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Brief Published: 16 Mar 2016

Refinery29 + Neiman Marcus Celebrate Women at SXSW 2016

Refinery29 X NeimanMarcus, SXSW

Focusing once more on its female fan base, US luxury department store Neiman Marcus returned to South by Southwest (SXSW) – the annual film, tech and music festival held in Austin, Texas – with a new interactive space called the School of Expression.

Created in partnership with US lifestyle e-magazine Refinery29 (whose main readership consists of female millennials), the initiative is part of Neiman Marcus’s ongoing Make Some Noise platform – a section of its website dedicated to celebrating pioneering women across numerous industries.

Held in a temporary gallery pop-up space at the Mexic-Arte museum, the School of Expression offered two days of female-focused workshops and classes covering feminism, fashion, tech, entrepreneurship and self-expression through arts and motion. The event was open to the public and SXSW attendees alike.

The classroom-themed space featured life-sized colouring books and branded lockers, and showcased a variety of tech innovations including wi-fi speakers, app-controlled in-ear sound systems, brainwave-tracking relaxation tools and social shopping apps. Guests could also try on clothes and accessories and create augmented reality (AR) selfies and gifs in a Neiman Marcus-sponsored wardrobe dubbed the Dream Closet. Powered by American AR technologists Reify, products became animated when placed in front of the photo booth – T-shirts appeared to take flight, while backpacks fired shooting hearts.

Watch out for more coverage from this year’s SXSW, coming soon. See Cultural Kudos: Neiman Marcus at SXSW for more on last year’s initiative, and SXSWi 2015 for overall coverage of the event. For more on female-centric retail strategies, see Female-Focused Retail and Female-Focused Retail Stories, NY.