September 20, 2012

MBF Salon Goes to University!

As we are sure many of you remember, we first introduced the mbf Salon at the Kingpins Show this past July. Since then, we have taken our conversational platform to the road! Despite it being fashion week, we’ve been on the move…our first stop was Philadelphia University, followed by a visit at our offices from Cornell University!

We asked students from both universities to research what they think a trend and design consulting agency does as well as what they believe are the drivers in the apparel industry. For us, it was a great experience to hear the point of view of the students and learn how informed they are since they will one day be in charge. With this, we exchanged knowledge, got to hear what Gen Y really thinks, and discussed where the industry is headed.

It just so happens that the night before we arrived in Philadelphia was FNO 2012, so this sparked the initial direction of our conversations towards more trend-related topics that brought up very important points like how the industry has changed and updated itself to remain “new,” the mixture of both high and low fashion that consumers now enjoy, as well as the significance to feel like an individual whether it be on a personal level or a brand's value.

For the students at Philadelphia University specifically, we requested, depending on their major (which ranged from Undergraduates to Graduates in the areas of Textile Design, Fashion Design, and Fashion Industry Management), they look into the fall/winter “Renassiance” trend. While the dynamic here was a bit different, with twelve students pre-selected and an audience of about 80, the trend conversation could have went on endlessly – from the presence of studs on shoes, metallic threads in textiles, an upsurge in leather and velvet fabrications, and a re-emergence in Renaissance inspired wallpaper patterns, etc. Overall, we were blown away with the level of knowledge, the flow of information, and the general amount of pre-research the students actually did.

A week later, Cornell visited us and this time we tweaked the Salon by bringing in more sustainability elements like how are sustainability and technology impacting the industry and which fashion companies are integrating it in a successful and profitable way. Here, the ten attendees ranged from Sophomore to Graduate levels in Apparel Design and Apparel Management. The students were on a visit to New York City to potentially get an inside look into a few different types of companies from retail level to designers to well, us!

In our discussions, as we examined different companies' initiatives like Toms, H&M, Patagonia, and Eileen Fisher, we found we kept returning to the idea that no matter what, whether consumers are educated or not, it comes down to excellent design. We also chatted about the best way to successfully market sustainability – whether it is better to keep it separate or incorporate it into contemporary fashion lines. While the conversation also touched on other areas like co-sharing economies and gift societies, there was a definite hopeful aroma in the air. Things are changing, people are more educated, more demanding, and these people, hold the future to our world.

video via

With that said, we'd like to introduce a few shifts happening in the industry right now. A co-sharing economy is already here with sites like Air B&B and The infamous Patagonia has registered itself as first Benefit Corporation in California. There are more sustainable brands, designers, collections now more than ever from long-time veterans like Sass Brown to newbie Katie Holmes' line Homes and Yang. What's next?

Ok so we've all heard about the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and we know it's comprised of major companies like Gap Inc., Adidas, Nike Inc., Nordstrom Inc., Li & Fung, etc, but what are they actually doing? Well, we'd like to report to you today that they have unveiled the Higg Index, which is a three-part scoring system for both apparel and footwear companies to measure their eco-footprint and is based on both the Outdoor Industry Association's Eco Index and Nike's Material Assessment Tool. Not to mention, it's completely free, downloadable directly from, and even offered in Mandarin!

video via Made Collection

A new flash-sale site called Made Collection recently launched that solely features goods made right here in America. This site, much like the format of Gilt and sells everything from jeans to guitar straps, is just another step towards preserving domestic jobs, boosting the economy, and supporting a "Made In The US" mentality. Another major point to note, with the Made Collection online store, locally made brands now have the opportunity to be available across the nation to a wide gap of consumers. How's that for spreading American pride?

photo via Before It's News

London Fashion Week may officially be over but did you know Estethica, founded by the British Fashion Council (BFC) has been promoting sustainable fashion at LFW for 13 consecutive seasons? This season, the exhibition features 15 designer's S/S13 collections that include apparel, lingerie, and accessory labels like Honest By, Chiarini, Joanna Cave, Carla Fernandez, etc. Estethica not only supports designers during fashion week but offers mentoring, marketing support, and an online arena through their e-boutique on

A shift is happening and fast! From universities around the country to upcoming international designers to huge corporations, and online websites, a more sustainable lifestyle is the future. It's no longer acceptable to just "say" what we are going to do, we have to actually make it happen because today everything moves even quicker than yesterday. As we continue to share, converse, exchange knowledge, and support one another cross-industry, we can gain the resources to really make significant changes and slow things down. 

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