December 17, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Well it's a wrap!!! Elevating Fashion to New Heights. In the blink of an eye another year passed egged on by innovation and technology.

Technology and fashion are becoming more and more interconnected, beyond our wildest imagination. With that thought in mind here are some of 2014’s key buzz words and topics.


Speed & Innovation: The Cloud 
Cloud computing allows for the sharing of real time information – accessible any time from anywhere. This is having a direct impact on textile manufacturing, marketing and sales.

Anticipating future consumer needs and behavior patterns will become even more imperative.

Crowdsourcing and social media real time data will explode.

Consumers will be approached as individuals.

Personalization will take off.

We will see more community-driven consumer engagement.

We will see an increase in the growth of smart textiles. Think sensor-specific garments measuring all kinds of data being generated by the wearer.

Or fabrics that are continuously adapting – to the more active lifestyles where convenience and comfort rule.

E-commerce retail will continue to evolve.

We will see a spurt in location analytics, shops will evolve to showrooms.

Transparency will continue to impact the industry and the consumer.

Sustainability will continue to evolve and become more and more mainstream engendering a “cool” factor and a significant place in our lifestyles.

3D printing will revolutionize what we make, the way we consume, purchase and sell.

 

May 2014 be a year filled of inspirational innovations, the exchange of ideas and concepts, passion and an eye clearly pointed to the future.

Please check out our Instagram for all our favorite festive picks and make sure to have a Happy Holiday!!!

Your MBF Team

December 12, 2013

MBF PROFILES: Maxine Bédat

As the onset of a more conscious consumer and curated shopping experience takes over the retail world, the ethically-minded e-commerce site, Zady helps combat the rise of fast fashion to help bring the slow-fashion movement back into style. This platform is dedicated to indulging in the story and heritage of a brand, connecting and creating authentic relationships, and truly recognizing the value in quality craftsmanship and innovative design. So today, we'd like you to meet Maxine Bédat, co-founder of the site and a key leader revolutionizing the way we sell and shop.

photo via zady.com

MBF: Please tell us a bit about your background. How did your e-commerce side concept come about? What are the thoughts behind it?

Maxine Bédat: While I have always been interested in fashion and art, my career prior to The Bootstrap Project and then Zady was in international law and development.

The concept for The Bootstrap Project was first developed in Tanzania where I was working at The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the court set up to try the Rwandan genocidaires.

The tribunal work seemed so far off from the people with whom I lived, that I took every opportunity to visit the surrounding areas. This meant that I saw a lot of markets. I soon realized that many of the products, even those pieces that looked “African,” came from half-way around the world. And as I spoke to the people at the markets I learned for the first time how local craft was systematically dying out. While for hundreds of years prior a mother would pass down her skills to her daughters, the chain was forever being broken as cheap imitation imports flooded the markets. The products that were left were shoddily made, created with inferior material and did not represent the local culture.

During this time, I was also lucky enough to meet a woman named Rose. Rose was both a cunning entrepreneur and a highly talented artisan. She still carries on the craft traditions of her family. I instantly fell in love with her work and the idea dawned on me that if I could just expand this woman’s market and connect her with folks from around the world who would appreciate her time-honored skills, she could seek out a more sustainable future for herself and her children.

It was then that The Bootstrap Project, the non-profit helping artisans in the developing world was born. While much of the work of Bootstrap is in training programs, helping artisans train a new generation, and teaching business skills, a significant part of our work is telling the story of the artisan to the international market. I was so moved by the story of Rose and her incredible beautiful work that I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to meet her, or at least feel that they had.

While I was setting up the ecommrece chanel for Bootstrap I reconnected with a high school friend Soraya Darabi. We both were moved with storytelling and together we became very interested in product supply chains. We had built such a close connection with the Bootstrap Project products that we wanted to have that same connection with all of the things in our closets.

As we dug into the research, we began to realize the horrible implications our fast-fashion ways were having on society – from a health, environmental, not to mention worker rights perspective. At the same time however, we saw an emergence, introduced first by Whole Foods and the slow food movement, of our society’s deep interest in connecting with our things. And since there was no destination that we could find that curated beautiful products where we could build a connection with the makers, we decided to make it ourselves.

photo via zady.com

MBF: Zady is an ethical minded e-commerce site. What is the core mission and what does ethical minded mean?

MB: The core mission of Zady is to build a connection between maker and consumer. We are developing a slow-fashion movement, where focus is on quality over quantity. It’s interesting since moving away from fast fashion, my wardrobe is now much more highly edited. I have a better sense of my own style, each piece that I own is much higher quality than I ever had, and with all of that I end of spending much less than I did before. And that is all due to the switch from fast fashion to slow fashion.

MBF: You are working with an amazing brand portfolio. Can you tell us about the vetting/curating process?

MB: Thank you! The beginning of every conversation with a brand starts out with where the product is made. You would be shocked to know that the vast, I mean vast majority of brands, do not know where their product is made. So we always begin with this, because if you don’t know, down to the atelier or factory, then we’re not going to be interested. However, those that do know, tend to get so excited about the process of manufacturing and the care that is put into production, and you can so clearly see it from the products themselves, they just look more beautiful.

Everything that we do is aesthetic driven, we care about the factory because we care about the quality of the design and of the end product. We as ourselves for every piece, would be comfortable wearing this for over a decade. If the answer is yes, then it's a fit.

MBF: You launched on August 27th of this year and were immediately successful. What is the recipe?

MB: I know this is not a glamorous answer, but just plain hard work is a big part of it.

MBF: What differentiates Zady from other e-commerce sites? Do you see your company as a niche market? Who would you say are your competitors?

MB: We’re developing a whole new way of purchasing and interacting with products. We’re developing a brand that is being built with our community and we are presenting a lifestyle, through product but also more importantly through engaging content that is quite different from brands of the past. In that way we don’t see ourselves as having competitors. There are brands like Whole Foods and Patagonia that we admire, but do not compete with.

photo via zady.com

MBF: Do you experience that the consumer is becoming a more conscious consumer who demands transparency, integrity and beautiful design? Can you give us an idea of who your customers are?

MB: It has been a lot of fun having our pop-up shop at the airport because we have been able to get a really solid understanding of exactly who our customer is. It’s not an age range or even a socio economic bracket. What we are seeing are those folks who you can tell just by how they are dressed care about each item that they purchase. Even in the way they interact with the sales associates, they are looking to build a small connection. They are thoughtful, stylish people.
 
MBF: Storytelling is such an important part of marketing and branding nowadays. What is your way of storytelling?

MB: We have stories of each of our products and tell stories through our Features section. The features are articles that have nothing to do with product, but speak to the Zady lifestyle. We’re also looking to expand into video storytelling, which can be so powerful, as well as other more dynamic forms like google hangouts, where we can connect our community directly with the makers.

MBF: Zady is a curated personalized e-commerce site. What metrics are you using to harness the data and analytics to not only grow your customer base but also to anticipate what your customer is looking for?

MB: We focus on metrics, of course, but more importantly at this stage is the qualitative data. We’re looking to build an engaged community and that means asking them questions, listening to their responses and acting for them. For example we asked right at the outset what was missing, product wise, from our site, and of all things we were asked for a sustainable brand for pets. We went out and searched for that brand, and now those pieces are doing phenomenally well. We would never had known if we hadn’t just asked!

photo via zady.com

MBF: You launched a pop up shop at La Guardia. How is that going? Would you consider any other brick and mortar ventures in the near future? Anything in the making?

MB: We are having the best time at La Guardia. Airports are a completely overlooked and amazing opportunity to meet people from across the country and around the world. Since New Yorkers tend to segregate themselves by neighborhood, the airport provides a great melting pot to gauge customer reactions from a broad range of people.

Engagement has been terrific and it is beyond all of our expectations. We have learned an enormous amount and will apply those learnings to our next brick and mortar experience.

MBF: Is there a demand from the consumer side to take the Zady experience into a physical shopping experience – similar to what for example Warby Parker, Bauble Bar and Etsy have experienced?

MB: Smart brands have learned that the best experience for the user is omnichanel. The digital world and the brick and mortar world should be seamless. For example, at the airport some folks want to do all of their holiday shopping at the store, but they don’t want to carry it with them on their journey. We make it easy for our customers to make the order in the store and we pack it up and ship it for them.

The brick and mortar experience adds another layer, another dimensionality to the online experience. Customers want to have that level of engagement.

MBF: What are the biggest challenges you encounter to take your company forward?

MB: As we grow our team, we want to make sure that our hyper-active, thoughtful, passionate culture stays with us. That will be a top focus of us going forward.

photo via zady.com

MBF: What is the most amazing item on your site right now?

We can’t choose our favorite child, but our Mischa Lampert hats have drawn a lot of attention both online and in the store.

Our MBF Profiles ends with a questionnaire that follows in the footsteps of Proust's Questionnaire and American TV show host James Lipton's "10 Questions".

MBF: Your favorite swear word?

MB: Putain de mere, somehow if it's in french I dont really feel like I’m swearing.

MBF: Your least favorite word?

MB: Moist (shudder).

MBF: Your favorite word?

MB: Pamplemousse, which is grapefruit in french. Doesn’t it sound lovely, pamplemouse.

MBF: What turns you on?

MB: People who are passionate about whatever they are doing.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

MB: Constant negativity.

MBF: What sound do you love?

MB: Crackling fire.

MBF: If you could pick any profession – what might you be?

MB: Astronaut.

MBF: If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

MB: Right where I am.

MBF: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

MB: You can go back now, heaven doesn’t need you.

December 5, 2013

A Bit of Holiday Magic

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday over, our eyes can fully concentrate on the holidays! What marketing campaigns are launching this season to lure consumers into stores, both online and off?  As more and more shoppers shift their focus to cyber shopping, social media is becoming the strongest marketing tool to date. So let's have a look at what is going on in the retail industry as 2013 draws to a close.

photo via WWD

Retailers aren't sure which approach to take for their holiday initiatives so instead they are doing it all. Sales start sooner, run longer and an array of promotions from discounts to free shipping to same day deliveries and giveaways are all being heavily marketed. Consumer expectations are high and competition among stores is becoming even more cut throat. It's not only about a good sale, but one that is also convenient, innovative, and offers some type of curated experience. Hence why retailers like Etsy, Zady, and Toms have found such success with their specialized gifting guides.

video via Google

While things heat up between Apple and Microsoft, Google will be taking a different approach by opening "Winter Wonderlabs" in six US cities this season. These showroom style pop-ups feature cutting-edge products like Nexus 7 tablets, Chromebook computers, and even a life-size interactive snow globe.

photo via De Beers

In today's age there's nearly an app for everything and there's no denying how savy and personalized they're getting by the second. Ever dream of diamonds? Well with De Beers new in store iPad app, customers can now design their dream ring. To make it as realistic as possible, over 2,000 carats can be viewed in slow motion, compared, and shared to help find your perfect finger candy.

photo via WWD

The results are in and Americans are increasingly shopping products made right here in the US. Studies show that 44% of all gift givers are dedicated to this domestic mentality, with many being men and between the ages of 56-70. From Brooks Brothers to startups like Old School Shirt Makers, these are the companies dedicated to giving their customers the Made in the USA they now demand. Even Walmart will be promoting and selling locally made holiday gifts (with the exclusion of apparel) and in an effort to encourage US manufacturing and increase jobs, the super giant plans to purchase over $50 billion more domestic products over the next ten years.


In the spirit of Made In The USA, Save the Garment Center Initiative has launched a holiday promotion in conjunction with Caravan Stylist Studio where a select 40 designers will create ornaments and dreidels to decorate the holiday tree in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel. With the likes of Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller, Ben Amun, and WALTER all partaking, how's that for some true NY holiday style!

video via fashionista.com

On thing is for sure it wouldn't be the holidays, especially here in NY, without the fabulous and festive window displays. Bergdorf's, Barneys, Bendel's, Bloomies, and Saks, which are your favorites this year?


So make sure to follow us for MBF's 25 Days of Instagram featuring our very own holiday picks of the coolest gifts imaginable! Enjoy the magical season!!!

November 27, 2013

A Day For Thanks

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving full of family, friends, and of course lots and lots of food!


This year, our hearts are in the Philippines so keep them in your thoughts and if possible please donate to the cause here.

xx Your MBF Team

November 21, 2013

Life in 3D

When we think of 3D printing we think of the future but do we actually realize how real the idea of being able to create these prototypes is becoming? We've read about it, watched videos, maybe even seen it in shops, on celebrities, or TV shows like Project Runway and the point is it's happening right now.

video via CNN

It's no longer just conceptional and soon enough it will be a household commodity. Just imagine purchasing a design for a dress online, customizing it to your fit and being able to print it right in the comfort of your own home instantly. We are even beginning to explore the fourth dimension which symbolizes change over time. With design, production and manufacturing becoming more democratizing, the possibilities really are endless.

photo via Shapeways

While many dimensionally printed objects are made out of plastics and metals, N12 is the first completely 3D printed bikini that's not only affordable but made out of the waterproof material, Nylon 12. Designed by Continuum Fashion, this swimsuit surprisingly gets more comfortable the wetter it gets. The bikini is currently sold at Shapeways, the same company that printed pieces for the most recent Victoria's Secret Fashion Show as well as creates 3D jewelry that is sold at Neiman Marcus.

photo via vogue.com

The jewelry industry is at the forefront of the 3D printing realm with the ability to create prototypes for more expensive, personalized pieces like engagement rings. They can now test a product in a variety of materials, colours and design details before putting something into actual production and guarantee customer satisfaction in the interim. Just look at Kimberly Ortiz who introduced dimensionally printed jewelry on the runway at her Spring show or Pamela Love who is now combining 3D printing with her infamous hand metalwork. While Love is committed to doing things "old school," she also realizes that this advanced process of design can take her admiration for artisan work to an entire other level.

photo via Shapeways

And then there is the topic of footwear. While Nike has been utilizing 3D printing for years, they have yet to generate an entire shoe from start to finish using such precise technology as high powered lasers, until now. Named Nike Vapor Laser Talon, these football cleats are sleek, durable, and lightweight at 5.6 ounces to help athletes achieve faster speeds and better performance.

video via Protos Eyewear

Our imaginations are more experimental, our understanding more channeled and as a result, we have more options than ever. 3D printing is not only revolutionizing the face of fashion but the entire supply chain from start to finish. According to Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, "These 3D printers are the sewing machines of today."

From guitars to clothing to eyeglasses, it's not only about personalization but saving money, the environment, and time. Anyone can design and now anyone can easily create as well. The real question is, would you own a 3D printer and if so, what would you design? Click here for some inspiration and to see which cool 3D prototypes have already been made. 

November 14, 2013

The Cool Factor

Eco-fashion including doing good and vintage shopping has finally gained a significant cool factor. There are no longer any stigmas around this type of "granola" lifestyle and it is all driven by Generation Y, technology and innovation.

Especially, after all the unbearable natural disasters and recent factory tragedies in Bangladesh, people have opened their eyes and mouths to change. As they say, out with the old and in with the new (kinda).


At the forefront of these ideals is the fashion label Everlane whose Founder Michael Preysman recently took a trip to China to not only check in with factories but document footage on his findings. Previously, he shared a video series of the t-shirt factory used that is based in LA. However, this time around, he took the transparency of his company one step further by exposing the harsh misconceptions surrounding Chinese factories. And he's not alone, as many other companies are beginning to open up about their business practices with some even signing agreements towards bettering safety measures and the general well-being of workers.


We're quickly moving towards an all around notion of "Radical Transparency." Online brands in specific are beginning to offer more limited selections versus a plethora of mass produced merchandise. Some are even lowering markups by cutting out the middle man to offer a higher quality product at a more competitive price. Their focus has shifted towards a more minimal, high-end luxury experience because in the end, it's all about the product. Not to mention, they are using a more modern and cost-effective form of marketing through social media platforms, pop-up shops and brand partnerships.

photo via zady.com

The new consumer has become part of a global community that is extremely conscious and believes in a "New Normal." Questions are being asked, answers demanded and companies are expected to be responsible and transparent for their actions. So how radical can we get? Could the next step be a fully transparent supply chain? Meet the platform Zady that let's customers know at the click of a finger if something is made locally, handmade, sustainable, or made in the US, etc. Not only do they operate a see-through supply chain, but currently have a pop-up shop at La Guardia airport.

photo via techcrunch.com

With a million brands making similar products, a well reported story, emotional attachment and strong philosophy are what makes one company stand out from the next. The home decor store Given Goods is the perfect example of this with their high impact driven business. To them, their main focus is to communicate what they are doing to help the community around them. Whether its donating money to an organization or employing the locally unemployed, Given Goods makes sure to give back their fair share.

photo via techcrunch.com

There's also WE'VE another home decor e-commerce site, which is instead crystal clear about their manufacturing processes. Once pre-order minimums are met for artisan made products, videos and photos are shared with buyers so they can more thoroughly experience the entire production process. So now we can really feel good about how we spend our money.

photo via NY Times

Tom's has even launched a new online store called Toms Marketplace that features over 200 products from 30 different companies and charities worldwide. The company is really intermingling their mission of "doing good" into their business strategy.

photo via WWD

Our beliefs are shifting to really value the importance of being apart of something bigger. Kind of like what industry pioneer Patagonia is doing with the launch of "The Responsible Economy" campaign which hopes to trigger a global discussion that will eventually result in some type of political change. Patagonia has been one of the most proactive and transparent brands urging consumers to buy less, repair, or resell.

If you haven't already noticed, a new people-powered economy is emerging and it's actively affecting the supply chain. Through community driven websites like Etsy, consumers are no longer just buying from retailers, but they are purchasing from other consumers. Through these people to craft/trade connecting platforms, local is going global, materials are being innovatively reused and it's giving the average person a chance to be an entrepreneur. The facts of life are changing and it just so happens there's nothing cooler than doing a little good. 

November 7, 2013

Big Data Big Impact

The marriage between fashion and technology driven by big data has become very dominant, especially over the last couple of weeks. Recently, we went to Techweek NY where we chatted with experts and colleagues about technology development, the future of media and fashion as well as checked out 30 cutting-edge start ups. Following that, we attended Fashion Decoded “Consumer Behavior on a Dashboard: New Data Startups” where five startups presented their company concepts. So how is big data changing our industry – i.e. the way consumers shop, anticipating what customers want to see on the shelves and online, merchandising the store flow, etc?

Big data allows for personalization, using a variety of metrics each with their own implications that treat each consumer as an individual. Right now a lot of data and analytics are available but not yet aggregated to allow businesses to anticipate future consumer behavior. While we are on our way there, we are still definitely not all the way there yet…

At this point we have a few technology driven platforms: Social and Mobile, Big Data and Analytics, and Cloud Computing. The use of social and mobile media is facilitating the capture of data and mobile unlocked social to create a sense of community. It is all connected and extremely visual. Therefore it is no surprise that fashion and technology are getting intertwined in the process.

photo via Business Insider

When we think of technology, Apple is one of the first companies that comes to mind and now, they have hired former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. With a reputation for transforming the Burberry namesake, Ahrendts has an excellent eye for design as well as a keen understanding of successful business practices. She plans to join the Apple team next spring to head both retail and online stores and if all works out, word around the industry is that she may even be a considerable candidate to take over as CEO.

photo via WWD

Crowdsourcing is becoming a vital means to understand what consumers want and a great way to harness the co-production aspect of the business. BaubleBar is the epitome of this concept with their reactive business model which is highly sensitive to customer feedback through social media and the real time data it triggers. Above everything else, BaubleBar regards communication between departments among their most important practices, from sharing information with designers to factories, they ensure their customer's are getting what they want.

ModCloth takes another angle by building a community and enhancing their customers' experiences by revamping their mobile app, launching Be the Buyer test lab, and creating a Make the Cut collection comprised of crowdsourced designs. At the end of the day all that really matters is that your customers are satisfied so why not give them exactly what they want?

photo via Refinery29

The biggest shift by far is the move towards a more visually stimulated global language – think pictures, videos, and the like. Despite Twitter adding in preview features to photos and videos and Google+ perfecting its sharing capabilities, Instagram alone has become the largest social media platform to date and changes how we communicate by focusing on storytelling and a community driven setting. If you're still awaiting those promoted posts and advertisements, don't worry because they'll pop up on your feed soon enough. It's all starting with Michael Kors who introduced the first Instagram based ad last week. However, unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram restricts the usage of links within posts, making it much more difficult to monetize and make posts shoppable.

photo via Curalate

Curalate, who specializes in analytics and algorithms is one company we were introduced to at the Decoded Fashion Meetup. They work to create a comprehensive image based marketing platform that simplifies visual conversations and increases engagement, which in the process grows revenue. So far, they have collaborated with major brands like Gap, Neiman Marcus, Campbell's, and Meredith, but also have a client list to include the publishing, automotive, media and luxury markets.

video via Viewsy

So how do we measure all this information? This is where Viewsy comes in to help brick and mortar retailers interpret consumer tendencies, drive marketing, and increase sales. Through anonymous data capturing and location analytics, Viewsy is a startup that measures and manages foot traffic, return visits, and the general loyalty of customers.

video via fashionista.com

However, foot traffic no longer just applies to those that actually set foot in your store, but on your site. New online platforms are not only creating buzz, but offering customers convenience and added options simultaneously. Take the CFDA and Google who are teaming up to combine e-commerce shopping capabilities and customer engagement through Google Hangouts. You can now not only shop DVF but hang out with her as well, how cool?!?

Right now, the key is to not only harness data to analyze what consumers want, but offer attractive visual imagery that they can relate to, appreciate, and digitally share within their internal communities. We are at an age where the information is out there, we just need to learn the best way to comprehend it hence increasing profitability. Data and analytic startups like Curalate and Viewsy are the ones leading us into the future by making an impact on the industry with extensive expertise in research and social behaviors.

As we continue to put a precedence on what we see and hear online and offline, retailers need to find new ways to engage consumers and stand out among the rest of their newsfeed, shopping experiences, and overall physical world.

October 29, 2013

Trick or Trending

The scariest of holidays is just days away so we thought we'd recommend the most stylish and spooky things to do this Halloween!

First off, in need of a last minute costume idea? Well, you're in luck because NYC is the hub of all things weird, theatrical, and vintage. If you're going for retro inspired, the infamous Screaming Mimi's is your pick or if you're feeling more of a futuristic/fantasy angle, you may find yourself at Abracadabra in the Flatiron District. Open year round in the East Village/Union Square area and probably the most well known is Halloween Adventure carrying everything you could ever imagine to be and beyond.

photo via Fashion Magazine

It's not Halloween without some festive pumpkin carving and this tradition has finally gotten a stylish upgrade. Glam up your pumpkin with rhinestones and glitter or channel your inner fashionista by creating a replica of Karl Lagerfeld. For more inspiration, check out some of the most creative ideas here.

photo via Guest of a Guest

For all you party animals out there, this week is nothing short of the fun and obscure. Whether you're looking to hear some tunes like 90's favorites the Smashing Pumpkins, time travel to a 1930's Speakeasy Dollhouse, or summon your inner Sinner or Saint, there's something to do for everyone, especially if you're over the Village Halloween Parade and typical haunted house.

photo via Baked By Melissa

Halloween means goodies galore and there's no better place to be than NYC for some good eats. One of our personal favorites is Duane Park Patisserie with their ghoul and ghost inspired cookies, cakes, and cupcakes. Baked By Melissa has even created an exclusive Halloween collection of cupcakes in flavors of candy corn, green monster, and chocolate orange. Can we say yum?!?


From BCBG's Trick or Chic Halloween Shop to Ahalife's A Costume Life, the fashion world's finally caught on and getting some costume fever. Charlotte Olympia is even releasing a limited-edition capsule collection full of Halloween specific accessories like pumpkin carved flats and vampire fang clutches. We're feeling goosebumps already!

So have a happy, safe, and supernatural Halloween and make sure to check out our Halloween inspired Pinterest board. 

October 24, 2013

RTW SS14 Sneak Peek

With Fashion Week finally over, one thing is for sure, there are absolutely no rules. The past couple of seasons in particular have confirmed this by blending what we typically think of as Spring/Summer with Fall/Winter and vice versa. These days anything goes whether it be furs, culottes, shorts, cropped tops, sheers, you name it, and this isn't the first time you've heard us say this.


As far as moving forward, we've seen most of the key trends on the catwalk before, they've just been given simple updates like changing hemlines, fresh color combinations, new styling techniques and ultra modern silhouettes.

Overall, we are looking at a super feminine season with lightness and fluidity, key sports influences and cutting edge technology as far as prints and fabrics go. Minimalism was the name of the game this time around with a sleek approach to shapes and details. We see a 90’s take but fresher, softer, and at the same time more minimal. Ethnic influences from all different parts of the world are predominant including the likes of Africa, Asia, India, and even the Middle East. The skirt is the new statement piece with new hemlines from midi to calf lengths to just above the ankle.

Not to mention, the most epic news of the week was the announcement of the last ever Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton show! So from New York to Paris here is our sneak peek of what to keep on your fashion radar for the seasons ahead!




For the full preview, click here! Stay tuned for the Key Trends SS15 available December 2013...

October 16, 2013

North Of The Border

Today we want to take you to Canada, which has become an often talked about neighboring country especially within the fashion industry. With many US companies looking to expand over the last couple of months, retail growth just north of the border is on everyone's radar.

photo via Nordstrom

At the lead of the pack is Nordstrom who in less than a year will introduce it's first store in Calgary. Following that, the Seattle-based department store expects to open four more stores in Ottawa, Vancouver, and two in Toronto throughout 2016 with hopes to eventually expand their lower priced sister store Rack as well. However, it's not all smooth sailing for the super chain who may see some competition arise as Holt Renfrew plans to launch an off-price high-end apparel shop called hr2 to compete with the steadfast Nordstrom.

photo via Ottawa Citizen

Others like Land's End, White House Black Market and Chico's have also recently ventured across the Canadian border. Many of these stores are taking a different angle and focusing market expansion on their online access versus advancing brick and mortar operations. With J.C. Penney in a rut, Canadian native Joe Fresh has just debuted online shopping as has Macy's and Bloomingdale's who both now ship to the north as of the past year.

photo via Yahoo Finance

On the other end of things, the Canadian parent of Lord & Taylor, Hudson's Bay Co. just made a major acquisition by snatching up Saks Inc. According to CEO Richard Baker, the goal is to introduce the luxury of Saks into Canada and open seven Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 25 Off Fifth outlets and launch an e-commerce platform targeted at Canadians. Between Lord & Taylor, Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue, the conglomerate will now be able to offer customers a range of quality products and distinct shopping experiences at a range of price points from moderate to luxury.

photo via Elle Canada

You'd be more than surprised about some of the Canadian born and bread who are currently power players on the international catwalk. Designers Erdem Moralioglu of Erdem and Dean and Dan from Dsquared2 are all natives who grew up in Montreal and Toronto accordingly.

photo via Financial Post

Despite the market shift, there are some retailers still slow to the game. Which stores are on Canadians' wish lists? From Trader Joe's to Uniqlo to DSW and Madewell, these are the brands consumers are demanding the most, so what are they waiting for?

October 10, 2013

Fashion Evolution

On November 7th, Fashion Evolution: Consumer Power will discuss the most talked about and challenging topics facing the retail and fashion industries today. Keynote speaker Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness at Eileen Fisher, will lead into an expert panel discussion with executives from:
  • Naomi Gross, FIT Professor and Assistant Chairperson
  • Faizun Kamal, Founder of SourceFK
  • Gia Machlin, Founder and CEO of EcoPlum
  • Telicia Bunch, Director of Technical Design for a global fashion design company
  • And last but certainly not least, our very own Founding Partner and Creative Director at MBF, Manuela Fassbender
Organized by Ampleen, Fashion Evolution will highlight on how consumers are driving the industry and welcoming Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into their culture. The evening will examine how far Sustainability and CSR have come and what the future holds for them. Not to mention, it will be a fabulous networking opportunity complimented by wines, small snacks and an environmentally friendly reusable and recyclable gift from FACE Stockholm
So mark your calendars for Fashion Evolution, hosted at the Scandinavia House in New York City at 58 Park Avenue, November 7th from 6-9pm. For more information and to register, go to: https://fashionevolution.eventbrite.com/.

October 2, 2013

MBF Profiles: Steve Bock

Have you ever heard the term …“know s__t from Shinola?” Well…it was a popular American colloquialism back in the forties and referred to a brand of shoe polish. Today knowing something about Shinola will put you in contact with unusual quality products…made in the U.S. of A. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Shinola’s CEO Steve Bock.

photo via Shinola

MBF: Steve, you’ve been with Shinola for a few years now…can you tell us how you originally became involved?

SB: I was hooked in the first 5 minutes…who wouldn’t be?

When a brand is developed around watches made in the U.S. where watches are just the core, every paradigm in developing a brand is thrown out the window.

When you know that this cannot be done in the U.S. without opening a factory, creating jobs, initiating the development of cottage industries around the products…you know you have an amazing concept.

And then starting a business with unique categories – that frankly have not been developed with the same capacity capabilities in decades, you have the beginnings of a business worthy of jumping on board quickly.

Throw in a little marketing and…welcome to the world of Shinola! I am very happy to be involved.

MBF: Shinola’s story begins with Shinola, the shoe polish -- a company established in 1907. What inspired Tom Kartsotis, founder of Fossil to purchase Shinola?

SB: We needed a name. The concept was born long before the name. Several names were thrown around and none really resonated and frustration started to build. And then someone threw out “…you don’t know sh_t from Shinola." Unfortunately, trademarking sh_t globally was not possible at the time.

Welcome to Shinola!

photo via Shinola

MBF: Today, Shinola specializes in U.S. manufactured quality watches, leather goods and bicycles. Why these?

SB: Our assortment will continue to grow. We started with bikes, watches, and leather goods to include journals, shoe polish and Shinola Cola.

Today we are hard at work on the next categories. And there is always a connection between the categories, our stores and marketing. Whether by design, style – our brands value prop, their DNA or connected by leather.

Our expectation and hope is if you like our watches, you will love our bikes and leather goods.

MBF: Shinola has offices and manufacturing facilities in the distressed city of Detroit? Why there?

SB: Detroit is a storied city with a deep heritage in manufacturing, craftsmanship, design and innovation. It is also a city with global recognition – not only for manufacturing but also music and the arts in addition to a community spirit and a can-do attitude.

It has a broad appeal and while the city continues to work through very difficult financial challenges, we also see its potential. This is a city that is rebuilding itself and while this will take time, the potential is very exciting – a new Detroit built on its heritage with renewed focus on innovation and creativity. We are very proud to be a small part of that renaissance. We love being in Detroit!

photo via Shinola

MBF: As niche-market luxury products and brands continue to develop/evolve, what are Shinola’s brand values? How do you differ from your competitors?

SB: We do not see ourselves as a niche market luxury brand.

We fill a space where quality is not only critical but is married to design and the value of our products is immediately apparent. And though our products are fashionable, they are not steeped in seasonal fashion trends.

We expect our products to retain their desirableness, be worn and used for years to come – they are not meant to be disposable; this is not about throwaway fashion.

We are filling a niche that is at the entry level to what is commonly referred to as prestige or designer level.

We use the same if not better components but by focusing our energy and drive, we are able to manufacture and assemble our products at a much better value then our competitors.

And our marketing is not celebrity-driven but rather focuses on the people behind our products, those who actually produce them. The fabrics and the components we use with our designs.

Our products represent “where American is made” and our brand is U.S. focused – not on a particular segment or market within the country.

MBF: Who is Shinola’s customer?

SB: Across the United States – broad, happy, interested and enthusiastic people.

photo via Shinola

MBF: Shinola opened their first NYC “brick-and-mortar”, the Tribeca flagship. The store is very “post-industrial” and warehouse-like. It’s a great place and a space that invites you to “cruise”. Do you have a strategy when branding your stores?

SB: Our stores reflect our brand’s DNA. We want our customers to feel very much at home with our products and our stores.

It’s more about a community and presenting products and a brand that are welcoming – in a relaxed environment, an environment that is intriguing enough that you will want to return again and again – to see what’s happening, what’s new.

MBF: How do you market them and how does this tie into your social media strategy?

SB: We combine the digital platform with more conventional marketing. Our customers are not insular – they are broad and we look to engage through all channels.

MBF: What other brands do you carry? And why?

SB: We are continuously looking for and adding to our line-up.

We want to be current, forward-looking. The “home” for exciting products that speak to great design, compelling value and beautiful craftsmanship…just like Shinola.

MBF: Do you think the consumers are making a conscious purchase? Are they buying because of Shinola’s a great story, the social aspects or because of the “Made in the U.S.A.?"

SB: We love being in Detroit and having this city as our home base. But no one is going to buy a Shinola product if it does not offer innovative design and great quality. That is what differentiates us from the competition.

The quality of our components and the value inherent to our products ensures we have a complete story.

We continue to strive and ensure we build our brand with products built with this criterion – guaranteeing this is what Shinola stands for…Made in America and competitive with any product developed anywhere. We stand above the fray given our design, quality and value props.

photo via Shinola

MBF: So the future is bright. What does it hold for Shinola?

SB: We will continue to work to make more products, remain transparent about what we can do here in the U.S. and what we cannot. We will also continue developing cottage industries that allow us to develop components and products in the U.S. And of course, in a small way contribute to creation of jobs as we continue to grow.

Our MBF Profile ends with a questionnaire that follows in the footsteps of Proust's Questionnaire and American TV show host James Lipton's "10 Questions."

MBF: Your favorite swear word?

SB: Used to be sh_t … now it’s Shinola.

MBF: Your least favorite word?

SB: Impossible.

MBF: Your favorite word?

SB: Yes.

MBF: What turns you on?

SB: None of your business.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

SB: Negativity, pessimism.

MBF: What sound do you love?

SB: Snow falling.

MBF: If you could pick any profession – what might you be?

SB: I’m doing it.

MBF: If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

SB: I'm here.

MBF: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

SB: Go back…you have more to do and experience…there is no rush, we will be here for a while.

September 26, 2013

Best of the Best

Market Week in NY was quite busy this time around, covering the smaller shows first then moving on to the larger ones. After attending Capsule, D&A, and Moda Manhattan, we've handpicked our favorite brands showing Spring/Summer 2014.

photo via Capsule

Overall Capsule had an amazing variety of vendors from menswear and womenswear to knitwear, accessories, lingerie, and even high-end toys! With it's welcoming atmosphere and individual designer booths, the space had a modern earthy feel. Upon entering, we were definitely curious as to what we were going to see this time around.

photo via Wood Wood

Based out of Copenhagen, Wood Wood hopes to slow the pace of their customers' experience by "making their own universe" and rarely exhibiting at trade shows. Not to mention, they only post images of their collections right before launching to ensure exclusivity and anticipation for their clientele. We loved their new line which featured a plethora of varsity inspirations from marble to mineral to crystal inspired prints in mint green, blue, and tan tones.


BPMW Showroom is a multi-label showroom in NY and LA that is also showing at the Berlin Capsule Show. Here we came across Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen which is a fairly large collection but sold at an accessible price point at Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. Showing it's second season of womenswear, this label incorporates activewear into everyday pieces with their Spring Collection reminiscent of military inspirations, nature based prints, and varsity jackets in a variety of blue tones.


Between the Lower East Side and Shanghai, Baby Ghost is an international three year old label which manufactures as well as produces fabric at their own factories based in China. This season they were inspired by the movie Spring Breakers and incorporated quirky details like hotel towel inspired pieces. Currently they are working with the Chinese retailer, Taobao.


And of course the highlight of the show was Etsy with the launch of their new wholesale site. The entire booth was made to show what the website will look like in real life. The concept is called a "discovery platform" and is an excellent way to help independent designers and boutiques to find each other. "All items are juried to ensure quality and brand-fit. We are looking for designers that exemplify the Etzy ethos" says Senior Program Manager,Vanessa Bertozzi."
Partnering with Nordstrom, this platform gives the designer complete control of the selling/retail process and distribution.


New York is D&A's biggest show with mostly urban and international womenswear and accessory brands carefully curated. The atmosphere was intimate with comfortable areas on each floor to sit and talk including delicious catered food – a perfect setting for a cozy working environment. 

We had a chance to chat and walk the floor with one of the founding partners of the D&A, Barbara Kramer who is definitely a “connector” having a great relationship with every exhibitor and always available and open for communication and changes. We will feature and interview her about the way the connecter works lives and what inspires her – so stay tuned!

photo via Essent'ial

Essent'ial is an Italian company that uses 100% recycled materials and can be credited for making the paper bench cushions seen around the D&A show. The brand began after the creator, who once owned a printing company, wanted to give a new life to all the wasted paper. Some of the pieces are multi-functioning and all of the products made from recycled paper are coated so they can be washed like any other garment. This is their first season making clothes and while they don't sell in any stores in NYC just yet, they can be found at their showroom.

photo via Louiza Babouryan

With a sculptural approach to fashion, Louiza Babouryan explores the relationship between opposing forces through her fluidity and drapery. Made in LA, her Spring 2014 Collection was inspired by the Mediterranean and old communion dresses. With a touch of French Romanticism, she takes white and nude color combinations and mixes them with fabrications of sheer, silk, and linen.

photo via Péro

Péro, which means to wear in Marwari, is the local language of Rajasthan. The label which was launched by Aneeth Arora, is about a mindset that merges international style with local materials and skills and in doing so connects with people from all over the world. What makes this brand so special is that each material passes through the hands of one craftsperson to another linking it to different Indian traditions and culture. Currently the womenswear line is available at ABC Home in New York and a children's wear line will be available soon.

photo via Valia Gabriel

Back in 2009, Valia Gabriel started designing sandals and in 2011 she launched her own signature line. Influenced by Ancient Greece, each pair is handmade on the island of Crete and captures both the comfort and practicality of the brand. Her design approach reflects a minimalist aesthetic and earthy choices of color to create simple and flawlessly beautiful footwear.

photo via Moda Manhattan

Located at the enormous Javits Center, Moda Manhattan was the largest trade show on our circuit and packed with hundreds of vendors from all over the world. Despite the size, it was not overwhelming since the show is split into Moda, Fame and the Accessories Show. We felt lightness throughout the different shows with their well-designed areas to sit, including at times the desperately needed charging stations. The overall mood seemed very positive and the majority of exhibitors felt very well placed within the different shows.

photo via Second Yoga Denim 

Second Yoga Denim is made in Canada and uses high quality denim with a 100% stretch cotton (aka no polyester). With a 94% memory to your body, these jeans have a patented six piece waistband as well as a patented manufacturing technique that only uses the bias to create ultimate stretch. While they are jeans, the brand is confident that with so much stretch that never stretches out you can even do yoga in them, hence the name. If you're feeling intrigued and want to give them a try you can find them at Nordstrom now!

photo via Leota

Designed by Sarah Carson Cloud and made right here in New York, Leota is inspired by the classic Hollywood era and adds glamour to the everyday wardrobes of women across the country. All prints are designed in house and from signature wrap dresses to reversible dresses to night dresses, separates, and accessories, the brand is quickly expanding to produce a versatile range of easy to wear pieces. Their Spring collection is called Birds and Bees and can be found at Nordstrom as soon as this Spring.

To round it up, we feel we got a fantastic rundown of what will be in stores for Spring/Summer 2014 and an accurate confirmation of our seasonal forecast. Not to mention, the brands we have handpicked for you today are at the forefront of innovation and design. Keep an eye and an ear out for these labels as they take the industry by storm and show us their talent and unique approach to the future. 
 
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