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 
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. 
It's fairly easy to dismiss the term "wearables" as technology lingo, but personal accessories with embedded sensors that support wellness strategies – such as Nike’s FuelBand, Fitbit Flex™ and Apple’s rumored iWatch – are a trend that will soon see market adoption. 
Last week Credit Suisse issued a report on the rise of the wearable technology market, which the company believes will have "a significant and pervasive impact on the economy", and will reach $30-$50bn by 2016-18, according to Business of Fashion.
At that rate of growth, it seems logical that engineers would want to collaborate with a major brand, such as Tiffany & Co., or a luxury group, such as LVMH, to evolve the sports-centric styles into fashionable arm candy. 
UPDATE - May 29, 2013: Apple's Tim Cook drops hints about wearables. Read more details from the All Things Digital conference here
UPDATE - July 2, 2013: Apple seeks Japan iWatch Trademark via WSJ
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. 
While the majority of adults in the US are plugged into some sort of social media outlet, not all of them are used in equal measure, and not all of them are used by both genders equally.
Take a look at this infographic, published by, that depicts the virtual world of online interactions.
Social Gender Infographic