March 25, 2013

The Future is NOW

Technology rules our lives even more than we think sometimes. We are so dependent and so connected all the time and for many of us, it'd be near impossible to live without it. Our society and our industries are changing at such rapid paces to keep up with the modern age and that's exciting all in itself. It's all happening right now and as we further understand the potential of all these innovations, we will not only be challenged to think in new ways but live differently as well. Today we'd like to introduce to you the freshest, most revolutionary products and services out there in the market to help you live smarter, safer and simpler.

video via Google

If your shoes could talk, what would they say? Last year, we familiarized you with Project Glass and now Google and Adidas have teamed up to create a talking shoe that not only acts as a fitness tracking device, but motivates and connects the wearer to the web as well as social media outlets. The shoes were first unveiled at the annual South by Southwest festival as an experiment with wearable technology. This new take on footwear represents another trial at blending both the physical and digital worlds into one.

photo via ABC News

We all have suffered from the MTA's recent fare hikes and by the end of the year we will see some major public transportation upgrades as 16 subway stations around the city get installed with touchscreen travel kiosks. These new "On the Go! Travel Stations" will offer an interactive travel map, real time service updates and step-by-step directions as well as information on local restaurants and major attractions. Tourists fear not any longer!

photo via Vine

If you haven't already seen it all over your Facebook feed, Vine is the newest addition to the social media family. Basically its the Instagram of short video clips that can be shared on other networks like Facebook or Twitter. The whole point is to create a "shortened form of something larger" as the length of posts are limited to six second loops. The app which was just released right around Fashion Week, has been exploding all over social media networks so download it now and let us know what you think!

video via Outbox

The physical mail industry has been hit hard as the e-mail boom continues to dominate how we send greetings, pay bills, etc and now its getting digitized even further with Outbox. This new service links both email and physical mail into one, by taking your tactile mail and presenting it in an inbox on your smartphone. Users take a snapshot of their mailbox key so Outbox can make a copy and collect all their letters, bills and promos three times per week. Each piece is then photographed and uploaded to their inbox where users can then access it and sort it just like with other incoming emails. Outbox is calling their employees "unpostmen" because they literally undo what the USPS does and save paper in the process. It's the simplest way to keep yourself organized and view your mail whenever and wherever you are.

The robots are retail at least so say goodbye to that friendly sales person. Hointer, a menswear shop located in Seattle and run by former Amazon executive Nadia Shouraboura, allows shoppers to use smartphones to scan the QR code tags of the items they like which are attached to the entire store's selection of designer jeans. Once the jeans are picked, a robotic system in the back room of the store delivers the items to customers' dressing rooms where they can be switched out for different sizes and colors of their liking. If they find a pair they'd like to buy, they simply may a smart purchase by swiping their credit cards via a machine and go! This is a revolutionary step for brick and mortar operations as they struggle to keep up with online businesses and could eventually lead to the extinction of actual store employees.

video via Leap Motion

What if you could use your computer by barely lifting a finger? The Leap Motion Controller is a new device that does pretty much that by sensing how you move so you can interact with your computer by using just your hands. It tracks the way you point, wave, reach, grab, etc and translates it onto your screen. This new device, set to launch mid-May, takes designing, gaming and learning to a whole new level. Now that's definitely a major leap in technology and we can't wait to get our hands on one of these!

photo via

Probably the biggest innovation (and the one we are personally most excited for) are at-home 3D clothing printers. Joshua Harris has created a 3D garment printer which can rapidly prototype to bring clothing production to a home near you! This not only eliminates shipping and transportation costs but it cuts down waste because unwanted clothing can be returned to the machine to be recycled. So what does this mean for retail and small designers? It means reworking the consumer experience, making major changes to production and promoting endless opportunities for design. Staples is already experimenting with it and will launch the first consumer 3D printing service in-store in both the Netherlands and Belgium this year. This is just the beginning for 3D printing, which will eventually move into the home as we move into the future so stay tuned...

As you can see, anything is possible. Things we dreamed of 10, 20, 30 years ago are coming to life and it won't be slowing down anytime soon. If in today's world we have talking sneakers, computers that work with our hands and 3D printers, what does our future hold? It will be interesting to see where technology will lead us next and we will continue to keep you updated on the newest innovations to come. In the meantime, we'll keep dreaming up the future as it quickly becomes a reality right now. 

March 21, 2013

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

Towards the end of 2012 we took you to Seattle, Costa de la Luz and Edinburgh. With Spring on its way this week, we thought we'd inspire you with some more of our travels!

1. Capri, Italy

While it may be a bit of a trip to get to Capri, it's totally worth it! From a flight out of Naples to a cab to the Beverello port to a ferry to the island followed by a 5 minute ride on the Funicular, you'll find yourself right in the center of the city at the famous "Piazzetta," where you can enjoy a view of the beautiful landscape of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Capri has been a destination of relaxation, good eats, and a place to admire the greatness of nature. It's also a source of amazing activities like fishing and swimming in the clear, turquoise waters, exploring hidden coves, deep gorges and enchanting bays, or maybe even for falling in love.

The majestic Hotel Scalinatella, was established in the 1950s and is run by the Morgano family, whom are credited for running the best hotels on the island. Located along the Via Tragara and its fragrant gardens, this boutique hotel is like living in a dream with its amazing Moorish facade and terrace, perfect for a sunny breakfast overlooking the sea.

No trip to Capri is complete without visiting the Grotta Azzurra, the Faraglioni rocks and the Monacone stump, which are accessible via several boat tours or if you are feeling like a brave sailor, rent a boat on your own and navigate through the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Don't forget to take your scarf and big sunglasses, just like Jackie Onassis did back in the late 60's!

While near the Sorrentine peninsula, you might as well visit Pompeii which is a ferry ride to Sorrento and a train ride called the circumvesuviana away, and runs around the base of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii, which was once an ancient Roman city until 76AD when mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city under the 13 feet of ash and pumice, was known for its high economical level as well as a major source of entertainment. The city was lost for nearly 1700 years until it was rediscovered in 1748 and now remains a common place of excavation projects and historic landmarks like the Foro, Apollo's Temple and Anfiteatro. Despite, Pompeii is an attraction worth visiting with its well conserved ruins, historic significance and hot weather that gets you craving a sorrentine lemon flavored granita every time!

2. Istanbul, Turkey

Having the best of both worlds is such a Turkish thing and who wouldn't want that? Spanning both Asia and Europe and divided by the Bosphorus, Istanbul is becoming a great destination for travelers who want to see a very interesting mix of culture, history and people.

Considered the modern Constantinople, Istanbul is home to the most extraordinary treasures from ancient civilizations in the Topkapi Palace which is full of such relics as the Topkai dagger, the Spoonmaker's Diamond, Moses' rod, Abraham's saucepan, John the Baptist's hand and Mohammed's footprint, one of his teeth and a selection of his beard hairs. However, this palace is more than just a place of treasure and features a fabulous Turkish lunch spot just in front of the Marmara Sea.

One of the most unique things to do in Istanbul is to take a cruise into the Bosphorus and stand in the middle of the two continents while smoking nargile (a water pipe) with an exotic flavored tobacco. Near the Bosphorus are a plethora of restaurants serving fresh fish caught in the morning and as the sunset calls people to prayer, turn your focus to the river at night to watch one of the most picturesque views of the river, moon and mosque towers.

Did we mention Istanbul is a great shopping destination as well? Turkey, being a world leader in textile manufacturing, is the perfect place to find great home accessories and quality clothing. Not to mention, the Grand Bazaar is a 500 year old covered market filled with over 5,000 vendors who are bargaining prices and goods.

So say your prayers three times during the day and make sure to climb to the top of Galata Tower as the Muslim ritual rings throughout the city. Visit the Blue Mosque, the New Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, which used to be the basilica during the Roman Empire and later became a mosque in the Ottoman Empire. Here's a quick tip...pack socks and a scarf because you may be asked to take your shoes off and cover your head!

Despite all the history, Istanbul has many 21st century aspects as well located in Beyoglu which is full of chic boutiques and the best "mayhanes," or traditional eating houses. If you are looking to stay in style, The House Hotel in Nisantasi is located right above Prada and is the homiest of accommodations with soft lights, coffee tables and bookshelves. While the days are fun here, so are the nights and if you are looking for a fun night out, 360 is the place to be. Located over the Misir Apartments, this rooftop bar and restaurant has amazing dinner cuisines and cocktails all complimented by the city illuminated by night.

3. Medellín, Colombia

Nicknamed "Land of Eternal Spring" because of its warm days and cool nights, Medellín is the perfect city for all you outdoor lovers. From the breathless Botanical Gardens tucked in the center of the city to Parque de los Pes Descalzos, a great spot to kick off your shoes and walk around barefoot, take some time to enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings. One of the newest and most popular additions, Parque Arvi, is assessable via a metro cable that takes you to the top of the city and into the park for a combination of spectacular views and adventure.

While you're in Medellín you have to go to one of the most visited areas in the entire city, El Parque Lleras. The beautiful park is lined with high-end clothing stores and small eateries that portray a very modern Colombia. Grab lunch at one of the vegetarian and vegan restaurants like Verdeo or Ceres Organic Market. For typical Colombian cuisine, visit Oscar de la Renta's favorite, Ajiacos y Mondongos, where the wait may be long but it's totally worth it! By night, get your rock'n'roll on at the popular club Blue and stay at the very chic and up and coming hotel, The Charlee, which was featured on Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List for best new hotels in 2012.

If you're looking to get your fill on some traditional Colombian culture, El Pueblito Paisa is a small replica of colonial times and takes you back in history without ever leaving the modern city. Not to mention, there are plenty of museums from the Museo de Arte Moderno Medellín to the Museo de Antioquia, which contains original sculptures and paintings from the famous Medellín artist, Fernando Botero. While in the Botero mood, make sure to check out the Plaza Botero which is filled with more sculptures and located right along the Museo de Antioquia.

Take a stroll through the trendy Parque El Poblado and watch it come alive after dark with everyone from tourists to the city's youth. There are plenty of bars that even allow you to grab a drink to go so you can relax in the park and hang with friends. Looking for a midnight snack? Grab some late night fast food Colombian style with salchipapas, hamburgers, hotdogs or arepas. End the night at the nearby Donde Chepe, a local spot where they serve unique shots and cocktails and plenty of interesting company.

What are some of your favorite places you've traveled? There will be more to come soon so stayed tuned...

March 18, 2013

GQ's Best New Menswear Designer in America

We're thrilled to note that one of our Salon participants has just been named Best New Menswear Designer in America for 2013 by GQ...

photo via GQ

Congratulations to everyone at Ernest Alexander!

Expectations vs. Reality

We recently had a conversation in the office about the hit show “Girls” and how accurately it represents its Gen Y counter group. After Lena Dunham’s wins at the Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and Best TV Comedy, we started asking ourselves, is this show realistic of the lives of its 20-something Millenial viewers? Who is this generation and what are they all about?

photo via USA Today

For most Gen Y-ers, life is about experiences. Whether its traveling, embarking on a career path or following a dream, they are just trying to figure it all out. With a struggling economy, competitive employment and tons of debt, life isn't that easy and these Millenials definitely take it much more seriously than some come to believe. According to USA Today, those aged 18-33 suffer from higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than their elders. The problem lies in the fact that this generation was raised being told to follow their dreams and that they can do anything they set their minds to. As these Millenials grow up a bit, they are beginning to experience a huge wake up call...that it's not that simple, but no pressure, right?

photo via Refinery 29

Although, they do have one thing on their side, social media. From growing up on Myspace and AIM to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogger, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn and now Pinterest, they understand this new way of connecting better than any other generation. With the help of these platforms, Gen Y-ers are finding new ways to make their dreams a reality. Today, everyone is given a voice and the ability to put it out there. Anyone can make music, films, art, fashion, blog or be an entrepreneur in the global online world. The difficult part lies in the ability to stand out from the rest of the online international community and for this generation being unique is highly valued. There is one very distinctive thing these Millenials have done that no other generation has ever done before and that's creating their own service economy among people of the same age bracket. This attribute gives Gen Y not only power in the market but who better understands their needs, wants and demands better than themselves?

photo via Business Insider

As many of you know, mobile phones are more crucial to this generation than any other before them. This group depends on these devices to remain constantly "in the know" through calling, emailing, texting, facebooking, tweeting, instagramming and of course video chatting. Facebook and blogs have literally become digital diaries and scrapbooks for this generation who highly values the thoughts and comments of their peers. They grew up in front of computers so where they get inspiration from and how they use their imagination is much more clever because of the tools they have access to.

Overall, everything has gone much more public, which at times can be challenging. It's easy to stay connected and now with new technology, there's also a way to remain disconnected, when you choose to. For instance, Killswitch, which was released on Valentine's Day, is basically the digital version of discarding of your ex's things and removes all traces of him or her from your Facebook after a breakup. Another app, Ex-Lover Blocker, notifies your friends whenever you try to contact an ex and the site, Never Liked It Anyway, gives you a less painful way of ridding your offline life of gifts from a former relationship and make some money in the meantime.

photo via The Guardian

These Gen Y-ers, were not only raised in a technology friendly environment, but were the first generation to really be taught sustainability concepts in school. As this group continues to age, the importance of living eco-consciously is becoming further engrained in their lifestyles. When they can afford it, they buy sustainable products, but still many fall victim to trendy and cheap fast fashion. They get bored fast and still don't make much money, however their ideals remain and are beginning to challenge fast fashion retail to be more eco-friendly. Their beliefs that all products in general should embrace this type of consciousness will continue to shape the sustainable marketplace and hopefully bring it forward for future generations to come.

photo via Treasure & Bond

Every generation has a different set of hardships. Whether we think the show "Girls" accurately represents the mindset and lifestyle of this generation? We're still undecided! However, everything is changing so quickly for these Gen Y-ers that it's hard to keep up. We don't know what's going to happen anymore so Millenials are forced to think in a much more short term mindset and get a bit more creative with how they live their lives in the process. Forget saving for retirement and social security. Forget 9-5's and corporate culture. This group is living in the now. They make their own schedules by working freelance and choose to work for smaller, ethical start-ups and be a part of a community. And if they don't know what something is or how to do a task, they google it and teach themselves. They are confident, tech-savvy multi-taskers and despite being dreamers, they have expectations and one day, they will make them a reality.

March 6, 2013

What's Your Story?

Who doesn't love a great story? We know we do! And in today's retail environment, the significance of a story to your concept is more than crucial. It's all about the who, what, where, why and how of your brand. With the ability for consumers to get practically anything from around the world via the internet, they want to know they're buying something special. We are no longer limited to what brick and mortar stores in our local area offer, but an endless amount of online stores and plethora of products in the international marketplace. Our values are changing and preserving a sense of community, even online, remains key especially in the vast world of the internet.

photo via Culture Baby

Culture Baby is an online global children's boutique that not only sells clothes, toys and accessories for your favorite little ones, but celebrates cultural heritage from around the world. They strongly believe that children should know about the world they are living in and what better way than to wear and play in it? From Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and the USA these carefully selected products are made from an array of international entrepreneurs and designers. Culture Baby takes it even one step further by offering non-toxic and organic items as well as sustainable, ethical and fair-trade merchandise. We spoke about the importance of going global a few posts ago and we feel this brand is a major innovator in the international children's wear arena, especially since children love a good story even more than adults!

photo via The Sinclair

If you're in the Boston area in the near future, make sure to grab a bite at The Sinclair Kitchen. This music venue now doubles as a trendy restaurant to your pre-concert evening out and offers delightful eats under Chef Michael Schlow's expertise. The venue which is part of The Bowery Presents, is influenced by the likes of New York, California and New Orleans. With communal tables, a fantastic bar downstairs and a more traditional dining atmosphere upstairs, this spot tells the perfect story of food, drink and music.

video via Made by Hand

There's nothing more special than handmade products. Martinez Cigars, started in 1974, hand roll all their cigars at a factory right here in New York on 29th street. Not only was this craft passed down from father to son, but today it has become a neighbor meeting place for a fine cigar, friendly face and good story.

photo via Alkemie

Last week we stopped by the Designers & Agents international trade show to check out some of the most innovative emerging brands out there. One of the first ones to grab our attention was Alkemie, a socially and environmentally responsible jewelry brand brought to life by a lovely husband and wife duo who both come from former jewelry backgrounds. Their entire collection is handmade in LA and made of 100% reclaimed metals and sustainable and earth-friendly dyed leathers. So far they have been featured in editorials in Spanish Vogue, French Elle, Lucky, WWD and Spin Magazine, to name a few. Most of their pieces are priced under $200 and sold at one of our favorite shops, Treasure & Bond!

photo via Alkemie

While chatting with the couple, we couldn't take our eyes off of Ashley's really hip East West Musical Instruments jacket, deemed the back pack jacket so motorcyclists had an extra pocket while riding. But what's really interesting is Ashely's story about how he had to get it...About 15 years ago, he went to an East West collector in LA and in order to get the jacket he had to find another collectible East West jacket to trade it for, which took him over a year to do. East West Musical Instruments originally started by making instruments and then one day decided to make a fringed leather shirt, which quickly sold to the iconic Janis Joplin. From there it was fashion history and they expanded to make unique leather jackets, pants, shirts and bags that sold to the likes of Jerry Garcia, Robert Plant and Elvis Presley, among many other rock legends. How's that for some music history?

photo via Kempton & Co.

Looking for a new "it" bag? Kempton & Co just may be it! These one of a kind, technology friendly bags are made of vintage materials like linen and hemp. The Deceiver bag collection (our personal favorite) sparked from designer Fiona Kempton's idea to give her stylish handbags a built in protective sleeve for laptops. Some of her other versions are adorned with sewn in wallets, iPad holders and special compartments for your keys so you can now travel with ease. Their first shop is set to launch this Spring in Brooklyn and will feature custom work, monogramming on small leather goods and even some other brands, for men too, so stay tuned!

photo via Susan Woo

Based in New York with a focus on both luxury and sustainability, Susan Woo stands by the fact that "luxury equals thought and consideration." She uses natural and organic silks, wools and jersey blends, which she believes are synonymous with high quality and a modern way of living. To her, "fast fashion is buying a look" and "luxury fashion is story telling." If that's so, we definitely want to see the sequel to this story!

It's all about the stories we tell. Where does it all come from and how? We are more informed these days and with that we ask more questions. It's no longer just about the ending, but the entire process from concept to creation to the end user. Your story is your mark on the world. We all have a unique story to tell that makes us stand out from the rest, it just has to be told in the right way, at the right time. So, what's your story?
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