Category Archives: Fashion Marketing

What’s in a Name?

Is YSL the same with the Y? Is Maison Martin Margiela the same without the Martin? How does a luxury fashion house stay current and new without sacrificing their age-old legacy? ID Magazine takes a dive into the dubious issue of rebranding the luxury name:

“Unless you’ve been living under a WiFi-less rock for the past six months, you’ve probably noticed a few changes at Margiela. At creative director John Galliano’s debut show in London—itself a change from the house’s usual Paris slot—the designer made waves when he removed models’ customary masks and came out for a bow following the finale walk. Amidst all these shocking switch-ups, it was easy to miss one other change: Galliano quietly dropped “Martin” from “Maison Martin Margiela,” ushering the avant-garde house into a new era.

An overwhelming majority of fashion’s top labels still bear the names of their founders, but what happens when times change: the designer leaves or the name just sounds off? Of course, Galliano isn’t the first to play the name game: everyone from Hedi Slimane to Ralph Lauren has tinkered with titles. In the wake of MMM’s streamlined new moniker, we did a little digging into the histories of nine other brand names.

SLP

Saint Laurent Paris
Hedi Slimane is no saint, but when the designer decided to drop “Yves” from YSL following his appointment as the storied house’s creative director back in 2012, he became fashion’s biggest sinner (Colette even started selling an “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” T-shirt before the house requested a cease and desist, then promptly cancelled the boutique’s order of their spring/summer 14 collection.) Amidst cries of blasphemy, Slimane explained the name change was actually inspired by one of Yves’ own: in 1966, the designer launched the ready-to-wear line as “Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.” Slimane’s rebranding also pulled from this era visually, opting for a sharp Helvetica inspired by the original logo’s sleek typeface.

MbMJ
Marc Jacobs is never short on a sense of humour, especially when it comes to names: the designer’s “Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs in Collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs” tote (seriously) puts a much needed satirical spin on the endless splintering of diffusion lines. In the spring of 2001, Jacobs debuted his secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, one of the most successful diffusions of its kind. Following Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley’s creative takeover in early 2014, Jacobs opted for a streamlined new look, re-dubbing his youthful label simply “MbMJ.”

prada

Prada
Although the ready-to-wear empire has remained all in the family since its founding in 1913, the house originally opened its doors as a leather goods firm named “Fratelli Prada,” or “Prada Brothers.” Although it’s unsure when the name was changed, it probably happened around the time that Mario Prada’s daughter Luisa took the house’s helm (despite the fact that Mario did not believe women should have a role in business.) After taking over for her mother, Miuccia again played the name game in 93 when she launched Prada’s sister brand Miu Miu, its title taken from her own childhood nickname.

Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren is undoubtedly one of the most iconic names in fashion, a paragon of Americana since the label’s debut in 67. So it’s the ultimate irony that Lauren’s actual last name was something different entirely: Lifshitz. Having made the switch when he was just 16-years-old, the designer once told Oprah: “My given name has the word ‘shit’ in it.” “When I was a kid, the other kids would make a lot of fun of me. It was a tough name. That’s why I decided to change it.” The rest is seersucker history.

Yohji Yamamoto
Before the Japanese designer debuted his eponymous collection in Paris in 1981, Yohji Yamamoto had already produced under the line “Y’s” as early as 1977. These early designs were launched in Tokyo, before the designer—alongside Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake—took the fashion world by storm with their anti-fashion avant-gardism.

burberry

Burberry
Founded in 1856 when Thomas Burberry opened his own shop in Hampshire, “Burberry” actually was the store’s original name. Because so many customers around the world kept referring to it as “Burberrys of London,” the company switched to “Burberrys.” When the brand’s Knight Logo was later developed in 1901, the Latin word “Prorsum,” meaning “forward,” was added to the trademark, and has since become the name of the house’s high-fashion division headed up today by Christopher Bailey.

Acne Studios
Originating in Stockholm back in 96, Acne Studios was initially conceived as a branch of the creative collective ACNE, an acronym for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.” The original collective focused on film, production, advertising, and graphic design, but in 2006, the coalition branched out into separate entities, including Acne Film, Acne Advertising, and of course, Acne Studios. Despite the confused reception of such an outlandish name at its outset, the industry’s embrace proves that the product speaks for itself. Jonny Johansson’s modest denim project has since become a global fashion powerhouse, presenting menswear and womenswear at Paris Fashion Week.

Balenciaga
Although Balenciaga has kept founder Cristobal Balenciaga’s name intact all throughout its 100 year history, former creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere was one of the first designers to insist on adding his name to the brand. However the days “Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere” are certainly no more, as the designer still finds himself squaring off against the house. Current creative director Alexander Wang doesn’t insist upon the same personalisation, so for now it’s back to good ol’ Balenciaga.

tiffany

Tiffany & Co
Although the American luxury jeweller did undergo a name change from its original 1837 moniker “Tiffany, Young and Ellis” to “Tiffany & Company” when Charles Tiffany established the firm’s emphasis on jewellery in 1853, that’s not what landed the iconic blue box on our list. Because Tiffany is one of the first American luxury brand names, it sparked a wave of status-seeking parents (including Donald Trump) actually naming their babies Tiffany in the 80s. This yuppie staple demonstrates just how powerfully luxury brand names can infiltrate mainstream culture.

Credits Text Emily Manning
Photography Marshall Astor of Prada, Marfa by Elmgreen and Dragset”Original post: http://bit.ly/1zD5L8i

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Designer Spotlight – Daniela D’Amico

DanielaDAmico_DigitalLookbookAW14 copy

One of I.F.’s prime objectives is to spread the word about amazing, innovative, and creatively unique designers from around the world, and share their individual stories with the fashion community as they start to gain ground in the  industry.

The designers featured by I.F. have passed a series of requirements including (but not limited to) the use of fair labor practices and a knack for unique and awe-inspiring design that we believe set them apart from their peers and that will undoubtedly give them the ability to lay claim to a successful career in fashion design as they begin their journey in building their brand.

This week, I.F. is featuring Daniela D’Amico, a London-based designer whose Autumn/Winter 2014 collection is inspired by the picturesque scenery and architecture of her ancestral home, Lake Como, Italy. I.F. sat down with the up-and-coming designer who divulged all about her career journey and the story behind her brand. She also kindly gave us some exclusive photos of her Autumn/Winter 2014 Collection to share with the I.F. audience!

Daniela’s fashion journey started at a young age. Daniela was always interested in textiles and fashion in school and often spent her free time trying to create new textiles and using her home sewing machine to sew lustrous fabrics like silks and satins, “I loved to make interesting finishes using a princess pleater, this was my favourite tool for coming up with innovative creations,” says the young designer. Daniela went on to study Art Foundation at The London College of Fashion and from there went on to Chelsea College of Art where she received her BA in Textile Design. It was here that the designer discovered specialized design techniques including how to convey traditional techniques in a modern way, as well as how to use digital print and fabric manipulation – a complex technique which has become the designer’s trademark. When she graduated, Daniela went on to work in womenswear as Head of the Design Studio for Selina Blow. This year, Daniela decided it was time to pursue her dream of starting her own brand.

Daniela finds inspiration in her surroundings, “If I am in London it may be a part of architecture, an art show, color, or nature. It could be a different city that I may be in. Wherever I go, I will always carry my note book and jot down anything that I feel inspires me, or inspirational thoughts I have. I am usually inspired by a certain place, artist or movement – it can be a combination of them all. For this season I was also inspired by the work of Peter Doig who captured timeless moments of perfect tranquillity.”

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Peter Doig’s “Concrete Cabin” 1994, oil on canvas

Daniela’s strong dedication to her craft is more than admirable – it is inspiring. She works tirelessly from sketch to production in order to construct absolutely original, top-of-the-line designs, “All of the images are taken myself. I have manipulated the images and almost played with them like they are a piece of collage, working with each image on top of a sketch of one of my garment designs. I then work out which part of the print would work where and go from there.”

When it comes to materials and production, Daniela uses only the best, “I use a selection of cottons, satins, silks and velvets. All of my fabrics are either sourced from England or Italy. I like to mix textiles, you will see a mixture of soft satins on one piece with a fierce structured collar made in cotton velvet to finish. I use a small factory in London, it has a very nice, friendly and relaxed atmosphere and they are great to work with considering I am always challenging them with my printed textiles and luxurious, expensive fabrics!”

Isola Bella

The Lake Como-inspired A/W ’14 collection is the result of the designers textile design expertise combined with her eye for photography and knack for originality. The collection has an androgynous gestalt, achieved by a harmonious combination of intricate tailoring and romantic prints. Each and every piece is given special attention to proportion and design positioning ensuring an ultra-flattering silhouette.

Cernobbio

Emma Watson, Alexa Chung and Sienna Miller were some of the names the designer mentioned when asked about her dream customer, “a modern, laid back, strong woman who enjoys colour and bringing tailoring to life.”

Daniela has marked plans for the future, planning “to one day take the brand internationally, and show the collection to as many people as I possibly can. One of the most interesting parts in the job is meeting the people who want to wear my clothes and hearing their story, this inspires me to design.”

Though still in the stages of putting her on-line store, www.danieladamico.com,  together, be sure to check out her Facebook for updates on her collection and an inside look to her creative process.

Thank you, Daniela, for sharing your passion with us – we are looking forward to getting our hands on a few pieces from your collection!

Como

 

Tremezzo

 

Montagna

 

DA

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Top Five Summer Dresses 2014

An eclectic mix of elements will be seen meshing together in the outfits of the fashion conscious this summer. Lace overlays, sheer cutouts, pale pastels, a mini ‘90s revival, athletic aesthetics, floral patterns and iridescent fabrics were among the most trending features reported by the top fashion intelligence experts. Five clear dress styles are sure to become summer wardrobe staples, encompassing trending elements in a wide variety of breathable fabrics from romantic flowing silks to sporty jersey knits:

shirtdress1. The Menswear Inspired Shirtdress

The comfortable and versatile shirtdress is by far the number one top trending dress style for summer 2014. In lengths ranging from maxi to mini, the traditional shirtdress will be seen in pastel shirting fabrics like Raspberry Pink Chambray  and all-white cottons like White BroadclothMore formal versions will be made of elegant, slinky fabrics like Chambray Blue Slinky and Dusty Blue Crepe Sweater Knit Floral and geometric prints like the Blue Block Polyester Charmeuse will also be major themes in this particular dress style.

2. The Sexy Pencil SkirtPencilSkirt

Pencil skirts that land just above to knee to calf-length are a big summer must-have. The body-hugging silhouette will be seen with lace overlays from bright red stretch laceto pastels like Pink Peach Stretch LaceDark Blush Pink Laceand Cream Stretch Lace Pencil skirts will also be made of light-weight jersey knits made of polyester/spandex or cotton/spandex blends for an exaggerated form-fitting look with this summer’s trending prints like animal print motifsgrey/black snakeskin jersey knitGrey Snakeskin Jersey KnitGrey Cheetah Jersey KnitGrey/Purple Cheetah Jersey Knitand tribal prints White/Orange Aztec Jersey Knit and Beige Aztec Stripe Jersey KnitPencil skirts with black stretch mesh cutouts are also popular, adding an extra hint of sex appeal to the already sexy silhouette.

SlinkySlipDress

3. The Slinky Slip Dress

A staple of the ‘90s wardrobe, the slip dress is making a revival this summer in iridescent silks and metallic sheens like Violet Purple Shimmer and Pale Yellow Iridescent Silk Organza The slip dress, in various flowing fabrics of silk, blends and slinky synthetics like rayon, will also feature some of summer’s trending elements like floral prints – Black/White Floral ChallisBlack Floral ChallisIvory Floral Silk Chiffonpastels – Blush Pink CrepePeach Silk Crepe de ChineBaby Blue Crinkled Silk ChiffonPink/Blue Silk Crepe de ChineSalmon Pink Satin Charmeuse, and bright pinks – Lipstick Pink Crepe

4. The Sporty Jersey Dress

SportyJerseyDress

A casual, athletic aesthetic is a major summer trend, and in terms of dresses this translates into sleeveless sheath styles in lightweight cotton/lycra jersey knits like Black Jersey Knit especially with thigh-high side slits.

The “athletic luxe” trend also brought the return of the super comfortable sweatshirt dress in thicker, yet soft and breathable, 100% cotton jersey knits like the Charcoal Grey Jersey Knit The sweatshirt dress will be seen in mini skirt lengths with short, three-quarter length, or long sleeves.

FullSkirt

5. The Flirty Full Skirt

In lengths ranging from maxi to mini, full skirts will be seen flouncing around the legs of style mavens this summer in a wide range of shapes. The summer 2014 version of full skirts will be made in structured, A-line shapes with Black Tulle underlays, and also flowing styles with sheer overlays like accordion pleated Black Chiffonblack rosette tulleand black floral lace.

 Post from Fashion Fabrics Club – http://blog.fashionfabricsclub.com/top-five-summer-dresses-2014/#sthash.4xSOJ792.kLtEK02C.dpuf

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Another One Bites the Dust – Alexander Wang

It seems another great designer has sold out to fast fashion; it has been announced that Alexander Wang will be doing a collaboration with Swedish company H&M.

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Alexander Wang has become a popular face among the fashion industry elite and as such he should be using his popularity to take a stand for positivity in the fashion industry, like Diane Von Fustrenburg and Andrew Rosen. Who better than famous designers to bring important fashion issues into the spotlight and really challenge the business negligence that goes on behind the scenes of so many large fashion corporations like H&M. Fashion designers have a lot of power in the fashion industry and as we learned from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Alexander Wang took a giant step backward when he teamed up with H&M.

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Who Wears the Pants?

Dockers          Dockers

In order to understand the world and the endless amount of information we take in every second, the human brain has developed the use of ‘schemata’ or categories which are used as frameworks so that information can be easily and quickly filed away to help us interact appropriately in different situations. Everyone has their own set of schemata influenced by background, upbringing, experiences and relationships. Yet, there is no doubt that everyone uses them. They have to, as some scholars say, or else there would be information overloads and no interaction would be able to take place. Some schemata are shared by the general populous, such as gender schemata. The female schema contains characteristics such as nurturing, facilitating, polite, dependent, and unaggressive. The male schema says men are dominant, aggressive, stoic, successful, independent, and the breadwinners. There are also other schemata that go along with race/ethnicity, class, religion, occupation, national identity, and sexuality.

These universally accepted schemata can be easily discovered by simply looking at the media and advertisement portrayals in how the represent their markets. It seems that Dockers has very different schemata traits when it comes to gay and straight men which we can see in their most recent advertising campaign. This campaign began a in early December of 2009 which called for men to go back to their roots, to act more manly, and to ‘Wear the Pants’.

Most of the ad’s have the same general format; a man standing in front of a plain background, the top half of him is a saying and he is wearing Dockers pants. What is interesting is the difference in the word choice given the context the ad will be seen. Can you guess which one of the above ads I found in Out magazine, the national gay fashion and lifestyle magazine for the US? Without getting into the phrases used, you could probably tell just by the style and fit of the pants. The ones on the left are an orange/pink and the fit is much tighter than the khaki’s on the right which are looser, wrinklier, and a dull tan. Even the stance of the two are remarkably different. We have one who is almost posing sexually, looking to the side, or behind him as if looking for someone to make a connection with, versus the other man who seems to have no interest in what is going on around him, rather he is looking out with his hands on his hips as if he just accomplished a trying task or is contemplating the meaning of life. Getting down to the more obvious of differences, we see what the Dockers advertising campaign sees as the difference in priorities between gay men and straight men through the phrases they chose to make up the body (in both sense of the word) of their ad. ‘Behold the Second Dawn of Man’ goes along with the main theme of the Dockers new ad campaign which, in summary, claims that our society has become genderless, and is therefore crumbling.  It calls for men to drop their non-fat lattes, put on their pants, be men and help little old ladies cross the street, discipline misbehaving children, and of course, buy Docker’s pants. It is easy to see the sexism in this campaign, but further drudging of the advertisements brings to light more prejudice ideals. First of all, the ad I found in Out is much harder to track down in other outlets. In fact, it doesn’t even appear in a Google search. Does Dockers not want to be identified with the gay community,? if so, why advertise in a gay magazine?

The phrase used for the advertisement placed in a gay context states, ‘Attract the touches of friends, boyfriends, and even the occasional stranger’. So, straight men wear their pants to maintain order in society, gay men wear pants to be promiscuous and attract attention from occasional strangers. Though it seems trite to take such a critical view of these two seemingly unimportant advertising images, it does bring light to how mainstream corporations view different subcultures and instill representations and reinforce stereotypes. As the introduction to Erving Goffman’s book Gender Advertisements says, “Advertisements depict for us not necessarily how we actually behave as men and women but how we think men and women behave. This depiction serves the social purpose of convincing us that this is how men and women are, or want to be, or should be not only in relation to themselves but in relation to each other” (Gornick, 1979).

It is important to understand the implications and affects these representations have on our culture. From creating unfair homogenous stereotypes of a group to instilling an unattainable body and lifestyle ideal people try to live up to.

*Re-post from last year in honor of #ThrowBackThursday

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On The Brink of American Made Matters® Day – Nov 19th

AMM_Logo

Why does buying “American Made” products matter?

Let’s take a look at some stats:

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 5.1 million fewer American manufacturing jobs now than at the start of 2001
  • According to ABC News, if consumers spent 1% more on American made products, it would create 200,000 additional jobs, 5% it would create 1,000,000 jobs
  • According to the Manufacturing Institute, manufacturing supports an estimated 12 million jobs in the US. This number was more than 19 million in 1978.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, every factory job added creates three additional jobs. Other estimates are as high as five additional jobs. This is more powerful than any other segment of our economy.
These are just a few of the many facts provided by the American Made Matters® (AMM) website, www.AmericanMadeMatters.com, an organization dedicated to educating consumers on the importance of buying Made In USA products.
With a current Facebook fan base of over 19,000 and a collection of well over 100 Made in USA brands as members, AMM is a leading pioneer in the Made In American Movement. In an effort to expand their cause, they created American Made Matters® day, encouraging consumers through social media avenues to dedicate that day to buying American,
On November 19th, 2013 we’re encouraging consumers to buy at least one American Made product…Our hope is that consumers will see how easy it is to buy made in USA and begin checking tags and looking for the American Made Matters logo when shopping this holiday season and throughout the year. Share your American made finds by tagging American Made Matters or using hashtag #AMMDay2013.  (AMMD Facebook page)

As a fashion theorist/journalist and style writer dedicated ethical production practices, I am a huge proponent of American Made fashion brands – and am sympathetic to their agony over finding manufacturing solutions on American soil. This particular Tedx talk tugs on the heart strings, and gives a real life example of the tough struggle presented to those who try to keep their garment production in the US:

During 2012, America exported $22.6 billion in textiles and apparel and imported $100.93 billion (according to the U.S. International Trade Administration), it’s time for this to change. I talk a lot about supporting the American Fashion industry, see my article about the decline of the NYC garment district in this months issue of NYC magazine Inside Hell’s Kitchen here: page 12, bottom left. There are a few initiatives set in place to revamp the American garment manufacturing industry, planning to upgrade the current factories in the NYC garment district and providing scholarships for emerging designers to use some studios in the area for workrooms and showrooms, but that isn’t enough.

#AMMDay2013 has inspired me to turn up the volume on my voice against offshore apparel manufacturing. I want to get in the faces of “American” brands like Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike, Nordstrom and Lands’ End who use large Chinese factories for most of their production. I want the CFDA (the Council of Fashion Designers of America) to do MORE than just give out lifetime achievement awards, I want them to care about the American Fashion industry, I want them to help emerging designers, even those who aren’t in the hot areas of NY or LA – I want the American Dream back.

american_made2So, for American Made Matters Day, I plan to dedicate the day to speaking out, exposing those “American” fashion brands we know so well for their unAmerican business practices, as well as showcasing and thanking the revolutionary pioneers dedicated to keeping their brand exclusively Made In USA.

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Transparency Tuesday – Wits + Beaux – Expressive Men’s Accessories Made In NYC

Wits + Beaux – a men’s sock, bow tie, and pocket square e-commerce company – has an honorable dedication to supporting American manufacturing; all of the production processes of their brilliantly colorful, expressive menswear accessories are conducted in The Garment District of New York City. For Transparency Tuesday, I.F. takes a behind-the-scens look at this NYC start up brand who puts quality and high design at the forefront of their business model.

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Wits + Beaux Merch

In a time when large fashion corporations outsource their production to factories abroad where labor is cheap, small start up companies like Wits + Beaux  are rethinking the way the supply chain has been circulating and realizing the benefits of having production be local.  An honorable anomaly in the world of American fashion brands, Wits + Beaux makes it a priority to support the movement for keeping manufacturing in The States – a movement that has seen a resurgence in the small business community with the help of platforms such as Makers Row, but still has yet to fully take hold. As the insatiable fast-fashion consumer hunger for new fashion products continues to drive companies to stock new merchandise on the shelves more and more often, the focus remains on finding the cheapest labor possible to keep prices low, rather than having quality pieces.

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Wits + Beaux Intsagram

Luckily, there are pioneers for change like Wits + Beauxwho value the artisanal craftsmanship that can be found in one’s local community, and who believe that quality takes precedence over expense. With the amount of dedication and attention to detail the New York based team of Wits + Beaux puts into the designing of each piece, finding expert artisans to work with and discuss materials, patterns and design was extremely important. By working with The Garment District, the team could easily converse with and visit the workshop where the production took place. They were able to discuss with the experts, in person, how to make certain engineering aspects of their products possible. (Check out the video where the Wits + Beaux team discuss their use of the NYC garment district: http://kck.st/18A4az3)

The collaboration has led to a series of unique features that have become the trademark of  Wits + Beaux design including a unique stitching technique – seamless on the tips, an elastic arch support eliminating bunching, and an few extra inches in height, ensuring a day long wear without having to hike up fallen socks.

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Wits + Beaux Intsagram

Wits + Beaux’s inspiring dedication to keeping production at home  is equally matched with a passion for providing the fashion forward male consumer with “expressive” accessories. Which, for now, at the beginning stages of the brand, includes brightly designed, high quality sock wear, bow ties and pocket squares. As the website explains,

“Wits + Beaux was born from a singular quest – finding a well-made, unconventional and expressive pair of affordable socks. From that seed grew a dream to create a virtual men’s accessories boutique and cultivate a community of like-minded individuals who want more than just a shopping cart to fill; they want an experience. Our customer wants to engage in the design process as much as be inspired by the latest trends of the season.”

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Wits + Beaux Instagram

Fun, witty, friendly, and personable with a pinch of edginess is the perfect way to describe the voice of the brand, with the origin of the brand’s name perfectly corresponding with the mantra,

“’Wits’ and ‘Beaux’ are nicknames from early nineteenth century, Regency-Era England—known for distinctive trends in fashion and culture. We were intrigued by the contrast of these terms to the modern, technology-driven vision we had for our business. ‘Wits’, as they were known, were the poets, orators, and politicians of their time. The ‘Beaux’ were the trend-setting gentlemen of fashion. So, with a tip of our hats to this rich history of sophisticated and stylish gentlemen, we hope you enjoy the smart, superbly designed and crafted men’s accessories Wits + Beaux brings you without having to have a royal checkbook or a horse-drawn carriage to get them!”

Wits + Beaux invites men to a unique shopping experience while still relaxing in the comfort of their own home. This will soon become even more unique of an experience with the addition of the “Design Your Own” feature which is set in motion to be added to the platform soon. Customers will be able to easily customize their products by selecting the pattern and color to make their very own, original design.

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Wits + Beaux Instagram

I.F. commends Wits + Beaux for thinking critically about their business practices from the very get go and putting an emphasis on quality over quantity – high design over cheap trends.  Another A+, and we wish Wits + Beaux luck with the expansion of the brand and getting backed for another round of inventory for holiday! Support Wits + Beaux today by clicking here!

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Foes and Follies of Fashion Week – A Technology Takeover

With the close of the major fashion weeks upon us, and a solid month of nonstop collections in our rearview, there is a lot to digest. One thing is for certain, technology and social media are seriously changing the dynamic of Fashion Week  – A Technology Takeover.

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Anna Wintour Waiting For the Start of Marc Jacobs

Without physically attending, one could get a front row view of the shows in real time, get VIP access to the backstage, and see outfits worn by the fashion elite attendees including Anna Wintour and Kate Moss. While you are basking in the glory of never having to leave your sofa to be a part of the clearly glamorous events, you would never guess that secretly, designers are pulling out their hair – cracking under the pressure of trying to satisfy the insatiable thirst for constant newness that has, with the help of technology, picked up to a ferocious speed, causing a whirlwind in its wake.

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Backstage – Victoria Beckham

The Designer’s Demise

What was once a reasonable 4 season collection per year expectation for designers has, with the inclusion of men’s wear, resort, prefall, and a couple of promotional shows around Asia, become a norm of about 10. That is a new collection almost every month. Designers, including Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, were quoted saying  that they no longer have time to go on inspirational outings. How can we expect them to keep creating when they have no time to take a breath from one collection before diving into the next? We have seen designers drown in the fast paced fashion current before (think of the John Galliano breakdown and the suicide of Alexander McQueen, RIP) yet the push for constant newness continues to grow ever more fervent.

Between the various social media networks of the designers themselves and all the fashion blogs, newsletters, magazines, pages, and websites dedicated to giving their fans 24/7 instant updates, the never-before-seen designs at these shows are immediately transported to anyone with access to the internet. Once the looks actually get into the retail stores, they have become old news. This is especially true since fast fashion stores like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M have the ability to knock off these looks simply by having access to these images. By using cheap fabrics, intimidation design techniques, and assembly-line factory work, these stores are able to provide the same look, for cheap and much faster than the real designers.

An i for an eye

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Fashion show images are getting dispersed so quickly that it only whets the thirst for MORE fashion, rather than quenching it. With designers, fashion editors and bloggers dedicated to having the most up-to-date, inclusive and exclusive, images for their social media sites, there was an undertone of distraction as people seemed to only be paying half of their attention to what was going on around them, and the rest on their device.

This becomes even more unnerving remembering a wonderful interview conducted by The Business of Fashion with Lighting Designer and Show Producer, Thierry Dreyfus. In it, Dreyfus discusses the importance of a perfectly executed lighting scheme of a fashion show, how he communicates with designers for weeks beforehand about the feel of the collection, and how he personally positions all the lighting for the event. Seeing the sea of little rectangle boxes of glowing light as attendees hold up their devices, trying to capture the looks via Polyvore, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook really makes one wonder how much is being taken away from the experience of the live show because everyone’s focus is in the cloud. On top of that, as was the case last year, many chose to hold up their device to capture the finale, rather than applaud the work of the designer. Not polite.

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Oh, Look At All the Lovely People

Overcrowded with attendees and designers alike, there was a common complaint that too many shows were constricting people’s ability to appreciate the collections. This was particularly true for New York Fashion Week, where the venue, Lincoln Center was nearly bursting at the seams to accommodate the fashion elite. A few smart designers actually found alternate space for their shows – including Marc Jacobs who showed at the 69th Regiment Armory and Jason Wu who showed at 82MERCER.

Crowds swarmed outside venues with photographers and bloggers taking pictures of street style for their blogs and social media sites. Designers and editors were annoyed. Renowned designer and President of the CFDA, Diane Von Furstenburg even made an off-hand comment that in the future, Fashion Week may become completely digitalized – no physical attendance required.

What would the world look like if that actually did come to fruition? Would designers still be required to show on a specific date at a given place? If so, how do you keep people from crowding the streets to see a first glimpse? And who gets to go, and who decides who gets to go? If not, then designers could potentially film their show whenever they wanted, taking some pressure off – but how could a fashion week exist without critics and fans getting together and seeing the designs in the ambience set by the designer.

No matter how you look at it, with the increased demand for NEW fashion, NOW, technology has been seriously reshaping the mold of fashion week. In order to take it back, fashion councils may be forced to change the dynamic of the show which would cause an inevitable loss of meaning and context of the collections, and isn’t that the whole point of a fashion show? How do we solve this conundrum?

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First Ever Global Kids’ Fashion Week

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Today marked the end of the very first event of its kind, Global Kids’ Fashion Week, a two day affair held in Covent Garden, London.

GKFW showcased both emerging and well-known children’s wear designers, showcasing their designs in runway shows, performances, as well as a mix of kid-friendly activities.

The show was sponsored by AlexandAlexa.com, the “global style destination for kids”, believing that with the rapidly growing children’s wear markets, kid’s fashion is deserving of is own destination platform.

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It is encouraging to see a space dedicated to fashion segments outside of the “norm”, as fashion is still intricately linked to woman’s fashion in the minds of most. This fashion week along with the emergence of more menswear shows, show promise for the acceptance of more underground and out-of-the-ordinary styles. Maybe androgynous or queer fashion will start gaining ground in the fashion world?

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ZegnArt – Mixing Business with Pleasure

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Gildo Zegna, marketing genius and CEO of successful menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna, has found a way to mix his brands business agenda with his love for art and culture. Spearheading the collaboration called ZegnArt, Zegna makes transnational connections, explores the culture of other countries, and promotes emerging artists through global exposure. The “visionary project” uses the sisters of fashion; art and design, to connect and communicate cultural differences between nations.

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ZegnArt is a long term project composed of commissions and residencies based on a principle of dialogue and reciprocal exchange between countries with emergent cultural programs and institutions. Through the combination of public artwork commissions and a research residency grants, Public promotes a new method of cultural confrontation and contamination through the platform of contemporary art.

Starting with the identification of a partnership country each year, the project activates a single vision divided into two fronts: from one side, the realization of a public artwork commissioned to a mid-career artist from the guest country, in collaboration with a local institution of international reputation; and from the other, the financing of a four month research residency at MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy offered to a young artist from the guest country.” -(http://www.zegnart.com)

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From a fashion marketing perspective, Zegna is brilliantly weaving the name of the brand into the collective consciousness of nations with soon-to-be large luxury markets. Instead of focusing resources on creating storefronts and distributing merchandise, brand emersion and integrity are being delicately and brilliantly promoted through this collaborative project. Zegna will become known as a leader, an innovator, for supporting local and emerging talent in the very communities they will be selling their brand to in a few years to come.

Kudos, Zegna, for pioneering a culturally and socially conscious project while cleverly building brand awareness abroad. Oh yeah, and the artwork isn’t bad either!

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