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These Fashion Shifters are Finding Innovative Ways to Reinstate Retail Relevance

Ads, gimmicks and billboards may not work for retail today, but innovation, creativity and tailored attention does if brands know how to employ them.

The retail industry has gotten itself in a position where waste is at an all time high, innovative marketing is at an all time low and promotions have most brands stuck in a cycle they can’t seem to crawl out of.

“We are at over 50 percent of clothing sold at a discount,” Matthijs Crietee, secretary general for the International Apparel Federation, said during a talk he co-moderated at Premiere Vision Paris last month. As such, he added, “Companies are adding value in new and innovative ways.”

One such way has been merging real life with what’s happening on television.

Tasked with taking a dated brand into the modern day, Jurian van der Meer, commercial director for Dutch production company Endemol Shine, paired Netherlands fashion brand WE with the longest running Dutch soap opera Good Times, Bad Times, writing the clothing line right into the story line.

In the show, leading character Nina Saunders is a fashion designer and creates a collection for the real brand WE—both on the show and in real life. Viewers got to watch along as she designed the line, which culminated with a fashion show, which happened in real life, hosted real life bloggers and also appeared on an episode in the show. What’s more, the collection designed in the show was available in WE stores and on its website in line with the airing of the fashion show episode.

What resulted, according to van der Meer, was that 2.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the fashion show episode, and WE outsold the collection they had reserved for that evening.

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“WE had a 300 percent turnover increase when the collection was available for the show,” van der Meer said. “It created a lot of buzz because it was not really seen before, that in depth of a collaboration with a TV show.”

After that, perception of the WE brand as being “cool” went from 25 percent to 37 percent, and the feeling that it personally appeals to the consumer jumped from 25 percent to 40 percent.

The fact that brands appeal to the consumer on a level that at least feels personal has been big through all facets of the shopping journey, from marketing approach to product offering and especially fit.

That’s why Ronen Luzon decided to launch MySizeID, a technology that lets users take their own body measurements using nothing but their smartphones.

With MySize technology available in the free SizeUp measurement app, users can move their phones from one shoulder to the next for a chest measurement or along the length of their leg and sensors determine the distance the phone has traveled and returns accurate measurements. Once users have created their size profile they can save it and use it to know their exact right size with any partnered clothing retailer also using the technology. Varied sizing across brands doesn’t matter, because the technology can determine the user’s size for the specific brand they’re buying from based on the retailer’s size chart and the user’s body shape and measurements.

Naturally, the technology is expected to reduce e-commerce’s return dilemma by helping shoppers find the right size the first time. Similar technologies like Virtusize, according to Luzon, have helped retailers like Asos reduce their return rates by 50 percent.

What sets Israel-based MySize apart from its competitors, however, is the tape measure that’s essentially built right into the phone.

“We don’t make you stand half naked, tell us what’s the last item that you bought,” he said. “We just take real measurements with the mobile, which everyone has handy all the time.”

[Read more about retail innovations at PV Paris: Introducing Foursource: Online Dating for Apparel Sourcing]

For Setlog, the thing that’s been helping the software company move brands into modern day, is optimized value chain management. While innovation and personalization and fixing sizing are all well and necessary, if a brand can’t manage what’s moving in its supply chain to accommodate all of that, much of it may be for naught.

The company’s cloud-based software platform connects all points along the supply chain from purchase order to logistics and reporting and manages vendor and compliance collaboration for social audits and ratings. It’s open source, according to Setlog CEO Guido Brackelsberg. It enables brands to experiment, gather skilled and motivated people, share values, maintain efficient processes and always be improving.

Things in retail are getting “damn tough,” Brackelsberg said pointing to bankruptcies and store closures and change that’s happening faster than most retailers are realizing.

“If you want to run a brand, you should really wake up to what’s happening out there,” Brackelsberg said.