April 25, 2011

Wedding Crazed!

Spring is in the air (finally!) and wedding season is upon us! Since we have discussed traditions in earlier posts, and with the royal wedding only days away, we thought it would be the perfect time to blog about every girl's dream day. 

photo via springwise.com

Today, as economic recovery provokes divorce rates and “the bigger, the better attitude” defies our current society, the pressure to have the “perfect” ceremony is increasingly overwhelming. Is it really about declaring our true love for another or simply an extravagant performance (with a questionable ending) for the world to see? Have we lost all meaningful tradition as couples engage in this sacred ritual at off-price retailers or even worse, fast food restaurants like McDonald's? Or, is this merely the onward direction forward for traditional occasions as everyday societal standards begin to disappear?

photo via style.com

The wedding craze is EVERYWHERE, from websites to blogs, wedding expos, reality shows, movies, and of course, fashion. No matter where we look we just can’t seem to get enough of this wedding fever. Bridal fashion week has gone international hitting such cities as New York, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Auckland, and even Jaipur, India, to name a few. We’ve seen it on the runway countless times, most recently with Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection of all-white delicates purely referencing contemporary bridal lingerie.

photo via LA Times

In addition to this, more and more brands are expanding into this growing sector of wedding trousseau expenditures. Anthropolgie’s BHLDN, Vera Wang for David’s Bridal, J. Crew’s Bridal Boutique, Ann Taylor, White House Black Market's Vow, and Matthew Williamson’s recently launched bridal line are all excellent examples of leaders taking advantage of this opportune market shift. Costco, an unlikely choice, also recently joined these bridal pioneers with its concept “from shopping isle to wedding isle.” Disney is capitalizing on the idea of having a fairy tale wedding by matching a gown and accessories to your favorite Disney princess. Do I sense a hint of brand loyalty? Yes, but these brands give hope that maybe our dream wedding can come true, and affordably.

According to a survey from David’s Bridal in 2009, 50% of brides prioritized to spend less than $800 on a dress and 54% said a designer dress was unimportant to them. If a bride can look stunning on her big day at a lower price why not? On this note, another huge trend hitting brides-to-be is the DIY ceremony. Whether it’s due to the idea of the cost-effective wedding or simply more access via the internet, brides can personalize everything from their centerpieces to invitations, food, even their dresses by reworking vintage gowns. Maybe we can have it all, tradition and at a decent price.

On another note, who isn’t following everything to do with the royal wedding? Kate Middleton’s fairy tale is about to come true with the big day booked for April 29th. What's the most important thing about any girl’s day? The dress of course! Minute by minute reports have kept us in suspense about who the mysterious designer is. Princess Diana’s, Queen Victoria’s, and Carolyn Kennedy’s dresses have all been marked in fashion history as will the soon to be royal bride's gown.

So what does all this mean? Are increased divorce rates leading us to have two or more of these “fairy tales?” Or, is there more pressure on having our dream wedding come true with more access to advice, resources, and DIY projects? Either way, this one moment in time brings lightness and balance to the chaos of our everyday lives. It is a time to declare our love and trust in another, by taking a step back from our hectic daily routines and enjoying the company of loved ones. Is all the wedding craze worth such a hefty, exhausting, price, both monetarily and physically, for such unforgettable memories? Two words, I DO. 

April 21, 2011

A Tribute to Our Earth

In celebration of Earth month, today's blog post is dedicated to the latest events focused on improving sustainable and ethical practices within the fashion community. Like Julie Gilhart states in her most recent talk at Afingo's Fashion Forum at FIT, the best strategy to promote eco and social consciousness is through education. Through consulting, university lectures, media, and public conferences, people of all backgrounds are recognizing that sustainable fashion cannot move forward solely by smart, attractive branding and marketing tactics. Designers, industry insiders, and consumers alike must first be educated and understand the ins and outs of what truly defines sustainability in order to really embrace it and take things to the next level. 

Earlier this month, Fortune held it's annual Brainstorm Green Conference. Bringing in some of the world's best thought leaders together, the event allowed them to explore "innovative ways companies can drive sustainability-based transformative change initiatives." At this three day event, all issues ranging from climate policy, green packaging, coal, green marketing, China, to electric cars were brought out in the open for discussion. In case you missed it, selected videos from the event are available via their website. Click here to get started!

                                                  photo via: MBF Trend Consulting 

More recently, New York's Fordham University also introduced it's 1st Annual Fashion Law Institute Symposium this past Friday. Discussing various topics such as new developments of eco-friendly strategies, preventions of greenwashing, and production concerns in today's economy, the conference brought together fashion industry experts from all areas to speak about today's most pressing subjects. Panelists included representatives from LVMH, Garment Center Supplier Association, BCBG, Harper's Bazaar, Zero Maria Cornejo, and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, just to name a few.

New courses are also being developed in universities so students and working professionals are better informed in adapting to today's environment and able to respond with innovative design and exciting new directions. California College of Arts newest offering in professional development, the Fashion Sustainability Workshop Series and Certificate Program, is now accepting applications. This unique series focuses on teaching new tools and strategies by integrating principles of ecology and applied to real-world projects. The faculty list is extremely established, including leading visionaries such as Bob Adams, designer/farmer and IDEO Fellow; Timo Rissanen, pioneer in no-waste pattern cutting and coeditor of Fashioning the Future; and Kate Fletcher, author of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles:Design Journeys. However, this is not the school's first effort in pushing sustainability forward. Graduates of the school have gone to work with eco-friendly brands such as Natalie Chanin and Loomstate, or have launched their own eco-friendly labels.

Furthermore, the magazine industry welcomes a fresh new face as Six Magazine just made it's debut a few weeks ago. According to founder Alina Ratsep, "Six" refers to fashion's "sixth sense". She states, "It's because ethical fashion should be the normal way fashion industry operates. It shouldn't have to be explained--this is something we know and feel on a certain level, the sixth sense level."

photo via: Ecouterre

The magazine celebrates designers, individuals, independent brands and companies who are creating a more ethical and sustainable future for the fashion industry. It represents slow fashion, a respect for clothes and it's makers, and a return to individuality. The magazine is comprised of a daily blog, a digital quarterly, and a biannual print edition. Click here to read their first issue free!

Overall, we are noticing a huge development in the rise of sustainability, within and outside of the fashion industry. As the topic is being introduced in schools and lectures, students are slowly becoming familiar with the importance of social and environmental responsibility, possibly years before entering the workforce. This allows for a new way of thinking, leading to innovative products and businesses. As one of the biggest obstacles is changing consumer behavior, we also believe that an emphasis on education will lead to a development of a Sustainable Index Standard. This allows a common language that can be clearly understood and trusted by both industry insiders and consumers.  Furthermore, companies should also come up with incentives to motivate consumers to change; automatic behavior needs to change to make a conscious choice. We hope, and strongly believe, that the fashion industry will pave the way in this endeavor.

As we have always said, eco-fashion is not a trend but the future! And although Earth Day should be every day, we hope that this month will particularly inspire you to be more proactive in taking better care of our planet. And in case you are a New Yorker, we encourage you to check out EDAY to get the latest schedules of New York City-based Earth Month and Earth Day events.

April 13, 2011

Slowing Down the High Speed

Don't get us wrong. We are definitely all for technology and the new digital era we have found ourselves living in. But as we are always checking the latest tweet on our Twitter, updating our Facebook status, and typing away on our smart phones, all of this multi-tasking and excess of information sometimes calls for a break. And although we will usually never say no to high-speed anything, we are recognizing a growing trend of people beginning to value a more simplified, slower lifestyle. And amidst of what can sometimes be a busybody-like society, we can't help but agree with some of their decisions.

For one, we all know how much time we spend our work days reading or responding to emails -- it can sometimes take all day! So to help increase productivity at work, self-described "lifestyle designer" Tim Ferriss advises setting up an automatic e-mail reply at work that says you'll only be checking your inbox twice a day, at noon and at 4 p.m. It may sound ironic that checking your email less will be beneficial, but as this advise is coming from someone with two best sellers and often asked to speak at places like Google, Facebook and Harvard School of Public Health, his unordinary tips aren't something to be overlooked. When on a four-week vacation, Ferriss set up an automatic email reply that states "Thank you for your email. Sadly, it will be deleted. To regain sanity, I am taking a break from e-mail until March. If still relevant, please email me again in the month of March." (Perhaps his advise to his fans isn't too outrageous.)

photo via: GQ Magazine (UK)

We are seeing a growing number of people in all industries appreciating a longer, slower method of work, whether it's their final product or their business model.  No less than two weeks ago, avant-garde London boutique, Selfridges set up a temporary pop-up shop featuring Anya Hindmarch's Bespoke. The Bespoke collection was established in 2009 and offers a selection of classic accessories that can be personalized with an exclusive design font, along with hand written messages or drawings. Customers take part in choosing the various finishes and colors, making each product truly unique and personal to the recipient. The Bespoke shop and Selfridges pop-up location both have craftsmen on site to emboss and finish orders. As customers work closely with the makers, each product is a true labour of love, emphasizing the value of time and craft to redefine modern luxury.

 photo via: Style.com

The art of lacemaking is also making a comeback as lace is one of the biggest trends of the season. As each thread must be drawn by hand and then carefully embroidered by hand, creating a lace pattern has almost become a lost art in the fashion world and only recently it is slowly seeing a revival. Until the 1920s, there used to be hundreds of types of lace all over Europe. But sadly, as we moved on to a much fast-paced fashion inudstry where cheaper, mass-market lace made in China is preferred, the high-end lace industry has reduced to a very small area in France in a town called Caudry. Today, the lacemakers are continuing their work as design houses like Dior, Chanel, Gaultier, Jason Wu, and Valentino recognize that the intense labor of these few French women results in an incomparable product that cannot be compared to the cheaper alternatives.

photo via: FT.com

Italy has also recognized the dying trade of tailoring as the average age of tailors are 55 years old. Following Kiton's Naples tailoring school, design houses like Brioni, Bottega Veneta, and Ermenegildo Zegna have all recently founded tailoring schools to train the younger generation and raise them up as the art of tailoring is vital to the future of their businesses.

Everyday consumers are also taking note of today's fast culture and slowing down by using things until they're all used up, or reclaiming vintage. Whether it's a car, phone, computer, or toothpaste, today's research show a slowing rate of product life cycles and consumption. Consumers are holding onto new cars for an average 63.9 months, up 14 percent since the end of 2008. Cellphones are upgraded on an average of every 18 months, up from every 16 months just a few years ago. And laptops are being used for an average of 4 years and 4 months, a month longer than they did a year ago. These studies show that we are shifting from a throwaway culture to a preserving culture, even similar to the times of the Great Depression. And as the economy remains unstable, people are looking to make their purchases last.

photo via: WSJ.com

Vintage clothing has always remained popular in women's fashion. We even highlighted several flea markets in our last Los Angeles related blog post. Vintage and reworked vintage shops thrive in cities all across the nation. However, men are also picking up on the trend as vintage men's watches are growing in popularity. Often an heirloom that was worn from one generation to the next, many men today are looking not for just any kind of luxury, but one with real heritage and a story. Carefully crafted and simple in design, older, historic watches are being picked up by fashionable gents all over the world.
photo via: NY Times

"Type-ins" is also a new trend amongst the mono-taskers, as these meetings are sprouting up in cities all over the nation and even across the globe. "Type-ins" is a gathering of manual typewriter enthusiasts coming together at a bar or bookstore to type out snail mail letters and competing to see who can do it the fastest. Using machines that are often many years older than themselves, people have rediscovered the excitement of this simple, straightforward, and functional machine. Unlike today's computers where you can check your email, shop for your next outfit, and coordinate office meetings simultaneously, the typewriter limits you to focus all of your energy into simply one task. Matt Cidoni, 16, of East Brunswick, N.J., is an owner of ten typewriters and a proud member of the "typosphere," a global community of typewriter geeks. His typewritten messages are publicly shared on his Web site, Adventures in Typewriterdom. Teenagers and working adults alike are all finding a new found hobby with the old machine. And although they may be typing away on their typewriters, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are throwing away their latest technological gizmos. It's all a matter of balance.

In the end, we are not saying that we should all go back to the days of our grandparents when everything was frugally used to the last drop or tear, nor are we suggesting that we all return our laptops and smart phones. But perhaps we need to remember to that it's necessary, and even beneficial, to sometimes pause, step back, and not be so afraid of taking things slow. After all, we all need a breath of fresh air sometimes, don't we?

April 5, 2011

April MBF Favorite Picks

Los Angeles is a city famed for it's Hollywood stars and year round warm weather. As the west coast's favorite city for entertainment, food, and fashion, LA is an exciting city with a lot to offer. So this past weekend, Stacy, one of our staff members, took a short trip to escape New York's chilling temperatures and with the help of locals, compiled her list of things to do and places to see in the other side of the states.

Kicking off the month of April, we celebrate this month's picks with the best of Los Angeles.
If you ever make a trip out there, or are a LA native, we'd also love to hear your favorite spots!

photo via: LA Weekly

1. Ray's Restaurant and Stark Bar
LACMA's Ray's Restaurant and Stark Bar is barely a month old, but the place already has a huge following of both Hollywood's It crowd and local Angelinos. The eatery is named after Ray Stark, the late filmmaker and producer of iconic films such as Steel Magnolias and Funny Girl. Although the museum is really where all the art is, with an interior designed by the well-known architect Renzo Piano and a drink menu compiled by the world-famous "barsmith" Michel Dozois, the restaurant is equally as attractive as the museum's artworks themselves. Executive Chef Kris Morningstar, who's background includes top LA eateries such as District, Mercantile, AOC, Patina, and Blue Velvet, the Mediterranean farm-to-table menu is based on seasonal, local ingredients and the restaurant's wood burning oven and grill. This is what we call a perfect marriage of fine cuisine and fine art.

photo via: RGC Shows

2. Sunday Flea Markets
Traditionally, Sunday is the day of rest, but for those in LA, it's better known as the day of flea markets. The Melrose Trading Post, located in the parking lot of Fairfax High School, takes place every Sunday -- rain or shine. With over two hundred vendors and live music and street food, it is a great place to stroll around after a Sunday brunch. However, if this isn't enough for you, there are also bigger monthly flea market events such as the Rose Bowl Flea, which boasts over 2,500 vendors, and takes place on the second Sunday of every month or the Pasadena City College Flea Market, with over 500 vendors, taking place on the first Sunday of every month. Whether you are looking for old records, vintage dresses, or antique furniture, you will be sure to find something unique at a great price.

photo via: Coachella

3. Coachella
The annual three-day music extravaganza is on every music lovers' calendar months before the actual event. Fans from all over the nation gather in Indio, California to celebrate, have fun, and listen to some great live music. With camping grounds located adjacent to the concert area, this long weekend event starts from early morning and doesn't end till late at night. This year's lineup includes Kings of Leon, Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Ratatat, just to name a few. And if you're looking to hitch a ride, H&M is offering the Conscious Bus Service to forty lucky fans.

photo via: Travel Channel

4. LA Food Trucks
Los Angeles birthed one of the most popular trends today in food culture -- gourmet food trucks. Serving every type of food, from Mexican, Korean, Greek, Spanish, to Indian, the cuisine is as diverse as the city itself. This new type of mobile cuisine offers creative and high quality food in a convenient and affordable setting. Komodo Food Truck, Nom Nom Truck, The Grilled Cheese Truck, and the Kogi Korean BBQ Taco Truck are amongst the more popular. Located near large office buildings or busy streets, these trucks often have long lines with hungry fans. But don't be fooled, the line moves quickly and you, and your stomach, won't regret it. Most food trucks can be followed on Twitter. Click here to find your favorite!

photo via: Space 15 Twenty

5. Space 15 Twenty
On the corner of Cahuenga Boulevard lies a mini-mall that can easily be overlooked. However, this hidden shopping center includes a court yard, book store, several boutiques, and one of LA's best burger joints, Umami Burger. Their current pop-up store is TOMS Give Shop & Gallery. Debuting their spring collection and hosting various community-focused events with art and live music, the shop is definitely one-of-a-kind.

photo via: Forage

6. Forage
Simple food, local ingredients, communal dining is the general concept behind one of Silverlake's newest restaurant addition, Forage. As all ingredients are delivered fresh from small local farms, the menus are constantly being updated as they are dependent on what's available for the season. The "P Belly Sandwich," however, is one of their year-round staples and a crowd favorite.

photo via: THVM

7. THVM 
Denim label, THVM recently opened their new retail space in downtown Los Angeles. Besides their own line, the boutique also carries avant-garde labels such as Raquel Allegra, Moonspoon Saloon, and Annie Costello Brown, just to name a few. The label recently collaborated with artist Krissy Morrison to produce limited edition organic hand dyed jeans treated with unusual materials like rain water, onion skin, kamala flower seeds, and indigo.


8. MOCA presents Rodarte: States of Matter
Los Angeles' museum of contemporary art MOCA's current exhibition presents the fashion and costume designs of Pasadena-based designer sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. The collection features selected pieces from their past runway collections as well as original costumes from the feature film Black Swan.
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