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H&M’s Coachella 2015 collection

Now a major marriage of music and fashion, the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California – held over two consecutive weekends in April, 11/12 and 18/19 – renewed its reputation as a prime hotspot for retailers to seduce a relatively captive audience. Beyond the festival, too, retailers are remotely trading on the event’s buzz to boost sales before and during the festivities.

Pre-Event Momentum
US department store chain Nordstrom has launched an online and in-store temporary pop-in shop called Magic Hour selling festival-inspired goods including sunglasses, sandals, T-shirts and flasks. The product edit was curated by Nordstrom’s director of creative projects, Olivia Kim, who also commissioned an exclusive soundtrack, which is being streamed via the pop-up website. Luxury fashion e-tailer Net-a-Porter has also launched a Coachella hub collection of festival-ready items.

Anywhere Retailing
California-based fashion e-tailer Revolve Clothing is offering same-day shipping to the festival. Website and mobile orders (mobile sales now constitute approximately 15% of Revolve Clothing’s total turnover) made before noon are being delivered by vans to the site and the surrounding area.

Instagram Moments
Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M, which is an official sponsor of the event, is hosting a tent equipped with a 360-degree mirrored selfie station for taking and sending the now-ubiquitous self-portraits via social media; an ‘aura camera’, billed as capturing the user’s aura colours (the electromagnetic fields that surround the human body); and the chance to try out Oculus virtual reality headsets – immersive gaming technology capable of virtually transporting users to other environments.

Three weeks before the event H&M also launched the first fashion collection to be officially co-branded with the festival, online and in stores globally.

French beauty retailer Sephora is hosting a do-it-yourself make-up bar with its private-label beauty brand, together with a vending machine that dispenses free products to people that post images to Instagram with the hashtag: #SephoraCoachella.

Mag-Tail Pop-Ups
Following a successful pop-up at the 2014 event, the US edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine is hosting another ShopBAZAAR pop-up retail experience at Coachella. For the initial weekend US lifestyle website Popsugar is partnering with multi-brand e-commerce site ShopStyle for a three-day takeover of the Avalon Hotel (in neighbouring Palm Springs) to offer styling experiences with US designers Mara Hoffman and Cynthia Vincent, flower crown making, a braid bar, make-up station, and custom screen printings.

Guest post Stylus.com by Alison Gough, Editor & Katie Baron, Head of Retail

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 Stylus.com by Samantha Fox, EditorKatie Baron, Head of Retail