TECH ACROSS THE POND: THE NYC EDIT

How are innovation-loving New Yorkers making the most of tech these days? This week’s [retail bytes] takes us on a virtual journey to the city that never sleeps.

 New York New York: Humans not required A spot of pre-Xmas shopping in New York led us to Yotel, an automated hotel with check-in and luggage storage done by robots. A clear advantage is that you can check in at 2am and get the same service that you’d get in the middle of the day. In 24/7 NYC, such details matter. Yacht-like cabins are designed with a minimalist, Tokyoite feel and the sparse furnishings go together with sparse presence of humans. Occasionally a hotel elf would quietly pass through the luminescent corridors, as if visiting from another dimension, but the hotel was remarkably functional with every service automated, a Jacuzzi on the balcony and a roof terrace bar with views to die for. The future has arrived in New York first and it is all chips and sensors. Get used to it.

Après gym life: New Yorkers may eat food portions twice the size that restrained Londoners do, but you wouldn’t know it from their size. Fit and slim, they run, rollerblade, bike and work out like nobody else in the world. Although gyms were invented by the Germans, New Yorkers added their own twist on the concept with their urban gyms, with 24/7 opening hours being launched in the ‘90s. New York gymtech is ahead of other cities, with free passes to any gym being commonplace. The pop-in no-contract culture with a 24/7 gym located in key places has also free wi-fi, so as not to put the always-on millennials at risk of FOMO. Madison Square hosts one of the best gyms, where class booking is fully automated so there’s no queue at the reception. Simply swipe your free pass, choose your class and pay through the self-pay card readers. A printed receipt is then produced, which trainers accept as proof-of-payment. BootyBarre was the most fun, with participants wired up to the nines with their ‘connected shorts’ and fitness apps on their iPhones giving feedback during the session. The UK’s Sweaty Betty is the go-to for après gym clothing – and obviously, the brand, which only moved to NY a few years ago, has been already embraced by fitness worshipping urbanistas.

Uber? So last year: Surprisingly, very little moving around New York is done using Uber. The grid nature of NY roads makes hailing yellow cabs quick and easy, opposite to Uber, with drivers often struggling to find a place to pick up and drop off. But the real hit is the electric scooter, with many office types zooming on Manhattan pavements in peak commute time. UScooter seems to be winning the hearts of New Yorkers, hitting the sweet spot with its lime or white light frame. It can be packed away easily for the train journey so it’s just the ticket for the Westchester bankers. Citi Bike (the NY equivalent to Boris Bikes – though can we call them something else now? Khan carriages perhaps!) have 8000 bikes in over 500 locations and its annual membership is as desired as a gift card – a way to offer friends a chance to see NYC from an entirely new perspective.

Censored! Broome Street hides a quirky but highly influential street clothes brand and mag called Richardson. The company’s image is built on risqué photography, which regularly lands it in trouble with online credit card payment companies like the rather conservative Stripe. If Agent Provocateur was founded today, it would have never made it online, as social media companies like Facebook or IT payment tools like Stripe take it upon themselves to censor even regular brands like Richardson, or skaters’ obsession Supreme (beloved by Kanye West, and fairly mainstream by now). Of course, the street cred of both brands jumps up massively after every kerfuffle with the law or censors.

Work together, live together: It is hard to believe but WeWork has only been going since 2010. Founded in Soho (the NYC one, not London), it offers funky and flexible collab workspaces, decent bandwidth (mostly), meeting-ready rooms with high-end projectors, and support from dedicated PA/admin staff. Not the cheapest way to rent an office, but shared space with other innovators creates constant networking opportunities and New Yorkers see the meteoric rise of this nomad-friendly way of working. Increasingly, co-working is spilling into co-living – WeLive is owned by same company and offers young creatives accommodation in the format of flatsharing, including large, connected communal kitchen and living rooms, as the lower cost of shared flats allows young urbanites to stay in the centre of town, thus avoiding exile to the suburbia of New Jersey. Where New York goes, the rest of the world’s cities follow… You have been warned.

Welcome to the UK, Hunkemöller! Did you happen to be around London’s Millennium Bridge on your lunch break yesterday? You might have stumbled into a flock of stunning ladies wearing the newly launched Doutzen Stories by Hunkemöller lingerie collection. The Retail Practice arranged the stunt for our lingerie-tastic client to celebrate their entrance into the UK e-com market. Follow the hashtag #DiscoverHKM on social and stay tuned – a video of the stunt will be coming out next week!