Here is the first full case of VRD’s INOVA-PME, a DESIGN DRIVEN INNOVATION program tailored to suit small and medium companies, aiming to boost innovation in growing businesses through DESIGN THINKING processes.

The project started when André Levy Casiuh, from MeiaCinco – the official representative of Yupoong Inc. in Brazil, a Korean company detainer of the FLEXFIT patent – searched VRD to develop a headwear display able to highlight FLEXFIT and also overcome common issues regarding store space and accessibility. FLEXFIT is reference in the market of premium hats, its recognition on technology and high quality made Flexfit the preferred of well-known brands in the “Premium” category. The FLEXFIT brand represents its patented tecnology: a rubber band that allows the hat to be “one size fits all”, offering great fitting and confort, by adjusting to its user.

For those who don’t have a closer connection with the market of premium hats, the project may not signify much. However, premium hats are a gateway to the entire universe of a “tribe”, where the hat goes beyond brand or fashion. It’s a lifestyle, a personal signature, a social statement that connects the user with an entire niche of art, music or sport. The market of premium hats is huge and those “hat lovers” can become true collectors, accumulating dozens of hats and storing them with a special care. The hats have today the status value that the tennis shoes had a few years ago, and even costing higher prices, the sales number is impressive.

Despite of the challenge of developing the display in only five weeks, VRD saw the opportunity to go beyond. Starting from thinking about how to spread the “technology brand” , that could not compete with the “style brand” (QuickSilver, HD, etc), VRD understood that the display could be a way of innovating not only in the way hats are being displayed, but also in the way the Flexfit brand makes it statement.

Aiming to collect inspiring information, VRD developed a methodology able to approximate designers to the hat universe in an “immersive” way. The research covered stores of different typologies and targets in Sao Paulo (Brazil) for the deep understanding of sales dynamics, store layouts, as well as the understanding of sellers and customers’ main complaints and desires. It was a 3 day immersion for the construction of project’s framework.

The visit of stores brought an interesting issue and a big challenge to the project. Hat display looks chaotic most of the times; the agglomeration of a variety of options, the improvisation of storage “at hand” and the fact that looking for a model without messing everything up is almost impossible, it all decreases the perceived value of a product that is of great affection for who’s buying.

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How to create a display that could highlight the technology inside recognized brands? How to mark territory in stores crowded with products competing for costumers attention? This was about a display that, beyond emphasizing the FLEXFIT technology, should also help to sell better, adapting and coexisting in different store architectures and dynamics. A display able to define the FLEXFIT territory while traveling through the store, making a good use of spaces, matching with outfits, being displayed in shelves, countertops, or even among other products. How to deal with the conflict between access and appearance, and between exhibition and variety? And above it all, how to come with an innovative solution within viable production costs?
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From research to industrialization it was a 5 weeks process, where the richness of the different points of view along with the inspiration brought from other areas boosted the creative work. The solution FLEXFIT FRAMES equalizes all requirements in a simple smart product that surpasses the idea of “displaying” by marking territory in a unique way.

The slogan “Brand of Best Brands” explores the empowerment given by the variety of well known brands in the fashion industry preferring the Flexfit technology. Being a choice of preference becomes the best endorsement of quality and recognition for FLEXFIT – See which brands have Flexfit inside and you’ll understand why FLEXFIT is the best in the market – On the other hand, the claim “feel it” gives consistency to the slogan and invites people to try the hat on, since the best feature of FLEXFIT is the comfort given by the rubber band, and it has to be tried on to be felt. Using these two claims in the display helps to bring the inside to the outside, highlighting what FLEXFIT does best without conflicting with the brands that FLEXFIT works with.
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Facing the dilemma of choosing between a display that would set a territory or an element that could occupy small key areas in the store, at the end, the determination of attending both won. That’s when the idea of creating a frame that could hold the product in the display and also carry the product through the store came to the project. With a simple geometry, the frame highlights the hat, bringing value to the product and generating more presence for the brand. And since this element would create a life of its own, why not to extend its presence to customers’ houses? A perfect way to hold and expose a hat can also be the perfect way to keep a hat collection at home.
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But how do this hat frame works? Due to its design and material, the frame holds the hat by clipping by its sides. This simple holding solution also allows to change hat’s position in order to align hat’s forehead with human visual angle.

The display solution FLEXFIT FRAMES, is a double sided self standing and very modular architecture, that combines simplicity and functionality, but most of all, a solution that turned a simple design component into an opportunity for strengthening tights with hat lovers and a potential for spreading brand’s presence among tribes. A project that started as just a display gain a great strategic value to expand horizons and attract new costumers “straight from the source”.

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