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business data e-commerce Editor's pick

How data sits at the heart of Rent the Runway’s business strategy

Rent the Runway CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman
Rent the Runway CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman

With any given item stocked by Rent the Runway, the team can tell everything from who has worn it and how often they have worn it, through to whether it has stood the test of time after three dry cleans or 30 dry cleans.

That kind of data about how clothes are actually utilized is like gold dust in an industry that only otherwise has information on their sell-through rates, explained Rent the Runway’s CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman at NRF’s Big Show this week.

“Data is such a fundamental piece of what we do. We’re exchanging a massive amount of it [with designers] on how their products are being worn, what events they’re being worn to, and how their products or dresses last over time. The data we have in renting clothing over time is so important to the manufacturing of clothes,” she said.

The company is able to tell a designer why their sell-through rate might be high, but their loyalty is low, for instance, based on insights around quality or particular elements of their garments that should be adjusted at the manufacturing level. “We can identify problems and challenges for brands and fix them through the data that we give them,” Hyman added.

It’s for this reason her business, which sits at the center of the sharing economy, has always insisted that rental is a new business channel rather than one that cannibalizes the existing retail market.

“[In the early days of Rent the Runway], if I said I will rent your clothing at the exact same time as those pieces are on your shop floor, designers thought it would destroy their businesses. We had to overcome that huge hurdle by showing them we were getting a huge new market of customers to think about designer clothes in a new way… A lot of that was about showing them data over time so they could see we were a partner who would help them grow their businesses. They wouldn’t work with us unless we could show we could help them get bigger.”

The other thing the company is doing is starting to use data to allow designers to experiment with things outside their core business. “A designer might do dresses, but want to do sportswear. We can give them data about what their customer wants to show if it has the potential to be successful,” Hyman explained.

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e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Refinery29 and The Outnet.com unveil immersive and interactive pop-up holiday shop in London

#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London
#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London

Refinery29 has partnered with The Outnet.com to open a festive and immersive pop-up in London with a window that resembles a human-sized snow globe.

Visitors to “All Decked Out” are invited to step into the bespoke window display where various pictures are taken to make their own GIF. The setup evolves throughout the 10-days of the activation with different seasonal themes.

Inside there are also other interactive activities including an arcade grab machine stocked with discounts and gifts, and various Facebook Live sessions featuring influencers and Refinery29 editors. There’s also a mini shop area from The Outnet.com.

“We are constantly looking for the most exciting ways we can speak with – and listen to – our audience. Immersive events continue to be one of the best avenues for Refinery29 to connect with women around the world, so to work with The Outnet.com to use art as inspiration and to reimagine the timeless tradition of unveiling holiday windows while we directly engage women is an ideal opportunity for us all,” said Kirsty Hathaway, Refinery29’s creative director of Europe.

#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London
#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London

Andres Sosa, The Outnet.com’s executive vice president, added: “With the busiest shopping season of the year now well underway, it felt only appropriate to bring traditional Christmas windows to life through this interactive experience. This partnership gives new and existing customers the chance to experience the brand first hand.”

This is the latest in a growing list of live activations from Refinery29, following the huge success of “Power Mouth” with Nars, along with “29Rooms”, the company’s acclaimed immersive exhibition of style, culture, and technology which launches on December 7 in Los Angeles following a sold-out run in New York.

The All Decked Out pop-up space was created by set designer George Lewin. It is open from Friday, December 8 through Sunday, December 17 at 15 Bateman Street in Soho.

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e-commerce Editor's pick social media technology

ICYMI: Calvin Klein opens tech-enabled pop-ups with Amazon Fashion

The Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience
The Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience

Calvin Klein has opened two pop-up stores in collaboration with Amazon Fashion this holiday season, offering an interactive shopping experience throughout.

The Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience, as it’s called, sees two tech-enabled spaces, one in New York and the other in Los Angeles, as well as an online brand store on Amazon.com/mycalvins.

Each one will sell exclusive styles available only to Amazon customers, focusing on men’s and women’s underwear and loungewear offerings in the physical spaces, as well as jeans online.

In terms of technology, offline visitors are able to easily make purchases by scanning a barcode within the Amazon app to have their items then delivered home. They can also interact with Amazon Echo devices within the fitting rooms, allowing them to ask Alexa various questions about the Calvin Klein product and experience, as well as to control the lighting and play music of their choice.

Amazon Echo in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience
Amazon Echo in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience

Customisation stations meanwhile enable them to personalise their underwear with special embroidery. And content creation spaces will encourage them to create and share their own clips to social media.

In a lounge area, visitors can also connect with shoppers on the opposite coast via video using the Amazon Echo Show, in a bid to allow them to interact and share content in real time, the company said.

”We are proud to collaborate with Amazon Fashion on this exciting retail concept,” said Cheryl Abel-Hodges, head of Calvin Klein Underwear and president of The Underwear Group of PVH. “It is our goal to deliver an immersive and content-driven shopping environment to the consumer, and we are thrilled to introduce this experience to Calvin Klein and Amazon shoppers, both online and offline, just in time for the holiday season.”

Customisation in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience
Customisation in the Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion holiday retail experience

Throughout the holiday season, the shops will also host special events with the likes of supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss and comedian and author Lilly Singh.

“The holiday season is one of the most important shopping times for our customers, and we are delighted to team up with Calvin Klein to provide a fun, interactive experience that connects our customers to product in an engaging way,” stated Michelle Rothman, VP at Amazon Fashion.

The stores are open now through December 31.

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Editor's pick social media

#DGfamily campaign hits the streets (literally) of New York, London, Milan and Paris

dg-family-graffiti

Dolce & Gabbana has turned the illustrations from its autumn/winter 2016 accessories range into stencils that will appear as branded street art in the four fashion capitals of the world.

Starting in London and then hitting New York, Paris and Milan, the graffiti will be placed onto footpaths in 100 different locations in each city. The design, which features designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana and their pets, is accompanied by the #DGfamily hashtag in a bid to encourage social sharing.

So far, just one post exists on Instagram from someone spotting the stencil in Paris (as below).

A photo posted by mdm2992 (@mdm2992) on

Each city will also see the artwork created in a different medium. In Milan, for instance, it will comprise a seven-colour palette of “green graffiti paint” made of clay and gypsum, which contains no harmful chemicals and will fade in a few weeks, according to Vogue. In the other fashion capitals, the images will be reverse-stenciled via high-pressure hoses.

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social media

Former Topshop, Burberry exec launches Tunepics – an image-based music sharing app

Tunepics on the iPhone

Will.i.am, Kate Bosworth and Jamie Oliver are among some of the first celebrity names to be using a new music discovery app called Tunepics, while brands including Paul Smith, Chloé and asos are also on board.

Ever wanted to share a song with your photograph to help sum up the mood of the scene more than a filter alone can do? Now you can. Tunepics – launched in the app store for the iPhone and iPad today – enables users to pair images with relevant songs thanks to the iTunes API.

“Over 500 million pictures are uploaded to the internet every day, and over 100 million songs are downloaded each week. Together, that’s dynamite,” says the brains behind the new social network, Justin Cooke, former CMO of Topshop, now founder and CEO of innovate7. His aim is to help create the “soundtrack to your life”.

The experience is an intuitive one: you upload an image, place a filter over the top, then search the 35 million songs in the iTunes library by keyword to add them to your shot. The result appears in a feed alongside those from the friends you opt to follow; each one auto-playing a 30-second preview of the track as you scroll over it, as well as offering a ‘download’ button to buy the full version.

Posts can also be ‘re-tuned’ to your own followers, and shared via Facebook and Twitter where they will appear as a ‘tunecard’. For the likes of Will.i.am, that of course makes the app an appealing proposition for its potential to help drive record sales. It also provides a revenue stream for innovate7 through affiliate sales from iTunes (there’s no advertising model planned on the platform for now otherwise).

Cooke is particularly excited for the opportunity that lies in music discovery, both for consumers using the app and for young, emerging talent to start gaining recognition in a new way. On that basis, it launches with a specially commissioned soundtrack from British band, Ellerby, called Colour Me In.

But the premise of the app, which was built by agency AKQA, otherwise goes further than just being about music sharing and discovery. The aim is to provide multisensory experiences that evoke an emotional response.

“When you hear a picture, it changes everything; it awakens your senses. We want [Tunepics] to be like a cinematic celebration of your life,” said Cooke. “Music is the most powerful way to express the things we see and feel; nothing else comes close.”

To that end, the emotional response that posts receive from followers is also fully visible. Each is accompanied by an ‘emotion wheel’ (the design of which also makes up the app’s logo). This features a spectrum of 16 colours users can choose from, representing different feelings such as happy, moved, jealous and heartbroken.

Said Cooke: “A like doesn’t tell a story on its own anymore. When [Nelson] Mandela passed away, we didn’t want to say that we liked it, but that it moved us. This is all about enabling an emotional experience.”

Which is why this app also makes sense, from the off, for brands. Beyond the initial celebrity appeal, there are also the likes of Paul Smith, All Saints, asos, Dazed and Airbnb already on board.

The expectation is that embedding music into their social content will help heighten the moments they want to talk about. An example post from Paul Smith featured a collection of paint pots and the Rolling Stones track Paint it Black. “His response was that he couldn’t imagine life without music. That’s so powerful, and so true,” Cooke explained. In fact, a similar quote from philosopher Nietzsche features on the Tunepics introductory video from the innovate7 team: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Clare Waight Keller, creative director of Chloé, said the choice to join Tunepics from day one was an instant decision after a two minute pitch. “I just loved the added layers of emotion, simply adding music to an image really brings it to life. It’s like a way to capture what was going through your head in that moment.”

She also appreciates the emotion wheel. “[It] will be really interesting. ‘Likes’ have almost become empty gestures now, it takes no real thought to ‘like’ a picture. But to take the time to select the feeling the image inspired in you, shows real engagement. It’s a great way for Chloé to connect with our audience,” she explained.

Brands will also begin to benefit from the data said emotion wheel collates. Mood charts are displayed beneath each tunepic showcasing people’s responses, which suggests valuable consumer insights could be gleaned should the numbers creep high enough. Unlike Instagram, it is also possible to add hyperlinks to every post, which will prove quite the draw for the likes of Paul Smith again, and all those others with e-commerce capabilities.

It may come as no surprise to learn that prior to his role at Topshop, Cooke spent six years helping to lead the charge at Burberry – a brand not only with a longstanding music initiative in Burberry Acoustic, but with an unquestionable focus on emotive content tied to measurable business results.

Topping it all off is the fact those aforementioned filters are based on the weather – another theme familiar to Burberry fans. Every photograph uploaded can be enhanced with true-to-life overlays of the snow, raindrops, sunshine or even a rainbow.

“I’ve always had a fascination with music, colour, images and the weather, and how they influence our mood and emotions. I want people to be able to share the depth behind the moments they experience and to articulate all the ones that they dream of having,” Cooke explained.

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social media

Oasis invites consumers to #springasmile with virtual good deed generator

SpringASmile1

Spring cheer is in the air over at Oasis just in time for Easter, with a new campaign encouraging consumers to undertake simple acts of kindness in a bid to make people smile.

The UK-based retailer has introduced a virtual good deed generator at springasmile.com that inspires users with ideas for things they could do through a slot machine-like experience. At the click of a button (spin), keywords like ‘buy’, ‘give’ and ‘make’ are surfaced in the left hand window, alongside ‘someone flowers’ through to ‘coffee for the next person in line’ on the right.

springasmile_oasis2

Once achieved, the user is invited to nominate three friends to do the same via Facebook or Twitter before they receive a plaque stating what they’ve pledged. Oasis refers to this as the “perfect way to pay it forward and raise a smile amongst even the grumpiest of friends”.

The site also encourages users to revisit and upload a photo or video of their #springasmile in action into the “good deeds album”. All round, it’s a lovely and very sweet experience.

Side note – some of the early tweets around #springasmile come from employees at the company. If anyone thought this was a campaign just for external consumption you’d be wrong. The positive effect it’s seemingly had internally is impressive. One such comment: “Even though I had a crazy day and left 2 hours after eveyone else I had the best day! Can’t stop grinning :D… Thats when you know you’ve chosen the right career and you work for lovely people! #springasmile.”

Below too is what the head office therefore looked like this week (Image credit: @AmieMartin_). A winner through and through…

Oasis_springasmile2

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social media technology

Fabergé fans to create digital portrait animations at Harrods

Fabergé Cinescope - Firebird in Cage

Fabergé is set to host a heritage-inspired digital installation in Harrods as part of its Easter-themed pop-up from April 1 – 21.

The ‘Fabergé Cinescope’ will enable visitors to try on jewellery via a digital mirror and then create a one-of-a-kind animated portrait of themselves that can be shared across social media.

These portraits are based on a Victorian novelty concept – the trompe-l’oeil optical effect created by placing two images on either side of a disk and rotating them quickly to make them look like one (as per the video below).

Fabergé says marrying innovation with tradition is always its aim, and in this case its “transforming a period toy into a digital-age concept”.

The initiative is being run in collaboration with Russian style icon Miroslava Duma. It will also see the story of the Fabergé jewellery house retold via the Harrods windows, and an ‘Egg Bar’ showcasing the iconic precious egg pendants. An exhibition space will present other historic pieces from the brand, including the original 1901 Fabergé Apple Blossom Egg never seen before in the UK.

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film social media

Louis Vuitton’s #PFW live-stream sees shareable three-second video clips

LouisVuitton_social_PFW

Louis Vuitton rounded out the fashion week season in Paris this morning with a live-stream show that invited viewers connected via Facebook to record and share their own short video clips.

“Share your favorite moments with your friends,” said the intro from the brand. Accordingly, it allowed users to capture up to three seconds of the show in a small window on the bottom left of the stream they were watching. They could then play it back before agreeing to post it to their Facebook timeline for their friends to also see.

The idea is similar to that launched by Topshop last season, which enabled users to “Shoot the Show”, posting still images to their pages. LV’s idea moves the concept on, while simultaneously tying to the success of apps like Vine that are focused on short, easily shareable videos.

In practice it was a little bit sticky, as well as restrictive in terms of what you could capture – the smaller window mainly showed close-up shots of the collection, and the frame didn’t allow you to snap multiple sections like Vine does. Still, it’s a great leap forward again for the social side of fashion weeks.

LV also invited users to its “Social Room” during the show, a side bar that opened out to reveal a multitude of social media updates from both its own official accounts as well as from guests and publications in attendance.

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Uncategorized

Panasonic launches Olympics-themed virtual face paint app

Panasonic has launched a new Facebook app called Flag Tags, which allows fans to virtually paint their face with their country’s flag, to show their support during the London 2012 Olympics.

John Dixon, brand communications director at Panasonic UK said: “The Games unites people all around the world in a way no other sporting event on Earth can, and Panasonic is looking forward to bringing the world together and capturing the Olympic spirit through Flag Tags.”

Silly, but fun. Here’s mine:

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film Uncategorized

Swarovski invites users to interact with augmented reality Facebook app

 

Swarovski has launched a Facebook application that employs augmented reality to film users wearing its sunglasses line.

The Be Amazing campaign invites fans to record a 15-second dance video of themselves in the virtual eyewear and then add music and a sparkle filter to their finished product.

The app enables sharing via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Creators of the top 15 in terms of likes or views, will then win a pair of the sunglasses.

Unfortunately, the above spot explaining the process highlights (quite amusingly) all the technical issues with such an app: eyes have to face the camera at all times, nothing can obstruct the view and users can’t step too far away – all slightly challenging when inviting people to dance.

The shared videos will also appear on an interactive map created by Swarovski – not dissimilar to Tiffany & Co’s Love is Everywhere initiative – detailing where each of the uploads have come from around the world. As below:

Swarovski’s ‘The Amazing Map’