Riccardo Tisci’s much-anticipated debut collection for Burberry was the highlight of the penultimate day of London Fashion Week (LFW), and saw him sweep away any trace of its beloved ex-creative director, Christopher Bailey.
It might have been the week’s hottest ticket, but the usual excitement and romantic frisson of recent Burberry shows under Bailey’s leadership was missing. Maybe it was the rows of boxy leather armchairs and the backdrop of sliding screens which helped create a slick, no-nonsense atmosphere for a collection that was the sum of many parts – from coolly luxe and elegant, to street-inspired looks which carried the hard-edged signature of Tisci’s days at Givenchy.
An opening sequence of muted café-au-lait tones set the scene for beautifully tailored classics, with multiple variations on the trench, swingy knee-length pleat skirts or tapered pants, feminine blouses and ladylike knits. The looks ticked several of this week’s emerging trend boxes – from the flashes of eau de nil and vermillion, to spots and skin prints, while the iconic house check appeared as a ribbon tweed, or redefined as striped blouse weights.
That quietly refined sense of luxe dressing gave way to something altogether more hardcore and emblematic of Tisci’s signature goth-meets-punk take on badass girls. Here, the silhouette embraced bodycon and casual with a battery of zips and buckled straps, coupled with thigh-high hemlines and leather, slick PVC, pony skin, and a throwback ‘Who Killed Bambi’ logo. And while the opening passage was accessorised with low-key belt bags and grown-up ankle-strap shoes, the more youthful looks were teamed with chunky, childlike patent sandals.
The collection was designed to be all-inclusive, supposedly to draw every age group into the Burberry family. But with 134 looks, the message got slightly lost.
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Consumers can't smell perfumes online. But an AI-powered fragrance finder, created by beauty giant Coty for UK retailer Boots, is finding a way around the problem – and reporting very promising results.
Multinational Coty has unveiled initial feedback on its artificially intelligent Fragrance Finder, launched on Boots.com in early 2018. Coty's e-commerce director Jamie Parker recently spoke at Tech., the new retail technology show staged in London (September 12-13).
Coty began with a question, said Parker: "How do we connect people with the fragrances they love?" Interviews with 5,000 people provided the core data for the tool, improved through machine learning.
By asking a series of questions of the online shopper, the company has created an effective solution. Intriguingly, as Parker highlights, the most predictive questions are not about preferred olfactive families (consumers often don't know what they want) – but about colour, architecture or lifestyle.
The Fragrance Finder represents a new take on the Scent Finder pioneered by San Francisco start-up Pinrose in 2014. This was based on a special algorithm developed as a result of a collaboration between Christine Luby, who studied the psychology of scent at college, and US olfactory expert Alan Hirsch from the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.
Since a low-key launch with no media support, the Boots.com finder has logged 200,000 sessions, with consumers guided through a seven-stage process. Seventy-five per cent of all sessions have been completed, with 94% undertaken for self-purchase. Details of the uptick in sales were not revealed, but Coty believes it has developed a tool that has potential right across the fragrance category.
Also developed by Coty is an AI CoverGirl 'shop the look' feature for Walmart in the US which, unlike most other similar tools, does not require the consumer to download an app – it's offered in-browser. Coty says traffic has doubled, with sales enjoying a very significant spike. Next up for early 2019: a virtual make-up artist.
For more on personalised beauty, see our report Future Beauty: Perfecting Bespoke.
A machine-learning algorithm has been developed to estimate obesity levels in US cities without directly assessing the medical data of inhabitants. The researchers hope their findings can help future cities improve the health and wellbeing of their residents.
Researchers from the University of Washington studied satellite and Google Maps Street View imagery of city infrastructure and building placement, correlating it with obesity rates in individual cities. They also included 'points of interest' such as food and pet shops, which encourage activity within a district. For example, in areas with shops, people are more likely to walk around and socialise compared to less-frequented industrial districts.
Their initial research has found, unsurprisingly, that green urban areas with widely spaced buildings correlated with lower obesity rates, as these features facilitate physical activity. Despite wealthy areas typically including these elements, validation tests demonstrated that income was only one contributing factor to inhabitants' health; a city's infrastructure also affected its obesity rates.
The algorithm has only been applied to US cities so far, but could be rolled out further afield if adapted to account for differences in city planning and lifestyle across other cultures.
Obesity affects almost 40% of US adults (CDC, 2018). Dynamic approaches to health management in cities is a wise move, as less than 20% of the US population live in rural areas (Census Bureau, 2016). The University of Washington's research will be helpful in planning future urban infrastructure and offers a novel solution to concerns over healthcare.
Our recent blog on Norwegian town Lyseparken illustrates how cities of the future can be built with the wellbeing of inhabitants in mind. For more on the future of urban spaces, see our Smart Cities Spotlight Trend.
A typical 6kg washing machine cycle of synthetics releases hundreds of thousands of microfibres into the water stream, according to Slovenian start-up Planet Care. To tackle the problem, the company has developed a filtration solution that aims to provide cleaner water.
Microfibre fleece, polyester blends and acrylic yarn shed fibres into the water stream when washed, which can end up in our drinking water, oceans, lakes and rivers, impacting the health of our ecosystem. When ingested, microfibres can cause problems including infertility, poisoning and genetic disruption, the start-up explains.
Planet Care’s filter works by attracting stray fibres ranging from 0.2-1,000 microns in length into a cartridge, using the electrostatic charge that naturally builds up in synthetics. Once full, the cartridges can be sent back to the manufacturer for recycling.
The company is working with appliance manufacturers to build the solution into washing machines, while add-on filters allow keen consumers to retrofit the solution into their existing appliances. An industrial version is also in development, which can be incorporated into the plumbing of commercial cleaners, hotels, hospitals and other high-volume washing facilities.
And to read about products made from harvested plastic waste, see Evolving Plastics.
After eight days of mundane shows in New York, Matty Bovan’s outlandish S/S 19 collection blew in like a breath of fresh air on the opening day of London Fashion Week (LFW), neatly summing up the eccentric creativity the city is famous for.
The designer’s signature ragbag layering is all in place – but this season sees it coupled with an almost polished elegance. Bovan’s experiments with multiple textures and haphazard print and pattern are less creative club kids, more crazy couture.
Extravagant, pastel-coloured tulle crinolines were swathed in luxe tweeds, or trimmed with a cornucopia of handcrafted crochet flowers and trailing scrolls of plastic wire. These were topped with strict corsets and towering headpieces by British milliner Stephen Jones, concocted from household objects.
A patterned boiler suit, slim-knitted tube dresses, Lycra tops and panne sheaths offer a directional change of silhouette. Worked in a palette of eye-searing neons with graffiti-style prints or intarsia motifs and flashes of Lurex sparkle, all hint at a new sense of luxurious wearability for Bovan.
This also comes through in the printed bags developed in collaboration with Stuart Vevers, creative director of Coach – a sure sign that this designer is on the brink of taking the next step off the London runway and onto the global stage.
The feeling for the artisanal and creative mash-up ran throughout the collection, coupled with playful fantasy and a punk sensibility. All melded into a wonderfully irreverent look that marks Bovan out as one of LFW’s most creative talents.
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Apple has launched the Apple Watch Series 4 at its annual showcase event in Cupertino, Silicon Valley. The latest iteration of its wearable device focuses on health-tracking and wellbeing, with particular relevance for senior and boomer demographics.
The new Apple Watch is the first device from the company to include an electrocardiography (ECG) sensor. ECGs can detect disordered heart rhythms, which can indicate vulnerability to heart attacks and strokes. All data recorded by the ECG is stored in the Apple Health app, a feature that will appeal to the 90% of health tech users happy to share device data with their doctor (Accenture, 2018).
The Apple Watch Series 4 can also detect when its wearer has fallen, using an algorithm to analyse movement and impact. The wearer is sent an alert with the option to dismiss the notification or call the emergency services; if the wearer stays inactive for over a minute, the watch automatically notifies emergency services.
The new Apple Watch's health technology will specifically benefit the senior and boomer demographics. "The key breakthrough here is the ability to notify the support network around elderly people when someone wearing an Apple Watch has fallen over," Lloyd Price, co-founder of digital health company Zesty, tells Stylus. "I think the biggest buyers of Apple Watch will not actually be elderly people, but their carers who want peace of mind."
We're living in an ageing society: the proportion of the world's population over 60 years old is estimated to rise to 22% by 2050 (WHO, 2018). Brands would be wise to follow Apple's example and develop technologies that help to care for older generations.
With the rise of artificial intelligence, connected devices, smart assistants and algorithms, is this the beauty industry’s moment to fully embrace the power of personalisation?
London’s annual two-day In-Cosmetics Formulation Summit invites brands, cosmetic scientists and formulators to explore issues and opportunities surrounding one particular trending theme. Last year’s was Bio-Transforming Beauty, while this year (October 24-25), the spotlight will shine on personalisation and bespoke beauty with the theme Up Close & Personalised.
“The digital revolution has really made personalisation possible,” said summit programme director Dr Barbara Brockway, director of personal care at US counterfeit prevention firm Applied DNA Sciences. “It’s a big trend that affects everybody, and not just one aspect. It’s going to be hair, skin colour – every aspect of the beauty industry is going to be affected by this digital revolution.”
By talking to key figures in beauty development in the months leading up to the event, the summit team identify the area in most need of exploration. “With more apps on our phones, and Alexa, we can ask algorithms what we should be using for this particular hair problem or skin type or colour of make-up,” said Brockway. “We know people would like to know more. Can we find them the expert who can answer the questions?”
Day one will focus on understanding the consumer, with talks centring on biology and genomics, the algorithm-beauty-interface (ABI), and the cognitive behaviour that drives our desires and aspirations. Day two – dedicated to formulating for the consumer – will explore bespoke and mass customisation, personalised fragrances, and challenges in personalisation for haircare.
Full event coverage is set to drop on Stylus on November 2 2018. The early booking rate for the in-cosmetics Formulation Summit will end on 16 September 2018. To book your place, visit summit.in-cosmetics.com/book-your-place.
We highlight a slew of fresh retail concepts that merge physical and digital commerce in highly personalised ways, offering consumers speedy product try-on and tailored recommendations.
To read more about how retailers are redefining personalisation for the modern cross-channel consumer and combining the best of the e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar worlds, see Service-Only Stores in Brand Spaces, 2018/19, Tech Flex and Omni-Interactive.
Livio uses directional microphones and binaural audio signal processing to amplify important sounds, such as a friend talking in a noisy room. A key innovation is its use of machine learning algorithms to optimise hearing in different environments, rather than relying on manual tuning.
It is estimated that 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss worldwide (WHO, 2018). However, only 40% of people who need hearing aids actually wear them (Action on Hearing Loss, 2017). One reason for this is hearing aids' negative associations with age and illness.
Starkey hopes that Livio's multifunctionality will help to alleviate some of the social stigma still surrounding medical devices. Beyond its hearing capabilities, Livio acts as a fitness tracker, recording the number of steps and time spent physically active, displaying the data in a linked app called Thrive. The wearable additionally logs the duration of social engagement and active listening, presenting the data as a mental health 'score' on Thrive.
Livio also incorporates real-time translation of 27 languages. The wearer's speech is translated on the screen of their linked mobile device, while the responses they receive are heard through the hearing aid.
As disabling hearing loss is projected to affect 900 million people by 2050, health tech companies would be wise to further develop designs that facilitate optimal living for the hard of hearing (WHO, 2018). As noted above, 60% of those in need of hearing aids do not wear them, demonstrating the effect social stigma can have on the adoption of health treatments. In our Tackling Taboos report, we highlight how businesses and platforms can integrate products with stigma-busting rhetoric to entice reticent demographics.
For its latest Brand Relevance Index, global marketing agency Prophet surveyed more than 12,000 consumers to discover the best-loved brands in the US, UK, China and Germany. The report highlights how marketers must shift away from a 'customer' mindset, to a 'user' mindset.
Apple is the number one brand in the West (Alipay rules in China), with the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Lego and Spotify all featuring in the top 10. For Prophet, the core strategy that links the most successful brands is a mindset shift away from treating people as buyers, and instead thinking about how to use marketing to curate communities for users.
"In the Lego Ideas online forum, for instance, users can voice ideas for new, innovative products, while PlayStation has opened up a digital community for gamers to connect with dedicated channels and a virtually unlimited capability and scale in user-generated content," the report states.
By focusing on creating user communities rather than driving customers down traditional sales funnels, marketers can build stronger relationships. This strategy is particularly crucial in attracting new consumers to your brand. "Initially, users might not even yet be customers," the report explains. "But the more data that is collected from these user bases, the more scope brands have to improve and develop other potential revenue opportunities, enticing engaged users to purchase."
Community-centric commerce is something we explore in more detail in Branding Change: Lessons From New Disruptors and SXSW 2018: Take Back Control of Your Brand. We'll be taking a closer look at community-building in our upcoming Macro Trend, The Kinship Economy.
Luxury food and beverage brands at this year's Speciality & Fine Food Fair in London pushed the boat out in terms of flavour, format and health credentials. Carefully considered left-field thinking delivered creative and fully-rounded products – from tea-whisky to CBD-infused honey.
Water pollution affects rivers, lakes and oceans all over the world, posing a threat to human health as well as the environment. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a sponge-like material that could help address the harmful effects of industrial dye pollution, by quickly removing colour from contaminated water.
The new porous and reusable material, which is made from cellulose and palladium metal, works with reducing agents to help remove colour almost instantly. The large pores allow water to flow through easily, while the metal particles act as a catalyst. Existing reducing agents for chemical dyes can turn coloured dyes clear, but are slow-working and often inefficient.
Dyes are widely used in industries such as textiles, cosmetics, paper and plastics. After manufacturing, a large amount of effluent can bypass wastewater treatments, contaminating water for aquatic plants and animals. Even a small amount of colour dye can block out sunlight, preventing photosynthesis and damaging the aquatic ecosystem.
The team’s method of turning a coloured dye clear would allow plants to grow normally again. "This method could work well when you have low concentrations of dye in water that you need to take care of really quickly,” said one of the team members. For another dye-degrading technique, see Scientific Dye Developments in Considered Colour.
Last year, a lab in the US developed a material called Oleo Sponge that soaks up oil from water. The team have since conducted a successful experiment in real-world conditions that mimicked an oil spill. Read more about the material in our blog.
British shoppable video specialist Smartzer is to launch a self-service brand tool in Q1 2019 described as a digital dashboard powered by machine learning. It will consolidate all social media metrics regarding how a user’s content is performing – views, deeper engagement, full transactions – allowing quick assessment as to which channels are best.
The streamlining will likely dispense with the often-lengthy process of communicating individually with multiple media platforms. “The end goal is that brands will be able to apportion budget immediately, seeding their content out to whichever platform that’s working right then,” says founder Karoline Gross. “With so much more content, there’s never been a greater need for control."
Smartzer, which predominantly works with fashion and lifestyle brands, is also taking shoppable content into physical locations via large touchscreens. The move will beef up the kind of brand films that have been playing in-store for years, but were bereft of interaction or follow-through regarding product information or actual shopping.
To coincide with London Fashion Week this September, the company is working with a leading London department store (to be announced soon), creating shoppable films for display on all floors. It’s hoped this will deliver the kind of sales hikes Smartzer’s experienced by placing shoppable videos on brands’ websites. On average, it reports a 20% uplift in comparison to using videos with featured products sat in a static row below.
Visitors will be able to stop the films instantly to see more details or buy from them on-screen. They will also be able to use a scanner code, tapping their smartphones onto NFC-enabled hot spots on-screen to buy or save items to a wish list.
Brands are finding innovative ways to offer consumers realistic temporary tattoo products with long-lasting results, as the art of inking continues to grow in popularity among young people. Tapping into Gen Z’s fluid, short-term mindsets, Canadian start-up Inkbox has created realistic stick-on offerings in over 50 distinctive patterns.
The brand’s temporary tattoos, made with natural ink from Genipa americana (a plant sourced in South America), naturally fade between 12 and 15 days. Each design is applied to the desired area by soaking the application sticker with a damp cloth for 10 minutes – it then fully develops into a deep navy-blue hue the next day.
Users are also given the option to either upload their own designs via the brand’s online ‘Create Your Own’ function or draw directly onto the skin with a freehand bottle. These DIY options allow this pivotal generation to express their creativity and individuality, with approximately 87% of US-based Gen Zers considering themselves artistic (JWT, 2017).
With a tagline of ‘ink with confidence’, the painless application method offers a new mode of experimentation without feelings of regret – an appealing prospect for the 23% of Americans who are not content with their permanent ink (Harris Poll, 2016). To read more about the tattoo market, see New Ink: Millennials & Tattoos and The Future of Temporary Tattoos.
For deeper insights into short-term offerings for non-committal consumers, see Get Real: Beta Brandscapes. To read more about targeting Gen Z, see Teen Beauty 2018, 10 Youth Trends to Watch and Destination Teen: Targeting Youth.
10 Corso Como’s 28,000 sq ft store anchors the Seaport District and entices visitors with a mix of designer fashion, homeware and a gallery. There’s also a restaurant, hand-painted fixtures from US artist Kris Ruhs, and branded collaborations with companies such as Birkenstock.
American real estate developer Howard Hughes Corporation is leading the Seaport District’s regeneration, which complements the other mall-style zones popping up in the city. One such project, led by commercial real estate company Brookfield Properties, aims to unify Bleecker Street’s retail with a series of seven co-ordinated storefronts. There’s also Hudson Yards, which will include an indoor/outdoor shopping complex with the first New York location of department store Neiman Marcus, scheduled for March 2019.
Similar to London’s upcoming Coal Drops Yard (see blog), these areas are updating mall-style shopping with unique environments. To differentiate itself, the Seaport District emphasises its historic cobblestone setting, which 10 Corso Como founder Carla Sozzani says reminds her of Italy. Outdoor concerts and fine dining highlight the area’s relative tranquillity.
Other potentially destination-making features include the recently opened luxury hotel Mr. C Seaport, an upcoming food hall from French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and the first permanent location for American actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s shoe store SJP, opening in mid-September.
As discussed in our blog Modernising the Mall, shopping complexes are transforming as consumers shun impersonal retail experiences. High-profile stores, such as 10 Corso Como, are important for luring shoppers to new destinations. While its addition will likely attract visitors, we’re curious to see if it provides a sufficient linchpin to kickstart the area’s regeneration.