– By Khahlil Louisy
For two days last week, fashion and beauty industry professionals converged at Art Beam in west Chelsea, to talk about all things fashion, beauty, and technology, at this year’s DECODED Fashion & Beauty, a global event series connecting decision-makers in Fashion, Beauty, and Retail with emerging and established technology companies. Here are the five key takeaways from the two-day event:
1) Fashion and Beauty Brands are still trying to figure out how to navigate the two industries, that have been democratized as a result of social media and the impact of digital influencers. Interestingly, this problem also affects media and publishing companies, who now have to find ways to reach and communicate with consumers. As Stefan Larsson, former CEO of Ralph Lauren and who also worked at H&M, and Old Navy, said, “the consumer is no longer predictable.” Jonathan Saunders, Chief Creative Officer of Diane Von Furstenberg shares the same sentiment, pointing to changing marketing strategies to include social-media and changing show formats to include the consumer, as well as understanding that consumers may better relate to their peers, rather than the elitism of celebrity, or high-brown journalists telling them what to do.
On the beauty side, Tina Pozzi, Vice President of Global Brand Marketing at Urban Decay Cosmetics and Jamie Mandor-Glassman, Senior Vice President of Marketing & E-commerce, both identified authenticity as being crucial when engaging social media influencers to partner with on digital campaigns, as a way to tell compelling stories that consumers can identify with and buy into. For the beauty brands, navigating these digital channels can get murky and remains an onward challenge, particular for new brands.
2) Sustainability is front of mind for many in the industry. True, the term has become a buzzword of sorts, with brands trying to capitalize on consumers’ increasing interest in the impact of human activities on the environment. However, there is also genuine interest in implementing changes that will reduce the industry’s waste contribution and carbon footprint. A presentation by Dr. Amanda Parkes, Chief Innovation Officer of the Fashion Tech Lab, highlighted the new technologies currently being developed by companies that are supported by the Fashion Tech Lab. One such company is Orange Fiber, that transforms byproducts of orange juice production into fabric, and who has collaborated with brands like Ferragamo. Another such company is Bionic, which converts marine plastic into yarn, and MycoWorks, which is developing a food-grade synthetic leather. All of these incredible developments are supported by the Fashion Tech Lab, which was created by Miroslava Duma, co-founder of Buro 24/7, with $50 million to invest in new technology.
3) There is a missed opportunity in the men’s skincare and grooming market. The entirety of the segments at DECODED Beauty, focused on the women’s segment of the market and ways of attracting and communicating to an all female audience. Just this week, Business of Fashion published an article on the growing category. This is a shift that became apparent to me, based on the performances of skincare and grooming articles published right here on BONNE New York. Readers typically respond positively to skincare features, sharing content and spending more time on those pages. Brands need to adjust their messaging strategies and begin focusing on targeting the male consumer, who is increasingly spending money on self care, which includes skin and grooming products.
4) The future is simultaneously awesome and scary. One segment of the two-day event focused on how the “internet of eyes” will allow your inanimate objects to see, which was lead by Evan Nisselson, General Partner at LDV Capital. Imagine this scenario: You wake up, your “smart bedroom” gets your coffee started, your closet will sort outfit options for you based on outside temperature, the mirror in your bathroom will have your vitals on the screen, informing you about any changes to your body and health. Meanwhile, elsewhere, your car is starting up, your kitchen robot is preparing breakfast for you or your kids, your fridge has detected that you’re out of 2% milk, so it has placed an order, which is already on it’s way to your house. The longer you reside in your house, the more it learns about you and the easier it becomes for it to predict what your needs, wants, and next move will be. This scenario is easily the best thing that can happen to you, to make life more convenient, and also the worst, because we’ve all seen the movies, and it never really ends well.
5) Brands continue to blame social-media for poor business performance, instead of the archaic methods by which their business may be conducted or structured. It is clear that strategies must be adjusted to move brand performance positively with the current shifts in the industry. In a conversation between the Wall Street Journal reporter, Miriam Gotfried and Stefan Larsson under the title: “Tomorrow’s New Normal? Fashion Retail – Redefined,” Mr. Larsson pointed out the importance of creating a collaborative work environment within companies, while reducing the number of layers between senior management and their junior associates. He also spoke about adapting business strategies to the cultural changes and reflecting that message in the branding, instead of remaining entrenched in the company’s heritage.
The two day event was both incredibly insightful and informational and served as a wonderful environment to establish new connections, while dissecting industry issues with like-minded individuals.
All images from Factory PR