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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more on the changing values of China's younger generations, see China's Youth: Challenger Consumers.
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.
On December 4 2017, California-based outdoor apparel brand Patagonia strongly opposed President Trump's executive order to drastically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah. "The president stole your land," read a blackout message on Patagonia's website and social media accounts. "This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history." Patagonia's billionaire founder and chief executive Yvon Chouinard amplified the message by saying he plans to sue the Trump administration over the decision.
Earlier this year, British fashion retailer Jigsaw met rising anti-immigration sentiments in the UK head-on with its 'Heart Immigration' manifesto (see Tackling Taboos), which reads: "None of us are the product of staying put." Jigsaw's head of marketing Alex Kelly said: "As a brand, we couldn't do what we do without the immigration of people, ideas and culture." To further challenge the notion of '100% British', the company let its employees analyse the ancestry of their genes, laying open their diverse origins.
Jigsaw took an unflinching position in a very heated political environment, and the staff gene analysis was a great way of making the political personal. Patagonia's promise of direct action, however, is a new watermark for brands standing up not only for themselves, but also for their customers, making the outdoor brand the champion of this battle.
For more on drawing a line in the sand and putting your brand on it, see Brands Take a Stand from our Macro Trend The Currency of Dissent and Creating Shared Value: Sustainability Marketing.
It was Snow White and wicked witches all the way at Stuart Vevers’ Pre-Fall show for Coach, tapping into cool Downtown chic, a touch of Stevie Nicks boho and Western influences along the way.
It’s Vevers’ signature amalgamation of inspirations that has pushed Coach to become one of fashion’s hottest brands, with collections that work hard to meet the needs of today’s cool influencer generation. For Pre-Fall, that layered mix-and-match look means cute satin collegiate jackets, washed patchwork denim and 70s-inspired handkerchief-hemmed crepe de chine dresses.
This latest Coach x Disney hook-up yielded some fun Snow White imagery on cosy intarsia knits, coupled with co-ordinated all-over prints and sweet appliques along with handbag gizmos spelling out words like ‘happy’ in reference to the Snow White dwarves.
There may have been nothing new in Vevers’ silhouettes – think cropped waist-grazing shearling jackets, mid-calf skirts or dresses, and high-rise boot-cut pants – but the playful print mixes and vivid orange, emerald and purple colour blocking looked fresh and of the moment.
Stand-out influencer pieces included Lurex intarsia knits, patchwork jeans and the signature lace-trimmed floral dresses, while pinstripe tailoring and immaculate tux pants upped the glam quota, happily contrasting with the collection’s casual Western-style studding and sporty striped, ribbed trims.
And as ever, accessories completed the look. Chain-handled leather bucket bags featuring handcrafted whip-stitch edging and authentic Western detailing hit the sweet spot, while covetable material-blocked laced cowboy boots looked best in shimmery pink metallic.
Over 45% of millennials are more likely to do repeat business with an LGBTQ-friendly company (Google, 2015). As gender fluidity continues to shape the beauty industry’s output in product and marketing messages, we spotlight two emerging brands catering to this group.
For more on the beauty industry’s changing attitudes, see Gender-Fluid Generation and Next-Gen Beauty Marketing. For more on LGBTQ developments in other categories, see Packaging Futures: Diversity and The New Fashion Landscape: Diversity Rules.
China’s largest search engine Baidu has released its own voice-activated smart speaker – the first in an upcoming range of artificially intelligent (AI) home tech – called the Raven H. The device is better able to decipher and communicate in the region’s languages than its competitors.
A bright, multicoloured stack of square segments, the Raven H looks quite unlike other connected home products on offer, which are decidedly minimal in design.
The speaker will be welcomed by the Chinese market, which has not yet been firmly claimed by Western leaders in smart home tech such as Amazon and Google – partly due to Google services being restricted in the country. It also has access to Baidu’s extensive data bank of online resources to play music, report on the news and weather, and connect to local services – such as Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing.
The Raven H marks Baidu’s entrance into AI home technology following its acquisition of Chinese appliance company Raven earlier this year. The device will be followed by the Raven R – a smart robot with six moveable joints to better express human-like emotion; and the Raven Q (still in development) – expected to be a home assistant robot with security-monitoring capabilities that responds to visuals and audio.
Read Internet of Home Comforts for more on tech integrating home environments to offer consumers unprecedented security and control. For more on emerging visual trends and digital enhancements in home entertainment technology, see CES 2017: Colour, Material & Finish.
With consumers turning to their phones for information (83% believe this makes them more knowledgeable than store associates – Tulip Retail, 2017), shrewd brands are making mobile the default in-store interface. We highlight 2017’s best innovations for product detection and route navigation.
New hotel brand Eaton Hotels is opening its first 'hotel for activists' in Washington DC in 2018, aimed at politically minded, progressive travellers.
Inspired by the surge in activism across the globe, including the 2017 Women's March, the hotel will host workshops and talks on topics ranging from climate change to race relations. It will also house several activist-artists in residence who work in the non-profit and creative fields and tackle timely, political issues in their work (see also Tomorrow's Wandering Workers).
The establishment will boast visual art studios and a 50-seater cinema, which will screen films centred on social issues and human rights. All four of the new hotels (Hong Kong, Seattle and San Francisco will follow the Washington opening) will also run their own radio stations to broadcast similarly themed shows and podcasts.
The hotel is designed to facilitate social interactions, with public spaces inspired by town halls (free to the public), and co-working space reserved for guests.
The Washington hotel will also have a floor dedicated to new-age health, including a yoga studio, meditation and alternative treatment rooms to tackle the burnout often faced by hardworking professionals, according to founder Ka Shui Lo. See Wandering Wellness for more on-the-go wellbeing initiatives.
Global colour system manufacturer Pantone has announced its forecast Colour of the Year 2018 as Ultra Violet (TCX 18-3838). The saturated, blue-toned purple is cited as a complex colour that communicates “originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking”.
Last year the company selected Greenery, a vivid yellow-green shade that represented new beginnings (read more in our blog post). This nature-inspired hue is now replaced by Ultra Violet. Described by Pantone as an optimistic colour that looks towards the future amid uncertain social, economic and political times, it’s intended to convey an uplifting message of hope.
“From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “This is the kind of colour attached historically to originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking. These are the elements we need to create a meaningful future.”
We also explore the uplifting effects of bold and heightened colour in our latest Colour Spectrum theme Playful Optimism: Colour – which includes the shade Electric Violet. Read more about the purple hue group in our Evolution A/W 19/20 colour analysis.
Ahead of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend, publishing in January 2018, Stylus visited the olfactory archive museum of California-based all-natural perfumer, archivist and author Mandy Aftel.
Located at the rear of Aftel’s Berkeley home and blending studio, the one-room museum offers a voyage through the natural origins of aromatics, bringing them to life via a vast collection of cultural and historical artefacts.
Some 300 botanical essences and raw ingredients are available to experience first-hand. These are derived from flowers, barks, grasses, resins, fruits and other natural sources – some very rare. Central to the experience is Aftel’s ‘Scent Organ’ – a vast wooden testing bench of aromatics, where visitors are encouraged to select and sample various base, middle and top notes.
Further highlights include a display on the now-often-synthetic scent musk, and its origin as the glandular secretion of the musk deer. It also explores how ambergris, which is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, is still highly prized – although largely replaced by the synthetic alternative Ambroxan.
Aftel’s latest book is The Art of Flavor, which she co-authored with San Francisco-based two-Michelin-starred chef Daniel Patterson. The book dives into how food gets its flavour and how natural alchemy can help to enhance it – more of which will be explored in our New Fragrance Worlds report, part of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend.
Converse has become the latest brand to create a collection of climate-proof apparel and footwear.
Emphasising the importance of functionality as well as design aesthetics, the Urban Utility line was created in collaboration with American company Gore (known for its waterproof and windproof breathable fabric innovations and products), Italian streetwear retailer Slam Jam and LA-based artist/designer Cali Thornhil DeWitt.
The 17-piece collection consists of thermal technology-enhanced layering basics such as long-sleeved tees and hoodies, outerwear made from breathable Gore-Tex fabrics, and water-resistant footwear with Gore technology infused into the seams.
Silhouettes and colours are neutral, utilitarian and practical in feel, while print and pattern is punk-inspired – in keeping with DeWitt’s signature graphics.
Other brands – especially in the footwear market – would do well to follow Converse’s lead. Sales for waterproof footwear outside of the rain-boot category have seen double-digit growth over the last two fall retail seasons (NPD Group, 2017), and our increasingly uncertain climate means that brands must work harder to future-proof their products.
For further reading on brands attempting to combat unpredictable seasonality, see Fashion’s Workplace Challenge – part of our Work/Life Revolution Macro Trend. For more on pragmatic design, see Instagangs: Design for Purpose, The New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update and Design for Disability: Transformative Tech.
London-based start-up Whisky Me has launched a new subscription service that offers whisky fans 'rare and exclusive' single malts, delivered in letterbox-friendly 5cl pouches.
For £7 ($9) per month, subscribers receive a new dram in the post every 30 days, including whiskies such as The Macallan, Royal Lochnagar and Aberfeldy. They also receive easy-to-follow tasting notes, background information about the whisky, and drone footage (accessible via social media) of the specific distillery where it was produced. As part of the subscription, members will also have access to one-off whiskies and rare malt varieties.
British founders Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson – owners of London's Black Rock whisky bar – said they were inspired to create the brand as a way to "reinvent the serious image of Scotch whisky with a fun and fuss-free approach".
Hot on the heels of Garcon Wines' letterbox wine packaging, Whisky Me plays into the trend for innovative alcohol packaging aimed at busy millennial consumers looking for high-quality products with a convenient edge to suit their time-poor lifestyles. See Alcohol Packaging Trends 2016 for more on how the alcohol industry is providing clever solutions to this emerging need.
For a deep dive into the latest in innovative packaging design, see Packaging Futures 2017/18.