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Two major trends stood out at this year’s South by Southwest, Engagement and Relevance and here’s the lowdown on how they will impact brands in 2015.

1 – Engagement, the new storytelling

More than ever, fashion at SXSW is in search of meaning. Style and lifestyle no longer suffice. Brands arise that operate from the belief that fashion is more than representation. The increasingly dominant generation of millennials does not only consist of customers, but also brings forward designers and marketeers, and they are developing a new breed of brands.

The same language

These new brands are associated with concepts such as sustainability, self-expression and mindfulness. Entirely in accordance with the worldview of millennials this is a natural belief that goes without saying. This engagement doesn’t need to be emphasised all the time.

Hidden message

Look at the luxury brand Maiyet, Founder and creative director Kristy Caylor seemingly effortlessly combines a distinct style with traditional elements, sustainable sourcing and collaboration with craftsmanship from countries like India, Indonesia and Kenya. “Buying a two thousand dollar handbag is always about self indulgence.” she says. “We don’t have to wave a flag on sustainability. Millennials are getting it.”

Agile consumer

The previous generation, Generation X, thinks in extremes and sees no credible middle ground between charity or sustainability on the one hand and commerciality on the other. The millennial is much more agile and expects brands to be very commercial and intrinsically socially engaged at the same time.

Less for more

In the wider market this movement of awareness is also visible. In the middle and high fashion segments in the US, a slight decrease in the sales numbers is being reported (1% was mentioned), but people actually spent more (reportedly 5%). Established luxury brands play into this by creating more understated designs and marketing. They are forced to go back to their roots of craftsmanship and eye for detail, conveying their real value much better. Think back to the decision of Louis Vuitton to largely ban the famous monogram from their products.

From the heart

Even mainstream brands are slowly moving along, take high street favourite H&M’s 7 commitments (such as care for fashion conscious customers and selecting and rewarding responsible partners) begin to be credible and contribute to the already strong reasons to buying at H&M.

Fair share

To be clear, we’re not talking about an assumed identity. This conviction comes from within. As the next example, take Cuyana [http://www.cuyana.com/], a young brand from San Francisco. Founder Karla Gallardo explains that their motto is ‘Fewer, better items’ and that they recently started the ‘Lean closet movement’. Customers who choose ‘lean shipping’ at checkout receive a reusable bag that they can fill up with items that they don’t wear so much anymore. The items are sent to non-profit partners who make sure that the garments are delivered to people who really need them. The philosophy of Cuyana is about awareness and promotes, as they call it, intentional buying.

SXSW featured many brands with a similar mindset, and who certainly made it clear only authenticity survives. Check out The Real Real, Stelle Audio, Red Bubble and Repack.

2 Creating relevance: right place, right time, the right message

Consumers in 2015 aren’t either click or brick. They’re all over the place. They wake up with their smartphone (60% of Americans pick up their phone literally as the first thing they do every day) and they go to bed with it. From their laptop, they ‘like’ one of your posts on Facebook, to their afternoon of shopping in town before crashing on their couch in the evening with their tablet (30%). And when they’re in your bricks & mortar store they order your products using their phone (over 10%!). Because: why would you go stand in a long line at the checkout if you can order online immediately?

Channel chaos?

The word loyalty is hardly known by consumers these days. Confidence boosts the urge to discover and everything is just a click away. Google provides extreme transparency that even the luxury brands have to cope with. Customers want to buy quickly, easily and where and when it suits them.

Targeted content

How do you deal with that as a brand? How do you attract attention? A frequently heard solution at SXSW is personalisation: providing targeted content in the right place at the right time. Relevance, panelists say, is the only way to stand out for your busy customers.

Who, what, where

Big Data – knowing what your customers do, where they are, what they want – was a hot topic during SXSW this year. Big names such as ASOS, Topshop, Birchbox, Lincoln, etc. use the term. But it’s not entirely clear what brands are just flirting with the concept, and who is seriously doing good business with it.

Emotional connection

But knowing what customers do, where they are, what they want is just the start.

The brands that stand out, offer more than this, using inspirational content to reach customers on a personal level and provide an experience (check out the launch of Lincoln in China).

2015 will see the death of the segregated channels. A sale is a sale. Everyone in your organization has to contribute to it, no matter where and how that sale is made. In 2020, 80 percent of the world’s population will own a smartphone that is always online. New marketing will be commonplace: Big Data will have become BD, Internet of Things will be known as IOT. We’ll go from ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘bricks and mobile’. Offline retail? That will cease to exist.

 Guestpost by Louise Roose and Pieter Jongerius, Fabrique

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“Mobility—from the familiar smartphone to the more esoteric drone-based crop health analysis technology—was the common denominator at this year’s SXSW conference, and was the dominant theme among finalists of the prestigious SXSW Accelerator competition.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  Mobility x SXSW
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“Perhaps it’s quite telling that at every retail-connected event at South by Southwest Interactive this year there were queues piling out of the door and down the corridor, and you ccouldn’t even get into some sessions.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  SXSW Interactive x Retail
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“Geeks, techies and innovators rejoice: It’s that glorious time of year again, when South by Southwest’s Interactive conference unites startups, bright minds and tech industry leaders to examine the most groundbreaking trends impacting our modern world. Some of the planet’s most forward-thinking technology companies embrace SXSWi as a showcase and testing ground each year, and 2015 is no exception.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  SXSW x Tech Trends

stylecollage

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW Interactive on March 13-17 – in the run-up, we’ll be posting content that gives you a sneak peek of what to expect: including panel sessions, special events and the return of our Mentorship Hub.

Hitting SXSW Interactive over the long weekend? The Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub should be your first stop: there, you’ll find top execs and creatives from the fashion, retail and beauty world ready to share their expert knowledge and coach startup founders on growing their business. SXstyle, taking place at the JW Marriott Hotel, has plenty more to pique your interest. Get the lowdown on SXSW’s most stylish arm with our essential guide – from screenings to talks, here’s the best of the rest.

The Emperor’s New…Wearables?

This panel will thrash out the notion of devices that will disappear altogether in years to come. Speakers including Brandon Little (CCO, Fossil) and Sandra Lopez (Intel) will discuss how big industry players will make wearable electronics feel increasingly invisible.

(Friday March 13, 12.30pm)

Is there still room for Fashion Blogging?

This panel is inspired by last year’s New York Magazine article by influential fashion critic Robin Givhan, which asked whether the influence of the noughties’ fashion guerrillas is waning in a post-digital age. Presented by Caroline Waxler, founder of Harkness Hall, this talk will explore what’s next for bloggers – how can they stay relevant in a crowded blogosphere?

(Tuesday March 17, 11.00am)

T H E U N S E E N

Taking place at the Austin Convention Centre, this interactive talk and demo session showcase the work of Material Alchemist Lauren Bowker and her team of anatomists, engineers and chemists. Their world aims to collide couture luxury products and science in unforeseen ways – including a recent, color-changing AIR collection. Perfect for those who want to check out the vanguard of material design.

(Monday March 16, 12.30pm)

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

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“SXSW Interactive includes more than 800 total sessions as well as dozens and dozens of competitions, exhibits, and networking events. This scale of programming means that identifying big-picture trends can be challenging. But every year, a handful of topics that gain more buzz, more discussion and more media attention than others do tend to separate themselves from the pack. Read below for the 10 trends that we feel will gain the most traction this March in Austin.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - SXSW

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SXSW Interactive is almost here! In the run-up for the festival on March 13-17, it’s time to take a moment to sign up for our special events, featuring new hot startups as well as established brands. And most involve a cocktail or two.

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW this year with the goal to bring the tech networking experience back to face-to-face interaction. Our Mentorship Hub, supported by Simon and Swarovski, will bring together industry gamechangers and those just starting out in 10-minute mentorship meetings.

And if you meet 10 rising stars in the Fashion + Tech space, register to attend the event on Friday presenting the winners of Simon’s startup competition, followed by Decoded Fashion’s Networking Party. Our global #DFMeetup series lands in Austin to help you mingle with the biggest names in fashion & Tech.

Saturday is content day – with five sessions to pick from at the JW Marriott Hotel. We’ll start the day talking about disruption in brands with HFarm, one the largest startup incubators in Europe, John Lewis, a retailer innovating through R&D, hacks and startup collaboration and our own Liz Bacelar, creator of the world’s first fashion hackathon. Also, don’t miss the ‘Meet the New Retail Disruptors’ showcase at 2pm, discussing the most innovative tech in retail – what matters and what doesn’t.

After all that mingling you might be ready for a digital detox. On Sunday, March 15, the suited and booted guys over at menswear start-up Combatant Gentlemen will be around to show you their innovative design-to-delivery model firsthand – along with a complementary massage.

On Monday, March 16 at 2pm, Cortexica, an industry leader in image recognition and Visual Search Technology, will be on hand to demonstrate their algorithmic findSimilar™ technology – and explain why it’s set to change the future of shopping. To end the day on the more style-focussed end of the spectrum is globally feted jewellery designer Kendra Scott, will be showcasing her new jewellery collection on a living garden wall at 5pm.

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

Image: SXSW 2014

Kovert

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW Interactive on March 13-17 – in the run-up, we’ll be posting content that gives you a sneak peek of what to expect: including panel sessions, special events and the return of our Mentorship Hub.

Decoded Fashion’s Fashion Hacked Exhibit at SXSW Interactive will showcase the most exciting wearables and design concepts set to hack your world in 2015. As this year’s exhibitors demonstrate, the burgeoning trend for fashion-first wearables – with uncomplicated claims to functionality – shows no sign of slowing. After watches and fitness trackers, here’s the best of the rest at our exhibition: combining looking good and feeling good like never before.

Kovert

A Decoded Fashion favourite for a while now, Kovert Designs is the Kate Unsworth-founded design house that wants you to put down your technology and concentrate on other things. No, really – their new Altruis range aims to make social media less obtrusive by subtly filtering notifications into super stylish bracelets, rings and necklaces.

Stellé Audio

The perfect union of sound and style, Stellé Audio’s Mini-Clutch Speaker is boldly going where no wearable accessory has really gone before – handbags. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, speakerphone and clutch all-in-one: perfect for carrying your on-the-go essentials, making hands-free phone calls and having impromptu parties.

Thinx

We love a brand that uses technological innovation to do social good, and Thinx is the latest startup that aims to do just that. For every pair sold of this smart underwear – that endures over time through anti-microbial, moisture-wicking and stain resistant layers – a girl in the developing world will be provided with seven washable, reusable cloth pads that help her stay in school.

Kapture Audio

Perfect for musicians, mums, or just friends catching up over drinks, Kapture is the wristband that saves the audible moments around you with a single tap. It even captures audio snippets after the fact – so the moment isn’t interrupted.

Cuff

Cuff is the most desirable-looking smart accessories line on the market right now, tapping into an authentic, boho aesthetic without sacrificing on tech functionality. There’s a style for everyone and every need: whether you want to track your activity, never miss a call or text again, or even, in a unique offering, feel safe in the city with a built-in safety tracker in case of emergency.

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

 

Kairos

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW Interactive on March 13-17 – in the run-up, we’ll be posting content that gives you a sneak peek of what to expect: including panel sessions, special events and the return of our Mentorship Hub.

The Fashion Hacked exhibit is Decoded Fashion’s showcase of the best of the new generation of functional design: whether that’s wearables that resemble investment jewellery, or groundbreaking redesigns of existing concepts. The selection will display the most innovative of the fashion-meets-tech brands and startups on the scene today. Beginning with the exploding quantified ‘self’ sector – such as watches and active wear – here’s the first part of our rundown of those need-to-know names.

RXactive

RXActive makes innovative activewear with integrated resistance bands – designed to push your body to its limits and get way more out of your workouts. Plus, the founding team are medical students – so you can trust they know what they’re talking about.

Movo

A new fitness band on the block, the sleek-looking Movo Wave stands out for two reasons: the functionality of its tracking system that includes connectivity to your Camera Roll to further chronicle the day’s movements, and the ultra-accessible price at just $29.99.

Olive

The quantified self is all well and good, but what about a wearable that helps you relax? Olive is a good-looking bracelet that combines tailored intelligence and on-the-go seamless functionality that, together, help you take small steps to conquer stress and recognize when you’re feeling your best.

Kairos

The Kairos T-band isn’t even an entire wearable – in fact, it’s just the strap. By attaching to traditional watch faces, the T-band adds smart functionality to your favourite accessory – perfect for those who want all the benefits of the wearables revolution without changing up their usual style.

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

Decoded Fashion SXSW March 13-17, 2015
Image source: Decoded Fashion

January’s finally over, which means just one thing: its now just over a month until Decoded Fashion hits SXSW. As a partner of the festival’s brand new lifestyle hub, SXstyle, we will be setting up base camp at the JW Marriott over the 5 days of SXSW Interactive. There, you can expect to find panel sessions, special events, an exhibit, and of course networking opportunities aplenty. Be sure to save the date: a full day of programming is scheduled for Saturday March 14. But ahead of all that, there’s no time like the present to get involved with our Mentorship Hub and Future of Retail Competition.

Calling all startups and emerging designers: the Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub, in partnership with Swarovski, will bring the biggest names of the fashion and retail industry to our Austin hub. But this time around, rather than listening to advice from the stage, you can get up close and personalised advice in a face-to-face meeting. Each of our mentors will offer 10-minute sessions to advise and give feedback for those starting out in the industry: from advice on pricing, value prop, messaging and anything else you might need insights on. Book a mentor now, and you could find yourself in a meeting with the top names in digital strategy, marketing and investment at Google, Michael Kors, Kate Spade Saturday, Estee Lauder, Diesel and more.

Time’s also running out to apply for Decoded Fashion and Simon’s The Future of Retail: Meet the Disruptors competition: our contest, hosted by the Simon Venture Group, that aims to find the new and innovative start-ups that are shaping the future of retail. The prize? $5000 and mentorship by SVG, as well as $1000 cash prize for the start-up that the audience votes their favourite. If you’re a company that’s making waves in in-store tech, wearables, e-commerce, personalisation, data analytics, delivery, mobile payments – or a combination of any of the above – be sure to apply by February 20th.

Reported by Claire Healy