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business Podcast product Retail

Thom Browne: Choosing authenticity over hype

A brand’s success depends on authentic relationships and good design over hype, says Rodrigo Bazan, CEO of designer label Thom Browne, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

“I tend to like less anything based on hype or cool, or the hot thing of the moment, because by definition that’s going to cool down at some point. So I still believe that the big things that are happening are led by a very, very strong design idea,” he explains.

It’s for the same reason that dressing rapper Cardi B for this year’s Met Gala in a larger-than-life ruby ballgown made sense for the luxury label, he notes. 

The Thom Browne team does little PR and has no internal VIP team, meaning the relationship with Cardi, as well as sports superstars like basketballer LeBron James, happen organically.

Since launching in 2004, the brand has gained a loyal audience that appreciates its modern take on classic silhouettes. The designer’s discrete nature (he himself is not on social media) and timeless designs mean it has managed to stand out in a world of overconsumption and celebrity designers that rule social media, from Virgil Abloh at Off White and Louis Vuitton to Olivier Rousteing at Balmain. 

Bazan explains how the brand is averse to overexposure and flashiness, instead focusing on creating more of these meaningful partnerships, from dressing Barcelona FC players off the field to creating bespoke tailoring with Barneys. As a result, it is steadily growing a business aiming to survive the influencer fatigue that is starting to pick up speed. 

Join us to learn more from Bazan about what that means in practice, including how music and celebrity help fuel its success, why the brand believes in sportswear over streetwear, and just how its thinking about the balance of data and design today.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how 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 digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: UK gov rejects sustainable recommendations, celebrating Karl, GenZ and TikTok

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

TOP STORIES
  • UK ministers reject plans for 1p per garment levy to tackle fast fashion [The Guardian]
  • ‘Karl for ever’: a joyful celebration of Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy [WWD]
  • Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too? [BoF]
  • How a £1 bikini revealed the changing shape of fast fashion [The Guardian]
TECHNOLOGY
  • The world is a mess. We need fully automated luxury communism [NY Times]
  • John Lewis to trial VR experience in shops [Fashion Network]
  • Amazon deploys ‘Pegasus’ robots in sortation centers [Retail Dive]
  • Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes [Technology Review]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • H&M called out on “illegal” sustainability marketing [Eco Textile]
  • Net-a-Porter has started telling customers which brands are sustainable [The Independent]
  • More than half of British and American consumers want a more sustainable fashion industry [i-D Vice]
  • Prada sets goal to phase out virgin nylon by 2021 [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren unveils new sustainability goals [WWD]
  • Banana Republic announces waterless dyed denim for 2020 [Fashion United]
  • Why we can’t relax about vegan leather [Vogue Business]
  • The North Face teams with National Geographic for upcycled plastic line [Fashion United]
  • Asos unveils ‘responsible edit’ [Drapers]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Verishop’s plan to be the Amazon of “affordable luxury” [Vogue Business]
  • Carrefour opens store with facial recognition and sensors [Retail Dive]
  • Pablo Isla defends ‘integrated model’ as a way to differentiate Inditex [Fashion Network]
  • Backstage and Story are very pretty. But, will they lure shoppers to Macy’s? [Retail Dive]
  • Gamification: the future of luxury retail in China [Jing Daily]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The AI-driven social media network hailed as the next Tumblr [Dazed]
  • Mountain Hardwear launches AR app to bring outdoor gear to life [Retail Dive]
  • The future of marketing is bespoke everything [The Atlantic]
  • Mulberry bases new marketing campaign on British pub culture [Fashion Network]
  • MAC Cosmetics tries on YouTube’s newest AR ad formats [Retail Dive]
PRODUCT
  • Dolce & Gabbana becomes the first luxury fashion house to extend sizes [Fashion United]
  • Adidas and Ikea to develop products for home workouts [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Unilever acquires beauty brand Tatcha for a reported $500 million [AdWeek]
  • Chanel dispels rumors of sale after announcing a strong financial year [Fashion United]
  • Mulberry falls into the red [Drapers]
  • Kenzo parts ways with creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [WWD]
  • Topshop owner’s fall is fastest in UK high street memory [Vogue Business]
  • Revenue jumps 39% at Boohoo Group [Drapers]
CULTURE
  • Unilever boss warns of dangers of ‘woke-washing’ in ad industry [Sky News]
  • As drag goes mainstream, queer fashion designers reap business benefits [Fashionista]
  • It’s long overdue for fashion to think about people with disabilities [Hypebeast]
  • Streetwear’s big opportunity: women [BoF]

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

Amazon Fashion takes a leaf out of streetwear’s game with The Drop

Amazon has teased a new fashion line called The Drop, which will see limited edition collections launching for 30 hours at a time.

The e-commerce giant unveiled the news this week, referring to it as “limited-edition street style, designed by global influencers”.

Those influencers include Paola Alberdi, Sierra Furtado, Patricia Bright, Leonie Hanne and Emi Suzuki, all of whom will be involved in creating looks for the exclusive drops, which will be released every few weeks.

Users are invited to submit their phone number to receive text updates when the latest drop comes in.

The company also promises a sustainability play in all this, highlighting how the initiative will mean less waste because of the fact things are only made to order. Alongside the limited edition pieces released will also be a handful of “staples” in order to complete each look.

The website of The Drop reads: “Trends move fast. The Drop does, too. Each collection is live for 30 hours or less because fabrics are limited. Then we make each style only when you order it to reduce waste.”

Amazon is of course jumping on the bandwagon of streetwear’s drop collection game, looking to emulate the scarcity and hype factor that has seen such huge success stories as Supreme and others. Broader fashion and luxury brands have also been exploring such opportunities, from Burberry to Ralph Lauren, through a combination of new business models and collaborations.

The idea of made-to-order however is also something Amazon has been hinting at for sometime. It filed a patent in 2017 for an on-demand clothing manufacturing process, which does indeed suggest speed as well as volume.

How are you thinking about retail and product 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 product Retail social media

3 ways streetwear is reinventing the product ‘drop’

The streetwear ‘drop’ model of drip-feeding products in order to generate a constant sense of newness is now a tried and tested one. But as luxury brands and retailers borrow from its success recipe, the big question is: is the hype bubble about to burst?

While many of streetwear’s forefathers now claim the once-niche movement is long-dead, brands are still finding different ways to capitalize on such an invested audience. Beyond product releases that draw crowds outside stores at major capitals, from New York to Tokyo, there is a new level of creativity being deployed in order to keep the momentum going.

Here, we highlight the most disruptive ways in which streetwear brands are continuing to achieve the same level of frenzy:

Reinventing the scavenger hunt
Fred Perry x Raf Simons

The traditional ‘drop’ strategy involved feeding the audience with specific release dates and locations, and waiting for the masses of eager streetwear fanatics to show up and queue. But as a system of resale and unfair buying behaviors began to develop, brands had to rethink their strategy.

By gamifying the drop experience, consumers feel a bigger sense of ownership and emotional response to the whole experience – in other words, by making them work for it, they value their purchases, and the brand, more.

At last year’s ComplexCon taking place in Long Beach, California, adidas was arguably the biggest sportswear presence with a number of activation booths throughout. But it took advantage of the larger-than-life venue by deploying giant cubes that hung from the ceiling and facilitated the purchase of limited edition shoes.

Through the ComplexCon app, it told Con-goers of the exact time a new model was about to drop. Users were then encouraged to stand under one of the cubes and scan to gain access to the e-commerce page and proceed to purchase. As a result, before the clock struck every few hours, one could see small crowds gathering under the cubes, hoping to be able to ‘cop’ the shoe before anyone else.

Fred Perry meanwhile, took it to the digital sphere to promote its latest collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons. It created a Google Streetview-like experience where, by visiting a virtual map of a suburban English town, users could navigate its empty streets to spot people wearing the latest collection. Once they found someone sporting the new look, they could click it to purchase, and be led to an e-commerce page.

Rewarding post-purchase
Converse’s Chuck Stop café

If digital channels have made it far too easy to get one’s hands on a limited edition item, then brands should also be focusing on the important post-purchase moment as an opportunity for creating longer-term bonds. In doing so, brands are creating a never-ending cycle of engagement, with a clear reward keeping fans coming back for more.

To promote Air Max Day, Nike’s yearly celebration of the Air Max shoe, the brand launched a virtual store where limited edition items could only be accessed if the consumer showed proof they had already purchased the latest model of the shoe in the first place. Logging in a purchase number generated Air Max ‘credits’ that were put into a virtual wallet, which then allowed access to items such as bottles, socks and stickers.

Meanwhile, when launching the latest iteration of its much-hyped collaboration with Off-White last October, Converse rewarded consumers with access to an exclusive experience at Selfridges in London. Any consumer wearing any item of Chuck Taylor clothing, and having bought the new shoes at sneaker retailer Offspring’s concession at the store, were given a Converse “coffee loyalty card”.

This granted them access to the Chuck Stop café, where they could enjoy a drink and a bagel, pick up freebies like tote bags and socks, and add their own graffiti to a wall.

Tapping into social
Nike x HQ Trivia’s limited edition kicks

Social media is arguably the most important driver of the popularity of streetwear – from enabling users to discover and covet new brands or products, as well as connecting labels to a larger community that keep their popularity going.

Ultimate rivals Nike and adidas are often the first ones to tap into new channels of engagement, in a constant battle for the top spot in positive consumer sentiment (and spending). Last year, amid the craze surrounding live gaming app HQ Trivia, Nike sponsored a live game that included access to exclusive shoes and a cash giveaway of $100,000. Previously, it had taken to Snapchat to pre-release Air Jordans at an NBA after-party in Los Angeles. Only guests on-site could scan Snapcodes to gain access to purchase.

Adidas has also played with Snapchat, and recently used Apple’s “AirDrop” functionality on the iPhone to gift attendees at Coachella Valley Music Festival with a new shoe collaboration with musician Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino).

Also leveraging social is NTWRK, a new social media platform by Aaron Levant, the former founder of Complexcon. Dubbed as the “HSN of streetwear” and with ambitions to become a full-on entertainment platform, the app works by broadcasting live bite-sized ‘shows’ that feature exclusive product drops. Users who wish to get their hands on product, which includes collabs with the likes of Levi’s and New Balance, need to log into the app at the exact time the show airs.

How are you thinking about retail and product 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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e-commerce Editor's pick product

New label Fall Risk launches collection through dedicated telephone hotline

New York-based streetwear label, Fall Risk, has released its very first collection via a digital showroom, but its only shoppable by calling a dedicated hotline.

The phone line (+1 212.982.7475) is highlighted on the brand’s website alongside a tagline that reads “CALL TO ORDER”. Befitting the overall retro atmosphere of the site, this is written out in green pixelated letters on a black background, reminiscent of early years computer screens.

Once a customer calls, the designer himself – John Targon (a former employee of Marc Jacobs, Celine and Burberry) – or one of his team will pick up the phone to discuss the purchase.

“The idea of personal connection is the biggest driving force for me right now,” the designer shared in an interview with CR Fashionbook. “I wanted to connect directly with the people who are interested in buying Fall Risk. There was no better way for me to get the true feeling of what is resonating other than by directly listening to my potential customers. Also, it’s fun to listen and talk to them since you can understand what people already own and what they need.”

The collection itself invites references of the 70s and 90s fashion eras, featuring unisex knitwear clothing and accessories. Only 50 items have been produced of each style, which explains why they all sold out after launching only yesterday.

A campaign image of newly launched NY fashion label Fall Risk

Fall Risk is cleverly tapping into the successful marketing strategies of streetwear brands, garnering hype around limited edition collection “drops”. For example on the top of the digital showroom website, a small tab to the left shows a timer that counts down to the brand’s next drop. Currently, it is set for 00:00:00, but items such as that shown in the ad above have not yet been released, suggesting another range of styles is not far off.

In the future, the designer has outlined his ambitions to introduce a membership program that will allow members to preorder items and participate in exclusive events.

Fall Risks’ retro approach to selling its merchandise is one of the latest examples of how streetwear is tapping into consumers’ need for newness. Adidas, for example, gifted their newest sneaker collaboration with Childish Gambino via Apple’s AirDrop feature to lucky festival-goers at Coachella this year.

How are you thinking about e-commerce 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 product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Tom Ford for CFDA, Neiman Marcus megastore, Louis Vuitton pulls Michael Jackson pieces

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

TOP STORIES
  • Tom Ford tapped to head CFDA [WWD]
  • Neiman Marcus blends retail and tech at Hudson Yards megastore [TheCurrentDaily]
  • Louis Vuitton pulls Michael Jackson-themed items from collection [Reuters]
  • Burberry wants to go plastic-free by 2025 [WWD]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Lush demos visual search app and fresh ‘digital packaging’ at SXSW [Retail Dive]
  • Google lets YouTube creators add AR selfies to Stories [Mobile Marketer]
  • Google rolls out smart targeting for in-game ads [Mobile Marketer]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • United Nations launches Alliance for Sustainable Fashion in Nairobi [Fashion Network]
  • How big retailers are selling sustainability [BoF]
  • Ikea turns recycled furniture into adorable homes for wildlife [Fast Company]
  • Stella McCartney, Christopher Raeburn among winners of inaugural CO10 Sustainability Award [WWD]
  • Primark launches its first range of 100% sustainable cotton jeans [The Industry]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Rent the Runway and West Elm launch data-informed home rental collection [TheCurrentDaily]
  • Philadelphia just banned cashless stores. Will other cities follow? [Vox]
  • American Eagle targets Gen Z with sneaker resale pop-up [TheCurrentDaily]
  • Inspiration: Balenciaga’s new Sloane Street “warehouse” [The Industry]
PRODUCT
  • Hermès to launch beauty range in 2020 [Fashion Network]
  • CBD fragrance is here — and it can be absorbed through the skin [WWD]
  • Fashion brands are making stylish clothes for dogs, and millennials are spending plenty of money on them [Fashionista]
  • Supergoop unveils SPF eye shadow [WWD]
BUSINESS
  • Adidas Q4 net profit jumps 29% [WWD]
  • Shoes of Prey goes into voluntary administration [Fashion Network]
  • Furla’s turnover exceeds 500 million euros [Fashion United]
  • Zalando to end private business zLabels [Retail Gazette]
  • JD Sports to buy smaller rival Footasylum [BoF]
  • Prada shares tumble as China slowdown hits profits [BoF]
  • Here’s how the trade war could lead to a boom in counterfeit goods [CNBC]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The beauty of a billboard in the age of Instagram [The Fashion Law]
  • Will success spoil Diet Prada? [BoF]
  • Increasingly experimental Sephora introduces credit card program [WWD]
  • Benefit Cosmetics launches first voice-led campaign in the UK [Internet Retailing]
CULTURE
  • Evolution of man: the rise and rise of the male wellness sector [The Guardian]
  • Sephora ends beauty deal with vlogger after college admissions scandal [AdAge]
  • Exploring the politics of beauty in the world of VR and gaming [Dazed]
  • Why urban millennials love Uniqlo [The Atlantic]
  • Why do blunders like the Gucci blackface debacle still happen? [Quartz]
  • ‘Project Runway’s return to Bravo was diverse, relevant and touching [Fashionista]

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

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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Comment Events Retail sustainability technology

Your guide to SXSW 2019 through 10 key themes

SXSW has shifted quite remarkably in the past 10 years – from a launchpad for new technologies, to a reflection of much broader connected culture. During the Interactive portion of the festival, there remains an underpinning of innovation, but so too is there everything from politics to gender on the agenda.

The audience accordingly has widened from those looking for the latest tech trends or emerging startups, to those aiming to understand how societal shifts and digital consumer behaviors are impacting their businesses.

For 2019, that looks set to continue. For those headed down to Austin from the brand world therefore – from marketers to retail executives – it pays to be one step ahead in what to expect. Here are 10 themes to look out for during this year’s festival and the main events to head to in order to see them…

Entrepreneurship

There’s always a theme around entrepreneurship that pops up during SXSW, but this year’s line up looks particularly engaging. Top of the bill is Howard Schultz, former Starbucks Chairman and CEO, who will be talking about growing a global brand with an eye on humanity as well as profits. Meanwhile, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are taking to the stage for the first time since leaving their company, to talk about their entrepreneurial journey. Other highlights come from Esther Perel, who is applying her relationship therapy to workplace dynamics, and Brene Brown, who will explore showing up and speaking out.

Wellness

Wellness as a theme has been increasingly emerging at SXSW over the past few years, as digital health has evolved beyond fitness trackers, for instance, into mental health and mindfulness. That plays out in a few different ways this year, from the expo dedicated to wellness as a theme, to the house Lululemon has with programming focused on yoga and meditation, and a keynote from Gwyneth Paltrow talking all things Goop. Over at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion, highlights lie in a keynote from meditation app Calm’s co-founder and co-CEO, Michael Acton Smith, alongside a guided meditation experience from the app in our pool house, and a game show dedicated to the wellness revolution.

Michael Acton Smith, Calm
Michael Acton Smith, Calm
Sustainability

Sustainability follows neatly after wellness as we think about not just ourselves but our planet. On that note, there’s a lot for the fashion industry to stew over this SXSW, including a session featuring the H&M Group and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; another from Finery founders Brooklyn Decker and Whitney Casey, and one from SAP on a more sustainable supply chain. There’s also Rent the Runway talking about the sharing economy, Walmart looking at sustainable beauty, and a keynote at our Innovation Mansion? with the head of global product innovation at Levi’s.

Experiential

When it comes to retail, experience remains the buzzword du jour, and there’s a lot to learn at SXSW related to such a theme. From the large-scale activations taking place across the city, to those discussing how to do such things well. Giant Spoon is the agency behind last year’s winning Westworld experience at SXSW, and they’ll be on stage discussing how they do it. Also worth seeing is a session dedicated to how to ensure engagement, delight and success through experiential retail above and beyond the overdone ball-pit and photo-worthy backdrops. We’ll also be heading to Calvin Klein’s talk on how to humanize your brand experience in the robot era.

International Women’s Day

Gender and equality isn’t a new topic to SXSW, but International Women’s Day takes place on the first day of the festival, which provides an appropriate opportunity for a celebration of women this year.  Cue lots of events and talks dedicated to the subject, including a full set of programming from Bumble, a panel featuring the women building brands we’ve always wanted, such as Rachel Blumenthal’s Rockets of Awesome, and a session on the rise of feminists with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff. Also look out for actress Zoe Saldana’s keynote on changing the narrative for millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Retail Tech

What’s interesting about this year’s SXSW schedule is seeing talks by the likes of Magic Leap distinctly pointing their focus towards the retail audience. They’ll be talking about AR in the digital shopping experience, while Walmart, Amazon and Kohl’s are (separately) discussing the future of shopping via computer vision, machine learning and AI. Also not to miss is a session featuring the Current Global’s CTO, Scott Emmons, formerly head of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab, diving into how retailers can leverage emerging technologies to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.

Street Culture

If we’re talking culture today, there’s no escaping all things streetwear in terms of mass consumer spread. SXSW is reflecting that fact with various sessions dedicated to the topic. StockX’s Josh Luber has a keynote session talking about his online marketplace designed to work like the stock market. Meanwhile, I’ll be hosting a panel on stage with Levi’s, NTWORK and Johannes Leonardo – the agency that has worked with the likes of Alexander Wang and Adidas Originals – to discuss how streetwear turns hype into big revenue. That story will continue over at our Innovation Mansion with a business of streetwear-themed gameshow. One additional talk to try and get to is with Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, who’s known as a legend among sneakerheads.

The Nike PG 3 NASA on StockX
The Nike PG 3 NASA on StockX
Blockchain

With a new track dedicated to blockchain at SXSW this year, it’s almost cheating to add it as a key theme, but there’s no escaping the growing presence it’s had at the festival over the past few years. The most interesting sessions for 2019 include a keynote from Joseph Lubin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain and CEO of ConsenSys, the Winklevoss twins talking about the cryptocurrency revolution, and a session on radical transparency in the food supply chain. ConsenSys also has a house during the festival where blockchain trends happening across entertainment, fashion, media and more, will be discussed.

Privacy

If blockchain is a key topic, then setting the stage for that, has to be trust. The past couple of years at SXSW have been heavily navigated towards fake news, but after a year of big data protection busts, 2019 orientates itself towards tech ethics and privacy above all else. There’s a not-to-miss session from the founder of Foursquare on location privacy, a couple of deep dives on user privacy in a post Cambridge Analytica and GDPR world, and a look at trust in the era of data.

Looking to the future

Rounding out our themes is the required nod to the future that SXSW has always brought. Malcolm Gladwell is in town to discuss self-driving cars, Publicis is going to explore invention in the age of creativity and the Current Global’s CEO, Liz Bacelar, will dive into the future of beauty with L’Oréal. We’re also looking forward to the Serpentine Galleries’ Hans Ulrich Obrist exploring the possibilities that AI presents for the creation of new art forms, and for those still in town by Wednesday, Bruce Sterling’s always enlightening annual closing remarks.

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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e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Nike launches virtual store where items can only be bought with Air Max credits

Nike has launched a virtual pop-up store where shoppers can only access limited edition items once they have earned credits from a previous purchase.

The store, which accompanies the launch of the Air Max 720 style, can be visited by anyone whereas items are only available to buy once the user has entered their order number for purchasing the new sneaker beforehand. From then the microsite generates “Air Credits”, which are put into a virtual wallet, and allows users to purchase the items that they can see on their screens.

All merchandise in the store has been digitized, hovering in the space while allowing for 360° views either via desktop or phones. This includes AM720-themed water bottles, socks and stickers, for example, all developed in collaboration with the brand’s network of creatives.

To assist customers in the shopping journey, it is also deploying virtual avatars of its many collaborators as sales assistants, including London-based designer Mini Swoosh, England footballer Raheem Sterling and DJ Peggy Gou, which rotate on a weekly basis.

Nike's virtual Air.Shop
Nike’s virtual Air.Shop

The virtual store expands into the physical realm, however, with visitors to the brand’s Oxford Circus flagship in London being able to explore the activation through an installation on the ground floor.

The campaign is part of Nike’s yearly celebration of its iconic Air Max style, which culminates in the Air Max Day taking place on March 26, the day when the very first shoe of the family was released. The yearly celebration is also a chance for the brand to dial up collaborations and promotions around the shoe. This year, it will reveal a style designed by a Nike fan under its On-Air initiative, a competition that grants people the opportunity to create their own shoe and have it produced and released to the public.

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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Editor's pick Retail social media

Lego hosts empty store where products can only be bought via Snapchat

Lego is hosting a pop-up space where visitors can only shop exclusive streetwear merchandise by scanning a gigantic Snapchat code.

Located in Central London, the space is entirely empty apart from a bigger-than-life Snapcode, that once scanned gives users access to a special Snapchat lens that features a virtual storefront.

From then, users can walk around the physical room and view the store through their phones, featuring rails of merchandise, a DJ booth, cash till and arcade machine.

When approaching one of the rails customers can choose between three different types of merchandise – sweatshirts, caps and t-shirts – and view them on a Lego character. They are then directed to a dedicated e-commerce page that displays the products on a real-life model, and choose their size before completing purchase.

The limited edition collection is available in 12,000 individual items across all three categories. Customers don’t need to visit the London pop-up store to get their hands on the merchandise, however. The Snapcode is also available through flyers that once scanned trigger the same retail feature.

Lego's AR-enabled store

How are you thinking about digital 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.