Rank #1: Why H&M believes collaboration is the key to transparency
H&M has a big goal: to become 100% sustainable and renewable while maintaining prices low and keeping quality up. It's a big ask with some short timelines to achieve it. The question is whether the second largest clothing retailer in the world can really ever be considered eco-conscious and sustainable while pumping out fast fashion? Is it all a contradiction? One thing we know for sure – millennial consumers seem to be more concerned about manufacturing practices and their effects on the environment than ever, according to Nina Shariati, who leads transparency for the H&M Group. She sat down with TheCurrent's Rachel Arthur in Copenhagen to discuss the brand's latest projects in this space, why transparency doesn't equal sustainability directly, and what its plans are to continuously push the boundaries to appeal more to consumers with an eye for the environment. ___________________________________________________ TheCurrent Innovators is a podcast about the leaders pushing the boundaries of fashion, beauty and retail. Hosted by Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur, each episode is a frank conversation about the challenges and opportunities faced by top brands and retailers around the world today through the lens of technology. The podcast, distributed by MouthMedia Network, has showcased the likes of Stefano Rosso, CEO of Diesel; William Tunstall-Pedoe, founder of the tech behind Amazon Alexa; and Nina Shariati, who is responsible for transparency at H&M.
Jan 17 2018
Rank #2: Misha Nonoo on pivoting direct-to-consumer
"The scariest thing [in the world] is doing something different and not having an example to follow," says designer Misha Nonoo on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators.
Speaking at a MouthMedia Live recording at Spring Place in New York with TheCurrent's founder Liz Bacelar, the designer discussed how she pivoted her contemporary namesake brand in 2016 to focusing on selling direct-to-consumer instead. "It was scary and I was doing something completely new, but at the same time it was very exciting," she explains.
Such disruption is something that has become second nature to Nonoo in recent years. In 2015, she was one of the first in the industry to forgo an official fashion week presentation and host an Instagram one instead. The next year, she returned to the platform with a see-now-buy-now presentation, which users could shop via influencer platform, rewardStyle.
For a designer who sees herself as an entrepreneur holding the reins for her brand's success – and her personal happiness – switching to selling directly to the consumer was a very clear direction, she explains. That said, challenging the industry's statusquo comes with a lot of hard work, which Nonoo does not shy away from.
"One of the most enlightening things that I was ever told was by Anna Wintour (...) she said to me 'an overnight success is 10 years in the making'," Nonoo explains. Seven years on, she feels she is just 'making it' now.
Time has also given Nonoo the confidence to know that a lot of the industry is based on smoke and mirrors. As a small, independent brand, she now feels confident in having the choice of what to subscribe to.
During this conversation, Nonoo also talks about the importance of building a business based on values, how fashion week has become obsolete, and the challenges of running an on-demand business.
Sep 13 2018
Rank #3: How Walmart creates growth with design
Speaking to Liz Bacelar, founder of TheCurrent, during a live recording hosted by MouthMedia Network at Spring Place in New York, he explains how the enormous e-commerce redesign he has spearheaded for the world’s largest company, all came down to this focus on elevating the shopping experience for the changing customer of today.
May 31 2018
Rank #4: Yoox Net-a-Porter on nailing the basics of e-commerce
There's little point in looking at all of the innovation surrounding e-commerce today, if you don't first have the basics in place, Paolo Mascio president of online flagships at Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, explains on the most recent episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
"If you can't get the fundamentals right, forget about artificial intelligence," he says. "Really, execution is the key word. It's very easy to mess up with your customers ... A bad customer experience is even worse than not giving [them] an experience at all. It's better not to open Russia or China if you can't serve them in the proper way. Discontent spreads... which is setting the base for a failure in the future as well."
Both Yoox and Net-a-Porter are businesses known for their innovative approaches to e-commerce – the former for supporting brands on running their own operations, and the latter for its first-rate customer experience. While together they're focused on maintaining their market leading position, many of their partners and clients by comparison represent an industry still getting to grips with how to handle multichannel commerce.
Mascio references the shift to convenience, or of frictionless customer experiences in an omnichannel world, as the foundation of e-commerce expectations today. But it's service, he says, that can be the key point of differentiation for brands – especially those in the luxury space – comparative to multi brand retailers.
Underneath that, what's driving brand growth and loyalty today, is data, he notes. "Data is one of the fundamental things around which, not only our company, but the brands themselves are going to build their future."
This is the big shift still taking place in luxury, he adds. "Most brands up to a few years ago thought they were all unique, now they're all struggling to distinguish themselves in the digital space."
"For decades the brands have built their success around their collections, around the designers' names, and the designers' abilities, around advertising, but they haven't tracked down what the customer's behavior was," he explains, noting that today, it's the customer that has the biggest voice.
Those who can understand their customer and use analytics to better serve them, are the ones who will win. On top of that, and only then, comes the next step forward, he explains. Personalization, for instance, is something Mascio is watching closely. Artificial intelligence (Yoox Net-a-Porter is working with IBM Watson), is going to be the facilitator that transforms how people shops for the very reason it enables the brand to manage customers on a one-to-one basis at scale, he says.
In terms of the user interface, another area he's keeping an eye on, is that of voice technology. "I believe voice controlled systems [will] play quite a fundamental role in the future," he says. "It will take time... but then there will be a need for a brand to evolve their interfaces, so that customers can use voice to search for products in a much easier way."
Feb 07 2018
Rank #5: NET-A-PORTER on personalizing the customer experience
The future of e-commerce may not be about a traditional website at all, but about existing on multiple other platforms, expresses Matthew Woolsey, managing director at online luxury retailer, NET-A-PORTER, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.
The company sees many of its big customers making purchases over platforms including Whatsapp, iMessage and WeChat, which have become their primary entry point to e-commerce through their relationships with personal shoppers, he explains.
"We want to be in the platform where our customer is engaging with content, seeing the product or speaking with the personal shopper. It's about what's best for her. We never want to be in a position where we are forcing or imposing a platform or methodology on our customers, because that's the opposite of customer centricity," he explains.
"It's very easy to imagine a time when NET-A-PORTER doesn't even have a website, in the traditional sort of desktop sense, and really what it exists as is more of a concierge, on-demand, service offering. I think that's the future of where this industry is headed and it's something we are really well suited for because we have that infrastructure, we have that service component but we also know a lot more about our customer than just what she is buying."
Data is central to being able to personalize the experience for individual customers in this way, he explains, outlining how the company is constantly looking at how to give its personal shoppers greater tools through technology.
The company is currently experimenting with how it can use artificial intelligence to merge data between purchase history and fashion trends to give personal shoppers recommendations and ideas in advance that are personalized to the customer, for instance.
Eventually the idea is for this to be scalable across the seven million consumers NET-A-PORTER talks to, but hitting its EIPs, or extremely important people, is the core focus, given the fact this 3% of its customer base, make up 40% of its revenue.
Speaking with Rosanna Falconer at a FashMash event in London, Woolsey also reveals why the most expensive item ever bought via a messaging app is so significant, whether NET-A-PORTER would ever think about physical retail, and how to manage the modern day tension between algorithms and inspiration.
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.
Dec 06 2018
Rank #6: CES Highlights – Henkel and Lufthansa
At CES this year, beauty and transportation were two of the most innovative sectors, from self-driving vehicles to next generation hair and skincare [LINK]. In this episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, we bring you Henkel and Lufthansa, two companies focusing on revolutionary technology in a way you wouldn't necessarily expect.
First, we headed to the Henkel pop-up salon at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, where celebrity stylist Kim Vo gave us an exclusive treatment with Henkel's new product, SalonLab. This customized, data-driven service offers a 3D preview of color and texture based on each individual's hairstyle.
"This is the first digital ecosystem of connected devices that quantifies hair and offers personalized products and services in the salons," Anne Lemon from Henkel's digital headquarters, explains. "Our biggest challenge right now is to evolve from a beauty company to a data-driven company."
This is also what makes this innovation so cutting edge, Vo adds. Before SalonLab, hair analysis was done based on the stylist's experience and expertise. Now, it is supported by scientific data. "It gives real-life results without any in-between steps," he explains.
The second half of the episode is dedicated to the partnership between Lufthansa and Deutsche Telekom to bring more fashionable tech-innovation to the in-flight experience. The two German companies came together for Fashion Fusion Flying Lab, a program that challenged three startups to come up with solutions for a more contemporary as well as futuristic look and feel of the flying experience.
The results of this collaboration include a better chair with privacy and multimedia possibilities, chatbots that should ease the communication between passenger and flight attendant, and improved and smarter uniforms and blankets.
Torsten Wingenter, head of digital innovations at Lufthansa, told us: "The future experience of flying can't be getting from A to B with a better experience, we have to rethink what's happening on the flight and create new experiences. [Technology] can help us now in a new way to have a better experience."
Deutsche Telekom, on the other hand, was interested in such a collaboration because of the possibility to look farther into the future. "We are very much into driving our brand into a digital lifestyle brand because everything will change into digitalization," Antje Hundhausen, VP of brand experience, explained. "We are absolutely convinced that this is important to bring. As tech is getting smaller and [becoming] invisible in the clothing, this has to be stylish and it has to please our customers."
"[Fashion] is a big part of our DNA," Wingenter said of Lufthansa. "We have a heritage of 50-60 years of uniform fashion. It's time to take a step further and show how service on the plane could look like in the future."
Jan 25 2018
Rank #7: Thom Browne: 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 this episode of the Innovators podcast. Join us as we explore 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.
Nov 14 2019
Rank #8: L’Oréal on creating personalized touchpoints through beauty tech
L'Oréal is on a mission to marry technology and beauty in order to enhance their customer's lives, says Guive Balooch, global vice president of L'Oréal's Tech Incubator on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, hosted at SXSW 2018.
At the core of that purpose is the team Balooch runs, which works as an R&D lab for beauty tech. "When we started about five years ago, our goal was to make sure we could find the link between personalization and technology and find a way to get consumers the right product for them," he explains.
Since its inception, the team has developed products such as a connected hairbrush, a UV sensor worn on the nail, the first example of an augmented reality make-up app, and most recently, an on-demand system called Custom D.O.S.E. for SkinCeuticals, which dispenses serum personalized to the customer's skin needs in under a few minutes.
Technologies such as AI and machine learning have conditioned consumers to become more demanding than ever in finding products and experiences that are relevant to them on a granular level, Balooch explains. But if you look at the beauty market today, off the shelf products simply cannot respond to the plethora of demands that individuals have, he suggests, especially when looking at skintones. This is where a product like Lancôme's Le Teint Particulier comes in, in which consumers have a consultation that includes a skintone scan before generating a tailor made foundation for them.
That's something consumers have been demanding for some time, but the tech and science until recently has just not been possible, Balooch explains. Today we're at a real inflection point however, meaning customization is only going to get better.
As is the case with all of L'Oréal's beauty tech launches, the goal is to enable brands under the group's umbrella to target consumers at a one-to-one level, removing any frustrations that arise during the shopping experience, while allowing beauty associates to focus on the human side of the interaction. For Balooch, this innovation mindset will push new or long-established beauty products to start adapting to change, thus becoming smarter over time. This means evolving the experience they offer the customer by leveraging more individual data, encouraging co-creation, and even coaching consumers themselves to become smarter about how to use their products.
"In 10 years time there's no question to me that every person will have the ability to have the perfect product for them. I think that there will be much more co-creation – that we're moving towards an era where the people are becoming the companies," he notes.
Beyond developing a made-for-me final product, attributes of efficacy and seamlessness are always top of mind when launching new connected technologies, from the production process to the design of the hardware and software itself, Balooch says. When partaking in the D.O.S.E experience with SkinCeuticals, for instance, consumers are able to watch as the machine prepares their personalized serum from beginning to end. This not only helps create an emotional experience for the recipient, but does a good job at communicating the process in a transparent way.
For L'Oréal, that marriage between design and technology is key for customer-facing experiences. "Design is not just a secondary piece of what we do today with technology. [It] can actually fuel the tech itself," says Balooch, who believes for an integrated experience, technology needs to be both beautiful and warm. The future, he believes, is a balance between such creative and engineering teams.
Mar 15 2018
Rank #9: How Equinox services the luxury wellness consumer
The mass appeal of 'wellness as a lifestyle' may be something trending with consumers today, but it's a mindset that's been central to Equinox since its inception in 1991, says Vimla Gupta, CMO of the premium fitness brand, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
Equinox has paved the way by offering consumers support and service beyond typical gym classes by understanding how their fitness behaviors have always been a pivotal part of their lifestyles. In doing so it's become not just a 'gym' brand, but an entire lifestyle group that will even open its own hotel in New York in 2019.
Its success comes from the fact it quickly understood that with the rise of the internet, consumers were going above and beyond normal exercise behavior to better understand their needs and goals. "What we seek to do as a brand is intrinsically understand our consumer and what her needs are; what drives her," says Gupta. "And what we are seeing is the consumer has a PHD in everything; unlimited access to information."
Modern gym-goers, Gupta says, are information-obsessed and think of every step of the journey, from understanding their nutrition and dietary needs, to researching the efficacy of the latest workout and even what sportswear they wear. This pushes brands like Equinox to become the vehicles to satisfy their learning needs and provide them with an experience that will correspond to their high performance expectations.
At the heart of Equinox's interaction with its clients is the need to keep innovating by introducing services and technologies that help maximize the potential in their consumers lives, she adds. Technology in this case acts as an engagement and recommendation tool through leveraging individual data, such as the recent launch of a digital coach – or a bot – to its 10-year-old mobile app, which learns from a user's activities and helps them stay on track.
During this conversation with Liz Bacelar, founder of TheCurrent, Gupta also divulges more on what tech means for the Equinox gym experience, how the company is evolving from fitness to lifestyle and retail, and its upcoming plans to keep enabling clients to live their best lives.
Jun 16 2018
Rank #10: Ganni: Taking risks for long-term return
Understanding cost and thinking long-term is key for fashion to become sustainable, explains Nicolaj Reffstrup, founder of Danish fashion brand, Ganni, on this episode of the Innovators podcast. After all, who is going to pay for it? Join us as we discuss how Ganni is making investments as well as flexing its muscle to drive towards a more sustainable future, the new business models its testing to do so, and why it’s focused on bringing a tech mentality to every way that it operates.
Oct 10 2019
Rank #11: How Naadam is driving the sustainable cashmere industry
Building deep relationships with the communities trading raw materials is a key factor in establishing a more sustainable supply chain, argues Matt Scanlan of disruptive cashmere brand, Naadam.
Speaking to Liz Bacelar on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, the CEO and co-founder of the company, opens up about how important it is to think about the human side of what we, as an industry, are doing.
"There are fundamental shared experiences across the human experience that we don't think about when we're making clothing; that we don't think about when we're trying to look nice. That was eye-opening to me, and I try really hard to continually push that narrative for people," he says.
His entire business was built first on relationships, he explains, which led him to want to support those he had gotten to know. In this case, we're talking Mongolian goat herders.
His story of how he got there is a well known one – in short he spent a month with local communities in the Gobi Desert and then returned with $2 million stashed in plastic bags to buy tons of raw cashmere directly from them. Doing so allows those goat herders to earn 50% more profit.
Since then, his ambition to transform the cashmere supply chain alongside business partner, Diederik Rijsemus, has grown rapidly. Simultaneously, the consumer mindset on what sustainability is and why it matters is finally starting to take hold, he notes, outlining his drive to keep pushing this forward.
"All I care about is building the biggest platform to share my message which is a very simple passion around why I did it in the first place. The bigger the platform is, the happier I am. I just want more people to know that if you're really thoughtful about sustainability it can foster innovation that lets you make products across a spectrum that are more affordable for the customer and better quality."
Also in the conversation, Scanlan talks about why 100% sustainability is both fake and impossible, the challenges faced by growing and scaling such a brand, and why he now operates via wholesale channels as well as his direct-to-consumer model. The death of traditional retail is hyperbolic, he says.
Apr 19 2018
Rank #12: Lego on the importance of play at retail
Lego's most important feedback often comes from six year-olds, says the brand's head of retail innovation, Martin Urrutia, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
Speaking to Rachel Arthur at this year's World Retail Congress in Madrid, Urrutia says focusing on the relationship between the user and the brick, and constantly listening to consumers' wants and needs, has been pivotal to the Danish brand's longevity.
"Prior to rolling out anything important in our stores we actually sit at a table and present this to children and listen to them. And of course sometimes you say 'Am I going to let a six or eight year old child tell me what to do in store?' and the answer is yes, of course. If you present this to them, if you listen to the feedback, it's going to be interesting," he explains. "I've seen so many companies changing their essence and changing many things," he says, "and the only question that comes to my mind is – have they really asked their core users what they want?"
In order to serve all types of consumers with the right interaction, the brand prides itself on being truly shopper-centric. Understanding the consumer is particularly key to a brand that is in the unique position of having such a vast fanbase – from small children to much older adults. This means engaging with core fans through a continuous conversation informs not only R&D, but also store design and interactive experiences. There have been many ideas that looked good on paper but were scrapped when they received negative feedback from real consumers or partner retailers, Urrutia explains, for instance.
During the episode, he talks to the idea of store experiences that engender memories, and always bringing in an element of play to everything the Lego brand does. Such is the importance of the physical toy for the 85-year-old company, in fact, that it is often found in its meeting rooms worldwide, and its workforce takes one day a year to put work aside and play with the brick themselves. This internal strategy feeds into a larger purpose that encourages customers to play and engage with the toys at any given moment – be it at home or in any one of the brand's increasing retail spaces.
Throughout the conversation, Urrutia also explains about the importance of choosing the right technology for retail; both that which is easy for staff and customers alike to interact with, but also simple to update and scale. He also notes other imperative brick-and-mortar retail tools, such as an invested and knowledgeable staff, as well as ensuring that there is something for everyone within that physical space.
May 11 2018
Rank #13: 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.
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.
Mar 21 2019
Rank #14: L’Oreal on how tech enhances the customer bond
Technology emphasizes the bond of customer experience, says Stephane Lannuzel, operations chief digital officer at L'Oréal, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent Global.
"Every CEO should be consumer-oriented, and technology can reinforce that link," he explains.
For years L'Oréal has been on an innovation path that has seen the group heavily invest in technologies that help personalize the consumer experience across the spectrum – from fully customized products to monitoring tools. At the heart of this is the importance of the shopping experience, Lannuzel notes.
He references Lancôme's custom foundation, Le Teint Particulier, which makes use of a machine expertly mixing a formula to perfectly suit the individual consumer's skin tone. He explains that at the end of the purchase journey, what consumers remember is not the technology itself, but the fact that they were made to feel special. This, he concludes, is the ultimate luxury experience, only enhanced by the use of tech.
There are plenty of challenges to working within such a large organization such as L'Oréal, but part of Lannuzel's role is to make it move faster. Slowly but surely, the company is thinking digital-first; so much so that the group's CEO, Jean Paul Agon, has said that digital is no longer the cherry on the cake for the company, but rather the whole cake itself.
The group approaches digital innovation through the lens of key trends as opposed to the technology itself, Lannuzel further explains. This includes looking at how to reduce a product's time to market; the role of connected products and experiences; more agile operations; and the need for personalization.
During this conversation with TheCurrent Global's Liz Bacelar, Lannuzel also talks about the huge role data and AI is playing in all of this – from manufacturing to consumer-facing interactions – and why there is a sweet spot when jumping on a new technology.
Jan 14 2019
Rank #15: Farfetch on the store of the future
The store of the future is about solving the problems of today in an innovative and meaningful way for the customer, says Sandrine Deveaux of Farfetch, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
Speaking to guest host, Rosanna Falconer, at a live FashMash Pioneers event in London, the managing director of the e-commerce company's store of the future division, explains that her focus in not just on new technology for the sake of it, but on creating better shopping experiences driven by personalization.
Following the announcement of Farfetch's Store of the Future concept in April 2017, Deveaux has been building a series of beta tests in place in Browns East in London, Thom Browne in New York and Chanel in Paris. But the result doesn't mean big flashy screens or variations on augmented reality, as she is so often asked about.
Instead, it's about better servicing the customer; understanding what they want when they walk into stores thanks to data, but also making things like the payment experience a much more seamless one.
She says the store of the future is really about offering the experience of Apple, but the convenience of Amazon, so as to keep in line with increasing consumer expectations.
And so the end goal,for her team, she says, is to provide brands and boutiques with full visibility around customer behavior and customer intent, mirroring what's possible online in the offline space.
"85% of customers, we don't know anything about them. So that's what the store of the future is really getting to – it's about how we leverage the platform we have with Farfetch, and try to really look at online behavior and take that online behavior into an in-store context," she explains. This is something Farfetch calls "enabling the offline cookie".
On this episode, Deveaux also talks to driving disruptive innovation through healthy internal tension, how she's changing the way luxury brands think, and why the ultimate sales associate for the store of the future might just be a unicorn.
Jun 07 2018
Rank #16: Martine Jarlgaard on how blockchain can redefine fashion
"We are such a closed, centralized system. Being open and transparent is the only way forward," says designer Martine Jarlgaard with regards to applying blockchain to the fashion industry, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
In 2017, Jarlgaard piloted a blockchain system hoping to address the level of transparency that she believes is missing in the fashion industry. Today, she continues on a mission to push an open supply chain that not only enables consumers to make more informed decisions, but allows those in the chain to be held accountable, and receive the exposure they deserve. The overarching result, she hopes, is that brands will start acting more responsibly.
From her perspective, systemic change is needed in this regard. "The fashion industry as it stands today is ancient, and I'm struggling to understand why it hasn't realized that and why it's not using this incredible opportunity to stand in and really show vision, and to see what the future is."
Since the inception of her namesake fashion label, Jarlgaard has been investigating ways to extend the value of a physical product through tools that facilitate transparency and sustainability. The blockchain project, for example, registered and traced each step of the journey of a garment via an app from London-based startup, Provenance, which customers could access by scanning a QR code found on the label. This was one of the very first examples of fashion applied to such a digital ledger.
Jarlgaard is passionate about decelerating the damage that people and the industry have already done to the planet, and deploying technology is one way she is striding towards that goal. She's also exploring mixed reality, the role of art, and what the textiles lab of the future looks like, as further crucial fields.
In this conversation with Rachel Arthur, she emphasizes the huge responsibility that sits on the industry's shoulders to start driving sustainability forward, how brands need to redefine the value of a product to change the way consumers shop, and why she believes innovation is what will enable a radical difference for good.
Jul 10 2018
Rank #17: 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.
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.
Apr 18 2019
Rank #18: Dirty Lemon on feeding a constant need for newness
"We're operating under the thesis that billion dollar brands will not exist in the future," says Zak Normandin, founder and CEO of Iris Nova, the company behind wellness drink brand, Dirty Lemon, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.
"I know Dirty Lemon isn't going to be popular in a few years. And I want to already have three type of products in the pipeline that we're launching right now, because consumers are very transient in their decisions to buy products," he explains.
Dirty Lemon launched in 2015 and quickly gained the type of cult following that only brands born online manage to achieve. It did so through a mixture of being at the right place, at the right time – in this case, right in the middle of the wellness boom – and carefully crafted branding that positioned it as a lifestyle offering, rather than just a product.
But Normandin, a CPG entrepreneur at heart, has much bigger plans than creating fleeting frenzy around a single product line. From inception, his Instagrammable bottles could only be bought online, with purchase being completed via text message. In 2018, it launched the Drug Store, an unmanned retail concept where customers could pick up a Dirty Lemon drink and simply walk out, texting to complete their purchase as they did so. This innovative retail model, alongside a stream of new product launches happening over the next few months, demonstrates Normandin's ambitions to keep reacting to customer needs and behaviors before they move onto the next hot thing.
During this conversation, recorded at this year's SXSW at the Current Global's Innovation Mansion, Normandin also share with Liz Bacelar the new products launching under the Irs Nova family, what the retail experience is doing to inform future product development, and how Coca Cola is not only one of the brand's biggest investors, but also its competitor.
Apr 01 2019
Rank #19: LEVI’S ON THE RISKS OF THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
"[The fashion industry] is 60% larger than it needs to be relative to the actual quantity of demand," says Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Product Innovation at Levi's, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.
He is referring to the fact six out of 10 garments produced every year are being discarded to landfill or incinerated within the first year of their production. The result is that those working in this world need to either think about how you can eliminate overproduction, or instead build new business models around only making and selling the four that are actually wanted, he explains, even if it affects business growth.
An alternative response to that concept is the so-called "circular economy", whereby items are not discarded but put back into the system, which to overly simplify matters, enables businesses to continue with growth while aiming for lesser impact. But Dillinger believes such moves are merely providing brands with a guilt-free alternative to keep overproducing at a point when the technology for a truly circular system isn't yet scalable. He instead refers to the idea of credible "circular industrial ecologies", which are much more complex to operate and achieve.
"One of them is a corporate compliance officer selling a new shiny penny to a board of directors in the C-suite, and the other one is a studious and scientific approach to really tackling a real challenge," he explains.
At Levi's, Dillinger is otherwise looking at key areas like reducing the brand's use of water. "I think people's right to drink fresh water should be prioritized above a company's right to access fresh water for production," he explains.
In this conversation, hosted in front of a live audience at the Current Global's Innovation Mansion at SXSW 2019, he explains what that looks like through theinnovative work he's been doing with hemp. He also gets technical with host Rachel Arthur about the many ways in which Levi's is working to make its supply chain responsible in one of the most complex industries in the world.
Apr 04 2019
Rank #20: Departing Neiman Marcus exec Scott Emmons on how retail innovation is failing
Internal teams can no longer deliver the results needed to drive the industry forward, says Scott Emmons, departing head of the Neiman Marcus iLab, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. Responsible for setting up one of the most established retail innovation programs in the world, Emmons is now bringing his insights and expertise to TheCurrent Global as he joins as the company as the chief technology officer.
He joins at a time where he believes internal labs should be replaced by a more open approach to innovation, where collaboration is key. "You've got to build better partnerships that go beyond the four walls of the retailer. If everything happens within those four walls then what you keep doing is the same thing over and over again," says Emmons, who launched the lab in 2012. "Because you're not bringing in fresh ideas, you're not bringing in fresh approaches to retail. You continue to iterate the things which you're good at."
During his time at Neiman Marcus, Emmons was responsible for introducing innovative technologies to its stores such as smart mirrors, new fitting room technology, 4K touch table lookbooks and a clienteling tool that better links a customer's online to offline behavior, while arming associates with the tools to better serve them 1-2-1.
Speaking to CEO Liz Bacelar, Emmons outlines why innovation executives have their hands tied and how innovation is often stalled by internal culture. They also discuss a solution to unlock rapid change in retail.
Jan 17 2019