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Hana Tajima x Uniqlo: modest fashion with spirited designs

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On 3 July 2015, UNIQLO launched a special modest wear collection, elaborated in collaboration with designer and fashion magician, Hana Tajima. The UNIQLO X Hana Tajima Collection is available exclusively at UNIQLO 313@Somerset and the online store.

We had a chance to meet and interview Hana Tajima in 2013, when she declared that “there has been a reawakening of personal creative expression in young Muslim women“.

In line with UNIQLO’s LifeWear concept, the collection is designed to meet the needs of women who value comfortable and relaxed wear.

“The Hana Tajima collection is an extension of our LifeWear concept in making fashionable, high quality products for all to wear, while enhancing their lifestyle at the same time. We worked with Hana to determine what would be internationally appealing while keeping to the concept of modest wear. We are thrilled with the results of this unique collaboration which produced a desirable collection that does not sacrifice style for utmost comfort!”

Mr. Taku MORIKAWA, Chief Executive Officer, UNIQLO Singapore

This inaugural collection takes inspiration from an international approach in appreciation of diverse culture and style. There’s also a certain focus on technology for this range of outfits; for instance TENCEL, “a soft, botanically derived, wrinkle-resistant fiber is also used, as well as AIRism, which is a quick drying, odour minimising fabric which was developed by Uniqlo in collaboration with Toray“.

Modest fashion: challenging conservative rules

It’s been written everywhere that modest fashion target conservative young Muslims. To my mind, it’s somehow wrong; in a recent documentary on the BBC “Hight Street Hijabis“, we follow YouTube sensation Nabiilabee with her friends, discussing about modest fashion, religion and lifestyle. It’s far more complex than just a style for religious people; actually, in this documentary, Nabiilabee is facing Fatima Barkatulla, Islamic Scholar and Director of Seeds of Change Women’s conference, who warns V-loggers of pushing the limit of fashion vs faith.

“Hijab is an act of worship”

A real generation divide who doesn’t want to be dictated what one’s faith is about. The group of young women all have a different definition of what “modest” means: is it ok to have bright colours or not? What’s the normal size for a modest shirt?

And actually, the only consensus is to mention that “modest” is more a lifestyle than a set of outfits: at the end, it’s all a question of attitude towards others and life than any mandatory guideline.

uniqlo hana tajima collaboration modest fashion

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Inbox : Colette x Fricote, Sperry x YMC

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Indie french brand OLOW has invited illustrator Jean Jullien (also famous for his #jesuischarlie sketch) to co-produce a limited edition tee-shirt about gastronomy. Food and Design expert magazine Fricote is of course in the mix, supporting the launch of the tee at Colette. The artist will attend to the launching event on June 22nd at the unmistakable concept store, rue Saint-Honore.

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While one of our favorite brands – Band of Outsiders – is folding, other youthful preppy and heritage brands strike alliances to keep the style alive. We received a note about this interesting Sperry x YMC collaboration.

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JORD Wood Watch review: pleasure for the eyes and for the skin

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When it comes to watches, men are extremely demanding. It’s probably one of the few accessories we dare to wear.

A watch is highly personal; an immediate contact with our skin. An object we like to see changing with time, with our special moments. A companion of our love, encounters, meetings, pains and hopes.

So, when JORD suggested a review of their wooden watches, I was initially very surprised. Wood? And watch? How is that even possible. And actually, few other bloggers had already expressed a positive opinion on that matter.

I can now confess: they were right.
JORD Wood Watch Delmar closeup

The wood of the Delmar model is extremely comfortable. It’s very light, gives a non-aggressive look and feel to your daily outfits. I also love putting my watch out of my wrist on my desk when I work. It’s a very nice and elegant object, which can totally match a nice Moleskine. I also like the fact it’s pretty similar to the design furniture we have in our loft, made of recycled wood and garment.

JORD Wood Watch Delmar watch

The display is very clear; despite a pretty big surface for this model, it doesn’t seem “bling”.

JORD Wood Watch Delmar

 

I also like the fact that this kind of watch can go vintage pretty well. Wood tends to change its colour with time, and will later give this little something that makes your object and its history really yours.

Watches Made From 100% Natural Wood by JORD

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Luxury Trends report: being anti-social to win in social media?

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With the NET-A-PORTER and Yoox merger, all luxury brands need to quickly embrace new e-commerce strategies and develop a unique social media experience. An interesting pivot that needs to be quickly mastered by luxury brands, in a very competitive market. That’s the sense of this takeaway report: opening the club while closing down the curtains to keep exclusivity and build up new value proposals.

From anti-social behaviors to re-generate exclusivity, to new approaches regarding customers’ journeys, the opportunity is big for luxury brands.

“Word-of-mouth’s impact is almost 20% of sales in higher price-point categories.” (WOMMA, November 2014).

What was previously perceived as a sort of useless territory to reach very demanding and high profile customers is now one of the main battlefields for the luxury industry. Word-of-mouth which is now accelerated through digital channels, basically means to be literally everywhere and at any time. Chanel got it right, releasing an agenda for e-commerce, with 2016 as their business objective.

New customers’ journeys

Luxury marketing used to be pretty “simple” when elaborated: high-profile customers were to be brought forward into bespoke retail experience. Details mattered, as real-life service could not suffer any bug in the journey.

 

But now, digital revolution changed the entry-points to retail, therefore the social function attributed to the brick and mortar temple; some very sophisticated and well-travelled customers already know what they want and just want to pick up a product they’ve seen online – they no longer accept that an item is not available straight away. Other customers are more digital wanderers, who only discovered a tiny part of the brand; the classic Kenzo Tiger sweatshirt is a very good example: there were queues of customers who were not initially in the “luxury” segment but happened to regroup and bring a new light to Kenzo. Now plugged into the “Kenzodiac” experiment, the brand starts to uplift its new customers into a more subtle and comprehensive understanding of the brand.

“Along with each horoscope is a product that relates to the advice included in the text.Those under the Sagittarius sign are told they need to express their feelings, and stop worrying so much about other people’s expectations of them, so Kenzo suggests a tiger sweatshirt to “roar your heart out.”

In the meantime, traditional high-profile customers don’t want to mix with the crowd, while embracing new ways of consuming luxury through visual networks like Instagram. This high-profile customer does not hesitate to buy from the high street – wearing a pair of Converse while holding a Chloé bag is the new normal.

Digital interfaces totally broke the traditional path to purchase; the smartest brands like Hermès created a whole new tone of voice to face this challenge to again become the information-maker instead of suffering from this dilution through billions of new digital touch-points.

Growing with new communities of luxury customers

What’s even more interesting is that in some less mature markets, customers discovered luxury universes first and foremost through their favorite social networks – like Weibo, but also through celebrities’ pages and on-going “daily-telling.” In order to grow with these thirsty customers, luxury brands now need to adapt: social channels are now no longer an accessory in the marketing mix but the key hub of influence.

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Rihanna MET Gala 2015 dress: real fashion faux-pas?

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Rihanna MET Gala 2015 dress generated a pretty high controversy. Was it an omelette? A fashion faux-pas?

Lilzeon and VQ agree to disagree.

Lilzeon: PRO. “The proof of a new luxury made in China”

We need to stop making fun of this dress; the event is huge: MET Gala is probably one of the most influential milestone in the business of fashion. It dictates what will be trendy or not. What journalists will write about or not. Which designers will be hot or not….

Guo Pei, a story of creating a fashion culture in China

50 000 hours. That’s the amount of time that embroiderers, designers spent in assembling this dress. Yellow matching with the red carpet was a great way of highlighting one of the magic symbols of Chinese culture: fortune, luck, happiness.

And to be legit’, Guo Pei has developed for 15 years a know-how among her teams: Haute Couture did not rise in China until very recently, destroyed by an anti-consumerist policy. She made it happen through hard work and dedication. This dress is not JUST a dress: it’s a fashion manifesto.

Guo Pei has also just released her collaboration with MAC Cosmetics. Colours and tones very similar to the dress, that are going to be a massive hit in the coming months. That’s a gigantic coup.

mac cosmetics guo pei

 

VQ: AGAINST. “Confucius-Confusing things”

Beyond the wordplay, I think we mix problems. Is the dress beautiful? It’s a matter of taste. Is China really sublimed? Good question.

A new continent of luxury buyers

If you read BoF or that you write a Phd on “luxury + China”, you already know that the country is key for growth. You can read a nice piece about the “bling dynasty”. Luxury is a nice source of opportunities from West to East, but the other way round is not really true.

Dragon sans Tigre. Cliché racial numéro 1.
Dragon without Tiger. Racial Cliché  1.

A big misunderstanding with creative culture

At the moment, even if some Chinese designers are state-of-the-art and gifted, they cannot really challenge current brands and Western talents. First because Western brands will never accept to leave market shares as long as Chinese brands will expand thanks to their own fundings and assets, without joining LVMH or Kering. And then, “let’s be honest”, Western consumers still think that Chinese creativity is not attractive. Neither do they understand the Chinese culture. The proof: just have a look at Bieber’s ridiculous outfits.

Apparently for Hollywood beautiful people, China only means #Dragon or #Mulan. And very surprisingly this time, not any commentator mentioned a cultural-appropriation scandal. It’s ok to say so when Pharrell Williams wears a Native American item, or when WASPs try to do some hip hop. But we don’t hear much when it comes to Asian people. We will only believe in the Chinese creative influence when Kim Kardashian decides to have even more slanting eyes.

Coiffe fantaisie chinoise. Cliché racial numéro 2.
Hairstyle with Chinese …inspirations.  Racial Cliché 2.

 

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Instagram account to follow: @mrmasseyman

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This friend of ours now based in Vietnam too has made incredible photography since last decade, when he scoured underground youth cultures.

Hypebeast just featured his work in an article that will tell you all about Neil Massey.

His footing in the world of subculture would eventually land him on the tour bus of one of music’s most eclectic alternative rock bands, N*E*R*D.

Meanwhile, you should take the quick fix and follow his über-beautiful Instagram account.

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The Pyramid of Luxury : climb or die.

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Climbing the ladder of lifestyle has always been the aspiration behind brand consumption. That guy Maslow –  for the sociology geeks, nailed it somehow with the pyramid of needs.

Now this “infographics” is quite interesting in the way it defines segments of luxury from the bottom up. And we already heard controversy, such as “aren’t Coach and Geox more suitable to be called “upper mid brands” instead of affordable luxury?”

There’s much to discuss.

What will Daigou buy therefore? And aren’t old Maisons sketpical by this positioning in the digital era? A real camouflet againt Louis Vuitton, downgraded to the “accessible core” thus.

All fashionisti can now place once and for all brands that all seem to mean glitter and billions: Cartier, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton…). Black is the new Bling.

Here is the Bermudan triangle anyway. Don’t get lost in it!

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Vietnam-Based Designer goes Worldwide with crowdfunding

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How many Vietnamese brands can you name except the informal international NGUYEN diaspora? Not many, but things are going to change. Rice Creative team, a branding and creative agency based in Ho Chi Minh City (currently hosting Boulevardier co-founder VQ) has been monitoring the pulse of creative and exportable businesses in Vietnam for a few years and coined a term defining a new wave of creators destined to make a hit worldwide: “Neue Vietnam”.

Among this handful of relevant brands making their way on the international scene is found Linda Mai Phung. The french-born designer has been developing a womenswear designer brand for 5 years and is now looking to expand. Their first round of fundsraising is crowd-oriented, while preparing to welcome private equity investors. These latter are still discovering the market that hosts Linda Mai Phung and things will pick up in the coming months, but the brand is already set to start an ambitious growth.

Defended successfully for 5 years on limited funds, the brand has been recognized with awards and press coverage in Europe.

In this unique configuration, Linda Mai Phung is turning to fashion-savvy consumers and activists to support her brand development.

Our editorial team is taking a specific interest in this campaign, as it has followed the brand’s activity for a while and has found its potential unlimited, should relevant funds be raised. Talent and ethical vision cohabitate in this singular brand profile. Authenticity and metropolitan style adequacy are still rare on the market, as is the opportunity to invest in such promising brand.

Discover Linda Mai Phung brand in the video below, and click on this photo to learn more about the Ulule crowdfunding campaign currently running for the brand.

Bet with us and make a difference on the fashion scene! The course of future fashion is ours to set.

 

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What’s the value of Paris in fashion?

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We had a pretty interesting debate this week. As Lilzeon was chasing some opinions about a British denim brand, we had a feedback from one of our friends (who happens to work in luxury) saying that this brand is like Province vs Paris.

It was obviously intended to tackle the obsolete image of this British brand with a sarcastic shortcut. To explain that basically, this brand is no longer “desirable”.

The thing is that opposing Paris and “countryside” is a bit random. Lyon, Marseille now have a pretty strong “touch”, overpassing Paris on some fields. Think about Simon Jacquemus for instance.

But still, what is at stake is this notion of desire. Of fantasy that Paris is supposedly owning worldwide. This “desiring” is more and more challenged; recently, this approach was challenged by a Parisian who’s highly followed at the moment, Caroline de Maigret, mentioning that being Parisian is to look always “fuckable. You already know what we think about it: we hate it.

Fashion is an ever-going competition. So let’s consider Paris as if we were football journalists.

For the defenders: Paris is highly photo-likeable. You just have to check Instagram hashtag to get it. You see people proud of living there, of being part of it. En être as we say in French. Paris, it’s only 2 million inhabitants vs 8 million in London. A concentration of hype, trendsetters, trend discoverers. And Paris launched many new brands: Pigalle, Kitsuné, Brooklyn “Parle Français”. REPRESENT. Thanks to the suburbs maybe? Lacoste had to digest for 10 years its new roots before organizing parties in a streetculture hub, Citadium, close to Les Grands Boulevards.

For the midfield players, Paris identity is shaking. Were we born Parisian? Or do we become Parisian. Then, are we so welcome in Paris? Not really. The city of lights is not famous for service nor bartenders. Not to mention underground passengers, sometimes perceived as crazy dogs full of whims. And when you see Châtelet Les Halles! Parisian hate the multicoloured youth, coming straight from suburbs. While all TV producers are arranging their casting and scouting there. Châtelet les Halles is the real centre of Paris. On its right, Le Marais, known for its gay-friendly places which also starts the Bobo-land. On its left, an emptiness from Concorde or Place Vendôme to Champs Elysées, hated by the “real” Parisian. And we won’t talk about North or South: for Parisian, the world is not up and down.

For the strikers – so to conquer the world – it’s a mess. To score would require that we know who we are. In an astonishing study led by Jean-Gilles Cahn, an economist for CCI Paris, the conclusions are very clear: Paris does not know how to handle its multiple facets:

“Today, Paris as a name does not constitute a brand (…) because it lacks a strategic management dimension”

 

Even worse: we’ve discovered that more than “10 000 brands or websites have “Paris” in their names or directly evoke Paris (monuments, neighbourhoods,famous streets…)”. A real dissolution of Paris essence in a bunch of vague brands.

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It’s strange, this so Parisian trend to be both very proud of being part of Paris and to be frustrated about it.

It would be time to reimagine Paris as a cultural hub for a worldwide youth.

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What’s so great about Instagram? An interview with Kristen Joy Watts, Community Team, Art and Fashion Lead at Instagram

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Fashion Weeks used to be a closed network, with buyers and happy journalists. It Girls were fighting for the FROW. But with Social Media and more specifically Instagram, there’s a brand new playground in which new public and new communities gather. It’s not the Front Row that matters anymore, but the backstage, the making-of, the secret stories propagated and shaped by makers. An ongoing and perpetual reinvention of fashion, which goes beyond conventions and traditional rules. Instagram is our favourite social network (you can follow Vu Quan & lilzeon and his new project). It’s a goldmine to wander around others’ dreams and through people ideas.

Instagram, it’s the reality and the perception of this reality.

We had a chance to chitchat with Kristen Joy Watts, Community Team, Art and Fashion Lead at Instagram to share few ideas, crushes, vision about the network.

Let’s go, in, sta, gram.

Instagram has become one of the ‘places to be’ for fashion brands as well as for fashion enthusiasts. Is there a risk of creating a ‘snacking culture’ for brands that are more luxury oriented?

There is a lot of fashion storytelling on Instagram that is light and fun and fast. We also see really sophisticated, unforgettable storytelling from the fashion community, whether Landon Nordeman’s (@landonnordeman) Instagram-first fashion week coverage for The Cut:

#theCutPFW @rickowensonline Rehearsal #pfw for @thecut #eiffeltower #jaimeparis

A photo posted by Landon Nordeman (@landonnordeman) on

…or Richie Talboy (@okrichie) and Lucas Lefler’s (@lucas_lefler) #emptyrunway series for Vanity Fair. In France too there is a growing community of inspiring creatives on Instagram, from Carin Olsson (@parisinfourmonths) to Tiffany Cooper (@tiffanycooper_) to Simon Portes Jacquemus (@jacquemus). Fashion houses, publications and individuals all over the world look to them for inspiration.

"GRIS" #JACQUEMUS FIRST PRE/COLLECTION / @harleyweir @jamesvaleri @aninevanvelzen

A photo posted by SIMON PORTE JACQUEMUS (@jacquemus) on


We are noticing some emerging trends in the network à la Tumblr (such as pro-ANA movements that are creating support groups) and that you have started to recruit people in order to identify and share the community with the world. How do you identify creative community members ? Do you have dedicated tools and contacts with them?

The Community Team at Instagram was created to discover and elevate the most amazing people and storytelling on Instagram. Our small but mighty team has members in Tokyo, London, Moscow, São Paulo, San Francisco and, of course, New York, where I am based. We celebrate the community on Instagram from North Korea to Nebraska. My discovery process involves everything from research on Instagram to asking everyone I meet if there’s anyone they’ve discovered who I need to know about. I always find amazing people when I’m in Paris.

Success is hard to achieve and gaining numerous followers is a lot of work on Instagram. However, some companies such as Instabrand are created with a view to manage Instagram’s talents. What advice would you give to a talent that is starting on Instagram and wants to join the tribe of very followed accounts?

For us, Instagram is all about the fun of sharing your story and discovering amazing people to follow. Here are a few best practices for someone who’s just starting out. First, tell a consistent story. Second, follow some people you know, some people you don’t know and some people you just discovered (for example, I follow many people in fashion and art but I also follow a florist in Moscow and a lifestyle photographer who captures wonderful images of his two Newfoundland dogs. Finally, connect with other people. This can be through likes and comments or even through meeting in person for coffee or an InstaMeet. The InstaMeet phenomenon, whereby Instagrammers meet in a location to take pictures of scenes which inspire them, allows the community to come together and share their passions and creative processes in new, real relationships with others.

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