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Editor's pick product technology

L’Oréal deepens scientific focus on personalization with uBiome partnership

L’Oréal has announced a partnership with microbial genomics company, uBiome, to deepen its research into the skin’s bacterial ecosystem, in order to help inform future product development.

Unveiled at this year’s SXSW festival taking place in Austin, Texas, the partnership aims to arm L’Oréal’s tech incubator team with the tools to better understand the trillions of bacterias that live in the microorganisms that make up a person’s body – known as the microbiome – and provide an important barrier to their skin.

“When it comes to skincare, people often audition product after product to determine what works for their unique skin. At L’Oréal, our goal is to advance scientific research and leverage new technologies to change this relationship, by allowing deeper levels of personalization,” said Guive Balooch, VP of L’Oréal’s technology incubator.

“The microbiome has major implications for skin’s overall appearance and health. With the global reach of uBiome’s community of citizen scientists, our two companies will be able to extend our respective research in this space, and better understand the interplay between bacterial diversity and skin health.”

L’Oréal’s research into the skin’s microbiome started over a decade ago, and findings include the link between the microbiome, skin barrier function and immune responses as well as the effect of bacteria on ageing skin. This has helped inform many new products for the beauty group, including brands La Roche-Posay and Vichy.

“A major finding from our research shows that skin disorders, much like gut ones, are often linked to a problem of microbial imbalance. Good proportions of each microorganism are key to ensuring skin health,” says Luc Aguillar, a research director at L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation division.

The human skin, which is the body’s largest organ, is home to roughly 1,000 species of bacteria, which can not only affect skin health and appearance, but contribute to common skin concerns such as acne, eczema and rosacea as well as body odor and the aforementioned ageing.

“So many clues about our overall health come from the amazing world of microorganisms,” said Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome. “L’Oréal is an ideal partner for uBiome as it has had a strong focus in scientific innovation in this space for years. Their expertise, combined with uBiome’s advanced understanding of the skin microbiome will allow us to pave the way for the future of personalized skin care.”

Founded in 2012, Silicon Valley-based uBiome has the world’s largest database of human microbiomes, and has seven issued patents and 250 pending. Its platform includes four kits for at-home testing that has been used by thousands of consumers, doctors and more than 200 research institutions globally.

The partnership is being introduced at L’Oréal’s “Know Your Skin” exhibit at SXSW until Monday, March 11, where other featured innovations by the group are on show, including the My Skin Track UV devices (including the newly-introduced clip), the Custom D.O.S.E by SkinCeuticals, and an on-site skincare experience by Kiehl’s.

Guive Balooch will be joining the Current Global’s co-founder and CEO, Liz Bacelar, on stage at SXSW on Monday, March 11, to talk about the future of connected beauty.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce Retail technology

Shoppers are craving more augmented reality tools for online shopping

Wayfair augmented reality
Wayfair

Almost half of shoppers (45%) say they would spend larger amounts online if they had access to technology to help them better visualize what they’re buying, according to new research from e-commerce agency, PushON.

The survey of 1,000 shoppers, also showed 40% of them more specifically would like to use augmented reality (AR) technology to test a product out virtually before they buy it to get a feel for how it would look in real life.

Over half of shoppers (52%) believe retailers should be investing in technology to create a seamless link between in-store and online shopping, which we’re increasingly seeing AR enable.

According to Sam Rutley, managing director of PushON, utilizing AR in this way will help to provide shoppers with the same level of service and information that they’d receive in store. “This will go a long way towards increasing consumer buying confidence through the higher levels of assurance this technology can offer, meaning they’ll feel comfortable spending more online. Technology is the future and retailers can’t afford to ignore the changes that are happening within the sector – particularly when consumers themselves have clocked on to the benefits of investing in it.”

The research comes as more retailers are indeed beginning to invest in such technology to enhance the online shopping experience for customers.

Earlier this year, Ikea launched its Place app, using Apple’s ARkit to allow customers to virtually try out furniture in their own homes. The app places 3D, true-to-scale models of Ikea’s range of furniture to help give an accurate indication of the item’s size, design and functionality in your own home. Other homeware stores including Wayfair and Lowe’s are doing similar things.

Meanwhile, AR is also becoming important for fashion. Zara has recently begun trialling the technology in its physical stores to encourage shoppers to see models come to life on their mobile phones, while luxury brands such as Gucci are using it for immersive storytelling.

 

Categories
product sustainability technology

Fashion Positive launches ‘Innovators Hub’ for circular materials development

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute's Fashion Positive Initiative has launched the Innovators Hub
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive Initiative has launched the Innovators Hub

Fashion Positive has launched a new resource centre for the growing circular fashion movement; aiming to facilitate material innovation.

The Innovators Hub is created with funding from the non-profit H&M Foundation. It provides access to critical resources for innovators working to drive circular materials development.

Fashion Positive is an initiative from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The hub accordingly provides direction on the innovation of safer, healthier materials developed in accordance with the principles of the Cradle to Cradle Certified product standard.

“At a time when resource scarcity and growing global population make positive change ever more urgent, the rapid innovation of safer, healthier materials offers one of the fastest routes to achieving a circular economy. The Fashion Positive Innovation Hub aims to accelerate this process for the fashion industry,” said Lewis Perkins, president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

“The momentum for a better future for fashion is growing quickly. Finding ways to improve the health, safety and recyclability of materials already in production, as well as innovate new materials made for the circular economy, will transform the fashion industry from the designer´s drawing board to the supply chain and consumer. This ultimately benefits the global environment, people and communities,” said Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at H&M Foundation.

The hub offers a library of videos and interactive tools on circular economy, as well as access to the Fashion Positive network, which includes investors, accelerators, brands and manufacturers in a bid to connect innovators with the resources and support necessary to bring projects to scale.

There’s also the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute MaterialWise tool, which allows users to screen for known hazards via free access to the Cradle to Cradle Certified v3 banned list and v4 restricted substances list, as well as the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) manufacturing restricted substances list v1.1.

“Until now, creating safe, healthy circular materials that also meet designers’ requirements for performance, quality and aesthetics has been a notoriously challenging process,” said Annie Gullingsrud, director – textiles and apparel sector for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “The Fashion Positive Innovators Hub has been designed to simplify the material innovation process by addressing the three biggest challenges currently faced by material innovators in fashion: education and know-how, technical assistance, and funding opportunities.”

Categories
business social media sustainability

Binge shopping leads to emotional hangovers for consumers, Greenpeace study shows

The excitement of shopping doesn't last too long according to a new study by Greenpeace
The excitement of shopping doesn’t last too long, according to a new study by Greenpeace

Compulsive shopping isn’t only bad for the planet, it’s also not making consumers in Europe and Asia very happy, according to a new report from Greenpeace, released ahead of this week’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

The environmental organisation’s study shows fashion shoppers regularly overspend on new clothes, with the excitement of doing so often turning into guilt after less than a day.

In all the countries surveyed (including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy and Germany), most consumers admitted to owning more clothes than they needed, with many of them having multiple items in their wardrobes that have never been worn.

Some consumers are more affected than others – 41% of all Chinese consumers are found to be excessive or compulsive shoppers for instance, with 59% of them saying they can’t stop themselves making impulse buys even though they realise they are buying too much. A quarter of respondents in Germany, a third in Italy, 42% in Hong Kong and a staggering 46% in China admit that they often buy more clothes than they can afford.

While the average consumer buys clothes around once or twice a month, the excessive shopper rarely goes more than a week without purchasing something new. In China again, 31% said they feel empty, bored or lost when not shopping, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, 50% of consumers revealed they sometimes hide or conceal their purchases from others out of fear of negative reactions.

Unsurprisingly, one of the big triggers is social media, with platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or WeChat in China, driving shopping mania, especially among young digitally connected consumers. Other influencing factors include celebrity endorsements, peer pressure and sales promotions.


That insight comes off the back of a study last year from McKinsey & Company, which showed that annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014. It also highlighted that consumers now keep clothing items for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, and that nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made.

The Greenpeace research further highlights that the majority of shoppers – ranging from 65% in Germany and Italy to 48% in China – think the excitement of buying fashion wears off after a day or less, while a third say they feel even emptier once it does so.

“Our surveys show that binge shopping is followed by an emotional hangover – made of emptiness, guilt and shame. People start to realise they are trapped in an unsatisfying cycle of cheap, disposable fashion trends and that their overconsumption does not lead to lasting happiness. This should serve as a warning to companies and advertisers that promote the current fast fashion model. Fast fashion clothing brands should radically change their business model by shifting focus away from high volume production towards quality and durability,” said Kirsten Brodde, project lead of the Detox my Fashion campaign at Greenpeace.

The campaign has committed 79 global textile brands and suppliers to ban hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020. In order to protect the planet further, it is also calling for a change in the way we consume clothing.

“In today’s broken fashion system, companies spend billions of ad dollars to sell us false dreams of happiness, beauty and connection tied to shopping products. But we would be much happier if fashion labels provided clothes that are high quality, durable companions for life, and offered support for customers to care, share and repair our clothes. We and the planet deserve nothing less,” Brodde added.

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business data

This company is helping fashion brands make smarter product decisions via predictive analytics

Lucky Brand's user experience with Makersights
Lucky Brand’s user experience with Makersights

Brands including Ralph Lauren, Sperry, Lucky Brand, MM LaFleur and True Religion are turning to a predictive analytics platform called Makersights to help inform their product design and development.

Think of a traditional focus group where learnings are high, but costly and slow, and then tip it into the digital, mobile or indeed machine learning age and you’re on the right page. This is a business that pulls information at scale from customer insights, then applies actual sales data and machine learning to that feedback. They call it “actionable product intelligence”.

According to the team, the aim is to help brand partners develop more accurate sales plans, de-risk new product introductions and measure how customers respond to product attributes like fabrics, colours and price. It’s already seeing a 2-4% gross margin lift for its partners based on minimising markdowns and doubling down on big winners.

As Bryan Fogg, VP of global customer intelligence and experience management at Ralph Lauren, says in a press release: “MakerSights allows us to better understand how design details and product attributes resonate with our customers to help inform our product decision making. Our goal is to create products our customers love, and MakerSights helps us to do that with more confidence by engaging our customers directly.”

The interesting thing is what all that says for the role of data and creativity in today’s design businesses, and just how much the future really can be shaped by data science.

I sat down with Matt Field, co-founder and president of MakerSights, to find out more. Head over to Forbes to read the full story.

Categories
e-commerce

Digital luxury: Who are 2016’s winners (and losers)?

Balenciaga digital luxury
Balenciaga.com

Luxury was late to the digital party and for the most part hasn’t acquitted itself well ever since. Which is why the regular ContactLab/Exane BNP Paribas reports into just how good the purchasing experience is for consumers is always interesting.

The report looks at factors such as digital touchpoint like abandoned carts, customer service, ease of ordering and general communications, plus physical touchpoint like packaging, delivery and much more.

Last year it did this from a Milanese viewpoint and this year it was New York. So what did it learn?

Well, Balenciaga and Fendi topped the performance ranking this time after ContactLab did its usual practical tests. It bought and returned products from 31 brand websites and five multi brand e-tailers.

Kering (Balenciaga owner) and LVMH (Fendi owner) must be happy as they were joint first. Kering scored again in number three position as Saint Laurent (or is it YSL these days?) took the bronze medal. Chanel and Coach shared fourth place, just missing the medal-winners rostrum.

Dropping back this time were Cartier, which had scored well last year but was in eighth spot this time, plus former high-ranker Louis Vuitton at only number 17. Hugo Boss was a lowly 31. Gucci stayed at number 16.

Burberry and Prada both improved. But given that Burberry was only at number 13 when it prides itself on being very digitally-focused, that’s not great. And poor old Prada only managed a rise to number 27 so its much-talked-about digital turnaround obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.

What’s so interesting about this particular report is that it’s not about the things we often notice first, such as high profile websites or social media engagement; it’s purely about the nuts and bolts of buying and returning goods, because that’s what the customer does and that’s how the customer interacts most with a brand. Given that online accounted for all of luxury’s growth last year and is expected to do so for the next few years at least, you’d think the experience would be prioritised.

You’d also think luxury retailers rather than monobrands might perform better with their long traditions of customer service, but some of those don’t acquit themselves that well. Saks was only in 13th place, Nordstrom 18th, Barneys 26th and Bergdorf Goodman an unimpressive 35th.

Who was the top retailer? Net-a-Porter in sixth place. I must admit, the experience of buying from this company (and its Yoox arm) is generally excellent. It wasn’t always. Many a time I’ve paid extra for Saturday delivery from Yoox only for something to arrive on Monday. While Net-a-Porter once took five months to refund me for an item returned the day after delivery. It was only a small amount and I completely overlooked not getting the refund until it just showed up nearly half a year later.

But that was five years ago, since then the company has shown why it’s the luxury e-tail leader.

“Net-A-Porter is digital native and is extremely consistent in assuring a top luxury performance in the majority of the more than 100 digital and physical touch points we have been evaluating along the online purchasing process,” said Marco Pozzi, senior advisor at ContactLab. He added that US department stores came out better on the digital touch points (especially Nordstrom and Saks) but they’re “average or lagging on physical touch points”.

“It should not be difficult for department stores to improve packaging, fillers, documentation and overall care in order to give a more luxury and less Amazon-like feeling to online customers,” Pozzi said. “Of course this requires focus on the problem, and for sure additional costs.”

The stores do rate highly on returns though, especially Nordstrom, which is unsurprising as multibrand retailers have a long tradition of liberal returns policies while luxury brands themselves are frequently very unforgiving if you change your mind. However, ContactLab said Burberry and Cartier top the returns service rankings.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.

Categories
data Editor's pick social media

The Outnet’s social media study on joy provides key content lessons for brands

This post first appeared on Forbes.

The Outnet thrill joy report
The Outnet released a report based on a study of 33 million social media posts referring to keywords “thrill” and “joy”

The idea of humans as contradictory beings isn’t a new one, but social media is making such personal dichotomies more evident than ever before, even in life’s happiest moments, according to a new report launched by off-price luxury e-commerce site, The Outnet.

Written in partnership with audience intelligence platform, Pulsar, the study analysed 33 million posts related to the way in which consumers share moments of “joy” and “thrill” worldwide across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during May 2016.

Central to the findings is the idea that consumers are indeed extremely fickle. We celebrate uniqueness for instance, but we seek to be part of a tribe. We’re less concerned about material wealth, but what we wear and how we display it is more important than ever in our images. And we’re eagerly searching for time to disconnect, but we continue to capture those rare moments by digital means.

None of that may sound at all surprising, but the depth of the study provides some valuable lessons for businesses playing in the content marketing space and looking to figure out what motivations lie behind consumer behaviour today.

The perfect example lies in the selfie – one third of all photos in the study included a person or people in them. Rather than being solely about personal image or a means to draw attention to the creator, however, the report suggests these portraits are increasingly leaning towards supporting individuals’ growth and development.

The Outnet thrill joy report
A keyword relational graph from The Outnet study reveals how people mention #happy and #smile alongside the use of #selfie

Social media has long been a place for users to curate and edit the best versions of themselves, but the focus of that is moving to being primarily about positive steps to self-improvement and the achievement of one’s goals.

In fact, personal growth as a theme was the number one driver of discussions around joy and thrill globally (49%) in the study, which maps to broader evolving consumer trends currently in existence. Wellbeing and mindfulness have moved the topic of health, for instance, beyond a conversation surrounding just diet and exercise, to entire mental and physical lifestyle choices, which are in turn impacting businesses at every level.

This makes personal growth as a whole a really interesting one for companies to consider in terms of the way they speak to consumers – it’s not only about selling products to them anymore, but ideas and emotions that will both fit with and help fulfill such lifestyles. Brands should be thinking about how to help consumers feel more empowered, and to provide them with a service that improves their lives.

As Andres Sosa, EVP of The Outnet, said: “Having these results available for the business will be a key focus point in helping to drive our communication strategy forward. We can create touch points in relation to these moments, ensuring what we offer as a brand truly replicates and resonates with [them].”

The same goes for the way in which consumers look at the idea of belonging (referenced in 31% of posts globally). There’s desire to find joy in solidarity with others, even with the individuality that so anchors social media otherwise.

The digital era has brought about a quest for uniqueness as well as the idea of existing as part of a tribe. Businesses today should therefore be thinking about offering greater personalisation than ever, but ensuring their fans and followers feel a part of their community alongside.

The Outnet joy thrill report
The key trends from The Outnet study broken down by geography

The final trend in the study surrounds the idea of joy and thrill as it relates to experiences and discovery (16% of posts). Consumers are not only travelling more than any other time in history, but valuing such adventure in order to have greater things to share on social media. We’ve shifted to a time of less conspicuous consumption and instead happiness in discovering and capturing the everyday beauty of the world.

This directly relates to the fact that shoppers are valuing experiences over material wealth to a greater extent than ever before. According to the Boston Consulting Group , 55% of all luxury spend today is on luxury experiences, and that number rapidly scales when looking at the millennials market specifically. This is about being able to say “I did this” rather than “I bought this”.

Again, it’s crucial for businesses to respond to these changing motivations to best serve their customers – to think about experiences and that broader lifestyle piece as a part of their brand in the same way they curate their product proposition.

The Outnet, which is part of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, focused on thrill and joy as the foundation of the study to relate to its recently launched #TheThrillOfTheFind social campaign and its “Everything Reduced But The Thrill” tagline. Overall, the results serve as a positive outline of seemingly incongruous trends to consider for content strategy, but in a broader sense, they’re also a unified reminder that consumers today seek meaningful relationships and not just transactions.

Disclaimer: The author Rachel Arthur served as a consultant and contributor to this study on behalf of The Outnet.

Categories
data product technology

Wearable tech’s future: Beyond fitness trackers to $160bn in 10 years

smartwatch
The wearable tech market will be worth $160bn in 10 years

Have you noticed how the hype around wearable technology has died down lately? A couple of years ago you couldn’t move for some expert predicting that we’d all be talking into our jackets and lighting up the room with our jeans.

So has wearable tech gone from being the Next Big Thing to Yesterday’s Thing? Not at all, in fact a new report shows how its NBT status has evolved to make it a much more nuanced market and one that’s set to grow fast.

The wearable tech market is currently worth around $30bn but will hit $160bn in the next 10 years, the report from IDTechEx says. On the way, it’ll be worth $40bn in the next two years and $100bn by 2023.

Not that it’s going to achieve all that just on the back of the fitness trackers and smartwatches that currently dominate the market. After all, the former category has proved popular but prices are relatively low, while the latter hasn’t exactly grabbed mass consumer imagination just yet.

What’s needed is for wearables to expand into other areas of our lives and IDTechEx says it will do just that. It believes there will be almost 40 product sub-categories in the next 10 years, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, connected clothing, smart eyewear (particularly important because of augmented reality and virtual reality), medical devices, smart patches, headphones, and hearing devices.

wearable-tech-growth

At the moment, just about every wearable tech device relies on a smartphone to act as the hub, and it will continue to do so for some time. But IDTechEx also says that “all of the largest manufacturers now look to a future, where the hub itself may become wearable”.

We’re already seeing some signs of this with devices like Samsung’s Gear S2 not relying on a smartphone to make calls and Google’s upcoming Android Wear 2.0 having more independent functionality too.

Report author James Hayward said: “Fuelled by a frenzy of hype, funding and global interest, wearable technology was catapulted to the top of the agenda for companies spanning the entire value chain and world.

“This investment manifested in hundreds of new products and extensive tailored R&D investigating relevant technology areas. However, the fickle nature of hype is beginning to show, and many companies are now progressing beyond discussing wearables to focus on the detailed and varied sub-sectors.”

So what does all that mean for the future? Well based on those sub-categories that IDTechEx lists, we still won’t be talking into our jackets or lighting up room with our jeans in the next decade. But it does seem than wearable tech will work its way into our lives in many different areas.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Categories
business e-commerce mobile

Luxury brands are relatively primitive in the world of email marketing – report

anchor_email

Despite the fact email is one of the most cost effective forms of digital marketing, and a proven route to drive traffic, only 30% of luxury brands are using it to its full potential, says customer engagement specialists ContactLab.

Its new report, conducted in conjunction with Exane BNP Paribas, suggests email marketing practice is relatively primitive in the sector, and reveals an opportunity gap surrounding better segmentation and personalisation of content, as well as integration with other channels.

It highlights brands including Burberry, Cartier and Armani as leading on its “Email Competitive Map”, comparative to others such as Cèline, Prada and Givenchy who are dragging behind. Unsurprisingly, such email performance seems to align with overall digital competency, according to the research.

contactlab_email

Other negative factors specific to email strategy include excessive frequency and an overwhelming commercial bias. But it’s brands who do not exploit data collection to achieve full segmentation that create the largest impression of complacency, it suggests.

Marco Pozzi, author of the research, says: “Achieving customer segmentation will always be a challenge but there remains a lot of room for luxury brands to differentiate in their emails and create more personalised campaigns. Simply sending generic content and treating all customers as one does not build a relationship with customers. Customer shopping habits have changed and they expect an integration of different channels as part of the omnichannel experience. ”

It’s not all bad news however, there are a few luxury brands who do already distribute personalised messages. Of those, Dolce and Gabbana is leading, followed by Armani, which addresses recipients according to gender/title, building a strong relationship with customers in the process.

Continuing on a positive note, ContactLab pointed out that, across the board there is good performance on email localisation (key languages) and structure (composition, visualisation).

contactlab_email2

“With the modern customers having an overload of content and often bombarded with emails, brands need to ensure the emails they distribute are relevant and thus capturing the attention of the consumer,” Pozzi adds. ContactLab’s study suggests customers prefer a varied mix of content that isn’t too commercial. Hermès leads the way with a balanced mix of branding, commercial and store-focused content, it highlights.

The report outlines the fact email marketing offers opportunities for brands to receive large amounts of traffic via smartphones and tablets particularly. Time spent browsing on such devices is notoriously short, so targeted emails that stand out from the crowd are essential.

So what does the future look like for email marketing? Luxury brands need to review the different services they offer and integrate cross-channel communication. A small number of brands ask for ZIP codes and postcodes, which could be used in conjunction with store locators. Elements like ‘buy now’ buttons and links to shoppable apps should also be introduced. Right now, only Cartier includes a “Book an Appointment” tab and only Burberry offers a “Collect in Store” option. Technology to incorporate cross-channel communication through email is already available, so expect to see more of this sometime soon.

It’s worth remembering that although email is only one aspect of the ecosystem, the impact of effective digital marketing can result in a 40% increase in revenue. A separate study by McKinsey also shows that 75% of luxury consumers interact with at least one digital touchpoint before making a sale in the offline world. A strategic use of email that caters to the user’s needs must be implemented.

Categories
product technology

Self-cleaning clothes: Are they finally here?

maninthewhitesuit

There’s a 1950s British movie called The Man In The White Suit in which scientist Alec Guinness invents a durable, self-cleaning fabric that he thinks will be boon to mankind. Instead he ends up as a hate figure as businesses and their workers realise they won’t need to make any more textiles or garments as a result.

Maybe it was a less disposable age, but the thought that people these days wouldn’t buy new clothes because their old ones hadn’t worn out is quite amusing. The businesses most likely to get upset would be detergent makers, though I’m sure they’d still be able to come up with a ‘need’ for us to wash our clothes because of bacteria.

The point is, the film-makers thought technology was heading in the direction of everlasting, self-cleaning textiles. And 65 years later, we’ve (almost) got there.

Two pieces of news this week demonstrated that. First, shirtmaker Hawes & Curtis signed a deal with Liquiproof for a line of stain-resistant shirts. The Daily Telegraph reported that Liquiproof’s non-toxic, ecofriendly coating, which was featured on BBC show Dragon’s Den, makes anything it touches waterproof.

It’s an invisible coating, unlike the one in the movie that was radioactive and made everything slightly luminous. The shirts are machine-washable but will be stain-resistant for life, we’re told. Now that’s what real wearable tech (who needs a pointless watch when you can have a non-stain shirt?) They should be available by August.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne have found a way to remove stains by exposing them to sunlight.

They’ve embedded tiny (and invisible to naked eye) flecks of silver and copper in cotton fabric. When exposed to light, these nanostructures release bursts of energy that degrade organic matter on the fabric in minutes, including superbugs.

It’s still in its early stage but Dr Rajesh Ramanathan said the advance “lays a strong foundation for the future development of fully self-cleaning textiles”.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday