Need to know
06 : 09 :17

06.09.2017 Food : Youth : Retail

In today’s daily digest: Converse connects with Generation Z, Wendy’s shines a spotlight on multi-generational families, the automated future of manufacturing and other top stories.

1. New gender-fluid lingerie brand offers neutral intimates

Les Girls Les Boys, UK Les Girls Les Boys campaign, UK
Les Girls Les Boys, UK Les Girls Les Boys campaign, UK
Les Girls Les Boys, UK Les Girls Les Boys campaign, UK
Les Girls Les Boys, UK Les Girls Les Boys campaign, UK
Les Girls Les Boys, UK Les Girls Les Boys campaign, UK

UK – Agent Provocateur co-founder Serena Rees has launched Les Girls Les Boys, a new lingerie brand that taps into the rise of Neutral Culture with a collection of underwear that can be worn by anyone.

The collection marks a departure from the overly sexualised aesthetic traditionally associated with underwear lines and features items such as simple triangle bras, cotton boxers and hoodies.

‘The kids of this generation have such a different view to previous generations on how to dress, how to behave, how to hang out with friends and lovers, and in their attitude towards sex and sexuality,’ says Rees. ‘I looked at what the market was currently offering them and it felt like there was a big disconnect.’

2. Converse launches Twitter-based youth series

Public Access by Converse

Global – The US shoe company has created a web series that taps into celebrity youth culture through collaborations with Generation Z influencers such as Miley Cyrus and Maisie Williams. Billed as a space ‘for big ideas and diverse voices’, Public Access’ celebrity hosts are given free rein to discuss topics they are passionate about.

Pop star Cyrus takes a Flat Age approach, showcasing, 81-year-old circus stunt performer Carla Wallenda and 66-year-old pole-dancing champion Greta Pontarelli. The series will debut on Twitter Live, enabling viewers to comment in real time. For more on the activist mentality emerging among younger consumers, see our Gen Viz macrotrend.

3. Sewbot set to transform clothes manufacturing

Arkansas – A new factory operated by China’s Tianyuan Garments Company, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, will feature a workforce of fully autonomous Sewbots overseen by human supervisors and spread across 21 production lines. Developed by technology company SoftWear Automation, the robots will be capable of making 2.1m t-shirts each year and the factory will be able to compete in terms of cost with companies in countries across the globe that offer factory workers the lowest minimum wage.

While the Sewbot may remove the need for low-skilled garment workers, SoftWear Automation CEO Palaniswamy Rajan believes that it will encourage people to learn artisanal skills that are harder to automate, such as wedding dress design. For more on the rise of automation in the apparel industry, see our Fast Fabrication microtrend.

Sewbot by Softwear Automation, US Sewbot by SoftWear Automation, US

4. Wendy’s speaks to young entrepreneurial Hispanic consumers

Giant Junior by Wendy’s, US

US – Fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s has launched a series of tv ads that pokes fun at the stereotype that Hispanic consumers tend to live in the family home for longer than other consumers. Far from being disparaging, the campaign depicts these young adults as entrepreneurial ‘Giant Juniors’ looking to get ahead in the world of work while living at home.

Hispanic Millennials are more likely to live in large, multi-generational homes than any other group in the US, according to Univision, and brands such as Wendy’s are increasingly creating campaigns that acknowledge the diversity of the modern family unit.

‘I’m the youngest of three and I was a Giant Junior living in my parents’ house. I was fully functional, with a job,’ says Juan Mantilla, vice-president of strategic planning at Young & Rubicam, the company behind the campaign.

5. Coffee consumption in the UK to overtake tea by 2021

As LS:N Global explored in our Food and Drink Futures Report 2016, coffee culture is growing in popularity globally as more consumers develop a taste for the caffeinated beverage.

In the UK, coffee consumption is predicted to reach more than 91 tonnes in volume sales by 2021, according to Euromonitor, which claims that tea is falling out of favour because tea brands are unable or unwilling to modernise their offer. ‘Younger people do start drinking more coffee because it is perceived as more modern,’ Matthew Barry, beverage analyst at Euromonitor, told Beverage Daily.

6. Thought-starter: Will optimisation enhance or destroy our humanity?

If the innovators of Silicon Valley get their way, future humans will live forever in enhanced bodies with optimised minds. Senior journalist Rebecca Coleman explores how, in becoming more machine than man, we risk losing our humanity.

One of the most startling examples of how we might be altered by Silicon Valley innovation comes from Neuralink, a new company from serial entrepreneur and Tesla founder Elon Musk. Its mission is to create implants that will grow and mesh with the human brain, enabling machine-like information-processing capabilities, as well as direct communication with artificial intelligence (AI). But will people with a Neuralink implant be humanly enhanced or diminished by their assimilation of technology?

While Musk and his Silicon Valley peers are all for this kind of technological innovation, members of the public remain wary, according to research by Pew Research Center. Some 66% and 63% of US adults say they would not want enhancements to their brain or blood, respectively, while 73% believe that brain chips like those proposed by Musk will increase inequality because they will initially only be obtainable by the wealthy.

Read the full Opinion piece to find out more about the ethics of scientific and technological optimisation here.

The Quest for Eternal Life: Right or Wrong? by The Future Laboratory and Unlimited by UBS The Quest for Eternal Life: Right or Wrong? by The Future Laboratory and Unlimited by UBS