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Editor's pick Retail Uncategorized

The future of retail is collaboration, says Story’s Rachel Shechtman

If the future of retail could be summed up in one word, it is collaboration, says Story founder and Macy’s brand experience officer Rachel Schechtman. Speaking at a panel chaired by Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette at NRF’s Big Show in New York today, Shechtman outlined how she is translating her successful retail concept to the American company 18 months into the new role, with a key focus on curation and scalability.

Working with such a large legacy retailer comes with a different set of challenges, but for Shechtman, it is important to retain the parameters that she applies to her successful NY-based concept, where its theme and product assortment changes every six weeks. Collaboration for her isn’t ever about simply merchandise, but rather strategic partnerships that become part of the storytelling Story has become known for.

When choosing a partner, she asks three questions: will this partner add authority and authenticity to the category in which they exist? Do they create a product that is relevant to a subset of men, women or children? And lastly, do they like them? The latter might sound simple, but when doing things that are pushing the envelope, it is important to have affinity with who you’re working with, she says.

There is no one-size-fits-all mentality to her approach, however, and the most important litmus test is: are customers receiving an experience the they cannot get on their couch? Focusing on strong staff training and visual merchandising allows the retailer to create a story around the product which will undoubtably lure the customer into the physical space, she says.

Shechtman has been attending the Macy’s university, she says, since beginning her new role, understanding how the brand’s culture and DNA affects the retail experience. Her in-house team is focused on three main strategies in order to translate the success that Story has achieved, but at a much wider scale. Firstly, they are looking at how to show up differently for their customers, presented within a Macy’s environment, both by testing and creating new processes. Secondly, engaging with 300+ colleagues within the organization and allowing them to become co-creators of this new experience in order to make it sustainable and scalable in the long run. Lastly is the important piece of partnerships, and how to maintain that value proposition when working with a company that has millions of social followers and store windows all over the country.

With internet democratisation and customer needs changing, collaboration and learning from what other businesses can offer is the way forward, concludes Shechtman. It’s about always thinking strategically about who you work with, and what the end result means for the customer experience.

How are you thinking about retail 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.

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Editor's pick Retail

WeWork launches retail vertical to promote members’ brands

WeWork's WeMRKT
WeWork’s WeMRKT

WeWork has launched WeMRKT, a new retail space featuring products made by WeWork members, giving up-and-coming companies visibility, support and feedback within the co-working space’s community.

Products will  include healthy snacks, office necessities and branded apparel. Julie Rice, the company’s chief brand officer, said the new format is “by our members, for our members” and that WeMRKT is “a great example of WeWork’s commitment to our members’ success”.

An initial selection of 10 products featured was chosen in a pitch competition in April, with winners being selected through criteria such as innovation, eye-catching packaging and a solid business plan. Included are brands such as Banana, a plantain chip company aiming to eliminate food waste on organic banana farms, and Misfit Juicery, which makes cold pressed juices using ‘ugly’ produce that farmers are unable to sell elsewhere.

Competitions will now be held quarterly, and winners will also further distribute through SnackNation, a healthy snack delivery service that partners with WeWork.

For chosen companies, this is an opportunity to not only promote their product, but receive more immediate feedback, says Molly Peterson, director of communications at yoghurt brand Icelandic Provisions. “That feedback actually really helps us in terms of product development,” she says. “We are really honored and feel lucky to have that kind of instant visibility within the WeWork community.”

WeMRKT’s first location was unveiled on June 25 at the New York WeWork 205 Hudson, with more locations planned to open in the city and across the country, imminently.

As legacy retailers struggle to react quickly to retail’s ever-changing climate, independent brands are increasingly being more nimble in their approach and finding new channels in which to get their products in customers’ hands. Also in New York City, for example, is Bulletin, a “flea market” type of store that rents shelf space to up and coming brands who were born in digital, enabling them to sell in the physical space.

Not all established retailers are ignoring this trend, however. In May this year, Macy’s announced it was acquiring Story, a retail space that changes its concept and merchandise every four to six weeks. Story’s founder Rachel Shechtman, now Macy’s brand experience officer, has been tasked with bringing the experiential nature of the concept into Macy’s department stores throughout the country.

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business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Macy’s buys Story, Gucci’s new flagship, AI and the future of fashion

Futuristic fashion by Tim Walker
Futuristic fashion by Tim Walker

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

TOP STORIES
  • Macy’s buys Story concept [RetailDive]
  • Gucci plants its flag in Soho [BoF]
  • How artificial intelligence will impact the future of fashion [Vogue]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Can AI and AR turn your prospects into customers? [Inc]
  • How beauty brands like Coty and Shiseido are using voice assistants [Glossy]
  • Ticketmaster to trial facial recognition technology at live venues [Venture]
  • Verisart brings blockchain certification to the global art auction market [TechCrunch]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Fast fashion goes green with mushrooms, lumber scraps, and algae [Bloomberg]
  • Applied DNA Sciences confirms traceability of leather [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Walmart.com redesigns as the anti-Amazon [Co.Design]
  • Farfetch partners with Stadium Goods on sneaker hub [WWD]
  • Brandless’ pop-up is focused on community engagement rather than selling products [AdWeek]
  • China’s live-streaming fashion boom changing the way Gen Z shops [SCMP]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside the bitter war to bring Tupac and Michael Jackson back to life [Wired]
  • Diet Prada unmasked [BoF]
  • Instagram quietly launches payments for commerce [TechCrunch]
PRODUCT
  • Amsterdam is solving its gum litter problem by making shoes out of recycled gum [AdWeek]
  • ElektroCouture: Inside the fashion house behind Swarovski’s $60,000 light-up dress [Forbes]
BUSINESS
  • Over 400 startups are trying to become the next Warby Parker. Inside the wild race to overthrow every consumer category [Inc]
  • Prada: Making the most of its moment [BoF]
  • Alibaba’s anti-counterfeit group now has 105 brand members, including L’Oréal and Bose [TheDrum]
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Editor's pick film

Kate Spade’s #MissAdventure holiday campaign stars Miss Piggy and Zosia Mamet

Kate Spade's latest #MissAdventure campaign, starring Zosia Mamet and Miss Piggy
Kate Spade’s latest #MissAdventure campaign, starring Zosia Mamet and Miss Piggy

Actress Zosia Mamet returns to Kate Spade New York’s #MissAdventure campaign series, this time accompanied by her friend Miss Piggy for the holiday season.

The duo appears in an elevator together at the Empire State Building on their way to a festive party. In dreaded holiday style, a faux pas lies in the fact they’re wearing the same outfit. Cue a flurry of bickering and amusing comebacks to one another around who wears what better. There’s even a cameo appearance from Lendra Medine of Man Repeller.

“Our story for holiday is about the tools that we create to give our customers a unique and personalised experience,” Kristen Naiman, Kate Spade New York’s SVP of brand creative, told AdWeek. “When we started thinking about personalisation and the place that #MissAdventure occupies, we were really thinking, ‘What does it mean to have a unique sense of style and how do you express yourself through that?’ We turned that on its head and created a would-be debacle out of an effort to have your own personal style.”

The ad ends on the two long-time friends making up over their fashion choices and heading out to enjoy the occasion. “I love you but you make me bananas,” Mamet says.

Shorter versions of the spot are running as paid digital placements, while Miss Piggy also appears in a print and social campaign alongside Jourdan Dunn. Her character is otherwise part of an accessory line for the brand featuring wallets, phone cases and jewellery.

Speaking to WWD on the launch, Miss Piggy said: “Moi was already a big fan of Kate Spade New York’s Miss Adventure’s series. I mean you see all these fabulous and incredibly strong and wonderful women like Anna Kendrick and Zosia Mamet having fun. So, I thought: I’m fabulous, incredibly strong and wonderful, I need to be part of this. When I discovered they wanted to create product inspired by moi: Well, it was a done deal.”

You can also check out more about it as well as the rest of this year’s seasonal films, here.

Categories
Editor's pick film

Prada unveils “cinema poem” in Dada-inspired silent film

Prada Past Forward
Freida Pinto in Prada’s Past Forward silent film

Prada has released a short black-and-white film set in a futuristic silent dreamscape. Referred to by the brand as a “cinema poem” and a “complex collage”, it simultaneously stars Allison Williams, Freida Pinto and Kuoth Wiel in the same role, flicking seamlessly from one version of the lead character to the next.

The same goes for their male counterparts in John Krasinski, Jack Huston, and Sinqua Walls. Also featuring are Connie Britton and Paula Patton as adversaries, and Sacha Baron Cohen as a mouthless doctor.

On that level, “Past Forward”, as it’s called, is a surreal tale that includes everything from a chase and a fight scene, to a roll around on the beach and a particularly unique dance sequence.

There are tears, laughter, frights and more. There’s even a sci-fi twist with a triangular piece of glass that serves as a future smartphone device, and a direct reference to René Magritte’s The Lovers II painting from 1928, where a piece of fabric blocks two lovers’ embrace. It’s a “Dadaist plot”, as Vogue refers to it.

You have no idea if what you’re watching is a dream sequence, a series of memories or a reflection of chaotic modern (or future) life. And that’s the point. “The viewer is left to decode what is experience, what is memory, what is dream and discern the overlap and differences between them,” says the release.

But more than that, the entire 12-minute piece really is intended as a piece of art. Director David O Russell (known for big films including Joy, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) said: “Here was the opportunity to make a journey guided by layers of movie memories, life images and emotions, with no aim except to create art – as if it were a painting or a sculpture – free from normal narrative or audience expectations. The cast and I worked simply for the joy of making art.”

In an interview with Vogue, he added: “It coalesced into this memory that’s also sort of a future. I almost think the whole thing is almost a premonition of how the country feels right now to me. Because the movies that I love, the dreams that I love, have a feeling of uncertainty in them.”

Prada Past Foward
Inspiration from René Magritte’s The Lovers II in Prada’s Past Forward silent film

“It’s almost like a painter experimenting with paint. And I was surprised in the edit room to say, ‘Look how different this feels when Freida is doing it. Look how this feels when Kuoth is doing it. How does it feel when Allison is doing it?’ It’s a process of discovery. I feel something different every time I watch it when it changes from one person to the next. I feel something inside me that says something about identity or culture or race, and in time they change.”

As Vogue explains, he references Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest; the work of Franz Kafka; or automatic writing as popularized by André Breton, Robert Desnos, and their Surrealist crew in the 1920s as inspiration.

Prada isn’t the only fashion house working with Hollywood names of late. Burberry revealed The Tale of Thomas Burberry for the holiday season written by Matt Charman and directed by Asif Kapadia; Mulberry’s festive campaign was written by Hugo Guinness and directed by Albert Moya; and Moncler has also released a short film called Brave, Vision from Spike Lee.

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Editor's pick film

Burberry teams with GQ for scripted video series

Sophie Turner 1

Storytelling in a way that provides a peek into someone’s world, and leaves you wanting more, is the name of the game for a new video series from GQ, in collaboration with Burberry.

Tying in with the brand’s Mr Burberry fragrance, three episodes will launch in total. Picking up where the fragrance campaign left off – after a steamy night in a hotel – the first, sees actress Sophie Turner (of Game of Thrones fame) recounting her night with a mysterious man over the phone to a friend.

“The Departure”, as it’s called, sees her sharing details of her evening with him while sat in a room at London’s Café Royal still in the gown she wore at the awards ceremony they’d met at. It ends on a note of: “What happens next?”

The series was co-written and shot by female director Sara Dunlop, whose short film Dreamlands has been nominated at the 2016 Cannes film festival. The following two films will also celebrate female actresses, starring Joséphine de La Baume and the Sai Bennett respectively.

All will appear exclusively on the websites and social media platforms of British GQ, GQ US, GQ France, GQ Italy & GQ Germany.

Categories
Editor's pick film

Kate Spade keeps on winning in the storytelling campaign stakes

Behind-the-scenes on Kate Spade New York's #missadventure series, season 2
Behind-the-scenes on Kate Spade New York’s #missadventure series, season 2

Narrative continues to creep its way into the fashion industry’s advertising, and nowhere more is that true than with Kate Spade New York.

In a continuation of its #missadventure campaign series, the brand this time tells the tale of three women (actress Zosia Mamet returns alongside Lola Kirke and Kat Dennings) who go on the perfect weekend away, only to have their plans go “comically, perfectly wrong”.

Hoping for a spa package and yoga instructor, they end up with a retirement cake and bundle of bride-to-be accessories.

Those items as well as a bouncy castle are the product of Mamet’s attempts to use a new app called Favor Faves to order everything en route to the house they’re staying in, which is where such narrative wins it’s first points: it’s real. We’re all (and by all, we mean Kate Spade’s target market) obsessed with new apps and the idea that they make us more efficient.

We’re all also obsessed by things coming to us, on-demand. Especially if you live in New York, as well as an increasing number of other major cities (thanks Seamless, Uber, Deliveroo, Shyp, Postmates etc etc). But… we’ve all often had scenarios where such ideas have also failed us, especially when travelling. Perhaps they haven’t resulted in such extremes (the #missadventure series likes to add a touch of the surreal), but you get the idea.

The second way that Kate Spade wins, is that this short film feels as though you’re watching a scene from a TV show or a movie, not an ad. It’s not even a trailer – not a hint of something you need to go and watch the full-length version of, but instead something that you’ve rather missed the rest of. In a cameo role, Marisa Tomei shows up in her pyjamas for goodness’ sake.

As Kate Spade’s SVP of brand creative, Kristen Naiman, tells Vanity Fair, when the #missadventure series first started it was aiming to take advantage of the fact there was a renaissance in scripted serialised content being seen. “By the end of the first four episodes, we had set a world in motion. We saw on our social media channels an incredible appetite for it as a ‘show,’ as entertainment. There was a transition from ‘what a cute bag’ to ‘when is this going to be a movie?’” she explains.

And yet, in addition to that, Kate Spade also manages to throw a load of its product in there too. Those pyjamas in this recent film are really great, as is the hat Tomei wears with them. That box of bridal gear is perfect for those indeed planning bachelorette / hen parties (of which undoubtedly Kate Spade does very well from). And let’s not forget that each of the actresses are dressed in numerous covetable items throughout themselves – apparel, shoes and accessories – ready to be shopped now.

It’s true marketing, yet it feels like entertainment. Bearing all that in mind, it comes as no surprise this ad has nearly one million views just a week after launch.

Meanwhile, Burberry has recently opted for a more “traditional” take on narrative – sharing the tale of a young couple without spoken word. The short film by Oscar-winning British director Steve McQueen, captures duo Joshua Whitehouse and Amber Anderson on a romantic/dirty weekend in London for the brand’s new Mr Burberry fragrance. While it’s nicely done, it’s been met with criticism from some, and can certainly be considered not as engaging as the above. Watch it here:

One worth checking out by comparison is Hill & Friends’ The Happy Factory, first unveiled during London Fashion Week in February. While also not using any spoken word, it’s a rather more captivating 10-minute tale where a combination of live action, animation and CGI follows a bellboy and a variety of woodland animals in a subterranean Hill & Friends office. You can also watch it here:

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digital snippets e-commerce Editor's pick mobile Startups technology

Digital snippets: Every key fashion story you need to read from #SXSW

IMG_3076

It might be an event dedicated to technologists first and foremost, but there’s no escaping the role of branding and marketing at SXSW Interactive these days, and the fashion industry has inserted itself well and truly as a relevant vertical within that.

From SXstyle to numerous off-schedule events, there were more dedicated fashion and retail-related panels than ever, not to mention numerous pop-up activations dedicated to the future of this area.

Whether you weren’t able to make it to Austin, or indeed were on the ground but overwhelmed by the madness (weren’t we all!), here’s a comprehensive round-up of everything that went on by way of the top stories to read. Note the absence of wearables this year by the way…

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Editor's pick social media

Milan and Paris love Snapchat too, here are the highlights

snapchat_milanparis

While anything new in social media normally hits New York and London fashion weeks first, taking several seasons to finally get to Milan and Paris, Snapchat seems to be bucking that trend.

Yes the platform launched back in 2011, and yes it has been used at fashion weeks before too, but if there’s one thing the past month has proved, it’s how many more brands have willingly taken the plunge.

New York saw new accounts launch from Tommy Hilfiger (in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid) and Marc Jacobs, as well as two dedicated stories from Snapchat shared throughout the week. London meanwhile, also saw some exciting work, with a dedicated story created by Burberry for the channel, and further new accounts from the likes of Mulberry and Mr Porter.

Once we hit Milan, much of the same continued, with some great insights behind-the-scenes from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci particularly. Over to Paris, and H&M used the platform to get its viewers to help choose which shoes from its show should be sold in store in September (inviting them to take a screenshot to vote). Balmain was also on there documenting its bevy of supermodels and their new hair colours, Stella McCartney playfully added lots of emojis, and Valentino handed the reins of its account over to blogger Bryan Boy.

Dior was a bit of a surprise with its launch – providing another behind-the-scenes tour with further emojis splashed on top (who would have thought it!) And for all those wanting more, Snapchat provided yet another dedicated catwalk story throughout as well.

Here are some of the Milan and Paris brand highlights:

H&M:

HM_snap

HM_snap2

Gucci:

GucciGhost1

Guccighost5

Dolce & Gabbana:

dolcegabbana_snap

Balmain:

balmain_snap

Dior:

dior_snap1

dior_snap2

Stella McCartney:

stella_snap1

stella_snap2

Valentino:

valentino_snap

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Editor's pick social media

Burberry turns to epic storytelling on Snapchat to reveal new collection

Burberry_snapchat_heist

If it’s not on Snapchat did it really happen? Or in Burberry’s case, if it IS on Snapchat did it happen really at all?

The British heritage brand – due to show at LFW today – took to the platform with a big focus on storytelling this weekend. The short version: two models planned to break into the Burberry flagship store on Regent Street, cue lots of security footage, references to numerous heist films, and entertaining moments before they eventually find the locked collection, play dress up in it, and then get caught.

“Break in at Burberry!” reads the headline on the front of the newspaper the next morning, accompanied by sub-stories including “Not so model behaviour”, “Snapchat gets the scoop”, and “High fashion heist”.

It’s a mega example of creativity on the platform; something the brand has been experimenting with since last season, but this time done in a way that really brings a fresh view to fashion weeks.

Content from other brands and showgoers / influencers alike, is inevitably heavily focused on the catwalks themselves. While a few sneak peeks have been revealed in numerous cases at the likes of Topshop and Mulberry, Burberry is the only example of a brand thinking outside the box to appeal to its digital audience.

The essence of the story, is of course, to preview the new autumn/winter 2016 line. It also ties to the fact it will be placed in store after today’s show in celebration of the brand’s move to a consumer-facing calendar from September.

Check out more of the images from Snapchat below…

Burberry_snapchat_heist1

Burberry_snapchat_heist2

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