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On May 20-21, the world’s most forward-looking innovators, disruptors and brands – all of whom are connecting the dots between fashion and technology – descended on Kings Cross in London for Decoded Fashion’s annual Summit. Couldn’t make it? No fear – we’ve revisited the panels, roundtables, tweets and conversations to compile some of the best nuggets of advice and surprising facts from the event.

Audio technologies are less of a man’s world than you’d think

“Sixty-five per cent of music accessories are bought by women,” revealed Anna Perelman, co-founder and CEO of Stelle Audio when telling her start-up story. Her talk was a great example of the role innovative businesses can play in debunking myths surrounding both fashion and technology.

3D printing is the future of reducing fashion wastefulness

Responding to the shocking fact that 10% of all produced clothes end up in landfills, Knyttan uses “technology in a way that is appropriate” said Ben Alun-Jones, co-founder of the personalised, 3D-printed fashion brand based in Somerset House. “We’re at a point with manufacturing right now where we can unlock individuality.”

Believe the hype – YouTubers have the power in the social media age

YouTube’s Katie Jenkins revealed that only a tiny portion of fashion videos on YouTube come directly from brands – just 6%! In contrast, “1 in 3 millennials in the US purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video”, she revealed. “To find the sweet spot for your brand, think like a YouTuber.”

Social media has a saturation level – even for the young

At his keynote speech on day one of the summit, British design icon Hussein Chalayan identified technology as the driving force of industry change. Admitting the significance of social media in connecting consumers with brands – and their celebrity contingent – he also discussed how it might be time to slow down. “Social media is the language of a younger generation,” he said, adding that there might be an information saturation at the same time.

Smart watches aren’t going to monopolise the wearable tech market

Mike Butcher, editor-at-large at TechCrunch, spoke candidly about the reality of the wearable tech market at the summit. Appearing on stage with Richard Chen (Ceyuan Ventures), Doug Gardner (River Island) and John Vary (John Lewis), he revealed that the smart watch will only make up 35% of the wearable technology market – so there’s still a huge gap for innovation in other areas of the industry (and the body).

Reported by Claire Healy

Speaking candidly on day one of the 2015 Decoded Fashion London Summit, Hussein Chalayan explored technology’s ability to connect brands with consumers in more meaningful ways, the effect of FOMO (fear of missing out) on fashion consumption, and the growth of slow fashion.

During his keynote speech yesterday at Decoded’s fashion and technology conference, the influential British designer noted how, thanks to social media and the immediacy of digital technology, designers can reach wide audiences faster and in more meaningful ways than previously thought possible.

“Technology is actually an ideal form of communication for fashion designers, who often, and understandably, prefer to communicate non-verbally,” he said. “In the traditional sense, many fashion designers are not that articulate.”

Chalayan, who is known for his creative use of tech in his fashion collections, sees technology as the key driver for true innovation in the industry. “Fashion is a regurgitation of before,” he said. “You are judged on how you combine and curate elements and how you present them. I think of technology as the only tool you have to truly do new things.”

The designer also spoke of social media’s role in fostering the connection between consumers and celebrities – noting that the upcoming collaboration between Swedish high-street retailer H&M and French fashion house Balmain has as much to do with creative director Olivier Rousteing’s 1.1 million Instagram followers as it does with the label’s clout. “It’s a unifying force,” he said. “It’s about knowing and feeling the same as other people.”

Chalayan also discussed his belief that there is likely to be a backlash against the pressure caused by FOMO in fashion. “If people don’t have the latest thing that retailers tell them they need, they feel like they miss out,” said Chalayan. Katie Baron, head of Retail at Stylus, also discussed the topic of FOMO (a phenomenon catalysed by social media) and how shrewd luxury brands are deliberately tapping it to drip-feed information to consumers. This states their need for constant information, but without the inherent damage of speeding up production times. For more on this, see Virtual Added Value.

As part of that backlash against the need for instant fashion gratification, Chalayan sees himself as a producer of slow fashion. “Definitely like ‘slow food’, it’s happening – this is the way it needs to go,” he said, before elaborating on his desire for passion and craftsmanship, and a consumer who is educated and considered about their purchases.

Guest post by Lisa Payne

ASOS YouTube Channel

The biggest wearable tech launch of the year starts delivering – to those keen enough to have put in their pre-orders already – from tomorrow. One brand that will be hoping for some fashion lovers among those lucky few owners is ASOS, who this week announced more details of their app release on the watch.

As the release and accompanying video revealed, the app’s focus is to deliver a personalised experience for dedicated ASOS shoppers: recommending personalised products according to your habits, or letting you know when an item comes back in stock. It will also use Apple’s ‘Handoff’ feature to allow customers to save an item in their basket on the watch, then easily jump to a mobile or desktop device later on.

The move is the latest of ASOS’ investments in technology that the e-tailer hopes will keep it ahead of the curve. In recent times, the online marketplace has been accused of falling behind when it comes to their technology and logistics – other retailers have caught up when it comes to seamless, high-speed delivery worldwide. But they have continually re-assessed their strategy, and the play for the Apple Watch has arrived at the tail-end of a year of the ASOS Ventures programme. ASOS Ventures is the retailer’s start-up programme, designed to help find the best technology to solve their existing business problems – such as the amount of returns it receives.

Daniel Bobroff, ASOS’ Investment Director, will be moderating a dedicated panel discussion on the subject of out-of-the-box thinking in retail at the Decoded Fashion London Summit. Taking place on 21 May, the conversation will cover everything from the use of big data insights to evolve your brand, to the development of more personalised online services such as that provided by the ASOS Apple Watch app. Investing in the right technology is Bobroff’s forte – find out what’s coming up next for the e-tailer on the 21st.

Reported by Claire Healy

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In the race to synthesise fashion retail and technology, the consumer can get forgotten in the fray. Retailers’ investment in technology can often feel gimmicky, whether you’re browsing the racks or clicking through a targeted advertisement. In one of Molly Young’s Critical Shopper columns for the New York Times, she visits Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo store, with its vending machine wall interface – describing the chaos that could ensue when ordering a coffee. Brands should push the boundaries when it comes to implementing technologies, but they need to address consumer needs in a useful way. In this respect, Minkoff’s adjustable dressing room lights are what will bring shoppers back.

At our London Summit, you will find a panel on this very topic – how to achieve tech in retail that goes beyond the gimmicky, and actually addresses the consumer’s needs. In today’s fast-paced retail world, being able to pick the right technology for your brand is key to delivering amazing, and long-lasting, ROI. This can mean taking a gamble on technologies that are somewhat under the radar – after all, who would have predicted the rise of in person Click & Collect as a result of online shopping? It’s just one trend that asserts the importance of Bricks & Mortar that works in tandem with digital spaces. Our panel will address all this, as well as highlight a newer technologies that is likely to make waves in an increasing number of retail stores soon: beacons technology.

On hand to discuss these emerging technologies in the retail space will be four experts who have taken interesting approaches to how they’ve incorporated technology into their omnichannel strategy. From the traditional high street-turned-digital players, we will hear from River Island’s Doug Gardner and John Lewis’s John Vary. Harvey Nichols’ multi-Channel Director Sandrine Deveaux will also be revealing how she applied her tech background to turn a London-based department store steeped in tradition into a leading online fashion destination.

Catch the panel discussion on 20 May to discover how our experts believe fashion can get a grip on technology while keeping the consumer a priority – no gimmicks allowed.
Book your ticket for the London Summit here

Reported by Claire Healy

Trading on social media to attract millennial consumers, British footwear brand Clarks is tapping popular instant messaging service WhatsApp for a multimedia campaign celebrating the 65th anniversary of its iconic desert boot.

Dubbed ‘From Rats to Rudeboys’, the campaign launches on April 13. Messages containing images, videos and playlists will be sent directly to WhatsApp users who have opted in to the initiative, having been prompted by teaser films currently being posted on Clarks’ social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter. To gain access to the material, users simply add an 11-digit number to their in-app contacts list. On sign-up, they will also be sent an additional video introducing late British designer and founder of the Clarks desert boot, Nathan Clark.

The main focus of the material is to explain the brand’s affiliation with key cultural, music and style movements of the past 65 years, such as the birth of dancehall music in Jamaica in the 70s, and the 60s UK mod scene (see also Fred Perry Store Harnesses Heritage and Music Meets Retail). However, there will also be content from three contemporary creatives: British reggae historian and former mod Steve Barrow (known for wearing sharp tweed suits with his desert boots), French photographer Bruno Barbey (whose photos of riots in Paris in 1968 show students wearing Clarks shoes), and Jah Stitch, Jamaican musician and member of 70s Kingston gang, The Spanglers.

As part of a wider mission to elevate consumer perception of the brand, in June 2015, Clarks will also unveil an interactive digital piece at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, dubbed Clarks Unboxed. It forms part of the museum’s summer exhibition, Shoes: Pleasure & Pain, which examines the cultural significance of shoes.

Guest post by Samantha Fox, EditorKatie Baron, Head of Retail


When it comes to global luxury groups, it can be hard to see past the endless sparring between the industry’s biggest players, KERING and LVMH. But with the burst of digital making its presence felt from East to West, the current marketplace is more open than you might think. Today, a number of newer groups are vying for attention – and, with some big acquisitions and unique strategy under their belts, 2015 could be the year you hear less from KERING and LVMH and more from some of the following names.

First Heritage Brands Limited Paris

Headed up by Jean-Marc Loubier, First Heritage Brands is the investment arm of the Fung group which oversees shoemaker Robert Clergerie and luxury leather brand Delvaux. The aim, for the Hong Kong based Fung Group, was to invest in established European luxury houses in need of a boost – and, in tandem, to develop their international potential back home in China. First Heritage was behind the recently relaunched Sonia Rykiel, with its new artistic director and fresh look.

Cheil Industries Fashion Division Seoul

Seoul-based Cheil Industries might have a domestic focus, but that’s no reason to underestimate this leading investor. At the helm is Lee Seo-Hyun, the daughter of Samsung’s chairman and powerful, Parsons school-educated businesswoman in her own right. South Korean brands to watch under the Cheil umbrella include Juun J, Beanpole and 8 Seconds, while the recently acquired Italian crocodile handbag house Colombo Via Della Spiga demonstrates the group’s international ambitions.


Famous for its portfolio of iconic British luxury brands, Labelux was integrated into the JAB Holding Company in July 2014. Originally founded in 2007, the progressive group boasts well-known lifestyle brands rooted in leather goods and accessories – think Jimmy Choo, Bally, Belstaff and Zagliani.

Come May, Labelux Group Multichannel Director Harriet Williams and Bally’s Global eCommerce Director, Kirsty Garrish will be speaking at our London Summit about omnichannel strategy – to find out how seamlessly blur digital and retail, catch their talk on the 20th.


Do you shop at Zalando? The retailer sells branded shoes and clothing to 15 European countries, and is the continent’s largest online fashion retailer. After a well-documented struggle last year, the online powerhouse is back on top: just last month, it reported its first full-year profit, leading to a sale of 17.9 million shares that are now trading 13 percent higher than their listing price. The share sale will increase liquidity in the stock, and boost chances for the Berlin-based retailer to join Germany’s MDAX index. But what’s next for Amazon Fashion’s European cousin?

It might be hard to believe now that Zalando sells 1500 brands to more than 13.5 million customers, but it was born as a start-up selling flip-flops. As the company grew bigger, comparisons have been consistently made with Asos. However, While both are Europe-based and sell other brands, the similarities probably end there – Zalando’s done everything bigger, including having twice as many customers, nearly twice as many brands and nearly three times as many products. But is bigger always necessarily better?

Zalando went public in October 2014 last year, joining other fashion retailers in making the move to the stock exchange in recent times (see: Boohoo, and soon, after merging with Yoox, Net-a-Porter). So what is it about Zalando that means it has come to turn a profit? Other than offering a huge range of products for a portion of online shoppers who want a one-stop shop for everything, the retailer also has an extremely highly rated shopping app in their roster (an unusual feat, even in today’s online-first retail world). Promising to make the experience of buying fashion even easier, the app includes neat features like street style photo inspiration, a barcode scanner to compare prices with items on high street, and an in-app parcel tracker.

To hear more from Zalando, be sure to attend our London Summit – on May 21, the retailer’s Head of Mobile Apps Christian Drehkopf will be in conversation with Jemima Kiss (The Guardian) and Daniel Murray (Grabble) to discuss how mobile strategy could be fashion’s big gamechanger.

Reported by Claire Healy

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