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Published: 15 Dec 2017

Pre-Fall 18 Influencer Show: Gucci

Alessandro Michele’s vision for Gucci knows no bounds. His latest pre-season offering encapsulated everything from streetwise sportswear and red-carpet gowns to ladylike-dressing and slick tailoring.

Gucci Pre-Fall 18
Gucci Pre-Fall 18
Gucci Pre-Fall 18

There was a new, casual youthfulness in the sports-infused silhouettes. The glitzy razzle-dazzle was complemented with tough hiking boots and New York Yankees baseball caps, courtesy of Michele’s latest collaboration with MLB (Major League Baseball). 

The message was in the mix, and all the rules were broken. Think fringed bomber jackets layered over flouncy dresses, floral tracksuits, padded puffas, and printed leggings teamed with oversized, slouchy cardigans – contrasted with sharply tailored pantsuits and demure pleated midi skirts.

There was a relaxed ease in the soft cardigan jackets and kimonos, perfect to partner with full-legged track pants, or the influential over-the-knee slouchy logo-patterned boots.

Gucci Pre-Fall 18
Gucci Pre-Fall 18
Gucci Pre-Fall 18

The collection was an explosion of print and pattern, from archive house florals to pop-art chevrons, giant GG logos and signature striped braided trims. Colour blocking added another graphic twist, while Lurex and lamé, plush velvets, swishing silks and gilded brocades upped the luxe-touch ante in a palette of cobalt, bubblegum, emerald and poppy.

Michele’s quirky styling has been one of the biggest influences on the high street in recent seasons, and we can expect to see the impact of his over-the-top sportswear pieces hitting the junior market any day soon, giving casualwear a fresh, glamorous slant. 

Gucci Pre-Fall 18
Gucci Pre-Fall 18
Gucci Pre-Fall 18


  • Glammed-up, street-styled sportswear
  • Hiking boots and baseball caps – the new accessory must-haves
  • Frilled tea dresses and sporty puffas
  • Fringed bomber jackets and ladylike midi skirts
  • Reworked tracksuits in luxe fabrics
  • Mismatched prints and graphic stripes, signature logos
Published: 15 Dec 2017

Christmas 2017 Confirmation: Kin


Our 2017 Christmas Direction Kin caters to minimal-minded consumers, taking notes from the Shaker movement to create a stripped-back, material-focused offering for the festive season. We explore how this wholesome design trend is being realised in current Christmas collections.

  • Materials from the natural world are reframed as earthy decorations. Christmas trees are left bare to celebrate natural form and foliage, dehydrated apple and orange slices are repurposed as handmade ornaments, and sprigs of eucalyptus feature on table settings and in wrapping to add sculptural interest.
  • Designers opted for timber neutrals as a base colour to create a softer and more natural look, while Yellow Pigment, Burnt Sienna and Rose Tint are employed as warming accents. 
  • With minimal added ornamentation, texture is enhanced to create a more rustic appeal. Christmas tree decorations feature uncomplicated designs and expose the timber’s natural grain to exaggerate tactility.

For more 2017 Christmas Confirmations, read Curio, and stay tuned for upcoming confirmations of Refract. To learn about our projections for next year’s Christmas Directions, read Fantasia, Archive and Frost. See Christmas 2018: Colour for more detail on the palettes and visual influences guiding each 2018 Christmas Direction.

Published: 15 Dec 2017

Earthcolors x G-Star Raw: Naturally Dyed Denim

Earthcolors Natural Dyes

A partnership between Swiss chemicals group Archroma and Dutch fashion brand G-Star Raw has resulted in a capsule collection of naturally dyed denim jeans – an initiative that promotes more sustainable alternatives to synthetic textile dyeing.

Available in green, brown and blue, the jeans are dyed with Archroma’s Earthcolors. These high-performance natural dyes are synthesised from non-edible agricultural or herbal industry plant waste, such as leaves or nutshells. Made using up to 100% natural waste material, the dyes can be used without generating any toxic wastewater. For more on responsible and innovative dye processes, see Considered Colour.

Earthcolors feature seven warm, earthen tones, including a brown made using almond shells and a sandy yellow made using residue from bitter oranges. The dyes are currently suitable for cellulosic fibres such as cotton, viscose and linen, with dyes for other fibres in development.

A rising awareness of the harmful effects of industrial dyeing pollutants is causing brands to consider eco-friendly manufacturing processes. At present, many colours are made using petroleum or sulfur dye, and most blue jeans are dyed with synthetic indigo – processes that damage the environment due to chemicals and pollutants in the wastewater.

Other clothing brands such as Patagonia and Kathmandu have also partnered with Archroma to bring natural, sustainably dyed products to market. See our A/W 19/20 Colour Direction Sacred Earth for more on raw and natural colour.

Published: 15 Dec 2017

Alcoholic Confectionery Brand Engages Senses Through Retail

Smith & Sinclair

British alcoholic confectionery brand Smith & Sinclair has launched an experiential retail concession in UK department store John Lewis’s London flagship. Built around discovery, the installation taps into the rising trend for explorative, self-steered brand spaces, as discussed in Rise of the Exploratorium.

Smith & Sinclair’s unique range of Edible Cocktails – jelly pastilles containing half a shot of alcohol – blur the lines between alcohol and confectionery, encouraging adults to ‘play’ again. The hyper-sensorial brand space features an interactive ‘discovery and experience’ wall that diffuses the scents of the Edible Cocktails alongside pastille buttons that release unidentified aromas when pushed. After exploring, shoppers are invited to create their own Edible Cocktails selection – an adult take on classic pick ‘n’ mix sweets – and enjoy a drink at a cocktail bar.

Smith & Sinclair has also launched The Flavour Gallery – a temporary “explosive multisensory art experience” in East London enabling visitors to “hear colours, smell sounds, and taste the paintings” according to London culture site The Nudge. Both concepts hold great appeal for millennials (aged 23 to 36): 72% of US and British millennials say they crave sensorial experiences (JWT Intelligence, 2013).

Spaces that simultaneously contextualise and thrill offer alcohol brands a chance to foster more intimate, controlled dialogues with consumers. As alcohol consumption declines – global sales fell 1.3% in 2016, led by a 1.8% decline in beer sales (International Wine and Spirits Research, 2017) – brands must look for new ways to drive trial and discovery. This is particularly important for brands without a permanent physical presence (see Amazon Explores Asian Alcohol Opportunity).

See also Alcohol Concept Stores.

Published: 15 Dec 2017

Self-Heating Ceramic Cup


LA-based start-up Ember has launched a smart mug that allows the drinker to control the temperature of their beverage via a corresponding app.

Devised in collaboration with US design studio Ammunition, the mug uses Bluetooth to connect to the user's smartphone, through which they can set their preferred temperature up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The mug will then maintain that temperature using embedded sensors that relay temperature to a microprocessor in the base. This connects to a heating element to boost the heat or dial it back.

The mug, made from unbreakable double-walled steel with a ceramic shell, automatically turns off if it remains stationary for more than two hours. To recharge, the cup is placed on a matching conductive coaster.

The Ember Ceramic Mug is available via Starbucks and the ember website and retails at $79. For other recent examples of at-home beverage tech, see Ultrasonic Tea-Making Machine, Scented Cup Simulates Flavour and Teforia Smart Brewing Device.

For a deeper investigation into personal food technology beyond the confines of the kitchen, read our report Post-Kitchen Lifestyles, part of our Kitchen of the Future Industry Trend.

Published: 14 Dec 2017

Battle of the Brands: Conquering Platforms

Burger King vs. Taco Bell

To see out the year, we are looking back at some of 2017's most impactful marketing campaigns. And, because we can, we're pitching brand competitors against one another to see who did it best.

In April, Burger King Spain added a team of professional video gamers to its food delivery service, bringing its product straight into consumers' nightly gaming sessions. The global fast-food chain's Burger Clan of nine professional gamers entered weekend online sessions of FIFA '17, Call of Duty and other popular titles, giving recreational gamers the honour of playing with them before taking their food delivery orders at the end of the session.

In July, Taco Bell went all out with a finishing touch for the late-night reveller's journey home. In collaboration with ride-hailing service Lyft, the US chain introduced Taco Mode to Lyft customers' riding experience. Passengers had the option to activate Taco Mode in the app en route, adding a stop at a Taco Bell to their journey – including one free taco.

Burger King's limited run was an elaborate project that built brand loyalty by introducing hobby gamers to pros. But Taco Bell's Lyft partnership came with a frictionless user experience that slotted more naturally into the customer's day – who wouldn't want a taco after drinks? Such consideration for an organic overall experience makes Taco Bell the winner.

For more on in-the-moment engagement, see Third Spaces: Targeting the Transitory. To stay up to date with digital platforms and gaming culture, follow our Pop Culture Round-Ups.

Published: 14 Dec 2017

Scent Republik: Perfumes for Positivity

Scent Republik

New British fragrance start-up Scent Republik promotes empowerment for pre-teen and tween girls through the power of scent. The essential oil combinations of its natural and cruelty-free fragrances are said to inspire confidence and positivity.

The three perfumes aim to trigger positive emotions and stimulate the senses. Chill is formulated with citrus, apple blossom and marine aqua notes to create a relaxed mood. Woosh is made from citrus, apple blossom and marine aqua for a self-esteem boost. Finally, Fab! inspires the wearer to “work your girl power” with sweet vanilla, mandarin and rich praline.

Scent Republik is not the first fragrance brand to tout feminist ideals. Reek from the UK is founded on feminist equality. This emerging trend showcases the need for beauty brands to embed their values with feminist philosophies – globally, 70% of women and girls say they are proud to be female and embrace it (Dove, 2016). For more on beauty’s feminist values, see Empowering Beauty.

The perfumes are also innovatively packaged like marker pens in brightly coloured Scent Stiks. Consumers can apply their chosen fragrance with a drawing-like motion on the neck or wrists. According to the co-founders, this creates a fun and interactive experience for pre-teens, as the marker-pen format (also used by cult US make-up brand Milk on its line of lip pens) makes it easier for them to play with the fragrances. See Brush-On Scents for more dynamic fragrance packaging.

Published: 13 Dec 2017

Christmas 2017 Confirmation: Curio


Our 2017 Christmas Direction Curio pays homage to the sculptural forms of brutalist architecture, employing heavy materials, strict forms and high-sheen metals to create sophisticated objects for the Christmas season. We highlight how this rich, bold trend is influencing home décor.

  • The rippled veins of marbled surfaces feature as a common decorative motif with festive wrapping, Christmas tree decorations and shop window displays all using this design to establish a luxurious look.
  • Classic emblems of the Christmas holiday – such as a tree and a star – are redesigned in strong, geometric lines to create impressive statuesque forms and establish a more modern and refined Christmas aesthetic.
  • The visual sense of weight and grandiosity that is established through the use of architectural materials is balanced with the inclusion of opaque coloured glass. Cherry red, Orange Oxide and Yellow Foil introduce a spectrum of rich colour that helps to marry the heavy, matte materials with the metallic sheen of polished gold and blue-silver.

Stay tuned for the upcoming confirmations of our 2017 Christmas Directions Kin and Refract. To learn about our projections for next year’s Christmas Directions, read Fantasia, Archive and Frost. See Christmas 2018: Colour for more detail on the palettes and visual influences guiding each 2018 Christmas Direction.

Published: 13 Dec 2017

Facial Recognition Tech: 2018 Could Be Crunch Year

Facial Recognition

The use of in-store facial recognition technology to target customers has moved on a step, although a welter of concerns about consumer privacy may make its broad adoption problematic. We expect it to be a talking point across retail in 2018.

In the latest move, Facebook has submitted a patent for in-store facial recognition tech that provides retail staff with customer information drawn from social media profiles, delivering a hyper-personalised service.

The biometric algorithm links to in-store cameras and matches their images of shoppers with those on Facebook in order to identify them. Retailers gather info about facially recognised shoppers via a dashboard. Facebook has also patented technology that can identify shoppers’ moods by their faces, analysing their emotions and sending push notifications to staff – see also Reflexive Retail: Live, Emotional & On-Demand.

Facial recognition technology is already used by some retailers, including American department store Saks Fifth Avenue, enabling the cross-referencing of shoplifters against databases.

Facebook is also currently trialling a log-in feature with US focus groups. Users who have forgotten their log-in details can scan their faces via smartphone cameras, with the results matched against profile images to grant access within seconds. It could be rolled out to Facebook’s two billion users (Facebook, 2017) from 2018.

But privacy legislation – as well as public wariness about data-capture technology – remains a major obstacle, with some 67% of US consumers finding facial recognition creepy (RichRelevance, 2016). Meanwhile, EU legislation is a barrier for adoption in Europe.

An ongoing American biometric privacy lawsuit is perceived as a major test case. If Facebook loses, it could have to seek users’ consent to make, use, trade and decode biometric data sets. 

Published: 12 Dec 2017

Battle of the Brands: Rethinking Femininity

SK-II vs. Avon UK

To see out the year, we're looking back at some of 2017's most impactful marketing campaigns. And, because we can, we're pitching brand competitors against one another to see who did it best.

In 2016, Procter and Gamble's skincare brand SK-II started a conversation around China's 'leftover women' (those unmarried at 27) with its Marriage Market video (see New Attitudes to Love and Sex). This summer, the brand expanded the message into other Asian markets with The Expiry Date. The dystopian ad highlights cultural expectations around Asian women marrying young by literally putting expiry dates on the wrists of newborn girls in China, Japan and South Korea – a source of increasing shame as they grow. The story ends with the dates disappearing, followed by the message: "You are more than your age. Don't let others put an expiry date on you."

In the UK, beauty giant Avon marked its sponsorship deal with the Liverpool Ladies' Football Club with Fiercely Feminine, an ad featuring the team's players that critiques society's disconnect between femininity and athleticism. The partnership is part of Avon's larger I Can Be campaign to inspire girls to achieve their ambitions. A report commissioned by Avon found that 29% of UK women believe social barriers and stereotypes placed on women have held them back.

Both brands are advocating for a shift in our perception of women's ambitions. However, SK-II's dystopian scenario drives the message home with a stronger punch.

For more on how beauty brands are challenging stereotypes for all genders, check out Empowering Beauty and Next-Gen Beauty Marketing.

Published: 12 Dec 2017

Parfums Jazmin Saraï: Turning Music into Scent

Parfums Jazmin Saraï

Canada-based perfumer Dana El Masri merges music and fragrance – encouraging consumers to engage with fine perfumery in more sensorially evocative and dynamic ways.

El Masri’s niche fragrance brand Parfums Jazmin Saraï features six signature scents known collectively as The Playlist – inspired by musical rhythm, beats, harmony, lyrics and tempo. Each perfume reimagines a certain song and artist as a scent – with influences coming from a wide-ranging spectrum of musical genres.

The fragrance Neon Graffiti, for example, is sold as “neon on wet concrete” and references electronic, alternative dance, hip-hop, world, grime and R&B – in particular, British rapper M.I.A’s 2004 track Sunshowers. The scent profile is comprised of bergamot, grapefruit, cardamom absolute, cool mint, wet ivy accord, jasmine absolute india, mimosa absolute, sunflower accord, cedarwood, incense and ambrox. 

Illuminating the power of music as well as the effect of scent on our subconscious, El Masri highlights how these mediums can evoke synaesthesia – where two or more sensory pathways are experienced together and influenced by one another in emotive ways. As explored in Elevating Beauty and Selling Sensorial Beauty, experiencing products in more evocative ways is a growing trend and will be a key driver for developers and fragrance houses in the coming year.

For more inspiration, see Lickable Perfume and Somerset House’s Sensory Exhibit

For more on the niche fragrance category and olfactory experiences, see Rewriting the Rules of Luxury Fragrance, Esxence 2017, AIX Scent Fair, 2016 and Selling Scent.  

Published: 12 Dec 2017

Plant Life Balance: AR Gardening App

Plant Life Balance

Australian non-profit Horticulture Innovation Australia has created an app called Plant Life Balance to encourage more people to surround themselves with plants and improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

Released in October 2017, the app lets users check their home's current "plant life balance" rating based on the number and size of their plants, and helps them find out how healthy their space makes them. It then suggests different plants that would suit the space and, using augmented reality (AR), lets people see what they would look like in their home.

The app also offers seven professionally styled "living looks" that fit different tastes and needs. For example, Sharehouse Heroes is designed for those who live with housemates and need low-maintenance plants. Users can virtually try the different plants in their homes, receive analysis on their benefits and add the ones they like to a shopping list to take to their local nursery.

The company worked with scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne and found that a single plant can improve indoor air quality by 25%, as it removes airborne toxins. They also found that plants increase mental wellbeing by improving mood and concentration.

In the past decade, internet searches for "best air purifier" and "air-quality index" rose by more than 750% (Nissan, 2016). People are increasingly surrounding themselves with plants to relax and escape tech overwhelm. For more on urban gardeners and the brands that respond to their needs, see Nature Embracers.

Published: 11 Dec 2017

Extra Butter: Sneakerhead Store for Movie Fans

Extra Butter

A remodelling of one of New York’s best-known sneakerhead stores creates an immersive experience for shoppers based on a cinema theme.

Extra Butter’s Lower East Side boutique has brought the owners’ obsession with the movies to life – complete with popcorn concession stand, drop-down screens and classic theatre seating for trying on shoes.

The retailer, which also has a Long Island store, has always explored cinema themes in its brand collaborations and its own collection. This redesign allows it to more fully realise these concepts. “It’s this completely holistic screening, product, collab, in-store activation,” says Jeff Staple, creative director of Extra Butter’s parent company TGS.

The redesign is the first US project for Japanese architect Nobuo Araki, whose credits include Tokyo streetwear stores The Park.Ing Ginza and Supreme Tokyo. Within his minimalist aesthetic, the theatrical theme extends from the outside in, around the clock. The exterior is adorned with a theatre marquee and ticket window. Inside, a concession stand sells vintage candies and cola, coffee and popcorn (it’s not the only local streetwear store to branch into snacks – Kith houses a ‘Treats’ café).

Overnight, when the store is closed, the space appears to passers-by like a stylised empty theatre. This is thanks to the centrally located theatre seats, red curtains that cover product displays, and a drop-down, two-way screen (facing the two entrances) showing movies or brand partner videos.

For a cross-industry perspective on the complex world of sneaker culture, see our Sneakerheads Unboxed series of reports.

Published: 11 Dec 2017

FIT Explores Fashion and Physique

The Body: Fashion and Physique

As designers start thinking more inclusively about bodies, a timely show at New York’s Museum at FIT spotlights the relationship between fashion and cultural ideals of shape and size. The Body: Fashion and Physique explores how foundation garments from corsets to the Wonderbra have distorted natural shapes, how fashion responded to less-constricted bodies from the 1960s onwards, and how designers have influenced body ideals.

The show – which echoes elements of current NYC exhibit Items: Is Fashion Modern? at MoMa – considers how the fashion industry has promoted slender physiques, from the Twiggy era to the toned aerobics-influenced body of the 80s and the ‘heroin chic’ look of the 90s. The exhibition also touches on the rise of plus-size fashion, as well as designing for the differently abled and the ways in which technology can change fashion’s relationship to the body. For instance, a jacket by Grace Jun, head of NYC non-profit Open Style Lab, is designed for women who have had a mastectomy, incorporating a chip that can share data on range of motion with a physical therapist. Meanwhile, a shirt for people in wheelchairs by US designer Lucy Jones has a cropped silhouette to prevent bunching, as well as easy-to-use magnetic fasteners.

The exhibition runs until May 5. On February 23, the museum will host a symposium examining the marginalisation of certain body types in fashion. Speakers include those working to challenge traditional ideals, including fashion designers Prabal Gurung and Christian Siriano.

For more on evolving attitudes toward the body in fashion, see our New Fashion Landscape reports State of Size and Diversity Rules.

Published: 11 Dec 2017

Chinese Consumers in Flux

One-fifth of Chinese consumers are trading up to a more expensive brand

Chinese consumers' values and behaviours are changing due to greater disposable income. One-size-fits-all strategies no longer apply to this huge, diverse market, according to a November 2017 report from global management consultancy McKinsey.

  • High Consumer Confidence Levels: Because Chinese consumers are earning more, they're investing in more expensive, higher-quality items: one-fifth of respondents reported trading up to a more expensive brand. However, it's unclear whether consumer confidence levels will remain high as income growth has slowed, dropping from 10.1% in 2012 to 6.3% in 2016.
  • Rising Interest in Health and Fitness: With more money to spend, Chinese consumers are increasingly investing in health and fitness. Sixty-five per cent describe themselves as 'health-conscious', with this figure rising among city dwellers (see also Luxury in a Turbulent World).
  • The Post-90s Generation Are Not Millennials: Aged 17-27, this post-90s group differs from other generations – including post-80s millennials. They experienced more wealth and grew up at a time when China was more exposed to Western culture, and therefore cannot be grouped under the broader term "millennials". The post-90s generation will account for 20% of consumption growth in China between now and 2030, so brands should treat them as a completely different segment.
  • Brands' Origins Matter Less: Today's Chinese consumers are more interested in value for money than origins when it comes to the brands they choose. In 2017, Chinese brands accounted for 63% of the market in the personal digital devices category, while in other categories such as cosmetics and wine, foreign brands are preferred.

For more on the changing values of China's younger generations, see China's Youth: Challenger Consumers.