“On Sunday, a New York Times article opened fire on Amazon’s work culture by detailing a workplace that divides worker against worker and treats the sick and bereaved with no empathy.”
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
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 &
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
The battle of the live-streaming apps has begun: joining residing champ Meerkat in the ring is Twitter’s new Periscope app, which launched last Thursday. And, though the current battle has the big news organisations all a-flutter, the war is going to be one to win the hearts (and phones) of the fashion world.
At first glance, both apps are largely similar: live-streaming video apps, which link to the user’s Twitter account to broadcast and watch video around the world. They also both allow streamers to comment on the broadcast, view how many other people are watching at the same time and indicate their approval with a like (Meerkat) or a <3 (Periscope). With such features clearly emulating the fashion show format – event, audience, and an invitation to admire – its easy to see how the services could be utilised come next fashion week.
In the age of social media, fashion weeks have been no stranger to the concept of the live-stream. Viewing the runway in real time has been made easy through the live-streaming feeds operated by brands themselves. The new live-streaming apps on the block could revolutionise this model, however, bringing greater personalisation into the viewer’s experience – why would you watch a stream from the brand itself, when your favourite blogger is FROW and you can see exactly what they’re seeing (not just the clothes, for instance, but the shoes that other audience members are wearing)? It could also provide a helping hand to smaller up-and-coming labels that don’t yet have the funds to produce slick live-streams themselves.
So which of the apps will take the lead next fashion month? Periscope is now Twitter’s one and only, having been purchased by the microblogging site in January for a mere $100 million. And, though its early days for the young app, word on the street is that the extra features are pegging it ahead of its (albeit cuter) rival. In fact, for co-founder Keyvon Beykpour, Periscope isn’t about live-streaming at all – with greater customisation, a sleeker look and less lag time, it’s a “teleportation product.” Aiming to get past Silicon Valley jargon, Twitter’s own Head of Planning David Wilding will be on hand at our London Summit, where he will be answering any questions that fashion brands might have on the potential of live-streaming apps for the shows of the future.
Reported by Claire Healy
As most schoolchildren are told from a young age, A stands for Apple; April, on the other hand, surely stands for the Apple Watch. The industry’s most hotly-anticipated wearable has been preceded by months of speculation – could it sell as well as the iPad on its launch? Will it provide a natural fit for fashion editorials? Now, on the eve of its launch, keen industry-watchers are looking to Baselworld (the watch industry’s international trade fair) for possible rivals. There, a crop of new announcements are proving themselves worthy contenders to the smart watch throne – one which, as we should remind ourselves, Apple hasn’t ascended to quite yet.
Coming from the other side of the bridge where technology meets luxury fashion, TAG Heuer have announced their plans this week to release a smart watch by this Christmas. In a significant move against Apple’s projected domination, the first smart watch from the world-famous Swiss watch brand will run on Google’s Android operating system – on a processor, moreover, created by keen wearables power player Intel. You’ll have to wait to find out more, though. At the Baselworld conference, chief executive Jean-Claude Biver told the crowd, “We don’t want the competition to know what we are going to do.”
Never easily dismissed, the irrepressible musician-turned-technologist will.i.am also announced a new partnership at Baselworld. KERING-owned Gucci, which recently changed hands from the Gianninis to Alessandro Michele, will also bring its timepieces into a new era through a collaboration with willi.i.am’s range of wearables.
For those of you still convinced that Apple’s the only brand that will get you telling the time more smartly, there’s not long to wait: the official release date is slated for UK stores on 24 April, but you’ll be able to order from the 10th. But if Baselworld is anything to go by, the smartwatch marketplace is about to get very interesting.
Writer: Claire Healy
Set to hit Kings Cross on May 20-21, our annual London Summit will feature speakers from both the technology-first and fashion-first sides of the industry: including Google, Matchesfashion.com, Farfetch and John Lewis. One of the companies that has been most eager for two worlds to collide is Amazon Fashion, whose European VP Sergio Bucher will be speaking at the Summit. Ahead of his appearance, we thought we’d give you an update on the fastest growing and most fashionable arm of the WWW’s most famous e-commerce site: then, now, and what’s coming next.
It was back in the 2000s that Amazon started making inroads into the fashion industry – jewellery and watches were available from 2007, with clothing following the year afterwards. Trying to emulate the booming success of sites like ASOS and NET-A-PORTER, Amazon Fashion worked as a subset of the site where customers could buy a range of mid-level brands – such as Kate Spade, and denim brands like 7 for All Mankind – in a format that resembled the rest of the site.
In 2015, Amazon’s big push into high-end fashion is well on its way. In 2012, Jeff Bezos told critics that Amazon was ready to make a significant investment in attracting high-end couture brands, a statement backed up by president of Amazon Fashion, Cathy Beaudoin. Taking its cues from its own acquired and/or launched retail websites (MyHabit, endless, zappos and Shopbop are all Amazon-owned), the team are promising better presentation for luxury goods. Notably, the team’s patent-pending technology assures that items can be placed on site just hours after being shot. 2015’s figures are bound to impress: that’s a cool 40 million customers, 1000s of brands and 1000 employees for the fastest-growing category at Amazon.
“When we think of what’s next, we think of ourselves”, Cathy Beaudoin told WWD in 2013. With a clearly engaged customer base, who more than responding to the site’s ease-of-use, are remaining loyal to the marketplace, Amazon Fashion looks like one to beat in the next few years. In fact, whether the high-end fashion brands ever take the bait seems less important – for Amazon, creating a better e-commerce experience for customers is always the number 1 consideration. But, more than using data to offer shoppers convenience and speed, will Amazon Fashion ever become a desirable destination for serious fashionistas? Sure to offer insight on the site’s future is Vice President of Amazon Fashion EU Sergio Bucher, who will be speaking at our May Summit.
Book your ticket for the London Summit here.
Reported by Claire Healy
How can retailers decode a world of customer data in today’s marketplace? This is just one of the questions that our 2015 London Summit will be asking when it hits Kings Cross on May 20-21. Targeting consumers’ needs across a multitude of channels has evidently become an urgent issue for fashion retailers in the last year, but knowing how to actively engage users through a personalized experience is easier said than done.
One attendee who will hope to clear the mist around using data for customer insights is Kelly Kowal, Global Growth Director at Farfetch.com. The high-end fashion website has increasingly stood out from the crowd for its advanced strategy in digital marketing. In a year that has seen Farfetch internationally expand into other markets, the company has continually invested in new campaigns and new data collection methods in order to fuel its growth. Just last week, Farfetch was pronounced a rare fashion ‘unicorn’, after raising $86 Million in a Series E round – valuing the company at a whopping $1 Billion.
With a marketplace model allowing users to browse globally and shop locally, the Farfetch customer can buy fashion through an aggregated basket from more than 1000 boutiques. And, with each of these boutiques using the Farfetch software module, sophisticated multi-channel merchandising is in the bag. Furthering the omnichannel experience, Farfetch bridges offline and online worlds by allowing customers who visit the bricks and mortar boutiques to get the VIP experience, receiving personal treatment and localized offers. You can even click-and-collect, as of the end of last year. It’s clear that for Farfetch, e-tailing facilitates multichannel success – but how does data play into all this? Find out from Kelly Kowal on May 20.
Want to hear more from Farfetch and other winners in ecommerce strategy? Book your spot at our London Summit now.
Reported by Claire Healy
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