May 28, 2013

The New World

Let's face it, our world is forever changing and in order to survive, it's more than necessary to have a great retail concept. It's no longer just about merging online and offline, but learning to tackle real-time retailing, which is the latest direction the industry is headed. It's becoming more and more clear that in order to be successful, retailers need both online and offline platforms to connect and provide instant gratification through. Mobile and social technologies have revolutionized everything and the only way to keep up is to be cutting edge, innovative, unique and most importantly, able to cater to changing consumer demands in an instant.

From technology to omni-channel retailing to curating, personalization and of course building customer relationships and understanding consumer behavior, we've evolved so much. However, it's time to get even more creative and take things one step further!

video via

The King of Fashion is leading the pack as usual with his new Karl Lagerfeld store in Amsterdam. The space not only features iPads throughout the showroom, but each fitting room is equipped with a wall-mounted touchscreen and camera. Customers can take snapshots to create their own digital lookbooks and even add Instagram-style filters before sharing via Facebook, Twitter or through email. This represents yet another concept shop trying to create instant buzz about their brand by intentionally incorporating social media into their strategy and learning to capitalize on growing omni-channel retailing.

Some look to their customers for inspiration, literally. Whether it be through Twitter, Instagram or the like, retailers are quickly learning that showing their products on real people stimulates engagement as well as increases buying habits. Brands like Lululemon and Coach are just a few to jump onboard as they turn their customers into models by recognizing the power of social media. The fact is people trust other people (whether they know them or not) over brands. While this does raise privacy issues, most customers are readily willing to share and be shared.

photo via

Others go back to the beginning by investing in technology operations, like Target with its new tech lab in San Francisco. This office set to be visual and "operate at warp speed," has hired a diverse group of approximately 20 developers, designers, data scientists and marketing experts with hopes to take on e-commerce giant, Amazon.

As we continue to experiment and perfect 3D printing technologies, what does it really mean for the future of retail? Well first of all, it will completely revolutionize production as we know it; leading to rapid prototyping, direct digital manufacturing, room for more designs, cheaper products and customization. However, there is a downfall, and that's the growth of counterfeiting as a growing concern of how to handle digital files ensues. The first industry to really feel the impacts is the designer eyewear market, which has been creating 3D printing prototypes to speed up product development for some time. While so far it has found success, we still don't know nearly enough about what our capabilities in the 3D printing sector are and how to deal with the legality of it.

photo via

Pinterest has been making headlines again as they are quickly learning how to monetize their platform by attracting the likes of advertisers with the addition of "active" pins. With new features to enhance current features, the company has not only added pins that contain embedded information about products, recipes, and movies, but a Pin It button to its smartphone app. To boost its movie element, the company will team up with Netflix, Time Warner's Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes to create pins that offer information on everything from film ratings to cast members. For recipes, publications like Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple will be promoted. And as far as products go, brands ranging from Etsy and Urban Outfitters to Walmart and Home Depot have partnered up to get some new Pinspiration. 

Sometimes you just have to brainstorm to get it right. Other times you experiment with actual implementation. The point is, things are changing at this very instant and we have to ask ourselves, "how can we keep up?" Everything is made available at the drop of a pin and as soon as something is new, it's old. However, you can either learn to make it work for you or not. Retailers need to remain open minded and look at everything as an option in order really evaluate how data as well as social and mobile technology can be used as an asset in this new world.

May 23, 2013

The Art of Looking Good

With the menswear boom currently hitting the market, the art of looking good has become universal. Shopping designer duds, accessorizing, and beauty are no longer just acceptable for women. Whether you're the manly type, feminine or somewhere in between, men now have access to everything woman do and more importantly, they're interested in experimenting with it. While guys still want functionality and practicality in their clothing, they also want to be well dressed and looking sharp. For the average guy, being stylish is the new cool.

We've talked about the growth of menswear before and mentioned one of our favorite brands, Ernest Alexander. However, lately the menswear market has reached a whole new level of popularity as many continue to follow in Ernest Alexander's footsteps and expand from online to offline. If you're looking for some sweet new menswear finds, look no further than Crosby Street in SoHo, which is quickly making a name for itself as a prime destination for menswear.

photo via Daily Candy

Located at 63 Crosby, Carson Street Clothiers was founded by two attorneys and specializes in a rustic All-American look. Upon walking into the store, one can't help but appreciate the custom cabinetry, industrial worktables, brown leather sofas, and vintage trunks. Did we mention they even have a stocked mini fridge full of beer and liquor? With an inventory of private label, domestically produced shirting, trousers, ties, pocket squares, blazers, and made-to-measure suiting, nothing is more important than tradition here. The shop also carries established and emerging labels that include Michael Bastian, Ovadia & Sons, Patrick Ervell and Mark McNairy, among many others.

video via Bonobos

Bonobos, the former online only retailer, has opened a second "guideshop" in New York City this month, but this time they have set up shop right in SoHo. These "guideshops" provide men with try-on samples as well as the opportunity to shop with a complimentary Bonobos Guide who can educate them on fit and provide them with expert style tips for their current wardrobe. This space will be much like its appointment-only Chelsea location where customers can order in store and have merchandise shipped to their homes.

photo via Saturdays

Right next store sits the downtown surf shop/expresso bar, Saturdays which has successfully been around since August 2009. As you step in, the shop begins as a minimalist coffee bar, which eventually makes way to a California cool lifestyle shop, selling rare boards and upscale wetsuits for that inner beach bum Manhattanite. In the back, you'll find a hidden patio surrounded by plants, high-end surfboards and native New Yorkers soaking up some sun.

photo via WWD

It's not only about new designers and brands, but existing ones expanding into the menswear market. For instance, Macy's is set to introduce a new private label for men called the Bar III Carnaby Collection. The British inspired collection is modern and sophisticated, full of tweeds, herringbones, corduroys, checks, florals, and rich colors. Reminiscent of London's Savile Row, this new line is part of Macy's Impulse department and yet another effort the retailer has made to target Millennials.

photo via

Amazon is even jumping on the bandwagon with the launch of its men's grooming store. The new addition is broken down into six categories that include shave, skin care, body care, hair care, oral care and kits and gift sets, where men can explore must-have products, read reviews and even experiment with new grooming regimens. Not only is Amazon's take on men's grooming curated, but it takes an editorial approach by partnering with Men's Fitness to offer How-to-Guides such as "5 Steps to the Perfect Shave."

photo via WWD

Mickey Drexler's son, Alexander is the next designer to watch as he debuts his label, Alex Mill, for both men and boys this fall. With a resume that includes work at Gryphon and Steven Alan, his first collection will focus on casual woven shirts, t-shirts and denim. According to the cofounder of Odine, Eddy Chai, "We liked the line. It has some really interesting fabrics and nice details like different buttons and triple-stitch details on some of the shirts. It's very affordable and approachable for most guys."

From the explosion of e-commerce sites to shops popping up all over downtown New York to large companies launching menswear brands, right now men are looking hot! Companies are finally seeing a niche in the market as they shift away from oversaturated womenswear fashions. With new trends constantly emerging, fresh designers and brands popping up daily, and the latest news spreading at the click of a finger, the only thing that will never go out of style is looking good.

May 16, 2013

Changing Trades

Last week we attended FameModa Manhattan and its sister show, AccessoriesTheShow. Luckily enough we got to catch up with Coleman McCartan, the Director of International Marketing for Business Journals, Inc (BJI), to get some inside knowledge about how they are adapting their shows in the ever-changing market.

One fresh component to AccessoriesTheShow this time around was the Young Designer Lab, which sponsors new and upcoming talent by offering them smaller booths at half the price. These newcomers are even eligible to show up to three times at the Young Designer Lab before they have to either buy an actual booth or leave the show entirely. Other new additions to Moda Manhattan included a beauty spa, charging stations and an increase of 30 new brands at Fame. All three shows, Moda, Fame as well as AccessoriesTheShow, are experiencing massive growth and by experimenting with these new concepts, they can better understand how to develop these shows in the future.

Switching gears to Las Vegas, a collaboration between BJI and Sam Ben-Avraham has led to the creation of The Modern Assembly, a strategic alliance of AccessoriesTheShow, Agenda, Capsule, Liberty, MRket, and Stitch (a rebranded version of Moda for Las Vegas). Held under one roof at the Sands Expo at the Venetian Palazzo Complex this August, these shows take a progressive approach by appealing to the entire industry at large – from the contemporary market to denim, streetwear, accessories and lifestyle. Liberty is the newest of these shows to launch with a focus on contemporary menswear and denim.

photo via Moda Manhattan

So what did we see out in the market this time around? Most importantly there is a major market shift happening where there are no clear distinctions between seasons anymore. The May show is typically meant to exhibit Fall/Transition products. However 60% of the collections shown were Spring/Summer 2013 for immediate sale and the rest for an August 2013 fall delivery. This reflects unstable economic conditions, changing weather patterns and the rapid influx of new and emerging trends causing buyers to purchase closer to the season. With that said, the show was very price driven and focused on a wide customer target range, from contemporary to missy.

photo via Kareena's

Product-wise, for Spring/Summer, we saw everything from tie dye to Americana influences, novelty prints like stars, skulls, love lettering and celestial designs as well as your typical dots, garden florals, and tribal patterns. Colors shined bright in blues, corals, oranges and reds, with pastels, black and white combos, and some red, white and blue pride, keeping up with the spirit of the season. Other details to note were embroidery, beading and lots of hardware. Highlights from Fall/Winter included, an abundance of fur fabrications, tribal, aztec, optical and ethnic prints as well as hues of burgundy, orange, and the obvious big seller, black and white.

photo via Z&L Europe Corp

While at Moda Manhattan we came across a few really cool brands that caught our eye. Based in Miami, Z&L Europe Corp sells bohemian, hippy inspired beachwear. They even create exclusive products that you may be able to find at an Anthropologie or Free People store near you! One of our favorite must-have pieces for this Summer was their skull straw tote, that is featured above and comes in pink as well.

photo via ULF Andersson

Another favorite, ULF Andersson, is a Swedish designer living in California and producing in LA, who's collection consists of updated vintage designs. He has been in business for over 13 years, with some of his most popular items including washable silk velvets, polka dot prints and black and white color schemes. Most of his inspiration stems from his grandmother's closet as well as wallpaper patterns. Not to mention, with his cut to order business strategy and convenience of speedy monthly shipping, he has easily adapted to the changing demands of the industry.

photo via, who's super innovative booth, complete with charging stations grabbed our attention, produces unisex touchscreen gloves that pass energy through the hand so your entire hand works on the screen. The gloves are also enabled with MagLove™ technology that magnetically keeps the two gloves together. Finally a fashionable glove for your smartphone!

photo via Pura Vida

Our last stop at Moda Manhattan, Pura Vida, is "making strings happen" with their collection of handmade bracelets from Costa Rica. These bracelets come in an endless amount of color combinations, making them unique, special, and rare. Not to mention, the company has not only taken 30 local artisans in Costa Rica out of poverty, but is a huge supporter of The Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving beaches and oceans worldwide.

photo via Triple C

As we skipped over to AccessoriesTheShow, we fell in love with the fun iPhone accessories at Triple C. They even launched a Green Label that sells iPhone and iPad accessories made of wood and portable solar powered batteries, perfect for a day at the beach! While some of their products are sold at Nordstrom's as well as other department stores, they have also created private labels for the likes of J.Crew, Aldo and Guess.

May 7, 2013

Smart Apps for Smartphones

Our smartphones are really only as smart as the apps we have on them. And in today's tech driven society, there are apps out there for pretty much anything one can imagine. From the bare basics like Facebook, Google Maps and Yelp to savvier applications like WhatsApp, Instagram and QR readers, we now have the ability to customize our mobile devices to include only what we really need and use. Today we'd like to point out some of the coolest, must-have apps out in the market.

photo via

The act of mailing cards has been modernized by the popularity of email and ecards, and now gift giving is about to go virtual too. The gifting platform Jifiti allows users to scan product barcodes and instantly send friends and family members a voucher for those items, wherever they may be. Once received, the voucher can be brought into the local retailer and redeemed for the gift. Currently participating stores include Barnes & Noble, Sephora, Toys "R" Us, Gap, Crate & Barrel, Coach, and the list goes on! The cool thing about this app is that it's super convenient yet still personal, it's the gift that counts right? 

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One of our biggest pet peeves is calling in to a customer service line and being put on hold forever and we mean forever. It's nearly impossible to get an actual human representative on the phone these days. Luckily, the free app LucyPhone acts as a middleman by calling you immediately back once a live agent gets on the line. No more wasting minutes or your time!

video via Skitch

If you don't already use Evernote, now you definitely will! A new component to the app, Skitch, adds the feature of PDF annotation to the mix. Users can now mark up and draw shapes, arrows and even sketches to give feedback and share comments. 

photo via Magnetique

Recently launched in collaboration with the May issue of InStyle, Magnetique is the hottest thing to reach magazine readers' fingertips in a very long time. With the snap of a photo, the online and offline worlds combine as users instantly capture local retailers and websites that carry the products featured in the magazine's editorial pages. What better way to stay in style?

photo via Jwalk

Forget Instagram, it's all about video social networking apps like Vine and Keek right now. Both have fairly simple userfaces and are compatible with Facebook and Twitter. While Keek gives you as much as 30 seconds of recording, Vine only allows you to create clips of up to 6 seconds, but with the capability to edit by frame. Whether you're feeling creative, nostalgic or just want to have some fun, these apps take social networking one step further by sharing your life in action.

photo via Word Lens

Ever look at a menu and feel like you're in another country? Well with Word Lens, you can translate everything from menu items to road signs by simply hovering your phone over unfamiliar text. So far the app works in German, Spanish, Italian, French and of course English.

photo via VentureBeat

Sometimes its really hard to find music that fits your mood but fear no more! Songza is a music streaming app that unlike Pandora or Spotify, curates playlists based on what you are doing right now. Depending on the day of the week, time of day and your current activity, it suggests a few options of different sounds and music styles. You can even shake your phone while in the app and enter exactly what you are doing to be matched up with various selections. 

May 1, 2013

Common Sense

H&M and IKEA were the first pioneers to hit the U.S. and now a new wave of Vikings have invaded Greene Street in SoHo. With the exception of Acne Studios and J.Lindeberg, most of the companies are mid-market brands from the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Denmark. At the core of Scandinavian design is minimalism, functionality and comfortability. For these brands, simplicity is key and there is a lot of value in that because finding wearable, high quality clothing isn't as easy as one would think.

photo via J.Lindberg

J.Lindeberg was the first of these Swedish newcomers to hit Greene street and was launched simultaneously in both New York and Stockholm back in 1996. Today it's distributed in over 20 countries and even sold on ASOS. Driven by the beautiful, original and genuine, J.Lindeberg primarily produces menswear and golf collections with a huge following among PGA stars and celebrities like Bono, Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake. Focused very much on craftsmanship, the brand has introduced, The Documentary and a Dream biannual books, which tells the story of the evolution of the brand, what they do and why and has already released seven volumes.

photo via Vogue

Founded in Stockholm in 1996, Acne Studios is part of the creative collective Acne (Ambition to Create Novel Expression). Their red stitched jeans became the foundation of their brand when they gained publicity and began selling to leading boutiques a year later. Today they are known for their architectural, modern and straight-lined clothing, which is marketed through their biannual magazine, Acne Paper. Their latest endeavor is a Vogue inspired Spring Capsule Collection that incorporates the July 1931 cover of a woman's facial profile that is printed on everything from summer dresses to voluminous skirts and even baseball caps.

photo via Fjällräven

Fjällräven, which means Artic Fox in Swedish, specializes in durable outdoor clothing and equipment made to make the outdoors more enjoyable for all. Not only has the brand been featured in GQ, InStyle, WWD, Martha Stewart Living and Refinery9, but they were rated #21 best for the Eco Style Conscious by Men's Journal. Famous for their iconic backpack, the Kånken rucksack comes in any color you can imagine. Their Greenland jacket made of their original G-1000® fabric is one of the best outdoor fabrics on the market with its tightly woven design, excellent ventilation, and wind and water resistant qualities. Not only are they cool, but they tell a story of the great outdoors and even donate to the endangered Artic Fox. Right now they are in a huge space on the corner of Broome and Greene streets with a focus on warehouse sales and good bargains, but keep an eye for them in the beginning of August, when they will open their flagship store in New York.

photo via Moods of Norway

If you're looking for some good old fashion Scandinavian fun, look no further because Moods of Norway is stationed right at 75 Greene. This menswear and womenswear label, which was started by three young guys in 2003, combines Norwegian heritage with international trends and often incorporates tractor themes into their aesthetic. Under the slogan, "Happy Clothes for Happy People," they have a signature "Cocktail Suit" which comes in everything from bright colors to florals and plaids.

photo via Hästens

A few streets over on Broadway is Hästens, a Swedish luxury bed manufacturer that has been perfecting sleep since 1852. Using sustainable resourced horsehair, cotton, wool, flax, Swedish pine and steel, this brand values quality craftsmanship, natural materials and deep, rejuvenating sleep. Each bed comes in their signature blue and white check design and are built entirely by hand, which takes anywhere from 140 to 160 hours to make.

Among these brands there are also a ton of new and upcoming Scandinavian designers on the forefront of the fashion world as well like ALTEWAISAOME, Maria Nordstrom, Anne Sofia Madsen, Thea Dyring and Veronica B. Vallenes. From fine craftsmanship to natural materials and functionality, clean lines and well though-out design, these designers and brands represent a fresh stream of perspective from northern Europe. As Scandinavian design continues to make its presence widespread throughout New York and the rest of the U.S., one thing is for sure, they are bringing common sense back into fashion. For more cool Scandinavian brands check out this Pinterest board for some inspiration.
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