SxSW: Reinvisioning Fashion

Posted on by Melanie Bender

SxSW is a breeding ground for new thinking - some pragmatic, some far out, but always interesting.  Among the things being reinvisioned this week is the future of fashion and retail.  Social media has turned the brand-consumer relationship upside-down: who imagined shopping via tweetchatting with Diane, or real-time virtual attendance at pretty much any show at Fashion Week.  The consumer-brand relationship is fundamentally different now than it was even 2 years ago, and those jumps will happen several times over before we see a new decade, or even a new Creative Director at Dior.  

At SxSW, two themes in fashion consumer experience innovation emerged:

(1) Changing the shopping experience, catering to consumers in new ways possible through tech advancements.  Think: mirrors that transform into interactive screens (which Burberry's London flagship unveiled last year) and product recommendations for the perfect nail polish shade to match that fab dress you just bought.  For customers, it means a more personalized, more interactive and easier shopping experience.  For retailers, it means more and better connected data for improved understanding and attribution of the complex cycle of consumer acquisition and engagement.  

Burberry's London Flagship

Burberry's London Flagship

(2) Changing the paradigm of influence and access within the fashion industry through non-traditional channels.  A decade ago the power to define trends and participate in the fashion process was limited to a select few, namely designers, editors and buyers.  Today's dynamic grants veritable authority (even the ability to decide what styles go into production, and ) through emerging social-based channels.  These new funnels of influence include socia media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and about 13 others), influencers (bloggers and vloggers du jour), and user communities (Nasty Gal's The Click), which clever brands are leveraging to great success.  (Note measurement here is far from perfect, but declaring they have no value is akin to denying global warming.) There is an inherent tension between fashion, which gets value from exclusivity, and social media, a democratizing force.  But as consumers evolve to view themselves as their own brands - thinking about where and what they share about themselves - they will expect more and more access and involvement within the brands that are marketing to them.

Nasty Gal's The Click

Nasty Gal's The Click

Of the themes shared, it's important to note that there are no hard and fast lines between the two - both are blurred, and in fact are most successful when blurred, providing a connected, omni-channel experience which has advantages for consumer and retailer, alike.

In the coming weeks I will dig into these SxSW trends in more detail and what the next 5 years in fashion may look like.  For instant gratification, check out some live tweets from SxSW's fashion-centric panels.

Live from New York, it's Fashion Week!

Posted on by Melanie Bender

At New York Fashion Week Fall 2013, the week in pictures...

Kenneth Cole returns to fashion week with a bang... er, make that a buzz.

Finale (and favorite look) at Cushnie et Ochs.

Finale (and favorite look) at Cushnie et Ochs.

Our interpretation of Winter boots.

Our interpretation of Winter boots.

The killer backdrop at Y-3, a set worthy of a show.

The killer backdrop at Y-3, a set worthy of a show.

One up-side to 'the storm of the century': a beautiful topper at the Mondrian Soho's greenhouse restaurant.

One up-side to 'the storm of the century': a beautiful topper at the Mondrian Soho's greenhouse restaurant.

Fashion Week math:  400 hours of design + 100 hours of planning + 5 hours of set up = 8 minutes of show

Fashion Week math:  400 hours of design + 100 hours of planning + 5 hours of set up = 8 minutes of show

The top looks seen from the week...

From top, left to right: Altuzarra, Altuzarra, The Row, Jason Wu, Jason Wu, Marchesa, Narciso Rodriguez, Oscar de la Renta, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Reed Krakoff, Victoria Beckham, Victoria Beckham, BCBG Max Azria, Theyskens Theory, Tibi

And the top tracks heard...

Alexander Wang: "I Wanna Be Down," Brandy

Cushnie Et Ochs: "Witching Hour," XXYYXX

Jason Wu: "A Song For You," Amy Winehouse

Creatures of the Wind: "Low Dogg," Micachu and the Shapes

Zac Posen: "Le Temps de L'Amour," Francoise Hardy

Bienvenida Art Miami

Posted on by Melanie Bender

At Art Miami 2012, the week in pictures...

Swarovski dinner feting the famed crystal house's latest collaboration with architect Asif Khan.

Swarovski dinner feting the famed crystal house's latest collaboration with architect Asif Khan.

An evening of dive bars, footlongs and Chanel as captured by friend and street style pioneer, Mr. Newton.

An evening of dive bars, footlongs and Chanel as captured by friend and street style pioneer, Mr. Newton.

Marilyn Forever, previewing Martin Green's private works as presented by Chopard.

Marilyn Forever, previewing Martin Green's private works as presented by Chopard.

Blending in with Mr. Brainwash

Blending in with Mr. Brainwash

Works of art on works of art, viewing the Charlotte Olympia for Neiman Marcus installation.

Works of art on works of art, viewing the Charlotte Olympia for Neiman Marcus installation.

Chanel Art.sy bash fun at the Soho Beach House.

Chanel Art.sy bash fun at the Soho Beach House.

Refinery29 [hearts] Us

Posted on by Melanie Bender

High on my list of favorite things - next to killer heels, Prismatic and coffee - ranks Refinery29.  Debatably the top style blog around, they manage to serve up that rare balance of undiscovered and of-the-moment, while being totally kick ass to work with.  So it was a true pleasure when the fab team at Refinery29 turned the lens on us...