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

Gaultier’s goodbye to fashion, the fine line with ‘woke’ merch, BAFTA’s sustainable dress code

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

Top Stories
  • Stars turn out for designer Jean-Paul Gaultier’s final show (BBC)
  • Woke brands walk a thin line with ‘moral merch’ (Vogue Business)
  • Celebrities have been asked to ‘dress sustainably’ at this year’s BAFTA awards (Harper’s Bazaar)
Technology
  • Davos 2020: WEF unveils digital currency governance consortium (Finextra Research)
  • EE creates 5G-powered dress (Campaign)
  • Apple’s ‘finger device’: wearable computing’s next big thing? (CB Insights)
  • UPS is betting big on drone delivery and autonomous trucks (Business Insider)
  • How artificial intelligence is making health care more human (MIT Technology Review)
  • Digital supply-chain transformation with a human face (McKinsey & Company)
  • Realistic 3D apparel models can be shared anywhere online now (WWD)
Sustainability & Purpose
  • Ikea builds eco-store with hanging gardens in Vienna (Retail Detail)
  • Aerie expands ‘real’ role model push with social contest, eight new ambassadors (Marketing Dive)
  • Gucci Changemakers Impact fund names first round of grant recipients (WWD)
  • Starbucks commits to a resource-positive future (Starbuck Stories)
  • The future of sustainable materials: milkweed floss (Fashionista)
  • Worn again technologies opens subpilot making step to industrialization (Fashion United)
  • Step inside an apartment from the climate change-ravaged future (Fast Company)
  • Bally reveals new mountain preservation efforts (WWD)
Retail & Commerce
  • Inside Prada’s pop-up private club (NYT)
  • Tiffany & Co. to open a blue box cafe in London (The Telegraph)
  • Inside the Williamsburg penthouse made for Instagram influencers (Glossy)
  • Neutrogena offers skincare advice in salon pop-up (Campaign)
  • Is existential retail the next wave in fashion? (WWD)
  • E-commerce could kill 30k stores and half a million jobs by 2025 (Retail Dive)
Marketing & Social Media
  • Instagram deprecates IGTV button as mobile streaming bet fails to take off (Mobile Marketer)
  • Meet The Drum’s latest cover star: a virtual influencer named Floresta (The Drum)
  • Social Chain launches livestream shopping for Facebook videos (Campaign)
  • Foot Locker consolidates eight loyalty programs into one (Glossy)
  • Can fashion PR make cannabis a luxury good? (Vogue Business)
Product
  • Virgil Abloh channels brutalism for concrete efflorescence furniture series (Dezeen)
  • Nike to launch modest swimwear range Victory Swim (The Industry)
  • Thom Browne teases collaboration with Samsung (Fashion United)
  • Superfeet licenses New Balance brand for high-tech custom insoles (Sourcing Journal)
  • Redemption launches sustainable athleisure collection (WWD)
  • Happy99 creates futuristic clothing for a post-consumer world (i-D)
Business
  • Amazon becomes first to pass $200bn brand valuation (Campaign)
  • Gap’s Alegra O’Hare exits as brand ‘redefines CMO role’ (Campaign)
  • Fashion industry sets out post-brexit immigration priorities (The Industry)
  • Could Shopify be the new Amazon? (Fashion United)
  • Tailored brands to sell Joseph Abboud brand for $115m (Retail Dive)
  • Why DTC marketing is no longer about accessible price points (Modern Retail)
  • US to crack down on counterfeit goods (Fashion United)
  • Do US luxury designers have a future? (Vogue Business)
Culture
  • L’Oréal exec will lead initiative to end gender bias in ads (Adweek)
  • Louis Vuitton teams up with the NBA to influence luxury buyers (Quartz)
  • Banana Republic celebrates artistic visionaries in campaign for Black History month (Marketing Dive)

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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business Editor's pick Retail sustainability technology

The greater need for transparency: 7 brands regaining consumer trust

Sustainability has been a major talking point for the fashion industry over the past couple of years. In this year’s State of Fashion report, radical transparency was highlighted as one of the major trends retailers should be implementing. But following rising concerns of greenwashing, from misleading PR-led campaigns to the increase of fake news, consumer trust is at an all-time low and brands are having to work harder to prove their authenticity in the matter.

The Gen Z generation is particularly pushing for this change, with 90% believing companies should take responsibility to address environmental and social issues. Meanwhile almost three-quarters of Millennials are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, demonstrating how there is tangible value in transparent produce. In order to regain their consumers’ trust, brands must therefore be explicitly open with information regarding data protection and how sustainable their supply chains truly are.

Technology is playing a major role in helping promote transparency, from blockchain helping shed light on the supply chain, to holistic e-commerce interactions. Here, we highlight some of our favorite examples of brands disrupting the space by going that extra mile in regards to transparency:

Patagonia
Patagonia: The Footprint Chronicles

Patagonia is one of the pioneering brands when it comes to sustainability, fully disclosing its textile mills, factories and farms through its website. The ‘footprint chronicles’ is a visual map showing information about the supply chain including the numbers of workers, gender mix and items produced there. Patagonia was the first outdoor brand to be certified to the Advanced Global Traceable Down Standard for maintaining excellent animal welfare standards for birds. 

As a result of its ongoing efforts, Patagonia was identified as one of the leading brands on Fashion Revolution’s most recent Transparency Index, receiving a score of 64%. 

Nestle
Nestle trialing blockchain

Nestle is the first major food and beverage company to utilize the use of blockchain technology, allowing consumers to trace the origin of their food. The company is aiming to eventually reach full supply chain transparency, with this move shedding light on 95% of its annual sourcing of raw materials. 

Products will have a QR barcode that when scanned, provides consumers with Tier 1 information on product, such as harvest date, farm location, packing date, as well as information on how to prepare it. To determine the feasibility and viability of the technology, an initial pilot scheme testing the traceability of milk will be created first, with plans to expand into palm oil production.

Walmart
Walmart beef supply chain

As it stands, only 33% of consumers trust the food system. Following the Tesco horsemeat scandal in 2013, consumers have become increasingly skeptical of where their food has come from, particularly when it comes to meat produce. In the US, Walmart is addressing this by developing the first beef supply chain. The system, which took 2 years to develop, follows a previous blockchain pilot on lettuce and spinach, which aimed to reduce contamination rates, following an increase in vegetable-related illnesses.

H&M
H&M product transparency

In the UK, retailers are only required to disclose where the garment was made, but this year to increase its transparency, H&M made the decision to go one step further by sharing specific details about their individual suppliers. Consumers can now access information on the production country, supplier name, factory name, and even the number of employees in that factory. H&M is setting the bar in the industry by allowing consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing, helping them to shop responsibly. 

For H&M’s sister brand Arket, sustainability has been a primary consideration from its inception. Beyond showcasing suppliers, the brand also aims to design long-lasting garments, while informing its customers on how to care for them and prolong their lifespan.

Volition
Volition’s clean products

Volition is democratizing the beauty industry with products designed from crowdsourced ideas that are voted by the general public before making it into production. The brand uses scientific ingredients to deliver safe and effective products, from skincare to bath and body. Volition gives all of its products the ‘safe science’ seal of approval, catering to the 42% of consumers who feel they do not get enough information on ingredient safety. 

Following consumers request of non-toxic but highly effective products, Volition’s experts created a blacklist of harmful ingredients, giving consumers peace of mind about what they are putting onto their skin.

Selfridges
Selfridges Buy Better Campaign

Department store Selfridges is doubling down on its Buying Better labels, which aim to aid consumers in their purchasing choices.  The labels highlight sustainable product attributes, such as vegan, forest-friendly or supporting communities. The labels are part of the retailer’s commitment to ensure that 50% of its products are better for people and the planet by 2022. Currently, over 3000 products across homeware, fashion and beauty feature the labels, helping guide consumers away from the disposable, fast fashion mindset.

Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephants holistic products

Skincare brand Drunk Elephant may be new to the market, having launched in 2014, but it is already catching both the eye of consumers and major beauty conglomerates alike. Consumers have gone wild for its transparent, no-nonsense approach to skincare. The products are based on biocompatibility, and use clinically-effective natural ingredients. Each product listed on its website has a detailed breakdown of all the ingredients and their purposes, creating a holistic user-friendly experience. 72% of consumers want brands to explain the purpose of ingredients and Drunk Elephant is leading the with their holistic product breakdowns. 

As a result of this education-led approach, and its popularity with younger consumers, the brand has recently been acquired by Japanese giant Shiseido for $845million.

How are you thinking about sustainability? 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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business data e-commerce mobile product Retail social media sustainability technology Uncategorized

The cost of free returns, manufacturing post-Brexit, the resale revolution

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

TOP STORIES
  • The unsustainable cost of free returns (Vogue Business)
  • The brave new post-Brexit world of UK manufacturing (Drapers)
  • Retail at risk: analyst cite resale revolution (WWD)
TECHNOLOGY
  • A guide to virtual beings and how they impact our world (Tech Crunch)
  • Facebook’s vision of glasses that read your thoughts isn’t just a dream (Fast Company)
  • StockX was hacked, exposing millions of user records (Tech Crunch)
  • UK financial watchdog finally decides which cryptocurrencies to regulate (The Next Web)
  • John Lewis partners with UK robotics companies to create blueprint for robot-human interaction (Charged Retail)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • True sustainability not achievable until 2021 (Drapers)
  • Textile waste has increased 811% since 1960 (Supply Chain Dive)
  • Inside Nuuly, Urban Outfitter’s attempt to take on the rental clothing market (Modern Retail)
  • Waitrose to expand sustainable unpacked trial (Retail Gazette)
  • Beauty’s giant glitter problem (BoF)
  • Carrier bag sale in supermarkets drop 93% (Retail Gazette)
  • Why are fashion supply chains so wasteful? (Retail Dive)
  • H&M called out for ‘greenwashing’ in its conscious fashion collection (DeZeen)
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Retailers to scale back ‘kiss of death’ Black Friday (Drapers)
  • How Zappos used AI to rebuild its search engine (Modern Retail)
  • Amazon adds styling service to Prime Wardrobe (Retail Dive)
  • Why this Japanese e-commerce giant is doubling down on fashion (BoF)
  • Can retailers break up with the mall? (Retail Dive)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The golden age of Instagram marketing is over (BoF)
  • Inside Westfield’s VR jungle adventure (Retail Gazette)
  • MCM immersive pop-up playground lands in Shanghai (Jing Daily)
PRODUCT
  • Rag&Bone puts the focus on fit in fall initiatives (WWD)
  • Should brands charge more for larger sizes? (Vogue Business)
  • Duchess of Sussex to launch clothing collection (Drapers)
BUSINESS
  • Risk of global recession threatens luxury party (BoF)
  • China’s tech startups flourish in talent-rich second-tier cities (Asian Review)
  • Gucci fears spark Kering sell off (Bloomberg)
  • The Future of Maison Margiela (BoF)
CULTURE
  • Beauty is designing packaging for the visually impaired (Vogue Business)
  • Pantene breaks beauty advertising norms by celebrating grey hair (Campaign)
  • The Hong Kong protests: what brands need to know (BoF)
  • Meet the designer behind a new line of functional and fashionable accessories for wheelchair users (Teen Vogue)

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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Comment data e-commerce Editor's pick sustainability

Sustainable fashion: the rising need for quantifiable standardization

Search Google for the meaning of “sustainable fashion” and you’ll quickly discover there’s no standard for it in a qualified way, let alone a quantifiable one. 

Some of the definitions are so sweeping they could in fact refer to nearly anything loosely associated. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s version in London, referring to it as “ethical fashion”, reads: “An umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.” 

Does that mean as a brand you have to do all of them? Or does considering just one or two count? Arguably even then these groupings only touch the surface. 

And therein lies the problem. While the industry is wrapping its head around more sustainable practices against each of those different factors, there’s no agreed-upon guideline as to what each of them are, let alone how they should be accurately measured. 

At a time when consumer awareness is only increasing and the need for education is so high, having a different understanding of what sustainable actually means, is potentially a risky game to play. 

Take the new Net Sustain strategy from luxury e-commerce player, Net-a-Porter, released two weeks ago, for instance. This includes a list of brands it now refers to as “sustainable” as per key criteria identified with an agency that include locally made, craft & community, considered materials, considered processes and reducing waste. 

To qualify, items only have to hit one of these five areas, which means, for now, something that is made from organic cotton for instance, is classified the same as something where over 50% of it has been made in its own country or community. 

Farfetch meanwhile announced its Conscious Edit in April as part of its Positively Farfetch strategy. This comes via a partnership with ethical rating system Good On You, which tracks products in terms of impact to society, the environment and animals. As with Net-a-Porter, Farfetch has identified the need for “rigorous, independently-assessed criteria”, in which brands need to score a minimum of four out of five in one area to qualify. 

Another UK-based e-commerce entity, this time at the fast fashion end of the spectrum, is ASOS. It too has a new “Responsible Edit”, which appears as both a page on its site and a filter that can be used when browsing. It reportedly includes garments made from recycled materials and sustainable fibers, such as those using less water and resulting in less waste.

So that’s three major players all now actively thinking about sustainable fashion in a qualified manner and communicating such to consumers, but all in slightly different ways and to varying degrees. 

The actual means by which measurement is carried out is seemingly different for each too. Net-a-Porter is auditing all of the brands themselves with the agency they’ve brought on – interviewing the key players involved to determine whether what they “say” is true, is actually the case. One of the biggest challenges in this space is proving there’s authenticity in what is being shared – and not just because of falsified information, but often because the brands involved think they’re more sustainable than they really are. A rigorous approach to selection and curation is therefore essential. 

It’s for that reason Net-a-Porter has only put forward 26 brands right now of the 800 it sells. The plus side is that it’s doing that curation on a product-by-product level, not just at the brand level. There can of course be a big difference in sustainability from one piece in the collection to the next, which must also be taken into consideration. 

Yet that also makes this a huge undertaking for the business. An enormous amount of resource needs to be involved, making the likelihood of scalability another challenge. 

ASOS by comparison has over 3,700 products included in its Responsible Edit, and says it’s going to be adding new products daily. Though this isn’t clarified, presumably those are not each independently verified – again for reasons of resource versus scale. 

Again, this is an indication that what we’re talking about here are different qualifiable definitions, standards and methodologies, and not quantified ones. 

And yet achieving the latter is incredibly difficult at present because of the fact there just isn’t enough data available to enable it. The majority of the fashion industry has no true view of its own supply chain. Can we categorize individual products as sustainable against individual criteria? Yes. But can we truly show depth of impact? No. 

I know this from our work with Google. We’re building out a data analytics and machine learning tool powered by Google Cloud technology that will enable fashion brands to make more responsible sourcing decisions at the raw materials stage of the supply chain. Without that, a lot of this is guesswork, or it’s a case of global averages and assumptive results. 

Creating regulated measurement for the industry is of course intensely hard. There have been numerous attempts already, but nothing that has been universally accepted under that umbrella phrase of “sustainable fashion”. Some of the strongest ones out there that could achieve this remain either too hard or time-intensive to use, or indeed just not proven as accurate enough yet. 

As an alternative, there are a multitude of standards and certifications brands can choose from to help them on this journey, but that space is also overrun and confusing, not to mention costly. One only needs to look at the enormous list Net-a-Porter is referencing on its breakdown of categories to see what I mean here. 

Without any unification on this, where does this all move down the line? Because frankly, we really need it. 

Two weeks ago, we also saw the UK government reject 18 recommendations put forward by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) to help move this space forward. Among them was the suggestion that government should oblige retailers to ensure full traceability in their supply chains to prove decent livelihoods and sustainably sourced materials. Without the role of regulation, we’re at another stalemate. It’s each for their own in terms of defining what is right and what is wrong, creating ambiguity at a time when consumers increasingly want to be told and thus guided.

Here’s the other thing: fast fashion brand BooHoo.com, as with others before it, just announced a new line called “For the Future”, which sees 34 pieces made from recycled polyester. Yet the brand was one of many that came under scrutiny for its standards more broadly in the EAC report. So the question is, even if this new collection is quantifiably better for the environment and for the people involved in making it, if the mainline brand is not, does this make it a better business overall all the same? 

Or rather, is this an example of brands jumping on a new market opportunity both because the consumer demand is growing and the industry expectation is there? In which case, the alternative we’re facing right now is the question of where the line is on greenwashing? Seemingly it’s moving ever more rapidly to a place that’s harder to identify. 

The result is that all of this presents more questions than not. Due credit goes to many of these businesses for moving in the right direction with their sustainable edits particularly, but there needs to be a common and quantifiable set of standards and measurements for us to all understand and use for the long term if we’re to achieve true change. 

How are you thinking about sustainability? 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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data Editor's pick sustainability technology

Google collaborates with Current Global to launch sustainable fashion pilot

Google today announces the launch of an experiment in collaboration with innovation consultancy Current Global, to build-out a data analytics and machine learning tool powered by Google Cloud technology that will enable fashion brands to make more responsible sourcing decisions.

The initiative, revealed at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, one of the fashion industry’s key sustainability events of the year, aims to focus on the raw materials stage (referred to as ‘Tier 4’ of the supply chain), providing brands with greater visibility as to the environmental impact of different textiles. The hope is to translate data into meaningful insights so the industry can take action.

Sustainability in fashion is a global environmental emergency. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the fashion industry accounts for 20% of wastewater and 10% of carbon emissions worldwide. The 2019 Pulse of the Fashion Industry report also shows the fashion industry is not implementing sustainable solutions fast enough to counterbalance the harmful environmental and social impacts of its rapid growth.

Current Global, an innovation consultancy that empowers fashion brands to reach their sustainability goals through the use of relevant technologies, analyzed where the industry’s largest environmental challenges are, and worked with Google to determine how it could help be part of the solution through the use of cloud-based tools for data collection and analysis.

What was identified was the need to focus on Tier 4, where brands have little to no visibility. This is an industry wide problem, where supply chains are highly fragmented, unregulated and with little transparency, yet where the majority of negative impact occurs.

Many organizations and brands have been trailblazers in an effort to collect and surface data that can lead to better sourcing decisions, but gaps in the data continue to persist due to its complexity and global nature. The aim of this experiment, is to bring together information in a way that will complement existing tools, consolidating and building on the data to shine a light into the furthest parts of the fashion supply chain.

Google sustainable fashion

“Lack of data in the fashion industry is one of the most pressing and complex issues we’re faced with. If you can’t see it, you can’t measure it, and if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it. In other words, without insights the industry is not empowered to make strategic and beneficial decisions for the sake of reducing their environmental impact,” Rachel Arthur, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Current Global, says. “We teamed up with Google to identify the strategic places within the supply chain that would benefit from its access to global data and its machine learning power to launch an experiment to create a decision making tool for the industry in order to enable a more sustainable fashion future. We know that if we could understand the nuance of the raw materials we source – information right now that is essentially impossible to accurately calculate – we could make an enormous dent into the overall composition of the clothes that are produced.”

To bring it to life, we’ll be collaborating closely with Stella McCartney on the first pilot project. This brand has been a pioneer in leading the fashion industry towards sustainability, helping to launch the UN Fashion Industry Charter for climate change and recently introducing Stella McCartney Cares Green, one of the arms of the Stella McCartney Foundation, to further promote sustainability and environmental protection.

As Kate Brandt, sustainability officer at Google, explains: “Stella McCartney has been a forerunner in the fashion industry embracing and leading the charge for sustainable fashion. At Google, we also strive to build sustainability into everything that we do whether that’s  operating efficiency data centers to having our own Responsible Supply Chain Program. In 2016 we celebrated 10 years of carbon neutrality and we are the largest corporate renewable energy purchaser in the world. Outside of Google, we aspire to build tools to help people understand the planet, improve environmental impact, and take sustainable action. This pilot with Stella is a great step in the fashion industry’s bid to become more sustainable.”

The tool will use data analytics and machine learning on Google Cloud, focused on sources that allow companies to better measure the impact of their raw materials, relevant to key environmental factors such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water scarcity.

To start, it will look at cotton and viscose, each chosen due to the scale of their production, data availability and impact considerations. More specifically, cotton accounts for 25% of all fibers used by the fashion industry, with a notable impact on water and pesticide use. Viscose production is smaller but growing in demand, and has links to the destruction of forests—some endangered—which are critical in mitigating carbon emissions.

The goal is not only to be able to determine the impact of producing these raw materials, but also compare the impacts of these in different regions where they are produced. This pilot will enable us to test the effectiveness of the tool on these different raw materials, building out the possibilities for expansion into a wider variety of key textiles in the market down the line.

Ian Pattison, customer engineering manager for Google Cloud UK, says: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The challenge facing the fashion industry is one of information – taking fragmented and somewhat incomplete information and quickly translating it into meaningful insights to take action. In this case, understanding how fabrics are grown or made, what impact different sourcing decisions has on the environment, and ensuring that data is visible across the whole supply chain. Google’s 20-year leadership of data technologies, cloud computing and machine learning capabilities, coupled with our commitment to sustainability and our unrivalled global mapping, means that we are uniquely placed to work with the brands to address the challenge of reducing the environmental footprint of fashion.”

This is the first phase of the experiment. Google and Current Global are now actively working with further fashion brands, experts, NGOs and industry bodies with the ambition of creating an open industry-wide tool, and plan to continue driving collaboration with other key players—large and small.

The hope is that the experiment will give fashion brands greater visibility of impact within their supply chain and actionable insights to make better raw material sourcing decisions with sustainability in mind.

Adds Maria McClay, industry head of fashion and luxury at Google: “We have been hearing increasingly from clients, our industry partners and consumers the growing urgency around the fashion sector to make a dent in their negative environmental impact given the magnitude of the problem. If nothing changes, what is at stake is our future and that of our children’s. Google empowers its teams to find moonshots – really difficult, complex problems to solve where our technology can help make a 10x contribution, not just a marginal improvement. We believe that this could be our moonshot for the industry.”

How are you thinking about your sustainable innovation strategy? Want to learn more about how we worked with Google? The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion 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 hear more.

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Editor's pick product sustainability technology

Tiffany introduces diamond provenance tool

Tiffany & Co. is introducing a new provenance tool as it strives to meet its 2020 goal of making the entire journey of its stones transparent. The Diamond Source Initiative will share the origin of all of its mined diamonds which are larger than 0.18 carats.

“We are ushering in a new era of transparency for diamonds,” said Tiffany’s chief sustainability officer Anisa Kamadoli Costa. “This is something we have long been working on — the sustainable, vertical integration of our supply chain.”

The provenance of each stone will be proven by the engraving of a unique serial number, which will not be visible to the human eye. When customers purchase a piece of jewelry featuring the stone, they will receive a certificate that verifies its origin.

The new tool is part of a sustainability goal wherein by 2020, the brand hopes to be able to track and share the entire craftsmanship journey of all of its stones, from where they are mined to where they are cut and polished.

By launching this tool, Tiffany is aiming to attract younger consumers who are keen to better understand where their purchases come from, and whether they meet their sustainable standards. Millennial consumers are also showing a growing interest towards lab-grown diamond stones, which have a lower carbon footprint than their mined counterparts, while also historically not being linked to conflict.

Tiffany is not the first jewelry brand to initiate a diamond provenance tool, however. In January 2018, DeBeers partnered with IBM to pilot a blockchain tool that could trace the entire journey of its diamonds, ensuring they are conflict-free and natural.

How are you thinking about sustainability? 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 sustainability

Everlane pledges to go plastic-free by 2021

Everlane's ReNew line
Everlane’s ReNew line

Direct-to-consumer brand Everlane has committed to be completely free of virgin plastics by 2021.

To announce the launch, founder Michael Preysman, as well as Natalie Massenet and Nick Brown, who invested in the brand through their fund Imaginary Ventures, hosted a dinner in NYC on Tuesday (October 16), where guests were introduced to the brand’s new ReNew fleece, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

“For me, whenever I see product that comes out that’s virgin [plastic], I think, these companies are actively choosing [to not recycle], to say money and profit is more important to us than doing the right thing for the environment,” Preysman told Vogue. “I think that has to change; I think that time is over.”

By 2021, all materials, including polyester and nylon, which are made from virgin plastic, will be made out of plastic water bottles and renewed materials, the brand has announced.

Preysman estimates that in the next five years, Everlane expects to use about 100 million water bottles through its system. He admits this is merely a humble contribution, as there are currently 500 billion water bottles produced every year.

This pledge furthers the brand’s commitment to the idea of “radical transparency” that has been at the heart of its business model since inception, from pricing to production practices. The overarching industry focus on reducing the use of plastics, however, comes with staggering numbers: according to Preysman, there are eight billion tons of plastic on the planet, which is roughly one ton per person.

Everlane's ReNew line
Everlane’s ReNew line

Before embarking on a sustainable plastics strategy, Preysman says the brand had to come to terms with the scale of how much it engages with the material across the supply chain: “We’re producing millions of units and every unit that goes out is wrapped in plastic. At the beginning, it was like, ‘Hey, let’s just take off all these plastic bags’. There are a lot of complications to that. Everything you buy in the world comes wrapped in plastic when it comes out of the factory.”

Realizing the impact of using plastics is also part of this journey too, he adds. “It’s a really convenient thing, but it’s actually incredibly damaging because once plastic is made, we use it for a second but it lasts forever.”

As the fight against plastic continues to pick up speed, brands across the spectrum – from smaller, DTC names to sportswear giants – are investigating different material innovations as replacements. Earlier this year at SXSW, adidas announced that by 2024, it will use only recycled ocean plastics; Reebok has recently launched a biodegradable shoe made with a cotton top and a bioplastic sole; and DTC sneaker brand Allbirds has launched a pair of flip flops made with a new material made out of sugar cane – of which the recipe is open source for other brands to tap into.

How are you thinking about material 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 Podcast technology

IBM on the coming power of blockchain

Laurence Haziot and Rachel Arthur
Laurence Haziot and Rachel Arthur

Blockchain will have the same impact long-term as we have seen the internet have on commerce, says Laurence Haziot, global managing director of IBM, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

A leading woman in the STEM industries, Haziot looks after IBM’s Worldwide Consumer Industries division, which includes retail, consumer products, wholesale and agriculture. She believes strongly in the potential of blockchain for the future, from the impact it can have on the supply chain to the role it will play in sustainability and transparency.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

While it’s nascent right now, the fact that this digital ledger was designed from the beginning to be more secure than current systems we rely on, is key, she explains. That doesn’t make it a silver bullet, but it does make it an opportunity.

IBM is already trialling use cases of the technology as a result, including provenance for food safety at Walmart, shipping efficiencies for Maersk, and diamond authentication for the jewelry industry in a project called TrustChain.

For retail specifically, Haziot is bullish on the results it could drive in terms of efficiencies throughout the entire supply chain, as well as traceability for a consumer only seeking ever more knowledge of what they’re buying.

It’s for that reason she sees blockchain infiltrating numerous job roles. “This is not an IT play,” she explains. “This is really a business topic – I think it will touch probably most of the functions in the company, from marketing to manufacturing, transportation and more.”

In this episode with Rachel Arthur at a live FashMash recording in London, Haziot also answers some tough questions on the limitations of the tech to validate authenticity, and leans on her experience of 30+ years at IBM to explore some of the surrounding innovations that are needed to make it viable long-term.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, 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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Editor's pick sustainability

Italian design competition rewards fashion sustainability

Green Carpet Fashion Award judging panel
Green Carpet Fashion Award judging panel

Italy’s fashion body, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI), in partnership with Eco-Age and the Italian government, is investigating the future of sustainable fashion and the notion of “Made in Italy” with a design competition for up-and-coming designers.

The contest, which is also being supported by the Bicester Village Shopping Collection by Value Retail, will culminate at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia, happening at the end of Milan Fashion Week on September 23.

Judges include British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, Derek Blasberg (who has recently been appointed as the head of YouTube’s new fashion & beauty content partnerships division), Eco-Age founder and creative director Livia Firth, and singer Ellie Goulding. Between them they have handpicked five finalists who will be showing their creations at the award ceremony in September.

“The design talent and innovation this year has blown me away,” said Firth. “The designers we’ve seen are not only highlighting traditional Italian craftsmanship but also creating their own materials when they can’t find sustainable solutions on the market. Through their creativity, drive and passion they are setting a clear challenge to the wider industry.”

Finalists include Teatum Jones, who created a dress made from recycled polyester and other materials such as laser cut sequins made from recycled plastic water bottles; Gilberto Cazolari, whose look was created from jute coffee bags originated from Brazil and bought at a navigli (flea) market in Italy; Behno, who created a gown made of GOTS certified organic silk and ECONYL® regenerated nylon (a yarn made of discarded fishing nets and carpets); Davide Grillo, who created a cape covered in silk ‘feathers’ and a gown with a hand-painted design using onion skin, logwood and walnut shell; and Wrad, who created a ‘mint fabric’ made from 50% mint bamboo viscose and 50% GOTS certified organic cotton.

“This year’s entrants are making deep connections that run into the Italian supply chain but also offer commentary and in a way solutions to the global plastic pandemic or climate change,” said Carlo Capasa, president of the CNMI. “Young designers invested in sustainability are pushing the limits of fashion further every year. It is stunning to see.”

All five finalists are now embarking on a mentorship program with the Bicester Village Shopping Collection by Value Retail, which will include interactions with mentors spanning across Europe and China, whose expertise range from fashion, retail, supply chain management, consumer insight, brand building and marketing, among other topics. The final designs will also feature in The Creative Spot, a platform showcasing new talents at Fidenza Village outside Milan.

At the award ceremony in September, one designer will receive the Franca Sozzani GCC Emerging Designer Award and be given the opportunity to present at Milan Fashion Week in February 2019 with the support of the CNMI.

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ICYMI: LVMH’s digital strategy, feathers in fashion, the McQueen documentary

Proenza Schouler
Proenza Schouler

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

TOP STORIES
  • Decoding LVMH’s digital strategy [BoF]
  • Is the use of feathers in fashion any more ethical than fur? [Fashionista]
  • The McQueen documentary tells the story of the people who carry his legacy [Vogue]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Why Nordstrom is betting on high-touch tech [Fortune]
  • Avery Dennison and SoftWear Automation to create digital supply chain for manufacturers [SupplyChainDigital]
SUSTAINABILITY
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • How Sephora built a beauty empire to survive the retail apocalypse [CBInsights]
  • This is how a brick-and-mortar store can thrive in the age of Amazon [NYMag]
  • Urban Outfitters launches third-party marketplace, tests self-checkout [RetailDive]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Nike sells out of Facebook Messenger sneaker drop in less than an hour [RetailDive]
  • Givenchy and Stella McCartney score on Instagram at Royal Wedding [WWD]
  • Victoria’s Secret is still advertising to women like it’s 1999 [Bloomberg]
  • Esprit’s Instagram posts are now shoppable [FashionUnited]
  • This Ikea print ad is designed to put you to sleep [CreativityOnline]
  • Do influencers need regulating? [BoF]
BUSINESS
  • Balenciaga is now the fastest-growing label at Kering? [Harper’s Bazaar]
  • LVMH invests $60 million into fashion platform Lyst [HypeBeast]
  • Richemont clinches takeover of Yoox Net-A-Porter [Reuters]
  • Can the Model Alliance Respect program make a difference? [Vogue]