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Universal Standard on leveling the playing field for ‘plus-size’ fashion

“We really and truly believe that the plus size woman will never be serviced as well as she will be when there’s no such thing as plus size,” say Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler, co-founders of size-inclusive label, Universal Standard, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

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Fashion tends to segregate women who are on the larger end of the spectrum, they say, and so they’re on a mission to level the playing field and make clothes for everyone. To that end, the brand, which had already gained a cult-like following for its size-inclusive clothing since launching in 2015, introduced an even larger range in 2018, from 00 to 40 – an industry first.

Understanding how women of all sizes shop has been key to the brand’s success, which last year also raised its first round of investment from the likes of GOOP’s Gwyneth Paltrow, TOMS’ Blake Mycoskie and Imaginary Ventures’ Natalie Massenet. They’ve also introduced collaborations with brands including J.Crew and as of just this week, Rodarte.

Much like many direct-to-consumer counterparts, the e-commerce experience is playing a major part in its popularity: all of its SKUs can be viewed at every size available within the range, making it easier for women to compare and make confident decisions; and its Universal Fit Liberty Program allows shoppers to replace their purchase, free of charge, within a year of completing it, should they go up or down in size.

During this conversation, recorded at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion at SXSW this year, Waldman and Veksler break down the many product development challenges that come with the industry’s traditional fit formula; tell co-host Rachel Arthur what they’re putting in place to reduce hostility to women of larger size ranges, and share why their bold moves are shifting the way the whole industry approaches this market.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how 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.

Categories
e-commerce Retail technology

ASOS introduces new fit tool to cater to wider range of shapes and reduce returns

ASOS's new fit tool
ASOS’s new fit tool

British retailer ASOS is rolling out a sizing tool that combines machine learning with a visual questionnaire in a bid to cater to a wider range of customer shapes, as well as reduce returns. At present, almost half of the items bought online are sent back, mainly due to incorrect fit.

The fit assistant, which works both on the retailer’s app and e-commerce site, goes beyond the shopper’s weight and height to take into account different body shapes. It asks for the tummy and hip shape (with options that range from straighter to wider), age and bra size, plus the fit the customer is looking for: tighter, average, or looser.

The brand is using machine learning to blend questionnaire data with recommendations based on the customer’s previous purchases and returns, as well as what sizes other customers with similar body shape were happy with. The same technology is being used in features like ‘Your Edit’, ‘Style Match’ and the ‘You Might Also Like’ carousel on product pages.

ASOS's new fit tool
ASOS’s new fit tool

Excessive returns and the pressure this puts on fulfilment and ultimately profit is one of e-commerce’s biggest problems, therefore this feature is likely going to have a major impact on the bottom line. In the UK, 47% of items bought online are returned, according to a study from Barclaycard released in earlier this year. UK shoppers have even earned the title of “serial returners,” as £7bn worth of purchases are sent back every year, leading to a ‘phantom economy’ of lost revenue for retailers. Returns and refunds have risen at four in ten online stores selling fashion, footwear, and accessories since 2016.

Additionally features like ‘Try Before You Buy’ can also trigger a flood of returns. Globally, 25% of retailers will roll out this feature by 2019, but a report from Brightpearl looking at the US market shows that most aren’t ready for the proliferation of returns that could quadruple return costs for retailers. For example in 2017 alone, total merchandise returns accounted for more than $351 billion in lost sales for US retailers.

Fit tools for online shopping may not be new, but so far they have done little to prove their effectiveness in preventing returns. However from a customer retention standpoint, tools that enable e-commerce consumers to shop more confidently will only help instil a further sense of loyalty and trust, which in turn will hopefully translate to a happy purchase.

How are you thinking about e-commerce? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. 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 product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Facebook in crisis, AR unboxing from Adidas, ASOS’ new online sizing feature

Facebook

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • What the Facebook crisis means for fashion advertisers [BoF]
  • With virtual ‘unboxing’ site, Adidas Originals looks to shake up sneaker drops [Glossy]
  • ASOS’s new sizing feature just made shopping a whole lot better [Refinery29]
  • Everlane’s five tactics for winning at physical retail [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • eBay uses augmented reality to help sellers find the right box for their product [VentureBeat]
  • Blockchains could upend the fashion business [BoF]
  • Google’s new experiment lets you tag digital graffiti in the real world [Co.Design]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Wrangler’s suppliers to adopt new water-saving technology [WWD]
  • How fashion and beauty people really feel about packaging waste [Fashionista]
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t what you think it is [NatGeo]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • The rise of experiential commerce [TechCrunch]
  • How 3 growing niche brands are simplifying e-commerce [AdWeek]
  • John Lewis offers in-app personal stylists and H&M a nailbar as part of a move to ‘experiential retail’ [InternetRetailer]
  • Walmart’s e-commerce CEO explains why its many acquisitions will help it reach millennials [AdWeek]
  • Starbucks launches ‘Tryer’ location to encourage new ideas [RetailDive]
  • Depop marketplace headed to physical retail in LA, NY [WWD]
  • India’s e-commerce market is exploding—and how [QZ]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Glossier’s customer obsession is about stirring up conversation [RetailDive]
  • Winona Ryder and Elizabeth Olsen dance in the streets of Buenos Aires in latest H&M ad [Campaign]
  • Pinterest thinks the future lies in visual discovery—and wants retailers to take notice [AdWeek]
  • Snapchat is doling out free stats to brands on how many users visit their locations [AdWeek]
PRODUCT
  • Zips. Toggles. Pumps. The end of shoelaces? [BoF]
BUSINESS
  • Is dry cleaning dying? [Racked]
  • Louis Vuitton names Virgil Abloh as its new menswear designer [BoF]
  • Kim Jones appointed artistic director at Dior Homme [TheIndustry]
  • Zalando entering the beauty market both off and online [WWD]
  • Rent the Runway’s “wardrobe in the cloud” is opening up to other clothing brands [FastCompany]
Categories
business data Events

Vote for our SXSW panel: The Fight for Fit in Retail

SXSW - vote for us for 2017!
SXSW – vote for us for 2017!

How’s this for a stat: according to IHL Group, returns accounted for $642.6 billion in lost retail sales in the US during 2015. One significant factor behind that: fit.

We all know the headache of not knowing what size is right in an item we want to buy (both online and in-store), but given the data-led age we’re in, does it really still have to be that hard?

That’s the basis for the proposed panel we’ve been invited to be a part of at SXSW Interactive in 2017. To make it happen, we very kindly need your vote. It takes just a minute to register and click the thumbs up for us. SXSW operates on a Panel Picker system, meaning you, the audience, get a say in what you see once you arrive in Austin, Texas, next March. (And even if you’re not attending, voting for us will mean lots of content to follow on here on this subject, so please do click!)

Our session bids to explore how “fit” factors into a retailers’ success and survival, and what retailers can do to reduce returns, increase customer loyalty and meet the needs of changing consumer demands accordingly.

I’ll be joining Jessica Murphy of True Fit?, Marge Laney of Alert Tech? and Sarah Engel of DynamicAction to discuss how it has evolved from the early days of ready-to-wear clothing to custom clothes-on-demand. From apparel to cosmetics, we’ll explore how retailers need to keep up with changing styles, sizes and gender identities, the shifting role of sales associates, and how technology – from smart mirrors and body imaging to virtual reality – is changing the way shoppers find the perfect fit.

Please click here to vote before it closes this Friday, September 2!

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Valentino’s Instagram strategy, YNAP and IBM team up, Lacoste’s AR book

Valentino_instagram

Beyond Paris Fashion Week, and on past SXSW, here’s your round-up of the latest fashion and technology stories to know from the month of March…


  • In the age of the algorithm, top Instagram brand Valentino needs to rethink its strategy [Digiday]

  • Yoox Net-a-porter Group, IBM partner on software, tech development [WWD]

  • Lacoste enriches its brand campaign with augmented reality book [PSFK]

  • The North Face to launch insanely smart Watson-powered mobile shopping app next month [Venture Beat]

  • True Religion is equipping its sales staff with Apple watches [Apparel News]

  • ‘It can bottle our energy’: Why Bloomingdale’s is going all in on Snapchat [Digiday]

  • Bloomingdale’s spurs branded conversation through emoji app [Luxury Daily]

  • Why Uniqlo is now selling through mobile shopping app Spring [Fashionista]

  • American Apparel offering on-demand delivery via Postmates partnership [TechCrunch]

  • Alibaba spreads its wings into VR sector [China Daily]

  • L’Oreal creates unbranded content hub to woo beauty fans [AdAge]

  • Net-a-Porter’s digital chief on how brands can get up close and personal to consumers [Marketing Magazine]

  • In the store of the future, your shopping bag connects to the internet [Fast Company]

  • How do you bring personalised shopping technology to stores? Adobe has an idea [Fashionista]

  • More influencers, fewer posts: How Instagram’s algorithm will affect fashion brands [Digiday]

  • In the future, Instagram and Facebook could be amongst the largest retailers online [WWD]

  • To big brands, from a millennial: Snapchat filters are where it’s at [AdAge]

  • How Pinterest knows who’s down to shop and who isn’t [AdAge]

  • Personal shopping services seek scale [BoF]


  • Brotailers market to millennial men who hate to shop [BrandChannel]

  • Venture capitalists: e-commerce funding to tighten [WWD]

  • Flush with tech wealth, San Francisco warms to fashion [BoF]

  • E-commerce in Brazil gets more mobile [eMarketer]

  • FedEx to expand e-commerce reach in China, Japan [WSJ]
Categories
e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Breaking up with the Apple Watch, NY or London as fashion-tech capital, Ted Baker opens virtual store

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

Applewatch

  • Vanessa Friedman: Why I’m breaking up with the Apple Watch [NY Times]
  • New York vs London: which is the world’s fashion-tech capital? [BoF]
  • Ted Baker experiments with virtual reality as digital concept store opens in Shoreditch [The Drum]
  • Net-A-Porter moves into profit after a year of digital innovation [Internet Retailing]
  • Bonobos profiting from surge in online menswear sales [The Street]
  • Avon Ladies learn to tweet, embrace e-commerce [Digiday]
  • Knyttan, a customisable knitwear start-up, gets investors’ seal of approval [Fashionista]
  • Why Amazon’s drone delivery is growing trickier [CNBC]
  • 3-D printing will fix the way we order shoe sizes [PSFK]
  • This high-tech hijab will literally make Muslim women cooler [BuzzFeed]
  • Why ‘buy’ buttons will pose big Challenges for Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter [re/code]
  • Real-time strategies essential element of retail rehaul: report [Luxury Daily]
  • ShopStyle banks on bloggers, relaunches influencer network [WWD]
  • How a mole in the tech sector is helping shape the look of ‘Silicon Valley’s’ women [LA Times]
Categories
data digital snippets e-commerce film social media technology

Digital snippets: Bloomingdale’s, Banana Republic, Liberty London, Chanel, Brandy Melville

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

instagram

  • Bloomingdale’s launches interactive, shoppable Instagram gift guides [Luxury Daily]
  • Shyp partners with Banana Republic to help procrastinating shoppers [TechCrunch]
  • Liberty London turns Instagram likes into loyalty perks [PSFK]
  • Watch Cara Delevingne and Pharrell sing in Chanel’s latest short film [Fashionista]
  • Brandy Melville: Instagram’s first retail success [Business Week]
  • Very.co.uk leverages real-time OOH for Christmas advent calendar campaign [The Drum]
  • Luxottica and Intel take the fashion/tech hookup to a whole new level [NY Times]
  • Lady Gaga is a 1940s diva in showstopper for H&M [Creativity Online]
  • Van Cleef & Arpels creates interactive microsite for winter [Luxury Daily]
  • J.Crew goes back to Instagram for design inspiration – meet Mayhem, age 4 [BrandChannel]
  • Inspiration meets social media [NY Times]
  • How fashion retailers are using data to deliver personalised customer experiences [BoF]
  • Google want to launch a ‘Buy’ button to hurt Amazon [Business Insider]
  • How a fashion e-retailer uses Apple’s iBeacon technology to reach shoppers in Brazil [Internet Retailer]
  • ‘Bionic Bra’ could revolutionise the brassiere as we know it [Mashable]
  • Infographic: Here’s how sizing varies at different retailers [Business Insider]
  • Selfies are huge in Asia, and brands are having fun with them [AdAge]
  • WeChat reigns as top social influencer for China’s luxury shoppers [Jing Daily]
  • What is holding back fashion on YouTube? [L2 The Daily]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: Alibaba, Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, John Lewis, Urban Outfitters, Mulberry

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

rebeccaminkoff

  • Alibaba’s ‘Singles Day’ sales top $9 billion, bigger than Black Friday [MarketWatch]
  • Why Rebecca Minkoff and eBay are betting on smart dressing rooms [Fast Company]
  • Anna Kendrick makes something out of nothing in Kate Spade’s holiday ad [AdWeek]
  • Marc Jacobs built an in-house app for shopping on Instagram [Bostinno]
  • John Lewis and Microsoft unite to create tech-driven in-store experience around Christmas ad campaign with ‘Monty’s Magical Toy Machine’ [The Drum]
  • Urban Outfitters using beacons, tries pinging your phone in the fitting room [AdWeek]
  • Mulberry ‘wins Christmas’ with gifting ad [Campaign Live]
  • Harrods launches animated festive film [The Independent]
  • Burberry and Printemps promise a magical Christmas with interactive experience [Pursuitist]
  • Ralph Lauren and Harrods partner for mobile-enabled display [Mobile Marketing]
  • Behind Zegna’s Big Bet on Film [BoF]
  • Shoppable video: more retailers looking at film as direct sales channel [Digiday]
  • What’s trending in China’s digital luxury marketing [JingDaily]
  • Ballet shoe records specific dancer movements [PSFK]
  • Native advertising and style bloggers: is the party over? [Fashionista]
  • These jeans come in 400 sizes [Co.Design]
  • Amazon plans Prime Air delivery drone tests in the UK [TNW]
Categories
Startups technology

Halloween costumes get virtual try-on treatment from Metail

try halloween def

Virtual fitting room start-up Metail is running an online campaign this week that invites shoppers to see what they’d look like in a series of different Halloween costumes.

“Try our scariest looks on your own MeModel,” reads the messaging. Clicking to the page reveals a series of appropriate outfits, including a zombie cheerleader, pirate and skeleton dress. There’s also a pumpkin, a corset spilling with guts, and a variety of blood splattered and gothic looks.

Users need only fill out their height, weight, waist and bust measurements, for a three-dimensional model, or avatar, of themselves to appear in a right hand pop-up box. From there, they can see what the various styles would look like on, as per the picture below (skin tone and hair style can also be adjusted to help visualisation).

The aim of the campaign, which on this occasion doesn’t actually enable purchase, is to drive awareness around the Metail product by helping people choose their costumes in time for Halloween.

Metail recently announced the closing of a further $12m in funding, bringing the total investment in its service to $20m since its founding in 2008. The finance will be used to develop the company’s mobile offering for release early 2015, and to advance its user ecosystem. It will also be looking to expand further overseas in South America, Asia and Europe next year, before setting its sights on the US.

Metail previously worked with House of Holland during London Fashion Week this season past, for a campaign that allowed consumers to instantly try-on and pre-order pieces from the designer’s spring/summer 2015 collection in the right size.

metail_halloween

Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce film mobile Startups technology

Digital snippets: Condé Nast, Gap, Hermès, Rag & Bone, John Lewis and more

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

gap_normcore_ZosiaMamet

  • Condé Nast to sell Fairchild Fashion Media, including WWD, for $100 million [NY Times]
  • Gap’s fall campaign is an ode to normcore trend, Zosia Mamet (as pictured), Elisabeth Moss, Anjelica Huston among stars [Racked]
  • Hermès creates quirky app to promote men’s A/W 2014 accessories [Creativity]
  • Rag & Bone autumn/winter collection stylised in dance performance [PSFK]
  • Hawes & Curtis, House of Fraser and Bentalls install beacon-enabled mannequins [The Drum]
  • However, John Lewis to seek ‘romance’ in beacon technology before committing [The Drum]
  • Topshop and Miss Selfridge in online push into China, launching on ShangPin.com website [FT]
  • Condé Nast’s Lucky magazine merging with online retailer BeachMint [WSJ]
  • Will Apple’s ‘iWatch’ rattle luxury watchmakers? [BoF]
  • A girl faces her monstrous fears in Old Navy’s back-to-school musical, generates five million views to date [AdWeek]
  • Six takeaways from Gap and Old Navy about brand-building in China [AdAge]
  • New shopping app, Spring, makes the mall obsolete [Wired]
  • Rise of shoppable content will change the face of advertising [The Guardian]
  • Fashion start-ups bring style to Silicon Roundabout [FT]
  • Can technology solve the fit problem in fashion e-commerce? [BoF]
  • Omote real-time projection mapping demoed with make-up on model’s face [DigitalBuzzBlog]