Katie Krische
Jan 16, 2020
Retail Meets Big Tech: Q&A with Badgley Mischka and SAP
An interview at NRF2020: Retail's Big Show with Christine Currence, President and Owner of Badgley Mischka, and Peter Akbar, Global VP & Chief Customer Officer of Fashion at SAP.
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SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software. SAP's machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help give people and organizations deep business insight. 

Badgley Mischka has captivated the fashion world with timeless glamour and luxurious designs for 30 years. The brand has evolved from couture and evening gowns to include day dresses and sportswear, as part of life's everyday celebrations.

In the fall of 2018, Badgley Mischka and SAP began working together on the Runway app by SAP to create a front-row fashion show experience for those viewing Badgley Mischka's runway show at home. Alongside Badgley Mischka's Spring 2020 runway show, viewers used the Runway app to provide real-time feedback, preorder items, and add items to their purchase wish list.

How did Badgley Mischka and SAP start working together?

Christine Currence (CC): It started when SAP was looking for a fashion partner and we were looking for a technology partner. Everything fell into place. They're one of the largest and most advanced tech companies in the world, so it was exciting to work with them to partner on a new technology for our runway show. Since then, we've been using Runway by SAP for every show. Each time we use it the technology improves. They're a part of our team for every runway show now.

Peter Akbar (PA):  It's been fantastic to work with Badgley Mischka to create an app that's relevant for their fans and customers. High fashion is a real-time environment with work on fashion shows taking place up to the day of the show. There's nothing you can get wrong. We've enjoyed delivering an experience that is socially relevant for Badgley Mischka's audience.

What's changed since 2018 when Badgley Mischka and SAP started working together on the Runway app?

CC: The data that we can derive from the app. We're playing within each show and learning more. When someone logs on to the app, they're able to like, love, or add items to their wish list. What's really exciting is the idea that you don't have to be front row at our runway show. You can now participate from your computer, TV, or even from our Instagram. The app immediately gives you all of the information for a look you're seeing on the runway. You can view the description of an item or the price if available. It's fun to see what everyone viewing the show is reacting to in real-time. 

PA: From a technical standpoint, we started off with bluetooth chips in the outfits. It was great fun, but we also realized we needed to be able to recognize the models on and off the runway. If the viewer is on the YouTube site and eventually moves to the website or in store, it helps with the democratization of the runway. Viewers can participate from wherever they are. 

A common theme at NRF2020 has been the collection of big data, but not the use. How does Badgley Mischka use the data collected through SAP's Runway app?

CC: This is very interesting because after our last spring show, we sat down and looked at the data to see what looks were most favorited or the least favorited by viewers. There are a lot of interesting insights to gain.

For example, one dress in the show was a red column gown with pink sleeves. It had one of the least favorited looks in the show by viewers. Stylists however loved it and reacted really well. After the show, it was called out for a million red carpet options and Susan Kelechi Watson ended up wearing it to the Emmy's. After the Emmy's there was a huge trend of everyone wearing red gowns with pink sleeves. It completely exploded. Now, it'll be interesting to see what happens once the look hits retail and as other brands translate the red carpet look into their own style from luxury brands like ourselves. Come February and March in the stores, we'll be able to identify whether people are influenced by the red carpet or if they still decide it's their least favorite look similar to the data collected from the runway show.

PA: The Runway app has a leaderboard which tells the designer which styles are loved or liked and by who. 

CC: When we then sit down with retailers after the runway show, we may have looks we know 80 precent of viewers loved. It's great to be able to say to a retailer that 80 percent of viewers loved a specific item and recommend that it is included on their buy. Loved items may be compared to others that maybe only 20 percent of the viewers liked. When items arrive in stores, the sell through on the dress is potentially so much greater if the reaction continues from the trend seen on the runway. Until now, all we all have to use is historical data. The retailers, brands, we've all had to use our historical data points. You're making buying decisions on the historical data, whereas this is real time data that allows you to say 80 percent of people actively love this dress.

What's next for the Badgley Mischka and SAP partnership?

PA: We've got some great, exciting ideas for the app. At the moment, we can we can let Badgley Mischka know what's liked, loved, or ignored. In the future, we'll be able to use our software to let the designers know why someone liked, loved, or ignored an item. As we collect data, we can enhance the consumer experience and help the designers, operations, or production departments understand what to do next.

CC: Most people think that the runway is unattainable. It's a mission of ours to be inclusive versus exclusive. We mix the runway with various price points and collections. By using the Runway app, when people return to watch a runway show, they can go back to see the items they wish listed during a previous show and see the updated prices for items of previous collections.

Does data collected from past collections influence the design of future collections?

CC: Not the design of collections, but it helps our sales team and gives us insights into other categories. The sales team is able to say that they want to offer an item in a new color. They'll then work with Mark and James to add that item. Right now, we're having fun with it. We enjoy using the app every time. We hope our customers and anyone who loves fashion, whether it be stylists, influencers or just regular consumers can also have fun with it.

PA: The whole experience has been great and the pace of development on the app working with Badgley Mischka has actually increased. We're very proud to be a small part of their brand experience.

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Topics: Interviews