Need to Know
08 : 05 : 19

Biodegradable plastic’s lasting impact, how sleep and stress are tied to DNA, and the growing thirst for agave-based spirits in the USA.

Morrama designs disengaging smartphones

Morrama phone Morrama phone

London – The industrial design agency’s Smarter Phones concept explores how simple changes to smartphone design can improve our relationship with technology.

Morrama has imagined three new designs that each offer a solution to smartphone addiction or over-reliance. While most phone concepts focus on completely eliminating access to social media and other distractions, the Smarter Phones project takes a more flexible and realistic approach to the way we interact with these devices.

For example, in line with people placing their devices face-down when not in use, the first concept repurposes the back of the phone with a second, smaller display showing the time and a voice assistant button so users can access functions without unlocking the main screen. The second concept, meanwhile, offers the opportunity to switch from an all-app mode to a reduced ‘mindful’ mode by simply turning the phone 180-degrees. We explore the rise of such Disengaging Devices in our Resilience Culture macrotrend.

Gant praises the power of career-switching

Flipping the Ladder by Gant praises the power of career-switching Flipping the Ladder by Gant praises the power of career-switching
Flipping the Ladder, Gant Flipping the Ladder, Gant

US – The fashion brand has unveiled Flipping the Ladder, a documentary that aims to redefine the purpose of work.

With the average worker exploring five separate careers in their lifetime, Gant hopes to shed light on the underrepresented phenomenon of job-switching through its new initiative Never Stop Learning. The documentary, debuted at Tribeca Film Festival, follows three professionals who change direction and overcome the roadblocks to starting an entirely new career.

Flipping the Ladder allows the fashion brand to step into the role of content creator and storyteller, with minimal references to the brand itself. ‘Working professionals no longer necessarily define success by traditional values such as money, status or conformism,’ reads a press release. ‘They value the ability to design their own lives – where work is meaningfully productive, and something much bigger than what pays the rent.’

Personal development through learning has changed from an early-life to a life-long activity, as brands step in as partners in this continuing process of self-improvement.

Biodegradable plastic lasts longer than expected

Plymouth, UK – A new study shows that biodegradable plastic bags do not deteriorate after long-term exposure to the environment.

Researchers from the University of Plymouth examined the degradation of five plastic materials widely used for bags by retailers in the UK. Left in typical 'litter' environments, including air, soil and the sea, the biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable and conventional plastic formulations all remained intact after being buried in the soil or discarded in the sea for more than three years.

‘When you see something labelled [as biodegradable], I think you automatically assume it will degrade more quickly than conventional bags,’ says Imogen Napper, the research fellow leading the study.

Awareness of plastic pollution has led to the growth of biodegradable and compostable alternatives, but this research suggests that brands across sectors need to ensure that more sustainable products live up to their claims. In our interview with Daniel Freitag, the fashion label co-founder talks about kickstarting a debate about the industry’s sustainable practices.

Photography by Sylvie Tittel

DNAfit uses genetics to improve sleep


London – Health Fit is a test that provides in-depth insights on individual sleep and stress genetics.

DNAfit, which already offers a simple DNA test for diet and fitness, has created a new kit that analyses how genes affect the body’s sleep and stress levels. Health Fit reveals insights as to how sleep quality and caffeine can affect mental wellbeing, as well as an evaluation of whether the user is genetically predisposed to heightened hormonal activity in the morning or evening, making them an early riser or night owl.

The test, which retails at £165 ($216, €193), assesses the impact of more than 75 genes to create personalised reports and access to coaching and support plans. Every customer receives their own personal consultation to help them process the results and make healthier lifestyle choices.

For more on how consumers are using technology and genetics tools to retain themselves to sleep, subscribers can read our Retaining Sleep Market.

Stat: America is the leading market for tequila

America's thirst for tequila and agave-based spirits have turned it into the fastest-growing drinks categories in the country, according to research from IWSR. In particular, the country’s mezcal consumption increased by 32.4% in 2018, due to a growing number of aficionados, while tequila grew by 8.5%.

Collectively, the country's consumption of tequila, mezcal and other spirits made from agave was up 9% in 2018. The category is forecasted to grow by 4% CAGR through 2022, bringing it close to the level of rum sales in the US. The premiumisation of agave spirits is another potential factor driving its growth, with speciality brands emerging. For more on agave’s potential, read our Global Spirits Market.

Thought-starter: Can Emirati youth challenge conservatism?

Growing up in a globalised yet highly conservative society, young people in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are beginning to test the boundaries of self-expression, identity and emotion, says Sarah Ben Romdane.

With the parallels of global mindsets versus traditional practices and religious beliefs, Emirati youth are navigating the stigma attached to sensitive topics like mental health and gender, using online platforms to carve out safe spaces.

The UAE's rapid social, economic and cultural mutations from the past few decades have left many feeling lost and conflicted, struggling to find their way in a country that was a desert just 50 years ago. Emiratis like Sarah Alagroobi, a 29-year-old artist, are finding alternative ways to confront the nuances of modern living in the UAE. She started The Letters Project, an online platform that invites people living in the region to share emotions and opinions anonymously.

Young Emirati women are also challenging the rules of modest clothing, pushing the boundaries with their bold and non-conformist sense of style. Instagram star Leena Alghouti is leading this mindset shift by refusing to be tied to a single identity.

Look out for the full Emerging Youth: United Arab Emirates report here.

Get Together, Farfetch
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