Fashion + Tech

FTF:  Creating the Future

Whim travelled to Los Angeles to experience the west coast edition of the Fashion Tech Forum.  This was an exciting opportunity for us to hear from the leading brands in the fashion and technology space.  

FTF - Invitation

The event was kicked off with a panel focused on the transformation of micro living with a partnership between Ikea & Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh.  With a small micro-living trend kicking off in Detroit, it was interesting to hear how Virgil & Hendrick are designing for the future.  together, they reiterated that when we look to the future, we won't have our traditional designations of living rooms & dining rooms - we will have life rooms that all support and interact in a way that meets our needs.  And, Virgil reminded us that irony is a new design emotion that is picking up speed. 

The next panel focused on the empowerment of women in the industry - something that is an important mission for us.  The co-Founder of Good American - Emma Grede (partnered with Khloe Kardashian) - led most of the discussion with a thoughtful reminder of how you make an impact and build momentum for a new brand.  Closing out the panel was an interesting Q&A session that was initiated by the owner of a small label who is currently in an intellectual property legal battle with Good American.  The question around supporting small designers and acknowledging their designs was a moment where the big brands vs little brands rivalry became a side discussion. 

We were very excited to hear from the panelist focused on sustainability and social missions with the CEOs of Olivela, Allbirds & Reformation sharing their vision.  We are not going to lie, it was interesting to hear the challenges brands are facing with sustainability missions and making garments affordable for the consumer.  Since we have been collaboration with some of our local Detroit brands, I think our local artisans are providing comparable content related to sustainability and supply chain challenges.   

Our favorite moments of the day were focused on the presentation by the Nike Chief Design Officer - John Hoke.  Clearly, Nike has been leading the way for creating an iconic brand focused on rebelliousness and innovation.  He shared their new Brand Genesis strategy which integrates computational design, amplified imagination & next level craft to 'think beneath the skin' of their products to propel performance for their athletes.  Nike's mission is to create products that give their customers goosebumps.  Being athletes ourselves, this experience made us want to throw on our shoes and kick ass the rest of the day.

FTF - Will.i.am

The next thrilling moment came from the panel with Will.i.am.  Being Black Eyed Peas fans, we knew at he was always a futurist and he delivered on his vision for I Am +.  He had a humorous, yet stern message for designers.

"The storm of disruption is coming and I hope you aren't making umbrellas."

Will.i.am reminded us - we need to think big, like really big and create things that will make our lives more seamless.  Design for your future self was his message - think about how you want to live in 40 years.  

One of my favorite technology discussions was led by the Chief Strategy Officer of Farfetch - Stephanie Phair.  Farfetch is a global eCommerce luxury brand experience that connects small brick and mortar boutiques to the global marketplace.  Stephanie shared strategically their focus has been on implementing platforms that are microservice structured to be responsive to the needs of their customers and boutiques, which is about 1500 boutiques across the world.  Her vision of the 'Store of the Future' provided some of the most relevant and innovative ideas around how customers will interact and exchange information for a higher level of service.

The CEO of Fender Music Instruments - Andy Mooney - was also a favorite.  Andy also reminded us to think and dream big.  As he shared, most of the ideas he presented either got him mocked by colleagues or close to being fired. 

Andy presented an interesting case study around how they used data to learn more about their customers.  These insights were the basis of how they implemented their digital strategy to further engage those new players with the brand, without compromising the quality and craftsmanship of their guitars. 

He shared several interesting data insights, but the most interesting was how they identified and focused their ecommerce strategy to support a new customized guitar line, after he tried to design a custom guitar for his daughter.  Currently, the Mod Shop at Fender has more than half of their revenue coming from custom designed guitars. 

FTF - Angela Ahrendts

Closing out the eventful day was the SVP of Retail @ Apple - Angela Ahrendts.  She shared her heartfelt story starting of transforming Burberry which landed her on the cover of Fortune magazine for her innovations.  This was enough for Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to pick up the phone and convince her to transition from Fashion to Tech to transform the Apple retail experience. 

She shared that she still holds the vision of Steve Jobs when he said the retail experience should be all about community and support and you should always 'stay in your lane' which is a mantra that means - stay focused on what you are good at and that should be just a couple things.  We think this even holds true for some of the basic principles, which was the first thing Jony Ive shared with her when she joined Apple - don't mess with the retail tables because they are the same table we use in my design lab and that is an important element of our brand.