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Extra Anya Hindmarch S/S 15

The explosion of emojis in mainstream digital media (see The Emoji Economy) gives brands a new digital language with which to engage millennial consumers. The fashion and beauty industries are taking note – with fun, poppy stickers and tech add-ons bringing customisation to the fore.

Anya Hindmarch’s online Sticker Shop accompanies the launch of the British accessory designer’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which offers consumers the chance to customise their handbags or phone cases with luxury leather sticker add-ons in Disney designs, and comic schoolgirl decorations such as smiley faces and band-aids. Marketing the products as customisable opens up the luxury brand’s market to millennials. Hindmarch was inspired by her schooldays, when customising notepads and backpacks expressed personality and uniqueness.

New beauty brand Glossier, launched by cult US beauty blog Into The Gloss, similarly mines the customisable vein with emoji-like stickers that consumers can add to their product’s existing minimal packaging. The brand, which is aimed squarely at clued-up millennials, really grasps their desire to express their personality through their purchases, even if they only sit in the bathroom cabinet. Read more in Glossier: Blog Turned Beauty Brand.

The trend for wacky, kitsch personalisation products is continuing in the iPhone case market too, which kicked off with British designer Jeremy Scott’s now cult French fries iPhone case for Moschino for Autumn/Winter 2014. Flash forward a few seasons, and we’ve added a melted chocolate ice cream and a Barbie-pink hand mirror to the mix. While very much joke products, their sales online (Net-A-Porter) and in-store (Selfridges) have grown exponentially.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Keeley Warwick, contemporary accessories buyer for Selfridges, discussed the store’s decision to increase its investment in the market by 30%, stating that it’s one the store’s “most rapidly expanding categories”. In the same article, Net-A-Porter’s online buying manager Sasha Sarokin suggested phone cases are “the 21st-century lipstick purchase” due to their wide appeal across age brackets.

With the Whitehouse jumping on the emoji bandwagon in October 2014 (publishing a report on millenials that was littered with the emoticons), brands can be similarly inspired by their expressive nature, applying them to their own products and services to appeal to an increasingly customisation-focused generation.