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Podcast product

Heist’s Olympic designer on product innovation

You have to be bold and brave to do meaningful innovation, says Fiona Fairhurst, VP of innovation at underwear brand, Heist Studios, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent Global.

“We’re trying to make better products that make people’s lives better,” she explains.  

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The first product under the newly-appointed designer’s remit at Heist is shapewear that not only looks more aesthetically pleasing than existing alternatives in the market, but removes any stigma for women wearing it. Fairhurst’s background is in sport, a world built around product innovation focused on the importance of performance.

She rose to fame during the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 where, while working at Speedo, she introduced a bodysuit using biomimetic sharkskin technology that went on to help 13 out of 15 swimming world records achieved during the competition. It was also eventually banned from the sport because it gave competitors an unfair advantage.

Her background has enabled her to strike the balance between the emotional side of design and the material innovation that leads to better product performance. Much like getting swimmers to swap their small Speedos for full bodysuits, for Heist it is about getting women to trust their expertise. “We very much want to base everything on science, technology and the innovation – and also what the consumer wants, which for Heist is about women.”  

During this conversation with Rachel Arthur at a FashMash event in London, Fairhurst also explains what excites her for the future of material innovation, the challenge of scaling sustainability, and what game-changing product Heist is working on next.

Heist Studios’ new Shapewear

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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Editor's pick sustainability

Calvin Klein encourages recycling of packaging with labeling program

Calvin Klein Underwear has partnered with standardized labeling system How2Recycle to provide customers with details on how exactly they can recycle the packaging that items come in.

Labels on each product will provide clear information to shoppers about the components of the packaging, and instructions on whether to consult a local recycling program or use a store drop-off station at a participating retailer in order to save from throwing the wrapping straight into landfill.

“As a global apparel company, we recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce waste, and one key way to do so is by minimizing our packaging and making it recyclable,” said Marissa Pagnani-McGowan, group vice president of corporate responsibility at Calvin Klein’s parent company, PVH Corp. “How2Recycle labels will make it easier for our consumers to understand how to discard unwanted items in the most sustainable way possible.”

Target and Walmart are also working with How2Recycle on similar initiatives. “PVH is blazing the trail by being the first company in the apparel space to commit to featuring accurate, consistent recycling labels on their packaging,” said Caroline Cox, project manager of How2Recycle. “The reach of their iconic brands will empower a new sector of consumers to recycle more, and more accurately.”

The move comes as more brands within the fashion industry are taking sustainability and waste more seriously. Packaging is one major focus as consumers increasingly look to recycle or reuse what their items come in and there’s a greater call for reduction in the amount of materials used. Just this past week, a number of consumer goods companies, including Procter & Gamble and Nestle, teamed up on a new packaging solution called Loop, which is focused on reusable stainless steel.

It also ties to PVH’s broader focus on sustainable packaging. The group has a commitment to reduce the overall amount of packaging used for products and work toward sending zero materials to landfill. Its statement on the matter says that 78 million tons of plastic packaging is currently produced globally each year, yet only 14% is collected for recycling.

How are you thinking about sustainability? 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. 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

Heist’s new shapewear comes from the inventor of the Speedo SharkSkin suit

The Outer Body by Heist Studios

Three years after taking on the hosiery market with its reimagination of tights, Heist is moving into shapewear with a bodysuit inspired by the wearer’s own support system.

Called The Outer Body, the undergarment is meant to support the body instead of squeezing it, and it’s a big push in innovation that’s making that viable. Behind the design is performance-wear inventor Fiona Fairhurst, who is renowned for the multi-gold-medal-winning SharkSkin swimsuit for Speedo.

With her first product release for Heist, she is combining two cutting-edge fabric technologies. The first, NoSew™, allows the garment to have just one sewn seam, eliminating discomforting bulky seams. The second, FlowFree™, features engineered perforations that promote and enhance breathability instead of retaining moisture like traditional elastics and meshes.

“Traditional shapewear puts pressure all over the body, which might work, but it’s not comfortable. I didn’t want to touch it the same way, I wanted to support the body, not necessarily control it”, said Fairhurst at a launch event for the product in London.

The bodysuit is composed of ultrasonically bonded, contouring, breathable panels made of film technology modeled on the body’s fascia matrix – the connective tissue beneath the skin that stabilizes the muscles and internal organs. 20,000 tiny laser-perforations increase airflow to reduce sweating.

According to Heist’s CEO, Toby Darbyshire, the company is on a mission to change the future of underwear. “Women’s bodywear has been neglected, overlooking an important scientific and technological focus that it deserves. With this new launch, we have applied our philosophy of innovation and expert knowledge of the anatomy to a very specific product that has been crying out for an overhaul.”

Before creating the shapewear, Heist asked 1,025 women who wear bodysuits what they wanted most from the product. “This disillusioned and dissatisfied group told us: no squeezing, sweating, or struggling into something that’s not worth it. So, we applied high-performing technology to our bodysuit from top to bottom”, said Darbyshire.

The company also launched an amusing campaign, as its marketing style, to tease the shapewear, with various comedians attempting to get into more traditional bodysuits to varying degrees of difficulty. I don’t think women should have to compromise when it comes to shapewear. I’ve designed for comfort – this is a new product you can move in.” Fairhurst explained.

Considering the global underwear market is expected to reach $145bn by 2021 after generating sales of $112bn in 2016, according to Statista, it’s about time the industry started paying attention to innovative, female-targeted products.

The Outer Body is priced at £120 and available online today at www.heist-studios.com. A limited supply is also available in-store at the Heist DemoStudio in London, where customers can book a 30-minute Shape + Fit appointment via Instagram.

For more on how Heist approaches innovation – from product to communications – listen to TheCurrent Innovators podcast episode with Darbyshire, published earlier this year.

How are you thinking about product 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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Campaigns Editor's pick product

Aerie pushes empowerment with new product, campaign and experience

Aerie - "Bras make you feel real good"
Aerie

Aerie is launching a 360-degree campaign that aims to create a positive environment for women to shop and feel good about themselves.

The initiative, titled “Bras make you feel real good”, includes advertising, a new bra collection and a reinvented shopping experience, all of which aid the brand’s mission to promoting female empowerment and inclusivity.

Speaking of the brand’s overarching message of empowerment in January, Jennifer Foyle, Aerie’s global brand president, said: “At Aerie, we believe in authentic, real beauty and never airbrush our models.” Adding: “Now, more than ever, we want to encourage women everywhere to feel empowered to embrace their own unique qualities and beautiful REAL selves.”

The unretouched print campaign features a cast of 57 real women, which includes contest winners such as a cancer survivor, a woman with a colostomy bag and a woman with an insulin pump, as well as Olympic gymnast and sexual abuse survivor Aly Raisman.

In-store, the experience translates into two new consumer-facing features: a new bra fitting process titled Best Fit Finder (BFF) that provides a less invasive tool to finding the perfect bra fit; and in the fitting room, encouraging consumers to leave sticky note affirmations behind for the next woman to see, not too dissimilar from an experience found at mirrors in their Soho, New York flagship.

Moreover, the initiative also includes staff training: the brand has implemented a body confidence training campaign for its store team in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which is designed to create a judgement-free zone during the shopping experience.

To accompany the #AerieReal campaign, the American Eagle-owned brand is launching a new bra collection that includes products such as The Real Happy™, Real Me™ and Real Power™. All styles feature enhanced details such as softer fabric, removable padding and j-hooks for easy adjustments.

Appealing to real women both in its communication strategy and in-store experience, has worked in the Pittsburgh-based brand’s favor, as it announced a same-store sales growth of 38% in the first quarter of 2018, adding to a 25% increase in 2017.

The success reflects a clear appetite for realistic messaging, one which brands such as Victoria’s Secret have failed to swiftly respond to – in comparison, L Brands’ (the group that owns the lingerie company) stock has fallen by more than 45% in 2018.

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? 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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Campaigns

Fruit of the Loom releases city-wide stunt for unnoticeable underwear

Fruit of the Loom

Fruit of the Loom has launched a campaign stunt that highlights how light its underwear is by testing how much passersby are paying attention to their surroundings in New York City.

In support of the brand’s new EverLight™ underwear, the brand has created physical installations around the city that blend into the urban setting, purposively designed to be unnoticeable.

Examples included a typical tourist telescope pointed at a brick wall and a small red door reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland that was located so closely to the ground few would notice it. Those who spot the initiative and take the time to stop and look can discover hidden clues leading them to a reward of cash prizes and free underwear.

Those clues include using very small writing to hide behind a large chunk of incoherent sentences, or a larger-than-life QR code that has to be scanned to reveal the location of the prize.

While the brand was not sure what to expect, it was right in its assumption of low noticeability. Of the nine million citizens of New York, only six savvy people have taken the time to engage with the advertising and interpret the clues. The six winners have each taken home $1,851 in cash, which, in another tongue-in-cheek move from the brand, corresponds to the year that it was founded, as well as free EverLight™ underwear.

While the campaign is ongoing, a video released by the brand chronicles not only the reactions of passersby, but tone that implies that the project is as much a social experiment as an advertising stunt.

With a total of 11 installations, and with only six that having been completed, the brand is now encouraging people in New York City to watch out for a poster of a realtor that looks a little bit off, a newspaper ad for a broken printer, and a little red man waving its arms.

This all follows a larger move from Fruit of the Loom for taking a humorous approach to promoting its brand at present. In May this year, it also released a satirical PSA against shiftless selfies, explaining that men were taking their tops off so often because they weren’t wearing the right t-shirts.

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Editor's pick Podcast

How Heist looks at inclusivity to keep innovating its tights

Heist's Toby Darbyshire and Rachel Arthur
Heist’s Toby Darbyshire and Rachel Arthur

Inclusivity for women of all shapes, sizes and skintones is at the core of the strategy behind direct-to-consumer underwear brand Heist, according to its CEO Toby Darbyshire, who features on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Rachel Arthur, he explains how the underwear industry is one that’s ripe for innovation as a category that is underperforming against societal needs. As it stands, it is designed to drive revenue, rather than to serve its customers, he notes.

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

“It struck us that in the age of Harvey Weinstein, the fact that my wife, who is a pretty modern woman, walks into Selfridges’ underwear section and it says ‘listen love, put this on – one of sort of four or five societal normalized views of sexy – and then you can fulfil your purpose’. That seems like an industry at its fundamental that is both broken from a brand point of view but also totally out of kilter with the cultural discourse,” he comments.

The first product Heist decided to tackle was tights. Widely regarded as uncomfortable, Heist’s innovative design includes no seams, a flexible waistband and a reduction in snagging and laddering. The brand worked with real women to ensure their concerns were met.

Since then, that has also meant exploring color and shape, and it’s this approach to inclusivity that keeps the brand, which recently received investment from Natalie Massenet’s new Imaginary Ventures fund, driving forward.

Last summer, it launched ‘The Nude Project’, crowdsourcing a full color palette index of different skintones based on over 100,000 customers. What’s more, the team opted to make this an open source model, explains Darbyshire, meaning they are sharing the results with the wider industry in the hope it will encourage others to diversify their product offerings.

Heist also launched tights to cater up to size 24 in 2017, again working with real body shapes to create the best fit. The line debuted with a successful and innovative campaign, featuring different shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables inside Heist tights to promote a body positive and inclusive message.

On that decision, Darbyshire says: “How do you talk about plus size in a way that is inclusive and isn’t Dove. Not because Dove didn’t do it brilliantly, because they actually did it brilliantly, but then kept on doing it for 20 years, so now no one else can do it because it’s lame. It’s really clever. So how not to be Dove is the challenge.”

Also on the podcast, he talks about innovation in the product itself as inspired by the likes of Nike and Speedo, how to successfully cut out the middleman and why they might introduce their own store next year.

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 film social media

Agent Provocateur launches interactive film and WhatsApp holiday campaign

Agent Provocateur
Agent Provocateur’s new Naughty or Nice festive campaign

Agent Provocateur has launched a new campaign for the holiday season, anchored by an interactive video based on the idea of duality.

“Naughty or nice” sees two different versions of the same film captured, enabling the viewer to switch between the two by tapping their screen on a mobile, or pressing the letter “N” on desktop.

Actress Juno Temple plays the role of both personalities, one confident and knowing in a deep palette of blacks, the other more innocent and coquettish, marked by its softer shades of pink. You can see both in the video below, but head to the website to see the interactive version.

The initiative, built in collaboration with agency Cult LDN, gets a more personalised interactive boost over the coming weeks too, when Agent Provocateur launches what it’s calling the world’s first “WhatsApp Ménage à Trois”. Encouraging every women to explore her naughty or nice side, it is inviting certain shoppers, their lovers and an AP agent to have a “lusty conversation” in order to uncover their deepest desires, and wish list for the festive season.

No further detail available just yet, but it sounds like it will take advantage of the group chat function available on Whatsapp to provide a personal shopping and recommendation-based service ahead of the festive season, albeit with a little tongue-in-cheek action thrown in.

The Naughty or Nice campaign will run across the brand’s website, social media channels and stores, with each of its 120 boutiques given a ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ theme and merchandised accordingly.


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Editor's pick social media

Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber drive top tier engagement for new #MyCalvins campaign

Kendall_mycalvins

Proving the power of today’s social media celebrities, Kendall Jenner managed to rack up over 3.5 million likes for a handful of Calvin Klein images on her Instagram feed this week in little over 24-hours.

Justin Bieber meanwhile gained 1.5 million for one of his posts for the brand. All of them were part of Calvin Klein’s new spring/summer 2016 #mycalvins campaign – a refresh of a user-generated content initiative that has driven social media sharing for the brand around the world.

On this occasion, investing in influencers has once again helped get the word out. The provocative poses are accompanied by a tagline of “I ___ in #mycalvins”, encouraging other people to indicate what they indeed do in theirs.

It’s also the first time that each of the Calvin Klein brands – Calvin Klein Collection, Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear – have been presented together. The campaign also features other well-known names such as hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar, singer FKA Twigs, actress Klara Kristin, cult skateboarder Mark Gonzales, British artist Shantell Martin and The Wire actor Tristan Wilds.

Photographer and filmmaker Tyrone Lebon is the mastermind behind the images, with the answers to what all these familiar faces do in their Calvins rounded up into a 90-second video as well.

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Editor's pick technology

Kmart’s Joe Boxer mocks wearables market with ‘inactivity tracker’

joeboxer_inactivitytracker

If there’s one thing the past 12 months has seen, it’s brands at the dozen jumping on the wearables bandwagon with some kind of gratuitous marketing tie up or another. Here comes another, but this time quite a winning one.

In a bid to promote its pyjamas, Kmart’s Joe Boxer line has teamed up with FCB Chicago to come up with the idea of the “inactivity tracker”. Yep, forget counting your steps like every other fitness band out there, and instead get comfortable with doing absolutely nothing at all. The hashtag #chillhard is attached accordingly.

“The whole idea is to turn the tracking trend on its ear. It plays off of Joe Boxer’s irreverent brand personality really well,” Jamie Stein, a spokeswoman for Kmart, told AdAge.

The device, which was genuinely available to consumers (in limited edition and for free to the first 50 who purchased from Kmart’s New York Astor Place store this weekend), connects to a mobile app available on both iOS and Android. From there it rewards the wearer’s laziness and chill time.

joeboxer_tracker

As per the promotional material, the step-by-step process is to: 1. Put on Joe Boxer pajamas and your Inactivity Tracker; 2. Download the app. Pair Inactivity Tracker with your smartphone. Earn badges; 3. No more steps.

Levels can be reached including “Human Sloth”, “Genghis Yawn”, “Are you dead?” “Couch Commander”, “Cryogenic” and “You Rock!” To achieve the latter, one needs less than 2,500 steps in five days; perhaps not the most responsible of suggestions to today’s population, but a fun mockery of the route wearable tech has taken us so far otherwise. The product description similarly highlights things like “little itsy bitsy lights” and “cool vibrating thing”.

Accompanying the launch of the device is a 60-minute video of two men competing in the “2015 Joe Boxer Lounger Games”. Amusing commentary ensues as it focuses on the PJ-clad individuals chilling in their armchairs.

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Editor's pick film

Triumph pushes bra-fitting services in animated musical film

Triumph_findtheone

Triumph has transformed model Hannah Ferguson into an animated character as part of a campaign designed to promote its bra fitting service.

The two-minute musical spot celebrates the magic of finding the perfectly fitting bra. It follows the tale of Hannah, her two friends, a fairy godmother in the shape of a dress form, and a companion called Fred the Frog on the quest for “the one”.

The aim in using animation, according to Triumph, was to provide women with a character that is relatable rather than aspirational, removing any pressure to look a certain way.

Eszter Szijarto, head of brand marketing at Triumph said: “It is really important for us to find new ways of bringing to life the bra finding journey so that we continue to inspire customers to go for a bra fitting. By transforming our model, Hannah, into a cartoon we are treading new ground and by doing so, we aim to create a compelling visual experience that captures the magical feeling of finding the right bra that transforms your life – ‘The One’.”

The campaign features a musical score composed by Tony award-winner Jason Robert Brown. The vocal was performed by three acclaimed Broadway singers, and the accompaniment by Prague’s Filmharmonic Orchestra.

It will air on television in the UK, Germany and Italy from today until mid-May, while edited versions will be viewable online.

Accompanying it is a contest called Animate Me, which calls for fans to answer questions related to “The One” via Facebook and Twitter as well as the Find the One Hub (where bra fitting appointments can also be made). Winners will receive an animated illustration of themselves in the same style as the film.

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs