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The Brief
Published: 22 May 2019

Rihanna Makes History with Luxury Fenty Label

Rihanna in Fenty

LVMH will partner with Rihanna on original luxury fashion house Fenty Maison – confirming the astoundingly lucrative pull of the non-expert influencer (see Luxury Fashion’s Open-Source Thinking).

The history-making venture will see Rihanna become the first woman and first woman of colour to create a label with the luxury giant – its first original brand since 1987 – including ready-to-wear, shoes and jewellery. Posting the first previews on her Instagram account, she announced plans to launch the collection in a Paris pop-up on May 24 and online on May 29 – further democratising access to the exclusive luxury space.

Rihanna has successfully navigated diversity across industries – a calling card which she has continuously translated into business success. Launched in 2017, her skin-tone-spanning Fenty Beauty brand generated €500m ($55.8m) in its inaugural year, while her body-positive lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, continues to transform the outdated sector with on-point feminist messaging and size-inclusive designs.

“To support Rihanna […] we have built a talented and multicultural team supported by the group resources,” said LVMH chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault. “I am proud that LVMH is leading this venture, and [hope] it will be a great success.”

Fenty’s launch signals a departure from the industry’s luxury appointment rule book, as well as the long-awaited recognition of the need to diversify design and creative teams at every level. Set to action meaningful and consistent change within these luxury spaces, it should act as a blueprint for captivating new and broader audiences for all brand types.

See Ripping Up the Luxury Rule Book for more.

Published: 21 May 2019

How to Tackle the
Sustainability Challenge:
Letter from the Editor:
Edition 010

Date:Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Author:Tessa Mansfield

"It probably won't be called 'sustainability' in the future – and I hope not, because I think that's an outdated term already. This is just the new normal."
- Hege Sæbjørnsen, country sustainability manager, UK & Ireland, Ikea

Something has changed. Our eyes have been opened. But there's still one thing we desperately want to know, whatever our industry or lifestyle: what can we do now to make a positive difference?

I'm delighted that our upcoming Decoded Future innovation summit, focused on sustainability, will answer this vital question. Sæbjørnsen, amongst other industry experts, will be joining us to discuss how circular economies can bring wealth from waste. I hope you'll be able to join us too.

Every six months we create our far-reaching Macro Trend reports, which provide an opportunity for team-wide collaboration and debate. This time round, we'll be presenting our new Macro Trend Towards Our Sustainable Future at Decoded on June 6, which has uncovered some of our most exciting and ground-breaking research to date.

These enterprising reports shine a light on the growth of eco-entrepreneurialism, new green business sectors and pioneering practices, including those from varied cultures and previous eras. We will provide strategies for communicating with conscious consumers to enable positive behaviour change. And, crucially, we will inspire with tangible solutions, big and small, across almost every industry.

Our reports address what post-vegan and biodiverse opportunities look like for the future food industry, how ethical eco travel can break through into the mainstream market, and how all manufacturers must prioritise extended product life cycles and fight water waste to meet progressive consumer demand.

And from conscious consumption to mindfulness and humane technology, in The Market for Mindful Design we analyse the best examples of branding and UX that address the challenges of overcoming bias, effortless on-boarding, seamless integration into consumer lifestyles, and thoughtful interaction.

Continuing with our focus on all things eco, natural and organic, our report The Green, Clean Man looks at the 'greenification' of male grooming, while Conscious Colour charts the rise of sustainable dyes and the non-toxic home.

So do please look out for these game-changing reports over the next month, which I hope will spur each one of us into action. If you're not already following us on Instagram, be sure to take a look!

Here's to our sustainable future.

Tessa Mansfield
Chief Creative Officer

Published: 20 May 2019

Weekly Thought-Starter #025: Encourage Healthy Living

Date:Monday, May 20, 2019
Author:Charlie Gilbert

When brands encourage healthy living across different ages and lifestyles, big opportunities begin to emerge.

The demand is certainly there: consumers want to maximise their leisure time and invest in their social as well as physical health, but they need help.

Do brands, then, have a responsibility to act?

“Brands are increasingly considering their consumers in a more holistic way; they’re not just people who buy products,” says Elspeth Taylor, our Consumer Attitudes & Technology researcher.

“By creating lifestyle initiatives – like Sainsbury’s has done with its Active Kids campaign – brands are offering so much more, and in turn earning customer loyalty. It pays to invest in your consumers.”

Elspeth explores this further in Fitness Futures: Social Sport Trends, her report from Elevate 2019 – the UK’s biggest physical activity trade show.

What else did she unearth there? Well, the fact that children don’t typically engage with traditional sports. Can brands come up with outside-the-box alternatives to encourage them to be active?

Also discussed was the importance of mental health and social integration, and why brands in the fitness space should consider building altruistic elements into leisure activities.

“Consumers are looking to add more feel-good components to their workout regimes, to help their own mental health and the wider community,” Elspeth adds. “Collaborations between social outreach charities and fitness initiatives are already gaining traction in the industry. This is an area ripe for future growth.”

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Published: 16 May 2019

Retail Expo 2019: Top Start-Ups


This year's Retail Expo in London (May 1-2) included a Start-Up Safari playing host to new tech innovations. We highlight the best, including a tool for helping people with learning difficulties flourish in the workplace, a next-gen home improvement app, and a concept enabling ethically transparent shopping.

  • Aspect, The Online Space Planner: Easing the process of buying bathrooms and kitchens, Aspect by UK-based Digital Bridge is a space-planning tool that retailers can embed directly into their e-commerce platforms. Users upload inspiration images in order for the tool to learn users' aesthetic preferences; it then suggests only relevant items from the brand's product catalogue. Advanced 3D room-scanning tech enables users to input their floorplan without manual measuring. Consumers open the app and use their smartphone cameras to scan each relevant wall. This creates a bespoke plan which the customer can edit, in collaboration with staff, if desired. Brand staff can access customers' designs remotely. See also Interiors Retailing Online.
  • How Do I? Tool Tackles Learning Difficulties in the Workplace: Helping those with learning difficulties acclimatise to work, UK-based How Do I? is an app enabling instructional video content to be accessed just by tapping a smartphone on a coded sticker. Retailers can place videos wherever needed, including on the shop floor, granting a greater level of autonomy. It has previously been deployed by Ikea and UK supermarket chain Iceland Foods. See Tech-Flex: Retail's Omni-Era Workforce for similar tools. Also see Empathetic Brand Engagement.
  • CoGo Enables Ethical Shopping: Newly launched in London, New Zealand app CoGo connects users with local retailers that complement their ethics. Shoppers choose the issues that matter to them (living wage, climate change, etc.) and get recommendations of retailers fulfilling those criteria. Users who link their payment cards to the app receive automatic notifications on which charities the relevant retailer is supporting.

    See Eco-Ethical Retail Tech, published on June 6, for more on retail tech's role in championing sustainability.
Published: 16 May 2019

Pür Sets a New Standard for Shade Inclusivity


The Fenty effect – sparked by pop icon Rihanna’s eponymous beauty brand – has motivated cosmetics companies worldwide to reduce barriers for people of colour by creating shade-inclusive products. Pür has answered this call by expanding its foundation and concealer offerings to 100 hues.

The US brand has launched one of the most inclusive ranges on the market. The 4-in-1 Love Your Selfie foundation and concealer is separated into five shade families: light, medium, tan, dark and deep, with 20 options in each category. These are then broken down into three undertones: golden, pink and neutral.

To demystify the process of selecting the correct colour, Pür has created a customised tool called It’s a Match. It determines a suitable product via an online questionnaire, analysing factors such as skin colour, undertone and desired coverage. The brand has also partnered with foundation-matching platform Findation to help customers find the right shade by inputting a product from a competing brand.

As explored in our report Make-Up Projections 2019, smart brands are creating diverse ranges that are easier to navigate. Pür is a good example of this, as the numbering system helps consumers find their match. In addition, the brand’s Instagram page Pür Shade Finder features unretouched photos of 100 models wearing the shades, so customers can see how the formula will look on their skin tone.

Featuring the tag line ‘The complexion authority’, the brand’s 4-in-1 Love Your Selfie product also acts as a skincare hybrid. Hero ingredients, such as ginseng, green tea and vitamin B, help rejuvenate the skin’s appearance. Meanwhile, a patented Ceretin Complex helps smooth the skin and refine the texture, according to the brand.

For more on inclusive product ranges, see Revlon’s Inclusive Beauty Brand Targets Millennials and Kaja Brings Asian Beauty to Consumers of Colour.

Published: 15 May 2019

Minecraft Resurrects Lost Monuments

Starting with sites that were destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, History Blocks lets students collaborate to digitally resurrect monuments that have been destroyed during conflicts.

History Blocks, launched in 2019 and developed by São Paulo-based agency Africa with support from UNESCO, is used by schools in over 30 countries via Minecraft's Education Edition. "Technology is a tool to transform education and bring to life methods that used to be unthinkable when it comes to teaching," said Daniel Maia, manager for academic projects at Microsoft Brazil. "The project on UNESCO's world heritage sites opens the door for students all over the world to study important monuments of our history."

Canadian games developer Ubisoft also recognises technology's potential to resurrect lost monuments. When the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was ravaged by fire last month, the company made Assassin's Creed: Unity available to download free of charge, allowing players to explore the digital replica of the cathedral within the game. To find out how technology is being used to preserve and reframe cultural artefacts, see our Remixing History report.

Online multiplayer games like Minecraft or Fortnite are more than inconsequential pastimes – they are digital hangout spots. In 2018, 'Fortnite' Google searches outperformed queries for 'Trump', 'Brexit', 'Avengers' and 'Game of Thrones' (Google Trends, 2019). Earlier this month, global creative agency BBH revealed that the global market for gaming is bigger than that of the film and music industry combined. Digital worlds reflect the physical world we inhabit, and it is time marketers worked to make their brands part of those spaces.

For more on the engagement opportunities in gaming, check out The State of Esports.

Published: 15 May 2019

Coca-Cola Launches Dark Spirit Mixers


The market for mixers designed for dark spirits is booming, growing at a rate of 47% year-on-year (Imbibe, 2018). Recognising this potent commercial opportunity, Coca-Cola GB has launched a range of four signature flavoured drinks designed to be mixed with rum, whisky and bourbon.

The mixers are available in four flavours: herbal, smoky, spicy and woody, and contain ingredients from rosemary and jasmine to ambrette seed and lemongrass. The drinks were created in collaboration with a team of expert mixologists, including Barcelona bartender Adriana Chia and London bar manager Alex Lawrence, previously at Dandelyan (voted World's Best Bar in 2018).

This launch taps into a renewed and nuanced consumer interest in dark spirits, a trend we have seen develop as consumers move on from the gin boom, as explored in Alcohol Trends 2018: Imbibe Live. It also follows a raft of new launches in 2018 playing to this trend, including a muscovado tonic from Schweppes and UK tonic brand Fever-Tree's smoky and spiced orange ales, all designed to be enjoyed with darker liquors.

Simon Harrison, vice president of commercial development at Coca-Cola GB, said in a press statement: "We have started to see a strong growth in drinks like whisky and rum, and a brand like Coca-Cola innovating in this segment with complex flavours [...] will bring more interest and curiosity into this segment."

For a comprehensive view on consumers' evolving beverage preference, read our Industry Trend report Fluid Flavours.

Published: 15 May 2019

Lego Teaches Kids Braille with New Play Blocks


In the US, only an estimated 8.4% of visually impaired children are learning to read Braille, compared to more than 50% in the 50s (American Printing House for the Blind, 2016). To help boost this figure, Lego is releasing play bricks that are moulded with the dot formations of the Braille alphabet.

The toy maker has worked with associations for the blind in Denmark, Norway, Brazil, and the UK to create a modified version of its iconic building blocks (launching 2020). The new bricks can be enjoyed by visually impaired children and help them learn Braille.

The bricks feature the same number of dots used for letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet. Just like a classic Lego brick, the Braille dots are configured in a rectangular six-point grid to form the outward joining dots, meaning the Braille Bricks can be used in tandem with Lego’s wider collection.

The company wants the bricks to be enjoyed by sighted children, too. Each block features a written symbol for the letter expressed in Braille, and numbers zero to nine are written alongside the first nine letters (the Braille symbol is the same for letters and numbers).

Braille literacy has waned due to the influx of audiobooks and audio-based computer programs. According to Philippe Chazal, treasurer of the European Blind Union, this reliance on technology reduces a person’s ability to look after oneself and engage with text and academic studies. “Braille users often are more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment,” said Chazal. 

For more on how the push for accessibility is steering applause-worthy innovations in product packaging, see The Human-Centric Approach and Designing Inclusively: August’s Best Mixed-Ability Packaging. For the latest trends in youth product, read our Product Design Visual Round-Up: Toys & Kids’ Interiors.

Published: 14 May 2019
Date:Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The average person touches 140 things a day. And when you consider all these things together, it paints an honest picture of a person’s emotions and values.

This is according to Every Thing We Touch author Paula Zuccotti, our latest Future Thinking guest, who tells host Christian Ward that it’s time for brands to look beyond consumers’ age, demographics and location.

“Things are not so linear anymore,” she explains. “Knowledge comes when you start to understand the people you’re talking about. You need to dive deep to uncover the emotions and values of the people you want to reach.

Paula is joined by Elspeth Taylor, our Consumer Attitudes and Technology researcher, who argues that brands must do more to understand consumers’ values and emotion-driven priorities.

“They need to look at more granular expressions of personality and reach these to be more effective in their marketing,” she says.

Intrigued? Listen in full to episode 14…


We’ll be taking a short break before coming back with fresh episodes in the not-too-distant future. Make sure you subscribe to be among the first to hear about them.

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Published: 14 May 2019

Culturally Sensitive Craft at Milan Design Week 2019

Hafu Matsumoto, Loewe

Misused cultural references can degrade product value and cause lasting damage to brand image. A number of progressive projects at this year’s Milan Design Week (April 8-14) showed reverence to craftspeople and cultural references, highlighting a shift away from insensitive cultural appropriation. Here are two leading examples.

Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe put artisans centre stage. Eleven master weavers from around the world were invited to interpret the theme of basketry, applying their creativity and skill to leather. The most striking examples include American willow weaver Jennifer Zurick, whose intricate work is inspired by Native American craft techniques, and Japanese bamboo weavers Jiro Yonezawa and Hafu Matsumoto who both integrate bamboo to provide structure to their crafted pieces. 

Elsewhere at Ventura Future, Botswana-based designer Peter Mabeo tasked furniture design students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with creating works that communicated cultural identity. Looking beyond the functional aspects of furniture, students learned how craft can be used for social and economic development in emerging markets. 

The collection of prototypes includes chairs, accessories and pattern designs. Elena Ralls’ Tripod Chair is designed to express the ingenuity of adaptable three-legged stools found across Africa. The use of panga panga wood – a common timber species native to the south-eastern Afrotropic region – shows the local design vernacular, while the honest form unites different cultures. Meanwhile, Amalia Attias’ metal chair features an all-over pattern which references contemporary African art, built up from paint and dry transfer lettering. 

Brands need to recognise and respect the cultural narratives of their designs to connect with hyper-aware consumers. For more on how to reach today’s consumers, see our Remixing History report.

Amalia Attias
Elena Ralls
Published: 13 May 2019

Weekly Thought-Starter #024: Three Is a Magic Number

Date:Monday, May 13, 2019
Author:Charlie Gilbert

We wanted to give you three thought-provoking things this week. Which seems fitting given that in exactly three weeks and three days, we’ll be throwing open the doors to Decoded Future in London.

Thing number one: Gen Z. Who are they? What are their values? How do you speak to them? “They’re real activists,” says Glamour editor-in-chief Deborah Joseph, who’ll be appearing on the It’s a Meme World Out There panel. “They respond well when you’ve got a cause and a point of view.”

Katie Baron, our head of Retail, will unpack the importance of having a point of view in her Unique Force of Gen Z presentation, which reveals how – and why – Gen Z are so different from the generations preceding them.

Thing number two: sustainability. You may have seen our interview with Carole Collet, Central Saint Martins’ director of sustainable innovation, on Friday. “There’s an assumption that sustainability is more expensive,” she says. “But implementing sustainable values actually means not wasting anything. That’s a huge cost saving to start with.”

At Decoded Future, you’ll discover how to make your business more sustainable. Two highlights: Carole’s From Waste to Wealth: Moving to a Circular Economy panel, and our director of Consumer Product Emily Gordon-Smith’s Towards Our Sustainable Future presentation.

Thing number three: the unprecedented rise of niche brands. Why are they so successful? “Consumers don’t just want to buy something, they want brands to give them an experience,” says Miller Harris CEO Sarah Rotheram, who’ll be appearing on the appropriately named Rise of the Niche Brand panel, and whose interview you can look forward to reading this Friday.

“Niche brands are very good at storytelling, whether the craft behind the product, or the inspiration behind it. Their commercial approach is centred on community building.”

We’d love to see you at Decoded Future on Thursday, 6 June – so much so that we’re giving you 20% off the standard ticket price. Just head over to the tickets page and use the STYLUS20 discount code.

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Published: 10 May 2019

Spirits Makers Defy Conventional Categories

Rebel Rabbet

Innovative alcohol entrepreneurs are flexing their creative muscles to develop new-wave spirits that don't neatly slot into conventional categories. They're playing with brewing techniques, flavours and unusual ingredients to conjure intriguing formulations.

In March 2019, London distillery Rebel Rabbet launched a new spirit called End of Austerity, which the brand is calling "the most affordable spirit in the world with the most expensive ingredients". The grain-based libation is made from white truffle and vacuum-distilled orris root and is filtered through beluga caviar.

Danish experimental alcohol brand Empirical Spirits has created a spirit for multi-award-winning British bar owner Ryan Chetiyawardana's newest bar Lyaness. The mixture, called Onyx, is made from blackened koji, maple wood, birch, hibiscus and hops, and is aged in a walnut cask. The spirit is described as 'wood spice and white stone fruit on the nose, with a full, lightly sweet palate and sweet spice aromas.' Meanwhile, producers are stepping outside category boundaries to play with restricted flavours and ingredients.

London start-up El Destilado has created 13 agave- and sugar cane-based distilled beverages that live outside the mescal umbrella. Regulation in Mexico stipulates that in order for a drink to be defined as a mescal, it must be produced within certain regions of Mexico and uphold certain requirements, such as falling between 33-55% ABV and being fermented with yeasts from Mexico. By choosing not to classify its product, El Distilado can freely experiment with and manufacture the limited-edition spirit in the UK.

For more on convention-bending beverages, read Alcohol Trends: Imbibe 2018.

Empirical Spirits
El Destilado
Published: 9 May 2019

Élever: Printing Beauty Looks in Real Time

London-based studio Seymourpowell has created a concept design for a make-up printer that instantly replicates beauty trends from social media. Does this device have the potential to disrupt traditional product development cycles?

The device (named Élever) looks like an ordinary handheld mirror, but inside, it harnesses the power of 3D printing. It combines facial recognition technology and AI-powered image analysis to examine the user’s features and digitally print a make-up look.

Seymourpowell is cleverly tapping into social media’s ability to catalyse specific beauty trends. The device enables fans to replicate specific looks online with a click of a button regardless of their skill level. This feeds into consumer desire to replicate complex looks – 80% of US millennials would like to see how looks created by their favourite make-up artists/influencers would look on them (Poshly, 2017). 

If Élever launches, it has the potential to disrupt traditional product development cycles, which is an exciting opportunity for the future of the beauty industry. Currently, the supply chain operates at a slower rate than the continuously shifting online beauty trends, but the device offers an instantaneous solution to keep up with the speed of change. 

In an interview with NYC-based design platform Dexigner, Mariel Brown, director of futures at Seymourpowell, said: “Our research indicates that to successfully meet the demands of tomorrow’s beauty consumers, we need to challenge these established systems and become more agile.”

In Rethinking Beauty: Digital Worlds, we highlighted Mink, an at-home 3D make-up printer concept that never made it to market. This was followed by Swedish brand Foreo’s digital make-up artist Moda and British start-up Contour 8000’s precision-engineered printer device – both of which have still not materialised. It remains to be seen if Seymoupowell’s Élever will be the first concept to market.

Published: 7 May 2019

Resort 2020 Influencer Show: Prada

Sweet, simple and uncomplicated are not words we usually associate with today’s fast-paced world – but they form the bedrock of Miuccia Prada’s latest Resort offering. The building blocks of the woman’s wardrobe are compiled in offbeat proportions and mismatched layers, devoid of any hidden subversive messages.

Prada Resort 2020
Prada Resort 2020
Prada Resort 2020

The simple silhouettes celebrate the familiar, rather than the perverse and directional. Perhaps this is Prada’s take on anti-luxury – albeit with a designer price tag; a way of promoting a less-is-more, reuse/recycle nod to a more sustainable approach to fashion. Whatever the backstory, the look is refreshingly young and unsophisticated – from the sparse tailoring to the modest mid-calf hemlines teamed with vintage-style hi-tops, chunky knit socks, bowling bags and practical nylon rucksacks.

Prada Resort 2020
Prada Resort 2020
Prada Resort 2020

Fabrics convey that same message of comfort and familiarity. Wholesome cottons and calico, supple suede, classic shirting stripes and Tattersall checks are interspersed with a patchwork of clashing wallpaper prints and pretty chintz roses. And there’s a summery freshness in the palette of soft forget-me-not blue, rose pinks, warm tan and camel, undercut with cool aqua greens, a flash of red, and the grounding force of black and white.

Silhouettes have a casual ease – from the tailored coats and classic blazers to retro-esque trapeze coats, full skirts and tunic blouses, replete with naïve, folksy embroideries and homespun smocking trims. Oversized cabled tank tops and straightforward boxy, zipped jackets bring a sportier edge into play, with the contrasting feminine appeal of a frisson of pleats and lace-edged tiered skirts.

The finishing touches confirm the mood for make-do and mend, with childlike handknit striped scarves, and bobble hats trimmed with plastic paillette petals. 

Prada Resort 2020
Prada Resort 2020
Prada Resort 2020


·         Sweet, uncomplicated styling

·         Familiar silhouettes create an upscale recycled feel

·         A new, simpler take on luxury in keeping with a less-is-more aesthetic

·         A fresh summery palette of feminine pastels, grounded with neutrals and pops of brights

·         Modest hem lines and button-up necklines for vintage appeal

·         Mismatched prints and chintzy florals

·         Casual accessorising – think retro hi-tops, woolly socks and handknit scarves

·         Bowling bags make a comeback

Published: 7 May 2019
Date:Tuesday, May 7, 2019

“When you face the truth of the environmental emergency we’re in,” says Sara Arnold, our latest Future Thinking guest, “things get turned on their head.”

The Extinction Rebellion coordinator – and founder of high-end fashion rental and subscription service Higher.Studio – refers to climate change and ecological collapse as the “problem of all problems”, but believes that activism can bring about meaningful change.

“I don’t feel there is really anyone in the fashion industry who’s dealing with this head on,” she tells Emily Gordon-Smith, our director of Consumer Product. “Rental becomes essential in an emergency, because we need to be circulating the resources that we already have in circulation.”

How can brand and retailers embrace the rental economy? What can businesses do to help avert catastrophic climate change? And what did Extinction Rebellion’s campaign of civil disobedience in London achieve?


Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe to future episodes.

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