Target is rereleasing some of its most popular designer items from the past 20 years

Lilly Pulitzer-designed products for Target stores, including handled bags, pillows, and picture frames.

In the last decade, thousands of people have stood in line at Target stores around the country to get their hands on colorful, limited-edition items designed by big names like Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer. Those were chaotic events, with shoppers grabbing merchandise by the armload. Online, these same frenzied buyers crashed Target’s site multiple times. In case you missed out on the madness the first time around or are just ready to throw some elbows to get zigzag merchandise at a reasonable price, you’ll have your chance on September 14. Target just announced that it will be releasing a limited-edition collection of 300 products to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its design collaborations.

Models wearing zigzag-patterned clothes.Target

Twenty of its previous collaborations are included, including Missoni, Lilly Pulitzer, Jason Wu, Isaac Mizrahi and others, as well as homeware designers like Michael Graves and Philippe Starck. Prices will range from $7 to $160. According to the retailer, collections and items will vary from store to store, and guests will be limited to five items of any given size and color. So far, no images or hints have been released about which specific items from past collections will be available this time around. Target is also putting out a documentary and a Rizzoli coffee table book to commemorate the occasion.

Target was one of the first retailers to pioneer the collaboration model. The company has decreased the frequency of these collabs, but they still occur, most recently in May with the Vineyard Vines collection. Over the years, collaborative collections have become a regular occurrence at retailers at all price points, especially in the streetwear market, which relies on limited edition “drops” and frequent partnerships.

The brands that will be included in the Target collaboration re-release include Anna Sui, Thakoon, and Marimekko.
The brands that will be included in the Target collaboration rerelease.
 Target

At its heart, these types of collections act as marketing for the designer brand involved, which is usually more aspirational or expensive than others Target sells. But mostly, it’s an incredible way for Target to get people into its stores and to get people talking about Target, as a marketing professor explained to Vox back in May. It’s human nature to want what is hard to get or won’t be around for a long time, and Target excels at this marketing model.

While this anniversary collection will likely appeal to a wide swath of people, fashion fans should love this for the nostalgia factor alone. Jason Wu, Thakoon, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler pieces are all included. And there is one timely update: Target has said that all of the women’s fashion pieces will be available in “extended sizing.” A lack of extended sizes has gotten the retailer into trouble in the past. In 2014, bloggers boycotted Target for not offering the Altuzarra collection in plus-sizes. The next year, it produced plus-size pieces for the megapopular Lilly Pulitzer range, but it faced controversy again because it only offered them online and not in stores.

In 2011, Target rereleased several of its fashion collaborations to celebrate five years of its Go International program, which is what is was called then. This collection will go beyond fashion, rereleasing a lot of the homeware collaborations as well, possibly including the popular home items from Missoni. Home is a hot category now. Anecdotal evidence: Erin Fetherston, who had a fashion collection with Target in 2007 and whose pieces will be included in this reboot, no longer designs fashion — she only sells home goods now.

A spinning-whistle tea kettle designed by Michael Graves for Target.
A spinning-whistle tea kettle designed by Michael Graves for Target from 2000.
 Target

Target has been beefing up its private labels in-store, particularly in the home department. If you’ve ever seen how picked-over the HGTV darlings Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Hearth & Hand collection is, you have a sense of this already. Presumably home design enthusiasts are going to be excited about scoring one of those late ’90s Michael Graves Seussian tea kettles.

Target will undoubtedly capitalize on the same FOMO and anticipation that has driven these collections to such success in the past. In the next few weeks, Target will likely release teasers of items that will be included in this collection. Websites will release the lookbook. Shopping strategies will be planned. And the ultimate reason this exists: carts will be loaded.

[“source=vox”]

Gucci now allows people to ‘try on’ its shoes without going to the store

gucci-reuters

NEW DELHI: Going out to malls or markets to shop for shoes will soon be passe!

Various startups have been, for some time now, using the cool technology of Augmented Reality (AR) to enable people to virtually try on stuff like clothes, spectacles, make-up and hair before actually making a purchase.

Recently, Italian luxury brand Gucci teamed up with technology partner Waanaby to launch the ‘Try On’, a groundbreaking AR function that allows people to “try-on” one of its Ace sneakers at any time and from anywhere with a simple push of a button, reported Venturebeat.com.

So to buy a shoe, a person using the refreshed iOS Gucci app can pick the Ace sneakers of their choice and point their phone’s camera at their feet, after which they’re prompted to try the shoes on virtually.

From Gucci To Givenchy: A Peek Into Melania Trump’s High-On-Fashion UK Visit

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Fashion Fest

6 Jun, 2019

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are currently on their state visit to the United Kingdom. From dining with the royals to exploring Downing Street 10 with British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip, their visit made headlines around the world. However, one of the highlights of the three-day tour was the first lady’s UK-inspired wardrobe.From Gucci to Givenchy, Mrs Trump opted for expensive brand labels again and left the world stunned with every look.

What’s more? A built-in photo feature lets people capture themselves “wearing” the models that speak to them and share their snaps via text, email, or social media.

While it is Gucci today, very soon other brands too could follow suit.

The Belarus based startup Wannaby had earlier this year launched its own app Wanna Kicks where users can virtually try on 3D models from Nike, Adidas, Allbirds and others.

The app uses real-time machine learning algorithms that take into consideration colour, texture, and lighting variations, plus a fully equipped printing studio that Wannaby uses to create 3D sneaker models.

All designed to create a tracking technology that’s robust enough to follow people’s footsteps as their feet move and rotate.

Apart from shoes the startup also offers Wanna Nails, an app that lets users “try on” nail polish from curated collections with real-time segmentation and recolouring.

Next on the startups agenda is jewellery and apparel.

[“source=economictimes.indiatimes”]

Nike thinks you’re probably wearing the wrong size shoe. Here’s what it’s doing to fix that

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Nike, the world’s biggest sneaker maker, wants to solve a problem it knows far too many people have: Which size shoes will fit?

Many shoppers have gone online and ordered multiple pairs of the same style shoe, in different sizes, planning to send back what doesn’t fit. The reasons are simple. Consumers often find they fit into different sizes — maybe a 7.5 women’s here, an 8.5 women’s there — depending on the brand and style. So, when it comes time to buy a new pair, there’s a lot of guessing going on.

It’s actually, very likely you don’t even know what your true shoe size is. Your feet could also be two entirely different sizes.

“Fit is such a big friction point for our customers,” said Michael Martin, Nike’s global head of digital products. “We reached a point of realizing this was not just the biggest problem but biggest transformational opportunity that we have. … No matter how good the shoe is, if the foot doesn’t fit well within the shoe, you’re not going to get peak performance from it.”

Now, Nike says it has a solution. The company will launch Nike Fit, a service being added in North America this July to its mobile app and in stores. Nike Fit will scan customers’ feet and determine the correct size. The service will roll out to Europe in August, moving to other international markets soon after.

Nike Fit is part of Nike’s bigger push to sell more products directly to consumers through its own shops, website and mobile app, relying less on wholesale partners than it has in the past. And so Nike is opening new stores, like its House of Innovation in New York and Nike Live in Los Angeles, designed specifically for those markets and selling items visitors can’t find anywhere else.

Nike said its direct sales in 2018 were up 12%, thanks to strong e-commerce growth and the opening of new stores. And it said direct-to-consumer revenue ended the year representing roughly 30% of total Nike brand sales, up from 28% in the prior year. With a market cap of roughly $130 billion, Nike has watched its shares climb nearly 22% over the past 12 months, outpacing the S&P 500 Retail ETF’s (XRT’s) decline of 1.5%.

Nike Fit will also help the retailer better manage inventory, cut down on returns and even entice shoppers to buy more shoes, early beta testing of the technology showed.

Down to the millimeter

At its core, Nike Fit will work when a customer opens the Nike app,selects a shoe to buy, and then instead of selecting a numerical size, the shopper will be presented with the option to scan his or her foot straight using a smartphone. A scan can take less than 15 seconds. And then Nike Fit will recommend a size for that particular shoe being considered. That information — such as the width of the shoppers’ foot, down to the millimeter — will be saved for later purchases, too, because the size may vary with the style. Nike’s Air Jordan shoe, for example, fits differently than other sneakers.

In stores, Nike will have a similar experience, but a sales associate will do the scanning.

Nike is launching Nike Fit in North America in July. Here's what the experience will look like in Nike's mobile app.

Source: Nike
Nike is launching Nike Fit in North America in July. Here’s what the experience will look like in Nike’s mobile app.

It’s staggering, data shows how many people are either squeezing into a shoe too small or have one falling off the foot.

At any given time, 3 in 5 people are wearing the wrong shoe size, based on industry research, Martin said. And the biggest reason for shoes being returned — whether they were purchased in store or online — is because of size, he said, adding that Nike receives more than 500,000 calls each year to its customer-service line related to sizing.

Return deliveries of all products will cost retailers $550 billion by 2020, according to estimates.

And, worse news for consumers, wearing the wrong size shoes can lead to injuries that can sideline them from playing a sport or from going to the gym. Foot injuries can also keep you from going to work. At least 60,000 foot injuries are responsible for keeping Americans out of the office each year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Consumers more than ever want to have relationships with a brand. … Those [retailers] that are winning are serving personally.”-Heidi O’Neill, president of Nike Direct

In 2018, Nike spent an undisclosed amount to acquire Invertex, a computer-vision firm based in Israel to make Nike Fit possible. Years before this deal was finalized, Invertex had already begun working on a way to scan feet via a smartphone and make sizing recommendations, using machine learning.

Invertex CEO David Bleicher said many companies were approaching him and his colleagues by 2017 for their technology. But he said Invertex ultimately chose to work Nike, viewing the retailer as an “innovation powerhouse.” Bleicher now heads a digital studio for Nike in Tel Aviv, where he says Invertex is working to solve “many other challenges” in the industry. “The bigger vision is to [help Nike] create better shoes,” he said.

The rollout of Nike Fit isn’t the first time Nike has tried to tackle the sizing issue.

In 2000, the company launched its Air Presto shoe — designed by Tobie Hatfield, brother of well-known Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield — in sizes like “small,” “medium” and “large,” mimicking how T-shirts are sized, not using numbers. But it was more of a test to see how shoppers reacted to the stretchy material in the Presto shoes and the T-shirt sizing. And Nike eventually went back to numerical sizing for the Presto about three years ago.

Barleycorn and Brannock devices

But numerical sizing can still be imprecise — and is incredible outdated.

The shoe sizing system is archaic, dating to the 1330s. It’s somewhat of an urban legend that the reigning king of England in 1334 wanted a pair of shoes custom made for him. And when they didn’t fit, he grew angry and decided to make some standard system of measurement, because there was none. The legend goes he declared three barleycorns, or grains of barley, were equal to an inch. And so 21 barleycorns became equivalent to a size 7 shoe, for example.

Fast forward to 1925, and the Brannock Device was made. That was an attempt by Charles Brannock to perfect the barleycorn method, adding a width measurement. You know, that (horribly uncomfortable) silver, metal tray that you slide your foot into, moving around little bars, to find your shoe size? That same Brannock is still found in Macy’s shoe departments, Foot Lockersand DSWs across the country today.

“It was all well-intentioned, and it all had a good purpose,” said Bill Tippit, a senior engineering director at Nike, about the Brannock. “We still use it today, but it really is the thing that just destroyed fit.”

A shopper's foot is measured using a brannock device.

Source: Getty Images
A shopper’s foot is measured using a brannock device.

Then, there are a handful of up-start sneaker makers that have been looking for ways to solve this problem, too.

A Brooklyn-based company called Atoms, which sells its shoes to people only through invitations, has designed its sneakers in quarter sizes and will send customers three pairs at once. Then, a shopper can pick the two shoes that fit the left and right foot best, even if they’re different quarter sizes.

Outside of shoes, bra-maker ThirdLove has embraced the idea of creating the perfect fit for women. It has a “fit finder” tool on its website for shoppers to answer questions and then receive personalized bra recommendations.

“The brands gaining favor with consumers today are ones who know how to relate,” said Raj Nijjer, vice president of marketing at Yotpo. “They dialogue with customers, hear their pain points, and more often than not discover there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. The brands that win are the ones that embrace their customers’ individuality and deliver products with the perfect fit.”

Shoring up the top spot

Beyond educating its customers on sizing, and hopefully helping more people avoid injuries from wearing the wrong size shoe, this technology could also be a financial boon for Nike, with its dominant position in the sneaker industry.

According to NPD Group sports analyst Matt Powell, Nike is the No. 1 footwear brand in the U.S. in terms of sales, representing roughly one-third of the market, ahead of Adidas, with 11% of the market, and Under Armour. It also remains really hot among teens with money to spend.

“Nike is not in any danger of giving up No. 1 by any means,” Powell said. “The consumer today is looking for unique products,” which Nike continues to churn out, he said.

However, Adidas, while it still holds a smaller share of the U.S. market, has been growing sales in the U.S. at a faster rate. In its latest reported quarter, Adidas said North America sales grew by more than 11%, compared with a 7% gain in Nike’s sales in the region. Adidas is also ramping up for a sneaker collaboration with Beyonce, which is expected to generate momentum in the U.S.

In 2018, 64% of Nike brand revenues came from footwear — shoe sales were $22.27 billion out of $34.49 billion in total sales. That doesn’t include sales from Converse, which operates as a separate business within Nike, and so Converse sneakers won’t be compatible with Nike Fit.

Shoe sales were up 6% last year, excluding currency changes, thanks to strength in running, Nike said. But that was less than the 8% growth in footwear revenues in 2017, as Nike didn’t sell as many Jordan shoes in 2018.

When testing Nike Fit in stealth in three markets — Seattle, Pasadena, California, and Dallas — Martin said the company noticed conversion rates increased for the people who used Nike Fit to find the right shoe size, meaning those people were more likely to leave the store with a bag in their hands. They were also more likely to come back later and buy another pair of shoes. Nike said returns were down at those stores. And associates spent less time running back and forth to the stock room to gather other sizes.

It can also help Nike stock the right inventory. Martin explained that Nike, like many shoe brands, typically ships shoes in bulk to different regions based on a standard “curve” that’s long predicted for the industry how many people typically wear each shoe size. But he said that curve is not as exact as it could be. And so it’s easy for companies to end up with too many size 10 sneakers in one market, when it’s really the 9 that more of those people need to be wearing, for example. Data gathered from Nike Fit should help the company make its own curve of sorts.

“We’ve never had any data coming back to understand just how accurate is that distribution,” Martin said.

Nike Fit is expected to help Nike grow its membership base, which amounts to more than 150 million people worldwide today. A Nike membership is free to sign up for and offers members early access to new products, a birthday reward, the ability to chat with athletes for tips on merchandise or training, and on-the-go workouts from Nike’s app. The company says it’s on track to increase its membership base to 300 million people, as those shoppers spend 40% more than guest customers, on average.

During its six-month trial run of Nike Fit in three stores, Nike said the service was the strongest lever to boost membership sign-ups that it has found.

Inside Nike's House of Innovation in New York, a concierge helps Nike Plus members find items for their taste and then tailors them to fit shoppers perfectly.

Source: Nike
Inside Nike’s House of Innovation in New York, a concierge helps Nike Plus members find items for their taste and then tailors them to fit shoppers perfectly.

“Consumers more than ever want to have relationships with a brand. They don’t look at their experience with brands as transactional,” said Heidi O’Neill, president of Nike Direct. “You see a more premium, more personal retail environment. Those [retailers] that are winning are serving personally.”

Nike Fit is just the latest step in bringing a bigger vision to reality, according to Martin. He sees a day where shoe sizes don’t exist. A customer goes to buy a pair of shoes, a box shows up with those shoes inside, and instead of a number on the outside it’s your name — “Sarah” or “Michael.”

But that will also require more of the industry to get on board with the idea that the Brannock Device is seriously outdated, and that consumers deserve better fit.

“We think this is a problem people have been trying to solve for a long time,” O’Neill said. “But we feel super confident in our solution. … We know we are going to have a new level of trust from consumers.”

[“source=cnbc”]

Reliance plans major expansion of its fashion stores & integrate them with its online business

Reliance plans major expansion of its fashion stores & integrate them with its online businessReliance Industries plans to grow the number of low-cost Reliance Trendsfashion stores across India to 2,500 from 557 over the next five years and integrate them with its online business, two people briefed on the plans said.

The expansion, which has not been reported before, is the latest move by the conglomerate’s billionaire owner Mukesh Ambani to grab a dominant share of Indian consumer spending in a struggle with rivals, particularly e-commerce giants Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart.

Reliance’s plans to diversify into e-commerce and expand in fashion come on the heels of India’s new foreign investment curbs that have dealt at least a temporary blow to Amazon and Flipkart.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in December modified foreign direct investment rules for e-commerce, barring online retailers from selling products via vendors in which they have an equity interest, and also from making deals with vendors to sell exclusively on their platforms.

Ambani, Asia’s richest man, founded Reliance Retail in 2007 to transform his petroleum behemoth into a consumer-facing conglomerate.

Targeting 300 cities

Expectations that Ambani will increase bets on retail have been growing, and the latest plan was presented at meetings earlier this year, the sources said, citing proposals the company shared with retail advisors. Reliance Retail did not reply to an email seeking comment.

The expansion plan should allow Reliance Trends, which sells accessories as well as clothing, to rapidly grow its private labels – the retailer’s own brands – the sources said.

Reliance Trends would be in 300 cities in five years, from 160 now, said the second person briefed on the plan.

A Reliance executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said integrating the availability of private labels with its e-commerce venture and penetrating deeper into smaller, tier 3 and 4 cities is the next level of growth for Reliance Trends. The executive did not confirm the store expansion plan.

Last year, Reliance Trends opened over 100 stores, according to the executive. “With the new commerce venture that we have planned, it will even be easier to sell our private labels from even third-party stores,” the executive said.

Ambani’s so-called “new commerce” venture aims to connect small and mid-sized merchants with his retail network and warehouses, helping them better manage inventory as well as boost sales of Reliance’s private labels.

Both the sources declined to be identified as the plans have not been publicly announced.

Cheap prices for India’s youth

India has the world’s largest population in the 18-35 year age group at 440 million people, constituting nearly half of its workforce, global consultancy Deloitte said in a recent report. With rising use of the Internet and smartphones, e-commerce retailers have doled out discounts to lure people to shop online for goods as varied as basic groceries and large electronic devices.

“The millennial opportunity is what every retailer is looking at. Reliance is no different,” said a retail industry veteran and independent advisor to several retailers.

Retailers tend to make better margins out of their own brands than third-party brands because they can keep a much sharper eye on costs of production and associated marketing.

“Reliance Trends’ aggressive expansion will see products such as private labels available across multi-brand outlets and smaller format stores as well,” said independent retail consultant Govind Shrikhande when asked how Reliance will manage the aggressive expansion.

Almost 80% of Reliance Trends’ revenue comes from private labels. A team of designers work across seven centres in India and one in London to design items such as jeans, trousers, shirts and t-shirts, the company executive said.

“They are looking at global fashion and then they are looking at how that fashion can be adopted for India at a price which is affordable to churn out our private labels,” said the executive.

[“source=tech.economictimes.indiatimes”]

How Australian theatre is failing its sound designers and composers

A white middle-aged man in a theatre, with a guitar and headphones, frowning

“In the last couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of my colleagues drop out of the industry; a lot of them burn out and suffer serious mental health crises,” Edmondson told the ABC.

“David White’s letter resonated with me. We’re not far off that situation happening in Australia and I’ve seen people come uncomfortably close to that kind of point in their life because of the pressure in the job, and lack of understanding and support.”

Two jobs for the price of one

“Sound and composition … has the ability to truly creep its way into the back of the minds of the audience and help shape their engagement with the play, without being particularly overt. I think that’s a lot of the reason why it’s often overlooked,” Edmondson says.

Sound designers are responsible for all the sound elements in a production, from sound effects and mic-ing up performers to setting up speaker systems.

Edmondson, whose recent credits include Sydney Theatre Company’s award-winning six-hour epic The Harp In The South (sound designer, working with composer The Sweats) and Blackie Blackie Brown(assistant sound designer, to designer/composer Steve Toulmin), says sound designers often resort to unexpected sounds to achieve the desired effect.

In Blackie Blackie Brown, for example, Edmondson had to ask himself: “What is the sound of a giant pair of testicles exploding? … You’ve got to get creative.”

One solution? The “mating cry of foxes” — which when slowed-down sounds “low and haunting”.

A grey-haired middle-aged man with headphones around his neck gazes moodily into the cameraPHOTO: Stefan Gregory is a composer and sound designer who has been working in Australian theatre for 15 years. (ABC Arts: Teresa Tan)

Composers, meanwhile, write and arrange music for a production — but in today’s theatre, the roles of composer and sound designer are often combined.

Stefan Gregory, who won Best Sound Design at this year’s Sydney Theatre Awards for his work on The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (STC), is a composer and sound designer who has been working in Australian theatre for 15 years.

Gregory says the trend towards combining the two roles emerged within the last 10 years, as composers increasingly began to work electronically.

To hear this story and all the latest stories from stages across the country and beyond, subscribe to The Stage Show.

“The composition/sound design is expected to be fed actively into the room right through the rehearsal process,” Edmondson says.

After the day’s rehearsal, the sound designer/composer writes and mixes the music before programming it into the software. Then (hopefully) the director approves — or they’re forced to go back to the drawing board.

“Once you hit the theatre [for tech week] … you tend to come in for a 9am start and you’ll tend to work through till the theatre closes, which is generally 11pm. But larger productions you might not be out the door until midnight,” says Edmondson.

“If you’re a composer, you go home and sometimes rewrite a whole piece of music and you might be up to 3 or 4am and then back into the theatre early again.”

Gregory concurs, saying that in the final weeks of rehearsals he often works between 90 to 100-hour weeks.

And it’s not just the hours that are taxing.

“You’ve got to put your soul into this music — with the knowledge that someone’s going to listen to it for about three seconds and go ‘Nup, that’s not right’,” he says.

He estimates the ratio of music abandoned as opposed to used in the production as 10:1.

“The sound designers and composers I know all work extraordinarily hard and kill themselves, pretty much.”

Living ‘hand-to-mouth’

J David Franzke is a Melbourne-based Green Room Award-winning sound designer and composer who has worked in the industry for 25 years. Last year, he worked on Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of The Architect; currently he is working on Malthouse’s forthcoming production of Cloudstreet.

“If you’re working as a sound designer in live theatre you’re doing it as a passion. It’s not a sensible career choice,” Franzke says.

A middle-aged white man sits at a desk working on his computer, a dog in his lapPHOTO: Franzke describes his financial circumstances as “hand-to-mouth”. (ABC RN: Hannah Reich)

“I feel like I’ve spent the best part of 25 years with my nose down, tail up, just boring along working. I’ve popped out the other side and gone: ‘Oh! Where are all the things you’re meant to have when you’re almost 50?’ Like a house or a car, I don’t have any of that.”

Franzke works for 6-week blocks at a time on shows.

He describes his financial circumstances as “hand-to-mouth”.

Edmondson says he’s able to make a living wage but that he puts his “hourly rate for theatre work at between $15 and $18 per hour”. In his Facebook post, he said: “The janitors make more money out of my shows than I do (no shade to janitors, of course).”

Gregory says the hourly rate for being both composer and sound designer is “not good”, and says he chooses to work for companies that pay on the higher end of the industry’s spectrum.

“I will be going back to finding work as computer programmer this year — despite being one of the most in-demand in my field and having plenty of shows offered to me in Australia and overseas — because I want more free time to work on projects that are meaningful to me.”

The changing scope of sound design

A hand with wedding ring and watch adjusting knobs on a sound deskPHOTO: Sound design has changed significantly in the last 10 years. (ABC Arts: Teresa Tan)

“Sound designers/composers are paid a flat fee and that hasn’t really changed much at all in the last 10 years,” Edmonson says.

“It’s been fairly static — as have most of the fees of other creative departments — but unlike other departments, sound design has changed a lot in its scope in that time.”

With the rise of prestige TV, theatre audiences have come to expect more complex and immersive sound design, and technology has emerged that can realise that.

These developments have meant that delivery time for work has been cut down while tech costs have gone up. Edmondson says sound professionals need between $10-20,000 worth of equipment to start out in the industry.

Inequity in the industry

In order to remedy “the significant gender inequity” in the industry, Theatre Networks Australia has compiled a list of female, non-binary, and trans designers.

But one woman who has been working regularly in Australian theatre as a sound designer and composer is Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers, with recent credits including cabaret show Hot Brown Honey and The Longest Minute (a co-production by Queensland Theatre and JUTE Theatre Company).

A black woman with a mic singing in front of a laptop on stage.PHOTO: Sound designer and composer Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers says the theatre industry is not conducive to being a mother. (Supplied: Sean Young)

“I’m a mother and the theatre is not very conducive to that — especially [the role] of a sound artist. It’s a lot of late nights, and I wouldn’t say that I’m treated that great,” Bowers says.

“The last project I did seven drafts … a lot of that is hours that aren’t paid for,” she adds.

And it’s not just late nights that Bowers has to contend with.

“[I deal with] attitudes, ideas that because you’re a black woman, a woman of colour, that you’re only going to have a certain skill base, that you only work in a certain way … insidious stuff that is full-on.”

Better pay, recognition and education

While other designers in theatre are represented by the Australian Production Design Guild, Edmondson says sound designers are lacking specific union representation to advocate for change.

Yet, the time might be ripe for change.

“With all the cultural shift that we’re seeing in theatre at the moment surrounding safe spaces, mental health, appropriate behaviour and inclusion … I think that’s really opened the door for more honest, frank conversations,” says Edmonson.

“I’m seeing people really suffering from being overwhelmed and burnt out by this workload and … there’s such a small pool already in the industry to begin with, we just can’t afford to lose these people.”

The answer for Edmondson is better pay, improved mental health support, and bringing composers and sound designers on board earlier in the production process.

All of the practitioners interviewed for this piece feel that raising awareness is a crucial part of effecting change.

“It is about actually recognising the workload and recognising the number of hours [involved],” says Bowers.

Gregory says: “I think what’s really happening for the role is that it’s just become a lot more work than it used to be 10 years ago, and I think theatre companies haven’t really caught up … I find that I have to explain my role to pretty much every theatre company I work for.”

 

 

[“source=abc.net.au”]

Weather: England records its coldest night this winter

Walkers on a snow-covered Beachy Head near Eastbourne

Walkers on a snow-covered Beachy Head near Eastbourne. Photograph: Ed Brown/Alamy

England has seen its coldest night of the winter so far as temperatures tumbled across the UK. A low of -10.9C (12.4F) was recorded at Chillingham Barns in Northumberland in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Met Office said.

In Scotland a low of -12.6C (9.3F) was seen at Braemar in the Highlands, although it was a few degrees off the -15.4C seen there on Thursday. Elsewhere on Sunday morning the coldest spot in Wales was at Swyddffynnon in Dyfed, where -6.5C (20.3F) was seen, while in Northern Ireland the lowest temperature recorded was -2.6C (27.3F) in Katesbridge, Co Down.

Forecasters earlier said there was the potential for a low of minus 16C (3.2F) to be seen in eastern Scotland overnight following a blast of cold weather than brought severe disruption to large parts of the country.

Several weather warnings have been issued for Sunday and Monday mornings, although some respite is expected with milder conditions moving in at the start of the week. Icy stretches will continue to be a hazard in parts of southern England and East Anglia into Sunday morning and a yellow warning is in place until 11am. A warning remained in place for snow and ice for a swathe of western Scotland reaching from Inverness in the north to the outskirts of Glasgow in the south.

“Much of the UK’s dry, but across the north-west and west of Scotland there are some snow showers,” Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said. “There is a weather warning that will be in place from 7am onward as that band pushes eastwards.

“It will be a cold, frosty start for many and then there is the risk of some more rain, sleet and snow coming into western Scotland by the end of the night into Monday morning.”

After snow left travellers stranded in many parts of Britain, people across the country struggled to get back to normal on Saturday with drivers returning to collect cars they had been forced to abandon at the roadside during the snowfall – up to 14cm deep in some places – while workmen were clearing roads of ice, snow and debris.

Dozens of football, rugby and hockey matches were postponed as a result of snow and icy grounds, with Accrington Stanley’s League One game against Blackpool the most high-profile casualty.

At the Jamaica Inn, off the A30 near Launceston in Cornwall, where 140 people had camped out on mattresses on Thursday night, staff made preparations in case Sunday night brought more disruption.

Sammy Wheeler, the general manager of the inn, said: “We’ve still got the beds out and we’ve told the Highways Agency we’re on standby, ready if they need us. But, thankfully, last night all the roads seemed to be moving.”

A toboggan steers down Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset, on Saturday.
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A toboggan steers down Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset, on Saturday. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Workers from the Highways Agency and local authorities had cleared all main roads by mid-morning on Saturday, but there were still big clear-up efforts in some places.

In Walderslade, Kent, workers used diggers to remove branches and trees that had fallen due to the weight of snow. Kent police said it had been an “incredibly busy night … trying our hardest to move stranded vehicles”.

Several police forces were dealing with the aftermath of collisions. In Thornaby, Teesside, a car smashed through the front wall of a house after skidding off the road on Friday night.

The M3 had been blocked when three lorries came to a halt, and on Saturday snowploughs and gritters cleared snow from all lanes.

Coastal areas saw sleet and rain, with snow showers further inland on Saturday morning, but by the afternoon most of the country was bathed in frosty sunshine.

On Monday there will be more snow and ice in much of Scotland, the Met Office has said.

[“source=theguardian”]