Kiss And Tell February 2021
What’s Finally Been Spoken About: Reframd, Eyewear for All?
Reframd is a new challenger brand that, like many, was borne out of frustration. Ackeem Ngwenya, a Berlin based product designer realised that the reason he couldn’t find well-fitting eyewear was not a fault of his own (Black) facial structure, but instead a result of a standard within the eyewear industry to design eyewear suited to the high, narrow nasal bridges of a generic (Caucasian) Western customer.
Using a 3D facial scanning system Reframd translates a customer-taken photo into accurate parametric data, allowing production of glasses fitted to the individual’s ‘facial landmarks’. Beyond simply creating perfectly fitting glasses, Reframd hopes that this process will lead to a new set of industry standards that can eventually expand to other demographic groups; making the eyewear industry a more inclusive one.
Reframd is launching their crowdfunder soon. Sign up on here for updates
What’s Caught Our Attention: The Power of TikTok
Sea Shanties one minute, skin care regimes the next; if TikTok does one thing it certainly keeps us on our toes. However fleeting these crazes may be, their potential impact cannot be denied. Whether it’s chart-topping singles or propelling a brand out of obscurity and into the limelight, the results are varied. Recently the ‘TikTok effect’ has shown its worth in a familiar realm for us at Kiss with the explosion of challenger snack brand Little Moons.
Little Moons put a European twist on the Japanese rice-based treat ‘mochi’ by replacing the traditional bean-paste center with ice cream. Despite the recent interest Little Moons are no newcomer to these shores, they’ve been on a steady trajectory since starting out in the UK 10 years ago and have been available in Tesco for several years now.
Since December Little Moons have seen an unprecedented sales jump of 700%, 140 new listing requests and 70M viewers of #littlemoons. All this without a marketing push, flashy rebrand or indeed any input from the brand at all. Instead the popularity boost has been fueled by a flood of rave reviews from a growing legion of fans on TikTok urging others to try this unusual dessert.
What this viral success story has proved is that, more than ever, the notion of ‘brand’ is constantly adapting and in order to stay relevant brands must flex and present their authentic selves across an ever growing myriad of platforms.
What’s New: DIY goes DTC
DIY brands have struck gold during the pandemic; stuck at home and devoid of socialising or holidays to splash our paychecks on we have been plowing our cash into home improvements. Instagram is awash with #homeinspo, many a freshly Farrow & Ball-ed room on display. IKEA items seem to be permanently out of stock and queues for B&Q click-and-collects have been lining up around car parks for almost a year now.
We’ve seen several new challengers reap the benefits of the situation, positioning mundane DIY supplies to a huge market of insta-influenced consumers and providing a DTC, next-day-delivery service in line with our demanding online-shopping expectations.
The most notable of these is Lick who provide paint and wallpaper in trending colours. The shamelessly Millennial-targeted brand isn’t just about looks; Lick have introduced some smart innovations such as easy-to-pour cans and genius ‘peel-and-stick’ samples – such simple yet effective ideas we wonder why it’s taken a tiny new startup to introduce them. Other brands operating in the same arena include Lick rival ‘Coat Paints’ and ‘Stitched’ (made-to-measure blinds). All of them have a carefully curated portfolio of products – a deliberate effort to reduce the decision fatigue associated with hardware store shopping.
A similar trend has been occurring in the furniture market with Snug’s ‘sofa-in-a-box’ and Yark Beds both offering next day delivery and changing up the traditional furniture showroom experience.
Applying evocative branding, and a start-up mindset to everyday products can shake up an entire category and we look forward to seeing what realm the next set of challengers will choose to exploit.
What we Love: The Epic World Produced by a Tiny Studio
Survival games are nothing new and it seems that the uncertainty brought on a global pandemic has only fueled people’s desires to take back control, albeit virtually, in the form of simulated survival scenarios. The latest to take the genre by storm is open-world Norse adventure Valheim. Launched in beta mode at the start of February the game has rapidly gained a legion of players keen to live out their viking fantasies; 4 million games were sold in the first 3 weeks of early access release.
What is remarkable about these sales figures is that Valheim was produced by a tiny team of 5 rather than the hundreds-heavy workforce of a ‘Triple-A’ gaming studio who tend to churn out these Blockbuster hits.
Nothing about Valheim’s gameplay, setting or graphics is particularly unique or groundbreaking; although the low polygon count of the randomly generated worlds do hold nostalgic appeal and look particularly beautiful when paired with more advanced dynamic lighting and particle effects. Perhaps one of the reasons Valheim is seeing such popularity is that its take on the survival genre exists with a just the right amount of realism and punishment. If you forget to eat you won’t automatically drop dead, less time is spent micromanaging character stat bars and resolving the mundanity of survival so more time can be used for exploration and experimentation.
Unlike many survival games which are usually played as a solo experience, Valheim has an emphasis on social exploration; up to 10 players can explore their unique world together within private servers. Groups of friends can game together safe from the brutal takedowns and toxic voice-chat from random teenagers that dominate online multiplayer games – the appeal isn’t hard to comprehend. Valheim seems to have arrived at the perfect time; a welcome remedy to a world so starved of social interaction and itching for a change of surroundings.
This is yet another ‘David and Goliath’ success story showcasing the power of a small studio. The efficiency, flexibility and creativity that thrives when a close-knit team works together is evident in this case. When you remove the bullshit and hierarchical politics associated with the outdated, lumbering big-agency model the results are far more creative, impactful and relevant. #keepitsimplestupid @valheim_official
Another thing we LOVE: Look Mum – no hands! Nike’s new accessible sneaker
Buzz around a new Nike shoe-drop is nothing new, however the launch of the FlyEase Go has made even us non-sneakerheads look up. This is Nike’s first hands-free sneaker – no velcro or laces here. To create the shoe Nike collaborated with a teenage fan, born with cerebral palsy, who in 2012 wrote to Nike asking whether they could consider designing athletic shoes for disabled people.
Using a ‘bi-staple hinge’ the FlyEase Go opens and closes at the heel meaning putting the shoe on is as simple as stepping into it. Not only does this shoe literally open up accessibility to disabled people but also could benefit the elderly with reduced mobility or dexterity.
The significance of such an influential brand investing in and meeting the needs of an often neglected demographic cannot be understated; hopefully this will encourage other brands to develop accessible designs that don’t compromise on quality or style.
What we’re Keeping our Eye on: Privacy Concerns Signal a Whatsapp Exodus
With data hacking and concerns about our own privacy ever increasing it is not hard to see why a messaging app that stores none of your personal data would appeal. The open-source, non-profit owned app Signal puts privacy as priority number one and therein lies its USP. All sounds ideal yet I can count the people I personally know who use it on one hand. The tide might just be turning; since Whatsapp announced updated privacy settings in January there has been a surge of users moving onto Signal, possibly encouraged by endorsements from the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and tunnel-boring gazillionaire Elon Musk.
Signal is no new kid on the block; CIA’s black sheep Edward Snowden has been using it for years and the company was founded a whole 6 years ago-practically a tech dinosaur. Until now Signal has been on the sidelines, only used by hardcore privacy nuts; when it comes to group messaging Facebook-owned Whatsapp reigns supreme. The thing is – with Whatsapp groups so universal that even your nan is part of one – are people concerned enough to bother making the switch? Whether this recent development is a just a blip in the road for Whatsapp or the sign of a new Signal ruling era we will have to wait and see.
What we are Supporting: Seamsters at your Fingertips
Pitched as ‘Deliveroo of Clothes repairs’ Sojo is a new app that connects users with local seamsters to encourage a more sustainable approach to fashion. The war on fast-fashion has been gathering momentum over the last 10 years, spurred on by increasing environmental concerns there has been significant growth in the sustainable fashion movement, even more so through the Pandemic. Cult brands such as Paynter and Lucy and Yak have built their following based on their eco-creds. With the rise of clothing resale apps it seems more of us are turning away from Primark binges and looking for sustainable, long lasting solutions.
Finding a designer outfit at a bargain price on Depop is great, but the chances of it fitting properly might not be – here is where Sojo hopes to provide a solution. The app allows users to easily find a local seamster to ensure their clothes are tailored properly ; whether that is repairing old clothes or amending second-hand ones. At KISS we admire any brand that challenges the norm, particularly when it is for a great cause so hope to see Sojo thrive in these more sustainability conscious times.
What we are obsessed with: Bumble goes public
During International Women’s Week it seems only right that we should be celebrating Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, who at 31 is the youngest female founder to take their company public. Bumble raised a staggering $2.15 billion in an IPO on 10th February, selling even more shares than expected has rocketed the brand’s value to over $8 billion.
Leaving Tinder amidst sexual harassment suits Herd, went on to turn long-held dating traditions their head by putting women at the forefront of the decision making. On Bumble women have to ‘make the first move’. It didn’t take long for Tinder to come crawling – begging Wolfe Herd to sell her new creation to them; an offer that Bumble very publicly turned down.
Beyond the apps’ mechanics Bumble maintains a female-focussed approach; the board is majority female and in 2018 they launched an initiative to provide early stage investment for businesses run by female people of colour and other underrepresented groups. For now Bumble stands out as an anomaly amongst a sea of white-male run businesses; however with figures such as Wolfe Herd visibly at the helm there is some much needed female representation for younger women interested in business to aspire to.
More Kiss & Tell?
Look out for more Kiss and Tell 💋Just because we can’t get out and about to discover the inner workings of the world, doesn’t mean we’re not staying in touch with all the latest goings on. We’ll keep you posted!