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business Editor's pick product Retail technology

6 brands driving consumer engagement through customization

The availability of data and an increased purchasing power has pushed retailers to create products and services beyond the standard selection. Whilst traditionally customization was seen as a luxury feature, the democratization of fashion has led to many high street retailers offering the service as another way to engage consumers.

In today’s digital era, the abundance of data has made it easier for retailers to personalize marketing content, but this is now going one step further to individual design and styling. Consumers want products tailored to their own specific needs and style, and by offering customization, retailers can increase their value and differentiate from the competition. 

From a business perspective, offering customization can be financially rewarding too, as 1 in 5 consumers will pay a 20% premium for personalized products or services. Customization can also be a sustainable method of production, as products are created to meet the exact demand, thus minimizing the risk of excess stock. 

Meanwhile, as manufacturing processes become more sophisticated and streamlined through features like 3D printing and automation, customization is something we will see more of in the future. As we continue to watch this trend develop, here are 6 brands driving engagement  through customization.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton custom Run Away sneaker

The sneaker industry is expected to be worth $95.14billion by 2025, and Louis Vuitton is another luxury brand hoping to tap into that booming market by offering consumers customized sneakers. Consumers will have the option to customize the Run Away sneaker by changing its colour, material and stripes and for an extra personal touch, get their initials printed or hot stamped on the shoe.

Fame & Partners
Fame & Partners bridemaids dresses

Fame and Partners is a contemporary womenswear brand based in LA trying to combat overproduction in the fashion industry by offering made-to-order garments. Through their Custom Clothing studio, consumers can customize any item by choosing the silhouette, sleeve length or neckline. The brand’s strategy eliminates the need for excess stock, helping to reduce waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. 

Function of Beauty
Function of Beauty custom hair care

This DTC beauty brand has taken over social media with its Instagrammable hair care line that target Gen Z consumers who are seeking products unique to their needs. Consumers can go online and take a quiz to determine their hair profiles, selecting up to five hair goals, ranging from color protection to curl definition. They can also choose both the scent and color of their products, creating a customized product from design to function. Each bottle is then formulated using clean ingredients, which are cruelty-free and 100% vegan.

Rapha
Rapha custom collection

Cult British brand Rapha is disrupting the cycling market by partnering with Unmade to create a customizable team collection. Customers are given the opportunity to create their own unique jersey designs, including team logos, which are then manufactured into a bespoke product. Poor user experience and long lead times are usually a set back when it comes to customization, but Unmade’s print solution allows for quick bespoke manufacturing on a smaller scale.

Puma
Puma’s new NYC flagship

To enhance customer experience in store, Puma has created an exclusive customization studio at its new flagship store in New York. Customers can customize a range of footwear and apparel using paints, patchwork, embroidery, 3D knitting, laser printing and material upcycling. The studio also collaborates with new artists on a bi-weekly basis, with Sue Tsai, BWOOD and Maria Jahnkoy being the most recent.

Levi’s
Levi’s customization patches

Levi’s brand strategy has revolved around making products your own since the original blue jean was patented in 1873. These days, many Levi’s shops have a dedicated tailor shop that can customize and repair products, such as adding patches, studs, embroidery, stencilling and distressing, so consumers can have a one-of-a-kind product. To align with its sustainability initiatives, the brand also offers a full repair service which does anything from fixing rips and holes to color fading, helping well-worn jeans gain a new lease of life.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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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business e-commerce Editor's pick product Retail social media sustainability technology

Analytics reshaping fashion, the lucrative world of sneaker resells, Snapchat’s return

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

TOP STORIES
  • Analytics are reshaping fashion’s old-school instincts (Vogue Business)
  • Inside the wild, shockingly lucrative world of sneaker reselling (GQ)
  • Snapchat is back in fashion (BoF)
  • Dr Martens’ profits up 70% with success of new ‘vegan’ range (The Guardian)
TECHNOLOGY
  • Facebook latest tech giant to admit to using human review of user audio conversations (Campaign)
  • What Deepfakes actually are (Gizmodo)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Stand out brands in The RealReal’s annual resale report (Fashion Law)
  • How Econyl became fashion’s favorite eco-friendly material (Vogue Business)
  • Microplastics are airborne, polluted artic snow reveals (Earther)
  • There’s never been a better time to buy used clothes (Quartzy)
  • Luxury goes back home: Giants strengthen their sourcing proximity (MDS)
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Nike launches subscription service that targets kids (AdWeek)
  • Online retailers are transforming warehouse construction (Construction Drive)
  • As customers begin to shop through voice assistants, what can brands do to stand out? (Harvard Business Review)
BUSINESS
  • Markets tumble in light of trade wars and poor retail results (BoF)
  • Alibaba results beat estimates on cloud, e-commerce growth (Reuters)
  • Steve Madden acquires DTC sneaker brand Greats (Glossy)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram now allows users to create their own AR filters (Hypebeast)
  • Youtube’s AR beauty try-on goes live (Forbes)
  • Luxury brands use video games to speak to China’s Millennials (Jing Daily)
PRODUCT
  • The Farm Bill’s effect on CBD beauty (Glossy)
  • Stuart Weitzman releases limited edition customizable sneakers (Marie Claire)
  • Volcom launches ‘water aware’ denim collection (Fashion United)
CULTURE
  • Nike got called out for discriminating against pregnant athletes. Now it’s changing its policy (Fast Company)

How are you thinking about innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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product sustainability

Native Shoes is releasing a plant-based sneaker fit for composting

Vancouver- based sustainable shoe brand, Native Shoes, is launching a sneaker made of fully plant-based and biodegradable materials, which can even be composted at the end of its life.

For the design of the new sneaker, dubbed the Plant Shoe, the brand focused on including exclusively natural materials, down to the stitching and glue used to put the individual materials together.

By making the Shoe biodegradable and suitable for composting, Native Shoes aims to fight the increasing problem of shoe waste, citing that nearly 300 million pairs end up in landfill every year.

The design is purposely kept simplistic and embraces a vintage look. The upper material is made up of a mix of organic cotton and Pinatex, which is made of discarded pineapple waste. As an industry first, the material mix uses no polyurethane coating, a process that is usually applied to textiles to make them more durable.

The shoe’s sole further builds on the sustainable credentials of the brand, using pure hevea latex, a derivative of the rubber tree. However, it uses no artificial additions such as fillers or petrochemical catalysts, which are traditionally used in other “natural” rubber soles.

The brand, which originally launched in 2009 with a sustainable ethos and focused on mainly rubber-based shoes, also collaborated with Goop in 2018 and 2019 to provide rubber slides to the lifestyle brand’s annual In Goop Health events.  

Over the past year, labels including Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Everlane have released their own versions of more sustainable sneakers, experimenting with different, more sustainable materials and tapping into circular design principles.

Nike’s Flyleather design, for example, uses 50% recycled natural leather fiber, while Adidas’ Futurecraft Loop sneaker is made up of only one material and therefore is the first to be fully recyclable. Reebok furthermore launched its biodegradable Cotton + Corn shoe in 2018. Everlane launched its Tread shoe this year, using a combination of natural and recycled rubber for its sole.

Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer start-up Allbirds launched its SweetFoam material initiative last year, an environmentally friendly- alternative to the traditionally used acetate compound that is used in shoe soles today.  Marking a collaborative spirit, Allbirds also made its new solution open-source, hoping to encourage competitors to also adopt this material.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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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Editor's pick Retail

Adidas uses AirDrop to gift sneaker collab to Coachella festival goers

Adidas used Apple’s AirDrop feature to gift lucky attendees at Coachella Valley Music Festival this weekend with a new shoe collaboration with musician Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino).

A randomly selected number of people who were attending the festival were sent an image of the shoe, dubbed “Nizzas”, via AirDrop. Those who accepted the image then had one hour to pick up a free pair of the kicks at a designated area.

Inside the shoe box, a small note outlined certain “responsibilities” that came with receiving the shoe. New owners of the coveted “Nizzas” were encouraged to take three actions at the festival to promote the shoes: wear them, keep them on all weekend and lastly, watch the Childish Gambino performance.

Also at the festival, Childish Gambino collaborated with Google to launch “Brighter in the Dark”, a custom tech and music installation where attendees could take photographs in the dark and explore the musician’s creative world. This was part of a larger collaboration between Childish Gambino and Google which started in February, where the musician joined the tech giant’s camera feature “Playground” as Playmoji (an AR avatar) that users can interact with.

Meanwhile for adidas, this experience is another clever activation that adds an element of excitement and surprise to the consumer when they are least expecting it. For example at last year’s ComplexCon, the brand dropped new sneakers by asking users to scan giant cubes located across the venue at designated time slots.

How are you thinking about product innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product Retail

Puma releases sneaker that triggers interactive AR content

Puma has released a new sneaker that activates augmented reality filters and more content once scanned by the user.

Wearers can scan the LQD Cell Origin AR with a dedicated app, that then uses machine learning and AR tracking technology to ‘read’ the shoe, and trigger the experience on their phones. Users can then experiment with AR filters, learn more about the shoe and even play an interactive mobile game.

“LQD CELL Origin AR is PUMA’s answer to a world in which the line between reality and the virtual realm becomes increasingly blurred,” says the brand.

AR filters show the shoe seemingly bursting into flames, while more styles will be released within the next month. “Inside LQD CELL” is a feature that allows users to learn more about the shoe’s construction, displaying it in its separate layers. Meanwhile, the LQD Dash game challenges players to avoid digital objects from hitting them, and they can even re-scan the sneakers to gain more ‘lives’ within it.

The app also connects to Puma’s website where customers are able to purchase the shoe and other styles within the family, if they haven’t done so already.

Users don’t need the physical shoe to activate the content, however, as the experience can recognise a flat image of the shoe, therefore can be triggered by scanning an image of it on a computer screen.

AR is a popular technology of choice for sportswear or streetwear brands hoping to engage with their young user base. Last year, adidas deployed AR at ComplexCon, much to the frenzy of festival-goers. Previously, Nike had experimented with the technology on everything from a city-wide scavenger hunt to a location-based Snapchat activation.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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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Campaigns Retail

Nike celebrates Air Max Day with sneaker exhibit and sale

For this year’s Air Max Day, Nike is hosting an exhibition featuring 20 rare sneakers and giving consumers the chance to purchase them.

Titled “Rair”, the London-based exhibition is curated by media platforms The Drop Date and Sneaker Freaker, while streetwear resale platform StockX is stepping in to facilitate the sale of a selection of the shoes on display.

Twenty iconic Air Max styles will be on display, including the Parra x Nike Air Max 1 “Cherrywood” sneaker, which recently sold for £4,500. To ensure sneakerheards leave well-versed on each style’s history, individual shoes will be accompanied by a short description.

Nike’s Air Max Day is an annual celebration that takes place on March 26, the same date of when the first style of the shoe launched in 1987. Earlier this month, the brand launched a virtual store where limited edition items could only be purchased if the user had already bought an Air Max in the first place.

This year, the sportswear giant also launched “Give Fresh Air”, a campaign that encourages consumers in North America to donate their new or gently worn sneakers to partnering retail stores, which will then be distributed within the community.

Meanwhile last year, amidst the buzz surrounding gaming app HQ Trivia, Nike teamed up with the platform to sponsor a game that gave away 100 limited edition sneakers to lucky participants, as well as a grand prize of $100,000.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more. 


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Campaigns Retail

American Eagle targets Gen Z with sneaker resale pop-up

American Eagle has teamed up with sneaker resale retailer Urban Necessities to host an in-store pop up in NYC in a bid to further engage with its Gen Z clientele and the new ways in which they shop.

The 1,900-square-foot pop up, which is located at an American Eagle Manhattan location, features a selection of streetwear merchandise which includes rare sneakers like the Nike MAG Back to the Future, which retails at $50,000. Other highlights include a Supreme-branded pinball machine and a claw machine, which will give customers the chance of to win $300-$500 worth of merchandise.

For the American Eagle brand this is more than just a temporary retail installation, however. The company has taken a stake in the hip Las Vegas-based retailer for an undisclosed sum, as it hopes to forge a longer-term relationship with the company and continue to tap into the younger consumer shopping behavior.

“Sneakers are about self-expression,” Chad Kessler, global brand president for the American Eagle brand, told Forbes. “Our brand is built on individual style. We are about self-expression. We have the second-largest (U.S.) jeans business (after Walmart). Jeans and sneakers are great pairs. … Urban Necessities has a loyal following and is able to get the most exciting sneakers out there.”

Kessler also said he hopes that eventually in the future, it will open more Urban Necessities stores inside other AE outposts.

The pop up is also part of a series of strategies the brand is developing to continue to attract its core demographic, which includes introducing alternative retail channels that reflect how they now shop more flexibly. Also this year, it announced Style Drop, a clothing subscription service that allows customers to rent up to three items at a time for a flat fee of $49.95 a month.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce Retail social media Startups sustainability technology

ICYMI: The tech-driven age of the sneaker drop, Adidas’ Airdrop campaign, the weight of holiday returns

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

TOP STORIES
  • The new, tech-driven age of the sneaker drop [Engadget]
  • Adidas pushes new Ultraboost 19 shoe via guerrilla Airdrop campaign [NY Times]
  • Amazon returns video draws 11 million views [WWD]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Samsung patents phone display that projects Star Wars-like holograms [Tom’s Guide]
  • As Facebook raised a privacy wall, it carved an opening for tech giants [NY Times]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • 8 things Patagonia says fashion can do to get greener [WWD]
  • 5 years after pay pledge, H&M still isn’t paying laborers a “living wage” [TheFashionLaw]
  • Consumers are ready for full sustainability, brands aren’t [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • How Bonobos is growing up under Walmart’s wing [RetailDive]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, Amazon lead social media mentions for holiday gift shopping, study says [Mobile Marketer]
BUSINESS
  • Victoria Beckham firm’s losses deepen [BBC]
  • Raf Simons Is out at Calvin Klein [GQ]
  • Burberry turnaround? Analysts aren’t buying it [Bloomberg]
CULTURE
  • Why everyone wants a piece of the K-beauty pie [SCMP]
  • Young luxury shoppers explain why they’re willing to pay $500 for sneakers [QZ]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent Global 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.