The social stigma surrounding female menstruation is evolving as progressive start-ups, brands and designers dare to confront social taboos. We examine the brands stepping in with body-positive marketing campaigns and sustainable solutions to capitalise on an enthusiastic market of women seeking new alternatives.
UK start-up Dame has created a reusable applicator tampon made from a self-cleaning antimicrobial material. Combining medical-grade materials that naturally sterilise the device, the applicator remains safe and hygienic after multiple uses. Featuring a smooth semi-gloss finish and shaped to suit the contours of the body, Dame is designed to be comfortable and easy to control.
Similarly, new UK femcare brand Callaly has created the Tampliner. Offering the functions of both a tampon and a panty liner, the Tampliner promises greater absorbency to give users better peace of mind. Co-founded by gynaecologist Dr Alex Hooi, Callaly is the culmination of years of working with, and listening to, the frustration of women who don’t feel adequately protected with existing product.
Also from the UK, graduate Kaye Toland developed Mcycle, a tampon delivery service concept that transforms tampons into compost. Mcycle proposes a system where organic tampons are delivered to subscribers by bicycle. After use, the tampon’s packaging can be used as a bin that is later collected and composted in non-food soil.
Read Breaking Taboos in Packaging Futures: Diversity and Beauty Inspired by Menstrual Cycles for examples of body-positive brands tackling the topic of female menstruation. Also see Tackling Taboos for more on the brave marketing campaigns winning over consumers.
From autumn 2018, Copenhagen's waste-to-energy plant Amager Resource Center (ARC) will include a year-round artificial rooftop ski slope, a hiking hill and a climbing wall for local residents.
Originally opened in March 2017, the waste facility is considered the cleanest and most efficient incineration plant in the world. Usually, such waste-management plants are kept outside cities or well hidden. ARC, however, will become a destination in its own right. Designed by Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, the building's new features will include a grove of 30 trees, the world's tallest climbing wall and a 600-metre ski slope on top of its slanted roof. The surrounding area will provide further recreational facilities, such as soccer fields, a go-kart track and water sports.
ARC brings Copenhagen one step closer to becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2025. It powers 62,500 homes and provides 160,000 households with hot water, while emitting 100,000 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide than the city's previous plant.
As part of the new design additions, the plant will emit carbon dioxide smoke in the form of giant rings for each 250kg of the gas produced. The smoke rings will be visible from most of Copenhagen and are expected to raise awareness about the scale of air pollution that's produced, even in a plant with huge efficiency measures. It's an attempt to help people become more aware of the waste they produce in their daily lives.
For more on the innovative solutions for environmentally friendly city living, see Smart Cities: High-Octane Hubs.
Sustainability was top of the agenda at Birmingham’s Packaging Innovations trade show (February 28 to March 1), with some of the UK’s leading retailers making emphatic pledges to become plastic-free and eliminate waste in as little as five years. Impressive start-ups showcased the latest in sustainable packaging solutions, while designers gave a lesson on tactility through e-commerce packaging.
One Shared House 2030 supposes a future of augmented urban developments and housing shortages in 2030, to which co-living arrangements could be an effective response. The survey asks participants what type of people they would like to live with, what spaces and amenities they would be willing to share, and what they believe would be the positives of living in a communal settlement.
The findings show that overall, people would prefer to live in the city with individuals from all walks of life. Four to 10 is the ideal number of people in the community and ideally, all members would enjoy equal ownership of the house.
Participants are open to sharing, particularly regarding use of the internet, garden and workspaces. However, the boundaries between public and private spaces are important, with the majority wanting their private space to be unfurnished and off limits when they are not present.
Despite a common concern about the potential lack of privacy, interviewees acknowledged the benefits of co-living environments, citing socialising and reduced living costs as the two greatest benefits.
From adopting a more charitable outlook to promoting the beauty of body ‘imperfections’, the fashion industry has finally started to wake up to informed consumers’ expectations.
Here’s a round-up of our favourite progressive initiatives from the past month, which other brands would do well to learn from.
For more on the lucrative opportunities inclusivity presents to brands, read our report A Fashion A’Woke’ning. For more on diversity, sustainability and the challenging fashion environment, see our Industry Trend The New Fashion Landscape 2017.
Californian start-up Livin has created an innovative product that aims to personalise the shower experience.
By using machine learning, cloud computing and sensor technology, the Livin Shower fixture can bring the water up to the user's preferred temperature, play their favourite music, and save these personal preferences for up to 10 members of the household.
The smart shower fixture is compatible with Amazon Echo, Google Home and Nest, which means users can just say "prepare my morning shower" and be notified when it's ready through the accompanying app. They can even have their room warmed up to prevent the after-shower chill.
Using a proprietary temperature-control algorithm, Livin reaches the specified temperature in the shortest amount of time and auto-pauses the water stream, helping to save water by reducing unnecessary flow. It also monitors water usage and displays results in the app, which could motivate people to reduce wastage.
Livin Shower's early-bird price on Kickstarter is $299 and it can be pre-ordered for $599. It is expected to start shipping in autumn 2018.
With smart home devices becoming more accessible than ever and the smart home market expected to reach $53.45bn by 2022 (Zion Market Research, 2017), we expect to see similar technology addressing more of our everyday needs.
American celebrity make-up artist Gucci Westman and US-based designer David Neville are launching a new colour cosmetics line that touts natural beauty values and targets a demographic aged 30 and above.
Westman Atelier will launch in April 2018 with six products, including a highlighter, blush and foundation – the essentials for creating a ‘no make-up’ look, which Westman is most known for.
Westman’s balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle has driven the brand’s ethos of “consciously crafted beauty”, whereby natural ingredients work in tandem with innovative synthetics in its formulas. As an example, the Baby Cheeks Blush Stick contains organic jojoba oil and raspberry stems that tone the skin and prevent inflammation, while the colour payoff and deluxe feel of the blush is made possible with the use of non-toxic synthetics.
The whole range harnesses an innovative sustainable pigment technology that blocks fragments of synthetic colour pigment from touching the wearer’s skin by encapsulating the molecules in clean ingredients. The brand’s launch taps into the growing trend for eco-friendly beauty labels that combine traditional raw elements with synthesised naturals to provide effective, science-backed products sustainably. For more on this, see Future Beauty: New Era Naturals.
Another distinctive selling point for the brand is its target market, which is older millennials and above. The formulas are designed to sit well on older skin, which appeals to this group’s desire to have a flawless complexion without looking overly made up. For more on mature consumers in the beauty category, see Boomer Beauty: Securing the Silver Spend and Mature Beauty: Entering a New Age.
Reinforcing its reputation as a bold activist brand, California-based outdoor apparel label Patagonia has launched Patagonia Action Works, a micro-site that connects consumers with grassroots environmental organisations and helps them donate, volunteer or otherwise get involved.
Over the past 35 years, Patagonia has donated nearly $90m to activist groups and trained many young activists, says founder Yvon Chouinard in a video describing the new tool. Now the company is enlisting consumers as collaborators, urging them to “Sign up. Show up. Take action”.
As detailed in Retail’s Activist Brands, an activist stance is becoming an attractive brand attribute. According to a new US and UK study by global PR group Weber Shandwick, consumers have embraced ‘buycotting’ – supporting a brand by intentionally buying from it. Eighty-three per cent of respondents (all of whom were selected for being ‘consumer activists’) agreed that “it’s more important than ever to support companies that do the right thing by buycotting”, while 59% said the same about boycotting brands. The ‘buycotters’ polled had made on average 5.7 supportive purchases over the past two years.
In recent years, Patagonia has published a book called Tools for Grassroots Activists and backed activist documentaries such as 2016’s Unbroken Ground. Last year, to protest US president Trump’s scaling back of public lands in Utah, Patagonia led a successful campaign to move the Outdoor Retailer trade show away from the state (see Stylus’ event coverage). The company declared “The president stole your land" on Instagram and its website, stating it would sue Trump’s administration (see blog).
For more on why consumers are demanding corporate activism, see Brands Take a Stand.
US start-up Uplift has launched an app that helps travellers alleviate jet lag naturally, according to the scientists behind the system.
Based on acupressure and neuroscience research, the app offers video tutorials showing users how to activate key points involved in setting the body's circadian rhythms. By performing a 10-minute series of exercises upon arrival, frequent travellers can hack their internal clock to remedy jet lag's draining effects.
An algorithm provides a customised wellness itinerary based on the user's points of origin and arrival, as well as their departure and arrival times. The app identifies two pressure points to press on either side of the body, with most spots located between the elbow and wrist or the knee and ankle. A timer ensures individuals perform the exercises for the correct duration.
Uplift's team of scientists and engineers trialled the service with over 600 frequent travellers, with 92% reporting that engaging acupressure points reduced or alleviated jet lag. An introductory video supplies a crash course on how to harness these pressure points, reducing human error.
The app requires an annual subscription of $9.99 to unlock unlimited access to personalised acupressure itineraries.
International scientists and researchers are exploiting the capabilities of nanofibres and nanotechnology to produce a new generation of high-performance yarns for clothing and protective armour.
For more materials addressing the need for strength, durability and high performance, see Super Materials: New Innovations. For technical developments within sports apparel and equipment, see ISPO Munich 2018.
Researchers at the University of Singapore have developed the world's first alcoholic beverage made from tofu whey, a commonly wasted by-product from the tofu production process.
The drink, called sachi, is made by pasteurising whey liquid and adding sugar, acid and yeast before fermenting it for two weeks. The resulting alcoholic beverage contains an abundance of antioxidants called isoflavones and high levels of calcium, and claims to provide health benefits such as boosting bone and heart health.
Said to have a slightly sweet, floral flavour, sachi has an ABV of 8% and a shelf life of four months.
Professor Liu Shao-Quan and student Chua Jian-Yong were inspired to create the drink following a boom in tofu production in Asia as the vegetarian population on the continent grows. Liu said: "Alcoholic fermentation can serve as an alternative method to convert tofu whey into food products that can be consumed directly. Our unique fermentation technique also serves as a zero-waste solution to the serious issue of tofu whey disposal."
This is the latest example of how the food and beverage industry is tackling food waste in increasingly inventive ways. See New Food Covetables, Feeding Tomorrow's Consumers and Fluid Flavours, part of our latest Industry Trend The Future Of Flavour for more on this.
See also Alcohol's Healthy Future for how alcohol brands are reaching out to a growing breed of health-conscious consumers.
Global children's aid organisation Unicef has launched an online tool that asks PC gamers to mine cryptocurrency to help children in war-torn Syria.
To participate, players can head to the Game Chaingers site to install software that will start generating Ethereum coins (the second highest valued cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin) and automatically send them to Unicef's electronic wallet.
The campaign specifically targets gamers because gaming PCs have the high hardware capabilities (specifically their powerful graphics cards) that make mining possible. Between gaming sessions, a high-end machine could generate the equivalent of $2-3 per day for Unicef's efforts.
Tools like Game Chaingers let consumers redirect their existing resources into positive action. These habit changes in turn create lasting awareness of the brands that enabled them to take such steps.
"What interests us is to use this cryptocurrency as a painless way to contribute," said Unicef on its website. "Through the use of mining, we create an opportunity for those who cannot give, or have never had the opportunity to do so."
For more on how brands can make consumers an active and integral part of initiatives to create a better world, see Creating Shared Value: Sustainability Marketing. To read about prominent digital channels of the moment, check out 7 Platforms to Watch in 2018.
Held in London (February 6-8), the Surface Design Show spotlights the latest developments in laminates, conglomerates, textures and finishes across a vast array of materials from Europe’s most innovative manufacturers.
Among international heavyweights such as Finsa were many smaller brands, including start-ups, offering more experimental decorative surfaces with less-defined applications.
Here, we highlight some of the most interesting developments to emerge at the 2018 edition.
Swedish childrenswear brand Mini Rodini is upping its eco credentials for Spring/Summer 2018 by launching a collection made entirely from sustainable materials such as organic cotton and recycled polyester.
The collection, named ‘The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of her’, puts the company’s eco achievements front and centre – boasting swimwear made from ocean waste and jackets made from recycled plastic bottles. The designs are similarly sustainably minded, featuring playful animal graphics on organic cotton basics and slogan terry sweatshirts splashed with the collection’s imperative name.
Mini Rodini is known for its commitment to sustainable practices. Each year, it releases a transparent sustainability report of targets and achievements. In 2014, it began a Living Wage programme which aims to replace the minimum wage of its factory workers with an hourly rate that covers basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, education and healthcare.
For more on the changing face of kidswear, look out for our upcoming industry report Luxury Kidswear: Boom! It will be published on February 12.
Following devastating earthquakes in Japan over recent years, Japanese studio Nendo has designed a toilet that can be built and used by people living in disaster zones. The kit – called minimLET – consists of seven items: a carrying bag, aluminium pipes, a toilet seat, tissues, a nylon cloth tent, garbage bags and a coagulant to neutralise waste.
Each component is multipurpose. The aluminium pipes can be used as supporting poles for the tent and as legs for the toilet seat, the nylon cloth tent doubles up as a poncho, and the kit’s bag can carry up to 16 litres of water.
MinimLET’s design even appropriates commonly found items. For example, an umbrella can be transformed into structural support for the tent, while full cans and bottles can be used as legs to raise the toilet seat.
Dutch designer Leo Schlumberger also explored the design and use of toilets for his graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven, exhibited as part of Dutch Design Week 2017. He created a dry toilet for indoor use that kept European expectations of comfort in mind.
The toilet vessel is made from polyester, brass and steel, and it boasts a welcoming, tactile touch that reframes the household utility as a design feature. Being a dry toilet, Schlumberger’s design encourages users to be more mindful of their water usage and offers an alternative for off-grid living.
For more on how design is being used to address social and environmental conflict, read Creativity for Crisis: Humanitarian Innovation.