ACCENTURE’S HELEN MOUNTNEY ON THE CHANGING RETAIL LANDSCAPE

ACCENTURE’S HELEN MOUNTNEY ON THE CHANGING RETAIL LANDSCAPE

It’s a busy first day at Retail Week Live – the largest gathering of retail leadership in the UK. The event might not have ‘tech’ in its title but that’s the single biggest overarching theme for the conference: the topic more than 150 speakers are here to discuss, and thousands of attendees – to hear about. It can be overwhelming. From bringing omni-channel experiences through emerging technologies, to thinking about how GDPR will impact your brand and making sure your workforce stays on top of technological innovations, there’s definitely a lot to take it. One person who knows how to separate the nice- from the need-to-know themes and movements, though, is Helen Mountney. As the UK managing director at retail management consultancy Kurt Salmon (part of Accenture Strategy), she works with retailers and consumer products companies to deliver operating efficiencies, turnaround support, strategic planning and organisational design. With more than 20 years of experience in the sector, she is a thought-leader in the industry, regularly cited in leading publications. We caught up with Helen to discuss some of the key themes and trends for retailers and emerging brands in 2018. What is the state of the industry at the moment? It’s not an easy time for many retailers, especially traditional ones. What’s interesting in the retail landscape is the amount of disruption that some of the new innovators are causing. I think technology has an important part to play in that and the successful retailers are those who embrace technology, those who have a really compelling digital offer and who are clear about their proposition to their customers. On...
STEVENTAI DEBUTS DIGITALLY AUGMENTED FASHION PRESENTATION

STEVENTAI DEBUTS DIGITALLY AUGMENTED FASHION PRESENTATION

Steventai is not afraid of experimenting with fashion and technology. Back in 2015, we invited the designer to showcase his Pen Nib Dress – made of 795 pen nibs on tiny motors, sewn into the dress – at INTERLACED’s first fashion tech show. For his AW18 collection, Steven is rewriting the rules of fashion presentations by partnering with the Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) and Lucas Film’s Immersive Entertainment division (ILMxLAB). Guests’ at the Steventai presentation, held at the historic Durbar Hall at the British Foreign Office, witnessed the global debut of LiveCGX – ILMxLAB’s performance-driven digital augmentation technology. But what does this mean? Like traditional presentations, the showcase consisted of a podium where live models showed off the collection. A giant screen behind them layered a background inspired by Macau, making it seem like the models were standing around the neon streets of the Chinese region. On a separate, second podium nearby, a single performer wearing a motion capture suit was moving and twirling like the models on stage. Through this sensory garment, she was transformed as a digital avatar onto the giant screen and shown next to her real-life model peers, all while wearing two Steventai digital garments.   Yes, it’s a lot to take in. Which is why we sat down with Vicki Dobbs Beck, ILMxLAB’s Executive in Charge, Mohen Leo, Director of Content and Platform Strategy at ILMxLAB, Matthew Drinkwater, Head of FIA and Steven Tai himself, to find out more about the project. Can you give us a summary of what we saw today and the challenges you faced when putting it together? Mohen Leo:...
SABINNA RETHINKS THE FASHION SHOW FORMAT WITH A DIGITAL SEE-NOW, BUY-NOW SHOWCASE

SABINNA RETHINKS THE FASHION SHOW FORMAT WITH A DIGITAL SEE-NOW, BUY-NOW SHOWCASE

London-based designer Sabinna Rachimova is quickly establishing herself (and her brand) as one of the emerging talents to watch in the fashion innovation space. Last year, the Central Saint Martin’s graduate partnered with the Fashion Innovation Agency and tech company Pictofit for the first interactive AR shopping experience. The project was so successful, it won Decoded Fashion’s Beyond the Runway award, beating fashion heavyweights like Burberry, H&M and British Vogue. This type of innovative thinking wasn’t a one-off. For her latest collection, Sabinna has decided to ditch the traditional fashion catwalk and partner with a group of influencers for a digital See-Now, Buy-Now showcase. We caught up with the designer to find out more about the experience and the significance of fashion week for emerging designers. What are your plans for London Fashion Week this season? This season we’re trying something completely new, leaving fashion shows behind and instead producing a digital showcase of our new collection – worn by social media influencers from the USA and UK, all with different audiences and all with a different style. How does it work? We have partnered with 14 influencers and have given each of them a single look from the new collection. Each day during New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week, a different girl will reveal her outfit, which will be available to buy instantly with a simple swipe up through their Instagram stories (see schedule for each day at the end of the interview). Quite literally #SeeNowBuyNow. We think this is the future of the fashion showcase, especially for emerging brands who want to reach out to...
FLORA MIRANDA USES AI, DATA AND GENERATIVE DESIGN TO TURN YOUR FACEBOOK HISTORY INTO PERSONALISED GARMENTS

FLORA MIRANDA USES AI, DATA AND GENERATIVE DESIGN TO TURN YOUR FACEBOOK HISTORY INTO PERSONALISED GARMENTS

Antwerp-based fashion designer Flora Miranda focuses her work on the human being, one’s body, senses and perception, performing in an actual or virtual reality. She embraces the experiment as a vehicle towards broadening established standards of craftsmanship and design, challenging the obsolete idea of high couture. We came across Miranda’s innovative work during the third edition of Fashion Talks, which brings disruptors, emerging designers and established fashion and creative businesses to celebrate the industry and ponder the future. Miranda was exhibiting her latest project – IT Pieces – a tool that collects data about a user’s online behaviour to design a unique item of clothing, especially with him or her in mind. People sign in with the app, which gathers information about their online behaviour, including Google searches, Facebook friends, places visited or music downloaded. It then personalises a t-shirt with a number of lyrics by Finnish musician Jaakko Eino Kalevi, which reflect the analysed information about the user. We sat down with the designer to talk more about IT Pieces, her creative process and breaking fashion conventions. What is your background? How did you get into fashion and what sparked your interest in technology? My identity is anchored in a world of art, my father and other members of my family in Austria are musicians and visual artists. To me, art was the most natural environment to move in, the language I grew up with. The other side of my family is from a more pragmatic origin, owning and running a big farm is their way of living. I believe this is where my attraction to the business...
MEET YIYU CHEN, THE TAIWANESE DESIGNER MAKING WAVES IN THE INDUSTRY

MEET YIYU CHEN, THE TAIWANESE DESIGNER MAKING WAVES IN THE INDUSTRY

You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard of Yiyu Chen.. yet. But not for long. The Taichung-based designer, who’s just won Denmark’s first fashion technology competition, Aarhus Walks on Water, says she’s has always been interested in clothing but this was her first time integrating technology into her work. “Fashion for me is appealing in both substance and significance level. I really enjoy the process of making each piece of garments, taking care of details and trying to present them in a proper way. On the other hand, the fact that fashion is always evolving with society and reflecting civilized life, make it a difficult task for a designer to be always relevant. There’s always something to learn.”   While this might have been the first time Chen has solely worked with tech, her work experience includes working alongside the legendary Iris Van Herpen – undoubtedly one of the trailblazers in the industry. “To work in Iris Van Herpen’s atelier was very challenging but with a lot of fun. Sometimes we need to experiment with different materials and try to figure out how to achieve the ideal results. Iris is really calm and friendly; I truly respect that she always knows what she wants and has a clear standard of quality. The experience taught me a lot on how a designer should insist and persist during design and producing process, the amazing results on Iris’s show coming with no accident. This experience makes me more open to any challenge and willing to cooperate with people in different fields.” As part of the AWOW competition, designers were tasked with creating...
INTERVIEW | SQUARESPACE’S CMO ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING ONLINE PRESENCE

INTERVIEW | SQUARESPACE’S CMO ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING ONLINE PRESENCE

The future of fashion might be smart textiles or shopping just by thinking about a product but some of the most pressing conversations of the present are still: Can fashion brands nail it online? For an industry that’s always obsessed with the new and the next, it is shocking that news about Chanel opening an ecommerce store make headlines. Establishing an online presence shouldn’t be daunting. At least not in this day and age. To help demystify some of the worries around this as well as the benefits that come with an ‘always on’ web portal, we recently spoke to Kinjil Mathur, CMO of website building company Squarespace. As the Chief Marketing Officer of Squarespace, Kinjil leads the company’s world-class marketing team. Before her time with the company, Kinjil spent years building technology competencies for retail giants, most notably as Vice President of Digital Marketing for Saks Fifth Avenue. Here she shares tips on building an impactful web presence, hints on trends in the ecommerce space and highlights some of Squarespace’s star fashion clients. You have a lot of experience in luxury fashion and e-commerce. How can fashion brands’ online presence deliver the higher personal experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store? A lot of what is interesting about fashion is the story behind the brand. One of our fashion fashion customers here in the UK is a designer called Sadie Williams. If you get to look to her products in store you wouldn’t appreciate the story behind it as much. Online allows her to have that deep interaction with the customers and fully tell her story. So, as...