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Universal Standard on leveling the playing field for ‘plus-size’ fashion

“We really and truly believe that the plus size woman will never be serviced as well as she will be when there’s no such thing as plus size,” say Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler, co-founders of size-inclusive label, Universal Standard, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

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Fashion tends to segregate women who are on the larger end of the spectrum, they say, and so they’re on a mission to level the playing field and make clothes for everyone. To that end, the brand, which had already gained a cult-like following for its size-inclusive clothing since launching in 2015, introduced an even larger range in 2018, from 00 to 40 – an industry first.

Understanding how women of all sizes shop has been key to the brand’s success, which last year also raised its first round of investment from the likes of GOOP’s Gwyneth Paltrow, TOMS’ Blake Mycoskie and Imaginary Ventures’ Natalie Massenet. They’ve also introduced collaborations with brands including J.Crew and as of just this week, Rodarte.

Much like many direct-to-consumer counterparts, the e-commerce experience is playing a major part in its popularity: all of its SKUs can be viewed at every size available within the range, making it easier for women to compare and make confident decisions; and its Universal Fit Liberty Program allows shoppers to replace their purchase, free of charge, within a year of completing it, should they go up or down in size.

During this conversation, recorded at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion at SXSW this year, Waldman and Veksler break down the many product development challenges that come with the industry’s traditional fit formula; tell co-host Rachel Arthur what they’re putting in place to reduce hostility to women of larger size ranges, and share why their bold moves are shifting the way the whole industry approaches this market.

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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Comment Events Retail sustainability technology

Your guide to SXSW 2019 through 10 key themes

SXSW has shifted quite remarkably in the past 10 years – from a launchpad for new technologies, to a reflection of much broader connected culture. During the Interactive portion of the festival, there remains an underpinning of innovation, but so too is there everything from politics to gender on the agenda.

The audience accordingly has widened from those looking for the latest tech trends or emerging startups, to those aiming to understand how societal shifts and digital consumer behaviors are impacting their businesses.

For 2019, that looks set to continue. For those headed down to Austin from the brand world therefore – from marketers to retail executives – it pays to be one step ahead in what to expect. Here are 10 themes to look out for during this year’s festival and the main events to head to in order to see them…

Entrepreneurship

There’s always a theme around entrepreneurship that pops up during SXSW, but this year’s line up looks particularly engaging. Top of the bill is Howard Schultz, former Starbucks Chairman and CEO, who will be talking about growing a global brand with an eye on humanity as well as profits. Meanwhile, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are taking to the stage for the first time since leaving their company, to talk about their entrepreneurial journey. Other highlights come from Esther Perel, who is applying her relationship therapy to workplace dynamics, and Brene Brown, who will explore showing up and speaking out.

Wellness

Wellness as a theme has been increasingly emerging at SXSW over the past few years, as digital health has evolved beyond fitness trackers, for instance, into mental health and mindfulness. That plays out in a few different ways this year, from the expo dedicated to wellness as a theme, to the house Lululemon has with programming focused on yoga and meditation, and a keynote from Gwyneth Paltrow talking all things Goop. Over at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion, highlights lie in a keynote from meditation app Calm’s co-founder and co-CEO, Michael Acton Smith, alongside a guided meditation experience from the app in our pool house, and a game show dedicated to the wellness revolution.

Michael Acton Smith, Calm
Michael Acton Smith, Calm
Sustainability

Sustainability follows neatly after wellness as we think about not just ourselves but our planet. On that note, there’s a lot for the fashion industry to stew over this SXSW, including a session featuring the H&M Group and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; another from Finery founders Brooklyn Decker and Whitney Casey, and one from SAP on a more sustainable supply chain. There’s also Rent the Runway talking about the sharing economy, Walmart looking at sustainable beauty, and a keynote at our Innovation Mansion? with the head of global product innovation at Levi’s.

Experiential

When it comes to retail, experience remains the buzzword du jour, and there’s a lot to learn at SXSW related to such a theme. From the large-scale activations taking place across the city, to those discussing how to do such things well. Giant Spoon is the agency behind last year’s winning Westworld experience at SXSW, and they’ll be on stage discussing how they do it. Also worth seeing is a session dedicated to how to ensure engagement, delight and success through experiential retail above and beyond the overdone ball-pit and photo-worthy backdrops. We’ll also be heading to Calvin Klein’s talk on how to humanize your brand experience in the robot era.

International Women’s Day

Gender and equality isn’t a new topic to SXSW, but International Women’s Day takes place on the first day of the festival, which provides an appropriate opportunity for a celebration of women this year.  Cue lots of events and talks dedicated to the subject, including a full set of programming from Bumble, a panel featuring the women building brands we’ve always wanted, such as Rachel Blumenthal’s Rockets of Awesome, and a session on the rise of feminists with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff. Also look out for actress Zoe Saldana’s keynote on changing the narrative for millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Retail Tech

What’s interesting about this year’s SXSW schedule is seeing talks by the likes of Magic Leap distinctly pointing their focus towards the retail audience. They’ll be talking about AR in the digital shopping experience, while Walmart, Amazon and Kohl’s are (separately) discussing the future of shopping via computer vision, machine learning and AI. Also not to miss is a session featuring the Current Global’s CTO, Scott Emmons, formerly head of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab, diving into how retailers can leverage emerging technologies to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.

Street Culture

If we’re talking culture today, there’s no escaping all things streetwear in terms of mass consumer spread. SXSW is reflecting that fact with various sessions dedicated to the topic. StockX’s Josh Luber has a keynote session talking about his online marketplace designed to work like the stock market. Meanwhile, I’ll be hosting a panel on stage with Levi’s, NTWORK and Johannes Leonardo – the agency that has worked with the likes of Alexander Wang and Adidas Originals – to discuss how streetwear turns hype into big revenue. That story will continue over at our Innovation Mansion with a business of streetwear-themed gameshow. One additional talk to try and get to is with Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, who’s known as a legend among sneakerheads.

The Nike PG 3 NASA on StockX
The Nike PG 3 NASA on StockX
Blockchain

With a new track dedicated to blockchain at SXSW this year, it’s almost cheating to add it as a key theme, but there’s no escaping the growing presence it’s had at the festival over the past few years. The most interesting sessions for 2019 include a keynote from Joseph Lubin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain and CEO of ConsenSys, the Winklevoss twins talking about the cryptocurrency revolution, and a session on radical transparency in the food supply chain. ConsenSys also has a house during the festival where blockchain trends happening across entertainment, fashion, media and more, will be discussed.

Privacy

If blockchain is a key topic, then setting the stage for that, has to be trust. The past couple of years at SXSW have been heavily navigated towards fake news, but after a year of big data protection busts, 2019 orientates itself towards tech ethics and privacy above all else. There’s a not-to-miss session from the founder of Foursquare on location privacy, a couple of deep dives on user privacy in a post Cambridge Analytica and GDPR world, and a look at trust in the era of data.

Looking to the future

Rounding out our themes is the required nod to the future that SXSW has always brought. Malcolm Gladwell is in town to discuss self-driving cars, Publicis is going to explore invention in the age of creativity and the Current Global’s CEO, Liz Bacelar, will dive into the future of beauty with L’Oréal. We’re also looking forward to the Serpentine Galleries’ Hans Ulrich Obrist exploring the possibilities that AI presents for the creation of new art forms, and for those still in town by Wednesday, Bruce Sterling’s always enlightening annual closing remarks.

How are you thinking about retail 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 film social media

CoverGirl credits 1,000 women with inclusive foundation film

CoverGirl "By The Infinite"
CoverGirl “By The Infinite”

CoverGirl has launched an online video that celebrates the women who have inspired its new TrueBlend foundation, which boasts over 40 shades.

To truly do so, the brand has created a credits section to the spot that rolls for a full 13 minutes and 40 seconds, thanking all of the 1,000 women involved.

Alongside those featured in the spot, the brand has also enlisted brand ambassadors such as HBO series Insecure’s star, Issa Rae, 70-year-old model Maye Musk, and motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda, further emphasizing the diversity of both the shades of foundation and the women who will wear it.

The short film was directed by Australian director Kim Gehrig and features an array of beautiful women of all ethnicities and skin colors dancing on and off the screen in a whirlwind, with the last few seconds bringing all of them together in a staircase frame.

Written over this powerful image are the words “A foundation inspired by the infinite, made for you.”

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna arguably kickstarted the 40-shade foundation hype and led beauty giants such as L’Oreal, Coverfix, and MakeUpForever to launch or expand into new shades. CoverGirl emphasizes however that its TrueBlend foundation was not created as a reaction to a trend, but rather inspired by listening to the needs of its consumers and developing the shades and formula through their feedback.

The spot is part of CoverGirl’s overarching new approach titled “I Am What I Make Up”, which officially substituted its famous “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” tagline in 2017. The brand has since invested in a series of campaigns where it hopes to show a more mature and inclusive identity.

Highlights of this new approach include enlisting Amy Deanna as a spokesperson, who became the brand’s first model with vitiligo.  In May this year, fitness trainer and influencer Massy Arias also showcased the brand’s mascara while doing a workout, in a message of the importance of making time for one’s self.

CoverGirl "By The Infinite"
CoverGirl “By The Infinite”

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Campaigns Editor's pick

Dove introduces no-distortion labelling across all imagery

Dove “No Digital Distortion Mark”

Dove has introduced the “No Digital Distortion Mark” to represent when an image has not been retouched, as it furthers its approach of representing beauty in an authentic aesthetic.

From July onwards the Mark will be rolled out across all branded content globally, with deodorant campaigns first.

The brand says that by January 2019, the mark will be incorporated across all static imagery showcasing women, including print, digital and social. With the initiative, Dove hopes to showcase women in their most realistic setting and reassure girls and women consuming media content that there is no such thing as a beauty standard.

“When content in the media is not reflective of reality, it has a profound negative effect on the viewer,” says Jess Weiner, cultural expert and adjunct professor at University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Journalism, in the press release from the brand. “By viewing unrealistic and unachievable beauty images it creates an unattainable goal which leads to feelings of failure. This is especially true of young girls who have grown up in a world of filters and airbrushing.”

Moreover, Dove’s strides towards realistic representation of women in media is backed by research that the brand has conducted in this field. According to the 2016 Dove Global Beauty and Confidence report, 77% of women believe that all images in the media have been digitally altered or airbrushed, while 69% of women cited the pressures for advertising and beauty to reach such unrealistic beauty standards play a major role in driving appearance anxiety.

The Mark is a continuation of Dove’s Real Beauty Pledge announced in 2017, in which the brand publicly recommitted to only portraying accurate representations of women and beauty. “Last year, we pledged to use images with zero digital distortion,” says Dove’s global vice president, Sophie Galvani. “This year, we want to go one step further and give women a tool to help them understand what is real and what isn’t. The Mark will take help women identify reality and relieve some of the pressure to look a certain way.”

Dove “No Digital Distortion Mark”

The new announcement also sits under the Self-Esteem Project umbrella, which was launched by the brand in 2004 and highlighted a commitment to reaching 40 million young people globally with body confidence and self-esteem education by 2020. Among the education element is the topic of how to counter the negative influence of media, with the hopes to not only teach consumers to be more aware and critical of what they see, but also push other brands to take action in accurate representation.

“Through the work of the Dove Self-Esteem project, we teach children to question what they see in the media and not to take everything at face value,” said Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, body image expert and consultant to the brand. “However, the responsibility shouldn’t solely be on the viewer. Brands can do more to showcase reality and take this unnecessary pressure away. By doing so, we can have a positive impact on the lives of young girls.”

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business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion’s woman problem, the hologram reality, Zara’s digitally-integrated store

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

TOP STORIES
  • Fashion’s woman problem [NYTimes]
  • Holograms: are they still the preserve of science fiction? [Guardian]
  • Zara opens its pioneering digitally integrated store at Westfield Stratford [TheIndustry]
TECHNOLOGY
  • JD.com plans to make courier robots smarter by enabling them to ‘talk’ to lifts, ascend towers [SCMP]
  • Loving the alien: Why AI will be the key to unlocking consumer affection [Forbes]
  • How to succeed at being a crypto and blockchain influencer without really trying [NewCoShift]
  • China’s government casts uncertainty on blockchain evolution [JingDaily]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Nike, H&M and Burberry join forces for sustainable fashion [Reuters]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Sephora is launching in-store beauty classes for trans people [Them]
  • Burberry is successfully steering sales into its own stores [Glossy]
  • Alibaba’s newest initiative aims to make Hong Kong a global AI hub [TechCrunch]
  • This new company is about to make fast fashion even faster [Racked]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How we made our own CGI influencer in 48 hours [TheCut]
PRODUCT
  • Fabrics of the past, present and future and the best ways to wear them [ManRepeller]
  • Hue breakthrough: Scientists engineer first active, color-changing fabric [WWD]
BUSINESS
  • MatchesFashion gets a royal wedding boost to top off bumper year [CityAM]
  • Can Walmart crack fashion? [BoF]
  • Nordstrom wants brands to embrace the ‘size spectrum’ [Glossy]
  • New Look accused of ‘fat tax’ by charging more for outfits after size 16 [Telegraph]
Categories
Editor's pick Events technology

In-Depth: The big takeaways from SXSW Interactive 2018

SXSW 2018

While there were keynote talks about everything from quantum computing to expeditions to Mars at SXSW Interactive this year, underpinning the festival more than ever was a more down to earth (forgive the pun) reflection on society.

This is an event that used to be about future technologies at its core; anchored in the evolution of this thing called the internet. Today, however, it’s increasingly focused on much wider cultural movements because of the way in which connectivity infiltrates every part of our lives. The two are no longer distinguishable.

Politics, entertainment and human rights are all just as much a part of the conversation in Austin these days as those big tech or forward-looking viewpoints, as a result. And thus, this year’s trends are equally a mirror of that fact – a blend of what really matters to humanity first and foremost, underpinned by the technology that is both shaping and supporting it.

Being human

While artificial intelligence permeated the entire festival – noteworthy not as a trend but as an overarching umbrella to which all arrows are pointing for the future of computing – nearly every conversation kept coming back to one thing: being human.

With discussions exploring the role of automation, multiple case studies for machine learning, not to mention examples of how fast and how deep such systems are being trained, the focus, time and again, returned to the very idea of our humanity and our culture.

Even Bruce Stering, author and longstanding commentator, closed out the five-day event by turning the view on robotics into a conversation around art and culture: “We’re spending too much time making robots useful and commercially viable. We’re not thinking enough about what this exquisite control of motion ought to mean aesthetically. It’s like we’re spending too much time at the gym doing squats and not enough dancing. So I think the tech world needs to find more confidence in their artistic impulses.”

José Neves of Farfetch and Liz Bacelar of TheCurrent on stage at SXSW 2018
José Neves of Farfetch and Liz Bacelar of TheCurrent on stage at SXSW 2018

But the festival at large wasn’t just about creative license or inputting empathy in the robots or artificial intelligence we’re building (as was so focused on in 2017), but actually about reminding us of who we are as a society full stop.

Evidence lay in the very fact so many of the big keynotes on stage weren’t from the world of technology at all. Esther Perel, a renowned relationship therapist, stole the limelight on day one for instance, when she discussed the role of belonging and loneliness in the context of modern community. “We used to have belonging but little freedom. Now we have so much freedom but little sense of belonging,” she said, highlighting the very idea of what we’re craving.

Our constant battle, Bozoma Saint John, the gregarious chief brand officer from Uber, agreed, is around balancing our sense of connectivity with actual human connections. “We can use our tech to better our society and our everyday lives, but we also need to connect to people… How do we make sure in a world where things are moving so fast, that we can keep up, yet still be in touch with our humanity?” she asked.

What’s interesting to see is how this focus is starting to impact the experiences we’re creating. Even in retail today, the idea of connected or interactive stores, like Amazon Go, are becoming less about the technology itself, and more about the tech moving out of the way, or being increasingly invisible, so as to allow us to get back to the human side of what we’re doing. It’s about optimizing experiences for the human involved –in Amazon’s case, by making it about convenience.

But the same goes at the luxury end of things. As José Neves, CEO of Farfetch, said in a fireside conversation with TheCurrent’s Liz Bacelar: “If anything, companies need to think [about] how can we develop technologies that enhance the human? The store of the future for us is about how can we make the storytelling about everything humans can do – the computers can check stock, the computer can do payment; let’s get the robotic stuff out of the way, and let the human concentrate on the interaction.”

Women and diversity

That notion of humanity, society and culture spilled over unsurprisingly into widespread discussions around equality and diversity. The idea of women having a seat at the table is not a new topic for SXSW. Women in tech has long been a subject at this festival, but it had new resonance, greater weight and a bigger focus on action off the back of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, both of which were represented on stage this year.

In her keynote, Melinda Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “Companies all of a sudden have to listen to what their employees want. I see the #MeToo movement finally causing a reckoning.”

Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018

“We’re in a really serious and complicated moment, where we have to take the power to change the industries and communities and environments we’re in for the better,” said Saint John of Uber, referring both to being a woman on a leadership team as much as to being one of color. She called for both women and men to now be standing up for this.

“We’re seeing it right now, we are demanding change. But this is not the issue of people of color to make the noise. Everyone else needs to make the noise. I want white men to look around in their offices and say let’s change this,” she added.

Whitney Wolfe-Herd, founder of dating app, Bumble, which in its conception is about giving women a greater element of control, likewise pushed the idea of men being part of the solution. “A lot of them have been the problem, but now it’s time to be part of the solution. That stands for something.”

Bumble, she said, has always been about doing things in a female-forward way, from the nature of the app itself, to the structure of the team internally. “We encourage more and more seats, we built bigger tables,” she said.

And Saint John then brought it back to our humanity once more: “We need to use this moment in time to remember what our humanity is. It will help in all the things we are talking about – in diversity, in women empowerment and in moving forward.”

Seeking trust

Tied up in the equality and diversity conversation, is a greater underlying societal reflection of uncertainty. Trust is at an all-time low hot off the heels of the fake news agenda that dominated headlines last year, not to mention a much broader perspective on weakened political and institutional beliefs, and growing concerns for the role of privacy and ownership over our own data.

In fact, the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, which was referenced multiple times during SXSW, has shown a straight-line decline for 25 years, with trust in government, the media, and banks at an all-time low. Rohit Bhargava of the Non-Obvious Company, referred to us as being “in the midst of a believability crisis”. With consumers as natural sceptics, the role for brands then is around seeking how to develop or engender a sense of trust in new ways.

This is something Adidas particularly referenced. Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at the company, said: “People don’t just buy what you make, they buy what you stand for.” Referring to a youth generation that has grown up in a world that is highly stressed, he added that people are “looking for trusted brands they can rely on” and that “authenticity is going to be core for this”.

Adidas announced that it’s aiming for all of its products to be made from recycled plastics by 2024, as part of its partnership with Parley for the Oceans, and it called on the rest of the industry to start thinking about the same. The worst problem we have right now is inaction, Liedtke added. “Everyone has to opt in, put their hand in the pile and play.”

Adidas x Parley for the Oceans SXSW 2018
Adidas x Parley for the Oceans

That view on sustainability and on climate change, reverberated throughout the week, including in a session hosted by TheCurrent around bioengineering for the fashion industry. All of it tied nicely to the fact Edelman’s 2018 survey also shows there has been a renewed confidence in experts and academics, and a fast recovering belief in CEOs, rewarded for speaking out on specific issues.

With that idea of authenticity, then, came a focus at the festival on how technology can help take this to the next level. Blockchain was the big tech buzzword of the week, once again, with endless sessions dedicated to deciphering and applying it to the future of business and consumerism today.

Explained in basic terms as a digital ledger that acts as a verified and immutable source of truth, it was referenced with regards to everything from healthcare to global supply chain management. “Whether it’s diamonds being pulled out of the ground or fish from the ocean, or a shoe being manufactured and transported, the blockchain means you are able to track that and have high confidence that it’s coming from the place it’s meant to,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger.

Graham Wetzbarger, chief authenticator of resale service, The RealReal, similarly said there is a major opportunity to use blockchain to connect consumers to authentication. “Imagine adding a digital ledger for every product, not only for when they’re first bought, but when they’re reselling. How interesting would it be if a product were always telling data? Always adding every place it’s been?” Through provenance then, we can bring about trust.

Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum, also noted blockchain’s relevancy to the privacy element of the trust debate. “On the web right now, I would argue that identity is broken,” he said. “We spray aspects of our identity around the web, it’s stored on corporate servers and is monetized by corporations, and often aspects of your identity aren’t well secured by those organizations.” His belief is that blockchain can solve this.

Of course, this tech isn’t a solution for everything, but in helping to bring back a sense of trust in our everyday systems, it’s evidently part of that broader conversation on humanity and society that SXSW has become so much about. The future, once more then, comes back to us being humans, albeit with tech playing an ever-increasing role in enhancing us in the process.

*Want to know which specific technologies and startups we deemed most relevant from the festival? Our team of startup scouts combed through the innovations demonstrated, examining and analyzing those of chief importance to retailers and brands today. Get in touch to find out more.

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International Women’s Day: the brands celebrating and empowering females

Barbie Sheroes
Barbie Sheroes

Brands and retailers are celebrating and empowering women in multiple ways, from product to advertising, this International Women’s Day.

As the #MeToo movement shifts its focus beyond Hollywood to multiple other industries and fields, 2018 is a particularly pertinent time for this conversation. Here, we highlight some of the best brand activations that tap into topics of female empowerment and gender equality.

Celebrating Females

Celebration is a big focus this year, with the likes of Mattel leading the way. It continues to push both its product lines and messaging as tools of empowerment to little girls with the launch of its Sheroes Barbie range, which celebrates pioneering women in history. Dolls include British boxer Nicola Adams, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and American pilot Amelia Earhart.

In a more literal way, Johnny Walker has introduced a female figure – called Jane Walker – to its famous bottles, while beer marker BrewDog has launched a satirically pink beer bottle.

Net-a-Porter
Net-a-Porter

Charitable Collaborations

The need to align with consumer causes such as empowerment is reflected in the multitude of exclusive collaborations whose launches coincide with this year’s IWD too.

Soap & Glory, as well as the designer Rebecca Taylor, have chosen to show their support for the campaign “She Should Run”, encouraging females to run for political offices. While the beauty brand is raising money through social media, Taylor is taking the more direct step of pledging 10% of all online store proceeds on Thursday March 8 to the charity.

Female education on the other hand has taken priority for a range of companies, including Lancôme, who has partnered with CARE, a non-profit organisation to launch the campaign #WriteHerFuture, to end female illiteracy. Likewise online retailer Gilt wants to “close the gender gap in technology” and aims to give 100% of net profits to the “Girls Who Code” initiative.

Meanwhile Net-a-Porter has collaborated with a series of designers such as Ganni, Zadig & Voltaire and Temperley, to launch capsule collections to support charities that ensure women in need of better health and safety are protected.

Empowering Messages

Empowerment is otherwise front and center. To celebrate the accomplishments of female athletes and to support the company’s belief “in the inspirational power of sport to break down barriers”, for instance, Nike Women has launched a new campaign starring Serena Williams.

Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer label ADAY has taken to Instagram to share a range of exclusive postcards showcasing its feelings on female empowerment. Users are able to purchase the postcards, with the option to pre-address them to their local senator.

The iconic suffragettes are also receiving a nod, as previously referenced at this season’s NYFW with designer Jonathan Simkhai’s collection. This time, British department store Liberty is paying homage to the historical movement by showcasing photographs by Mary McCartney, who captured eight inspirational women to celebrate.

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business Editor's pick Startups sustainability

H&M Foundation empowers women with list of 500 all-female entrepreneurs

Elankumaran Selvmalar, one of the Foundation 500 women
Elankumaran Selvmalar, one of the Foundation 500 women

H&M’s non-profit arm has launched an alternative to the Fortune 500 list, published each year by Fortune magazine. Foundation 500, as it’s called, showcases female-only business leaders from around the world.

Done in partnership with humanitarian agency, CARE, the aim is to challenge stereotypes and redefine what a business leader looks like. The initiative ties to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals on women’s empowerment and gender equality, which demonstrate that empowering women is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty and create economic growth.

The stories of successful women from 11 emerging countries, including Burundi, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Jordan, Peru and Zambia, among others, are told, alongside imagery captured by Malin Fezehai in a style similar to that of business magazines covers.

“The entrepreneur is the hero of our time, and it is estimated that over the coming years over 1 billion women will enter the workforce – a majority through entrepreneurship. But, you can’t be what you can’t see. Women rarely make the covers of business magazines, in fact the last time a woman was on the cover of Fortune Magazine was October 2014. With the Foundation 500 list we want to redefine what a business leader looks like,” says Diana Amini, global manager at H&M Foundation.

Further women in the Foundation 500: Karunakuran Kirupaliny, Philomène Tia And Suriyanti
Further women in the Foundation 500: Karunakuran Kirupaliny, Philomène Tia And Suriyanti

The 500 women included are a representation of the 100,000 participating in the Global Program on Empowering Women through Enterprise Development initiated by H&M Foundation and CARE in 2014. From 2014-2020, H&M Foundation has pledged 120 million Swedish krona ($14 million/€12 million) to support over 200,000 women entrepreneurs from emerging markets with seed capital and skills training to start and expand their businesses.

”Born with zero privilege, the women portrayed in the Foundation 500 list have made their own fortunes in the harshest of startup-environments. Yet, their stories often go untold. I wish I had seen women like these on the cover of business magazines when I grew up in South Sudan,” said British/Sudanese supermodel, entrepreneur and H&M Foundation Ambassador, Alek Wek.

“Media can play an important role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by unveiling inspiring stories helping to change mindsets of what women entrepreneurs can achieve and giving role models a platform to show what is possible. This can contribute to changes in convictions, attitudes, behaviour, rules, regulations and policies,” the write-up from the Foundation reads.

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business digital snippets e-commerce film social media sustainability technology

What you missed: Amazon didn’t kill Macy’s, Alibaba’s anti-counterfeiting bid, LVMH on sustainability

Macy's Amazon
Who really killed Macy’s?

So is Amazon the big threat to retail, or do retailers really have themselves to blame? There’s a great piece from Recode exploring the longer-term demise of Macy’s. No surprise to also see Neiman Marcus’ IPO has been stalled given current market conditions. The Limited is another US store announcing its closure over the past week.

Meanwhile, other big news to know about include a bid to fight counterfeit goods on Alibaba, PETA aiming to disrupt LVMH from the inside (as well as a separate piece on how LVMH is making luxury more sustainable), and yet more advertising updates on both Instagram and Snapchat. If you haven’t seen it, don’t forget to also check out our list of the 8 top tech trends for fashion and luxury retail in 2017.


TOP STORIES
  • Amazon didn’t kill Macy’s. Macy’s did [Recode]
  • Alibaba forms anti-counterfeiting alliance with Louis Vuitton, Swarovski and others [WWD]
  • Bernard Arnault meets with President-Elect Donald Trump [WWD]
  • What happens when beauty, health and wellness products move from standardised to personalised? [Loose Threads]
  • These stores smell money inside your brain [Bloomberg]

BUSINESS
  • Neiman Marcus IPO will stay on the shelf [Bloomberg]
  • PETA is now a Louis Vuitton shareholder [Fashionista]
  • An inside view of how LVMH makes luxury more sustainable [HBR]
  • Diane von Furstenberg debuts hip new logo, website ahead of fashion month [Fashionista]
  • Expect experimental evolution, not revolution, at Valentino [BoF]
  • Jimmy Choo co-founder goes stiletto-first into the digital future [Fast Company]
  • Lessons learned from Neil Blumenthal, the co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker [AlleyWatch]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Asos, Nike and Airbnb first to use Instagram Stories’ new ad formats [The Drum]
  • Snapchat is about to get a major redesign – including search bar [Mashable]
  • L’Oréal Paris brought Snapchat Spectacles to the red carpet for the Golden Globes [Digiday]

MARKETING
  • Sephora is ramping up its mission to empower women in 2017 via sustainability and technology [Fashionista]
  • Nike Women got FKA Twigs to creative direct this mesmerising new ad [AdWeek]
  • Film student’s emotional Adidas ad goes viral as viewers urge the brand to take notice [The Drum]
  • Chopard explains etiquette for 21st-century man in whimsical vignettes [Luxury Daily]

RETAIL
  • The Limited officially closes all stores, moves online [Retail Dive]
  • Matches CEO: Customers want speed and convenience [CNBC]
  • Lush evolves digital offerings to better connect with consumers [Glossy]
  • Kohl’s continued digital innovation drives loyalty [RIS News]

TECHNOLOGY
  • From gimmick to game-changer: How virtual reality will alter the fashion industry [Glossy]
  • Tanvas’ haptic feedback system lets you feel texture on a touchscreen [The Verge]
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Wrangler’s #MoreThanABum campaign pushes forward the “women not objects” movement

Wrangler's #morethanabum campaign
Wrangler’s #morethanabum campaign

Wrangler has launched a new campaign starring Grammy award winner Kimbra focused on a cry against female stereotyping.

#Morethanabum aims to move the cultural conversation away from simply aesthetics about women towards a deeper understanding of achievement and aspiration. It is anchored by a song composed by Kimbra called Ain’t About What’s Behind Me, including samples of women saying the word “bum”.

Created by ideas agency We Are Pi, it looks to go beyond traditional advertising in women’s fashion and in denim in particular, to launch the brand’s new “Body Bespoke” range. This line redefines the design process of women’s jeans by going against the fashion industry norm of using model proportions as the base for designs.

Jessica Perri, head of strategy at We Are Pi, said: “We set out to communicate an empowering message that is intrinsic to the Wrangler brand: the jeans are stylish, but it’s what you do in them that matters. We all know the image of a woman smiling confidently in the mirror because her jeans finally fit right. We wanted to bypass the mirror altogether. Of course her jeans fit right, freeing her up for much, much more interesting things.”

The campaign also features a range of other inspirational female ambassadors in a short film, including Olympic volleyball player Francesca Piccinini, dancer and choreographer Nikeata Thompson, transgender activist Paris Lees, and music journalist and radio presenter Gabriela Drzewiecka.

Said Kimbra: “These women remind us that our bodies are only one part of us and it’s important to take pride in that but also to stand up for the fact that we have so much more to offer the world. It’s not just about how we look in our jeans, it’s about what we’re doing in them.”

The initiative follows a big focus on unraveling female stereotypes in advertising and a call across the industry to end the objectification of women. Anchoring that movement is a campaign called #womennotobjects by agency Badger & Winters, which has been shared over 130 million times since its launch in January 2016.

“There’s always a smarter, more creative way to tell a brand’s message that doesn’t rely on demeaning women, but in fact does the opposite – it emotionally engages women in a respectful way,” said Jim Winters, president of Badger & Winters, during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

Furthermore, research carried out by Badger & Winters shows that focusing on the idea of “sex sells”, which the fashion industry is particularly notorious for, is in fact disastrous to brand reputation and purchase intent. Their study shows that the objectification of women impacts every single KPI, to the extent that women today have less interest in wanting any sort of interaction with such brands at all, co-founder Madonna Badger said. She noted that 91% of women today say advertisers don’t understand them.