Entrupy’s Annual Report Sheds Light on the Evolving Counterfeit Market

Entrupy’s Annual Report Sheds Light on the Evolving Counterfeit Market

Despite ongoing action being taken against counterfeits over the years, dupe culture remains big business.  
As Entrupy, the scalable, AI-powered product verification solution company, continues to tackle higher quality counterfeits and gray market goods the company has released its 2023 State of the Fake report. The report details the current scope of the issues at hand, growing trends and impacts on the global economy.

Across all categories, including consumer goods and digital piracy of entertainment and software, nearly $2.8 trillion of counterfeit goods are confiscated each year, according to Entrupy. It’s a global problem, counting for $991 billion in international trade each year, with high costs to the environment, society, businesses and economies.

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Notably, in its authentication testing, in 2022 Entrupy found the brands with the highest amount of unidentified counterfeits to be Goyard (21.4 percent), Saint Laurent (13.1 percent), Prada (12.9 percent), Dior (12 percent) and Celine (10.2 percent). Businesses with the highest unidentified rates in 2022 were pawn shops (13 percent) and offline resellers (10.1 percent), followed by online resellers (7.7 percent), C2C marketplaces (4.5 percent) and wholesalers (1.6 percent).

“With the continued expansion of luxury resale, we see more and more trading platforms and models take shape everywhere around the world,” said Vidyuth Srinivasan, chief executive officer at Entrupy Inc. “Consequently, counterfeits have mushroomed everywhere, even in erstwhile smaller markets such as Mexico, where counterfeits were rarer to appear.”

Entrupy’s research finds that in 2020 illegitimate imports into the U.S. cost the economy $54.1 billion in retail sales, $33.6 billion in wages and benefits and $13.5 billion in state and local sales tax revenue. In 2022, the U.S. customs and border protection seized IP-infringing items with a retail value over $2.98 billion with apparel (30 percent) and handbags and wallets (28 percent) counting as the top seized products, followed by footwear (13 percent) and watches and jewelry (12 percent).

Vidyuth Srinivasan, cofounder and chief executive officer of Entrupy.

Courtesy Image

In the U.S., Entrupy’s data finds that consumers collectively spend more than $100 billion each year on intellectual property rights-infringing goods, accounting for 20 percent of counterfeits sold illegally worldwide. U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports across the country reported staggering seizures in 2022. 2022 marked the first year that the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport seized $1 billion worth of counterfeit products in under a year. The port of Indianapolis seized 7,901 counterfeits, a 55 percent increase from 2021. Other ports with high counts of counterfeit seizures in 2022 include Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans; Chicago, and Cincinnati.

In addition to the impact on the economy, Entrupy’s report details the price that society and the environment are paying because of counterfeits.

According to testing conducted by The American Apparel & Footwear Association, 36.2 percent of counterfeit apparel tested contains “dangerous levels of toxins” with one item showing more than 600 times the exposure limit of cadmium (a toxic heavy metal that damages kidneys, bones and respiratory systems). Meanwhile, counterfeit footwear, which is made with lower-quality materials, is also causing harm even leading to a higher risk of injuries.

Moreover, counterfeiting has ties to organized crime, the exploitation of forced and child labor and the production of toxic materials that get sent to landfills and can seep into the ecosystem. Counterfeiting is a more profitable industry for organized crime than drug trafficking or human trafficking and, according to the United Nations, it is estimated that the practice provides $250 billion to organized crime annually.

Among the factors that are exacerbating counterfeiting, Entrupy lists the impact of COVID-19, evolving sales channels and shifts in culture.

Entrupy’s findings show that growing the culture is a group of consumers who are drawn to fakes because of the high prices and the ubiquity of luxury products. Gen Z consumers especially are turning to super fakes, said the company, as a response to high inflation and a decreased demand for conspicuous consumption.

Alarmingly, authors of the report say, fakes are trendy, “rising in popularity on social media, the pandemic’s e-commerce boom and Gen Z consumers thinking that knockoffs are subversive.” It has become, in some ways, “trendy to show off how good of a dupe one could find and for how good of a price.”

“Dupe culture is a question that I have been asked repeatedly in the past year, with many folks trying to blame specific social media platforms,” Srinivasan said. “I find this argument to be short-sighted and cudgel, when in fact, counterfeits have always been acceptable for a certain segment of the population, regardless of geography or income. Only, the modes of availability of fakes have changed and become more ubiquitous, which has no bearing on the platform but the demand itself.”

Srinivasan went on to say that surprisingly, he has seen that this segment of consumers purchasing counterfeits today has equal amounts of younger people who have budding income and extremely wealthy individuals who seek counterfeits to protect their authentic products, but ultimately show off counterfeit versions in the same way.

As the battle against counterfeits continues, authors of Entrupy’s report write that collaborative approaches across the industry will be required including participation from brands, retailers, marketplaces, governments, the industry and social media. Solutions listed include authentication technology, sharing information, monitoring takedowns, international coalitions, public education campaigns, shop selling guides and legislation.

How Threads Could Be a Play to Boost the Metaverse

How Threads Could Be a Play to Boost the Metaverse

With a name like Threads, Instagram’s new spin-off could be mistaken as some sort of sartorial effort. But when the app officially debuted this week, it was clear that the tech giant has fashioned something else — an ambitious Twitter clone that has the Elon Musk-owned micro-messaging app threatening to sue and brands taking notice as more than 30 million users tried it on. That was just in the first 24 hours.
The new text-based app cribs the look of its rival, while ditching some of its peskier baggage, such as caps on the number of viewable posts. Twitter’s recent policy change drew controversy, in part because of the drastic difference between free users’ 600 post limit versus 6,000 for paid Twitter Blue subscribers. Sharing posts works the same way. Tweeting is restricted to 280 characters for everyone but paying users, who get a tome-worthy 25,000.

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Posting Threads — erm, threading? — offers 500 characters flat for everyone, and it doesn’t restrict views at all. That’s only logical, given that parent company Meta doesn’t charge subscription fees. Verified profiles rely on Instagram’s blue checks instead.

But the similarities are more striking, both conceptually and practically. In its blog, parent company Meta cast the app as “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations,” which smacks of the way Twitter identifies itself. They look and function in much the same way as well: The main feed in Threads is populated with posts from accounts the user follows, as well as others chosen via algorithm.

A look at Instagram’s Twitter clone.

Courtesy image

The resemblance is apparently so uncanny that on Thursday, a lawyer for Twitter accused Meta of scooping up former Twitter employees to build a copycat app based on trade secrets. It’s easy to imagine that playing out, given that Musk gutted the platform of 80 percent of its workforce.

However, Twitter owes its weakened state to more than human resources issues. Since Musk bought the ailing platform in October, the tech billionaire and political firebrand has alienated advertisers and instituted unpopular changes, like restrictions on views.

“In my opinion, the decision by Twitter to limit the number of tweets by subscription model will impact convenience and the relationship with advertisers and brands who may have set expectations for views [or] engagement and ultimately performance measures on owned and earned channels,” said Zarina Stanford, chief marketing officer of Bazaarvoice. As it is, 82 percent of companies are considering a shift of 6 percent to more than 10 percent of their paid online advertising spend to owned and earned channels, she added.

Twitter’s woes appear mainly self-inflicted. Neither Meta nor its photo-sharing app caused them, but they did see a window of opportunity, according to Instagram head Adam Mosseri. In an interview with the tech press, he noted that Twitter is in a vulnerable position, and that this “volatility” and “unpredictability” created an opening to compete.

How that competition will ultimately pan out isn’t clear, however. That’s largely due to business considerations, like online advertising and commerce — the bread and butter of social media — and neither are available in the new app, at least not yet. But that’s Meta’s specialty, so it’s likely only a matter of time, and that may help explain why Threads has Twitter freaked in a way that other contenders like Mastodon, Post.News and Bluesky didn’t.

In a leaked letter on Thursday, reportedly from Alex Spiro, an attorney for Twitter, to Meta chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg, demanded “that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information. Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice to prevent any further retention, disclosure or use of its intellectual property by Meta.”

Spiro may have a difficult time proving harm, if it comes down to that. In the meantime, brands so far are impressed with Threads’ immediate traction, with some like L’Oréal Paris and Procter & Gamble already staking their claims on it.

But they’re also aware that the lawsuit is just one of a number of unknowns at play. That puts experts like Stanford in wait-and-see mode.

“Getting the attention of social media users is more challenging than ever for marketers, which is why finding the right channel mix matters and is highly recommended for any brand,” she said. “The future of Twitter and Meta’s platform will be watched closely to see what will fit this model most authentically.”

There are other variables. Threads ties into Instagram profiles for easy sign-ups, which is convenient. But this modality can also stoke high early numbers that don’t necessarily correlate to ongoing active users.

For Threads, sign-ups and logins tie into Instagram profiles.

Courtesy image

It’s also noteworthy that the app launched in 100 countries, but Meta stopped short of calling it a global rollout. That may be due to uncertainties over how the European Union, with its stringent anti-monopoly and data privacy regulations, will react. The standalone iOS app’s privacy disclosures, as enforced by Apple, explains that it may collect highly sensitive data such as health and financial information, location, browsing history, contacts and search histories, among others, so it can profile users based on their activity.

The technical details, however, point to a more expansive play for the app.

The announcement blog post referenced ActivityPub, an open social networking protocol from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that breaks down the silos between apps by allowing them to connect directly with each other.

The goal, according to Meta, is “to provide you the option to stop using Threads and transfer your content to another service. Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks.” Posts from public profiles could have extensive reach, going beyond Threads to apps like Mastodon and Tumblr or tie into WordPress blogs and other apps that work with ActivityPub.

In other words, the new app looks more like Meta’s bid to ignite decentralized social media, alternately known as the Fediverse. The term is a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe,” and like the metaverse, the construct is considered a key part of the Web 3.0 future.

How or if the company will square its Fediverse and metaverse efforts remains to be seen. But Zuckerberg has often publicly talked about the importance of social tools and experiences in his “embodied internet,” making Threads look like an undercover metaverse strategy.

To spur adoption, Meta implored developers to experiment and build new features and experiences that plug into other open social networks.

“We believe this decentralized approach, similar to the protocols governing email and the web itself, will play an important role in the future of online platforms,” the company continued. “Threads is Meta’s first app envisioned to be compatible with an open social networking protocol – we hope that by joining this fast-growing ecosystem of interoperable services, Threads will help people find their community, no matter what app they use.”

That might be an appealing proposition for users, but even if it takes off, the benefit for brand partners appears murky. Fediverse apps aren’t known as online advertising powerhouses, after all, for obvious reasons. Tying ad rates to views beyond one’s own platform looks like a nonstarter, as does targeting or segmenting audiences. But it’s hard to imagine Meta, as a for-profit tech giant, investing resources and setting off a major tech war without gaining revenue or some other sort of tactical advantage. That will likely become evident over time, especially if Threads becomes a hit.

As Bazaarvoice data indicates, brands are already pulling back on online ads in favor of organic content. That appears to be the best way to sew things up on Threads too, at least for now.

EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Minkoff Reveals New Roblox Collection

EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Minkoff Reveals New Roblox Collection

When is digital fashion not just digital fashion? The answer might lie in the way designers like Rebecca Minkoff use virtual technology as a way to echo and strengthen the real-world brand.
Now she’s at it again.

In an exclusive with WWD, the New York-based designer revealed her latest collaboration, a new 20-piece collection of avatar-wear set to debut in Roblox on Thursday. The line features both familiar looks and entirely new designs created specifically for the gaming platform.

The collection, which primarily comprises bags, is based on the spring 2023 collection that’s available now, said the founder-turned-chief creative officer, since the company’s sale to Sunrise Brands last year.

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According to Minkoff, who still leads design for the brand, the project “focused mainly on our core bag, our most popular bag, The G. You’ll see a lot of iterations — some with punk studs, some not, a bunch of colors.” To ensure people could have a complete head-to-toe Rebecca Minkoff look, she also included apparel.

“Then we wanted to make a couple of exclusive Roblox-only designs that were riffs on what we showed for spring, just to give it that special feel for people who are using Roblox,” she said.

When it comes to tech, the brand tends to reach for innovation with both hands, often pushing into new terrain. Projects range from early entry into smartwatches to photogrammetry-powered augmented reality, NFTs, a previous takeover of an earlier Roblox game and the use of projection technology to cast the New York City skyline onto runway models.

The latter literally loomed on the Roblox line.

“The inspiration for this collection was twofold: It was leaning in and giving a nod to sort of the punk trend you see out there,” Minkoff said, adding that it includes a callback to one of her real-life fashion shows. “We had the whole [physical] collection made in white and then at the show, we projected this incredible interactive video that projected on the models and the walls to really bring that immersive experience to life.”

Roblox avatars will be able to wear select items from Rebecca Minkoff’s spring 2023 collection or others created exclusively for Roblox.

Courtesy image

The Roblox collection includes white items that “just to talk back to that,” she explained, in addition to black and other colorways. The line features the G Small Punk Shoulder Bag; G Shoulder Bag with Studded Guitar Strap; RM Dog-Clip and G-Lock earrings; Kick Him to the Curb Punk Bag; Julian Croissant, Backpack and Crossbody bags; Spike Bucket Hat, Hoodie and Bandeau, and the Open Knit Sweater.

Samuel Jordan, a digital designer who came up through the platform’s creator community, helped curate and tweak the designs to suit this gamer audience. The design collaboration is a first for Minkoff, though it’s not her first foray into Roblox. In 2022, the brand hosted a pop-up and temporary takeover of a game called High Heel Obby.

Last year’s effort proved popular, nabbing more than 40 million plays. But 2022 was a different time.

It was just months after Facebook morphed into Meta in 2021. Shortly after, in the following January, reports like the Obsess-Kantar study, “The Metaverse Mindset: Consumer Shopping Insights,” pointed to high sales demand in the virtual world and gaming environments. The researchers found that 70 percent of virtual store visitors ended up purchasing. That paved the way for Decentraland’s first Metaverse Fashion Week, which drew some 70 brands and 108,000 attendees.

At the second installment, which took place last week, fashion’s virtual universe appeared to contract. This time around, 63 brands showed up and traffic amounted to less than 50,000 users.

The smaller showing wasn’t for lack of spectacle.

From Minkoff’s spring 2023 show from the fall, which inspired the Roblox collection.

Courtesy of Jason Crowley, BFA

Artists collective Vueltta held its Vivienne Westwood tribute, while Dundas showcased NFT versions of its Paris Fashion Week looks. Tommy Hilfiger introduced an interoperable, multi-metaverse hub spanning Decentraland, Roblox, Spatial, DressX and Ready Player Me. For its MVFW debut, Adidas unleashed a popular metaverse collection of wearables and NFTs and Coach, another first-time participant, floated a glossy pink signature Tabby bag. Meanwhile returning brands Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Perry Ellis and others hit the runways, luxury district and other zones to set up shop. On Friday, MVFW cohost Over beamed AR fashions into Milan’s very real Piazza del Duomo.

The event focused on interoperability — perhaps, in part, as a survival instinct. A more cohesive metaverse fanning out across platforms would certainly boost exposure and accessibility amid waning interest.

It’s a logical strategy. But not for Roblox.

The platform, an enduringly popular game that hums with 67 million daily active users as of February, isn’t focused on connecting to other spaces. It’s a massive cross-section of groups and zones all on its own. That’s a strength, according to Winnie Burke, the tech company’s head of fashion, beauty, retail and luxury partnerships.

With so many diverse interests, Roblox makes a great test-and-learn environment for brands, she said. That’s likely a draw for fashion houses such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, Hilfiger, Nike and others that have established a presence there. Another appeal is the platform’s development work.

The company added avatar options beyond the original 2D, squared-off figures, for gamers who prefer smoother, more refined characters. Then to go with it, the company rolled out “Layered Clothing” last year. Burke believes it’s a game-changer for apparel brands.

“The intention behind it was really to ensure that this 3D clothing — not 2D clothing, because that was the old Roblox — could adapt to any body style, whether it’s a humanoid, a classic blocky character or an animal or dinosaur,” she told WWD. “The clothing wraps the body the same way.”

In other words, designers and developers can create the digital clothes once knowing it will fit every type of Roblox avatar automatically. That’s how it works for Rebecca Minkoff’s new collection, as well as any others who use Layered Clothing. Now the company is working on new animations to map an avatar’s face to the player’s speech or voice chat. If it can pull off facial expressions, it’s not hard to see them improving social experiences, from friendly gatherings to fashion shows and even shopping virtual stores. All of that could become more engaging.

Rebecca Minkoff’s Limited Bag in yellow.

Courtesy image

That presumes, of course, that consumers really do want to buy virtual goods. That’s not at all clear right now, especially with the plunge in NFT trading. Broadly, global market sales lopped off $10 billion in the first quarter compared the same time last year. The fashion segment saw an eye-watering, year-over-year decline of 88 percent.

Those types of numbers might amount to a severe, but temporary hangover from the crash of crypto exchange FTX and other economic factors. It could also be a sign that digital collectibles are actually over, prompting some critics to call the metaverse the equivalent of an abandoned digital mall.

Whichever way that pans out, Burke asserts it’s of no consequence to Roblox.

“Frankly, we’re not really noticing that. I think we’re in a bit of an advantageous position, because the foundational components of the platform around socialization are more at the forefront,” she said. “This is where people are coming to create, collaborate, experience things together and have these moments with culture. The crypto market is not our business at all…[so] we’re feeling a bit immune to that.”

Virtual fashion may or may not drive revenue, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Take utility NFTs and blockchain tech, for instance. They can support loyalty programs, identification features and luxury authentication, among other uses. Like testing new designs.

At least on Roblox, that seems feasible. In its last digital fashion study, 70 percent said their real-life style inspires their avatar style — and the same 70 percent also said that their avatars impact their IRL wardrobe. “The second half of that fact is super interesting,” Burke added. “I don’t know that we, or that the fashion industry, is [focusing enough] there yet.”

Fancy digital frocks, footwear, accessories and other wearables and collectibles can also support branding and marketing opportunities, in addition to testing. The scenarios add key context to Minkoff’s approach. Her Roblox collection may not net much revenue, considering items will cost less than $2, some for even less than $1. But in one digital collection, she managed to highlight her latest real-world looks, highlight her company’s focus on innovation and test design tweaks with a new audience.

“We’ve always been at the intersection of fashion and technology, even from the very beginnings of Rebecca Minkoff. And so for us, it’s always about experimentation about trial and error, seeing what sticks what doesn’t,” continued the designer. “We don’t mind if something doesn’t work well, because we always learn something from experimentation.”

The feeling carries over, even beyond the virtual world.

“For us, the days of a regular presentation or runway show are kind of done,” Minkoff explained. “And so if we are going to do something, there is always going to be an experiential component to it.”

The Pope’s Coat Focuses Attention on AI Images

The Pope’s Coat Focuses Attention on AI Images

PARIS — Was the Balenciaga coat a wakeup call?
After a photo-realistic image of Pope Francis wearing a white puffer coat from the brand caused an internet frenzy earlier this week, Elon Musk, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, and Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn signed an open letter calling for companies to curb their development of artificial intelligence.

They were among the tech leaders stating that the rapidly evolving systems pose “profound risks to society and humanity.”

As unlikely as it may seem that the pope would be dressed by Demna, when the Midjourney-generated AI image went viral, most people couldn’t tell that it was fake. It was the first time many became aware of AI’s capabilities, and left the public to grapple with the implications of these new technologies.

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Amid all this, famed brand Levi’s revealed it would be using AI-generated models in partnership with digital fashion studio to increase diversity and inclusion. The brand quickly faced backlash and calls for it to simply hire diverse human models instead of relying on technology.

The use of AI images has the potential to upend not only the fashion industry and creative jobs such as photography and styling — not to mention estimates from McKinsey that it could cost 400 million to 800 million jobs by 2030 — but also the way people view and analyze photographs, with profound implications for democracy itself.

“With the pope images, it’s fun, it’s sort of silly and it doesn’t matter too much in the sense of what those images actually are. But it’s opening up the conversation, and opening up these wider issues. It’s an opportunity to get people to pay attention,” said Mhairi Aitken, ethical fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the U.K.’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

Less benign images also circulated this week, including of French President Emmanuel Macron seemingly collecting garbage on the streets of Paris amid a sanitary workers’ strike and riots in the country, and incendiary pictures of former U.S. President Donald Trump appearing to be dragged away by police following his indictment.

At a conference hosted by the Alan Turing Institute this week, the images were a hot topic.

“These fake images that are coming out, there are concerns about what the long-term impacts might be. There’s excitement about the rapid advances in the technology, but at the same time, concerns around the impacts and that those might be harmful,” Aitken said. “There has been a heightened awareness of the risks around the uses of AI.”

There might be telltale signs — experts say to look at the hands, which AI hasn’t perfected yet, or the glasses — but that takes a discerning eye. “The reality is that’s not how people view images, it’s not how people consume media. If you’re just scrolling past, it looks real, it looks convincing,” she said. Plus, as the AI image generators improve, the images will become more and more sophisticated.

Fundamentally, it’s not about figuring out if an image is fake or not, it’s that the seed of disbelief is now planted in any image. Real images could be dismissed as fake if someone doesn’t like what they see and it’s inconvenient to their world view.

The speed at which AI is developing is “highly concerning” even to those that work in the field, said Alexander Loth, Microsoft senior program manager, data science and AI. He studies the use cases and benefits of the technologies at Microsoft’s AI For Good lab.

“A few weeks ago, it was not even seen as a possibility that you could enter a prompt and get a photorealistic looking pope,” he said.

He shared some slides to depict how fast AI is evolving, which show the big jumps that have taken place this year. Midjourney’s latest release can create photorealistic images like the pope’s white coat, while GPT-4, released two weeks ago, appears to understand complex logic.

Publicly available AI programs including Midjourney, ChatGPT and Dall-E have guardrails, but an open source program like Stable Diffusion could be worked around. “So it’s getting very difficult regarding misinformation and these kinds of pictures. When the next U.S. election happens, we are not very sure what we will see,” Loth said.

One proposed solution is invisible digital watermarks, similar to metadata, that could be used to authenticate real photos.

Another proposed solution is using the blockchain to verify the origin of an image. “It could be very useful in tracking fake news,” said Leonard Korkmaz, head of research at Quantlab and product manager at Ledger. He highlighted Lenster, a social network being built on the Lens Protocol, to track and verify posts on the blockchain.

“If the issuer was the Vatican posting the photos, using an NFT smart contract, people will be able to identify that it was posted by an official account. If it’s posted by someone unknown, that means it can be a fake and you need to do more investigation,” he said.

However, that requires issuing an NFT for an image, as well as verifying an account through these services with a technology the average person is unfamiliar with. The technology is “not completely mature right now,” Korkmaz noted. Lenster is still a bit unwieldy and not user-friendly quite yet. The company has released plans on how it plans to build the protocol but “it’s basically a vision that needs to come and be revealed,” he said.

“The notion of seeing is believing is no longer true, and that’s the big shift right now,” said Poynter Institute senior faculty for broadcast and online Al Tompkins.

Brands might look to AI to cut out photographers on basic images. “The real question is going to end up being, ‘What does genuine photography do that AI doesn’t?’” He compared it to the Photoshop revolution 30 years ago, which is now widely accepted as a tool to manipulate images.

However, with Photoshop you need specific skills, training and time to work on an image. Midjourney takes a few words and mere seconds. “With AI you don’t need any skills and it’s very fast. That’s the scary thing. Every bad actor can have a huge amount of fake pictures and fake news,” said Microsoft’s Loth. The only barrier to entry is your imagination.

The AI image generators also have the ability to create something “in the style of” a specific artist, which brings in copyright issues, said Poynter’s Tompkins. Once future law catches up with technology, he imagines something that will be similar to sampling a song in music to compensate photographers and artists.

Industry organization Coordination of European Picture Agencies, which includes Getty Images and Magnum Photos among its members, issued a set of guidelines to encourage the responsible use of AI in photography, as well as address copyright and privacy issues.

“We recognize the potential of AI to transform the visual media industry, but we also acknowledge the risks associated with its use,” said CEPIC president Christina Vaughan. The organization points out that the law is “struggling to cover all possible uses and potential abuses.”

“Many companies are producing derivative products that use existing gray areas to gain a competitive advantage by avoiding remunerating the original creators, sacrificing long-term societal benefits for short-term gains,” the organization said.

Copyright is moving into uncharted territory. In the U.S., Getty Images is suing Stable Diffusion creator Stability AI for training its AI on the agency’s photography, creating derivative works and violating its copyright.

“In most countries in the world at this point, it’s been determined that authorship requires a natural person,” said Thomas Coester, principal at Thomas Coester Intellectual Property based in Los Angeles.

In other words, if an AI platform is just given prompts that generate a text or image, most people would say there’s no meaningful creative input by the person, and therefore there’s no copyright — and anybody can copy it. However, if there’s some human input, that can change things.

“But it’s indeterminate at this point how much is enough,” said Coester.

In the age of “authenticity,” brands could be seen as duping their customers by using AI models. “If they’re lying about the person, are they lying about the product?” wondered Tompkins. “You might as well put it on a Barbie doll. It’s not real. People want to know what is the real deal.”

That lack of authenticity led Levi’s to backtrack on its announcement.

“We realize there is understandable sensitivity around AI-related technologies, and we want to clarify that this pilot is something we are on track to experiment with later this year in the hopes of strengthening the consumer experience. Today, industry standards for a photoshoot will generally be limited to one or two models per product.’s technology, and AI more broadly, can potentially assist us by allowing us to publish more images of our products on a range of body types more quickly,” the company said in a statement.

Levi’s clarified that it is not scaling back its plans for live photoshoots, adding: “Authentic storytelling has always been part of how we’ve connected with our fans, and human models and collaborators are core to that experience.”

With contributions from Jennifer Weil

TikTok’s Live Shopping Pilot Attempts to Make Sellers’ Lives Easier

TikTok’s Live Shopping Pilot Attempts to Make Sellers’ Lives Easier

TikTok has a new partner that can help the social media giant push product to consumers as part of its recently launched shopping pilot.
Cymbio, a solution designed to enable brands to start selling on multiple marketplaces at once and offer dropshipping capabilities, revealed it is helping power the controversial platform’s TikTok Shop feature, which gives brands a potential reach of 150 million U.S. consumers.

TikTok Shop is available in the U.K., as well as Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore among others, and is expected to expand beyond trial mode in the U.S. market by the fourth quarter of 2023.

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The shopping feature is designed to enable merchants, brands and creators to easily showcase and sell products directly within the TikTok app. Where Cymbio’s technology comes in is by embedding a brand’s product data and information to TikTok’s in-video, live shopping offering.

Apparel brands like PacSun, Revolve and Willow Boutique are among the first sellers that have joined the trial. Users who want to shop these brands’ products can tap on the shopping bag icon on the brand’s profile to view their catalogues and complete the checkout process without leaving TikTok’s app. TikTok says it will take a 5 percent commission on each in-app sale a business makes.

Cymbio’s digital commerce enablement platform is built for brands of any size to access a centralized platform where they can have a hands-off approach to their back-end operations in an effort to scale sales across various channels. The platform can automate the management of marketplaces, dropship and social media sales and operations, including data integration, set-up, mapping, taxonomy, onboarding and daily management of a brand’s operational needs.

With Cymbio, for example, brands leveraging TikTok Shop can automate the processes of listing products, managing inventory, streamlining order processing, fulfillment and tracking orders and analytics.

“Partnering with Cymbio is a great choice, allowing for seamless and quick connectivity and automation to our platform,” said Sandie Hawkins, head of TikTok Shop, in a statement. “Brands such as New Balance can easily monetize on TikTok, reducing shopping friction and engaging buyers at the exact moment of interest. We look forward to seeing this partnership flourish and helping brands grow.”

The company has provided its services to major names in the fashion industry such as New Balance, Authentic Brands Group, Steve Madden and Camper in an effort to help them get in front of new customers and channels. Through Cymbio’s platform, these brands have been introduced to retailers and marketplaces including Farfetch, Kohl’s Corp., Macy’s Inc., Dillard’s Inc., Saks Inc., Urban Outfitters Inc., Walmart Inc., Zappos and others. 

“We are thrilled to partner with TikTok, enabling brands multichannel opportunities to reach a brand new, highly engaged audience via TikTok Shop,” said Roy Avidor, chief executive officer and cofounder of Cymbio, in a statement. “We are humbled and excited to expand and value TikTok Shop as a high-growth opportunity for brands of all sizes.”

Social commerce in general has had plenty of attempts to get off the ground, but U.S. consumers have never committed to buying off of the platforms. After pushing its Shop feature heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic, Instagram removed the Shop tab in January and shuttered its livestream shopping feature on March 16. Instagram’s sister social network Facebook also shut down its live shopping feature in October to shift its focus to its short-form video feature Reels.

But TikTok apparently has been able to at least convince people to buy a product elsewhere after seeing it on the app — perhaps influencing the company’s decision to go forward with TikTok Shop. The phrase “TikTok made me buy it” has garnered 7.4 billion views across videos on the platform, in fact, and the hashtag has generated a whopping 47.2 billion views.

TikTok continues its attempt to capitalize on social commerce as doubts seep in about the future of the platform in the U.S. amid concerns of its data collection methods.

In a five-hour hearing on Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by Congress over the firm’s use of consumer data, its parent company’s potential ties to the Chinese government and the app’s impact on mental health.

Lawmakers across the aisle have been critical of the platform, with some calling for either an outright ban on it and others calling for a sale by the China-based parent, ByteDance. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that TikTok “should be ended one way or another, and there are different ways of doing that.”

To date, U.S. lawmakers have offered no evidence of TikTok harming U.S. national security interests.

Inside Sir James Dyson’s Dyson-land

Inside Sir James Dyson’s Dyson-land

LONDON — Bagless vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans and wand-like hair dryers are just some of the products that British technology brand Dyson makes from its base in Malmesbury, a small town in southwest England.
The brand is the town’s main employer with more than 3,500 recruits. Malmesbury’s population is 5,380.

The inventor Sir James Dyson, who has multiple patents to his name, has sat at the top of his empire since 1991 with no plans to sell out, slow down or take the company public.

“Dyson is a global technology company, but it remains family-owned and that really matters to me. Without external shareholders to hold the company back, we are free to think for the long-term and take radical decisions,” Dyson said in an interview with Beauty Inc.

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“I have no interest at all in going public because this would spell the end of the company’s freedom to innovate in the way it does. When you own the whole company, from the early days, for better or worse, all decisions are your own. The company has grown now, and we have professional management and a highly capable board. Like me, the majority of our leaders are engineers — I want to keep it that way,” Dyson added.

Over the past 30 years, Dyson has become a leading name in international engineering, as its owner is one of Britain’s wealthiest families. He ranks number two on the Sunday Times Rich List, with a net worth of 23 billion pounds.

Sir James Dyson

Dave Benett/Getty Images for Lux

The Dyson Group saw record profits in 2021, with 1.5 billion pounds from 6 billion pounds of sales.

Those billions are generated at the Dyson campus, which is not just a place of work, but a large community that lives and breathes the brand, and hones emerging talent.

In September 2017, Dyson opened its doors to the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology. Every year, the program accepts 40 undergraduate students, providing them with on-campus housing and the opportunity to work on projects. Each student also earns a salary. 

“We have 160 undergraduate engineers. They question things, challenge things and approach problems with an untrained eye,” Dyson said.

At the end, they’re offered a job with Dyson’s global engineering team which is constantly expanding, and, of late, putting the focus on hair care.

In 2012, the company invested 50 million pounds in developing its first hair care product — the process took four years, and the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer was launched in 2016. It costs 330 pounds and looks like a wand, or a lollipop — but nothing like a traditional hair dryer.

Hair care has become a booming business and the company continues to put money behind it. Over the next four years, Dyson said it plans to support the launch of 20 new beauty products and open new beauty research labs with an investment of half a billion pounds. 

“We are dedicated to understanding the science of hair; this is the foundation that underpins all of our beauty technology. We have been researching the science of hair for a decade, and have already invested over 100 million pounds into hair laboratories,” Dyson said.

In October, the company unveiled its first Dyson Beauty Lab in South Florida at Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour. There, customers can purchase and receive one-to-one service about their products.

On the Dyson campus, there are assigned spaces for each part — however small — that goes into making the beauty products. There are sound and frequency rooms to trial the products and hair testing rooms, where the final product is used on every type of hair, over and over again. The hair is then taken to a lab to assess the damage from multiple blow dries.

There are special facilities dedicated to the improvement of hair. The 3D printing room is one of the most expensive on the campus. It contains four machines worth between 500,000 pounds and 2 million pounds each. Each machine produces a different 3D component in order to speed up the pace of production.

Employees and guests are instructed to wear specially provided footwear and white robes with a strict no photography rule when moving between facilities.

Dyson said that, in the past, “hair dryers relied on bulky motors and crude heating systems, making them slow and top heavy. They often used very high temperatures, which is damaging to hair. We realized that if we took an entirely new approach that the core technologies in them — motors, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics — could be vastly improved.”

With a robust balance sheet, billions of poundsand multiple inventions to his name, Dyson said his proudest professional achievement has been his commitment to sustainability, and reducing energy consumption. 

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“This has been primarily through our long-standing commitment to progressing the state of the art in motors technology. This enabled us to develop hand dryers that use 10 percent of the energy of hot air hand dryers — and do away with unsustainable paper towels,” he said, adding that the company’s high-speed digital motors have enabled it to develop machines that use 200 watts instead of 2,000 watts, reducing electric consumption by 90 percent without affecting the performance of the product.

Dyson took over St James Power Station, Singapore’s first power station which previously operated as a 110,000 sq ft nightclub and completed restoration in March 2022.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

In 2019, following the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, Dyson made the decision to relocate the company’s headquarters to Singapore. It means that Dyson will be near its fastest-growing markets, which are in Asia Pacific. The company will also be able to swerve new trade restrictions between the U.K. and the EU.

The Malmesbury base will remain and it will not affect any of the employees, however, it will give internal staff the opportunity to work abroad.

The company has taken over St James Power Station, Singapore’s first power station which previously operated as a 110,000-square-foot nightclub. It completed the restoration in March 2022.

“We are about to enter entirely new fields and these will spark other opportunities,” said Dyson, naming the newly Dyson Zone, noise-canceling headphones with air purification.

Beauty Tech Company Perfect Corp. Goes Public

Beauty Tech Company Perfect Corp. Goes Public

Perfect Corp., which develops virtual try-on apps for the beauty industry, is officially a public company.
The AR player made its debut Monday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “PERF” after going public through Provident Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company commonly referred to as a SPAC. They act as a shell company that investors pour money into via an initial public offering and those funds are then used to acquire a company that will inherit its stock exchange listing minus the traditional time-consuming IPO process.

The IPO was funded through $230 million from its trust, around $50 million from a private investment in public equity including investors Snap Inc. and Chanel and a $55 million forward purchase agreement.

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Alice Chang, founder and chief executive officer of Perfect, said, “We are thrilled to continue Perfect’s evolution, now as a public company, by reaching this significant milestone. Leveraging our access to the global capital market, we plan to extend our industry coverage from beauty and fashion to tangential sectors, augment our innovative AR and AI SaaS solutions, and empower more enterprises around the world to deliver transformative virtual product try-on experiences to consumers.”

Chang founded the company in 2015, which uses facial 3D modeling, and AI deep learning technologies, to offer beauty brands product try-on, facial diagnostics and digital consultation solutions. Among its clients are the Estée Lauder Cos., Neutrogena and Google.

Perfect also owns YouCam makeup, an app that lets people virtually try on makeup, skin care and hair styles, as well as offering recommendations for beauty products.

Michael Aw, CEO of Provident, added, “With its innovative AI and AR solutions and strong partnerships with the world’s leading beauty groups, we believe that Perfect is well positioned to continue growing its business and deliver sustainable shareholder returns. We are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead, and we look forward to working with Perfect in the future as a newly public company.”

Perfect follows in the footsteps of Waldencast, the owner of Milk makeup and Obagi skin care, which went public through a SPAC earlier this year.

Inside Jill Martin’s Immersive Shoppable TV Platform

Inside Jill Martin’s Immersive Shoppable TV Platform

Jill Martin has been incredibly busy. After introducing a new business to the world, another entrepreneur might take a break to unwind from all the stress and preparations. Instead, the “Today” star got married.
Just over a week since she unveiled her immersive new TV shopping platform, Shop the Scenes, this month, Martin tied the knot with banker Erik Brooks at the New York Public Library. The “Steals & Deals” host let WWD in on a little-known detail about the event: French haute couture designer Pierre Cadault was a key figure at her wedding — which is fascinating, because he doesn’t actually exist outside of Darren Star’s Netflix series, “Emily in Paris.”

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The character, played by actor Jean-Christophe Bouvet, appeared in luggage form, his face emblazoned on an army of rolling bags for guests, Martin told WWD in an exclusive interview. They were dead ringers for the customized Rimowa trunk from season two, a popular item that sent fans blanketing the Internet to secure their own. They weren’t available to purchase then, but they will be via Shop the Scenes.

Pierre Cadault luggage from “Emily in Paris” stands at attention at Jill Martin’s September wedding in New York. Photo exclusively for WWD.

Turns out, those bags weren’t just wedding swag. They were a preview of a signature STS offering: The business is actually manufacturing fictional “in-show brands” like the Cadault bags, manifesting invented products from beloved TV series into actual ones available for sale. Other items from real-world brands will be sourced directly from the shows, and cast as 3D graphics that fans can shop inside virtual WebVR environments, each designed to reflect a given show.

Think of it as a multifaceted approach to bring immersiveness to shoppable TV.

As for Martin, she’s been absorbed in the shows since she cofounded the business with her partner, entertainment company 101 Studios. She has been living and breathing “Yellowstone” and “Emily in Paris,” even decorating her home with the series’ merchandise. She somehow balances that, while still focusing on her broadcast work, including showcasing her own brands on QVC.

And, of course, she also had a wedding to plan. So perhaps some overlap was inevitable.

“I’m so grateful for all the opportunity and what we’re building in all of these arenas,” she said. “The thread that keeps it all together, all of it, is just passion and love for what I do…it’s part of my life, and so the shows [were] incorporated into my wedding.”

Guests even sipped Champere, the abysmal champagne from “Emily” now transformed into a delicious sparkling wine. The bubbly will join a broad but highly curated selection of merchandise ranging from $10 to $10,000 across clothes, beauty products, furniture, jewelry, home goods and more, as seen on beloved TV shows.

Jill Martin at the New York Public library

Courtesy photo/Ben Finch

Shop the Scenes appeared at Martin’s wedding via merchandise.

Courtesy photo/Ben Finch

Jill Martin and Erik Brooks’ pop a very special bottle of bubbly.

Courtesy photo/Erika Dame

Champere, the terrible champagne from “Emily in Paris,” is now a delicious sparkling wine, said Martin.

Courtesy photo/Erika Finch

Wedding guests were among the first to sip the transformed wine.

Courtesy photo/Erika Dame

A celebration of Champere

Courtesy photo/Erika Dame

In a retail market bursting with e-commerce platforms, shoppable TV efforts, virtual worlds and initiatives targeting fan communities, it’s natural to wonder if there’s room for yet another, or how this one can distinguish itself from the pack.

But what those businesses don’t have is Martin herself.

A former sportscaster and a New York Times bestselling author, the Emmy-winning media personality has built a career as a fashion and lifestyle authority and e-commerce expert with a knack for igniting sales. Her bio credits her as the first to pioneer the concept of bringing shopping into unscripted television. One media report claims she drove as much as $60 million in revenue for “Today” in 2018 alone.

In other words, she has an innate understanding of what consumers want. Her partner, entertainment company 101 Studios, knows what the studios want. This blend, she said, is Shop the Scenes’ secret sauce.

“[Longtime friend and 101 cofounder David Glasser] understands, from a showrunner perspective, why it’s so important for products to be organic and available to the consumer,” she explained. “And I come at it from a viewer perspective and a consumer perspective of how we make that environment seamless and enjoyable. And so with the merging of 101 Studios and David and myself…we have all the areas covered.”

Together, they aimed to flip the old model — retail’s use of storytelling as a tool to drive sales — to show storytellers how the shopping platform can expand the worlds they’ve created to the real world, in real time.

“Rather than ad placements, we’re coming at it by working with the showrunners, working with the costume and set designers, and that is where the difference is, where it’s never been done before,” she continued. “There are so many times that you’ve watched something and you love it, and you’re scouring the Internet, and [wondering,] ‘Where do I get it?’ Now the behavior will just be there, to know that you could go to Shop the Scenes and just get it with one click. It’s an authentic and organic way to shop your favorite show.”

As if to punctuate the point, she held up her hand. She was wearing Rip’s ring from “Yellowstone.”

It’s an ambitious play to redefine what an immersive fan experience can be, and according to Martin, creators like Darren Star find it rather compelling: “I flew to Paris to meet with Darren and Stephen [Joel Brown, producer], and they gave me insight into the brands that will be pitched in this coming season,” she added. “And so when Emily pitches that brand, you will be able to buy that particular item, as in real time.”

That’s notable, since TV productions are usually locked down to prevent leaks. But it speaks to the platform’s appeal.

“We are so excited to be partnering with Shop the Scenes and to bring the world of ‘Emily in Paris’ directly to fans of the show,” said Brown, Star’s producing partner on “Emily In Paris,” in a statement provided to WWD.

“Our partnership will, for the first time, make the brands and products exclusively created for the show immediately shoppable. Fans will be able to buy everything from Champere to Pierre Cadault luggage to Chez Lavaux kitchenware,” he added. “Bringing the show to life in the real world has always been a goal of ours and our partnership with Shop the Scenes makes this a reality.” Martin and Star are even working on an undisclosed beauty product.

From the fans’ point of view, the experience should feel seamless. By scanning a QR code that will air onscreen, visitors can step inside richly detailed virtual locations that match the show — like rooms at Dutton Ranch from “Yellowstone” — and, as the platform’s name suggests, shop those scenes. In the future, the environments may include digital collectibles or NFTs, Martin said. But for now, the experience is decidedly crypto-free.

Shop the Scenes’ QR code

Shoppable virtual Dutton Ranch environments will be available via WebVR at Shop the Scenes.

Courtesy image

Other retail and shoppable TV initiatives have been using QR codes for years, from NBCUniversal — Martin’s stomping grounds — to a recent Coinbase Super Bowl commercial. In essence, they’ve trained consumers to view the codes as commerce gateways. For Shop the Scenes, they’re also a branding opportunity. Its QR code, which resembles a bag or a production clapboard, was designed to be an icon that viewers will immediately recognize as a doorway to Shop the Scenes’ shopping environment, exclusive content, contests and curated product selection.

Martin is particularly proud to support small brands, in addition to established labels. She even partnered with a tech firm to digitally scan and render products in 3D, removing an obstacle for small operators.

“The item is then placed, and it will look real on the virtual set, so you get a better sense of what it looks like up close,” she explained. “Then the product page will tell you about the small business owner that might have made it.

“We’re able we have hundreds of small businesses, which is so exciting to me. With a lot of women-owned businesses, where if somebody has to hand-make them or make 10 of them, they’re not able to go into retail,” she elaborated. “But because we have a centralized warehouse [in Texas] and distribution, we’re able to help those small businesses, so I’m really jazzed about being able to do that.”

Shop the Scenes will open for business on Nov. 12, timed with Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” season four marathon, followed by the season five premiere on Nov. 13. Fans will be able to explore select virtual environments at Dutton Ranch styled with products from or inspired by previous seasons. The company is planning to offer watch party kits, gifts, contests, VIP memberships and exclusive content. For the season five premiere, key items from the show will be available for purchase.

The buzz has already begun. Paramount Network aired a Labor Day Marathon with past seasons of “Yellowstone,” with several spots introducing Shop the Scenes to viewers. According to the company, the response was overwhelming. The flood of sign-ups looked like a proof of concept, prompting the business to continue innovating. In addition to virtual shopping via WebVR, the e-commerce site will offer shoppable video and “stills,” and it is exploring partnerships to shop via remote.

Dates for “Emily in Paris,” plus a “Today” holiday pop-up shop on the platform, will be announced at a later time.

But it won’t end there. So far, STS has secured NBC, Paramount Media Networks and MTV Entertainment Studios for its initial wave of shows, but talks are underway with other potential partners. In the coming months, the company plans to announce 25 more shows for next year.

Some could include programs with a younger demographic, so Martin formed a junior advisory board over the summer. The 10 members, ranging in age from 10 to 25, weigh in on topics like gamification or how to appeal to parents.

When STS launches, it will arrive with some 1,000 stock keeping units, Martin estimated — including “Yellowstone” items such as John Dutton’s cowboy hat, from heritage brand Burns Cowboy; the horse saddle that appeared in season four; Beth’s faux fur coat from Geneva-based brand Faz Not Fur, and a very limited collection for Rip’s wedding ring, with only 300 produced.

The “Emily” line of merchandise will feature a limited edited of the Pierre Cadault suitcase and the de Lalisse Champere, in addition to other home goods, beauty, fashion, accessories, travel items and kitchenware.

Sounds like Martin, whose home is already decked out with Pierre Cardeau pillows, blankets and more, may need to get a bigger place.

Beauty’s Bet on Longevity

Beauty’s Bet on Longevity

PARIS — The beauty industry’s lexicon — and focus — keep expanding. Health, then well-being, were buzzwords in the recent past. Now, with their convergence and scientific advances, longevity is becoming a key talking point and industry shape-shifter.Its influence is expected to be widespread, on everything from product creation to services, as people’s lifespan and mind-set keep stretching.
“Our life expectancy has been considerably extended, thanks to recent advances in the medical field,” said Virginie Couturaud, scientific communications director at Parfums Christian Dior. “Today, enabling the human body to remain in good health as long as possible is a major research challenge.

“In this quest for good health, aging, defined by the scientific community as a continuous process of alteration of the different functions of the body, seems to be a hindrance,” she continued. “Recent discoveries have shown that this process is not inevitable, and that it is possible to slow it down and even partially reverse it. This awareness has led to the development of a new research area, whose objective is to explore the different ways to reverse the aging process, offering new perspectives for human health.

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“In the long term, this work will make it possible to significantly extend the human health span rather than the life span, so that people can get older in a healthier way,” Couturaud said.

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Industry experts describe the growing emphasis on longevity as more of an evolution than a revolution.
“The wellness trend is not new,” said Charles Rosier, chief executive officer of Augustinus Bader. “But that wellness trend is evolving with the fact that we have more information and research being made on the topic of longevity and how to measure longevity.
“A few years ago, the main pillar was the length of the telomere,” he continued, referring to the natural end of a eukaryotic chromosome. “Now, other criteria have come into play and other discoveries on the topic.”
A confluence of phenomena contributes to this growing focus on managing aging.
“You’ve got the consumerism of health care being powered by artificial intelligence, technology and stem cell research — so people taking more proactive approaches to their health care, and seeing that in holistic inside and outside ways,” said Lucie Greene, founder and CEO of trend forecasting consultancy Light Years.
Also, as the oldest Millennials turn 40 or 41, age-related concepts and services are starting to skew toward them design- and discourse-wise.
Greene spotlighted concepts such as Millennial med-spa Ever/Body, for instance, which was launched by former Clinique executive Kate Twist as an alternative to traditional cosmetic dermatology offices. The chain, which raised $38 million in Series B funding last year, offers laser facials, Botox, HydraFacial, fillers and laser hair removal.
The VSpot medi spa, another example, is for vaginal rejuvenation and has on its menu treatments such as non-surgical breast lift, intimate lightning and hormone replacement therapy.

Inside VSpot.

Courtesy of VSPOT

Modern Age, a “wellness clinic” officially opened a New York City location in April. Its tag line: “Feel good. Age well.”
The clinic takes a holistic approach to “take control of your aging journey,” combining things like IV drips for skin and hair health, energy and stress; micro-needling and hormone therapies.
Modern Age delves into client’s subjective age — how old one feels — and claims lowering that can lead to a longer, healthier life.
Female biohackers Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps teamed to open Instagram-friendly infrared outposts, called HigherDose, also in New York. It has a location at the 11 Howard hotel and another in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. The brand became famous for users’ “sweaty, sexy sauna selfies.”
Eventually, the duo decided to build out a product line for infrared enthusiasts to take home. There is the Infrared Sauna Blanket for $599, the Infrared PEMF Mat for $1,095 and the Red Light Face Mask for $299. The technologies are meant to be “stacked” and build on one another for additional wellness benefits.

HigherDose Red Light Face Mask.

Courtesy of HigherDose

The sauna blanket provides an at-home sauna experience, while the PEMF mat is said to have electromagnetic frequency that is “similar to the earth’s core,” for “calming, grounding [and] relaxing,” Berlingeri said during WWD’s Beauty CEO Summit in May.
The red light technology featured in the face mask is well-known for skin benefits, but the founders also purport that red light “feeds the mitochondria of every single cell to produce something called ATP, which is energy, which means that every single one of your cells in your body is functioning better.”
The tech is said to be a mood booster, too.
During a separate interview, Berlingeri called the face mask her and Kaps’ Trojan Horse into the beauty space.

“What we’re focused on is longevity and vitality,” Berlingeri said. “It just so happens that red light is an amazing antiaging beauty tool, as well. But here we are trying to educate people [that] it’s beyond decreasing wrinkles.
“It’s been exciting to be in this beauty space as two female biohackers,” she continued. “[In addition to] wanting to feel our best, looking our best is something that is top of mind for us, too. But we’ve always felt [that] when you focus on wellness, then beauty comes effortlessly. It’s from the inside out.
“We do feel like there’s so much untapped upside around this whole idea of longevity, vitality and optimization, [with] men still dominating that space more than women are,” Berlingeri said. “Which is kind of an interesting concept, because we feel like women are the original biohackers.”
She and Kapps believe there’s no brand in the wellness space owning longevity.
“We really plan to do that,” Berlingeri said. “Biohacking is the ultimate way to achieve vitality, longevity and just looking and feeling your best.”
The pair seeks to revolutionize topicals and ingestibles that can help people achieve beauty.  HigherDose recently launched High-Dration Powder, based on the whole fruit of watermelon and coconut, mixed with electrolyte and Himalayan salt.
Clinique La Prairie, of Montreux, Switzerland, offers among its treatments a protocol using people’s own stem cells that are clinically harvested and reinjected in order to revitalize skin using the body’s natural resources for regeneration, according to Simone Gibertoni, the clinic’s CEO and cofounder of Holistic Health.
The race is on for beauty companies to tap into longevity.
Dior Science and its parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton have for decades worked with external scientific specialists, and the brand has been pioneering in skin antiaging discoveries.
In early July, Dior said it had entered into a research collaboration with Vadim N. Gladyshev, a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, with the aim of reversing cellular aging.
“With this three-year partnership, our ambition is to decipher the biomolecular mechanism of skin aging in order to remodel the skin in a more youthful state,” Couturaud explained.
She added part of the tie-in will include the development of active ingredients to help with age reverse.

“Age reverse discoveries are part of a holistic approach to beauty, which involves healthy skin above all,” Couturaud said.
For Augustinus Bader, the focus has always been on the convergence of beauty, health and longevity. The doctor’s discovery is a communication mechanism to awaken dormant stem cells that can then trigger self-healing in skin.
Rosier described Augustinus Bader’s creams as “epigenetic,” which involves changes of gene functioning but not alterations in DNA sequencing.
“Our cream is all about empowering, nourishing the skin cell environments, so [they] work at their best,” he said. “On the biotech as well as the consumer goods side, we are working on topics about epigenetics and longevity. It could be topicals, ingestibles ­— different things.”
The audience for such products treatments is expected to expand.
“In terms of luxury buying, some people are switching from objects to experience,” Rosier said. “Therefore, in that field of premium experience, all the topics favoring longevity or doing something that has a net-positive epigenetic impact, is a focus that we grow, because the demand for that will grow, as well. Once you have everything, what is the thing that you want? You want to age gracefully and be in as good health for as long as possible.”
However, not all beauty brands will have the capability to tap into longevity, since that requires vast scientific backing.
“We could try to see what discoveries in the field of longevity can be scaled into a consumer goods product,” Rosier said.
Silicon Valley has been funding a lot of research in the field of longevity.
Start-ups such as Altos Labs, a biotech company focused on cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience, and Calico, a research and technology company delving into the biology that controls aging and life span, are helping pave the way in this nascent sector.
“The segment is growing on that tech side, and this is a bleed over into beauty,” Greene said.

Some skin care brands have already put “longevity” into their product monikers. There’s Guerlain’s Le Concentré de Longevité Orchidée serum and Mary Cohr’s Longevity and Tonicity Body Care line, both launched in 2019.

Guerlain’s Le Concentré de Longevité Orchidée.

Courtesy of Guerlain

Clinique La Prairie has just introduced a range of “longevity supplements,” called Holistic Health, “that boost the natural antiaging process from the cells up,” Gibertoni said. “They feature high-diversity plant-based compounds that even the healthiest of diets can’t offer.”
The range’s core product is Age-Defy Regeneressence and Immunity supplements, which Gibertoni said contains “the next-generation longevity formulation,” including antioxidant actives and vitamins.
Shiseido’s highest-end line, named Future Solution LX, is touted as having an exclusive youth-prolonging ingredient.

Shiseido Future Solution LX.

Courtesy of Shiseido

“We were more focused at the beginning of our research into the longevity of plants,” said Nathalie Broussard, scientific communications director at Shiseido EMEA. “This was our source of inspiration.”
In 2017, the group introduced a complex of ingredients named SkinGeneCell Enmei, which helps promote skin cell longevity, into Future Solution LX products. Those are meant to boost well-balanced, global beauty, such as general radiance.
“We have deep research into genes,” continued Broussard, who explained Shiseido researchers had honed in on the surtuin 1 gene, which revitalizes cells and extends their life span. So the idea was to figure out how to improve its functioning to increase skin cells’ longevity.
The Future Solution LX line keeps evolving. Most recently, Infinite Treatment Primer SPF 30 was added to it. At yearend, the Legendary Enmei Ultimate Luminance Serum and Ultimate Renewal Cream are being updated with the Japanese herb Enmei that’s cultivated in a more sustainable way.
“We have demonstrated another scientific action of the extract on another longevity gene, called surtuin 2,” continued Broussard.
Next, the LX Beauty Longevity Set is due to be introduced in March 2023.
As longevity becomes increasingly top of consumers’ minds, addressing changing psychographics is key.

“As you look forward, if you’d like to live longer, a lot of anxiety comes into play,” said Fernando Acosta, CEO of Roc Skincare.
Some of that angst is beauty-related. According to a Roc Skincare study, with more than 600 participants from around the world, but a focus on the U.S. and France, 90 percent of women feel anxious about aging, the primary driver being appearance-related.
“In China, people who are 20 years old are anxious about getting older,” Acosta said.
The overall study showed 60 percent are concerned about how they look as they get older, versus just 43 percent being worried about amassing enough money to retire.
“Ninety-three percent of women told us that optimism can change their life and expressed the desire to learn more about how to do this effectively,” Acosta said.
Roc executives went to a team of experts, including Daisy Robinton, who holds a Ph.D. in human biology and translational medicine.
“She helped us to put together this research between mental health and physical health,” Acosta said.
Another expert was Deepika Chopra. “She makes a link between optimism and longevity,” he said, adding Michelle Henry found the relationship between optimism and skin health.
They looked at people who have radiated optimism through their careers to amplify Roc’s message, and in July, the brand announced a partnership with Sarah Jessica Parker for the #LookForwardProject that is meant to change societal attitudes on aging.

From Roc Skincare.

Courtesy of Roc Skincare

“The headline for me about this is that it’s trying to have a conversation about not covering things up, or not being apologetic about the passing of time,” Parker told WWD in July.
“So our mantra is to change the conversation from being anxious about aging into [one] about the joy of living,” said Acosta, who explained the experts help with practical insights and other advice, found on, to anchor the project.
“This is just beginning,” he said. “A great conversation started around the world.”
Such discussions and deep-dives into longevity are just starting for the beauty industry at large.
“As time goes by, the topics of health spans, epigenetics and longevity will become more and more a concern,” Rosier said.
“We don’t know everything about longevity,” added Broussard. “There are a lot of mechanisms we are still trying to decipher, so of course it will open the door to new targets in cosmetics, too.”

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.

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