T Magazine buzz
 
Change is relative.
 
After much anticipation, the new WSJ Magazine and the new T Magazine hit newsstands within a week of each other. One cover headline read “PURE ELEGANCE”, and the other “TRUE ELEGANCE”. Yes, both headlines were in all caps.
 
For those of you unfamiliar with the drama, Deborah Needleman was the editor in chief of the WSJ Magazine, but left to overhaul T magazine for The New York Times. WWD has stories about both here and here that are worth reading.
 
This isn’t a tribute or take down piece of either approach. Truthfully, we were very excited to compare and contrast how dueling editors would relaunch and redesign from the helm. There was an infographic in the works and plenty of quantitative research so as to carefully give an unbiased opinion based on facts. We counted the times that each editor used terms like change or simplicity (too many). But, in the end, the results and content was shockingly similar:
 
Kitten heels – Check. Supermodel profile – Indeed. Black and white statement pictorial – Done. Designer profiles – Without a doubt. Game changing rings from Balenciaga by Nicholas Ghesquière – Spot on. Feature on the son or daughter of a mega fashion portfolio founder (Pinault vs. Arnault) – Naturally.
 
According to our research, the biggest difference between the two came in the form of advertisements and photo editorials. While both produced excellent feature stories, T Magazine had 11% more ads as a portion of total pages, but had 21% less photo layouts. If that is an effective long term strategy or not, remains to be seen.

There's a strong message about branding, innovation, and execution however, that is relevant both inside and outside the media and fashion forum: when launching a product or service, don't simply subscribe to a formulaic approach based simply on what others are implementing. Create your own vision, differentiate, and find a true customer need. 
 
Apple Active Electronic Media Packaging
apple merchandising
 
How do you elevate the categorization and organization of products? Simply make it easier for customers to spend money.
 
Over-the-top window displays may be decorative, beautiful, and extravagant — but it's often the product merchandising that helps to educate and sell products. Unfortunately, there are limited opportunities to reconfigure fixtures or revolutionize displays. Until now.
 
According to a new patent application discovered by Apple Insider entitled "Active Electronic Media Packaging", Apple may be working on an active packaging system that would supply power and data to devices, allowing them to display content and show off features to customers while on display in a store. The proposed invention aims to replace the typical labels and other advertising that is found on the outside of product packaging. Instead, Apple's method would let the product sell itself.
 
{Photo: AppleInsider}
 
"Although typical packaging for an electronic media device may be designed to adequately protect the device from shock or damage, the packaging is extremely limited in other respects," the filing reads. "For example, the ability to fully view or interact with the electronic media device while still inside the packaging is severely limited in most packaging designs. Although unobtrusive packaging designs have been developed, these designs typically do not allow electronic media devices to be interacted with while inside the packaging."
 
We love the idea of a wireless powered charging merchandising system that would allow products like the iPhone and iPad to charge while sealed in packaging.
 
It's the ultimate in customer service.
 
{source: Apple Insider}
 
Color Elite
Pantone, the universal color matching system, is vital part of trends, graphics, printing, and apparel. Anyone who has launched a new logo or product can tell you that selecting the perfect red can be exhausting.
 
That's why we're stoked about a new e-swatch device, developed by master's degree student Chen Liao-hsun, called Color Elite. The portable invention matches, stores, and organizes a wide array of color swatch data from different fields and can be updated through an internet link.
 
Inspired by working with traditional paper color swatches which vary from industry to industry and don't contain a sufficiently broad range of colors, Liao-hsun created an alternative that does not become discolored or degenerated with humidity.

 

The invention also stores selected shades on a database and generate similar tones, offering the user different points of comparison.
 
We love the solution based thinking and innovation. The Color Elite will be a great addition across industries.
 
{source: Design Rulz}
zero-packaging grocery
 
Following in the steps of the bulk food-only Unpackaged in London, a group of entrepreneurs are founding a new "package-free, zero waste grocery store" in Whole Foods land: Austin, Texas.
 
At the center of In.gredients brand promise is the concept of Precycling - encouraging customers to bring their bottles or bags to fill and refill. If a shopper doesn't have his own containers, the store will provide compostable ones to hold an assortment of traditional specialty bulk foods as well as local, all-natural and organic ingredients from local and seasonal suppliers. Best of all, customers will be able to purchase non-traditional bulk items like Dairy (milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese), beer and wine (bring your clean and empty growlers and wine bottles), and household items (cleaners, toiletries, etc) in the quantities that fit their specific needs.
 
 

We love that this new model makes food more affordable, because customers aren't paying for name brands and "in-house" private label packaging. It also trends nicely with shoppers increasing desire to connect locally at farmers markets while minimizing precious time.

All we want now is a visual merchandising supplier to revamp the standard bulk displays to meet customers savvy and stylish shopping habits.

{source: Good.is}

 
Feeling tired of buyers consistently purchasing the same labels? So is Jil Wensauser, former senior manager for Condé Nast New Markets.

Merging curation with eCommerce, Wensauser is launching WATCH-THAT-LABEL.COM to serve as a sales platform for young, up-and-coming designers around the world this spring.

"As someone with a passion for fashion and having worked in the industry for some time, I have always had my eye on new fashion labels as I travelled the globe. I have discovered so many amazing talents, which we simply have no access to in Europe. The idea for WATCH-THAT-LABEL.COM came when it became apparent that there is no outlet out there dedicated to providing a platform for emerging talent and discovering the 'rare gems'."

The first pass of emerging global designers include: Josh Goot, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, Tsumori Chisato, Kaviar Gauche, Pedro Lourenco and Emilio de la Morena. Many of the pieces will be sold exclusively at Watch-That-Label.com.

{photo: Felipe Oliveira Baptista via AutoMode Tumblr}

We love how concepts like WATCH-THAT-LABEL & Moda Operandi are developing innovative platforms to bring products to hungry shoppers and in contrast to fashion buyers inability to look beyond "best sellers", "name brands" and "safe collections". Shades of vanilla might be attractive to the masses but even the most frugal Recessionista needs some sparkle and fresh blood.

 
A new twist on our not-so-weekly news bites. The trendscaping "giving" category represents innovative campaigns to help Japan. Get clicking.

GIVING

 

{photo: Tatcha}

- All profits from the TATCHA's Kiri Gift Set of aburatorigami (Japanese blotting papers) through March 31st will go to support relief efforts in Japan. You can purchase one, or many, here.
- ShelterBox USA provides emergency supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to the worst hit areas of Japan. Best of all, you can track your box to know it's going to good use. Donate now.
- For each $5 donation on LivingSocial, they will match funds and donate to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund. Limited time so click now.

FASHION
- Pamela Love X Topshop "Spirit of America" collaboration set to hit stores this April.
- United Nude debuts pop-up installation at London's Selfridges featuring spring/summer collection.

 

- A closer look at Maison Martin Margiela bottle lamps by AnOther's Lovers.

RETAIL
- New report from Experian shows that up to 90% of store purchases are now influenced by online research according to Retail Week.
- Pop-ups will never replace permanent stores, but they can & should become complement to a retailer’s brand strategy.

FOOD
- Fast Company names the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food. Is it just us or does your definition of "innovation" differ?

 
Using state of the art touch-screen and precision real-time 3D rendered products, shoppers can select shoes on an Adidas AdiVERSE virtual shelf. Using the new technology, users can pull products, look at it from any angle, rotate it, zoom in, and also get additional product information.

Finally, shoppers can buy their chosen footwear via a tablet based checkout as well as from the cash desk and have them delivered to their home.

 
Forward thinking and futuristic finds...

FASHION
- New virtual mirror application enables customers to try on potential purchases via website.
- Hipster or health hazard? Maintaining "raw" denim look by not washing jeans for 15 months is OK health-wise.
- Even luxury brands now create their own online media & content bypassing magazines.
- Virtual fitting room use shape-shifting "fashion robots" to model clothes before you buy.

+
FOOD
- Nowness reveals winner of Fantastic Food competition chosen by industry experts.
- Time to Rethink Your Message: Now the Grocery Cart Belongs to Daddy.
- Chef Ferran Adria unveils a new downmarket eatery, 41 Degrees, in Barcelona.

 
Once an afterthought in retailing, male customers now make up a $51 billion shopping industry. According to market research firm NPD Group, 75% of men shop for their own clothing compared with just 52% in 1995.

The influx of blogs and magazines delivering styling expertise expand brand awareness and aesthetic detail. Taking a note from the Sartorialist, J.Crew’s Jack Knows Best offers advice on dry cleaning, three piece suits, and how to wear pants properly. Net-A-Porter’s Menswear site Mr. Porter, set to launch in 2011, will carry over 60 brands with editorial content, advice and same-day deliveries in London and New York City.


The new male consumer responds to many of the same emotional triggers, such as heritage and authenticity, as their female counterparts. And retail shops with rotating miscellanea, art and differentiated offerings provide a place for discovery.

Successful retailers are building constructed masculine experiences in multi-purpose environments. Examples include:

  • Classic fashion stalwart, Ralph Lauren, transformed its Rhinelander Mansion location into a men's store.
 
{image via thedapperdude.com}

  • J.Crew's first ever men’s store took over an old neighborhood watering hole in 2009, and the brand as since opened three additional dedicated men shops in New York and Boston.
 
Photobucket

  • Jack Spade offers an interior that mimics a gentleman’s study with copies of vintage books next to finely woven shirts and an old library card catalog containing always changing bric-a-brac.
 
{Image via selectism.com}
 
  • Niche menswear boutiques like Tres Bien Shop in Sweden, Scotch & Soda in Amsterdam, BlackBlue in Minneapolis, Jackstraw in Seattle, and Duncan Quinn (with locations in NYC, LA and Miami) provide not only for clothes, but for objects to connect to such as rugged collectibles, antique shaving kits and sturdy furniture.
 
{Image of Tres Bien Shop via The Malcolm.com}
 
 
Men connect on a narrative level and want to know how a garment came to be and where it came from. In an ever more unsettling world, men respond to clothes that articulate meaning and stand for something.

Bottom line, male consumers want items that tell a story.

 


Teen Vogue launches new user-generated site, The Fashion Click, located at http://fashion.teenvogue.com. The site draws from blogs around the world and utilizes proprietary aggregating technology to showcase young bloggers via learning technology and user voting.

The concept was created by startup Tidal Labs as Teen Vogue hopes to bring readers closer to the styles they love by giving them a voice and a platform to showcase their coolest and most current DIY looks.

We think this is a great tactic for cultivating new talent by traditional media and optimizing reach among potential online readers.