We revisit some of the best fashion and beauty innovations from 2019, from virtual stylists, digital packaging and couture made from seaweed
The beauty industry has long been preaching that “Everyone is unique” and we’re finally seeing more brands living up to that motto.
The past year has seen brands embracing innovations that use everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality (AR) to engage shoppers — many of which have focussed on providing greater personalisation of products.
For example, Lancome created a custom-made foundation machine that promised to find the “exact match” for your skin using AI. Sephora’s Virtual Artist allowed customers to virtually try on thousands of shades of lipstick and eyeshadow through their smartphones.
Despite these innovative ideas, the industry still has to grapple with the fact that while almost 50 per cent of consumers like the idea of a bespoke beauty product, only a third advocate that such products give better results.
Likewise, awareness continues to grow regarding the environmental toll of fashion. From excessive water use to wastage of materials, the fashion and beauty industries are major consumers of raw materials and need to become more sustainable.
With this in mind, we revisit some of the innovations that caught our eye in 2019, from virtual stylists, digital packaging, trying on clothes online and couture made from seaweed.
1. MIRA’S SEARCH ENGINE FOR BEAUTY PRODUCTS
US-based company, Mira, uses AI to help you find the perfect beauty product. The search engine makes it easier to research and compare retail cosmetics and beauty products. Mira uses AI to analyse product reviews and turn them into short, easy-to-understand descriptions. It works like Google, but focuses entirely on beauty products, aggregating beauty product reviews, articles and videos. These can all then be accessed directly from the platform.
Available online and as an app, Mira uses AI and facial recognition to help customers find the right makeup tones and products, and to match them with others users with similar needs, thus building an online community. Users are even encouraged to chat with each other on the platform, as the AI powering the platform becomes smarter with every comment, according to the team.
2. APP CONNECTS CUSTOMERS WITH INDEPENDENT BEAUTY PROFESSIONALS
Beautystack connects customers with beauticians based on the “looks” produced by each professional. Beautystack strives to make it easier for independent creatives to earn a living by providing booking, messaging and payment administrative support.
With current social media platforms, the talent of these creatives results in online likes and shares. However, there is no way to book the look. Now, with Beautystack, if a viewer likes a post featuring someone’s latest look, they can connect with the professional behind it. The networking side of the app provides beauticians with insight into each client’s likes and dislikes. That helps improve the personalisation of each appointment.
3. AN AI CHATBOT STYLIST CAN ‘COMPLETE THE LOOK’
London-based Intelistyle’s artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot stylist works with both retailers and customers. For retailers, the algorithm can “complete the look” by generating multiple outfits based around a single product and can recommend appropriate alternatives for out-of-stock items. With the app, the personal styling service can be accessed on any device, allowing customers a seamless move between online and offline shopping.
For shoppers, the chatbot recommends styles and outfits based on personal preference, body type and hair, eye colour and skin tone. Based on what is already in a shopper’s closet, it can recommend new buys as well as suggestions of combinations of items already owned. During 2019’s London Fashion Week, the outfit put together by Intelistyle’s algorithm was better received by a group of fashion experts than an outfit styled by a human.
4. APP TURNS ORDINARY SHOPPERS INTO FASHION MODELS
UK-based startup Superpersonal created an app that will allow users to try on clothes virtually. Users feed the app basic information including gender, height and weight. The app then records the user’s head movements. From this limited data, the app will create a virtual version of the user modelling clothes proposed daily by Superpersonal.
“We developed the technology because we think there is an incredible need for personalisation. The app itself is what we think the future of fashion is going to look like,” Supersonal CEO Yannis Konstantinidis told Springwise. The app is available online.
5. A COUTURE TEXTILE LINE MADE FROM SEAWEED
While studying for a Master of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh, design student Jasmine Linington became fascinated by the potential of seaweed. She eventually developed her Seaweed Girl line of couture textiles, which uses seaweed in almost every element.
For the textiles, Linington used seaweed fibre and yarn produced by Austrian company SeaCell. The SeaCell fibres are made by using nanotechnology to embed dried, crushed seaweed into cellulose fibres. The cellulose is then broken down and spun into a yarn.
“I use an eco-resin to create the beads coloured with seaweed, as well as another embellishment piece made completely from kelp seaweed, offering a plastic-free alternative” Linington told Springwise. She also extracted pigment from seaweed to make a natural dye.
Every element of Linington’s process is focused on sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of fashion. She even obtained a licence for small-scale seaweed harvesting. Seaweed is an incredibly versatile and fast-growing organism, making it highly sustainable and a good choice for sustainable fashion.
6. DYELICIOUS TURNS FOOD WASTE INTO LUXURY WARES
Hong Kong startup Dyelicious is turning food waste into high-quality clothing and other products through a process known as natural food dyeing. The company says its workshops use kitchen waste to make dyes that can decompose naturally and do not yield any pollution, unlike a typical garment factory that may emit toxins into rivers and oceans.
Natural food dying uses a series of processes that include extraction, liquid preparation and colouring. In order to up the quality of the dye, additional mordants are included so that, “different hues can be transformed, the colour sharpness can be improved, and even different colours can be created,” the company says.
“My dream is to go out of business because there is no more food waste,” founder Eric Cheung told foodshapers.org.
7. ONLINE RESOURCE AIMS TO INCREASE DIVERSITY IN UK’S DESIGN INDUSTRY
Design Can is an online resource and campaign tool aimed at increasing diversity in the design industry.
The rationale behind the campaign is that the ethnic and gender stratification of the UK’s design industry is not representative of its customers. According to Not Flat 3, a multi-disciplinary design collective behind the campaign, only 22 per cent of the design industry is female, and only 13 per cent of employees are from BAME backgrounds.
The resources section provides exposure to a whole range of design-related content, from articles about emerging designers to videos and podcasts about the latest trends in the industry. To ensure that the platform truly represents its readers, the company also encourages crowdfunding with an open submission section. People can submit the work of designers, articles, events and other relevant content.
10th December 2019