November 27, 2013

A Day For Thanks

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

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

xx Your MBF Team

November 21, 2013

Life in 3D

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

video via CNN

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

photo via Shapeways

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

photo via

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

photo via Shapeways

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

video via Protos Eyewear

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

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

November 14, 2013

The Cool Factor

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

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

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

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

photo via

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

photo via

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

photo via

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

photo via NY Times

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

photo via WWD

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

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

November 7, 2013

Big Data Big Impact

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

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

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

photo via Business Insider

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

photo via WWD

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

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

photo via Refinery29

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

photo via Curalate

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

video via Viewsy

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

video via

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

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

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