December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays!

2012…WOW what a year!!!

As the year sped by, the overriding theme was CHANGE.

CHANGE came in all shapes and forms and the big drivers delivering this change were technology and unpredictability.

CHANGE meant both challenge and opportunities.

There was little to no time to step back, review, digest – the force of renewal could not be stopped.

CHANGE challenged us to continuously look forward – without looking back.

CHANGE was all about what’s next?! And we all wanted to know about the opportunities of moving forward with the new, the unknown. They knocked at everyone’s door.

The ever growing community both online and offline impacted us all.

Digital media continues to change our lifestyle – 24/7 became the new norm for shopping – when, how and where we want it – on demand.

The art of story telling was finessed further and stood out against a landscape of sameness.

The consumer is more knowledgeable than ever before and is capable of turning any industry upside down.

The power of data and the ability to analyse that data will tell us how we too can respond in a more effective, impactful and direct manner to what our consumer will want in 2013.

Sustainability will continue to be more and more integrated in our every day lives. The unpredictability of the impact we have on our environment makes it ever more important to all of us.

Local retains its importance – inviting us to be more conscientious about what, how and why we purchase. It beckons to us…to be more creative, to be idea generators, to think out of the box, to break the norm, to be different, small but unique.

Trust-based business models are here to stay and are the new tool for successful marketing strategies.

So…our motto for 2013 is…keep it simple, learn to let go, ride the wave, and most of all, enjoy it!!! Do what you love, be who you are, and approach life and your profession with unbridled passion. If you do, you will turn heads!!! And we will be your greatest fans! 

From all of us at MBF Trend Consulting, we wish you a wonderful holiday season surrounded by family and friends – and may 2013 be a year of amazing, head-turning passion and success!

December 13, 2012

Twins?! Yeah...Why Not!

The most cheerful time of the year is upon us! So shift gears this season to reminisce about what the holidays are actually about, our loved ones. As you wrap up your holiday shopping, end of the year projects, and (hopefully) take a few days off from work to celebrate, remember that family can include all different types of relationships and connections, whether we share genetic bonds or not.

Meet Taryn and Shailyn Tavella, 21-year-old identical twins who live in New York City. Taryn goes to Parsons School of Design and Shailyn, the eight-minute-older sister goes to NYU. The two complement each other to create a harmony of opposites. For instance, when they got lost in Rome on their family vacation they harnessed their contrasting skills and worked together to find their way through the foreign city. Taryn was prepared with a map and directional skills and her sister helped with her language ability. These contrasts are also seen when they pick out clothes, Shailyn goes for the comfortable fit while Taryn selects the latest trend. The result is an ensemble that works in its practicality and style. Putting together their assorted talents creates an advantage in any situation.

MBF: Did your mom dress you alike when you were younger?

Taryn: Yes, same outfit but different colours.

Shailyn: I would always be in red or pink while Taryn wore blue or purple.

Taryn: When we got older we were able to pick out our own outfits but Shailyn who wasn’t, and still isn’t into fashion, just wore whatever I picked out.

Shailyn: It was much easier for me!

Taryn: Until 5th grade, when I demanded that we wear different outfits. Then I started to experiment on Shailyn. I would always dress up Shailyn like she was some doll to play with and I still do today.

Shailyn: Taryn is always putting on my make-up and helping me style a plain outfit. I love it.

MBF: How would you describe each other’s style?

Taryn: Well, for Shailyn ideally her style would be like Anna Karina (Godard’s muse). When I dress her I always think of her as a 1960s schoolgirl meets preppy plain Jane.

Shailyn: I’m not as articulate at describing fashion. But I would say that Taryn’s style has always changed with the trends. But she is by no means trendy; she always has some classic aesthetics. When she moved to New York she has changed styles a lot! I think she likes to mix 1960s with the 1990s, which reflects her taste in music too.

MBF: Have you ever had any freaky/unexplainable twin experiences?

Shailyn: The classic go to story for this question is when we were little at the doctors and I got my finger pricked to get blood drawn.

Taryn: I got it drawn from my arm; it was our first time being old enough to do so.

Shailyn: After seeing her have it done I choose the comfortable method. Taryn has always been the brave one.

Taryn: When we walked out of the office my finger hurt.

Shailyn: And my arm hurt. It was odd; it was like we exchanged pain pressure points.

Taryn: Other than that we always have the same symbols or motifs in our dreams, usually with different endings. One reoccurring dream in particular there was tidal wave in both of our dreams.

Shailyn: Oh and once we had the same English class and we found that we interpreted the symbols and themes in stories the same way.

MBF:What annoys you about each other the most?

Taryn: Ah, ever since we started living with each other again the list grows each day.

Shailyn: I think what annoys me most about Taryn is how long it takes for her to get ready in the morning and her insomniac tendencies that keep her me up at night.

Taryn: I find Shailyn’s tone and sometimes condescending words particularly frustrating.

MBF: Have you ever-switched places? Think Olsen twins.

Shailyn: Nope, it's something we have feared to try because, unlike me, Taryn has a beauty mark on her face.

Taryn: It's a total give away.

MBF: Have you ever been separated for an extended period of time?

Taryn: There was the time we went to different away camps, and Shailyn went to college in London…

Shailyn: We really have only spent 4 months at most apart.

MBF: How are you different? How are you similar?

Shailyn: We are different in many ways; it may be easier to say how we are similar.

Taryn: We are both passionate, have the same high-pitched voice, similar mannerisms, and ability to read and empathize with people.

Shailyn: We are both left-handed, need our fingers to count, can’t spell, and have the same laugh; but different sense of humor!

MBF: If there was one attribute you could trade what would it be?

Taryn: I would definitely want Shailyn’s amazing self-confidence.

Shailyn: I’d kill for Taryn’s more angular facial features.

MBF: What famous twins would you like to be if you could be anyone?

Taryn: This is tricky; when we were little we were very jealous of the Olsen twins...

Shailyn: ...but we really love Tegan and Sarah.

Taryn: They rock, and are very talented.

Shailyn: It would be fun to be them.

December 6, 2012

Turning Heads

With companies like Target, H&M, Macy's, and all the designer upon designer partnerships from the last year, collaborations have become so passé. This approach of bringing high-end names to the mid-market through capsule collections and limited edition product assortments is losing its appeal among shoppers. It's time retailers bring us forward into the next phase of innovation by pushing the concept shop even further. So, with that said, what cutting-edge business formats are turning heads? With 2013 almost upon us, let's give our attention to the companies who are leaving the status quo behind and really experimenting in the marketplace.

First up is Table of Contents based in the artsy Old Town Chinatown district of Portland and filled with a curated selection of up and coming designers and rare finds. Inspired by the process of editing books and magazines, this shop is compared to a "three-dimensional publication" with each season having its own key theme. While the owners, Joseph Magliaro and Shu Hung, firmly believe the in-store experience is crucial, they also heavily rely on their online presence as a major means of generating profits and expanding their global reach. Keep a look out for this duo because they may be bringing this super modern concept shop to a city near you soon!

We all know and love Etsy and now (until Saturday) the world's largest e-commerce marketplace of handmade and vintage products brings its online community to life right in the heart of SoHo. With carefully selected goodies, special events, and real-time demonstrations, this holiday pop-up features a list of curators like Martha Stewart, Tavi Gevinson, and Bobbie Thomas, among many others. The crafty e-commerce site turned holiday shop even features a booth selling giftcards for online purchases and gifts. Etsy is just one of a string of online retailers to open up pop-up spots across the city over the past few months. As the tables continue to turn between online/offline, we may be seeing more websites take on this approach to build personability, branding, and real life experiences for their customers through traditional brick and mortar stores.

photo via ASOS

ASOS continues to be the leader as the hottest (and most successful) global online retailer for Gen Y-ers and now they are taking it to the next level by expanding into the luxury resale market. How you ask? Well, they recently invested in Covetique, a site selling previously owned luxury designer clothing and accessories. While ASOS does sell vintage merchandise and resale via its marketplace, nothing as high-end as Prada and Alexander McQueen. Also, rumors are surfacing that the trendy shopping site is finally looking for real estate in SoHo. Don't get your hopes up too high just yet...real estate as in office space! However, we suspect this may be the first of many steps towards future U.S. retail opportunities for the e-commerce powerhouse.

video via Puma

By incorporating technology in their store design, Puma gives a digital spin to traditional sports gear. Last year, the company launched their "Puma Joy Pad," a wall of 32-interconnected iPads producing a full on interactive media experience featuring touchscreens to play games. In-store you'll also find a "peep show" in the fitting rooms where customers can open the door and find random multi-media images of everything from a hamster to a disco ball.

photo via Rubina Magazine is an e-commerce site that sells beautiful hand-crafted accessories made by women artisans from around the world. The concept was inspired by a trip to Pakistan back in 2005 when founder, Kari Litzmann met a woman named Rubina who dreamt of starting her own business but did not have the financial means to do so. The company's primary mission is to help the "Rubinas" of the world move forward in their communities through a collaborative business model that gives them a more viable means of selling.

video via Uslu Airlines

Uslu Airlines has been one of our favorite brands for a while now. This makeup company is constantly re-thinking their marketing approaches as well as their product selection. From asking men which lipstick shade they like on women to creating a nail polish line that matches a Berlin made sunglass collection, they keep thinking outside the box.

All of these companies are a great examples of how retail is evolving and where it should go as we move into the coming year. The market is moving so quickly and as we move forward into a new age, traditional brick and mortar operations just simply won't be enough. Those that remain open minded and fearless to bring new concepts to the table will without a doubt find success by not only offering fantastic products, but by creating a sense of community for their customers.

November 29, 2012

Reinventing Reality

With the end of the year nearing, we are still trying to figure things out moving forward. Despite, there has been an onset of revolutionary change (both good and bad) making its mark in history from weather to the economy, politics, retail, and of course fashion. The past two seasons we've seen major 1950's influences grace the runway leaving Spring 2013 to be quite progressive with its bold, black and white optical aesthetic. And as a result, this renewed Mod look is making a statement all over the press and internet. We need a change and we don't yet know what that change is. Therefore, we look to the exact opposite of the spectrum for answers.

The longer, fuller, more restrictive looks of the 1950's were followed by a drastic change in aesthetic of the 1960's as radical Mod and Space Age influences became all the rage. From conservative to dramatic color contrasts and avant garde influences, this is the exact shift we are seeing in our present day as we move forward in the modern age of technology.

photo via Oyster Mag

Super saturated colors have been the thing for so long now that we are beginning to progress towards a more minimal, neutral color palette. We've noticed this not only on the catwalk with designers like Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, and Moschino, but through advertisements and prints reminiscent of black and white photographs like Proenza Schouler's fall campaign for example.

photo via

The art world is on board to as the Tate Modern in London showcases fashion photographer William Klein's black and white shots and the Guggenheim displays Picasso's Black and White exhibit, both running now through the end of January. “Black-and-white removes a layer of reality and allows you to see the world in a different way. There is a classicism in the imagery, so when you see it down the years, it makes more of a mark," explains photographer Steven Klein.

video via Mashable

As we already know, history always repeats itself so at this point, it's all about reinventing the past, specifically the 1960s. Tom Sachs brought the space age back with his imaginary Mars Exhibit last spring. Nars Cosmetics is doing it with its Andy Warhol Collection, which even has a Facebook Profile Makeover app so fans can "Warholize" their photos. Marc Jacobs brought the spirit of a 21st century Edie Sedgwick to life on the spring runway with 18-year old model Ruby Jean Wilson. Not to mention his new campaign is mod to the max with the help of the young model, optical illusion prints, and sight-bending mirrors.

photo via NY Times

No industry knows reinvention better than the fashion industry with designers not only launching fresh collections at least twice a year, but major fashion houses updating artistic and creative directors as well. With that said, Marc Jacobs is for sure the master of renewing himself as he goes from layered and embellished one season to simple and clean the next. Just last spring, it was announced Raf Simmons was leaving Jil Sander for Dior. This spring, Jil Sander returned to her namesake and kicked it off with a "Reset to Zero" themed collection. What was once Yves Saint Laurent is now Saint Laurent as part of Hedi Slimane's makeover as creative director. And the latest shake up, Balenciaga and Nicolas Ghesquière are parting ways with much gossip fluttering around about who will fill his shoes next.

video via Daily Motion

So what does this mean? Well, for one, this indicates that a combination of both simplicity and drama represents not only future aesthetics, but future ideals. Just look at H&M's new luxury line, & Other Stories. With a trendy retailer like H&M going meaningful and minimal, maybe we are finally reaching the peak of fast fashion and making a point to slow down, or maybe it's merely an illusion. Either way, a struggle to balance today's savvy digital age with the slower ways of doing things that once were, is producing something in itself by making sense of reality with an entirely new perception. 

November 27, 2012

MBF's 25 Days of Pinterest

As we wrap up another year, we'd like to introduce our 6th annual Holiday Bytes.

This year we will be posting the most innovative (and our personal favorite) “Holiday tidbits” on our mbf Pinterest site starting on December 1st and continuing throughout the month!

So get inspired this season and follow us here, as we pin something new each day!

Also, make sure to "like" us on FB to get our daily updates!

Happy Holidays!

Your MBF Team

November 20, 2012

Giving Back, Moving Forward

It’s been a tough few weeks and between the gas crisis, nor’easter, lack of public transportation and general destruction of homes, businesses and the like that Sandy has caused, we are in for an interesting holiday season. Some retailers like Saks have already felt the effects with its 5th Ave store in Manhattan, which produces one-fifth of its company wide sales alone and was closed for a week and a day due to the storm. Many other companies are already forecasting lower expectations than originally anticipated like TJX stores, Kohls, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and even Macy's for the 2012 gifting season.

So as a result, this holiday shopping season has been pushed up even earlier as retailers try and maximize as much as possible on Black Friday revenue. Stores like Walmart, Target and Sears are even opening as early as 8pm on Thanksgiving itself, deeming the holiday "Black Thursday." However, along with this, comes much controversy about infringing on the importance of this traditional family oriented holiday of giving thanks for those employees who are forced to cut it short or give it up entirely in the name of dollar signs.

photo via MyCityWay

One retailer keeping its doors closed on Thanksgiving is Macy's, who will open at midnight on the morning of Black Friday. Instead, the mega department chain which hosts its annual Macy's Day Parade, is putting its focus on Thanksgiving Day festivities by bringing in a mobile component to its 86th celebration. The MyCityWay Macy's Thanksgiving App, will offer both parade attendees and TV viewers an interactive in depth look into the balloons, floats and performers as well as the ability to track the route and play customizable games.

photo via British Vogue

Others are getting a bit more creative and looking at more innovative ways to attract shoppers. For one, Barney's is partnering with Disney this year to launch a cartoon film following Minnie's adventures at Paris fashion week. Along the way, she runs into some of fashion's most famous faces which includes Lady Gaga, Alber Elbaz, Carine Roitfeld and Sara Jessica Parker to give you a little sneak peak!

video via Forever 21

Forever 21 is releasing its augmented reality app called F21Pop bringing both its windows and magazine to life. The fast fashion chain specifically caters largely to Generation Y-ers so incorporating a digital component into this year's holiday campaign is key.

video via Asos

One retailer definitely capitalizing on the disposable income of Generation Y is nonetheless Asos! This time the online trendy shop is launching a global interactive Christmas campaign featuring shoppable films starring the likes of Ellie Goulding, Charlotte Free and Azealia Banks. Each celebs' personal style will be showcased via a cross-platform approach through images, video and editorial shots.

photo via

Kohl's is making shopper's dreams come true as it unleashes its campaign "Dream Gifts" that offers mega savings and lavish contests like its "dream receipt" component which pays for one lucky shopper's entire purchase everyday in each of its 1,100 stores! Kohl's is heavily pushing its advertising via digital, social media and mobile platforms to include things like cinema ads running on Hulu, ABC, and as well as offering Friday flash sales and sweepstakes on Facebook. Not to mention, with every new "like" on Facebook, the retailer will donate a dollar to Toys for Tots! Among this, Kohl's also has its designated gift pairing displays, an online list builder which includes a real time budgeting feature and free wifi in all of its stores.

photo via Ebay

Ebay is stepping up its game as well with its Holiday Collective, which takes over 40 designer gifts from the like of Chris Benz, Steven Alan, Tibi and Jonathan Adler, etc, and brings them to shoppers at a super affordable price of under $100!

photo via Star Tribune

Meanwhile, some are getting in the holiday spirit by joining up forces to produce some noteworthy collaborations. For instance, Target and Neiman Marcus are teaming up to offer a limited collection of more than 50 products ranging from fashion merch to sporting goods from the likes of Oscar de la Renta, DVF and even Derek Lam. Since the prices range rom $7.99 to nearly $500, it's a great opportunity for both retailers to blend their customer bases and capitalize on profits. 

photo via J.C. Penney

So we've caught you up on a plethora of different retailers but what's J.C. Penney up to as they continue to struggle to reposition themselves? This holiday season the department chain will be handing out over 80 million holiday themed circular buttons with codes revealing prizes like trips to Disneyland, gift cards or free merchandise.

Not only do we have Black Thursday and Black Friday promos to look forward to, but Cyber Monday too! With that said, if you are looking to avoid all the holiday shopping madness, what better way to shop than from the comfort of your own home? According to a recent survey from, nearly 90% of retails will offer some form of free shipping over the next few weeks and we couldn't be more excited for that!

video via ABC

Despite the increased holiday pressures, for many, Sandy is still on our minds. And as sample sale season is among us, many designers are offering the proceeds from these deeply discounted crazed sales towards Sandy Relief Efforts (which is something we LOVE to hear and shop!). On top of that, Gap Inc., Target, Macy's and Home Depot are just a few of the companies donating hefty sums to the American Red Cross to help rebuild the local community.

A lot of crazy things have happened the past year (both good and bad) and we’re sure there’s more to come. So whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving, make sure to be thankful for something this year and remember to give a little back!

November 15, 2012

The Third Industrial Revolution

There are a million similar products out there. Products that vary in branding, size, quality, price, color, extra features, you name it, but besides these differentiations, what really makes one stand out from another? And are these mere tangible things really enough for us anymore?

More than ever, a product or service is only as powerful as the connection it creates with its end user. The acts of buying and selling have been completely redefined as more and more companies are challenged to connect with their customers and shift towards a co-sharing approach. Purchasing isn't just about satisfying the need to own something, but a desire to experience a deeper relationship with a brand that translates into the real world. And just like every relationship, the importance lies in the ability to trust.

video via

With that said, this spawn of companies selling co-shared products and services range in everything from carpooling to couch surfing to even office space sublets. You can swap your house with someone in Paris or instead rent a person's apartment for a week in Berlin. Online dating sites and services that match up roommates are more popular than ever. Not to mention, SpaceSplitter goes as far as creating roommate agreements and helping people manage mutual living costs. Whatever the company may be, the point is they all operate on trust based business models. We don't just want mere products anymore, we want something meaningful. It's all about that sense of community and connecting with other people. We just need more.

So how do we get to a point where we feel comfortable trusting? Well, in this digital age, the first place we undoubtedly start is by doing research on the internet! We check out brands' webpages and read product reviews by previous users, which almost every site is equipped with. We do background checks on people using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We can even look up where we are eating tonight on Yelp. It's all about credibility and with so much information easily accessible, our first instincts are nonetheless to "google" it! Think about it, the best advertising truly is word of mouth and in the digital age this has obviously been redefined.

video via techcrunch

From the Industrial Revolution to the Digital Revolution, we are right in the middle of a new movement called the Maker's Revolution. Anyone can be a food critic or fashion journalist by creating their own blog, you can independently sell handmade crafts on Etsy or promote your band on Myspace or The point is you can make yourself whatever you want to be and as this digital world continues to grow, the tangible world will have to keep up. The internet connects us with resources from across the globe and more importantly, it gives us an outlet to make our dreams a legit reality. Once the web and manufacturing worlds combine, the possibilities will be endless and we see these virtual things beginning to come to life with the introduction of social media and 3D printing.

As more companies with these philosophies flourish, what does this say about the shift in our ideals as a society? We've been taught how to "work together" since kindergarten but is it finally sinking in? Are we opening up our eyes to the fact that the only way to get ahead is to share our resources and information for the greater good? Or as more and more is accessible to us are we just further pushing the limits to create newness, risk and adventure? Whatever it may be, we don't just own things anymore and our value system is shifting to make things that were own day unacceptable into today, a way of life.

If you are interested in this idea of co-sharing and collaborative consumption and would like to learn more, there are meetup groups scattered around the world that you can join!

November 8, 2012

"It's Not About the Destination, It's About the Journey"

These past two weeks have been a bit hectic with the hurricane, election and now snow! Therefore, today, we’d like to lighten the mood and help you escape on a trip around the world. As we've mentioned plenty of times before, in order to connect the dots, you have to experience the world around you. People always ask "how do we get inspired" and to be honest, a lot of that comes directly from our travels and being exposed to different cultures, both locally and internationally. Combined, we've been all over, so come away with us to our top favorite hotspots around the world. First stop, the west coast! 

1. Seattle, Washington

Seattle is a great place to get the ultimate blend of music culture, eco-friendly attitudes, art, and of course delicious cuisines! While we want to point out some hidden gems the city has to offer, we can’t talk about Seattle without mentioning, Pike Place Market. Established in 1907, this local farmers market and shopping area is a great year round bazaar for organic produce, specialty grocers, fish, flowers and artisan crafts. Be sure to stick around the fish section to catch a glimpse of a live fish throw and you may even see one as big as a 3-foot salmon get tossed in the air.

All this talk of food, brings us to our next spot, Oddfellows Cafe, a rustic eatery that serves both local and organic dishes. With a menu that changes seasonally and includes everything from mussels to steak with potatoes aligot, this dining space is decorated with wood picnic tables and 90% of its furnishings and fixtures are salvaged, recycled, or repurposed.

Seattle also has some of the best antiquing to offer, with merchandise from a variety of different eras and super reasonable prices, you'll find yourself in thrifting heaven. If you are looking for jewelry or vintage suitcases, Antiques by Pike Place Market is perfect. We also love Red Light which is a large space merchandised entirely by era.

If you're in need of a break from the city, escape to Bainbridge Island for a much needed dose of nature. A lovely ferry ride gets you across the bay in 35 minutes and includes a fabulous view of Seattle and Mount Rainier. Fort War Park is a hiking haven full of abandoned military bunkers that have been transformed into a local hangout by graffiti artists so you can get your fix of nature and art all at once.

2. Costa de la Luz

A long-kept secret amongst natives, Costa de la Luz is part of the Andalucía coast in Spain on the Atlantic side – a wonderful unspoiled stretch of coastline running from Tarifa to Cadiz. Considered one of Spain's "breadbaskets," there's something for everyone here whether it be wind surfing, horseback riding, sherry sipping, fine dining, church/cathedral-hopping, or sun bathing (although remember to check when the winds are blowing from Levante or Oriente).

One can drive hours on end through the beautiful undulating landscapes that appear uninhabited. There's a divine selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, some of it available for purchase at road-side stands. The Andalusian horse farms are definitely a fun activity not to be missed and bring you back to a simpler time of man, horse, and dog.  Also, take some time and pass through the town of Vejer de la Frontera, a classic "pueblo blanco" full of Christian culture with Moorish overtones. The only unappealing attribute along this scenic ride are the windmill farms, which although remain a great source of sustainable energy, can be quite an eye sore to the otherwise radiant setting.

Ok so let's talk beaches! Our personal favorite is "El Palmar" and is approximately 15 minutes from Vejer. This "wild" beach is populated with sand dunes and is 100% undeveloped. Here, spend a few hours with friends in the sun and you'll really understand it's charm. Getting hungry? Walk back to the main road and grab lunch at one of the local beach restaurants. While the food may be simple, it is superb with a selection of jamon, sambas, and varying dishes of Spain's famous paella.

Make sure you spend a day and explore the beautiful Moorish city and port, Cadiz. One of Europe's oldest cities and home of where Christopher Columbus sailed off to discover the Americas, is filled with spectacular architecture of cathedrals, churches and castles. From here, grab a ferry to Puerto Santa Maria to visit the grounds of La Bodega Osborne and get an inside look (and taste) of the world renowned sherries, which are typical for this region of Spain and absolutely delicious! Finish your time here with lunch at the Mariscada, a port where the hot dry winds from Africa are sure to be felt.

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a magnificent city full of history, stunning architecture and of course a great pub culture. The city is divided into two towns both old, dominated by medieval design, and new, full of European influences. The Edinburgh Festival is typically held throughout August, so we suggest going in the early fall when it's not as touristy but crisp and lively with locals. While walking down the Royal Mile and visiting the Holyroodhouse Palace (where the royal family visits) are great must dos, stay in the Grassmarket, at the heart of the liveliness of the city. And while you are in the area, if you are looking for some real Scottish culture and feeling adventurous we might add, grab some haggis at The Fidler's Arm, followed by some live music and dancing with some friendly Scots at Biddy Mulligan's.

The city's most know landmark is Edinburgh Castle and seen practically city-wide. However, it is a bit disappointing so take pictures and walk up to the castle for a great scenic overlook of the city, but don't go in! If you are looking for an authentic experience, take an hour trip into the Scottish countryside to Stirling Castle, full of Renaissance architecture, beautiful grounds and a fabulous tapestry exhibit.

What would a trip to Scotland be without trying some whiskey of course? The Whiskey Experience takes you on a tour of a replica distillery and makes you part of the process as you test different flavors. For the real thing, Glengoyne Distillery in the Southern highlands is our pick. Here the staff is super knowledgeable, proud of their heritage and creates an exceptional single malt scotch whiskey.

Also, whatever you do, make sure you take a trip up to the highlands in Glencoe. You will not only experience multiple types of weather all in one day, but the skies open up and the mountains are absolutely breathtaking. The scenery is magical and you may even catch a rainbow!

Edinburgh is a city like anywhere else so much of the beauty is found just in walking around. You'll find men in kilts busking and playing bagpipes, independent art shops like The Red Door Gallery, vintage finds at Godiva Boutique, candy inspired cocktails at Candy Kitchen & Bar, historic museums like The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, tons of little shops full of Scottish tartans and memorabilia and even Camera Obscura, an interactive museum that gives you an optical view of the skyline of the entire city.

Stay tuned for part 2...

October 25, 2012

A Change of Pace

We are right in the middle of a pivoting moment of "change." Change, that whether we want to accept or not, is constantly challenging us to think smarter, faster, and in the now, because time is ticking. We need to understand that everything we are doing is affecting everything's all connected in one way or another because that's just how things evolve. It's not always possible to see the finish line, but we have to push ourselves to keep running nonetheless.

So how do we keep up with this change? We embrace it. We have to. In every problem there is a solution, and many times in order to find that solution, you have to look at things from a different angle.
Last week, we talked about what we do here at MBF Trend Consulting...connect the dots. We explained how in today's world, one of our biggest challenges is constantly being able to think outside the box. Plainly put, as human beings, we are used to being in our comfort zones, it's just natural for us. However, in order to get anywhere and keep up in this fast-paced world, you have to shake things up every once in a while before the world does it for you! So as a follow up today, we'd like to point out some mind boggling, "out of the box" things that are happening right now.

photo via WWD

One industry that is consistently being shaken up is publishing. Despite efforts to re-design, edgy and innovative content, covers, and layouts, and even a staff of the best of the best industry experts, more and more magazines are disappearing into the online digital arena. The latest to do so is the iconic Newsweek, which will print it's last issue on December 31st of this year and from there on remain solely in digital form. However, as print media continues to shift to its online alternative, will it be able to attract enough paid subscribers? The same concern exists for Netflix as it is challenged by Amazon's streaming-movie service that offers unlimited movies for a few dollars less than Netflix's $8 monthly fee.

photo via NY Times

And as the old continues to be replaced by new, things need to get a move on and for the beauty industry that means mobile salons. We know we are re-iterating this all the time, but things move so fast, too fast and we know you are feeling it as well. Especially here in NYC, between work, play, family responsibilities, friends, and just everyday errands, it's hard to find time for personal grooming. Whether it be a 15-minute manicure from Manicube or a fresh blow-out from Prieto Select, convenience is the ultimate luxury and that's why beauty salons are coming to your office door (with a price of course).

video via TED

So maybe during this time of immense change, the key is to be more vulnerable, even in the workplace. Meet Brené Brown, a researcher storyteller, who has been studying vulnerability for the past 10 years and now speaks around the country at huge corporations discussing the importance of connecting and how shame, embarrassment, and fear prevent people from being creative and innovative. She explains how, "In your job you put your work out to the public. There is nothing more vulnerable than that." We firmly believe that in order to get anywhere in life and even begin to succeed, there is always a certain level of risk and failure involved in stepping outside of what's comfortable, but you just have to go for it. Time keeps on ticking and the world keeps on moving despite whether you put yourself out there or not. You are your own personal formula for change. So how are companies relating this to the way they do business?

photo via NY Times

In today's workplace, 9 to 5's have evolved into various freelance projects, going to the office everyday has transformed into working remotely from home, office buildings are evolving into business colonies, education is going teacherless, printing is 3D, and an entertainment factor is becoming more crucial to retail experiences everyday. Mercedes may even release a driverless car next year (or so rumor has it)! Not to mention, Boston Startup School (a start-up itself) trains students about the basic know-how to work in the tech start-up sector! Things are evolving and in order for businesses to keep up with this change, they have to put themselves out there and be fearless.

video via youtube

With that said, some are doing just that but in the world market by focusing on where they do business. HSBC has taken an ambitious global approach with its airport ads that continue to give insight into the future forces that will shape our world and commerce. Made in the U.S. products are selling in China and Chinese designers are actively looking to branch out internationally via online platforms like Bundshop, which features curated products designed in China. In addition, Starbucks is expanding into Mumbai this month and partnering with Tata Global Beverages to source local coffee beans.

photo via

So what's next? Well, for starters, how we learn and experiment is changing as we move forward towards figuring it all out. For many media and advertising companies specifically, they depend on future labs to predict innovations and experiment with working prototypes currently on the market. These spaces are designed with mock retail environments, "connected living rooms," and countless interactive components as great resources to brainstorm and explore new approaches. Meanwhile, in the textile industry, Cotton Inc. has launched its Cotton University, which is a free online resource for both students and professionals alike to educate and engage through a multimedia digital campus.

video via

While having access to all this technology and data is fantastic as we move forward, maybe the best way to truly be one step ahead is to simply ask the future what it thinks. Either way, take a risk today, do something out of the ordinary and see what that brings. Maybe a change is just what you need. 

October 17, 2012

Back To The Future

We launched MBF Trend Consulting in 2001 with offices in Berlin, Germany, established ourselves in Europe, and took MBF to New York in 2005. Since we launched, the industry has experienced tremendous change.

Initially our business focused on providing trend direction – colors, silhouettes and fabrics. Incredible as it may seem, in those days the global markets were not that integrated or connected. Still, we always provided seasonal information from major fashion centers to include New York, Paris and Milano.

If we fast-forward to today – that is October of 2012 (haha)…We now filter and consolidate information from markets in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.

When and how did you decide to pursue a career in fashion, and more specifically, trend consulting? 

Manuela: I was always passionate about fashion. I studied fashion design at Parson’s. After graduating, I worked as designer – first as an assistant at a little shop in New York basically cutting fabrics. Then I moved to Madrid (Spain), where I had my own, very little, studio designing one-of-kind of pieces. That was a lot of fun and I met many of Spain’s – at that time – up-and-coming designers. A few years later I was back in the United States when I started working as a fashion stylist for photo shoots. The work took me around the world – Australia, South Africa, Europe, Latin America. The experience allowed me to see fashion from a different perspective and eventually led to coursework in textile and surface design – at F.I.T. After presenting a project I had worked on that focused on Masaai culture and beadwork, my professor suggested I consider trend and design consulting. And the rest as they say is history.

What kind of experience and preparation helped you most when founding the company? 

Manuela: My experiences both as a designer and a stylist have been key. In conjunction with the exposure I had to different environments – having to adapt quickly to local settings, working with people I had just met from all walks, working on fashion editorials, catalogues, advertising, record labels… All of this has been key to helping me develop an eye and a sensibility for currents that influence trends – to quickly grasp trends as they evolve, connect the dots and translate them to the apparel industry. Add this to an incredibly talented team we have here at MBF and I think this is the formula for success. It’s a collaborative process and a team effort.

What, exactly, does a trend consulting company do? 

Manuela: Our work entails a lot of different aspects- the objective is to connect the dots resulting in profitable collections/brands. Research is an on-going process – we filter information and data, analyse it and translate to our products and services to include – market strategies, trend forecasting, design consulting and sustainability consulting as well elements/components of social media. And then of course, we’re always looking for better ways of sharing information – not only with our clients, but with our colleagues, students and other industry professionals. With this thought in mind, in July we successfully launched the first mbfSALON™ at Kingpins NY. We have now traveled this to Philadelphia University and are now in discussions to take the Salon international.

For you, what part of this job is most satisfying? 

Manuela: What I really love about this job is that we are working in a very fast ever-changing environment. We have a very short turn around time from analysing our research to passing it on in the right format to our clients. Once that is done we move on. It never gets boring and it's pretty much instant gratification. We get to work on different projects all the time.

What part of this job is most challenging for you? 

Manuela: I think the most demanding part is continuously challenging ourselves to think outside the box and get out of our comfort zones. We have to determine where things are going and we have to revisit things from a different point of view in order to make the right assessment of where things are going and how trends will evolve.

On another note, where do you see the future of fashion going? 

Manuela: Technology and sustainability will continue to be major drivers for all industries including fashion. Being able to understand, analyse and repurpose data will be key. And the impact of digital media is growing exponentially. The question will be how will we correlate this vast amount of data being generated, review and turn it into something that contributes to our growth, to a better understanding of our customers, and their needs, ultimately resulting in a better product. Also, digital media will continue to impact how we approach the shopping experience. We will continue to see the growth of curated collections. Retail centers will become showrooms and shopping malls will be reinvented as they focus on the “complete” experience. And we have not even scratched the surface yet with advertising.

And there we are…Although this certainly won’t impact the future of fashion, most importantly for me, has been the continued support of our clients, professional colleagues, friends and family. And of course, my wonderful team at MBF. All of whom have played an important role in our presence here today. We look forward to continuing this wonderful journey, the places we will go and the experiences we will share.

October 11, 2012

It's "Good" to be "Honest"

Today we'd like to discuss two outstanding sustainable brands, one we've spoken about before, goodsociety and the second, Honest By Bruno Pieters S/S13 collection. We were lucky enough to catch up with Sarah Schulze of goodsociety and ask her some questions about the label!

photo via goodsociety

MBF Trend Consulting: Can you give us a little background on goodsociety and what your company stands for?

Sarah Schulze: Goodsociety is a fully sustainable and fully organic clothing company who cares about the world around us. For every pair of jeans purchased, goodsociety will give a quarter to someone in need. That’s 1⁄4 of our profits, not an actual quarter. Our collection is dedicated to selected humanitarian projects. Our vision is simple, we want to give people the ability to have an impact through the simple everyday decision what to wear. Our commitment to a clean earth is through a sustainable approach in creating the highest quality of denim available. Also we believe that clean jeans should come from less chemicals.

MBF: Can you explain your new campaign?

SS: Our campaign shows a good society like a big family. We show that doing good is so easy, it’s a daily decision made in front of our closet. It is fun to be good and you don’t have to offer a sacrifice for it. We start with a relaxed family get-together in a warm, kind and joyful atmosphere. Later we fade into the lives of the family members to show the different characters of the good society. We want to appeal to a wide range of consumers. To the cool, the urban, the nature-loving, the conservative, the mature, the wild ones, everybody gets a role model.

photo via goodsociety

MBF: What is a typical day like for you?

SS: At the moment there are no typical days. One day is completely different to the next. Right now, I am at an agriturismo in the Abruzzi in Italy, after a long day in mills, factories and labs working on the collection F/W 2013/14. Last week we were shooting part two of our campaign. Right before that we were attending Richard Bransons & Carbon War Rooms "Creating Climate Wealth" summit. And I could go on and on and on. It's a very exciting and creative time, I love to be on the road, meeting people and get connected.

MBFHow did you transition from a mid-market designer to a sustainable designer and what inspired you to do so?

SS: After more than 12 years in the denim business I started thinking about production conditions for people and our environment. What was happening behind the scenes? I knew that denim is a very water- and chemical-intense business and I realized that globalization only works in one direction – toward producing companies. And they forget about the people and our environment. For me it was clear, that this cannot be the right way. We should take responsibility for the less fortunate ones. I wanted to give something back, be it clean drinking water or enough food or safe working conditions or a clean environment. So I started to look deep into sustainability and its possibilities for creating a real good denim line without having any losses of design, finesse and beauty.

photo via goodsociety

MBF: Where do you look for inspiration?

SS: Inspiration is everywhere. A large part of my inspiration is music, as I come from a family of musicians. Music turns into complete pictures or scenes, shapes and colors. The past decades of fashion and classic styles are just as inspiring as new materials or production procedures. Furthermore I am interested in human beings and being human, that's quite inspiring too.

MBFDo your clients actually ask if your collection is sustainable?

SS: About 50% of our clients are very interested and up to date when it comes to sustainability. Some focus only on the organic part of this topic and others are into the whole sustainability. The rest simply likes our fine denim for its well-fitted cuts, clean lines and utmost style. But all of them share the wish to do good and to be a part of helping others.

photo via goodsociety

MBFHow has the business evolved since we saw you a year ago at the Green showroom and where do you see the company headed in the future?

SS: When we first met at the Green showroom I was working with goodsociety as their European distributor, launching the brand. The brand has gotten some immediate attention with celebrities such as Ariane Sommer and Richard Branson, offering their endorsement of our brand. I had the possibility to get involved completely by buying goodsociety with my partner Dietrich Weigel. We have built an entire new production chain and switched from Asia to Italy. All manufacturing and refinement of our jeans is now 100 % made in Italy by our skilled Italian partners. We work together with long-established family businesses, dedicated to fabric, design, high quality and social responsibility. Now that our jeans are out in the market we focus on sales in Europe and the relaunch in the U.S.

MBFWhat kind of advice would you give someone looking to get into sustainable design?

SS: To create a successful product it is important that it can survive outside the green or eco corner. It has to convince people with its design, even people who are not interested in sustainability. Sustainability is a wide field. Use it in all its variety. Organic materials, recycling, high-tech procedures. Keep looking out for innovations.

video via Honest By

As we mentioned above, we'd also like to highlight Honest By Bruno Pieters Spring/Summer 2013 collection inspired by his travels to India and Japan. The collection combines the designers exquisite tailoring skills and clean lines with a plethora of bold color and print. Honest By, launched in January, is the first brand in the world to share the full cost breakdown of its products. The label is a public platform for designers and brands to exchange their design processes as well as research Honest By's resources concerning organic fabrics and suppliers. Not to mention, the brand is fully committed to being "honest" with its 100% transparency policy! Check out some of our favorites from the collection below!

photo via Honest By

photo via Honest By

photo via Honest By

photo via Honest By

photo via Honest By

October 4, 2012

MBF October Picks

Looking at all of today's uncertainties and changing economies, it is no surprise that companies around the world are frantic about where to take their businesses next. The roles between those formerly in power and those less predominant are reversing. Among them, the obvious economic growths in China and Brazil as well as strengthening markets in Mexico, Kazakhstan, Russia, Canada, and India. So what does the future of the global market look like? And who will be the prevailing players leading us there?

photo via NY Times

Despite China’s continued growth, the country is starting to see an overall decline in economic expansion. However their influences remain vast as many western companies continue to move into the powerhouse like Forever 21 in Shanghai and Gap Inc.'s outlet stores. Similar to Hermes pioneering efforts with its Shang Xia concept shops, Estée Lauder plans to introduce an entirely new brand targeted specifically towards its Asian customer base called Osiao. The new cosmetics line, which combines traditional Chinese ingredients with english labeling techniques and marketing, is researched locally in Shanghai and manufactured in Japan. The Asian market is one of Estée Lauder's fastest growing regions, so why not invest now? According to the CEO, Fabrizio Freda, “It will be a brand with a unique position, a brand that will give consumers a sense of being local, of being really dedicated to them."

photo via Financial Times

As China slows down, Mexico is experiencing a manufacturing revolution in everything from cars to appliances to computers. Not only does Mexico partake in free trade agreements with over 44 countries, but through NAFTA, is binded to the U.S. and Canada. For the U.S., "Made In Mexico" is an opportunity to shorten supply times by cutting costs and delivery times, especially as Mexican labor becomes more skilled. According to HSBC, a decade ago, Mexican wages were 391 percent higher than that of China. However, with China's rising labor costs, Mexico's labor is only 29% more and that is expected to decrease over the next five years, with predictions that China will be much more expensive by that time.

photo via WWD

For most of us, all eyes have been on Brazil lately as brands like Coach, Kate Spade, Tiffany's, Sephora, and Prada's new store openings in Sao Paulo (and expansion planned elsewhere if not already in the works) as well as its two fashion weeks, it's pretty clear Brazil is on it's way to establishing itself as a major fashion market. Not only will Brazilians drive growth in the luxury market, but with major increases in its middle class, there will be much more of a demand for fashionable and better quality international mid-market brands. Right now the middle class represents more than 50% of its 200 million citizens, with 50% of Brazilians aged under 30. The presence of these consumers on the web is on the rise too. Using such sites as Elike, which combines a shopping platform with Facebook, a new movement in social shopping is hitting the marketplace to lead Brazilian retail into the future. Despite the government bureaucracy and inconsistent taxation policies creating major issues for foreign brands, these companies will just have to think outside the box in order to successfully capitalize on the Brazilian market.

It seems Kazakhstan is also attracting the fashion minded with a plethora of new store openings as well, from luxury brands like Louis Vuitton to mid-market retailers like Children's Place and Steve Madden. The most recent newcomer, Saks Fifth Avenue has opened up shop in Almaty. Some are even putting Kazakhstan's market up there with the likes of China and Brazil. To put this in perspective for you, in this oil rich country, only a mere 5% of the luxury market is driven by tourists. Kazakhstan citizens have money and they want access to recognizable names featured in magazines. These consumers are fashionable, trendy, and want to show this off as visibly as possible.

photo via Fashion Magazine

Looking to neighboring Russia, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is nearing at the end of the month and European based Wood Wood, just opened up shop in Moscow. Russian style icons are nothing but new to the fashion scene with names like Natalie Vodianova, Miroslava Duma, and Ulyana Sergeenko gracing fashion magazines and streetwear blogs all over the web. While Russia has been lagging behind in the online e-commerce world, mainly due to a recognizable liking to see and feel goods as well as postal discrepancies, online retail seems to be picking up speed. According to Adrein Henni, co-founder of East-West Digital News, Russia's online retail market is "one of the fastest-growing but the least know and understood on the planet."

photo via Financial Times

There has also been a recent influx of Canadian retailers hitting the U.S. like Aritzia and Joe Fresh while simultaneously American brands have been moving into the northern frontier. Both Nordstrom and Target look to open stores in Canada, which has already been penetrated by J.Crew, Tory Burch, and Ann Taylor. While for the longest time the Canadian market has been weak, it has finally gained some edge with a stronger currency, more stable economy, and better real estate opportunities.

photo via Financial Times

As far as fashion goes, India has made major strides with its first Fashion Fund to promote and support upcoming designers, with six finalists in the running. The award was launched in May by Vogue and the Fashion Design Council of India and is an extension of U.S. Vogue's Fashion Fund idea that originally began in 2003. Looking at such designers as Manish Arora, Naeem Khan, and the infamous Prabal Gurung, India is making it's own name for itself among fashion culture. According to Gurug himself, "The world is more open to the idea of business from Asia, China and India these days. There is an acceptance of different ideas; a growing market and need for design." And now, with India's newly opened economic policy, we will definitely see more foreign brands moving in.

The world is evolving fast – faster than ever with the majority of it out of our control. Currencies are fluctuating, irregular weather patterns surprise us, and companies' infrastructures are continuously hiring, laying off, and developing new ways of doing business. As the U.S. and Europe experience economic obstacles, China slows down, Brazil's middle class quickly develops, and as a result, new countries are on the economic upswing, we will continually see a shift in different markets and more brands looking to a global presence. What we once thought of as the world's leading nations may one day no longer hold true, as we are seeing today. New economies will gain momentum and these nations will lead the global world forward. With all these changes, the individual countries will only further have to rely on innovative concepts, remain open minded to both domestic and new international opportunities, as well learn to collaborate together in both business and economics.

photo via Yahoo! Travel

Now that we've discussed today's leading markets bringing us forward into the future, we'd like to leave you with a list of the world's happiest countries! Enjoy!
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