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digital snippets technology

Covid-19: Luxury stocks fall, fast fashion’s vulnerability, marketing amidst the crisis

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

TOP STORIES
  • Luxury stocks fall as global markets tank (WWD)
  • Are fast fashion’s giants more vulnerable to coronavirus than other retailers? (Quartz)
  • Amid Covid-19, marketing changes shape (Vogue Business)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Copenhagen Fashion Summit postponed due to coronavirus (Fashion United)
  • As fashion churns out more ‘sustainable’ goods, why is so much made from plastic? (Vogue Business)
  • More companies want to be “carbon neutral.” What does that mean? (Vox)
  • Are consumers finally sick of consuming? (Fast Company)
RETAIL & COMMERCE
  • Reliance is launching an online luxury shopping portal in India (Vogue Business)
  • Do you honestly find spas kind of boring? (New York Times)
  • Why luxury brands must embrace digital outlets ASAP (Jing Daily)
  • Dazed Beauty to debut experiential pop-up in Selfridges (WWD)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • This guy got a million TikTok followers. Now he tells brands how to do the same. (The Goods)
  • China’s live streaming boom (Vogue Business)
  • Luxury brands join Shipinhao, WeChat’s answer to Instagram (WWD)
  • Why are luxury brands advertising on Twitter? (BoF)
PRODUCT
  • Everyone loves sweatsuits and fashion is cashing in (BoF)
  • In China, a beauty incubator is bridging the gap for global brands (Vogue Business)
  • Dior’s Kim Jones designs stage costumes for Maluma (WWD)
  • This new Rick Owens collection is designed for goths at the gym (Dazed)
BUSINESS
  • How the Coronavirus’ effect on the fashion industry reveals flaws in the global economy (Time)
  • 2020’s Top M&A Targets in Luxury (BoF)
  • For lingerie brands, taking on Victoria’s Secret is harder than it looks (BoF)
  • How Under Armour bet everything on the wrong customer (Medium)
  • Yoox Net-a-Porter begins search for CEO Federico Marchetti’s successor (Vogue Business)
  • Givenchy taps De Lesquen as CEO (WWD)
  • Gap chooses insider to take over as CEO (WSJ)
CULTURE
  • The inevitable collision of gaming and athleisure (Wired)
  • How Instagram killed the It Girl (Dazed)
  • Do fashion prizes still matter? (Highsnobiety)
  • Modest fashion, on display (The Cut)


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

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Campaigns Retail

H&M Group launches shoppable style advice platform

H&M Group has launched Itsapark, an online platform that lets users seek style-related advice from its consumer community and shop both its group of brands and others.

“Sometimes fashion can be rather confusing and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be,” reads the site’s About page. “Our mission is to create a meeting place where people can exchange ideas and advice around fashion.”

Currently open to public in beta mode, the site allows its users to pose style questions to the community, such as what to wear at a job interview, or how to nail a spring color trend. Questions can then be answered by other members themselves, or become visual guides generated by ‘creators’ enlisted by the brand. Guides are then entirely shoppable and feature a mixture H&M Group brands (such as H&M and Arket) and others.

A screenshot of Itsapark’s “Explore” section

For example, a user question on how to make cycling shorts work inspired community answers and a dedicated guide, which suggests pieces from the likes of H&M Group-owned Weekday, Topshop and River Island.

Other sections on the site focus on discoverability, such as exploring current fashion trends (animal prints, 80s blazers), with content provided by its creators.

By creating Itsapark, the group is attempting to own more channels of conversations that are already happening at established social platforms elsewhere, such as Instagram. A similar strategy was also hinted at by Henry Davis, former COO of Glossier, last year at Cannes. Founder Emily Weiss later explained that this will be part of the company’s Phase Two, and will likely launch in the shape of a ‘social commerce’ platform that leverages its audience’s loyal behavior.

How are you thinking about e-commerce 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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Retail technology

GU showcase store introduces personalized avatars for virtual try-on

GU Style Studio
GU Style Studio

Fast Retailing’s GU, is connecting online and offline retail with a new store in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, that allows shoppers to see sample products in real-life and then try them on using virtual tools.

The GU Style Studio, as it’s called, is designed to showcase garments and provide a sense of convenience by enabling customer to then order them through their mobile phones for delivery at home later.

Visitors are encouraged to create their own digital avatar through a photo taken at the GU Style Creator Stand, then scan QR codes on individual items via the GU Style Creator App to see how they would look wearing each piece. They can then continue to play with a combination of different looks digitally while they move through the store.

According to Osamu Yunoki, GU’s chief executive officer, a benefit from this technology is the data collected from shoppers at the store. Yunoki told Bloomberg that information on app usage and styling combinations can help GU learn more about how people shop and what’s in style.

After purchasing items, customers can choose to have them shipped to their home, or they can pick them up at a nearby GU store or designated 7-11 location. GU has almost 400 stores across Asia, primarily in Japan, Taiwan and China.

GU Style Studio
GU Style Studio

“We’re fusing the in-store experience and e-commerce to offer a fun and convenient experience. Harajuku isn’t just for shopping. It’s also a place where fashion is created. We’d like to use our customer’s creations as a stimulus for developing new types of fashion,” he said.

It’s not the first time Fast Retailing, Asia’s biggest clothing retailer, and also the parent company of Uniqlo, has chosen GU as a testbed for new technology: it was the first brand in the portfolio to introduce RFID tags and self-checkout back in 2015. Two years later, Fast Retailing announced they would be using the technology in 3,000 Uniqlo stores worldwide.

The industry is increasingly seeing examples of more seamless shopping opportunities – from unmanned stores, to overtly interactive ones. This idea of walking out empty-handed, meanwhile, combines the idea of a convenient shopping experience, while encouraging customers to share more data.

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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product Retail

Benetton launches Selfridges line featuring 109 colorways

United Colors of Benetton
United Colors of Benetton

United Colors of Benetton is teaming up with Selfridges on an exclusive capsule collection that will feature items in 109 different colors.

The collection will draw from the Italian brand’s archives and aims to reiterate its colorful history, with a modern British twist. Meanwhile, the vast color choice aims to pay an homage to Selfridges itself: the department store’s iconic yellow is number 109 on the Pantone palette. Shades will vary from bright pop hues to more pastel tones.

“It’s our first collaboration with a department store and it is an exciting new line that celebrates the colorful look, history and Italian ethos of the brand,” said Tommaso Bruso, chief operating officer of the Benetton Group. “It’s a confirmation of the brand’s history. From the Sixties to today there have been social and cultural revolutions and this has become the essence of the brand.”

The unisex collection, which will launch as a pop-up at Selfridges this Friday (September 14) to coincide with London Fashion Week, will feature sweaters, co-ords and accessories such as caps and duffel bags. Prices will range from £10 to £180.

In line with the nostalgia trend that has pervaded fashion for the past few years, sportswear and 90s favorites such as Benetton are increasingly coming back into the spotlight and joining the cultural conversation with collaborations with contemporary brands or retailers.

Sportwear label Champion is another example, teaming up with the likes of Danish cult label Wood Wood and Japanese streetwear retailer BEAMS on exclusively collaborations; meanwhile this month, Polaroid celebrated its 80th anniversary by releasing a limited edition sneaker with Puma that features its iconic rainbow stripe; and from a luxury standpoint, subversive French label Vetements has been responsible for resurrecting a few old favorites on its runways season after season, such as Juicy Couture, Eastpack and Umbro.

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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e-commerce mobile social media

Alexa Chung’s Villoid expands; opens up stores for influencers

Villoid
Villoid

Alexa Chung is expanding her fashion app, Villoid, into a place for “hyper curated” shopping by enabling style influencers to sell directly to their fans through their own web stores.

From December 1, a new shop owner is being announced everyday, starting with Chung herself. The initiative takes heed of the fact 92% of consumers reportedly trust an influencer over an advert, according to Forbes.

Each individual style maven showcased will fill their digital rail with the products they love and wear from the 4,000 brands that Villoid stocks.

“Looking for an Xmas party outfit? Head into Poppy Delevingne’s dress section. Lusting after that printed tee you saw Gia Coppola wear on Instagram? It’s there in her shop,” the write-up reads.

“I’m so excited to be launching this next phase of VILLOID alongside some incredible women with enviable taste – some are friends, some I just stalk and others are people I’m sure you’ll come to know and love. I’m intrigued to see what they do with their shops and look forward to sharing this journey with you all,” Chung commented.

Villoid CEO and co-founder, Karin Kaellman, added: “In the two years since our launch, we have developed a strong international brand, a solid tech platform, a stream of magnificent brands applying to become part of our ecosystem – and most importantly a warm community of women of all ages, persuasions and locations. It was only natural that we strap on our working gloves and build this new angle to our platform – to give our fans what they’ve been calling for – an accessible, personalised and hyper curated shopping experience with a nifty buy button. Killing three birds with one stone, we simultaneously allow style influencers to side-step the typical hassles of opening their own stores from scratch, and allow brands to be authentically and organically endorsed by some of the most stylish ladies on the planet.”

Villoid now has users in over 180 countries, with the average one spending 20 minutes a day on the app – the same as Instagram. ?

One of the continuing focuses for the platform will be on emerging design talent. Villoid has run its “Emerge” programme with the British Fashion Council since 2016; supporting young designers by giving them exposure through the platform.

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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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e-commerce film

Amazon loves Chiara Ferragni and airs free daily fashion show

amazon

Amazon’s going all out to boost its fashion credentials at the moment with a new daily TV show and a collab with Chiara Ferragni.

In the US, it aired its first live show for its streaming video service this week, and it’s all about fashion. The half hour daily Style Code Live show will be free to all viewers and gives them “a first-of-its-kind daily style and entertainment experience”, said executive producer Terence Noonan.

It’s an interactive show with live chats and offers fashion and beauty each weeknight with guest experts, celebrities, and viewer tips. It’s hosted by ABC TV correspondent Rachel Smith, MTV host Lyndsey Rodrigues and actor Frankie Grande.

chiara-ferragni-x-amazon-fashion-ss16

Meanwhile in Europe, Amazon has just launched its SS16 campaign starring blogger-turned-brand Chiara Ferragni of TheBlondeSalad.com.

Shot at the company’s giant Shoreditch studio by photographer Cass Bird, she’s seen wearing a number of key pieces from the spring offer.

Juliet Warkentin, who’s Amazon Fashion Europe’s director of brand and creative, said: “Chiara is a smart business woman with a strong sense of personal style and is a great advocate for our ‘Don’t look like me, look like you’ campaign.”

Find out more at www.amazon.co.uk/chiara.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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Editor's pick technology

Fitbit’s collaboration with Public School aims to cement its place in the fashion world

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: A model poses backstage at Fitbit and PUBLIC SCHOOL Collaborate On Accessories Collection For Fitbit Alta on February 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Fitbit)

When Public School – one of New York Fashion Week’s hottest young designer brands – took to the runway with its Fall 2016 collection this week, it wasn’t just the clothes that garnered attention.

Adorning the wrists of several models were two new wearable technology accessories. A collaboration with Fitbit, both designs encompass the fitness tracking company’s new Alta product.

Slimmer and sleeker than previous Fitbit devices, the major additional selling point of Alta lies in its customisable, and thus interchangeable wristbands – something that has given Public School a lot of freedom to be creative with its concepts.

Indeed, rather than looking like a piece of technology, or a health or sports device, the results articulate a sense of style that bring wearables up to date with where contemporary fashion is headed.

Separate to its existing (and more feminine) collaboration with Tory Burch, this relationship with Public School is about aligning with the much more urban aesthetic that design duo and co-founders, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, bring.

“We draw our inspiration from New York City’s vibrant, active street culture and the people that surround us where we work, live and thrive,” they said. “As we work with Fitbit to design the collection for Alta, our goal is to create accessories that inspire, delight and have the versatility to become a modern extension of our users.”

While the Alta itself launches in March, the Public School accessories won’t hit retail until later this year. The collection will include five pieces (from fine metals to cheaper printed sports bands) in total, and if rumour is anything to go by, an impressive launch for the final styles during the next round of fashion week shows in September.

Head over to Forbes to read my interview with Tim Rosa, VP of global marketing at Fitbit, for the full lowdown on the collaboration and what’s ahead.

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Editor's pick social media

H&M X Coachella again, plans even bigger style and social media blitz

hm_coachella3

H&M had a major hit with its Coachella collaboration in 2015, and so the fashion retail giant is teaming up with the king of festivals again this year for a collaboration that takes in clothes, accessories and a social media blitz.

Its co-branded Coachella collection launches next month in US stores (March 24, with a sneak peek on March 23) under the hashtag #HMLovesCoachella.

As last year, H&M will have a pop-up shop on-site in the H&M tent where festival-goers can buy the collection, take a break from the heat, “and enjoy an interactive social experience,” we’re told. Although Coachella is sold out, for H&M’s social media followers, the retailer will be giving away festival passes and camping passes to the festival throughout March across its social channels.

hm_coachella1

And social media is key even for those not planning to go anywhere near a festival this year. The Coachella link is being heavily pushed in the digital locations H&M knows its youthful customer base will visit, as festival-type looks become as much of a general summer option as a festival one. That means a big push on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat via @HMUSA, and on Instagram via @HM.

So what does the collection actually contain? For girls, it’s about folksy blouses, beaded and fringed tops, allover print jumpsuits, denim cut-offs, and accessory essentials including floppy hats, sunglasses, and flat boots. Hemlines are short and embellishments are key. For the boys, there are printed T-shirts and mismatched shirts, bermudas, and denim shorts.

It looks like the offer is wider and deeper than the 2015 collection with H&M designer Ross Lydon saying: ”Last year, H&M was the first brand to team up with Coachella to develop a clothing collection. The success was so rapid and so widespread, we decided to partner again to create an even richer offering this season.”

hm_coachella2

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday