Category Archives: Retail

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.


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.


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.


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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This is What a Target Store Looked Like Yesterday at 8pm

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For once, I’m actually in the States for one of Target’s designer collaborations. But typical this collab was not. As you surely know, yesterday was the release of Missoni for Target in stores and online. I was in fact part of the thousands of people that contributed for the website not working for HOURS yesterday – in fact I was partly convinced that the “Internal Server Error” was my laptop, but twitter confirmed that the world was experiencing the same issues. Luckily I got online sometime around 11am and managed to get a few sweaters and dresses. Now, being that I am in fact in the States, I needed to get into a store, which I did last night at 8pm. The slideshow above shows the store as it was. I must also note that the Target I visited was your typical suburban Target, 2 hours away from a city.

So you might have been a little excited at the sight of ACTUAL MISSONI FOR TARGET MERCHANDISE not only lining the racks but FULL. That was the girls and infant/toddler department. The womenswear selection was almost bare, with a few sweaters and corduroy coats. I was really excited to see Missoni shoeboxes, but what was left was mainly styles for girls. Other accessories displays were completely bare. My partner in crime managed to get a tie and the only cardigan style remaining in menswear, which for only $49.99 was of excellent quality. A candle and a few stationary sets were around and there were still a few vases left. Excited that there were still some items to be had – and just generally excited to see it in the store – I snagged a card set, some girls clothing and a ladies coat to gift and the 2 menswear items.

In today’s market of numerous collaborations, Missoni for Target goes down as one of the best ever. The entire collection is said to be sold out. So what can we learn from this? For one, Target did an excellent job at PR and marketing leading up to the launch date. As one of my friends told me, “You might have luck in your suburban Target, there is no hope in NYC.” I was skeptical that people in a suburban middle-class area even knew what Missoni is let alone about the release date of the Target collab. I was wrong. I spoke to a sales person who said that at this particular Target, there were no lines, but that the RTW departments were crazy all morning with most clothing items selling out then. Of course there is something to be said about the supply and demand here. In my estimation, this was the most hyped Target collab with a major Italian designer. That went far. The limited edition factor also went far. IF Target would have produced enough Missoni product to meet the demand, would customers still want it as much? Probably not. The thrill that surrounded this designer collaboration surpassed that of even the most popular H&M collaborations. I’ve got to almost feel bad for Versace at H&M which launches in 2 months because I don’t feel like it’s going to be as major as Missoni for Target.

If you’ve read this and are in any way distressed by not scoring any goods yesterday, I have a solution. At posting time of this blog, there are 16,446 Missoni for Target clothing, shoes and accessories items on eBay! But Target prices, they are not.

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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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What’s Doin? Men’s Summer Retail

In case you missed last week’s May Retail Overview on Fashion Snoops, here’s a glimpse of my favorite trends for guys this summer. Ever since Spring 11 merchandise hit retailers, it has been a extremely commercial season. It certainly continues into summer with leading directions including utilitarian – a hybrid of safari/military reference – and sweat box which extends well beyond sweatpants. Ink blue is THE must-have base color; not to mention a nice shift away from black. Items stick to familiar territory such as cargo bottoms and plaid shirts. Screens consistently add interest such as new skull applications and industrial references. Discover these and a total of 33 trends here.

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Filed under High Street, Key Items, Prints & Patterns, Retail, Themes

Your Art Here, at H&M

In the time of graduation fashion shows and a few indie designer lawsuits, it’s nice to hear that H&M is embracing artwork and recognizing artists. H&M held a contest called Your Art Here, which encouraged students to submit their work. Using crowdsourcing, the top 25 pieces with the most votes were selected and then judged by fab bloggers like Allison McNamara from FabSugar and WhoWhatWear and BryanBoy, who needs no introduction. 5 winners were then chosen and their artwork will be printed on t-shirts and displayed in H&M’s NYC store on 5th Avenue and 42nd later this summer. The selection also marks the beginning of H&M’s Your Art Here t-shirt line. For more graphic inspiration, I encourage you to explore the HUNDREDS of pieces of artwork on the website.

Hair by Kevin Fuhrmann

have heart by Rockie Nolan

Nat in Blue by Jordan Tiberio

Untitled by Beth Zimmerman

Watch me glitter in the limelight by Myla Angela Cruz

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Last Day for Tommy Hilfiger’s Pop-Up in NYC

New Yorkers headed to MePa today should definitely check out the New England-inspired beach cottage that landed on 1 Little West 12th Street. Tommy Hilfiger’s Prep World pop-up shop has been open since Thursday and today is the last day to catch it in NYC before traveling on to other cities. Inside you’ll find 60 pieces of women and men’s apparel and accessories from the Prep World collection, along with cutesy lifestyle products (like dog toys, notebooks, stickers, etc.). I actually wanted to spend time in there and explore – the line itself is strong, but there’s also vintage pieces mixed in throughout that make the shop feel more authentic. Props include a bike, vintage tennis rackets suspended from the ceiling, ducks and nautical stuff. Never mind the fact that you kinda get the Hampton’s feeling in the city on a cool May day.

For those of you not in NYC, check out the Prep World pop-up in the following cities. London’s Covent Garden Piazza from Thursday to May 15; Stockholm, opposite the Grand Hôtel and Royal Castle, May 12 to 22; The Grove in Los Angeles, June 10 to 12; Milan’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele, off the Duomo square, June 17 to 25; Madrid’s Plaza de Serrano or Place Felipe II, June 23 through July 3; Sylt at Kampen, July 21 to July 31, and Knokke at Albertplein, Aug. 4 to 16.

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Rodarte x Opening Ceremony FOR GUYS!

Girls don’t always get the cool stuff and leave guys in the dust. Behold, the Rodarte for Opening Ceremony collection which just launched yesterday. If you remember the covet-worthy sweaters the Rodarte sisters did for guys last year, then you’re probably going to LOVE the first-ever men’s collection.

The above photos are my favorites of the collection, although there’s more on the OC site. While the men’s collab isn’t quite as extensive as the one for the gals (and understandably), I think it’s a really cohesive look for the Rodarte guy. There are some definite cross-overs with women’s product, such as intarsia sweaters, floral prints and leather items, however it definitely works to get that Rodarte look across. Also I think the color palette works well here. Items such as the leather t-shirt or bomber jacket – are offered in a great vintage shade of chocolate as well as black. The chocolate speaks more to the die-hard Rodarte fan and seems to hit that California road-trip vibe just right, while the black is more universal.

The Rodarte by Opening Ceremony collection is available now in OC stores in NY, LA and Tokyo as well as Barney’s in NY, Holt Renfew and a few others retailers in Moscow and Saudi Arabia which makes me wonder WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG for OC to open up shop in Paris (or at least sell this fab collab in Colette?). Price points for guys run around the $250 – $400 range, while the leather pieces go for upwards of $2000. As I mentioned in my ladies blog, I hope this collab opens the door to a greater commercial success for Rodarte, and as well, I would love to see men’s product further developed.

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