decoded fashion

Decoded Fashion SXSW

Every year Austin opens it’s city to over 30,000 visitors for the notorious SXSW festival and last week we joined the lineup with our first event! With over 500 attendees crossing the threshold to take in three hours of panels, talks and face-to-face meetings at the Mentorship Hub. Here are the best bits from the conversations that took place.

First up, ” Onboarding Tech” with Amy Walker, Director of Online Marketing at Neiman Marcus, Jen Rubio, Global Director of Innovation at AllSaints and Will Young, Director of Zappos Labs at Zappos.com

All speakers emphasised their preference for finding new tech companies through networking and receiving recommendations from venture capital firms over receiving cold calls and emails.

Brands don’t want to be subjected to hard sales pitches that make unrealistic promises, but would rather engage in a conversation with a startup that has done extensive background research about the brand, has contacted the relevant department to pitch, and already has an idea about what the challenges may be and how they could be tackled. And naturally, if the technology is easier to onboard, then brands will implement it much faster. Young drives home this point “If you set the expectations we are doing something really interesting, that you might be interested in and we would love to learn what your challenges are […]’ it’s much more of a conversation than guns blazing sales pitching. And then I leave that meeting feeling like I wanna continue that conversation.”

And what technologies are brands looking for? Brands want to increase their conversion rates and their ROI in an engaging and sustainable manner, rather than invest in a fad that attracts media attention. What tools can help them seamlessly merge their content and their commerce? What can help them build an online community by telling their brand story?

Our second panel focused on content curation, featuring Rachel Tipograph, Director of Global Digital and Social Media at GAP, Kristina Di Matteo, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Kate Spade and Katalina Sharkey de Solis, Director of Digital at Chanel.

Tipograph cited simplicity as key, it’s at the core of GAP’s brand and that filters into all of their processes, whether it’s creating content, or onboarding a new start-up. This also rings true for the Kate Spade brand, who have a tiny team creating all this fantastic content, but if it’s too complicated to onboard it just doesn’t work.

With luxury, Sharkey de Solis pointed out that social media channels engage aspirational and potential luxury consumers much more than they do existing consumers. The challenge for them  is finding a way in which to excite current consumers, which means, “We’re really looking for experiential technologies because with this very high-end consumer, they’re not necessarily wanting to engage with the brands on [social media] channels” – Sharkey de Solis

And, though traditional long-term branding campaigns may not be devised with specific measurement matrices in mind and may be ideally measured qualitatively, Di Matteo emphasised how difficult it is for brands to quantitatively measure the success of more fast-moving online campaigns. “If it were up to me, I would create the coolest reporting tool that would allow for me to understand everything that’s happening and have it really succinctly tie up into my [ecommerce] data because, at the end of the day, our goal is to generate sales, but also be able to tell a great story.” Anyone got an idea for this?

Last week’s event was a milestone for Decoded Fashion, and you can be sure to find us at next year’s SXSW.

For all the photos from the event you can check them out here, and for further SXSW fashion coverage take a peek at the FT’s feature and Stylus’s report.

Reported by Anna Abrell 

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Decoded Fashion at SXSW presented by Cusp by Neiman Marcus is the only event bringing together digital heads of Fashion, Beauty & Retail brands to discover and mentor startups founders.

On stage, it will host two panels on brands seeking new tech, with speakers from Gap, Zappos.com, Neiman Marcus, AllSaints, kate+spade and Chanel. Fast paced startup demos will uncover what’s hot in fashion and tech, with a closing presentation from former TopShop CMO, Justin Cooke.

At the Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub presented by Stylus, tech founders can receive candid feedback and advice on their startup concept and plans, from investors and various executives in Fashion and Retail. Each mentor will offer 10-minute sessions and these are not to be mere sales pitch sessions, but an opportunity for founders to explore their messaging, value prop and even pricing with those who truly understand your target market.

To sign up for a mentor meeting, head to www.decodedfashion.com/sxsw/.

Apple Store Meetup

Screaming girls and Sherlock Holmes, what a way to open our Apple Store Meetup. If you arrived on time, you would’ve been met with an outpour of Benedict Cumberbatch fans, as we did a swift turn around to get ready for our event.

With a full house, it was time for us to reveal our 2014 Calendar and a special opportunity for founder Liz Bacelar to tell the story behind Decoded Fashion. We unveiled our plans for SXSW and the launch of the Fashion Hackathon and Summit for London this May. Not only that, but this year we have expanded our Meetup to create a global community to uncover the best tech in fashion. January saw us head to Toronto, whilst in March we will be in Dublin, Berlin and Singapore.

Up next fit solutions go to war Fits.me and Metail- let battle commence!! With the CEO’s of both discussing different approaches to the problem of fit and how they are bringing return rates down. There is no doubt the tech is great but do customers use it? With the key issues across fit solutions being 3D representation, digitising clothes cheaply and size/shape of people against size/shape of clothing. It’s also about understanding consumer mindset and behaviour, do they need to learn to use a fit tool? And the bigger question to be asked to the retailers, do they prefer conversion sells vs reduced return? With both solutions collecting a huge database of “body shapes”, it’s clear that there is further potential in this data, yet to be put into practise. With Metail CEO Tom Adeyoola closing with “the past 5 years have been about putting infinite things on the internet, the next 5 will be about making choices”.

Diffusing the debate, CEO, Runar Reistrup introduces Depop, a mobile shopping app, that could be described as a little like Instagram with a buy button.  Yes, it is another social shopping app but what stands out is it’s network of influential sellers and it’s clever use of high profile social figures to help onboard users. It’s a great way for emerging designers to sell directly to the consumer, with Designer Katie Eary using Depop to sell her designs straight from the runway.

And finally, what a breath of fresh air when ShuffleHub’s two young founders took to the stage. With a dramatic intro and a book on the floor here is Shufflehub “taking away the work and bringing the feel good” to shopping. Taking us through the UX golden rules and introducing us to a humorous testing regime on hungover friends. “We get out friends drunk, and make them sleep over” just to prove it’s easy to use. Aiming for the purest and simplest browsing on the internet, one big button, easy shopping for when you don’t know what you want and also for when you do. We have a good feeling about these boys!

The podcast is now available for download on itunes.

Toronto has joined London, Sydney, New York and Milan to become the next host city for Decoded Fashion’s global fashion and technology meetup. Hosted by The Working Group, Toronto’s first leg kicked off with a keynote from Fashionotes, followed by the latest from three of Canada’s hottest startups Flixel, Kiwi Wearables and Fashion Forward. And if that wasn’t enough, we threw in a live 3D printing demo from Makelab!

dfFashionotes kicked things off with an exploration of the latest fashion and technology trends. As one of the only dedicated fashion and technology publications they are well placed to spot what’s hot – the rise of the flash sale, Instagram’s growing role in driving e-commerce and socially-integrated street style. They also gave us their top three startups to watch out for in 2014: The Cools, The Runthrough and Poshmark.

Fans of America’s Next Top Model will already be familiar with Flixel, creators of the cinematography-inspired “living photograph” which can be used to create digital campaigns, portfolio pieces, art pieces and more. Their team also provides consulting for brands and agencies, and offers a complete visual package using cinemagraphs to enhance any type of campaign.

Kiwi Wearables, creators of the Kiwi Move, joined us fresh from their CES Debut. The Kiwi Move is a smart activity tracker that sync it with internet-enabled devices whilst its supporting app analyses wearer’s behaviour and suggests improvements over time. Imagine a sleek device that clips to your collar that can help you track and organize your life.

Fashion Forward, a recent graduate of Toronto’s INCubes Accelerator, shared tales from the front lines of a new fashion startup. Their mission is to help consumers maximize the resale value of their wardrobe by giving them a place to list their unwanted clothes and browse for new items. They spoke candidly about the challenges that face a new startup in the space, giving the audience plenty of food for thought about what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur.

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Reported by Holly Knowlman, The Working Group

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