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Published: 13 Oct 2017

Contextual Immersion: John Lewis’ Live-In Retail Experience

With consumers increasingly responsive to the reassurance of trying products pre-purchase (see Contextual Commerce), the ongoing trend for selling within domestic settings continues apace. The latest and most extravagant example comes from British department store John Lewis, which has established a pop-up apartment in its London Oxford Street flagship, inviting visitors to sleep over or host 10-person dinner parties, free of charge.

Called The Residence, the open-plan apartment features a fully stocked kitchen, living and dining area, bedroom, indoor terrace and office equipped with relevant products. All are available to buy on the day (or night). To purchase, concierges help to locate products in store or guests complete the process themselves using iPads.

Participants are chosen at random after applying via in-store concierge teams.

Overnight guests choose not only the bedding, bedside table and robes they want for the space but also the books, newspapers, beauty products and even the items in their breakfast hamper the next morning. Similarly, dinner party hosts select the tableware and dishes, with food and cocktails then prepared on site by a private chef and mixologist. Five groups will test each concept.

Participants receive an additional hour-long after-hours shopping experience with a personal shopper.

While the flagship concept gives a full-spectrum taste of the brand’s entire proposition (food, fashion, beauty, homeware, technology etc.), truncated versions have also popped up in its Cambridge and Liverpool locations (UK), hosting a two-hour brunch for six people.

The concept, which echoes that of Ikea’s Warsaw apartment (see our blog), runs until October 18.

See also The Rise of the Shoppable Apartment.

Published: 13 Oct 2017

Nissan Creates Sweat-Sensitive Car

In a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while dehydrated, Nissan has collaborated with Dutch studio Droog Design on a concept car that responds to perspiration.

The one-off Juke features a sweat-sensitive textile coating called Soak, created by design researcher Paulien Routs. This has been used on the upholstery of the steering wheel and driver’s seat (fitted beneath a protective layer of perforated leather), allowing contact with the driver’s skin and clothing.

The spray-on coating – which was initially intended for use in sportswear – responds to the composition of micro-fluids in a person’s sweat, changing the material’s colour on a spectrum ranging from blue to yellow. Blue indicates an adequate level of hydration, while yellow indicates dehydration.

Dehydration can cause dizziness, tiredness, headaches and slower reaction times in drivers – but two-thirds are unable to recognise the symptoms, according to a 2015 study by the European Hydration Institute and Loughborough University in the UK.

The study revealed that drivers who only consumed a sip (25ml) of water per hour made more than twice as many mistakes (such as braking late and drifting across lanes) as those who were properly hydrated. This is the same level of error as someone with a blood alcohol reading of 0.08% – the current UK drink-drive limit.

For more on hyper-integrated health-monitoring tools and designing for self-optimisation, see The Supportive Sell, part of our Business of Wellbeing Macro Trend, as well as our A/W 18/19 Design Direction AmplifyWe first reported on Soak in 2015, read Hydration-Monitoring Spray for more information.

Published: 11 Oct 2017

Beyond-Product Pop-Up Stores

Selfridges X Miranda July

Two UK department stores have recently launched pop-ups that seek to push beyond promoting products or even the brands behind the spaces. Instead, they’re making grander social statements – reframing the purpose of transient brand spaces in the process. 

  • Selfridges Rallies Around Religious Inclusivity: Selfridges has collaborated with US filmmaker and artist Miranda July and London arts organisation Artangel on an interfaith charity pop-up that comments on the need for inclusivity, integration and borderless support. It unites four faith-based London charity shops: Islamic Relief, Norwood Jewish Charity Shop, London Buddhist Centre Charity Shop, and Spitalfields Crypt Trust Charity Shop (a Christian organisation).

    The space resembles a standard charity shop, with plain white walls and jumble-sale-style merchandising. The store sells a mismatch of high street and designer clothes – all retailing at charity-shop prices. Committed to authenticity, the sales associates also come from the four original charity shops. It runs until October 22.

  • Harvey Nichols Celebrates ‘Hybrid’ Japan: Harvey Nichols has partnered with Japanese fashion brand Beams on a pop-up at its London flagship, conceived to give Londoners a flavour of Japan’s famously hybridised (ancient-meets-ultra contemporary) culture. Called Tokyojin and based on a “current and real-life perspective on Japan”, it offers a six-week series of live music events and Japanese art workshops. There’s also a Japanese-inspired café serving food and whisky cocktails, plus a handful of Beams-curated Japanese fashion labels in addition to its in-house brands. It runs until October 17.

    For more on such concepts, see Retail’s Activist Brands, Next-Level Department Store Strategies and Pop-Ups Evolve: Cultural Collisions.
Published: 10 Oct 2017

FIT Explores Fashion Inspired by Extreme Environments

The Museum at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology has launched the first ever exhibition dedicated to fashion inspired by extreme environments. From the North Pole to outer space, Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme charts how these increasingly accessible destinations have influenced modern design and fabrication.

Tapping into our A/W 18/19 fashion direction Utopia, where clothing is simultaneously combative yet cocooning, the exhibition consists of designer pieces largely from the 1960s ‘Space Age’ era onwards. The evolution of neoprene is traced from its initial use in aquanaut protective gear to a 1990s DKNY cocktail dress, while other outfits show how extreme environments have provided a wealth of print and colour inspiration.

The rise of the now ubiquitous down-filled jacket is also charted. US designer Norma Kamali’s long ‘sleeping bag’ coat from the 70s and Tommy Hilfiger’s 90s ‘puffer’ represent its mainstream iteration, while Japanese designer Junya Watanabe’s 2004 cropped version offers an avant-garde and less-than-practical twist.

As covered in our report  Sustainability 360, the exhibition also touches on the fashion industry’s role in damaging these environments – as well as the steps being taken to put this right.

Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme runs until January 6 2018. For more on catering to ‘wild wanderers’, see Travel for the Agile Elite part of our Macro Trend The New Rules of Luxury. 

Published: 10 Oct 2017

Dove Faces Backlash Over ‘Racist’ Facebook Ad


Unilever's global personal care brand Dove has experienced a strong backlash against a racially insensitive Facebook ad. The video for its body wash showed a black woman shrugging off a T-shirt that matched her skin tone – turning into a white woman in the process. The ad has since been pulled.

While the visual was intended to show that the product works for many skin types, it conveyed connotations of racism and colourism, provoking strong reaction. Despite slow and steady social change, definitions of beauty still remain centred around white features. Black bodies are still largely excluded from beauty ideals, while soap and detergent ads even have a racist legacy of depicting black people as dirty.

Dove's oversight suggests that no one along the ad's creative path saw a problem with it – or, if they did, may not have felt empowered to voice their concerns.

Marketing and advertising teams in particular need to reflect the diversity of the audiences they are hoping to connect with, as expressed at the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia on October 6. Apple's vice-president of diversity and inclusion, Denise Young Smith, stressed the importance of bringing in staff members from all backgrounds. "Representation and mix contribute to the outcome of any situation," she said.

We address the benefits of culturally inclusive teams in great detail in Diverse Talent, Superhero Staff, part of our Macro Trend The Work/Life Revolution. For more on what to do in the aftermath of such advertising missteps, see Surviving Marketing Fails.

Published: 10 Oct 2017

Freitag's Inflatable Suitcase

Zeppelin inflatable travel bag from Freitag

Swiss company Freitag has invented a clever inflatable trolley bag that can be rolled up for compact storage when not in use. 

The Zippelin is the first suitcase-style product to be added to the brand’s collection of bags and accessories made from recycled truck tarpaulins. During the prototyping stage, the designers realised that a conventional suitcase frame would make a bag made from their signature durable and waterproof material far too heavy. So instead, they developed an innovative frame based on a bicycle inner tube that, when inflated, creates a rigid, yet lightweight structure.

Before packing the bag, the user simply inflates the inner tube using a standard bicycle pump. The frame expands to create a cuboid-shaped container that, with an 85-litre capacity, is designed for long-haul travel. Made from heavyweight tarpaulin, the bag is designed for durability, featuring practical side straps and pockets and a pull-strap on top that replaces the conventional pull-up handle.

The case’s wheels can be removed and stowed in one of the pockets during flights, and can simply be reattached on landing without using additional tools. When not in use, the Zippelin can be deflated and rolled up for easy and compact storage – a significant advantage for urban consumers living in small homes.

See Products on the Move: Travel Accessory Trends for further insight into the innovative luggage and product launches that enhance on-the-go lifestyles.

Published: 10 Oct 2017

Grace: Relieving Menopausal Hot Flushes


A student from Loughborough University in the UK is developing the first wrist-worn wearable to help relieve menopausal hot flushes.

Called Grace, the device counteracts the symptoms of a hot flush, which include sweating, a rise in heart rate, shortness of breath and a reddening of the skin. It does this by tracking temperature, pre-empting when a flush is about to happen, and reducing body heat via a localised cooling mechanism at the wrist.

Thanks to three sensors in the wristband, hot flushes can be detected around one minute before the user is even aware of them. As soon as this happens, a thermoelectric chip delivers an intense cooling sensation to the wrist, sending a signal to the brain that makes the body react in the opposite way to a hot flush.

Current solutions for this issue include prescribed drugs or herbal remedies that often have unpleasant side effects, or a manually operated device that can only be used once the hot flush has started. Grace is the first to offer an automated option that predicts the incident before it occurs. The automated cooling is particularly useful for alleviating night flushes, as it allows users to sleep soundly instead of waking multiple times in the night.

Creator Peter Astbury is currently conducting market research and plans to seek funding for development soon.

For more on the devices streamlining wellbeing, see Rhythm of Life: Brands in Tempo and Wearable Technology Show 2017.

Published: 9 Oct 2017

Six-Piece Skincare: Lixir


New British skincare line Lixir’s capsule collection of universal, multitasking everyday essentials caters to rising consumer demand for simple, streamlined, effective beauty regimes. 

The six-piece offering is designed to be combined and alternated, allowing for seamless insertion into existing beauty regimes, while also providing an all-encompassing skincare regime of its own. The products fall into two focused sets: a collection of three everyday essentials for face, neck and hands; and three Night Switch products with pure active molecules to target specific skin concerns.

The essentials range encompasses the Vitamin C Paste morning cleansing mask, the Universal Emulsion to moisturise and seal the skin (both of which form a complete morning regime), and the Electrogel Cleanser which, together with the emulsion, provides a night-time cleanser and moisturiser.

The Night Switch products can be used in different combinations to tackle two main skin concerns: ageing and breakout-prone skin. The Retinol 1%, which boosts skin cell renewal, can be alternated with the exfoliating PHA/AHA 10% to combat ageing skin.

Each item takes on the role of multiple skincare products. For instance, the negatively charged Electrogel Cleanser also doubles as a detoxifying face mask that captures and eliminates positively charged toxins, such as pollution nanoparticles.

With its millennial pink packaging and a respected founder at the helm – French dermo-pharmacist Dr Colette Haydon, formulator of bestselling skincare products for brands such as Ren – Lixir appeals to both younger and older consumers, tapping a wider audience.

For more on time-saving skincare concepts, see Agile Beauty and Streamlining Product.  

Published: 9 Oct 2017

Co-Working for Creative Bartenders


A new 'alcohol ideation' space has opened in East London this month that's aimed at the bartending and drinks development community.

Crucible, the brainchild of Stuart Bale – former head bartender at award-winning London cocktail bar 69 Colebrook Row – acts as an alcohol laboratory, with equipment including a centrifuge, vacuum packing machines, a rotary evaporator, a water bath and a dehydrator.

The space also includes a co-working area with hot desks, a stocked bar (supplied free of charge by beverage brands keen to tap into influencer consumer groups) and a photo booth for users to showcase their creations.

Membership costs between £69-£135 ($92-$181) per month and is not exclusive to those working solely with alcohol. Current members include a hand soap brand and an executive development chef from high-end UK restaurant chain the Gordon Ramsay Group.

Bale hopes that the co-working concept will encourage individuals to share ideas, bringing collaboration to an industry that often keeps recipes a close-guarded secret.

For more on how the food and beverage industry is embracing the co-working revolution, see Tomorrow's Wandering Workers, part of our latest Industry Trend The Work/Life Revolution.

See also Alcohol's Healthy Future and Alcohol Trends 2017: Imbibe Live for the latest creative alcohol innovations.

Published: 9 Oct 2017

Shoesie Updates E-Customisation


Brand new British software platform Shoesie is aiming to make footwear customisation such as that seen at NikeID or Australian label Shoes of Prey a realistic proposition for brands unable to invest in expensive proprietary tech or internal resources.  

The software, which launches today in tandem with Japanese sustainable footwear brand Po-Zu, is designed to deliver an easy-to-integrate solution for any e-tailer. It allows consumers to change the colour or material of component parts of the shoe (ie. the sole or the tongue) depending on the options the brand has enabled.

Giving brands entry-level access to the customisation phenomenon, there’s also an opportunity to add embroidered initials or letters to some parts of the shoe – with fulfilment in that instance only requiring a minimal change to stock products, not the overhaul of entire designs.

The accompanying digital dashboard supplied to brands also offers significant rewards by shining a starker spotlight on consumer behaviours. Every single interaction is logged.

“This is likely to create enhanced design decisions, better stock allocation and the data we’ll be getting from multiple brands will give insight on consumer demand and trends across a broad range of footwear,” says Shoesie co-founder Simeon Bird. 

With the global footwear market set to grow at a rate of almost 2% between 2017-2021 (Research & Markets, 2017), such concepts provide a major opportunity to make headway in the sector.

See also Customisation-Courting Flagships and Luxury Product Customisation Boom.

For more on the overarching need to liaise with consumers on a more flexible basis, see Reflexive Retail: Live, Emotional & On-Demand – part of our Liquid Retail Industry Trend.

Published: 9 Oct 2017

United Income: Financial Empowerment for Seniors

United Income’s digital financial advice platform for seniors has attracted $200m during its beta stage

US fintech start-up United Income has created a digital financial advice platform to help retirees or people approaching retirement spend their money more effectively. The platform offers holistic financial planning and investment management, and is able to create personalised spending projections in order to offer recommendations accordingly.

"Thanks to advancements in healthcare, people are living longer and are retired longer – but the market has struggled to find a way to extend the life of money as effectively," said Matt Fellowes, founder and CEO of United Income. "By harnessing powerful new technology and a growing body of data and academic work, we have been able to invent a new approach to money management that aims to extend the life of money."

Already attracting $200m during its beta stage, the service has a 0.5% annual fee for self-service financial planning, which includes investment advice, budgeting and spending features, and guidance on when to retire and claim Social Security. Another standout feature determines which account to withdraw money from for tax efficiency.

A concierge service curates opportunities for users to pursue their hobbies, passions and dreams, such as voluntary work or adventure trips. This function in particular will appeal to seniors' more active approach to ageing – see Senior Fitness: Channelling Wellness for more.

For further information on the products and services disrupting the financial landscape and empowering consumers to manage their money better, see Flash Finance.

Published: 6 Oct 2017

MoMA Exhibits Items: Is Fashion Modern?

MoMA Items: Is Fashion Modern?

In its first fashion exhibition for more than 70 years, New York’s Museum of Modern Art presents Items: Is Fashion Modern?

Echoing the question posed in its 1944 exhibition Are Clothes Modern?, the thematic show explores the past, present and future of 111 garments and accessories – from the bandana to the backpack and the burkini – that have had a profound cultural impact over the past century.

Taking over the entire sixth floor, the pieces are contextualised with images and videos, with items often presented as their prototype, archetype and stereotype.

In an area devoted to changing ideals of body and silhouette, the exhibit explores the ‘little black dress’. Pieces include a 1920s silk-crepe evening gown by Chanel; a 1968 knee-length, silk-satin number by Givenchy; and Little Death – a cape-like dress created for the exhibition by Australian designer Pia Interlandi, crafted from wool crepe, silk-hemp satin and thermochromic ink.

Material technologies take centre stage in another section, where environmental concerns are expressed via items from US brands Patagonia and Gore-Tex, which promote repair and long wear. Meanwhile, American designer Liz Ciokajlo’s specially commissioned ‘grown’ MarsBoot, made from mushroom spores and mixed materials, looks to sustainable futures.

The exhibition runs until January 28, 2018.

For more on environmentally friendly innovations, see Sustainable 360, part of our New Fashion Landscape Industry Trend, as well as Nike’s New Super Material and Stepping Up Sustainability. For more on changing perceptions of body shapes, see State of Size, Progressive Fashion and Underwear – part of our Fashion Lifestyle Lift Industry Trend.

Published: 6 Oct 2017

Vogue Italia Champions Women Over 60

Vogue Italia October 2017

For the first time in the magazine’s history, Vogue Italia has dedicated an entire issue to women over the age of 60.

The issue published on October 5 with three cover options fronted by 73-year-old model/actress Lauren Hutton – the oldest woman to ever appear on any cover of Vogue worldwide.

Appropriately named ‘The Timeless Issue’, the magazine solely consists of interviews and editorials featuring older influencers. These include 62-year-old supermodel Iman; 70-year-old performance artist Marina Abramovic; 66-year-old Tracey Norman, the first transgender model in history; and 89-year-old Instagram star/model Baddie Winkle.

With the 50-plus age group generating $7.6tn a year in economic activity in the US alone (AARP, 2016), the move towards positive older representation in fashion comes as no surprise – albeit it a little late. Savvy brands and designers would do well to take note of this current push towards diversity.

For further reading, see The New Fashion Landscape: 2017 Update.

Published: 6 Oct 2017

Anti-Pollution Skincare for City Living

Oskia CityLife

In response to increasing awareness of pollution and its effects on our skin, British skincare brand Oskia has launched a defensive anti-pollution range aimed at urban living – a valuable focus considering 80% of the world’s urban residents are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organisation’s limits.   

Pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), ozone and cigarette smoke can cause damage to the skin in the form of increased inflammation, abnormal sensitivity and hyper-pigmentation. Oskia’s new CityLife range is formulated to target these specific pollutants and protect the skin against them. The products contain the brand’s signature bio-available nutrients, such as vitamins that are easily absorbed and used by the skin to aid cell health.

The four-product range encompasses the CityLife Booster, an intense anti-pollution concentrate that protects the skin against 98% of PM; the Facial Mist, which blocks pollutants from penetrating the skin’s surface; the Cleansing Concentrate, aimed at environmentally stressed complexions; and the I-Zone balm for eye and lip areas.

The products also combat the effects of indoor pollution – an issue that’s just as damaging as outdoor pollution: in the US, indoor environments have been found to be two to five times more toxic than those outdoors (EPA, 2017). Air-conditioning, cooking and chemicals from cleaning products are among the contributing factors.

Responding to these increasingly harsh environments, consumers will demand more from protective beauty. With 60% of the world’s population predicted to live in urban environments by 2030 (United Nations, 2015), it’s a lucrative market. See our Agile Beauty report for more on beauty’s new protective role. 

Published: 6 Oct 2017

Customisable Salad Vending Machine


Californian food-service robotics start-up Chowbotics has developed a compact vending machine dubbed Sally that dispenses customisable salads in 60 seconds.

To operate the robot, patrons use a touchscreen display to select either a chef-created salad or one of up to 1,000 different customisable variations using ingredients such as kale, seared chicken, olives and walnuts. Sally then measures out each pre-chopped ingredient and dispenses the salad. It also lets consumers control the number of calories the salad contains by adjusting ingredients.

Approximately the size of a mini refrigerator and taking up less room than a traditional salad bar, Sally reduces food waste by keeping the ingredients cool and avoids potential contamination by removing the human element of preparation.

Currently in use at Palo Alto-based restaurant and market Calafia Café, run by Californian ex-Google chef Charlie Ayers, Sally is also on trial at several small offices in California, where a third party is responsible for refilling ingredients.

To read more on automation in the food and drink space, see Fast Food Shifts Mechanics, Future Supermarket Strategies and The Tech-Powered Supermarket.

See also Smart Sustenance and Post-Kitchen Lifestyles for insights into mobile vending as part of in-office culinary replenishment.