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ICYMI: ‘Sustainability’ arrives in annual reports, Prada goes fur-free, a lack of female fashion CEOs

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

TOP STORIES
  • Tracking sustainability’s rise as one of fashion’s favourite words [Vogue Business]
  • Prada is the latest brand to go fur-free [Dazed]
  • Fashion has shockingly few female CEOs [Quartz]
  • What’s stopping the fashion industry from agreeing on climate action? [BoF]
  • E-Commerce giant Alibaba to integrate blockchain into intellectual property system [Yahoo]
TECHNOLOGY
  • World’s first digital only blockchain clothing sells for $9,500 [Forbes]
  • San Francisco becomes the first US city to ban government facial recognition [Wired]
  • AI avatars could be the next generation’s favorite entertainers [TNW]
  • Driverless electric truck starts deliveries on Swedish public road [FashionNetwork]
  • Future smart clothes will keep you the perfect temperature at all times [Digital Trends]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • How charitable are fashion’s biggest companies? [Vogue Business]
  • The young activists fighting to ‘rebrand’ air pollution [Dazed]
  • Walmart agrees to power more than 40 stores with solar energy [Bloomberg]
  • Kering sets new animal welfare guidelines [FashionUnited]
  • The Body Shop launches fair trade recycled plastic scheme [i-D]
  • Single-use plastics a serious climate change hazard, study warns [Guardian]
  • Scientists devise ‘breakthrough’ plastic that can be recycled again and again [Sourcing Journal]
  • Why Russia still loves fur [Vogue Business]
  • This clothing brand’s new repair program shows that the future of fashion can be circular [Fast Company]
RETAIl & E-COMMERCE
  • How department stores are using services to convince customers they’re still convenient places to shop [Digiday]
  • Urban Outfitters tries to stay relevant with an $88 monthly rental service [Fast Company]
  • Walmart’s ambitious plan to beat Amazon on free one-day shipping is here [Fast Company]
  • Why online fashion retailers are experimenting with invite-only access [Forbes]
  • Klarna announces first UK immersive pop-up [FashionUnited]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Calvin Klein apologizes following “queerbaiting” accusations for Bella Hadid & Lil Miquela ad [Hype Bae]
  • Nike runs shoppable Snapchat lens to support women’s soccer [Mobile Marketer]
  • How will in-game advertising change as Google, Facebook, Snap and Apple level up? [Mobile Marketer]
PRODUCT
  • So what does Rihanna’s first Fenty collection actually look like? [NY Times]
  • PrettyLittleThing launches recycled collection [Drapers]
  • Vivobarefoot launches plant-based shoe [FashionUnited]
BUSINESS
  • Body Shop owner to buy Avon for £1.6bn [BBC]
  • Topshop is closing all its US stores [Refinery29]
  • Farfetch revenue soars [Drapers]
  • Richemont profit misses estimates on online investment costs [BoF]
  • Nike, Adidas and others call on Trump to remove footwear from tariff list [RetailDive]
CULTURE
  • ‘I want to tilt the lens’ – Sinéad Burke’s fight to make fashion more diverse [Guardian]

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Categories
Editor's pick product technology

Tommy Hilfiger launches smart clothing that rewards users per wear

Tommy Jeans Xplore

Tommy Hilfiger has launched Tommy Jeans Xplore, a line of smart chip-enabled clothing that rewards consumers for each wear. In doing so, it is gamifying an experience for its brand fans and ambassadors with immediate rewards, which include discounts and exclusive experiences.

Items in the collection each have an embedded bluetooth low-energy smart tag provided by Israel-based Awear Solutions, which connects the physical product to a dedicated Tommy Jeans Xplore app. Once activated, the app acts as a direct line of communication to the consumer and based on a points system, allows the user to receive rewards and experiences in real time, based on garment wear.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of digital innovation, using technology to deliver what our customers are looking for – unique experiences and instant gratification,” said designer Tommy Hilfiger to WWD. “Tommy Jeans Xplore is the next evolution of our vision, reaching consumers where they are and inviting them to be a part of the brand experience.”

Rewards include concert tickets through a partnership with Live Nation and exclusive access to the brand and its events, such as visits to the Tommy Archives and invites to its runway shows. Users can also redeem product discounts or convert their earned points into monetary donations to charities.

Tommy Jeans Xplore

The line, which is currently available only in the US, consists of 23 items of clothing across women’s, men’s and unisex designs. This includes hoodies, t-shirts and accessories such as a crossbody bag and a backpack.

Tommy Hilfiger has made strides in establishing itself as an industry innovator investigating how to personalize engagement with its young, digitally-savvy audience across the board. Last year’s launch of a shoppable image recognition app during its LA runway show demonstrated the brand’s commitment to inserting digital moments at every consumer touchpoint.

Engaging with consumers through technology, among other innovations, was the main topic of discussion by Tommy Hilfiger and chief brand officer Avery Baker at this year’s British Fashion Council fashion forum, curated and produced by TheCurrent. Stay tuned for an upcoming TheCurrent Innovators podcast episode with Baker, which will be recorded live in New York City in August.

Tommy Jeans Xplore
Tommy Jeans Xplore

Categories
product technology

Levi’s updates its Google smart jacket with Uber, Lyft and Bose features

Google x Levi's Project Jacquard
Google x Levi’s Project Jacquard

Levi’s has announced its first update on its Project Jacquard smart jacket developed in collaboration with Google, including the ability to work with ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft, and Bose headphones.

Although at this point users won’t be able to order a car through the jacket, once connected to the Uber or Lyft apps, it will notify them that their ride is three minutes away and do so again once it arrives via its cuff, which will light up and vibrate. Brushing the cuff will also enable real-time updates on the car’s whereabouts via connected headphones.

Google x Levi's Project Jacquard
Google x Levi’s Project Jacquard

The jacket now also supports Bose’s Aware Mode, which picks up any surrounding sounds and sends them to the user’s headphones. This enables users who are listening to music while on the go to still enjoy noise reduction, but be able to hear any important things happening around them – in a cyclist’s or pedestrian’s case, this could mean a horn or a fast-approaching vehicle. Bose users will also be able to turn their headphones on or off via hand gesture.

Another new jacket feature enables users to drop a pin on the map to save a location and then see and share that from the app’s activity screen.

At a conference in California in October 2017, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh hinted at upcoming innovations by stating that if there is a feature that doesn’t require a screen, it is possible that it could be incorporated into the commuter jacket’s 2.0 version. By approaching it with that mindset, the company can potentially investigate the future of smart clothing beyond cyclists, which was its initial target audience with the Google partnership.

Categories
Editor's pick product technology

Ministry of Supply introduces AI-enabled heated jacket

Ministry of Supply's intelligent heated jacket
Ministry of Supply’s intelligent heated jacket

US performance label Ministry of Supply has launched an intelligent heated jacket that uses machine learning to adjust the garment’s temperature.

The Mercury jacket creates a microclimate optimized to the wearer’s body by using a custom microcontroller heating system to heat up carbon-fiber heating pads sewn in the garment’s lining. The system takes in to consideration the weather and body temperature, motion data, and user preference to modulate power. For example, when walking to a train stop the jacket senses temperatures and an elevating heart rate, as well as user behaviour learnt through time, to regulate the system.

The machine learning element ensures that the more feedback the user gives its accompanying app, the better the system gets at learning their preferences. Meanwhile an added voice element allows wearers to naturally activate the jacket through a smart assistant like Amazon Alexa.

Ministry of Supply's Mercury Jacket
Ministry of Supply’s Mercury Jacket

“Our mission is to invent clothing that blends form and functionality — and temperature regulation is one of the most important factors in comfort,” says the brand’s team. “We’re excited to present our vision of what wearable technology can become, not just a way to monitor our vitals – but also act on it allowing us to become more comfortable and capable because of it. The Intelligent Heated Jacket is just that literally putting a learning thermostat in your jacket.”

Since Ministry of Supply’s inception, it has approached clothing through a human-centric, design-led methodology that takes into consideration both aesthetic and function. The jacket has been developed to replace any other outerwear alternative.

The jacket’s production is being crowdfunded via a campaign on Kickstarter. Since its launch yesterday (February 21) the jacket has trebled its original donations goal, to reach over $150K in pledges.

This is Ministry of Supply’s third successful Kickstarter campaign. In 2012, it launched the Apollo shirt, which controls body temperature after raising over $400K. Following that, the Atlas socks, which are made out of coffee beans that filter out sweat, raised over $200K or its $30K goal.

Categories
Editor's pick film product technology

Imagining the virtual future: what connected clothing might do for us

Connected clothing
Connected clothing as imagined via the Janela Smart Products Platform

One of the most interesting things about connected clothing at this point is imagining the possibilities it will actually bring – do we really need tops that light up, shirts that tell us what the weather is doing, or the ability to see some of our social media feeds embedded in the laces on our shoes? When we stop and think about it, what do we truly want our garments to do and achieve for us?

The fact of the matter is, the things we wear are indeed getting smarter, and yet we’re still waiting for the perfect use cases to make us all want to jump on board and buy them.

The good news is, there’s potential that’s all set to change. You may remember a few months ago the announcement that Avery Dennison, a global leader in branding, labelling and RFID solutions, and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG, teamed up to introduce 10 billion items of connected clothing over the next three years.

That deal will mean brands and retailers have to think less about how to get their wares on the grid, and instead focus on what exactly they want them to be able to do. As Niall Murphy, CEO and co-founder of EVRYTHNG, said at launch: “We’re taking the manufacturing complexity out of the challenge list by pre-solving it for brands. No longer is it about how am I going to get my 500 million pairs of sneakers to have a digital capability, because it’s already there. Now it’s about what applications you’re going to create, and a focus on real end value for the user.”

On the consumer side (digital clothing has many business applications also), he envisioned everything from finding our shoes when we’ve lost them, to figuring out how to wash our clothes properly, looking for style tips on how to wear items, and even searching for how to buy a new version of the same piece.

In a bid to show how “born digital” clothing could work, the duo have now launched a video (as above) detailing the possibilities a consumer might encounter through the Janela Smart Products Platform. Reminiscent of the virtual wardrobe in 1990s film Clueless, it focuses on the idea that new items just bought will instantly appear in a user’s app, enabling them to help visualise outfits to wear based on what they own, as well as get advice on other things to purchase to match. It also turns to the end of a garment’s life cycle by helping show them how and what they can recycle.

EVRYTHNG has reportedly had to expand its sales team in order to keep up with demand from brands and manufacturers since the announcement. It is also seeing numerous new use cases emerge in things like supply chain, where identity on an item can help solve compliance issues and use data to join up fragmentation in the sector.