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January 14, 2021

A Stitch-in-Time: Harry Style’s Sweater

Harry Styles is no doubt a sartorial beacon. And his JW Anderson cardi sent his fanbase aflame after a rehearsal performance was leaked. Instead of gnashing teeth over the soul sucking price of said sweater ($1600), teens took to their needles to knit their own. One fan, Liv (lilbittylivie), racked up an impressive 2 MM views of her TIKTOK featuring the finished product, with hundreds of others hand raising for the challenge. JW Anderson himself, impressed by the wave of DIY enthusiasm, released the pattern for free on Pinterest. Smart bowdown to this new tsunami of crowdsourcing!

Are ‘Shrooms the Cauliflower of the Fashion World?

Move over, cauliflower, mushrooms be flexing! In this new, more thoughtful fashion climate, a sustainability plan is no longer optional. Designers and retailers alike are developing long term programs towards reuse while seeking to source more sustainable and clean materials. One group that includes Stella McCartney, Adidas and Lululemon, has invested in a mushroom based leather start-up company, Bolt Threads. This supply house has developed a vegan material they have dubbed Mylo which their partners plan to use for accessories and accents. The company is committed to ‘innovate responsibly in a way that challenges the status quo.’ With a new material that is cleaner, and kinder, and incredibly unique, it seems like that mission is well underway.

Ready Player One

In the merging of home school and WFH, many parents have shared their across-the-aisle co-opting of crayons and dinosaurs as sources of inspiration and procrastination in the fight to stay focused. Enter Lego – a company exquisitely attuned to the shifts of consumer culture. In addition to developing increasingly complex toy kits created to consume the hours and brain power of stay-at-home kids, the toy maker has launched a series of soothing nature-based building sets targeting adults. From flower arrangements to bonsai trees, these sets provide the gentle intensity and creative satisfaction we all need right now. Well played! And, if a challenge is what is needed to fire up your creative juices, gaze upon the master work of one of 21 bona fide Lego Master Professionals. Japan-based artist Jumpei Mitsui spent 400 hours on his Great Wave oeuvre. Daunting and enchanting, it shows what we can build with a bit of vision and a lot of commitment.

Game On!

It is general knowledge that gaming has become an all-encompassing past time during this pandemic, but the numbers continue to be simply staggering. Twitter reports tweets relating to gaming surpassed 2 billion for the first time in 2020, a 75% rise from 2019, and 49% more unique accounts tweeting about it. Facebook shows gaming groups to be one of their fastest growth areas. Consumers are investing not just time into this arena, but also money, with in-game purchases cresting well over $3B. Designers have jumped into this fray, creating in-game outfits and haute couture for those posher player avatars. (Note the surge of Harry Styles now infamous cardigan appearing on Animal Crossing.) Now, Balenciaga has taken this new symbiosis one step further. The design house’s latest Spring Show was served up this week as a video game, set in a darkly dystopian 2023. Incredibly graphic and game reverential – the release reflects the current blurring of real and online life. Worth a watch!

Home Sick

One searing image we all have consumed too much this year of is that of the Covid-19 patient dying alone in a hospital ward. With medical personnel nearing burn out and contagion numbers racing upward, those who fall ill are fated to fight their illness alone without the support and care of loved ones. In a smart and soulful design response, a team of architects have designed a future forward hospital ward that would bring the feel of home to ICUS, and perhaps offload some of the care hours to family members. Called ‘Home During Sickness’ these proposed structures provide family living facilities next to the emergency room of each patient, allowing family to stay close by and the patients to receive more comfort and experience reduced feelings of stress. As we look to a future that is sure to bring more waves of global medical crises, this sort of holistic plan could – and should – be both empathetic and economically viable.

Passion Play

As our worlds continue to blur, seemingly divergent industries are taking note. Outside the US, global soccer is deeply tied to global music. And now, FIFA is bringing the two together with a sweeping new initiative called FIFA Sound. This larger entertainment strategy is designed to create connections between football fans, music enthusiasts, players, artists, and the game and songs they all love. Its first launch is a podcast with signature content pairing star players with award-winning musicians for conversations about “transformative moments from their careers—on and off the pitch—through the songs that have provided a soundtrack to their lives,” according to FIFA. Expect versions of this foray from both the NBA and NFL before the end of the year as the leagues look to deepen consumer connections during what has been a checkered year of play.

Show, Don’t Tell

As skeptic consumers look beyond the messages from the brands they choose to align with, companies are seeking a broader platform to tell bigger, richer lifestyle stories. Case in point: Restoration Hardware – creators of high end furniture and accessories – is expanding beyond their signature showrooms and restaurants and moving into aspirational city statements. First up – Aspen. The company has announced a sizeable investment into the prestigious ski-town’s real estate, setting up the opportunity to provide a full scale real world example of the RH life. An interesting alternative to the traditional theme park route, this hospitality play could be a smart strategy for other luxe brands looking to intersect with their target consumers in the places and spaces they currently play. One to watch.

Sounds Like Home

Certainly, homes have become our sanctuaries this year – our castles, our fortresses holding us safely against an increasingly hostile outside world. Valspar, a well-known commercial paint brand, has embraced this emotional reality and created a new line of home colors curated to soothe. The paint and coatings brand partnered with author, sound therapist, and meditation teacher Sara Auster for “The Sound of Color,” a tranquil new multi-sensory experience that allows you to listen to the brand’s 2021 Colors of the Year. To launch the line, the duo developed a collection of visuals, unique sounds and color meditation experiences to underscore the emotional power of color. Color us calm.

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