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Your Friday highlight: fashion’s finest get a Minion makeover

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The Minions are taking over the fashion industry… quite literally. In what might be one of the best stories to ever hit my inbox on a rainy London Friday, the infamous yellow, pill-shaped creatures have provided the basis for a makeover of some of the industry’s most iconic figures.

Karl Lagerfeld, Suzy Menkes, Anna Wintour, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexa Chung, Vivienne Westwood, Marc Jacobs, Cara Delevingne and Donatella Versace have all been given a new look to fit their animated counterparts, courtesy of the designers over at fashion site Stylight. A be-goggled Wintour and Gaultier with a single central eye, are particular highlights.

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The Minionistas, as they’ve been called, follow hot on the heels of Minion fever across the retail space of late. In celebration of the Universal Pictures film, Minion (a prequel to Despicable Me, which first featured the yellow army), themed animated product has been popping up everywhere.

There is of course the expected flood of product at the likes of Primark, while Selfridges teamed up with designers Rupert Sanderson, Giles Deacon, Tatty Devine and others, for a dedicated collection called Minions Bello Yellow.

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If that wasn’t enough, Vogue also made the headlines when it introduced a (spoof) Minion-dedicated cover to accompany a documentary explaining exactly why these little organisms are so inspirational for designers across the space. Watch it and weep, below…

This post first appeared on WGSN Insider

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How the fashion press critiqued the all-new #applewatch

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It’s somewhat hard to imagine the scene in Cupertino earlier this week – savvy tech journalists alongside a bevy of Apple employees, a handful of celebs and some of the world’s most-established fashion editors.

Like a who’s who of Angela Ahrendts’ fashion contact book, everyone from Olivier Zahm, founder of Purple magazine, to Vogue editor-in-chiefs including Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue, Angelica Cheung of Vogue China, Emmanuelle Alt of Vogue Paris and Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia willingly took a break from their New York Fashion Week schedules to fly in especially. When Apple calls…

But what all did the industry’s critics think of the much-anticipated Apple Watch? Here are some choice highlights:

  • Lisa Armstrong at the Daily Telegraph suggested if the Apple Watch is to seduce us, first it must be able to woo us with its looks rather than its brains. Was she impressed? Ultimately, yes. Like others, the customisation factor particularly resonated: “Where Apple’s watch leaves others standing is in the almost infinite ways it can be further individualised.” Indeed to many, this was the surest sign of Apple attempting to align itself with the way the fashion industry treats accessories.
  • It was this very focus on customisation, however, that led to Time magazine giving one of the toughest reviews out there. Author Misty White Sidell referred to the launch of the Apple Watch as an attempt to kill the joy of personal style. “In a worst-case scenario for fashion, Apple will not only attain a monopoly on the timepiece market, but also the confidence to wield a larger impact on how we dress ourselves each day. The watch is no doubt an indication of how Apple will approach future fashion products, offering the masses a constrictive framework in which to dress themselves, all under the guise of customizable ‘self expression’. And that places personal style in its purest form at risk—inhibiting a consumer’s right to varied choice.” She referred to every additional fashion creation from Apple as inadvertently likely to create a less diverse shopping landscape. “The more Apple invades the fashion market, the more it will look to create a robotic consumerist culture (something it’s already done with tech)—in turn manipulating the greatest enjoyments of style and personal expression.”

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  • Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times, though providing a positive review overall, went in relatively hard as well. “It’s definitely a step forward,” she wrote. “But does it rewrite the rules of our aesthetic expectations? No.” On that customisation element, she added: “The funny thing is, while I understand why they find this sort of choice extraordinary in the tech world, it’s par for the course in fashion, which points up some of the gulf between the two sectors; What they find revolutionary makes us want to yawn.”
  • Over at Vogue International, Suzy Menkes wasn’t overly fussed by the design either. “From a fashion point of view, the external aesthetic seemed neutral: neither super-stylish nor repellent. I would imagine that geeks would love it more than aesthetes,” she wrote. But she peppered her story with what feels almost like conceding to its inevitability: “Yet smartphones have already transformed the fashion world in a way we never imagined, bringing backstage to the wide world and turning shows into a forest of phones and instant images and videos. The phone and the computer have been responsible for bringing fashion to everyone. I suspect that I, as a non-digital specialist, would fail to use this device to its full capacity. But I like the idea of setting the visual aspects according to my mood. And perhaps my wardrobe.”
  • In comparison, Fashionista very openly referred to the Apple Watch as one of the best wearable tech offerings out yet. It also praised its design, associating it very smoothly with the luxury market. “We may have just been imagining things, but the combination of the display’s smooth gradients, the leather band and the high-shine metallics gives the watch a distinctly Burberry feel. Not that Apple changed its design philosophy based on hiring Angela Ahrendts, but the vibe is there. In any case, all those luxury hires seem to have paid off.”
  • WWD [subscriber access] questioned whether Apple’s marketing savvy and brand reputation would be enough to beat out the more accessories-focused brands like Swatch group (due to unveil its own smartwatch next year), or even Will.i.am, who is plotting his own for introduction in 2015. But the fashion trade publication also highlighted an important point for retailers — the fact Apple has created an entire platform that provides new methods of interaction in the retail environment. “The Apple Watch allows a consumer to confirm a purchase via fingerprint with iTouch and now with the release of Apple Pay, there is a financial system and a platform that allows developers and retailers to integrate this into their payment transactions,” wrote digital news and features editor, Rachel Strugatz.

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  • The Business of Fashion provided a comprehensive overview of the device, outlining six underlying principles it believes form the foundations of the company’s strategy for “igniting and dominating the rapidly emerging wearable technology market, just as the iPod did for music, the iPhone did for smartphones and the iPad has done for tablets”. In doing so, it likewise highlighted some other areas of consideration beyond design, one of the most interesting ones of which was in its analysis of the need for new selling spaces for the more luxury version of the watch. “Can Apple really expect to sell a luxury-priced Apple Watch Edition in crowded stores staffed by personnel in blue t-shirts and khakis?” editor-in-chief Imran Amed asked. He expects Apple’s hire of Angela Ahrendts to lead to the brand rolling out a unique selling environment that lives up to the new product – perhaps a luxury Apple Watch shop-in-shop or a standalone deemed high-end and tailored enough to support it. From a design perspective, he also said he didn’t expect the impact on the fashion and luxury watch market to be too significant just yet. “Having seen and touched Apple Watch in person, I think traditional Swiss luxury watchmakers can rest easy — for now,” he wrote.

That “for now” comment from the BoF is particularly pertinent. As I myself wrote for WGSN [subscriber access]: “Apple has, time and time again, taken a category that already exists (mp3 players, smartphones and tablets as the most obvious examples) and redeveloped it in such a way, with design so succinctly at the heart of it, that it becomes a game changer. Comparative to all the other options out there in the wearable tech / smart watch / fitness tracking device market, this absolutely feels like that again.”

Indeed to return to Amed: “This is just the beginning for the Apple Watch and like its iPod, iPhone and iPad predecessors, I’d expect the product to evolve significantly over time.” Down the road, there’s a wealth of disruption looking likely, especially when you turn to the Millennial market (and under), who are no longer used to wearing a traditional watch, but rather relying on their smartphone. Here’s betting Apple doesn’t have too much trouble getting them back to looking at their wrists.

As Sir Jonathan Ive, SVP of design at Apple, narrates in the video: “I think we’re now at a compelling beginning – actually designing technology to be worn and to be truly personal.”

Let’s not forget, this is just version 1.0.

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Why street style ‘peacocks’ are critical to the fashion industry

This article first appeared on Mashable

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The streets of New York City can frequently be considered a runway in their own right, a veritable feast of people-watching — but never more so than when fashion week rolls around. Twice a year, the world’s leading editors are pitted against an ever-increasing crowd of style bloggers, each surveyed by a mob of photographers outside Lincoln Center and at various other venues along the city’s west side.

Last season fashion critic Suzy Menkes, writing for T Magazine, referred to the scene outside fashion week venues as a “circus,” a “cattle market of showoff people waiting to be chosen or rejected by the photographer.” She called out offending peacocks, including Filipino blogger Bryanboy and Vogue Japan’s Anna Dello Russo (pictured above). The piece elicited swift rebukes from the likes of Leandra Medine of Man Repeller and Susanna Lau of Style Bubble, both frequently photographed themselves for their outfits in such settings.

Menkes’ message last season was not forgotten. Leading into this fashion week, Oscar de la Renta announced in WWD that he would be cutting his invite list in half in order to better facilitate those attending his show with a legitimate professional purpose. He’s trying to help his guests avoid the dozens of people who attend a show to photograph or be photographed, those without any connection to the collection shown.

Amid all of this pushback, there has been little mention of the value of street style imagery for the industry itself. Notions that trends “trickle down” from the runway or “bubble up” from the street are certainly not new. But the explosion of digital and social media has truly helped magnify the latter. 

Now, a shot of someone on the street wearing Alexander Wang is just as likely to gain online traction as his runway image might — if not, more so. Smart brands, particularly in the mainstream market, are taking note. Look at the current obsession with baseball tees or football jerseys in retail outlets like Forever21 and Asos — those started, of course, on the street.

Identifying tastemakers and trends

Tracking such movements plays a more integral role to designers, product developers and buyers in their business process than ever. So says Jami Krampel, who researches what’s happening on the street for the Vince Camuto design team.

“We use it as inspiration,” Krampel said. “Whether it’s details or silhouettes, even color trends, it helps us have a view on what seems to be the new hot items.”

Rachel Zeilic, owner and designer of directional juniors’ line, Style Stalker, agreed.

“For us, street style is really important; it just shows how people adopt the trends into real life,” she said. “You can’t draw inspiration from runway; it’s not how you’d actually wear it. So it’s interesting to see how girls appropriate it and make it work in real life, it gives you a lot of ideas. As a designer you get so caught up in colors, fabrics, trims, the little details, but at the end of the day it’s a look you want to create. It goes out on the street and gets worn by real girls.”

By providing a global view into both the here and now and the future of trends, street style can serve designers with both inspiration and confirmation. Trend services like WGSN (full disclosure: my employer) accordingly forecast two years ahead so brands can plan their products and assortments well in advance. But those same trend services also report on what people are wearing now for the same reason. That means shots not only from New York Fashion Week, but also key events like Coachella or SXSW, as well as major sporting events, fashion schools and daily life in urban centers like London, Tokyo, Rio and Melbourne.

Street style chroniclers can’t just supply an endless amount of images to be useful to designers and retailers — they must also identify key trends. Stephanie Solomon, former fashion director of Bloomingdale’s, says

the best street style photographers don’t just shoot anything, but have their finger on the pulse of what’s new.

“It’s not about what’s out there and making that the trend, it’s about analyzing what’s new, and that’s where it’s important an authoritative voice comes in,” Solomon said. “The cool girls for instance aren’t wearing denim anymore, they’re wearing sportswear. They’re not seen in torn and ripped denim jeans or shorts, but in Alexander Wang’s knit drawstring track pants. That’s the bottom, that’s the new jean. It’s a strong diversion from what people expect.”

Krampel says that even if a street style look might seem incredibly wacky, it can still have an impact on design teams. “We’ll also compare it back to what we’re seeing elsewhere, in store reports for instance. By doing so, even if it’s totally crazy we’ll be able to work out the aspects of it that will trickle down to the mass market,” she said.

Yes, fashion influencers and early adopters might be “peacocking” this week (to use Menkes’ phrase) — but so too are they providing creative inspiration for teams around the world planning their next collections. Interpreting which of those peacocks are true tastemakers is the real skill.