February 23, 2012

The Changing Landscape

As we have discussed before in our blog. “Once Upon A Boutique,” there is a rapid shift driven by technology and cultural change developing as newness, excitement, uniqueness, and digital progress revolutionize. Without a doubt, the fashion industry has definitely begun to step out from behind the shadows of other industries and acknowledge this change in societal standards. From traditional catalogs and shopping malls to a digital age of online shopping, apps, reality television and innovative store concepts, it’s time to move forward but what’s next?

Collaborations with designers have become modus operandi since H&M first exposed the retail sector to this new approach to merchandising. Target remains a huge leader in the industry as it continually experiments with new concepts including its Go International program not to mention numerous standalone designer collaborations including the likes of Jason Wu and Missoni. A few weeks ago, we discussed in our February MBF Picks how Target has announced the introduction of Apple centers in some of its stores later this year as well as the launch of "The Shops at Target" starting sometime in May.

photo via wwd.com

Major department stores have jumped on the collaboration bandwagon as well by teaming up with contemporary labels to create exclusivity, opportunity and appeal in an over-saturated market. Most recently to launch is Bloomingdale’s with ABC Family's series Jane by Design, Alberta Ferretti for Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Nanette Lepore and Lord & Taylor who is offering a selection of capsule collections by designers such as Yoana Baraschi and the label Z Spoke. What's most interesting is, both Bloomingdale's and J.C. Penney are strategically reaching out to a teenage market that is typically more label pretentious to help gain marketshare.

video via yotube.com

Speaking of collaborations, Macy's, H&M, and Saks seem to be following directly in suit as NBC's new show, Fashion Star debuts next month. The reality based competition takes contestants comprised of boutique owners and designers alike and presents them to buyers from the three fashion companies to choose as the next major fashion brand. Sound familiar? Well remember imitation is flattery Target, so keep up the good work!

From paper to platform, both Urban Outfitters and Gap are integrating technology into traditional print services to help drive sales. While Urban Outfitters continues to send catalogs via the mail, this February's edition experiments with QR codes located on each page that can be scanned by cellphones to watch a behind the scenes making of the catalog. Meanwhile in an effort to attract style points, Gap partners up with AKQA to promote the digital catalog, Styld.by, where fashion experts from FabSugar, Lookbook.nu, and Refinery29 are featured incorporating Gap's clothing into their own personal style.

As streetwear and personal style blogs take over the online fashion universe, who doesn't love to shop the streets? Well, with the new app, Kaleidoscope, which partners with modelinia.com, you now can! Using your smartphone you can literally shop both editorials and street style blogs and purchase whatever you fancy! While the app has only been released to Android users, iPhone and iPad versions are expected to be released soon!

photo via The NY Times

Mall culture is drastically vanishing into the unknown as more and more stores empty out of these mass retail communities. What once was a common place for compulsive shoppers and the latest and greatest goodies, has turned into a retail nightmare of bankruptcy and vacant real estate. In an effort to survive, new tenants have moved in to rent out space that range in everything from schools to medical clinics, government centers, aquariums, casinos, and even churches. Some malls which have such little traffic are being reconstructed into more useful commodities like vegetable gardens, golf courses, housing, or even town squares as people seek to shop in less overwhelming environments.

photo via WWD.com

While the mall community may be disappearing, a few companies do have some solutions on how to revitalize it as independent shops sprout up across the U.S. J.Crew has the idea as they launch their Ludlow Shop this month inspired from their ever popular Ludlow men's suit. The hair salon, Fringe, located on the Lower East Side has had major success compared to the copious amount of mega-salons across the city by offering individualized services, hair savvy advice, and an international product range. Hope is on the horizon, just in a smaller dosages!

photo via Shag-xia.com

So where are all these retailers going? Why moving out West towards the Asian market of course! From high to low, everyone from Gap to Esprit, Alexander Wang, Piazza Sempione, and Elie Saab have already made efforts to expand later this year. Not to mention Sonia Rykiel was just bought out by Hong Kong based Fung Brands and Hermes' Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia plans to open its first store in Paris towards the end of this year.

As the traditional catalog is reinvented, groundbreaking collaborations ensue between Apple and Target among many others, fashion game shows grow in popularity, new apps develop, future malls get a makeover and retailers emphasize on building stronger relations with Asian markets, it's not only about what we sell but how. The mid-market is definitely showing signs of being shaken up as an onset of a new generation, a new consumer, and new demands infiltrate the marketplace. From newness to nowness, everything is at our fingertips and it's all happening NOW. Life isn’t like it used to be as unpredictable weather, an unstable economy, and an ambiguous future loom, but maybe it’s for the best. It’s about time we all get a little change of scenery, don't you think?

February 15, 2012

From Catwalk to Laptop

With fashion week almost coming to an end  here in New York, not only are we reporting on all things style related but new runway concepts sweeping the catwalk this season. We had the opportunity to attend a few shows this past week so today we’d like to share with you our insight on how the traditional fashion show is adapting to modern technological advancements.

photo via wwd.com

We live in a digital age that demands minute by minute updates on the latest happenings from around the world. As the industry continues to move at record breaking speeds, convenience is key as our frantic lives leave minimal time to follow, let alone attend every show! To help cater to the busiest of the busy from buyers, editors, and bloggers to celebrities, and socialites, KCD, one of the largest PR/fashion production companies in the industry has finally tapped into the online world of runway shows. This season, designer Prabal Gurung was among the first to experiment with this new platform of digital fashion show presentations.

photo via fashionista.com

Another major innovation this season is the Made Fashion Week app that “syncs the runway looks in real time" as well as offers biographies, contact information, backstage access and the ability to save, Facebook or retweet looks. Not only will these conventional principles implement an easier way to follow the shows for both industry personnel as well as the general fashion frantic public, but minimize travel expenses.

photo via style.com

Not to mention, some shows are even shoppable straight off the runway! While Burberry was the first to venture into this new pre-order sales format last February, Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs are next in line to sell to you from the catwalk to your laptop. With this, all exclusivity flies out the window and maybe that’s a good thing. Simply put, this is another example of how we are headed towards a world that values collaboration, sharing resources and information, as well as effectively learning to balance reality and the digital interface simultaneously.

Here are a few street wear shots we managed to snap while out and about during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Our insider's eye loved to see pops of neon in everything from clothing to shoes to satchels and even phone cases! What trends are you seeing people wear?

We hope you are enjoying the fall/winter shows as much as us! Happy Fashion Week!

February 10, 2012

The Australian Five

About two weeks ago, we attended the Australian Five event that featured five extremely talented designers from down under. Designers Christopher Esber, Fernando Frisoni, Kym Ellery, Magdalena Velveska and Michael Lo Sordo all brought their unique and stylish aesthetics to the stage with three looks from their Fall/Winter collections that all incorporated merino wool fibre. In partnership with the Woolwark Company and the Australians in New York Fashion Foundation, the annual G'Day USA initiative was hosted to promote Australian business here in the U.S to buyers, editors, stylists, and the like.

The Australian Five Designers

The event was held at the super hip Crosby Street Hotel in a very intimate setting and was bustling with industry personnel. Here is a little taste of some of the hottest, talented designers Australia has to offer. All photos are courtesy of the Australian Five event.

Christopher Esber's Collection

Fernando Frisoni's Collection

Kym Ellery's Collection

Magdalena Velveska's Collection

Overall, we feel the evening was a success and in the future, we hope to see more Aussie design sense integrated into the U.S. marketplace. This will not only bring newness, but variety to the American fashion scene. We look forward to seeing future fashion from these designers and what they have in store for upcoming seasons!

February 7, 2012

Fashion Flashback from "Down Under"

From New York to Berlin, this week, we’re taking you to the land down under. From Missoni, Pucci, Courreges, Krizia, among others, these fashion treasures are a part of Mary Lipshut’s savored vintage collection. Credited as Australia’s ‘Grand Dame of Vintage’, the 86-year old Mary Lipshut has sparked a fashion flashback by relaunching her exclusive assortment of high-end designer goodies form the 60's, 70's and 80's via an online platform. Together with the aid of her grandson, Mark, the online shop, mlvintage.com puts these carefully preserved possessions up for sale internationally.

With an extensive background in buying, a celebrity filled client book, and a fashion obsessed lifestyle dating back to 1962, her life is one giant lookbook. So here is a glance at a few pages:

photo via mlvintage.com

MBF: How did you get into fashion?
ML: This is a long story. I had nothing to do with Fashion at all, until the mid 60’s when I accompanied my husband on a trip to Japan. We stopped off in Hong Kong and I saw for the first time in my life beaded and embroidered sweaters. I bought 5 pieces for myself and decided to make contacts in Hong Kong with a view to taking orders. I said to my husband these fateful words “It might be nice to have a little hobby.” I then started importing under the label Meredith and even started designing knitwear for Meredith. I started importing European labels in 1970 because a director of Myers department store asked me to purchase a knitwear collection from every country in the world that I was about to visit on another trip with my husband. It was during the Fashion Shows in Florence then Milan and in Paris, that I discovered all the labels. I was able to obtain exclusivity for the whole of Australia. I opened my own boutiques, Temp and SportTempo in South Yarra, the Internationals in Myer Melbourne and Myer Adelaide, Innovation in Georges Melbourne etc.

MBF: What is your favorite piece from the ML Vintage Collection?
ML: Roberta Di Camerino printed velvet coat and wool jersey dress ensemble. Her method of printing was unique.

MBF: How were you able to preserve these precious items for so long?
ML: They were all packed in acid free tissue and acid free bags.

photo via mlvintage.com

MBF: What makes buying vintage so special?
ML: Ours is special because nothing has ever been worn. Buying Vintage is so special because of the quality of the garments, ex Missoni 100% silk jersey can’t be reproduced today because there aren’t the machinists who can handle this fabric. Courreges the fabric of every woven item is superb and every item is fully lined. Pucci even covered press studs with fabric. Today designers could not afford to put the amount of labour into their garments.

MBF: What are some timeless pieces you think every woman should own?
ML: A black suit and a black dress. Wonderful scarves, neckpieces and jewelry. A great pair of black pants and skirt, knitwear and blouses.

MBF: A few museums worldwide have approached you about owning pieces of your collection, how did this come about and how do you feel about it?
ML: I am delighted when I sell to Museums as this gives the younger generation the opportunity to view what fashion used to be and Museum’s have always paid me good prices.

photo via mlvintage.com

MBF: What’s next for you once “the last piece sells?”
ML: I shall happily retire. Who knows, this may coincide with me turning 100.

As Mary's life long commitment to fashion and her iconic vintage archive go up for sale, she is dedicated to making sure each rare piece of history finds a special place in the present. This page turner isn't over until the last look sells.

Please stay tuned for another report on fashion from down under later in the week featuring new and upcoming Australian designers presented at the Australian Five Event!

February 3, 2012

February MBF Picks: Berlin Fashion Week Roundup Part II

We are all looking for newness and innovation – as guarantors for a successful 2012.
At MBF we first referenced this change in the air in 2009 – today that change is our future – here’s what we think.

•   Eco-fashion will continue to gain momentum
•   There is too much product out there
•   Retailers and manufacturers will need to further adapt, incorporate consumer demands
•   We need to be smarter, more nimble, more socially responsible, more local, be purveyors of “slow” fashion

Today’s consumer is no longer inspired by the “shop, collection and merchandising” concepts present at POS. Department stores and retailers are competing to reach the consumer. The customer is not motivated to purchase  everything looks the same and there is a lack of “newness” or innovation.
The consumer wants to spend money, but they need to be enticed” said David Bassuk, managing director and head of AlixPartners’ global retail practice.

We all know the “who, what, why, where and when” … but what about “how”? HOW DO WE CHANGE things? Exciting, inspirational collections should be tailored to target customers. Brands should offer new, fresh store concepts – a-la Target.

video via youtube.com

Retailers should consider merchandising that not only illustrates an interesting assortment, but also tells a story that connects directly with their target audience. To stand out in the saturated market, you have to entice and excite your customer, draw them into our POS.

This brings us to our Part II of the Berlin Fashion Week Round-up.

Similar to the retail market, the tradeshow industry is also saturated. So we focused on what we deemed the best-of-the best.

We visited three new shows, Show and Order, The Gallery Berlin, and the Ethical Fashion Show. As always, we covered the BBB, Premium Exhibition, and the Green Showroom, including the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.

What did we see? A wide array of 70s-inspired colours and hues – from sportier neon tones to bright and neutral shades. Layering, mixing variety of fabrications and fur … fur, fur everywhere. Denim has been cleaned up – in both bright and dark washes as well as coated with metallic sheens. Prints predominently are grid-like in design, retro inspired as well as navajo tribal inspired. Overall a more dressed-up approach, in new layers for fall. To purchase the full Berlin Trade show Report F/W 12/13, please contact us here.

With that, here are our February MBF favorite picks of outstanding designers spotted at the various Berlin Trade shows:

photo via Kuyichi

At the forefront of the sustainability movement and with a motto of "style with a soul" is Kuyichi, the first brand to produce organic jeans. Not only has the label taken over Europe but plans to expand into Dubai, China, and Canada this upcoming season. After seeing them at BBB, we learned of their new product line called the Salvage Project which takes their own products and reuses them a second time around. The project calls for customers to return old and used items to claim a discount while the design team based in Haarlem, Netherlands redesigns each genuine product by hand. Who says you can't have an authentic soul?

photo via Trippen

Not only can they walk the walk, but this shoe brand can definitely talk the talk. By combining modern design, environmental friendliness, sustainability, and social responsibility, the label designs based on the idea that "individual components can be exchanged and replaced." While reusing the same shapes and materials by merely applying fresh color schemes, Trippen shoes have a very distinct style. With a concept of not replacing collections from seasons passed, the ability to revamp their staple aesthetic is remarkable as each shoe is moderately updated to give it a new look.

Kaschuba Hommage
Founded by designer, Irina Kashuba, the label seeks to unify luxury with sustainability. Each handcrafted accessory ranging from scarves to collars, capes, and ponchos are characterized by the ability to be worn in two different ways, making most pieces reversible. By combining unusual patterns and materials with ethnic influences from across the globe, the jewelry and accessory line takes style to a new level of versatility.

photo via Canada Goose

Canada Goose
The Canadian extreme outerwear label, Canada Goose is not only one of the top manufacturers of functional, innovative and stylish products, but has released a new collection for 2012 called Branta. This collection of jackets and accessories, specifically targeted to city dwellers is a homage to the Canadian Goose. Among promoting authenticity and supporting made in Canada goods, the label has recently collaborated with Japanese designer Yuki Matsuda to produce a heritage inspired collection that incorporates traditional fabrics like tweed and corduroy into outerwear.

photo via Trigema CHANGE

Trigema CHANGE
Trigema CHANGE is a new lifestyle collection from the family owned company, Trigema. Waste not, because this basics line is the first cradle to cradle certified fashion collection in the world as all products can be returned to the ecosystem at the end of their life cycle in the form of nutrients for new plants. In addition, the line combines the past with the future by drawing inspiration from current trends as well as from original Trigema models from the 60's and the 70's.

video via youtube.com

Berlin meets Beijing and we had the opportunity to see it for ourselves as Beautyberry presented its Fall/Winter 2012 Collection. With clean lines, modern fabrications, and  futuristic elements, Wang Yutao is the first mainland Chinese designer to show at Berlin Fashion Week. As a designer, Wang seeks to capture "simplicity, nature and peace" while simultaneously giving the world a new perspective on Chinese fashion.

The brands we have featured seem to have understood how to meet the challenge head-on and are actively implementing new ideas and concepts. And we believe that once we – as a community – are able to find answers, we will move past the uncertainty, the ambiguous nature of our ever-changing world.
And while some things CAN be predicted, others cannot.
Still, we CAN think smarter, take risks and believe in the unimaginable – a brave new world.
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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.