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RTFKT’s fluid phygital sneaker sells in online auction, Feets destigmatises foot care for men and time in lockdown broadens job ambitions for young Britons.

A phygital sneaker that evolves with online bids

The X by RTFKT

Global – The X Evolutions is a unique trainer created by RTFKT, a collective of phygital creators, that evolves through an AI (artificial intelligence) painting technique.

Marking the first evolutive digital sneaker ever to be created, the procedural technique played out during an online auction on RTFKT’s MetaGrail platform. Designed in collaboration with artist MGSX, the final design sold for over £9,700 ($13,000, €10,500) via blockchain currency Ethereum. The X Evolutions final design includes a physical sneaker, a digital iteration that can be worn as an avatar in Sandbox and a version for an AR try-on experiences on Snapchat.

The AI technique results in an entirely unique design that can exist in multiple formats. Through blockchain technology, designers, buyers and sellers are granted a form of generative ownership that remains nascent in the realm of virtual trading.

With decentralised brand economies coming to the fore, we spoke to Drew Harding and Hammad Jutt, co-founders of MetaFactory, to explore more about cryptocurrency and its potential to redefine retail.

This digital platform gamifies vulva acceptance

Different Is Normal app by Thompson Brand Partners for Brook, UK Different Is Normal app by Thompson Brand Partners for Brook, UK
Different Is Normal app by Thompson Brand Partners for Brook, UK Different Is Normal app by Thompson Brand Partners for Brook, UK

UK – Studio Thompson Brand Partners has unveiled Love Your Vulva, a web app that aims to educate young people about their vulvas.

Developed for sexual health charity Brook in partnership with healthcare brand Canesten, the online quizzes and activities virtualise the in-school learning that Brook was unable to conduct in 2020 due to Covid-19. The app covers a wide range of vagina-related content including body confidence, pleasure and female genital mutilation (FGM). Even including a ‘build your own vulva’ feature where users can create personalised vaginas digitally while learning how to label their own sexual organs.

Using design to draw the line between scientific and cartoonish imagery, the app seeks to be approachable as well as informative. Opting out of traditional search engines displaying ‘reams and reams of text on a page’ and intentionally incorporating elements of play within the platform, the app is designed to be as interactive as possible.

A wave of design-savvy initiatives like this are challenging the taboo around feminine hygiene. For more discover The Vagina Reconsidered.

Feets’ foot masks encourage male self-care

Feets Feets

US – Feets is a new brand that encourages men to take better care of their feet.

Launching with a simple foot mask, the brand plans to expand its offering to an assortment of foot care essentials tailored to the specific preferences of men. The Hydrating Foot Mask, offered in packs of three, is available in larger sizes than common footmasks available for women – up to a size 14. Combining tea tree, witch hazel and ginger, among other ingredients, the masks are designed to provide a simple and effective way of revitalising dry feet.

'Seeing the trend of more men getting pedicures at spas and salons, we really thought there was an opportunity to create a line of foot care products that helped men take care of their feet,' explains Jay Bhankharia, co-founder of Feets.

After a rise in Middle Man wellness, new products are emerging in less common parts of men's care routines, such as their feet, in a bid to destigmatise this side of personal care.

Stat: Furlancing hints at the future of work

Finding a Digital Letter-form by Gang Buron-Yi Finding a Digital Letter-form by Gang Buron-Yi

According to a poll by banking app Anna and YouGov, young people on furlough in the UK have entrepreneurial ambitions amid life in lockdown.

When surveyed, 19% of 18–34-year-olds said they plan to start a business or go self-employed within 12 months, while 29% said they are thinking about setting up their own business and 12% are looking to set up a side hustle alongside their current job.

The research coins the term ‘furlancer’ to describe those who have been furloughed due to the pandemic and are starting new businesses to make extra money. As unemployment rises and excess free time becomes the norm, the report suggests that the move towards multiple jobs will be commonplace for young Britons.

For more on how young people, especially Generation Z, are using lockdown to re-evaluate their career goals, see our recent macrotrend, Reformation Generation.

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