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. 

September 19, 2013

Clicks & Bricks

Over the past few years we have seen the constantly growing battle between online and offline. We've been trying to understand how to drive traffic back to stores and preserve traditional retail models. However, maybe it's no longer one world versus the other.

As the rapid growth of e-commerce forces retail stores to change, the use of mobile technology in shops is becoming increasingly the norm and creating a new experience that drives traffic back to brick and mortar. Underestimate retail operations no more because the truth is we really can have the best of both worlds as we learn to push omni-channel retailing to new heights.

Mobile commerce has changed the entire interface of shopping. From stimulating impulsive buys to enabling shopping from anywhere across the globe, it's all at the click of a button. Not only can consumers download mobile apps that direct them straight to a site but many brands save credit card information and offer online exclusive items. These new features are challenging brick and mortar operations to give their shoppers the same convenient, personalized, and beneficial services that online retailers can so easily provide.

As consumers use mobile technology to compare reviews, price check, and find coupons, how are stores driving traffic and maintaining the incentive to shop? Through apps that allow customers to check in via social media, price matching guarantees, ipads in fitting rooms, and in-store pickup, physical stores create an experience that interacts with all five senses. By creating a multi-sensory environment, stores can compete with online giants like by giving their customers the choice between both in-store and online. The key is to merge the two worlds and as a result, many are shipping directly from their shop locations to speed up delivery times and reduce clearance merchandise by selling from their own inventory versus a separate online one.

The changing retail industry is calling for a shift in the way we market and reach consumers as well. With that said, retailers are adjusting their strategies to rely more heavily on social media. From Oscar de la Renta to J. Crew, brands are beginning to launch their fall collections on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram before they hit more traditional outlets like print and television.

photo via Adweek

And forget the use of your perfect six foot model because real people's photos are what you may be seeing in future campaigns. Customers are demanding something they can relate to and research shows that user generated images up conversion rates. Brands like Urban Outfitters, Rebecca Minkoff, Under Armour,, and are in the works of beta testing the platform Fanreel, which locates hashtagged photos on social networks and integrates them to retailers' websites. This is just the beginning because these new marketing tactics could eventually translate into brick and mortar operations.

photo via WWD

Not to mention, there's a new ad agency in town. Launched by former Topshop CMO, Justin Cooke, Innovate7 is a disruption agency that hopes to revamp the current advertising model and bring a renewed sense of modern thinking and technology back into marketing. With plans to create a more "emotive experience," the team of 6 consists of professionals with backgrounds from Nike to Burberry to Facebook and Apple are exactly the types of people that think outside the box enough to lead the face of retail into the future.

Will brick and mortar ever go extinct? Probably not, but it will go through a massive transformation as we continue to introduce new technology and innovation to create multi-sensory experiences for shoppers. The important thing we need to remember is that brick and mortar stores, e-commerce, and social media are all linked and feed off of one another. As we begin to understand how to successfully merge the online and offline worlds, the potential of seamless retailing is unimaginable. 

September 12, 2013

Let's bring it back to the Catwalk

Has Fashion Week become a mass market kind of event? We see more and more shows every year added to the calendar, many being live streamed or available digitally on demand via the internet and apps. Before the tents were reserved for only high-fashion brands and now any designer that can afford it can produce a show from Desigual to Project Runway to Nautica. Not to mention, the audience is no longer limited to the industry's most honored insiders like editors, credited bloggers and buyers, but it's become a social event that invites everyone from non industry related guests to wannabe celebrities.

photo via NY Times

So how relevant are the shows anymore as they lose their exclusivity? Just think of flying and how it's become an everyday norm. In order to stand out you need to rent a private plane to prove you're privileged. With 350 shows this year and tents filled up with spectators that have no direct connection to the industry looking to get a glimpse of fashion's finest or use the event as a publicity stunt, how do we preserve the sacred nature of Fashion Week and keep it about the catwalk, not the guest list?

At a recent fashion council meeting, the Queen of the wrap dress, DVF, mentioned that in a few years all the shows may be showing digitally. With everything moving into cyberspace and no real way to predict the future anymore, this tactic may be the only way to bring exclusivity back by limiting access to clientele, editors, and buyers actually interested in purchasing and promoting the brand. Just think of the amount of money designers can save from producing shows and instead, reinvest it back into the quality of the clothing and the brand.

photo via WWD

This brings up another point: the need for brands to be more careful than ever with their social media strategies. It's no longer just about seeing the clothes on the runway but posting them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube instantly. However, there's a fine line between posting relevant content and putting anything and everything out there. Designers are going to have to learn to find a balance between reaching a larger, global audience and controlling who sees what, where and when, if they want to maximize profits, create publicity, and deter knock-offs of their collections.

With all this talk of exclusivity, another way of standing out from the over-saturated fashion calendar and create a unique story in the process is by producing shows offsite. Here are some exciting side venues that stand out from the masses of shows and give you a hint of what the future may hold for the catwalk.

Meet Ruth Runberg, the former Buying Director of Brown's, who now with the help of Freelance Stylist, Alison Brokaw has launched an appointment-only fashion event that is not only collaborative but cost-effective as well. Deemed The White Space because many emerging designers are merely looking for "an empty white box" during Fashion Week, Runberg has handpicked five designers who will show their collections at the West Chelsea studio of Justine and Jeff Koons. Rather than charging the designers, both Runberg and Brokaw will receive a small percentage of any sales made from the presentation and the designers themselves have agreed to donate to the Koons Family Institute which works alongside the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

photo via

Probably our favorite menswear label, Ernest Alexander, really won us over this season at Bespoken. As you enter through a back freight elevator up to the 17th floor, the space combined an industrial warehouse setting with a casual, well-defined man. This time, American Designer Ernest Sabine has gone abroad with a collection reflective of his time in Venice. The clothes were modern, with preppy details and accented solid tailored pieces with light florals, pinstripes, and ditzy prints. His signature briefcases and carry-alls added a bit of a edge to his classically, cool style in camo and charcoal wax finishes.

photo via Juan Luis Real

Located at Canoe Studios overlooking the Hudson River, Pedro del Hierro showcased a static presentation full of an intimate circle of guests industry-wide. With a quality and price similar to Miu Miu, this was the first time Pedro del Hierro showed in New York. Carmen March, the creative director talks about the multitalented artist, Mariano Fortuny as one of the visionary creative forces that changed the course of modern concept of Fashion. Mirroring his laid-back oriental aesthetic, the collection featured light and free moving pieces like crepe tunic dresses and flowing overcoats in a palette of soft grays, creamy ivories, pastels and a pop of coral. Just as Fortuny did in his work over the course of his artistic life,March wants his influence to be evident throughout the collections.

video via

MADE Fashion Week emerged in 2009 as a solution to support the next generation of young designers breaking into the industry and have teamed up with both American Express and Macy's to help spread word of this new talent. Founders Mazdack Rassi, Jenné Lombardo, and Keith Baptista have helped put Milk Studios on the calendar as a Fashion Week hot spot and launched the platform, an editorial outlet featuring innovative content, video streaming, and real-time images along with a Tumblr and online store.

The real question is will we even miss it if Fashion Week goes completely digital? We are becoming so accustomed to instant access and viewing things via a computer screen that how important is the real thing anymore? However, in order for us to move in this direction, the industry will have to find a way to reach the right people, preserve everything it stands for and still remain cutting edge and innovative in the process. 

September 5, 2013

Triple-A Dude Talks BS

Disclaimer: If you are subject to any kind of sensitivity as it relates to the use of 4-letter words and the likes, please accept our apologies and refrain from reading this blog post.

Jan, we’ve been die-hard fans since your zero-BS policy from your early days as co-pilot of Uslu Airlines, back when you first took off in NYC in 2001. Wow! That’s history – seriously no BS!

photo via Shukra Cola

MBF: What do you have your sights set on – in addition to the airline business?

Jan Mihm: My currently most rewarding businesses aside from 'ua' are Shukran Cola, a kinda-non-profit venture that invests all profits in Palestine. My personal competitive goal is to push Coke from its #1 postion in the soda market. We shall start in Berlin-Neukölln with this and then take it from there. So far, market response has been phenomenal!

The close second for me in terms of personal rewards is ART IS THE ALIBI, an incubator and boiler plate for discovering international ideas and realizing them as artistic projects. Art is the Alibi's focus is fostering emerging and up and coming regions, both geographically and contextually. Founded in London, Art is the Alibi's headquarters have just been relocated to Berlin, the epicenter of emerging culture.

MBF: Please name your favourite airline…and airport.

Jan: My favourite airline is Virgin Atlantic. I have never flown with them, but I admire smart brand positioning more than recliner seats or tomato juice anyways. My favourite airport is Tegel. Cab to cabin is less than 50 steps there. Genius.

MBF: We can’t but help think of you as a NYC ex-pat. What’s most exciting today in and/or about NYC?

Jan: Honestly, I should answer that question end of October, after my 2013 visit.

photo via

MBF: And if you had to sum up Germany’s capital Berlin in three to five words? No BS.

Jan: Four dimensional cluster of culture(s).

MBF: Rules are definitely made to be broken. What marketing rules should we be breaking today ensuring products appeal to the very fickle, short attention span, knowledgeable consumer?

Jan: I know very little about marketing rules, so I would not exactly know what to break. To phrase it positively: think of your brand as a playmate for the consumer. And then continuously ask your yourself whether you would want to enter the game with that playmate. Make them laugh, bring them joy. Become their friend. A friend that they want to play with over and over again.

MBF: Can you identify the 5 most interesting people you have recently met?

Jan: No (nobody's biz).

MBF: What’s your connection with them?

Jan: See above.

photo via American Apparel

MBF: If you had to pick a fashion company to admire, which company would you pick?

Jan: Chanel and American Apparel (CC and AA for the B) both for their uniqueness, sexiness, smarts, awesomeness and especially – their particular portrayal of femininity.

MBF: And the most fashion-forward one?


MBF: Who do you think is the most engaging technology company?

Jan: Huawei, Kel-Tec, Monkeylectric

MBF: And of course, your favourite watch brand?

Jan: Analog: Raketa, Digital: Casio, Binary: The One

MBF: Have you ever been accused of looking somewhat like Tom Ford?

Jan: Yes, that has come up occasionally. But so have look-a-like comparisons to Ben Affleck and Ethan Hawke.

MBF: If “yes”, what do YOU think?

Jan: He is a very good looking guy. If I was gay, I would certainly bang him.

MBF: If you had to share words of wisdom with Ashton Kutcher – for his role as Steve Jobs – what would you say?

Jan: Drop the role, let Charlie Sheen do it. You suck.

MBF: Not terribly original but all the same fun. We’d like to take a page from James Lipton’s / Pivot’s questionnaire and ask you some questions, no BS…

MBF: Your favourite swear word?

Jan: "Scheisse" for things or mishaps, "Fotze" for people.

MBF: Your least favourite word?

Jan: Hate.

MBF: Your favourite word?

Jan: Love, Jan, charmer.

MBF: What turns you on?

Jan: Passionate brainy hearts, particularly on long legs.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

Jan: Abusing your own word of honor as if it was ever fixable

MBF: What sound do you love?

Jan: Laughter, especially that of my kids.

MBF: What sound truly irritates you?

Jan: Phone ringing.

MBF: If you could pick any profession – other than co-pilot – what might you be?

Jan: Certainly neither dentist, nor gynocologist as they both have to look in the same hole all the time. But since I regard my profession not so much as a co-pilot but rather as a hustler, I see no room for improvement = no need for change.

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

Jan: Right here.

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

Jan: Why if? And God will say exactly what will make me most surprising welcome, he is god after all. (And would not enjoy to guess him today. Why spoil the surprise?).
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