February 27, 2014

At Your Convenience

Despite so much saturation in the marketplace, there are a few brands doing things differently by acting as a disrupter and defying the norm. Rather than doing the same old thing, these are the fearless, the risk takers, and the innovative, who take radical ideas and tailor them to reality. Companies like Zappos with their new self-governing structure and Amazon's mobile warehouse robots, are just a few of the businesses challenging the current industry.

photo via USA Today

Pop-up retail shops and restaurants really aren't anything new but they are becoming more and more common in airports as of late. Not only do they offer a chance to test out new brands and concepts, but they provide relevant merchandise and speciality gifts that coincide with the season. Just last October JetBlue hosted a three day Farmers Market at JFK and as we mentioned previously the ethically-minded website Zady set up a temporary shop at LaGuardia for the holidays.

While most offline companies are moving online, Net-a-Porter is doing things a bit backwards. The e-tailer which deems itself as less of a retailer and more like a media company, feels it is missing the most basic component, a print magazine. With such a global following, the magazine called Porter, will be distributed in 60 countries and is giving Net-a-Porter a chance to partner with brands that have been apprehensive about selling their products to them, like Chanel and Dior. Their debut issue which will contain 65% editorial content will not only drive traffic to their e-commerce site, but also to those of its advertisers as well. By taking this omni-channeling approach, the company hopes to expand their audience and generate advertising revenue in the process.

photo via Mashable

Sure we have the luxury of shopping at the click of a finger anywhere, anytime but living the busy lives that we do, how do we avoid all those pesky missed delivery notifications? Now with the new delivery service Parcel, New Yorkers can shop online with ease and receive packages at a time that is most convenient for them. Basically, Parcel gives you a unique address to one of their facilities which you enter as the shipping destination for your purchases. Once they receive your package, you are notified via text to schedule a delivery anywhere between the hours of 7pm and 11pm for just $5 a package.

photo via springwise.com

There's even an app that can make all your tickets go away. Fixed enables you to take a photo of your tickets, upload them on the app, and have them challenged in court by a team of experts. If you win, you pay the team 25% of your ticket and if not, well you're stuck paying the fine but what do you really have to lose? Unfortunately, it's only available in San Francisco right now but hopefully will be expanding to a city near you soon.

The keyword here seems to be convenience and what's more accommodating than ordering Taco Bell via text? While that may take until the end of the year, one thing is for sure it's all about learning to adapt to change and evolving with it. We are mobile users that are constantly on the go so we look to things that are user friendly and make our lives a little bit easier in the long run.

Today we'd like to leave you with some of the top names to keep in mind for the rest of the year so please check out Fast Company's list of "The World's Most Innovative Companies in 2014."

February 20, 2014

Off-Site On Trend: Part II

This year we attended two leading independent designer showcases held during NYFW that help a new array of global talent break into the industry. Held by RUSK, Nolcha Fashion Week was presented on Pier 59 with more than 30 designers in womenswear, menswear, and accessories exhibiting. 

photo via Katty Xiomara

A combination of sophistication, femininity, and an eye for fabrics has led to the evolution of Katty Xiomara. With Portuguese decent and a love for the nostalgic, she has created a poetic and idyllic character for the modern woman's wardrobe. Her latest collection was inspired by the popular Sunday comic, Peanuts. Through the usage of graphic details and free hand drawings, she evokes the personalities of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the like, to transform us to the fun days of our youth.

photo via Jessica Frankl

As we mentioned last week, we also attended Launch NY to see the Bow & Drape x Paper Fashion collection. Bow & Drape is a label dedicated to building confidence among women through their personalized approach to clothing. The brand channels your inner Molly Ringwald meets Judd Nelson and is all about creating feminine pieces that radiate a bit of attitude. Their collaboration Watercolor Artist Katie Rodgers of Paper Fashion created two custom prints, a spatial floral and a lipstick conversation print.

photo via Danielle Meder

Not only have we seen such a surge in new emerging talent but there has also been a fresh update to the audience as well. What once was limited to only the most prestigious editors and buyers has evolved to a guest list of "it" girls, celebrities, and bloggers. The most recent shows have even come to include everything from streetwear photographers to illustrators to gif artists like the bloggers Tumblr sent to fashion week or the infamous Live Runway Visionaire Danielle Meder

February 18, 2014

Off-Site On Trend: Part I

Since IMG announced plans to reinvent the structure of NY Fashion Week's main venue Lincoln Center, the bi-annual event has been criticized for being too “tradeshow like” causing many designers to move off-site. This has sparked more innovative platforms like that of Manufacture NY, an eight day fashion week that combines runway with retail situated down on West 17th Street.

With an audience and exhibitor list full of the young, cool and inventive, the relaxing atmosphere of Launch NY was a great break from the usual frenzied tents. The independent designer focused event acquainted the industry with a plethora of emerging multi-talented artists and visionaries. Not to mention, the space was cleverly attached to a retail store selling a few of the featured designers' merchandise.

photo via Udor Photography

Here we were introduced to Mimi New York, a collection of unique pieces that combines antique fabrics of lightweight lace, fringe, and other hanging details to give each garment a one of a kind look. By mixing various lace colors and proportions, designer Mimi's artistic eye creates high-end, handmade, and sustainable clothing.

photo via Udor Photography

Born and bred by Bulgarian designer Milena Encheva, Minnoji is a New York based womenswear label that creates sophisticated clothing that can be worn from day to night but with a dark, romantic twist. Her most recent Fall collection had a unisex appeal with its heavily androgynous theme, which she believes is the future of fashion.

photo via TUR Photography

By adapting her training in apparel design and applying it to working with metal, Pratt Art Institute graduate, Laureluxe was able to pursue her ultimate passion for jewelry design. Some may say her work references Egyptian and Persian cultures but either way, her handmade pieces are truly creative wearable art.

photo via Simply Natural

Inspired by a love for animals, nature, and a Made In The USA mentality, Simply Natural is a line of denim developed from natural dyes grown in the northern US. By hosting a trunk show at Manufacture NY's new retail component, this farm to consumer concept showcased their completely cruelty-free alpaca fleece that is sheered directly from the animal before spun into yarn, designed, and made into apparel.

Stay tuned for Part II of our NYFW chronicles...

February 13, 2014

Fit For Good

Technology has enabled custom made clothing to finally reach the mass market. It's tough enough getting something properly tailored let alone buying something straight off the rack at a department store. Therefore, many shoppers completely skip both scenarios and head straight to the web to find custom made pieces that are more convenient for their lifestyles. Due to this growing demand, a string of new brands has emerged as an antidote to fast fashion and to give the industry a fresh perspective on fit and size, particularly in the menswear sector.

photo via NY Times

Between regular fits and big & tall sizes, one would think you should fit somewhere in between, but what about those of a smaller build? Meet Peter Manning, a line of classic American Sportswear made for guys 5-foot-8 and under and of a thinner physique. Along with this, other similar brands like Jaden Lam and Willis & Walker have popped up to cater to this niche market as well.

video via Ori Jeans

We all can agree that the one item that is the most frustrating to shop is without a doubt jeans. While it may sound unreal, that's where Ori Jeans comes in with their $99 handcrafted jeans. Made with selvedge denim from the US and Japanese mills, this Kickstarter campaign will start taking orders sometime this month and once it's up and running, you'll be able to select a specific cut, color, fabric, and even such details as stitching and distressing.

photo via Appalatch

Based in Asheville NC, Appalatch is an ethically minded, American made, and quality driven outdoor apparel company that seeks to prolong the lifeline of what we wear. Their custom sweaters are 3D printed in under an hour with no waste and cost around $109.

video via MyOwnShirts

MyOwnShirts is like a virtual design mecca for shirts. With the click of a button you can enter your measurements, choose your fit and design preferences, and voila! Your shirt is cut, sewn, and delivered to your door.

photo via Indochino

One of the most well known of these companies and first of its kind is Indochino, an online made-to-order suit retailer where you choose a style, add customizations and then follow their step by step measuring guides to create a look completely your own. They even have pop up tailor shops in major cities across the US and are so dedicated to creating the perfect fit that if your suit arrives and isn't right, they will even go as far as covering additional alteration expenses, remaking it free of cost, or accepting a return with full refund. Today, Indochino has served more than 120,000 customers in over 130 countries and continues to go global.

photo via fashionista.com

Womenswear label Bow & Drape is a NY fashion tech startup who not only does customized unique statement pieces but as of late has been experimenting with 3D printing for its new accessory line. Stay tuned next week as we talk about the NYFW presentation Bow & Drape x Paper Fashion at Launch NY.

February 6, 2014

MBF Profiles: Rohan Deuskar

If you've ever imagined having your entire wardrobe laid out in front of you then maybe a digital closet is just what you've been missing. This is where Stylitics comes in to help you plan, share, get advice, and even receive recommendations on what to wear. Basically, it's a way to dress smarter and have all your clothes in one place so you can assess what you are wearing and how much. Sure, there may be other apps out there that are similar, but not one appeals to both consumers and retailers. That's why today we'd like to introduce you to Rohan Deuskar, CEO and Co-Founder of this closet platform that combines social, virtual, and insightful aspects to your everyday style.

MBF: Please tell us a bit about your background. How did your digital closet concept come about? What are the thoughts behind it?

Rohan Deuskar: I grew up in India, but have lived in the Middle East, Africa, Chicago, Philadelphia and briefly Seattle as well. I came to the U.S. for undergrad at Northwestern University when I was 18. After school I helped grow a mobile marketing company from 5 to about 100 people over 5 years. After that, I went to the Wharton School of Business for my MBA. It was during that time that the idea for Stylitics came together.

photo via Stylitics

Stylitics is the confluence of my personal need as a consumer and a major need in the fashion industry.
Stylitics was born from my frustration that although like most people I was spending a decent amount of money and time on buying clothes and deciding what to wear, my closet was still one of the most inefficient parts of my life. I’d wear only 20% of my stuff, I’d forget what I owned, and I’d buy duplicates of clothes I already owned. It struck me that the closet was one of those central experiences in people’s lives that is still completely analog and tied to one physical location. I realized that if you had a digital version of your closet – essentially all your clothing data in one place online – then you could unlock an amazing set of new capabilities. Imagine putting together packing lists on the go, or tracking stats like cost per wear of each item, or getting online outfit advice from your friend or a digital stylist.

And not only would consumers be better off, but with the user’s permission brands and retailers could see what people are wearing and buying in real-time, for the first time. That means better and more personal recommendations, more targeted offers, and better insights.

MBF: How can retailers and consumers who upload their closet profit from Stylitics?

Rohan Deuskar: Stylitics was designed as the essential toolkit for decision-makers in the fashion industry – sort of a Bloomberg terminal for fashion. People working to drive the business of fashion, whether through merchandising or marketing or other roles, are asked to make business critical decisions with very little useful information. Our insights platform gives these decision-makers a real-time view into where else their customers are shopping, what they are buying, and how they are styling it. This information has never been available at scale, even with expensive surveys and focus groups. It is saving businesses thousands of dollars and dozens of hours each month and helping to improve conversion and sales across a number of categories.

photo via Stylitics

MBF: Who are your competitors? Do you know of any other companies using a type of application like this?

Rohan Deuskar: Our data comes from our large panel of tens of thousands of consumers who share their purchases and outfits on our platform. There are other “digital closets” out there, but Stylitics is both the market leader as well as the only one designed to provide insights to both consumers and retailers. Our biggest hurdle is simply market education. Retailers and brands still think that surveys and focus groups are the only way to understand customers and their preferences. It’s taken a while to demonstrate the value of real-time data, for a fraction of the price.

MBF: You want Stylitics to be the new normal in the near future? How do you envision this happening?

Rohan Deuskar: Less than a decade ago, most people would have laughed at the idea that Americans would spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year buying shoes, dresses, and even diamond rings online. Connecting the store to the power and reach of web and mobile has unlocked a huge number of benefits for both consumers and businesses. Similarly, the closet is decision-central. It is the heart of the purchase decision and the consumer’s style and preferences. Connecting the closet to web and mobile – as Stylitics has done – is unlocking a whole new world of benefits – better recommendations and offers, digital stylists, outfit advice from friends online, and much more.

Over 100,000 people have hosted their clothing purchases and closets on Stylitics and we hope to cross 1M by this time next year. So far, the process of building your closet involves selecting from our catalog of 30M items or taking your own product photos. Starting in mid 2014, consumers will be able to download their purchases from dozens of top retailers instantly – which will really drive adoption. Retailers are behind this and consumer want it. We believe that in 5 years, digital closets will be as common as Facebook profiles!

photo via Stylitics

MBF: Initially Stylitics was launched as a digital closet only. What are the product developments over the last 3 years integrating data and data analytics? Please give us an example.

Rohan Deuskar: Actually, Stylitics has always been designed to drive analytics as well. It’s right in the name – Style + Analytics.

From day 1, we have believed that the data in the closet can help consumers shop better and dress better, but also can help retailers and brands design and market better to their consumers. We are part of a generation of companies that are using consumer data to provide new experiences for users and new capabilities for marketers. Others include Mint, Fitbit, Runkeeper, and other data-driven lifestyle platforms.

MBF: What was most successful marketing tool for you in retrospect?

Rohan Deuskar: We have done a number of marketing promotions, from partnerships with the CFDA to promotions on over 50 campuses. Frankly, the most successful tool has been word of mouth. Over 80,000 people have joined Stylitics after being referred by a friend.

We don’t think that the best users come from social media. During one week in 2012, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Richie, and a number of other celebrities and designers tweeted about Stylitics – to a combined 35M people. To our surprise, that drove only a few thousand signups, about what we get in a good week with no marketing.

photo via Stylitics

MBF: What does the future hold? Can you talk about your new developments?

Rohan Deuskar: On the consumer side, the priority for the year is to make it seamless and instantaneous to download your purchases instantly. On top of that, we are launching offers, recommendations, stylist services, and a number of other consumer benefits. And the app will remain free!

On the analytics side, I believe we can have 50 of the top 100 retailers using our insights dashboard by the end of the year. Our new analytics dashboard was designed in conjunction with some of the world’s leading brands. We think it can have a major impact on sales in 2014.

MBF: What is the biggest challenge you encounter to take the company forward?

Rohan Deuskar: At the moment, it is market education. There is a lot of inertia in the fashion industry. A lot of companies still believe they know their customers, when actually what they know is the 5-10% of purchases they are buying from that specific retailer. It will take us a while to get the market to buy into the idea that they can perform better by getting the full view of the market – in a sense, the customer’s entire closet and shopping bag.

That said, the change is happening a few retailers and brands at a time. The marketplace has too many new entrants and too much change for companies to claim for much longer that they don’t need better customer data. Luckily, the cost of good data and good analytics has come down. For example, our customer insights platform costs the same for a year as one traditional customer survey!

MBF: Do you see a growing engagement for men in the future?

Rohan Deuskar: Definitely. We already have a few thousand men on our platform, but that will increase as we make it much easier to build your closet. It’s a cliché, but most men are looking for practical advice on how to upgrade their style, without having to follow the latest trends. If we do a good job with personalized recommendations and stylists, I think we can make a big impact for men.

photo via Stylitics

MBF: What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been thus far?

Rohan Deuskar: Until very recently, our new iPhone app was the #1 free fashion app in the App Store. That’s pretty amazing since a) this is very obviously an analytics and organization tool and b) we spent no money on marketing the app. It tells us that consumers are willing to share their data if you are transparent with them and give them value in return. We consider this a major accomplishment – ahead of sales or building our ambassador program or winning awards – because it has proved that the consumer is willing to be a part of the personalization and marketing effort, if you give them enough benefit. This has big implications for the future of retail!

MBF: Our MBF Profiles ends with a questionnaire that follows in the footsteps of Proust's Questionnaire and American TV show host James Lipton's "10 Questions."

MBF: Your favorite swear word?

Rohan Deuskar: Damnit!

MBF: Your least favorite word?

Rohan Deuskar: “Whatever.” Can’t stand apathy.

MBF: Your favorite word?

Rohan Deuskar: “Goodnight.” Sleep is precious.

MBF: What turns you on?

Rohan Deuskar: That exciting moment when you realize you are onto something big and it is about to hit you.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

Rohan Deuskar: Drama. Can’t watch it. Can’t live it. There are better things to do.

MBF: What sound do you love?

Rohan Deuskar: An Indian Sitar.

MBF: If you could pick any profession – what might you be?

Rohan Deuskar: Other than my own, perhaps a movie director or a short story writer.

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

Rohan Deuskar: On an episode of ‘Whose Line is It Anyway’ in the 1990s.

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

Rohan Deuskar: “I like your work.”
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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 mbf-trendtalk.blogspot.com.