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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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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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business Editor's pick Events product

ComplexCon: key takeaways from the streetwear mecca

Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon
Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon 2018

Now in its third year, Complexcon, a consumer-focused event targeting streetwear fanatics, took place to much expected hype last weekend in Long Beach, California.

The event, which is a spin-off of media company Complex, focused on feeding its Gen Z and Millennial community through a series of retail experiences, activations and panel discussions. Here we highlight the key takeaways of the weekend:

Retail frenzy

An adidas cube at ComplexCon
An adidas cube at ComplexCon 2018

For the consumer, the biggest goal of the two-day event was to shop, plain and simple. But for an audience that is prone to forming lines outside of stores for days before a drop, brands had to think creatively on how to create shopping experiences that blended that thrill of the chase with physical and digital tools.

Adidas was arguably the biggest name on the floor, hosting two experiences – one which involved a physical booth and another which took visitors on a wild goose chase for physical cubes that unlocked a new sneaker drop every hour. These gigantic cubes were seen throughout the venue, and on the hour, the user had to stand under the cube to scan it using the Complexcon app to unlock the ability to shop for the specific style. Unsurprisingly, Adidas fanatics were seen standing under the cube for hours before their preferred drop would take place.

Gradual product drops kept the customer engaged and most importantly, wanting to attend both days of the Con for fear of missing out. Reebok’s booth featured perspex cubes filled with fog, while timers underneath each individual plinth counted down the hours until the content inside the cube (a sneaker) was revealed.

The festival also teamed up with Frenzy, a location-based drop app, to allow consumers to shop for exclusive collabs through their phones while at the venue. The fulfilment of that experience left room for improvement, however, as shoppers could only pick up their goods four hours after purchase, a wait which for many stretched to 24 hours.

Experiential moments

HBO's The Shop
HBO’s The Shop at ComplexCon 2018

In such a noisy environment of endless queues and product drops, independent brands worked hard to stand out with booths that encouraged discovery and social sharing. Cult streetwear label Lotas, for example, chose to spend its budget not on an attractive booth, but by casting a group of The Sopranos lookalikes to play poker throughout, creating an unusual opportunity for visitors to snap and share.

The Pangaia, a global collective investigating the future of sustainable clothing, showcased its inaugural collection among a floor of empty plastic bottles, encouraging visitors to dispose of the same as they walked past. On Sunday, the collective also co-hosted a beach clean-up nearby with the support of ComplexCon.

Meanwhile beyond fashion, brands across food, automotive and media were on hand to talk about the bigger lifestyle that this community is a part of. Cadillac created a booth that showcased one of its models amid a digital jungle of screens and a photo backdrop; similar to SXSW, HBO recreated the classic barbershop experience to promote the launch of LeBron James’s new unscripted series, The Shop, featuring free haircuts and sneaker cleaning; and to promote the release of Creed II, guests could join in a VR experience, as well as watch boxing matches taking place in a life-sized ring.

Finally, McDonald’s quickly became a fan favorite as it hosted a customization station with special guests and, most importantly, free hamburgers for all.

Practical conversations

Issa Rae at ComplexCon 2018
Issa Rae at ComplexCon 2018

Conversations on the floor flip-flopped between who ‘copped’ the latest drop and what new endeavor someone may have been working on, from promoting their new podcast to monetizing their photography work. As a result, ComplexCon worked hard to promote conversations that had an underlying entrepreneurial spirit and was particularly relevant to the younger generation that is multifaceted in their goals.

“How to make it in America”, saw entrepreneur and social media star Gary Vaynerchuk talking about how to avoid the pitfalls and be part of the small percentage that does succeed in the country. Meanwhile actresses Issa Rae and Yara Shahidi, joined a conversation on females in media and how to overcome hurdles and balance public and personal life. And Louis Vuitton and Off White designer, Virgil Abloh, brought on stage three designers he believes are the next generation of fashion.

The spirit of giving visitors the tools to succeed and thrive also permeated throughout the festival booths. Entrepreneur Karen Civil was on hand at the Simple Mobile stand to offer one-to-one career advice, while the festival’s creative director, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, worked with six relatively unknown footwear designers to reimagine his artwork on limited edition sneakers, which were being auctioned off on eBay.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent 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 product Retail

Nike is dropping a new Air Jordan 1 sneaker everyday this week

Nike's "The Week of The Ones"
Nike’s “The Week of The Ones”

Nike UK will be releasing different iterations of its iconic Air Jordan 1 sneaker everyday this week as part of an event series it is calling “The Week of The Ones”.

The aim is to “celebrate the icon” of the Air Jordan 1 sneaker, which was first released in 1984 and has since cemented its status as “sneaker royalty, forever associated with streetwear, style and His Airness himself”, according to the brand.

The exclusive sneakers are available for European customers, and can only be purchased through the brand’s SNKRS UK app.

Upon opening the app, a GIF on an all-white design of the coveted sneaker will flash up in different colorways to reveal the editions available throughout the week.

The first two styles have already been confirmed at this point, called the “PSG” and “Not For Resale”.

Such a move from Nike comes at a time when we’re seeing an increase in retailers capitalizing on the hype around the streetwear inspired drop-culture. Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus recently embraced limited releases in their respective department stores in June of this year, and the newly opened MatchesFashion.com store in London is investing in refreshing its product assortment every two weeks.

Luxury brands have also been embracing this model, with Burberry as one example introducing monthly-recurring product drops of exclusive merchandise under the supervision of its new creative director Riccardo Tisci.

The phenomenon of streetwear culture and its impact on luxury specifically is analyzed in more depth on an episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, where we interviewed Ferdinando Verderi, co-founder and creative director of NY-based agency Johannes Leonardo, and the man responsible for much of the work between Adidas and Alexander Wang.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent 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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business Campaigns Editor's pick

ComplexCon: Tommy Hilfiger on aligning with the cultural conversation since the 1990s

Tommy Hlifiger and Gigi Hadid
Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid

Tommy Hilfiger has always had culture and music at the forefront of how it communicates with consumers, said its namesake designer at ComplexCon this weekend.

The designer was headlining a conversation at the consumer-facing event held in Long Beach, California, alongside Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and 90s rapper Grand Puba. He used the opportunity to explain that incorporating artists and celebrities who are at the peak of the cultural conversation is core to the brand’s strategy, as seen by the highly popular collaboration with model Gigi Hadid, as well as racing driver Hamilton and Gen Z actress Zendaya (upcoming).

“Doing collabs is really part of the excitement I look forward to every day,” Hilfiger noted. But he believes that in order for them to remain authentic, the brand should only guide and execute their artist’s ideas. This is something he has always focused on.

Aaliyah for Tommy Hlfiger
Aaliyah for Tommy Hlfiger

Although the American brand is soon to be celebrating its 35th anniversary, it was the mid 90s and its popularity among hip hop artists that truly propelled it onto the world stage, Hilfiger explained. Pushing a contemporary aesthetic with an urban New York style of big logos and baggy clothes made the brand stand out among other American names that were expanding at the same time.

Grand Puba first referenced the then mid-sized brand in a 1992 single with Mary J Blige, titled “What’s the 411”. This soon caught Hilfiger’s attention, who started dressing more artists and eventually included singer Aaliyah in a 1995 campaign. From then, the brand featured hip hop and R&B performances on its runways, which Hilfiger cites as the beginning of its entertainment-based fashion shows.

The most recent iteration of this approach lies in the brand’s see-now-buy-now strategy, which has seen elaborate fashion shows taking place for the last several seasons in different locations – from Los Angeles to London, Milan and Shanghai, with the aforementioned current celebrities fronting each occasion.

“We believe consumers want immediate gratification and great experiences,” Hilfiger explained. “My idea is to disrupt and continue to break the rules.”

Earlier this year, Tommy Hilfiger’s chief brand officer, Avery Baker, joined us on the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, to talk about how risk, authenticity and understanding your consumer are the keys to innovation.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent 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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product Retail

Upscaling of sneaker brands threatens luxury fashion

adidas Yeezy sneakers

Chinese office worker Fan remembers when she carried both high heels and sneakers to work, how much her feet hurt after a long day of work on the heels and how her beloved sneakers saved the day.

Fan works as an HR Consultant in a tech firm in Beijing, she said she now wears sneakers in the office. “I can’t remember when it first started, but (wearing sneakers at work) definitely become more popular in recent years.”

Fan said fashion bloggers influence her choice of fashionable sneakers the most, and she shares the styles on her WeChat account. As she became more comfortable wearing sneakers inside and outside of work, Fan became more willing to spend upwards of $200 on each pair of shoes.

A report by Chinese consulting firm Zhi Yan, Industry Analysis and investment prediction of Chinese footwear market from 2018-2024, pinpoints the start of the great sneaker boom to be as early as 2014, predicting that by 2020, the sports-inspired footwear and apparel market will grow to 246.7 billion yuan ($38.6 billion). The sales of sneakers are predicted to outgrow sports apparel by almost 3% by 2020.

The stylish sneaker trend is starting to have an impact on the sales of footwear from traditional luxury brands. Analysts from investment bank RBC Europe wrote in a recent report that, “The casualization trend is benefiting categories like sneakers and down jackets at the expense of formal wear/formal shoes.” Last year Euromonitor pointed out that the high-end athleisure market is forecast to overtake China’s luxury market by 2020.

On luxury e-commerce platform OFashion, there is very little difference between the price of sneakers by luxury brands, and sneakers by traditional sportswear labels. For example, a pair of Adidas Yeezy Desert Rat 500 is marked at 3149 yuan ($492.8), Gucci’s Ace embroidered sneaker sells for 3880 yuan ($607.28), Air Vapormax Off White is 5090 yuan ($796.66), and Balenciaga’s Speed Signature Mesh Sock Sneaker can be purchased for 4980 yuan ($779.39).

Although this competition may not be good news for luxury brands, the impact it has brought on the sportswear industry is positive, allowing sneakers to be sold at a higher price and with a higher product margin than ever before. According to Erwan Rambourg from HSBC, this is, “the luxurization of sneakers”.

Gildo Zegna, CEO of Italian luxury fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, attributed the rising price of sportswear sneakers to their rise in emotional value, “If there is one product today that is impulse driven and creates emotions among consumers, it is the sneaker (…) you are talking about people spending $100 to $700 on a single pair.”

Higher pricing has enabled sports brands to share the driving seat with luxury brands. Yet more alarming for luxury brands is a new culture of sneaker exchange – partially driven by emotions and impulse. Young consumers are viewing purchasing of limited edition sneakers in a similar way to that of a Birkin bag – many hold immediate investment value and can be auctioned for much higher prices.

Stock X, a trading platform designed to make sneaker exchange easier, allows buyers to put their sneakers up for auction, and others to buy in real time just like exchanging stocks. Users get their own sneaker portfolio, and track the value of their collection over time, comparing it to others. Two years since the platform was founded, Stock X regularly exceeds as high as $2 million sales a day – approximately 12,000 transactions. On Stock X, the option of shipping to China is now available, and as Fashion Network reported early this year, the company is moving towards further expansion in China.

It’s hard to say how much crossover there is between sneakerheads and luxury buyers, but the healthy growth of both industries are being heavily fueled by young millennials. As the growth of streetwear consumption in China surpasses other fashion industries, the increasing exposure to urban clothing will make consumers open to the option of investing in a pair of higher-priced sneakers.

Meanwhile, the changing structure has led brands to think twice about their production strategies. Paul Andrew, the creative director of Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo, said in an interview with W magazine: “People wear sneakers so much now that the architecture of the foot has really changed. Italian shoemakers often use casts that are 30 years old, but feet today have become more spread out.” Now he adds a pad made out of memory foam to all of his shoes.

By Ruonan Zheng 

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a content partner of TheCurrentDaily: Upscaling of Sneaker Brands Threatens Luxury Fashion

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Campaigns Editor's pick film

Human rights foundation highlights modern slavery with unboxing video stunt

Unboxing the Truth - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Unboxing the Truth – Thomson Reuters Foundation

The Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), which works with journalists and organizations to bring to light human rights abuses and corruption, is tapping into the millennial behaviour of unboxing videos to highlight one of its causes.

To do so, the foundation teamed up with Jacques Slade, a YouTube personality known for videos where he unboxes sneakers to a 851,000-strong audience, to highlight the plight of modern slavery.

Slade’s video begins with a disclaimer explaning that he was sent a mystery box and viewers should stick around to learn a really important message. He then proceeds to open the package, to reveal a high-end shoe box where the word “Humanmade” is replaced by “Slavemade” once it is fully opened. As the pair of shoes is revealed so are stats about modern slavery, which can be found on the shoe’s tongue, laces and soles.

Stats disclose that slavery still exists in 161 countries and counting, while also highlighting that less than 2% of slaves will ever be rescued. Slade then shows the shoe’s dust bag, in which a printed letter addressed to him and his viewers explains that they do not expect people to stop buying sneakers, but rather to stop and ask themselves: “What is the human price of the products you buy?”

Slade, whose core audience is men aged 13-24, explains that he was initially contacted by a creative agency on behalf of an “unspecified nonprofit organization” to take part in a video about forced labour, and that was the extent of what he knew prior to recording the video.

The stunt aimed to tap into an audience who is highly engaged about their passion, which in this case is owning and cherishing limited-edition footwear by the likes of Nike and adidas.

As part of the campaign, the organization is asking for donations towards its fight against slavery and human trafficking. Donations will go towards funding media coverage, training and mentoring journalists in specific geographies with a high prevalence of slavery, and bringing frontline activists to the Trust Conference where they would learn new skills.

Unboxing the Truth - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Unboxing the Truth – Thomson Reuters Foundation