Inside LVMH-backed VivaTech: Blockchain, Crypto and VR Fashion Shows are the Future

Inside LVMH-backed VivaTech: Blockchain, Crypto and VR Fashion Shows are the Future

While thousands of attendees packed Paris’ Porte de Versailles convention center for VivaTech, some of the biggest names came as cartoons, and even showed up as holograms.Among them were Facebook parent company Meta’s outgoing chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg, who appeared as an animated avatar in conversation with L’Oréal chief executive officer Nicolas Hieronimus, while Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was beamed in Star Trek-style from his bunker in Kiyv.
That’s all to say that the sixth edition of the four-day, LVMH-backed conference offered a very eclectic mix of brands and executives on hand to talk tech. Audi showed off its latest connected car, while Amazon and Huawei were there touting new services. L’Oréal brought its beauty brands Lancôme and Skinceuticals to make the case for virtual consultations and AR color matching for makeup, with lines of eager believers wrapping around the room, all while mixing with crypto bros and NFT evangelists.

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Holographic mirrors and virtual try-on were on display, while the “Low Carbon Human Park,” where people were encouraged to chat, play chess and interact IRL, was sponsored by TikTok.
Louis Vuitton and Dior’s parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton took the term fashion house seriously, constructing a grand apartment with various rooms dedicated to each brand and showcasing its technology.
Speaking on stage at the Innovation Awards, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault reminded the audience that his company started as a small busines, and that ethos still runs throughout the group. He said that luxury and technology share the same core values of creativity, quality and leadership.
“Creativity is the key of the success of LVMH, and it is at the center of what you do with start-ups,” he told the rapt audience. On the point of quality, he commented that there is still “enormous progress to do” in tech areas that relate to retail, citing NFTs, which he noted are “complicated to buy,” and VR goggles, which he said are “not pleasant.” Together LVMH and start-ups can work toward solutions.
“The last value is entrepreneurship. All the start-ups here are made from entrepreneurs, and we are a family of entrepreneurs,” said Arnault. “We share the same energy, the same agility, and the same will to grow.”
Group managing director Tony Belloni said LVMH was previously reluctant to embrace e-commerce because it was associated with “value and convenience, which are not drivers of a luxurious experience.”
“We have over 5,000 stores and we love them deeply because they fully immerse the customer in the brand universe,” he sad. “The challenge is innovating the experience online in a way that we can create the same differentiation that we have created in the physical world.”
At Louis Vuitton, that means bringing special events such as fashion shows, private parties and other “non-reproduceable” events to VIP customers through VR. Last month’s spectacular runway at the Salk Institute in San Diego was shown as an example of an event that could be streamed in VR. Not making the invite list or not being able to attend due to personal scheduling conflicts “generates frustration” for some customers, said Louis Vuitton demand and program director Stephan Emanuely. The new tech would allow customers to virtually attend from anywhere in the world.

Vuitton is also working on interactive technology for VIPs, where they can virtually interact with a personal sales agent “or it can be the designer” for consultations, said Emanuely. 3D renderings of shoes were also on display, so a potential buyer can see down to the stitching on their screen.
LVMH also showcased the interactive shopping system currently available at Dior’s Paris flagship. It operates through Apple technology and behind-the-scenes sourcing so that any product will almost instantaneously appear in front of a customer. No flipping through racks or spending a moment alone here. That system is in the process of being rolled out globally.
Bulgari displayed its Octo Finissimo, the thinnest watch in the world, and its joint NFT which cannot be separated from the timepiece. “We knew that NFTs were going up and down and we wanted to stay completely away from the hype of devaluation,” said high jewelry director Massimo de Valentini.
There was buzz around Guerlain’s crypto bees, NFTs which are tied to a rewilding project. It runs on the Tezos blockchain, which the brand says uses less energy.
LVMH is using data to hone its production and offerings across brands, group information technology director Franck Le Moal told WWD. They run what he called a data factory, with 60 dedicated data scientists and engineers to crunch numbers.
“It’s the whole value chain we are trying to target,” he said about using information to reach the group’s sustainability goals. “The more you have data and accurate forecasts, the better your footprint will be. You will not over-plan your logistics and transportation, you will reduce what you sell and you will adjust production and distribution capability so we will not overproduce. In the end it’s a strong impact on the global supply chain.
“The major impact that we are looking for in terms of supply is to downsize and making sure that we are not having to do reverse logistics because we know that reverse logistics are having a significant value impact on our carbon footprint,” he said.
LVMH brands do not currently accept crypto, but are looking at it. “We are careful,” Le Moal added.

The crypto panel with Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder of crypto-currency exchange Binance, and Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin in conversation with advertising conglomerate Publicis chair Maurice Levy, was the most anticipated event of the week. The two were treated like rock stars with whoops and cheers when they appeared on stage, or, in Buterin’s case, on screen. In one memorable moment, Levy got out of his seat to bow down to Zhao.
Both made their case for crypto despite the volatile markets that have shaken confidence in the currencies over the last few weeks. Buterin also tried to quell any environmental concerns, telling the audience Ethereum is moving from the energy-intensive “proof of work” blockchain used by Bitcoin, to the lower carbon impact “proof of stake” format. The new chain will also make the currency more scalable and accessible to the average consumer for small purchases as it will slash transaction fees.
Italian brand Pinko is one company that has jumped on the Ethereum train. Pinko executives were on hand to reveal their upcoming NFT project, which is a maze of an AR-enabled in-store installation, QR-code, online and metaverse hybrid that results in a digitally-decorated handbag.
The first limited edition drop is scheduled for October and will give buyers access to exclusive events and sales, both real and virtual. The cost is 1 Ethereum, which is roughly $1,100 at current exchange. If a customer wants to pay in local currency they’ll be turned down – it’s Ethereum only.
In more tangible currency, Mangopay, which works with retailers including La Redoute and Veepee, and customer-to-customer platforms such as Vinted, said these types of peer-to-peer marketplaces are seeing the biggest growth. “The main trend in the retail economy is the marketplace trend. For one euro spent in the e-commerce space, [the consumer] spends two in the marketplace space,” a spokesperson said.

The Resale Market: Who’s Playing, Who’s Leading, Who’s Emerging

The Resale Market: Who’s Playing, Who’s Leading, Who’s Emerging

While secondhand is nothing new, incoming and existing resale players are changing faster than the listings in a Gen Zer’s Depop shop.The space today is best described as a playground of peer-to-peer selling apps, managed marketplaces, re-commerce and logistical powerhouses alongside the age-old brick-and-mortar charity shops and retailers getting in on the action.
To isolate resale’s players, leaders and newcomers, it’s worth taking stock of the market and its movements.
Setting the Resale Scene

The average reseller isn’t venturing over to glossy marketplaces, but may actually be engaging on a platform like Facebook Marketplace relinquishing goods to nearby buyers in a shabbily shot photo and minimal merchandising — despite the attention around the newest and most exciting platforms.

That being said, ever since The RealReal’s initial public offering and sustainability’s increasing trendiness, industry and investor eyes have been locked on resale and lookalike marketplaces spawned thereafter.

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Marketplaces typically fall into three formats: traditional (like flea markets), managed (The RealReal, StockX, ThredUp, Rebag) and peer-to-peer marketplaces (Etsy, Depop, Poshmark, eBay).
Of course, the list is extensive as more players emerge.
There are also the re-commerce and logistics partners to consider, among them Trove (handling the behind-the-scenes resale for brands like Patagonia, REI and Eileen Fisher); Recurate (powering direct-to-consumer peer-to-peer marketplaces for brands like Mara Hoffman, Frye and Re/Done), and newcomer Treet, which launched in 2021 and counts Boyish Jeans in its mix.
And who can forget the long-standing thrift chains?
Nonprofits like Goodwill (hoping to be a $1 billion resale site), Salvation Army and Oxfam, for-profit shops like Savers (one of the largest for-profit thrift chains in the world, averaging $1.2 billion in revenue) and Buffalo Exchange are also reigniting their value proposition as fashion resale burns bright.
Analysts say resale’s potential is not to be underestimated.
“Fashion resale is a dynamic market, and I believe it has the potential in the long term to become 20 percent or more of the total apparel and footwear spending,” said Boris Shepov, research analyst and portfolio manager of Fidelity Select Retailing Portfolio at Fidelity Investments.
Fidelity is a top shareholder of resale’s big three marketplaces — The RealReal, Poshmark and ThredUp, which went public in succession.
But what’s ushering in the category’s explosive growth?
Shepov attributes it to resale’s “cool factor” as well as rising consumer awareness.
“We see that consumers want to save money, protect our planet and express themselves through fashion. Resale enables that through the ‘treasure hunt’ buying experience at a fraction of the new merchandise cost and with a wide assortment of often like-new merchandise,” he said. “Additionally, my research finds that the carbon emission footprint of resale merchandise is only a fraction of that of new merchandise. Moreover, adoption is accelerating further as top brands and retailers recognize this paradigm shift and expand into resale.”

Of the leading fashion companies by economic value creation, 30 percent of fashion players are designating funds to resale.
What Defines Resale’s Leaders
The “treasure hunt” has become a delineating factor for resale’s movers and shakers. Public financial reports spell out inventory as gross merchandise volume, or GMV, a measure of the total transactional value of goods and services puttering along the marketplaces, which is an indicator of who is actually getting the goods.
EBay leads the way with $27.5 billion in transactions happening in its most recent financial report. Following eBay is Mercari, at $7.15 billion (for its mainstay Japanese business; in the U.S. it’s $1.13 billion), Etsy at $3 billion (which it reports as gross merchandise sales or GMS), StockX at $1.8 billion, Poshmark at $449.6 million, The RealReal at $350 million and 1stDibs at $107 million.
Facebook Marketplace is a popular destination for everyday resellers. Facebook overall boasted an impressive $26 billion in total revenue and 250 million monthly users for its platform in the first quarter, but the volume of its marketplace transactions is harder to track down because the company doesn’t report it separately.
Although millions of marketing dollars are put up by platforms to lure buyers and sellers, that may not warrant stickiness in the community after all. Investors are keener to examine active buyers within a platform’s community.
As Poshmark founder Manish Chandra puts it, bundling (or styling outfits for individuals) and live virtual shopping “Posh Parties” are just two social elements that liven the Poshmark community. On average, Poshmark users spend 27 minutes a day on the platform, and the community counts more than 30 million active users, but only 6 million users are actually buying.
While Facebook Marketplace counts 1 billion members, there are closer to 250 million monthly buyers, which is not far from eBay’s 187 million monthly active buyers. Etsy is a force, too, counting 90 million active monthly buyers. The list goes down with Mercari (15 million), Poshmark (6 million), ThredUp (1.29 million) and The RealReal (687,000) among the public resale companies garnering consistent buyer traction. The RealReal’s founder Julie Wainwright often speaks to the flywheel effect of turning buyers to consignors, enabling the company to surpass the milestone of $2 billion in cumulative consignor commission payouts in the first quarter of 2021.

Comparing the aforementioned platforms, however, isn’t an apples to apples contrast as those like Facebook Marketplace, eBay and 1stDibs count much more than apparel in their stock, whereas those like The RealReal, Poshmark and ThredUp are focused on fashion. But the disparity between active users and a captive audience prompts the question: are resellers really craving community or profit? At the end of the day, money talks more than members.
“Resellers often have two priorities: the community and making money,” said Alex Shadrow, partner and chief operating officer of List Perfectly, a software for resale entrepreneurs to maximize efficiency and profit by bulk crossposting resale listings across 12 popular peer-to-peer marketplaces including eBbay, Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, Etsy, Shopify, Instagram, Facebook Marketplace, Kidizen, Grailed, Heroine and Tradesy.
Mercari has even promised to build out two physical locations in Japan for its seller community called “Mercari Stations” as well as unmanned mailboxes for shipping ease (called “Mercari Post”) to bolster its community appeal. Depop has all but become a meme with its flair for Y2K fashion.
While relative resale newcomers like The RealReal boast over a dozen stores now, brick-and-mortar space is still an area where old-school thrift chains dominate. For-profit thrift chain Savers counts more than 300 thrift stores, while Oxfam tops 1,200 stores and Goodwill is well over 3,000 stores worldwide.
“It’s important for sellers to understand that each marketplace brings its own unique audience and customer base,” said Shadrow, who prior to List Perfectly founded an on-campus, closet-sharing app called Relovv. “This is why cross-posting to multiple marketplaces with List Perfectly is so important. For example, Depop is the leader in Gen Z purchases with bestsellers including ’90s vintage and streetwear. Meanwhile, Poshmark is the leading fashion marketplace amongst Millennials and beyond. EBay remains the largest marketplace for all things resale across hundreds of categories from vintage clothing to furniture, electronics, antiques and collectibles and lots more. Conversely, Etsy is reserved for artists and small brands that sell their own original creations. Each marketplace has its own unique bestsellers and customer bases, and cross-posting is the key to reaching all of them.”

Shadrow has a point that may actually validate Chandra’s social commerce angle further: marketplaces are unique and unpredictable — a show like “Gossip Girl” or biopic like the anticipated “House of Gucci” will drive up interest in vintage wares. It’s then that a vintage bag or accessory becomes a hot commodity, and the investment payoff will determine where he or she goes to list — not the community.
That being said, Shadrow believes the List Perfectly community is making gains with its #SellerCommunityPodcast and seller competitions.
Another advantage to resale is its built-in sustainability benefit, but as competition grows for resale the edge needs sharpening.
Secondhand poses an 82 percent reduction in carbon footprint compared to new clothing, according to market insights firm GlobalData Retail. Carbon emissions avoided are a standard metric for resale platforms. Pre-loved platforms like The RealReal, Depop, ThredUp, StockX, eBay and more have published proprietary resale or “re-commerce” reports to the excitement of investors and trendy-savvy consumers alike, etching out environmental and social benefits of thrift.
With the urgency of the climate crisis, science rules in resale as in retail.
Out of the public (and private) resale companies analyzed by market share, handmade and vintage goods marketplace Etsy and veteran used goods seller eBay are the standout sustainability leaders by way of formalizing their aims by signing on to things like the Science Based Targets Initiative.
While eBay was late to the game in launching a formal re-commerce report — which it debuted only last year despite having a decade’s head-start on newcomers like ThredUp or The RealReal — the company led the way in committing to a Science Based Targets Initiative in January 2021. The resale veteran also published its first Task Force on a Climate-Related Financial Disclosures investor report reinforcing its increased momentum toward climate transparency and action. In the first quarter, the company revealed a $25 million investment in the Clear Vision Impact Fund to bolster small and medium-sized businesses that are based in, or support, underserved communities nationally.

Following suit in April, Etsy committed to science-based carbon emissions reduction targets in line with the SBTi and the prescribed 1.5-degree Celsius trajectory set by the landmark Paris Agreement, a global blueprint for keeping temperature rise under safe limits.
However, whether it’s an electric vehicle, solar power or resale clothing, the argument that the alternative is simply better than the norm is falling away to favor clear-cut results.
“Nowadays, [the bare minimum claim] doesn’t cut it anymore. People will no longer look at emissions avoided or landfill avoided, but active progress toward more sustainable textiles and products,” said Joachim Klement, a London-based investment strategist at Liberum Capital. Fast fashion has obviously “aggravated that [disposable] philosophy,” he added.
“[Retail analysts] have started to look at the entire ESG factor as it relates to ‘Are they reducing greenhouse gas footprint and track record?” Klement said, noting that resale platforms will have to prove their environmental, social and corporate governance performance credibly, year after year, as with retailers. Margins, growth expectations, competitive pressures, volume of goods, authentication or third-party verification sourcing occupy the list of considerations for resale, too. (Some platforms, like Los Angeles-based peer-to-peer marketplace Tradesy and Mercari, have even touted the environmental gains of virtual authentication services as proof of the competitiveness in the space.)
As with Fidelity analyst Shepov, Klement finds material risks and increasing public pressure are changing the tune of the industry.
“The entire world is in a big transition in the sense that we are all increasingly becoming aware of how we did business and how we ran the world in the past. It has become evident that climate change has serious impact whether its heatwaves, wildfires, floods, you name it, it is evident all over the world,” Klement said, calling the issue “extremely multifaceted.”
The Emerging Resale Players

Funding in private resale has gone wild.
Private resale companies hold a lot of promise if Vinted, StockX, Vestiaire Collective, Goat Group or Depop are any indication (the companies all topped $100 million in total funding, with Vinted raising an impressive $562.3 million in all, grabbing a recent $4.2 billion valuation).

StockX isn’t far behind with a $3.8 billion valuation.
“Money-driven bankers will finance anything as long as there is a reasonable return,” said Klement. But he sees the potential for the green bubble to burst in resale, and has said “green stocks will eventually suffer from excessive investor optimism and end in a bubble and crash.”
Because of their notable investors, Vestiaire Collective (Kering), Sellpy (H&M), Stadium Goods (LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), Watchfinder (Compagnie Financiere Richemont), Thrilling (Closed Loop Partners) and Fashionphile (Neiman Marcus) are ones to watch closely regarding further partnerships.
Case in point: After first investing in Watchfinder in 2018, Richemont (which owns Yoox-Net-a-porter Group) announced Net-a-porter and Mr Porter’s entry into resale with pre-owned timepieces from Watchfinder in July, rubber-stamping the evolution.
While the company is no newcomer, having been founded in 1999, Fashionphile is also on the move. The company scooped up a cumulative $38.5 million in funding as well as property in Chelsea, Manhattan for a 60,000-square-foot luxury re-commerce center in June; by August the company jumped into physical resale with Neighborhood Goods.
More resale players have emerged, while amassing new funding and cult followings in their not-so-niche verticals. Specialized resale platforms are cropping up for outdoor gear (Requipper formerly called “Switchback”), formalwear (Queenly), furniture (Kaiyo) and kids’ wear (Kidizen and Dotte among them).
Queenly, in its latest funding round announced last month, has scored $7.1 million in funding to date.

What 2021 May Bring for Big Tech

What 2021 May Bring for Big Tech

Big Tech had a big year in more ways than one, paving the way for what could be a consequential 2021 for the world’s largest technology companies. Or so antitrust advocates hope.
In a year when quarantines and stay-at-home advisories kept people at home — and on the internet — lawmakers and regulators across the political spectrum woke up to the extent of technology’s impact on the public, with seemingly renewed resolve to tame the sector’s excesses.
The “era of self-regulation is over, and congressional action is required,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., at a New York Times event in December.
Cicilline is the chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee that wrote a 449-page report released in October that characterized Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as companies that were once “scrappy, underdog start-ups that challenged the status quo,” but have now become outsized monopolies, akin to the “oil barons and railroad tycoons” of yesteryear.

In the past couple of months, Google and Facebook have been slapped with lawsuits from dozens of states, with the Department of Justice going after Google and the Federal Trade Commission zeroing in on Facebook over antitrust or predatory behavior. Officials have also been looking into Apple and Amazon, whose respective App Store and e-commerce marketplace have drawn other litigation and inquiries in the U.S. and abroad, especially Europe.

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It’s part of a heightening swirl of scrutiny leveled at tech giants over a range of issues, from anticompetitive moves against emerging rivals to questionable policies around data privacy and disinformation. Nor is it restricted to only the U.S. tech titans — the Chinese government also has gone after its largest tech companies in recent months, particularly Alibaba, which may have as much to do with politics and centralized control as it does with consumer protection. Late last month the government fined leading tech companies, including Alibaba and JD.com, for allegedly misreporting prices and false promotions.
Underneath it all, the underlying concern is the same — that tech companies have grown too powerful and are wont to abuse their market positions.
One reason platforms have grown to such gargantuan proportions is because of protections such as Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, which legally shields them from liability over the content posted by users.
While various politicians believe Section 230 should be revised, there’s no consensus on what changes need to be made. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a late-breaking “poison pill” tying a much-needed $2,000 stimulus package — demanded by both President Trump and House Democrats — to a blunt repeal of the law, for which the President has also repeatedly called.
This roller-coaster ride will continue into 2021, but whether it slows or ramps up under a new administration is an open question.
The administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris sits atop a Democratic Party keen on reining in Big Tech, but the president-elect and vice president-elect have been historically friendly to the sector. Their campaign raised massive funds in Silicon Valley and their transition teams include several members from tech’s ranks.

There are high stakes on what happens next. Chase White, an analyst at Height Capital Markets, believes “Biden will largely let the DOJ and FTC take the reins on Big Tech antitrust enforcement,” he said in a note. The DOJ and FTC will likely rely more on court decisions than consent decrees, he contended, which — depending on how they rule — risks setting legal precedent in favor of tech companies.
That would “make pursuing other cases tougher going forward and embolden the companies,” he added.
As for data privacy and misinformation, or Section 230, both sides of the aisle want to see change, but can’t agree on what that should look like.
All of these matters strike at the heart of how online platforms operate, which has far-reaching implications. But for retail specifically, the data privacy question may have the most direct and immediate impact.
“From a technology perspective, there’s always questions about data protection and privacy and what the big technology providers are doing, as they’re creating new customer experiences and new forms for people to interact with,” said Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer for Google’s cloud division.
She knows that scrutiny over how companies handle privacy and data isn’t going away, but perceptions may hinge more and more on transparency and what consumers are willing to tolerate for the sake of convenience.
“For me, I really see technology companies like Google stepping up and saying, ‘We want that to be in the hands of the end user, of the end customer’.…As we talk about some of these customer experiences we have today, that’s providing value to you as a person, are you willing to share that information?” Tharp continued.
“I think we’re going to continue to see this evolution of people wanting to have understanding and transparency of all this cool technology, and the technology companies rising to that occasion,” she said.
The notion that Big Tech will step up in this and other ways is an optimistic point of view, and one that officials like Cicilline clearly don’t share.
Meanwhile, according to recent reports, companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft seem to be hedging their bets by working to seed candidates in a variety of agencies — including the U.S. Commerce Department, Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs, the State Department and the Department of Defense.
Their success is being determined in real time right now, and it will become even clearer in the weeks and months ahead.

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