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Editor's pick product sustainability Uncategorized

ASICS gives used sportswear a new lease of life for 2020 Japan Olympic uniforms

Japanese sportswear label ASICS has introduced a program that will use donated sportswear as the raw material for the official uniforms of the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic teams at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. In order to collect the unwanted items, the brand is placing collection boxes across Japan, including at own stores, partner retailers and sporting events, up until May 31.

The “ASICS Reborn Wear Project” hopes to gather approximately 30,000 items of sportswear and give the Games’s competitors uniforms rich with the memories of the people who have worn them, in order to further spur them on. 

Anyone is allowed to donate clothing, and collection boxes will also display a barcode that once scanned opens a dedicated website inviting people to sign up for a special newsletter. Users will then receive messages from athletes, information on Tokyo 2020 and progress reports on what is happening with all donated clothing. There will also be a digital tool that enables people to digitally frame photos of their own sportswear that holds sentimental value and share it on social media, hoping to further build up a sense of positive energy ahead of the Games.

Former freestyle wrestler Saori Yoshida

To promote the program, ASICS will also roll out advertisements featuring the brand’s staff members, as well as Japanese sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu and former freestyle wrestler Saori Yoshida, showcasing their own personal sportswear.

The sustainable initiative is a part of the brand’s bigger ambitions towards sustainability. It has also announced a target to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will include replacing polyester materials used on its shoe uppers and sportswear products with 100% recycled polyester. 

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

Adidas sells new shoe in Snapchat fashion show

adidas on Snapchat
adidas on Snapchat

Adidas sold its latest sneakers through a fashion show hosted exclusively on Snapchat, making it a platform first.

The brand launched an iteration of its Adidas Originals Falcon W style on “Fashion 5 Ways”, a new show that premiered on the social media platform’s Discover page last week.

Fans watching the show could purchase the shoe by swiping up, which revealed an e-commerce page powered by Shopify, with delivery fulfilled by Darkstore. This marks the first time Snapchat users can purchase a product through one of its shows.

“Fashion 5 Ways”, produced by Thumb Candy Media, is a show catering to young women who want to explore different ways to wear fashion staples such as sneakers. According to Snapchat, millions of viewers watched this specific episode, with 70% of the overall audience for it being women aged 13 to 24.

adidas on Snapchat

Brands are increasingly finding ways of gamifying real life interactions with the help of their customer’s mobile behaviors. Beyond quirky mobile games, this trend now includes an important final touchpoint: retail. By creating demand and providing tools to fulfil it on the spot, these brands are locking consumers into their ecosystems.

Another example happened in February this year, when Nike became the first brand to sell a product on Snapchat by allowing users to scan an exclusive Snap code at an afterparty in Los Angeles that they could use to purchase shoes and receive them on the same night. In this instance, all of the sneakers sold out within 23 minutes.

A further indication that sportswear labels are spearheading this movement: during this year’s SXSW festival, cult label Outdoor Voices launched an AR experience that surfaced exclusive styles of clothing depending on the user’s location. The user could then purchase the items exclusively.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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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Editor's pick product

Reebok launches shape-shifting bra inspired by NASA fabric

Reebok PureMove
Reebok PureMove

Reebok has announced the launch of PureMove, a sports bra that adapts to the movement of its wearer in real time. This means that when the wearer is moving quickly, the bra material stiffens to provide extra support, while when the movement is slower and requires more flexibility, the material softens.

The US-based sportswear brand took four years to develop the innovation, adapting it from a material that has been previously used in NASA spacesuits and bulletproof vests.

“Innovation has always been in Reebok’s DNA and placing an emphasis on transforming and improving one of the most important fitness garments for women is no exception,” said Barbara Ebersberger, VP of performance apparel at Reebok. “We could not be prouder to come to market with a product that breaks down barriers in a category that has dissatisfied consumers for far too long, lacking any true technological advancements.”

To achieve the innovation, Reebok developed the Motion Sense Technology by combining performance-based fabric with a sheer-thickening fluid (or STF), which is a gel-like solution. Originally developed by the University of Delaware in 2005, STF takes liquid when in a slow-moving state and stiffens it into a solid when moving at high speed.

By incorporating STF into the fabric, the PureMove bra immediately responds to changes in movement by the wearer.

Reebok also worked with the University of Delaware to undertake vigorous testing on the new material, employing 54 different motion sensors to test bra prototypes. By comparison, the brand says typical testing only uses five sensors.

It furthermore cites a study that was published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health Journal as a key influence when developing the bra, which outlines that one in five women actively opt out of workouts because they don’t have a sports bra that is comfortable enough.

Reebok’s innovation places the brand in the race for developing material innovation that is increasingly adaptive to the wearer’s immediate needs, which is particularly relevant to the sporting industry. Similarly, earlier this year Puma worked with MIT to showcase how biodesign could increase performance, presenting prototypes such as insoles that collate realtime biofeedback to measure things like fatigue.

For more on material innovation in fashion, listen to our TheCurrent Innovators episode with Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads, the company responsible for sustainable textiles such as spider silk and, most recently, mushroom leather.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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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Campaigns Editor's pick

The North Face reaches global community with “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign

The North Face

The North Face has expanded its “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign this year, aiming to reach a global community of up to 100,000 people and re-evaluate perceptions of what walls represent.

The campaign supports the brand’s second installation of its annual “Global Climbing Day”, which will take place on August 18. Partnering with a multitude of indoor climbing spaces globally, the brand will offer free climbing lessons for anyone attending on the day, donating $1 per person to the non-profit The Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal. It is also launching a limited edition collection available for purchase now.

According to the outdoor brand, the aim of the campaign is to create a community and reflect its founding values. “Since 1966, we’ve seen walls not as obstacles but as opportunities. They are mirrors that reflect the best versions of ourselves. Walls do not divide us, walls bring us together. Walls are meant for climbing.”

With this initiative The North Face aims to reach a much larger audience than in 2017, where the campaign attracted 20,000 people to participate in climbing activities globally.

It has also taken this as an opportunity to let female climbers tell the stories of how they started their journey of conquering walls.

Under the banner “Climbing, the Great Equalizer”, the brand has released a total of four inspirational videos, each illustrating a unique story from a diverse set of characters – featuring three female climbers and one male. This week’s release – which has so far been viewed over 300.000 times on YouTube –  tells the story of Monserrat Matehuala, who dedicates the video to “my brown girls from the ‘hood’.”

This links back to the brand’s efforts to celebrate female explorers with their “She Move Mountains” campaign launched in April.

 

Brands are upping the ante when speaking to their consumers in a way that mirrors their values and in particular, their anxieties, in modern societies. In a politically charged landscape, encouraging positive activism is an increasingly important tool – as also seen by Patagonia’s Action Works platform which encourages charitable behavior.

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Campaigns

ASICS unveils blackout running track to highlight the importance of mental strength

The ASICS Blackout Track
The ASICS Blackout Track

ASICS has unveiled the Blackout Track, a sports track in east London aiming to help runners win the ‘mental race’ by freeing them from any distractions.

The 150-meter course is set in complete darkness and features no technology, no music, no finish line and none of the other comforts associated with training for a marathon, thus forcing the runner to focus on synchronizing the mind and body. The initiative supports the launch of the Gel Kayano™ 25 shoe.

“ASICS was founded on the belief that a sound body fuels a sound mind, so this campaign goes right to the heart of who we are as a brand,” said ASICS’s global CMO Paul Miles. “Our promise is to bring our founder’s vision to life in the modern-age – where negative distractions of the mind can prevent us from reaching our potential and going the distance.”

During the launch campaign, the track will also host a series of events to demonstrate the idea that in running it’s not the strongest physique that goes the long distance, but the strongest mind. Events include a 10K ‘mental marathon’ and a scientific experiment that shows the importance of mental strength for physical fitness.

“By exposing how easily the mind can be influenced, the campaign is designed to remind athletes of any ability about the importance of training both the mind and body, to reach their goals in sport and life,” said Fiona Berwick, strategic planner in ASICS’ global marketing team.

The track initiative was inspired by a technique practiced by long distance runners such as the Japanese, in which they run in loops for one or two miles without any technology.

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product Retail technology

SoulCycle teams up with Ultracor to create personalized leggings

SoulCycle x Ultracor
SoulCycle x Ultracor

Fitness brand SoulCycle is working with performance wear line Ultracor to give customers the opportunity to personalize their own pair of leggings in minutes.

A continuation of the duo’s collaboration in the summer of 2017, the partnership sees new Ultracor kiosks set up in select SoulCycle studios that allow indoor cycling guests, or “riders” as they’re known, to design and personalize their individual styles.

The kiosks are launching with five different legging designs; each one using next generation digital printing, patented built-in shapewear and breathable fabric.

The result means riders are able to customize their leggings in a number of ways to make them a perfect fit. By including height in the design process, the Ultracor kiosk is able to ensure that the knee break and waistband heights of the leggings are in a comfortable position for the wearer.

Customers can also select the exact shades they’d like to use for parts of their pants from a full color scale, rather than a few options. The designs can then be further personalized with the addition of up to 10 characters of text that are added to the back right side.

Soulcycle x Ultracor
Soulcycle x Ultracor

Each design is priced at circa $200 and new styles will be added to the kiosks every couple of weeks. The leggings are delivered to the customer within three business days.

The initiative is an interesting example of SoulCycle thinking beyond the idea of being a fitness studio and instead considering its role as a lifestyle brand; thinking about the retail side of things to drive consumer engagement and new revenue streams.

Brand collaboration has been long been a feature of SoulCycle’s strategy. It recently partnered with luxury fragrance company Le Labo to update its locker room amenities, for instance.

It has also partnered with a number of fashion brands to create capsule collections, and in a surprising twist, New York bakery Milk Bar, to create a protein post-workout cookie.

At SXSW this year, the company’s CEO Melanie Whelan joined Milk Bar’s Christina Tossi in a panel to discuss the importance of collaboration as part of a cult brand’s DNA. “Introducing new moments to surprise and delight consumers is key,” Whelan said.

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Campaigns Editor's pick technology

The New York Times launches AR campaign capability ahead of Winter Olympics

The New York Times' AR experience mobile editorial Team USA olympic games
The New York Times’ AR experience

The New York Times has launched its first ever in-article augmented reality campaign, spotlighting Team USA athletes ahead of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea.

Available within the publisher’s app, the feature allows users who are reading an Olympic-focused article to experience athletes in 3D by activating their phone cameras and pointing towards a flat surface. At key moments in the written story, the text fades to reveal an image of an athlete, including figure skater Nathan Chen and hockey goalie Alex Rigsby.

Walking around the 3D figures opens up new points of view and more information on their expertise. For instance, Austrian snowboarder, Anna Gasser, is featured executing a jump, which prompts the screen to encourage the user to walk the 60ft she travels, creating a physical idea of distance.

The experience is peppered with visual highlights that light up when the user walks around the virtual object. It’s a strong example of a brand nudging the consumer towards the behaviour of interacting with digital realities from a UX standpoint.

Graham Roberts, the publisher’s head of immersive storytelling, told AdWeek that it was imperative to develop an integrated approach that didn’t require downloading a different app or leaving an article to engage with – and thus, treating AR like any other piece of media consumers are used to interacting with. “There’s a whole language that needs to be learned on both sides, the producers and the consumers,” he said. “It’s almost like introducing the mouse for the first time; it’s a new way of interacting with something.”

The activation also includes a 3D view of ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani, sponsored by Ralph Lauren.

According to Jared van Fleet, director of new business at the publisher’s in-house experiential agency, Fake Love, the market for augmented reality within advertising is quickly picking up speed: “The first brands that we saw that were really excited to experiment were largely in categories like fashion or auto: brands that have premium physical products,” he said. “A lot of brands are starting to understand that they need to begin to build a strategy for how they’re going to communicate their brand in 3D, whether or not they’re B2B services or B2C physical products, in all kinds of forms.”

Van Fleet is also optimistic about what this means for consumer adoption of the technology: “When a brand with the distribution and credibility that The New York Times has gets into AR, we start to reach an audience that we haven’t really yet engaged with this technology. Any kind of new medium or technology is developed with iterations that take into account user behavior and understanding how people are responding.”

Working on this campaign was experiential agency Fake Love, who scanned the athletes for 3D rendering, and the publisher’s in-house content arm T Brand Studio, using Apple ARKit.

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Editor's pick product technology

Ralph Lauren introduces heat-conducting smart jacket for USA Olympics team

Ralph Lauren has launched a smart jacket that will allow the USA Olympics team to keep warm at this year’s Winter games, taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea.

As part of the team’s official uniform, which the brand has been designing for six years, a parka and a bomber jacket each use heat-conducting ink that generates warmth similar to an electric blanket.

“We’re looking back and celebrating what’s iconic and symbolic of America, and merging that with where we’re headed,” says David Lauren, the brand’s chief innovation officer. The uniform, which includes classics of American fashion such as jeans and thick suede gloves, nod to different American frontiers, he adds. “The frontiers of the 1800s and 1900s, and then the frontier of today, which is technology.”

Lauren explains that the design’s top priority was to allow for flexibility: while temperatures in South Korea can reach below zero in the winter, athletes needed to feel equally comfortable wearing the jacket while waiting at the backstage area ahead of the Opening Ceremony. After investigating suitable fabrics, the brand landed on technology.

 

Ralph Lauren's Heated Parka, tech-enabled textiles
Ralph Lauren’s Heated Parka

The garment’s heat is achieved through a special type of carbon and silver ink bonded to the jacket lining, which in keeping with the brand’s roots, were sewn in the shape of an American flag.

The ink connects to a battery pack sewn into the garment, which when fully charged can heat the jacket for up to 11 hours. Athletes can then adjust the temperature up or down via an app.

To develop the jacket, the RL innovation team worked with several US-based  partners such as engineers at Delaware-based tech giant DuPont, who had previously developed heated garments which were deemed to heavy for everyday wear. The brand also worked with Butler Technologies, a high-tech precision screen-printer based in Pittsburgh; apparel manufacturer 99Degrees, who helped bond the heater to the jacket’s lining; Key Tech, a high-tech design firm that helped design the battery packs with user experience in mind; and Principled Design, who designed the connectors that attach the battery pack to the heater in a streamlined way.

A sketch of Ralph Lauren's Olympics opening ceremony outfit connected tech, textiles
A sketch of Ralph Lauren’s Olympics opening ceremony outfit

Lauren explains that the jacket is an experiment towards launching a consumer-facing connected product this year: “Our hope is that we’ll learn enough that we’ll be able to go into production with a different, limited edition jacket for this fall.”

For years, the brand has been experimenting with technology and how it can improve performance when embedded in textiles. In 2015, it launched the PoloTech smart shirt, which captures biometric information and transmits it to an accompanying app, while for the 2016 Summer Olympics, it created a blazer with electroluminescent panels for torch-bearer Michael Phelps.

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Editor's pick film

3 new sportswear ads you need to watch – Adidas, Reebok and Nike

FKA Twigs x Nike - sportswear campaigns
FKA Twigs x Nike: Do You Believe in More?

Unsurprisingly, inspiration for great storytelling, and for films that don’t merely push product, but sell big ideas, often come from outside the fashion space.

Sportswear, albeit only one step removed, is one such area. It always has been.

Three weeks into the New Year and we’re already seeing why that’s set to continue for 2017. Below are three new campaigns from Adidas, Reebok and Nike that you might want to pay attention to…


Reebok: Be More Human – Hands

Reebok is back with its “Be More Human” campaign, once again focusing on the idea that physicality unlocks a better version of yourself. At the heart of that is a 60-second spot called “Hands”, which highlights the idea of our hands as the “perfect metaphor for the change that happens when you are physical”, Yan Martin, Reebok’s VP of brand management and creative direction, told AdWeek.

“Because as we push and pull and fight, our hands collect calluses, and blisters and scars. They’re almost like journals in this way. But as our hands, and bodies, change, we also change on the inside. Becoming braver and kinder and more connected,” he adds. “We’re not just talking about fitness for the sake of fitness, or winning and losing. This is about the transformation that happens when we move—physically, mentally and socially. So that gives us a lot of areas to play in, and a lot to respond to within culture and the current mind-set of the world.” The ad was created by Venables Bell & Partners and is accompanied by a handful of additional spots following the same theme.


FKA Twigs x Nike: Do You Believe in More?

Nike Women has launched a new campaign fronted by FKA Twigs, who also plays the part of creative director. The result is a two-minute music video set to the artist’s new song Trust in Me and starring a cast of 12 athletes alongside her. In a statement, Twigs said: “When Nike first came to me with this project, I saw it as an opportunity to let young people know they have the power to become the best versions of themselves. I put together a cast of 12 incredible athletes to show that it’s about what you do in fitness gear. It’s about how you train. It’s about how those things help your movement.”


Adidas Originals: Original is Never Finished

Music is also central to a new global campaign from Adidas Originals to relaunch its EQT shoe line. The above 90-second film, called “Original is Never Finished” features a version of Frank Sinatra’s My Way, to reinforce the idea that despite being a track that’s been covered multiple times before, original is indeed, never finished. Stars include Snoop Dogg, hip-hop artist Stormzy, basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, skateboarder Lucas Puig, artist Petra Collins and more. It was created by New York agency Johannes Leonardo.

Alegra O’Hare, VP-global communications at Adidas Originals & Core, said: “We have in the past challenged ‘outward’-facing concepts like what it meant to be a superstar, or the dystopian notion of the future. For the first time ever, we decided to point the attention in, and challenge the very ethos of our brand and the notion of what it means to be a true original.”