meetup

Paris Launch

After touching down for all of 8 hrs after SXSW, we hopped on the Eurostar to continue our European Meetup tour! First stop Paris, with the support of our local host Celine Lippi, Co-Founder of Fashion Capital Partners. With a full house at the newly opened Le Numa, it was time to discuss the ins and outs of the ever growing omni-channel.

Kicking off with an opening keynote from Google‘s Pauline Butor who told us an astonishing five billion queries regarding fashion and beauty are made through Google every month! She went on to demonstrate the vast amount of Google tools available to fashion brands, that can help them gather data and create content. Talking us through last years hugely successful Topshop Fashion Week campaign, which used live hangouts to create another layer of content and a live view of a model’s runway walk.

Next both iVentures Consulting and DemandWare discussed how to improve customer experience, with the connection between both physical and digital stores. iVentures Consulting gave us a preview of their eShopper Index, which brands came up top digitally? The top 5 included Zalando, Zappos, Amazon, NET-A-PORTER and Gap.

Fusalp, Vilebrequin & l’Exception debated best practices; rethinking retail with smart shopping experiences, digital windows and customer touchpoints, with a gentle reminder that at the heart of all these tech innovations still remains the physical product and of course the consumer!

The evening closed with 3 startup pitches; Shop’n’Brag, a mobile shopping app that seems to do just about everything, with augmented reality features and deal finders rolled into one; HappyBeacon, allowing retailers to interact directly with the consumer through push notifications and our final startup Bodi.me, joining the fight against returns by letting the consumer try on clothes virtually.

For all the photos from the evening, head over here and Paris, we cannot wait to return in June!

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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What better way to kick off the party season in London than with our Christmas Meetup! Taking over the new BL-NK venue in Shoreditch, we were joined by NET-A-PORTER’s Group Mobile Manager, Sarah Watson giving us some insight into their latest mobile adventure.

NET-A-PORTER have had a fair busy year, one year ago (almost to the day) they started work on a new project focussing on four main areas; influence from others, social community, a place where they could spy on what everyone is doing and loving on the site, and surfacing new products from the the site. Initially they looked at the NAP live feed, and creating a feed around this, but it felt like something was missing, it needed a community feel that would resonate with people. Brainwave- the diary! Everyone has one to jot down ideas and it feels personal, so that became the “visual metaphor” and so the The Netbook was born.

The Netbook is a social shopping app allowing users to see what’s happening on the site and also have a nose at what other people are liking and buying. To start off the app is invite only. Why? “So we could start our community as we mean to go on, making sure we get those key people. Who do we want to drive this community, the people that love fashion, the bloggers, the celebrities, the designers.” The second reason, to make sure the user gets the best experience helping them scale the product effectively. At this stage they “treat themselves as a startup, rather than going with what’s expected, they can go with the unexpected”. A pretty impressive startup, in just two months they have already got a waiting list of several thousand people! And creating the app to act as it’s own social network alongside the likes of the heavy weights. Watson stated “Facebook has fans. Twitter had followers NET- A- PORTER has “admirers.”

We can’t wait to see what’s next!

Our showcase took a walk through three top trends in the Fashion Tech space; fit solutions, retail analytics and visual search.

Incubated by H-Farm, XYZE skyped in from Italy to explain their re-sizing technology for fashion. With so many fit solutions around this is quite different from the rest using a wearable digital meter to match an individual’s measurements to the right size clothing. Integrates with e-tailers and bricks and mortar stores to improve a personalised shopper experience and reduce return rates for the store. We are incredibly excited to see how these guys develop in the next 6 months.

Next up Milan’s Fashion Pitch winners Viewsy, taking on in-store analytics. Stating that “£10.66, every pound that you put into online marketing analytics puts around this back into your pocket”, so if retailers and brands are putting this in online, what are they doing offline?

Viewsy technology is based in store, cutting down the detail, seeing how long the customers interact with merchandise, time spent in store, where they are in store and many more metrics. How? It’s a passive and anonymous device using cellphone signals to take information from the phone .

Using their time to get the audience to ask the questions, Viewsy kicked off with “What you measure, is what you can manage, right? So how does it work?”. Distance of accuracy was the first challenge, the team compare with real life, trawling through hours of video footage to cross-check against what their model is saying. “Our dwell time is accurate to under 30 seconds, with loyalty at 96%” – pretty impressive! Another challenge, what makes them better than their US competitor? “Our data quality is our reputation and our brand” as an enterprise company they focus on large retailers, installing properly within stores, focussing on customer journey and most importantly elevating the importance of their data accuracy.

With engineers from Facebook, Amazon & Google amongst their team, we can’t wait to see more from the team as they continue to close the omni-channel loop.

ASAP54 took to the mic last, with CEO Daniela Cecilio describing fashion as being both emotional and visual. How do you put the two together? ASAP54. Born out of frustration trying to find an Alexa Chung worn jumper through search terms on Google, Cecilio looked to do this through image recognition.

The app allows the user to upload or take a picture and within 5 seconds the results will “pop”, finding a match to the item along with similar items, where you can click through and buy from the retailer site. A social element to the app, allows the user searches to get fed into your profile, so you can see what other users are searching, to then follow for inspiration.

Now here’s the clever bit, if you are unhappy with the result, you can click the “can’t find” button and your request is taken to the in-house styling team to find your item. “When automatic fails, personal steps in”. Setting them apart from the rest, ASAP54 are a Fashion company not a Tech company, taking a Fashion approach to technology!

See you in the New Year, for our next London edition!

We took a new industry intersection last week with our monthly tech showcases. It was all about Beauty –  and the “Pucker Up! Decoded Beauty” event included three cool demos  – Beautified, Merocrat, and iScent – as well as an insightful industry chat with Refinery29.

Our event, hosted at Soho’s WeWork, featured a candid conversation with our special guest Annie Tomlin, Director of Beauty at Refinery29. She acknowledged the need for Tech innovation in the beauty sector and urged tech founders to tune up to possibilities.

“Beauty is often treated like fashion’s little sister. But beauty is where the readers are,” said Tomlin. “The main reason that Fashion-Tech is already developed and Beauty isn’t, is that people aren’t learning about each other’s industries.”

Tomlin asked Tech founders to try to understand the Beauty industry and grasp current opportunities and needs. While there are lots of redundant ideas in Fashion & Tech, there is still very little happening in Beauty.

Lastly, she said that those with a great startup pitch touching upon beauty should feel free to reach out to her directly for a possible story on R29.

The Beautified app team opened its demo with a question: “Why isn’t there a way to book a last-minute beauty appointment?” Founders Annie Evans, Hannah Bronfman, and Peter Hananel said that the lack of last-minute booking options prompted them to build their product.

Beautified invites users to escape chipped nails and bad hair days right now in three easy steps: download, explore, book. The main challenge for the team is to optimize their twofold business model, including both B2B and B2C. Although in its pre-Beta stages, the Beautified trio has already been covered in Vogue and Fashionista.com, and has partnerships with brands like Shibui Spa, Oscar Blandi, John Barrett, and Equinox.

Merocrat followed, aiming to tackle another issue in the Beauty industry: the supply and demand of freelancers. Viktoria Ruubel co-founded the company to offer creative professionals a marketplace where they can upload their portfolios, contact freelancers, and find project-based job opportunities. Users range from makeup artists and hairstylists to designers and photographers. Merocrat went into private beta in October 2012, and according to Ruubel, currently has more than 2,500 users in 21 countries.

The evening was concluded with a demo by Ken Lonyai and Debra Benkler, who invited our attendees to try their dry-air fragrance sampling system, iScent. Previously used by Saks Fifth Ave and Rimmel London, iScent is digitally controlled to release a dry-air fragrance sample that dissipates in only 10 seconds! The system aims to prevent the headaches that make customers reluctant to shop for perfumes, while helping brands retain their customers for an extended time.

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GothamSmith’s rocking headphone-shaped cufflinks aren’t just cool because they make you look like a DJ—they are produced using 3-D printing technology. They start as a powder and become hard metal.

GothamSmith, along with four other companies working in the 3-D printing and technology—Shapeways, Continuum Fashion, Shulogique and Lofty—spoke at Decoded Fashion’s Startup Showcase: Fashion in 3-D last week at Space530. The sold-out meetup event drew fashion experts, media professionals, venture capitalists, lawyers, creatives, and tech enthusiasts who discussed pros and cons of each company and products.

Shapeways, a leader in the field, is an New York-based 3-D printing company that allows a community of members to “make stuff,” everything from jewelry to glasses to handbags. Director of Marketing Carine Carmy passed around a variety of objects created by Shapeways’ users, including a “diamond necklace” and miniature windmill. Shapeways offers entry into the field by offering low-cost products, a company value that Carmy expressed: “Custom doesn’t have to be couture.”

That perspective carried through to GothamSmith as well, as the four men behind it design and produce men’s accessories at affordable price points. Daniel Stillman explained the difference between printing stainless steel, bronze and gold as printed metals and the printing process: layers of stainless steel powder are mixed with a binder. The core is heated, hardening the binder. More powder is added before a second heating process. This results in a final product that is firm and metal like a cut metal but produced from a powder. To give the accessories a touch of flair, each object is tumble polished or electroplated. Any quirks are just part of the product.

We also demo’ed Shulogique’s scanning process for custom high heels. Females step onto a scanning platform which takes 10,000 measurements of each foot and creates a 3-D model which can be fitted with different styles of high heel. The customer then picks and chooses which styles they want for a pair of custom shoes. You can even see a virtual projection of your foot in the different pairs of shoes!

For more on our Fashion in 3-D showcase, including highlights from Continuum Fashion and Lofty, check out the video recap here.

Join our Meetup here.