Levi's German General Manager, Torsten Widarzik

06 Dec. 2010


How will online, mobile and social media change the fashion industry, and how can fashion brands and retailers effectively make use of the vast potential this field is holding? As an international networking magazine in the fashion industry, Sportswear International decided to discuss all these questions, share experience and knowledge with important participants from every part of the business, and hosted their first E-Fashion Summit at Fleming's Hotel in Frankfurt on Dec. 2, 2010.

Despite horrible weather conditions including delayed flights and trains, about 200 international guests and speakers came to talk about and discuss the future of fashion in the online world.

Klaus Hang, Sportswear International’s Editor-at-large, and Sabine Kühnl, Editor-in-chief, opened the event that began with an overview of the fashion e-commerce business, reported by David J. Smith, Managing Director of IMRG, United Kingdom. After many basic facts and figures, Florian Dengler, Executive Creative Director of MetaDesign, continued with one of the most entertaining speeches about “The last days of branding”. By showing positive and negative examples from across the business; such as Diesel’s fantastic Kick Ass campaign or Nestle’s embarrassing reactions on the KitKat scandal on Facebook, Dengler illustrated the importance of interacting carefully with the web audience. “It’s not about just having a Facebook page, but about using it intelligently and spreading a message.”

As the Head of Marketing at Diesel, Christina Käßhöfer showed how a consistent strategy can look like – and finally work out. “It’s not about one campaign; creating an image takes time, endurance and faith. As well as music, style, and humor. And, of course, good ideas and people who play them out.”

Privalia was one of the first shopping clubs worldwide and its global success shows how to earn money with the internet as the one and only retail tool. Co-founder José Manuel Villanueva came to tell the company’s story: from five employees to 500, from a few brands to hundreds, from Spain to the world.

Consumers and their needs were focused in the presentation by Dr. Suran Goonatilake, CEO of Bodymetrics, who talked about body scanning technologies and their future role in the online shopping market.

Elizabeth Schofield came from New York City to share her knowledge about fashion brands going social. As Founder and Curator of Fashion Collective, she consults brands how to create and maintain their online presence successfully on the long run.

With the Curve ID story, campaign and product, Levi’s caught international attention – not only throughout the media, but also directly from the consumer. In his presentation, German General Manager, Torsten Widarzik, showed how to win new customers without losing the brand’s authenticity. By giving every woman the perfect jeans for her individual shape, Levi’s landed a special coup that hit the ‘zeitgeist’ perfectly.

In order to deepen the topics and give participants the opportunity to intensify their fields of interest, the summit continued in the three sections ‘mobile’, ‘social media’ and ‘online’ after lunch time.

Harald Neidhardt, Founder of Smaato Inc. and Mlove, hosted the ‘mobile’ group that asked how m-commerce and communication will change the fashion business, and what it needs to inspire the customer in this ultra-connected world. Also the question of how to distribute apps and how to use mobile marketing to drive traffic in-store was discussed. In addition, Neidhardt talked about brands that already manage the process, the field of wearable computing, and the leaders who are sitting in the driver’s seat.

The importance of online presence was discussed in Sabine Kühnl’s group in which examples of intelligent and effective use of marketing and e-commerce were presented by ambassadors of companies like Frontlineshop, Puma or Neue Digitale. As newest technologies were a big subject here, old-fashioned tools like a beamer and a screen had to be replaced by an iPad which demonstrated innovative apps.

As the biggest social network, Facebook was part of almost every presentation throughout the day. The third group focused on the use of social media in the fashion business. Participants discussed how to build up brand loyalty via social media marketing, explained ways to connect and interact with the customer and talked about practices for using Twitter, Facebook & co. to achieve communication, marketing and purchasing goals – hosted by Jochen Krisch, Analyst and Editor of Exciting Commerce.

The division into smaller groups intensified the communication and gave space and time for the exchange of ideas, strategies and opinions. Professionals from different, even competitive companies like Adidas, Nike, Levi’s and Diesel, had the opportunity to connect in a relaxed, but inspiring atmosphere.

Merging the three groups together again, the two final presentations of the day focused on the future of e-fashion. Professor Drüner, Managing Partner of Trommsdorff+Drüner, introduced new ways of combining social networks and other platforms in the internet, while Marcus Fischer, President of Space150, showed impressive examples how fashion brands can use the technology of augmented reality.

The discussion at the end of the day focused on the future of online with central questions which had been talked about throughout the day: Are retailers and brands ready to face the new realities of the digital world? How will fashion commerce look in ten years’ time? What will be the winning strategies and key success factors for the online fashion industry? Is it fashion brands or retailers that drive the market? How will retail shopping experiences be influenced due to increase of digital media consumption and internet shopping?

After talking, thinking and discussing for hours, it was finally time for some drinks. Levi’s hosted the aftershow party at the 25 hours hotel designed by Levi’s in Frankfurt. Warm Vodka, cold beer, cool music and tasty finger food completed an inspiring event.

Sportswear International wants to thank all participants! Looking forward to the next one…

Lena Elster

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