April 17, 2014

Responsible Investments

With Earth Day next week and the not-to-be-missed Copenhagen Fashion Summit starting on April 23rd, we thought we'd update you on what is happening regarding conscious shopping and its influences on the apparel industry.

photo via Media Post News

In an effort for the two leading fast fashion retailers H&M and Zara to continue to go "green," this time they have joined forces with the nonprofit Canopy to support their "Fashion Loved By Forest" campaign which seeks to eliminate traces of endangered forest fibers like rayon, viscose, and modal in clothing which all use pulp. So far the anti-deforestation initiative is already backed by the likes of Eileen Fisher, Quicksilver, and Loomstate, so with the help of these mega-retailers it will hopefully send a powerful message that the market is shifting.

photo via Refinery29

Now that they've launched their 3rd conscious collection as well as a new labeling system called Clever Care that provides environmentally friendly cleaning instructions, how sustainable really is H&M? While these new policies are definitely showing progress and of course a complete turn-around for such a major company takes time, we can't help but wonder how they still manage to sell clothing at such a steal. How these prices include everything from fabric costs to wages, shipping, etc is unbeknownst to us but at least they are ethically aware of what they are doing and among the first of many to implement such innovative initiatives.

While its been over 10 months, there is finally word of improvement coming from Bangladesh. The first factories have been inspected and reports show they are in much better shape concerning fire and electrical safety and potential structural issues. You can now access the inspections by factory via the website, bangladeshaccord.org which breaks down all the issues, recommended and proposed action plans, timelines, reference photos, and even contact information. This model is so far proving successful and could eventually serve as a blueprint for other countries that produce apparel and fashion products.

photo via The Guardian

Despite better conditions in Bangladesh, there is so much talk of 'Made in the USA' especially here in NY but is bringing manufacturing back stateside really a more sustainable practice? According to experts like Greg Berteisen of the National Association of Manufacturers, by re-shoring production and supporting American made products, we are not only reducing our environmental footprint but creating healthier and safer workplaces. He also explained how "US manufacturers are the world's most energy efficient." By producing right here on our own soil we can better monitor what we are making and how much which drastically reduces overproduction, a major form of waste.

Walmart has recently repositioned themselves as one of the largest supporters of domestic manufacturing with initiatives to buy an additional $250 billion in American made products as well as back growing businesses by offering grants of $100,000 or more to nonprofit organizations. With their continued commitment to bringing 'Made in the USA' back to our cities we will see an estimated growth of 1 million jobs, a stronger and more self-sufficient run industry, and hopefully a chain reaction among other major retailers in the near future.

We are excited to see what the rest of 2014 has to bring for sustainability developments. Just this month there heaps of eco-conscious events to look forward to from the US to Europe to Canada, Israel, Japan, and Mexico. Now that such mega retailers and fast fashion powerhouses are now investing in more responsible measures, we are hoping it takes off across the board from big to small, high-end to mid-market. Sustainability is finally being regarded as an obligation and as it continues to evolve into a world-wide phenomenon, this global fashion awareness revolution isn't going to slow down anytime soon. 

April 10, 2014

It's A Colorado Thing

We know everybody is in Spring/Summer mode, but we had to give you a preview of the very cool brand Cat Footwear and the relaunch of the beloved Colorado boot that was ever so popular during the original 90's cool era.

photo via Cat Footwear

With grunge revival styles flooding the fashion scene over the past few years, the label has finally decided to bring back its iconic Colorado boot among a plethora of other styles to the US this fall. What was once associated with "construction" and deemed "rugged," has now been produced in over 100 different materials and colour combinations over the past two decades for both men and women. Their Fall 2014 collection will be the first to introduce the Colorado boot in a new shade of red as well as exciting new designs in textures like pony hair, metallics and studs.

photo via Cat Footwear

However, one thing that has remained consistent is the sole stamped "Walking Machine" trademark attesting to their durability, toughness and maneuverability because these shoes are made to last through any challenge.

photo via Cat Footwear

While the footwear brand has remained popular throughout the UK, Europe and South America over the years, we're expecting it to be revitalized everywhere from the runway to editorials to everyday streetwear across the US once it hits stores this fall. So far, the Colorado boot has been spotted on such fashion "It" girls as Rita Ora, Jesse J, and the girl group Neon Jungle as well as on the catwalk at VFiles during fashion week last September. 

April 3, 2014

A Colourful Neighborhood

What used to have a bad reputation for being a dangerous and desolated area throughout the 90's, Bushwick has become a new mecca for graffiti artists and you guessed it, hipsters. While the neighborhood is mostly occupied by families, it has drawn a plethora of young creatives into its low rent, warehouse-turned-loft-space apartments.

With a promise to become the 'The Next Williamsburg' (which is easily deemed the most hipster neighborhood in New York), Bushwick is filled with tons of cafes, bars, restaurants and most importantly, a lot of art. One of the biggest changes for the neighborhood was the creation of The Bushwick Collective, an initiative that has brought street artists from all around the world to use the walls of the area as their canvas. The project, idealized by Joe Ficalora, has given a colorful and artsy atmosphere to the region, attracting even more young artists, photographers, actors, and musicians, among many other freelancers.

Besides the small bodegas and Chinese and Latin restaurants, you will find plenty of cool spots in the area. Bushwick has some great cafes, for example the AP Café, at Troutman Street, with its Zen atmosphere and minimalist design. The cafe has a lovely variety of coffees (both iced and hot), fresh baked goods and is quickly becoming quite a hot spot for locals.

photo via the L magazine

Still on Troutman Street you will find another awesome place, The Rookery. This pub allocated in an industrial space full of the young and trendy, mixes "comfort food with British and West Indian cuisines." With a killer brunch menu, this foodie haven is a perfect stop for a late morning treat.

Then there's the classy and luxurious lounge, Lot 45. This venue has a beautiful front garden with old large armchairs while the interior contrasts vintage furniture with couches and armchairs in different patterns and a touch of ambiance lighting via hanging chandeliers. The lounge hosts a DJ every night from Thursday to Saturday, and offers a variety of beers and liquors, but unfortunately has yet to include food on its menu (crosses fingers). Despite that, Lot 45 is a great spot for your weekend nights, especially during the warmer spring and summer months.

As the industrial realm of Bushwick continues to transform into the next emerging cultural hub of Brooklyn, we recommend you check out some of the hidden gems that the neighborhood has to offer. And if you have any other recommendations please do share below! 

March 27, 2014

A New Era

Every day we hear about experimental leaps in technology and how it is revolutionizing the ideals of the retail sector. With so many new developments and changes, what can we expect to actually stick around to transform us from the present to the future? 

photo via CNBC

We first introduced the idea of Bitcoin about a year ago and now that successful retailers like Overstock.com accept this electronic payment others are beginning to incorporate it into their changing business strategies. Hudson's Bay Co. which operates Hudson's Bay, Saks and Lord & Taylor department stores has launched a new shopping app Pounce that utilizes the digital currency so customers can directly shop and purchase from the retailer's catalog on their mobile phones. 

video via fashionproject.com

Speaking of department stores, the infamous Nordstrom has launched a new initiative called the Fashion Project which is an online donation experience that takes lightly worn designer clothing and does two great things: donates to a charity of your choice and as long as 5 pieces meet the requirements, the donator receives a $40 gift card. This is just one example of the growing demand for "re-commerce" which all has to do with the current state of the economy and a desire for unique clothing with a bit of a story. 

Leading e-commerce giant Amazon is making another unprecedented move via an online storefront of 3D printed products. By partnering with the startup 3DLT, Amazon is now the first major retailer to actually capitalize on 3D printed designs like quirky jewelry, plastic toys, iPhone cases and belt buckles. Besides making profits and trying to take over the world, what is Amazon really masterminding? Well maybe one day they won't need warehouses because they'll be selling 3D files that consumers can purchase and print at home, ultimately creating a just-in-time retail experience aka one day we'll be able to order anything we want, exactly as we want it.

photo via WWD

In other exciting news, there are a load of store openings to look forward to like H&M's Cos in both SoHo and Beverley Hills, the first ever Nasty Gal store, and the launch of Cross Company's new ethically minded mega-chain that will all be hitting the US market soon.

And things don't stop here. With fashion photographers becoming brands, models acquiring PH.Ds, and even something called Fashion 2.0 Awards for best social media achievements and top innovators, what else does the foreseeable future hold? Well for one, we are spending way more time shopping on the web and this alone will shape a new era of retail. 

March 20, 2014

It's Only Up From Here

While the rest of the world is still trying to figure out how to balance the online and offline worlds, e-commerce is making significant strides in India as the fastest growing segment industry-wide. With the help of new reforms allowing foreign retailers to enter India's market, we will see a major push for new international brands making headway into Asia's third largest economy.

photo via TechCrunch

E-tailers like Flipkart have recently hit $1 billion in gross merchandise value making it not only way ahead of its target date but the largest retailer of mobile phones. While they specialize in the likes of everything from consumer electronics to books, clothing, and apparel, their success has sparked the possible emergence into furniture later this year. Not to mention, Flipkart will also begin delivering packages for its competitors via its eKart Logistics services which is much like what Amazon has done in the US.

Despite, India's fashion industry is among the fastest growing sector with an expected growth from $60 to $100 million over the next four years making it a hot destination for many new companies to open up shop. Brands like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart all have their eye on India's online marketplace. Since they had to put their brick and mortar store expansion on hold, Walmart has specific plans to launch a model much like that of Amazon and eBay with a direct online to consumer approach instead.

photo via live mint

Not to mention UK fashion based brands, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridges are about to make their debut via the online retailer jabong.com.

Both Swedish power players H&M and Ikea are looking to break out into the Indian market as well but by taking a more traditional method via opening physical stores. While this route is much more challenging, once their applications are approved and given the nod by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, we're betting they won't waste much time moving in.

Samsung's huge presence in India has led to Apple's plans to open up small, neighborhood shops via their distributors Redington and Ingram Micro in areas where there is high disposable income. By reintroducing the iPhone 4, Apple hopes to gain market share by offering a phone that costs much less than the current models available from its competitors Samsung and Sony. While they may be a bit late to the game, better late than never.

Whether it be fashion, furniture, or smartphones, India's e-commerce is booming allowing for new leaders to take precedence. While Flipkart is making some serious moves as well as the expansion of new international brands, it is causing other Indian e-tailers like shopclues.com to launch new initiatives, like the first exclusive online wholesale site. Rather than making huge investments via brick and mortar stores, many are taking an online approach as a means to test out the market and experiment with new concepts. 

March 13, 2014

The Perfect Match

Technology is finally getting a major style upgrade. While we've been watching the evolution of wearable technology for a while now, it has yet to really make a fashionable statement. However, now we can not only create the impossible but wear it too. Functionality may be key, but if it can look good in the process then what's there to lose?

photo via NY Post

Imagine 3D printed press on nails, a bag you can never misplace, or a sweater that lights up depending on your mood. Well guess what? It's all possible. There is even a new jewelry line that detects sign language and a ring that brings the gestures of a magic wand to life.

photo via NY Times

We've consistently been seeing the evolution of advanced fabrications and smart clothing grace the runway more and more each season. At the most recent Paris collections, Iris van Herpen was the latest designer to experiment by mixing "the artisanal and the technical." Her collection deemed "biopiracy," explored the theme of "owning something you don't" and blended silks with tiny threads of plastic.

video via NBC News

Francesca Rosella of CuteCircuit took an entirely different approach this Fashion Week by giving her models the power to customize their outfits via an iPod. These garments did everything from shimmer to change color and even play videos through the use of micro-LED lights and camouflaging batteries as buttons or clasps.

photo via NY Times

Trackable wristbands are about to be a thing of the past. Tory Burch has teamed up with Fitbit to create a tracker disguised in well-designed pendants. There's also the Shine, an aluminum disc designed by Misfit Wearables that comes with optional necklace and leather band. Surprisingly enough, the wrist isn't exactly the best place to be collecting data since we tend to move it in unpredictable ways so keep an eye out as a new crop of wearable tracking devices emerge in some unexpected places.

photo via Business Insider

Kenneth Cole is one of the first companies to thoroughly incorporate Google Glass into its marketing campaigns. This new initiative invites men to document gentlemanly deeds they perform each day via an app and Google's cutting edge eyewear. Through an omni-channel approach, the 30 year old label is promoting its new men's fragrance across multiple platforms and appealing to a select group of fashion's most innovative.

3D printing and technical fabrics may be the future of technology infused fashion, but this is just the beginning. With the help of bluetooth developments, new fabric innovations, and of course, style worthy developments, we are about to reach a new era where we won't have one without the other. It's looking like fashion and technology just may be the perfect match.

March 6, 2014

MBF Profiles: Danielle Meder

We first mentioned Danielle Meder two weeks ago during our Fashion Week Roundup and were so impressed by her visionary illustrations that we had to know more. With fashion week just over yesterday, we thought it'd be the perfect time to catch up with the famed live sketch artist and find out how she got in the business and what medium she plans on working with next.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF Trend Consulting: Please tell us a bit about your background. How did you become an illustrator and specialist in designing paper dolls?

Danielle Meder: I was homeschooled when I was a kid so I had a lot of time on my hands. We grew up in a log home near a very small town, and my first contact with the idea of fashion was through history books I got at the library. I started drawing paper dolls inspired by the history of costume when I was just a kid. When it came time for me to attend university, I chose an applied program in fashion design so I would be able to learn the technical aspects of pattern drafting and sewing.

MBF: You are calling yourself a Trend Theorist. What are the thoughts behind being a Trend Theorist?

DM: I’ve been fashion blogging for quite a while, writing about ideas and sharing my drawings. However, once fashion blogging became a trendy thing around 2008, I found that the assumptions people made about being a “fashion blogger” no longer accurately reflected what I was doing. So I invented a new title for myself, and that is “trend theorist." It’s not totally clear what a “trend theorist” is, which means I get to define it for myself.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: You have covered quite a few amazing designers at the NY RTW Fall 2014 shows – which ones where the most exciting? How did you get invited to the shows? Had you done previous work with the designers or someone on their team?

DM: Thank you! This season I was most excited to sketch Son Jung Wan, Yigal Azrouel and Skingraft. I was given access to these events by sending a request to the designers’ PR contacts a few weeks before.

MBF: When did you start sketching at live events? How has it changed/evolved over the last couple of years?

DM: I’ve been sketching at runway shows since 2006. It used to be very rare to see people sketching at the shows – but in 2013 there was a very identifiable uptick of artists at fashion shows – from young students to more venerable illustrators like Bil Donovan.

MBF: When sketching fast passing models how do you capture the essence of the look in seconds? Also how do you quickly determine whether to use the Ipad Paper app or watercolor?

DM: I decide on what medium I am using before the show starts. Once I am sketching while the show is on, I don’t have time to think too much about anything – live runway sketching at its best is spontaneous and intuitive.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: You have worked with a variety of clients – what project enticed you the most?

DM: My two favourite projects were collaborating with FiftyThree on live sketching New York Fashion Week on the iPad for Women’s Wear Daily, and a series of magnetic paper dolls I produced for The Cut.

MBF: In your opinion, why is live sketching becoming an emerging trend? Was it ever this popular before?

DM: I think the current trend for live sketching is a reaction to the ubiquity of photography. People are interested in alternate ways of recording events that have a more human touch.

MBF: What are the biggest challenges you encounter when working with clients and how do you overcome them to take your career forward?

DM: Certainly the challenge that I’m most concerned with is avoiding running with packs of other young people doing the same thing I’m doing. Being independent is both a curse and a blessing; I have absolute freedom within the confines of my circumstances. Transcending my station in life using whatever limited resources I have available is the locked door I am picking at, every single day.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: What does the future hold for you? What is your favorite medium now and what do you see as the next medium you might use?

DM: I am more interested in content than medium – so fashion itself interests me far more than illustration as a practice or whatever pencils and paper I happen to be using. I see my future expanding beyond illustration, as I’m becoming more interested in returning to my training as a designer and working with physical materials.

MBF: Who are the people that inspire you most? Do you follow other illustrators or blogs to get ideas?

DM: I avoid following other illustrators as it’s very important for illustrators to be different from one another – I don’t need the existential angst of comparing my career to others, and I don’t want to risk having my style unintentionally influenced by other illustrators. As such, I tend to study the work of dead illustrators more closely (especially Joe Eula and Kenneth Paul Block) and keep glancing sideways to maintain an awareness of the careers of my peers.

I am very inspired by writers, and I have a lot of friends who are writers. I find a certain kinship with the way that they think and work. Whenever I talk with my friends who are writers, I walk away with a million ideas.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: Our MBF Profiles ends with a questionnaire that follows in the footsteps of Proust's Questionnaire and American TV show host James Lipton's "10 Questions."

MBF: Your favorite swear word?

DM: “Fuck.”

MBF: Your least favorite word?

DM: “Should.”

MBF: Your favorite word?

DM: “Freedom.”

MBF: What turns you on?

DM: Blue collars.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

DM: Academics.

MBF: What sound do you love?

DM: Industrial steam irons.

MBF: If you could pick any profession – what might you be?

DM: My own. But if I had to choose another, I think I’d like to work in a greenhouse. I like tending to plants and I enjoy warm places.

MBF: If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

DM: Paris…missing another PFW at the moment.

MBF: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

DM: “…”

February 27, 2014

At Your Convenience

Despite so much saturation in the marketplace, there are a few brands doing things differently by acting as a disrupter and defying the norm. Rather than doing the same old thing, these are the fearless, the risk takers, and the innovative, who take radical ideas and tailor them to reality. Companies like Zappos with their new self-governing structure and Amazon's mobile warehouse robots, are just a few of the businesses challenging the current industry.

photo via USA Today

Pop-up retail shops and restaurants really aren't anything new but they are becoming more and more common in airports as of late. Not only do they offer a chance to test out new brands and concepts, but they provide relevant merchandise and speciality gifts that coincide with the season. Just last October JetBlue hosted a three day Farmers Market at JFK and as we mentioned previously the ethically-minded website Zady set up a temporary shop at LaGuardia for the holidays.

While most offline companies are moving online, Net-a-Porter is doing things a bit backwards. The e-tailer which deems itself as less of a retailer and more like a media company, feels it is missing the most basic component, a print magazine. With such a global following, the magazine called Porter, will be distributed in 60 countries and is giving Net-a-Porter a chance to partner with brands that have been apprehensive about selling their products to them, like Chanel and Dior. Their debut issue which will contain 65% editorial content will not only drive traffic to their e-commerce site, but also to those of its advertisers as well. By taking this omni-channeling approach, the company hopes to expand their audience and generate advertising revenue in the process.

photo via Mashable

Sure we have the luxury of shopping at the click of a finger anywhere, anytime but living the busy lives that we do, how do we avoid all those pesky missed delivery notifications? Now with the new delivery service Parcel, New Yorkers can shop online with ease and receive packages at a time that is most convenient for them. Basically, Parcel gives you a unique address to one of their facilities which you enter as the shipping destination for your purchases. Once they receive your package, you are notified via text to schedule a delivery anywhere between the hours of 7pm and 11pm for just $5 a package.

photo via springwise.com

There's even an app that can make all your tickets go away. Fixed enables you to take a photo of your tickets, upload them on the app, and have them challenged in court by a team of experts. If you win, you pay the team 25% of your ticket and if not, well you're stuck paying the fine but what do you really have to lose? Unfortunately, it's only available in San Francisco right now but hopefully will be expanding to a city near you soon.

The keyword here seems to be convenience and what's more accommodating than ordering Taco Bell via text? While that may take until the end of the year, one thing is for sure it's all about learning to adapt to change and evolving with it. We are mobile users that are constantly on the go so we look to things that are user friendly and make our lives a little bit easier in the long run.

Today we'd like to leave you with some of the top names to keep in mind for the rest of the year so please check out Fast Company's list of "The World's Most Innovative Companies in 2014."

February 20, 2014

Off-Site On Trend: Part II

This year we attended two leading independent designer showcases held during NYFW that help a new array of global talent break into the industry. Held by RUSK, Nolcha Fashion Week was presented on Pier 59 with more than 30 designers in womenswear, menswear, and accessories exhibiting. 

photo via Katty Xiomara

A combination of sophistication, femininity, and an eye for fabrics has led to the evolution of Katty Xiomara. With Portuguese decent and a love for the nostalgic, she has created a poetic and idyllic character for the modern woman's wardrobe. Her latest collection was inspired by the popular Sunday comic, Peanuts. Through the usage of graphic details and free hand drawings, she evokes the personalities of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the like, to transform us to the fun days of our youth.

photo via Jessica Frankl

As we mentioned last week, we also attended Launch NY to see the Bow & Drape x Paper Fashion collection. Bow & Drape is a label dedicated to building confidence among women through their personalized approach to clothing. The brand channels your inner Molly Ringwald meets Judd Nelson and is all about creating feminine pieces that radiate a bit of attitude. Their collaboration Watercolor Artist Katie Rodgers of Paper Fashion created two custom prints, a spatial floral and a lipstick conversation print.

photo via Danielle Meder

Not only have we seen such a surge in new emerging talent but there has also been a fresh update to the audience as well. What once was limited to only the most prestigious editors and buyers has evolved to a guest list of "it" girls, celebrities, and bloggers. The most recent shows have even come to include everything from streetwear photographers to illustrators to gif artists like the bloggers Tumblr sent to fashion week or the infamous Live Runway Visionaire Danielle Meder

February 18, 2014

Off-Site On Trend: Part I

Since IMG announced plans to reinvent the structure of NY Fashion Week's main venue Lincoln Center, the bi-annual event has been criticized for being too “tradeshow like” causing many designers to move off-site. This has sparked more innovative platforms like that of Manufacture NY, an eight day fashion week that combines runway with retail situated down on West 17th Street.

With an audience and exhibitor list full of the young, cool and inventive, the relaxing atmosphere of Launch NY was a great break from the usual frenzied tents. The independent designer focused event acquainted the industry with a plethora of emerging multi-talented artists and visionaries. Not to mention, the space was cleverly attached to a retail store selling a few of the featured designers' merchandise.

photo via Udor Photography

Here we were introduced to Mimi New York, a collection of unique pieces that combines antique fabrics of lightweight lace, fringe, and other hanging details to give each garment a one of a kind look. By mixing various lace colors and proportions, designer Mimi's artistic eye creates high-end, handmade, and sustainable clothing.

photo via Udor Photography

Born and bred by Bulgarian designer Milena Encheva, Minnoji is a New York based womenswear label that creates sophisticated clothing that can be worn from day to night but with a dark, romantic twist. Her most recent Fall collection had a unisex appeal with its heavily androgynous theme, which she believes is the future of fashion.

photo via TUR Photography

By adapting her training in apparel design and applying it to working with metal, Pratt Art Institute graduate, Laureluxe was able to pursue her ultimate passion for jewelry design. Some may say her work references Egyptian and Persian cultures but either way, her handmade pieces are truly creative wearable art.

photo via Simply Natural

Inspired by a love for animals, nature, and a Made In The USA mentality, Simply Natural is a line of denim developed from natural dyes grown in the northern US. By hosting a trunk show at Manufacture NY's new retail component, this farm to consumer concept showcased their completely cruelty-free alpaca fleece that is sheered directly from the animal before spun into yarn, designed, and made into apparel.

Stay tuned for Part II of our NYFW chronicles...
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MBF Trend Talk by MBF Trend Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at mbf-trendtalk.blogspot.com.