The Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition is targetted at a socially savvy Millennial luxe crowd with its 13 rooms and storytelling, immersive phygital experience.
It’s free to attend and a must-visit in London until 16 October 2015.
By now Burberry fans will have probably watched the pre-show Snapchat Live Stories where behind-the-scenes moments are captured – working that SS16 lace fabric and final runway styling decisions. If not, there’s still time before these films disappear (24 hours only) and before the live action starts at 1pm on Monday 21st September 2015. Search Burberry on Snapchat Discover to follow the coverage.
Last season we saw hippy vibes, fringing and a riot of colour, for spring we know about the lace, but what else is in-store? Catch the livestream show here from 1pm.
As digital activity around fashion week becomes arguably more important that the physical shows, the fashion industry is acclimatising itself for a Fashion Month where Insta-shows, influencer-clicks and on-demand eyeballs are the new goals.
Livestream or be damned
Now that livestreaming has become commonplace and you may as well watch your favourite show at home out of the rain (in London), the focus has shifted to livestreaming with the added bonus of tracking followers. After Periscope burst onto the scene in March this year, and Burberry, then Dunhill, Belstaff and Marc Jacobs have all used the Twitter owned-platform to beam shows, backstage tidbits or Q&As to live global audiences, the industry is changing its mind about the question of exclusivity.
‘Periscope allows true consumer access to the best in fashion month,’ Tank magazine fashion director Caroline Issa tells Forbes magazine in an interview. ‘It means a wonderful inclusion and access to what was [once] truly exclusive – it’s a step closer to the action.’
#FashionUnfiltered is the buzzword of the season according to Periscope’s marketing team, who have witnessed the channel’s popularity with the fashion industry go through the roof. ‘Now Periscope is changing the digital landscape,’ says David Wilding, Twitter’s head of planning. ‘It’s a broadcast app that makes whatever you are doing live to all your followers. We are always thinking about how fashion brands can include fans into content. Now that’s possible live and immediately on Periscope,’ says Wilding.
Ralph Lauren and Hunter Original are leading the Periscope action for SS16 in New York and London respectively. While Ralph Lauren’s show yesterday showed it’s possible to target both fashion cities at once, via its dual Periscope presence – live and direct from the brand’s show held in Manhattan’s Skylight Clarkson Square simultaneously beamed to anyone in the vicinity of a giant screen in London’s Piccadilly Circus (below) – it is also worth pointing out that should their followers be inspired to shop, they can of course pop into nearby flagship stores in each city. But digital reach is clearly front of mind for EVP of global marketing David Lauren, who told WWD: “There are the [estimated] two million or so people passing through Piccadilly each week, and very few of them probably expected a front row seat to New York Fashion Week.”
Hunter Original continues its association with backing new music talent, and following in Burberry’s footsteps (the first fashion brand to partner with Apple’s new streaming platform for its show on Monday), it is leveraging the live aspect of Periscope by offering coverage of gigs from bands on Hunter Original’s radar in the run up to tomorrow’s show. The brand plans to continue giving access via Periscope to its choice of music acts ahead of a busy festival season into 2016. I like this type of nurturing brand behavior that also chimes with its brand DNA.
While it wasn’t on Periscope, Givenchy (below) underscored the new inclusive point of view by presenting its SS16 show in New York instead of Paris. Reaching a bigger audience was the goal, with a mega show that was opened up to the general public on the anniversary of 9/11, bolstered by the associated symbolism of artist Marina Abramovic’s spiritual set design, not to mention the celebration of Riccardo Tisci’s decade-long tenure at the house. This show encapsulated the idea that shows are now a living, breathing brand statement to be shared around the world for all to see. This emotive event has surely kick-started a sea-change where digital reach is now more important than physical attendance.
Meanwhile, Burberry is again pushing the digital envelope with a pre-live show built into its live show this LFW season. The British luxury brand is upping the social platform action via a new partnership with Snapchat (below), that will air finishing touches being made to key collection looks on the millennial channel of choice 24 hours before the official Burberry show and then disappear. While Snapchat’s 100m users are being targeted in this campaign, the use of ephemeral, teasing backstage show imagery is the currency of the Snapchat generation and gives Burberry a longer social conversation, ahead of its key LFW show slot.
Influencers are the new editors
Thanks to the influencer nature of Instagram, brands are now using the platform to host insta-shows instead of physical shows, with the aim of reaching editors and consumers alike.
New York designer Misha Nonoo chose an Insta-show (top) instead of her usual presentation after a meeting with Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg that inspired Nonoo to make the most of ‘this amazing visual storytelling platform” and the way it allows designers to interact directly with their customers. The ‘show’ took place last week, during NYFW and while her followers on a dedicated Instagram could flip their mobiles to see a continual flow of all Nonoo’s 21 looks (and immediately pre-order via the designer’s website), there was the extra interactivity layer from Nonoo’s female fan base. Entrepreneurial women from the arts, political and business worlds – including entrepreneur Linda Rodin, Sara Mears of the New York City Ballet and political consultant Audrey Gelman – responded to Nonoo’s call out to style themselves in her clothes and post images to their Instagram accounts at the same time as her show. With their combined followers of +7m on the platform and Nonoo’s pioneering attitude to experimenting with the show format, this feels like a pivotal moment.
British designer Zoë Jordan is another designer using a digital-only show format this season, courtesy of PR and production agency KCD’s new Digital Fashion Shows. Jordan showed her SS16 collection first during NYFW and will repeat the show during LFW’s digital schedule on Sunday at 10.30 via a screen in London’s Golden Square. ‘I’ve seen a lot of brands taking a step to a more all embracing show model this season…it felt important to invite the public to be part of it,’ says Jordan. ‘I layer digital with physical – a virtual show is complemented by a physical showroom, and this melding of disciplines feels right for my brand.’
It’s clear that Instagram is increasingly becoming the go-to visual portal for behind the scenes storytelling. In New York both Proenza Schouler and new DKNY creative directors Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborn of Public School fame, have offered followers exclusive tidbits and a highly curated window into their creative worlds.
While the Proenza Schouler visual essay project (below) was to coincide with the new AW15 deliveries and was drip fed over five days via the brand’s account, the DKNY exercise was intended to set the tone of voice for a new era at the brand. Since her appointment as fashion director at Instagram over the summer, Eva Chen certainly seems to be leaning into an inclusive new fashion remit at the platform, that the fashion industry can’t get enough of.
Colour me up
With its usual pre-LFW fanfare, Topshop has launched a new democratic digital initiative, which aims to utilise its customers’ colour preferences gathered from fashion week images on Pinterest. The exclusive partnership called Pinterest Palettes allows users in the UK and the US to create colour-driven mood boards based on their favourite fashion week designers or street style stars.
As with previous seasons, Topshop is again taking a ‘phygital’ approach to its LFW campaign by straddling both online and in-store customer interaction. Pinterest Palette services will be available in the Oxford Circus, London store where a dedicated pop-up on the lower ground floor will host colour-themed personal shopping appointments and daily colour-themed AW15 merchandise on display. The campaign runs throughout fashion month, until the close of Paris on October 7.
What does it all mean?
If Periscope is the new video, then Instagram is the new form of print – certainly in terms of visual culture. And as far as fashion weeks go, they are now an inclusive, widely democratic affair where digital reach and influencer clicks are the watchwords for success.
The London edition of Decoded Fashion’s summit was held over two days last month and saw industry speakers and panelists discuss topical themes such as technology’s role in-store, retail 3.0, social selling and the power of personalization in a mobile-first digital landscape.
In-store tech: gimmick or UX?
The argument for interactive technology in-stores is increasingly important for retailers that want to both impress and engage consumers on a digital path to purchase. ‘We are still a stores business, so digital is now becoming seamless with retail,’ says Kate Walmsley, digital director Topshop. ‘People talk about UX (user experience) on mobile or tablets, I’m more concerned with the UX in-store,’ she says, adding that Topshop’s recruitment process is increasingly focused on people with half digital, half fashion skills.
FarFetch fosters a seamless stores-to-customer digital experience. ‘We channel UX across our network of stores,’ says Kelly Kowal, global growth director.
‘We want to be truly global in our digital communications, we are starting to think about live streaming localised content through all our social channels in real time in-stores,’ says James Wintle, CTO All Saints. All Saints collaborated with Google in 2014 to ensure the whole company was digitally integrated, explained in this Youtube video.
ROI for the use of innovation labs and no-holds barred blue-sky thinking around technology selling tools was hotly debated at the summit. ‘Playing around with how tech might work in-store is important to recognise if it’s a gimmick or not,’ says John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewis. ‘We created Room Y, where there are no barriers, the team can think by making,’ says Vary who adds one of the team’s recent projects to be tested in-store has been a digital tool for its Any Shape, Any Fabric sofa service, using 3D printing and RFID tags to aid customers making a sofa colour or style choice.
After investing in its ‘connected changing room’ concept in 2014 at new store locations in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong, Rebecca Minkoff has seen a sales uptick. ‘30% of customers who use the service are selecting items they didn’t pick out on their first tour around the store and we’re selling 2.5 times more than we thought we would. We’ve had phenomenal learnings from the integrated technology, it’s not gimmicky,’ says co-founder Uri Minkoff.
Minkoff says brand communications can be hyper localized via the integrated content management system in each store, where where RFID tags track every garment and each customer has a store visit history. ‘We can be relevant by geographical content on the screens, we can serve up great assets per store,’ he says.
Minkoff wants to use the brand’s proprietry store technology to address challenges such as: identifying a more personalised conversion funnel, disrupting its supply chain, facilitating a more convenient shopping experience in-store either by self-scanning products, or just to stop customers self-aborting their purchases. ‘We call it Retail 3.0 others have called it dressing room therapy,’ he adds.
Amazon is preparing to up its game as an online fashion destination.
This summer the e-commerce giant will open one of the largest (46,000sq ft) photographic studios in Europe – purely for its fashion content output.
‘We don’t want to create the world’s largest outlet centre online, so we have to think about selling fashion differently to say media or consumer electronics or food,’ says Sergio Bucher, VP Amazon Fashion EU, adding: ‘we are already one of the top 10 fashion companies in the world, in 2014 we sold 2m fashion items a week.’
For Amazon, future innovations are in ‘silent tech: stuff the consumer doesn’t see, tech that helps us deliver what our customer wants, when they want it,’ says Bucher, who’s goals are to focus on selection, convenience and price. He says the high return rate of between 40-60% in Europe, is a necessary cost the company is willing to bear. But it is addressing these market conditions with complex predictive shopping algorithms. ‘We have recently launched fit reviews for products where we are crowdsourcing accurate fit information. Anything over 50 answers is deemed useful. Or Amazon has started suggesting products based on previous and similar customer profile purchases, where there have been no returns. Here Amazon is using its vast data to reach a probable purchase scenario. When you have 26m items available, you have a lot of customer behaviours to mine,’ explains Bucher.
Returns are a necessary cost for online retailers, but according to Joel Freeman, co-founder of the Tinder-like shopping app Grabble, the bedroom is the new changing room. Freeman says mobile is for younger customers and lower purchases. ‘Its easy to click and buy on your mobile device. Mobile is for snackable content when there’s low risk for pressing the buy button. If you’re spending four figures, you are more likely to use a desktop,’ he adds.
A one-click purchasing experience is becoming increasingly important, especially to impatient millennials. For Grabble, Freeman says it’s about making it as easy as possible. ‘We have a new payment app launching this summer – it’s modeled on Uber. People don’t like to tap words and numbers into their mobile devices but they are happy to just click,’ he says, adding future platforms will have payment details stored for convenience and a more seamless click to purchase experience.
Christian Drehkopf, head of mobile apps at Zalando is watching how messaging apps are emerging as a multi-channel that integrates across both social networks and commerce. ‘Mobile is now about convergence. It’s about engagement at different times of the day. Instant chat apps such as Facebook Messenger are going to be important new channels for marketeers. Developers are building commerce into messages as a new layer, because you can get hold of that customer more regularly – up to 16 times per day. Mobile is an amazing multichannel tool to connect the digital and offline store environments,’ he adds.
Finery London was launched as a true branded retail experience online, says Caren Downie, brand director. ‘You can attract people through organic word of mouth. Advocacy among the right target market is crucial,’ she says. Adding another layer of offline experience was key for an unknown brand. ‘It’s about that initial engagement with the brand, our customers need to understand the quality of the fabrics and the fit, so Finery London’s fitting room pop-up was crucial to drive engagement and then encourage people to get back online to order,’ she says.
Luxury’s digital awakening
For the CTO of MatchesFashion.com, ensuring the company’s website was both totally global and fully mobile optimized was an integral part of the brand’s omnichannel journey. ‘There are no differences between reading our content on desktop or mobile devices, says Sam Lowe. ‘It’s seamless and we have moved to being a globally scalable ecommerce platform with merchandising and payment systems working in tandem so that we can track every single product at any time.’
The editorial, buying, digital and engineering teams all think globally and act locally and apply that thinking to the look of the website for each geographical region. ‘It’s a continuum of how local you can be, for example they produce seasonal trend content around categories and ensure it’s locally relevant, per region,’ he says. ‘By being a global business, online is growing faster than physical stores, however with all sales now done via devices in-store and often delivered at home, the boundaries between the two are blurred,’ says Lowe.
Luxury brands have been blind to the opportunity of e-commerce, says Harriet Williams, group multi-channel director of JAB Luxury, who came on board just as L2, the New York based digital research unit, ranked one of the group’s key brands (Bally) as ‘digitally challenged’ in 2013.
‘From a brand point of view, the most important initial consumer interaction is a brand website. One of the most predominant behaviours is to research online then go into store to purchase. 90% of luxury brands don’t have a reserve online and collect in store service, we are learning from luxury department stores, who have been much better at integrating the digital and retail experience in-store.
‘Since 2013 we have been integrating our online and offline offers. Now customers can order online anywhere and purchases will be fulfilled from stores instead of warehouses. Now omnichannel is happening across the group’s portfolio of brands including Jimmy Choo, Belstaff and Bally.
‘Mobile is very important for us – 50% of our online traffic comes from mobile devices,’ says Williams. ‘All our brands have responsive mobile websites, this is the way people shop and the way forward. Integrating content and commerce via detailed ‘how to get the look’ and shoppable look books has also led to more engagement from email marketing, where we get 70% of traffic,’ says Williams.
JAB Luxury is also pursuing a virtual retail approach to the digital shopping experience. ‘Customers can use Google Maps to shop our stores virtually. For example at Jimmy Choo’s bridal boutique, or Bally’s made to order and monogramming services,’ says Williams. ‘By launching with a minimal viable product we can get speed to market and create an experience from the technology, online is more than just about driving the conversion rates.’
Real time social feeds
Twitter’s real-time experience is turning into a live one, courtesy of new app Periscope. ‘Now Periscope is changing the landscape,’ says David Wilding, Twitter’s head of planning. ‘It’s a broadcast app that makes whatever you are doing live to all your followers. It has huge potential for fashion weeks or events.’ He gives the example of Davina McCall (TV presenter) giving a live red carpet commentary on Periscope for the BAFTA TV awards earlier this year. ‘Think about how fashion brands can include fans into content – now possible live and immediately on Periscope,’ says Wilding.
Early adopting brands have jumped onto Periscope to experiment with content for followers. For example, Urban Outfitters has broadcast live bands in-store via Periscope feeds and social media influencers including Tom Green and Eliza Licht have taken to promoting their respective latest film/book with live Q&As. Burberry was the first fashion brand to live stream a show on the platform, when it travelled to Los Angeles for its recent womenswear show.
According to the same research, 56% of users say Twitter gives them access to influencers, while 47% of fashion and beauty fans buy from their favourite brands through Twitter.
YouTube can be a useful brand activation social tool where followers of the platform’s growing roster of beauty, fashion, fitness, food and DIY personalities are driving sales. ‘Video influences purchase in real time,’ says Katie Jenkins, industry manager, fashion, luxury and beauty, who adds one in three users say they’ve bought something from a how to video.
‘It’s a very competitive landscape with key fashion and beauty influencers including Zoella, Pixie Woo and Tanja Burr dictating new consumer behaviours. Brands can learn their language and see new selling techniques via regular video updates. Fashion and beauty fans want their questions answered, they want authenticity and they want real life role models – they get all these things on YouTube.
Net-a-Porter’s new social shopping app, The NetSet is a democratic approach to luxury, mixing a highly engaged social community of global fashionistas with user generated trends and visual search data. ‘Everyone can have a social shopping experience on the NetSet,’ says Sarah Watson, Net-a-Porter’s VP social commerce. ‘The more you contribute to the platform, the more you get out of it, it’s a pyramid approach, we want people to talk about all the content they are creating and to foster new connections. We’re not looking for mass, this is niche commerce, our KPIs are based around engagement, we hope it will inspire people to find new fashion inspiration and shop via the app.’
* An edited version of this report first appeared on LS:N Global (sub required).
Fashion industry chiefs, creatives and media socialites gathered earlier this month for the inaugural WGSN Creative Futures event, held in London over two-days to join the dots between creativity and commerce. Key themes included: phygital media, retail disruption, real-time social feeds and the important of experience by design. Here are my top six takeaways.
1. Entertainment is the new retail
Storytelling has become a key component of the Kate Spade brand equity. ‘Walking into a Kate Spade store is an experience,’ says Kristen Naiman, VP brand creative for the brand. ‘In comparison to shopping online you have to bring your brand to life as a living, breathing brand experience,’ she says.
But, the act of storytelling has to be holistic and true to the brand. ‘There’s been a shift in storytelling – moving away from just heritage to being more cohesive, bringing conversations to both on and offline,’ says Naiman. Now the customer has become a character in the story and she’s had a surge of autonomy. ‘It’s about telling the story in a universal way, so that people can relate to it and see themselves as that heroine. The true value of digital means now people can identify with a brand vision,’ says Naiman.
Kate Spade has taken on humour with its series of films featuring Anna Kendrick. ‘They tell the story of our brand with the central character as a mad cap heroine; women like Carrie Bradshaw, who came to NYC to find themselves,’ says Naiman.
Core customer service is at the heart of the brand experience in-store, says Lou Ashton, head of digital for Topshop. ‘There’s always a base level of brand experience to the customer when they visit our stores – the UX (user experience) is a high priority,’ says Ashton. For Topshop’s partnership with virtual reality specialists Inition during LFW in Feb 2014, the show was very much how we approach digital, says Ashton. ‘The Oculus Rift partnership showed how much we want to democratize fashion week for our audience. Virtual reality (VR) does have a place in retail, as an idea to start off something magical. We want to go to that crazy place, and work backwards to see if it can be sustained in the store,’ she says.
VR is likely to have a place in the store of the future. ‘We’re thinking about how that virtual shopping world could work in our locations. We like to be first with tech, experiment with it, and then make it more relevant commercially.
2. Phygital magazines provide a new seamless digital content experience
Tank magazine’s publisher Caroline Issa unpacked how the magazine world is turning phygital. Her mobile scanning app, Fashion Scan brings content on print pages to life with added layers of content, video and interviews. ‘ I want to integrate the physical and digital worlds of fashion magazines in the way oil mixes with ink – we live in an age of melting boundaries,’ she says.
After launching Tank 10 years ago, Issa launched the seasonal Because Magazine three years ago in conjunction with the Fashion Scan app as an experiment. ‘It’s like a pop-up book for grown ups where fashion shoots and ads are digitally enabled and content plays on your device,’ she says. The fashion app scans and recognizes current ads and acts as a diving board for the user to view further video content for each luxury or designer campaign. ‘Video and still campaigns can act in harmony together,’ she adds.
The luxury industry was slow to react to digital progress, especially in the traditionally print advertising medium. ‘It took grass roots momentum such as street style photography and blogs such as The Sartorialist or Tommy Ton, to up the scale of interactive content across magazines and their growing online platforms,’ says Issa. Mobile is the dominant platform now. ‘According to a 2014 KPCB report, video sharing on mobile devices is up 22% year on year and over the last 10 years, mobile and tablet sales have far outstripped desktops. I am in no doubt, the future of digital is mobile,’ she says.
Augmented reality, especially in advertising, hasn’t had a great response yet, it can be too gimmicky, says Issa. But it can work well as an extra layer of editorial. She cites a recent collaboration with Lush Kitchen as a good example of how layered, augmented content can provide a great boost to the storytelling behind a campaign. ‘Fashion Scan allows multiple touch points of content from each page. We have analytics to prove spikes in engagement and clicks that lead to sales online when specific products are mentioned. Our readers return to pages to scan content again and again up to six weeks after their first scan – prolonging the shelf life of the magazine and the ads inside,’ she explains.
Jefferson Hack, co-founder Another Magazine was the first publisher to produce a full LCD screen cover on a magazine. Explaining how he did it, along side the ‘go-to man of Silicon Valley’ Liam Casey of PCH, Hack says he almost gave up after nine months of research and just before he met Casey. The story of the cover video is that it has to be short agree Hack and Casey. ‘Readers have short attention spans, so you have to hold onto that aha moment, you don’t deviate too far from the immediacy of capturing someone’s attention. Rhianna made this work, she’s not just a cover model, she’s a performer, she can move and capture your attention,’ says Hack.
‘There is a prototyping renaissance happening in tech hardware right now. This type of interactive magazine opens doors for publishers to experiment with commerce, exploding the limitations of print and digital,’ says Hack, who adds he’s now looking at R&D in screen tech, ‘thinner and flexible screens are the way forward.’
3. Content to commerce is driving a new circular online retail landscape.
Amazon is a cold company when it comes to customer service. That’s the internal, accepted view according to Stephen Uren, creative director Europe. ‘Customers don’t mind that Amazon is quite a cold company, we’re not warm the way we talk to people, the UX is not great,’ he says. Now Amazon wants to understand who its customers are, in much more depth. ‘We are getting more editorial all the time. We want to talk to our customers. You can’t just be about product all the time,’ he says. ‘We are always looking at how consumer attitudes to shopping online are changing – they are evolving and becoming much more discerning.
Amazon wants to change from being a high-convenience brand to a high-fidelity shopping brand according to Uren. There are certain artisanal products on Amazon Fashion that have not surfaced yet, he says. ‘We don’t have the right tools to show them. It needs to be a much more curated and tailored shopping experience than it is now,’ he adds.
There’s a huge amount of convergence between publishing, e-tailing and retailing says Melissa Dick, new content director at Conde Nast e-commerce and past editorial director at ASOS. ‘It’s easier for retailers to produce content that it is for publishers to become retailers,’ she says. For Stylebop it was easier to invest in content than not. ‘Its less harmful to the brand, if it doesn’t work you can just start again, you can’t say that about holding stock or investing in merchandise,’ says fashion director, Leila Yavari.
Publishers have a responsibility to produce insightful content to capture the reader’s imagination. ‘The role of publisher is to understand your customer and to give them the confidence they need, through whatever content vertical you have available,’ says Dick. ‘That’s the same role for a retailer, understanding their customers’ needs and what they might want to consume next season.’ Yavari defines Stylebop’s editorial content strategy around the seasonal buy. ‘We need to create a message that is a luxury aspirational environment. If you don’t’ have a store then you can create the brand personality through the content.’
The brands that communicate well with their audience will be the content successes of the future, ‘the minute you slap a conversion table on your editorial team will be the minute you fail,’ says Dick. ‘Magazines have started with integrity – many editors are brand ambassadors or influencers now too – so retail brands need to have a similar approach, it’s the same principal,’ agrees Yavari.
Every publisher needs to think about new revenue streams in today’s crowded marketplace. ‘It might be entertainment, it might be experience,’ says Dick. ‘Publishers are looking into experiential platforms, they have amazing brands (eg Vogue Festival). Partnerships of publishers and brands will grow, we will start to see more hybrid platforms,’ she says.
4. Real-time social feeds win the connected consumer’s scroll time
Twitter’s real-time feeds and access to insiders are driving engagement, especially around key fashion events, according to the social platform’s sales lead, Georgina Parnell. ‘We’ve seen huge growth in the way people consume fashion content on Twitter around fashion weeks and events such as the Met Gala. Dedicated hashtags such as #LFW or #MetGala drive conversations. Brands have opportunities from all that passion bubbling,’ she says.
With 54m ‘I want, I need’ tweets per month – there is automatic activation around purchases. According to Twitter’s own research, users are 3.2 times more likely to feel up to date for fashion events. Twitter is real time and consumers love that behind the scenes perspective, says Parnell. She cites recent examples as the detailed multi-photo images from backstage at Matthew Williamson’s show or Burberry’s exclusive #Tweetcam content in real time from its LFW show, when the brand’s exclusive filters for personalized tweets felt very special for the users who participated.
Again during LFW, Topshop partnered with Twitter for a focus on real-time retail trends. When Topshop took live Twitter data from the dedicated #LiveTrends hashtag it monitored key trends such as floral/stripes/70s to link back to product available online and in-store. The results were immediately showcased in stores, where merchandise changed hourly and across all Topshop’s social feeds. There was a 34% increase in sales over the four day LFW period.
During the recent BAFTAs, sponsored posts by House of Fraser led to shoppable tweets for products online that had sold out by the Monday. ‘This closed loop campaign ensured everyone was on the same journey,’ says Parnell.
Twitter’s real-time experience is turning into a live one. ‘Now Periscope is changing the landscape,’ says Parnell. ‘It’s a broadcast app that makes whatever you are doing live to all your users. It has huge potential for fashion weeks.’ She gives the example of Davina McCall (TV presenter) giving a live red carpet commentary on Periscope for the Baftas. ‘Think about how fashion brands can include fans into content – now possible live and immediately on Periscope,’ says Parnell.
Early adopting brands have jumped onto Periscope to experiment with content for followers. For example, Urban Outfitters has broadcast live bands in-store via Periscope feeds and social media influencers including Tom Green and Eliza Licht have taken to promoting their respective latest film/book with live Q&As.
According to the same research, 56% of users say Twitter gives them access to influencers, while 47% of fashion and beauty fans buy from their favourite brands through Twitter.
Everyone has an app in them, but being the first British app to be included on the Apple Watch is an innovative move and something Justin Cooke, founder of music app Tunepics, is used to. Describing his music and pictures app, Cooke says ‘Instagram freed the photo, we want to free music.’ He says the Apple Watch association is a sign of how far Tunepics has come in just over a year, adding it will probably grow through gifting and personalized messages on the Apple device. ‘A social network is only 10% of where we want to be. We have to learn how to evolve the product – we have 2m live uses now, our aim is to connect the world through emotion plus music,’ he says.
5. Authentic (human) experience keeps tech in retail design, luxury service relevant.
Taking a wide view at how brands should communicate with tomorrow’s connected consumer, Jonathan Chippendale, CEO of retail technology specialist Holition says disruption is manifest. ‘Digital has disrupted the retail space beyond recognition, you can’t ignore it as the future,’ he says.
‘Lots of tech is easy to use but it fails to deliver on experience, especially if the retailer doesn’t understand what the engagement value is in the first place,’ he says, adding that so much of it lacks the cool factor in-store, because it’s usually built by technologists rather than people who understand consumer behavior.
‘We finally got rid of QR codes, now my bête noir is just screens. I want to banish them from stores. People already have a screen in their hand they don’t need another one when they look up,’ he says. But there are creative ways of using screens when they provide relevant entertainment, he counters, citing Holition’s visualizing data project in 2014 for Lyst. ‘We provided the God’s eye view, updating Lyst’s data in real time, showing the trends coming straight out of 30,000 purchases per second. We intercepted these pieces of data on their journey around the Lyst network and re-packaged it to provide a visual story.’
The beauty industry has found success with magic mirrors, first the L’Oreal app and now Holition’s own Face app, currently being promoted in conjuction with London College of Fashion and the Savage Beauty Alexander McQueen exhibition. Chippendale says this example personifies Holition’s approach to mixing analogue with digital, to engaging consumer in more personal ways and to move towards a more sensorial technology experience.
Best practice retail has always been about experience. ‘As retailers we walk our customers through five key stages on the journey to purchase,’ explains Guy Smith, head of design for Arcadia.
‘Firstly it’s about an introduction to the brand values; then it’s helping them to browse the store with textured, layered content to help them feel part of the brand; next is the validation stage, that moment when they’re thinking about buying something and you have to create a deep connection; then it’s securing payment, which is where things are changing the most and we are heading towards a mobile first purchase environment. This stage needs to be re-configured, where the current static (tills) model is disrupted and payment is merged with the fitting room experience; lastly it’s the sharing stage, when retailers need to encourage customers to share their experience with friends and the cycle begins again with someone new,’ he explains. He says there is much dispruption in the market and sometimes experimentation is difficult to guage in terms of ROI, but ultimately retailers need to make all of this seamless.
Experience design has to be about fun, says Smith. ‘Shopping is still a major pastime for consumers. Service design (with or without technology) is an integral part of experience design. The right kind of advice is key. It’s the validation part, so capitalize on people and personal service. Experiential design is critical – every time someone meets the brand it has to be perfect, anything less and the brand loyalty is gone.
‘True luxury is still centred on a personal in-store experience,’ says Patrick Grant, creative director of Norton & Sons of Savile Row. ‘The fashion world is increasingly in the business of giving people a total experience that connects them, physically, to luxury,’ he adds. Money buys the opportunity to experience genuine luxury and where human interaction and face to face engagement is required – flying in the face of ‘ubiquitous technology’ according to Grant who is in talks with Vertu to turn communicating via smartphone into a personalized, human experience.
6. Co-collaborators share partnership lessons
Who better to talk about the benefits of designer collaborations than H&M? ‘Our collaborations have a huge effect on the designers now, after 10 years, it puts them on the global map, says H&M’s global creative director Donald Schenider. ‘The result is that it’s changed the way people integrate with H&M. It has become acceptable to mix high and low fashion,’ he says.
The relationship between designer and H&M has to be organic, says Schenider, adding it’s a lot of teamwork and a well-oiled machine. ‘Ultimately H&M just wants to be a designer brand for the few hours each collection is in store – the idea is that it flies out quickly,’ he says. While most designers are usually nervous at first, they soon realize the scale of the collaboration. ‘We spend more money in a week than they would all year – and it will change their life.’ (It’s a shame Schenider didn’t spill the beans about the new Balmain collaboration, he was speaking just a week before the announcement!)
One of the fashion industry’s more surprising collaborations is Ekocylce, and the brand’s creative director Adam Derry talked about how the three way partnership between Will.i.am, Harrods and Coke has launched onto the fashion landscape with one agenda: to create innovation in sustainability through design.
‘We believe by leading through design it will be an epiphany moment,’ says Derry. ‘With Coke’s investment in providing post-consumer waste as a base cloth and Will.i.am’s commitment to redefining what sustainable design can look like, it’s up to us as consumers to affect change,’ he says.
The fashion industry needs to redefine waste and recyclable materials for the future. Derry says Ekocyle sees waste as a commodity and a new gold, where the brand plays to its collaborative brand strengths. ‘I love collaboration when its clearly defined, says Derry. ‘We have 130 products at Harrods – that’s a lot of noise about sustainability and design input from three power houses: Will.i.am, Harrods and Coke.’ Derry’s definition of sustainability today is a bulletproof trust record for the manufacturing journey – all practices around sustainability have to be 100% transparent to do it properly.
Here are some of April’s more interesting phygital retail stories.
More and more digital brands want to lay down physical roots and create their own permanent stores. At the same time, retailers are ramping up online sales initiatives for increasingly digitally savvy shoppers. So now we have the trend to make showroom-style spaces resemble highly curated homes and apartments. Which makes us want to buy everything and move in.
The trend for homely retailing has evolved over the last year or so, kick-started by luxury players such as Louis Vuitton with its decadent Hong Kong L’Appartement by Andre Fu, and the personal shopping bachelor pad at Holt Renfrew’s new men only Toronto flagship.
After opening their relaxed, sun-drenched LA flagship, complete with outdoor pool, The Olsen Twins are eyeing a similarly homely retail destination in NY’s Upper East Side, according to WWD. Ashley Olsen described the LA store as ‘about setting it up as a home and just having the apparel be a part of the space.’
Stylists Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn set up US e-commerce site The Line in 2013 as a place to showcase their personal style across homeware, fashion and beauty products. They launched The Apartment, an airy Soho loft space, shortly after as a physical embodiment of the site, where customers can meet with the creatives behind labels stocked, and the pair host discussions, workshops and screenings. This form of curated, one-to-one apartment-style selling adds a valuable aesthetic layer to the online shopping experience, where customers are buying into a lifestyle not just a product range. Whistles has taken a similar approach, hosting its last two seasonal press days in penthouse lofts in London.
Alex Eagle is the eclectic curator behind Soho House’s newest retail location, The Store in Berlin. There is a stylish lifestyle edit with bit of everything on offer, from designer fashion and accessories, contemporary furniture, homewares and organic food from The Store Kitchen as well as beauty services from Barbour & Parlour. It’s designed in the style of a relaxing, homely loft apartment with soft velvet sofas and ‘shabby luxe’ workstations next to the library of books and magazines provided by Idea Books. There’s a florist by Mary Lennox and music by The Vinyl Factory. Everything is set over the spacious ground floor of the Berlin hotel location. ‘I wanted the space to be an open, shoppable private home for everyone to hang out in,’ Eagle said to T Magazine.
Suitcase Magazine has a great interview with Eagle where she talks about sourcing localized, new talent across the creative design industries.
Showrooming meets design
The worlds of interiors, design and even real estate are utilizing apartment-style showrooming to sell furniture and homewares.
For the newly renovated, but still off-plan central London Saint Martins Lofts scheme, gallerist and designer Marc Peredis has created a warm, minimalist show apartment, exclusively utilising pieces from artists represented in his Soho gallery, 19 Greek Street.
Dutch architecture & design magazine Frame created a 3D rendition of its pages at a pop-up shop in the Felix Meritis building for Amsterdam’s temporary cultural festival, Felix & Foam, in 2014. The space, designed by Dutch studio i29, was intended to be a mirrored universe, using reflective surfaces to create a sensory, immersive shopping experience. Frame curated a mix of new talent from the design world, showcased in modernist room sets, set against the grand backdrop of the building’s 18th architecture. In a similar project last year, German online magazine Freunde von Freunden (FvF) furnished a Berlin flat as part of a 3D editorial project for Swiss furnishings manufacturer Vitra.
Dining at home:
The idea of curating an ‘at home’ experience is also represented by restaurants, where patrons buy into the vision of the chef as much as the food.
At my favourite new restaurant and bar, Old Tom & English in London’s Soho, interior designer Lee Broom has created a décor very much an ode to British decadence from a bygone era. The idea was to replicate a 1960s living room, where diners come to join an intimate cocktail party and stay for nibbles.
Danish restaurant Noma in Copenhagen is currently having some time-out from serving food, instead focusing on translating its worldwide reputation into a retail experience. Earlier this year it opened a shoppable pop-up store in Tokyo, selling locally made tableware and furniture in collaboration with Japanese designer and creative director Sonya Park of Arts&Science. And last month, US retailer Club Monaco moved into Noma’s original Copenhagen space for a curated offering of its mens and womens collections as well as local New York-based furniture and homeware designs and vintage collectibles from around the world.
What does it all mean?
Designing retail or restaurant spaces that replicate a home environment takes customers a step closer to imagining a selection of curated products in their own living space. Plus, it’s the perfect antidote to 2D online shopping, making the most of showrooming as a tactile retail experience.
Milan’s furniture fair has become a showcase event for luxury retail brands to collaborate with designers and architects. This is the home of Art-tail.
COS X Snarkitecture – This year was the fourth appearance for COS in Milan and the Swedish retailer chose architects Snarkitecture to translate the brand’s design philosophy into a physical installation. Visitors to Milan’s Brera arts district experienced the COS cave, a temporary concept store where art and retail collide in an immersive ‘translucent’ space featuring thousands of strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling, signifying the lightness and luminescence of this season’s collection. ‘We came up with an immersive environment that draws on the familiar quality of fabric and the primal nature of caverns to create a world of reflection, exploration and interaction,’ explained Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture.
Marni – The Italian luxury house showed its artisanal flair this at this year’s Salone by turning its huge industrial warehouse space into a charming South American fruit and veg marketplace, where the focus was colourful woven products. On sale in the tropical Mercado de Paloquemao installation were vibrant handmade baskets, wire frame bowls, woven stools and chairs as well as multi-hued woven shoppers, all made by a women’s community in Colombia. Everything was displayed on long tressle tables decorated with giant exotic looking fruits for a visual feast, very much in keeping with the flamboyant nature of Marni’s design aesthetic – translated here into furniture and craft pieces.
Yoox – Italian e-commerce giant Yoox was flexing its phygital retail credentials at Salone with an exclusive shoppable exhibition called Made in Milan, held at the historic Pinacoteca Ambrosiana museum as a celebration of the best new contemporary design talent in Milan. All the featured designers were chosen for their contemporary touch, combining expression of tradition with innovation. Highlights included glasswear by Valentina Cameranesi, jewellery by Francesco Meda and tableware by Osanna Visconti di Modrone.
United Nude x 3D Systems – The futuristic and design-minded shoe brand has partnered with 3D printing specialist 3D Systems for a joint collaborative project called ‘Re-inventing Shoes’ . United Nude asked five renowned designers and architects including including Zaha Hadid, Ben van Berkel and Fernando Romero, to explore the boundaries of 3D printing technology where hard compact Nylon and a soft rubber material are combined for limited edition ranges of sculptural, sky-high heels on show at a dedicated exhibition during the Salone.
Fendi x Campana Brothers – For this year’s Salone, the luxury house has again collaborated with eccentric Brazilian furniture makers The Campana Brothers, reinterpreting the famous Fendi bag bugs into a fun furry piece: ‘The Armchair of A Thousand Eyes’.
Whether you agree or disagree with Alice Rawsthorne, writing in the latest issue of Frieze on the shifting influence of the Salone del Mobile as a celebration of marketing over design, brands are choosing the fair to educate consumers about their design DNA via collaborations and retail installations, and we think that’s a good thing.
Here’s a round-up of March’s more interesting phygital retail bytes:
I’ve been bigging up the importance of virtual retail for some time, so it’s great to see Westfield embracing the notion with its latest Future Fashion phygital installation taking place this week and next, at the White City and Stratford London shopping centre locations.
The VR experience is courtesy of digital specialists Inition (the team behind Topshop’s virtual LFW show experience in February 2014), and allows visitors to the designated Future Fashion area, to try out the spring/summer 15 fashion themed virtual worlds created especially for Westfield. Users can try on the Oculus Rift headsets and immerse themselves in a denim hued or floral world that twists and turns as users gesture with their hands forwards, backwards or left to right.
‘Consumers are more tech savvy than ever before, a third of shoppers will walk out of a store that has no wifi,’ says Myf Ryan, marketing director for Westfield UK. ‘Digital is such an integrated part of people’s lives, it’s all about enhancing that digital shopping journey for our customers,’ she continues. ‘With the Future Fashion promotion we wanted to push the boundaries of how people interact with the latest technology. We know that 57% of our customers respond to interactive digital displays, so we wanted to make that aspect more fun and connect it back to our shopping app, Edit Me, where they can personalise that shopping visit. Westfield’s continued focus on digital is a key part of our experience strategy where services such as click and collect and online curation keep people coming back to our shopping centres,’ she says.
The Retail Planner verdict: The Future Fashion promotion is a highly phygital showcase for how VR might become more integrated into the future shopping experience. With these kind of experimental digital exercises coming out of the Westfiled Labs R&D department in San Francisco, the retailer is showing it is a phygital first company where digitizing the experience for customers is a key part of their engagement strategy.
Addition: Marketing Magazine has produced a great behind the scenes video of how Inition installed it all.