May 31, 2012

June MBF Picks

Mother Nature is finally warming up for us and it’s sure to be a hot one! These days we are working more than ever and the lines between work and play are pretty much non-existent. With that said, we deserve some unforgettable fun in the sun and this year, we're going to make it count more than ever! Along with a bikini, good read, and some tanning lotion, here are our must-have items to survive the anticipated rise in temperatures while looking stylish and effortless in the process.

 
video via fabsugar

It wouldn't be summer without the perfect bag! From YSL to Burberry to Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney galore, there are a ton of satchels, clutches, and crossbodies to brighten up your summer wardrobe. Our personal favorite you ask? Well the sister of the ever popular PS1, Proenza Schouler's PS11 of course! With it's edgy, more functional look, this bag is the perfect transition from sophisticated day to a sassy night out!


One of the biggest Spring runway trends is definitely John Lennon inspired sunglasses. Spotted at everyone from DVF to Chloe to Elizabeth and James, The Row, and Yigal Azrouel, these circular shades are a definite summer staple. We love Karen Walker's take on round with her Spring collection, Little Aliens, which features funky, circular shades in both traditional colors of black and tortoise shell as well as in pops of pink and citrus.


Sick of your everyday sneaker? Well, it's time to get sporty in some neat high top sneaker platforms by Jean Paul Gaultier! This summer, espadrilles are all the rage and when combined with a traditional sneaker cut-out, it's all about functional, chic fun!

photo via Glam

Right now, we are obsessed with the color mint and what better way to accessorize with it than through some sweet candy apple colored nails! From lighter to darker shades, hints of sheen or sparkles, this color is the "IT" color for the summer in whatever finish you prefer. According to Essie founder, Essie Weingarten, "2012 is all about the color green" and we couldn't agree more! While we've featured them before, we love Priti NYC's creamy flower version called Dusty Miller!

photo via famecherry.com

As far as fashion goes, from maxi dresses to swing tops to asymmetrical skirts, the mullet hem also called the high-low hem, is a great way to freshen up any look. This daring hemline is not only super fun and carefree, but a great way to show off your legs and cool down in the heat of the sun. The best way to incorporate the look into your summer wardrobe is with a sheer cover-up that will not only give you a great silhouette, but the perfect breezy beach look. Check out shefinds.com to get some inspiration, shop a bunch of different styles, and find out which works best for you!

photo via Dog Milk

This summer, while you’re lounging at the pool, let your pooch cool down with you! Available in a variety of different colors and sizes, these pet floats are the ultimate poolside accessory. They even come in extra-large so the two of you can float around together! We couldn’t imagine a better way to catch some relaxing rays than with your friendly furry sidekick. 

photo via Ecouterre

Lastly, with Father's Day around the corner, we'd like to leave you with the ultimate gift, Coach's limited edition billfold wallet. With only 200 in production, these hand stitched leather goods are made from 70 year old vintage catcher's mitts. You're sure to hit the ball out of the park with this one!

May 24, 2012

Ahead of the Fashion

With technology advancing at the speed of light, we are already living in the future – just have a look at the Mars exhibition. And not only are we living in the future, but wearing it too. So what can we expect in 2012 and moving forward, as technology continues to drive tomorrow’s fashion?

photo via The NY Times

Well, we already have smart phones, and now we have smart watches too! Sony recently released its SmartWatch that does everything from displaying caller IDs, text messages, and social media feeds to the weather and of course the time by syncing to its Xperia phone model as well as with most Android phones. Again, it's all about pure convenience but this convenience has its limits, as the gadget uses bluetooth capabilities to link to your phone in about a 30 feet radius. In a meeting and can't check your messages or are your hands too full to pull your phone out of your bag? Well, just glance over at your vibrating watch instead! Not to mention, it comes in a range of fun colored bands and it's touchscreen face is discreet and completely user friendly.

photo via Springwise

So since the day has come where we are almost completely dependent on our smart phones, designer Richard Nicoll and Vodafone have collaborated to ease our worries when that dreaded "low battery" message pops up on our screens by introducing a new phone-charging handbag. The bag can be charged normally from any outlet and can charge Blackberry, iPhone, and Android devices for at least two days via a cable hidden in one of the pockets. Not to mention, an LED light installed in the bag illuminates to display calls, messages, and battery life. This is probably the only extra charge you look forward to having!

video via Ecouterre

However when that's all charging (meaning your phone and your newly phone-charging bag that is), just put your hand up to your ear and talk on the telephone! Glove One, is a 3D printed gadget that "in order to use one must sacrifice their hand." Innovation has gone past traditionally fusing fashion and technology by looking at the potential capabilities of our physical bodies as their own external devices. All we have to say is talk to the hand!


Are you one of those people who lights up in front of a camera? Well, now you can be, literally. With Ricardo O'Nascimento's interactive dress, Paparazzi Lover, that flashes 62 embedded LED lights when it's being photographed, you're sure to be your own celebrity. Why steal the spotlight when you can be the spotlight!

photo via Springwise

We can't discuss fashion and technology and not mention at least one textile innovation especially with so many great things happening! Odegon, a UK based nano-materials company has designed an iron-on/sew in product called DeOdourTags that according to the company serves as "the only inert, non-allergenic, odourless, long lasting, base neutral, environmentally friendly solution to body odour." These nano-porous fabric tags are placed into the underarms of garments and remain effective for the entire life of the garment withstanding washes and wear.

photo via news.com.au

We all dance around by ourselves in the privacy of our own homes (and maybe in the car) but now with music triggered technology, maybe we'll be doing it in the fitting room as well. Cotton on Clothing has designed jeans that with "try on your sound" technology activates a sensor that plays style specific music as you test the fit and comfort of their sound wired denim collection. This approach to "smart clothing" is a pretty revolutionary approach to capture Gen Y consumers who typically express themselves through a combination of both fashion and music.

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video via Mashable

In reference to our blog a few weeks ago, Now or Never, how is the demand to live in real time affecting both fashion and technology? One company that is reacting is the major retailer C&A as they introduce clothing hangers that display feedback for each style hanging on the rack based on the number of "likes" the look has on Facebook. Now, not only can you get the advice of present sales personnel, friends and family via picture messages, but a general Facebook consensus as to which styles are the most popular. While we really "like" this idea of social shopping by combining real time with Facebook, the one concern we have is how is C&A maintaining that the correct look is on the right hanger? 

video via The NY Times

Speaking of real time and social networking platforms, Google is looking at the future through new lenses with their Project Glass, an innovative approach that incorporates computing into eyewear. These so called "reality glasses" can do everything from sending and receiving messages to streaming information like maps and directionals to taking pictures with its built in camera and video features, all through voice commands nonetheless. While the glasses are just in the prototype stages, this concept exposes us to a completely new way of incorporating technology into our daily lives. Maybe one day in the future, the separation between reality and the digital world will simply be no more.

As fashion and technology continually fuse together with more and more cutting edge "smart" products under experimentation on the regular, the line between the two grows fainter. Who knows what our perception of reality will be a few months from now let alone a few years. Technology is constantly evolving to help us better interpret and understand the world around us and that includes trying to make things simpler and more convenient. We keep throwing all these innovative ideas out into the world, but now we are actually savvy enough to make these experimental breakthroughs a reality. As we continue to invent and push the limits on what our capabilities are, where will we take technology, and more importantly where will it take us?

May 17, 2012

The Lure of the East

As Proctor & Gamble Co. relocates its beauty headquarters and retailers like J. Crew and Forever 21, among may others continue to expand overseas to Asia, we have only begun to understand the potential of the Eastern world. With China a major established power player in the global market, it’s not surprising that more and more companies are moving into Asian markets and tailoring their marketing initiatives and products in the process. However, China’s presence isn’t just taking over the offline world, but influencing online platforms as well and will soon become the largest online retail market in the virtual universe. With more than 500 million online users and a population of 1.3 billion people, China is one of the fastest growing countries impacting everything from e-commerce to luxury goods.

photo via Reuters

One company who firmly believes in China's e-commerce capabilities is nonetheless the world's largest online retailer, Amazon. With a long-term mentality, the retailer is ready to take an initial hit by tapping into the Chinese market for hopes of striking it big as one of the top three e-commerce retailers. Not only does Amazon have major competition in China, but the challenge of government censorship, outdated broswers, and website loading delays. However, despite intimidations to sell via the internet as well as a major threat of high-end knock-off merchandise, many companies are benefiting from selling on their e-commerce sites like meici.com and Glamour Sales, which Neiman Marcus Group recently invested a partial stake in to help establish itself as an international brand. Since the e-luxury market is still very much in the introductory stages, it will be interesting see how the platform develops and is utilized by both Eastern and Western companies.

photo via Bagsnob.com

Bagsnob.com, a blog featuring everything handbags, is launching a Chinese edition that will not only be published in both simplified and traditional characters, but will offer daily posts tailored to the Chinese market in addition to the translated American versions. Shopbop.com, who in November translated its entire site and email initiatives into Mandarin, is now taking things one step further by offering fashion and shopping support to its Chinese-speaking customers via email, phone, and live chats. And then there's Bomoda, a new website which follows a "first-comes-content-then-comes-commerce" approach to inform its users about what is going on in the fashion capitals of New York, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo and will eventually offer an e-commerce component but beyond the typically established luxury labels. The key to all of these websites you ask? Well, they offer cool and hip Western luxury brands into the Eastern world like Proenza Schouler, Thakoon, Alexander McQueen, etc through innovative online platforms.

video via CNBC

Speaking of luxury, there has been a major boom in high-end designer products over the past few years, especially in Asia. From cars to handbags to shoes, the Asian market is spending money, more than 20% of global luxury consumption to be precise. According to CNBC, the average Chinese millionaire is 39 years old and about one-third of them are women! Not to mention, due to high import tariffs, Chinese tourists spend more than any other tourist while visiting New York, making their average spending equate to about $3,297 per person, per visit! As increased access and changing attitudes of consumers shifts to an appreciation for longevity and well made goods versus price, the luxury market will continue to grow and more companies will continue to tap into China to meet the growing demand.

photo via My Retail Media

However, with this increased buying power, there's an entire other side to the business as Chinese firms are nonetheless, but buying out Western brands and it seems they are looking to good ol' England to do so. YGM Trading, a Hong Kong based company which already owns Guy Laroche, has recently acquired the remaining part of the British label, Aquascutum. Meanwhile, Gieves & Hawkes, the Savile Row tailor, is being purchased by Trinity Limited, part of Li & Fung Group, which just partnered with Vena Cava.
  slideshow via Digital Luxury GroupAs China's online shopping behavior continues to develop and exceed expectations (with 700 million Internet users expected by 2015), increased accessibility to Western luxury merchandise expands, and more companies update their websites to include Chinese translations and target specific products, we will see a greater shift in Western companies catering to this demanding market in order to survive and evolve in the modern world. Who will be the latest to tap into the Chinese market and more importantly, which Western companies will be picked up by Asian firms next? We'll be waiting to see...

May 10, 2012

Now or Never

One of the most challenging things we encounter is actually living in the present and enjoying the moments that really matter, right now. We are constantly asking ourselves “what’s next” and as a result, we miss out on these special moments. We’ve discussed many times before how life has become increasingly overwhelming as we are constantly bombarded by distractions and noise via both on and offline platforms. We need to slow down, appreciate what's going on around us, and learn to live in real time because there really is no better time than now.

Life is about moments – moments that bring us happiness, success, insight, etc. How are you taking advantage of these moments? According to one of our favorite blogs, Life Without Pants, “Life is about progress. It’s about looking at today – the now – and embracing that this moment is THE moment.” As we live, learn, and experience we grow, and with this growth, we are one step closer to finding inner peace and our own version of so-called happiness. What is meaningful to you? Go after it today before these moments are no longer there.

video via msnNOW

No one understands this better than the Millenial Generation. We’ve discussed who they are before in our blog, Generation Why Not?and their “anything is possible,” NOW mentality is catching on. Looking at the digital realm and such sites as msnNOW and NowFashion online platforms are beginning to understand how to make it easier to keep up with what is going on in the present, by filtering and offering information on what people are collectively interested in, whether it be via social media outlets, posting fashion photos in real time, or following the latest runway shows. Basically it saves us a step (or two or three) by condensing all this information and identifying what people are really talking about at this very moment.

photo via Design Magazine

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to attend the conference, "Trends in Digital Media: E-tail and Retail," which discussed how the lines between online and offline are blurring so quickly and how consumers are looking for an equally satisfactory experience between all channels whether it be through social media, mobile shopping, e-commerce, or in-store. So how are companies applying these present-minded values to their business models? Overall, the entire industry from small to large corporations to brick and mortar stores to online based retailers are all in a frenzy. However, with decreased overhead costs and a mass collection of data, online companies have a much greater advantage, ultimately challenging brick and mortar retailers to catch up.

photo via Poshmark

As many twenty somethings remain financially burdened primarily by education debt, key retailers like Aeropostale, Urban Outfitters, and Gap are feeling the hit with them. While Gen Y doesn't have a lot of excess spending income, they do value the experience of shopping and have been raised in an environment of sharing via clothing swaps, bidding on Ebay, and trading on Craigslist. They value fashion, but within their means to do so. Poshmark, an app for the iPhone was released in December that hosts real time fashion shopping events, which is not only a fun way to get new stuff but combines fashion and social curation into a personalized experience.


photo via Uniqlo

Not to mention, consumers are just more visual and aware because of the universal access the web offers by always giving the tech savvy consumer the choice of channel, both on and offline. They need to be able to see things – how clothes are worn, displayed, and marketed – becomes increasingly important for retailers to differentiate themselves. Uniqlo is a great example with their simple and straightforward advertisements that display their merchandise bold and clear for customers to identify. 


video via youtube

In general, a major interest in street style blogging is changing the way we look at fashion. Jimmy Choo has caught on by teaming up with photographer, Eddie Newton to introduce a new site, Choo 24:7, where everyone from amateurs to professionals can upload their street wear shots and shop similar looks via the site as well. In our blog, Changing The Channel, we introduced Gap's significant effort to save themselves by reaching out to Millenials by incorporating social media and featuring bloggers into their Spring campaign. Furthermore, the retailer has plans to integrate the Styld.by site into a mobile format, which will eventually allow in-store shoppers to scan a garment and see how it was styled by someone featured on the platform. In theory, Gap has created a personalized online lookbook and style guide that inspires shoppers to purchase their merchandise by combining in-store browsing with online platforms in real time at the point of purchase.  

As a reaction to this growing desire to live in the present and know what is going on, companies are nonetheless looking to combine the on and offline worlds to produce unique and authentic experiences.For instance, a new mobile Apple Store app was just released that allows customers to research, customize, and buy products as well as track purchases, make reservations, and request help to satisfy all their tech needs while on the go. 

This is the future. It will be a continued challenge to live in the now and decide when to disconnect and live in the moment. As experiences become the driving force in how we shop and interact, we want to change the old way of doing things and we are. As our focus shifts to what is going on now, we will have better insight into the future. Life is short. Enjoy today, find your happy place, and you will create a better tomorrow.

May 3, 2012

May MBF Picks

We’ve discussed before how we are constantly exposed to an overwhelming amount of “noise” via both on and offline platforms. However, despite this overload of information, what would our world be like without it? Well, completely silent. So for our May MBF Picks, we'd like to spread some positive noise and highlight our favorite mixed medium, music.

From the gym to the workplace to our daily commutes to simply relaxing at home, music is a critical aspect in our everyday lives. Due to it’s universal access via the internet, it's everywhere we go and in everything we do. As the lines between different industries continue to disappear, the ability to create more meaningful experiences through innovative concepts and technological savviness creates distinct lifestyles out of mediums that were once merely outlets of expression. For instance, the onset of YouTube, reality television competitions, and hip musical series like Glee, have created new approaches to making, playing, and enjoying music.

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For some, like Chef Jess Schenker of the hot West Village spot, Recette, if there is one rule of his kitchen, it’s don’t interrupt an impromptu air guitar. Music is the “secret ingredient” to not only the way he cooks, but also the way he lives. Sometimes it’s actually about turning up the “noise” in order to concentrate and create. For Baohaus’ Eddie Huang, his dedication to authentic hip hop is exhibited not only in his house party ambient restaurant but in his hiring process as well. With this said, it’s easy to see how industry distinctions are fading as professionals take one creation from a particular medium and use it to experiment and inspire another.

photo via WWD

As Burberry launches its new unisex eyewear collection for Spring, the fashion label is definitely feeling a melody as it promotes a campaign featuring four up-and-coming British musicians. Artists Marika Hackman, One Night Only, Life in Film, and The Daydream club were specifically selected by Christopher Bailey himself to record exclusive tracks for the British fashion house as well as offer live performances at Burberry events around the world. What a stylish way to bring music from the ears to the eyes and in a variety of new, lightweight shapes and colors too!

photo via Fashion Indie

We can't talk about music without at least mentioning two of the world's leading female artists, Lady Gaga and Madonna. So who and what will they be wearing for their upcoming tours? Lady Gaga will be dressed in Giorgio Armani and because more may just be more when it comes to this pop star, her costumes will be adorned in studs, spikes, latex, and Swarovski crystals. More details of her wardrobe include gloves with mirrored nails as well as a bodice made of plexiglas guitars. Meanwhile, both Jean Paul Gaultier and Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci will create costumes for Madonna who is looking to expand her Truth or Dare beauty line to include nail polish and body spray.

photo via Elle

Speaking of women in music, the most recent issue of Elle featured ten of the most iconic female artists who are currently influencing the scene. From Kelly Clarkson to Lana Del Rey to Shirley Manson, Patti Smith, and of course Whitney Houston, among others, these ladies are not only talented musicians, but celebrated style icons and empowering role models. Looking at these women and their accomplishments, each and every one of them has made a mark for themselves in their own way through their own platform whether it be through American Idol, Youtube, as a 90's grunge vocalist, "Godmother of Punk," or gospel mega-voice. Speaking of mega-voice, Glee did an all-Whitney episode last week paying tribute to her unforgettable vocals and incredible presence as the superstar's death paralleled with the cast dealing with graduation and the angst of growing up. The episode featured such hits as Whitney's "So Emotional," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)," and "How Will I Know," among others.

photo via fashionista.com

The music industry has reached a whole new level of innovation as the world's first shoppable music video is available here. The Montreal e-commerce site, Ssense, has partnered with Australian rapper, Iggy Azalea, where music/shopping enthusiasts alike can right click directly onto the video to shop the looks featured. Music videos that once saturated channels such as MTV and VH1, have now moved past Youtube to an entire other interactive platform that truly blends both the music and fashion industries. What will be next?

video via youtube

So who is listening to new music and picking up on these trends first? According to the Times, Atlanta seems to be the leader in both hip-hop and overall music trends while on the European front, Oslo is the frontrunner. We bet these weren't your first guesses! Now looking at the indie scene, both Montreal and Paris are keeping things alternative which is a bit more predictable. With a major surge in music festivals around the country (Coachella, Lollapalooza, SXSW, Bonnaroo, Electric Zoo, etc) as well as the incorporation of technology into live performance like the Tupac hologram at Coachella, we are sure this will change over the next few years.

video via The Great Apes

Right here in NYC we have our very own, Battle of the Boroughs, where emerging bands from Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan compete. The ultimate battle is June 29th and we will be there cheering on Queens' finalists, The Great Apes so come join us! May the best Borough win!
 
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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.