PARIS — Is Paris getting its own version of the Consumer Electronics Show?
The three-day show called Viva Technology Paris, which opened Thursday — co-organized by Les Echos group and Publicis — is expected to draw around 5,000 start-ups and 30,000 visitors.
French President Francois Hollande; Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton; Maurice Levy, Publicis group chairman and ceo, and Pascal Morand, the executive president of Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode — French fashion’s governing body — were among those who visited the fair on Day One.
The top brass of LVMH including Arnault, chief digital officer Ian Rogers and Les Echos ceo Francis Morel toured the LVMH Lab, an area sponsored by the luxury giant featuring around 50 start-ups.
“It was not easy. We looked at hundreds of start-ups,” Rogers said about the selection process. “They had to be related to the luxury industry in some way. There’s a good mixture of fashion, wine/spirits, jewelry and even food; it’s pretty far ranging…some are very big — relatively speaking — some are just starting up. I have done seven start-ups myself. It’s hard. Start-ups are a roller-coaster always, with no exception. I don’t care if you’re Uber or Facebook. These guys are grinding out every day; they’re fighting. That’s why it’s important to give them a platform, to give them exposure. What a start-up is doing is trying to create value, where there previously was not. This is us helping create a little bit of value.”
Exhibitors at the LVMH Lab included Selectionnist, inventor of an app that enables consumers to find products they spotted in a physical magazines by snapping a picture; Cinematique, a touchable video platform that already works with Nowness and some LVMH brands, and 10-Vins, a French start-up that created a machine using individual wine doses to serve the wine in the perfect conditions (a system similar to the Nespresso machine), that was at Las Vegas’ CES earlier this year. It debuted at the BHV Marais department store and on Amazon Launchpad.
“We are working with 30 French women’s magazines including Elle [and] Figaro Madame,” said Selectionnist founder and ceo Tatiana Jama. The start-up that launched last year is in talks with American magazine publishers to expand Stateside. “Print remains a big stake for luxury brands. We’re adding a digital platform to print,” Jama said before adding: “I think there’s a lot we can do with LVMH.”
Rogers then took in a panel titled “Fashion Forward: Technology and Textiles Take on the Future,” joining Google’s Ivan Poupyrev, technical program lead at Google Advanced Technology and Products, and Pamela Golbin, chief curator of fashion and textiles at Les Arts Décoratifs.
“The Internet is reshaping culture by giving consumers unlimited choice. It makes quality more important than ever. It makes authenticity ever more important,” Rogers said.
“We saw earlier with Fred that you can choose 100,000 ways of what colors you want your bracelet to be,” said Golbin, referring to the keynote speech earlier in the morning of Rachel Marouani, ceo of Fred Paris, where the executive mentioned the upcoming digital feature in store offering customization of its Force 10 bracelet.
“As Ian said, it’s all about individuality,” Golbin continued. “At the same time, it’s a lot of options. How to find the balance between giving choices but not overwhelming the client? In the 18th and 19th century, there were no designers, each person was his own stylist. Funny enough, we’re going back to the beginnings…and we’re not bypassing the designers but in many areas, we can design ourselves. What’s the future of that? It’s a question of balance.”
Rogers —who spent 20 years in the music business and briefly headed up the launch of Apple Music — drew the parallel with the music industry. “I watched the business go from denial to growth. Unfortunately, they lost nearly 50 percent of their value over the same time but I think it has to do that you could take an entire catalog from a music company and put it on a thumb drive, which obviously you cannot do in the luxury business.” He stressed the similarities between the two culture businesses.
Poupyrev, one of the masterminds between Project Jacquard, a partnership between Google and Levi’s to develop interactive denim woven with conductive fibers, offered a glimpse into innovations including new yarns that can communicate color changes, change temperature as you do thanks to new techniques of weaving, batteries and some conductive thread woven into the garments. “All these changes don’t happen without a collaboration with the fashion creative industry. What we can do is give the ingredients. But somebody has to give the shape of the ingredients,” he said.
“It’s fantastic,” Lyst ceo and cofounder Chris Morton said of the show. “You rarely get such a big fashion-luxury technology area. Here in Paris, you have all the senior folks from all the different luxury brands.”
Morton noted “a sea change in the luxury and fashion industry in the last 18 months.” “Many people truly believe that digital will be the new core pillar of the business. In some way it replaces China as a growth engine. China physical stores slowed down a bit….Brands regrouped because they know they need to get on this new growth engine.”
Among Morton’s findings were Narvar, a platform to power post-purchase experience for online retailers and PS Dept, a luxury concierge service.
Emmanuel Macron, economy minister, is scheduled to talk at the show on Saturday, the last day of the show, that’s open to the public.