May 20, 2010

The 2010 Shopper

As we live in a world of excess, mass-market retailers and global conglomerates are the leading figures of today's retail industry. However, as it is with any trend, there is always a backlash. And this past year, we have noticed a growing number of smaller, personalized boutique shops popping up all over major cities, creating intimate shopping experiences for those who want to purchase something that hasn't been replicated by the thousands.

photo via: J.Crew

It seems that as we live in such a globally-saturated, technology-driven society, consumers today want something different in their shopping experience. Rather than going to five floor department stores carrying every brand known to man, cosy settings with small, carefully selected products displayed with crafty art installations seem to be the preferred choice. And it is not just the local, underground shops, well-recognized stores like Anthropologie, the J. Crew Men's Liquor Store, and ABC Home have been much about keeping that intimate store atmosphere, despite the number of their chain stores.

As there are rapid expansions of chain store retailers all over the globe, there is a new, deeper value for things that are local, hand-made, limited, or one-of-a-kind. Although such products may be a bit more costly, consumers today are more careful about their purchases and want something that is special. Because there are so many options for practically everything nowadays, the infinite number of purchasing choices have created a more educated consumer; one who is more particular of what he or she buys, and willing to pay more if it deems worth. With the economic recession and the last several years of globalization and mass-consumption, there is less concern for buying the latest brand name and instead, a greater interest of things that carry a unique story behind it's exterior.

Guy Wolff pottery at Restoration Hardware 

Commercial brands such as J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, and Restoration Hardware, for example, have taken note and recently began collaborations with smaller designers and artists to bring in something unique to their collections. J. Crew just released it's small collection of chain necklaces made in collaboration with NYC-based Dana Lorenz, designer of FENTON and FALLON. Restoration Hardware is selling hand-thrown pottery designed by Connecticut-based artisan Guy Wolff. And Urban Outfitters works with a number of independent designers, with current exclusives from New York designer Ulla Johnson and the NY-LA boutique The Reformation. Although these retail stores still largely carry mass-market products, these small additions help them to stand out amongst the big name brands, while also offering competitive products against the local boutique shops.

And as online shopping is on the rise, there are several websites dedicated to providing hand-made or one-of-a-kind goods. Etsy, the social commerce site is all about building an economy that reconnects makers with buyers, taking advantage of the Internet to allow independent artists, designers, and craftsmen to sell their work in a global market. Culture Label is another, recognizing the importance of a cultural product, carrying handpicked items from artists all over the world. Offering what they call "products with soul", the founders behind Culture Label understand the need for purchases that are beyond mainstream and original in design, integrity, and authenticity.

So for those of us in New York needing to go on a shopping venture, there are a number of great, promising shops that are just walking distances away, and definitely worth checking out. Here we leave you with a short list of our favorites and recently new finds, and we'd love it if you can drop a note and give us your recommendations!

photo via: Albertine
Albertine, 13 Christopher Street

photo via: Refinery29
Maryam Nassir Zadeh, 123 Norfolk Street

photo via: Yatzer
Droog, 76 Greene Street

photo via: Refinery29
No. 6, 6 Centre Market Place

photo via: Refinery29
Kiosk, 95 Spring Street 

photo via: Refinery 29
Pixie Market, 100 Stanton Street

photo via: The Choosy Beggar
King of Greene St, 72 Greene St. 

May 12, 2010

Art & Fashion

Although the recession has brought many economic downturns and financial upsets, these difficult times has in many ways taught us to reevaluate our core values and appreciate the simpler things. And with that, has come a revival and stronger necessity for the arts and culture. Whether it offers one a new sense of hope, freedom, or joy, the arts have always played a major role in enhancing our every day lives. And with our current economic state, the art scene is much more innovative and important than ever.

The fashion industry is a major part of this artistic resurgence, and it is evident in the recent growth of collaborations between artists and designers, new mixed media projects, and inventive initiatives. These rough times have brought fresh, exciting paths of cross-fertilization, where fashion, art, music, and literature can all intermix on one platform.

Let's begin with one of the most apparent trends: fashion films. Today, cinematography is an essential tool of fashion marketing for any forward-thinking fashion house. Bringing music, movement, and story-telling together, small up-and-coming designers and international fashion houses alike take advantage of film to add dimension to their brand, while offering something more personal and unique to their audience. Marni, for example, recently collaborated with video artist Rohan Wadham for its 2010 summer collection, which was released in January. And Prada collaborated with the Chinese avant-garde film maker Yang Fudong to create a nine-minute black-and-white silent film, titled "First Spring". Yves Saint Laurent, Marni, Rebecca Taylor, and Steven Alan -- none of whom have ever advertised on television -- have all released online films within the last six months. Steven Alan is currently working on his next film project due out in the fall, collaborating with four directors to each produce a film on the same theme.

Fashion designers have always been influenced by the art community; and over the years, the two worlds have become more integrated where it is no longer black and white. There is a growth of a more collaborative process where artists are further involved in fashion branding and design, creating mutual support amongst the fashion and art community. Chanel and their Mobile Art Project, Diesel and their sponsorship of new designers, Rolex and it's mentoring program, and Prada and it's art Fondazione are just a few examples. What is more unique about this, however, is that these financially difficult times have also influenced the luxury market to give back to communities, encouraging a spirit of compassion and modesty, along with creativity and culture.

Members of the LVMH Young Arts Project, photo via: How to Spend It

One of the pioneering corporate companies is Louis Vuitton. Their most recent program, the Young Arts Project, collaborates with five of London's leading art institutions -- the Hayward Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Britain, the Royal Academy of Arts and the South London Gallery -- to provide underprivileged teens ages 13 to 20 an opportunity to explore, learn, and express themselves through art. Its aim is expressed in a Louis Vuitton statement: "to nurture an exploration, enjoyment, and passion for the arts among young people which they can take into adult life and perhaps follow as a career pathway." Starting off as a three-year program, selected students will have the opportunity to attend a five-day-long Louis Vuitton Summer Academy, and be part of organized visits to auction houses and artists' and film studios. Encouraging local communities to have more access to the art world, Louis Vuitton, as a luxury brand, moves away from it's extravagant and materialistic stigma, as such programs bring a greater sense of social awareness and responsibility to the corporate scene. While corporate sponsorship has always been around, Louis Vuitton is a leader in developing projects that are both responsible while being innovative and creative.

 As we live in a time where everything is rapidly changing and evolving, fashion and art rise at the forefront for the vitality of our culture. And as Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic co-director of Hermès, states, "The only reason we support art is because the relationship between art and craft is the building block of civilization." So although the recession has brought many of us to focus more on budgeting our finances and observing what is going on in the stock market, perhaps we all need to take a deep breath, appreciate the beauty around us, and remember that the hope of our future lies far beyond what is in our bank account.

May 5, 2010

May MBF Favorite Picks

Our MBF Favorite Picks are back! Although our original plan was to post our favorite picks every other month, we realized there are just too many things we wanted to share. (We hope you don't mind!) Focusing more on the local, indie, and underground scene this month, here is our little compilation of art, literature, food, and music. Enjoy!

May Day by Deitch Projects, May 01, 2010 - May 29, 2010
18 Wooster Street, NYC
Deitch Projects is pleased to present May Day, an exhibition of new work by Shepard Fairey, as its final project. Titled not only in reference to the day of the exhibition’s opening, the multiple meanings of May Dayresonate throughout the artist's new body of work. Originally a celebration of spring and the rebirth it represents, May Day is also observed in many countries as International Worker's Day or Labor Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations coordinated by unions and socialist groups. “Mayday” is also the distress signal used by pilots, police and firefighters in times of emergency. (More info here.)

photo via: Urban Daddy
57 Great Jones Street, NYC

Take a listen to the Brooklyn-based indie band The Drums and their latest album Summertime!  The full length release is set for June 7th 2010. 

With the Chictopia iPhone Application, you can browse chic styles from their Editor's Picks Style Gallery photos. View photo details and learn more about your Chictopian photo by viewing their Chic Blog. And best of all, this app is totally free!

       Yoko Ono's latest book, "Fly Me" can be unfolded into a 30x36 inch kite. Using soy-based inks, 100 percent recycled paper, and hand-carved oak, Ono shares inspirational advice, such as "Imagine Peace" and "Fly."

 35 E. 18th St, NYC

Kim Gordon at KS Art Gallery, May 7 - June 26, 2010
73 Leonard Street, NYC

The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant
“You can’t have depths without surfaces,” says Linda Grant in her lively and provocative new book, The thoughtful Dresser, a thinking woman’s guide to what we wear. For centuries, an interest in clothes has been dismissed as the trivial pursuit of vain, empty-headed women. Yet, clothes matter, whether you are interested in fashion or not, because how we choose to dress defines who we are. How we look and what we wear tells a story...The Thoughtful Dresser celebrates the pleasure of adornment and is an elegant meditation on our relationship with what we wear and the significance of clothes as the most intimate but also public expressions of our identity. (More info here.)

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