Tag Archives: physical

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!

Warehouse fans go #knitbombing in recent social campaign

29 Oct

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As mentioned in a recent post about the #topmansprayonjeans campaign, there’s a big focus on user-generated content being seen from a multitude of retailers of late.

One of the others referenced in that same story was Warehouse. The UK retailer launched a campaign in late September focused on #knitbombing, a street art craze involving knitted items being placed to decorate public spaces – think trees, bollards even bikes. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s one that hasn’t been claimed by a fashion brand before (to my knowledge).

In a nice example of physical meets digital, Warehouse invited its followers to snap photos of their knit-bombing attempts and upload them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag. The best would go on to win a £250 gift card.

To help facilitate the campaign, it offered shoppers free knit-bombing kits in-store when they bought certain knitwear items. It also posted a series of inspirational woolly shots of its own across its Facebook and Pinterest pages (a couple of which are above and below).

Read its blogpost about the initiative: “Knit-bombing groups have been springing up everywhere – warming the soul of grey urban spaces with colourful knitted artwork or ‘graffitti’. Obviously we had to share this amazing phenomenon with you.” It also called for participants to “flex some creative muscle; remember the city is your playground.”

According to @Editd, the campaign saw Warehouse’s fanbase grow 10%.

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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

A look back at SXSW Interactive – key takeaways for the fashion industry

18 Mar Elon-Musk-SXSW_headline

This article first appeared on The Business of Fashion

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AUSTIN, United States With some 30,000 people in town for the 20th annual SXSW Interactive conference, not to mention hundreds of keynote talks, panels, exhibitions, meet-ups and parties to both participate in (and get distracted by) each day, you’d be forgiven for feeling completely overwhelmed by the whole affair.

The festival aims to provide a “view on the future” and is predominantly focused on the technology space. This year’s conference was headlined by Elon Musk, a South Africa-born, American engineer and entrepreneur who co-founded the groundbreaking electric car company Tesla, as well as payment system PayPal, and is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, the world’s first commercial company to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Musk spoke about a manned mission to Mars and shared a video of a reusable rocket that could, for the first time, land back on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter. Former American vice president Al Gore, likewise, touched on all manner of big ideas, including the genetic engineering of spider goats. Meanwhile, there was tremendous buzz surrounding Grumpy Cat, the real-life meme with whom conference attendees queued up to have their photograph taken.

But for the fashion industry from which there’s a growing contingent that comes to town for the event how much was relevant? The answer is lots.

Part of the beauty of SXSW is, of course, meeting up with digitally-minded people from across the sector. But, without doubt, the most powerful insights are gleaned by stepping outside the fashion bubble and learning from other industries. The challenge is being able to distill down the key takeaways. So here goes.

The Maker Movement

This year’s festival was opened by Bre Pettis, CEO of New York-based 3D printing company MakerBot Industries, who said that cheaply available and easy-to-use desktop fabrication tools would give rise to “the next industrial revolution.”

“We’re empowering people to make stuff, faster and in more affordable ways,” he said, announcing the MakerBot Digitizer, a machine which can scan any physical object between three and eight inches tall and replicate it. Think of it as “a real-world copy and paste,” he added.

In another talk, Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO and co-founder of 3D printing marketplace and community Shapeways, said: “3D printing is so incredibly quick that what we’re doing is design-manufacturing.” Indeed, soon we will be able to not only buy an item online and print it out at home, but manipulate it first, to create a truly personalised product. Though the textiles aren’t quite there yet, a dress that’s downloadable in different fabrications and, better yet, a perfect fit, isn’t that far off.

Mike Senese, a senior editor at Wired, expects brands to swiftly take hold of this opportunity. NASA, Ford and Nokia are already doing so, while Nike, without the large official presence it had last year to launch its FuelBand, was quietly using the networking effects of SXSW to spread news of its new Vapor Laser Talon shoe. Created for American football players, it features a lightweight 3D printed plate, crafted using Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS) and designed to improve acceleration.

Kimberly Ovitz, who featured 3D printed jewellery in her Autumn/Winter 2013 New York Fashion Week show, this February, was also on site at SXSW. She said that, for the fashion industry, the beauty of the technology at this stage comes down to timelines. Not only can she better keep up with consumer demand by delivering her jewellery within a two-week timeline, but she’s also that much further ahead of the fast fashion outlets who copy her.

Digital Meets Physical

Importantly, hardware dominated the discussion at this year’s SXSW, marking a major move away from the app-focused conversation of the past (SXSW was the launchpad for both Twitter and Foursquare in 2007 and 2010, respectively).

Unsurprisingly, Google Glass got a lot of airtime, with a number of individuals spotted trying out the augmented reality headsets around the festival’s convention center and a live demonstration hosted by Timothy Jordan, Google’s senior developer advocate, who showcased third party apps from companies like The New York Times and Path and introduced the tech crowd to Google Glass’ Mirror API. Expect much more on this front.

Google also introduced a talking shoe (that reminds wearers to be more active) in collaboration with adidas as part of the tech giant’s “Art, Copy and Code” initiative. It was prime example of the so-called ‘Internet of Things,’ the trend towards everyday objects becoming networked. Although still just a concept, the trainers feature sensors that track a user’s speed and performance and speak to them directly (via a speaker) or their phones (via Bluetooth) to encourage movement.

Leap Motion, meanwhile, was widely called “the Nike FuelBand of 2013″ in terms of the buzz it generated. A device about the size of a USB stick that plugs into any Mac or PC, it allows users to control a screen with hand gestures alone. Technically, it’s a step on from Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect for the precision it allows. The device can track individual finger movements with accuracy up to one-hundredth of a millimetre. It also retails for only $79.99 and will ship in May.

Collaboration

Amidst all the new technology launches and cross-pollination of big ideas, came a call for greater collaboration. For Elon Musk and Al Gore, that meant fostering collaboration amongst institutions to solve major problems that no single company could address alone. For many brands, it meant embracing their consumer communities.

The team at Lego shared their focus on being “fans of our fans.” With the launch of its crowdsourcing site Cuusoo, the company is empowering their most engaged customers to design their own products, the best of which are actually manufactured. Peter Espersen, head of online communities for the Lego Group, said there was value, not only in listening to your consumers, but setting goals on what you hope to achieve from them.

PepsiCo hosted a similar panel (the company’s fans have helped produce ads for the Super Bowl and create new flavours of Lays Potato Chips). “When you give people a forum to express themselves, you unearth things you never expected to find,” said Jen Saenz, Frito-Lay’s senior director of brand marketing. She addressed the idea of creating a circle of advocacy that could likewise apply to any fashion house: sourcing information, doing something with that information, feeding that back to fans, listening to their reaction and acting upon it.

Not surprisingly, data was a big part of this conversation. In particular, Saenz highlighted the deep level of insight Frito-Lay now has about its customers’ flavour preferences across geography, information it would never have been able to source at such scale using traditional methods.

But despite the focus on crowdsourcing, the importance of powerful storytelling (beyond what the facts, figures and feedback might show) rang throughout the festival. Ultimately, breaking through the noise, said Gary Goldhammer, senior vice president at H+K Strategies, means adding something remarkable and unexpected. “What makes for great storytelling is 1+1=3.”

eBay UK throws festive pop-up party for one of its one million Facebook fans

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Before the spring/summer 2013 campaigns sweep us away, and the forthcoming autumn/winter 2013/14 shows creep up on us, there’s one last holiday initiative I wanted to share.

eBay recently celebrated the fact it reached one million fans on its UK Facebook page by running a competition that offered one fan the chance to win a winter wonderland-themed party.

The “1 in a Million” contest saw 1,300 entries over three days, with a mother of two called Helen (an eBay buyer and seller of course) selected as the winner. She received a pop-up celebration in her local village just before Christmas that included a horse-drawn carriage, dancers, elves and circus performers.

The video above captures the scene. As Helen said: “The whole experience was really fun and totally unexpected… When a giant elf knocked on my front door it was all a little bit surreal. We all had a great time and we’ll not forget this day.”

A great example of personal, real-world social marketing.

2012: a designer meets digital year in review

20 Dec google-dvf-fr

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Well what a year it’s been…

From designer musical chairs to the launch of the Nike FuelBand, not to mention Facebook’s overhyped IPO, the increasing use of animated GIFs in online communications, and Burberry as our ever-present tech powerhouse, one thing after another has rapidly impacted the role of innovation in this niche fashion x digital space.

Below, then, are the 10 posts you loved the most on fashion & mash this year. It’s an interesting collection, seemingly tied together by tangible experiences over purely inspirational concepts. We’re talking physical pop-up platforms, real-time shoppable integrations, heavily interactive images and of course, wearable technology hitting the catwalk.

Thank you for reading and look out for a very exciting update from us early on in 2013!

eBay opens social shopping experience in London’s Covent Garden – pictures

30 Nov photo 5

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eBay is hosting a “social shopping” pop-up in London over the weekend to tie in with what it predicts to be its busiest online shopping day of the year in the UK. Over six million people are expected to log on to its site this Sunday, and a significant number of those are likely to come from mobile, it says.

No surprise then, the Covent Garden setup is built around how to make the most of eBay using your smartphone or tablet, recognising at the same time how important social media is in that space too.

I just went along to check it out, as the pictures above and below show. On display is a real-time barometer of the most talked about gifts and products over Twitter, an augmented reality experience highlighting this year’s must-have toys (note the Furby in the below shot), an example of its image recognition technology in action, and more.

That latter one sees a number of fashion bloggers pictured on the wall alongside a fabric swatch they’ve picked out. Each one can be scanned using the eBay fashion app to bring up similar colours and items available across the site. We trialled our scarves to double check they weren’t preloaded results – it did of course work wonderful.

eBay says mobile technologies such as this, as well as augmented reality and 3D, will present the UK retail industry with a potential boost of £2.4bn by 2014.

Carrie Bienkowski, head of buyer experience at eBay, said it’s changing the way we shop. “Consumers now carry a global showroom in their pocket and are increasingly as inclined to seek recommendations online and shop mobile as visit the high street. At eBay we expect 2012 to be our most successful mobile Christmas ever with around 30% of the most popular Christmas products being bought through a smartphone.”

eBay’s social shopping pop-up space is open from today until Sunday – if you’re in the area, check it out.

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Physical Pinterest board pops up at Westfield UTC mall

26 Nov

How’s this for a nice example of digital meets physical… Pinterest has set up a life-size pop-up board in San Diego to help celebrate the renovated Westfield UTC mall.

The outdoor concept sees a billboard-like frame housing both images and actual products as though they’re pins. Various brands and retailers from the mall are represented, with the same shown online on the WestfieldUTC Escape Everyday Pinterest page.

Fans are then invited to create their own board for a chance to win all the items (as shown with the rules below). Included is a pair of Oakley sunglasses, a $500 Splendid shopping spree, a $500 J.Crew gift card with a personal shopper, an ArcLight private screening for 20 people with refreshments, a Seasons 52 Chef’s Table for eight with wine pairings and more.

[LaJollaMom]

Farfetch celebrates Christmas with designer augmented reality wrapping paper

22 Nov

Farfetch.com’s augmented reality gift wrap by (left to right) Meadham Kirchhoff, Melinda Gibson, Margot Bowman and Gary Card

Online marketplace Farfetch.com is launching augmented reality gift wrap for the holiday season using image recognition technology from Aurasma.

Based on exclusive illustrations from four emerging creatives, the wrapping paper can be scanned using the Aurasma app on smartphone or tablet devices to reveal behind-the-scenes videos of the respective design process.

These fly-on-the-wall films document the gift wrap from sketchpad to sign-off, alongside interviews with each of the four creatives: design duo Meadham Kirchhoff (film shown below), photographer Melinda Gibson, artist and DJ Margot Bowman, and set designer and illustrator Gary Card.

The designs will be printed on 40,000 reams of wrapping paper and dispatched with all Farfetch orders from now until December 19.

CEO and founder of Farfetch.com, Jose Neves, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with four dynamic names from the worlds of art and design, bringing these one-off creations to our online platform and sharing with a worldwide, fashion-forward audience. The campaign as a whole will offer users and customers exclusive access to the entire ‘Unwrap’ journey, creating what we hope will be an unrivalled online shopping experience.”

That ‘Unwrap’ concept will also see each design featured as wallpaper on the site (as with Meadham Kirchoff below) for a week, and a social Pass the Parcel game. Here, consumers are invited to click to win daily designer gifts and then share the parcel with their friends to gain more entries into the grand prize draw. The game also includes a world map that features a live feed of players around the globe.

In another phyiscal translation of the campaign, the Meadham Kirchoff print is also wrapping two London taxis (also shown below) from November 26 for a week. Passengers jumping in for a ride will receive festive cakes from food blogger April Carter of Rhubarb & Rose, and another chance to win designer gifts from Farfetch.com.

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