News 25.04.2023

Need to Know

Coach unveils upcycled Coachtopia, OurWhisky Foundation’s inclusive stock photography and the lasting impact of Covid on the British beauty industry.

Coach introduces Coachtopia line saving fashion from landfill

Coachtopia by Coach, US

US – American fashion brand Coach has launched a new line, Coachtopia, in a bid to elevate its commitment to regenerative fashion. The collection comprises nearly 100 products, including bags, accessories, ready-to-wear fashion and footwear made mostly from waste leather or partly recycled materials like cotton, resin or polyester. Prices range from £60 ($75, €68) for a T-shirt to £398 ($495, €450) for its most expensive handbag.

The line, with motifs like fluffy clouds and flowers, is aimed at Gen Z, who uphold sustainability as one of their key values. The 1970s aesthetic of Coachtopia is also designed to fill people with hope, rather than anxiety about the future. Like other fashion brands, Coach came under fire when a viral TikTok video in 2021 accused the brand of destroying unsold handbags. Since then, it has been investigating how it can adopt a circular business model that minimises waste while maximising product re-use.

The introduction of Coachtopia can also be viewed as a commitment by the brand to move beyond classic marketing opportunities of sustainable lines or limited-edition capsules – as consumers are no longer fooled by surface-level greenwashing attempts. Instead, the range shows what brands can do with unsold apparel and dead stock materials, as discussed in our Deadstock Designers microtrend.

Strategic opportunity

Responding to consumer criticism with a transparent, solution-based strategy can redeem brands in the minds of consumers

The Modern Face of Whisky dismantles stereotypes about whisky drinkers

The Modern Face of Whisky Collection by OurWhisky Foundation. Photography by Jo Hanley, UK The Modern Face of Whisky Collection by OurWhisky Foundation. Photography by Jo Hanley, UK
The Modern Face of Whisky Collection by OurWhisky Foundation. Photography by Jo Hanley, UK The Modern Face of Whisky Collection by OurWhisky Foundation. Photography by Jo Hanley, UK

UK – Whisky drinkers have diversified, but the media has been slow to catch up in terms of how it depicts them.

The Modern Face of Whisky aims to change this. The globally available stock image library created by OurWhisky Foundation seeks to challenge outdated stereotypes through stock imagery representing the many faces of whisky enthusiasts ­– not just men. A wealth of women and people of all genders, races and ages enjoying the spirit are featured in the image collection, which can be accessed on the OurWhisky Foundation website and on free stock imagery platforms Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels.

‘Increasing the availability of free stock images means that those working with even the tightest of budgets can still find appropriate and inclusive images to use,’ said the foundation’s founder Becky Paskin. Eleven large companies producing whisky support the project, hinting that the industry is ready to embrace change and modernise the image of the spirit.

Strategic opportunity

Rethink gendered consumption habits and audit your audience to prevent losing touch with your consumer base. Ask yourself: is my business’s imagery intersectional enough?

Be My Eyes launches AI assistant for visually impaired individuals

Denmark – Mobile app Be My Eyes has joined forces with OpenAI to create Virtual Volunteer, an artificial intelligence assistant for blind and visually impaired users worldwide. Launched in 2015, the app connects people with sight impairments with a team of volunteers who can be their eyes by accessing the user’s phone camera view and speaking to them directly. Virtual Volunteer features a powerful image-to-text generator with users feeding the software a picture and instantly receiving results from a friendly chat box.

Only available as part of a beta test – over 4,000 blind and low-vision people signed up for the service in the first 48 hours – Virtual Volunteer has shown promising results. In promotional clips, the firm shows how the assistant can identify a plant, read a map and translate a label, among other things. But it also warned that AI would only support their volunteers rather than replace them. The technology is also lacking in efficiency with regard to specific scenarios. TechCrunch reports that the AI assistant could suggest to a blind user hitting the gym that ‘the available machines are the ones without people on them’.

In our Generative AI Creativity Market, we looked at how a new wave of AI-powered platforms are now competing with – or assisting, as seen here with Be My Eyes – humans in different areas of creative work.

Be My Eyes Virtual Volunteer, US

Strategic opportunity

Given GPT-4 abilities to augment customer relationship management with seamless human-like conversations, how can your existing team use this additional time to innovate with tailored newsletters, more regular calls and events?

Stat: Brexit and cost of living crisis hinder growth in British beauty

Haeckels, UK Haeckels, UK

UK – The post-pandemic recovery of the beauty sector is lagging behind in the UK, new research reveals.

The Value of Beauty, a study conducted by the British Beauty Council and Oxford Economics, reports that the beauty and personal care industry contributed £24.5bn ($30.5bn, €27.7bn) to British GDP in 2022, down from £28.4bn ($35.4bn, €32bn) in 2019.

The beauty industry has suffered from the adverse effects of Brexit, namely increased trade barriers and a shortage of skilled workers as fewer EU citizens emigrate to work. The cost of living crisis is also to blame for this slowdown, according to the study, adding to the challenging nature of the current landscape as consumers hold back on discretionary spending and focus on essentials.

But the report also highlights some strengths of the British beauty industry. Notably, the UK is spearheading organic farming and natural ingredient production globally, creating a conducive landscape for clean beauty growth. ‘That’s an area where we should be investing, particularly because we’re quite well known for the naturals,’ explains Millie Kendall, CEO of the British Beauty Council. ‘We’ve got really amazing biodiversity, organic farming and indigenous ingredients.’

Strategic opportunity

Local and resilient supply chains are more important than ever for UK businesses. In the beauty, health and wellness sector, brands can regain their edge by utilising unique local ingredients and techniques

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