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business data Editor's pick technology

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower on the trends connecting fashion and politics

Christopher Wylie - Cambridge Analytica
Christopher Wylie

The similarities between fashion and politics are much stronger than people think, says Christopher Wylie, now widely known as the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, in an exclusive conversation with Vogue Italia.

Why is someone who blew the lid on the Facebook data scandal talking about fashion? Canada-born Wylie was studying trend forecasting at the University of the Arts London while working at Cambridge Analytica, and has spent much of his career exploring links in culture.

Much like fashion trends, politics is cyclical, and encompasses the idea of presenting an aesthetic, or narrative, he explains. “Trends are just as important in politics as they are in fashion; just that rather than an aesthetic trend, it might be an ideological, behavioural or cultural trend,” he says. “You need to keep track of all kinds of trends in politics because you need to know if you come out and say something, what the adoption of that will be six months down the road. And is that going to help you win an election.”

Given the nature of his role at a data business, unsurprisingly he also has a big view on the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on the fashion industry too.

Fashion’s intuitive nature is not only hard to measure in trends, but also incredibly complex for machines to learn, he explains. He believes fashion is contextual because its trends and aesthetics are hard to quantify. “How do you define bold? If I go to a black tie dinner but I’m decked out in camo, I’m actually wearing quite muted colours, but it’s quite bold,” he exemplifies, saying boldness is contextual, depending on where you are.

“How do you tell a computer about that? Amazingly, with fashion, is that not only is it visually and aesthetically really enriching, computationally and mathematically it’s really hard. It’s a hell of a lot harder than politics.”

Computer vision could be the solution, he says, because an outfit is essentially visually-encoded information. In that sense, it is human beings who would need to look at pictures of people wearing clothes and choose the relevant adjectives that describe what they look like. They then need to work closely with computers to teach them about fashion.

“Everybody needs teaching, even computers. You learnt fashion in the first place, so the computer needs to learn fashion from people as there are no machines that know fashion yet,” says Wylie.

Digital influencer Margaret Zhang wears Vetements
Digital influencer Margaret Zhang wears Vetements

We saw this movement towards focusing on the human earlier this year at SXSW. While every conversation was underpinned by the concept of artificial intelligence, the topic kept highlighting the sense of instilling humanity in all interactions – from robots learning from humans, to humans being freed from minimal tasks to focus on what matters.

Another strong theme from SXSW – and one permeating consumer trends full stop today – is around the lack of trust in society. The Edelman Trust Barometer has reported a straight-line decline for 25 years, and Wylie likens the rise of ironic fashion such as Vetements to this too. “If you have a lot of designers who are starting to make stuff that is ironic – or stupid like the €200 DHL t-shirt – and people are buying it, it’s because you have a total collapse of trust in institutions, including fashion institutions,” he says, adding that this is where fashion and culture in general have a lot more power than they give themselves credit for.

The Vogue Italia interview otherwise covered Wylie’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal more broadly, and exactly why he decided to go public with the information.

For more on the future of data regulation and privacy, listen to our episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast with Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali.

Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Nobody is buying Vetements, Walmart’s high tech store, reviving H&M

Vetements
Vetements

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

TOP STORIES
  • 2 years after they broke the internet, it looks like nobody is buying Vetements [HighSnobiety]
  • Walmart opens first small high-tech supermarket in China [Reuters]
  • ‘It lost its focus’: Why an e-commerce push won’t be enough to revive H&M [Glossy]
  • What Trump’s trade war means for fashion [BoF]
  • Alibaba and Ford launch China’s first Tmall car vending machine [BrandChannel]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Apple’s groovy iPhone spot shows how you can now pay with a glance [Creativity]
  • Museums are the best place to find innovation in AR [VentureBeat]
  • How Tumi is using AI in marketing campaigns, online and in stores [Digiday]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Fashion’s 7 priorities to achieve sustainability [BoF]
  • Eileen Fisher will use Salone del Mobile installation to remind the fashion world to ‘waste no more’ [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Former Walmart CEO, of all people, says Congress should break up Amazon [Racked]
  • Ted Baker launches experiential pop-up at London’s Old Street station [TheIndustry]
  • Nike opens Unlaced, a sneaker boutique for women [BrandChannel]
  • 6 tips for taking your brand direct-to-consumer [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • What Nike’s analytics platform buy says about the future of brand-consumer relationships [AdWeek]
BUSINESS
  • Kering confirms Stella McCartney split [BoF]
  • Why a potential $5bn valuation at IPO for luxury unicorn Farfetch may not be crazy after all [CB Insights]
  • Louis Vuitton’s new appointment marks an important victory for marketing hype over design [StyleZeitgeist]
  • Raf Simons’ first year at Calvin Klein delivers for PVH [BoF]
  • Lululemon stretches digital marketing wings, sees success [AdAge]
  • What’s driving retail’s sneaker obsession? [RetailDive]
  • 7 takeaways from Shoptalk 2018 [RetailDive]
Categories
data e-commerce

Gucci tops first hottest brands list from Lyst and The Business of Fashion

Lyst3


E-commerce player Lyst has teamed up with The Business of Fashion to introduce a new ranking of fashion’s hottest brands and biggest products.

The Lyst Index relies on information pulled from the Lyst site – which tracks 4.5 million data points per hour from over 65 million annual consumers, 4 million products and 12,000 brands – as well as Google search data. The formula takes into account search, page views (across devices), engagement, intent rate and conversion.

For Q2 of this year, Gucci comes out top, rising three places since April 2017 to overtake Yeezy and Vetements, which ranked in second and fourth place respectively, with Balenciaga rising from ninth to number three. Gucci also sees four products listed in the 10 best-selling products globally, with its GG Blooms slides topping the list overall.

The Business of Fashion puts that rise down to Gucci’s ability to connect with millennial and Gen Z consumers. The report reads: “Alessandro Michele’s maximalist-magpie aesthetic translates extremely well to digital channels, while the brand’s marketing strategies, such as the meme-led campaign for Gucci watches in March, and Glen Luchford’s recent ‘50s sci-fi inspired video have proved successful experiments.”

The Lyst Index
The Lyst Index

It highlights the fact sales to millennial and Gen Z consumers grew at double-digit rate in the first of the 2017 fiscal year, and retention is high. It also outlines that Gucci sales rose to €1,48 billion in Q2, up 39.3% year over year and beating analysts’ expectations by 7%. Operating profit for H1 was over €907 million, up 69% from about €537 million last year.

Yeezy at number two it puts down to the ongoing buzz around founder Kanye West and the fact he’s married to one of the most photographed women in the world, as well as the clever pricing and distribution strategy that Adidas has deployed.

Meanwhile, Balenciaga at number three is attributed to the streetwear attitude to couture that Demna Gvasalia has introduced as well as some clever marketing plays. But it was reportedly its inadvertent part in the Ikea shopping bag viral meme that caused its biggest search increase in the quarter.

Other brands listed in the top 10 include Givenchy, Valentino, Y-3, Prada, Nike and Fendi, while those with winning products further include Saint Laurent, Chloé, Diane Von Furstenberg, Common Projects and Comme Des Garçons.

This is the first in a series of four quarterly Lyst Index reports.

The Lyst Index
The Lyst Index

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social media sustainability

Vetements sends message of overconsumption through Saks Fifth Avenue windows

The Vetements windows at Saks Fifth Avenue
The Vetements windows at Saks Fifth Avenue (Image via @experiencethebigapple)

Last week we saw Stella McCartney highlighting the issues of consumerism and waste with a campaign set on a landfill site, now Vetements is taking that concept to the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The brand has filled several windows of the New York flagship store with a pile of unwanted clothing that will continue to amass every night through August 10. The Instagram-worthy idea from Vetements’ head designer Demna Gvasalia is intended to represent the notion of overconsumption in fashion.

On Instagram, Saks called it a “bold statement by Vetements calling us all to offset the excess in our lives”.

All of the pieces have actually either been donated by Saks employees or are out-of-stock merchandise. There are also hangers, street signs, shoes and loose plastic heaped up.

There just isn’t any actual Vetements clothing, which given the alternative nature of the brand, doesn’t come as a huge surprise. It also recently said it would no longer stage fashion shows or showcase its new collections in the traditional way.

At the end of the windows exhibit, the pile of clothes will be donated to RewearABLE, a New York-based clothing recycling programme designed to provide sustainable employment for adults with developmental disabilities.


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business data digital snippets Editor's pick film product social media Startups technology

What you missed: Fashion-tech education, Burberry’s see-now buy-now plans, Dior bags on WeChat

Burberry see-now buy-now fashion
Burberry’s first see-now buy-now campaign

One of the most interesting things about taking a decent summer break, and particularly one in August, is observing what happens during that time. Traditionally still the month that most of Europe closes down, it is also the time just before fashion weeks begin again and therefore the perfect opportunity for quiet on the news front full stop. We’ve certainly noticed that with regards to digital campaigns or tech stories over the past six years that Fashion & Mash has been running. And yet, not so much this year…

August 2016 proved busier than ever in terms of news in this space, ranging from Burberry’s new see-now buy-now campaign to Kate Spade’s wearables launch, Dior’s WeChat moves and various new high-tech store openings. What that does of course is continue to prove the relevancy of this world to the industry’s growth and success.

Read on for a full breakdown of what you might have missed…

PS. We’ve rebranded our regular “Digital Snippets” series to this “What you missed” feature in a bid to bring you a broader range of relevant stories, as well as a breakdown by category to make your consumption that much easier. Note: this version includes a month’s worth of links – normal weekly service will now resume. 

PPS. A new must-read site/newsletter in this space is LeanLuxe – edited by Paul Munford, and providing “stories, analysis, and opinion on the world of modern luxury business”.


TOP STORIES
  • Fashion needs a more robust approach to technology education [BoF]
  • Burberry reveals campaign it hopes will woo shoppers to first ‘straight-to-consumer’ collection [The Drum]
  • Dior in first with luxury WeChat handbags [China Daily]
  • Consumers prefer see now, buy now, wear now model, says Verdict [The Industry]

BUSINESS
  • Luxury armageddon: Even Chanel takes a hit as sales and profits plunge [Trendwalk]
  • Gucci among world’s hottest fashion brands, while Prada cools [BoF]
  • Prada sales slide as weak demand weighs on luxury-goods maker [Bloomberg]
  • Macy’s to shutter 100 stores as online players pressure brick-and-mortar [WWD]
  • How Demna Gvasalia is revolutionising Balenciaga from the inside out [Vogue]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Burberry sponsors Snapchat Lens for My Burberry Black launch [The Industry]
  • For Kit and Ace, Snapchat doubles as a TV channel and customer service assistant [Digiday]
  • Nike and others dive into Instagram Stories: why marketers already like it better than Snapchat [AdAge]
  • While some retailers ignore Snapchat, others are killing it with lens and geofilter ads [AdWeek]
  • Snapchat found a way to bring its ads to the real world [QZ]
  • Burberry becomes first luxury brand to personalise on Pinterest [Marketing Week]
  • Grindr officially gets into the menswear game [Fashionista]
  • Chatbots are thriving on the Kik chat app [Business Insider]

RETAIL
  • Westfield’s new World Trade Center mall puts in-store tech centre stage [Glossy]
  • Sephora’s Chicago store has new, high-tech look [Chicago Tribune]
  • After digital spree, retailers spending on stores again [WWD]
  • Malls aren’t dying. They’re changing [Racked]
  • Retailers look to high tech to engage visitors to their store [Journal Sentinel]
  • London is getting the first YouTube store, where online video stars can sell merchandise to the public [PSFK]
  • Retailers like J Crew are obsessed with data. (And it’s killing your shopping experience.) [LeanLuxe]
  • Neiman Marcus launches high-tech sunglass try-on mirror [WWD]

ADVERTISING
  • Watch Spike Jonze’s electrifying short film for Kenzo [Dazed]
  • Kate Hudson makes her new Fabletics spot ‘feel like you’re scrolling through her Instagram feed’ [AdWeek]
  • Cotton Inc.’s interactive video ad lets viewers determine how a day plays out [AdWeek]
  • L’Oreal celebrates diversity and targets men with new ‘Truly Yours’ positioning [The Drum]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Fashion’s fourth industrial revolution [BoF]
  • Kate Spade’s new wearable tech collection is fun and full of personality [Wareable]
  • Wearable technology: Amazon’s next big step? [Trendwalk]
  • Adidas ups athleisure-technology ante with Atlanta Speedfactory announcement [Trendwalk]
  • What 3D printing means for fashion [BoF]
  • Why STEM subjects and fashion design go hand in hand [The Conversation]
  • Athleta goes beyond wicking with new technical fabric [Glossy]
  • Cotton Inc. bonds with Nanotex on Dry Inside technology [WWD]
  • The MIT lab that’s quietly pioneering fashion for everyone [Co.Design]

START-UPS
  • Ignored by LVMH, Richemont, and Kering, modern luxury upstarts gain traction with Silicon Valley [LeanLuxe]
  • Eureka! John Lewis’ TrueStart deal to boost brave new tech world [Trendwalk]
  • This New York-based start-up accelerator is supporting the next generation of retail disruptors [Fashionista]
  • Topshop throws its weight behind wearables [Co.Design]
  • Start-ups in Target’s Techstars accelerator race to finish line [Star Tribune]
Categories
business e-commerce Editor's pick social media

UPDATE: Your guide to all the strategic changes happening around fashion weeks

gigi_tommyNEW

We know fashion weeks are changing radically around us. Numerous designers have opted to shift from producing shows intended for trade, to ones that actually resonate with the consumers they’re ultimately supposed to reach.

For many, this means creating collections that can be bought in-season: a see now / buy now strategy, as it’s largely being called. But others are doing something different again: some stepping out of the fashion week race altogether, others merely changing the time of year the collections are shown instead.

At this point, the result is a bit of a muddle – a variety of strategies that may or may not work. Safe to say, where leaders including Burberry, Tom Ford and Rebecca Minkoff are stepping, numerous others are waiting in the wings to see what sticks before figuring out if they too will join the (r)evolution. The question is, will the traditional Parisian houses go there?

Here’s a round-up of all the changes so far:

UPDATE FEB 19: Mulberry

Mulberry is the latest to outline its plans to more closely align runway with retail deliveries. Ahead of its return to the London Fashion Week schedule with new creative director Johnny Coca this Sunday, the brand announced it will showcase part of its Fall 2016 pre-collection on the catwalk to tap into the idea of providing product that can be bought much sooner – it will drop in stores in April. CEO Thierry Andretta said the move will short-circuit the production of cheap high-street copies, allow retailers to sell original designs at full price and give customers quicker access to new products.

UPDATE FEB 12: Tommy Hilfiger

Hot on the heels of other big name brands listed below, Tommy Hilfiger has also announced a direct-to-consumer shift. It will kickstart such plans with its TommyXGigi collection, with supermodel Gigi Hadid, in September 2016, before moving to a full in-season and shoppable consumer show in February 2017. As BoF highlights, this is no small undertaking for a brand with over 20,000 points of sale, more than 1,500 stores and distribution in 115-plus countries. In fact, 60% of the company’s sales come from wholesale. It will accommodate those lead times with private appointments for trade in September. “When the collection is on the floor, there is going to be an incredible amount of excitement that normally happens six months earlier,” said chief marketing and brand officer, Avery Baker.

UPDATE FEB 12: Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler will make eight of the looks walking in its New York Fashion Week show next week, available to buy in its own store in Manhattan within 24-hours. Clients will also be able to pre-order other pieces. The designers call it an experiment as this point, in that they’ve manufactured limited quantities in advance, but something they’re looking to expand on. “We’ll see how this performs and take it from there,” said one half of the duo, Jack McCollough. “If it’s sold out a week after the show, then we’ll definitely push it further.”

Burberry

Burberry is shifting its fashion week calendar and supply chain so it shows in-season in both February and September (starting September 2016), and its collections are available to buy “immediately” after they’ve appeared on the catwalk, both online and in-stores. Chief executive and chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, said: “There’s just something that innately feels wrong when we’re talking about creating a moment in fashion: you do the show in September and it feels really right for that moment, but then you have to wait for five or six months until it’s in the store… You’re creating all this energy around something, and then you close the doors and say, ‘Forget about it now because it won’t be in the stores for five or six months’.”

Tom Ford

Tom Ford originally cancelled his fashion week show in favour of one-on-one appointments with press and buyers this season, before opting to shift the entire plan to September when he will present both women’s and menswear for autumn/winter 2016. It will also be available to buy on the same day. “In a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to consumers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” Ford said. “Showing the collection as it arrives in stores will remedy this, and allow the excitement that is created by a show or event to drive sales and satisfy our customers’ increasing desire to have their clothes as they are ready to wear them.”

Rebecca Minkoff

In a bid to capture consumer appetite and enable immediate purchases, Rebecca Minkoff (as pictured) will show her spring/summer 2016 collection during New York Fashion Week this month – that’s the same one (plus a few extra pieces) that she already put out in September. About 30-50% of the audience will be comprised of “everyday” consumers too. This catch-up season will then enable her to continue on a direct-to-consumer model with her autumn 2016 line. “Now all of a sudden, the Super Bowl [of shows] twice a year actually becomes an actual buying and retail celebration and festival, versus just a big tease,” CEO Uri Minkoff said.

Misha Nonoo

Misha Nonoo hit the headlines last season for her “Instashow”. While she has something similarly different up her sleeve for this coming week, she is otherwise also following suit and skipping a traditional show format until September 2016 when she will begin to show in-season for consumers to view and shop.

Hunter

After just four seasons showing as part of London Fashion Week, Hunter is stepping away from the catwalk entirely this season, and instead focusing wholeheartedly on exploring and amplifying its music festivals opportunity. It will hold multiple global customer-facing moments during 2016, according to a statement. Detail is yet to emerge, but safe to say real integration with festivals, as well as shifting the model in terms of when and how consumers have access to product will be the priority. “Continuing our commitment to innovate, now is the time to push things further. At this time within our industry, the moment is right to change things up and, as a brand, Hunter can do just that,” said creative director Alasdhair Willis.

Matthew Williamson

Matthew Williamson left London Fashion Week earlier in 2015 to move to a new model of six collections a year to suit what it calls the “buy-now-wear-now mentality” of its consumer. It closed its flagship store and opened a showroom in its place to operate as an appointment-only boutique for online shoppers. Business director Rosanna Falconer says it was a move that made enormous sense for shoppers. She was frustrated by the fact she used to be presenting images on social media fit for spring and frequently receiving comments back from fans referring to the fact it was cold outside, for instance. “It was so simple for the shopper; it just didn’t make sense. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re pushing something onto a consumer that they’re not ready for.”

Vetements

One of the latest announcements comes from Vetements. In a slightly different move, it will show (and produce) just two collections a year, and will do so in January and June, rather than in March and October (as Paris Fashion Week falls) to coincide more closely with pre-collections. The intention of doing so is to align with the fact a bigger portion of retailer’s budgets are spent on such lines, and they get more time on the sales floor before being discounted. For now it will still operate on a long lead-time of circa six months but the plan down the road is to swap the seasons over and deliver product by February for instance. “To reach this result, the whole production will have to be pre-produced. It means each piece in the collection will be part of a limited edition. No restock. One delivery. The true definition of luxury is something that is scarce. It would be nice to give luxury back its true meaning,” said CEO Guram Gvasalia.

BONUS: Karl Lagerfeld

In conversation with WWD, Karl Lagerfeld said he’s not against changes to the fashion system “if the future goes in that direction”, but that he would never do it the same way. He said companies that produce complex garments and use special materials would need to “make two collections — one immediate, and one available in six months. It’s a way to do the future and the present. It’ll just mean a little more work, ha ha ha”. He also noted that delivering clothes several months after their unveiling is not necessarily a bad thing. “There’s also the excitement of waiting for something,” he said.

And so the conversation continues…

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business e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Tom Ford & Vetements’ seasonless fashion: Big change or same old same old?

tomfordSS16

A few months ago the CFDA was discussing possible plans to turn New York Fashion Week into a more in-season, consumer-focused event on the back of the social media/live streaming revolution. We’ve not heard so much about that lately but designers seem to be going ahead and making changes anyway.

The only problem is that they’re not all making the same changes.

Tom Ford and label-of-the-moment Vetements were the latest on Friday to follow Burberry and announce a change to their fashion week approach.

Ford will show both men’s and women’s in September, which for the men’s offer is a huge change as it’s several months after the traditional timing for men’s fashion weeks. Both collections will be available straight away and will be season-neutral.

Demna Gvasalia’s Vetements label will instead show in June and January. That’s when most labels show their menswear for the main season and pre-collections for womenswear. Not sure if it has anything to do with giving him a clearer run at main season for his new Balenciaga gig, of course.

However, CEO Guram Gvasalia, told Vogue.com the brothers want to cut out the need for pre-collections, get their product on sale faster so copyists don’t get there first, and stop overproduction. That’s no surprise given how much product is marked down at the end of the season.

He also said current seasonal schedules are “insane” and damage creativity.

vetementsAW15

Now, neither Vetements nor Tom Ford have ever fallen in with the crowd and done things traditionally, so perhaps it’s not such a shake-up as it would seem.

Burberry is still the biggest name to make this change and it would maybe take the same decision from Dior, Prada, Marc Jacobs and more, to really suggest that the rule book is being torn up in terms of show timings.

But in terms of instant delivery, that’s definitely been happening more widely. Both Moschino and Versace’s Versus have already gone down the instant availability post-show route, as have number of other labels.

Lots of fashion’s talking heads are discussing this at length but it’s still not clear how it will play out.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned. After all, the oh-so-traditional haute couture has been around for over a century and has always been the ultimate in instant availability as it shows spring/summer in January and autumn/winter in July. The only waiting involved is the several weeks while the million-plus beads are hands-stitched onto your £100,000 dress.

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