The DRG Retail Index: Zara, COS, H&M, Ikea X Virgil Abloh

HM conscious exclusive

Here’s our latest retail round up celebrating experimentalism and innovation on the high street. From the latest social campaigns to exciting new collections and retail formats, we’re watching… and shopping.


Zara Studio Collection SS18
Augmented reality (AR) shopping ‘experiences’ have been gaining momentum over the last couple of years, (we liked Burberry’s doodle one the most!) and now it seems, Zara has also got the AR memo. As part of parent company, Inditex’s massive push to embrace more technology in stores, Zara has launched a dedicated AR app experience that enables customers to view miniaturised models, that come to life on their phone screens. These on-demand look books will be triggered at 120 of Zara’s global flagships and for customers who receive their online shopping in special packaging at home. The AR prompts are located in windows or mannequin displays on the shop floor and mean shoppers can ‘Shop the Look’ from the current spring/summer 18 Studio Collection (above). Also included: a social sharing tool as part of the app, allowing users to ‘establish a virtual connection, that appears remarkably real’.

The AR app is available until May 2nd, just before Zara re-launches its new Westfield Stratford flagship store on 17th May where a ‘radical new store concept with technology at its heart’ is set to transform the shopping experience. The AR app is just for starters then…


COS Phillip K Smith iii open sky milan design week
The COS installation at Milan Design Week always makes me think about how the brand pushes its design credentials away from merely clothes, to something a touch more cerebral. This year was no exception. COS worked with American artist, Philip K Smith III who produced the Open Sky exhibit, a faceted wall of mirrors set in a classic Milanese palazzo. Smith told Dezeen that he wanted to pull the sky down to the floor and encourage visitors at MDW to enjoy a moment of calm away from the busy streets, while also pushing them to interact with the surrounding architecture in a more intimate way.

It makes me think of the way COS uses subtle architectural design cues in its collections and perhaps nods to a more thought-provoking conversation about how more ‘blue-sky’ and ‘bigger picture’ strategy is needed in the fashion industry.

In other news, COS is showing a menswear capsule collection called Soma at Pitti Uomo in June, marking the first time a fast-fashion retailer has shown at the men’s trade show as a special guest. COS has always explored how it communicates menswear – from in-store activations to online collaborations and this year the medium will be through dance.


H&M conscious exclusive eco fashion

The fast fashion world is watching as H&M gets closer to achieving its goal of only using sustainable materials in its clothes by 2030. A big part of this is down to experimentation for its Conscious Exclusive range now in its seventh collection.

The latest range launched earlier this month, introduces two new materials. Econyl is a 100% regenerated nylon fibre from fishnets and other nylon waste, while recycled silver is new for jewellery. These are in addition to the organic linen, silk and cotton previously used, plus Tencel, Lyocel and recycled polyester. There are still some pieces left online, or shop the highlights below. The home of Swedish artists Karin and Carl Larsson provided a craft-focused inspiration – think handcrafted tapestries and delicate needlework. H&M’s in-house design team translated these ideas into dark floral jacquards, abstract embroideries and graphic prints in navy or black with hints of pale blue, green and pink.

I like the hi-low approach to H&M’s premium pitched ‘sustainable luxury’ consistently coming from the retailer’s brand stable (Arket is another big tick). It’s good to hear that the design team is dedicated to stretching the boundaries of sustainable fashion. Here’s what we’re shopping for…


Ikea X Virgil Abloh collaboration
Save the date: Monday 30th April at 9.30pm (GMT) for an Instagram Live panel session between System magazine’s Jonathan Wingfield and Virgil Abloh collaboration superstar and creative director of Off-White for the upcoming Ikea collaboration. The teaser video on the retailer’s Instagram account, Ikea Today, promises access to the process, the ideas, the prototypes, and a conversation ‘about the work between the quotation marks’. We’re hoping for more than just rugs!

This column is contributed by DRG retail editor, ALISON FARRINGTON. Read her previous posts on Disneyrollergirl and discover more of her retail insights on her blog, The Retail Planner.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Alison Farrington
IMAGES: H&M, Zara, COS, H&M, Ikea X Virgil Abloh
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