By Peter Firth
The taxi rides are the worst. London ebbs past as you pensively wait in the back seat to arrive. At the venue you meet the organisers, set up and do your best to disguise the inner turmoil. The time for last-minute additions and note-scribbling has passed. All there is to do is take a quick slurp of tea and conduct a quick mental battening down of the hatches. Then you stand up.
‘Hi everyone, thanks for coming. I’m Peter Firth…’
As the newest member of the presentations team, I am trying my hand at in-house Trend Briefings, brand workshops and student presentations, and I’ve even been let on stage at the Tate Tanks. Since joining the editorial team at LS:N Global in 2011, I have written stories that have ranged from 150-word bulletins to 3,000-word macrotrend features, and covered topics from connected animals to insect dining. Now I get to share the ideas I write about every day with people in a live setting. It’s nerve-wracking, exhausting and terrific fun.
Meanwhile, the presentation has started. The clicker seems to be working and the audience looks expectant. The wobble in your voice goes unnoticed and people start nodding as you speak. So far, so good…
To learn more about how LS:N Global delivers bespoke and off-the-shelf presentations to clients internationally, email Dom Rodgers or call +44 (0) 20 7186 0102.
By Helena Balls
A couple of weeks ago some of the LS:N Global team travelled north to a lovely but slightly cold Helsinki to host our first Trend Briefing there. It was a brilliant few days and to top it all off I was invited to visit the iconic Finnish textile company Marimekko.
On arrival at the premises outside Helsinki I sat down in the beautiful Marimekko sofas to wait for my host, Päivi Lonka, who is part of the management group. While I was waiting I was invited to browse in the on-site store where a friendly sale was open to the public. It was rammed, in a very organised way, with the most beautiful items of clothing, accessories and decorative items. There is also a massive room dedicated to the world-famous Marimekko textiles.
After meeting Päivi and her colleagues Niina Nenonen and Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko I was taken around the showrooms to see the most stunning displays, including the 2013 fairy tale-like Christmas collection, already on show, and a spring/summer 2013 table made for summer lunches or dinners. The summer collection was inspired by Finnish nature such as the rich archipelago, blue skies and wild forests and meadows.
Next was a tour of the textile-printing factory. On the way we walked through a stock room filled with colourful printed fabrics, ranging from the iconic 60s print of the Poppy to last season’s laid back and subtle spring prints.
The factory is not as big as you might expect, but there are loads of elements and stations with different things happening. In the colour kitchen designers mix and select the perfect Pantone shades for a specific print, and in the sampling area staff test their own screens on a piece of fabric to see if it works. Then, of course, there is the station where each centimetre of fabric is checked manually for any faults or imperfections.
What a great place to work. You can not only come up with designs, prints and patterns, but also perform the tests and sampling yourself and finally see your designs go through the factory to the finished product. The whole Marimekko building is a very inspirational, colourful and mood-lifting place, to say the least.
See our facebook album for more photos from the tour.
With heels on, red lips and a suitably statement-making skirt, I descended on the Vogue Festival on 27–28 April – the second after the event was launched last year. This year’s festival was bigger and better than ever. Those interviewed on stage included Michael Kors, founder of Net-A-Porter Natalie Massenet, Victoria Beckham, Alber Elbaz, Donatella Versace and panels including model David Gandy, Patsy Kensit and Daisy Lowe.
Vogue is the latest of a growing number of magazines to launch festivals – offering readers and fans a 360-degree way to immerse themselves in the brand. The Guardian newspaper, Wired, Monocle and It’s Nice That have all recently begun hosting ticketed events where readers can see expert talks, take part in discussions, or engage in workshops. At Vogue’s event readers could have their own Dior Eyes done, and then photograph themselves against a Vogue magazine wall.
The tickets for the Vogue festival weren’t cheap, at £30–40 per session, so this was clearly as much about boosting revenue as about branding and exposure. And it looks like it was a success on that front too – the event was packed with fans, industry types and international students.
I went to see the Michael Kors discussion with Yasmin le Bon on Saturday, and the Victoria Beckham and Alber Elbaz interviews with Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, both held on Sunday.
The Kors talk was fantastic, an outline of his remarkable rise to stardom with long-term model and muse Le Bon. What struck me most was his innate understanding of – and focus on – his core customers. Kors talked about his early years in retail and how that early connection to female shoppers, what they wanted and how they wanted to feel in clothing, has driven his entire business. He recommended that any budding designer start out working in retail to gain a key understanding of what women want.
Alber Elbaz was typically charming – and discussed his love of his female clientele too. ‘It was not the story of design or clothes, it was the fantasy of women that made me want to work in fashion,’ he said. (There is a reason that women become addicted to his party dresses, which make any woman, of any age, look incredible.)
Victoria Beckham was also self-deprecatingly funny, and as engaging as ever. ‘I’m nice. Everyone thinks I’m going to be a cow,’ she said, smiling. ‘I understand it actually. I think the same when I see the pictures,’ she joked. She also talked about how she juggles her family life with a hectic schedule.
Beckham has pulled off a hat trick. Her brand is now recognised as a credible luxury label. The clothes are beautiful. The bags are too. Remarkably, she has harnessed her celebrity power to drive her label’s success and visibility without compromising the integrity or feeling of luxury. Celebrity fashion labels are 10-a-penny, but hers is independently desirable. Her Facebook page is a lesson in this. Much like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, the powerful thing is the sense of personal connection to readers. Both feature just enough first-person, informal quips and snaps of their family, or references to friends, that when you follow them you feel like their friend. This is then skilfully integrated with product shots, press clips and promotions. Clever.
What struck me most about the festival was its intelligent – and at times – insider content. We have been saying it on LS:N Global for a while, but there genuinely seems to be an interest in, and awareness of, insider fashion. Among the big-name Q&As, Vogue’s festival featured debates about body image, a snapshot of to how a photo shoot is made, and a discussion about the rise of fashion blogging featuring Vogue Japan editor-at-large Anna Dello Russo, Susie Lau (or Susie Bubble) and Garance Doré. There was a genuine feeling of a salon or progressive discussion.
Finally – I have to share this for those social marketers out there – I loved their idea of putting business cards on each of the seats for every talk. The cards featured the correct Twitter handle, name and hash tag so that fans were not only reminded to share their experience, but to credit the correct channels. Nice one.
This year’s Milan Design week was quieter than recent years with the financial problems of the eurozone in evidence around the city. But that didn’t stop us from sending three of LS:N Global’s team to report on one of the biggest and most celebrated design shows in the world.
Colour and vibrancy were prevalent at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile and the Re-enlightenment Rising trend shone through with scientific processes at the forefront of design directions as well as rough and ready production methods.
LS:N Global’s Seed section is the open-access section of the network. Updated three times daily, it covers the top stories in trends around the globe.
Here are our pick of the top Seed stories from Milan this year:
Pump it up: Puff! furniture is an experience
Israeli designer Moran Barmaper has created the Puff! collection of metal furniture that can be inflated with a bicycle pump, adding a different experience for users.
On a plate: Designers roll out edible tableware
The latest project by students from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam repurposes kitchen appliances as tools to make biodegradable and edible tableware.
Performance art: Dixon gives Adidas mobile slant
The Capsule for Adidas by Tom Dixon is an installation designed to demonstrate the sports brand’s knowledge of performance through Dixon’s inventive and slick designs.