Holt Renfrew Vancouver
Luxury shopping will soon become more elite in Vancouver, British Columbia when Holt Renfrew adds an invitation-only 'Apartment' shopping concept – with its own rooftop terrace and party area to host private fittings – as part of a 40,000 square foot expansion of the flagship downtown department store. Customers can reserve private accommodations with guests to view all of the clothes in your size on models. 
"People of Vancouver have great style and great fashion sense and this [kind of luxury] isn't new to them," according to company president Mark Derbyshire. "Our customers come in and say they were shopping in Selfridges or Harrods or Printemps or Lane Crawford and they want their hometown shop, us, to reflect that."
In addition to the 'Apartment' concept, the bigger store will include a branded menswear department with a separate entrance. The footwear, leather goods, jewelry sections will also have expanded footprints to boost upscale offerings. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2016. 
Smart Commerce has a new companion: The Inspiration Corridor.
France-based Klépierre and DigitasLBi Paris have created large touchscreens using facial and body recognition, as well as purchase history, to suggest personalized items within a store or mall. Watch the video to see a demonstration.
Using infrared Kinect cameras and video analysis, the system identifies age and gender, while evaluating the colors of clothes the shopper is wearing, to display recommendations.  The corridor also accepts barcodes from already purchased clothing for immediate tailored suggestions for styling and accessories.
If an item is selected on the touchscreen, Apple iBeacon and indoor GPS will give them directions to the item location based on real-time inventory by synchronizing with the Klépierre mobile app.  
While a walk-in wardrobe might not be for those who love to window shop, it certainly helps expedite the purchase process for customers on-the-go, while assisting retailers in cross-merchandising relevant products. We’d love to see Klépierre take the concept one step further by displaying multiple brands of one style so that customers can sort by price. 
{photo: Prada}
Welcome to the Pradasphere. Harrods in London has unveiled the highly-anticipated exhibition dedicated to “A cosmos of its own composed of heavenly bodies set in a complex orbit. A universe of contradictions and endless elaborations, noble causes and base temptations where idealism meets vanity, intelligence meets passion, fashion meets fiction.”
Complete with a popup for purchasing specially reissued designs, the space celebrates Prada’s history and it’s most iconic designs within glass cases and within each of Harrods’ 40 window displays through May 29th.
Within the digital screening room, patrons are tempted by the aesthetic journey, cultural influences, and craftsmanship that’s “a wholehearted endorsement of the stylistic iconoclast". The Pradasphere champions the work of friends of the brand, such as directors Wes Anderson and Ridley Scott and Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA, which has collaborated with Prada for more than a decade. View more photos from the exhibition, here
We love how the collaboration leverages technology, customer loyalty, and brand heritage within an experimental museum while maintaining a physical boutique aura. 
merchandising by color
Always a fan of great merchandising, we fell in love with the colorful tie bar wall display at the SuitSupply launch party in Seattle last week. The arrangement has a unique, almost pixelated, graphic quality that highlights a variety of hues while still remaining masculine. 
Complexity Simplicity
Happy New Year! Today seems like the perfect opportunity to look back at key insights from 2013.
For those of you with access to our custom intelligence, you are already keenly aware of the defining theme for 2013: Simplicity vs. Complexity. But for those without our paid trend research, it might have taken an educated eye to know what to look within the content of our blog. Here are some examples:
  • Defining Beauty, published nearly a year ago, was the first hint to this concept. Not only did we write the words “simple and complex,” but also we served up two examples of how sensory perception can alter understandings and how something simple can be complex, or vice versa.
  • Handcrafted shoes at Al’s Attire: The experience is honest and sincere–simple, perhaps–but the skill and expertise required to fit a made-to-measure shoe is incredibly complex. This art is not something that is taught today, and time and resources limit the availability of staff to create and produce such items. Meanwhile, the dilution of heritage experiences by mass-market retailers threatens to undermine quality.
  • On a broader spectrum, the cultural division between Simplicity and Complexity was well represented in food – where ingredients have continued to dominate the edible vocabulary. The transformation of something simple into culinary genius made cronuts™ and Korean kimchi as relevant as salumi from Norcia. The common thread is the time-sensitive, complex chemistry.
Riding the wave of Simplicity vs. Complexity wasn’t as easy as choosing solids instead of prints in 2013. And honestly, we’d be divulging proprietary information to layout the specific strategies that have helped our clients to navigate these treacherous waters. But, it is safe to say that these themes have influenced consumer attitudes – making the balance between the two more relevant than ever.
Curious by our thinking and how these themes evolve in 2014? Insights and strategies for your business are just a click away
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. 
Mattioli Rome
Mattioli Shirts
Don't let this pint size seamstress fool you.
At Mattioli in Rome, a husband/wife team prepare made-to-measure shirts and suits out of an unassuming storefront out of an array of custom fabrics.
The pair went out of their way to schedule fittings around our schedule. Not only does the end product fit superbly but each clients measurements are kept on-file for future purchases.
Looking for a strategy that fits as well as a custom shirt? We've got you covered.
Walking Stories
Blame it on Italy.
We couldn't resist sharing the trailer for Salvatore Ferragamo's 21-minute feature, Walking Stories, with you. The story, starring Kaya Scodelario and Lauren Hutton, will be shown in eight episodes on a bi-weekly basis on Ferragamo.com. 
The journey starts in Florance and spans three cities that each represent a distinctive aspect of the fashion house. We love how the themes of travel, food, and culture are increasingly represented alongside fashion. View the episodes here.
Remember our post – last March – about the handcrafted canvas and leather goods by Black Anchor Workshop out of Tacoma, Washington? It's time to back their Kickstarter Campaign by Stephen Jones!
Click here for more details. 
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.