Tag Archives: design

Courage underpins beautiful new Lacoste campaign film

7 Feb

#LiveBeautifully seems an apt hashtag for the latest ad from Lacoste. Created to support the brand’s “Life is a Beautiful Sport” campaign, it’s an arresting 60-second film depicting “a man about to risk it all to win the game of his life”.

That game, it’s suggested, is love. The Big Leap, as the spot itself is called, sees actor Paul Hamy building up the courage to go in for a kiss with model Anna Brewster in one scene, while another (the metaphor) sees him leaping off the side of a building and falling towards the ground until their lips lock. 

The film was created by BETC and directed by Seb Edwards. It features “You & Me”, a song by Disclosure featuring Eliza Doolittle remixed by Flume. 

It launched in France during the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, and will be broadcast globally from March 2014 onwards.

Fashion names star in Apple Mac’s 30-years ad

5 Feb

 

Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen is one of several fashion creatives to star in a new ad from Apple, a spot filmed using a series of iPhones over the course of just one day.

1.24.12, as it’s called (for the day it was shot), is a celebration of 30 years of the Macintosh. When the Mac was introduced, it promised to put technology in the hands of the people, Apple says, launching “a generation of innovators who continue to change the world”.

Van Herpen is seen in her Amsterdam studio working on one of her elaborate creations at about 43 seconds in. While many fashion designers work on a Mac these days, she is one of a few who also turns her ideas into reality using a 3D printer.

“Iris van Herpen initially saw the computer as a strictly two-dimensional environment. For someone who often begins the creative process by sketching on a mannequin, that wouldn’t work. But when she discovered 3D printing, everything changed,” reads the write-up on the Apple website, where a timeline has been created documenting creativity for the past 30 years.

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Van Herpen is included under the heading for 2014 on the site, but two further dates are also relevant to the fashion industry.

1996 is dedicated to Tinker Hatfield, who is the designer behind many of Nike’s most popular shoes. He said the Mac enabled him to experiment more freely in terms of different materials, contours and patterns, and to see all his designs instantly. “Apple gave us this amazing tool and a new way to do things. It was a little crazy, yet satisfying and liberating at the same time,” he is quoted.

The year 2000 is then focused on photographer Nick Knight, who created SHOWstudio.com, and in so doing, “changed how people saw fashion”. He pioneered fashion film, and was of course one of the very first to live stream a fashion week show. “I wanted to make fashion accessible to a broader audience. And I wanted to share more than static images,” he says.

Consumers are also invited to share information about when they first owned a Mac and how exactly they have used it, via an interactive portion of the 30 years microsite.

A short documentary about the Mac’s history has also been released, featuring Van Herpen, Hatfield and Knight, among others…

Why is wearable technology so damn ugly?

14 Jan

This piece first appeared on The Telegraph

Rachel Arthur, a fashion business reporter, was dismayed by the wearable technology on offer at CES last week. Not only were most devices useless, they were also utterly unwearable by any self-respecting woman

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Stick 150,000 tech people in the middle of the Nevada desert and what do you get? Well for one thing, no queues to the ladies room I can assure you.

I hit Las Vegas last week for my very first experience of CES, the consumer technology tradeshow, and wasn’t in the least surprised at the ease to which I could nip to the bathroom in between traipsing around the exhibition halls. This wasn’t ever going to be an event for battling my way through any kind of female crowd, unless you include the countless number of “booth babes” hired to help sell the gadgets (sporting a variety of rather oddly sexual mermaid, kangaroo and nursing costumes).

Gender observations aside, like everyone else; I was hitting Sin City for the products. I work as a business reporter and trend forecaster in the fashion industry, but largely cover technological developments. So CES for me was all about one thing: wearable technology.

After all, if it’s ‘wearable’ it must mean fashionable right? Wrong. More of that later. But first up, let’s deal with a big myth: women don’t buy technology. Also wrong. Women are more likely than men to purchase tablets, laptops and smartphones. We also use any internet-connected device, not to mention social networking sites, our mobiles and GPS more than our male counterparts, according to a 2012 report from Intel researcher Genevieve Bell.

Now most of you may not care about wearable technology very much, just yet. But its overwhelming presence at CES, usually a great place to figure out ‘the next big thing’, is telling. This is the annual showcase where the latest and hottest devices are revealed – that you and I will soon start using. (Aside from wearable tech – you can look forward to watching telly on curved TV screens, the chauffeur experience for all with the advent of self-driving cars and become your own newsagents with the dawning of 3D-printed sweets. Believe they taste good, I tried one.

The ‘wearables’ space is already burgeoning, but remains for the time being an enthusiasts’ market. Think early adopting sports fanatics who like to quantify their own data with the Nike FuelBand, the FitBit or the Jawbone. Outside of that niche there are also smart watches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear or the Pebble, as well as items like Google Glass.

The fact is, wearable technology is predicted to leap from a $1.4 billion industry in 2013 to $19 billion in 2018, according to Juniper Research. So it’s pretty safe to say, a lot of us will be buying it and sporting something tecchy – beyond our watches.

However, the big gap between what was on show at CES and what consumers will be willing to buy is quite simply design, especially if these companies want to attract female shilling. At the moment, all of the aforementioned devices are unbelievably masculine. I mean I do like my sportswear, but I also like delicate accessories. A big chunky (and by that I mean, ugly) cuff (digital or not) on my wrist is not something I enjoy wearing, meaning a couple of weeks into owning something like that, I am likely forgotten to have forgotten about it. The novelty has worn off.

A friend said to me as we walked around the show that most tech companies aim their product at men in the hope that women might still buy it, rather than aiming it at women knowing that men will never buy it. This pal was a bloke. And an honest one at that.

Naïvety won’t pay off

In part, that may be true, but it’s a naïve and short-sighted strategy by these companies, hoping to crack wearable technology.

First of all, let’s consider the real estate opportunities of the human body. Without delving into the realm of clothing and soft accessories, men are – broadly speaking – limited to their wrists and to eyewear. Most women on the other hand, will wear a watch, bracelet, ring, necklace, earrings and glasses, and often multiples of all of those at the same time. The female form, simply put, is far more valuable.

So where has this disconnect come from? Why were vibrating pants one of the most memorable ‘female’ bits of wearable tech on offer? Is it as simple as men designing wearable technology for men?

Jennifer Darmour, design director of user experience at product design firm, Artefact, has recently been working with a large brand (which she cannot name) that is about to launch a whole line of wearable devices aimed at women. “I went to meet with them recently, and was shocked that not one person in the room was female despite what they’re aiming to do.” It’s not that encouraging is it?

Female designers anyone?

We’ve been saying for a long time we need more female engineers, computer scientists and coders. Well how about the tech industry focuses on recruiting some female designers too? Of course the issue might also be that design hasn’t been a consideration for wearables full stop so far, rather an afterthought to the technology. But turning that on its head is precisely why the likes of Apple have done so well. The technology and the design of its devices are both equally impressive.

As Sonny Vu, founder of Misfit Wearables, tells me: “Wearables is a bit of a misnomer, because not many of them [the devices] are that wearable.” His company’s fitness tracking tool, Shine, is the closest there is to elegant on the market right now.

The development of Shine, unlike many others where pastel coloured straps are the typical nod to a female consumer (pur-lease – do they think we are children?) has focused on what people actually want to wear and will feel good wearing, he explains.

Others at CES this year looked to be tackling jewellery, but most of it was sorely disappointing (and again by that I mean unsightly). Think human Christmas tree – as with one company trying to sell the idea of a ‘crystal necklace’ which with just a click of a button makes these puppies light up.

Design, or lack thereof, was a big debate throughout the week. Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Devices Group, said: “If we want the premise of wearable technology to come forward we really have to think about going back to the drawing board with the hardware, moving beyond the idea of a square block on your wrist.”

One of Intel’s announcements at the show was a smart bracelet launching later this year designed by Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York. This could, for the first time, suggest fashion or aesthetics have been a consideration from the outset rather than an add-on. As Liza Kindred, founder of Third Wave Fashion, says: “In order for people to adopt wearable tech, the tech must disappear and the item must be beautiful.”

Let’s focus on purpose shall we?

Of course we also need a device that we – as women – want to use. It needs to have a purpose that we’ll genuinely buy in to. Vibrating pants, USB bracelets or tweeting shoes just aren’t going to cut it, but actually things we want. Jennifer Darmour refers to the necessity of “meaning”; not just something we want to wear but something that will add value to our lives.

There are endless possibilities in terms of functionality as wearable technology continues to evolve, but it needs to feel useful and worthwhile. It can’t just be a gimmick if women are going to buy into it. June by Netatmo, which also launched at CES, is one such example – it’s a bracelet that measures sun exposure, tracking UV intensity and advising women on skin protection on a daily basis. The design isn’t totally there, but it’s not half bad either.

Personally I would totally buy into a wearable device that would automatically adapt the heating in my house based on my body temperature, alert me to retail sales I would be interested in based on my location, or detect what nutritional value I’m missing from the day and suggest a recipe for dinner on my way home.

In this billion dollar industry, I can guarantee the brand that manages to make wearable technology beautiful as well as incredibly useful, will be the one with the key to women’s wallets the world over.

More detail on what the Opening Ceremony x Intel smart bracelet may look like

10 Jan

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While the exact details of Intel’s new smart bracelet, created in partnership with Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York, are yet to be determined, a few hints were revealed during CES as to what it might be like.

Speaking at a press conference during the Vegas show, Susan Barber, art director at Opening Ceremony, said: “We want to emphasise the tech aspects of the bracelet but so that it doesn’t feel like hardware. It has to be something we’ll be excited to wear [ourselves].”

This fits in with a broader theme at CES this week for more appealing design in the wearables space. Speaking on a separate occasion, Mike Bell, VP and GM of Intel’s New Devices Group, said: “If we want the premise of wearable technology to come forward we really have to think about going back to the drawing board with the hardware, moving beyond the idea of a square block on your wrist.”

While Intel reportedly has a rough prototype already developed, Opening Ceremony will have full input on both the functionality and the design to go to market with. Barber said work is yet to truly start on it, but ideas are percolating.

The team will be looking to both the past and the future for inspiration, she revealed. The aesthetic for instance will be informed by other partnerships the company has been involved in, including a project with Yoko Ono based on a series of her drawings titled ‘Fashions for Men” from 1969 (as featured above).

The recent capsule collection Opening Ceremony created for Spike Jonze’s new film, Her (as featured below), will also serve as inspiration. Said Barber: “This product is supposed to make your life more seamless and more effortless, and be beautiful at the same time. If technology and design are totally separate you don’t get to bridge that gap.”

Matthew Woolsey, SVP digital at Barneys, agreed: “A lot of functionality is very appealing, but the design elements are going to be paramount in terms of how our customer engages with it. The product needs to stand on its own, and the Opening Ceremony creative vision will be incredibly important to making that happen.”

As for who it’s aimed at, Barber said they are exploring all options at the moment, but are unlikely to make it gender specific. “It certainly won’t be pink or purple,” she said, mocking the stereotyped approach the technology industry often has to appealing to women. The goal with the device is also to speak to a broad generational audience. It is expected to hit in the autumn.

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Wearables key message at CES, Intel leads fashion charge

7 Jan

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If there’s one key theme at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, it’s wearables. Smart watches, fitness wristbands, earbuds, the works. Functionality is being heavily discussed, but even more so is design. The tech industry, it seems, has finally figured out that aesthetics are what’s going to make the difference when it comes to something people actually want to wear if we want to move this sector forward. An obvious statement to those of us in the fashion industry, but arguably not something anyone has yet done something about.

Enter Intel, who is aiming to change all of that, and with any luck in a beautiful way. It’s launching a smart bracelet later this year in partnership with Opening Ceremony and carried by Barneys New York.

Rather than “fashion” being an afterthought, as is more common with technology partnerships – a bit of branding slapped on, or some neat product placement during fashion week – Opening Ceremony will play an integral part in what the item looks like as well as how it functions using Intel’s tech.

“Our shared vision is to accelerate wearable technology innovation and create products that both enhance peoples’ lives and are desirable to wear,” said Ayse Ildeniz, vice president of business development and strategy at Intel’s New Devices Group. Speaking at the press conference today, she added: “The smart wearables we see on the market today are very much led by technology companies. But what we wear are personal things, reflections of ourselves and we often get emotionally connected to them. The fashion industry must therefore be in the driving seat. Without the aesthetics and the design, wearables are not going to become a big thing.”

Daniella Vitale, COO of Barneys New York agrees: “One of the greatest opportunities for wearable technology as a concept to be successful is fairly simple – to design a beautiful accessory that our customers would desire.”

Intel’s initiative will not be exclusive with Opening Ceremony and Barneys, suggesting further brands are being approached. The CFDA is accordingly also involved, having entered into a strategic collaboration with Intel to create a community for technology developers and fashion designers to network, match-make, cultivate and exchange ideas on wearable technology.

Interestingly Ildeniz said the most important thing for all those involved was to be humble. Once the egos go out the room, there’s a good chance technology and fashion can work pretty well together, she suggested.

2013: a designer meets digital year in review

23 Dec

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What a busy year it’s been…

From 3D printing taking its first trip down the New York Fashion Week catwalk, to the launch of Vine and Instagram videos, not to mention the continuing debate about the role of bloggers as influencers, the increased focus on the potential market size of wearables, and Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year as ‘selfie’one thing after another has rapidly impacted the role of innovation in this niche fashion x digital space.

Below then, are 10 of the posts you loved the most on F&M this year. It’s an interesting collection, nodding to familiar ideas like storytelling and crowdsourcing, as well as higher quality content, and a general reassessment of what it is that actually works in this space. Video content does of course also have its place, as does the continuing power of celebrity.

Thank you for reading and see you in 2014!

SHOWstudio captured and remixed the sound of four SS14 collections being made

17 Nov

Matthew_soundofclothes_SHOWstudio

I’m somewhat obsessed with the idea of the fashion industry working out how to nail audio branding. I’m not talking about just straight up music partnerships or even the sounds associated with a brand when being in-store, but the noises that personify the clothing or accessories in particular and whether they have the potential to subsequently be owned by an individual label. Food for thought…

It’s for that reason though that I love this initiative from SHOWstudio called The Sound of Clothes: Studio Sessions. The creative editorial site founded by Nick Knight, captured the sounds of Mary Katrantzou, Sibling, Piers Atkinson and Matthew Williamson’s collections being made ahead of their spring/summer 2014 shows this past September.

From the noise of the knitting machines and crochet needles being used, to beads and gems rustling, jersey being ripped, the pattern cutters in action, zips fastening and even models’ heels clicking during fittings, everything was collected, edited and then remixed into four musical tracks (as below) said to give “a unique audio take on the collections and capture the diversity of London Fashion Week”.

Sound artist Stu Sibley worked on the initiative, stretching and manipulating certain sounds so they seem like beats or instruments, while leaving others exactly as they were recorded. Each track is accompanied by abstract 3D visuals based on the runway collections themselves. Concept and direction was by Lou Stoppard and Neal Bryant. 

There’s also a wonderful essay by Maria Echeverri alongside the project that charts the history of sound through dress: “The various instances of sound in dress ranging from the Renaissance to present day hint at the untapped potential of resonant dress, for ultimately, the act of making and hearing noise is implicit in the experience and interpretation of clothing. And by understanding the enlivened dexterity of sound through its past, we can begin to imagine, and hear, its future.”

Vogue promotes new iPhone 5C as major fashion accessory

17 Oct

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Vogue is continuing its focus on tech with a series of online editorial shots this week dedicated to the new iPhone 5C. Titled “How About Them Apples: How To Match Your Outfit to the New iPhone 5C“, the post sees the four new shades of the latest Apple phone coordinated with looks from this season’s resort collections.

“We already know we spend an inordinate amount of time with our iPhones—talking to them, sleeping with them under our pillows—and now, it turns out, we can even dress like them,” it reads. “If we were Angela Ahrendts (former Burberry CEO and newly appointed senior vice president of Apple), we might think of incorporating one of the season’s new shades—which include Day-Glo pinks, yellows, greens, and blues—into our first-day-of-work wardrobe.” The models pose in looks from the likes of Nina Ricci, Michael Kors, Versace, Dior, Reed Krakoff and Ralph Lauren.

The initiative seems like a massive advertorial, or Condé Nast’s attempts at sponsored posts (native advertising) à la Buzzfeed, but the lack of any sort of disclaimer suggests otherwise.

In which case, this should be seen as a pretty huge coup for Apple; it is after all just a plastic coloured phone, now cross-promoted on key Vogue properties including its .com site, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

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Key fashion week trend: social media quality

16 Oct

There’s a lot to be said for the level of quality our industry is producing over social media these days, and rightly so for a world that prides itself on luxury. Whatever it is – better cameras, bigger teams, more budget – it’s working.

Take a look at some of the content highlights from the most recent round of fashion weeks:

Burberry_SS14ToryBurch_SS14Chloe_SS14Prada_SS14DolceGabbana_SS14

In order: Burberry, Tory Burch, Chloé, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana (as highlighted individually last season), all with beautiful executions across multiple platforms.

In terms of cameras, partnerships with tech companies for Burberry and Tory Burch have undoubtedly helped. The former, as reported at the time, teamed up with Apple (ahead of the news this week of CEO Angela Ahrendt’s move to become Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores) to exclusively capture its social media content using the new iPhone 5S iSight camera. This meant incredibly high res images, not to mention benefits including auto image stabilisation, a new ‘burst’ mode that allows users to shoot 10 photos per second, as well as an option for slow-motion.

Tory Burch on the other hand partnered with Sony to shoot its show using the F55 professional 4K camera, resulting in content with four times the resolution of standard high definition video. A detailed view of each and every look was hosted at runway.toryburch.com.

Meanwhile, we’re also seeing those in attendance at the shows sharing higher quality imagery too. Yes there are still blurry runway shots, but better smartphone cameras are of course at the root of this improving. That said, there are two other factors helping this along too:

The first is down to designers increasingly creating scenes for the crowd to want to capture. As Elizabeth Holmes of the WSJ reported: “Designers have a few tricks – falling under the heading ‘Instabait’ – to create moments that even hard-to-impress fashion week veterans can’t help but click and post.” These vary from elaborate set designs and props, to celebrity showcases.

The BoF covered this during the menswear shows in July too, writing: “In recent seasons, it’s become increasingly common for fashion shows to end with a tableau of models, perfectly positioned to be snapped and shared on social media. But at the most recent round of Paris menswear and couture shows, the staging of these instantly sharable moments rose to a whole new level of sophistication.”

A second factor that might begin shaping this lean towards quality all that much further, was hinted at by Tommy Hilfiger this season. As previously covered, it offered up a service that delivered assets – pictures through to collection information – upon request to showgoers over email in real-time. The aim was to “allow the industry to curate and share a new layer of exclusive, customised content on their own digital platforms for their followers during the show”. Doing so however cleverly put Tommy Hilfiger back in charge of the look and feel of its brand in the social space, ensuring its quality was as on-brand as possible throughout.

It might be a week for talking about technology, innovation and where the two cross with fashion thanks to that news from Burberry and Apple, but it’s important to ensure nailing content and quality likewise gets the attention it deserves. Overall the result is undoubtedly a better experience for the consumer so long may it continue. And for once, long may other industries be inspired by just how well (and by that we mean beautifully) ours can do digital.

Digital snippets: Burberry and Apple executive special

15 Oct

The big news today has of course been about Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts’ move to become an SVP at Apple, as well as the subsequent announcement of Christopher Bailey’s new title covering her role as well as his existing one as chief creative officer at the luxury brand. Here are the must-read stories on it:

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  • As outlined in a statement from Apple, Ahrendts’ role will be to have “oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores”. She will join the company by mid-2014 and report directly into Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • Meanwhile, a tweet from Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal said the announcement is a signifier of how the “convergence of fashion and technology continues”, a sentiment that’s been echoed elsewhere. Vanessa Friedman of the FT wrote: “It also demonstrates the increasing give and take between luxury and tech, as great personal gadgets become luxury accessories, design plays a big role in brand equity, and luxury increasingly becomes tech-savvy”
  • Let’s not forget, Ahrendts is the second senior fashion executive to be hired by Apple this year. As reported by The Business of Fashion, Paul Deneve, former chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent joined Apple in July, and is thought to be working on wearable devices
  • But Ahrendts offers Apple another significant value too; namely understanding China. As highlighted by Quartz: “It is also gaining the expertise of one of the most successful luxury brands in China, which happens to be the world’s largest smartphone market and one of Apple’s target markets”
  • Over at The Telegraph there’s a great outline of how the first Apple Store came about under Steve Jobs, and grew to its 408 locations worldwide today. But it highlights how Ahrendts will not inherit a business without challenges. “Rivals such as Samsung and Microsoft have copied the Apple Store template and are expanding their own retail footprints around the world,” it says. And: “Apple retail has been without permanent leader for over a year following the brief tenure of former Dixons chief John Browett, who took over after Ron Johnson left in 2011 for the top job at JC Penney.”
  • But there’s also an argument the move is a bit of a step down for her – from the top of the pile at Burberry (not to mention the highest paid CEO on the FTSE 100 last year) to another fish in a big pond at Apple. Mashable has a few thoughts on that however, including the fact Apple could be grooming her for the CEO role in the future. It also outlines that Apple’s retail revenues are about seven times that of Burberry. (There’s some nice background info in this piece about the impact Ahrendts has made at Burberry too)
  • Meanwhile, the news of Bailey as Ahrendts’ successor at Burberry (taking on the dual role of chief creative and chief executive officer) has been met with mixed response. Shares dropped 7.6% on London’s stock exchange today, suggesting there’s not a great deal of confidence surrounding it, despite enormous backing from Ahrendts and from Burberry’s chairman Sir John Peace in the brand’s video announcement. During this, Bailey himself refers to the fact the brand has “only just started dreaming”, mentioning future strategies surrounding beauty and re-integrating Japan back into the business
  • As the Guardian reported, there were suggestions Bailey had been handed the top job to stop him following Ahrendts out of the door, though Burberry was forced to deny it. It instead reinforced the support he has in the rest of the company management team; in spite of the fact finance director Carol Fairweather only stepped into the role  in July this year, and chief operating officer John Smith joined in March
  • Another piece from The Business of Fashion notes  it is “truly unprecedented for a designer to graduate from creative director to chief creative officer to chief executive officer, as Bailey will have done when the transition is complete”. It asks: “Can Mr Bailey, someone who is not obviously au fait with the dollars and cents of balance sheets, intricacies of global supply chains and the excruciating detail of retail operations, run a multi-billion dollar creative business in every sense of the word and also communicate with analysts on Wall Street and in the City of London?”
  • As Friedman at the FT likewise says: “Now we have an art-school-trained man without an MBA atop a £7bn public company – albeit one who was always referred to by Ms Ahrendts as a “partner”. And we have final confirmation that these days, corporate and creative are becoming one and the same when it comes to high-end fashion. Argue all you want about whether or not it is a good development for either side (and I betcha people will argue) – the fact remains it has happened.”

Pic via Fast Company

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