Weekly Stories

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Bright-New-Things
Image source: Selfridges

For the 2016 edition of its annual Bright New Things (BNT) talent showcase, British department store Selfridges has collaborated with London’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion to promote the most exciting new names in sustainable fashion.

Now in its eighth year, the brand offers mentorship to all nine participants, plus a £30k ($43k) bursary to just one winner, announced at the project finale at the end of February 2016. Their work is currently being showcased in hidden pop-ups throughout the store, as well as the main Oxford Street windows.

Notably, Selfridges has chosen not to group all of the designers in one space under the umbrella of sustainability. Dispersing them throughout the store instead allows consumers to discover them on their own merit, as they would any other brand. However, for those keen to track the initiative, a printed map at each pop-up spot directs visitors to the others, like a treasure hunt.

Beyond the BNT programme, 30 established sustainability-focused brands, such as Swedish denim brand Nudie Jeans, are also flagged up. The nine BNT designers are also reflected in a dedicated section on Selfridge’s e-commerce site, including a surreal fashion film by London-based fashion filmmaker Marie Schuller that reimagines the BNT products.

Selfridges’ topical, activist stance shrewdly caters to a growing consumer appetite for eco-ethical consumption. Indeed, 76% of UK adults alone now pay attention to the ethical/green credentials of products, including manufacturing and distribution processes, as well as the reputation of companies or brands (Mintel, 2015).

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie BaronStefanie Dorfer

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - The Rapha Vault
Image source: The Rapha Vault, East London

Granting cyclists the opportunity to test kit pre-purchase, British brand Rapha has unveiled a climate-controlled room at its second London Cycle Club (flagship), based in Old Spitalfields Market, east London.

The Rapha Vault – located in the basement of the warehouse-style store – allows consumers to test the fit and functionality of the brand’s sports gear on a static bike in wind speeds of up to 50kph, and temperatures ranging from 0 to 30 degrees centigrade. Hourly sessions are free, but must be booked in advance.

The Vault adds another string to Rapha’s hybridised bow. As with its other global flagships, the Spitalfields destination is a major meeting place for cycling fans, and includes a café with multiple screens showing key races and cycle-themed content, plus an exhibition/events space.

The UK remains a prime destination for Rapha, where its road bikes have seen their strongest growth over the past year (up 4.2% in 2015). One in three Britons are now cyclists – 49% of which are millennials (Mintel, 2015).

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie BaronStefanie Dorfer

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Burberry Apple TV Us
Image source: Burberry

The most-liked Instagram post of 2015 featured Kendall Jenner lying on the floor with her hair shaped into hearts, wearing a lace gown by Zuhair Murad. In fact, much of Jenner’s success in cracking the fashion industry can be credited to the social media following she has amassed as part of a growing pack of ‘Insta-models.’

As our increasingly digitised society sees print media sales drop year after year, traditional advertising campaigns are falling flat, fast. Today’s fashion-hungry consumer digests everything through technology – be it by reading fashion blogs, shopping online, or monitoring Jenner’s style on Instagram. So how is this changing the way that fashion brands communicate?

On January 11, Burberry launched its own Apple TV channel by using the platform to stream its A/W 16-17 menswear show. For a brand that has famously embraced new technology, it’s an obvious next step. However, Burberry will not be offering in-app purchases – instead, the channel will be used for marketing purposes, live-streaming the heritage brand’s runway shows and giving fans access to beauty tutorials, archived runway footage and exclusive sessions with British musicians.

Last weekend, J.W. Anderson’s decision to exclusively live-stream his A/W 16-17 show on gay dating app Grindr raised a few eyebrows across the fashion community. Grindr users received a secret code on the day of the show to gain access, while those who missed it were able to watch an edited recording afterwards. The young British designer dubbed his decision to partner with the app a “no-brainer”, telling the New York Times: “I think fashion is a sexy platform as well, ultimately.”

This week also sees the announcement that Diesel, under the artistic direction of Nicola Formichetti, has also taken to dating apps to flaunt its wares. The Italian label will be advertising its new underwear range this spring on Grindr and Tinder, as well as websites Pornhub and YouPorn.

While J.W. Anderson may be the first to live-stream a runway show on Grindr, Diesel will become the first to advertise on the dating app. “I want to go where people are,” Formichetti told i-D magazine. “Tinder, Grindr and Pornhub might appear a little left field, but it’s Diesel – we can do it, we’re not scared of these places.” With Pornhub being the 64th most-visited website in the world and Tinder sitting at number 72 in the App Store’s top free app chart, Formichetti might be on to something – perhaps 2016 will be the year that fashion takes on dating apps.

Finally, of course, there’s Instagram, which was once dubbed by Eva Chen, the company’s head of fashion partnerships, as the “water cooler” of the fashion community. Brands like Michael Kors, designers like Olivier Rousteing and models like Gigi Hadid have built up huge followings on the social media platform – but it has also created a democratisation of fashion, giving new designers and tastemakers the potential to broadcast to anyone, anywhere.

Now, some brands are pushing Instagram’s potential even further, with exclusive fashion shows, ‘Insta-shoots’, and behind-the-scenes access from the likes of DKNY and Misha Nonoo. This week, Saint Laurent finally joined Instagram (@YSL). When a brand helmed by someone as elusive as Hedi Slimane jumps on the social media bandwagon, it’s certainly a sign of the times.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - CES 2016 Trends
Image source: The Associated Press

The new year ushers in a whole host of tech innovations, and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week offered up a slew of exciting projects that could change the shape of fashion and retail as we know it. As smartwatches grow smarter and the humble mirror gets an overhaul, we round up some of the most exciting trends from CES 2016.

Smartwatches

Unsurprisingly, smartwatches were one of the biggest trends at this year’s CES. While many brands made the fatal error of producing smartwatches with no aesthetic appeal, some managed to get it right.

  • Samsung announced two new versions of its Gear S2 Classic watch, in both platinum and 18k rose-gold finishes, adding a new, luxurious feel that will certainly attract fashion-conscious buyers. Due for release next month, the new Gear S2 also boasts NFC technology suitable for Samsung Pay.
  • Fossil’s new Q54 Pilot watch also adopts a ‘traditional’ watch appearance, making it look less intimidating and more stylish. Inspired by vintage aviation design, the Q54 Pilot may look like a smart analogue watch, but it packs a punch with an array of features powered by Intel Innovation connectivity.

Fitness Tech

In an increasingly health-conscious society (partly fuelled by the abundance of wellness-focused apps), fitness tech was another key trend.

  • One product generating a lot of buzz was Under Armour’s HealthBox, which incorporates three devices – a fitness band, wi-fi-enabled scales and a heart-rate monitor – into one kit, retailing at $400. It’s a bold move for the fitness brand, which, up until now, has only produced sportswear and footwear.
  • Meanwhile, Fitbit’s new watch, the Fitbit Blaze, was presented as a new rival to the Apple Watch. With its five-day battery life, three exercise-specific modes and a built-in library of workouts, the Blaze seems the obvious choice for those seeking to get the most out of a fitness tracker.

Magic Mirrors

We’ve seen tech-enabled mirrors before, but with more of them on display at CES, many retailers may now be reconsidering their worth.

  • The Memoni Memory Mirror – which has been trialled for over a year – uses Intel RealSense technology to allow users to try on and change the colour of clothing without actually going into the fitting room.
  • Elsewhere, the ModiFace Mirror enables users to try on an array of cosmetics and experiment with new beauty looks by simply taking a photo of themselves, with no actual make-up required. ModiFace’s existing clients include L’Oreal, so we predict it’s only a matter of time before the ModiFace mirror hits the big-name beauty counters.

Redefining Retail

From extensive displays of contactless-payment-enabled devices to MasterCard’s presentation of e-commerce start-ups, there were plenty of retail innovations at CES this year. The most interesting products on offer, however, were those clever projects that aimed to enhance the existing bricks-and-mortar experience, rather than just add to it or change it entirely.

  • One such example is ZipLine, which aims to tackle one of the consumer’s biggest nightmares: queuing. ZipLine’s technology uses in-store infrared body-heat sensors and a dedicated app to enable smartphone users to find out how many people are in a particular queue, and how quickly that line is moving. This alleviates shopping stress by enabling users to head for the fastest-moving queue.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - UV Patch
Image source: L’Oréal

French beauty giant L’Oréal has developed a smart skin patch that monitors exposure to ultraviolet rays. The innovative beauty solution was unveiled at consumer technology show CES in Las Vegas this week.

My UV Patch is transparent, flexible, and thinner than a plaster. The stick-on wearable is infused with photosensitive blue dye that changes colour when exposed to UV rays. Wearers can then take a photo of the patch and upload it to an app for a full assessment.

The patch lasts for up to five days and can be worn anywhere on the body that’s exposed to the sun, making it ideal for use on vacations. Developed by L’Oréal’s US-based technology incubator, My UV Patch will launch under its sensitive skin brand La Roche Posay later this year, and will be available in 16 countries.

Generating much buzz at CES, it’s also worth looking back at recent developments in the suncare market – notably Spinali Design’s tech-enabled bikini. The launch of My UV Patch also confirms the trend towards more holistic, hassle-free ways of protecting the skin from the sun.

Guest post Stylus.com by Alice Leebur

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Modiface
Image source: PSFK

US virtual technologist ModiFace has unveiled an augmented reality mirror at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. The touchscreen mirror simulates the effects of make-up, skincare, teeth whitening and anti-ageing products in high definition for a more realistic try-before-you-buy shopping experience.

An updated version of its 2014 concept the mirror uses advanced tracking technology to capture consumers’ facial features in 3D in real-time – allowing them to virtually try on cosmetics by selecting shades from a sidebar menu, or simply changing their facial expression. For example, they can change their lipstick just by puckering their mouth, or try a different eyeshadow by raising their brows.

The mirror can also stream live video tutorials, allowing users to follow step-by-step make-up tips – potentially allowing brands to broadcast from the shop floor itself.

he technology is immediately available for retailers to use in-store as well as on mobile apps. Brands already signed up to collaborate on the project include French beauty giant L’Oreal, Irish pharmaceutical company Allergan, and US beauty brand Jane Iredale.

Guest post Stylus.com by Marta PodeszwaKatie Baron

Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Nike 45 Grand
Image source: Nike 45 Grand, Soho

To promote its new advanced performance apparel range for women, Nike has opened an ultra tricked-out showroom and fitness studio in New York called 45 Grand – a reference to its SoHo address. All events and services are by personal appointment only, rendering it more covert club than sports shop.

Located in an overhauled former metal shop, the initiative is aimed at the city’s key influencers (press, celebrities, fashion/sportswear buyers and stylists) as well as the brand’s Nike Plus members. These ultra-fit consumers are highly engaged with its digital services, such as Nike+ Training Club, Fuel and running apps.

Designed by NY/London-based Rafael de Cardenas in collaboration with NY-based art director and fashion publicist Jen Brill, the minimal, club-like space offers a distinctly serious yet luxury take on fitness for women. Featuring lots of personalisation and try-before-you-buy experiences, a laboratory-style reception area and tiered seating/stage area surrounded by mirrors overlooking the gym signals a space that means business. Meanwhile, the soft, sci-fi styling of the private lounge on the mezzanine level – with pink banquettes, wooden herringbone flooring and hexagonal gold box tables – serves as a more relaxed meeting space.

Pushing the personal touch, guests are invited to have a gait analysis and to both preview and test the new products during a bespoke personalised training with a Nike coach (who also personalises their apps) – bringing remote digital concepts to life. Individualised welcome messages are displayed on digital panels on lockers, and guests can also join live expert classes.

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie Baron & Stefanie Dorfer

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Topshop Wearables
Image source: Digital Trends

With Apple seemingly determined to push the Apple Watch into fashion territory by collaborating with the likes of Hermès, it would be easy to think that wearables are only set to rise in the ranks of the fashion world. Thus far, however, most attempts at ‘stylish’ wearables have fallen flat, with common complaints being that they’re too gimmicky, impractical or simply unattractive. But in a new partnership with Barclaycard’s bPay, Topshop has created a line of accessories that utilise contactless payment technology and – most crucially to the style-savvy consumer – look current, fun and unassuming all at the same time.

The collection of small accessories, which includes smartphone cases, key rings and wristbands, each contain a bPay contactless chip. This is linked to the owner’s bPay digital wallet, meaning they can securely pay for items by just tapping their accessory on a contactless payment system.

It’s the design values that make this fashion-tech collaboration so appealing: instead of overcomplicating the tech elements (which seems to be a one-way route to gimmickry), Topshop and bPay have focused on creating a product that appears markedly non-tech-like. Those who consider items like the Apple Watch to be unattractive or out of their price range could easily be swayed by the unobtrusive nature of a colourful Topshop x bPay phone case, sticker or key ring. Perhaps the best way to lure the aesthetically minded into the world of wearables is to make them a bit less wearable.

In an industry that tends to see high-end brands dictating trends to the high street – the lower end of the fashion food chain – it’s interesting to see Topshop approaching the relatively unchartered territory of wearables, demonstrating more savvy than many luxury labels. Perhaps the high-street giant’s main demographic, the younger generation, is the main reason Topshop has got it so right.

However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen wearables designed for the fashion-oriented. Topshop’s gimmick-free accessories are in a similar vein to the NFC-enabled jewellery showcased on Henry Holland’s S/S 16 runway, which he reportedly designed with a “vain, fashion-conscious customer” in mind. “We’re at the stage where [wearables have their] own kind of recognisable look,” he told Wareable.com. “People have been turned off by it.”

Taking non-recognisable wearables to a whole new level, though, is Project Jacquard. Set to release its first lines in spring 2016, this brainchild of Levi’s and Google uses smart textiles – but not as we know them. The products are created with conductive yarns, which, once interwoven with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton and polyester, make for decidedly ‘normal’-looking fabrics.

Meanwhile, Kovert Designs’ jewellery pieces are wearables with a difference, designed to give users a digital detox. Kovert’s founder Kate Unsworth describes the smart jewellery as a “modern-day pager”, devised to eliminate the urge to check one’s phone notifications constantly, and instead just be notified about the incoming messages, calls and updates that actually matter. Kovert’s pieces resemble costume jewellery but are far from gaudy – these are beautifully designed items that could easily be worn from day-to-day without losing their appeal.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - The New Stand
Image source: WWD

Based in New York’s bustling Union Square station, innovative retail concept The New Stand is providing commuters with convenience-based products, news, video content and digital deals that change on a daily basis. The move caters to modern consumers’ expectations of constant refreshes of information and inspiration.

Capitalising on the station’s daily flow of 150,000 visitors, the diminutive 150 sq ft concept aims to bring the ubiquitous subway newsstand into the modern era. It still serves print news and magazines from its moveable modular fixtures, but also provides content from media partners including Time Inc. and Broadly (media group Vice’s ‘women’s interest’ channel) via its accompanying app.

Furthering the relationship between content and product, chief executive Andrew Deitchman says the content on the app will eventually help to inform product choices, effectively rendering the concept a walk-in “shoppable magazine”.

Focused on utility and context, the store is stocked with modern takes on ‘essentials’ including cold-pressed juices, Help Remedies pharmaceuticals, Yeti Yoga Mats and Sir Richard’s Condoms. It will also offer contextual deals to app ‘members’, such as free promotional or discounted umbrellas when it’s raining.

A second, 300 sq ft location is due to open in luxury shopping centre Brookfield Place in downtown Manhattan next spring.

Guest post Stylus.com by Alison Gough & Katie Baron

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Metail X Glamour
Image source: Glamour

Fashion tech start-up Metail has partnered with British Glamour Magazine to create a truly immersive online editorial fashion experience, which enables users to create 3D models of themselves in order to virtually try on clothing.

Accessible on smartphones, tablets and desktops, Glamour’s Metail collab site asks visitors to enter just three simple measurements – height, weight and bra size – before they are given estimates (which are fully adjustable) of their hip and waist measurements. After these details have been clarified, Metail’s technology generates a virtual version of the user’s body, dubbed a MeModel, which aims to depict how clothes viewed online would really look off-screen on the user’s body.

Users also have the option to personalise their MeModel even further by changing the skin tone or choosing whether its hair should be worn up or down. According to Metail, MeModels are 92-96% accurate to a user’s specific size.

For the collaboration, Metail and Glamour curated a clothing collection based on Gossip Girl character Serena Van Der Woodsen, who quickly became a style icon when the show first aired in 2007. Tom Adeyoola, CEO and founder of Metail, says of the partnership: “It’s exciting to be at the forefront of the online print industry by giving readers the opportunity to try on the stylist’s choice picks from high fashion to high-street stores on their own figures.”

Metail launched in February 2012 with the aim of increasing consumer confidence in buying clothing online. While the collaboration with Glamour is its first publishing partnership in Europe, the British tech start-up is no stranger to the fashion industry, having secured contracts with the likes of Evans, House of Holland, Clothing at Tesco and Little Mistress.

With its entertaining, interactive and simple interface, Metail shows potential to change the way women shop online by eliminating fashion e-tail’s Achilles heel: the inability to try before you buy.

Reported by Grace Howard

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