Fashion over function

By Henry Holland, Creative Director • Henry Holland

March 11, 2016

All this month we’ve be looking back at our Cashless on the Catwalk project with Henry Holland. This week Henry Holland himself looks back at the project and what it achieved.

The big question in the fashion industry right now for designers is how they can make the most of Fashion Week? How can they be unique and original, and more importantly increase sales?

Technology is one way of making this happen and in the last few years we have seen tech and fashion come together like never before, from Diane Von Furstenberg partnering with Google Glass, to Burberry unveiling its Spring/Summer 2016 collection exclusively on Snapchat, effectively opening the show up to a mass audience.

As a self-confessed techie for the House of Holland SS16 show I wanted to take the collaboration between technology and fashion further than ever before. The buzzword we’re constantly hearing and reading about is ‘customer experience’ and the young followers of the House of Holland brand have high expectations when it comes to a quick and easy shopping experience that offers instant gratification. The team wanted to exceed these expectations by taking this ease of use to the theatrical environment of the catwalk. We wanted to not only encourage our VIPs to directly interact with the collection, but allow them to leave the show with an actual item straight from the catwalk rather than just a snapshot of the collection on their phone.

Working with Visa Europe Collab we were able to make this experience a reality, and all in just 100 days, by developing custom-made and fantastic looking NFC enabled rings that would connect to a number of pieces from the collection which contained a payment receiver tag. The payment tag would then be linked via Bluetooth Smart technology to a virtualised terminal and Visa’s payment network.

Because we wanted to appeal to a young audience it was important that we created a desirable, covetable piece of jewellery, that just so happened to have a NFC-enabled capability, to encourage users to purchase straight from the catwalk.

On Visa Europe Collab’s recommendation we worked closely with NFC Ring to discuss the design and function of the ring. There were some challenges, with the manufacturers not being able to bake the enamel, as usual, because of all the electronics inside, and NFC Ring having to overcome difficulties with the read range (the distance between the ring and the reader) But in the end it only took 20 days to finalise the process and create a beautiful, yet fully-functional ring.

What really surprised me was that I didn’t have to make any compromises on the design. We wanted the ring to be chunky, because that’s our style, but we could have made it much smaller. NFC Ring ensured we didn’t have any restrictions which was the most important thing for me, ensuring fashion trumped function.

On the night FROW (front row) guests, including Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung, were presented with the carefully designed rings and at the end of the show they were able to simply walk up to the models and simply hold their specially designed ring close to the tag on the item and voila! The purchase was made and the item was carefully bagged up and handed to them as they left the show. This really was fast fashion in the best sense of the phrase!

In an already saturated market, brands like House of Holland need to think outside the box and create experiences that meet the desires of the tech-savvy consumer. We created a world first and a unique experience but this technology has the potential to change not only fashion shows but the bricks and mortar retail experience for the better, creating a cleaner space that’s truly a showcase for fashion and doesn’t have the limitations imposed by traditional payments methods.

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