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CK closing its Ready-To-Wear Business

The Phillips-Van Heusen-owned brand won't replace Raf Simons' 205W39NYC ready-to-wear line.

Calvin Klein is closing down its luxury collection business, closing its offices in Milan and making staff redundant in New York, according to a source. Michelle Kessler-Sanders, the president of the 205W39NYC ready-to-wear business, will leave the company in June 2019. Overall, about 100 people, or 1 percent of PVH's global workforce, will be affected.

After Calvin Klein parted ways with chief creative officer Raf Simons at the end of 2018, they said it was rethinking its approach to the luxury market, on a strategy that would “[offer] an unexpected mix of influences and moving at an accelerated pace."

In January, it was announced that the brand would close its 654 Madison Avenue flagship store, which Simons renovated in 2017, in addition to other changes, some of which came to fruition very soon.

The brand’s sales come from their underwear and denim lines, much of which is produced by third-party licensing partners. But chief executive Steve Shiffman still plans to develop what the source called "aspirational" products. The search for a new design director to lead that effort continues, but it's presumed that the designer won’t be as high profile as Simons.

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YouTube has a New Fashion and Beauty Partnerships Division, just like Instagram

YouTube is forming a new division dedicated to fashion and beauty content partnerships, led by Derek Blasberg. The appointment comes less than a week after Instagram launched its long-form video app, IGTV, in a clear bid to compete with the Google-owned platform.With him, YouTube has found a popular, well-connected frontman to court fashion and beauty leaders. A former columnist and editor for Style.com, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion and lifestyle publications for over a decade, Blasberg is leaving his role as the host of CNN Style on CNN International after two years and heading to YouTube full time. He will retain a role as a contributing editor at Condé Nast’s Vanity Fair, where he was appointed the title of Our Man on the Street in 2015.

Blasberg will be based in New York and is tasked with cultivating relationships with brands and high-profile people in the industry so that they will use the platform more often, more effectively and build audiences there. A different division at YouTube will continue to focus on fashion and beauty influencers who built their followings on the platform.

Instagram hired Eva Chen, the former editor-in-chief of Lucky Magazine, in 2015 to play a similar role as head of fashion partnerships at Instagram. Since then, the platform has deepened its connection with the fashion and beauty sectors by working with designers, brands, stylists, makeup artists and influencers to ensure they get the most out of Instagram. Chen’s team assists in creating content and helps these industry players engage with their audiences.

Blasberg is a smart hire, but he has his work cut out for him. Instagram has an outsized influence in the highly visual fashion world. The platform and its fashion partnerships team have become an active part of the industry scene, most recently sponsoring a table at the Met Gala and supporting tentpole events like the CFDA Awards by installing and running Instagram-friendly photo sets. With the launch of IGTV, brands and influencers have a new outlet for vertically aligned videos for up to one hour in length, edging closer to something more typically found on YouTube.

“Vertical video is ideal for fashion and it’s a format that younger audiences are really comfortable with,” said Jim O’Neill, principal analyst at Ooyala, a video and analytics technology company. “The whole idea of up to an hour-long option is potentially really big for Instagram influencers, more so than even brands.”

YouTube has some advantages, including a larger user base — 1.8 billion unique monthly visitors to Instagram’s 1 billion — who are already trained to search for videos on the platform. On YouTube, Chanel has 1.1 million subscribers; a recent campaign video for its Bleu de Chanel Parfum was seen 3.8 million times. On Instagram, where the house has 28.5 million followers, the same commercial was viewed 250,000 times in the feed post format.

“In this newly created role, Derek will collaborate with our incredible creators and diverse portfolio of brands to achieve even more success," said Merryman in a statement.

YouTube already has some fashion trailblazers: model Karlie Kloss launched her own channel, Klossy, in 2015 and now has over 700,000 subscribers. She recently released a series sponsored by Ford as part of a partnership with her nonprofit Kode with Klossy, that features her interviewing trailblazers in science and technology.

The platform is also more popular with younger users. According to a recent Pew Center study of teens ages 13 to 17, 85 percent of teens said they use YouTube — the most commonly used platform — while 72 percent said they use Instagram. In terms of frequency of use, 35 percent of respondents said they use Snapchat more than other social media platforms, while 32 percent use YouTube the most and only 15 percent use Instagram the most.

Chriselle Lim, a fashion and beauty influencer who is often found in the front row at fashion shows around the world, said YouTube is a better platform for her tutorials and narrative videos. She’s been posting on the platform for almost 10 years and said her Instagram audience (1.1 million followers) and YouTube audience (761,000 subscribers) are completely different, with the latter being younger.

“I don’t see YouTube going away because it has such a separate audience and community there,” she said.

Lim is interested to see if Instagram users actually watch longer videos on the platform, because she knows that many users flip through Instagram Stories quickly. “We are so used to quick, bite-sized content on Instagram and YouTube really is for the long-form,” said Lim. She is going to save her more highly produced content for YouTube for now, but adds that it’s too early to say how she will approach IGTV.

Deepica Mutyala, an influencer who got her start after a YouTube beauty tutorial she posted in 2015 went viral, said her audiences on both platforms are about the same size. But her YouTube viewers are more global and younger, and brands pay higher rates for branded video on the service than on Instagram, in part because the platform is better suited for high production quality content. (She has 192,000 subscribers on YouTube and 168,000 followers on Instagram.)

“[For brands], it’s not always about getting the views,” said Mutyala, adding that this might change with the launch of IGTV. But she hopes the vertical video format, which resembles a FaceTime video call, will be a place for looser, more experimental videos. “I naturally film with my phone vertically anyways.”

“[IGTV] is sort of making [Instagram] a one-stop shop,” she continued. “You’re getting YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook all in one.”

Nike to make a push into Fashion

Nike is partnering with Matthew Williams, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Alyx, in a conscious move to make its performance category more fashionable. Matthew's work takes cues from the current youth culture and is recognised for his more practical approach to fashion, will launch his 18-piece fashion collaboration with Nike in mid July, which includes outerwear, monochrome leggings and a wide range of accessories such as logo-ed socks, face masks and towels.

Matthew's partnership with Nike, which has men’s, women’s and unisex collections, will be within Nike’s Training category, making this one of its first major collaborations with a fashion designer within the division. He founded Alyx in 2015 and has been working on the collaboration with Nike for the past year and a half.

He has a young fan base, and his brand's roots in merging street culture with practical garment construction, fits well with Nike’s Training division. But the collection also symbolises a wider strategic shift in the sport firm’s ambition to join its performance and lifestyle divisions, as it responds to the buying behaviours of young consumers, who often see less of a distinction between the two categories.

Nike still remains the world’s leading sportswear player in terms of revenue, but its performance-driven approach to apparel and footwear has lost some degree of “cool” in the eyes of young consumers, who often favour aesthetic and lifestyle features over performance and still make up a majority of the company’s clientele. Nike’s designer collaborations, including those with Kim Jones, Olivier Rousteing and Riccardo Tisci, also made a smaller cultural impact than those launched by Adidas.

( Photos Credit: Nick Knight )

Live Video Shopping in a Covid19 World

Video platforms like Zoom have rekindled the technology side of businesses, and helped reimagine how retail can target everyone working from home, to shop from home and new creative partnerships are springing up.

In June, Frame entered into a four-month pilot agreement with Bambuser AB to bring its consumers a new kind of shopping experience through live video shopping.

“This partnership allows us to create an even more immersive shopping experience and engage with our customers in real-time in circumstances when we can’t interact in-person,” said Jens Grede, cofounder and creative director of Frame. “We’re always looking for ways to enhance our shopping experience and Bambuser’s live shopping video feature allows us to blend our off-line and online channels in an engaging and entertaining way that more prominently highlights our current collections.”

Bambuser was founded in Stockholm in 2007 as the “world’s first company with a platform for interactive mobile live video broadcasting” though introduced live video shopping just last year. The company’s proprietary streaming technology is an end-to-end solution that enables mobile livestreaming directly on a brand or retailer’s web site.

“With the live shopping videos, we’re taking a leap into the future of retail and allowing brands to interact with their audience in the way they interact with each other, online or via smartphones,” said Sophie Abrahamsson, chief business development officer at Bambuser. “As the e-commerce space has grown over the past few months, retailers are looking for more efficient ways to deliver their products and brand experience to their consumers while they’re unable to interact in-person.”

“Brands like Frame are interested in taking their e-commerce channel to the next level by creating an even more engaging digital shopping experience where consumers can shop their latest pieces while also asking everything they want to know about it and getting feedback in real-time,” Abrahamsson said.

“We’ve seen an increase in e-commerce sales over the past few months and believe that consumers will continue shopping online even as some cities begin to reopen,” Grede said. “We pride ourselves on providing authentic and seamless customer experience and believe that brands need to create an e-commerce platform that helps consumers shop on their terms. Right now, consumers are looking for seamless and contactless ways to shop their favorite brands whether it’s shopping online, curbside pickup or one-on-one virtual shopping appointments — and our biggest priority is to continue to ensure the health and safety of our customers and workforce.”

Through the new functionality, Frame will be hosting live shopping videos on a monthly basis tapping into its large base of influencers and stylists to present the newest products and collections. The videos will highlight clothing fit, fabric technology and styling.

“Working with influencers and stylists has been a part of Frame’s DNA since Day One having collaborated with notable names in the industry like Imaan Hammam, Karlie Kloss and Tamara Mellon to name a few,” Grede said. “It only made sense to continue providing our customers with the best content and insight into fashion with stylists and influencers who’ve been longtime friends and supporters of the brand.”

The first live shopping video was hosted by Zanna Roberts Rassi, E! News style correspondent. During the session, Roberts Rassi walked through how to style various looks from the brand’s latest products and answered questions submitted by viewers.

According to Bambuser’s web site, its live video shopping technology sees an average of 6.2 times engagement rate compared to the industry average and 4.7 times the add-to-cart rate.

“Technology is a driving force that’s helping consumers and businesses alike navigate through the new normal we’re living in. It can help us now more than usual, as it allows us to connect people, products and data together, as well as give you access to share information around the world practically instantaneously so that everyone can stay connected. For businesses, this is crucial in order to survive during these unprecedented times by efficiently connecting virtually with their teams and customers,” Abrahamsson said.

On July 10, Bambuser announced a new partnership with Moda Operandi.


Mario Testino and Bruce Weber Banned from Condé Nast over sexual exploitation accusations

Fifteen current and former male models and thirteen male assistants and models have accused top fashion photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, of coercive sexual behavior. The investigation has been in the works since the last couple of months.

Though representatives of both the accused have denied all allegations, publishing giant Condé Nast have announced, it will stop working with them. So far spokespersons for Michael Kors Holding ltd and Stuart Weitzman, have also said that they will not be working with MarioTestino in the foreseeable future.

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