When it comes to the merger of fashion with technology, there are two types of creatives leading the way; the makers and the publishers. The publishers communicate the innovation taking place in the fashion tech space. One of those communicators is Rachel Arthur. She is the founder of UK-based Fashion & Mash, an online publication recently acquired by TheCurrent.
Based in New York, Venice and London, TheCurrent, is the brainchild of Decoded Fashion founder Liz Bacelar. In 2018, the global innovation firm, which is fueling growth at the intersection of technology, brought Rachel on board as Chief Intelligence Officer for TheCurrent Daily. On hearing this, FashNerd.com took a moment to chat with Rachel, to find out more.
You are the new Chief Intelligence Officer of TheCurrent, do tell us how this role came about?
Liz Bacelar and I have known each other for many years and have always felt like we were opposite sides of the same coin. Where she is deep in the weeds with the innovators and the tech companies, leading from the front in their integration with the industry, I have always been the one reporting on it, keeping abreast of the trends and the change agents impacting at the brand level. We’ve been talking for about a year about joining forces, and with the turn of 2018, the timing is now right. I am opening the London office to sit alongside the larger team in New York and Venice, through our partnership with H-Famr, and will be leading the intelligence team, or the knowledge component of the company. This includes editing TheCurrent Daily website, but also informing all of the consultancy projects for the business at large.
Do you plan to add to your team of writers to help support the growth of TheCurrent?
We have already hired Bia Bezamat to join our team this month in London – she’s a journalist by trade and also comes with trend experience having worked with me at WGSN back in the day, and since then at GDR and Stylus. She will be an editor on the site, but also a vital component of the intelligence team working on consultancy projects with our roster of clients. Beyond that, we have our team in NY and Venice who will also contribute to the site, and a global ecosystem of startup scouts that will shape a big part of it.
With Fashion & Mash, you chronicled the evolution of fashion tech, from e-commerce to social media marketing, should we expect the same sort of coverage from you for TheCurrent?
Yes, the intention is indeed to continue in the same vein – tracking the way in which the fashion and retail industries are being impacted by technology and the larger role that innovation (spanning larger than tech) is playing in shaping their futures. The change will come in scale – I have run Fashion & Mash almost singlehandedly for seven years. Now, we’re looking at a team of staff and contributors, and a greater ability to be at the forefront as a voice in this space. We will continue to report on the big innovations, and key disruptors are impacting fashion, retail and lifestyle brands.
You are hosting TheCurrent Innovators podcast with founder Liz Bacelar, tell us how the two of you got together?
Liz and I first met at SXSW many years ago, and our mutual love for technology and its impact on this industry has always kept us as firm friends. When she was running Decoded Fashion, I would frequently be both a reporter in the audience and a moderator on stage. Over the years, we’ve both come to realise how good we’ve been at talking about the need for change – facilitating those conversations in the industry even when what has been needed has been a platform for action. It made sense to me to take on this role based on precisely that idea. TheCurrent is all about fuelling growth – it’s built on the purpose of igniting game-changing and untraditional partnerships, and on the premise of delivering measurable results. This is something both Liz, and I believe passionately in, and we’re building ferociously with TheCurrent.
“Liz, and I believe passionately in, and we’re building ferociously with TheCurrent”
What should listeners expect from your weekly podcast series?
The podcast is designed to support all of our other work – we have such incredible access to people that we wanted to bring it to life in a new format. A podcast was the obvious answer. TheCurrent Innovators, as it’s called, is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives, entrepreneurs and high-level players discussing the evolution of retail and consumer goods through technology. Its recordings in New York, Los Angeles and London will also include invitation-only live events.
How do you foresee your podcast and event series differentiate from what other podcasts that focus on the merger of fashion with technology?
The key for us is that this isn’t necessarily about fashion and technology, it’s about the innovators shaping the space. On occasion this will mean something that traditionally can be referred to as “fashion tech”, but more broadly it’s about the challenges and opportunities faced by top brands and retailers around the world through the lens of technology. In today’s toughening retail environment and rapidly evolving consumer landscape, innovation is what drives staying power. At TheCurrent, we’re always intrigued by how things like artificial intelligence are shaping future interactions, how businesses can respond to the increasing demand for sustainability in the marketplace, and how the latest inventions are set to improve lives, behaviours and connectivity. In our podcast series, we are talking to those people who are at the forefront of this change and importantly those with the courage enough to make them happen. Our launch interviews include Stefano Rosso, CEO of Diesel; William Tunstall-Pedoe, founder of the technology behind Amazon Echo’s Alexa; and Nina Shariati, who is responsible for transparency at H&M.
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TheCurrent Innovators podcast will be in partnership with Fashion Is Your Business, can you elaborate on how the collaboration came about?
Our production and distribution company is MouthMedia, which owns Fashion Is Your Business, the most downloaded fashion and tech podcast on iTunes. Liz has long been a participant in this podcast and works closely with the team. They are now our sister podcast, meaning we will be supporting and promoting each other’s work. Our audiences are so closely aligned, and our content incredibly complementary rather than competitive.
What and who do you predict to be significant innovations and critical disruptors impacting fashion, retail and lifestyle brands in 2018?
When it comes to trends for the year ahead, we are very much talking about evolution not a revolution in terms of what matters for retail and fashion brands. For 2018, then, the big areas of focus will continue to be around augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the voice interface, blockchain, the circular economy, new materials, customisation and fulfilment.