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

ICYMI: UK gov rejects sustainable recommendations, celebrating Karl, GenZ and TikTok

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

TOP STORIES
  • UK ministers reject plans for 1p per garment levy to tackle fast fashion [The Guardian]
  • ‘Karl for ever’: a joyful celebration of Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy [WWD]
  • Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too? [BoF]
  • How a £1 bikini revealed the changing shape of fast fashion [The Guardian]
TECHNOLOGY
  • The world is a mess. We need fully automated luxury communism [NY Times]
  • John Lewis to trial VR experience in shops [Fashion Network]
  • Amazon deploys ‘Pegasus’ robots in sortation centers [Retail Dive]
  • Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes [Technology Review]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • H&M called out on “illegal” sustainability marketing [Eco Textile]
  • Net-a-Porter has started telling customers which brands are sustainable [The Independent]
  • More than half of British and American consumers want a more sustainable fashion industry [i-D Vice]
  • Prada sets goal to phase out virgin nylon by 2021 [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren unveils new sustainability goals [WWD]
  • Banana Republic announces waterless dyed denim for 2020 [Fashion United]
  • Why we can’t relax about vegan leather [Vogue Business]
  • The North Face teams with National Geographic for upcycled plastic line [Fashion United]
  • Asos unveils ‘responsible edit’ [Drapers]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Verishop’s plan to be the Amazon of “affordable luxury” [Vogue Business]
  • Carrefour opens store with facial recognition and sensors [Retail Dive]
  • Pablo Isla defends ‘integrated model’ as a way to differentiate Inditex [Fashion Network]
  • Backstage and Story are very pretty. But, will they lure shoppers to Macy’s? [Retail Dive]
  • Gamification: the future of luxury retail in China [Jing Daily]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The AI-driven social media network hailed as the next Tumblr [Dazed]
  • Mountain Hardwear launches AR app to bring outdoor gear to life [Retail Dive]
  • The future of marketing is bespoke everything [The Atlantic]
  • Mulberry bases new marketing campaign on British pub culture [Fashion Network]
  • MAC Cosmetics tries on YouTube’s newest AR ad formats [Retail Dive]
PRODUCT
  • Dolce & Gabbana becomes the first luxury fashion house to extend sizes [Fashion United]
  • Adidas and Ikea to develop products for home workouts [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Unilever acquires beauty brand Tatcha for a reported $500 million [AdWeek]
  • Chanel dispels rumors of sale after announcing a strong financial year [Fashion United]
  • Mulberry falls into the red [Drapers]
  • Kenzo parts ways with creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [WWD]
  • Topshop owner’s fall is fastest in UK high street memory [Vogue Business]
  • Revenue jumps 39% at Boohoo Group [Drapers]
CULTURE
  • Unilever boss warns of dangers of ‘woke-washing’ in ad industry [Sky News]
  • As drag goes mainstream, queer fashion designers reap business benefits [Fashionista]
  • It’s long overdue for fashion to think about people with disabilities [Hypebeast]
  • Streetwear’s big opportunity: women [BoF]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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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business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Sephora’s inclusion training, Farfetch teams with Gucci, fashion’s child labor risks

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

TOP STORIES
  • Sephora to close US stores for inclusion training June 5 [Retail Dive]
  • Farfetch teams with Gucci for ‘communities’ initiative [BoF]
  • The fashion supply chain is still high risk for child labor [BoF]
  • L’Oréal is launching a new skin-care brand with paper packaging [Allure]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Forget digital versus physical: The future is programmable [Vogue Business]
  • Robocrop: World’s first raspberry-picking robot set to work [The Guardian]
  • Sephora Spain is investing AI mirrors to mimic Amazon’s recommendation engine [Glossy]
  • I watched the NBA Playoffs in VR, and it’s going to change how you watch sports [Fast Company]
  • Facebook plans to launch crypto-currency [BBC]
  • What happened when I let algorithms run my life for a week [Wired]
  • The British companies pioneering AI that reads your emotions – and will revolutionise everything from shopping to sport [Telegraph]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Amazon employees are pressuring the company to become a leader on climate [The Star]
  • Vegan beauty: How conscious consumers are driving innovation in ethical cosmetics [Marketing Week]
  • Formula One champion Nico Rosberg launches new sustainable tech festival [Tech Radar]
  • This hedge fund superstar thinks climate change will impact all your investments—and soon [Forbes]
  • The cult of Eileen Fisher is recruiting millennials [Vogue]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • How Japan mastered the art of experiential retailing [Fashion United]
  • Lessons about the Chinese shopper from the country’s largest discount app [Vogue Business]
  • Retailers cash in on a ‘captive’ college campus market [Retail Dive]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram Shopping used by 39% of UK Gen Zers, study finds [Mobile Marketer]
  • The North Face apologizes for Wikipedia marketing stunt [Highsnobiety]
PRODUCT
  • Nike’s new product drop has ‘Fortnite’ characters sporting signature kicks [Mobile Marketer]
  • The world’s most beautiful headphones are here, and they’re made of fungus [Fast Company]
BUSINESS
  • Revolve sets IPO range, sees $1.2B valuation [WWD]
  • Arcadia faces angry creditors in battle to stave off bankruptcy [The Guardian]
  • Canada Goose stock drops 30.9% [WWD]
  • 3 ways Millennials and Gen-Z consumers are radically transforming the luxury market [Forbes]
CULTURE
  • Nike and Virgil Abloh are opening a mentorship center in Chicago [Highsnobiety]
  • How music stars became fashion’s most bankable collaborators [Vogue]
  • Hunter celebrates Pride with special edition PLAY boot [Fashion United]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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 technology

Central Saint Martins hosts mixed reality fashion show powered by 5G

London-based creative arts university Central Saint Martins (CSM) is pushing the boundaries of technology with a mixed reality show powered by 5G for its annual MA students’ showcase during London Fashion Week.

The university is teaming up with mobile network Three and creative agency Rewind to bring to life the artistic vision of MA graduate Gerrit Jacob.

“The future of design and fashion is intrinsically linked with the evolution of tech and we are seeing more and more disruptive and innovative technologies shaking up the way the design and fashion industries operate,” said Jeremy Till, head of Central Saint Martins.

Ten lucky attendees at the Gerrit Jacob show were given Magic Leap’s One mixed reality headsets and could then watch as models strutted down the catwalk with animated illustrations, such as skulls and lightening bolts, overlaying through augmented reality. Other showgoers were also able to watch the experience via multiple screens located around the catwalk.

The fashion show is part of a larger partnership between the university and Three, as its London, campus will become the country’s first live and permanent 5G installation, with additional events coming up in the future.

As part of the collaboration, Three will also set up a design-focused 5G lab available exclusively to CSM students, featuring IoT hardware and other connected technologies. The aim is to encourage the next generation of creatives to experiment and develop new art and design projects using AR, MR, VR and cloud technology.

“We are turning up the volume on 5G and bringing it to life for the first time in the UK, right here in the heart of the fashion world,” said Three’s CMO Shadi Halliwell. “By giving students access to the next generation of mobile technology, they will be able to push the boundaries of learning, innovation and sustainability to create in a way that’s never been possible.”

“We are sure that the ongoing relationship with Three will put our students at the forefront of long-term trends in design and fashion,” added Till. “It is an enormously exciting collaboration for both parties, and one which will allow our students to speculate on yet unheard possibilities in the creative use of 5G.”

Next month, Three customers will also be able to experience the mixed reality catwalk through a mini-5G network that the company is setting up at its Oxford Circus flagship.

How are you thinking about digital innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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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Campaigns mobile Retail technology

Simon Mall’s Launchpad concept introduces cutting edge tech to the masses

Simon introduces tech to its consumers
Simon introduces tech to its consumers

Simon, the US’s largest retail landlord, has launched an evolving retail platform that introduce new technologies by established and emerging brands to its consumers across the country.

Called Launchpad by Simon, the concept rolled out during Black Friday across six mall locations in the US, including at Lenox Square in Atlanta and King of Prussia in Philadelphia. Each location features two immersive experiences that welcome customers to experiment with new technologies such as mixed reality and robots and learn the latest trends in the space.

The first activation, called the “720 Degree Experience”, deploys virtual reality using a 720 degree camera which will create HD images and video to either view on a headset or post on social media.

Meanwhile “Youth Tech” incorporates three separate experiences: a robotic dog that responds to verbal commands, a smartphone-enabled gaming console and AR cards that bring animals to life in 4D.

To source the products on display, the property group travelled the world and visited major consumer tech and lifestyle shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), ASD Show, Canton Fair and Hong Kong Gift and Toy Show.

"Launchpad by Simon"
“Launchpad by Simon”

“By working directly with key wholesalers, we have immediate access to new products and concepts,” said Joseph Gerardi, VP of specialty leasing at Simon Properties, explaining that customer feedback is key to understanding demand for new tech products. “Items that sell extremely well will quickly migrate to another location outside of ‘Launchpad.’ If the product does not sell to a satisfactory level during the trial period, we will immediately return it and test the next product on our list.”

Malls are increasingly upping their efforts to provide new, interactive moments at their properties that tap into the consumer need for more experience, and less purchase. Earlier this year, Westfield’s Century City location in Los Angeles launched a theatrical VR experience called “Alien Zoo”, which invited customers to enter an imaginary, virtual world.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Podcast technology

TheCurrent Debate: What does VR really mean for retail?

Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur

A new feature of TheCurrent Innovators podcast is a monthly discussion between our hosts, Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur.

The two of them – also partners of TheCurrent’s innovation consultancy – come across a lot of different technologies, tons of startup entrepreneurs and many big ideas through their day jobs. Doing so means they generate many big opinions of their own – but, unsurprisingly, they don’t always agree. So, they’ve now put what normally stays behind closed doors in the office, on record for podcast listeners.

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

In this first episode, the two explore what virtual reality (VR) really means for the retail industry. That comes off the back of recent news that saw Walmart filing for two patents that suggest it will launch a virtual reality-based shopping experience in the future.

The world’s largest retailer detailed the idea of a virtual showroom and a fulfilment system that will enable shoppers to both explore and purchase products using the technology. The news follows Walmart’s acquisition of Spatialand, a software startup focused on creating VR experiences, which now sits within the retailer’s Store No. 8 in-house tech incubator.

What’s more, Alibaba and Amazon are also playing in this space. The latter has already launched an example of VR shopping with Macy’s for Singles Day, while Amazon recently opened 10 virtual reality kiosks in India to promote its Prime Day shopping event.

Walmart VR

Yet, there’s an argument that much of VR, when we’re talking about application beyond gaming and entertainment, really is just gimmick. At a time when there’s little space left for technology for technology’s sake, the question is, are these retailers actually one step ahead of the game, or still just playing with something for the sake of it?

Liz has some strong views on the lack of headset penetration and what that really means for consumer uptake in the longterm, while Rachel argues there’s still space for PR opportunities with such a technology all the same. What it comes down to is relevancy in terms of both business objectives and the target consumer.

Between them they also dive into some further case studies, explore where VR really could impact retail down the line, and jump into the virtues of other technologies in the same space as alternatives.

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 Retail technology

Walmart pushes VR retail forward with new patents

Walmart is launching VR shopping
Walmart is launching VR shopping

Walmart has filed for two patents that suggest it will launch a virtual reality-based shopping experience.

The world’s largest retailer has detailed the idea of a virtual show room and a fulfilment system that will enable shoppers to purchase via VR, according to filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The experience will see users wearing both a headset and sensor-enabled gloves to explore a three-dimensional representation of a Walmart store. From there they can “pick up” the merchandise they want to buy, then add it to a queue to have it immediately shipped from an automated distribution center.

The news follows Walmart’s acquisition of Spatialand, a software startup focused on creating VR experiences, in February 2018. It sits within Store No. 8, Walmart’s in-house tech incubator.

The jury is still out on the longterm application for VR within retail, with many sceptics suggesting mass consumers won’t wear a headset to enter a digital representation of a physical store anytime soon. But there’s also promise in the idea of having more experiential access to such a wide range of merchandise from home, above and beyond what the web currently brings, and that’s especially the case when you can touch and feel the items. It also brings potential cost savings for retail in a time of increasing store closures.

Other retailers playing this game notably include Amazon and Alibaba. The latter has already launched an example of VR shopping with Macy’s for Singles Day, while Amazon is also hinting at something similar in the pipeline.

This isn’t the first patent Walmart has filed under the header of virtual reality either. Previous focus has ranged from virtual conference calls to an unattended retail storefront.

How are you thinking about 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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e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Amazon introduces VR kiosks for Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day

Amazon has opened 10 virtual reality kiosks in India to promote its Prime Day shopping event, taking place for 36 hours over July 16 and 17.

Users stick on an Oculus Rift headset and are transported to a city filled with Prime Day products. They begin from the comfort of a hot air balloon ride, which gently places them down in an animated park. From there, they can walk through different rooms for different sections of a store – from bath and beauty, to technology and then toys.

The move is one of the more creative iterations of VR retail that we’ve seen – a more engaging experience than the typical recreation of a brick and mortar space in computer imagery.

That is particularly the case because users can handle any product in full 3D by using Oculus Touch controllers. Smartphones can be turned around, clothing can be experienced by being placed on holograms to demonstrate fit, while white goods including fridges and washing machines can be explored from every angle, including inside.

“How do you discover 200-plus products that are not in the market yet? Last year, customers told us ‘we loved the stuff when we got it but we were wary while buying it since it was not something we’d ever seen’,” Akshay Sahi, head of Amazon Prime in India, told Quartz.

“So now with VR, people can see the products in their true form factor. They can see how a microwave is going to look on a countertop and how a dress looks on a model. You can see jewellery up close and observe it in great detail.”

The initiative was pioneered by Amazon India and is in shopping malls in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata.

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

ICYMI: Inside Target’s test store, algorithms threatening jobs, L’Occitane’s AI personalization

Target
Target

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

TOP STORIES
  • Inside Target’s top secret test store [Co.Design]
  • How algorithms are threatening fashion’s white-collar jobs [BoF]
  • L’Occitane boosts mobile conversions by 159% with AI-powered personalization [Mobile Marketing]
TECHNOLOGY
  • What blockchain can’t do [HBR]
  • Think you know how disruptive artificial intelligence is? Think again [Forbes]
  • Top Japan fashion site bets big on custom-fit fast fashion [BoF]
  • Baidu’s self-driving buses will hit Japan’s streets next year [TNW]
  • How SK-II disrupted the beauty industry in Japan with emerging technology [TheDrum]
  • Watch MIT’s blind robot run, jump, and climb stairs [TNW]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Factory Tour: Eileen Fisher helps make the eco-fashion dream of circularity come true [Fashionista]
  • Wrangler and MyFarms talk ‘field-level’ sustainability in new report [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • 27% of apparel sales are now online [RetailDive]
  • Why virtual reality won’t revolutionize retail, but scan-and-go will [RetailDive]
  • Sophia Webster puts her spin on experiential retail with second London boutique [WWD]
  • Reporter’s notebook: A quest for experiential retail [RetailDive]
  • Walmart.com launches 3-D virtual reality tour [WWD]
  • Amazon claims it doesn’t want to take on UPS and FedEx. So why is it introducing tons of its own Amazon delivery vans? [Recode]
  • Samsung brand experience opens its doors in the heart of Paris [BrandChannel]
  • Kirsten Green’s survival guide for the ‘retail reckoning’ [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside Instagram’s social shopping masterclass [BoF]
  • Hilfiger’s next TommyNow runway show to touch down in Shanghai [WWD]
  • Are influencers really worth the money? [BoF]
  • Roger Federer signs $300 million sponsorship deal with Uniqlo [BoF]
PRODUCT
  • These people with disabilities have ideas for making shopping more accessible [TeenVogue]
  • Tiffany & Co. will now let you personalize with custom symbols and monograms [Town & Country]
  • What FDA approval of CBD could mean for the beauty industry [Racked]
  • Walmart pulls “Impeach 45” t-shirts after Trump supporters threaten boycott [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • Paris Fashion Week’s front rows speak to fashion’s complicated stance on #MeToo [TheFashionLaw]
  • Chanel’s digital strategy takes shape amid executive shuffle [BoF]
  • Subscription box market fights fatigue [AdAge]
  • How Revolve has built a billion-dollar fashion company for millennial women [Inc]
  • Fans of ModCloth and Bonobos were aghast when Walmart bought the brands. But they’re still shopping [Quartzy]
Categories
Retail technology

Balmain takes customers on a creative journey using virtual reality

Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing
Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing

Balmain has unveiled its new concept store in Milan, featuring a virtual reality experience based around the dream-like inspirations behind the designs of creative director Olivier Rousteing.

The experience, named “My City of Lights” aims to take visitors into the mind of Rousteing; to follow the creative influences behind his collections. Visitors putting on one of the custom Oculus VR headsets, designed by Rousteing himself, will find themselves inside the empty rooms of a Baroque castle, a high cathedral and even the rooftops of Paris.

The store showcases the first in a series of VR experiences as part of Balmain’s Wonderlabs marketing strategy focusing on entertainment and technology. Balmain’s strategy demonstrates its desire to transform the retail experience and forge the way in using technology in fashion retail.

Balmain

Speaking to Vogue, Rousteing revealed that democracy is a driving force for these kind of experiences in store. “Fashion is more inclusive than ever, and there’s no better way to include more people than through technology and digital,” he said.

Rousteing isn’t new to technology collaborations in store. The opening of Balmain’s Melrose Place site also marked the launch of a collaboration between Rousteing and Beats headphones.

The Milan store however, is the luxury brand’s first flagship in Italy and has been launched to coincide with Salone del Mobile, the international furniture and design show taking place in the city. The My City of Lights experience in it will next travel to other Balmain stores around the world.