This year’s Fashion Tech Forum set out with a mission to attack hard conversations with "candor, humor, and humanity.” The event, attended by industry leaders, fashion socialites, and innovative companies (like us!) was an opportunity to discover new methods for driving change and to integrate these initiatives into their respective missions, purposes, and strategies.
From the inside scoop on what it’s like to work with Rihanna, to more serious discussions on the future of luxury, FTF celebrated the leaders who are rising to the occasion. Keep reading for our insights on some of the top panels from 2019’s Fashion Tech Forum.
Most forums and conferences begin with opening remarks and launch right into jam-packed agendas. Karen Harvey set a tranquil tone for the event by bringing in Light Watkins, Vedic meditation teacher, founder of The Shine and author of Bliss More. We weren’t exactly sure what was to come from Light. Was this a hard sell on the benefits of meditation? Or were we to be exposed to how little we try to calm our minds?
After a calming meditation session and inspiration story on positive thinking, Light left the audience feeling refreshed and eager to soak up the day's learnings. Not to mention his book was up for grabs in the WhiteSpace lounge.
The Sustainability Paradigm
During a thought evoking discussion on sustainability, Liz Simon, Chief Product Transformation Officer of Fashion3, Jad Finick, VP of Innovation and Sustainability at Allbirds, and Kristy Caylor, Co-Founder and CEO at For Days, enlightened the audience on the road to zero waste, what it looks like and their contributions to those efforts.
Fashion3, an ecosystem of 7 European fashion brands, challenges the traditional design and supply chain process by using technology to inform their choices. Liz Simon’s road to zero waste is one that entails the on-demand production of product in Portugal. The company is tackling these ambitions category-by-category, e.g denim (producing on-demand washes and cuts for the customer with it arriving to market within 10 days.)
Jad Finick of Allbirds mentioned the use of sugar cane foam to mold the soles of its products (which he modeled on stage) and noted sustainability can also be profitable. Where the company isn’t able to use eco-friendly materials, it chooses to minimize its impact and studies its carbon footprint to identify where and how Allbirds (negatively or positively) affects the planet. Finick’s motto: "Product first." Where other retailers may take on sustainability as a trend or initiative, Allbirds focuses on manufacturing an impactful product - sustainability is just a plus.
For Days won us over with its sustainable subscription model. For just $8 a month, consumers can swap clothing forever for $8 after you buy anything in the collection. Kristy Caylor, CEO and Co-Founder, mentioned the company is on a mission to reduce the amount of clothing going to landfills, and to increase the employment rates in its community. For Days created a small factory in LA, where products are designed from beginning to end using 100% organic cotton. Caylor feels it’s easier to begin from the start (hence the fruition of For Days), than to change a large organization/company. Nevertheless, we'd posit any change is good.
The Ecosystem of Hype and Value
How do we define hype today? Josh Luber, Co-Founder and CEO of StockX, Marc Dolce VP and Creative Director of Adidas Advance Concepts, and Jeff Carvalho, Managing Director at High Snobiety, came together in an intimate discussion to answer what the fashion industry has always wondered: Why and how are sneakers so hyped? What is hype exactly and how do we recreate the formula?
For Luber, a true sneaker collector, it’s a classic economics equation of supply and demand. The lower the supply, the more hyped the shoe (coupled with factors like collaboration, the model, and rarity). For Marc Dolce, sneaker designer, it’s about the story. When brands like Adidas build a story around a shoe, or when consumers have an opportunity to build experiences to tell their story (i.e, waiting in line, “copping” a rare pair, winning a raffle ticket), the story is truly brought to life.
The overarching theme in this discussion was community. While Instagram is an obvious marketing and “brag” tool for sneaker enthusiasts, it drives hype through discussion and engagement.
How Fashion Brands Can Succeed with Video
We can attest to the love/hate relationship with video. It drives engagement, it’s fun to watch, but the production and editing process can be tedious and costly.
Anjali Sud, CEO at Vimeo, and Kate Bolduan, CNN Anchor, informed us of the benefits of video, and Vimeo’s rebranded business model. What once was a video streaming platform similar to YoutTube, Vimeo has leveraged a competitive advantage through a recent Magisto acquisition. Now the company provides professional software, tools, and technology for retailers to create and distribute video to their audience and ultimately build community.
It was enlightening to experience captivating visuals throughout the Vimeo chat and the video opportunities retailers now have at their fingertips.
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