Tag Archives: designer

Oasis invites consumers to #springasmile with virtual good deed generator

18 Apr

SpringASmile1

Spring cheer is in the air over at Oasis just in time for Easter, with a new campaign encouraging consumers to undertake simple acts of kindness in a bid to make people smile.

The UK-based retailer has introduced a virtual good deed generator at springasmile.com that inspires users with ideas for things they could do through a slot machine-like experience. At the click of a button (spin), keywords like ‘buy’, ‘give’ and ‘make’ are surfaced in the left hand window, alongside ‘someone flowers’ through to ‘coffee for the next person in line’ on the right.

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Once achieved, the user is invited to nominate three friends to do the same via Facebook or Twitter before they receive a plaque stating what they’ve pledged. Oasis refers to this as the “perfect way to pay it forward and raise a smile amongst even the grumpiest of friends”.

The site also encourages users to revisit and upload a photo or video of their #springasmile in action into the “good deeds album”. All round, it’s a lovely and very sweet experience.

Side note – some of the early tweets around #springasmile come from employees at the company. If anyone thought this was a campaign just for external consumption you’d be wrong. The positive effect it’s seemingly had internally is impressive. One such comment: “Even though I had a crazy day and left 2 hours after eveyone else I had the best day! Can’t stop grinning :D… Thats when you know you’ve chosen the right career and you work for lovely people! #springasmile.”

Below too is what the head office therefore looked like this week (Image credit: @AmieMartin_). A winner through and through…

Oasis_springasmile2

Innovating the humble hanger: flashback from Japan

15 Apr

I discovered this video when writing a story about the future of shopping this week, and thought it worth resurfacing.

It’s a simple premise: the  shopper removes items from the rail and as they do so they activate content on nearby video screens. It’s not the garment that holds the sensors, but the hanger it is hung on – recognising unique details, from the fabric it is made of, to shots of models wearing it.

It was a concept from a company called teamLab in Tokyo – featured as part of an exhibition called We Are the Future, and then later in retail store Vanquish around 2010-2012.

But it’s also one you can imagine working very effectively in a luxury store today, in part similar to the connected fitting rooms we’ve seen at the likes of Burberry with RFID tagged garments, or reportedly in pilot from Microsoft and Accenture with Kohl’s. But it’s also reminiscent of the Mother’s Day campaign run by C&A Brazil two years ago, which saw hangers embedded with real-time counters for Facebook Likes.

There’s a lot to be said for the humble hanger it would seem…

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Digital snippets: Fabergé, Dior, Gucci, Marc by Marc Jacobs, H&M, J.Crew and Kate Spade

13 Apr

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech:

 

  • Fabergé’s NYC Easter egg hunt marks the largest Beacon deployment ever in the US [Fashionista]
  • Dior explores global flower sourcing with interactive map [Luxury Daily]
  • James Franco directs video for Gucci (as above) [WWD]
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs line crowdsources models with #castmemarc campaign on social [Vogue.co.uk]
  • YouTube fashion viral: Miranda Kerr is selfie obsessed in H&M’s spring 2014 campaign [Fashionotes]
  • J.Crew and Kate Spade to foster the next big fashion tech start-ups through new accelerator program [Co.Design]
  • IMG Fashion’s partnership with Tencent aims to boost Fashion Week China exposure  [JingDaily] bit.ly/1ltgJFZ
  • Fashion in the age of Instagram [NY Times]
  • How iBeacon and similar technology will change retail [eMarketer]
  • Five examples of how marketers are using iBeacons [Econsultancy]
  • ‘Showrooming’ hits luxury fashion – lack of e-commerce presence means clients buying elsewhere online [WSJ]
  • Luxury brands are stupid to snub the internet [BusinessWeek]
  • Decoded Fashion founder: ‘Designers need to launch like start-ups’ [The Guardian]
  • New app, Think Dirty, tracks the nasty chemicals in the beauty products you put on your face [Co.Exist]
  • The camera-wielding boyfriends behind fashion’s most famous bloggers [Fashionista]
  • How LiketoKnow.it is changing Instagram by monetising your photos [Pinetop Group]
  • Op-ed: The companies with the best software will lead fashion [BoF]

Fabergé fans to create digital portrait animations at Harrods

26 Mar

Fabergé Cinescope - Firebird in Cage

Fabergé is set to host a heritage-inspired digital installation in Harrods as part of its Easter-themed pop-up from April 1 – 21.

The ‘Fabergé Cinescope’ will enable visitors to try on jewellery via a digital mirror and then create a one-of-a-kind animated portrait of themselves that can be shared across social media.

These portraits are based on a Victorian novelty concept – the trompe-l’oeil optical effect created by placing two images on either side of a disk and rotating them quickly to make them look like one (as per the video below).

Fabergé says marrying innovation with tradition is always its aim, and in this case its “transforming a period toy into a digital-age concept”.

The initiative is being run in collaboration with Russian style icon Miroslava Duma. It will also see the story of the Fabergé jewellery house retold via the Harrods windows, and an ‘Egg Bar’ showcasing the iconic precious egg pendants. An exhibition space will present other historic pieces from the brand, including the original 1901 Fabergé Apple Blossom Egg never seen before in the UK.

Zappos piloting personal shopping service on Instagram with #nextootd

19 Mar

Most of you will have already heard of the hashtag #ootd. For those who haven’t, this is the epitome of the #selfie phenomenon. “Outfit of the day” as it stands for, has over 23 million posts attached to it on Instagram.

That’s 23 million images associated with what people are wearing, said Will Young, director of Zappos Labs – the San Francisco-based experimentation and innovation arm of e-commerce site Zappos – during SXSW last week. “We looked at [those figures] and asked as a retailer how do we be a part of that?”

The answer? His team recently launched a pilot project on the platform called Next OOTD. Very simply, followers are invited to post a selfie along with the hashtag #nextootd. Those who do will receive a personalised shopping recommendation based on their Instagram from Zappos in return.

Zappos is of course a company that prides itself, and has become known, for customer service (its longest ever phone call was nine and a half hours – and celebrated for that fact, Young revealed). He said they are constantly trying to think of lots of different ways to take that service to the next level.

At the moment this project is entirely manual – there’s one person doing it who doesn’t even work weekends – so the potential to scale isn’t really there, he admitted, but that’s not to say it won’t be down the line.

“Personal shopping via Instagram… that could be the future of our business,” he argued – and perhaps rightly so given the buzz around social shopping once again at present. “It could have a 50 person team manning it and making personalised shopping recommendations.”

To his own strategy, he added: “I heard Sarah Friar, CFO of Square speak recently, and she said: ‘Think big but start small.’ That’s kind of how we approach things at Zappos Labs.”

Looking back at SXSW: wearables, privacy and avoiding bandwagons

14 Mar

This article first appeared on The Business of Fashion 

Rachel Arthur recaps the highlights of this year’s SXSW Interactive conference and identifies key takeaways for the fashion industry.

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AUSTIN, United States — The marketing and tech crowd hit Austin, Texas, once again this week for the annual SXSW Interactive conference, bringing with them more members of the fashion industry than ever before. There were representatives from long-time attendees like Burberry and Bergdorf Goodman, alongside a flurry of first timers from Parisian fashion houses and UK department stores alike, a sure sign of technology’s increasingly pervasive impact on fashion retail.

Thought of as an incubator for tech-enabled creativity which aims to provide a “view on the future,” the annual event is overloaded with keynotes, panel discussions and pop-up events, not to mention a trade show floor. But, as usual, much of the action also happened off-piste, in spontaneous conversations at hundreds of events and parties.

Here, we’ve compiled some key takeaways, on themes ranging from wearable technology to consumer privacy.

The State of Wearables

It was clear wearables — an emerging category of personal accessories with embedded sensors, displays and other digital technology (such as Nike’s FuelBand, Google Glass and Apple’s rumoured iWatch) — were going to be a key topic even before SXSW began. They’d dominated the scene at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas each January and over 60 sessions addressed the topic, up from a mere handful last year.

Speakers unanimously agreed that the category is advancing rapidly. American basketball star Shaquille O’Neal even made an appearance to discuss his new interest in wearable technology with Rick Valencia of Qualcomm. Yet despite predictions that the market for wearables could reach $30-$50 billion over the next 3 to 5 years, the growing consensus was that mass adoption was still a ways off. On Google Glass, Robert Scoble (author and startup liason officer of Rackspace) said: “This is one of those products you know is the future, but it’s so unfinished at this point that it’s frustrating. It’s three to five years away before it’s really useful.”

And indeed, it was the word ‘useful,’ more than design or aesthetics — which the current crop of wearables are widely thought to lack — that came up the most. Jennifer Darmour, user experience design director at Artefact, said she has a drawer full of wearables that she had worn for just a week or two each before abandoning them. There was too much focus on novelty, she said, rather than on creating real functional value. “We’ve been taking a technology and trying to find a problem for that technology, instead of the other way round,” she added. “We need a more human-centric approach.”

Q Manning, chief executive of app design company Rocksauce Studios, agreed: “We need to solve problems. Just because we can build it, doesn’t mean we should. We need to pinpoint will this actually be useful? Is it beneficial? Will it help me live my life better?”

Jay Morgan, digital creative director of Havas Worldwide, added: “When wearable tech becomes [part of our] normal clothes and we don’t have to [actively] interact with it, it’s not then going to be about whether people care about it, it’s just going to be a part of your life. That’s what brands need to think about it now.”

Managing Privacy

Privacy was another key topic at SXSW this year, perhaps unsurprisingly as whistleblower Edward Snowden gave one of the headline talks. Appearing via Google Hangout from an undisclosed location in Russia, Snowden called on the technology community to help protect privacy rights by building them into technical standards. “There is a policy response that needs to occur, but there is also a technical response that needs to occur,” he said. “It is the development community that can really craft the solutions and make sure we are safe.”

Christopher Soghoian, principle technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, added: “I really think that consumers need to rethink their relationship with many of the companies to whom they entrust their private data. I really think what this comes down to is if you are getting the service for free, the company isn’t going to be optimising your experience with your best interests in mind.”

While Soghoian was referring to Internet services like Facebook, the issue of consumer privacy should be of concern to retailers as well, as they increasingly collect and leverage personal data.

“The bottom line is data should not be collected without people’s knowledge and consent,” said Snowden. “If data is being clandestinely acquired and the public doesn’t have any way to review it and it is not legislatively authorised, it is not reviewed by courts, it is not consonant with our constitution — that is a problem.”

For others, the issue of privacy and personal data was seen in the context of a value exchange, with consumers increasingly willing to reveal information in return for benefit. “The more utility you get, the more you’re going to have to give away your privacy,” said Scoble, adding he’d happily do so himself in return for more useful and personalised experiences. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, agreed: “I’m excited about data being about me. The marketer gets a certain amount of value in the stats on my demographic, but the real value is for me.”

Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, said the way forward was giving consumers control of their data. “We are now developing technologies to give people control over who manages their data and how. We are ensuring privacy, so it will be very easy and very comfortable for them to give their data over and get something out of it.”

Avoiding Bandwagons

Elsewhere at SXSW, conversation swirled around everything from “embeddables” (technology emebedded in the world around us, such that “virtually any human activity we can think of is going to be modified and amplified with an invisible mesh of data and processing that we will drift through obliviously,” according to one panel) to bioengineering. But ultimately, “good technology is no excuse for a bad idea,” said Paul Kemp-Robertson, co-founder and editorial director of marketing consultancy and magazine, Contagious. “It’s easy to jump onto bandwagons just because a new technology looks cool. Everyone enjoys feeling like that little kid chasing after the bright, shiny tool in the distance. But in this age of service design and living data, if a marketing idea is not useful, relevant or entertaining, then really there’s very little point in letting it loose on the world.”

Kristina Simmons, a partner at leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, agreed. Wearable technology, for example, should not be a priority just because everyone is talking about it. “It needs to be something that makes sense for your business. It’s about thinking about your top five priorities, versus saying I want to do something with wearables.”

“Innovation isn’t just giant leaps and bounds and the sexy stuff — it’s also about the basics and thinking about how we do things better. Incremental changes can make a big difference too,” said Will Young, director of Zappos Labs.

“Being first has always been a big thing,” said Ben Malbon, Google’s head of creative partnerships. “But the future is here already. We should use the existing tools we have on the table. Innovation doesn’t need invention.”

Forget Instagram: what has happened to fashion week commentary on Twitter?

28 Feb

This post first appeared on Fashionista.com

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Is it just me or has Twitter become much less inspiring during fashion week season? I say that as an avid user – both personally and profesionally. I peruse posts day to day, and particularly once the shows hit London, Milan and Paris, when I’m watching via livestream from New York. I scroll through my own feed, I consume via social dashboards attached to designers’ websites, and I go back and search using hashtags and brand names afterwards, too.

What I’ve always enjoyed is the live commentary that you gather from those in the front row, but there seems to have been very little of it for the past couple of seasons, and I for one really miss it. Not the tweets that tell me what show they’re waiting for, the fact the first model has appeared/the last model has walked out, or even what color they’re seeing. Those still exist, and I can gather all that from home.

No, what I really want back, is actual commentary. I want to hear from the editors –- the experts no less — about the 1930s theme emerging at Prada and the influence Miuccia drew from film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, or the details of the new Bloomsbury-inspired, hand-painted florals at Burberry Prorsum. I want to know what is sashaying down that runway that, from my own 13-inch screen, I can’t quite see.

The images that are posted can be nice, of course, and on occasion insightful (if not blurry, but that’s another issue). But what happened to a wonderfully descriptive annotation along with it? Or better yet a real-time opinion, a review-on-the-spot even? Here are some of the highlights from the Lanvin show Thursday:

Lots of pictures naturally, but did you gather much about the line really? Navy, white and feathers. It’s a start.

Now it’s not that everyone has put their smartphones back in their handbags to focus on the clothes as they come out of course. So what’s going on?

First up, quite obviously: Instagram. During London Fashion Week there were a total of 266,767 mentions on Twitter, and 316,359 posts on Instagram, according to Bell Pottinger, a British public relations and marketing firm. So arguably, much more time is being spent there.

It goes without saying there’s huge benefit in that space of course. But when someone is at at home watching a livestream, or has access to high-res images in near real-time — not to mention backstage ones from the brand themselves — Instagram shots from the front row don’t necessarily offer all that much. They’re a nice-to-have, and for a feel of fashion week in general, a fantastic stream to follow. But for those really wanting to know about the collections themselves, there’s still a gap — an information gap.

The skill of an editor who has worked in the industry for 10 or more years is to be able to quickly deduce what a collection is about, to analyze its importance for trends, to bring contextual knowledge of its applicability to the commercial market and to offer a clear understanding of the technical side (i.e., garment construction and fabrications).

Portraying that over Twitter is no mean feat. I attempted it as a guest Tweeter on behalf of my employer, WGSN, for the @mbfashionweek account during New York at a number of shows and it’s entirely consuming.

But I don’t think the fact few editors or publications seem to be offering anything like this anymore comes down to just not having the time. With social media now reaching maturity, there’s inevitably becoming a greater push in terms of strategy for organizations and individuals alike on what to do and what not to do to achieve audience engagement.

So here’s my question: Is this lack of Twitter commentary as simple as editors just becoming more obsessed with Instagram? Or is there actually a direct decision being made not to give away too much there and then? (The knowledge of these men and women is a valuable commodity — why hand it out on a free platform, when you can rather store it up and post it on your own site for traffic generation later?)

Then again, maybe it’s just as simple as the fact we’re also all just a little bit over it. Or overwhelmed. Or lazy. Still, I’d like it back.

Digital snippets: Burberry, Calvin Klein, Moschino, Saks, M&S, Primark

27 Feb

A round-up of all the latest stories surrounding fashion and tech…

 

  • Burberry reveals ‘digital innovation’ partnership with WeChat to strengthen social presence in China [The Drum]
  • Calvin Klein asks fans to snap selfies in their skivvies for #MyCalvins campaign [BrandChannel]
  • Fast-fashion: Moschino offers fans the ability to shop its McDonald’s-themed show live [Dazed Digital]
  • Saks recreates in-store beauty tutorials with six-second videos on Vine [LuxuryDaily]
  • Marks & Spencer launches new website to replace Amazon platform, after three years in the making [The Telegraph]
  • How Primark achieved 1.7m Facebook Likes in just six months [Econsultancy]
  • Former GQ editor Lauren Bans comes out as @CondeElevator Tweeter [Fashionista]
  • New privacy website lets you opt out of tracking in retail stores [AdAge]
  • Ebay buys virtual fitting room start-up PhiSix Fashion Labs [PC Mag]

Fendi drones: tech for tech’s sake or smart #MFW move?

20 Feb

Fendi_drone

The big story coming out of Milan Fashion Week today was of course about the Fendi drones.

Referred to as a sign of the luxury house’s commitment to “innovation and creativity”, the initiative saw four drones installed with cameras recording its autumn/winter 2014/15 show. As they flew above the runway, that footage was beamed back to those watching online at home.

“The main reason for doing this is to be able to offer impressive images and an experience that even surpasses being at the actual show,” Pietro Beccari, president and chief executive officer of Fendi, told WWD ahead of the event.

So a couple of key thoughts…

First off, Beccari also said the drones – which were powered by Parrot and in collaboration with the creative department of Google – wouldn’t be at all disruptive. “They are small, and we will increasingly get used to such technology,” he said. That might well be the case, but we’re not used to them yet, which meant most people actually in attendance in Milan focused predominantly on the bots over the collection.

Note several of the below Instagram posts, and this tweet from the FT’s Vanessa Friedman:

As far as publicity goes, that’s not a bad thing of course (more on that in a minute) – fashion shows as entertainment are by no means a new concept, after all.

What should have been spot on though, was the experience for those at home. Beccari said it would be completely “immersive and unprecedented”, thus far better than watching in person from the front row – so what was expected was a high-definition, up-close view.

A dashboard on the Fendi website hosted both a classic stream of the show and the “Drone Cam” to choose from. Like Topshop has done in the past, viewers could take snapshots of whichever they were watching and then share those collection images with their Facebook and Google+ friends and followers.

Unfortunately, the quality of the drone recording was, for all intents and purposes, awful. Up-close and personal? It was not. The shapes of the pieces the models were wearing could barely be made out, let alone the finer details of the line. The snapshot tool did work, as you can see in the screengrab below (which also documents the blurry runway), but the share function didn’t; merely clicking through to Facebook, before just getting stuck.

That was both the case with the live-stream version and the on-demand recording that has been on the Fendi site since. In fact, the recording that is up there now is actually a slightly better version in terms of the drone camera used – a switch was clearly made post live event.

Fendi_dronecam

But back to the question in the title of this post, were the Fendi drones merely tech for tech’s sake or a smart Milan Fashion Week move? The answer, I’d argue, is both.

It goes without saying this was absolutely tech for tech’s sake. And by that I mean technology that is essentially pointless (the traditional live stream providing a far more detailed and therefore beautiful view), but is employed on the grounds of the fact it makes for a great, albeit gimmicky, story. This is how most big-budget retail technology launches currently operate.

And a great story it was. Given drones were already buzzworthy thanks to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ December 2012 announcement, this was a topic top of mind and tip of tongue for many people, not to mention key members of the press. Fendi captialised on that (smoothly avoiding anything along the lines of privacy or security concerns), and won key coverage in everything from The Guardian to Bloomberg as a result, with New York Magazine’s The Cut, The Times and Fashionista inbetween. The only angle otherwise hyped was the Karl Lagerfeld doll that model Cara Delevingne carried to both open and close the show – and even that also had a Big Brother camera in it.

Let’s not forget this is a big coup for Milan Fashion Week – hardly the epicentre of fashion and tech stories any prior season. Fendi, under the creative direction of Lagerfeld, is also not the first brand you’d think of to lead in this space. Burberry maybe. Diane von Furstenberg perhaps. Even Dolce & Gabbana at a push, but not likely Fendi.

Beccari referred to the company’s investment in the development of its digital content as a bid to speak to a younger customer base. One thing’s for sure, there’s a whole raft of tech (and journo) types who have at least now heard of that brand called Fendi. And on that basis, yep, it was a pretty clever move too.

Remember that time when…

Hunter uses Instagram video as second screen to #LFW show

16 Feb

HUNTER_LFW_Instagram

Hunter might be the new kid on the block this London Fashion Week season, but its show and accompanying social media coverage was as slick as the best of them.

The famous wellington boot brand introduced its new Hunter Original line with models parading along a catwalk covered in water. Under the creative direction of Stella McCartney’s husband Alasdhair Willis, this was a stylish line of practical outerwear, not to mention numerous new footwear pieces, fit for the current UK weather.

But for those watching online, it was the Instagram video posts that particularly stood out. In a sea of thousands of #LFW tagged images, not to mention endless blurry runway Insta-videos, Hunter took to the platform with a series of high quality, pre-produced clips.

Created as part of the wider #beahunteroriginal social media campaign, each one was designed to “capture the inspiration behind the collection and allow a deeper insight into what is being seen on the runway”. What that actually meant was quite abstract, creative work.

Overlaid copy set the theme – “If you’re born a pioneer”, “Forged by the desire to discover” or  “Take the path that others dare not take”, from one to the next. Graphics spliced in then showed a section of a boot, a close-up on a fabric or an original sketch, as well as a series of autumnal outdoor scenes nodding to the heritage of the brand.

Willis said: “Born out of a passion to innovate, a pioneering spirit has always been at the heart of the brand. This spirit is key as the future vision for Hunter is developed and the reason for leveraging Instagram in this way. We are delivering a unique experience for the Instagram community, in real time, providing a deeper insight into the story of the collection and the world of Hunter Original.”

Hunter referred to the Instagram move as its LFW “second screen experience”. See each of the posts below…

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