Fashion 4.0, No. 14: Variant Debuts With Intel at NRF Retail's Big Show

Variant Malibu Intel NRF booth

Variant Malibu is proud to share that we made our New York debut at the country’s biggest retail convention NRF Retail’s Big Show and the exciting news that we partnered with none other than Intel to help showcase the future of in-store experiences. On opening day of the convention Jan. 12, Intel announced a partnership with Area 15, one of the first purpose-built experiential retail and entertainment complexes in the U.S., set to open April 2020 in Las Vegas.

To help foster the next wave in immersive experiential retail design, the tech giant will launch the Intel Experience Incubation Hub, a multiuse venue located next to Area 15 for innovation and collaboration in real time. Variant, along with Artist TRAV, Papinee, Pressure Point Creative and ThenWhat Inc., is thrilled to be one the early collaborators featured in hub and previewed at NRF within Intel’s megabooth at the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center. Hundreds of retailers, tech executives and media visited over three days, touching our 3D knitwear products and trying out our Customizer. Here, we share our takeaways:  

Variant Malibu Intel NRF booth display

Engage Customers, Foster Collaboration

Retailers were fascinated by the Variant Customizer’s potential to create customer interaction in-store.  As our founder and CEO Garrett Gerson (pictured below talking to a German journalist) said, “Our customization platform is not only a retail solution for consumer engagement that allows stores to facilitate collaboration between customers and brands, but it’s also a design tool that helps brands be reactive in real time to make and launch products that engage their customer base.” A design process that used to take days can now take minutes, and customers can demo every iteration of color and motif with the Customizer, without having to create samples.

The many tech-forward reps that also attend the show were also attracted to the Customizer as a program that could be manipulated on the back-end to merge customization and production. They’re talking about customizing a customization program, and we’re here for it.


Variant Malibu Customizer Demo

On-Demand’s Many Meanings

With regards to frequency of production, retailers weren’t necessarily ready to jump into on-demand orders, but they were interested in using customization as a way to limit inventory by favoring smaller orders that can be produced more frequently. When a style gains popularity, the option for on-demand orders becomes an advantage.  It’s also scalable, as orders can be batched together and sent to multiple factory partners.  Also enabling reduced inventory, the on-demand model allows retailers to order exact quantities and sizes when they need them, rather than projecting or guessing what they’ll need at the beginning of a season.

Variant Malibu Garrett Gerson CEO Intel NRF

Sustainability Still Top of Mind

As the basis of all our 3D-knit garments, sustainable fibers and yarns are an important differentiating factor for Variant. The items we showcased at the Intel booth were made with natural, biodegradable cotton and wool or recycled post-consumer nylon. The process of local 3D knitting itself is 95 percent “cleaner” than traditional factory cut-and-sew because knitting machines emit fewer greenhouse gasses and products don’t have to travel as far to get to the customer.

As always, thanks for reading and please keep following us to learn more about what we're doing to push fashion forward in the new decade. 

With Gratitude,

The Variant Team

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