Need to Know
02 : 07 : 18

Audi welcomes women to the driver's seat, Japan House opens in London, Emirates to fly windowless planes.

Audi celebrates Saudi's women drivers

Doors campaign by Thjnk Hamburg for Audi, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia – With the nation reversing its decades old law against women driving, Audi released a new spot to welcome ladies to the wheel.

The advert, created by thjnk Hamburg GmbH, shows a Saudi couple getting ready to the leave the house, with the woman putting on her hijab while her partner performs traditional acts of chivalry such as opening each door for her on the way out. But when they reach their Audi car, the roles are reversed as the woman opens the passenger door for her companion and takes the driver’s seat herself.

It is a simple yet effective statement by the car brand who will now have a whole new set of consumers to appeal to. With more than 120,000 women applying for a license on the first day of the lifted ban, car makers will have to now consider ways to invite them into their folds, especially at a time of rapid modernisation for one of the world’s most conservative countries.

A home for Japanese culture opens in London

Japan House, London, photography by Lee Mawdsley Japan House, London, photography by Lee Mawdsley
Japan House, London, photography by Lee Mawdsley Japan House, London, photography by Lee Mawdsley
Japan House, London, photography by Lee Mawdsley Japan House, London, photography by Lee Mawdsley

London – The government of Japan has taken over an art deco building in Kensington as the latest site of its soft diplomacy initiative, Japan House.

Following the opening of spaces in both Sao Paolo and Los Angeles in the last year, Japan House London serves a similar purpose: to educate both London’s locals and tourists alike about Japanese culture. The three-storey building offers a gallery space, a library, retail floor and restaurant that feature some of the nation’s best artists, writers, designers and ingredients respectively.

The entire endeavour, which is part of the government’s ramp up to Tokyo 2020, aims to the question of what it means to be Japanese nowadays. Acting as entry point to Japanese life for those who may never get there, it is also an extension of a phenomenon we called Culinary Diplomacy, spotted initially in 2016 when restaurants began to actively use food to foster cultural understanding.

Emirates launches windowless planes

Global – The Middle Eastern airline plans to swap out windows for digital screens that display the landscape outside the plane using fiber-optic cameras outside.

Passengers in the first-class cabin of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will view images from outside the plane that are projected onto a virtual window. The airline plans to remove all windows from future planes in order to make them lighter and faster. Subsequently, this will result in cheaper tickets for passengers but could affect the user experience.

While plane design has stayed static for a long time, airlines and manufacturers are now considering how to improve in-air experiences. At this year’s Aircraft Interiors expo, Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace announced an initiative to introduce beds in the cargo of a plane.The sleeping berths will give economy passengers the opportunity to have a good night sleep in transit.

First Class Suite for Boeing 777 fleet, Emirates First Class Suite for Boeing 777 fleet, Emirates

A digital football coach for aspiring athletes

PLAYR system by Layer Studio PLAYR system by Layer Studio
PLAYR System, Layer Studio PLAYR System, Layer Studio
PLAYR System, Layer Studio PLAYR System, Layer Studio

UK – Design agency Layer has collaborated with Catapult Sports to create a fitness tracking wearable dedicated to amateur football players.

The PLAYR system is made up of three components: a smart pod, a high-performance vest and an app. With more metrics than a FitBit, the advanced tracking system provides greater insight into how the body can train more efficiently. Athletes can monitor their training or game play which is recorded on GPS heat maps, displaying sprint, distance and speed data.

‘PLAYR is a system that promises to revolutionise how people play the game. For the first time, amateurs and aspiring players will be able to train like the pros and ultimately bring a higher level of performance onto the pitch’, says Benoit Simeray, Consumer CEO of Catapult.

As consumers use digital devices to help them transform into their best selves, a new wave of wearables and apps are embedding technology that was once only accessible to professionals.

Retailers witness spike in returns

The rise in returns is becoming an expensive problem for retailers, particularly within the fashion sector, where 37% of businesses reported that refunds have climbed since 2016 in the UK. As we enter an age of on-demand culture, consumers are increasingly favouring online shopping. And yet, 40% of shoppers said they return clothing bought online because the items don’t fit as expected.

To minimise the number of returns, a new wave of digital tools are helping to refine sizing options. MySize is a smartphone technology that enables consumers to measure themselves using their iPhone and, once a size has been determined, match that consumer with products in their size online. For more, see our Digital Fit microtrend.

Thought-starter: How are brands building hype around beauty?

Beauty brands are subverting the traditional codes of beauty partnerships by aligning with new cultural communities that tap into music influencers, streetwear style and gaming platforms.

For many women, beauty and fashion go hand in hand, and as the female streetwear market has grown, so have collaborations between the two sectors. Hypebae, for instance, the female-focused counterpart to Hypebeast, is mixing streetwear news with beauty tutorials, while cosmetics brand MAC recently joined forces with Puma to create trainers inspired by three of its iconic lipsticks.

The rise of beauty influencers has contributed to platforms such as Instagram becoming integral to the growth of beauty brands. Now brands are expanding into music merchandise, aligning with influencers on music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Tidal, curating the best of beauty, music and technology in one platform.

Make-up artist Pat McGrath, for instance, recently joined forces with singer-songwriter Maggie Lindemann to sell her new cosmetics collection through the teenage celebrity’s Spotify shop.

For more on beauty’s interplay with culture, see our Hype Beauty microtrend.

Puma x MAC Puma x MAC
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