Category Archives: Websites

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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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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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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Feel The Film: Burberry

Burberry was one of the first luxury brands to “get it” in terms of relaying a luxurious lifestyle on their website. Art Of The Trench deserves all the endless praise it has achieved from the beginning, especially with relaying the brand’s heritage message to today’s street-obsessed culture. But now chief creative officer Christopher Bailey is up to something else with true WOW factor, that extends beyond the brand’s 3-D runway show in February and previous video look books.

Burberry’s Fall 10 ad campaign, shot by Mario Testino, is now digital and interactive on burberry.com. The photos below don’t do it justice – it’s something you need to see and “feel” to believe. The way you could move the screen to see different views, models walking, picking up bags or trench coat collars, is really kind of amazing. It’s as if you are going deep into the depths of every image to uncover another layer which would otherwise go unnoticed. The music set to this new feature really helps push the “feeling” element forward.

I can only expect that from this initiative, once Fall product is available, there will also be a link from the interactive campaign to buy product, much like the video look books did in the past.

In related news, Bailey has also launched an initiative that channels his passion for music. Burberry Acoustic features hand-picked emerging British bands which so far include Life in Film, Mitsy Miller and Ramona.

While there is no real visual evidence of a marketing tie-in on Burberry Acoustic, apparently some band members are wearing Burberry pieces mixed in with their own clothes. While that’s all good and fine, the recent Spring 11 menswear show video has also been added to the same area of the site. Placing runway right next to new music videos has me kind of puzzled. I’m all for groundbreaking fashion films, technology and music tie-ins; my only concern would be that too many different types of media might become overwhelming to the customers, depending on placement. For example, will customers be able to shop from the ad campaign, video look book, runway and by category? When it comes to videos, I feel like maybe 1 or 2 media formats are enough, more than that may become a bit excessive.

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Polo’s Legends Clinic: Talk to Boris Becker Live Today

Polo Ralph Lauren has one hell of a marketing team, and has been at the forefront of technological advancements like their touch-screen store windows which launched a few years back.

Now they have a concept called “merchantainment” which blends the world of being a retail merchant and entertainment. Clever guys! The newest development in merchantainment involves Polo’s online Legends Clinic which will feature 3-time Wimbledon champ Boris Becker live on ralphlauren.com to answer tennis related questions TODAY at 11am EST. The interactive tennis clinic with Becker will run for 1 hour. With 5 hours and change to go (from time of this post), there are already 47 questions lined up.

Becker has had a long relationship with Polo, starting in Wimbledon 2007 when he was the official brand ambassador and wore Polo exclusively for the tournament. But today, this type of brand ambassadorship is smarter and wiser. While not all tennis fans wear Polo, any tennis fanatic is probably interested in hearing what Boris Becker has to say about his career, game strategy, etc. I bet there will be a lot of people who log on today for the clinic, and that in turn will probably drive a lot of traffic to at least view, if not make purchases from Ralph Lauren’s Wimbledon Collection.

There’s only one small glitch – the links within the Wimbledon Collection to “Shop Men” and “Shop Women” aren’t working at the moment. Come on Polo, you have 5 hours and counting!

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