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New documentary The Next Black explores the future of fashion

17 Jun

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Home appliance manufacturer AEG has launched a 45-minute documentary called The Next Black focused on the future of clothing, with the goal to anticipate what washing needs are likely to look like down the road.

Featuring interviews with representatives from heavyweight brands such as adidas through to Patagonia, the film looks to understand what people will be wearing and washing totay and tomorrow, and how the industry can become more sustainable in doing so. It was produced together with production company House of Radon.

It also stars tech-clothing company, Studio XO; Biocouture, a consultancy exploring living organisms to grow clothing and accessories, and Yeh Group, which is pioneering a new way to dye clothes using zero water.

“We talked to designers, innovators and leaders from around the globe – people who are rethinking the way we use clothes. They have a fresh look for the future and are using their passions to fuel change. It’s not just about what we will be wearing but how we produce clothes, how we interact with them and how we care for them,” reads the write-up from AEG.

The content touches on such developments as Lady Gaga’s bubble dress; monitoring an athlete’s performance via their clothing in real-time; and materials grown in a bath tub out of bacteria.

Nancy Tilbury of Studio XO refers to her work during the interview as design engineering that just happens to be dressed up as fashion. “Philosophically as a project we’re really keen to tell people about this transformation in textiles,” she says, demonstrating how coding is being combined with clothing to bring about a fun, playful and curious result that is tranforming the way we dress.

Suzanne Lee of BioCouture meanwhile looks at how the most radical of future innovations could be organic, outlining her process for creating textiles as much closer to brewing beer or making food. The next step, she says, is taking such ideas and concepts from the lab to the market.

Imagining the future is exactly what this film sets out to do, check it out below…

Digital snippets: Beats by Dre, Alexander Wang, Apple, in-store tech, China social media

8 Jun

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech:

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  • Did Beats by Dre just out-Nike Nike with this incredible World Cup ad? [AdWeek]
  • Alexander Wang and friends bring SNL’s Mango back in latest ad [GQ]
  • Apple’s newest ad says we’re ready for wearables, now [re/code]
  • In-store tech, sales driver or hype? [BoF]
  • Beyond Weibo and WeChat: four chinese social platforms with big luxury potential [Jing Daily]
  • Regent Street to deploy beacon technology in shops [The Telegraph]
  • Tanya Taylor partners with Instagram artist Kalen Hollomon on coolest lookbook ever [Fashionista]
  • Nike unveils world’s first-ever 3D-printed performance sports bag [WGSN Tumblr]

Why Google’s partnership with DVF and Net-a-Porter really matters for Glass

3 Jun
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Lucky editor-in-chief Eva Chen with Diane von Furstenberg wearing the new DVF Made for Glass collection

The big news in the fashion and tech space today, was of course the announcement of Diane von Furstenberg’s new Google Glass frames.

The New York-based designer was the first to take Glass down the fashion week runway in September 2012, now she has unveiled her own designs – prescription lenses available in five different colourways and two sunglass silhouettes in four optional shades.

Better yet, the DVF Made for Glass collection will not only be sold on Google.com/glass but via Net-a-Porter as well. They’ll be available from June 23 and cost $1,700 for the package (Glass, a DVF optical frame, a sunglass style, a mono earbud and a case).

As Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of Net-a-Porter, told WWD: ““When Google Glass walked the runway, I texted the number-two person at Google and said, ‘What’s happening?’ I think it’s fair to say that we were calling their head of marketing consistently to see what can be done.”

As WWD continues, these designs are aiming to appeal to two audiences: women and the fashion set (though Mr Porter will also carry Glass without the DVF branding). Importantly for the wearables market, this is one of the first ever times something has been designed specifically for women.

Fashionista reports: “Over the course of the last few months, Google Glass has been steadily getting more and more fashion-friendly, with the release of four new frames in January and a March announcement that it had partnered with Luxottica to produce Ray-Ban and Oakley-designed frames. Just last month, Google brought on board veteran fashion exec Ivy Ross, who has clocked time at Calvin Klein and Gap, to run the Glass team.”

Arguably focusing on aesthetics – even in a sea of additional complaints about functionality – is a smart move from Google. Doing so with a respected and aspirational brand, as well as such a leading luxury outlet, is better again.

What Glass needs is to reposition itself as an appealing wearable item and not a clunky piece of technology. It needs consumers to believe in it – but not just for the purpose of uptake, rather to help generate greater interest in the technology from a developer perspective. Like your smartphone, a wearable device such as Glass (to a degree) is only as good as the apps you have on it. I have a pair. They’re good, but they don’t do enough yet that I want to wear them constantly.

Proving there’s commercial viability for an item will mean more developers encouraged on board, further apps created, greater functionality enabled, and once again more people like to buy. A virtuous circle. In short, this move from DVF, even if the result isn’t a lasting commercial success, has the potential to be a great catalyst for the future of Glass full stop.

As Robert Scoble, author and start-up liaison for open-cloud computing company Rackspace, said at SXSW this year: “This is one of those products you know is the future, but it’s so unfinished at this point it’s frustrating. It’s three to five years away before it’s really useful.”

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Digital snippets: Burberry, L’Oréal, Macy’s, Adidas, Uniqlo, Google Glass

23 May

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech:

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  • How Burberry has fared in its first days on Tmall [Jing Daily]
  • L’Oréal launches virtual try-on make-up app [NY Times]
  • Macy’s is the first retailer to run Facebook’s auto-play video ads [Adweek]
  • Adidas app to print Instagram snaps on your shoes [CNET]
  • Google’s new fashion-savvy exec can’t fix Glass’ biggest flaw [Wired]
  • Burberry cites integrated marketing activity for revenue growth as EasyJet CEO joins the board [The Drum]
  • Op-ed: Why fashion is the next big thing in venture capital [BoF]
  • Why are fashion brands shying away from Tumblr? [Tumblr]

Digital snippets: Matthew Williamson, Gap, Amazon, Instagram, Wanelo, Tinder

14 May

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech:

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  • ‘Is it scalable? I think it has to be,’ Matthew Williamson head of digital on customer acquisition through Instagram [The Drum]
  • Amazon launches #AmazonCart (#AmazongBasket), a new way to shop without leaving Twitter [TNW]
  • Fashion world sashays to Instagram for brand-building [FT]
  • Wanelo profiled: like mall browsing, with a click [NY Times]
  • Meet the new wave of Tinder-like shopping apps [Fashionista]
  • Stylect, the Tinder for shoes, finds you a perfect pair [Co.Design]
  • Study shows prevalence of consumer ‘webrooming’; more people researching online and buying in local stores [AdWeek]
  • Tracking is dead: the next wave of wearables is context [re/code]
  • Millennial-focused marketers start to dig in to new SnapChat video feature [AdWeek]
  • Must see: colour-changing fabric uses heat sensitive technology to react to sound files and its surrounds [PSFK]

Mink, a 3D printer for make-up, aims to disrupt colour cosmetics market

6 May

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3D printing just became significantly more relevant to a huge group of consumers. Forget mere filament forms, next up is 3D-printed make-up.

Unveiled by Harvard Business School grad, Grace Choi, at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York today, Mink is a desktop printer that lets users choose any colour and instantly transform it into a wearable colour cosmetic. And by that she means everything from a creamy blush or lipstick to a powdery eyeshadow or foundation.

As reported by TechCrunch: “Most makeup comes from the same basic substrates, from high-end labels like Chanel all the way down to the cheap stuff available at drug stores… Choi sources the same substrate for the Mink so that users can turn any image into any kind of makeup.”

The whole point is to make colour – something the beauty industry makes a whole lot of money out of – that much more accessible for consumers. Rather than paying a premium for such shades, shoppers can now just print them out at home. (Did you know ink is FDA compliant?) With Mink, any image online, or out in the real world can be captured and made into an instant beauty product.

“Mink enables the web to become the biggest beauty store in the world,” says Choi. “It not only unlocks images, it unlocks pixels, so we’re going to live in a world where you can just take a picture of your friend’s lipstick and print it out.”

It’s set to retail at around $300 when it launches later this year. Read the whole story, and watch the Disrupt video which shows Choi demo’ing the Mink printer, here.

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Digital snippets: Nike, Burberry, Selfridges, DKNY, John Lewis, Burt’s Bees

4 May

It was perhaps Nike that was the buzziest of brands over the past couple of weeks, if you take into consideration both the successful launch of its unofficial World Cup campaign, Winner Stays (as above), and the rumoured shift in strategy for its FuelBand wearable device. That latter news reported the brand is laying off 70-80% of the fitness tracker’s hardware team in a bid to focus on software and the NikeFuel metric instead. A further interview with Nike President Mark Parker added fuel to the fire on a big partnership with Apple.

Burberry meanwhile was another brand with various stories to follow. It opened its new Shanghai store to much theatrical, multimedia fanfare; pushed yet another social tie-in via WeChat; launched an online store on Alibaba’s Tmall; and was announced as one of the first brands to advertise using Instagram video. And if that wasn’t enough, Angela Ahrendts just made that move officially over to Apple. “Did you notice?” asked the FT.

Safe to say, some other companies were up to things too. Here are the best of the fashion and tech stories not to be missed…

  • Selfridges launches biggest ever beauty campaign with Google+ partnership [Campaign]
  • DKNY shoppers go product hunting with Awear Solutions chips [FierceRetailIT]
  • John Lewis looks back on British history in TV spot to mark 150 years [Campaign]
  • Burt’s Bees creates promotional messages via appointments in digital calendars [NY Times]
  • What can fashion-tech companies learn from Instagram’s success? Co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom shares his start-up secrets [BoF]
  • Instagram is brands’ best bet for consumer engagement… but not for long [Fashionista]
  • ‘Brand tagging’ mobile apps: China’s next selfie sensation [Jing Daily]
  • Fashion retailers eye up image-recognition apps for smartphones [The Guardian]
  • Microsoft to push into fashion space “like never before” as it boosts commitment to UK start-up community and unveils ASOS as partner [The Drum]
  • Why online retailers like Bonobos, Boden, Athleta mail so many catalogs [WSJ]
  • Crowdemand is like Kickstarter for fashion designers [Mashable]
  • Like a dating site for fashion, PopInShop plays matchmaker for brands and boutiques [Fashionista]
  • The golden era of ‘fashion blogging’ is over [The Cut]

The ugliest wearable technology is arguably that with the worst functionality

30 Apr

Wearable tech

“Why is wearable technology so damn ugly?” I asked in a piece I wrote for The Telegraph post-CES in January.

Now I’m speaking about it on air for CBC Radio’s Spark show. In a six-minute segment, we discuss everything from smart watches to heads-up displays, as well as the big name brands involved including Google and Apple.

Exploring the focus that has been placed on design versus functionality, I argue that some of the ugliest devices out there are due to the fact such little thought has been placed into what we as consumers not only want to wear, but even use.

Check the show out here

 

Innovating the humble hanger: flashback from Japan

15 Apr

I discovered this video when writing a story about the future of shopping this week, and thought it worth resurfacing.

It’s a simple premise: the  shopper removes items from the rail and as they do so they activate content on nearby video screens. It’s not the garment that holds the sensors, but the hanger it is hung on – recognising unique details, from the fabric it is made of, to shots of models wearing it.

It was a concept from a company called teamLab in Tokyo – featured as part of an exhibition called We Are the Future, and then later in retail store Vanquish around 2010-2012.

But it’s also one you can imagine working very effectively in a luxury store today, in part similar to the connected fitting rooms we’ve seen at the likes of Burberry with RFID tagged garments, or reportedly in pilot from Microsoft and Accenture with Kohl’s. But it’s also reminiscent of the Mother’s Day campaign run by C&A Brazil two years ago, which saw hangers embedded with real-time counters for Facebook Likes.

There’s a lot to be said for the humble hanger it would seem…

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Digital snippets: Oculus, Luxottica, Wren, Asos, Nike, Birchbox, Tom Ford, Kenzo

28 Mar

The big tech story this week has of course been about Facebook’s purchase of virtual reality headset company Oculus VR. But there were lots of others to know about too. Read on for an edit…

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  • Google deal with Luxottica will bring Glass to Ray-Ban, Oakley [WSJ]
  • How Wren made a viral video of strangers kissing and increased sales by nearly 14,000% [Business Insider]
  • Asos and Nike celebrate 27 years of Air Max with first Google+ shoppable hangout [Marketing Magazine]
  • Birchbox, seller of beauty products, steps out from web to open New York store [NY Times]
  • Tom Ford joins the world of e-commerce with sexy new web store [Fashionista]
  • Kenzo’s virtual aquarium highlights the danger of overfishing [PSFK]
  • Chanel releases new Coco Mademoiselle Keira Knightley ad – She’s Not There [The Inspiration Room]
  • Lancôme ramping up digital initiatives [WWD]
  • How Yoox became the Amazon of the fashion world [Telegraph]
  • Why in-store tracking might not be as bad as it sounds [CNNMoney]
  • The Shazam of fashion is here, introducing ‘ASAP54′ [Styleite]
  • Silicon Valley never talks about the real reason you don’t own a smart watch or ‘wearable tech’ [Business Insider]

 

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