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Published: 8 Dec 2017

Battle of the Brands: Taking a Stand

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Patagonia vs. Jigsaw

Patagonia vs. Jigsaw

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

Published: 8 Dec 2017

Pre-Fall 18 Influencer Show: Coach

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.

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Coach Pre-Fall 18
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Coach Pre-Fall 18
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Coach Pre-Fall 18

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.

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Coach Pre-Fall 18
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Coach Pre-Fall 18
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Coach Pre-Fall 18

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.

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Coach Pre-Fall 18
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Coach Pre-Fall 18
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Coach Pre-Fall 18
Published: 8 Dec 2017

Make-Up for the Trans Community

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Jecca Make-Up

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. 

  • Jecca Makeup: Inspired by her work with LGBTQ communities, in November 2017 Welsh make-up artist Jessica Blacker launched the first colour cosmetics range specifically geared towards transgender people. Jecca’s Correct & Conceal Palette, for example, offers full coverage to conceal facial hair shadows and scars.

    Taking cues from clever beauty brands offering gender non-binary make-up, such as Milk Makeup and Sara Hill, the brand highlights the importance and growth of the trans colour cosmetics category.
  • Kohl Kreatives: This British non-profit dedicated to beauty empowerment was inspired by its global charitable initiatives to create The Shapes Collection in August 2017 – a seven-piece vegan and cruelty-free make-up brush range. The multipurpose standalone line is the first of its kind to be catered towards the trans community, with its variously shaped brushes enabling users to create precise detailed and 3D masculine or feminine looks.

    The brand’s #MyArmour campaign uses real people from its free transgender make-up workshops, aiming to spread positivity and diminish the idea of standard beauty ideals.

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.   

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Kohl Kreatives
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Kohl Kreatives
Published: 8 Dec 2017

Baidu Launches AI Accessories for Chinese Home

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Raven

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.

Published: 8 Dec 2017

Retail: New Store Navigation Tools

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Gatwick Airport

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.

  • Lowe’s In-Store Sat Nav: American home improvement brand Lowe’s has partnered with Google’s advanced augmented reality (AR) technology Tango to upgrade the indoor navigation tool on its shopping app. This uses camera devices to overlay images onto a physical space in real time.

    The Lowe’s Vision concept uses motion tracking, area learning (where the tech ‘sees’ and ‘remembers’ key visual features of a physical space) and depth perception to boost search in two US stores based in Sunnyvale, California and Lynwood, Washington.

    Users simply input products into the search bar; the phone then guides them to the right spot by overlaying directional prompts onto what they’re seeing in their camera’s viewfinder. This part of the app is only accessible to those with Tango-enabled smartphones (currently Asus ZenFone AR and Lenovo Phab 2 Pro).

    See also Gap x Tango: Advanced AR Dressing Room Concept and US Homeware Brands Embrace AR
  • Text, Visual & Speech-Triggered Search: American DIY brand The Home Depot has launched a search tool on its app that allows consumers to search its physical and online inventory in real time, guiding them to in-store items on a map. This means shoppers can buy the products online if they’re unavailable in-store. 

    It understands both text and visuals – pictures can be taken via the in-app camera function, or uploaded from the user’s camera roll. If there are no direct matches, it will recommend items closest in appearance. There’s also voice search; users can either say their requests as usual or, somewhat amazingly, mimic the noise the tool would make. See also Redefining DIY.
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Lowe's X Google Tango
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Lowe's X Google Tango
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The Home Depot
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The Home Depot
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The Home Depot
  • Bluetooth-Enabled Self-Steered Shop Navigation: German electronics brand Saturn has also integrated in-store product locating into its mobile app. Powered by Bluetooth technology, a map shows users’ positions in real time and by choosing a specific product, offers a route directly to the right shelf. It’s currently being trialled in its Ingolstadt flagship in Germany.

    Similarly, in 2016, luxury London department store Harrods added a beacon-powered store navigation tool to its mobile app. It connects to a user’s phone or tablet through Bluetooth, highlighting their location on the interactive map. In this instance shoppers search by brand, with the software tracing a relevant line for them to follow through the store. It was developed by British technologists Pointr Labs.
  • Text-Based Wayfinding Tool: Also playing on the ability to navigate spaces autonomously is French DIY retailer Leroy Merlin’s Maia, launched in 2016. The text-message-based chatbot responds to customer questions about the location of products when a staff member isn’t available, or when shoppers prefer not to navigate the store alone. The helpline number is displayed on the brand’s website as well as on in-store graphics and staff jackets. The tech was developed by French digital agency Phoceis
  • AR Compass for Airport Retail: London’s Gatwick Airport has introduced an AR wayfinding tool to help travellers navigate its terminals. Also developed by Pointr Labs and currently embedded in the airport’s app, the phone’s camera is used to view directions laid directly over what they’re seeing on screen to find check-in areas, departure gates and baggage belts. A roll-out of the technology to other airline apps is planned for 2018.

    Powered by beacon technology, this presents a key marketing opportunity for retailers; its geo-aware capacity means it could send travellers that have opted in ads or real-time offers when sensing they’re close by. The concept is highly applicable to mall retailing. See also Travel Retail: Trends & Innovations and New-Wave Airports.
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Saturn
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Saturn
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Leroy Merlin
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Gatwick Airport
Published: 8 Dec 2017

Hotel for Activists

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Hotel for activists

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.

See also Hospitality Promotes Political Activism and Hospitality with Heart for more on diversity and hospitality.

Published: 7 Dec 2017

Pantone Colour of the Year 2018

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Pantone 2018: Ultra Violet

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.

Published: 7 Dec 2017

Olfactory Adventures: Archive of Curious Scents

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Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

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. 

For more on natural scents and ingredients see, Pitti Fragranze 2017, Hyper Natural Beauty: NYSCC 2017, Future Beauty: New Era Naturals

Published: 7 Dec 2017

Converse’s Climate-Proof Collection

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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.

Published: 6 Dec 2017

Letterbox-Friendly Whisky Pouches

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Whisky Me

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.

See also Alcohol Trends 2017 and Alcohol's Healthy Future for more on the evolving alcohol industry, as well as Marketing Alcohol to Moderate Millennials.

For a deep dive into the latest in innovative packaging design, see Packaging Futures 2017/18.

Published: 5 Dec 2017

Partition Uses Colour Gradients to Influence Mood

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Nicolas Verschaeve and Juliette Le Goff

Belgian designer Nicolas Verschaeve has collaborated with French textile designer Juliette Le Goff to create Mirage, a spatial partition that employs shifting tonal strips of fabric to alter a space’s ambience and mood.

The Mirage partition can be used to segment open interiors or function as a moveable blind screen, placed in front of a window to create shade and filter coloured light into a space. It can either be suspended from the ceiling or stand on timber feet on the floor. The design features long strips of coloured polyester fabric wrapped around two top and bottom poles and two smaller internal rods that can be pulled up and down to adjust the pieces of textile.

The fabric strips are tinted with alternating contrasting colours that increase in intensity from one end to the other. By pulling on the two interior rods, the user is able to manipulate the combination of tonal gradients to create interesting juxtapositions of pale to saturated, light to dark and warm to cold shades. Recognising the influence of colour – and combinations of colour – on human psychology, Verschaeve and Le Goff designed Mirage to invite users to interact with their surroundings and gain a sense of control over the mood and experience of their space.

Read Playful Optimism from Colour Spectrum A/W 19/20 for more on how luminescent brights are being applied to designs to create a youthful and joyous experience. And read the Light Play section of our Dutch Design Week 2017 report for more on the designers exploring the potential of blinds to create comfort and visual interest.

Published: 5 Dec 2017

Mitipi: Virtual Roommate Prevents Crime

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Mitipi

Zurich-based start-up Mitipi has created a smart device that prevents burglaries by simulating human presence in your home, even when you are away.

The device uses acoustics to give the impression that a place is never empty. It can copy everyday noises such as phone calls, barking dogs, conversations, showers and cooking sounds.

Mitipi features a lamp that projects moving shadows onto walls to further imitate human presence. It can also control light fixtures, turning them on and off to mirror the way people move through their homes.

Users can remotely control the device through an accompanying app. Although still a prototype, the device will go into production in 2018.

Burglaries are still a big issue: more than 400,000 burglaries took place in the UK in the past year (Office of National Statistics, 2017). However, consumers expect smart home technology to change that, with 73% of millennial women in the US seeing these smart devices as a way to protect their homes (TecHome Builder, 2016).

For more on smart home technology and the devices that cater to our everyday needs, see the Internet of Home Comforts.

Published: 4 Dec 2017

The Ageless Café: Where Food Meets Beauty

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The Ageless Café

American skincare brand Ceramiracle has just opened the world’s first beauty-inspired café in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Ageless Café advocates the gut/skin connection by using a range of ingredients chosen for their beauty-enhancing properties.

Eugene He, founder of Ceramiracle, has shrewdly developed more than 30 custom-blended organic teas, snacks and pastries to combat specific skincare concerns. For example, the Truly Asia tea contains papaya, pineapple, mango and butterfly pea, which is rich in enzymes and anthocyanins – ideal for consumers with oily skin.

In an interview with US beauty magazine Allure, He said: “As a clinical naturopath, I can tell you that great skin is made in the kitchen, and it's always been my dream to bridge the gap between beauty and nutrition.”

 Launched on November 28 2017, the café caters to all skin types and ages. It’s located in Ceramiracle’s first flagship store, which also features a medi-spa with three treatment rooms to unwind. For more on the increasing consumer demand for unconventional spa services and spaces, see Future Beauty: Evolution of the Spa.

The global wellbeing market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% between 2016 and 2020 (Business Wire, 2016), confirming consumer demand for more healthy, natural and holistic approaches to beauty. For more, see The Business of Wellbeing

Published: 4 Dec 2017

ScreenShop App Monetises Social Media Screen Shots

Billing itself as ‘Shazam for clothes’, new US-based app ScreenShop is looking to potentially transform the way social media users connect with brands. Using simple screen shots, it streamlines the process of buying direct from social media by turning any image into a point of shoppable inspiration.

Aptly supported by investment from one of social media’s biggest megastars, Kim Kardashian, the app works by simply uploading screen shots of posts from Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. The visual-recognition-based software then matches the clothing in the image to similar products available online, with different price points. To make a purchase, users are redirected to the relevant retailer’s website. Brands simply need to be part of ScreenShop’s database to participate, with UK and US brands such as Asos, Topshop, Boohoo, Kanye West’s Yeezy, Saks Fifth Avenue and Forever21 reported to have already signed up.

While the concept is ideal for consumers seeking an instant solution in moments of inspiration, brands may have to hope that fans don’t always choose the budget option, leaving anyone with a more premium stance out in the cold.

With regards to assertions of the app being the new Shazam for clothes, there are other exciting tools picking up this mantle beyond social media – with artificially intelligent technology turning users’ smartphone cameras into real-time scanners. These systems enable users to simply point their phones at objects to search for similar products, without the need to take a photo or upload it. For details, see Solving Retail’s Search Conundrums.

See also Monetising Social Media 2016, Destination Teen: Targeting Youth and ShopStyle (Almost) Monetises Snapchat.

Published: 4 Dec 2017

Sous Vide Meal Delivery

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FirstChop

San Francisco start-up FirstChop is launching a new meat-based meal-kit delivery concept for enthusiastic foodies that draws on the sous vide cooking technique.

As of this month, customers can buy a starter kit that contains a sous vide wand (a device that heats and circulates water) and ten frozen and vacuum-packed portions of meat.Choices include braised short rib (pre-cooked for 16 hours), black garlic pork loin, petit beef medallions and Peruvian grilled chicken.

To prepare the meat, home cooks simply need to place it in hot water along with the wand for the specified time.

The starter kit costs $139, while a family box of 24 servings costs $129 and a box of 14 portions can be ordered on a month-by-month basis for $79.

This is the latest in a series of new meal kits based around a specific device, with US start-up Tovala's cloud-connected countertop oven and meal-delivery kits offering another recent example of this thinking.

For more exciting kitchen-tech developments and meal delivery options for enthusiastic at-home chefs, see Activating At-Home Foodies – part of our Kitchen of The Future Industry Trend.

See also Meal Kits for New Mums, Hershey Taps US Meal Kit Growth and Natal Nutrition for more examples of brands tapping into niche consumer demographics to consolidate their place in a crowded meal kit market.

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