Category Archives: Magazines

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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Fashion’s Night Out: MOSCOW Edition!

привет from Moscow! I’m here all week doing seminars as part of the launch of Fashion Snoops in Russia. Exciting stuff AND I just so happened to be here for Fashion’s Night Out Moscow, which was held Tuesday September 6, 2011.

This is the second time Moscow is participating in the global event which is FNO, and since I’m already familiar with NYC and Paris editions, I couldn’t wait to check out Moscow.

For the event, supermodel Natasha Poly partnered with VOGUE magazine to create 1,500 tote bags with her image on it. The tote bags were sold along with Russian VOGUE for 2,000 Rubles (about $65) with proceeds going to the “Who if not I” charity. Although I would never buy FNO NYC or Paris gear, I felt compelled to be a part of this event because it was my first time in Moscow and in general I applaud the FNO efforts to get people shopping.

First stop was department store TsUM, where I purchased my tote bag and Russian VOGUE at a FNO kiosk. The store drew quite a fashion crowd (as well as a personal appearance of Natasha Poly later in the evening) and congregated on the first floor in the midst of Russian designer clothing and sea of beauty counters and free champagne. The well-heeled elitist crowd mingled and interviews were hosted. I found it kind of ironic, though telling, that the crowd was dressed head-to-toe in international non-Russian designers. Labels like Balenciaga and Chloe offered special gifts with purchase, as a FNO incentive.

Next stop was GUM, the stunning luxury shopping mall in Red Square with illuminated exterior (and intriguing history). All the usual luxury brands were present on the ground level including Louis Vuitton, Etro, Dior and Hermes. There was a FNO kiosk in the middle of the mall, however the limited-edition products and/or gifts seemed to be absent from most retailers with the exception of a special Moschino bag and Etro t-shirt for FNO. The mall environment – while spectacular in general – seemed to draw less foot traffic and even though many designer stores served snacks and drinks, the energy was just not there. However, Louis Vuitton featured a fun board cutout of the illustrated F12 collection which I convinced Julia, my FNO partner in crime, to pose for with me. Photos at FNO in front of logo-clad backdrops are fun but I much prefer props like the LV cutout or the double G’s at Gucci in Paris last year.

Unfortunately I think I was a little more excited about FNO Moscow than the event itself, however I was happy to experience another FNO city. In retrospect, NYC is still the ultimate event. Last year I thought the event was too exclusive in Paris (it was invitation only, and only designer stores on 1 street participated). In comparison, Moscow attracted a similar crowd as Paris, though the atmosphere was less enticing. Being a New Yorker I am a strong believer in the democratization of fashion, which I think should be encouraged in major cities. But then again I remind myself that Anna Wintour of Vogue in NY created FNO and each Vogue editor is responsible for the execution of the event in their city. Of course there’s no place like New York, but when it comes to getting people excited and into stores, market expansion beyond luxury brands goes a long way.

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Musical Muses

I just adore this spread in W Magazine, July edition. Behind The Muses features 8 designers and the musicians who inspire them. This is great because in some cases it’s a bit expected and the musician has the same sort of style as the designer, but for others it’s a deeper appreciation for the artist and their personality, which is ultimately in line with the brand. Definitely worth the short read, in which Deborah Harry talks about the roots of each designer/musician love affair. Note the reason I say affair is because some designers, a-hem Karl, tend to change muses with every season collection.


Diplo & Alexander Wang


Donatella Versace & MIA


Esperanza Spalding & Francisco Costa


Florence Welch & Frida Giannini


George Craig & Christopher Bailey


Janelle Monae & Karl Lagerfeld


Kanye West & Rodarte


Yoko Ono & Proenza Schouler

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Little Monsters Invade V Magazine

There’s much more than the little Olsen sister in the 69th edition of V Magazine which hits newsstands today. “The Discovery Issue” features a spread on Lady Gaga’s fans Little Monsters dressed in their Gaga best.. in case you needed further proof that Gaga’s fashion influence is a force to be reckoned with. I LOVE this, although it makes wish that the Little Monsters in Paris would have had some fun with their grey drab wardrobes at the Gaga concert here last month.

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Gilt-y Gifts

It’s no secret that I’ve long been a devout Gilt Groupe member (read: addict). And while I had the old school experience of real-life American mall shopping on Black Friday, Gilt launched their very own Holiday Shop last week – a collaboration of sorts with Marie Claire editor Nina Garcia.

For 4 weeks, Gilt’s Holiday Shop will feature a new sale each week, which is “themed” according to the December issue of Marie Claire. The current sale features Color, and sales to follow include Cozy, Natural and Retro. Here’s a glimpse.



Ok so the Color theme is quite obvious.. you scroll down the page where green turns to blue, turns to orange, yellow, red, etc. You could search by product category – say scarves, hats, or leather – or by size. The selection is vast and covers mens, women’s, kids and home gifts from various price ranges, though you can’t narrow it down to those departments. (You could however do that on the more extensive Gilt-only part of the site which also allows you to shop by personality, for her/him etc. and by price.)

The thing that is missing here for me is that aside from a banner at the top of the screen, I see no connection between Marie Claire and Gilt’s themes. They are apparently the same, but I don’t have Marie Claire in front of me and even on their website, I only found 1 article about the Nina + Gilt feature.

Gilt is surely at the forefront of flash sales and the team-up with Nina Garcia has potential and value with a curated perspective. However I need to see a greater magazine tie-in here, which is something that’s also been lacking in Gilt’s shop-by-trend sales. I would love to see a pretty picture or trend collage that entices shoppers not only from a have-to-have-it product standpoint, but from a broader perspective that combines online shopping by product and the beauty of magazine editorials.

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Gilt MANual

Everyone’s favorite flash sale site is up to something very, very cool for guys. Gilt Groupe has ventured into the world of online editorial with its new site, Gilt MANual: The Daily Guide to Permanent Style. I know what you’re thinking.. is another online magazine really necessary? Oh yes. First off, they snabbed Tyler Thoreson, the former exec editor of Men.Style.com, so they mean business.

The site is easy to navigate with the main areas being Advice & How To (because you probably are wondering how to wash your raw denim or grow a full beard), The Essentials (from proper hangers to seven-fold ties to a chef’s knife), Features & Profiles (you always wanted to know how to dress Gordon Gekko on screen) and of course a link to Gilt Sales. I think probably the best thing about it is that it doesn’t feel like a push to Gilt’s flash sales (though the few ads that appear across the site are exclusively for Gilt sales and ultimately it underscores a stronger Gilt message to viewers). It feels like a fresh magazine that has a genuine interest and know-how for men across the board. The style of writing is also refreshing, in that it sounds like it’s coming from a familiar (albeit more knowledgeable) authority, unlike Men.Style.com which I think comes off a little too macho and trying too hard. I can’t wait to see Gilt MANual develop further, and see if a women’s editorial counterpart is planned.

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Gender Bender GAGA

‘Tis true!

After much dispute 2 months ago, GAGA is indeed on the cover of the latest issue of Vogue Hommes Japan, set for release next month.

Gaga role-plays a Sicilian mechanic that goes by the name Jo Caldrone. See more here on stylist Nicola Formichetti’s blog including bits of the interview whereby Gaga tells Jo not to be nervous for the shoot because (s)he was “born this way.”

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