Facilitating self-expression in the metaverse
Idoru is a new app that enables users to personalise hyper-real digital avatars. Founded by humanist technologist Mica Le John and former fashion art director Michael Taylor, Idoru sits at the intersection of self-expression and creativity. ‘What we’re building with Idoru is a space for users to create and explore, using themselves as the medium,’ Le John tells Dazed.
The pair hope to remove any body or financial limitations that people might experience in real life, and instead offer a space for people to freely experiment with their identity/identities. As well as enabling freedom for self-expression, the concept also ensures the options available to people in the metaverse are as diverse as the real-life users – an implication we recently highlight our report on The Betterverse.
The mission doesn’t stop here. Le John and Taylor plan to develop Idoru into an all-round service that enables people to be their fullest selves in the virtual world. ‘That’s the full stop of what we want to work towards. So, everything we build within the product is in service of that,’ says Le John.
Realising the potential of music as medicine
Moross started his media career at Cutting Edge Group, a full service provider of music for film, television, advertising and gaming. It was there that he was introduced to music as a source of wellbeing and came into close contact with a range of leading music artists. Alongside his role as head of marketing at Cutting Edge Group, Freddie became heavily involved in the group’s subsequent brand, Myndstream, where he is now managing director.
Myndstream is dedicated to designing music for health and wellbeing, and is the music partner of the renowned Global Wellness Institute and its annual Summit. The company hopes to become an acclaimed partner for businesses which use audio for therapeutic and clinical experiences, such as spas and health clinics.
For his work and his growing ambition, Moross was recently awarded the Debra Simon Award at the Global Wellness Summit for being a Leader in Furthering Mental Wellness. His most recent project explored music for neurodiverse children in educational environments and featured in the BBC’s Storyworks campaign in the UK.
Disrupting the UK property market
Marie-Julie Gheysens is a young property developer on a mission to create greener and smarter developments across the UK. Aged just 28, she is the UK managing director of her father’s company, Ghelamco, and is working on the group’s first UK property, The Arc.
East London caught Gheysens’ eye 10 years ago when she first moved to the capital. While she admires Shoreditch for its edge, she saw an opportunity to bridge a gap between Hoxton and Islington. She recognised the under-utilised space and had a clear vision for a new public open space. And so The Arc was born, a mixed-use destination with a focus on health, wellness and sustainability. The building is set for completion in January 2023, and will be fully electric, with its carbon emissions 30% lower than its multi-fuel-operated peers. It will be a place where the local community can relax and socialise, while also having access to a health and wellness hub and a range of independent lifestyle retailers.
With wellness and sustainability front of mind, Gheysens is not only leading the way for developments across the country, but also for young women keen to make a difference in the property and construction industry.
Food & Drink: Onye Ahanotu
A trans-disciplinarian fusing science, culture and passion
Onye Ahanotu is a scientist turned home chef and winemaker. After gaining a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and material science from the University of California, he obtained a master’s in material sciences and engineering. These classical skills were then used on his first post-studies project where he launched an adaptive materials platform that offers specialised surfaces for hospitals to save energy and reduce infections.
Outside of his professions, Ahanotu is an observer of different cultures, life and humanity. He grew up as a Nigerian-American in the heart of the now world-renowned Northern California Wine Country. With an interest in cooking and different cuisines, flavours and techniques, he eventually amalgamated all of his passions to form Ikenga Wines.
Ikenga Wines produces the world’s first bio-designed palm wine, one of the oldest known wines that naturally occurs when sap from damaged trees spontaneously ferments within hours. Its intention is to transform a tasting experience that focuses on flavour while reducing environmental impact through elegant design.
Injecting slowness into the hospitality experience
Joana Gomes and Joshua Beck are co-founders of Mexican architecture studio, CO-LAB. In 2021, they were brought on board as resident architects at Slow, a hospitality collective co-founded by Design Hotels’ Claus Sendlinger.
While CO-LAB was born in 2010, the pair have had the same mission throughout their career: to encourage a greater connection to the natural world through design. They join a range of designers, farmers, writers, artists and creative minds to reset the values of hospitality by injecting slowness into its practices and experiences. They have architecturally led projects such as the company’s prominent Tulum Treehouse, which is a five-bedroom guesthouse and destination restaurant that explores the tastes, flavours and musical expressions of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.
Shattering antiquated misconceptions around crystal
In late 2022, Alice Bastin was appointed as the new creative director of Irish heritage crystal brand Waterford, where she is working towards shaking off conventional views of tabletop and decorative crystalware, while injecting a new age of artistry into the brand.
Her previous roles at luxury French fashion houses Chloé and Céline, as well as her most recent venture at Alexander McQueen, have left her in an appropriate position to refashion Waterford’s heritage through impactful visuals and campaign messaging. ‘How I approach fashion is the same way I approach any creative project, including home décor, and now crystal,’ says Bastin. Of her first campaign for Waterford, she adds: ‘Clarity and quality are both at the crux of Waterford’s historic success, so those were natural concepts to influence this campaign. That meant introducing the same authenticity and a palpable sense of quality to the overall aesthetic and messaging in the execution of these images.’
The campaign imagery was showcased in Waterford’s Soho pop-up in October 2022 in New York and was part of the brand’s mission to reach a wider consumer base.
Immaterialising fashion experiences
Co-founder and CEO of New York’s new immaterial fashion concept, Zero10, George Yashin is no stranger to developing successful start-ups. With 15 years of experience in the fashion, tech, visual arts and product design industries, and two brands later – ZNY Worldwide and SoleFresh – Yashin co-founded Zero10 with software expert Anton Timashev.
Zero10 is an app for augmented reality (AR) dressing that enables users to try on digital clothes in real time through their phone camera. They can also purchase, save and collect digital garments in their virtual wardrobe and create shareable photo and video content for social media.
The company is one of the leaders in the field and is working on a proprietary AR clothing try-on technology based on body-tracking, body segmentation and cloth simulation, which allows digital clothing to look more realistic than ever.
While Yashin might soon be on his next venture, the technology designed by Zero10 is here to stay. It plans to disrupt the currently limited market of hybrid physical and digital fashion.
Preventative ageing for your garments
Biorestore co-founders Wajahat Hussain and Richard Toon met at fashion brand Gant over five years ago and collectively, the pair have over 30 years of experience in the fashion, textile and material science industries, with a particular interest and expertise in sustainability innovation.
Their attentiveness to circularity led them to want to develop their own stand in the industry in the circular fashion sector. ‘Whilst we knew that mountains of wasted garments could be repurposed or recycled, we wondered if they could instead be simply renewed and restored,’ the brand’s website reads. To solve this, the pair decided to develop a company focused on garment protection and renewal.
Biorestore is a patent-pending home laundry ‘Re-Tergent’ that renews, revives and restores old and worn clothing to new. The product removes pilling, lint, garment fuzz and bobbles from the surface, while also improving the colour brilliance, realigning the fibres and reshaping the fabric structure.
The company was selected as a 2022 winner of the H&M Global Change Award, which recognises change-makers in the fashion industry that are helping to make the planet positive and fulfil the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Ryan Gill is founder of the Open Meta Association, an organisation dedicated to building an open metaverse for all.
A leader in Web3 and the wider tech landscape, Gill views the metaverse as a public utility that should be accessible to all and upon which anyone can build. The Open Meta Association has launched the Open Meta DAO to realise this future, attempting to accelerate the growth and adoption of the metaverse by replacing traditional big tech and brand gatekeepers of digital eco-systems with a community of like-minded people.
Gill is also co-founder and CEO of Crucible, a Web3 company that designs and creates software to enable game developers to build within the open metaverse. With expertise across Web3, gaming and entrepreneurship, Gill uses his knowledge to connect people to his vision for an open, ethical and inclusive metaverse.
Spearheading a sustainable fashion movement
Gen Z college friends Konsker and Canty bonded over their passion for change in the fashion industry. After studying together, the pair later reconnected to pursue a collective mission: redefining sustainable fashion. And so Zero was born.
Zero is an e-commerce platform dedicated to people and the planet. The site embodies holistic sustainability and prioritises transparency, ensuring that consumers are aware of where its products come from, what they are made of and how they are made. ‘Sustainability at Zero means placing equal importance on the environmental, ethical and social implications of the fashion industry. We strive to pave the way for an industry whose burden isn’t an inhibitor to future generations,’ says Konsker.
By hosting a range of high-end contemporary brands that offer everything from tailored crop tops to oversized puffer jackets, the company is shaking off any misconceptions that sustainable fashion is dull, overly bohemian or only suitable for older audiences.