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Updated: 25 Feb 2017

New Menswear Retail Flagships ‘17

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Todd Snyder

Spurred by predictions that menswear sales will outstrip womenswear worldwide by 2020 (Euromonitor, 2017), a new wave of lifestyle-focused flagship destinations are being dedicated solely to men. Most are characterised by a community-driven ambience and bespoke experiences over a hard sell.

  • Lululemon’s Community-Centric Store: Canadian athleisure label Lululemon has opened its first solo men’s space in its hometown of Toronto. Referred to internally as The Local, the 2,200 sq ft store emphasises running rather than its usual headline sport, yoga. A touchscreen provides local running routes and related amenities such as coffee shops, plus options for connecting to the store’s local brand ambassadors.
     
    Furthering the brand’s long-running focus on community, there’s also a long coffee bar and communal table for running meet-ups or freelancers who wish to work in-store, while a series of rotating pop-ups introduce affiliations with local brands, such as grooming line Way of Will. Aesthetically, the store tallies with Lululemon’s standard look – whitewashed brick walls, reclaimed wood and factory-style metal lighting.

See also Local Matters: New Glocalisation Strategies.

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  • Todd Snyder’s All-Day Destination: Playing to the power of hybrid destinations, NY-based menswear designer Todd Snyder has opened a 4,500 sq ft lifestyle superstore on the NoMad stretch of Madison Avenue. Alongside his main ranges, the store plays host to guest brand collections, a grooming area by Brooklyn barbershop Persons of Interest, a shop-in-shop for Lower East Side eyewear retailer Moscot, and a café-cum-cocktail bar by NY’s El Rey.
     
    Located near the brand's studio and HQ, it was designed with New York-based architect James Mills. He’s filled it with collector-quality modern and mid-century furniture, lighting from US Apparatus Studio, and custom-designed terrazzo flooring by artist Zackery Tyler. 

See also Evolution of the Retail Flagship: Hybrid Lifestyle Venues and Retail’s Elastic Brands.

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  • Brothers and Brawlers Hangout: Both HQ and retail flagship for Miami-based eyewear brand DiRocco, the Brothers and Brawlers concept store combines a vintage motorcycle shop with a bespoke tailoring studio (aka ‘Brawlers Row’), a denim and accessories bar, plus a coffee/hangout space in which all the furnishings are for sale. Housed in an expansive triple-height former industrial warehouse in the up-and-coming Wynwood area, many of the interior features were retrofitted from derelict factories across the US, including windows used as dividers sourced from Chicago.
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  • Printemps Haussmann Men’s Superstore: Spread over five floors with a sixth to be added next year, iconic Parisian department store Printemps Haussmann has opened a 118,000 sq ft men’s store as the first phase of a major redevelopment. 
     
    In a considerable show of international unity, the concept involved four architectural practices – Jean-Michel Wilmotte and collective Cigüe, both from Paris, London’s Universal Design Studio, and American-Canadian group Yabu Pushelberg. Each tackled a different floor, rendering them as individual destinations. For example, for the casual footwear floor (largely sports brands like Nike and Converse), Cigüe created a Velodrome-inspired space, complete with a curvilinear track-like wooden floor and ceiling.
     
    Alongside housing 250 men’s brands (40% of which are exclusive), key features include a Levi’s denim tailoring shop, a personal shopping lounge (Le Salon) that’s currently hosting a made-to-measure pop-up shop by Lanvin, a shoe repair space, and the first physical outpost for French e-magazine The Good Life. Other key changes include the moving of 12 polished steel and mirror escalators into the centre of the store; and a soaring 85ft-high light-shifting white aluminium and glass atrium wall known as ‘the sail’, which visually connects all floors. 
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  • Gant’s HQ Stores Embrace Concierge Commerce: Swedish brand Gant has opened The Gant Lounge personal showroom within its off street level lower Manhattan offices. After filling out a short questionnaire online, by-appointment only visitors are presented with clothing selections and a complimentary cocktail, all within a comfy, living-room-like setting.  

See also Fashioning the New Masculinity, Community & Commerce: NY and Shop as You Watch: Mr Porter TV

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Published: 22 Feb 2017

Good for Me vs Good for All: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Nearly half (47%) of global consumers say they frequently discuss how healthy or good a company’s products/services are for them

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) messaging that focuses on the personal/individual benefits of a product or service has a greater impact on consumers than messages based around broader social issues, according to a global survey released earlier this month by communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick. Highlights include:

  • Good for Me: The personal/individual benefits of a brand, product or service are a prime consideration driving consumers' purchasing decisions. Nearly half (47%) of consumers say they frequently discuss how healthy or good a company's products/services are for them, and 46% say they increasingly buy from companies that "make them feel good" and "care about their wellbeing" (43%).
  • Good for All: Around a third of consumers say they frequently discuss brands' roles in larger social issues (34%), what companies do to protect/positively impact the environment (34%), how companies treat their employees (33%), and what companies do to support good causes/charities (31%). Three in 10 (30%) say they increasingly buy from companies that have a social purpose or strive to make a positive contribution to the world.
  • Millennial Mindset: Millennial consumers (aged 23 to 36) responded in larger numbers to both "good for me" and "good for all" issues, but like the total sample, tip the scale in favour of "good for me".

For more on how CSR has evolved from a badge of honour for companies to a basic consumer expectation, see Doing Good.  

Published: 21 Feb 2017

Fire: Colour-Changing Hair Dye

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Fire (Photographer: Gabor Szantai/Hair: Kierna Tudor)

A new dye based on thermochromic ink makes hair change colour with fluctuations in temperature and light – showcasing multidimensional innovation for the haircare market with strong youth appeal.

Called Fire, the product changes the colour of the hair based on external factors such as heat, cold, and the environment the wearer is in. Launched amid the buzz of London Fashion Week by UK product development company The Unseen, the black dye turns red with heat, while others transform from black to white, silver to powder blue, blue to white, and black to yellow. 

Fire also promises this chameleon-like wow factor without causing any damage to the hair. Regular thermochromic ink is toxic to human skin, but this barrier was removed via polymeric stabilisation – a process that wraps chain-like molecules (polymers) around the irritating elements.

Lauren Bowker, material alchemist and founder of The Unseen, was inspired by a scene in 90s film The Craft where a teenage witch changes her hair colour with a spell. “It’s about bringing sci-fi to real life, and why not?” she told Forbes. “Material science is now at the point of bringing all the things we imagined as kids to life.” For more on how magic and spirituality are driving beauty innovation, see Make It Magic

The company is working on a permanent version of the dye (it currently only lasts a few washes) and is looking for commercial licensing opportunities to bring this innovation to market. Bowker hopes to see Fire on shelves by the end of 2017.

Published: 21 Feb 2017

Millennial Mindset: Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017

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Millennials in emerging markets generally expect to be both financially (71%) and emotionally (62%) better off than their parents

Apprehensive millennials are seeking stability and opportunities in an uncertain world, according to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Highlights include:

  • Future Forecast: Millennials in emerging markets generally expect to be both financially (71%) and emotionally (62%) better off than their parents. This is in stark contrast to mature markets, where only 36% predict they will be financially better off than their parents, and 31% say they’ll be happier.
  • Brand Positive: Millennials view business positively and believe it’s behaving in an increasingly responsible manner; 76% say businesses, in general, are having a positive impact on the wider society in which they operate. However, they also believe multinationals are not fully realising their potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges. 
  • Freelance Flexibility & Full-Time Stability: In spite of the perceived advantages of working as freelancers or consultants, nearly two-thirds of millennials said they prefer full-time employment. Anxiety about world events and increasing automation may be partially responsible for this, but the allure of flexible working options might be just as influential. 
  • Direct, Not Radical Politics: In general, the millennials surveyed do not support leaders who take divisive positions, or aim for radical transformation rather than gradual change. They are more comfortable with plain, straight-talking language from both businesses and political leaders; respond to passionate opinions; and identify with leaders who appeal to anyone who might feel “left out” or isolated.

See Millennial 20/20 Summit for more on this crucial demographic.  

Published: 20 Feb 2017

New Takes on Flooring: Natural & Graphic

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Clockwise L-R: Flotex Dutch Design, Bolon by Jean Nouvel, Duet Collection, Marmoleum Cocoa

New innovations are improving vinyl flooring for home interiors, while manufacturers are pioneering sustainable materials. Here, we select several noteworthy developments in flooring. 

  • Fashion Flooring: Inspired by fashion textiles, Swedish flooring company Bolon launched a rug collection at Stockholm Furniture Fair (February 7-11) that combines its signature vinyl with wool yarns and glitter threads. With this softer look and feel, the company envisions the rugs being used in hospitality interiors and hopes to pervade new territories such as upholstery and wall coverings.
  • Graphic Look: French architect Jean Nouvel collaborated with Bolon to create a vinyl woven floor with a textured surface. Its extremely flexible application makes it possible to arrange the striped pattern diagonally from a window, to appear like sunlight shining through the glass.
  • Natural Fibres: Dutch flooring system manufacturer Forbo has been awarded an iF 2017 Product Design Award for its Marmoleum Cocoa collection. The new flooring incorporates ground cocoa husk – a by-product of the cocoa industry located near Forbo’s factory – as the fifth natural ingredient of Marmoleum, alongside pine oil and wax, sawdust, chalk and colour pigments. The husk creates a speckled effect that mimics fashionable concrete floors.
  • Expressive Patterns: Forbo’s hardwearing and hygienic Flotex floor is a hardbacked material flocked with fibres to give the illusion of carpet, and it can also be digitally printed. Designer Hilde Koenders imagines her tulip-petal graphics being used in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, while Nienke Sybrandy designed her soap-bubble motif with schools and nurseries in mind.

Read about our visit to London’s Surface Design Show 2017 and see our Preview of Dutch Design Week 2016 for more surface material innovations.

Published: 20 Feb 2017

Restaurant Allows Diners to Eat Takeaways

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Take-In pop-up Helsinki in partnership with the Wolt app

Helsinki pop-up restaurant Take In, created by global financial firm American Express, is challenging the definition of the traditional restaurant. Guests order takeaways on-site from 20 local restaurants through Finnish app Wolt. Once their deliveries arrive, they consume the meals on the premises.

The kitchenless restaurant provides plates and cutlery on request, and has been designed to serve the needs of solo diners as well as groups of friends with different dietary needs and preferences. Dubbed "a living room in the city" by Wolt's director Juhani Mykkänen, the concept aims to encourage social dining.

Participating eateries include high-end establishments like Atelje Finne, Kom and Pastis, which have designed special takeout options just for the pop-up. Guests won't be charged a delivery or entry fee and don't need to book ahead. Take In will be open from now until the end of April.

For more on unusual dining concepts, see Nightlife Eats as well as Ikea's DIY Restaurant Pop-Up. For more on flexible communal dining, as well as 'dining al-desko', see Post-Kitchen Lifestyles, part of our Kitchen of the Future Industry Trend. Meanwhile, New Roles & Rituals examines the major drivers impacting today's eating culture.

Published: 20 Feb 2017

Gap X Tango: Advanced AR Dressing Room Concept

Gap has piloted a soon-to-be-rolled-out, fully shoppable augmented reality (AR) app that lets shoppers try on clothes remotely, showing them in context and adjusting to the consumer’s size.

The concept, Dressing Room by Gap, was developed in partnership with San Francisco-based 3D avatar developer Avametric and Google – the latter deploying its AR platform Tango, which uses camera devices to overlay images onto a physical space in real-time, not unlike the Pokemon Go mobile game.

After selecting an outfit (the catalogue shows 3D renders of Gap's current e-commerce offer), shoppers are required to add personal info such as height and weight, and choose one of 10 featured body sizes (0-20). The app consequently creates a 3D avatar wearing the item, placing it into the environment directly in front of the shopper via their mobile device screen. Shoppers can move the digital mannequin to view the clothing from different angles, as well as changing whole outfits, sizes and colours, with the avatar reacting in real-time (see also Rapid Retail). All the items are purchasable in-app.  

The concept is currently exclusive to Google Tango-enabled smartphones, making it relatively prohibitive. There is only one model on the market at present – Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo's Phab2Pro, with a model by Taiwanese electronics company Asus due to launch at the end of 2017. However, the potential to review consumer behaviour and ‘trigger points’ for purchase remains strong. 

For more on AR-powered retail, see Rimmel’s AR App, Paul Mitchell’s AR Hair Salon and BMW’s AR Visualiser.

Published: 20 Feb 2017

Truworth: Gamifying Workplace Wellness

Health and wellness engagement start-up Truworth Wellness is set to gamify wellbeing in the workplace with a new app that rewards staff for sticking to their health plans.

Based in Jaipur, India, the company employs a team of health professionals who conduct quarterly screenings of more than 600,000 corporate employees across India, the US and Europe. Workers are given personalised wellness plans that encourage mental wellbeing and target stress-related diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. 

Looking to boost engagement, Truworth will launch a new gamified ‘Wellness Corner’ app in April. Employees gain benefits for sticking to their health programmes and cheering on colleagues who are trying to do the same. Prizes will come in the form of a currency that workers can exchange for health products. The app will also have an algorithm that helps employees manage their sleep, relationships and overall emotional health.

The initiative taps into growing interest in both gamification and preventative corporate wellness services such as fitness, health-risk assessments, weight management and screenings, which are designed to reduce absence, boost productivity, and improve employees’ quality of life.

For more on how brands are integrating gaming mechanisms into their offerings, see Rebooting Loyalty Programmes and The Gamification of Retail. Check out The Business of Wellbeing and the Wraparound Wellness Update for more on how wellness has transformed from a consumer need into a commercial driver.

Published: 17 Feb 2017

MailChimp’s Obscure Omnichannel Campaign

Email marketing service MailChimp has launched an absurdist advertising strategy that pushes its messaging beyond omnichannel formats and into completely different product categories – all in the name of wordplay.

In 2014, MailChimp became a meme with a pre-roll audio ad on blockbuster podcast Serial that featured a young woman mispronouncing the platform's name as MailKimp. Now, New York-based ad agency Droga5 has created the 'Did You Mean...?' campaign, which riffs on more misnomers via three surreal short films: MailShrimp, JailBlimp and KaleLimp. For instance, MailShrimp features a shrimp sandwich singing about its career ambitions. The clips are being screened in cinemas across the US and UK – without any mention of MailChimp's actual name or services.

Bemused cinemagoers who visit the films' websites can follow digital breadcrumb trails to a range of products (bearing mangled versions of the company name) that infiltrate completely unrelated product categories. For example, FailChips are bags of broken potato chips – MailChimp partnered with media company Vice for a short documentary on the provenance of FailChips, while Vox Media's food vertical Eater uses them in a recipe for Chicken Karaage.

There's also WhaleSynth, a synthesiser tool distributed on tech product platform Product Hunt; and VeilHymn, an interactive music video. Meanwhile, MaleCrimp, SnailPrimp and NailChamp are aimed at beauty fans.

The appeal of regular omnichannel campaigns diminishes as digital content platforms become increasingly alike in format. 'Did you mean...?' is a delightfully obscure way of reclaiming versatile messaging.

In Unadvertising: Honest Marketing, we explore other brands that break with traditional advertising formats. For the latest on online culture, follow our monthly Pop Culture Round-Ups.

Published: 17 Feb 2017

Fendi’s Soft-Sell Youth E-Platform

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Bidding to strengthen its relationship with social-media-savvy younger fans, Fendi has launched an online content platform and app called 'F is For...'.

The initiative digs deeper into the playful breed of luxe the brand's been co-opting since its 2014 arcade-game-style Fendi Fun pop-up in Harrods department store, London (see Haute Humour). This sensibility was reprised last year with a boisterous-looking, year-long Tokyo pop-up featuring giant fur dolls, mini theatres and neon projections (see full blog post for more).

The visual-centric, Tumblr-style 'F is For...' is accessible via the brand's main e-commerce site, a separate microsite and a standalone app, and boasts five sections. Freaks is an 'About' section pitched as a creative call-to-arms for millennials (aka 'freaks'); Fulgore hosts editorial shoots unique to the platform; Faces features interviews and images of Fendi's latest 'ambassadors'; Freedom offers global listings of hip venues; and Fearless spotlights 'creators' and emerging talent within the arts. All articles can be shared on social media.

For now, keeping the mood soft sell, nothing can be purchased on the platform. See Rise of the Exploratorium for more on the 'post-transactional' space.

While the concept illustrates Fendi's allegiance to fun, it also highlights how luxury brands are 'splintering' to ensure wider appeal. In December 2016, Fendi created an elegant 'Happy Room' pop-up at Design Miami geared towards older consumers, showcasing materials innovations. See Retail: Digitising Luxury, 2017 and Tiered Retailing for more on this tactic.

See also Luxury for Millennials, Rites, Rituals & Culture Clubs and Contextual Commerce.

Published: 17 Feb 2017

Nasa-Approved Self-Sharpening Knife

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Knasa Knife

California-based start-up Habitat has developed a Nasa-approved kitchen knife that sharpens itself.

The KNasa knife uses an alloy originally developed by the California Institute of Technology and later tested by engineers at Nasa. The alloy, which coats the knife, contains nano-serration properties, which form microscopic teeth along the length of the blade.

As the knife is used, the micro-serration is worn away, exposing more teeth. This self-sharpening property enables the knife to remain sharp for up to five times longer than is typical after reasonable usage. The knife is also multifunctional and can be used to cut meat and hard-crusted bread, traditionally requiring a classic serrated blade.

The knives are reportedly twice as strong as titanium and score 70 on the Rockwell (HRC) scale, which measures the hardness of a material by the indent made by the Rockwell Hardness Tester. Funded via a Kickstarter campaign, the knife retails at $100.

For more on exceptional gadgets and kitchen tech, see Activating At-Home Foodies, part of our latest Industry Trend, Kitchen of the Future. Meanwhile, Transformational Cooking looks at ergonomic, balanced and fluid design for kitchen utensils and spaces.

Published: 15 Feb 2017

Kids' Fashion: Recommerce Sites Boom

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Little Circle

Parents' increased willingness to spend on kids' fashion, combined with an appetite for seeking value at all levels of purchasing (see The Austerity Opportunity for more), is fuelling an upsurge in online recommerce initiatives in Europe and the US. The UK childrenswear market is expected to hit £7.8bn by 2019 (Mintel), with global sales growing at a CAGR of more than 6% by 2020 (Technavio).

  • Circular Commerce: Created by Tatler's former fashion director Anna Bromilow and ex-investment banker Lisa Picardo, British company Little Circle specialises in high-end childrenswear. Items are returned to the company once they are outgrown. Rather than being resold for a direct profit like Ebay, users sell the clothing in exchange for a site credit, or donate the money to charity.
  • Upfront Payment for Choice Items: At San Francisco-based reseller ThredUp, consumers order a pre-paid shipping bag, fill it with kidswear, and arrange a pick-up. Users receive payment for the highest-quality items before they're sold, while standard 'consignment' items result in a payout 14 days after they're traded online. European resale competitors include Percentil in Spain and Dutch site Vintykids.com.
  • Luxury Resales: Premium French recommerce business Vestiaire Collective requires users to submit photos of pre-worn items, selecting only the best-quality pieces for resale. The company has now launched a kids' section, stocking brands including Baby Dior and Bonpoint.

For more on children's retail, see Kids-Centric Commerce 2017 (publishing on February 16), and Toy Worlds: Targeting Gen Me. For more on reselling, see Rent the Runway's Subscription Mode, Sneakerhead Resale Mega-Concept, The Berkeley Vintage Style Service and Byronesque: Vintage E-Tail App.

Published: 15 Feb 2017

Moodo: Smart Home Fragrance

Moodo is the first smart device that allows users to customise the scent of their environment by mixing together various fragrances via an app. Launched on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo earlier this month, the device met its $50,000 fundraising goal after less than two weeks online.

Made for the home or office, the smart scent box holds up to four scent capsules that can be loaded into the device and used at the same time. Users are able to create customised scent profiles by varying the intensity of each fragrance and saving their creations on the accompanying app. There are also four pre-composed “scent-scenes”, devised by “leading French perfumers”.

"As primarily visual and auditory thinkers, we don't ordinarily imagine scent as a spectrum, the way we view the colours of a colour-wheel or palette of a rainbow," the Moodo Indiegogo site reads. "But smell is actually one of the widest spectrums in nature, and it hasn’t found its place in the modern home."

“With Moodo, we give users a customised platform to create and experience a virtually limitless world of fragrances to choose from,” adds Yoav Avidor, CEO of Agan Aroma, the Israel-based parent company behind Moodo.

For more on the connected smart devices enhancing consumers’ home lives, see CES 2017: Home Electronics

Published: 14 Feb 2017

Debenhams’ Modest-Wear Partnership

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Debenhams partners with Aab

International department store Debenhams has just announced a new global partnership with a leading modest fashion brand.

London-based label Aab will work collaboratively alongside Debenhams to produce a collection of contemporary conservative clothing – including hijabs and abayas – in a push to promote a more inclusive approach and cater to a wider customer base. 

Jeanette Whithear, international trading director at Debenhams, said: “Adding the high-quality fashion range to our product mix enables us to offer collections that are highly relevant in both international markets and to our domestic customers, and is a step closer to creating a product offer that caters for broader customer needs.”

The inaugural collection – set to launch in May this year – will be rolled out across 14 international stores in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, as well as pop-up shops in select UK stores, starting with its flagship on London’s Oxford Street, with hopes for expansion in the future.

According to Fortune magazine, Islamic women represent the biggest opportunity for the future of fashion, with modest clothing predicted to be the single biggest opportunity in womenswear globally for the next five years.

For further reading, take a look at The New Fashion Landscape: Modest RisingInstagangs: Muslim Modest Dressers and Gen M: Millennial Muslim Entrepreneurs.

Published: 14 Feb 2017

Sustainable Soap: Natural & Ethical Cleansing

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The natural, sustainable, ethical OFS molecule can replace c

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have created a new eco-friendly, sustainable and natural soap molecule that could transform the cleansing market.

Called Oleo-Furan-Surfactant (OFS), the renewable soap molecule reduces the need for synthetic chemicals in cleansing products that are washed through into our natural water supplies and harm the environment.

While typical soaps and detergents are created from fossil fuels, OFS is made from renewable sources – natural products such as soybeans, coconut and corn. Additionally, OFS forms soap particles called micelles that clean at low concentrations, reducing the environmental impact on rivers and lakes.

Beyond the formula’s eco clout, a study to be published in the next issue of the American Chemical Society’s leading journal ACS Central Science shows that OFS also performs better than market cleansers in cold and hard water, which can often turn conventional soaps cloudy and gooey.

A lack of foaming ability often deters consumers looking for a deep clean. Researchers tackled this problem by adding nanoparticle catalysts to optimise the soap structure for foaming capability. OFS was shown to foam with the consistency of a conventional detergent.

Cleansing makes up a significant portion of the beauty and personal care market, which was valued at €84,377m ($89,500) for Western Europe last year (Statista, 2016). With more emphasis on natural and sustainable models, formulas like this mean big business for both brands and developers.

For more on sustainable, natural and ethical beauty developments in the beauty market, see Future Beauty: New-Era Naturals. For research into the new ways in which water will feature in our beauty routines, see New Ways with Water

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