Tag Archives: runway

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…

Twitter Mirror arrives at fashion week with Matthew Williamson

13 Feb

twittermirrorMatthew Williamson is introducing the Twitter Mirror backstage at its London Fashion Week show this season.

Already becoming a regular feature of events such as The Grammys, The Oscars and even NBA games, this is a tablet usually positioned off-stage that enables celebs to snap selfies and autopost them to the event in question’s Twitter feed.

This will be the first time it is used at a fashion week. Williamson will have it set up for models to interact with in the build up to Sunday’s show. Each shot will be placed in a bespoke frame by the designer that reflects the new autumn/winter 2014/15 collection and its inspiration.

According to the brand’s head of digital, Rosanna Falconer, the aim was to give fans of the brand access behind-the-scenes in much more of a natural way than ever before. In previous seasons, Williamson shows have seen Vine used to reveal the details of the collection in real-time. Without intending to be, the best ones have always been when the models wearing the looks have been a little cheeky.

“This time we wanted to strip away the camera and the photographer, so it was just the models left, and see what we ended up with,” said Falconer.

Vine will be used during the show itself, with three posts revealing key pieces in full narrative – from sketch, to beading and final look. The brand will also continue its #ohmw campaign, handing out props branded with the hashtag to encourage attendees to similarly tweet and Instagram photos of themselves.

Why Topshop is focusing on shoppers in-store with virtual reality #LFW experience

12 Feb

TopshopLFW_AW14_Inition

What’s interesting about Topshop’s digital plans for London Fashion Week this season, is its focus primarily on the store – on shoppers rather than showgoers.

The British retailer is partnering with a company called Inition to offer consumers a virtual reality experience from its Oxford Circus flagship. Specially commissioned Oculus Rift-based headsets will enable individuals to see its catwalk event taking place in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall on Sunday, February 16, through a 3D virtual world – from VIP arrivals and backstage sneak peeks, to the Unique collection show itself. The telepresence technology will make them feel as though the models are walking in front of their eyes, and the celebrities sat right beside them.

This is substantially more advanced than Burberry’s 3D streaming to customers in its stores in 2010. Wired has a great write-up explaining why: “Those wearing the [Inition] headsets – incorporating headphones and the Oculus Rift – will be able to see the live catwalk unfold if they look straight ahead on one virtual screen as well as the celebrities they are sitting ‘next to’, thanks to an 180-degree wide angle on the stream. If they look behind them at a second virtual screen they’ll get a view into the backstage area, where models will be having their hair and makeup done. If the wearer happens to look up, they will ascend into a higher level, where they will be able to see the rafters and a number of 360-degree images of, for example, celebrity selfies. All around the virtual screens and other elements, the environment has been designed to look like the Turbine Hall, with concrete and large girders.

“On top of the live stream will be built a number of animated elements that reflect the theme of decay that characterises the autumn/winter collection. So there will be leaves, flowers and crows that fly around on top of the space. Tweets using a specific hashtag will emerge in the virtual world as petals dropped by the virtual crows.”

Andy Millns, co-founder and creative director of Inition, said: “Virtual reality is the ultimate interface to the digital world with the power to transport the user to another place as soon as they put on a special display. This unique technology has the potential to open up fashion shows to the consumer at home and we believe this will be the first of many executions of this kind.”

Last season, Topshop partnered with Chirp, a start-up that enabled the sharing of content via sound. It was a cute idea, and was fun to play with for those who tried, but the truth is (according to those involved) it wasn’t all that successful. Very few people at the show actually downloaded the app you had to have, let alone then had it open ready to collect the specific sounds emitted as the show took place. The Chirp Garden hosted in the store was no doubt a smarter move in terms of engagement. That said, it led to content shared, rather than an immersive experience.

The headsets for this coming weekend, as abstract as they might look and feel to wear, go back to what opening up show access is really about: making consumers feel involved. And not just via the web or social media, but in the brand Mecca that is the flagship store. Topshop Oxford Circus is arguably one of the best global examples of this – a tourist destination, an immersive consumer experience, and a space that has played host to all sorts of other campaigns; a shoppable Pinterest wall, a series of talks and events for those interested in the industry, a Tweet Shop for Halloween and more.

The one downside with this virtual reality initiative of course is that it’s restricted to just a few. A competition is being held in the run up to Sunday’s show via social media, which will result in five winners who will be the first to experience it. The installation will then be available to further visitors – we presume those who sign up, or queue for it – on-demand, for three days.

But as mentioned, that’s only at the Oxford Circus location, and not any of the other 400+ Topshop stores – directly owned or otherwise – around the UK and the rest of the world.

And that’s part of the issue with in-store tech innovation at present. It’s a costly move, it’s also an experiment most of the time, so it tends to be limited to one place. This campaign specifically is quite a unique example, and undoubtedy one best suited to the flagship on the basis it’s the theatrical homeland of the brand. With most other initiatives, however, the technology – no matter how far away from being a gimmick it is – won’t become more than a PR story if the majority of consumers don’t ever get to see or experience it.

Topshop is referring to this virtual reality installation as not just transporting the viewer, but providing an insight into how we will consume media in the not so distant future. This fashion week, it’ll still largely be an exclusive experience, but the potential is there.

Tommy Hilfiger opens ‘social concierge’ service to 8 million+ followers for #NYFW

9 Feb

TommyHilfiger_spring14_socialconcierge

Tommy Hilfiger is opening up its social concierge initiative to its online following this fashion week season. First launched at its spring/summer 2014 show in September, this service enables users to request bespoke assets – pictures through to collection information – in real-time.

The aim is to provide immediate customised access to the collection and the show, in order to enable social media storytelling.

This was only offered to media and influencers physically in attendance in September, but Monday’s show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, will invite any of Tommy Hilfiger’s eight million followers on Facebook, 473,000 on Twitter and 155,000 on Instagram, as well as global media, to participate.

A staff of roughly 100 photographers – up from 30 in September – will be on hand to fulfil the personalised requests. They will be both on- and off-site, receiving requests via email and Twitter, and working to respond as quickly as possible.

“Efficiency is a top priority,” a spokesperson at the company told me. “Blink and the moment is over – media and consumers don’t want to wait to see coverage, and the social concierge facilitates that process.”

TommyHilfiger_socialconcierge2_fall14

While there’s no automation involved, it is perhaps inevitable many of the requests will be similar or the same, like a backstage make-up shot, or a picture of Tommy himself, maybe one of the model opening the show (last season Jourdan Dunn), or a detailed view of one of the pieces – therefore easing the load.

An image bank will be created accordingly for the team to draw from throughout the event, but they are also willing to gather more specific assets both backstage and front of house. Fans are actively encouraged to be as creative and original with their requests as they like. Last season saw bespoke deliveries ranging from a personal handwritten message from certain models to an image of Tommy with his thumbs up.

Avery Baker, CMO of the Tommy Hilfiger group, said: “This ‘beat-the-clock’ mentality is an important component of amplifying our brand message in the new digital age of fashion where coverage and commentary are happening in-the- moment before it’s on to the next!”

Tommy Hilfiger is also hosting a runway “Instameet”, inviting 20 local Instagrammers to join onsite on show day and receive a guided tour of the set, including backstage. The initiative is in collaboration with Brian Difeo (@bridif) and Anthony Danielle (@takinyerphoto), both influential New York Instagram users. The hashtags to follow include #tommyfall14 and #nyfwinstameet.

Digital snippets: Selfridges, Prada, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Asos, Lancôme, Valentino

24 Nov

A highlight of the top stories surrounding all things fashion and digital of late: 

Selfridges_drivethru

  • Drive-through Dior? Coming right up at Selfridges London [CN Traveler
  • Wes Anderson debuts latest Prada feature [Fashionotes
  • Victoria’s Secret creates 3D-printed angel wings for fashion models [Huffington Post
  • Gap rolls out “reserve in store” service [CNBC
  • Valentino jumps in on China’s high-tech runway revolution [JingDaily
  • Under Armour looks to take a bite out of FuelBand success with MapMyFitness acquisition [BrandChannel
  • Pinterest opens API to retail partners [TechCrunch
  • Google’s Eric Schmidt invests in retail tech designed to help personalisation and data measurement [WWD
  • Here’s why ‘The Internet of Things’ will be huge, and drive tremendous value for people and businesses [Business Insider
  • Why companies desperately need to make wearables cool [Wired
  • How brands get shoppers to volunteer their personal data: transparency and better experiences [PSFK
  • Social media drives less than 1% of shopping sessions, study says [Fashionista
  • Fashion retailers are still failing to optimise email marketing for mobile [Econsultancy
  • What retailers can learn from mobile commerce in the UK [Shop.org
  • 15 stats that show why click-and-collect is so important for retailers [Econsultancy

Note: Look out for a separate holiday-specific digital round-up later this week, featuring all the top retail campaign stories as well as insights into the biggest innovations being pushed for the festive season. 

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.”

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.

Chloé provides access and interaction in #PFW show experience

30 Sep

chloe_socialmedia

Chloé launched a dedicated microsite for its Paris Fashion Week show yesterday, providing followers with multiple camera views as well as personal moodboards.

It might not a big, digital innovation, but there’s a lot to be said for the fact the experience was one of the most seamless I’ve seen this season.

Importantly, the initiative ticked the boxes for pre- and post-content.

It kickstarted on September 24 with a series of teasers that could be shared across social media sites. They ranged from detailed images and animated GIFs to short videos and quotes from creative director Clare Waight Keller. A heavy focus was seen on the Baylee bag, telling its story from inspiration to runway.

Yesterday, viewers could then follow three different live cameras in the build-up to, and during, the show. They included guest arrivals outside the Lycée Carnot venue, backstage with the models, and on the runway itself. This all worked via mobile too.

As the event unfolded, so too did different albums under a moodboard header, including one for the collection looks, one for accessories, another for the guests, and one from backstage. Users could click on individual images and share them via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Weibo, or heart them to add them to their own personal moodboard page.

“[We] are excited to see how you direct your own Chloé show,” read the invite.

All in, the initiative was a progressive one for such a traditional Parisian brand. Let’s not forget, as suggested by Fashionista last week, this is access to what remains a rarefied world.

Some assets from Chloé are posted below, (top image via Elle UK).

photo 2 photo 4 Chloe_moodboardchloebackstage chloe_ss14

DVF to launch first shoppable Google+ Hangouts

26 Sep

GoogleHangouts_fashion

Google’s latest foray into the fashion space comes in the form of live shoppable experiences though the Google+ Hangouts on Air app.

Through a new partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, designers and retailers will be able to broadcast a multi-person video chat while offering viewers the ability to simultaneously browse and purchase products alongside. That functionality is seen in a right hand bar featuring key products, which it is assumed would line up to the content being discussed.

Designer Diane von Furstenberg (also CFDA president) will launch the feature on October 3 at 8pm EST. Using the tool as a form of personal styling, she will talk about three current trends with five of the brand’s biggest fans – selected especially for the occasion.

Lorraine Twohill, VP of global marketing at Google referred to the initiative as a “one of a kind shopping experience”.

Of course shoppable video at large is something that’s yet to be nailed by the industry, with reasons ranging from the technology that’s enabled it to happen, to the disconnect that is seen through the lean-back nature of video compared to lean-in side of shopping. On that basis however, there’s a lot to be said for engaging the consumer when they’re already thinking about the product (in this instance often the very reason they’re tuning in), and providing the easy ability for them to convert.

The experience marries up to Topshop’s Customise the Catwalk initiative in terms of being able to order straight from the runway through the live video being shown. The difference in this case of course is that the discussion surrounds current season. Rather than encouraging pre-orders, brands and retailers can offer live product; therefore capturing intent and delivering on it immediately.

Other brands set to participate shortly include rag & bone, Rebecca Minkoff, and Rachel Zoe. Google is particularly pushing the app’s relevance for the holiday period – retail’s most lucrative time of year, representing up to 40% of annual sales in 2012. It is calling for retailers to use it to “engage with consumers directly around key items or trends they want to highlight”.

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