‘I want to be the master of all trades’: What drives designer Masaba Gupta

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Colour her busy: Masaba Gupta sporting makeup from her new range. (Courtesy Nykaa)

Makeup was readily available at home with an actor-mother around, and, yet, Masaba Gupta wasn’t allowed to apply any while growing up. Neena Gupta — as is the wont of mothers — would often tell off her teenaged daughter, worrying the cosmetics would make her already “bad skin” — with “huge pores” — worse. Masaba would still put on her mother’s makeup before going to school, but that made her stick out as the makeup — three shades lighter than her skin tone — would leave white spots on her face and a punctured confidence.

Days ahead of the launch of her own line of makeup — for the Indian skin tone — in collaboration with beauty-products retailer Nykaa, the Mumbai-based 30-year-old fashion designer, walks in wearing jeans and an oversized black-and-white striped shirt. Her hair is pulled back in a tight bun, and a light brown lipstick is the only embellishment on her face.

Two years in the making, the collection, as of now, comprises 12 shades of nail paint, and corresponding lipsticks, and a nail-polish remover. “Pop” is the word to describe Gupta’s creations, even though the colour palette is very muted, minus the drama of Gupta’s favourite colours — fluorescents, bright pinks and greens. There are several shades of nude, ranging from pink to brown, as well as a blue-tone red and a shade of orange, among others.

Not everyone has a makeup artist at her disposal, and so, “makeup needs to be super inclusive. There are all kinds of us — girls with great skin, girls who tan easily, girls who want to tan. We needed something for everyone,” she says, “I have put together five shades of nudes, because what’s nude on you is brown on me. Makeup should, perhaps, only make you slightly better, and we should not use it as a place to hide.”

The world of fashion opened up to her when she was only 17. The creator of The House of Masaba label started with ushering at the Lakmé fashion week in Mumbai. A GenNext designer at the 2009 Lakmé Fashion Week, Masaba got her first break under fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. At 24, she was also one of the youngest people to have helmed Satya Paul as its fashion director. But it was the quirky prints of a comb, camera, Tamil script, and animal motifs combined with playful colours that helped Masaba come into her own. Cheap copies of these prints sell by the dozen in wholesale markets. For inspiration, she says, she looks to the past — “to history and the vast heritage of our country, from the south to the north.”

Earlier this year, she unveiled her jewellery line Ghana Ghana (an 85 piece collection, inspired by the West African Akan tribe, blending animal motifs of crocodile, fish, with those of face masks, horns, etc., in large chokers, earrings , pendants and oversized cuffs, in silver and gold) in collaboration with the Rajasthan-headquartered brand Amrapali. This, in addition to a cricket-inspired sari collection for Banarasi-wear label Ekaya. While an Ekaya sari/lehenga would be priced at Rs 70,000 upwards, an Amrapali statement piece is below Rs 13,000. “I’ve always wanted to push myself. I’ve never wanted to repeat myself, am not happy with presenting one line in three months and be done with it. I want to be the master of all trades,” she says, adding, “People think that I have it easy, but I have built something on my own for 10 years. I’m going to work doubly hard to deliver, and continue to create.”

The fashion industry, she feels, should introspect and look towards our past for inspiration. “I was taught Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen and their ilk in college (she studied apparel manufacture and design in 2010 at Premlila Vithaldas Polytechnic of Mumbai’s Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, whose alumni include Anita Dongre, Neeta Lulla and Sonakshi Sinha), but why is Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal or Anita Dongre not taught as part of the fashion curriculum? We need to look at our heritage, history and learn. Why wait for a Chanel to create an ‘India-inspired’ makeup line?” asks the designer who calls herself “India-proud”. The embroidery for all the leading fashion houses and labels in the West, she says, happens here, and, yet, “we don’t embrace it. We, as an industry, have modelled ourselves on the West, but as a society, we function differently. Wedding shopping, for instance, is a social affair — the whole family has to approve of the bride’s lehenga,” she says.

Today, she has become a go-to designer in the Hindi film industry. Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Karan Johar, and Alia Bhatt are all Masaba regulars. “Bollywood sells,” she says, “It is a part and parcel of who we are. It’s just better that we accept it. The life of a super star is what we sell.”

[“source=indianexpress”]

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”]

What it takes to become a ‘social designer’

Social design is the application of design methodologies to solutions for complex human problems. A world battling pollution, education, inequality, and climate change requires each of us to contribute in ways we deem meaningful. There is a need for design professionals and recent design graduates to think beyond traditional (product, building, service) design through an additional lens of purpose.

Design is a tool to create environmental and social value that has a role in social development and is definitely the need of the hour.

But the question is how do designers find these opportunities? Enough design schools and institutions are not taking it upon them to urge students to think about the potential impact that they can have in the world through their work. Secondly, most people, designers included, are of the opinion that solving social problems are for government, non-profits, and CSR institutions, and hence don’t think about this as a career opportunity.

Last but not the least, one of the biggest challenges is the fact that the role of design in the social development sector is still not a mainstream concept in India and most parts of the world and hence, there are no such ‘jobs’ to begin with. Until we change this narrative and create platforms/avenues/opportunities to engage and make available careers for design professionals and recent graduates in the social development space we will not be able to grow the field and make these opportunities readily available to pursue.

 

In this article we highlight design mindsets and toolsets that can be incorporated in social development work and help prepare potential social designers for this field.

1.  Looking for impactful career choices

The first option of course is looking for opportunities to use your design skills to solve environmental and societal problems, be it in government, non-profits, CSR, or design consultancies that consult for any of these. If you decide to start on your own be mindful of the problem that your organisation will solve.

2.  Getting into the right mindset 

Whether you are already working or looking for your next gig and want to do more with your design skills start by training your muscles like a social designer.

●     Adaptability: Given the ever-changing social landscape, it is vital that our thinking is both flexible and adaptable to support future growth and change.

●     Learning through failure: The process is iterative with the need to constantly pivot in face of new learnings, insights, and data.

●     Cultivate empathy: Being empathetic is always a given in design. You might have heard it a lot. Empathy means understanding and sharing. Taking some time out to truly listen is important when you design for them. Only when you listen, you are able to understand the problem and the solutions.

●     Embrace ambiguity: There are always times that we start solving a problem and then realise after more in-depth research that the problem that we set out to solve was not the problem at all and end up learning the crux of the problem. Embracing such ambiguous moments ultimately end up leading to ‘Aha!’ moments in design.

3.  Building your toolset

Whether you are already working or looking for your next gig and want to do more with your design skills start by building a social designer toolset.

Design methods:

Design is an iterative and non-linear process that can be divided into four phases – Understanding, Looking, Making, and Testing.

Systems thinking/Mapping:

While designing for one end user, one can fall into the trap of unintended consequences for other people in the system interacting with the user. When you design, you design within a larger system, in order to leverage best experiences for all the players in the system, systems mapping is a useful tool to understand the ecosystem.

Storytelling/Communication:

Often times, explaining the problem is the hardest. Storytelling involves communicating design insights, and creating brands and bite-sized information that are easily understandable and approachable. Storytelling adds value to the user experience and involves both visual storytelling, verbal and written narratives.

Measurement and evaluation:

It’s easy to fall in love with our solutions and ideas. And hence, it’s important to create a feedback loop to ensure that our design solutions are working. Measurement and evaluation is a crucial step in social design to track progress.

4.   Social design learning resources

Last but not the least, change is the only constant so don’t wait to become a continuous learner. Here are some wonderful resources to learn and get inspired by people all around the world using design approaches in social impact.

Podcasts – Podcasts are great for inspiration and get a sneak peek into what others in the field are doing, for example Social Design Insights by the Curry Stone Foundation.

Open innovation challenges – Nothing is better than picking up a challenge with a friend or colleague – Open Innovation Practice by Ideo.

Toolkits – The wheel does not have to be reinvented each time, there are plenty of toolkits to refer

●       Design for Health by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dalberg Design, Sonder, and USAID

●      D.I.Y Toolkit by Nesta, UK

●      NYC Civic Service Design by New York City Mayor’s Office of Innovation

Talking to people in the field – There is nothing better than learning about the impact space and the role that you and your skills can play by speaking to people who are affected the most by the problem as well as those who are in the frontlines trying to solve these problems.

I hope these resources are helpful to open our minds to new ideas and possibilities whether we work for technology companies or non-profits or consultancies. The question I want to leave you with is how might we as designers incorporate strategies to be leaders of advocating for social change wherever we go?

[“source=yourstory”]

What Does A Broadway Costume Designer Actually Do?

Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano as warring brothers in ‘True West’JOAN MARCUS

In his script for his 1980 play “True West,” Sam Shepard goes to considerable pains to describe how his central characters, two ostensibly very different brothers, are dressed.

Austin, the timid screenwriter, is wearing a light blue sports shirt, light tan cardigan sweater, clean blue jeans and white tennis shoes.

Lee, the older brother, wears a filthy white T-shirt; tattered brown overcoat covered with dust; dark blue baggy suit pants (from the Salvation Army); pink suede belt; scuffed, pointed, black forties dress shoes with holes in the soles; no socks; no hat. That’s not to mention the apparent need for long, pronounced sideburns, Gene Vincent hairdo, beard (two days’ growth) and bad teeth.

Kaye Voyce, the costume designer for the new Roundabout Theatreproduction of “True West,” starring Paul Dano as Austin and Ethan Hawke as Lee, didn’t feel at all limited by Shepard’s seeming specificity. For starters, she has Lee wearing a shiny maroon dress shirt under his tattered coat, at least at first, and gives Austin a pair of glasses.

“I don’t feel like the details he gives are prescriptive,” she says, of Shepard. “To me, they are beautiful clues to the characters and the world, and a great starting place. And those clues will mean different things to each team of designers, directors and actors. The clues helped to remind me to push for the extremes in these humans.”

“If an actor is uncomfortable it’s hard to believe it as a costume”JOAN MARCUS

Voyce describes the art of costume design, in collaboration with the director, actors and other designers, as a kind of “active collage process.” “With more contemporary clothes, it’s all about hunting down the right pieces, being open to surprise and how things are put together,” she says.

“And often, something just feels right or really wrong on someone’s body. If an actor doesn’t feel comfortable in a garment it’s really hard to believe it as a costume. Sometimes you want something to be ill-fit or a little strange—but the actor has to make the connection physically.”

Sometimes, the effect of costume design might be illuminating in a subliminal way. Asked if there was an aspect of her work on “True West” she found personally satisfying, she mentioned an aspect that, first and foremost, served the actors in their performances.

“In our conversations, we realized how central the absence of the father is in the play,” explained Voyce. “There are elements of Lee and Austin’s costumes that relate to their ideas of this man. Nobody should know it, but it means something to me and the actors.”

[“source=forbes”]

What Deepika Padukone’s wedding saree designer has to say about Sabyasachi credit controversy

Deepika Padukone's wedding saree designer speaks out about Sabyasachi controversy.

Deepika Padukone ooked like a vision in all of her wedding looks. While earlier it was believed that Sabyasachi had designed and conceptualised all of her wedding looks, it was later revealed that that was not the case.

Deepika’s gorgeous red and gold saree was bought by her and her mother from a very famous silk store in Bengaluru called The House Of Angadi.

Sabyasachi and his team, who had earlier taken credit for dressing up Deepika on her Konkani wedding day ‘head to toe’ later issued an apology after the original designer K Radharaman contacted famous fashion journalist Shefalee Vasudev about the same and she brought the matter to light.

Sabyasachi issued a written apology and gave credits to the original label immediately.

Deepika’s saree for the Bengaluru reception was also designed by K Radharaman.

Anyway, a long time after the controversy took place, the man behind the gorgeous designs finally decided to speak about it. Here is what he said:

“I do not and never did have any intention of being critical of Sabyasachi Mukherjee or anyone else. I do not have any negative sentiment towards anyone and we did thank him publicly on social media for giving credit to us after we pointed the error to him.”

He continued:

“That said, when I was informed that another design label had claimed credit for my work, I felt obligated to speak up on behalf of the entire design community of which we are all a part of.”

[“source=ndtv”]

What are the best accessories to go with your Philips Hue Bloom?

The Philips Hue Bloom is an ambient lighting lamp from Philips that works with the Hue ecosystem. It’s capable of providing ambient light up to 120 lumens, can be fine-tuned from a color palette of over 16 million hues, and is easy to move around (though not as portable as the Hue Go). However, to get the most out of the Hue Bloom, you may want to pick up a few accessories to go along with it. Here are some of the best options to consider!.

[“source=ndtv”]