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Are ‘Dopamine Displays’ fashion’s next big thing? 

Source: Vogue

New experiences, Gen Z values, and intelligent art—how retail stores are inviting shoppers back in again

Immersive retail experiences are hardly a novelty these days. In the last decade alone, fashion retailers across the globe took store design to the next level. From Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior, three of the world’s most valuable luxury brands, to younger direct-to-consumer ones like Kith, Story or The Phluid Project  — there’s really no denying innovation. What started off as a concept or an experiment with a handful of brands seems like a non-negotiable for all brands as we’re seeing a swift rise in ‘dopamine displays’ today.

So what are dopamine displays, really? Simply put, it’s the imaginative use of colour, art, culture and design as a means to engage with the ever-evolving palette of the Gen-Z and millennial consumer. The kind that’d go viral on Instagram or Tik Tok. It’s hard to tell if it’s the post-pandemic ‘revenge-shopping’ mentality, or the need for something new and fresh that’s influenced this phenomenon. In every sense of the word, maximalism has taken over, and we’re here for it.  Shelves stacked with just clothes won’t do. Neither will typical display counters. Fashion today isn’t just about the products themselves, but the narrative surrounding them. Without thoughtful curation and storytelling, it’s unlikely that brands can find success in making store visits more memorable. But there are some brands that are ahead of the curve — and here’s what they are doing to bring more permanence to these highly sensory experiences. 

Brands are using art as an ephemeral draw

Dopamine displays are definitely not for the faint hearted. There’s a common theme to every brand that’s investing in them and it’s usually the unapologetic use of rich, pigmented tones that are bound to pique the curiosity of even the most unintended passerby. Louis Vuitton is a prime example of how to do this well. They’ve been known to create some of the most larger-than-life exhibits in the last few years — the Louis Vuitton X Rodeo Drive featuring 180 archival items, the orange monochromatic pop up at Chicago’s West Loop only retailing menswear summer essentials or their new holographic flagship store in Ginza Namiki in Tokyo — all of which are truly visual treats that live rent free in our heads. The colourful displays don’t just end with the façade, but are extended to every corner of the store. The Louis Vuitton Bond Street store in Mayfair, London could easily pass off as an art exhibit, owing to the number of artists commissioned to make it come alive. From the Sarah Crowner installation at the entrance featuring a seven-metre-long frieze of pinks and neons to sculptor Annie Morris’s stacks of brightly coloured carved-foam orbs and the Campana Brothers’ signature cocoon chairs, the store grips you at every turn with its use of colour. Their most recent ‘Walk In The Park’ pop up in SoHo, Manhattan had the space enveloped in neon arches with a rainbow-theme throughout for Virgil Abloh’s Fall/Winter 2021 menswear collection.

Brands are centering new experiences around Gen-Z values

The pandemic has changed the way we shop. Experience visits, unlike curbside pickups or ecommerce, are a whole other ballgame that require continuous reinvention. Given that Gen-Z prioritizes history, education, sustainability, transparency and social impact, these ‘concept’ stores are a great way to beta test beyond sales for equally important factors like brand recall or long-term loyalty. Earlier this week, Burberry just launched their first immersive installation ‘Imagined Landscape’ in Jeju Island, Korea to showcase their newest outerwear collection. The play on mirrors and reflections is a nod to the world we live in today — “the blurring lines between nature and technology, the indoors and outdoors, the real and the imagined”, as quoted by the British fashion house. As part of their ongoing commitment to lead positive environmental change for a more sustainable future, they will support the continuing preservation of Jeju Island through a five-year partnership with the non-profit organisation Jeju Olle Foundation. 

On the other side of the world, the ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ exhibit is back in Brooklyn after a successful run in Paris. It’s an homage to the luxury house’s legacy featuring 200 haute couture garments, photographs, videos, sketches, accessories and more with some never-seen-before items on display. The intention of these over-the-top exhibits is to enable shoppers to buy into the brand in its entirety and to have a luxury purchase mean something more than just a transaction — all of which is quite compelling to the Gen-Z cohort.  

Brands are building culturally driven stores

There’s been a mindset shift for brands around possibilities in product presentation. Dopamine displays are one thing, but the experience, in totality, is meant to create excitement. Culture is carefully being woven into every aspect. We’re talking cereal bars at cult sneaker stores, french patisseries serving as romantic runway backdrops, luxury houses merging with tech giants, iconic jewellers teaming up with skateboarding brands and bringing allyship and politics into mainstream fashion — literally anything is possible, and most importantly, welcome. 

Speaking of unpredictable offerings, the #HermesFit Pop-Up in Brooklyn earlier this month was designed keeping the brand’s signature Hermes orange in mind. The French luxury house swapped regular workouts with light cardio, dance and strength conditioning classes like ‘Kickboxing With Bracelets’ and ‘Carre Yoga’, where standard equipment was replaced with scarves and bracelets to make them more fun. Unusual? Yes. Up for it? Why not? The success of these concepts have little to do with how ‘practical’ they are. After spending nearly two years in quarantines on-and off, people are looking for new experiences that aren’t a constant reminder of their typical pandemic routines. 

The Fendi x Skims collaboration is another example of something short-lived yet highly anticipated. The collab might not be as unexpected given the nature of Kardashian West’s drops in the past — but there’s no arguing that the pop-up was dopamine-inducing. With a limited edition capsule, neon signage and fuschia pink lighting, it was, in every way, LIT. Is this a cue for us to manifest an Ivy Park x Fenty collab? 

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The Perfect Sound for a Good Night’s Sleep

Restful sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, yet it is usually one of the first things to be sacrificed. Year-on-year research shows Britons experience trouble sleeping, with the latest stats showing that 36% of the adults in the UK struggle to fall asleep at least once a week.

A new online tool, Sound of Wellness,  aims to cure everyday issues through the power of coloured noise. White noise has been a front-and-centre favourite, but recently experts have been speaking out about the benefits of different colour frequency noises, such as pink, brown and green noise, in addition to white.

The tool was created by Currys along withpsychologist, neuroscientist andsleep expert, Dr Lindsay Browning and professor of Psychology at the Goldsmith University of London, Joydeep Bhattacharya to discover the benefits of particular sounds for different issues. 

Listen to Pink or Green noise to help you drift off

White noise, the most well-known sound colour that includes TV or radio static, or the “noise” that a fan makes may make you focus better, but this is not the pleasant soundtrack that will get your mind to wind down to slumber.

Sounds that can help with the quality of sleep are described as pink noise and green noise.

Pink noise sounds similar to nature’s rustling leaves, steady rain, wind or our own heartbeat. This is noise with a logarithmic scale, which means its low frequencies are louder and higher ones quieter. Pink noise can help you evoke a deeper, less fragmented sleep that helps focus and concentration.

Listening to these kinds of noise before sleep is especially beneficial for people living in big cities, whose background is filled with shouts from the neverending street nightlife, says Dr Browning.

“It has been suggested that listening to background noise, such as pink noise, during the night can be helpful for people with insomnia. This is because, if your sleep is disturbed by external noises waking you up, such as from a barking dog or police sirens, then playing background noise can help to mask those noise interruptions. Pink noise is a background sound which is more pleasant to listen to than white noise because it contains quieter high-frequency sounds which some people can find shrill.”, explains Browning.

Green noise is similar to pink noise but sounds more natural and is more pleasant to listen to, it sounds like rumbling rivers, trickling waterfalls and waves crashing on the beach. It is a matter of preference, and the best thing is to try the sounds.

6 tips to help you sleep better!

Listening to pink and green noise before sleep is one way to improve quality, but it is not the only thing that will assure better sleep quality.

Dr. Browning suggests following these several sleeping tips.

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule

    Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day can reinforce your circadian rhythm (body clock). By sticking to a routine, your body will already be ready for shuteye at a certain time and it will be easier to nod off.
  2. More sunlight, better sleep

Your body clock works much better if exposed to sunlight as it tunes up to day/ night. A simple walk outside during the daytime can do the trick.

  1. Bed is only for sleeping
    Breakfast in bed may be tempting, as well as opening a bag of crisps and binge-watching a favourite TV show. However, a bed should only be for sex and sleeping. Using your bed for anything else will cause your brain to associate the space with other activities, making it harder to drop off when bedtime comes around.
  2. Limiting screen time
    Blue light is on the same wavelength as daylight, which can trick your body into not producing melatonin, the natural hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Limiting screen time to two hours before bed can improve sleep quality.
  3. Creating a calm space

A bedroom should be an oasis of peace, as much as possible, so creating an ambient that’s free of external noise and light may be another factor that influences a good night sleep. If not possible, investing in an eye mask and ear plugs is also an option.

  1. Cut down on caffeine

The mean half-life of caffeine in plasma of healthy individuals is about 5 hours. However, caffeine’s elimination half-life may range between 1.5 and 9.5 hours depending on the person. This means caffeinated drinks should be limited as the day progresses and stopped entirely around 5 hours before bedtime to aid sleep.

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How running can help improve mental health- the 4 key benefits

An analysis of Google trends data shows that searches for “what are the symptoms of depression” are up by 350%, and “how to deal with depression” up by 70% over the past 30 days, suggesting that many are starting off 2023 suffering from low mood and depression. A huge contributing factor to this will be seasonal affective disorder, which is a depression experience by many during the darker winter months.

To help, the experts at New Balance share four key ways in which exercise, and running in particular, can help improve your mental health.

  1. Release of happy hormones
    Research by Mayo Clinic which found that exercising for about 30 minutes three to five times a week can help relieve depression symptoms. Exercise in general also helps release the feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins, which can negate the symptoms of depression and low mood.
    New Balance marathon runner Jonny Mellor explains: “You always feel good after a run. There’s never a feeling of, ‘I shouldn’t have done that’. Getting out of the door is the hardest step. Then once you’re out, you’re set up to be in a better mood. After running, or any other exercise, endorphins are released in the body, and you feel much better.”
  2. Increases oxygen and Vitamin D exposure
    During the cold and dark winter days it can be difficult to find the motivation to get outside, but in fact running, as a form of exercise, is actual extra beneficial during winter months. Opting for a run outside during the day instead of in the gym exposes you to fresh air, which increases the amount of oxygen in your body, helping white blood cells to function more efficiently and keep the winter bugs at bay. Not only this, but it also increases exposure to sunlight during a time of the year where vitamin D levels are typically not high enough. In fact, studies have shown that we get 90% of our vitamin D from the sun, if not taking any additional supplements, which means we should make a conscious effort to expose ourselves to the sun during the winter months.
    Although there is limited evidence that a Vitamin D deficiency directly contributes to depression, the symptoms of a deficiency are aching bones, sore muscles and joints as well as constipation, all of which can affect a person’s quality of life and therefore mood.
  3. Aids better sleep
    It is typical of those that have depression to be experiencing poor sleep, in fact, studies have shown that insomnia occurs in about 75% of adult patients with depression but according to the Sleep Foundation, depression and sleep have a bidirectional relationship, meaning it is difficult to prove whether it is depression causing poor sleep or poor sleep contributing to depression. Either way, improving the amount and quality of sleep will improve mood and overall health- and one way to do this is to increase exercise levels.
    Moderate exercise, such as running, has been proven to aid a restful night’s sleep by reducing the time it takes for sleep onset, which is the time it takes to fall asleep, this decreases the amount of time people lie awake in bed during the night. There is also the benefit that you are using more energy in the day to exercise, meaning there is less pent-up energy in the evening, essentially you wear yourself out.

Also, if you exercise outside it can help regulate your circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight lets our body know when it should be awake, meaning that when the sun sets, our bodies then produce melatonin to induce sleepiness and promote sleep. Increasing the time spent outside is a simple and effective way to trigger the natural chemicals in our brain that promote high-quality sleep.

It is, however, important to bear in mind that the timing of your run will impact the effect it has on sleep. Exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite desired effect, as exercise releases endorphins, adrenaline and raises body temperature it can make sleeping more difficult. Avoid exercise at least 2 hours before bedtime.

  1. Improved self-esteem
    There are many physical health benefits of running such as improved cardiovascular fitness, decreased blood pressure, and, of course the more obvious one, weight management. Whether your goal is to feel healthier and fitter or your goals is to lose weight, taking up running can help improve how you feel about yourself- your self-esteem, and you don’t need to be running marathons to feel the benefit.
    The NHS physical activity guidelines state that to help reduce the risk of heart disease or a stroke: “Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.” Running is classed as a vigorous activity by the NHS, meaning that just 15-minute run 5 days a week will see adults achieving their recommended activity goals and therefore positively affect other goals which helps boost self-esteem.

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Offering certainty to an uncertain PRS

By Paul Foy, CEO, RentGuarantor

The UK private rental sector is facing growing uncertainty. The number of landlords offering properties had already dropped considerably when the government imposed the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, and now, following the pandemic and amidst the current cost-of-living crisis, we are on the verge of a rental crisis – with the average lettings agent having just 11 properties available to rent in July per member branch, and 127 new prospective tenants on average being added to the books.

With the number of properties available already limited, and the recent government whitepaper, ‘A Fairer Private Rental Sector’, proposing drastic changes that are expected to drive more landlords out of the market, tenants looking to move need to make sure they are in a position to make an offer quickly, or else risk losing out on their dream home.  This includes having enough money to pay the deposit, and in most instances providing a guarantor, which is easier said than done in the current financial crisis.

For landlords, the need for a guarantor is becoming ever greater with so many facing financial insecurity. As rising energy bills and higher costs of living continue to put strain on the British public, 400,000 households are already expected to fall behind on their rent payments, meaning landlords need to find a way of ensuring they can still receive rent payments – so as to cover their own costs and income. The issue, however, is that the crisis is affecting us all, and a friend or family member acting as a guarantor may well find themselves in a position where they are unable to pay the rent themselves.

Evictions aren’t beneficial for either party and, despite how they can sometimes be presented in the media, most landlords care about the wellbeing of those renting their properties. But with rent arrears being a top concern for landlords, and 78% of tenants being worried about how they will pay rent, there is a clear need for additional support to be extended to all within the private rental sector.

Extra security for landlords

The last few years have seen landlords subjected to a great deal of uncertainty around their rental properties. Changing laws, the pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis have all come together to spur an increase in due diligence when looking at prospective tenants and the security of the tenancy. This has in turn led to an increased demand for tenants to have a guarantor, rising by 36% over the past 4 years.

As financial pressure mounts for many in the country, that need for a guarantor is only expected to rise, but with the increased living costs hitting the majority of people it can dampen the stability granted by a personal guarantor.

Instead, many landlords are recommending tenants use a company guarantor, offering them a guarantee that is underwritten by an insurance company, and providing an additional level of security to both the landlord and tenant. On top of this a professional guarantor service grants the landlord with the peace of mind that any situation arising from a tenant falling into arrears would be managed on their behalf – including eviction in the rare circumstances where it should come to that.

Additional support for tenants

As well as the benefits afforded to landlords, rent guarantor services also provide a much-needed lifeline for prospective tenants. With the private rental sector currently facing a major housing shortage, having the right provisions in place when making an offer could be the difference between securing or losing that dream home.

The service provided by a rent guarantor company means tenants can quickly provide a guarantor when needed, without having to negotiate any awkward or uncomfortable conversions with friends or family members, and can often have a completed application within minutes – only paying once the contract has been signed.

Additionally, the majority of these services offer the option to pay in instalments, taking away the pressure of paying a lump sum up front – which can be a daunting prospect in today’s financial climate. This can, through some companies, include an upfront deposit payment that can be added to the instalments, further reducing the cost burden tenants face and helping to streamline the moving process.

A necessary service in an uncertain sector

While relatively new to the UK, rent guarantor companies provide an important service, which guarantees landlords will receive their payments. In turn, this takes away the financial pressure and concerns of the tenant by granting them a reliable guarantor that will back them if they’re unable to afford rent. With many of these services underwritten by some of the UK’s largest insurance firms, they can provide an invaluable level of security during these difficult times.

While the future of the PRS is still uncertain, and there are likely to be many more hurdles to overcome in the near future, the services provided by rent guarantor companies can at least provide some respite during the current crisis we are facing – offering the extra support needed by both tenant and landlord.

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