Tag Archives: New York

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.

Saks unveils interactive holiday windows, offers Makerbot 3D-printed snowflakes

2 Dec

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Consumers are invited to flick personalised digital snowflakes onto the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York this Holiday season.

The initiative, developed in partnership with creative digital agency, The Science Project, and sponsored by MasterCard, is part of the retailer’s wider focus on the legendary Yeti rumoured to reside on its roof making snow during the festive period, this year.

The Yeti Snow Workshop as this particular window is called, invites passersby to visit saks.com/snow on their mobiles where they can find out their own Yeti name, add it to a snowflake design and then flick it from their device to instantly see it gently falling down the window.

In-store those who spend over $150 or more with their MasterCard, can then receive a 3D-printed snowflake created by the MakerBot. Harry Cunningham, senior VP-store planning and visual at Saks, also told AdAge: “3D printing has been a big of late, so some of the figures in our window this year are actually 3D printed. As technology advances and as things move forward, we’re looking for opportunities to inject that into our process.”

Six of the other store windows depict different scenes of the Yeti’s life, from being “an under-appreciated snowmaker in Siberia to his starring role as a true snowflake artist in New York”. Each also features the hashtag #SaksYeti.

They were unveiled last week with a 3D light show mapped onto the façade of the store created by Iris Worldwide (as in the YouTube video below). It runs every seven minutes each night from 5-11pm over the Holiday season.

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Press may have pushed “tech” angle of new H&M store, but less than a week since launch, nothing seems to be working

20 Nov

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H&M’s deserted digital catwalk in its new Times Square store

I’ve been looking forward to visiting the new H&M store in Times Square since it opened last Thursday off the back of the tech innovation it’s supposed to house. As per the headlines that ran:

I finally got there last night, but unfortunately was sorely disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, from the moment you walk in the space feels fantastic; it’s high energy and it looks beautiful. Three floors and 42,000 square feet of great design, only enhanced by the huge volume of fluorescent signage throughout. But the technology story that’s dominated the press, well… none of it was working.

In the first instance, there are mannequins with screens in front of their faces supposed to play videos, display photos and showcase special deals. Screens that on a busy Tuesday night the week before Thanksgiving in the US, were switched off (as pictured below). All of them.

Then there’s the fitting room checkouts. Not a high tech initiative, but certainly a forward thinking one to help bust queues in a store that’s on one of the most trafficked corners of New York City – 42nd Street and Broadway. Again, closed. And the store was busy.

H&M tech store, Times Square

The blank digital screens in H&M’s new Times Square store

It was the mezzanine level with its dedicated DJ booth supposed to “spin music continuously”, and digitally-enabled runway, that I was most looking forward to. There, shoppers should be able to pose for a series of photos in pieces from the H&M line, and then see themselves displayed on one of the other LED screens around the store (there are 7,000 square feet of LED screens in total, including two 30-by-20-foot ones on the outside of the building).

As per WWD: “Shoppers choose an outfit in the nearby dressing rooms, enter their e-mail address into a computer and await the signal: ‘Walk’ on a red flashing sign. Each ‘model’ is told what time his/her image will be on view on the screens inside and out. Images sent to shoppers’ e-mail accounts can be used on social media.”

When I arrived on that level at about 5.30pm last night, there was no one to be found, not even the DJ (as the top picture shows). A lone sales associate clearing up behind the desk said she hadn’t seen anyone on the catwalk all day so she presumed they weren’t using it. I asked another on the ground floor who said she wasn’t sure but assumed they just had it turned off for the day, and another who said it was broken so she thought they weren’t able to use it. None of them were 100% confident about what was going on.

The computer next to the runway also displayed an error message regarding potential damage to its battery life if left plugged in (as pictured below). I was in the store for about an hour and nothing changed, though I didn’t overly expect it to as the story was the same on Monday night when a colleague of mine also visited.

The disappointment of all this for me is nothing to do with the fact a few glitches mean things aren’t working right now, but more that it’s such a sign of what retailers are achieving at present across the board – aiming too high and delivering too low. No wonder there’s constant push back from senior management about ROI.

There’s a huge amount happening with in-store technology, and a lot of it really exciting stuff that garners an enormous amount of press coverage, but does it really mean anything at all if it doesn’t work merely a few days after the big launch party when most of the journalists have walked away? A classic tale of smoke and mirrors.

I’ve had other experiences recently where I know something is working in a department store but it’s supposed to be a guided experience and without a sales associate on hand to demonstrate it to me I can’t participate in it. That’s essentially the same issue; an attempt at tech integration failed at the first hurdle, that being enabling the consumer to even use it.

There are a lot of arguments about the pros and cons of retail technology these days – from making it feel seamless to the shopper rather than gimmicky and unrelated to the persona of the brand, to ensuring staff are rightly trained to use and demo it – but I would argue the most important thing of all, and I think you’ll agree, is that there needs to be a commitment toward it working for longer than just on opening night.

H&M tech store, Times Square

The empty mezzanine level of H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

H&M’s empty DJ booth in its new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

An error message on the digital runway screens of H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

An error message on the digital runway screens of H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

A blank digital screen in H&M’s new Times Square store

H&M tech store, Times Square

H&M’s new Times Square store

Digital snippets: #NYFW round-up special

15 Sep

All manner of social initiatives took place during New York Fashion Week last week, ranging from a digital concierge at Tommy Hilfiger to the use of Snapchat at Rebecca Minkoff. Here’s a round-up of it all:

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  • Over 630,000 viewers watched New York Fashion Week online, but designers still fail to live up to their European counterparts [Mashable]
  • #NYFW digital highlight: Tommy Hilfiger’s social concierge [Fashion&Mash]
  • Rebecca Minkoff to debut runway looks on Snapchat [Mashable]
  • Kenneth Cole unveils Vine mosaic during #NYFW show [Fashion&Mash]
  • Revlon provides collection sneak peek over Pinterest during #NYFW [Fashion&Mash]
  • Pinterest entices huge brands in special fashion week pages [Venture Beat]
  • Giant digital installation anchors Phillip Lim for Target NYFW event [Fashion&Mash]
  • Models to carry Moto X on NYFW runway [AdAge]
  • How designers make the moments when fashion clicks [WSJ]
  • A look at how Instagram is changing New York Fashion Week [Fashionista]
  • This interactive fashion feature from The New York Times is also worth checking out, it showcases seven big shows in a series of expandable visual sliders, as well as what it calls ‘fashion fingerprints’ – a digital breakdown of the key colours for the new season.

You might also like:

Live-streaming fashion week: what’s the point?

London amps digital to make fashion week more public than ever

Giant digital installation anchors Phillip Lim for Target NYFW event

6 Sep

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Target hosted an event at New York Fashion Week last night to celebrate the forthcoming launch (September 15) of its 3.1 Phillip Lim line.

Hosted at the new Spring Studios, the party centred around an enormous digital installation – the Stylescape, which is the longest-ever created cinemagraph in fact, comprised of multiple interactive components.

You could blow on a pin-wheel to make a gust of wind breeze across various components on the screen, pull on a cord to see fireworks light up the sky or a string of fairy lights illuminate, and even jump on a spot to get Phillip Lim to turn round from a park bench and smile for your picture. Other sections saw the crowd dancing with one of the virtual models, or giggling as a dog appeared behind a counter.

The initiative took over four months to produce, Refinery29 reported. It was created across six cities, representing a full day-to-night span from one end to the other. It kickstarts with early morning in LA, crossing through Dallas, Toronto, Chicago, and Miami, and wrapping up with a 5am cab in NYC.

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#NYFW: your online guide

3 Sep

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Mashable has, as always, posted a stellar round-up of how all to tune into the upcoming New York Fashion Week online.

More than 80 designers are planning to unveil their spring/summer 2014 collections simultaneously on-site and to consumers via live-streaming video, reports Lauren Indvik. She also highlights the very best fashion news sites and social accounts to follow in order to keep up with all the action.

Check out the full piece here: Where to watch New York Fashion Week online 

Pinterest launches fashion week hub

28 Aug

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Pinterest has created a hub dedicated to fashion week content ahead of New York’s kick-off next Thursday, September 5. The initiative will be in collaboration with over 100 influencers, including brands, retailers, bloggers and publications.

Among them are Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Elle, Garance Doré, Man Repeller, Nordstrom, Oscar de la Renta, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Refinery29, Style.com and more.

The virtual scrapbooking site says it will provide an ever-updating feed of images and videos throughout New York Fashion Week, as well as into London, Milan and Paris. The idea is a response to the platform’s “massive fashion audience”, its head of community marketing Katie Garlinghouse told WWD.

“We know we have millions of pinners that look to Pinterest for fashion inspiration and we know hundreds of brands, designers and insiders use it for the same purpose, and we wanted to help connect those two a little more,” she said.

To Mashable she explained that the site wasn’t aiming to be a real-time entity like some of its competitors, many of whom also have their own ‘fashion hubs’. “It’s less about the real-time photos of the event, and more around the backstory of the event,” she explained. “For Kate Spade, we’ll see what inspired the collection, versus actual [live] images of the collection.” She highlighted everything from behind-the-scenes images to mood boards. She also said there will be no e-commerce integrations of any kind, but rather be about discovery.

According to research firm ComScore, Pinterest had nearly 47 million unique visitors in July 2013, up 36% year-on-year. Its users also reportedly post more than two million fashion pins on the platform every day. This is the first time it has participated in fashion week in an official capacity.

Nina Garcia switches up SXSW opinion, goes for Google Glass at #NYFW

8 Aug

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Project Runway judge and Marie Claire creative director, Nina Garcia, has just announced she will be wearing Google Glass at New York Fashion Week this September.

#BeNina, as the initiative is being called, will see photos and videos taken using the device beamed across both her personal and Marie Claire’s social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine, as well as the magazine’s website.

It’s a bit of an interesting change of heart from the editor who only a few months ago somewhat screwed her nose up at the idea of wearable technology.

Speaking at SXSW, Garcia – who has over 800,000 followers on Twitter and 55,000 on Instagram – was asked whether wearables were for the “kingdom of nerds” or a sign of where fashion is going.

“If you can get Tom Ford to design [Google Glass],” she said, “I might wear them. But until then…”

Well, Ford isn’t on board. And those rumours about Warby Parker are still not confirmed. Google Glass definitely doesn’t look as fashion-forward as one like Garcia might hope, but it seems that’s no longer deterring her.

Reports state she doesn’t have a formal relationship with Google on this project – though the video below does show her in the internet giant’s offices – but there’s no denying Google will hope to benefit from this. NYFW has of course previously played host to the device with Diane von Furstenberg’s show last September.

“What I find fascinating is that this may be the beginning of a technology that changes how we interact and how we process and gather information,” said Garcia.

“Usually I have lots of devices during fashion week. Google Glass Expedition is controlled by your voice or a tap of your finger. It’s a very different device than the iPhone. It’s like wearing a little computer. It’s a hands-free experience which is kind of liberating. I can go to a show and just be and not be looking down at my iPhone all the time.”

Freebie frenzy captured in T by Alexander Wang video

2 Aug 01-alexander-wang-video

 

The latest T by Alexander Wang campaign video is sheer genius. How better to convey such love for the brand than by shoving a group of unsuspecting fans in a warehouse and offering them access to as much free product as they can physically get their hands on.

That’s what happened at a one-time only secret event in New York a few weeks back, which the Wang team captured on camera and just released for the world to see. Needless to say, a frenzy doesn’t even begin to explain it. Once the doors opened and the crowd dashed in, they trampled over each other to grab items off the racks, from inside boxes and even out of each other’s hands. The slow-mo catfights shown beautifully sum it up.

The inspiration for the initiative comes from Darren Stein’s 1999 dark comedy, Jawbreaker. The movie’s final prom scene, in which enraged classmates toss things at Rose McGowan and her tiara slips, is a favorite of Wang’s. Stein accordingly directed this video too, playing up to Wang’s desire to use his seasonal campaign work as a platform for experimentation (see Bon Qui Qui in last season’s for reference).

“I love reaching out directly to our audience; to have a dialog that provokes and at the same time has a sense of wit and irony,” said Wang. “Nothing is formulaic with T. This project was viral and street at the same time, which allowed us not only to communicate with our audience through different avenues, but to activate them. I liked the idea of creating a destination that’s unknown, mysterious, and fun, where people can connect.”

The result is so insane it of course looks totally staged – maybe it is. Either way, we’re all a bit jealous.

Literal window shopping with Kate Spade Saturday’s digital, touchscreen storefronts

12 Jun banner

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Kate Spade Saturday has taken up residence in New York with four pop-up digital stores appearing as window fronts around the city.

The “weekend brand” from Kate Spade, which opened its first store in Tokyo in March, offers 30 products from its range through an interactive touchscreen experience that’s available 24-hours a day. New items launch every Saturday following.

“This gives us the ability to produce more from our retail space,” Kate Spade CEO, William McComb, told Reuters. “My nickname for it is the Wall as a Mall.”

Standing in front of the window, shoppers can click to explore looks, opt to buy them via PayPal, and best of all have them delivered with an hour to wherever they are in the city thanks to a partnership with eBay. Security also isn’t a concern – despite being a giant screen, the initiative doesn’t ask for credit card information or your address for every other passerby to see, instead texting you with a link that leads you to your window shop bag on your own phone instead.

Here are some images I took from the West 18th Street store. The other locations are 175 Orchard Street, 154 Spring Street, and 30 Gansevoort Street. All are open until July 7. Window shopping just hit a new reality…

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