We love this eloquent and authentic approach to setting expectations.
You are entering a place where we take as much time as we need.
We love our ingredients and prepare them with love, so if you are in hurry, if time is tight,
please continue on your way and come back tomorrow.
Thank you”
This forewarning at a delicious and charming restaurant on the southern tip of Corsica is a testament to how food and service has evolved for even the time strapped vacationer.
When The Slow Food Movement started in Rome over a McDonalds franchise in the 80’s, the manifesto condemned “fast life”. Since then, the concept and network of members includes people in over 150 countries who share values similar to those expressed on this sign found in a seaside tourist town of less than 3,000 people.  
Language and culture can be a barrier in developing brand messaging, but we have to give credit to this entrepreneur – who cooks out of her cliff-side home – for clearly identifying her potential client base and employing tactics that resonate with her desire for quality without alienating diners. 
Acne Studio Windows
Acne Retail
“There are forever buildings to be made, music to be composed, art to be created, clothes to be designed and photographs to be taken. But high speed can make for wrong turns and short cuts can come out the wrong place. Inspiring are those who break free to find a richer soil in which to create.”
An Acne Studios window installation in Gothenburg, Sweden. 
JBFA Trends
Dig on in...
  • Rediscover key insights from James Beard Foundation Award Winners: Dominique Ansel, inventor of the Cronut, named Outstanding Pastry Chef; Blaine Wetzel, from The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, received a nod for Rising Star Chef of the Year; and The Slanted Door was celebrated as an Outstanding Restaurant. [JBF]
  • Trend confirmation: The New Yorker follows our lead by naming toast a trend. [New Yorker]
  • Bulan Project: The crossroads of Should and Must. [Medium]
  • J. Crew Chain Creates ‘Mercantile’ Brand Ahead of Possible IPO. [Bloomberg]
  • Burberry and Levi's among the first to run video ads on Instagram. [L2)
  • Better Homes and Hipsters: Inside Kinfolk Magazine and the rustic artisanal twee [NY Times]
  • Sadvertising: Brands are determined to make you cry. [Fast Company]
10 corso como
10 Corso Como
As far as concept stores go, 10 Corso Como in Milan has remained a key cultural influence on retail, style, and sophistication. 
In all honesty, we didn't expected to write about our most recent visit but something about the memory of that lazy late afternoon, sitting in the garden cafe, watching hipster Italians stroll by for La Passeggiata (the art of taking a walk in the evening) has kept the imagery and experience top of mind. 
10 corso como
Twenty years after opening in a location far from the big name designers on the Via Montenapoleone, the retail store, bookstore, cafe, and restaurant still captivate the imagination. Famous for collaborations that no one thought possible and infused with goods worthy of the fashion elite, the biggest statement here lies in the geometric layered patterns, sculpted forms, and exquisite visual showmanship.
Corso Como Cafe
It was refreshing to revisit 10 Corso Como. As much as we love minimalist store design and eccentric curated haberdashery, few spaces are actually, purposefully unique to the brand. You cannot pinpoint the references by explaining it as "part this and part that" simply because it still remains the first of it's kind across multiple industries. 
Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice Latte
So, what does the prevalence of pumpkin spice say about our culture?
1. Nostalgia pays off. In contrast to the retail backlash around marketing and decorating for the Christmas holiday, fall denotes warmth and nostalgia without any gift-giving pressure. And pumpkin-inspired, limited-time offers are up 234% from 2008 to 2012, according to Datassential Menu Trends.
2. Imitation is flattery. As if pumpkin spice candles weren't enough, there are a plethora of products to choose from to complete your personal pumpkinification, such as: M&M’s, Pringles, Hershey’s Kisses, Planters, Eggos, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, Country Crock, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Bath and Body Works, and yes, even Glade Room Spray. The icing on the cake...er, pie...of proliferation came via a feminine care products spoof by Saturday Night Live.
Pumpkin Spice
3. Indulgences are in our nature. A slice of pumpkin pie has nearly as many calories as a 16oz. pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk, but who’s counting?
4.  The rules are tricky. It’s acceptable to launch some products early as long as there is customer demand and the item doesn’t have religious or date-dependent ties. Pre-promotion of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in celebration of the popular drink’s 10-year anniversary had a domino effect within the industry starting in September.
 Pumpkin trends
5. Seasonality rules. Winter squash is harvested in autumn and is most likely native to Guatemala and Mexico and surrounding areas, dating back 10,000 years, according to author Kim O’Donnel.
6. Smell is a powerful sense. It’s not surprising that pumpkin spice tastes nothing like pumpkin. Hidden behind aromatic combination spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, you’d be hard pressed to pick a butternut squash out of a lineup.
7. Don’t jump to conclusions. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin pie and definitely pumpkin spice do not contain your Halloween friend. Squash style pumpkins, which are sweeter, are best for pie filling. 
8. Brands Beware. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In addition to the SNL skit, there's a plethora of disdain for the commercialization of pumpkin spice, but you shouldn't blame Starbucks. The relationship with the flavor combination has evolved over the past ten years, and companies have followed suit. It's definitely time for product development teams to consider new alternatives. 
UPDATE: 11.21.13: More regarding #8... A writer for Slate spent a week on a Pumpkin Spice diet and lived to write about it. We love his commentary and would add that "special edition" has lost meaning altogether due to various marketing campaigns that don't really live up to expectations. 
MiN New York
Fact: Men across the globe are increasingly paying attention to their looks and becoming more beauty conscious. According to Euromonitor, skincare as a category among men and women in the US is expected to increase by 10% in constant value terms over from 2011-2016, driven by facial care as men increasingly invest in looking good. 
Historically, men’s grooming was dominated by shaving tools, with toiletries lagging behind. Today, new product launches in bath and shower categories have received considerable attention from leading brands willing to differentiate beyond Unisex. Companies such as Dove are rethinking their brands and developing “male+care” products that leverage the brand positioning without losing the essence.
According to an August 2012 Report on Men’s Grooming by The NPD Group, Inc.:
  • Over nine in 10 men use some sort of grooming products today.
  • The men’s grooming industry generated $964 million in U.S. department store sales in 2011, an increase of 11 percent compared to 2010.
  • Facial cleansers (excluding bar soap), facial lotions/moisturizers, and lip products are the most commonly used products among male facial skincare users.
  • Men’s facial skincare grew 11 percent in dollars in 2011.
“Men have become increasingly conscious of the perks associated with looking good,” said Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst, The NPD Group.  “They have a heightened awareness that looking good may provide them an advantage in the workplace as well as in their personal lives.”  “Men have different skin than women and the men’s grooming brands need to continue educating them as well as make them feel comfortable in the shopping environment to gain sales in this category,” Grant said.
While men also use skincare products that are non-male-specific, it’s obvious that enhanced connectivity in the rapidly transforming retail scene has placed renewed interest in categories and concepts that tap into a specific need. And because skincare engages multiple senses, far more than apparel, it’s important to not just rely on historical data or projections – but to be particularly focused on foraging and triggering emotional memories that can build brand loyalty. 
Men don't want to use female products... they want them to be specifically for them "so they don't feel like dorks at the checkout," said one confidant. Well said. 
Karl Lagerfeld Amsterdam
  • An animated history of Typography {via Brian Martin at Creative Circle}
  • Money is valued differently depending on how it's earned. {via Scientific American}
  • Subscription service Try The World offers a taste of a different city’s culture each month. {via Springwise}
  • One of the original immersive dining restaurants in New York, Monkey Town, returns to the Chelsea area of the city this summer.
  • Culinary trends from the National Restaurant Show. {via Nation's Restaurant News}
  • The Karl Lagerfeld Store in Amsterdam enables customers to make and share their own digital "look book." {via Springwise}
  • Some retail manufactures reveal where and how a garment is made. {via CNBC}
bespoke menswear San Francisco
Al's Attire SF
As we walked up Vallejo Street in North Beach toward Caffe Trieste, our coffee hunt took a turn when we set sights on Al's Attire, kitty-corner from our destination.  Street appeal is more than good windows, clear signage, or a familiar logo — it's about a feeling and tone that draws us into a space, because there's something undeniably unique and/or compelling.  
Situated on the corner with floor to ceiling windows, the nearly 4000 square foot San Francisco store has a fish bowl quality. Part retail space and workshop, vintage-inspired off-the-rack apparel and accessories serve as inspiration for custom hand-crafted men's and women's hats, shirts, ties, dresses, coats, and shoes. 
Al's Attire
It would be easy to mistake the merchandise as vintage until you start to read the hundreds of personalized shoe and garment labels of previous and current clients on display above a sewing machine. 
As fans of all things bespoke, custom, and personalized, it's hard to find fault in the stores merchandising and easy to understand why retailers such as All Saints use similar props to portray a heritage theme. But Al's Attire is the real deal. Shoe lasts, fabric bolts, and leather swatches are all displayed among hat blocks and cutting tables as part of the working atelier. The assortment strikes a balance between need and want — merchandise and display.  
Al's Attire
All of the handsome clothing and genuine merchandising would just be art without the stellar customer service, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. During our visit, Al Ribaya and his team worked together to inform clients on materials, findings, and trim that would best fit the desired look, while still meeting their strict construction standards. At the shoe fitting pictured above, Rene took a combination of measurements and photos, along with drawings to ensure that every detail and input was accounted for during a nearly 60 minute shoe consultation. To say that Al is meticulous is an understatement.  
A quick search of the internet (the Al's Attire website is coming soon) proves that we're not the only customers enamored with the attention to detail. The list of clients and collaborations range from international musicians to thespians  — event planners to a San Francisco based American jeans manufacturer. In chatting with Al, it's obvious that each customer and order, regardless of the magnitude, receives the same care. 
As mass market retailers continue to offer a less than authentic representation of craftsmanship, it seems to us that businesses like Al's Attire appear more differentiated by simply staying the course and being true to their brand vision. We think that the growth opportunities in menswear, combined with the uptick consumers desire for an genuine narrative, make true craftsmanship like that at Al's Attire shine. 
T Magazine buzz
Change is relative.
After much anticipation, the new WSJ Magazine and the new T Magazine hit newsstands within a week of each other. One cover headline read “PURE ELEGANCE”, and the other “TRUE ELEGANCE”. Yes, both headlines were in all caps.
For those of you unfamiliar with the drama, Deborah Needleman was the editor in chief of the WSJ Magazine, but left to overhaul T magazine for The New York Times. WWD has stories about both here and here that are worth reading.
This isn’t a tribute or take down piece of either approach. Truthfully, we were very excited to compare and contrast how dueling editors would relaunch and redesign from the helm. There was an infographic in the works and plenty of quantitative research so as to carefully give an unbiased opinion based on facts. We counted the times that each editor used terms like change or simplicity (too many). But, in the end, the results and content was shockingly similar:
Kitten heels – Check. Supermodel profile – Indeed. Black and white statement pictorial – Done. Designer profiles – Without a doubt. Game changing rings from Balenciaga by Nicholas Ghesquière – Spot on. Feature on the son or daughter of a mega fashion portfolio founder (Pinault vs. Arnault) – Naturally.
According to our research, the biggest difference between the two came in the form of advertisements and photo editorials. While both produced excellent feature stories, T Magazine had 11% more ads as a portion of total pages, but had 21% less photo layouts. If that is an effective long term strategy or not, remains to be seen.

There's a strong message about branding, innovation, and execution however, that is relevant both inside and outside the media and fashion forum: when launching a product or service, don't simply subscribe to a formulaic approach based simply on what others are implementing. Create your own vision, differentiate, and find a true customer need. 
good merchandising
Karl CocaCola
Have you ever wondered why chefs, designers, and celebrities continue to innovate with new cookbooks or products? Or why collaborations are so successful at driving acquisition?
It’s because brands understand the power of loyalty and are willing to play the numbers to jumpstart merchandising strategies.
A new study shows that 60% of shoppers prefer new products from a familiar brand rather than switch to a new brand, according to the Nielsen Global Survey of New Product Purchase Sentiment.

“Innovating on established brands that are already trusted by consumers can be a powerful strategy,” said Rob Wengel, Senior Vice President, Nielsen Innovation Analytics. “Companies spend millions of dollars on new product innovation, yet two out of every three new products will not be on the market within three years. Marketers and retailers can deliver successful new products by ensuring they uncover unmet consumer needs, communicate with clarity, deliver distinct product innovations, and execute an optimal marketing strategy.”

Half (50%) of global respondents say they are generally willing to consider a new product purchase, with respondents in North America and the Middle East/Africa (57%) most enthusiastic about making a switch. Nielsen’s survey shows that value and proof-of-concept make a difference: more than two-thirds (64%) of respondents say they would consider value or store-brand options, and two-thirds (60%) will wait until a new innovation has proven itself before making a purchase.

“Consumers are enthusiastic about adopting new product innovations but somewhat apprehensive about embracing new brands,” said Wengel. “In order for consumers to adopt new brands, marketers need to launch very strong awareness and trial-building campaigns, supported by a positive product experience. Generating positive word-of-mouth endorsements are important, because negative experiences can significantly diminish the likelihood of new product success.”

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a compelling new item, brand familiarity is clearly one of several key characteristics that resonate strongly with consumers so that products are easily recognizable on the shelf.