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Comment technology

An inspirational note: fashion needs to take risk

Despite the significant number of start-ups there are in the fashion space today, the propensity with which the fashion industry in its more ‘traditional’ sense – its brands namely – is open to taking risk, remains very small. There’s a lot to be learnt from the tech world’s “failing fast” mentality to ultimately achieve reward.

So here’s a friendly reminder for the weekend. A touch of inspiration from poet Christopher Logue:

“Come to the edge
We might fall
Come to the edge
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came
And he pushed
And they flew”

As told by Steve Zades, creator of the Odyssey Project on Imaginative Intelligence, during a talk on the role of technology for the future of apparel at the Museum of FIT’s tech syposium in New York this week.

 

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social media technology

ThingLink’s interactive images expand to Facebook, again key for fashion

Burberry_ThingLink

You might remember this piece about ThingLink – a tool that lets you tag any image, with any content, making it instantly interactive. I wrote about its potential relevance to the fashion industry when it launched embeds in Twitter, demonstrating it in action with a Burberry image (as above in a non-interactive format) that to this day is still getting regular “hovers” over it week to week according to my email alerts.

News now has arrived of its integration with Facebook. When you share a ThingLink-enabled image to your Timeline, much like with how it worked on Twitter already, fans are able to experience the content inside the image without leaving the page.

An example has been released from Médecins Sans Frontières to demonstrate it. But this once again this has enormous application for fashion brands trying to share more than just a still shot of their collections. Their videos, show music, e-commerce pages and more.

As referenced previously from Mashable: “That single photo, in essence, just became a platform of its own.” Armani is an example of one designer officially using it, and already doing so on Facebook.

On a similar note, TechCrunch has just reported on rival tool Stipple’s new social commerce element called Stipple Shopping. This allows photos to be placed on Facebook and Twitter that users can explore, compare and now actually buy from too, likewise without leaving the image. Single photos that instantly become stores therefore.

It’ll be interesting to see what cut-through these tools might have. While increasing interaction and engagement is a worthy aim, whether they can actually impact commerce is another question.

Check out the video below…

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technology

Third Wave Fashion launches database of fashion tech start-ups

There’s no denying we’re in one of the most lucrative times for fashion and tech start-ups. As reported by The Business of Fashion recently (in debating whether there’s a fashion tech bubble), large sums of capital have been pouring into young companies over the past couple of years, including Moda Operandi ($46 million), Nasty Gal ($49 million), ShoeDazzle ($66 million), BeachMint ($75 million) and Gilt Groupe ($236 million). The latest news in Farfetch’s $20 million and Rent the Runway’s $24.4 million can both be added to that.

Keeping abreast of all this, not to mention the multiple others entering the space on a seemingly daily basis, however, is a heady task. Have you ever wondered just how many there actually are in total for instance? How many of them last past their first year, let alone make returns for their investors? And how many of them are truly relevant to you directly?

Fortunately someone’s been keeping tabs. New York-based consultancy company, Third Wave Fashion, has been tracking the space for two years, and is set to launch a database listing over 650 fashion-focused tech companies in order for us to try and get a handle on it.

Available for paid subscribers, the site is searchable by over 30 different business categories, including image sharing, content-and-commerce, subscription commerce, virtual closets, pre-orders, marketplace and more. These can then be cross-referenced with some 50 tags such as B2B, beauty, luxury and mobile. It also includes listings for 350 investors and 800 founders.

Third Wave Fashion founder, Liza Kindred, said: “The database is a culmination of nearly two years of monitoring the industry. We began tracking companies so we could have a comprehensive view of the landscape, and quickly realized that this information would be valuable to many other people as well.”

She pitches it as a “trusted resource for interested parties such as fashion brands, investors, entrepreneurs, journalists, and emerging designers searching for new platforms for distribution”.

The database will continue to grow as the industry does, but also feature that all-important RIP category for those failed start-ups too.

Further reading: The State of Fashion Tech, a keynote by Liza Kindred

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digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Nike, Bloomingdale’s, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Sephora

A round-up of stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

meality

  • Holographic ad gives live demo of Nike shoes on the street [PSFK]
  • Bloomingdale’s installs body scanners to help you find jeans that fit (as pictured) [Mashable]
  • Michael Kors releases limited edition sneakers to celebrate reaching 500 million fans on Facebook [Web & Luxe]
  • Marc Jacobs to dress famous Japanese holograph, Hatsune Miku [Fashionista]
  • Armani touts brand personality in latest Frames of Life eyewear campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • How Sephora differentiates in digital [Digiday]
  • The Business of Fashion is nominated for a Webby Award [BoF]
  • This Bond No. 9 ‘digital fragrance’ is only sold via QR code [Styleite]
  • Tavi Gevinson creator of The Style Rookie is the next big media mogul [AdWeek]
  • Menswear e-tailer FreshCotton creates drug cookbook to promote Stüssy’s spring line [Campaign]
  • Fashion e-commerce flowers in the Middle East [BoF]
  • Japanese luxury market evolves to keep up with digital generation [Japan Daily Press]
Categories
technology

The future of fashion weeks: do you have an opinion?

This is a bit of a different post to usual – a call for content if you will. Over the past two years, Fashion & Mash has grown to have readers from many fascinating parts of the industry – both in brand and in agency, all doing interesting things in their own right, but more importantly with a lot of things to say on this space.

Now, I’m looking for a bit of a view on where this industry’s seasonal fashion week shows can go – my very own crowdsourcing you could say. Does the old model still work? Does it need to change? How do we better align the communications and operations side of what our design houses and retailers do? As leaders in the digital field, you’re the rightly placed disruptors for these businesses – can you shake it up? Do you want to? Does it need it?

If you have any thoughts, on the record, or just as easily off (honestly), I would love to pick your brain. Let me know! Drop me an email anytime, whether it’s just with one sentence or two, or for a bigger conversation with a promised drink at the other end too. I have my own thoughts, and with recent discussions they’re rapidly evolving, but yours will really help fuel this fire…

Thank you!

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social media technology

River Island brings Rihanna content in-store with augmented reality flyers

River Island has partnered with augmented reality company Blippar to offer shoppers interactive content around its new Rihanna collection.

The initiative sees A5 flyers in store loaded with rich media content including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, latest news from River Island and access to the website to buy the collection itself. Consumers can activate the content by using the Blippar app on their smartphones; pointing their camera at the images.

They can also share their favourite items from the collection on Facebook and Twitter, as well as save them to their image library.

Stephen Shaw, opportunities director at Blippar said: “The most eye-catching and successful Blippar campaigns always feature the most engaging content – and the Blippar team have been excited to work with such amazing electric photography and exclusive video content; when you add superstar models such as Jourdan Dunn into the mix we’re confident River Island customers will be blown-away by the whole campaign.”

As Retail Week pointed out however, River Island’s lack of a mobile-optimised website leads to a poor user experience for those directed, somewhat belittling the benefits of such an initiative.

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Rihannaforriverisalnd01

Categories
technology

A look back at SXSW Interactive – key takeaways for the fashion industry

This article first appeared on The Business of Fashion

Elon-Musk-SXSW

AUSTIN, United States With some 30,000 people in town for the 20th annual SXSW Interactive conference, not to mention hundreds of keynote talks, panels, exhibitions, meet-ups and parties to both participate in (and get distracted by) each day, you’d be forgiven for feeling completely overwhelmed by the whole affair.

The festival aims to provide a “view on the future” and is predominantly focused on the technology space. This year’s conference was headlined by Elon Musk, a South Africa-born, American engineer and entrepreneur who co-founded the groundbreaking electric car company Tesla, as well as payment system PayPal, and is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, the world’s first commercial company to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Musk spoke about a manned mission to Mars and shared a video of a reusable rocket that could, for the first time, land back on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter. Former American vice president Al Gore, likewise, touched on all manner of big ideas, including the genetic engineering of spider goats. Meanwhile, there was tremendous buzz surrounding Grumpy Cat, the real-life meme with whom conference attendees queued up to have their photograph taken.

But for the fashion industry from which there’s a growing contingent that comes to town for the event how much was relevant? The answer is lots.

Part of the beauty of SXSW is, of course, meeting up with digitally-minded people from across the sector. But, without doubt, the most powerful insights are gleaned by stepping outside the fashion bubble and learning from other industries. The challenge is being able to distill down the key takeaways. So here goes.

The Maker Movement

This year’s festival was opened by Bre Pettis, CEO of New York-based 3D printing company MakerBot Industries, who said that cheaply available and easy-to-use desktop fabrication tools would give rise to “the next industrial revolution.”

“We’re empowering people to make stuff, faster and in more affordable ways,” he said, announcing the MakerBot Digitizer, a machine which can scan any physical object between three and eight inches tall and replicate it. Think of it as “a real-world copy and paste,” he added.

In another talk, Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO and co-founder of 3D printing marketplace and community Shapeways, said: “3D printing is so incredibly quick that what we’re doing is design-manufacturing.” Indeed, soon we will be able to not only buy an item online and print it out at home, but manipulate it first, to create a truly personalised product. Though the textiles aren’t quite there yet, a dress that’s downloadable in different fabrications and, better yet, a perfect fit, isn’t that far off.

Mike Senese, a senior editor at Wired, expects brands to swiftly take hold of this opportunity. NASA, Ford and Nokia are already doing so, while Nike, without the large official presence it had last year to launch its FuelBand, was quietly using the networking effects of SXSW to spread news of its new Vapor Laser Talon shoe. Created for American football players, it features a lightweight 3D printed plate, crafted using Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS) and designed to improve acceleration.

Kimberly Ovitz, who featured 3D printed jewellery in her Autumn/Winter 2013 New York Fashion Week show, this February, was also on site at SXSW. She said that, for the fashion industry, the beauty of the technology at this stage comes down to timelines. Not only can she better keep up with consumer demand by delivering her jewellery within a two-week timeline, but she’s also that much further ahead of the fast fashion outlets who copy her.

Digital Meets Physical

Importantly, hardware dominated the discussion at this year’s SXSW, marking a major move away from the app-focused conversation of the past (SXSW was the launchpad for both Twitter and Foursquare in 2007 and 2010, respectively).

Unsurprisingly, Google Glass got a lot of airtime, with a number of individuals spotted trying out the augmented reality headsets around the festival’s convention center and a live demonstration hosted by Timothy Jordan, Google’s senior developer advocate, who showcased third party apps from companies like The New York Times and Path and introduced the tech crowd to Google Glass’ Mirror API. Expect much more on this front.

Google also introduced a talking shoe (that reminds wearers to be more active) in collaboration with adidas as part of the tech giant’s “Art, Copy and Code” initiative. It was prime example of the so-called ‘Internet of Things,’ the trend towards everyday objects becoming networked. Although still just a concept, the trainers feature sensors that track a user’s speed and performance and speak to them directly (via a speaker) or their phones (via Bluetooth) to encourage movement.

Leap Motion, meanwhile, was widely called “the Nike FuelBand of 2013? in terms of the buzz it generated. A device about the size of a USB stick that plugs into any Mac or PC, it allows users to control a screen with hand gestures alone. Technically, it’s a step on from Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect for the precision it allows. The device can track individual finger movements with accuracy up to one-hundredth of a millimetre. It also retails for only $79.99 and will ship in May.

Collaboration

Amidst all the new technology launches and cross-pollination of big ideas, came a call for greater collaboration. For Elon Musk and Al Gore, that meant fostering collaboration amongst institutions to solve major problems that no single company could address alone. For many brands, it meant embracing their consumer communities.

The team at Lego shared their focus on being “fans of our fans.” With the launch of its crowdsourcing site Cuusoo, the company is empowering their most engaged customers to design their own products, the best of which are actually manufactured. Peter Espersen, head of online communities for the Lego Group, said there was value, not only in listening to your consumers, but setting goals on what you hope to achieve from them.

PepsiCo hosted a similar panel (the company’s fans have helped produce ads for the Super Bowl and create new flavours of Lays Potato Chips). “When you give people a forum to express themselves, you unearth things you never expected to find,” said Jen Saenz, Frito-Lay’s senior director of brand marketing. She addressed the idea of creating a circle of advocacy that could likewise apply to any fashion house: sourcing information, doing something with that information, feeding that back to fans, listening to their reaction and acting upon it.

Not surprisingly, data was a big part of this conversation. In particular, Saenz highlighted the deep level of insight Frito-Lay now has about its customers’ flavour preferences across geography, information it would never have been able to source at such scale using traditional methods.

But despite the focus on crowdsourcing, the importance of powerful storytelling (beyond what the facts, figures and feedback might show) rang throughout the festival. Ultimately, breaking through the noise, said Gary Goldhammer, senior vice president at H+K Strategies, means adding something remarkable and unexpected. “What makes for great storytelling is 1+1=3.”

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Comment social media technology

#SXSW Interactive in prep: a fashionable playing ground for 2013

FashionBrainBar_SXSW_main

If there was one thing I learnt from SXSW last year, it was that I absolutely had to go again in 2013. On top of the fact it’s the place to hear industry leaders  give expert insights, the place to learn about new innovations and source fresh inspirations, and the place where trends and directions for the tech world break… it’s also a breeding ground for incredible networking.

For anyone working within the fashion-meets-digital space, this seems especially the case this year, with more attendees headed to Austin from our industry than ever, as well as a host of relevant events to go with it.

Fashion’s Collective is hosting one of them, known as the Fashion Brain Bar on Monday, March 11 (as pictured above). It’s aim is to provide a bit of respite from the insanity of the festival, but also a space for everyone to meet the people they need to meet and have “the conversations that will play a key role in the advancements we’ll see over the next few years”.

Industry experts on hand will include Raman Kia, executive director of integrated strategy at Condé Nast through to Dave Gilboa, founder of Warby Parker. The full list can be seen here, as well as a space to submit questions to them in advance.

Another fringe event planned is called The Neighborhood. Created by AvecMode and 2nd Street District, it’s a move on from the Style X event of previous years, which brought a fashion focus (complete with runway shows) to Austin nearer the end of the festival. This time plans are in place from March 11 – 14 with a bit more of an industry edge. There are pop-up stores still, but also Q&A sessions with pros from the likes of Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Lyst, Refinery29 and more, as well as highlight interviews with menswear designers John Varvatos and Billy Reid.

The main SXSW schedule does of course feature a number of fashion-specific events too, including this one with Nina Garcia focused on the democratisation of high fashion. And this one featuring New York’s “digital it-crowd” in Aliza Licht, Cannon Hodge, Erika Bearman and John Jannuzzi (that’d be DKNY, Bergdorf Goodman, Oscar de la Renta and Lucky Magazine).

Fashion’s Collective has also published a survival guide to the whole five days, including must-attend events (lots of them non-fashion which I would highly recommend, there’s nothing like being inspired from outside your normal remit), as well as a handful of food and drink recommendations (indispensable).

I also love this guide from Andrew Hyde, called Ditch the Marketers, Find the Makers, it sums up the rest of the experience beautifully (be friendly to everyone, sit down when you can, put down your tech and look at people – yes really).

On that note mind you, if you’re going, drop me a line over Twitter. Assuming I can connect, I’d love to meet you.

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film technology

DVF’s Google Glass film released

As promised following her show at New York Fashion Week on Sunday, Diane von Furstenberg has released a film recorded using Google Glass, the search engine giant’s new augmented reality eyewear. Check it out:

 

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social media technology

Burberry preps for SS12 digital extravaganza featuring Tweetwalk, Instagram takeover and a 4-D Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

LFW_2002279a

Burberry has partnered with Twitter for its spring/summer 2012 show due at 4pm today, providing fans with a backstage Twitpic of every look before it hits the runway.

The “Tweetwalk”, as it’s been named, will allow @Burberry Twitter followers to see the collection moments before anyone else and in so doing once again confirms the luxury label’s status as a digital innovator.

Twitter’s new media gallery photo functionality also allows all of the images to be viewed in full – click here to see.

“We are thrilled to create the first ever ‘’Tweetwalk show’’ in partnership with Twitter. Twitter is instantaneous and I love the idea that streaming a show can be in many different forms. This collection is all about the most detailed hand crafted pieces and fabric innovation, creating a beautiful physical experience that is communicated digitally in dynamic and diverse ways and I love balancing those two worlds,” said Burberry’s chief creative officer Christopher Bailey.

“Burberry was one of the first brands to truly understand Twitter’s ability to connect people all over the world with what’s most meaningful to them. Thanks to their creativity, fashion lovers everywhere will be able to see the new Burberry collection even before those in the front row,” added Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter UK.

The initiative comes as part of a move to offer fans the experience of the show from start to finish, providing them with greater access than ever before – in fact more so than those present – to enable them to feel a real part of the story.

Accordingly, the live-stream continues as per previous seasons with coverage of the red carpet in the build up to the event. It can be seen on various media partner sites as well as on Burberry.com and the brand’s YouTube and Facebook pages. For the first time, the brand’s 8m Facebook fans are also able to stream the show on their own page.

Meanwhile, the brand’s Instagram account is also joining in the action, this time with British photographer Mike Kus, the most followed user in the UK, at the helm.

And for those interested in buying spring/summer 2012 immediately, the brand’s runway to reality concept continues this season too – offering consumers the ability to purchase items from the collection exclusively online and at in-store events worldwide for one week for delivery within just eight weeks.

Meanwhile, those lucky enough to have a ticket to the show, will also be welcomed by “an immersive, multi-faceted experience” surrounding the brand’s new Burberry Body fragrance.

A 4-D hologram of face Rosie Huntington-Whiteley will be showcased in a scented room using innovative virtual imagery first pioneered by the brand for its Beijing store launch earlier this year.

Check out Bailey’s intro to today’s show, below: