August 29, 2013

MBF Fall Fashion Guide

With Labor Day around the corner and New York Fashion Week on it's way, summer is coming to a close, but are we quite ready for Fall yet? Today, we've picked the most exciting things to keep you in the know as we transition into the cooler seasons and soak in the last few days of that sweet August sun!

photo via

The first thing that's grabbed our attention (and hopefully yours) is the launch of Opening Ceremony's first New York Fashion Week. Using old shipping containers, the retailer is holding a week long pop-up market at Pier 57 to celebrate and give guests an entire fun-filled experience. From DKNY for Opening Ceremony to Rihanna for River Island, an Estée Lauder pop-up salon and a variety of specialty vendors from food to bikes (maybe even cronuts!), the market will run from September 5th to 12th from 11am-7pm to make sure to check it out!

photo via Nylon Mag

Speaking of cronuts, if you've somehow been MIA and missed it, it really was the hottest food craze to hit NYC this summer! So will the ramen burger or the chalkboard cake be next to fill our news feeds and our stomachs? Either way, keep your eyes peeled and taste buds ready for the latest food creation to explode in a city near you.

photo via

As with every new season, a string of new designer collabs emerges to bring us both exclusivity and fashion at an affordable price point. This year's highlights include, 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target, Isabel Marant for H&M, L'Wren Scott for Banana Republic, and the Kate Spade New York and Darcel collection. Taking things further (for all you fashion fanatics), if you haven't been already, Rick Owens has opened up a DRKSHDW pop-up shop down on Wooster which will remain open until October 26th! For a complete list of collaborations, check out!

video via Prada

With September issues fresh off the presses, an array of innovative new Fall campaigns are finally here. Luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Dior, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Prada, you name it, are those to watch with the release of everything from shoppable videos to print ads to past archives and backstage content as they ring in the latest Fall collections. Even H&M makes the list with David Beckham at the core of their underwear campaign. Do you know how we know the 90's are really back? After staring in a Rag & Bone ad just months ago, the infamous Bridget Hall returns yet again, but this time you'll catch her at the ever popular and undyingly cool Prabal Gurung!

photo via

So with the 90's grunge era making a comeback, what are Fall's must have fashion items you ask? Well first off, if you're not mad for plaid already, from classic checks to tartan, anything goes. Make sure to experiment by layering cool logo tees and statement sweatshirts with your own distressed denim or a flirty wrap skirt! For all you beauty queens out there, test out Lancome's Vernis In Love nail polishes that come in shades of charcoal, deep maroon, and ebony. And whether you're back to school or not, try adding a personal touch to your wardrobe with these DIY backpack ideas! 

August 22, 2013

Retail Science

New concepts concerning technology, community, transparency, luxury, and new work spaces are driving rapid change and preparing us for future challenges we may eventually face. Both brands and consumers are ready as more questions are being asked and more answers given.

photo via ecouterre

One of the most talked about topics right now is transparency and traceability across the supply chain. From small to large brands, it is becoming more acceptable industry-wide for companies to brace these ideals before it is established mandatory. And if you're not a believer, just look at what's happening right now as cost break downs become more detailed than ever before, platforms like Making and Durated inform us about how to be sustainable, and more designers open up about the inner-workings of their production processes. In the very, very near future, transparency will become one of the mainstream factors deeming a brand credible or not.

photo via StyleSaint

With all these new additions and demands, businesses have to look to new ways to update their models. LA based startup, StyleSaint is focusing specifically on content, community, and commerce by producing in LA, allowing users to create and share "visual tear sheets," as well as featuring their very own online magazine. This seems to be the direction many online retailers are taking as they learn to virtually connect with consumers despite having no "real" contact like that of brick and mortar stores.

photo via Guest of a Guest

Others like STORY, completely renovate their space every four to eight weeks with its current theme "Color," organized by different shades of the spectrum. According its Founder Rachel Shechtman, "STORY is a space that has the point of view of a magazine, but changes like a gallery and sells things like a store." Not to mention, the shop located in the Meatpacking district also hosts everything from fashion events to book readings, to mimosa parties.

photo via NY Times

Not only are business models changing but so is the work we do and where we do it. More Made in the US brands are emerging revitalizing American craftsmanship. From luxury watches by Shinola to workwear by Pointer Brand, these products are bringing life back to our cities, workforce and wardrobes by creating well made products produced by people who love what they do. These companies not only establish a sense of community among the workplace but really value the faces behind the brand.

photo via

Overall, things are definitely getting a bit more authentic and Ikea's new app is nothing short of the real thing. After scanning a page out of their new catalog with a tablet or smartphone, users can simply place the book anywhere in their home and that piece of furniture magically appears on screen. We're not sure about you but we are so ready to redecorate now!

photo via ModCloth

While tracking customer analytics has been a touchy subject as of late especially with retailers like Nordstrom tracking customers via smartphones without their awareness, the things companies can do with this information to better the supply chain is absolutely phenomenal. The ever popular ModCloth, is using data to predict how fast inventory will sell and which type of products will do best in order to buy smaller quantities up front and adjust supply levels as customers purchase. The online retailer also runs a program, "Be the Buyer" that let's shoppers vote on designs they would like before the company actually buys them. All of this insight allows for ModCloth to make quick decisions and focuses more on what customers actually want and need versus what the company thinks they do.

photo via Mashable

With that said, retailers really need to master how to affectively engage with their online community of consumers and fast. Neiman Marcus is experimenting through Pinterest by offering an exclusive Rebecca Minkoff handbag only available on the social pinning platform. As is J.Crew with the debut of their Fall catalog on Pinterest, Oscar de la Renta with their Fall campaign on Instagram, and Kate Spade with combination of a third party app and Instagram. This method of using visual marketing is a great way to capture and create interest, exclusivity, and buzz via their social media platforms because that's where the customer is now.

If we look back just a few years ago, we've made remarkable growth and we will continue to do so as our imaginations continue to evolve. As communal workspaces increase in numbers, the supply chain becomes more sustainable, and the lines between industries further blur, we will find new ways to work together to make our companies, employees, and products be the best they can be for consumers. At this point, all we can do is continue doing what we are already doing...trying. While we will face many challenges moving forward like balancing the online and offline worlds and making our production processes safer and more sufficient, we will also reach many amazing breakthroughs, specifically through the help of technology and learning to track and analyze emotional data. The real science of retail has to do with more than just the math of things, but building brands that not only bring people together, but stand for something more than just a dollar symbol. 

August 14, 2013

Talking Integrity With Tara St James

After chatting with her as part of the "Sustainable Fashion Tour of NYC" a few weeks ago, we had to get to know more about Tara St James, and who wouldn't? Owner and head designer of the Brooklyn based sustainable label, Study New York, Tara continues to bring integrity and honesty to the table in everything she does.

photo via Sarah Kerens

MBF Trend Consulting: Please tell us more about your company and your background.

Tara St James: I knew very young that I wanted to design clothes and work in fashion. I studied menswear in college because I liked the rigid structure of tailoring. I still apply a lot of those principles to my womenswear designs. Another underlying principle I learned from studying menswear - though it was not mentioned outright - was a disregard for trendy items, with a focus on craftsmanship, fit and longevity of wear. I started my career working in the denim industry, then worked for larger fast fashion brands in Montreal and New York. In 2009 I left my last job designing a high street brand called Covet and started Study. I started Study at a time in my career when I was very frustrated with fast fashion and mass production. With Study, we wanted to not just source sustainable materials but also produce them locally. There is a bit of a disconnect between sourcing sustainable materials and then producing garments in a large factory in China. I had a lot of experience sourcing sustainable materials through previous roles, however, producing the clothing locally was something completely new for me, very different, but a really enjoyable experience. I love being so hands on. We have also looked at our business model and want to provide an alternative to fast fashion and the traditional fashion calendar. We have moved away from seasonal collections, which never made sense to me. We now provide monthly editions and develop a few new pieces for the months ahead. This has been a great change for me and the stores love it as they are getting new stock in that is relevant to the time of year and can really build a collection.

photo via Christine Arndt

MBF: What is the meaning behind your company name “STUDY?” 

TSJ: The name was born of a desire I had to really examine my production process and focus on a different technique every season. That began with zero waste patternmaking, then progressed to weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing, pleating, etc... Now that I'm no longer producing seasonal collections I still focus on different techniques but I spread that focus over several months rather than each edition. 

MBF: You are involved in different projects like the Uniform Project and the Awamaki Lab. Can you tell us a bit more about the new tradeshow concept “Origin” taking place in Italy next year?

TSJ: I was invited by Not Just a Label to a teaser event for their new concept in trade fairs, called Origin. I believe NJAL has done a better job explaining the concept than I could, but I wrote a little about the experience on my blog. It was an enriching experience for me and I'm grateful to have been invited to participate, meet other designers and industry professionals, and partake of Italian hospitality for a few days!

photo via Christine Arndt

MBF: What are the biggest changes you have seen in your industry in the last year?

TSJ: 2013 seems to be a year for change for a lot of people, especially in my circle of friends and colleagues. This change is occurring on both the personal and professional level in many lives. For me it began a time of introspection into my business model. The fashion calendar never felt right for me. When I started Study in 2009 it was with a collection called The Square Project, a collection of zero waste garments made using squares, and it was intended to be more of a research project than a collection – hence the name, STUDY – but I was quickly absorbed into the fashion system and therefore the calendar. It took until now for me to realize that I didn’t have to subscribe to anything, and I could create my own calendar. While I’m not the first designer to choose to work outside the traditional fashion calendar (producing seasonal collections), it has become increasingly obvious to me that not only do the production methods used by fast fashion companies as well as the fabric choices designers make have a huge impact on our environment and the socio-economic well-being of other human beings, but our consumption has gotten so out of control that a statement needs to be made. By eliminating collections from my business model, and only producing a few garments every month, much closer to the season and when I feel there is a need for them on the market, my goal is to limit the availability of the brand to customers and hope they will carry these consumption values to other items. I only produce what I believe is beautiful and wanted. I believe consumers are starting to demand this change and are seeking out beautifully made, long-lasting quality garments that eschew trends. Fast fashion will reach a plateau very soon and send customers back to wanting original but less temporary items.

photo via Tara St James

MBF: What have been/are your biggest challenges in the industry?

TSJ: The greatest change I have seen with the business is the dialogue that has happened between myself and my retail outlets. Not only have they been incredibly supportive of the change but it has allowed me to really learn more about their needs and interactions with their customers. I have yet to figure out how I want to maneuver sales to my retailers. In the past I worked with a showroom and attended trade shows where buyers could come and order the next season's collection. Now I find myself needing to send styles out to the retailers once a month and while photos are a good way of doing this, I don't believe it's the only solution, so at present I'm talking regularly to my retailers to figure out the best way to approach them monthly with new product.

MBF: Since sustainability and technology are the major drivers of any industry, do you find that this shift is trickling across the industry?

TSJ: The fashion industry is notorious for being slow to adopt technology and the two have yet to find a harmonious relationship despite the recent enthusiasm for 3D printing and ecommerce apps pushing the industry forward. Speaking strictly on a sustainability focused level, technology has been tremendously important in recent years with radical changes in water and chemical treatment facilities, printing and dyeing technologies, fiber separating and recycling plants, etc... and soon I believe designers with an interest in sourcing sustainably will have an edge over those who do not mainly because of their understanding of these "new" production processes.

MBF: Where are you thinking of taking Study in the near future?

TSJ: I want to include more collaboration in the Study brand, whether it's for the main product range, an off-shoot or for private label development with my retailers. I love the idea of product development on a broader scale. 

August 8, 2013

Ubiquitous Influences

Technology is pretty much our most predominant driver as it continues to advance in the apparel industry with wearable technology and other devices blurring the lines between the natural world (actual objects) and computing. With that said, the collaboration of fashion, retail, and technology not only keeps us at the forefront in our thinking habits, but will produce endless possibilities all around. Today, we not only want to discuss this evolution, but by taking it a step further, what does this mean for the fashion industry and what does the future hold?

Forget actual computers, and soon even mobile technology will be a thing of the past as we introduce a new shift called "everywhere computing." Despite mobile technology still in developmental stages, as we continue to demand smaller and stronger devices, technology will further be integrated into almost every component of our daily lives, making it always accessible. From the home appliances we use to the clothes we wear to the cars we drive and even the human body itself, the era of ubiquitous computing is just around the corner. While today we very easily have the ability to separate the real world with the digital one, this won't always be true and one day maybe impossible.

photo via WWD

Wearable technology is just one of the ways, these innovations are being embedded in our daily lives. This new trend will change the way our industry operates, the degrees we obtain and the jobs available. Just a few weeks ago, Apple announced that former YSL CEO Paul Deneve, will be jumping on board to assist on "special projects." With an extensive background in the luxury market and a resume that includes the likes of Courréges, Nina Ricci, and Lanvin, it is no surprise Apple has enlisted Deneve to help drive their most recent break into wearables, like Nike's Fuelband, Google Glasses, and even their rumored iWatch. While right now, both industries feed off each other's expertise, the wearables market is set to explode over the next three to five years with expectations reaching up to $50 billion. This may eventually call for a greater demand of both style and science, resulting in the merger of fashion and tech jobs into one.

photo via

Right now we are at a point where anything we dream up is practically at our fingertips. With pjs that contain bedtime stories, a dress that turns invisible when the user lies, or sun protective clothing, we really are at the forefront of experimenting and creating things to make our lives easier and more comfortable. As the lines of reality continue to blur, the more technology will be able to know what we feel and want, sometimes before we even do. With access to our entire digital lives (scanning emails, location, calendars, news, etc), apps are being developed with the sole purpose to keep life running as smooth as possible. Whether it's being notified of a delayed flight or a changed meeting, this will eventually be integrated into everything from mirrors to refrigerators.

photo via The NY Times

Despite all these new gadgets and gizmos, the ironic thing is, as technology gets more advanced, there will also be a greater need to safeguard our identities from it as well. That's where stealth wear comes in, clothing designed to protect from detection and surveillance. Whether you want to reduce your thermal footprint through reflective fabric or own a LED purse that is activated when unwanted photos are being taken, these prototypes prove that it's worth taking our privacy a little more into consideration. Todd Blatt, a mechanical engineer, is literally working on a counteractive accessory to Google's Glasses, that protects people who don't want to be recorded while talking to a user.

If you think you depend on technology too much now, just wait for the day when there is no checking out, turning off, or silencing option. Eventually, it will be thoroughly integrated into everything we use in our daily lives to not only make things simpler and faster, but make us as efficient as possible. While, we are excited for all these new innovations, we are not quite ready to surrender the natural world and should we be? With unlimited access, how can we protect ourselves from being completely dependent on the devices we use? Either way, technology is getting smarter and more and more ubiquitous so we need to find a balance between the access it wants and the privacy we need soon.

August 1, 2013

NY Trade Show Roundup Fall/Winter 2014-15

As the Fall 2014-15 trade shows approached upon us, we attended the regular circuit, noticing more subtle innovations along the way compared to previous seasons. However, despite, it's definitely crystal clear where fabrics and prints are headed as we move forward.

From imitation furs to heathered and mélange looks, speckled fabrications and even worn in prints that allude to different surface qualities, this time around it was all about tricking the eye with texture! Other highlights included mono-stretch in everything from knits to suiting, double faced fabrics, and sparkly, iridescent yarns in laces, knits, and jacquards. Color-wise, we saw many more solids versus prints, with bright, vibrant hues still proving their potential.

photo via WWD

We kicked off our fabric frenzied week at Texworld. This year, we went on day two of the show and as usual, our first stop was the trend forum. Here we saw an abundance of texture, shimmer, sparkles, lasercuts, and embellishments. In addition, double-facing, matte shades, and imitation fabrics were popping up everywhere. While we didn't see as many prints as usual on display, there was a new range of solid colors that were soft, deep, quiet, and neutralized with some brights as highlights. Overall, the show was rather slow and surprisingly enough, although Texworld is manufacturing focused, we came across many attendees from retail companies.

One of the companies that really stood out was Hi-Tec Industrial Co., LTD based in Taiwan. They had a great selection of checks, houndstooth patterns, and blurred in plush wools, many in two tone combinations. For more information about their products, please contact them at

We also loved how Syrara Ltd. incorporated stripes into their textured designs. Not to mention, many contain a mixture of polyester, rayon, and spandex. So if you're looking for texture, you must email Syrara Ltd. at

For a more feminine feel, Shaoxing Boss Textiles Co., LTD, featured lots of lace with iridescent characteristics as well as lace look-a-like fabrics and antique floral printed laces. They also introduced a new silver fiber that has anti-bacterial deodorant, anti-electromagnetic radiation, anti-static, and also regulates body temperature. This new innovation is a great leap forward for the exhibitor, that can be reached via email at

One of our favorite things about the trade show season is catching all the familiar faces at The Kingpins Show in NY. Nothing beats a sense of community, handpicked exhibitors, and a relaxed atmosphere, full of people who are not only "in the know" about denim and casual wear, but really want to be there. The crowd was lively and the space updated with contemporary touches of an outdoor garden combined with antique living room furniture, all with a communal twist, of course. We mentioned it last week briefly in our excerpt on Stoll Knitting and we'll say it again, Europe keep an eye out, because The Kingpins Show is launching in Amsterdam in April 2014!

Unfortunately, we missed The Kingpins after-party, celebrating TRC Candiani Denim's 75th Anniversary with a fabulous denim sculpture cake created by the infamous Cake Boss. The "Made In Italy" label uses recycled water, no harsh chemicals, and garments can eventually be recycled after use. They are also credited for inventing stretch denim with 100% recovery that is both soft and light.

Kipas Denim featured a great selection of imitation denim that is actually woven knits. They come in three different weights and colors, with the interior and exterior in different hues. The fabric is strong, durable, and has excellent growth and recovery, eliminating the fold in the knee.

Over at Protrim, we became familiar with some of the garment processing machines they use in the denim industry. Using a LST laser to replace the finishing stage, a wide array of different visual effects can be produced from destruction to burn foil to ripping. These designs all look exactly the same and are completed in a timely manner. They also sell an assortment of washing machines that use 50-75% less water. So far companies like AG Jeans and Citizens of Humanity are equipped with their products and we suspect many more will come.

photo via PVNY

And of course, our last stop of the week was at PVNY and Directions by Indigo. The main PV space has definitely been growing in exhibitors over the past few seasons, as amenities have moved upstairs to it's sister print show. Indigo now takes up three floors including a barely noticeable trend forum pushed to the back corner on the top floor. According to both suppliers and our own candid eye, it looked as if attendance was definitely up as well as an increase in orders being placed.

photo via PVNY

After a brief visit at the color forum, we headed over to the trend forum which similar to Texworld, lacked in prints. The texture theme continued with worn in looking surfaces and mélange and heathered knits, both slinky and soft or structured and firm. Mono and bi stretches were pretty much universal in everything from knits to wools to suiting. Iridescent sheens, brushed surfaces, and double sided fabrics also caught our eye, and touch for that matter. Menswear influences in the form of stripes, checks, houndstooth, and herringbone paired with darker colors of brownish reds, ruby, dusty blue, navy, and greys from light to dark. The prints we did see had much more of a graphic appeal with either digitized roses, kaleidoscope effects, sketchy plaids, or washed out appearances and paint splotches.

Switching gears to Indigo, we spoke with Melanie Bergwall of Surface Print Source who explained the hot prints this season were sweet plaids with motifs layered on top, conversationals, fruits as in pumpkins, florals with dark grounds, and prints resembling tweeds.

With the help of new technological innovations and simply a desire for newness, texture and the illusion of it continues to grow in demand. We've seen so many prints and bright colors for so long that it's about time we are in for a change. As we evolve, there is becoming less of a separation between the fabrics we wear and our own skin as the touch becomes just as, if not more important than the visual components of our clothing. We are moving into an age where we can create pretty much anything we can think up. With that said, we will continue to keep you up to date on all the latest trends as they reach the industry because the next greatest thing is barely a season away!

Creative Commons License
MBF Trend Talk by MBF Trend Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at