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This week: Music-inspired gift kits, Future Five: Identities, Bacardi's 2024 cocktail report, hyperrealistic virtual try-ons, the future of AI, and a bra line for post-mastectomy confidence.

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8 December 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Senior influencer Iris Apfel collaborates with Ruggable on its latest rug collection, US


Left: Print Ready Garment Collection by Ruth Alemayehu and Christian Ovonlen of Trifle Studio, Intoart. Photography by Alun Callender, UK, Right: Everybody & Everymind by Lucy & Yak is a collection celebrating neurodivergent experiences, UK

1. Future Five : Identities

As consumers around the world have started, in significant number, to question traditionally Eurocentric, heteronormative and youth-focused views of history and culture in 2024 it is imperative that we stay the course and build on these gains..

These shifts are empowering Black, Indigenous and other people of colour to reclaim their identities and rewrite their stories. They are also encouraging people from myriad underserved demographics to unashamedly be their true, individual selves – requiring brands to ditch consumer typologies that treat groups as monoliths.

You can download our full Future Five 2024 trend briefing now, exploring the key topics our clients ask us about the most; AI, Identities, Mobility, Home & Family and Sustainability.

Read more on LS:N Global.

Emerging Youth: UAE

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Packaging design by Xu Sanhuang for Aesop, China

2. Aesop blends tradition and modernity with music-inspired gift kits

China – Australian cosmetics brand Aesop is ringing in the holiday season with a unique blend of tradition and modernity. It has launched gift kits inspired by Chinese traditional music, adorned with packaging by paper artist Xu Sanhuang, exclusively available online. Xu’s designs transform sound into visual wave forms, adding a rhythmic vibrancy to the kits – a great example of Audio to Watch.

In a bid to create an immersive retail experience, Aesop’s Shanghai stores are set to feature musical window displays showcasing traditional Chinese instruments like gongs and shengs. These installations will be accompanied by live music performances in both Shanghai and Shenzhen outlets throughout the next month, offering visitors an enchanting blend of shopping and cultural indulgence.

Read more on LS:N Global.

Balmain in collaboration with Bods, France

3. Balmain introduces hyper-realistic virtual try-ons powered by Bods

France – From the runway to the avatar realm, luxury house Balmain has called on fashion-fit technology company Bods to create a next-level virtual try-on tool.The partnership is destined to improve the e-commerce experience by bringing shoppers customised and hyper-realistic virtual fitting, but also to tackle the high return rates due to improper fitting.

How does it work? On visiting Balmain.com, consumers can create a personalised 3D avatar of themselves, dress it in digital recreations of Balmain designs and receive sizing suggestions from Bods’ fitmap technology. Thanks to recent tech advances, the tool enables a high level of photorealistic details. Fabrics, embellishments and tailoring, for instance, accurately replicate real-life features.

‘The luxury houses we partner with are steeped in traditions of exquisite craftsmanship, attention to detail, finest materials and intricate designs thoughtfully executed by their ateliers,’ notes Bods CEO Christine Marzano. ‘Our mission is to honour these distinct attributes while integrating our technology to create an elevated experience that is true to the brand.’

Find out more about retail’s immersive and hyper-personalised future in our EQ-Commerce macrotrend report.

4. Bacardi and The Future Laboratory unveil 2024 Cocktail Trends Report

Global – Bacardi, in collaboration with The Future Laboratory, unveiled its fifth annual Cocktail Trends Report in December 2023. The research draws on insights from Bacardi-led and external studies, interviews with bartenders and insights from The Future Laboratory’s experts.

Five key trends set to redefine cocktail culture and the spirits industry in 2024 are highlighted in the report. These are: Limited Libations, how next-gen drinkers are opting for a 'less but better' approach; Innovative Ageing and Blending – think new ageing methods and flavour combinations; Escapism Elixirs, bringing consumers closer to branded cocktails regardless of location; Notes of Nature, exploring a rise in interest in sustainability, natural ingredients and eco-friendly practices; and Tech-enhanced Tastes, which explores the digital advances, especially AI, revolutionising personalised cocktail experiences.

Read the the full report here. If you would like to connect with our experts and learn more about our Commissioned Thought-Leadership, please reach out to us at hello@thefuturelaboratory.com.

The Facundo Rum Collection from Bacardi, London
Speakers from left; Janet Adams, COO, SingularityNET; Desdemona x, Humanoid Robot, SingularityNET; at Web Summit 2023, Portugal

5. Web Summit Lisbon 2023: AI Futures

The Web Summit began with one of the most tedious questions in the tech world in 2023: how do we regulate AI? MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee suggested the risks associated with AI, such as misinformation, job losses, bias and more, should be pushing lawmakers to regulate the technology without restricting its abilities. He said: ‘Make it easy to correct mistakes instead of making it impossible to make them.’

The optimism was shared by many speakers, including Desdemona, a fashionable humanoid robot with purple hair developed by Hanson Robotics to be a music pop star.

After being asked whether she was allowed to injure a human being, she reassured the audience by answering: ‘I’m a robot, not an evil villain.’

Janet Adams, chief operating officer of SingularityNET, a decentralised marketplace for AI algorithms, thought having Desdemona taking part in a panel next to her was the best way to ‘show people that AI is not scary, that it’s fun, creative, engaging, and that anyone can speak to a robot’.

Moving on from the novelty of AI chatboxes and the prompt economy, the three AI use cases below signalled a new shift in how the technology is being used for creativity, live analysis and hyper-personalised health prevention.

One-cup Uno bra, UK

6. Uno single-cup bra line champions post-mastectomy confidence

UK ­– In a move that combines innovative design with personal experience, architect and breast cancer survivor Katy Marks of Citizens Design Bureau has introduced Uno, a bespoke one-cup bra line for post-mastectomy women. Born from the necessity Marks faced after her own surgery, Uno is designed to restore confidence and comfort without the need for prosthetics.

Marks, whose London-based firm typically deals with the built environment, turned her architectural skills to the intimate scale of underwear design after finding post-mastectomy options lacking. She crafted the Uno collection to be as sustainable as it is supportive, opting for small-batch production and eco-friendly materials like stretch satin and Lenzing modal, a textile derived from sustainable timber industry by-products.

The collection’s design features asymmetrical bras and swimwear, customisable for either the left or right breast, with a focus on preventing the garment from twisting or causing discomfort along scar tissue. Uno’s initiative stands out in a market where options for post-surgery women remain limited, and sets a new standard for thoughtful design in the Inclusive Fashion Market.

7. Report : Future Forecast 2024

In the aftermath of a tumultuous few years, consumers are adapting to living in a permacrisis era, driven by economic, environmental and political turmoil. Despite this, we as citizens are unwilling to compromise on what we want from the people and organisations around us.  

Future Forecast 2024 attempts to capture this with the 50 accelerating trends that brands should look to in the coming year to meet consumers where they are, even if that is rapidly changing every day. 

Learn more.


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