July 31, 2014

The Watchlist

There is a mix of cool and unusual collaborations happening across the board right now. From doing good to shared economies, technology, wearable tech, groundbreaking innovations, mindful consumption, and conscious consumerism, the industry is taking some revolutionary steps forward.

photo via Rude Baguette

If you're still new to bitcoin, it might be time you got acquainted because online European merchants are now accepting the digital currency via the merchant solution, Paymium. By using Paymium's API or plugins, bitcoin payments are not only cheap, but global, and more secure than anything else.

photo via The Independent

Ever want to design your own clothes but lack the sewing skills? Well, the Seattle-based company Bombsheller has just opened its own factory that creates customizable clothing. While the company is currently concentrating on leggings, customers can choose their own designs and tailor the size and length of the garments to their own specific measurements.

photo via West Elm

With headquarters across the street from each other in Brooklyn, West Elm and Etsy share many of the same values like supporting emerging artists and telling a story about the products they sell and who makes them. They both understand that the key is to create a connection with consumers through a curated selection of merchandise. What began with a collaborative catalog and evolved to Etsy pop-up shops in select West Elm locations, has now led to the creation of initiatives supporting local artisans and the launch of Etsy's wholesale marketplace. Now West Elm lovers can shop the retailer's Etsy page, West Elm Local, to see their favorite pieces and shop props from the catalog.

photo via springwise.com

In Japan, you can now give clothes a test run before deciding whether you want to keep or return them. Japan's Fast Retailing Co has recently launched a store using its GU Fitting service, which allows customers to try on up to 3 items after giving their name and phone number details. They can wear the clothing outside of the store for as long as they like under one condition, that the items are returned/paid for that day. While this was only a trial and was restricted to 30 customers a day, this initiative is a great way for customers to really get a feel for the clothing they are investing in.

Microsoft Mobile and the British menswear designer Adrien Sauvage have teamed up to create the first wireless charging pants. With a Nokia DC-50 charging plate sewn into the pockets, these pants are made to recharge Nokia's Lumia smartphones and represent future innovations of our digital counterparts. 

July 29, 2014

MBF At TexworldUSA Roundup

You may remember us mentioning that our Creative Director, Manuela Fassbender, was invited to participate in Lenzing's Innovation Seminar Series at TexworldUSA last week. Manuela hosted and moderated a discussion entitled “The Future is now: New Games and New Rules," with a panel that included top leaders in the industry: Maxine Bédat, Co-founder of Zady, Liz Bacelar, Founder and CEO of Decoded Fashion, and Julia Straus VP of Partnerships and Business Development at BaubleBar. Held at the Javits Center along Manhattan’s Hudson River, the discussion addressed the major drivers in today's apparel industry and how to gain market share. We had an outstanding attendance and very thought-provoking conversations, so here are some highlights:

Maxine Bédat, Co-founder of Zady and expert in conscious consumerism, explained how consumers want to know more about their clothing. According to Maxine, conscious consumerism started in the food business and trickled down into fashion. She described today's consumers as the “Wholefoods Generation” with an awakened curiosity towards what our food and clothing is made of. Consumers are obsessed with plus factors – Made in the USA, 100% organic cotton, and so on, and businesses should take advantage of that. When it comes to fashion, we need to help consumers define what sustainability is.

Liz Bacelar, founder and CEO of Decoded Fashion connected and educated us on the merging of two very different players, fashion and technology. She examined how fashion is slow moving when it comes to technology, because there are little investors in pricey fashion/tech collaborations such as 3-D printing for personalized bracelets. She states that there is a major demand for fashion designers to team up with tech firms to beautify wearable technology in the luxury market. Liz gave us an example of Google maps working with a couture jacket where the wearer places their phone in their pocket, and the jacket vibrates based on the direction that Google wants you to go. Needless to say, the entire audience wants that jacket!

Julia Straus, VP of Partnerships and Business Development at BaubleBar focused on the play between Fortune 500 and startups. Julia told us how Nordstrom recognized BaubleBar after their 50-day pop-up shop in NYC drew in major crowds and now they are available on the upscale department chain's website as well as in 35 Nordstrom locations. Deemed guest bartenders, the fashion jewelry mecca now collaborates with influencers, personalities, and editors who lend an eye in designing an upcoming collection. The latest collaboration is BaubleBar x Frends, a full product line of Bauble Bling headphones that come with a complimentary pair of earrings. Wearable technology is one of the hottest markets right now and a partnership between Fortune 500 companies and startups can do wonders for both parties by combining the fresh and innovative with that of the more established and experienced.

While gaining market share is more challenging than ever, being able to analyze what drives the market from conscious consumerism, to fashion/tech partnerships, to alliances with startups and Fortune 500 companies will help to seal a spot in the industry.

To learn more about these influential women, read our Seminar Announcement
here. And to check out our full MBF Portfolio, please click here.

July 23, 2014

MBF Profiles: Joseph Huba, Co-Founder of Bikestock

What happens when you take a love for biking in NYC and translate it into 24/7 self-service kiosks? Basically, you get an urban cyclists go to, or Bikestock, vending machine repair hubs that supply everything from organic chocolate to tool kits, air for your tires, and branded cycling products. Joseph Huba is not only the Co-Founder of Bikestock, but a biking enthusiast himself and through his experiences as a bike messenger in Brooklyn, knows first hand the importance of being able to stay on the move no matter the time of day.

photo via Bikestock

MBF: Tell us about your background, the concept of a vending machine that sells tools, snacks and other essentials and how it came about? What drove the concept?

Joseph Huba: I'm from a small town outside of Washington, DC and went to college at the University of Maryland, College Park. I studied Sociology while I was in school and coincidentally my business partner Matt studied Anthropology. The idea of selling bike parts and other small items out of a vending machine is not a new concept but it's certainly not happening on the level that we envision in New York City. Matt (co-founder) heard about bike parts vending machines in other parts of the country and came up to me one day and said “We should put bike parts in vending machines and get them all over New York City.” I needed no more convincing once I let the idea soak in. It made total sense because I was working as a messenger at the time and cannot tell you how many times I needed a bike parts vending machine and bike repair after hours. Essentially Bikestock was born out of frustration.

MBF: Why is it so important to keep people in movement? What is your mission?

JH: Our mission is to empower and encourage people to be more active. Being active helps you live a happier and healthier life and cycling is such a good way to do just that.

MBF: Besides the vending machines, you also have a pop up store and personalized tool kits. Can you tell us more about them? Were they part of the initial project?

JH: The pop up store was just a temporary collab with Urban Outfitters. They gave us the opportunity to establish a small retail shop and sell bigger items that don't normally fit into a vending machine. And the tool kit was an idea I came up with when we were spinning our wheels trying to get a location for a vending machine. The tool kit kept us from giving up and abandoning the idea all together. Neither were part of the initial project...they just happened organically.

MBF: How did you guys meet? What connects you? Is it the passion for biking and/or your lifestyle?

JH: Matt and I met while working at a restaurant/bar called Calexico in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Matt had just moved out here from the West Coast and I was already living in Brooklyn when he moved here. We had similar interests and tons of mutual friends. And Calexico in its early stages was a really tight knit restaurant; everyone was friends and everyone hung out after work.

photo via Bikestock

MBF: Your logo is really cool. Tell us about the logo.

JH: I don't know what to say about it other than our designer (www.davidwhitepond.com) did a great job giving us an identity. We showed him a ton of stuff we liked and didn't like and trusted him to come up with something for us. He hit a grand slam and we're thankful for the top notch branding every day!

MBF: Bikestock Kiosks have been picked up by Urban Outfitters, a fortune 500 company. What are the pros and cons? Can you talk a bit more about the partnership? And how did they find you?

JH: One of their higher ups saw our machine in Bushwick and e-mailed us about getting us in their stores. That's how we got in touch with them. The list of pro's goes on forever. Overall it's just a fantastic opportunity to test out a business in their market.

MBF: What is your biggest challenge? Where are your current locations?

JH: The biggest challenge is finding more 24 hour locations. Our current locations are at 49 Bogart in Bushwick and 1333 Broadway (35th and Broadway) in Manhattan.

MBF: Are you looking to do other partnerships with other venues? What is your criteria?

JH: We are working on a few things right now. We just want our future locations to be accessible 24 hours a day.

MBF: Are you aware of any competitors? If so, how do you think it affects your business?

JH: We are aware of our competitors and they affect our business positively because more people get to see 'bike parts vending machines', even if they don't say Bikestock. It's nice to see other people providing a wonderful service in a city that is full of so many cyclists.

photo via Bikestock

MBF: What are the key recommendations you would suggest for start up companies?

JH: Formulate your idea and get it on paper, then write a business plan, and don't give up.

MBF: Where will Bikestock go next?

JH: Who knows what the future holds for us....!

MBF: Our MBF Profiles close out with the following questionnaire – in the footsteps of Proust's Questionnaire and American TV show host James Lipton's "10 Questions."

MBF: Your favorite swear word?

JH: Fuck.

MBF: Your least favorite word?

JH: No.

MBF: Your favorite word?

JH: Yes.

MBF: What turns you on?

JH: Hardwork.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

JH: Laziness.

MBF: What sound do you love?

JH: The sound of an empty forest.

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

JH: Pro Skateboarder.

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

JH: The west coast.

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

JH: I'm not sure youre supposed to be here...

July 17, 2014

MBF at Texworld USA

A few weeks ago, we announced that we are hosting a panel discussion at the upcoming Texworld USA, The Future Is Now: New Games And New Rules. Joined by experts Maxine Bédat Co-founder of Zady, Liz Bacelar Founder CEO of Decoded Fashion, and Julia Straus VP, Partnerships and Business Development at BaubleBar, we will cover the topics of conscious consumerism, fashion and technology, and the evolution of Fortune 500 companies and start-ups.

photo via Texworld USA

So please check out the full seminar schedule here and be sure to join us on July 24th at 12:30pm. To stay in the-know look for  #MBFxTexworldUSA and make sure to follow our guest speakers:

July 10, 2014

The Fashion Curve

The plus size clothing sector is seeing some serious growth as of late. While traditional plus size specialty stores like Evans and Lane Bryant have been around for almost a century, most of the current boom can be credited to cutting edge retailers like Modcloth, ASOS, and Forever 21 who have expanded their offerings to include a more diverse size range. This market shift suggests that no matter what a customer's shape or size is, they still demand clothing that is on trend and makes them look and feel good.

photo via Buzzfeed

Modcloth, which has doubled the size of its plus size business since June 2013, recently hired Paradigm Sample to conduct a survey concluding that more US women wear a size 16 than 0, 2, and 4 combined. According to an article from the Associated Press, "The average American woman is about 25 pounds heavier than she was in 1960. Yet women's plus size clothing, generally defined as size 14 and up, still makes up only 9 percent of the $190 billion spent annually on clothes." This is major and explains why overall sales on plus size apparel has increased by about 5% and over a billion dollars from just last year, with most of that coming from the baby boomer generation.

photo via Refinery29

The popular and super trendy Aussie plus size brand, City Chic is coming to the US with six new stores openings in California. Kicking off on August 1st, the first will open its doors in Culver City with the rest launching throughout the end of September. Currently they ship internationally and are available at select Nordstrom stores as well as online, but their official brick and mortar entrance into the US will mark a major accomplishment for the specialty plus sized retailer.

photo via Nicolette Mason

However, it doesn't end at retail. Today we have magazines like Full Blossom as well as a plethora of famed blogs like GabiFresh, Girl With Curves, and Nicolette Mason aimed to fight stereotypes and inspire women to embrace their bodies. Not to mention, full figured fashion has spread across mainstream media sites like Refinery29 and Marie Claire pinpointing key trends, fashion tips, and advice articles. These companies are finally opening their eyes to reality and understanding their audience goes beyond sizes 0-12.

photo via Huffington Post

If you remember correctly, Rick Owens made fashion history almost a year ago when he replaced traditional models with a step dance team, whom were of a variety of shapes, sizes, and races. Then in February during London Fashion Week the second annual British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend (BPSFW) launched as well, which is specifically aimed towards size 14 and up. While the event is not actually affiliated with LFW, it is a huge leap for promoting positive body image and the beauty of diversity.

photo via Redbook Mag

Despite, things are still trickier in regards to the luxury market with very few high-end brands designing for above size 14. Actress Melissa McCarthy caused some controversy during an interview in June's issue of Redbook over her troubles finding a gown to wear to the Oscars explaining, "I couldn't find anyone to do a dress for me." And now due to her first hand struggles as well as her background in clothing and textiles, she's collaborating on her very own line called Pearl to help fuller sized women feel good about themselves.

While the high-end market may have some catching up to do, there's no getting around the potential of plus size apparel. With the help of technology and the internet, full figured women finally have access to brands that sell clothing fit for their body types without having to sacrifice their style in the process. As mid-market retailers continue to make it a priority, we will see more brands expand size selections, support diverse body types, drop stereotypes, and most importantly, challenge the current pressures of the fashion industry to reflect what real women look like.
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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.