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business Podcast product Retail

Choosing authenticity over hype

A brand’s success depends on authentic relationships and good design over hype, says Rodrigo Bazan, CEO of designer label Thom Browne, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

“I tend to like less anything based on hype or cool, or the hot thing of the moment, because by definition that’s going to cool down at some point. So I still believe that the big things that are happening are led by a very, very strong design idea,” he explains.

It’s for the same reason that dressing rapper Cardi B for this year’s Met Gala in a larger-than-life ruby ballgown made sense for the luxury label, he notes. 

The Thom Browne team does little PR and has no internal VIP team, meaning the relationship with Cardi, as well as sports superstars like basketballer LeBron James, happen organically.

Since launching in 2004, the brand has gained a loyal audience that appreciates its modern take on classic silhouettes. The designer’s discrete nature (he himself is not on social media) and timeless designs mean it has managed to stand out in a world of overconsumption and celebrity designers that rule social media, from Virgil Abloh at Off White and Louis Vuitton to Olivier Rousteing at Balmain. 

Bazan explains how the brand is averse to overexposure and flashiness, instead focusing on creating more of these meaningful partnerships, from dressing Barcelona FC players off the field to creating bespoke tailoring with Barneys. As a result, it is steadily growing a business aiming to survive the influencer fatigue that is starting to pick up speed. 

Join us to learn more from Bazan about what that means in practice, including how music and celebrity help fuel its success, why the brand believes in sportswear over streetwear, and just how its thinking about the balance of data and design today.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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business Podcast

Brian Solis on rewiring the connected generation

Living in such a connected world is damaging our ability to think creatively, says Brian Solis, a world-leading anthropologist and futurist, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

By being constantly online, we are constantly distracted, he suggests. He refers to this particularly applying to “Generation C”, where the C stands for “Connected”.

“We all live in a similar lifestyle. And when you live that lifestyle, you’re rewiring your brain. You’re speeding it up; you’re moving faster, you’re becoming less patient, you’re becoming incredibly narcissistic. The world literally revolves around you,” he explains. “You have followers, your friends, you feel like you need to constantly feed that system, but you’re also feeding off the system. So you might find yourself endlessly scrolling for no good reason whatsoever.”

Solis experienced this himself: after writing seven best-selling books, he struggled with distraction while trying to write this eighth.   

Getting caught up in cycles of sharing and consuming social media is one of the main reasons why people get less and less creative over time, he suggests. “The real problem is that I’m placing greater emphasis on what happens on this screen than I am in this moment right now. That means that I’m not placing value in the people that I’m around, or the places that I’m at, which means that becomes forgettable.”

But his quest to understand society’s digital realities, behaviors and expectations did indeed end up inspiring a new book after all. In Lifescale, he reflects on how we ended up opening ourselves up to so many distractions and what changed to make people value this way of living – points that he also touches on in the podcast.

In this conversation, recorded with the Current Global’s Liz Bacelar at our Innovation Mansion at SXSW this year, Solis explains his techniques to taking control over tech, shares how brands can be more authentic by being more empathic; and reveals what the key is to transforming us into the leaders of the future.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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e-commerce Podcast

Why Pinterest pushes shopping over commerce

There’s a big difference today between the role of commerce, and that of shopping, says Tim Weingarten, head of shopping product at Pinterest, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

“Commerce has this implication of pushing for the transaction – about reducing friction in the conversion. Whereas shopping is one of joy. It’s one of serendipity, it’s one of discovering something you didn’t know existed,” he explains.  

Listen here:  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

It’s that mentality that underpins everything his team does at the company, focusing primarily on how to better the user experience with discovery and personalization at its core. This includes the introduction of a series of tools that filter and predict needs – from Pinterest Lens, which allows customers to find items from the database by photographing similar ones, to the newly announced Catalogs feature, where brands can upload their entire product catalog as shoppable pins.

What makes Pinterest stand out among its competitors, is that its users navigate the platform for entirely personal reasons, such as renovating their kitchens or achieving the perfect hairstyle, as opposed to pushing aspirational content to followers, Weingarten comments. Being able to capitalize on that then comes down to having the right algorithms in place.

“The more data you have, the more you can personalize. But on an e commerce site, the only data they have is based on prior transactions. That’s a very sparse dataset and it happens very infrequently. If you switch gears to Pinterest, what you have is someone visiting every day doing this authentic thing – saving things for particular use cases. This engagement signal can be applied to all products… And because we have this authentic form of engagement, we’re able to understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and actually personalize it to your tastes,” he says.

Pinterest has been around for nearly a decade with a quiet yet steady climb to the top. As of 2018, users on the platform had pinned 175 billion items on three billion virtual boards. The company is now on track to top $1bn in revenue, and is rumored to be moving forward with an IPO this summer at a valuation of $12bn.

During this conversation recorded at Shoptalk with the Current Global’s Rachel Arthur, Weingarten dissects how Pinterest is only getting better at predicting consumer needs before they’re voiced; shares how the platform balances being commercial with keeping the joy of inspiration alive, and hints at the types of technologies he’s looking at to further personalize the shopping experience.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Podcast social media

Missguided on the relevance of reality TV

Missguided's Jonathan Wall
Missguided’s Jonathan Wall

UK hit reality TV show, Love Island, is all about meeting the customer where she lives, says Missguided’s chief digital officer, Jonathan Wall, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

“Love Island for our sector, it’s kind of like the annual peak, or the annual Christmas, of [other retailers]. It’s our nirvana. You could not find anything else that’s absolutely spot on to our bullseye customer,” he comments.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

The fast fashion multi-channel retailer saw its sales spike 40% during the show this summer, which all came down to reigniting and re-energizing lapsed customers of more than six months, he notes. Product placement, which is essentially what this was, isn’t new in strategy – but it’s effective when it’s done right, he explains. In this instance, his team designed looks and dressed all of the stars in the show.

Wall’s strategy is focused primarily on relevancy to the shopper, much of which comes from the fact his team internally are those individuals themselves.

“One of the big big advantages we’ve got as a business, is that our customers are actually our team… Our average age in our business is 25, and guess what, our average customer age is also 25. You cannot overemphasize the advantages you get when every single day you are walking amongst your customers. It’s a tremendous advantage.”

Missguided x Love Island
Missguided x Love Island

It’s that laser-sharp focus on who they’re targeting that also let’s Missguided play with partnerships, he adds. The brand launched a collaboration with Playboy this summer that was met with a heavy dose of debate, but ultimately succeeded because of how relevant it was to the shopper it was intended. “It again hit the nail on the head for our customer,” Wall explains.

In conversation with Rosanna Falconer at a FashMash event in Missguided’s hometown of Manchester in the north of England, Wall also shares his views on what’s coming next in influencer marketing, which of the big social channels he’s focused on, and just why he likes to court a little controversy along the way.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
business Campaigns Podcast social media technology

TheCurrent Debate: Is there real value in CGI models?

Balmain CGI Models
Balmain CGI Models

CGI models are having a moment in luxury fashion right now, but it’s up for debate as to whether they hold true value for the brands embracing them, according to the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

Co-hosts Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur, who discuss various technologies pertinent to the industry every month on this show, bring opposing viewpoints to the table.

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CGI or virtual models have been used in fashion advertising campaigns to an increasing degree over the past few years, with big name brands including Louis VuittonPrada and Balmain all employing them. Some of those involved, including one called Lil Miquela, and another named Shudu, have generated enormous buzz and impressively large social media followings as a result, as though they were indeed influencers in their own right.

Lil Miquela for UGG
Lil Miquela for UGG

Most recently, Lil Miquela featured in UGG’s 40th anniversary campaign, blending in seamlessly alongside two real-life influencers as though she were a natural part of the cast. For the unsuspecting onlooker, it’s not immediately clear she’s not.

One of the questions raised during the episode is whether such a move is merely about gaining from some of the hype such models currently present, or if they can in fact drive ROI for the brands making use of them long term. Rachel presents some interesting statistics that show how engagement of for CGI remains significantly lower than any example of a ‘human’ influencer, but Liz counters that view with the argument that what we’re looking at here is a form of artistic expression.

The duo also dive into what such flawless representations of women mean for beauty ideals in the era of fake news we currently live in, as well as the notion that we may all have a CGI or avatar version of ourselves in the future, not least the real life influencers who could ultimately gain increased revenue opportunities for themselves, even posthumously.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.