a huge future branding opportunity for designers

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

Space travel has long been a source of inspiration to the fashion industry. When the space race between the Soviet Union and the US was underway in the 1960s, it influenced designers including Paco Rabanne, Courrèges and Pierre Cardin into all manner of both sculptural and streamlined looks.

High fashion houses since have regularly referenced everything and anything related to the galaxy, the fantasy of its contents and the way in which we could navigate it.

One giant leap to modern day and little has changed. This time around it’s the likes of Chanel and Gucci taking their cues directly from exploring our solar system and beyond.

In March 2017, the former went so far as to showcase a rocket (as above) complete with mock launch during Paris Fashion Week, while astronaut prints and lashings of metallic looks took to the runway alongside. The latter then followed up on its otherworldly Milan show with a campaign film featuring everything from UFOs to multiple Star Trek references just last month.

Accessories brand Coach, meanwhile, recently unveiled a limited edition capsule collection of NASA-themed pieces, including handbags, purses and sweatshirts. Said creative director, Stuart Vevers, at the time: “The collection is very nostalgic. There’s something about the time of the space program that just gives this feeling of possibility. The space references, rockets, and planets are symbolic of a moment of ultimate American optimism and togetherness.”

In today’s political environment, that feeling of hope may be particularly sought after once more, but the renewed interest in space goes beyond just nostalgia. Head over to Forbes to read all about the space travel on the horizon fuelled by private companies, and what that means for designers in terms of potential branding opportunities as the spacesuit for Elon Musk’s SpaceX is revealed.

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What you missed: Women’s march, what Brexit means for fashion, Branson on retail’s survival

Signs from the Women's March on Washington. (Photographed by Jonno Rattman, via Vogue)
Signs from the Women’s March on Washington. (Photographed by Jonno Rattman, via Vogue)

Top of the news agenda this past week has of course been the US inauguration of President Donald Trump, and the subsequent Women’s Marches that took place around the world. Credit to some of the intelligent coverage coming out of traditionally “fashion” (not to mention “teen”) publications, above and beyond the mere commentary around what the new First Lady and First Daughter are wearing. A particular nod to Fashionista for deciding not to comment on the latter. Lots to read, support and get behind, and the fashion industry has the potential to be a big part of that in terms of equal rights for all.

Meanwhile, other big news to know about, includes a view on what UK prime minister, Theresa May’s Brexit speech means for fashion, as well as an inspirational keynote from Richard Branson at NRF Retail’s Big Show on entrepreneurialism in retail. Also check out our recent view on whether Twitter is still relevant for fashion brands, as well as below further insight on how the industry is using Whatsapp, what to expect from Pinterest, and yet more updates on the chatbot space.


TOP STORIES
  • The most inspiring moments from the speeches at the Women’s March on Washington [Vogue]
  • Decoding Theresa May’s Brexit speech and what it means for fashion [BoF]
  • Richard Branson: Retail brands must ‘be entrepreneurial’ to survive [Retail Dive]
  • Shoes of Prey and Indochino on mass customisation and the future of retail [NRF]

BUSINESS
  • Bitter end to American Apparel as wind down accelerates [WWD]
  • Fashion house BCBG closing stores, restructuring [Retail Dive]
  • Fashion brands fear Trump’s trade policies will disrupt global production chains, with risk of tariffs squeezing profits [SCMP]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How fashion brands are using Whatsapp [Glossy]
  • Instagram accounts for 92% of brand social interactions: report [Luxury Daily]
  • Here’s what marketers can expect from Pinterest in 2017 [AdWeek]
  • Is Twitter right for customer service? [L2]
  • Twitter is phasing out the “Buy” button, will continue to offer donations [TechCrunch]
  • Dolce & Gabbana innovates fashion show by casting social media stars as models [CPP-Luxury]

MARKETING
  • How influencer chatbots could close the gap between content and commerce [The Drum]
  • Alexa Chung’s latest campaign video for AG is very, very, very funny [Fashionista]
  • Burberry’s forthcoming mobile app designed to ‘build connection’ with consumers over commerce [The Drum]

RETAIL
  • Meeting millennials where they shop: Shaping the future of shopping malls [McKinsey]
  • Do digital brands need physical stores? [BoF]
  • Mall owners find relief from unlikely source: online retailers [WSJ]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Your clothes will be on the radio [Bloomberg]
  • How robots in stores could revolutionise the customer experience [Retail Dive]
  • Neiman Marcus launched voice-controlled wearables for associates [Apparel]
  • Amazon reportedly in search of creative chief for VR commerce plans [Retail Dive]
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Velocity revisited: key quotes from Stefan Olander and Ajaz Ahmed for brand marketers in 2013

Velocity

I recently rediscovered my copy of Velocity: The Seven New Laws for a World Gone Digital, written by Ajaz Ahmed of AKQA and Stefan Olander of Nike, and published last summer.

In it are dozens of tabs bookmarking pages with my favourite quotes on, so I thought I’d share some of them here. It’s one of the most valuable books I’ve read regarding the movement of digital communications for brand marketers, and highly applicable to the fashion industry just as much throughout.

If you haven’t already, do pick up a copy – I defy you to get through it without likewise picking up the highlighter pen…

Stefan: “Without a platform to manage and nurture every interaction with its consumer, a company has no spine.”

Ajaz: “We’re in the age of connectedness. The solution is to create work that people want to share. Ideas that define culture rather than follow it.”

Stefan: “Belief in your ideas and an environment that encourages risk taking is incredibly important to create acceleration.”

Ajaz: “The philosophy has to be: let’s use the technology to make this the best way to do something, or let’s not bother doing it at all. The goal has to be about making a new experience an order of magnitude better than the existing way.”

Stefan: “People will usually thank you for taking the responsibility to curate their choices, for making things simpler for them, for doing the truly inconvenient stuff on their behalf. This means editing down product lines and ramping up product benefit.”

Ajaz: “Brands that have authentic, believable values use the spirit and energy of those convictions to ease effortlessly into any new environment. Even with a pre-digital heritage, they’ve found interesting methods and ideas to express their stories.”

Stefan: “We’re not chasing eyeballs. The goal is to create connections with our customers and earn their loyalty by serving them. The better the service, the stronger the connection.”

These two guests comments also stood out:

Trevor Edwards, VP of brand and categories at Nike: “The single biggest opportunity today is that buying a product or service marks the beginning of the consumer relationship.”

And in the intro by Richard Branson: “We’re living through a time of big and little changes in the way we do just about everything and the only people and organisations guaranteed to make fools of themselves are the ones who think they have got it all figured out.”

Now there’s something to consider for the year ahead…