Editor's pick film

Prada returns with sequel of The Postman Dreams short movie series

Elijah Wood in Prada's new The Postman Dreams 2 film series
Elijah Wood in Prada’s new The Postman Dreams 2 film series

Prada has released a second series of short movies written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Autumn de Wilde for the holiday season.

The Postman Dreams 2, which hones in on the Prada Galleria bag, is a follow up to the series of the same name and Prada’s first project with de Wilde, which debuted in 2015. This time around it sees four humorous and whimsical films, the first two of which have already been released – The Bogey and The Troublemaker.

Hollywood actor Elijah Wood stars as the postman in each, but the real protagonist is indeed the bag, which features as a key plot-point in all of the creative work, as well as the thread that ties the four together.

In The Bogey, for instance, actress Emma Roberts plays herself being interrupted on set by the postman delivering her Galleria bag. The title is drawn from the Hollywood vernacular for an individual breaching the set and walking through a shot while the camera is rolling. Wood therefore is indeed the unwitting bogey on this occasion.

In the second, Wood is in pursuit of Sasha Frolova in order to give her the gift, resulting in a hot chase around a stadium to do so. Drawing on the screwball comedies of the 1930s, Prada refers to this as an absurdist cat-and-mouse game.

“These films are a fantasy to be indulged. A gift to be enjoyed,” reads the write-up, referring to de Wilde’s work as offering a touch of daydream and moments of pure surreal wit.

“De Wilde devises her own imaginary vistas and mise en scène, inspired not just by her own obsessions but those of others. Desire, pleasure, eventual satisfaction – these are the underlying themes of these non-sequential, fabulist chapters,” the team explains.

The last two episodes, which are coming soon, are called The Punch and The Elevator.

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Hollister targets Gen Z via documentary series on AwesomenessTV

Hollister's This is Summer series on AwesomenessTV
Hollister’s This is Summer series on AwesomenessTV

US teen retailer Hollister is targeting its Gen Z customer base with a new docuseries via AwesomenessTV’s YouTube channel.

The duo have teamed up to create 24 episodes – launching May 20 – following a group of seven high school juniors and seniors in San Francisco. In “This is Summer”, as the series is called, the teenagers are seen travelling, playing music, meeting friends, and exploring ‘what’s next?’.

Each episode is 8-10 minutes in length, and shot and optimised for mobile viewing.

“At Hollister, we aim to create rich brand experiences for our teen customer. Awesomeness has incredible reach with Gen Z offering Hollister a great opportunity to engage with customers in a new and authentic way,” said Kristin Scott, brand president of Hollister Co. “We are confident that our content will resonate with our customers and create additional brand relevancy across the teen market.”

The integrated campaign will also see Hollister and AwesomenessTV release songs and music videos inspired by the show, featuring original and cover songs from the cast and Awesomeness talent. The soundtrack will be available to stream on Spotify and will play in Hollister stores later this year.

Unsurprisingly, all of the cast will be dressed in Hollister, with the looks promoted via the brand’s social channels throughout.

Editor's pick film

The Outnet releases six short comedy films starring the Foster sisters

The Foster sisters in The Outnet's #PrettyInfluential comedy series
The Foster sisters in The Outnet’s #PrettyInfluential comedy series

The Outnet has launched a six-part video series for New York Fashion Week offering an irreverent look at life as an “influencer”.

Starring Erin and Sara Foster, the sisters behind parody reality TV show Barely Famous, the #PrettyInfluential films are a tongue-in-cheek look at all the hyperbole that fashion week brings.

In the first two released so far, the comedy duo aim to get their street style photos taken, get a decent seat at one of the shows and gatecrash a fashion week party, all in a bid to get more followers. Up next is everything from hashtagging to freebies and #OOTD.

The films follow the concept behind Barely Famous, which is about the social media era and people’s obsession with fame. They also tap into an increasing trend for short form, serialised content from brands – cleverly inviting consumers back at a given time for the next episode. In this instance, each clip is between two and four minutes long and rolling out daily over NYFW.

Each of the looks worn by the sisters are of course stocked by The Outnet, for which there’s a curated shoppable list available.

Editor's pick film

Burberry teams with GQ for scripted video series

Sophie Turner 1

Storytelling in a way that provides a peek into someone’s world, and leaves you wanting more, is the name of the game for a new video series from GQ, in collaboration with Burberry.

Tying in with the brand’s Mr Burberry fragrance, three episodes will launch in total. Picking up where the fragrance campaign left off – after a steamy night in a hotel – the first, sees actress Sophie Turner (of Game of Thrones fame) recounting her night with a mysterious man over the phone to a friend.

“The Departure”, as it’s called, sees her sharing details of her evening with him while sat in a room at London’s Café Royal still in the gown she wore at the awards ceremony they’d met at. It ends on a note of: “What happens next?”

The series was co-written and shot by female director Sara Dunlop, whose short film Dreamlands has been nominated at the 2016 Cannes film festival. The following two films will also celebrate female actresses, starring Joséphine de La Baume and the Sai Bennett respectively.

All will appear exclusively on the websites and social media platforms of British GQ, GQ US, GQ France, GQ Italy & GQ Germany.

Editor's pick film

Nike extends #betterforit campaign with scripted YouTube series


Nike is upping the storytelling ante as part of its #betterforit women’s campaign and taking to YouTube with an eight-part scripted series. A direct bid to reach millennial women, the branded content follows two sisters involved in a bet to make more friends on the one hand, and get fit on the other.

Margot vs. Lily as it’s called, was created by Wieden & Kennedy Portland in collaboration with the team behind the indie film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

It speaks to the success being seen in long-form video content elsewhere on the web – from the very existence of Netflix down to extended plays across platforms including YouTube of course, as well as Facebook (thanks largely to that autoplay feature).

It’s on that note the brand has tapped into the notion of narrative – creating something for viewers to invest in and want to come back to. As Kerri Hoyt-Pack, VP of Nike Women’s brand marketing globally, told AdWeek: “We wanted to surprise and inspire her through story, and we knew that longer form would give us something where we could get a little richer in bringing the story to life. It’s also a format that clearly women around the world today value. Connecting to this longer-form original programming just made sense for where she is.”

In terms of the tale itself, Hoyt-Pack said the key focus was to make it relatable and therefore authentic to the audience. “[The series is] about strength and power and confidence, and I think you see that in both characters. But it’s also about vulnerability and uncertainty… As a brand, that’s something we’re really proud to showcase, to invite our consumer into that experience, to be relatable. But it’s also just an expectation of this generation today. It’s a deeper, richer meaning that obviously resonated really well with [last year’s “Better for It” ads], and it’s something we’ve just put more depth in here,” she added.

This is a branded series all the same, so expect to see Nike merchandise throughout, but it’s not a heavy sales pitch, which helps. The accompanying site is where that part of the campaign sits, pulling in specific Nike+ workouts from the show, as well as directing to product.

The first episode hits YouTube today, Monday February 1. You can watch the trailer above.

e-commerce Startups

Lyst generates further $40m investment, becomes latest in long line of recent e-commerce funding announcements


Fashion marketplace and e-commerce platform Lyst has raised $40m in a Series C investment round, with funding from partners also working with LVMH, YOOX Net-a-Porter Group, Everlane, Facebook and more.

Lyst says the round will support the continued global expansion programme for its universal cart technology, which enables shoppers to make purchases from multiple retailers through one unified checkout. It will also help it to grow its teams in both its London and New York offices.

On the potential for the plans, co-founder and CEO Chris Morton, said: “We are already seeing a higher conversion by as much as five times through our universal cart – its widespread adoption by the industry’s leading brands and stores is a testament to the unique platform we have built and the volumes of sales it is generating.” Those sales have grown from $40m 12 months ago, to $150m today, according to the company.

The investment partners include Groupe Arnault; Accel Partners, Balderton Capital, 14W, DFJ and a New York based hedge fund.

It follows a flurry of big funding announcements for the e-commerce space in recent months, including Farfetch’s $86m in a Series E round, resulting in a $1bn valuation; Poshmark’s $25m in a Series C; and even Rent the Runway’s $60m in a Series D in late 2014. In its first day of trading as a public company meanwhile, Etsy recently sold more than 13 million shares, raising $267m and enjoying a valuation of $1.8bn (albeit trading down in the days since). All eyes are also on, a supposed Amazon competitor due for imminent launch that has recently raised $140m in funding including from Alibaba, according to reports.

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Top tips for retail start-ups from VCs at #SXSW


In two years’ time, retail innovation will be led by start-ups more than by corporations, a panel comprised of venture capital firms stated on the closing day of SXSW Interactive.

Eurie Kim of Forerunner Ventures, Janie Yu of Fung Capital and Stephanie Palmeri from SoftTech VC, each have a foot heavily placed in the retail space thanks to investments with companies including Warby Parker, Birchbox, Wanelo, Bonobos, Poshmark, Fitbit, Fab, Olapic and more.

They took to the SXSW stage to discuss how, why and where they’re investing in retail innovation. Mobile payments, disruptive shipping models and opportunities around predictive analytics were the core areas they said they were looking to. They advised the start-ups in the audience as to how to bring those ideas to their attention.

Here’s a recap:

Build your brand first

“We try and see 80% to 90% of things that are out there. As a result, all the ideas that come through we’ve probably seen before. If not, then it’s probably too early for them,” warned Kim. She called for start-ups to approach VCs once they have their team in place and a great brand they can prove they’re building. “The best move is to do a friends and family round [of funding] first, and demonstrate that you can stick around.”

Develop customer relations

The VCs are looking for founders who are extensively in tune with who their consumer is, and is focused on relationship building with that consumer. “It’s not enough to just have a good product as someone else will also be doing that,” Kim added. She’s looking for a management philosophy that tracks this closely and develops accordingly.

Ensure renewal rates

Evidence of customer acquisition is one thing, but in growth phase what VCs are really looking for is not just the fact there are those prepared to pay for your solution but also renew it, said Yu. “We want to see that something meets the criteria on product side so you have customers willing to pay for it, and then importantly pay for it again.”

Know the retailers

Numerous start-ups come in and assume retailers don’t realise what problems they’re facing. The truth is they’re very aware of the issues, but they can’t just make flip decisions to try something new as it affects so much, panellists agreed. “We look at how much someone knows retail and really understands it,” said Kim. A company that is already piloting with retailers and can prove they know them is always going to be more appealing.

Demonstrate connections

In terms of making connections with VCs, the panellists advised to go through people you know. “We look to thousands of opportunities a year and meet with hundreds. We then do one or two deals a month, or about five a quarter. The chance of standing out with a cold email just doesn’t happen,” said Palmeri. It’s good to demonstrate you’re connected in the market, she added.

Prove why you

It’s worth remembering that VCs have a great overview on the industry; they know where the pain points are and what needs solving, said Yu. When they’ve found the right product therefore, the decision as to whether to invest or not often comes down to whether it’s the right person to do so with. Kim emphasised the fact what she really asks is “why this founder” and not just why this problem or this solution.

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Editor's pick film

Marc Jacobs’ #mjcommute series makes simple but effective use of YouTube


Marc Jacobs is running a cute campaign via YouTube documenting the commute of various members of its staff around the world. Using the hashtag #mjcommute, the 15-second clips speed through each employee’s journey from home to the office or store as they narrate through what their job role is and what pieces from the brand’s collections they are wearing.

Individuals from Tokyo to Chicago are featured, not to mention London, Milan, Paris, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco and more.

A total of 25 have been published so far. This is a simple, but effective series that’s making for some strong editorial content on its YouTube channel. A handful of the videos were previously published on Instagram.

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Comedy sketches from SRSLY duo anchor LOFT holiday campaign

LOFT has teamed up with the duo behind a web comedy series called SRSLY to bring some funny to its fans this holiday season.

The “Put the Happy in Your Holiday” campaign sees a series of four short sketches featuring stars Alexandra Fiber and Danielle Gibson.

The once NYU classmates focus on a variety of different humorous scenarios including getting trapped in a red dress in the fitting room; deep in conversation with a dog at a party; choosing to reject the multitude of holiday invites that have come through the door on any given night and stay in instead; and discussing their ever-so stylish ‘gingerbread boyfriends’.

“We’ve been huge fans of the SRSLY girls for a while and knew we wanted to partner with them on a fun video series and what better time than during the holidays when everyone is scrambling to do it all. They nailed it with the different dilemmas they chose to poke fun at. And who hasn’t been in at least one of the situations the SRSLY girls spoofed during the holidays,” Michelle Horowitz, SVP of marketing at LOFT, told us.

Fiber and Gibson, who have partnered in the past with the likes of Glamour, Refinery29, Birchbox and Bare Minerals, told WWD: “We love working with brands that have a great sense of style and humor, and LOFT let us eat cookies and hang out with a puppy. We also made videos at some point… Can the entertainment and fashion industry ever merge with such delicious and fluffy results again? We don’t know. We don’t think so. It was one of the most fun shoots we’ve ever done, and we’re psyched for the rest of the world to see what happens when you put the LOL in LOFT.”

The duo are also appearing in a “12 Vines of Christmas” series, with new clips being released each day like an advent calendar on the “ site”, where some curated gift picks as well as a FalalalaLoft playlist from the SRSLY girls exist for further perusal.

Editor's pick film

J.Crew proves it’s ‘all ears’ with cute Claymation elephant video series


J.Crew has won over our hearts with this cute video series for the holiday season featuring “The (Helpful) Elephant in the Room”.

Four claymation clips (so far) feature a small elephant playing the role of customer service advocate. He offers up access to the retailer’s 24/7-hour team of personal stylists, all the while making fun of things like his own inability to dial a number on a rotary phone.

Under the heading “J.Crew Gift Better”, the videos are narrated by Glenn O’Brien and link through to the J.Crew Very Personal Stylists page, where bookings can be made for advice on everything from styles to wear to sizes to find.

The taglines for the videos read things like: “Whether you’re gifting a camel or a zebra, we have something for everyone on your list. Let us help you solve your holiday dilemmas.” And: “Elephants are just like us—they can’t stand lines. That’s why we came up with a way to avoid them (and other holiday annoyances). Let us help.”

Check them out below…