January 23, 2024

People power is at the heart of creativity.

Worried about the robot overlords taking your job then turning you into a battery to power for their post-apocalyptic cyborg metropolis?

Well, don’t.

Because no matter how sophisticated AI becomes, it still won’t even hold an electric candle to the pure, mad, authentic thrill of human creativity and experience.

In fact, it’s simply a chance for us to go even further…

Read our full article for Wired here.

November 16, 2023

When It Comes To Fashion and Sustainability, How Can Brands Truly Innovate?

The fashion industry is constantly wrestling with the demand to “be more sustainable”, but instead relying solely on making changes to production, true innovation comes from inspiring audiences to think and act differently.

With the inherent ability to implement trends that have the power to decide whether as individuals, we are either in or out of style, the fashion industry also has the potential to impact and shape society as a whole; affecting the buying habits of people globally. And yet, the industry has always had a tempestuous relationship with sustainability. This is a steep uphill battle that is neverending, but there is hope. Both luxury and non-luxury brands typically employ one of two key approaches when it comes to becoming more sustainable; integrating innovative materials or shifting people’s behaviours.

Route one relies on altering the materials used to create collections and ensuring the end-buyer is aware of their positive choice and related impact they have; think of things like Zara’s “Join Life” logo, or Net-A-Porter’s NET SUSTAIN, where you can browse a selection of consciously crafted fashion, beauty, homeware and jewellery.

The level above this is when brands take their sustainability beyond the simple commitment of net-zero. One of the best examples of this kind of innovative design is “material science company” Pangaia, which is leading the sustainability conversation through reconcepting the material composition of materials to align with their inspired vision to accelerate an Earth Positive Future. The company’s patented technologies, such PPRMINT™ (an antimicrobial treatment that enables clothes to stay fresher for longer) and FLWRDWN™ (a material that offers a plant-based, animal-free and resource-efficient alternative that doesn’t compromise keeping you warm) are some of the most innovative design technologies currently on the market.

Route two, moves beyond the materials that make clothes, and looks to shift audience behaviours to change purchase habits and deliver a more sustainable approach to shopping. This comes in many forms; from resale and rental, to repair and restyling. Audience demand plays a huge role in sustainability and brand innovation. The industry is largely dictated by what people want, and there’s recently been a seismic shift when it comes to the demand for sustainable practices. In a survey conducted by McKinsey during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, “67 percent [of respondents] consider the use of sustainable materials to be an important purchasing factor, and 63 percent consider a brand’s promotion of sustainability in the same way.” And, there are a set of innovators proposing new solutions to create positive impact.

Take for example the luxury resale platform The RealReal, founded in 2011 by Julie Wainwright, the platform’s goal was to create (and then dominate) a market for secondhand luxury fashion, which as defined by Wainwright means “occupying the space between eBay and Sotheby’s.” The RealReal shifted the audience and industry’s perception of how resale could work in the luxury space, meeting an audience demand that had long existed, but never in a dedicated luxury fashion format. Other brands have quickly followed suit; with the likes of Boyish, Oscar de la Renta, Rachel Comey, Mara Hoffman, Madewell, Amour Vert, Filippa K and Kut from the Kloth are among the brands that launched a resale shop in 2021, followed by Maaji, Ministry of Supply, Michael Stars and Steve Madden among others in 2022. Department stores are also making new sustainability commitments and shifting their sustainability strategy, for example Selfridges’ Project Earth sustainability initiative includes The Repairs Concierge. The dedicated space aims to encourage people to re-wear and care for the pieces, thus making items last longer than a season.

Similarly, rentals and repairs are accessible yet innovative methods to upping a brand’s sustainability ranking. HURR and By Rotation are the front runners, but we’ve even seen non-fashion industry brands get in on the rental market, namely Japan Airlines, which is now trialling a program called “Any Wear, Anywhere”, where visitors need only pack underwear and a toothbrush as they’re able to ditch the environmentally unfriendly suitcase and instead rent every other item upon landing in Japan.

Looking beyond the fashion industry, there are interesting things happening in the tech space, taking on the styling, fit and the design process itself. There’s restyling via the app Think Shape, founded by Anna Berkely, an industry veteran. Designed to enable users to understand how clothes fit their body type, the app teaches customers what shapes suit them best. Empowered with knowledge, people are likely to only shop for items that they know will suit them style wise, they’ll use them again and again; meaning less deliveries, less emissions, less returns, less waste, making your wardrobe go further.

There’s also Stylescan, who herald themselves as a ground breaking solution set to revolutionise the design process by reducing the need for multiple samples when designing and photographing by using currently 2D (but soon 3D) models and placing clothes on, virtually. 

The point is, systemic and ingrained behaviours rarely change, until something comes along with an alternative that isn’t too much hassle and gives people the same benefit. Innovative modes to make your wardrobe go-further, are now part of the handshake deal people make when upon purchase. The future of sustainable fashion isn’t a done deal, but there is hope.

September 21, 2023

How does a luxury brand become a “cult classic”?

How does a luxury brand become a “cult classic”? Answering such a simple question seems at first, to deliver an expectedly straightforward response. Maybe it’s a simple design ethos that’s impenetrable to trend culture, maybe it’s the creation of a limited piece, exclusively reserved for celebrities or those in the know? Achieving cult status means making a significant impact within culture and fashion; doubling down on who you are and what you value, but most importantly how you realise said values in the world. And yet, when showing up today, luxury fashion can’t shake its obsession with the past.

Luxury loves history. “Heritage” continues to play a huge role in how luxury brands operate. It remains a safe space, in both design inspiration and personal history, during moments of scandal (see Balenciaga’s post-BDSM controversy). The fashion industry now has a tried and tested (read boring) formula that happens every time a new designer takes over: wiping the social channels clean, PR announcement, the introduction of a new logo design. We already know that there’s nothing new under the sun, and yet, brands such as Burberry, are managing to reclaim the concept of heritage by refocusing the brand’s expression of a new British sensibility.

Having already applied the standard new tenure formula to announce Daniel Lee’s arrival, the British heritage house took to the streets of London during Fashion Week to reinvent their modern luxury narrative and reclaim the throne of British style. Brought to life in new and innovative ways - that might feel more streetwear than luxury fashion - Burberry announced a series of immersive experiences, installations and events set to unfold across the city - each showcasing the brand’s signatures, such as seasonal check in knight blue, rose print, and the newly redefined Equestrian Knight design - paying tribute to the brand’s archive - that are Lee’s signature brand motifs. As noted by AnOther Magazine, "Lee's arrival at Burberry signifies at once "an exercise in shifting and rebranding" and a return to the origins for a label that since its foundation in 1856, has become synonymous with Britishness in all its cultural incarnations."

In pursuit to drive this further, the brand has taken over icons of British culture, including the Bond Street Underground tube stop, aptly renamed “Burberry Street” and launched a takeover of Norman’s, the North London café renowned for its British cuisine. The activation coincides with the highly anticipated launch of Winter 2023, Daniel Lee’s first collection for the brand – now available both in store and online, alongside a redesign of its e-commerce website, marking a new era and creative vision for Burberry.

“Burberry flies the flag for Britishness and for the UK and for culture. So, we have to use our platforms because we have a responsibility to communicate those things,” Lee told Vogue Runway in December. "I don’t know if this is the right way to say this, but more than surprising people, I really would like them to see the new vision and feel reassured — like, ‘Oh, yeah, this makes sense: This is what Burberry should be.’”

The LFW show continued the next-gen Britishness streak, taking over London’s Highbury Fields with a giant tent adorned in the new check print. Cult classics came thick and fast down the runway. Trenches and scarves galore, all served up with a healthy dose of British wit and September drizzle, acutely demonstrating Lee's continued ambition to re-define modern Britishness for a global luxury audience. This is Lee's Burberry London, we're just living in it.

So, what does it really mean to create a “cult classic?” Ultimately, it’s about understanding the past and pushing the limits of possibility forwards. Cult classics are founded in heritage, inspired by today’s culture, and perhaps allusion to the ambitious energy of tomorrow.

September 14, 2023

Rebel: 30 Years Of London Fashion

This week sees the launch of Rebel: 30 Years Of London Fashion. A new exhibition curated by Vogue’s Sarah Mower to celebrate 30 years of NewGen - a program launched by the British Fashion Council supporting emerging talent, that kickstarted the careers of everyone from Kim Jones to Jonathan Anderson.  As part of the celebration, Rankin Entertainment, the entertainment arm of Rankin Creative launched a new short form series in collaboration with the British Fashion Council. As strong believers in the power of entertainment, the team wanted to use short form storytelling to highlight the profound impact NEWGEN has had both personally and professionally on some of Britain's most established designers.

Watch all episodes in the series below.

September 6, 2023

The Lightbulb: Stephanie Fuller

For this issue we interviewed the incredibly inspirational CEO of Charity, Switchboard LGBT+ the second-oldest LGBT+ telephone helpline in the United Kingdom.
Stephanie joined Switchboard in early 2021 as General Manager, bringing with her more than 15 years experience of operating at a senior level in a variety of non-profit organisations. Responsible for leading the effective day to day running of Switchboard, Stephanie is passionate about empowering and enabling the incredible volunteers. Here at Rankin HQ we’ve had the privilege of working with Stephanie and her team on and off for the past three years, most recently when she commissioned our short film ‘The Call’, in a hallmark movie showing what a creative force of nature she is.

We caught up with Stephanie earlier this summer, as she was recovering from London pride and could have sat listening to her for hours. Some brilliantly thought provoking stories, thoughts and words of wisdom for this issue of The Lightbulb.

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?

My wife and I, Karen, have four kids; they're 18, 19, 20 and 21, I find them incredibly inspiring. They show me things about the world today whether it's via tech or what’s going on with their friendship groups. They are also so different.

My eldest was diagnosed with Autism and has taught me more about the world than any other human.  

They keep me tuned in, they encourage me to explore, to learn more, they change the way I look at the world. I talk to them about work, they question stuff, they’re much more informed than my generation was. Much more invested. 

My team at work inspires me everyday too. I might be CEO, but I don’t have all the answers. I think it's really important to surround yourself with the right people and give them space to bring their own ideas.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LIGHTBULB MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

It’s more a life lightbulb moment that has given me a new perspective on every facet of my life. It was an incredibly pivotal moment and it is only really recently I’ve started to talk about it. 

Going back to 1989, I was 19 and I was at Hillsborough. I was so fortunate to survive that day but it was very traumatic. It took me almost 20 years to process it, and realise I’d been given another opportunity in life and it gave me a whole new perspective to how I live life, really.  I don’t just mean the trauma either, but after  years of burying it, not talking about it, I realised I’d just buried it, not talked about it, but it impacted every decision I’d made.

I’d never really fully unpacked the events of the day. In reflecting on that I realised I had been using it to propel me, it had shaped my decisions, it made me comfortable with setbacks and whilst I still can’t really watch anything about it on television, I began to fully appreciate how much it had ended up shaping my life and my attitude. 

It's an experience that ended up informing so much of my life and it took me a long time to realise that, so that was a huge lightbulb moment. 

WHAT'S YOUR WEIRDEST OBSESSION?

I am a fairly rational person and certainly an optimist, so it's a silly obsession but I love my football. I made the weird decision to support Crystal Palace FC and find myself OBSESSED with a football club that has  never won anything. Over 100 years of not winning! 

Recently they were recognised as the world's oldest club so that added another 44 years of not winning.The matches are a place of letting off steam, I have season tickets, I go with my son, I love going to the match. 

Unfortunately I have passed this obsession on to my son, maybe he will get to see Palace win something, who knows!

WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIVE BY?

You only get one lap of the track, I live by that view. So try and enjoy it. Find something that interests you and follow it.

Everyone has their own understanding of what good looks like, figure out what matters to you.

You get so much more satisfaction and fulfilment from working on or toward something that matters to you.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE IS?

I thought long and hard about this, one thing transition taught me is that you don’t know people, at all.  So don't make wild assumptions.

People will surprise you.

Don't underestimate people’s capacity for change, it's wild, I don’t assume a great deal anymore. And it keeps me curious.

The unexpected liberty of transition is that you totally redefine your place in the world. This absolute freedom to redefine how you live, whereas other people don’t get to do that. So everything else is by degree.

On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I visited the Anne Frank House, there is so much to be taken in, but one perhaps less obvious thing was the comment from Otto Frank, when he concluded that despite the years of confinement with his family, when years later he read Anne's diary, he concluded that parents don’t really know their children at all.

I think Otto is right. Looking back, I’m sure my parents would say the same of me.

August 9, 2023

Rankin Creative x BFC launch NEWGEN

In collaboration with the British Fashion Council we are thrilled to announce the launch of Sartorial Stories, a short film series concepted and shot by Rankin Entertainment.

Sartorial Stories celebrates the 30th anniversary of NEWGEN and highlights the scheme’s illustrious history and alumni, and London’s legacy in nurturing emerging talent and the next generation of visionary creatives. Through brief interviews, the five-part film series follows the journeys of current and former NEWGEN designers; Bianca Saunders, Cozette McCreery, Priya Ahluwalia, Robyn Lynch and Sinead O’Dwyer whose authentic stories are revealed, rooted in culture, community and creativity.

Tune in weekly as the series explores the impact the NEWGEN initiative has had on them and the growth of their business.

July 12, 2023

The Lightbulb: Anjli Mohindra

For this issue we interviewed the brilliantly awesome, stage, screen and voice-over actress,  Anjli Mohindra. Her first major television role was as Rani Chandra in The Sarah Jane Adventures, aged just 19, a role she played for four years. She then had supporting roles in several popular shows, including Cucumber (Channel 4), written by Russell T Davies; Paranoid (Netflix); The Boy with the Topknot (BBC Two); and Bancroft (ITV).  

Perhaps her highest profile role to date was as the duplicitous Nadia in the multi BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated Bodyguard (BBC/Netflix), Jed Mercurio’s thriller that gripped the nation in 2018. The same year, Anjli starred alongside Tom Riley in ITV crime drama Dark Heart and guested in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (Sky One). Showing a talent for the macabre, she starred in Mark Gatiss’ take on the classic Christmas ghost story, The Dead Room (BBC Four), alongside Simon Callow.

In 2019, Anjli appeared in new drama Wild Bill (ITV), starring opposite Hollywood legend Rob Lowe and in 2020 she appeared as Tiffany ‘Doc Doc’ Docherty alongside Suranne Jones in Vigil (BBC) Tom Edge’s six-part edge of the seat thriller. Anjli is about to take the lead, alongside Paapa Essiedu, in brand new thriller Extinction (Sky), described as a "gripping exploration of memory, fate, and the limits of love".

Anjli has made strides to develop her voice as a writer, winning a place on the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Programme. In the midst of the pandemic she made her writing debut with a new short film The People Under the Moon (2020) produced entirely during lockdown and as part of the Virtual Collaborators series launched by actor/writer Danusia Samal.  She’s committed to re-writing the narrative for game changing South Asian women especially and we’re pretty sure she’ll succeed.

In the depths of a rigorous shoot schedule in Newcastle, Anjli gave us her lightbulb moment, inspirations and weirdest obsession.

@ranibyraja

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?

Everywhere. I think creativity breeds creativity. So if I’m stuck with a character I find that being creative in an abstract way can sometimes unlock something - that might be by painting with my niece, or randomly up-cycling a plant pot. Since reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ I’ve started to realise that the answer to something within can often be discovered outside of yourself- so I try and get about in nature or connect with another human on things completely unrelated to whatever I’m trying to crack. This is working a lot better than my old technique of bashing my head against my wall to seek those bolts of creative spark!

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LIGHTBULB MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

In the first lockdown I joined a free online collaboration project ran by brilliant actress/writer Danusia Samal partnering up writers, directors and actors to create online content! Although I have predominantly been an actress for 15 years I reluctantly decided to enter myself as a writer. It was a real moment of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”* and I loved every moment. My idea centred around a new fictional video dating app that worked using timed-destructing video messages to share with potential matches, to chart a junior doctor’s journey through the pandemic. It garnered praise from the Radio Times and Russell T Davies gave us a warm review and it kickstarted my career as a writer. I have two writing projects with two major production companies in development! Being able to now also call myself a writer feels thrilling and liberating.

*great book by Susan Jeffers

WHAT'S YOUR WEIRDEST OBSESSION?

Yoga! I almost rolled my eyes at myself as I wrote that. I honestly used to find it toe-curling hearing those Sanskrit words being chanted while sticking my backside in the air. and now I can't get enough of it, bent-extremities and all! 

Dedicating some time for my body where my mind doesn’t get to butt in (for the most part) is a real tonic. And my shoulders have never felt so relaxed.

@ranibyraja

WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIVE BY?

‘Why not’ by my mum. My mum is a Jack of all trades and a master of ALL of them. She’s been a bank manager, a court clerk, a primary school teaching-assistant, and a market trader, she taught English as a second language to German speakers, and she’s ran a post office and a pub. She’s incredible. I realise this more so with every passing year. To my frustration as a teenager she’d always ask ‘why not’ whenever I’d express my frustration at not being able to do something. She’s backed me all the way in any of my bizarre choices and has taught me that there is almost always a way forward. And almost always something you can do to inch yourself closer to a goal even if it seems insurmountable. I literally wouldn’t be in this industry were it not for her.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE IS?

Listening. I get so excitable sometimes, and finish peoples sentences - I am so thirsty for knowledge that I’m sometimes too eager to connect dots in my mind and think I have the measure of something without really listening. It’s part of the human condition to want to be understood. People will share if you ask them with genuine interest so I’m learning to shut the f*ck up and just listen!


Join us next month as we interview Stephanie Fuller, the incredibly inspirational CEO of the LGBTQ+ Charity Switchboard, who commissioned our short film The Call earlier this year. As Switchboard heads into its 50th anniversary year in 2024, Stephanie will be leading the staff team and working closely with the Board of Trustees as they push for their strategic goal of “no contact going unanswered”.

June 22, 2023

Airports: The Unlikely Frontier In Luxury Brand Innovation

More than most industries, travel and hospitality has had a turbulent few years - at the
sharp end of a global health crisis, geopolitical upheaval, and concerns around
sustainability. But this hasn’t put off a huge number of post-pandemic travellers from
dusting off their passports, with flights on transatlantic routes set to exceed
pre-pandemic levels this summer, according to the latest data from aviation specialist
OAG. With this in mind, and ahead of the big summer break, we want to focus on the
unlikely rise of the airport as a playground for innovative luxury brand thinking.

Travel hubs have always had a glamour to them, and airports in particular. Long
associated with the wonder of high-speed international travel, and of course the
benefits of duty free zones, luxury brands are a mainstay of any airport worth its salt.
But it’s also fair to say that this side of the airport experience has lost its sheen - if
they’re not passing time in generic retail spaces, travellers are making do with the
facilities on offer in equally uninspiring airport lounges. But a 2023 survey of
aeronautical professionals found that over two thirds believed that airports will likely
see an increased focus on memorable brand experiences. Brands are reengineering the
airport experience, with an array of innovative activities that make these
once-overlooked spaces feel exciting once more.

Brands we thought we already knew this side of the security gate are finding new ways
to come to life on the other, tailoring immersive experiences for captive audiences.
Visit Doha’s Hamad airport, and you’ll be able to pay a visit to the Vuitton Lounge - the
first in the world, and home to a shop, business centre, spa, bar, and
3-Michelin-starred restaurant. For Vuitton fans, it’s a chance to see and experience the
brand in a new way that goes far beyond its products, evolving it from a product brand
to a lifestyle brand that can live and breathe in a multitude of ways. But more than
delighting existing audiences, the airport environment is a chance for brands to speak to new ones in moments of transit - moments where assumptions are suspended and
habits upended. Zurich airport recently launched ‘GateZero’ to do just this: a
‘custom-designed store’ in collaboration with HighSnobiety, designed to offer a
‘curated selection of products and exclusive releases from over 15 brands to travellers
as they pass through Switzerland’s gateway to the world’. Designed of course to reveal
a new side to brands from Loewe to Balenciaga. It also has the effect of bringing the
airport experience itself up to date. Which brings us onto a second group of brands
that are innovating in this space - airports, and the countries and regions they
represent.

Take Charles de Gaulle airport - it recently unveiled designs to turn Terminal 1 into a
high concept multi-use space. Backed by the airport’s newly launched brand ‘Extime’,
it incorporates artistic interventions, an architect-designed restaurant, and a
reinvigorated retail area that all add up to an elevated experience of Paris that starts at
the airport. Back at Doha, visitors also have the chance to enjoy a free tour of Qatar’s
capital, or spend time at the Qatar airways-owned Oryx lounge and hotel - complete
with luxury rooms and a wellness and sports area. These spaces provide opportunities
for countries and regions to shape visitors’ experience and perceptions, crucial ‘soft
power’ tools for building their countries’ brands on the world stage. It’s also a chance
for brands to add weight to their origin stories.

Luxury is, in part, defined by its ability to constantly discover new corners of culture. Its
rediscovery of the airport - long-considered a necessary discomfort to be alleviated,
rather than an experience to be enhanced - is yet another small but significant of just
this. For us at Rankin, the examples show not just the power of creating brand
experiences that make exciting use of their contexts, but more importantly the power of
questioning everything.

Image credit: Business of Fashion

June 14, 2023

Through The Lens: Kenyatte Nelson Long Read

Rankin and the team sit down for a bumper interview filled with life and leadership lessons, with Kenyatte Nelson, non-executive director for the British Retail Consortium. Delving into the subtleties of creating for high fashion, and zooming out to discuss building creative environments and the opportunities of WEB 3.0. Through it all Kenyatte guides us through the noise and to the heart of the matter.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Rankin: Do you feel fashion marketing is fundamentally different from other kinds of advertising? How?

Kenyatte: Yeah, I think the fashion market is different, mainly because fashion is necessary in so much as people need to wear something – but the vast majority of what we buy is not essential. So it's an emotive purchase. And so fashion marketing needs to be evocative, it needs to create and sustain an emotional reaction. 

And though my view may be a bit controversial, I think most marketing is white noise. The vast majority is not evocative, it's not brave. And in a category that requires provocation, the best in that context is marketing that drives a different point of view and that requires bravery. That's a difficult thing to do.

And so I think brands that communicate why their fashion, their design, their point of view is different, those are the brands that are successful. If you can't do that, and we've seen this, particularly in the British High Street, then it's a race to the bottom. You end up trading margin for sales instead of differentiation for margin, which is what successful businesses do.

Rankin: Luxury fashion brands don't tend to work with traditional agencies. Do you think that's the right approach or do you think more traditional agencies do have a place in that area?

Kenyatte: In my view, the requirement for great fashion creative is less about the agency you use and more about the people involved. And I say that because my view is that any creative endeavour, if it's truly creative, requires raw, almost counterculture, thinking. Creative people challenge conformity, they challenge the norm, and the more creative the endeavour, the more challenging that becomes.

And so they end up using and working with people who are outside of the conventional creative kind of sectors and most of the time they're right. I think they believe that those individuals are not confined by the conventions that sometimes constrain some of the big box agencies.

Now, do I think that those guys can do it better? Always? Not necessarily. But I think it requires a different kind of thinking and a different kind of approach. And I think one of the reasons why high fashion brands tend to work with different kinds of creative agencies is because you get a better quality of tension that happens as a result of those individuals in the room.

Rankin: Yeah, in fashion, you're not actually trying to solve clear direct problems so the storytelling is different, isn't it?

Kenyatte: I think so. With FMCG, for example, there are a lot of problems/solutions.

So I spent 16 years working with Procter and Gamble, but ten of those years working in hair care, then the last six working in fine fragrance and colour cosmetics for fashion brands like Gucci, Dolce Gabbana and others.

The difference in the way that we approached the creative from the first half of my P&G career, to the second half was fundamentally different.

And I think you're absolutely right, one tends to be more of a problem/solution. The other is about creating desire, because, again - this isn't a nonessential category. You know, no one needs a $5,000 handbag. No one can convince you that you need it. And so my job in that context is to create desire so that desire makes you forget about the price alone. 

This is not rational thinking. This is highly emotional, and so you need to tap into the things that are much more evocative in that context.

Rankin: I find those in luxury fashion are not as scared of taking risks and doing different things to get there, don't you think?

Kenyatte: No, they're not. And the other thing that I'm seeing that is really interesting is more fashion brands leaning into co-creation to achieve that connection. 

The Ralph Lauren collaboration with Palace a few years ago, the stuff they're doing in the Metaverse with Roblox, there's some really interesting stuff happening with fashion brands. Because, I think, of their willingness and ability to lean into the new and almost co-create and have two-way conversations with their customer base.

Rankin: How do you think you can create a culture where those kinds of evocative ideas can grow?

Kenyatte: If I had the answer to that question, I would be a much wealthier man!

I think in terms of creating a culture where creativity can flourish, the first thing that has to happen is there needs to be - across the organisation - psychological safety. 

Any creative endeavour is going to seek to challenge the norm, it's not going to conform. 

So if you're looking to be creative, and let me be clear - I think you can be creative in anything.

But I think what is required is feeling psychologically safe to do so. You need to feel like you can fail because you're not going to get it right every time. In the end, in the missing of the mark, there are lessons and learnings that can be applied to improve the next iteration of the endeavour, whatever it is. 

Creativity is going to flourish in that environment because people aren’t too afraid to allow themselves to move into that space. So I think that's critically important. I think the other thing that's really important is you need to be in a business or a place that views creativity as strategically important, because if they view it as strategically important, then they will create the environment where creativity can flourish.

My dad used to say;  ‘Go where you are celebrated and not just tolerated’.

Rankin: I just want you to talk a little more about what you think is maybe the key to building those emotional connections and 'two-way' conversations as you said.

Kenyatte: Yeah. I'll start with why I believe that's important from a personal context. I tend to believe and I've always felt this, that I personally am more anthropologist than marketeer. The reason I got into this career is because I love people. 

I think if you're going to be a really, really great marketeer, you have to get comfortable listening and tuning your ears outward and your eyes outward and understanding what it is that drives behaviour, that drives choice and desire. And I think when you understand that, you're able to tell more compelling stories, you're able to create more interesting narratives. And those are things that people gravitate towards, right? 

Rankin: And having that ability and desire to really listen, do you think that's about the types of individuals in the room?

Kenyatte: Yes. In the context of getting the right voices in the room to drive out a better result. We talk about this in the context of diversity and inclusion quite a bit, right? I have a personal point of view that diversity and inclusion is sometimes a bit misconstrued. I think a lot of times businesses and individuals think about DE&I in the context of what you might class as ‘visual’.

And there are lots of different kinds of diversity, there's visual diversity for sure, there's obviously ability diversity, but there's also diversity of thought, of experience and of socioeconomic upbringing. 

And so in my mind, the important thing is to acknowledge that diversity is a fact, It just is - No one's the same, no one. So diversity is not a debatable point. 

And in fact, inclusion is an act, we have to lean into inclusion and we have to actively pull in other voices, perspectives, and points of view. I'm not saying that to suggest that we shouldn't be opening up equality of opportunity for women or people who have different abilities or ethnic diversity. I'm not suggesting that at all. That's important but I think if we can get businesses, whether that's fashion or otherwise, to lean into the inclusion piece of it and the intention around inclusion, you're 50, 60% of the way there. In my view, that's when the magic will happen.

I think unfortunately what happens now is people are focusing on, 'do the people in the room look different than me?'  Well, that's great. But if you all went to the same school, does it fucking matter?! 

It's about creating a listening culture, not a telling culture. So that's what I think because inclusivity is not about bringing someone to the table, it is bringing someone to the table and letting them talk and listening to them. 

And human beings, if anything, want to be acknowledged, they want to be heard. When they're not being heard, they make it very clear that they have a problem with that. I think that's the bit that brands can get wrong sometimes, the brands that get it right, are the ones that in the long run, create some brilliant conversations with their customers.

Opal [Creative at RC]: So looking into the future of those conversations with the audience, what do you think is the biggest opportunity coming for those?

Kenyatte: It's always interesting to speculate because there's about a 100% chance you get it wrong! 

But from my point of view the biggest opportunity in the fashion sector is probably in the continuous growth of D2C and the WEB 3.0 space.

When you look at what luxury fashion brands and well, high street fashion brands have been doing over the last, I would say, five years, it’s aggressively moving into the D2C space. They are moving their capabilities and product, and the way they sell their product, into what I would class as a vertically integrated way to serve their customers. And I think more brands will move into that space from a Web 3.0 standpoint.

More brands will start to experiment with the idea of selling fashion commercially, that is digital. So you look at Tencent; you can buy fashion for your avatar and pay real money for digital clothing.

I don't think we're far from that, I think that this is something that brands are starting to look to play with, in some way. Because the fashion business from a physical standpoint - we saw this with COVID - is completely overserved, the reality is no one needs any more physical clothes.

The landfills are filling up, all over the place circular is becoming more populist and interesting. Rental economies and borrowing fashion or selling, buying and then reselling on platforms like Depop, eBay, Stock X and others is becoming more normalised. 

But If I have an avatar and I can dress them in Polo Sport and I can dress them in Prada and I can dress them in a ‘fill-in-the-blank’. That becomes really interesting, particularly if I'm paying real money to get that product.

You don't have to physically create it, It costs virtually nothing to make, there are endless iterations that can be done so you can create highly desirable collaborations, even one-off products that people might be willing to spend more money for - the possibilities are endless! And so for me, I think that’s where the industry will move.

Opal: And what do you think are the opportunities or implications for brands in the WEB 3.0 spaces?

Kenyatte: I think the opportunities for brands are huge because if I've paid money for something, there's a high likelihood I want people to know what it is!

And so I think the opportunity for brands is quite exciting. Because if you can create and sustain a strong brand presence in the real world and in the digital space, you'll be rewarded for that. In the digital space, far more than in the physical space in my view.

I think we're just starting to barely scratch the surface on this stuff. So if you have a brand and you're not experimenting in this space - not necessarily plunking loads of money on it - but experimenting and playing around, then you're missing a trick. We have to learn because this is where the consumer will move.

But look, we're physical beings, we exist in a physical world and that's never going to change. We're all always going to go meet friends and go get coffee and go shop and hold hands in public displays of affection. But I do think it will fundamentally change the way we engage with one another outside of those physical interactions. And I think the implications from a branding standpoint are huge in the context of the opportunities to engage with customers more frequently and in different ways.

June 14, 2023

RANKIN CREATIVE x The Drum

"When we are pitching, we always ask ourselves *three* questions...".

Our very own Amy Claridge, Head of Account Management at Rankin Creative, chats to The Drum on striking the right balance between head and heart in pitching.

Read the article to discover more https://lnkd.in/gDe6HxxC.

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