US – Just as Women’s FIFA World Cup is about to kick off, Nike called on fashion designer Martine Rose to create a non-gendered tailoring collection focused on sport rather than gender.
The latest collaboration between the sportswear behemoth and British-Jamaican menswear designer Martine Rose makes a statement for gender equality in football culture. The collection, which will be available in July 2023, includes a player’s suit jacket, trousers, trench coat and shirt, along with accessories – stockings, gloves, sunglasses and a hybrid shoe merging a sneaker with a mule. ‘Although I’m using women to tell the story, there’s no gender attached to the suit,’ explains Rose. ‘I hope one day we’re not talking about gender in sport and are just talking about the sport.’
Just as Nike did by teaming up with Martine Rose, brands are increasingly using football as a canvas for activism to expand the culture of sports for the next generation and break outdated stereotypes.
US – Tech company Sol is introducing Sol Reader, a wearable headset similar to Apple’s Vision Pro and Meta’s Quest Pro, but solely designed to immerse users in reading and the world of e-books – free from distractions. The company describes the product as ‘noise-cancelling for your eyes’. Sol previously received £3.8m ($5m, €4.4m) in a funding round in 2022.
Available to pre-order before officially launching in autumn 2023, Sol Reader will retail for £267 ($350, €311). The gadget displays text and can be controlled using a wireless remote control to turn the pages, allowing ease of use and the option of reading hands-free on the spot. The battery has an estimated 25 hours of reading time after a single charge.
‘We’re less concerned with spatial computing or augmented and virtual realities and more interested in how our personal devices can encourage us to spend our time wisely,’ says Sol CEO Ben Chelf. ‘We are building the Sol Reader specifically for a single important use case – reading. And while Big Tech surely will improve specs and reduce cost over time, we can now provide a time-well-spent option at 10% of the cost of Apple’s Vision Pro.’
Our Reading Market report examined how digital and interactive cross-reality book formats are being embraced by consumers seeking escapism and an immersive experience.
US – Canned water company Liquid Death has released a provocative album entitled Greatest Hates Vol 3 embodying the brand’s fearless embracing of criticism. It features lyrics derived from less-than-friendly comments received by the brand on social media and presented in a powerful music video.
The brand’s previous albums, Greatest Hates Vol 1 and Greatest Hates Vol 2, explored death metal and punk genres. In Vol 3, Liquid Death has delved into quality dance pop, with each song reflecting the brand’s unapologetic attitude, with titles like Worst Name For A Water Company and There’s Not Even Alcohol In It.
While some may view this as a marketing stunt, the album carries a more profound message. It highlights the importance of brands having a distinct point of view and expressing it creatively.
Mike Cessario, Liquid Death’s CEO, believes that solid branding is crucial in a saturated market like water. ‘Dasani is just purified tap water in a plastic bottle, and they do £764m ($1bn, €890m) in revenue. Aquafina is just purified tap water in a shitty plastic bottle, and they do £917m ($1.2bn, €1bn) in revenue,’ he told Fast Company. ‘Water is a category driven mostly by brand. So we build brand first, and we represent a point of view.’
In Elastic Agencies and Subversive Sustainability Ads, we previously highlighted how a rising bolder approach embracing cynicism, dark humour and rebellion in creative and advertising agencies is helping brands cut through the noise.
UK – A 608,000-square-feet warehouse in Tottenham, London, previously home to an Ikea store for 17 years, is set to undergo a remarkable transformation into one of the capital’s most prominent cultural venues. Known as Drumsheds, the venture is the latest project by Broadwick, the company that previously turned a disused printing press in Rotherhithe, London, into clubbing destination Printworks.
Drumsheds aims to become a hub for music, arts, culture and community activities. With a capacity of 15,000, it will rank among the largest indoor venues in London, surpassing renowned locations like Alexandra Palace and Wembley Arena.
The space will retain the post-industrial aesthetic by preserving key industrial elements of the warehouse. Guests can explore the old lift shafts, loading bays and machinery, creating an immersive experience within the vast space.
‘We want Drumsheds, like all the spaces we create, to be new centres of cultural gravity that provide the basis for human connection,’ Simeon Aldred, the director of strategy at Broadwick, said in a statement. ‘A connection that people crave now more than ever.’
Broadwick has been instrumental in revitalising disused business spaces. In Temporary Urbanism Futures, we previously analysed similar venues and projects where empowered communities re-interpret urban environments freely and sustainably to fulfil their ever-changing needs.
US – New data suggests that young women prefer being hands-free when they are out and about, a generational shift threatening to cause a slowdown in the handbag market.
Consumer behaviour analytics company Circana has explored the strengths and pain points of the market in new research, which uncovered growing generational differences. Among younger consumers, sales of bags have dropped by 2% in the past year, compared with a 7% rise among older shoppers in the same period. Data suggests that not only do American 18–34-year-old women purchase fewer bags, six in 10 do not carry handbags outside of school or work.
What can the sector learn from this? Despite a cooldown, certain styles are on the rise within this group – think totes (+11%), belt bags (+56%) and lifestyle backpacks (+7%). Earlier this year, a belt bag from Japanese high street brand Uniqlo even made its way to the Lyst Index, a ranking usually dominated by high fashion luxury products. The it-bag is certainly not dead, but manufacturers need to future-proof their strategies and make space for the very functional and fashionable styles that appeal most to Generation Z.
Design and experience strategy isn’t a top-down process for the privileged few, but a collaborative engagement along a narrative arc of surprise and transformation that changes audience and designer alike, according to The Experience Book authors Adam Scott and Dave Waddell.
The age of experience, as I learn in my latest LS:N Global Back to the F**kture podcast, has been replaced by the age of transformation. Or rather, as The Experience Book authors Adam Scott and Dave Waddell explain, one has been subsumed into the other, so that when we speak of experience, we are really speaking about transformative moments that take us along an unexpected, and sometimes unknown and unknowable journey of change, challenge, and if we get it right, catharsis. Dive into the latest episode of Back to the F**kture now.
This year’s Innovation Debrief explores some of the positive aftershocks left behind from the pandemic: from the AI explosion to a corporate reckoning about how businesses should actually be run, change is afoot. The opportunities are there for the taking – but only for those resilient businesses and brands willing to place people and planet before profit.
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