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Published: 16 Aug 2018

Black Women Dominate September Covers

Clockwise L-R: Rihanna, Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish, Lupita Nyong'o, Zendaya, Beyonce, Slick Woods

A historic number of leading fashion publications have chosen black women to appear on the covers of their prestigious September issues, rejecting the notion that diversity hinders sales. 

At least eight black women have appeared on the cover of several magazines’ influential September issues so far, marking the first time this many black women have received the honour in the same year.

The individual September covers feature a range of women, from superstars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, to lesser-known comedians, models and musicians like Tiffany Haddish, Issa Rae, Slick Woods and Zendaya.

Musician Rihanna has become the first black woman in British Vogue’s 102-year history to appear on the cover of one of its September issues, while at US Vogue, Beyoncé was given complete creative control over her cover issue. The singer selected 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell to shoot her cover story, making the New York native the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in the magazine’s 126-year history. Beyoncé also narrated an essay for the issue.

The widespread visibility of black women on this year’s September covers is both timely and necessary; ethically responsible and business-savvy. Not only should brands recognise their responsibility to embrace ethnic diversity across everything they do, they should also acknowledge the cultural influence and spending power of black women – who spend $54m on hair and beauty products in the US alone (Nielson, 2018).

This year’s September issues are a promising start for inclusion in the fashion industry, with US Vogue in particular embracing an inspiring framework that allows diverse groups of people to narrate and visualise their own identities. 

For more on this, see A Fashion A’woke’ning: Mainstreaming Inclusivity, Inclusive Beauty: On & Offline and Redressing Femininity: Reality

Published: 14 Aug 2018

This Beauty Clinic Wants to Be the Boutique Gym for Skin


Repeat customers are the goal of every beauty clinic. New Zealand’s Skinsmiths bills itself as a regular ‘gym for your skin’, opening six stores in London in quick succession this year – and promoting annual membership packages at the heart of its engagement strategy.

The fast-growing skin and appearance clinic taps the holistic wellbeing boom as well as consumers’ appreciation of rituals. Its boutique-style clinics emphasise the benefits of consistent, regular treatments. “We know one-off workouts in the gym don’t work, so why should it be different for your skin?” says Skinsmiths adviser Sevda Papantenis.

Consumers sign up for a year-long membership offering a bespoke schedule of treatments, typically every three to six weeks. Three plans are on offer: skin health, including detox facials; laser hair removal; and aesthetic treatments such as derma filler. Prices range from £47-199 ($60-254) per month, payable via direct debit or upfront. Members receive a 10% discount on Skinsmiths’ natural skincare range, plus four taster sessions to share with friends and family.

Roger Tredre, acting head of Retail at Stylus, comments: “These kinds of engagement strategies extend the consumer-brand relationship. The aim is to bring Skinsmiths into the inner circle of a consumer’s daily life. A visit to Skinsmiths becomes a welcome regular ritual – a habit.”

Founded in New Zealand in 1994, Skinsmiths has opened seven London locations within three months (Belgravia, Clapham South, Hanwell, Putney Bridge, Tower Bridge, Wimbledon Village and Liverpool Street) and hopes to open up to 40 more across the UK over the next two years.

Designed by London agency YourStudio, the clinics feature a soft look reminiscent of serene lifestyle stores, with a powder-pink colour palette and gentle lighting. Peach-coloured Timber Terrazzo counters by British brand Foresso and black steel fixtures accent the spaces.

See also Instagangs: Design Salons, Pause & Pulsate and Membership & Tiered Retailing.

Published: 14 Aug 2018

Lush’s Spa-Inspired Range Makes Mood Magic

In the pursuit of relaxation and emotional balance, consumers are tapping into the self-care movement via scent. British naturals brand Lush’s latest limited-edition range is capitalising on this opportunity, harnessing the power of aromatherapy to boost mental and emotional wellbeing.  

 Lush focuses on scent and its influence on the emotions for its new spa-inspired #LushMoods range, which is available through Lush Labs, the brand’s online platform for trialling new products.

The 13-piece collection includes a variety of products that use different notes to alter the user’s mood. For instance, foaming shower bomb Not Sleepy claims to energise and awaken the senses with hero ingredients lemongrass and neroli oil.

Meanwhile, single-use body washes called Atmospheres come in four different mood-based varieties: Money (lime and fennel), Joy (bergamot and ginger), Let Go (lavender) and Love (apple and spices). Each colourful gel formula is encased in a biodegradable seaweed pod, negating the need for extra packaging.

Lush harnesses the properties of aromatherapy by using different essences to enhance users’ moods. The launch capitalises on the rise of the essential oils market, which is forecast to reach $11.7bn globally by 2022 (Statistics MRC, 2017). This growing category is a key area for brands to explore, as consumers look to improve their mental state with scent. Another good example is American tween start-up Scent Republik, which features notes of apple blossom and marine aqua in its Chill fragrance to boost feelings of relaxation.

Talking about the #LushMoods range, Mark Constantine, Lush’s co-founder and managing director, said: “There’s this thing called Brief Strategic Therapy, where someone comes in in one state of mind and leaves in another. That’s the idea behind all of this.” To read more about blurring boundaries between personal care and wellbeing, see Serving the Self-Care Generation and Luxurifying Personal Hygiene.  

Published: 14 Aug 2018

3 Innovations in 3D Printing for Architecture

ETH Zurich aluminium facade

The symbiosis of technology and craft is triggering a surge in progressive uses for additive manufacturing. Here we round up three concepts in which the capabilities of 3D printing are being pioneered to realise new possibilities in architecture.

  • Sand Moulds: Researchers at ETH Zurich University have developed a quick and affordable method to produce highly complex and bespoke architectural parts, using 3D-printed sand moulds.

    The team has produced an intricate, 6m-high custom facade from cast molten aluminium, and has fabricated the formwork for an innovative, concrete ceiling. The technology allows lightweight structures to be produced as a solid block without any extraneous material.

  • 3D Printing for Facades: New York-based studio EDG has devised a cost-effective process for restoring and recreating ornamental features for historic buildings. The solution uses rendering software and 3D printing to produce plastic moulds for casting elements in concrete. It also opens up the possibility of creating affordable modern facades, which today are often considered an expensive luxury.

    3D printing is an important focus for the government in Dubai; its Dubai 3D Printing Strategy aims for at least 25% of every new building to be constructed using 3D printing by 2025. Dubai-based manufacturer Immensa Technology Labs has developed a patent-pending technique to align with the strategy. Its reusable and environmentally friendly moulds allow for concrete, cement and gypsum materials to be cast in patterned forms for building facades. 
  • Stable Structures: US start-up Branch Technology has produced a large, 3D-printed pavilion without the need for steel reinforcement. The geometric design is self-supporting thanks to its cellular 3D structure and the carbon-fibre-reinforced ABS plastic used.

Designers are also exploring digital fabrication techniques when working with wood – see Material Direction: Reframing Wood. For more material innovations for architecture, read CMF Industry View: Architecture & Spaces.

ETH Zurich concrete ceiling
ETH Zurich concrete ceiling
Branch Technology pavilion
Published: 14 Aug 2018

Google Goes Medical with Temperature-Tracking Earphones

Nick Fewings

Seventy-five per cent of Americans think that technology is important to health management (Accenture, 2018). Google thinks so too, as it patented a pair of "In-Ear Health Monitoring" earphones in July. By using a reward system to encourage daily readings, Google hopes to tackle global health concerns, one wearer at a time.

While wearers consume their usual audio content via smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, Google's new biometric earphones collect data such as their body temperature. To complete a reading, they simply need to listen for the duration of a temperature equalisation period – the time it takes for the device to take an accurate reading. Through frequent use, the information tracks the wearer's bodily norms.

The log of information has real potential for early detection of illnesses such as contagious diseases. For example, if the body were to show abnormal readings against the existing database, such as a higher body temperature, the wearer would be alerted to possible infection.

As 90% of current wearable health technology users are happy to share their device data with their doctor, this could enable swift diagnosis (Accenture, 2018). Early detection is key to survival rates during health epidemics such as the 2013-15 Ebola breakout, where diseases have protracted incubation periods (WHO, 2018).

The patent suggests that Google will include incentives such as access to media content, financial compensation and discounts to encourage users to record their body data regularly.

With consumers showing a growing interest in monitoring their health via wearable devices, brands should invest in innovative technologies and product interfaces to facilitate this demand. For more on health tech, see Wearable Technology Show.

Published: 10 Aug 2018

Biodegradable Coffee Cups Grown from Fruit

HyO Cups by Crème Studio

As big brands and retailers pledge against plastic, designers and researchers are persisting with sustainable and plant-based alternatives for single-use items. Brooklyn design studio Crème has turned to gourds (fleshy fruits with hard skin) to create an environmentally friendly solution to disposable coffee cups.

While existing paper versions are typically lined with polyethylene and cannot be recycled or composted, meaning excessive numbers end up in landfill, the HyO-Cups are 100% organic and biodegradable.

The studio looked to gourd containers for inspiration, which can be found all over the world. Traditionally used in many cultures as containers for liquids or medicines, they are often grown in earthen moulds to create different shapes and sizes. Once dried out, the fruit’s strong outer skin and fibrous inner flesh become watertight. 

To make a standardised vessel in the same vein, Crème developed custom 3D-printed moulds. The fruit is then grown inside, taking on the shape of a stackable, faceted cup or flask.

The production process currently takes around six months – from planting the fruit to drying out the shells; but the team claims the cups can be manufactured on a mass scale. It hopes that scaling up production and growing the gourds in a controlled, indoor environment will produce a more efficient and plentiful crop.

Laboratory-grown materials and solutions to our depleting sources is an important theme in our S/S 20 Materials Focus story Augmented Space. See Edible Kombucha Packaging and Crab Shells & Cellulose Offer Promising Plastic Alternative for further sustainable alternatives.

Published: 10 Aug 2018

Harth: Rental Furniture Platform Shaking up Luxury Retail


Spurred by a lack of resources and real estate, consumers are choosing to ditch home ownership in favour of subscription access to shared housing, communal offices, pooled transport and hired goods. Harth is a luxury rental service for designer homeware that’s shaking up retail to cater to transient, 21st-century lifestyles.

Harth connects users and brands with other users looking to decorate their home or event for a specific period of time. Users can make money renting out pieces that are in storage or not in use, while enabling others to dress up transitory spaces without committing to the full price or taking their belongings with them if they move.

Harth was founded by in-the-know creatives Henrietta Thompson, editor-at-large of Wallpaper* Magazine; and her husband Edward Padmore, an experienced corporate entrepreneur. The couple’s collective experience in the design industry promises to explore how the shared economy can best serve makers and clients, while advocating this system for the high-end market.

Still in the pre-launch phase, customers can sign up to Harth by filling out their details online and completing a short phone interview for security purposes. Once a member, users can choose from a catalogue of one-off vintage and new-range product, which is then installed by Harth’s logistics team.

Goods designed for shared environments are becoming more widely accepted, with co-living being acknowledged by influential furniture brands – see the communal sofas from Milan Design Week 2018. However, rental formats have been slow to infiltrate the luxury market. Brands need to embrace more fluid and forward-facing approaches to ownership to future-proof their services and win over sustainably conscious consumers.

Published: 9 Aug 2018

Eckhaus Latta Exhibition: The Future of Fashion Retail?

Possession: Eckhaus Latta

US design house Eckhaus Latta is the latest fashion brand to embrace museum-style engagement, as its shoppable exhibition revives the offline retail experience.

Showing at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, Possessed: Eckhaus Latta blurs the line between gift shop and exhibition – allowing attendees to peruse art, try on exclusive ready-to-wear pieces, and watch others do the same.

Everything wearable is for sale, with $3,250 knit sweaters, $75 socks and $24 tote bags alike bearing tags that read ‘Special Museum Exhibition Product’. Alongside them sit shop-themed art installations, like the dressing room curtains and clothing racks by New York-based artists Susan Cianciolo and Annabeth Marks, respectively.

The 360-degree retail atmosphere was key to the brand’s intentions, extending to a carefully researched soundtrack (available online) for a “pleasurable and comfortable experience” akin to an ideal shop floor.

Unlike archival and historic-style shopping exhibitions like Gucci Garden, Latta’s offering is entirely modern and more self-referential – not presenting fashion or retail as art, but instead curating the display to blur these lines altogether. See our Fashion Forecast S/S 20 trend Revive for further confirmations of fashion and art’s burgeoning crossover.

Published: 9 Aug 2018

Wieden & Kennedy Use AR to Make Vinyl Records Visual

Wieden & Kennedy's LAVA AR app

Media that appeals to more than three senses can increase brand impact and engagement by more than 70% (Martin Lindstrom, 2017). We're seeing an increase in multisensory campaigns that stimulate multiple senses – including this new initiative from Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam that brings the vinyl experience to life via augmented reality (AR).

Listeners can pull up the ad agency's AR app Lava, and view virtual moving 'sculptures' emerging from the record as it spins on the turntable. The first album to utilise the app is the debut from Dutch band Necessary Explosion. The sculptures react and adapt as you move around them, and the app also works with Spotify and Apple Music.

In a statement, Anita Fontaine and Geoffrey Lillemon, creative directors of W&K Amsterdam's Department of New Realities, described the app as "the future digital vinyl sleeve". They added: "We see this approach as a new emerging genre for lots of artists, one which can open up new possibilities for all kinds of AR music experiences."

Also launching this week is Electronauts, a virtual reality (VR) music production app from US firm Survios. The game throws users into a surreal virtual world where they can play specially designed instruments, and remix music curated by Norwegian super-producers Stargate. "Electronauts harnesses the power of VR to go inside of a song and feel completely in control of the music," said Nathan Burba, Survios co-founder and chief executive.

"This opens up for a totally new level of creative freedom and will inspire both seasoned artists and musicians as well as people with no musical training," added Stargate's Mikkel Eriksen.

For more on the power of immersive and interactive media experiences, see The Future of Television and Cannes Lions: Make the Invisible Visible. Look out for our upcoming series of Sensory Branding reports for an in-depth look at multisensory design and branding.

Published: 9 Aug 2018

Social Media Taps Visual Search & AR Commerce

Facebook AR

Western social media channels are learning from their Chinese counterparts, morphing into ecosystems combining search, payments, shopping and social activity. Snapchat and Facebook have both released in-app shopping features to target youth on the go, using engaging content as conversion tools.

Visual Search: Inspired by China’s WeChat, Snapchat wants to move beyond video-led social media to become a platform with integrated shopping capabilities. Its latest focus is on turning posted videos into selling opportunities. 

Its newest update includes a search function that allows consumers to search for an object by scanning its shape or barcode. Snapchat’s proprietary visual recognition technology communicates with Amazon’s data catalogue, and provides a list of the same or similar items shoppable via one click.

Snapchat also previously collaborated with music-finding app Shazam, enabling consumers to track songs. See also Solving Retail’s Search Conundrums.

AR Commerce: Facebook has introduced augmented reality for its online advertising clients, enabling them to make content “try-able & shoppable”. The new ad format – currently piloting with Michael Kors – will show up on users’ news feeds and within FB Messenger, allowing them to digitally try on and purchase the US luxury brand’s sunglasses through the app.

If the trial is successful, the feature will be rolled out to Instagram and non-ad content as well – all with the goal of bringing in-store experiences to customers’ screens.

Key players have to develop new functions to maintain their allure. Recent findings show that two million US teens are set to quit Facebook for other video-led platforms, including Snapchat (Pew, 2018). Retailers must also evolve fun concepts to convert audiences. Read more in Social Media ’18: Five Trends.

Published: 9 Aug 2018

Brands Supporting Menstrual Health Set to Succeed


New brands and products are emerging to support women during their menstrual cycles. The most noteworthy target the pill's unpleasant side effects, offer tailored subscription services, and facilitate supportive, stigma-slaying communities.

US menstrual health start-up Hello.Me launched its Top Up Tonic in July 2018. It comprises a 30-day supply of vitamin capsules to combat pill-related nutrient deficiencies which cause bloating, headaches and poor mental health. Brands are beginning to address the latter in particular (see Moody: Tracking Menstruation & Mood). It's a smart strategy: 25% of US women stopped taking the pill or considered doing so because of its negative side effects (Cosmopolitan, 2018).

Products that challenge lingering taboos regarding periods and mental health are set to succeed, given that around one in 20 British women's premenstrual symptoms are severe enough to stop them living their normal lives (NHS, 2017).

Meanwhile in New Zealand, subscription service Luna offers a monthly delivery of pads, liners and tampons, depending on which stage of life the user is in – from first-timers to menstrual veterans.

Each of Luna's four 'phase' product bundles caters to the changing needs of women throughout their menstrual experience. For example, the New Moon phase – for young women experiencing their first period – contains a selection of products so users can experiment and discover what suits them. Customers can purchase one-off bundles or sync a monthly delivery with their personal cycle.

Launched in February 2018, the service is supplemented by a menstruation FAQ blog, LiveChat and a supportive mailing list community – all aimed at busting myths and offering period-related education.

For more on the services helping us tune into and manage our natural rhythms, see Rhythm of Life: Brands in Tempo. To read about the tech treatments empowering people with mental health issues, see Nurturing Mental Health.

Published: 8 Aug 2018

Inflated Floor Mat Boosts Employee Health & Productivity

Joonyeon Jo

Increasing work hours and growing public concern over wellbeing are driving individuals and businesses to invest in improved office ergonomics. UK designer Joonyeon Jo explores the potential of tactility within this environment to improve both user health and productivity.

His Motion Office project aims to introduce movement and activity into the corporate workspace. The design consists of two elements: Motion Desk and Motion Ground. The first is a thin stand-up desk that can be adjusted in height for different users. The second is a floor mat fitted with small triangular tiles in glazed ceramic, timber, glass and bronze. The mat is inflated slightly using motion airbags, while heating elements warm up the tiles in certain areas.

Jo employs a multitude of sensory features to create a dynamic and changing physical environment to suit and awaken the body. The uneven surface of the mat aims to mimic nature, making the user more aware of their surroundings and, in response, encouraging the circulation of blood to the head, supporting more engaged work. 

US employees spend an average of 8.1 hours at work each day – the majority of which is inactive and desk-bound (Centre for Active Design, 2016). Physical activity, even through minor sensorial interactions, is being used as a means to break the monotony of extended sedentary working hours, and incite a more natural and interactive state of being. 

As explored in our Active Lives Macro Trend reporting, consumers are seeking to reconnect with their bodies and discover moments of intrigue and exploration in their everyday lives. Brands need to consider how they can cater to this emerging need, and reinvent the office so that employees are both physically and mentally absorbed in their work. For more, see Blueprint for the Modern Workplace.

Published: 7 Aug 2018

Top 3 Beauty Brands Breaking into the Food Space

Luxury beauty brands are dipping a toe into the food and beverage space, flexing their deep knowledge of ingredients to offer innovative and engaging products and experiences.

This cross-pollination offers exciting opportunities for beauty brands seeking to extend their traditional remit, and also reflects the thinking presented in our Industry Trend report Trans-Industry Ingredients.

  • Cleaner Veg: US luxury and ethical haircare brand Oway has launched a new product called Plantae – a liquid purifier for fruit and veg made from mint, organic pink grapefruit and ethically produced guava. When applied to edible produce, the biodynamic formula removes chemical residue and dirt, without the need for water. It's being touted as the perfect product for camping and on-the-go cleaning. For more on product development in this space, look out for our upcoming report on off-grid dining.
  • Beauty In the Dining Room: Australian organic beauty brand Aesop recently collaborated with London dining studio Plates on a series of plant-based pop-up dinners. Meals are made from seasonal, organic fruits, vegetables and wild herbs. Taking place upstairs in one of its London stores, the brand is holding dinners throughout the year, with tickets costing £70 ($92) per person. 
  • Edible Wellness: As previously covered here, US beauty oracle Bobbi Brown recently launched a range of dietary drinks and supplement powders under the brand name Evolution_18. The collection includes a collagen powder for skin elasticity, keratin dietary capsules for stronger hair and nails, probiotic quick-melt powder for gut-health, and cacao protein powder for increased brain function.
Published: 7 Aug 2018

Asos & Superdrug Prioritise Inclusive Beauty

ASOS Face + Body

Gender-fluidity is continuing to shape product development and marketing messages within the beauty industry. British retailers Superdrug and Asos are currently championing this movement with an inclusive pop-up shop and YouTube content that reflects modern consumer outlooks on gender identity and authenticity. 

  • Beauty Without Bias: Following the success of its LGBTQ+ targeted campaign Beauty Without Bias, Superdrug has opened a colour cosmetics pop-up in London dedicated to inclusivity, which runs until September 10.

    It collaborated with advocates and beauty bloggers who embody the ethos that make-up is for everyone, such as British trans-activist Charlie Craggs. Each influencer selected 10 products from Superdrug’s exclusive collections – spotlighting the diversity that already exists within its offering.

    The launch capitalises on the rise of the genderless beauty category – 27% of British men would buy cosmetics if they were branded as gender neutral (Future Thinking, 2018). It also demonstrates Superdrug’s ability to tap into rapidly developing trends. In Spring 2018, it opened a vegan pop-up due to rising demand for clean beauty products.
Published: 7 Aug 2018

This Mountain-Top Archive Pop-Up Draws Adventurous Spirits

The North Face Pop-Up, Italy

American outerwear brand The North Face's latest pop-up store sat at an altitude of 2,100m in Val San Nicolò in the Italian Alps, and was reachable only by foot. Consumers had to complete a two-hour hike to get to the space, where they could view coveted one-off pieces.

The move formed part of the brand's new Pinnacle Project celebrating exploration. The pop-up displayed an eight-piece archive collection of items worn and donated by famous adventurers and climbers such as Alex Honnold (US) and Simone Moro (Italian). All products were restored by The North Face and labelled with a personal message from each athlete that details the story of the product. For instance, "Antarctica Summit Series L3 Down Jacket worn by Alex Honnold, to protect the record-breaking climber from the cold of Antarctica on a recent expedition".

Visitors who reached the pop-up on foot had a chance to see and feel the items before making a bid in an online auction (accessible via the brand's website), with all proceeds going towards mountain preservation.

The pop-up was created by Dutch advertising agency First Day of Spring and ran for eight days from July 30. The space itself will remain in place indefinitely as a refuge for future adventurers. There are also two other Pinnacle Project pop-ups scheduled to open in Berlin and Manchester this autumn – they will carry selected items from the collection.

For more on endurance retail, see our report 2018: Look Ahead – Retail, in which we predicted that 2018 would see the rise of consumers being set increasingly difficult challenges to gain access to sought-after products.