The First Female President Will Not Carry a Handbag

The First Female President Will Not Carry a Handbag

What would the first female president wear?

As Angela Merkel, erstwhile model of a modern female leader, prepares to step downas head of her party in Germany, and a wave of potential presidential candidatesemerges in the United States, like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, the question is worth considering. It speaks to what female leadership might look like in a new era, one less defined by trouser suits and bright fruit-bowl colors; one tailored for a different majority.

We may well have the answer in a few years, but for those who don’t want to wait, there is always “House of Cards.” The show has put a lot of thought into this.

Season 6 — a.k.a., the final season, and the one without Kevin Spacey as President Francis Underwood (he has been killed off, after Mr. Spacey was fired in the wake of sexual abuse allegations) — dropped on Friday with Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), the former vice president, in the Oval Office. The show is as dark and twisted as ever, both in terms of plot and the corrupting psychology of power, but it’s also a pretty convincing take on how the first Madam President might present herself.

Imagine the classic corporate suit and tie spliced with the style of a World War II Women’s Army Corps member, and topped by a dash of

“We obviously didn’t have a female president as a model, but I revisited the male American presidents of the past to look at their daily wear, their travel wear, and then thought about how that might translate to Claire,” said Kemal Harris, who is responsible for Ms. Wright’s wardrobe. (Jessica Wenger is the show’s head costume designer.)

It began with colors: the blue that dominated ties in the Clinton and Obama administrations, army green, black and gray. Also tailoring: In a symbol of control over her environment, everything Ms. Wright’s character wears has been exactingly seamed to fit.

And there are two unexpected accessories (along with her usual vertiginous black patent leather Louboutins). Or rather, one unexpected accessory (cuff links) and the unexpected absence of another: the handbag.

“Many presidents wear cuff links from the White House Gift Shop, so I wanted to get a pair for Claire,” Ms. Harris said. She contacted the gift shop (which was once run by the Secret Service but is now a separate for-profit business no longer affiliated with the executive branch) to ask if it had any samples that had never been used.

The gift shop’s director, Anthony Giannini, sent her a pair of prototypes given to him by a Secret Service agent, now retired, who had acquired them under Ronald Reagan. Never produced, they are slightly smaller than usual, more recessed and “elegant” and, according to Mr. Giannini, “the only ones of their kind.”

As a result, Ms. Wright wears a lot of shirts and dresses with French cuffs, the better to show them off.

“But you never see a male president with a briefcase or a wallet,” Ms. Harris said. “So even though I had a lot of designers reaching out to me to offer their new bags, I thought: ‘Claire is not carrying a bag. She has people for that. She’s president.’”

Indeed, for the first time in the series, fashion labels play a relatively small role in Ms. Wright’s wardrobe. (In the past they made up two-thirds of her clothes, with one-third designed especially for her.) The problem, Ms. Harris said, is that “a lot of stuff you see on the runway now is street wear, and it just didn’t translate.” She ended up making about 80 percent of Ms. Wright’s wardrobe herself, she said, with the tailor LaVonne Richards.

(Given the number of women currently running for office, that’s a significant lesson — and one that fashion itself might do well to note.)

The few brand names that do show up are Chloé (“They do the perfect boot-cut trousers,” Ms. Harris said), Equipment (a button-down shirt) and, notably, Celine (a black satin trench from a recent Phoebe Philo collection that Claire wears as a kind of Ninja cover-up when she is spending time outside the White House).

“I bought it at Bergdorf and then had it streamlined because I knew it would transform her character,” Ms. Harris said. “It should be in a museum now.”

Unfortunately, political hopefuls looking to borrow Claire Underwood’s style probably can’t get that coat anymore, Philo-philes having gone into hoarder mode when the designer left the label earlier this year. And Ms. Harris said that the chances she would commercialize her efforts, step into the fashion gap and create a Claire Underwood-inspired product line à la “Kingsman” suits, were small to none.

Which is too bad, because what she came up with is interesting, in an understated, provocative way: a focus on high-neck, long-sleeve silhouettes, body aware but severe, often with epaulets or belts to evoke the military.

It’s not the classic power suit by any definition — the look is both too austere and too feminine for that — but label-less and logo-less as the wardrobe is, it is at once deceptively accessible and replete with the power of refusal.

That’s not a bad message, really, for someone with a nuclear football. The article appeared originally in the nytimes.com.

How to Create the Next Birkin

How to Create the Next Birkin

Bags by Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel | Source: What Goes Around Comes Around

The Reigning King of DIY Couture

The Reigning King of DIY Couture

Chances are that you’ve seen an exclusive EV BRAVADO garment on the back of Migos, ‘King’ Combs, J Balvin or even the late Lil Peep — but how many people actually know Ev Bravado himself? Though he’d always maintained an an interest in clothing, the creation began in earnest with a series of homemade screen-printed shirts. Bravado moved gradually towards cut-and-sew with Lease on Life Society in 2012, eventually debuting his first collection, BRVDO1, in early 2014. Two years later, Bravado revamped the label, opting for an eponymous brandname while retaining the handmade, do-it-yourself spirit that informed his earlier releases.

ev bravado streetsnaps style interview outfit dries van noten sean clay rumors of war king combs virgil abloh heron preston noir bondage leather vans custom diy collection handmade vintage
ev bravado streetsnaps style interview outfit dries van noten sean clay rumors of war king combs virgil abloh heron preston noir bondage leather vans custom diy collection handmade vintage

As EV BRAVADO grew, Bravado (the person) kept grounded, refining his own label and staying close to colleagues like Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh as they exploded into stardom; even halfway across the planet, the creatives all keep in touch, bouncing ideas off one another. Recent partnerships include the custom denim Bravado created for Off-White™ Spring/Summer 2019 and the “Rhinestone Workshop” he co-hosted in Paris with Preston. Bravado also made good use of his personal pair of Off-White™ x Nike Air Prestos, giving them a tie-dye bath, complete with glittery rhinestones.

Bravado’s style is indicative of the people he respects, simultaneously blending contemporary design and cultured taste into his daily looks. For instance, a friend from Grailed lent Bravado the covetable Dries Van Noten jacket he’s wearing over one of his favorite thrifted tees. “I’m trying to get my hands on the most heat,” Bravado admits, smiling. “I made the pants, they’re from the ‘Rumors of War’ drop,” he notes, pointing down at his personal pair of leather Noir Bondage Slacks. “I’ve been sampling them with some friends, like [Bloody] Osiris for a while, they’ve been wearing them around town. I got a lot of good feedback about them,” he adds.
ev bravado streetsnaps style interview outfit dries van noten sean clay rumors of war king combs virgil abloh heron preston noir bondage leather vans custom diy collection handmade vintage
ev bravado streetsnaps style interview outfit dries van noten sean clay rumors of war king combs virgil abloh heron preston noir bondage leather vans custom diy collection handmade vintage
ev bravado streetsnaps style interview outfit dries van noten sean clay rumors of war king combs virgil abloh heron preston noir bondage leather vans custom diy collection handmade vintage

When his friends aren’t helping him perfect his craft, Bravado supports them by wearing their own creations. Pointing at the bespoke, pentagram-laced Vans, Bravado explains, “My homie Sean Clay made the shoes. All the homies doing wonderful things. I’m mostly just wearing my own things, my friends’ things.” Even the glasses and chains have a personal touch: “My chains came from my fiancée, but the glasses are my brother-in-law’s — I was like, yo, lemme rock those.”

Keep an eye on EV BRAVADO’s social media to know when the designer’s extremely limited edition clothing hits the brand’s website.

For more, see the last of our Streetsnaps series, spotlighting Brooklyn’s cowboy revisionist, Kozaburo Akasaka.

The article originally appeared in hypebeast.com.

“Light’s Out” PRADA

“Light’s Out” PRADA

See Prada’s All-Black Handbag Capsule Collection.

Prices start at $2,490 for the most work-friendly tote and top out at $7,150 for an embellished, croc-trimmed, ladylike shoulder style. While the bags are a big purchase, if you’re in the market for a classic black power bag, you can’t go wrong with Prada. Scroll ahead to see them all.

Prada leather bag

Prada Cahier bag, $2,950 Photo: Courtesy of Prada

Prada Galleria bag, $2,990 Photo: Courtesy of Prada

Prada Elektra clutch, $7,500 Photo: Courtesy of Prada

Prada Elektra handbag, $7,150 Photo: Courtesy of Prada

Prada Monochrome bag, $2,650 Photo: Courtesy of Prada

Prada Lights Out capsule, available starting October 4th at 724 Fifth Ave.

What Is the Status Fanny Pack?

What Is the Status Fanny Pack?

We can mark the fanny’s transition into a legitimately fashionable accessory to around the same time we decided to start calling them waist bags. Or shoulder bags, which is where we’ve actually started wearing them. Or bum packs, which is what British people have used all along. Basically anything besides fanny. And once the fanny was no longer the fanny, a whole new world opened up. The bag, always about convenience above all, became cool. Or at least it shed its image as being wrapped around some ’80s-era Jazzercise-er with ankle weights and parachute pants.

That’s in no small part thanks to Huling herself, who designed her own fanny — she called it the Lexington Bum Pack — with leather left over from the cows that supply Marlow and Sons, Diner, Romans, and the other Brooklyn restaurants owned by Andrew Tarlowe, her husband. Huling herself wore it cross-body when she released the bag in 2014, popularizing the fanny’s whole new look. That bum pack made its way to Greta Gerwig. It was also picked up and sold at Madewell. “They always sold out,” Huling remembers. She closed down Marlow Goods in March to focus on other projects, but “every single time I see a lady who bought one, they still have it on.”

Greta Gerwig in the Lexington Bum Pack. 

At around the same time, in the same city, but in an entirely alternate universe, hypebeasts were picking up on the perfect way a bum pack allows its wearer to conveniently carry all of their goods, while displaying brand allegiances right across the chest. Places + Faces, a photography duo turned merch-and-fashion label, was one of the first to incorporate them into the world of streetwear in 2016. A year later, Virgil Abloh wore a cross-body Prada fanny pack over a tuxedo to receive his GQ Australia Man of the Year award. Supreme’s picked up steam, too, culminating in a fanny pack on the Louis Vuitton runway. Gucci brought them back in a big way. And eventually, devoted lifelong fanny wearer Judnick Mayard wrote an article for Ssensecalling Off-White’s take “a $760 baguette of clout,” with clout essentially translating to status.

The fanny’s clout changes according to the group wearing it. Whereas the status clogis likely the same for all clog-wearers, the status fanny, and the clout it emits, shifts between Grailed-obsessed hypebeasts, Brooklyn moms, runners, and anyone else who might strap one on. So below, we’ve organized the status fannys by tribe.

The Brooklyn Mom

Agnes Baddoo Belt SacAgnes Baddoo Belt Sac

Now that the iconic Lexington Bum Pack is sold out, only to live on forever as highly covetable dead stock, where is a Brooklyn mom into sustainable leather to get her bag? Huling points us to Agnes Baddoo, who’s making similarly structured fanny’s out in L.A. “She sells a lot at the Echo Park Craft Fair,” Huling says.

The “It” Bag Collector

GG Marmont Matelassé Leather Belt Bag
GG Marmont Matelassé Leather Belt Bag

For the woman who had the Proenza PS1, the Céline Luggage tote, and the Balenciaga City bag, there is the Gucci Marmont fanny. The “It” bag of the fanny renaissance — the one you’ll find in street-style photos outside of fashion weeks around the world. “Where I came from in leather goods, it was all about function, not making a statement or communication about how much is in my bank account,” Huling says. “But if I were to just lose my mind and be a completely diff person, I love all the Gucci ones.”

The Athleisure Fanny

Sacoche
Sacoche

Huling calls Pilgrim Surf’s Sacoche (descriptor courtesy of the retailer) really “techno and sporty,” and if she were to buy a new bag right now, it would be this one because it’s both lo-fi and functional. It’s almost the athleisure version of the Lexington Bum Pack.

The Guy Who Needs to Be First

P+F Waist Bag
P+F Waist Bag

Back in 2016, Places + Faces, the photo project turned clothing brand, zine maker, and party thrower, released a waist bag with their logo and were the first to reintroduce fanny’s into the world of hype and hip-hop. Wearing this bag projects an in-depth insider knowledge far beyond the clout of an Off-White grosgrain belt. The bags aren’t for sale right now, but they can be purchased on resale websites like Grailed.

The Clout Chaser

Off-White Black Tape Hip Belt Pouch
Off-White Black Tape Hip Belt Pouch

It might not project a secret insider knowledge, but no status fanny list is complete without the Official Clout Pouch, Virgil Abloh’s Hip Belt Pouch. If you want people to know you’re serious about your fanny, this is the one to buy, which is why Judnick Mayard, writer, event producer, and wearer of fannys since 2013, wrote an ode to it on Ssense extolling its virtues.

The Hypebeast

Louis Vuitton x Supreme Bumbag Epi Red
Louis Vuitton x Supreme Bumbag Epi Red

The most exclusive fanny pack of them all went down the Louis Vuitton runway earlier this year. It’s also worth noting that Louis Vuitton has been big in the fanny game for a while now, specifically with rectangular cross-body bags, which look like they’ll fit just a cell phone, called Danube bags. “Never forget that Louis was the original,” Mayard reminded me. Those aren’t traditional fanny’s, but now that everyone’s wearing bags across their shoulders, these have been lumped into the same category. The classic has the all-over Louis Vuitton logo, but there are also newer styles in brighter colors, and of course, a Supreme collaboration version.

The Utility Seaker

Vinyl Fanny Pack
Vinyl Fanny Pack

Over the past five years Mayard has experimented with most of the fanny’s out there, and stands behind American Apparel’s. “They’re the best. The lightest. They carry the most. They make the most sense. They’re small, but this is as much space as a fanny pack is supposed to have,” she says. “It’s not even a competition.” The new American Apparel is only selling them in vinyl right now, which is trendy in its own way, but the classic nylon version is available secondhand and will likely come back in stock as the company continues to update its accessories offerings.

The Early Aughts Throwback

Vintage North Face Lumbar Fanny Pack
Vintage North Face Lumbar Fanny Pack

“Also, North Face made a fanny that was the shit in 2012,” Mayard remembers. It was a cross-shoulder utility bag that was meant for hiking and outdoor activities, but “all the kids in New York wore it to school because you could fold a notebook and put it inside. It was a much less invasive book-bag.”

The Sneakerhead

Nike Benassi JDI Fanny PackNike Benassi JDI Fanny Pack

Recognizing the power of the fanny this summer, Nike released a slide with an attached fanny pack.

The article appeared first in nymag.com.

Chinese Lanterns, Filled with Sunlight, Fish and Hope.

Chinese Lanterns, Filled with Sunlight, Fish and Hope.

In the classic short film “The Red Balloon,” a boy living in a colorless part of Paris befriends a bright red balloon, which follows him to school, waits by his door, provides the warm companionship that is otherwise absent from his life.

When the street photographer James Prochnik started taking pictures in Chinatown, he found echoes of the movie in the ubiquitous red shopping bags that filled the neighborhood. At the right hour, when the sun was low in the sky, the bags appeared lit from within, an array of Chinese lanterns glowing benevolently in the crowded streets.

In other neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where Mr. Prochnik lives, shopping bags come in all colors — nothing to shoot there. But in Chinatown, where the red symbolizes good luck, red trumps all other shades. Some bags carried produce from street markets; some carried nothing but air, buoyed aloft on steamy updrafts.

Mr. Prochnik, 52, saw the bags as symbols of continuity and identity in a city where ethnic enclaves are everywhere threatened by gentrification. And the bags themselves are threatened by proposed legislation to ban them or impose surchargeson each bag.

“They’re a symbol of the resourcefulness and hardworking nature of the Chinese community in New York,” he said.

“I support the environmental concerns for banishing them, but it’ll be a loss.”

In the more recent movie “American Beauty,” a character videotapes a white plastic bag swirling in a winter breeze, and says, “This incredibly benevolent force wanted me to know that there was no reason to be afraid, ever.”

Mr. Prochnik found a similar message in the bags of Chinatown: that good luck can be summoned; that gentrification can be suspended; that Chinatown can remain Chinatown, even as the rest of the city transforms around it.

“The color almost manifests that belief in good luck, happiness and wealth,” he said. “They take on a magical quality.”

And after they have served their function of ferrying Chinese broccoli or cheap mangoes, Mr. Prochnik sometimes uses them to filter the light of his camera flash. Because good luck is something we should never squander or discard.

John Leland, a Metro reporter, joined The Times in 2000. His most recent book is “Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old,” based on a Times series. @johnleland

The article appeared first in nytimes.com.

Fashion’s New Royalty

Fashion’s New Royalty

After years of avoiding associations with hip-hop, the fashion industry has woken up to the marketing power of America’s greatest cultural export.

Cardi B and Anna Wintour? It was this unlikely front-row pairing that got the fashion flock buzzing when American designer Alexander Wang presented his Autumn/Winter 2018 collection at the old Condé Nast offices high above New York’s Times Square in February. After all, the seat next to Wintour, the most powerful figure in fashion, is usually filled by fellow magazine editors, industry chief executives, Hollywood stars — even royalty.

While Wang has long been a fan of hip-hop, the placement of the 25-year-old female rapper — a Bronx native who broke out in 2017 after her track “Bodak Yellow” took the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart — speaks volumes about how the wider fashion industry has changed its stance on hip-hop, which, in December, surpassed rock to become the most popular music genre in the US.

“It’s important for this generation and the next generation to see people that look like them or that inspire them, because fashion isn’t just for the elite any more,” says rapper A$AP Rocky, who is as well known for his sense of style as he is for his music. “Fashion is for everyone and the more you try to exclude people, you’ll find out that those are the same people you need to include the most.”

Whether it is A$AP Rocky and the rest of the A$AP Mob starring in the latest instalment of Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins campaign, Gucci paying “homage” (some cried “cultural appropriation”) to Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day in its Cruise 2018 collection or Dior Homme inviting rappers like Future, Big Sean and Metro Boomin to Kris van Assche’s final collection for the house in January 2018, fashion brands have woken up to the reality that hip-hop has replaced Hollywood as the most powerful force in global entertainment culture.

Over the past two years, more than a dozen luxury brands — including Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs — have featured hip-hop artists in their advertising campaigns, while brands like Versace and JW Anderson have taken things a step further by collaborating with artists like 2 Chainz and A$AP Rocky on products.

Hip-hop artists are storytellers and news reporters of the times.

This was not always the case. For many decades, hip-hop was seen to be brand-diluting for major luxury houses, who dismissed the growing power of street culture. When Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day opened his boutique in New York’s Harlem in 1982, he was swiftly sued by Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Fendi, whose lawyers were not amused by his extravagant designs emblazoned with signature logos from their brands and sold to influential rappers, athletes and street hustlers. The store was ultimately shut down in 1992, following a slew of raids and lawsuits.

“In the early days it was devastating, I was attacked constantly,” recalls Day. “They felt that I was infringing upon their brands, but all I was doing was making a statement. You can go on forever about what the line is between appropriation and aesthetic creation.”

Today, following a social media-fuelled outrage suggesting that Gucci had stolen — not paid homage to — Day’s work with its replica of one of Day’s 1989 jackets for its Cruise 2018 collection, the designer is partnering with the Italian megabrand on made-to-order garments and limited-edition products, sold from Gucci’s new Harlem boutique, which opened in January. “A sign of the times!” exclaimed Day in a tweet announcing the boutique’s January 2018 launch.

But beyond working with Day, Gucci has invited rappers like A$AP Rocky and Childish Gambino to its runway shows and dressed artists such as Migos and 2 Chainz, boosting its well-documented success with younger luxury consumers.

Certainly, hip-hop is a powerful tool for reaching Generations Y and Z, who are expected to account for 45 percent of the global luxury spend by 2025, according to Bain & Company.

“It’s a way of reaching young kids that usually would not take an interest in high-end fashion or high-end tailoring,” agrees Kris van Assche. The recently appointed artistic director of Berluti previously spent 11 years as artistic director of Dior Homme, which dresses several hip-hop artists, including A$AP Rocky, Big Sean and Future (these rappers have also made regular front row appearances at Dior Homme’s runway shows). “It’s a way of getting the message over to them.”

“Hip-hop artists are storytellers and news reporters of the times, [and] with hip-hop being the number one music genre, it proves that hip-hop artists drive culture,” says stylist and fashion consultant Aleali May, who has worked with popular rappers including Kendrick Lamar, Lil Yachty and 21 Savage. “Fashion is paying more attention to its consumers now more than ever,” she adds. “The old way of thinking is out the door and, in order to attract the next generation, there needs to be an analysis on what’s driving the consumer.”

Calvin Klein #MyCalvins 2017 campaign | Source: Courtesy
“[Rappers] like Kanye come from a completely different angle and are more open-minded. Their biggest strength is understanding how to communicate and trigger a reaction from a young audience — it’s something that fashion doesn’t understand nearly as well,” says David Fischer, founder and chief executive of streetwear and youth culture title Highsnobiety, which frequently works with rappers like Gucci Mane, Joey Badass and Cam’ron on branded content for fashion brands.

But as a “millennial state of mind” takes hold across society, changing the purchasing habits of all generations of consumers, hip-hop is not just about courting the youth. From teenagers lining up to buy the newest Supreme products to traditional luxury customers to the designers themselves, the music of Kanye West, Drake and Travis Scott is now resonating with a wide slice of people regardless of their demographics. Indeed, hip-hop now accounts for almost a quarter of all music consumption in the United States, with eight out of the 10 most popular artists of 2017 from the genre, according to Nielsen Music.

“Hip-hop in particular has always been an important influence in my life and my creative process,” says Alexander Wang, whose sportswear aesthetic has long attracted rappers — including Travis Scott, Vic Mensa and A$AP Ferg — and who has often cast hip-hop artists in his brand’s advertising campaigns. “I continue to be inspired by the genre as it evolves and touches all levels of society and forms of culture today.”

Content creation aimed at feeding the all-important social media feed is a big piece of the puzzle. “I would say 90 percent of my artists have their own creative directors, videographers and editing teams [that] get content out that day. That’s the secret sauce,” says Tammy Brook, founder and chief executive of FYI Brand Group, a brand strategy agency that for the past 17 years has connected companies with influential cultural figures, including rappers.

But as with any dialogue, it was not just the fashion industry that warmed to hip-hop. Rappers, too, have shifted their stance on the industry and the liberalisation of the hip-hop scene was key to the shift. “Hip-hop going mainstream happened a bit earlier, but it became more inclusive quite recently — it used to be exclusive and macho,” explains Fischer. “You now have everyone from queer rappers to female rappers and the market has become a lot less homophobic, which has also led to a lot more hip-hop artists feeling more comfortable with embracing fashion and vice versa.”

Rappers have long used designer fashion as a symbol of status, both in person as well as in their lyrics. Think: Migos’ Versace, Lil Pump’s Gucci Gang and Jay-Z’s Tom Ford. But as their influence grows, so, too, has their definition of personal style. Take A$AP Rocky’s 2013 hit “Fashion Killa” in which the rapper not only gives a shout out to luxury megabrands like Prada and Dolce & Gabbana but smaller in-the-know designers like Ann Demeulemeester and Visvim. “I admire Japanese and Belgian fashion designers because of their perspective, their approach to design and the execution, which is so advanced and different. It inspires me,” says A$AP Rocky.

But shoppers smell bullshit, so the minute it’s perceived as a marketing thing, it’s not going to work.

“That’s where the partnerships come in,” says Matthew Henson, who has been working with A$AP Rocky on the rapper’s fashion business (AWGE) since 2013. “Some artists offer a unique and valid point of view and can contribute to the overall growth and creativity of a brand. Designers are always inspired by music, art and social movements so if they align with a particular musician, then they collaborate there as well.”

And as much as fashion brands are leveraging hip-hop, rappers are using fashion houses to build their personal brands. But it needs to be authentic, says Brook. “The first thing [rappers] have to do to blow up in the fashion world is love fashion, this can’t be fake. You have to know about it and be part of the culture and community.

“Second thing is, you put them in a room (at shows, dinners and after-parties) with the Anna Wintours, the Carine Roitfelds, the Kim Jones, and you get them to a point where they’re credible enough and on the radar,” she continues. “Once they’re in the room, they’ve got to create a real connection that’s direct, because when designers decide who they’re going to put in their campaigns, it’s going to be the ones they really feel the connection with,” emphasises the brand strategist, who has enabled the deals between Travis Scott and both Saint Laurent and Helmut Lang; Big Sean and Dior Homme; Pusha T and Adidas and more. “Once that’s starting to organically happen, it’s about having a team so the world can see it in real time through digital media.”

It is a familiar trajectory also seen with A$AP Rocky, who starred in Dior Homme’s Autumn/Winter 2016 and Spring/Summer 2017 campaigns, after attending several Dior Homme shows the years prior. “That’s exactly the point, we don’t really look for them,” says Van Assche about Rocky, who impressed the designer through his extensive knowledge of fashion, as well as his personal style and taste. “They become obvious choices because of the relationship we construct with them. There has to be that personal connection.”

On the staying power of hip-hop’s influence within the fashion industry, Fischer says: “This is the new reality. [Rappers] are going to be the most influential brands in the future and if you want your brand to have any relevance with a young audience you need to embrace this, and you need to make it a general part of your strategy moving forward.” He pauses before adding a word of caution: “But shoppers smell bullshit, so the minute it’s perceived as a marketing thing, it’s not going to work.”

This article appeared first in businessoffashion.com

Artvertising

Artvertising

Coach Put Up Cool Murals All Over New York City.

A mural by WhIsBe. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach

As Coach designer Stuart Vevers continues to court millennials’ affection, the brand is also branching out into street art. Some of the most well-known street artists in New York have turned Coach’s signature “C” print into murals. The project, which spans New York’s five boroughs, includes work by Bisco Smith, Crash, DAIN, TriHumph, and WhIsBe. The interlocking Cs are turned into subversive touches on murals — like sanctioned Dapper Dan pieces.

This isn’t the first time fashion has merged with street art. GucciGhost graffitied the brand’s flagship store in New York in 2016 and just last month Sonia Rykiel turned the facade of their store into a collaborative mural that looked like a bookshelf, where passersby could add their favorite titles, or just draw over it. Coach’s rainbow of Cs is reminiscent of your favorite bags from 2005 — just reimagined for the Instagram age. See some of the murals below, along with a map of where to find each piece, in case you want to pose for the ‘gram.

By GIZ. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
By Thomas Allen. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
By The Drif. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
THE MAKING OF THE 1 REIMAGINED

THE MAKING OF THE 1 REIMAGINED

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 14

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 24

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 20

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 24

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 19

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 24

 

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 18

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 22

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 21

 

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 24

The Making of The 1 Reimagined 27

1982 and 1985 are pivotal years for NIKE, Inc. These are the respective birth years of two of the most recognized shoe silhouettes in history, the Nike Air Force 1 and the Air Jordan 1. Almost instantly, each shoe transcended its intended court purpose; over subsequent decades, the two basketball shoes have inspired countless versions. Both have been canvases for artists (including Dave White and Mister Cartoon), fashion houses (from CdG to PSNY) and more. Through shifts in style and trend, both have also endured as footwear staples for people from all backgrounds.

With the latest effort against these iconic silhouettes, The 1 Reimagined, a discrete group of internal Nike designers rethink the Nike Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1 for the first time. The 14 women behind the project represent distinct skill sets within Nike’s more than 1,000-strong design group. Among them are colorists and materials specialists, as well as men’s and women’s mainline footwear designers. The focus of their work was to establish five new articulations of both icons, unrestrained from concerns beyond pure design.

Here’s how it happened:

SELECTION

At root, The 1 Reimagined is a project predicated on shaking things up. With that in mind, Footwear Director Andy Caine picked the 14 participants with a clear objective consideration. “The genesis of creativity is diversity,” he says. “From a design point of view, each of the designers has a very unique background and personality. Our theory is that when you mix diverse creative talents you realize some magic.”

Caine tapped Georgina James to lead the group, which includes Marie Crow, Magnhild Disington, Jacqueline Schoeffel and Chiyo Takahashi from color and material, along with footwear designers Shamees Aden, Reba Brammer, Melusine Dieudonne, Jin Hong, Angela Martin, Kara Nykreim, Marie Odinot, Louisa Page and Jesi Small. Their brief: “Make some cool shit.” Their time frame from brief to final design: Two weeks.

PREPARATION

“Everyone was so excited to work on a project and collaborate together with a focus on women’s product,” notes James.

Aware of the tight timeframe, she initially pulled the group into meetings at Blue Ribbon Studios, Nike WHQ’s integrated design space. There, the women first got to grips with their respective talents — as many were working together for the first time — and started to flesh out prospective plans.

“We spent about a week here putting pen to paper to nail down what our goals were,” says James.

“We’re diverse, talented and strong-minded.”

– Georgina James

During that time, the group started by pulling and grouping imagery, intent on defining the dimensions that make a woman. They discussed the athletic mindset and fashion trends — both in isolation and where the dots can and do connect. Additionally, they examined the elements of each of the shoes, both initially designed by men for male athletes, which have enticed female wearers and could be further accentuated. All these considerations helped with the process of categorization.

Eventually, the groupings formed five pronounced personas: explorer, lover, sage, rebel and jester. James declared these archetypes and combined them with a set of rules (covering how the designers were to balance critical candor and respect while working) as the lone parameters to follow during the project’s next steps.

EXECUTION

Once initial ideas were on paper, the group headed to London. The location was chosen for two reasons. First, Nike’s London BRS studio provided space from the daily activity at WHQ. Second, as Caine notes, “London is a fashion hub.” Near the office you have the likes of Samuel Ross and J.W. Anderson — both pioneers in their own right.

“It was luxury to work on one project for one week and not think about anything else,” says James, while Crow notes that the location was “exciting” as it allowed observation of how people “were wearing sneakers, styling them and, ultimately, what was relevant.”

But it was also quick. With just four days, the group had to deliver. James ensured that the hard work was balanced — fueling the integrated creative impulse with the proper down time.

The test, of course, was to translate the luxury of space (offering focus) and the excitement of observation (a freedom to explore) into a cohesive set of shoes. The designers broke into two groups, one for the AF1 (Dieudonne, Disington, Martin, Nykreim, Odinot, Page and Schoeffel) and the other for the AJ1 (Aden, Brammer, Crow, Hong, Small and Takahashi).

“The biggest challenge actually was trying to get the 10 shoes to have their own personality but still connect,” says James.

One solution came as, within the groups, members gravitated to individual archetypes almost naturally — leading the styling of single shoes and relying on the respective expertise of teammates to refine ideas. Another answer, James notes, was through color and materials.

Crow shares that they explored expressive color and materials for the collection but the group ultimately decided on a muted palette. “We soon realized that the silhouette had to be the headliner. Color and materials had to be complimentary and boldly wearable. So we looked at different blockings and different details that we could accentuate,” she says.

After the four (working days) in London, 10 radical shoes were designed, which was a testament indeed to the power of diverse, creative and tight collaboration.

FIRSTS

Within The 1 Reimagined, the 14 designers realized a number of first-time efforts against the storied icons. These are demonstrations of the freedom granted and ideas fostered, and are highlighted by the following elements:

  • The tallest stack height ever on an AF1 (12mm), from a new tooling developed for the AF1 LOVER XX and AF1 SAGE XX.
  • The first AF1 Mule in the AF1 LOVER XX
  • A progressive back-to-front construction, complete with corset lacing, on the AF1 REBEL XX

CHECK OUT THE COLLECTION

UNLACED

UNLACED

Nike  Looks To Draw Closer To Female Consumers

The ever-growing demand for in-touch and elevated product for women has been an industry catalyst for years. These types of retail endeavors are key as 70% of every dollar spent are by women, and the two-pronged digital and physical approach set forth by UNLACED is an experience that has yet to exist in the world of sneakers. Again, UNLACED will launch digitally on March 27th, with brick-and-mortar locations launching in Fall 2018. See the first preview of Nike UNLACED in Paris below.

The article appeared first in sneakernews.

The 5 Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in China

The 5 Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in China

How should luxury brands tackle e-commerce in China in 2018? We chart out the options. 

Thirty-five percent of Chinese customers are already accustomed to purchasing luxury goods online, according to a white paper published by Tencent, Secoo, and Deloitte. Even when purchasing at traditional brick-and-mortar retail stories, Chinese shoppers will typically have explored their purchasing options online. E-commerce seems is shaping up to be a defining facet of luxury brands’ strategies in China in 2018, but each is handling the task very differently.

Five Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in ChinaFive Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in China

1. The Luddite Strategy

While Chinese customers are known to be the most digitally driven of global luxury shoppers, there are brands who are still suspicious of selling online, such as Celine, Chanel, and Patek Philippe.

Thierry Stern, the president of Swiss family-owned brand Patek Philippe, told media that rushing to meet Chinese demand hurt many companies, railing against the very practice of purchasing online.

“You just sit in bed, look for the best price and then order. Where’s the need to do something exceptional if you go this way?” he said.

He argued that truly prestigious luxury goods take time to craft, and in return, require time for customers to understand and appreciate them. One-click purchasing can jeopardize the DNA of high-end luxury brands.

Similarly, Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Chanel Fashion, said that instead of engaging in e-commerce, the brand will focus on providing “e-service” to allow customers to make appointments and reserve items online.

2. The Go-it-alone Strategy

In 2017, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada all launched their own online stores in China, integrating local payment solutions Alipay and WeChat pay.

By creating an official buying channel, brands have total control over consumers’ digital experience, keeping it consistent with their brand image. They can also create an exclusive space to interact with consumers and in return, gain first-hand user behavior data from the site.

On the other hand, if such stores aren’t done right, they could damage the brand. Accustomed to incredibly efficient online shopping experiences, Chinese consumers have complained that their experiences on a brand’s site were not ideal, and that discouraged them from further engaging digitally.

Delivering an excellent digital experience requires serious investments of time and money—constantly monitoring customer experience and feedback, and ensuring digital efforts are in sync with other departments. The risk is that online shoppers are less interested in a perfectly curated experience than a lower price they can find elsewhere.

3. The Snob Strategy

One way to create an exclusive, high-end digital experience without building a site from scratch is to launch on a luxury e-tailer site, like Secoo or Vip.com.

Brands pursuing this strategy include Tod’s on Secoo, Marc Jacobs on Vip.com, Loewe on Luxury Pavilion, and Saint Lauren on Toplife.

Brands can sell directly to wealthy clientele, making it easier to accomplish a higher transaction rate. However, they also need to choose the platform wisely, testing the digital experience from start to finish and carefully selecting inventory that fit the platform. For example, Vip.com is known to offer deep discounts, while Secoo prides itself on providing a “five sense luxury experience” with the offering of offline experience centers.

4. The Populist Strategy

The most popular approach of late is to launch on major e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, and JD.com. Examples include Tag Heuer, Coach, Burberry, and La Mer on Tmall, and Chopard, Zenith, Armani, and Swarovski on JD.com.

This strategy can gain brands more exposure without requiring a large investment of resources. But these platforms are also considered mass-market and are filled with counterfeit items, diminishing luxury brands’ exclusivity by association. In addition, the majority of consumers on these platforms are price-sensitive, requiring brands to deploy a discount strategy to capture their attention.

5. The Chat Strategy

Walking the thin line between exclusivity and availability, many brands carefully craft an e-commerce strategy not on an e-commerce website, but through WeChat. Pop-up sales, limited edition items, and Valentine’s Day-only exclusives are some of the marketing techniques frequently deployed by luxury brands.

Dior, Longchamp, Stella McCartney, Cartier, Givenchy, Chloe, and Valentino are all active in this space. Many of the brands we listed in other categories have at least some presence on WeChat too.

WeChat can feel more social and intimate, more like a real retail environment. In fact, WeChat has already been put to use in retail stores by sales associates. Many brands have devoted energy to developing an integrated online and offline strategy through WeChat.

But because the primary function of WeChat is still social, it may not be a sustainable revenue stream. Brands shouldn’t treat WeChat as a final solution to profit-making, but a channel to build traffic and provide better services.

Mixing things up

For luxury brands, e-commerce is not a simple add-on. It requires integration with the entire digital marketing, sales, and retail teams. The one-stop strategy doesn’t always work for Chinese consumers, as their purchasing journeys are disparate.

To truly create a customer-centric, omnichannel, high-end experience, while serving the young consumers and expand geographic reach, we are seeing more and more brands deploy a combination of the strategies mentioned above.

Taking Supreme Global

Taking Supreme Global

James Jebbia the press-shy founder speaks exclusively to BoF about Supreme’s new Paris store — set to open later this week — and the company’s homegrown approach to global expansion.

PARIS, France — “We’re a brand for the people,” said James Jebbia. The press-shy mastermind behind the streetwear label Supreme was sitting at a desk inside his spacious office on the 2nd floor of the company’s headquarters on Wooster Street in New York’s Soho as jazz quietly played in the background (a reminder that “A Love Supreme,” the brand’s first skate video, released in 1995, paid homage to the John Coltrane album of the same name). Flanked by colourful doodles by his two children, which he had taped to the wall, and a large framed piece by the graffiti artist Kaws, Jebbia was expressing his annoyance with online grumblings over the coming opening of a new Supreme boutique in Paris. “It’s funny, we get a lot of people bent out of shape who say, ‘Oh, these guys are going to fall off now that they’re opening in Paris.’ I’m not really concerned if people have this purist view of the New York Supreme thing,” he said, referring to the brand’s much-vaunted reputation as a consulate of downtown cool ever since it opened its doors in 1994 in a storefront on Lafayette Street. “If they think opening our shop in Paris is going to harm our brand, then we can’t really be that strong of a brand.”

Jebbia, a retail renegade who spent time at Stüssy and Parachute before building a scrappy skateboard lifestyle empire whose cultural capital now rivals that of any French luxury label, has never been content to rest on his laurels. Supreme’s new Paris store — a 1,100-square-foot space in the heart of the city’s Marais neighbourhood, which will showcase art installations by Mark Gonzales and the collage artist Weirdo Dave — is the 10th outpost in a retail network that now spans North America, Asia and Europe. (With the exception of Dover Street Market’s New York and Tokyo stores, the company does not wholesale). But global expansion poses something of an existential question for Supreme: how can the label continue to scale without watering down its homegrown cult appeal?

“I think a lot of people still want us to be this exclusive, precious brand, but we’re not at all,” Jebbia said. “It’s much more complex than that.” He has a calm, below-the-radar demeanour that’s reinforced by a soft English accent. (Having grown up primarily in Sussex, England, he moved to New York City “around ‘83, ‘84.”) Occasionally, there is an impassioned earnestness to his tone which suggests that even after two-plus decades in the game he still feels like something of a dark horse.

Of course, a powerful mix of exclusivity (the original flagship was once a clubhouse for underground artists like Harmony Korine and members of the influential graffiti crew Irak) and preciousness (Kermit the Frog starred in one of the brand’s advertising campaigns) is part of why metal police barricades are routinely required to fence in the frenzied customers who camp outside Supreme’s stores for each new product drop. “People think whatever we do, it sells out. But it’s not like that,” said Jebbia. “We can’t explain it, other than we have some really cool shit.”

Tyshawn Jones, Sage Elsesser and Ben Kadow at Place De La République | Photo: Todd JordanTyshawn Jones, Sage Elsesser and Ben Kadow at Place de la République in Paris | Photo: Todd Jordan

Supreme’s success is also linked to a muscular branding strategy grounded in a puritanical sense of hometown pride. Over the years, the store has sold skateboard decks featuring the work of New York art stars like Jeff Koons and Nate Lowman, low-fi skate videos directed by downtown filmmakers like William Strobeck and coveted t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and flat-brimmed caps that reference city landmarks like the Apollo Theater or its iconic skyline. And despite the images of Rihanna, Kanye and Bieber wearing Supreme that circulate online, it’s a host of more rarefied New Yorkers, everyone from young painter Lucien Smith and veteran style writer Glenn O’Brien to Chloë Sevigny and Lou Reed, who have best served as brand ambassadors.

As the company’s business grew, some expected Supreme’s original Lafayette Street store to spawn boutiques in neighbouring hipster enclaves like the Lower East Side or the new retail playpens of Brooklyn. But the plan “was never to open six shops in New York,” Jebbia said. Instead, he steered the brand away from its home turf. In 1999, the company partnered with Ken Omura, a Japanese friend of Jebbia’s, to open its first international store in the Daikanyama neighbourhood of Tokyo, catering to the brand’s rapidly-growing Japanese fan base. Supreme now has five other retail stores in the region — in the Harajuku and Shibuya sections of Tokyo, as well as in Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya — which also compete with an underground economy of Japanese resellers who run emporiums full of painstakingly steam-pressed vintage Supreme pieces encased in plastic bags. The company’s Los Angeles outpost on North Fairfax Avenue, which houses a proper skate bowl, opened in 2004. And, in 2011, the store on Peter Street in London’s Soho became the brand’s first European flagship.

Yeah, we’re a New York brand, but we’re a world brand now, too. It’s no different than Levi’s being from San Francisco.

Finding success outside New York proved that the label’s homespun magnetism had legs far beyond what the insular world of Lafayette Street skaters initially appeared to suggest. “Yeah, we’re a New York brand, but we’re a world brand now, too,” Jebbia said. “It’s no different than Levi’s being from San Francisco. People might think there are a lot of brands in the world like ours, but there aren’t.”

Rather than your typical by-the-numbers retail rollout, Jebbia approaches expansion more like a touring rock star who knowingly alters each night’s set list to cater to the ear of a city. “I’ve seen a lot of brands fail because they went, ‘Hey, look, we’re from New York, and that’s what we’re all about.’ But wherever you go, people are proud of where they are,” he said. “So even though we’re from New York, what we do is a mindset: it’s got to work in Japan, in Los Angeles, London, wherever.”

But Jebbia’s approach is also highly pragmatic, guided by a mix of “instinct backed up with some real understanding of what we do.” For one, Jebbia often consults data from Supreme’s global e-commerce business to identify geographies and demographics which are most responsive to the brand’s ethos. “The Web is big for us,” he said. “Wherever we have shops, we do well on the web.” This means that, for North American sales, the top markets are New York and Los Angeles; for Europe, it’s London and Paris. “After seeing what we do online and everything, we’ve done pretty well in France,” he said. “I look at opening a shop in Paris as a ballsy move because we really believe we have an audience there, even though there are a lot of great shops there like APC, Colette and Chanel.”

Sage Elsesser at Place de la République | Video Still: William StrobeckSage Elsesser at Place de la République in Paris | Video: William Strobeck

Several years ago, Jebbia was on a trip to Paris with his wife when he saw “a part of the city that I wasn’t really aware of.” Recent changes by the local city council to restrictions previously placed on skateboarding in places like the Place de la République, a sprawling eight-acre plaza peppered with ornate fountains and bronze statues, have transformed parts of Paris into vast playgrounds for a melting pot of skaters. “You couldn’t have that in New York,” Jebbia said admiringly. “It’s like having a great plaza where kids can skate all day on St. Marks or something. You might think there is more freedom in New York, San Francisco or London, but a kid can’t skate in those places without getting arrested.”

Jebbia said he typically hires from Supreme’s extended community of friends and family, including professional skateboarders and artists — even customers. His approach to staffing new stores is no different. “The people I work with is what gives the store its personality,” he said. “They treat it like it’s their own.” For the shop in London, Jebbia picked 1980s skate legend Dan Jagger to be its store manager. A similar approach guided his decision to ask Samir Krim, a founder of the French skateboard company Minutia, to manage the new Paris boutique. “He’s a big part of the skate scene there,” said Jebbia. “If we didn’t have someone like Samir, we wouldn’t have opened a shop in Paris.”

But building your global retail strategy around a worldwide family tree comes with constraints. “You can’t just click your fingers and have some decks,” said Jebbia. “We haven’t done a lot of stores simply because of man power.” It’s an unhurried philosophy that makes Supreme allergic to external investors hungry for rapid growth. Not that Jebbia is looking. “As a small brand, we do it all,” he said. “We don’t need an investor. We would never go anywhere or do anything where we feel it would compromise what we do.” Jebbia declined to disclose specific financial data on the size or growth of the company.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Supreme’s polished skater aesthetic has entered the global fashion lexicon. In his review of the men’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collections shown in Paris in January, The New York Times’ Guy Trebay described the “street-meets-luxury” look of collections from Hermès, Berluti and Dior Homme as channeling “the kind of utility garb the skate rats who hang out around Supreme tend to wear.” Meanwhile, Vetements, the industry’s current darling, is beloved for its Margiela-meets-streetwear aesthetic and the Russian-born designer Gosha Rubchinskiy has built a budding business on his uniquely Slavic take on the category of ‘90s skate clothes that Jebbia and his team helped to define. There is also the bevy of magazine editors and fashionable denizens of the Marais who now effortlessly mix streetwear favourites like Palace, Bianca Chandon and Supreme with Dries Van Noten and Isabel Marant.

For the most part, Jebbia welcomes fashion’s embrace of skate culture. “It’s a good thing, because before we were one of the only brands doing that kind of thing. Now it’s just more open and that’s great,” he said. “I think it’s cool because they’re making things people really want to wear. And that’s what we do: we make things people want to wear — not in fantasy land. Oftentimes you’ll see pictures from fashion shows and all the models outside the show in their real clothes are wearing brands like Supreme.”

But rest assured, Jebbia has no plans to assimilate. “I want to do something where a young kid shopping with his parents might be like, ‘Mum, maybe you shouldn’t come in this store with me.’”

The article was published in businessoffashion.com

Transforming Balenciaga and Alexander Wang’s Retail Experiences

Transforming Balenciaga and Alexander Wang’s Retail Experiences

The aesthetic of interior designer Ryan Korban—whose work spans some of the finest retail spaces in New York including the flagships for Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, and Altuzarra—is sexy, bold and clean. Just don’t call it glamorous. “I cringe when people call my style ‘glamorous.’ That’s sort of haunted me my whole career,” he says over the phone. “I mean, I get why people say it but for the last few years I’ve really tried to find a better word. I suppose the best way I’d describe my work is fresh. No matter what material I’m using, whether it’s traditional or modern, I think you do feel that freshness.”

Korban has consistently strived to illustrate this sense of innovation through his modern take on traditional design and interiors, something he calls “luxury redefined,” that aptly became the title for his 2014 coffee table book.

Reinvention is key to his work, a thesis he hopes to emphasize at the upcoming Collective Design fair, which takes place March 9 to 11th in New York as part of Armory Arts Week. One off custom furnishings will inhabit the space, such as statuary marble sofas, mixed terrazzo flooring, suede-paneled walls and a heavy limestone coffee table—all custom designed by Korban. The most unexpected addition to his distinctive portfolio, however, is the new luxury condominium at 40 Bleecker Street that will mark his first full condo building. “It’s the first time a luxury condominium is branded as Ryan Korban. It’s the first time you can buy a Ryan Korban penthouse!” he says excitedly.

As the New School alumnus continues to transform the landscape of modern interiors, he talks about how he has left an indelible mark on the luxury fashion experience.

JEENA SHARMA: Tell me about your work with Balenciaga.

RYAN KORBAN: My first project with the brand was the store on Mercer Street. Simultaneously, they asked me to help create new concept for the men’s ready-to-wear store across the street. So we started working on both of those spaces. That was also the first time that the Balenciaga retail experience had a new look in North America. What inspires me is quite traditional but my work is really modern. But with Balenciaga, it was really more about looking into the past than create something that’s super modern and contemporary.

SHARMA: How do you translate a brand’s vision into a concept for a retail space?

KORBAN: This is one of my favorite working relationships. I love working with designers! I love being able to take a designer’s world and figure out how I can create an environment for it. For most people, the designer is the client. But I’ve found more satisfaction and success in seeing the product as the client. So if you’re a ready-to-wear company, it’s the collection that matters and if you’re an accessories company, it’s the footwear. I’ve always taken that approach when working with a designer. Fashion designers have such a distinct point of view, you can get lost in that.

If you focus on the product or the collection and if you’re able to extract from that, that really works. The other approach is to look at the designer’s work and what the common spread is, which allows you to build an environment that feels true to what that brand is and not necessarily focus on what they’re doing next season. What I really do is try and the pick the DNA of the brand or the designer and translate it into an environmental language. That’s how I start that process.

A lot of designers are really fantastic at what they do in terms of creating clothing or accessories—they know what they like in terms of environment. But sometimes they don’t know exactly how to get it to that level.  So it’s really rewarding to be able to do that for them and to create a space that is a complete expression of the brand’s message and what they’re trying to sell.

MEN’S BALENCIAGA FLAGSHIP, IMAGE COURTESY OF RYAN KORBAN

SHARMA: Do you pick a certain element of a collection and then decide to incorporate it into a concept or is it the collective brand identity that’s more important to designing a store?

KORBAN: I think you start building a language and that language starts becoming the brand identity. It really depends. For instance, when I was working with Alexander Wang, sometimes he would get inspired by the materials that we were using to build the spaces and they’d work their way into the collection. The other times, I would get inspired by what he was doing in particular with that project.

In his inaugural collection for Balenciaga, you’ll notice a recurring green marble symbol throughout the lineup something that’s also part of the flagship store. That’s because he didn’t want things to be black. Black and white was the DNA and colors to his own brand. He wanted to create something that felt like him in terms of a darkness but we also really wanted to make sure it had heritage. I remember being in Europe and seeing this green stone across these buildings and in old architecture. There was something about it that felt very outdated but inherently European. So we took that and mixed it with fudge limestone. It then turned into 30 feet of walls with green stones and modern lights and other modern things. That’s where that started and where the stonework originated from. It was about getting inspired by something European and then modernizing it. We also felt that that was something that could be part of a collection but still feel relatively neutral as a backdrop.

So I think when you’re working with a designer, it’s really about playing off each other. When you take instances like these, you can really see that the collection is really the client. That’s really how a collection inspires an environment.

ALEXANDER WANG FLAGSHIP IN NEW YORK, IMAGE COURTESY OF RYAN KORBAN

SHARMA: Have you ever worked on a project where you had full creative control and could really imprint your own style and vision into it?

KORBAN: Yeah, and those are amazing projects where you really get to decide what the DNA of a brand is going to be, especially when you’re working with a brand that’s just opening up or has never existed before. That happens a lot more with multibrand stores. Some of those stores that I have done are my favorites. But essentially, I look at every project as creating an environment for a brand. Sometimes those brands have a strong DNA and sometimes they’re brand new.

SHARMA: How do you strike a balance between making sure a store feels luxury but also inviting and not intimidating?

KORBAN: That’s always a balance I’m trying to strike. I’ve made mistakes in the past where a space felt too intimidating. What I strive to do most with my work is create something that feels fresh, modern, and a younger take on something traditional.

It’s funny you ask that question because it’s still a challenge for me. And right now with my work for Collective Design, I’ve been asking that question a lot. What I’m doing there is an ultimate study of that. I talk about it a lot with my team because I am not afraid to say I’m wrong. I believe when you create something, it should make you stop for a minute and sort of say, “Wow.” I want my kind of wow movement but I try and balance it in a way that feels new and not stuffy. Especially when I was doing Alexander Wang’s store on Mercer Street, which was seven years ago. That idea of creating something that’s not intimidating but also exciting kind of manifested itself in the fur hammock that’s in that store. The way it’s done with the cashmere, when you see it, you go like, “Wow,” but it’s also done in a tasteful way. I also created these sofas for the Collective Design fair that are made completely out of statuary marble. That’s another thing that strikes that balance, which is a little intimidating but also has that wow factor.

SHARMA: What’s been harder creatively: designing a personal space or retail?

KORBAN: I think one is really personal and the other one is more of a strategic job. They’re both challenging in a different way. Working with an individual is obviously more personal, which is challenging at times, but also very rewarding. It’s just much more of an emotional process.

SHARMA: You use a lot of animal skins and prints in your work as well as marble. Is there a specific reason?

KORBAN: I don’t really gravitate towards patterns and colors. When I started I really just had a neutral color palette. I think animal textures and palette just started to become part of my prowess, over the years. I started experimenting with animal patterns and that just sort of developed further.

As for marble, stones are my favorite. They always have been. When I sit down on a new project, I’m always thinking how do we make this more permanent, and how do we make it feel like it’s been here. I like making something monumental. Stones have always been the material that really grounds things. It’s just that power, you know. I love knowing that something’s not going anywhere.

EDON MANOR, IMAGE COURTESY OF RYAN KORBAN

SHARMA: Are there certain designers you’d like to work with in the future?

KORBAN: There’s no one specific, to be honest. I’m open to everything. I know that’s not an exciting answer but I accept any challenge that comes my way. My philosophy has never been, “Oh, I’m dying to work with this person.” It’s sort of about, “What’s next?” That’s what I’m excited about.

SHARMA: What are the three essential accessories you’d recommend for a home or a personal space?

KORBAN: Lighting, lamp, mirrors, and interesting seatings.

SHARMA: What is the tackiest home accessory?

KORBAN: The tackiest? [laughs] Oh, I don’t know. That’s a hard question to answer. I think it’s best to never say never. I mean, I love wall-to-wall carpet, for instance. Some people think it’s the tackiest thing in the world, but for me, it’s luxury. There have been times where I’m like, “I hate that,” and then years later, it’s almost like I’m drawn to it.

I think there are two types of designers; there are those that have a very clear artistic vision and that’s what they go with. Then there are designers like me. I think it comes from my background of working with brands, where you let the projects dictate your taste. I’m very much that kind of person. I feel like I’m constantly exploring with different looks and things. So, I don’t think any two of my projects would look alike.

SHARMA: What’s next for you?

KORBAN: I’m doing everything I want to do. So my biggest goal right now is to just keep doing it. I just did interiors for a high-end condo building. It’s the first time a luxury condominium is branded as Ryan Korban. It’s the first time you can buy a Ryan Korban penthouse! I’m launching a book and a furniture line, and I’m doing the Collective Design fair. People ask me about my dream project and client all the time. But what’s next is I just want to keep it going. I’ve been very fortunate and I love the projects that I did and I’d like keep doing them. I’m open to anything and I’m always excited about new sectors that are growing.

COLLECTIVE DESIGN WILL HOST ITS SIXTH FAIR MARCH 9-11, 2018 AT SKYLIGHT CLARKSON NORTH.

The article was published first in interviewmagzine.com.

The Second Coolest Girl in the Room

The Second Coolest Girl in the Room

Is your best customer.

What would fashion be without its alchemical ability to transform clothes into status?

For one thing, a great deal poorer. The endless trend cycle of products gaining and losing cool keeps fashion labels flush with cash as shoppers chase the next new thing.

The most striking expressions of new trends play out on designers’ runways and via the fashion influencers that crowd Instagram. But appealing to trend pioneers who are first to fresh territory isn’t necessarily the most lucrative position for a fashion brand counting on more timid customers to buy their wares. Not all brands—not most, in fact—can be the Guccis and Balenciagas of the world.

The internet and social media have sped up the endless comings and goings of trends, leaving the trendsetters soon feeling a look has become overexposed, and abandoning it as quickly as they picked it up. For labels aiming at more mainstream appeal, which can also mean bigger sales, the greater opportunity is often in appealing to a second wave of trend-adopters.

“In the past in my career, I’ve thought about trend as that curve. It’s kind of a whale shape. It goes up slowly, slowly, slowly, and then it peaks and drops down,” said Crystal Slattery, president of contemporary at Jaya Apparel Group and cofounder of all its contemporary brands, including Elizabeth and James, Cinq à Sept, and Likely. “Now what we’re seeing is almost like a camel.”

Slattery, speaking at a March 6 panel on how trends work today, hosted by Edited, a retail technology firm, meant a double-humped camel: The first wave of customers that comes and goes with a trend is now often followed by a second, larger and longer-lasting wave. “Those are our friends who are maybe not paying as close attention to trend and fashion,” she said. This audience may be less adventurous in how they dress, or require time to get comfortable with a trend before jumping in. But, she said, that’s where the bigger profits are to be made.

The other speakers included Yedidya Mesfin, design director at Blank NYC; Rob Lim, head of design at Saturdays NYC; and Chris Benz, creative director at Bill Blass, who said his label is also not exclusively focused on the early adopters.

Benz emphasized it’s more important than ever to have a clear brand identity, which lets the brand filter trends through that prism—again, because trends rise and fall so quickly these days. Bill Blass’s customer base tends to be part of that second wave. “I always talk about our customer as being not the coolest girl in the room, but she’s the second coolest girl,” he said. “She doesn’t want to be full-sequined-glitter-boot, but she wants a little glitter heel.”

The aim isn’t to offer an exact copy of the most outré version of the trend, which will likely lose its appeal for the more adventurous fashion customer by the time a mass-market label can design and produce its own version. Instead, brands try to keep the spirit of the trend while softening its cutting edge, to make it more accessible to a customer looking for something to wear to work or out in the evening.

The way Instagram and the internet have reshaped trends shows up in other ways too. Traditionally, trends trickled down from the runways or bubbled up from the streets, said Katie Smith, the retail analysis and insights director at Edited. But “a linear way of tracking trends just isn’t relevant anymore,” she pointed out.

Now there are simultaneous feedback loops happening among the runways, the street, and retail. It makes it harder to identify where a trend is in its life cycle, and it has upended the old model of trends beginning upmarket and migrating down as they spread into the mainstream. Luxury and fast fashion are often neck-and-neck, and their customers don’t behave much differently.

One of the biggest challenges in capitalizing on a trend, consequently, is knowing when to drop it. Abandon it too early, and you may miss the lucrative second wave. But because things move so quickly, brands also risk suddenly looking tragically outdated. As Slattery put it, “You hang on to it too long, and you’re Juicy Couture with the sweatpants.”

The article appeared first in quartzy.qz.com.

#NikeToo

#NikeToo

FOUR WAYS NIKE IS THINKING ABOUT WOMEN’S SNEAKERS DIFFERENTLY

This effort includes supporting barrier-breaking athletes, from rebel runner Joan Benoit Samuelson (the first woman to claim marathon gold) to record-setting tennis great Serena Williams (owner of 23 major titles). Countless other star athletes have also reached the pinnacle of their sport with Nike — on the basketball court, the track, the football pitch and beyond — and each helps to progress opportunities for women in sport.

Nike also encourages the progress of professional and everyday athletes through innovation. Women’s-specific design solutions have ranged from a consistent offering of footwear to recent developments that aim to broaden women’s access to sport, such as the Nike Pro Hijab and plus-sizing for athletic apparel.

One thing that connects all women in sport is sneakers. As a performance tool and lifestyle accessory, the sneaker is a transcendent symbol of athletic and stylistic identity. Certain styles can also reveal the wearer’s soul by expressing their ethos and beliefs — especially when these intertwine with sustainable builds and materials.

All three of these elements — athletes, innovation and product — come together in 2018 as Nike initiates four new ways of thinking about sneakers for women. Here’s how this approach is beginning to shape up.

EXPANDED SIZING

Unisex sizing on select classic Jordan styles and collaborative collections such as Virgil Abloh x Nike The TENrecognizes the universality of sneaker culture and reduces the frustration of missing out due to size unavailability. In the fall, expanded sizes will extend to iconic silos, including the Nike Air Force 1 and Air Max lines, providing ever-increasing options to collect, rock or stock.

UNIQUE RETAIL EXPERIENCES

A curated selection of sneakers, inclusive of expanded sizes, innovative performance styles and iconic collaborations, presents a holistic view that forms the backbone of Nike Unlaced, NIKE, Inc.’s new sneaker destination for women.

Nike Unlaced is a global digital and retail concept that follows a Nike dot-com evolution in Europe, which provided distinction for women through product styling and local curators. (In North America, the Nike x Nordstrom sneaker boutique retail and digital experience, co-created with Olivia Kim, also served as a precursor.) Local Nike Unlaced product curations by influential creatives and stylists from New York, Paris, London, Shanghai and more are coming soon.

EXCLUSIVE SERVICES

From personalized styling to VIP member experiences (including same-day delivery and exclusive hours), these services offered by Nike Unlaced are designed to increase connectivity and access to sneakers for women. For example, members will have the opportunity to arrange one-on-one appointments with guest stylists and take their prized selections home in specialized packaging.

NEW VOICES

As sneakers transcended sport and initiated street-style trends, collaboration became an integral component of sneaker culture, blossoming into a symbiotic relationship between brands and external creative communities.

That community has been predominantly male. However, in pushing new female voices, Nike is challenging the sneaker status quo.

In recent years, this has been propelled by curator-led retail partnerships (for example, the aforementioned Kim and Nordstrom boutique). Creative endeavors with A.L.C.’s Andrea Lieberman and the International Girls Crew on the iconic Nike Cortez have also given new scope to sneaker collaborations; another highlight is the recent The 1 Reimagined project, Nike’s first collection of footwear designed entirely by a 14-strong female design collective.

These projects define the future state of footwear for women, where more curation and collaboration can be expected, but also an increase in female representation is poised to manifest new ideas not just for women but all sneaker enthusiasts.

The Most Fun in Years

The Most Fun in Years

Best Looks From the 2018 Oscars Red Carpet, from Adam Rippon to Agnès Varga.

Viola Davis, Adam Rippon, Agnes Varda. Photo: Getty Images

Coming off an awards season defined by all-black fashion protests, it was no surprise that the 2018 Oscars red carpet seemed vibrant in comparison.

But there was something else in the air. The actors, directors, presenters, and Olympians like Adam Rippon weren’t just wearing color — they had a sense of humor with their wardrobe choices. They showed some style, not just fashion. And in addition to new, young faces, those over 70 also showed how it’s done. As a result, the red carpet was the most fun it’s been in years.

Honestly, there were so many good looks it was hard to choose the standouts. Below, our attempt to rank the best, worst, and weirdest looks from the 90th Academy Awards.

Best Harness: Adam Rippon

The Olympic skater with perfect brows wore a Moschino suit by Jeremy Scott with “cold shoulder” detailing. We give this leather daddy a ten-out-of-ten.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Best-Looking Cast: Black Panther

Winston Duke looked dapper in Etro, Lupta Nyong’o beamed in Atelier Versace, and Danai Gurira oozed elegance in Gabriela Hearst. Chadwick Boseman (not pictured) also killed it in Givenchy couture. Wakanda forever!

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Most Goop-y: Saoirse Ronan

There was so much blah blush on the red carpet this year, but Saoirse Ronan rose above the rest. As the internet dutifully pointed out, her Calvin Klein gown was reminiscent of Gwenyth Paltrow’s 1999 Oscars dress by Ralph Lauren.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Best Turt: Maya Rudolph

We’re way past first-date turtlenecks; we want to marry this Valentino look.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Hottest Hot Pink: Viola Davis

We’d like to bottle up this stunning Michael Kors look and highlight important documents with it.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Best Pussy Bow: Nicole Kidman

[Claps oddly for Armani Privé.]

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Best Repeat: Rita Moreno

The 86-year-old actress wore the same dress she wore to the 1962 Oscars, when she won for her starring role in West Side Story. Translation: she’s still got it.

Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

Best Newcomer: Beanie Feldstein

Will you go to prom with us, too?

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Best Sleeve: St. Vincent

Who needs a date when you have f-a-s-h-i-o-n!!! This pouffy Saint Laurent sleeve definitely needs its own seat.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Most Regal: Tiffany Haddish

The Girls Trip actress honored her late father’s wishes by wearing an authentic Eritrean princess dress.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Best Lads: Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer

Berluti, Berluti, Berluti. Armani. Armani. Armani.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Shirt Most Likely to Make Us Cry: James Ivory

The Call Me by Your Name screenwriter made us relive that scene all over again by wearing Timothée Chalamet’s sad face on his shirt.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Best Color: Greta Gerwig

The Lady Bird actress brought some Sacramento sunshine to the red carpet in Rodarte.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Most Iconic: Agnès Varda

The 89-year-old feminist filmmaker and style icon wore a full silk Gucci set, proving that the Italian brand isn’t just for millennials.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

This article appeared first in The Cut.

Eyes without a Face

Eyes without a Face

The Genius of Martin Margiela. A life-affirming museum retrospective reminds us of the mysterious Belgian designer’s huge influence.

At that show, like the 20 that followed over the next ten years, Margiela introduced the ideas that would constitute his “manifesto,” as a career retrospective at the Palais Galliera refers to that incredible early period. These ideas included not only his explorations into tailoring — really, deconstruction, a term he introduced into fashion — and pioneering use of reclaimed materials such as silk scarves, but also a new system of presenting fashion. He introduced a sense of underground mystery to shows, sending cryptic invitations by fax or telegram to unlikely locations like an abandoned Metro station. At the first show, the models — who were attractive but hardly looked or acted like runway mannequins — paraded through the theater and onto a white canvas-covered stage, where some of them left red marks from the paint they had intentionally stepped in backstage.

Margiela literally took us places we had never been before. I probably saw my first Margiela show in his showroom, in March 1991, but the one that sticks in my mind was at a Salvation Army store the next spring. I sat on a washing machine, and the models wore long black knits and dresses, some covered with dry-cleaning bags.

Photo: Pierr ANTOINE

The exhibition (which does not include the women’s designs Margiela did for Hermès from 1997 to 2003) is a life-affirming treat, remarkable in its insight and detail. Credit for that goes to the great Olivier Saillard, who recently resigned as director of the Palais Galliera to pursue a new venture, and to the curator, Alexandre Samson, who spent a year working out the details with Margiela, who was involved from the start. In fact, it was Margiela who styled the mannequins’ wigs, who painted suntan marks on their limbs (to mimic the effect in the first collection), who put red shoe marks on the floor, and who created the “fan bedrooms” that are part of the exhibit, filling them with books and objects that were pertinent to his creative life.

Considering that Margiela was invisible to much of the fashion world throughout his career — he always refused to give interviews or be photographed — it’s fascinating that he feels so present in the Galliera space.

“He was here until last night doing the makeup for the mannequins,” Saillard told me on Thursday. “You can feel him in the exhibition — you can recognize everywhere the print of his hands.” Saillard laughed. “I did nothing, he did everything.”

Despite Margiela’s policy of anonymity, he has very much kept close watch on the fashion world in recent years, says Saillard. “He’s very worried about everything that’s happening today. He said, ‘Designers forget clothes. They are just interested in images. But they forget clothes.’” Samson and Saillard also found Margiela quite eager — obsessed, really — to explain things, even down to the exact placement of a belt on a pair of trousers.

How does all that square with a man few fashion people have ever seen or heard from? Saillard, after a moment, replied: “I’m still very curious about this attitude, which is probably modest but also you have to know you’re a great talent to do that. You cannot disappear if you do not know you have a great, great talent.”

On one level, the exhibit affirms what a giant influence Margiela’s designs — his lean silhouette, his narrow shoulder-line with a slight peak where the sleeves are set, his use of linings and recycled things — have been on brands, from Celine to The Row to most obviously Vetements and Balenciaga, both of which are overseen by Demna Gvasalia, who worked at Margiela in the latter years.

Photo: Julien Vidal

Yet what I took away from the show — which includes 100 silhouettes, videos, and many documents — was how passionate Margiela was about clothing. That’s not as stupid as it sounds. I didn’t realize, for example, how important Edwardian dress was to him, especially tailoring and perhaps, as well, its use of linings and other underpinnings. A clue can be found in one of his “fan rooms,” where a book on Edwardian fashion sits on a shelf.

Margiela was so fascinated by clothing, especially ordinary off-the-rack stuff, that he reproduced vintage suits and other styles for a line he called “Replica.” Two such items, from Germany in the ’70s and Belgium in the ’40s, are on display. “They’re exactly the same as the originals,” Samson told me. “With the same defects, the same disproportion.”

Perhaps that’s why people over the years have noted that Margiela’s fashion seemed to have the “memory” of other clothes — a quality also frequently ascribed to Sally Mann’s photographs of places in the South. It was extraordinary to see examples from the spring 1996 collection in which minimally cut dresses in fluid or transparent fabrics were printed with negative photos of clothing, so that the image of a dress appeared to give volume to the actual dress.

For me, though, the most stirring display — certainly the most solemn — was of a masculine wool jacket. Viewed from the back, its sleeves had been slightly bent at the elbows, like a person standing elegantly with her hands in her trouser pockets, and then stitched entirely to the body of the jacket. That pose, embedded in our mind’s eye, was embedded in the coat.

Photo: Julien Vidal

Margiela sold his business in 2008, which was the only time the house furnished editors with notes for a show. It was one sentence: “Twenty years, forty shows, hundreds of garments, what’s left?”

Today, at a moment when the fashion industry seems to be asking itself that very question, the Galliera show seems well timed. It also puts perspective to Margiela’s genius. He did many of those early shows on a thin shoestring, in contrast to the usual practice of spending a small fortune, and he and his business partner, the late Jenny Meirens, came close to bankruptcy. In other words, Saillard said, it wasn’t about having a financial structure, or a good stylist, or the right editorial connections.

“It was about having ideas,” he said.

“Margiela Galliera” remains open through July 15, 2018. It’s part of “Saison Margiela 2018 a Paris,” along with “Margiela les annees Hermes,” at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, from March 22 to September 2, 2018.

Artvertising

Artvertising

Coach Put Up Cool Murals All Over New York City

A mural by WhIsBe. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
As Coach designer Stuart Vevers continues to court millennials’ affection, the brand is also branching out into street art. Some of the most well-known street artists in New York have turned Coach’s signature “C” print into murals. The project, which spans New York’s five boroughs, includes work by Bisco Smith, Crash, DAIN, TriHumph, and WhIsBe. The interlocking Cs are turned into subversive touches on murals — like sanctioned Dapper Dan pieces.

This isn’t the first time fashion has merged with street art. GucciGhost graffitied the brand’s flagship store in New York in 2016 and just last month Sonia Rykiel turned the facade of their store into a collaborative mural that looked like a bookshelf, where passersby could add their favorite titles, or just draw over it. Coach’s rainbow of Cs is reminiscent of your favorite bags from 2005 — just reimagined for the Instagram age. See some of the murals below, along with a map of where to find each piece, in case you want to pose for the ‘gram.

By GIZ. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach

By Thomas Allen. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach

By SUCH + DAIN. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach

By The Drif. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach

A mural by WhIsBe. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach

As Coach designer Stuart Vevers continues to court millennials’ affection, the brand is also branching out into street art. Some of the most well-known street artists in New York have turned Coach’s signature “C” print into murals. The project, which spans New York’s five boroughs, includes work by Bisco Smith, Crash, DAIN, TriHumph, and WhIsBe. The interlocking Cs are turned into subversive touches on murals — like sanctioned Dapper Dan pieces.

This isn’t the first time fashion has merged with street art. GucciGhost graffitied the brand’s flagship store in New York in 2016 and just last month Sonia Rykiel turned the facade of their store into a collaborative mural that looked like a bookshelf, where passersby could add their favorite titles, or just draw over it. Coach’s rainbow of Cs is reminiscent of your favorite bags from 2005 — just reimagined for the Instagram age. See some of the murals below, along with a map of where to find each piece, in case you want to pose for the ‘gram.

By GIZ. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
By Thomas Allen. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
By The Drif. Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Beltran/ Courtesy of Coach
From Sneakerheads to Art Collectors

From Sneakerheads to Art Collectors

It was a damp Tuesday evening in London, but they waited down the block and around the corner to get in, mostly young men, mostly in sneakers, at least one with a Supreme bag.

It wasn’t a so-called product drop. It was an opening at the Gagosian Gallery. “We have never had a lineup around the block to get into an exhibition,” said Nick Simunovic, the director at Gagosian Hong Kong.

Mr. Murakami made a smiling flower character; Mr. Abloh built a greenhouse around it. Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times

The occasion was the opening of “Future History,” a collaborative exhibition by Virgil Abloh, the American designer behind Off-White, and Takashi Murakami, the Japanese fine artist whose menagerie of adorable cartoon monsters have become pop totems (and the guest stars on a best-selling line of Louis Vuitton accessories).

Each man is a hero of the “hypebeast” community, and they came together last year at ComplexCon, the annual convention at which hypebeasts swarm. Mr. Abloh and Mr. Murakami had set up a silk-screen station to create T-shirts together and were mobbed.

“I never knew sneakerheads,” Mr. Murakami said of his first time at ComplexCon. “I said, ‘What is happening?’ I am walking around this convention, and everyone knows my face.” He imitated the fanboys he encountered in a gasp: “‘Oh my God, Takashi Murakami, oh my God, oh my God!’” Then he giggled in disbelief: “What?

The collaborators made a limited-edition T-shirt for the exhibition. Flo Kohl

ComplexCon had led here to Gagosian, the gallery that represents Mr. Murakami, for which, over the course of about two and a half months, he and Mr. Abloh collaborated on paintings and sculptures. Mr. Murakami made a large sculpture of one of his smiling flower characters; Mr. Abloh built a greenhouse around it. Mr. Abloh requested a screen print of an image from a 17th-century self-portrait by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; Mr. Murakami screened the mouselike ears of his character Mr. DOB on top.

“Truth be told, I don’t go into these things knowing if they’ll work,” Mr. Abloh said.

The day before, Mr. Abloh, in T-shirt and camouflage pants, and Mr. Murakami, in baggy sweats and Off-White Nikes, had installed the show and discussed their working process.

“My position is, he’s the master, I’m the labor,” Mr. Murakami said. They had come together each with their own thoughts and bounced them off each other, and developed ideas quickly.

“From the idea to do the show to what some of these first pieces would be was, maybe, two minutes,” Mr. Abloh said. Both men’s icons are instantly recognizable in each piece — Mr. Abloh’s ever-present air quotes, Mr. Murakami’s characters — but here they’re presented as co-signed artworks, even if Mr. Abloh’s usual media are clothes and shoes.

“When I’m designing a shoe, I’m employing ideas from art, everything I’ve seen, and it’s manifesting itself in a shoe,” he said. “Why not cement them in serious art pieces? That’s what these four walls do, more than a retail store.” He paused at a sculpture of a Murakami character rising off a base made from an Off-White logo mark. “I could see this in a retail space,” he said. “I could also see it in a home of a billionaire.”

It could well end up in one. Even before the exhibition’s opening, half of the pieces had been sold. “The feedback and results have been incredible,” said Mr. Simunovic, the gallery’s liaison to Mr. Murakami. “We sold a painting today, for example, to a 21-year-old who had never worked with the gallery before.” The gallery does not disclose artwork pricing.

A screen print of an image from a 17th-century self-portrait by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from the Abloh and Murakami collaboration. Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times

For Mr. Abloh, part of the project’s appeal was bringing his dedicated fan base into contact with the new horizons of the art world. In 2019, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago will stage the first museum retrospective of his work. “It’s generational,” he said. “I was born in 1980. I always thought that us buying a rare Supreme shirt is like buying a print for a previous generation.”

Mr. Abloh and Mr. Murakami did design an edition of 400 T-shirts to be sold on the Gagosian website, which will be finished by hand as an entry-level offering; they quickly sold out. But none were for sale the night of the opening, and the lines formed anyway. (Many of those waiting were hoping that the artists would sign their sneakers and shuffled around the gallery, once they were finally let in, in socks.)

Mr. Murakami, who between the installation and the opening had traded his hygienic face mask (he had a slight cold) for one fashioned out of a Nike sneaker, one of Mr. Abloh’s signature zip ties and a bit of camouflage print from his Louis Vuitton collaboration, seemed delighted. He sneaked out of the gallery to take selfies with those waiting. (“How’s the population in London of sneakerheads?” he had wondered in all seriousness the day before. “I really want to welcome the new audience.”)

“The world moves as fast as Instagram scrolls,” Mr. Abloh said. “What excites me more is the physical. I think that will be rewarding. That’s my barometer: Is the piece done? Is it good enough? Is it worthy of someone’s time?”

Outside, they were still waiting. Even Mr. Martin, the marine. “I’m not going to get in,” he said, with admirable even temper. There was over an hour to go. Luckily, the exhibition remains up through April 7.

How Bedeutungsschwanger Is It?

How Bedeutungsschwanger Is It?

New York Fashion Week finally came to life Tuesday evening in the shadow of the valley of — well, not death exactly. More like a post-apocalyptic prairie seen through a B-movie lens. Toto, what happened to Kansas?
Raf Simons buried it under 50,000 gallons of popcorn.
Or, to be fair, he buried the floor of the American Stock Exchange building under 50,000 gallons of popcorn, trucked in for a wackadoodle Calvin Klein show. It piled up in drifts around the weathered sides of four skeletal barns hung with blood red Sterling Ruby mop heads and papered with spectral black and white Warhol reproductions. It was crushed under the shoes of guests, so little motes of popcorn dust blew through the air. They landed on the coats and skirts and hair of Michael B. Jordan and Nicole Kidman and Millie Bobby Brown (among many other famous people), making everyone look as though they had an unfortunate case of dandruff or had wandered into a Food Channel version of nuclear winter.
Then a model in a bright orange hazmat suit and waders appeared. Let’s rephrase: Welcome to the pop-calypse.
Since he arrived at the brand that bluejeans and minimalism built, Mr. Simons, who is from Belgium, has been fixated on defining his own brand of twisted Americana, largely built on the twin pillars of Laura Ingalls Wilder and “On the Road” (the Netflix versions) — after the rot set in. This season he took it even further, with women in giant tweed coats over sweeping lawn skirts and men in sweater vests that looked more like life vests over skinny suits and shirts buttoned tight to the neck. Everyone wore knit Fair Isle balaclavas and often big firefighters’ gloves in silver foil, which also was used in false-front A-line cocktail dresses trimmed in white lace that turned into camper-blanket sheaths at the back.
Also the two-tone cowboy shirts and placket trousers that Mr. Simons has used in every collection since his Calvin debut, and skinny striped sweaters and sweaters with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner knit in, plus apron dresses with nothing underneath, so the breasts were exposed (a strange segue into Naughty Nellie from the general store). Quilting squares were pieced onto crisp white shirts and reworked as bias-cut chiffon evening gowns. The effect was all very survivalist. Simon & Garfunkle’s “Sound of Silence” played in the background. So did “California Dreamin’ ” by The Mamas & The Papas.
It was both a reductionist view of the country’s most accessible myths and also stomach-churningly right. That’s where we are now: drowning in a sea of puffed corn kernels and empty calories, appropriating the appropriators.

AMERICANA IN TRUMPLAND

AMERICANA IN TRUMPLAND

Why Are Fashion Designers so Obsessed With America Right Now?

Today, no matter where we come from, we’re all a bit American. Coca-Cola, Nike and Disney, blue denim, cowboys and roadside motels: these references are ingrained in the way people think, feel and consume worldwide. The references are universal and instantly recognizable, which makes them perfect working material for fashion brands.

Americana influences popped up in many SS18 collections, and they were overwhelmingly present in the recent FW18 men’s shows.

In Milan, Bella Hadid opened the Dsquared2 show wearing a denim shirt and red-and-black check cowboy jacket. An array of cowboy hats, string ties, studded leather trousers and belts with huge buckles followed. In blue LED lights, it was not Americana of the prairies, but Americana of the mall, which celebrated big money, reality TV and shameless consumption. The Dsquared2 collection was the tip of the iceberg in fashion’s current obsession with the cultural codes and myths of the USA. Whether it’s American tragedy, American horror story or American dream, everyone wants a piece.

America is the epicenter of mass culture. Its culture and aesthetics have been copied and reproduced so widely and so badly that they are rarely considered high brow — which makes them highly relevant in an era when bad taste makes good fashion.

But in fact, it’s not always the case, and one of the most poignant examples of the trend is exactly the opposite. Raf Simons’s work for Calvin Klein is built entirely on visual tropes of U.S. culture, with its shiny surface and underlying darkness. Simons’ collections for the brand featured modernist versions of sheriff shirts, blood-stained cowboy boots and plastic coats, which simultaneously channeled Twin Peaks, American Psycho, and plastic-wrapped couches. The designer also tapped into the history of violence in American art and film, by using prints of Andy Warhol’s “Knives,” “The Ambulance Disaster” and “The Electric Chair,” and of Dennis Hopper counterculture classic Easy Rider.

Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety

Simons’ Americana is refined, controlled and handsome, much like American Psycho protagonist Patrick Bateman, but his designs hit a nerve when the first lady Melania Trump appeared wearing one of CK’s red Western shirts. It was like the pop culture snake biting its own tail: Raf’s creations in the midst of the real-life political horror that inspired them. Back in the 20th century, the U.S. gave us the first televised war in Vietnam— and now we’re all living under the threat of wars started via Twitter. Right now, global politics are impossible to ignore, and contemporary fashion has picked up the agenda.

With its endless variety of tropes and references, the Americana aesthetics offer endless possibilities for different stories. Palm Angels showed a mixture of rough punk aesthetics and the American Midwest, completed with spiked balaclavas, tartan and Grant Wood’s cult painting American Gothic. In its SS18 womenswear collection, Versace had black leather cowboy outfits with golden studs and chains, straight out of an ’80s NYC fetish club.

N21 had shirts printed with a picture of a red motel sign against bright blue skies. Cow-and-red-floral jackets popped up at Marques Almeida, and Ashleigh Williams combined cowboy hats with hoodies and bomber jackets. Astrid Andersen created a young, urban version of a midnight cowboy, complete with puffer jackets and loose-filling tartan trousers. Dries Van Noten’s take was perhaps the most subtle and romantic, with aesthetics of the Western movies coming through in shirt collars, seams and snakeskin boots.

Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety

Translated into clothes, the Americana aesthetic is built on pre-existing stereotypes, and goes in line with fashion’s obsession with national identities and the nature of the local in an increasingly global world.

Gosha Rubchinskiy got the whole world hyped about post-Soviet cool, with tracksuits, football scarfs, cryptic messages in Cyrillic and underground Russian raves. In search of a rejuvenated look, Burberry tapped into the history of British photography and got Blondey McCoy posing in a classic beige check trench coat.

The journeys designers embark on — either to Moscow’s tower block estates, Britain’s bleak countryside or a highway in Arizona — are never about real places, but ideas of places, about looking for identity in politically challenging circumstances. It’s essential to question what it means to grow up in Russia under Putin, to be British after Brexit, or to be American in the era of Trump. And do these categories even make sense in a world where nationalities are gradually and irreversibly receding?

Americana works because it’s universal. The American Dream is a quest for freedom, success and love — and the spectacular downfall they could bring.

But today, the image of the all-white nuclear family is falling apart, and we need new images to stand behind. Young Thug toying with the aesthetics in the video for “My Family Don’t Matter“; and A$AP Mob, Kelela and Solange starring in Calvin Klein’s denim campaign are just a couple of expressions of what it means to be American today.

It’s obvious that the Americana obsession has some dark undertones, both on and off the runway. In recent years, films like American Honey, Tangerine and The Florida Project painted a luminescent picture of America’s underbelly, with forgotten youth and invisible inhabitants of roadside motels. Contemporary art is also on it: Cali Thornhill Dewitt’s 29 Flags project rewrote the most horrific murders in U.S. history on American flags; photographer Jim Krantz put one of his cowboy photos on a Supreme jacket, and French artist The Kid got famous through making sinister life-like sculptures of American teenagers.

Kanye also chipped in: the zine for his Calabasas collection was a portrait of a new American frontier, an ultimate Californian non-place somewhere behind a nondescript gas station in LA.

In the end, fashion’s current obsession with Americana is multi-faceted. It’s a search for new national identity, a restless game of cultural references, and a reaction to news-infused paranoia. Fashion has a new way of being political, and it’s turning our fears and doubts into products.

With the Doomsday Clock ticking away, we can only hope that we’re not commodifying our own end.

This article appeared in highsnobiety.com. Words by Anastasiia Fedorova

E – Commerce in China

E – Commerce in China

How should luxury brands tackle e-commerce in China in 2018? We chart out the options. Photo courtesy: NiP photography/Shutterstock.com

Thirty-five percent of Chinese customers are already accustomed to purchasing luxury goods online, according to a white paper published by Tencent, Secoo, and Deloitte. Even when purchasing at traditional brick-and-mortar retail stories, Chinese shoppers will typically have explored their purchasing options online. E-commerce seems is shaping up to be a defining facet of luxury brands’ strategies in China in 2018, but each is handling the task very differently.

Five Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in ChinaFive Diverging Ways Luxury Brands Approach E-Commerce in China

1. The Luddite Strategy

While Chinese customers are known to be the most digitally driven of global luxury shoppers, there are brands who are still suspicious of selling online, such as Celine, Chanel, and Patek Philippe.

Thierry Stern, the president of Swiss family-owned brand Patek Philippe, told mediathat rushing to meet Chinese demand hurt many companies, railing against the very practice of purchasing online.

“You just sit in bed, look for the best price and then order. Where’s the need to do something exceptional if you go this way?” he said.

He argued that truly prestigious luxury goods take time to craft, and in return, require time for customers to understand and appreciate them. One-click purchasing can jeopardize the DNA of high-end luxury brands.

Similarly, Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Chanel Fashion, said that instead of engaging in e-commerce, the brand will focus on providing “e-service” to allow customers to make appointments and reserve items online.

2. The Go-it-alone Strategy

In 2017, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada all launched their own online stores in China, integrating local payment solutions Alipay and WeChat pay.

By creating an official buying channel, brands have total control over consumers’ digital experience, keeping it consistent with their brand image. They can also create an exclusive space to interact with consumers and in return, gain first-hand user behavior data from the site.

On the other hand, if such stores aren’t done right, they could damage the brand. Accustomed to incredibly efficient online shopping experiences, Chinese consumers have complained that their experiences on a brand’s site were not ideal, and that discouraged them from further engaging digitally.

Delivering an excellent digital experience requires serious investments of time and money—constantly monitoring customer experience and feedback, and ensuring digital efforts are in sync with other departments. The risk is that online shoppers are less interested in a perfectly curated experience than a lower price they can find elsewhere.

3. The Snob Strategy

One way to create an exclusive, high-end digital experience without building a site from scratch is to launch on a luxury e-tailer site, like Secoo or Vip.com.

Brands pursuing this strategy include Tod’s on Secoo, Marc Jacobs on Vip.com, Loewe on Luxury Pavilion, and Saint Lauren on Toplife.

Brands can sell directly to wealthy clientele, making it easier to accomplish a higher transaction rate. However, they also need to choose the platform wisely, testing the digital experience from start to finish and carefully selecting inventory that fit the platform. For example, Vip.com is known to offer deep discounts, while Secoo prides itself on providing a “five sense luxury experience” with the offering of offline experience centers.

4. The Populist Strategy

The most popular approach of late is to launch on major e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, and JD.com. Examples include Tag Heuer, Coach, Burberry, and La Mer on Tmall, and Chopard, Zenith, Armani, and Swarovski on JD.com.

This strategy can gain brands more exposure without requiring a large investment of resources. But these platforms are also considered mass-market and are filled with counterfeit items, diminishing luxury brands’ exclusivity by association. In addition, the majority of consumers on these platforms are price-sensitive, requiring brands to deploy a discount strategy to capture their attention.

5. The Chat Strategy

Walking the thin line between exclusivity and availability, many brands carefully craft an e-commerce strategy not on an e-commerce website, but through WeChat. Pop-up sales, limited edition items, and Valentine’s Day-only exclusives are some of the marketing techniques frequently deployed by luxury brands.

Dior, Longchamp, Stella McCartney, Cartier, Givenchy, Chloe, and Valentino are all active in this space. Many of the brands we listed in other categories have at least some presence on WeChat too.

WeChat can feel more social and intimate, more like a real retail environment. In fact, WeChat has already been put to use in retail stores by sales associates. Many brands have devoted energy to developing an integrated online and offline strategy through WeChat.

But because the primary function of WeChat is still social, it may not be a sustainable revenue stream. Brands shouldn’t treat WeChat as a final solution to profit-making, but a channel to build traffic and provide better services.

Mixing things up

For luxury brands, e-commerce is not a simple add-on. It requires integration with the entire digital marketing, sales, and retail teams. The one-stop strategy doesn’t always work for Chinese consumers, as their purchasing journeys are disparate.

To truly create a customer-centric, omnichannel, high-end experience, while serving the young consumers and expand geographic reach, we are seeing more and more brands deploy a combination of the strategies mentioned above.

Born in Munich, grown up in Seoul and ready to party in Berlin

Born in Munich, grown up in Seoul and ready to party in Berlin

Luxury travel goods manufacturer MCM finds a new Seoul in Berlin.

Everybody is speaking about millenials and Generation Z and it seems that they are responsible for the death of mainstream media with their very niche interests. At Achtung Mode we are highly specialized in fashion content only but more and more the luxury brands we work with have to execute crossover ideas often in conjunction with the art world to have reach. MCM is a leader when it comes to speaking to the fickle millennial audience. And here is why.

Oh boy, all the smart marketing moves they have to come up with to play favor with this audience. They are a shopaholic generation of travelers whose itineraries make those of diplomats pale in comparison and they only want the coolest. They are all over the place and all over the planet and know everything. But as every nomad, they like to belong to a tribe.

MCM is a leader when it comes to speaking to the fickle millennial audience.

If you want to have them buy your product and stay loyal you must make them believe in your roots and heritage and always keep them entertained. Sounds complicated, yes, and it is.

Still MCM, which is considered a hip brand with millenials, has taken a big step a few weeks ago. The brand was born in Munich and is doing well all over Asia for its German craftsmanship and savoir-faire reputation. But to stay on the edge, MCM, which is focusing on growth in Europe and Germany at the moment, has decided to declare Berlin as its new German creative hub with global influence. Munich is in the history books but Berlin and its Bauhaus tradition and now bourgeoning art and club scene is what makes the brand tick. Also, Made in Italy will start playing a bigger role for the brand.

To underline this new direction, MCM’s Sung-Joo Kim invited an eclectic group of international journalists and tastemakers to a few days in Berlin under the moniker Viva MCM, Viva Berlin. Events where kicked off at the Store at Soho House Berlin. The Store has slowly but surely established itself as one of Berlin’s best retail destinations next to the Corner and Andreas Murkudis and the Voo Store with its fine edit of top brands. Korean DJ Peggy Gou played and Berlin DJ trio Fjaak unveiled a USB pocket for MCM with tracks for traveling.

A new collaboration with Johann Koenig Souvenir and MCM which will premier at Art Basel Miami was unveiled.

MCM also organized a tasting menu at Tim Raue, Berlin’s best chef with Asian leanings and highlight was an evening at St. Agnes the Johann Koenig art gallery where Norbert Bisky explained his current exhibition to the audience. Needless to say, the space in the Brutalist church is amazing and other top artists like Anselm Reyle who shows in the same gallery attended. Also, a new collaboration with Johann Koenig Souvenir and MCM which will premier at Art Basel Miami was unveiled. On display was an exclusive preview of the KS x MCM collection of limited MCM editions curated by Koenig Souvenir, a label for unique objects of art founded by Johann Koenig and David Mallon: “For the Koenig Souvenir x MCM Travel Collection, we were inspired by the airport as a place of transition – not only for people, but also for art works traveling around the globe. We wanted a collection that recalls this modern way of travel and shipping, but also connects with art in its production process. The collection will be issued as a limited art edition of six travel items playing on the traditional MCM design,” says Mallon. The collaboration will launch at Art Basel Miami Beach this December.

So if you want to stay in with millennial, have roots, show them and make your branches grow.

“From Gayle”

“From Gayle”

“It starts with a small pink seashell painting and ends with the total rejection of history. Throw a wink in there and you have the tone I’m after.” It’s precisely the pairing of overly pretty aesthetics with acute power plays with dominant art world authorities that have pulled Maddie Reyna to the fore of Chicago’s alternative gallery culture. Last year, Reyna wrote letters to powerful galleries and museums around the country under the nom de plume Casey Goodman to initiate discussions about gender statistics in their exhibition programs. Printouts of the letters were shown at Julius Caesar in East Garfield Park alongside paintings and prints embellished with sweetly hued emoji. One of the ways that Reyna sees power shifting is in the move from attention toward the discrete art object to that of the exhibition, “Questioning these conventions of presentation, the way in which to exert or secede power over your audience became my number-one interest.”

Reyna’s investments in these issues of exhibition and audience aren’t solely those of the studio artist. In 2013, she joined the collective of artists who operate Julius Caesar just as the last of the founding members relocated to New York, and earlier this year a floridly floral installation by artist Chris Edwards inaugurated the new apartment gallery Dreamboat in a spare room of Reyna and
her partner Levi Budd’s Pilsen home. Along with her full-time position at the influential website Contemporary Art Daily, Reyna’s gallery endeavors allow her to explore what she describes as the complex “efforts of a group of people who think strongly, don’t like the same work, and fight hard for its right to have a platform.”

In her studio, Reyna is a shoplifter, an aspiring screenplay writer and a purveyor of saccharine sentimentality. In February at an artist residency in Reykjavik, Iceland, she wrote a screenplay based on a short story her mother wrote at age thirteen in which a class of school kids is murdered in outer space. For the works she’ll exhibit at Roman Susan opening May 9, she’s been shoplifting accessories from Claire’s and Forever21 that will be inset into painted displays. “The accessories I take are always selling an identity and secret ideology to young women… I’m stealing them because I see this act as also an unsuspecting protest of capitalism really fueled by the want of a pretty object.” Roman Susan hosts one of five exhibitions Reyna’s preparing work for this year; her busy schedule is another attempt to complicate what receives attention. (Matt Morris)

Nike’s Chief of Design Doodles All Day

Nike’s Chief of Design Doodles All Day

You have a lot of loose bits of paper and sketches in this office. What do you like to draw?

Sneakers, quick body sketches, architectural retail spaces. I’m dyslexic, so my first real language was drawing. Even at the youngest age I can recall, I wasn’t necessarily interested in the essay or the text, I was graphically designing the header. I doodled everything. That was the way I communicated.

I find that I listen better when my hand is busy. And I find that when I’m listening intently and I’m gesturally moving my pen, some interesting things come out. They’re not perfect, they’re not final, but they’re a glimpse of an idea. It helps me process, helps me stay focused. I came to this idea that my dyslexia wasn’t actually a burden — it was a gift because it made me look at the world differently.

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The New Fashion Model

The New Fashion Model

As part of SHOWstudio’s coverage of INNERSECT, Editor-at-Large Lou Stoppard hosted a Live Panel Discussion focusing on the importance of creative collaboration. Stoppard was joined by a selection of SHOWstudio favourites and industry experts; No Vacancy Inn’s Tremaine Emory, Ambush’s Yoon Ahn, ALYX’s Matthew Williams and founder of INNERSECT himself, Edison Chen. Watch this line-up discuss the prevalence of collaborations within the street-culture and the increasing influence of music merging with fashion.

New Values

New Values

One UNDERSTANDING BRANDING

What is a brand?

A brand is a promise

It is not only a logo or brand name.

Rather they are the visual cues to trigger that locus of emotions that the brand promises you.

The brand promise are the emotional feelings and cravings that are triggered when you think of the brand.

You must keep your brand promise at every touchpoint you have with your customers.

If you want to create a brand, start by thinking of your brand promise. What experience do you want your customers to have when they encounter the brand.

Four Keys to Successful Brands:

1. Authentic.

It must be truly tied to what you are as a company, meaning your values and core purpose.

2. Relevant.

Your promise must be relevant to consumers and you must be perceived as to deliver better than the competition.

3. Consistency

You must keep your brand promise consistent across every touchpoint you have with consumers.

4. Commitment

You must have total commitment to keep the brand promise.

Everybody in the company needs to live the brand, support it and continue to invest in it.

What experience do you want your customers when they encounter your brand?

Brand benefits

Builds customer loyalty

Increases value

Allows higher prices

Builds market share

Easier launch of new products

Lower employee turnover

Helps in talent recruitment

Creates esteem

Difficult Branding Situations

New market categories with few customers

Highly fragmented industries

Understanding the branding process

1. Define the brand

Define the promise and the key values behind it.

Think of the values as the DNA of the brand.

Define the brand drivers, brand drivers define how the core values will be manifested into the marketing mix or key business processes the support the brand. Drivers translate the values into action.

2. Position the brand.

At this step we are making the link between the products value preposition and the brand promise

Shape how the customers think about the brand.

3. Express the brand.

Create an identity.

We create name and logo to get easy recognition.

4. Build awareness of the brand.

Communicate the brand internally and externally.

Employees have a critical role in delivering the brand promise.

Communicate continuously and consistently or the brand loses its value.

The value of the brand is called brand equity.

Keep an eye on the brand performance. Is it living up to the promise.

5.Measure the Brand

You want to measure the value of the brand or what is called the brand equity. It’s what you accrue when you develop, promote and deliver an authentic brand promise.

Two DEFINING THE BRAND

Identify the values of the brand

A brand is a promise, underneath the promise is a supporting set of values.

Brand values are the key behaviors or virtues or the brand.

That need to be expressed consistently day in and out.

These values are the essence or the team of the brand.

Determining the brand values starts by understanding the overall marketing strategy of you business.

What kinds of products and services do you offer? And, who are your competitors.

What are the trends and opportunities in your market?

Who are your customers?

What is your overall value proposition in the market place.

Have a solid marketing strategy before you build a solid branding strategy.

What is the belief system underneath your brands. Is it linked to your marketing strategy?

Is it clear what your brand stands for now, and what it wants to be in the future.

Brand Drivers

Detailed and descriptive aspects of the brand.

Functional or emotional benefits of the brand. Self expressive benefits, what is the customer saying about themselves when they consume the brand.

How to create brand Drivers:

Make an exhaustive list of phrases or sentences about the brand that stretches the brand purpose.

Put them in categories:

Functional benefits

The basic job that the product does.

Emotional benefits

How does the product make the customer feel.

Economic Benefits

How a product saves time and money.

Self-expressive benefits

How a product makes us appear to others.

Or benefits to society or the environment.

Brand drivers put more meaning into the brand, they communicate what your brand is all about.

YOU DON”T BRAND THINGS

You create a brand with its core promise and list of associations. Then you attach something to that promise like a product or a company name.

By attaching the product to the brand your customers associate it with the brand.

Again, branding is not slapping a name on the product.

What kind of things can I attach to the brand?

A brand is a locus of emotions.

It’s all the emotions inside that are triggered by a brand that define it.

Designing your brand architecture

1. Create a house of brands

Customers don’t know the company only brand.

LMVH

2. Create a branded house.

A master brand has under the umbrella many products.

3. Blended House Example

Strong Master Brand with sub brands.

Identifying the brand personality

Brand Persona

A set of human like characteristics describing someone who keeps a brand’s promise.

Personality helps brands maintain loyal customers.

“Dimensions of Brand Personality. by Dr. Jennifer Aaker

5 Main Dimensions of Brand Personality:

Sincerity

Down to earth, honest, genuine and friendly.-

 (Warm, happy, cheerful and caring.)

Excitement

Competence

Sophistication

Ruggedness

Authentic brands are those that reflect the characteristics of the people who deliver value to the market place.

Three POSITIONING THE BRAND

Identifying your customers

Segmentation

Dividing a market of potential customers into groupings.

Demographic Segmentation

Grouping customers by physical characteristics (gender, age, height, weight, and/ or hair color.

Geographic Segmentation

Grouping people by where they are or where they live.

Behavioral Segmentation

Grouping customers by things they do, or how they behave, such as purchase behavior, lifestyles and the ways they use product.

Attitudinal  Segmentation

Grouping customers by how they think.

Understanding your customers beliefs

What do you promise?

When do you promise it?

When people buy product’s and services they are buying a collection of benefits.

Functional Benefits

Economic Benefits

Emotional Benefits

Self Esteem / Status

Purchasing Steps

1. Need Recognition

2. Information Search

3. Evaluation of Alternatives

4. Purchase

5. Post Purchase Behavior

This is when customers form opinions about your brands and share their experiences with other customers.

Developing your brand promise:

The value proposition

A single-minded claim made to change a customer’s mind and cause them to do something

The brand promise is your overall value proposition.

It’s a broad, definitive statement of the bundle of benefits to customers by the brand.

Brand Positioning = Long Term, Strategic

Value Proposition = Short Term, Tactical

The connection between brand strategy and marketing strategy.

Value propositions are designed around the brand drivers as RTBs.

Reasons to believe the overall brand strategy.

What features and benefits of your products and services are you emphasizing in your market strategy?

Then look at  your brand drivers to find the ones that connect best to those benefits.

Four Expressing the Brand Identity

Creating a name, a visual look, and feel for the brand,

and a total customer experience for the target audience for when they encounter the brand.

The name you select for your brand should

1. Reflect value and purpose

2. Create association with the brand persona

3. Be easy to say

4. Be unique and memorable

Select a name then communicate the name and its associated values and purpose, so that people start to make a connection.

Creating the brand’s look and feel

Creating the logo

The designer needs to know:

The brand values

The core promise

The brand drivers

The persona and the brand name

Logo Lockups

Different logo variations used for various placements and usage

Choosing a Color Palette

Assign colors to the logo

Identify complementary colors

Choosing a Typographic Treatment

Identify how to handle special cases

Image Guidelines

Photography of Illustration.

BW vs Color

Defining a Consistent Tone

Outline specific language and words

Decide if tone should be more formal or more conversational.

Create the Brand Promise Touch Tones

1. Need recognition

2. Information search

3. Evaluation of Alternatives

4. Purchase

5. Post-purchase behavior phase

The Customer Experience

Define customer touch points

Select drivers to emphasize

Five Communicating the Brand internally

1. Train your team

2. Reinforce constantly

Match the training to the employee

Employees Need to Know

1. Brand promise

2. Connection to values

3. Drivers

4. Brand Identity

5. Ways to think, feel and act

Brand Champions +

Brand Ambassadors

Influential Company Employees who represent what the company stands for.

Brand Book Components

Overview of brand values, core promise, drivers and persona.

Logo specifications and examples

Logo Lockups

Color Palette

Font Styles

Typography

Image and photography guidelines

Writing Style

Tone of Voice

Brand Book Guidelines

Brochure guidelines

Specifications for signage and outdoor advertising

Design layouts for print and Web Based projects

Store Design

Social media guidelines

Letterhead and business card design

Brand Book Training Resource

Historical Stories

Customer Stories

Brand Goals

Watch out for the Gap between Product Performance and the Brand

Product not delivering promised Benefits

Your product is maybe

Underfeatured or

Overfeatured

1. Make a list of all features in your product and service

2. Write down the main benefits the feature delivers

Six COMMUNICATING THE BRAND EXTERNALLY

Choosing Communication Channels

Why do you wanna communicate?

Are you telling the market your overall strategic brand positioning, the core brand promise? Or are you building tactical awareness around some new feature of benefit of the product?

Who is your target audience?

What are you communicating?

Expressing the brand in digital and social channels

Using Digital Channels

Ensure consistent look and feel

Use the same voice

Define who can post and who can’t

Specify the role of each site

Expressing the brand through packaging

Packaging is the first physical encounter with the brand and the last and maybe the most critical, seconds before the customer is going to pay.

Identify the Functional Role

Choose messaging

Provide guidance on the design

Creating Branded Spaces and Environments

Choose a location

Decide on the role of the space

Choose components which communicate the brand drivers

VI MEASURING  THE BRAND PERFORMANCE VALUE

Measuring the Brand

What is the basic awareness of the brand?

How well does the audience understand your brand?

How much loyalty is the brand building

Customer Loyalty Changes

Losing relevance

Lacking differentiation

Lacking Consistency

Internal Factors to Measure

Do employees:

Fully understand your brand

Understand target audience, customer insights and drivers.

Have a commitment to the brand?

Protect the brand?

Managing Brand Equity

Internal Change Examples

Leadership

Acquisition/ Merger

Strategy

Financial Downturn

External Change Examples

New Competitors

New Regulations

Legal Actions

Bad Publicity

Consumer Trends Change

Coping with Change

Identify a Brand Stewart who

manages Brand Compliance

Assign a Brand Champion

CEO or senior officer

Assign a brand champion to represent the company throughout the organization

Choose one from each cross-functional department

Review brand performance

Recommend ways to improve

Create a brand team

Reinforce branding

Energize the company

GUIDELINES

Strategy

Brand Management

Design

Communications

Create a Development Plan

Study the classic and new academic research on branding

Be a lifelong learner

What are other companies doing

New Technology

New trends

Join the Branding Community

Practice your Craft

Have a strong Ethical Base

Amy Sherald

Amy Sherald

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have been commissioned to paint former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s official portraits for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

Sherald, 44, specializes in portraits of black women. Although she, too, appreciates bright colors, her cheerful backgrounds and subject’s fashionable clothing contrast with the surreal figures, their skin painted in shades of gray.