Category Archives: Lifestyle

Fashion Voyeurism a la MUGLER

In case you’ve got nothing but time on your hands and/or are a really, really big fan of Nicola Formichetti’s Mugler, you probably don’t have time for this.

This is Fall 12 Mugler menswear, live-streaming pre and post collection on the brand’s Facebook page for 4 days (since Monday and until Thursday). Gaga is absent (so far) and I think we can all agree that it was time for a different approach after Mother Monster helped revive the brand (and deliver some new singles on the runway) last year. The genius of this crowdsourced concept is that up until now, no one has had their entire collection “on view” to the public in such a bold way (even if that means seeing rows of rolling racks). Reality TV shows could capture the madness only to a certain degree but this exposes much much more like set checks and rehearsals, IF you have the time and/or interest. When I checked in yesterday it was basically looking at them looking at boards and grabbing samples, set to a really good soundtrack.

Here’s what I think we could learn from this. Formichetti gets that fans want to be a part of Mugler. The live-streaming concept gives fans a sense of excitement and look into what goes into staging a runway show, with comment and sharing capabilities to generate buzz. Of course some parts are more exciting than others (and really you can’t see all that much since it’s shot in black and white). But being that voyeur at home tapping into what’s happening in less than 30 minutes before a runway show creates brand loyalty. And I’m willing to bet that that’s the exact audience shelling out cash for the Mugler fragrance.

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A World for Men to Shop

**Just thought I’d share a feature I contributed to the 2012 Department Store Yearbook. It’s an in-depth look at the shape of men’s retail today (in store and online) and presents a world of possibility for brands and retailers. Enjoy!

Men finally have their very own stores to shop in after sharing retail space with womenswear for decades. The reason for the shift comes as a result of both a more educated male customer, and also because men are more into fashion and largely making their own buying decisions without influence from their female counterparts. That means that the time is right for retailers and e-tailers to finally market to guys, cultivating their very own man cave to explore.

MEN’S-ONLY DESTINATIONS

One of the pioneers of the men’s-only retail concept is J. Crew. In 2008 the Liquor Store (named for its former use) opened in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, selling an expanded selection of men’s products, which had previously only sold under one roof alongside womenswear. J. Crew’s men’s-only stores have had much success and are attributed to revitalizing the menswear business. The stores now boast 4 locations, 3 in New York City and 1 in a mall in New Jersey. Aside from offering a complete universe of J. Crew menswear and select third-party brands, each location retains elements from the store’s former use, such as the aforementioned liquor store signage as well as a bank vault used to display product at another location. Accessories and lifestyle products that inspire each store are also factored in including coffee table books, DVDs and vintage items.

Ralph Lauren has also helped cultivate men’s-only retail by turning his New York City Rhinelander Mansion into a 4-story men’s destination in 2010. While Mr. Lauren has always been a master of visual merchandising, it’s important to note that in this instance, as well as the other examples, simply creating a more “masculine” concept of the women’s stores isn’t the answer. At Mr. Lauren’s men’s-only address, 5 different brand labels are featured amidst displays like a hunting lodge. Customization and personalization services also heighten the experience. And as is the case with most men’s-only stores, the women’s store is located conveniently right across the street.

European luxury brands are also expanding into men’s-only retail outlets. 2010 was a telling year starting with Hermes Man on Madison Avenue in New York. In Paris, Balenciaga opened the first freestanding men’s store with a high-tech look featuring cube displays and an illuminated staircase.

Dries Van Noten also went the route of men’s-only in Paris and sells one-of-a-kind products not sold elsewhere. In Fall 2011, another crop of luxury brands opened men’s-only locales, including Christian Louboutin in Paris, Jimmy Choo in London (a simultaneous men’s collection and store launch) and Valentino in Hong Kong.

With so many designers and brands going the route of brick-and-mortar men’s-only stores, it will become increasingly difficult for department stores to differentiate themselves. If you’re a department store with only a selection of a branded product, the customer is going to go to the designer’s store for greater assortment. One solution would be collaborations between retailers and brands to provide “exclusive” product and drive customers into department stores. It is also becoming more important for department stores to invest in their own private label lines, which can be used to fill a void in merchandise and also help in developing a unique identity. Keeping in mind that men tend to be highly brand/store loyal, department stores have the added advantage of selling familiar labels, while also introducing new ones that customers will be more open to because they’re right next to their favorite brands. The key to this is finding the right balance to make the customer feel at home with the brands they know, while presenting just the right amount of newness.

THE LANGUAGE OF SHOPPING ONLINE & EDITORIALS

Knowing that we are now dealing with a more educated and interested customer, the key to success for brands and retailers is to engage the male audience. Recognizing the fact that men shop differently than women is key, and so far the e-commerce route has been much more editorial, speaking to a man’s quest for information and advice.

Launched in February 2011, Mr Porter, the male extension of Net-a-Porter, has already achieved much success. The e-tailer features extensive editorial content ranging from brand introductions to style icons and lifestyle tips. Much of the point there is to engage the customer into what to wear and how to wear it. The site’s Style Advice section is popular for answering common questions from an expert, and then suggesting related products to purchase. Recognizing that there is still the demand for women shoppers, Mr Porter also launched a guide geared to women buying for men.

Gilt Groupe, the American purveyor of flash sales, has also quickly grown into several male outlets. First there was Gilt Man, the flash sale site in which 400,000 male customers proved that women are not alone in their quest for discounted impulse buys. Then, GiltMANual was introduced as an editorial outlet providing fashion news, mostly drawing viewers back to flash sales.

In August 2011, Gilt launched Park & Bond, a full-priced men’s site which not only offers a full assortment of products, but also provides more extensive advice and editorials. Furthering the cross between editorials and retail, GQ magazine teamed up with Park & Bond for a brick-and-morter pop-up store in New York City just in time for Holiday 2011.

Coach has had men in mind ever since the launch of their first men’s-only store in New York City back in 2010. While the brick-and-mortar store concept continues to expand (a new men’s store recently opened in Las Vegas and a Coach Men’s pop-up opened in London for the holidays), Coach has a men’s Facebook page which has harbored over 14,000 fans since May 2011. The goal here is parallel to other editorial initiatives, featuring products and features such as “Did you Know” with the goal to educate the customer.


The younger male customer is also becoming more responsive to editorials. Topman recently launched Topman Generation, a monthly online magazine that features icons, music, film and art. The only connection to product is noted on items worn by featured personalities, with the end point once again speaking to engage the customer.

A STYLISH RELATIONSHIP: MAN & BRAND

It’s an exciting time in men’s retail. The eagerness of men to listen and learn makes retail and e-tail environments much more enticing. We are no longer only speaking to wife or girlfriend who tends to buy exactly what they’re looking for; instead we’re providing the story behind brands and educating men on what to wear and how to wear it. Knowing that men and women shop differently in both brick-and-mortar and online environments means that we can now provide men with the right options to engage them, increasing loyalty and encouraging an ongoing style relationship.

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Patterning the Streets: Joie Reinstein

Of all the street blogs out there, this one – Pattern-Recognition Posterous – stands apart with an inquisitive voice and depth of real ground-up trendspotting. As in you’re going to want to follow it RIGHT NOW.

As of September, Joie Reinstein, whom I had met over a year ago when I spoke to her class at Parson’s, embarked upon a journey titled Radicant Fashion: An Exploration Around the World in 120 Days. She has already conquered New York City, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Next on her list is Fukuoka, Los Angeles, Rio and Sao Paulo. But like I said, this isn’t just any street style blog. Joie seeks to bridge connections between the cities she visits and fashion trends from the ground-up, and answer questions such as, “Does something a guy wears in Rio affect a girl’s outfit in the Lower East Side of New York?” Interviews with local designers and influencers are also featured.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from her inspirational project so far. Everything below (and much, much more) can be found at Pattern-Recognition Posterous.

PARIS: “Qui se ressemble s’assemble,” as in birds of a feather flock together. I could attest to this, especially as far as teens are concerned.

LONDON: 60s Jane Birkin or Rockabilly New Wave Mod?

COPENHAGEN: Print and texture mash up, PLUS interview with Rene Gurskov, creator of Rene Gurskov Men.

BEIJING: Matchy-matchy couples, interview with the designer behind local brand LiangSanshi (including insight on “The (Alexander) Wang Effect”).


LiangSanshi

SHANGHAI: Street style inspired by the nature of OSPOP footwear, *PROUDLY MADE IN CHINA*.

HONG KONG: The Wang Influence continues, best-dressed dudes and interview with blogger Joey Ma.

TOKYO: Dandy or Varsity Candy?

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Grassroots Denim: Imogene + Willie

So to add to J.Crew’s current winning streak, they’ve inked another exclusive with denim brand Imogene + Willie. Say WHO? There’s good reason you don’t know them, yet. Imogene + Willie is the brainchild of Matt and Carrie Eddmenson, artists and designers that over the years developed and produced premium denim for Levis, JBrand, Replay and Girbaud, to name a few. So yeah, they know their stuff on denim. Now the lovers reside in Nashville, Tennessee and since 2009, have dedicated themselves to producing and selling the best denim and lifestyle products in the world. They live in the attic above a retro gas station which serves as their retail concept and is also where everything happens (there’s a bathtub on the patio for finishes). How’s that for homespun? While I have yet to see it with my own eyes, their website alone makes me LOVE this concept and want to buy into it. There’s also a great video that encourages you to “Wash your jeans like real people”. It’s said that when you walk into their shop, they tell you the story behind every single piece. “They make you feel like you have already worn the jean or shirt all your life, and then you realize that you will.”

So back to the collab with J.Crew. 2 Imogene + Willie jeans for men (sorry ladies) will be out at the end of August, retailing for $350 and $425. To my knowledge, I think this is the first time Imogene + Willie is going to be available to the masses (sort of), since I believe current distribution is only out of their Nashville shop. They say they want to stay small but have recently made celeb fans out of Sheryl Crow and Gweneth Paltrow. I really hope they stay small.. without having experienced the homegrown approach myself, I’m already a fan. Perhaps now is the time to take a trip to Nashville.


Imogene + Willie for J.Crew

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Bowery Stadium By Nike

The new kid on the Bowery is part of a project called Nike Stadium. It’s a pop-up concept that celebrates the upcoming World Cup 2010 as well as provides a space for art exhibits, actual lockers for local sports teams in the basement and of course rotating Nike World Cup merchandise.

The New York space was designed by Rafael de Cardenas and the first instillation is called ORDER AND PROGRESS, said to be “a celebration of Brazilian soccer through the lens of the NYC creative community.” There’s also a short film featuring Spike Lee coaching his kid’s soccer team. Seems like a pretty good concept to link community and art with the world’s favorite sport (with the exception of the U.S.A.).

The Nike Stadium concept is also headed to London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and Tokyo. No news of anything in South Africa though, where the World Cup 2010 is being held. Granted there was enough World Cup merch when I visited the country in DECEMBER, but wouldn’t Nike want a piece of the local action too?

Bowery Stadium, 276 Bowery, New York.

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Filed under Artists, Brands, Celebrities/Models, Lifestyle, Retail

Bow Ties for Gentleman That Blog

Does the Brooks Brothers man blog?

A new collaboration between Brooks Brothers and men’s etiquette blog Social Primer begs the question. The result is a collection of 16 reversible bow ties launching May 19th to be followed by a Fall collection.

I think the line is great for the Brooks Brothers man, but the connection to Social Primer, I’m just not sure.. somehow I don’t picture such a distinguished BB man turning to the blogosphere for reference on manners, conversation or social etiquette (afterall, he’s already distinguished isn’t he?).

However I will say that we’re still in that period where most brands haven’t figured out how to market themselves in accordance with social media, and for now the gold standard remains Burberry’s Art of the Trench. I’m not sure how much new traffic will be generated to Brooks Brothers from Social Primer, but for the meantime I think these bow ties will do well at retail.

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Men-Only Shops

Lately it seems as if everyone is branching out from traditional ladies/mens stores into single-sex stores. In particular, the men-only concept seems to be gaining momentum.

I’ll attribute the start of this to the brilliant Tom Ford, who exactly 3 years ago opened his men-only emporium that evokes a a private club environment. The first Tom Ford flagship, stationed on New York’s Madison Avenue, is the ultimate vision of luxury and craftsmanship, with suits displayed behind glass like works of art. Tom Ford’s menswear now has around 10 flagships worldwide, if that’s any proof of its success.


Tom Ford

This February, Hermès opened its first men’s-only store, Hermès Man on New York’s Madison Avenue, directly across from the women’s flagship. The entire men’s range is spread across four floors, and the intended experience is that of a walk-in closet.


Hermès Man

Next up is Coach, who will be opening its first men’s-only store tomorrow on… you guessed it, Bleeker Street in New York. Up until this point, Coach’s menswear assortment has been sold alongside women’s product. The store’s merchandise assortment will include accessories, small leather goods, footwear, outerwear and watches, and will also serve as a test store for emerging collections.


Coach

J.Crew is planning on opening it’s fourth men’s store on New York’s Madison Avenue in August or September this year. The store is apparently the result of success felt through the first 3 men’s-only stores in NYC and NJ, and CEO Mickey Drexler has been quoted saying that the men’s-only stores are “beyond the test phase”.


J.Crew

In case you needed further proof that men-only shops are a big deal, I’ve heard that Ralph Lauren is also planning to transform the Rhinelander mansion into a shop for men… Men’s-only stores? Keep them on your radar.

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