Friday, September 14, 2012

I designed this

Randa has begun pre-production for a series of "I designed this..." videos featuring our designers and merchandisers.  If successful the series will be widened to include "I forecasted this...", "I shipped this...", "I inspected this...", etc.

Thought starter from "A Continuous Lean"; one of our favorite blogs:

I made this...

Short videos of people making things is nothing new around these internets. How many factory videos have I posted on this site? Answer: a lot. Does it mean that all of the attention to craftsmanship is slowing —not so much. And it is not dissipating because it is still interesting. People are also becoming more and more interested in actually making things —be it leather goods or food items. Small batch goods from small batch makers in towns all over the world.
The discovery of the tumblr Those Who Make came as a very welcome surprise. The site is sort of a catch all for interesting maker films — sort of like a regionally unspecific version of my Fuck Yeah Made in USA, but with a more open concept for food, consumer goods and all sorts of other interesting stuff. After looking through, I found some of the food / spirits films most intriguing and original. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but the culinary film aspect hasn’t been as front and center. With the exception of the Mast Brothers who must have had thirty shorts focus on them. I pulled out a few of my favorites, and added in a few other recent film discoveries that seemed to fit the same bill.
I should add that far and away my favorite film of this sort was made by The Smith (discovered viaDevour) who profiled hunter / gatherer /cook Rohan Anderson —who could be the most badass man on the internets since Aaron Draplin crushed the world one slice of illustrator at a time. Watch as Rohan builds himself a smokehouse by hand, all with bacon in mind. It is a gloriously representative film for a mesmerizing movement that I hope continues to flourish.

Bows and Squares

Randa Bow Ties and Pocket Squares

Sawdust Stronger Than Kevlar

Wood Stronger Than Kevlar

The US Forest Service has opened a $1.7 million plant that will produce cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) from wood by-products, like wood chips and sawdust. The end result is stronger than Kevlar or carbon fiber, with similar low-weight advantages. CNC is also transparent, making it an alternative to ballistic glass.
The real selling point is the low cost. CNC from wood can cost less than 10 percent of carbon fiber or Kevlar. The current goal for is $10 per kilogram, but large-scale production should reduce that figure to $1 or $2 per kilo.
Cellulose, found in the cell walls of plant and bacterial cells, is made of long chains of glucose molecules. Plants arrange these fibers into webs that create structural support for cells. Wood is basically a network of these fibers, and a typical cellulose fiber measures about 10 microns wide and 1 millimeter long.
Wood, when broken down into pulp, loses its lignin, which holds together all the cellulose fibers, leaving them suspended in water. When it dries, it’s about as tough as a lint ball, but when it’s further broken down into nanofibrils, they join via hydrogen bonds. A strong acid then gets rid of the excess, leaving behind individual cellulose nanocrystals, the strong stuff. About 30 percent of a wood pulp collection can become CNC.
There are some drawbacks, specifically with water. Given enough of it, cellulose will swell with H20 to nearly double its dry volume, then fall victim to nano-defects in the cellulose structure. Researchers are looking for paint or hydrophobic treatments that can keep out water and preserve CNC’s strength.

Greatest Brand Book

The Greatest Brand Book Ever Made

Normally the watch companies are the ones who release the finest books documenting the history and heritage of their brands. Though it wasn’t until recently when confronted with the history of iconic french trunk maker Goyard that I realized just how exceptional a company archive book can be.
In releasing the book, Goyard partnered with the storied Parisian publisher Devambez to release 233 editions, which will each set you back a healthy sum of 6000€ (not including shipping or VAT tax or any customization that you do to the case). The 233 number is symbolic because it is the address of the original Goyard store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Each book is painstakingly made by hand by the finest artisans in France and comes in its own individually numbered, fully custom Goyard case.
The book contains a massive amount of documents and images from Goyard’s nearly 160 year history. I was completely enamored with the old catalog images and historical travel photos that are included. It all comes together to make the book a true working reference of Goyard and so much more than just a collectible item. I was told that Pierre Tzenkoff, who runs Devambez, spent more than eight years combing the archives and working on making this book. The results are easy to see and much easier to appreciate.
There are some books still available, though only through special order. The way to go about this would be to schedule a meeting with Pierre Tzenkoff (through the Devambez website) so he can walk you through the process of making this book and the history of Goyard. It is a personal process very much serving the spirit of the publication.
It should also be said that a handful of books have also been donated to major libraries around the world —so everyone, regardless of bank balance, can see first hand a book like no other on earth.

A real photo of the trunk conveyor system at a Parisian train station in the early 1900s.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nike to Use Sensors in Golf Clubs

Nike Sensors Embedded in Golf Clubs - How can Randa use this concept? DJK

Nike Inc. (NKE) wants to make improving your golf game easier.
Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Nike Inc. wants to make improving your golf game easier. The world’s largest producer of sporting goods obtained a patent Sept. 4 to put data-collecting sensors on golf clubs to improve personalization. Dominic Chu reports on Bloomberg Television's "In The Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)
Tiger Woods holds a Nike Inc. brand golf club during the 2006 Nissan Open, Presented by Countrywide at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Photographer: Steve Grayson/Getty Images
The world’s largest producer of sporting goods obtained apatent Sept. 4 to put data-collecting sensors on golf clubs to improve personalization. In one scenario, the analysis of a swing is shown on a display screen embedded on the back of the club’s head. That would make getting fit for golf clubs faster and more precise, the company said.
“Custom fitting is outdated, and can be inaccurate,” Nike said indocuments posted on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. While most fitting is done indoors on a hard surface, the new club would allow golfers to measure a swing out on a course, which would garner more accurate data, Nike said.
Nike has been integrating digital technology into sports equipment as a way for users to measure and improve results. It also increases the time consumers spend with the brand, which can increase loyalty and sales. The company this year introduced a wristband that tracks daily activity and shoes equipped with sensors that can record such metrics as how high a basketball player jumps during a dunk.
Mary Remuzzi, a spokeswoman for Nike, declined to comment on the patent and when such products might come to market.
The Beaverton, Oregon-based company also received a patent last week for a data collection system that places sensors and transmitters in shoes that automatically track the distance and time of a run or walk. The data would then be shared with the user by sending it to a mobile device or computer.

Marketing Potential

Beyond measuring performance, there is also marketing potential. In one example, a person walks into a store and the shoe sensor tells the salesman the kind of sneaker, the shopper’s identity and how long he or she has worn the shoe. Advertising based on that data is then shown to the person wearing the shoes through an in-store terminal or is sent to a mobile device.
The system may also allow Nike to offer promotions based on how much the shoes are used. In one scenario from the patent document, a person buys shoes and registers for a contest that offers a prize if they run 100 miles in a month.
Revenue from Nike’s running category surged 32 percent to $3.7 billion in its fiscal year ended May 31st, while golf rose 10 percent to $726 million. The company’s total revenue was $24.1 billion.
While golf equipment has become more sophisticated, including balls designed to cater to a player’s strengths, fitting is largely a trial-and-error process, Nike said.

Radar System

This patent would remove that uncertainty by using accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure as many as 100 data points to record such measurements as the angle of the club face, Nike said.
Nike obtained a patent last month for a computerized radar system that places sensors on soccer balls and other equipment as a way to offer data analysis for team sports. It may be able to track two soccer players at the same time with sensors on their shoes as well as the ball to measure how well they pass to each other.
Other products in Nike’s digital sport unit include a watch that can track location, distance and heartbeat and a video game workout for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Kinect for Xbox 360.
Nike fell 0.4 percent to $99.68 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 3.4 percent this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Townsend in New York

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Text "Feed Me, Seymour"

Alert: Your Plant Needs Water

New Wireless Sensors Are Connecting Everyday Objects With People

Imagine receiving an email when a load of laundry is completed, or a text message when a child opens the cookie jar one too many times.
Such notifications have become possible thanks to a host of start-ups that are adding intelligence and communications capability to objects and appliances, giving them many attributes of computers and smartphones.
The approaches, mainly in their early days, vary widely. Twine, a $99 device from Supermechanical LLC, includes a sensor that detects changes in temperature or vibration and sends alerts through a Wi-Fi connection. Users could place the small square device next to water pipes, for example, and receive a text message when the pipes are freezing. Or they could hook up a moisture sensor to receive an alert when plants need water.
Twine's $99 device can sense changes in temperature or vibration. then send alerts through Wi-Fi.
Egomotion Corp.'s Tagstand sells stickers with embedded computer chips—based on a technology called near-field communication, or NFC—that can store and transmit small amounts of data. The stickers can be scanned by a mobile phone and programmed to complete tasks on the Internet, like posting to Facebook Inc.
GreenGoose Inc. of San Francisco, Calif., is selling similar technology to reward people for good behavior. Its $49 toothbrush sensor kit includes a small device that attaches to a toothbrush, an egg-shaped wireless base station that plugs into a Wi-Fi router, and a downloadable mobile game. When a child brushes her teeth, a cartoon monkey dances and jumps on the phone to encourage two minutes of brushing.
Imagine receiving an email when a load of wash was complete, or a text message when a son or daughter opened the cookie jar one too many times. Such notifications have become possible thanks to a host of startups that are adding intelligence and communications capability to objects and appliances. Jessica Vascellaro has details on The News Hub.
Founder Brian Krejcarek envisions future applications that motivate kids to take medicine, among other things. The technology brings "a bit of levity to something that otherwise kind of stinks," he said.
The new businesses say they are inspired by how smartphones have trained consumers to expect constant connectivity. That same constant flow of information can happen between people and objects, helping people automate routine tasks and checkups.
"So many things are silent and unconnected in the world that no one knows anything about them until later," says David Carr, co-founder of Supermechanical, which is based in Austin, Texas. An air conditioner, for instance, has no way to tell you that it is broken before it starts running up your electric bill, he said. Mr. Carr predicts technology like Twine will eventually be embedded into devices, taking home automation to new levels.
Electronics giants like Samsung Electronics Co sell Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators and washing machines. Its refrigerator has a small screen that displays music and recipe apps among others, while the washing machine can send an alert to a phone when it is done.
But the upstarts are targeting enthusiastic hobbyists with a much broader range of use cases. They are doing so as the cost of sensors and other components continue to fall. At the same time, software developers have created tools to program them without serious know-how.
Users need two AAA batteries to power up their Twine and must set it up online via drop-down menus. The options allow users to indicate if they want to receive a text message when the temperature is below a certain level, for instance.
The wireless stickers sold by San Francisco-based Tagstand are also programmed online. Each tag has a chip linked to a Web address. Users can also link tags to an app Tagstand developed that modifies settings on their phone.
Jimmy Selix, a 33-year-old information-technology administrator from Minneapolis, Minn., programmed some Tagstand stickers to expedite tasks he performs frequently, like turning off his cellphone ringer during meetings.
Using the Tagstand app on his Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone, he programmed two tags. He scans one labeled "meeting mode" when he wants to turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the ringer during meetings and the "personal mode" one when he turns them on again. He has programmed a third to connect to the Foursquare check-in service to tell his friends when he arrives at his condo.
"I feel like I am living in the future," Mr. Selix said. Programming the tags—which cost him $15 for a set 15—was easy, he said, though the functions they perform are still fairly limited.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DVF and Google Glass

Google's Sergey Brin Stars as DVF Shows 'Glass'

NEW YORK —Uberchic met ubergeek at Lincoln Center Sunday.

That bearded man taking a bow with Diane von Furstenberg at her spring show Sunday was none other than Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

And the quirky, half-glasses that they were wearing? Glass by Google — a new technology that brings the digital world to the user and tries to stay out of the way.

Models took to the runway sporting the peculiar, lightweight invention that allows for hands-free recording, photo viewing and a host of other functions.

Brin may be the world's 24th-richest person with a fortune of $18.7 billion, but this is the first time he's shown up on the fashion radar and the crowd largely didn't recognize him among the crowd's other boldfaced names including Sarah Jessica Parker, Andy Cohen, Oscar de la Renta, Fran Lebowitz, Valentino and von Furstenberg's husband, Barry Diller.

Backstage, hordes of fashion press and industry types clamored for a shot of Parker and Cohen. The trim, neatly dressed Brin — who wore an Alexander McQueen blazer with a white shirt over dark Acne jeans — stood somewhat apart, fielding questions from only a few reporters.

“It's been under development for over two years now, and the goal is to really connect you to digital life without really taking you away from real life,” Brin said. It looked like he was wearing a pair of sporty blue-and-gray sunglasses without the lenses.

High fashion it's not, but Google's effort to make a world of semicyborgs is relatively unobtrusive with just a small square glass piece that hangs in front of the wearer's right eye and functions as a screen.

“You can [record] video, still [images], get text messages — reply to them and things like that,” Brin said. “We have hundreds of ideas, we just only have so much time to implement them now.”

The device, which will sell for something less than $1,500, will likely include navigation functionality and photo capabilities when it hits the market next year.

Google spent the last week capturing DVF's creative process with the glasses and a short film, “DVF Through Glass,” will be released Thursday on the designer's Google+ page and Google's YouTube channel.

It's nothing new for brands from outside fashion to try to capture some of the industry's glamour and luster to get their message across — just look at the slew of stalls set up inside the tents at Lincoln Center.

Google is a case apart, though, with a big enough share of the spotlight, all the financial resources a company could want and direct connections with consumers to promote new products. But with Glass, Google is trying to reach beyond its core.

“I think it's not just about technology,” Brin said. “It's about lifestyle.”

He hopes to make more fashion connections in the future. “It's a very important component of making technology desirable and compelling,” Brin said. “It's got to be stylish and fashionable.”

The 39-year-old executive said he's been focusing on Glass, but that there are other things in the works that could intersect with the industry.

“There are many, many projects at Google where we've been really focusing on beauty and getting that going,” he said, declining to be more specific.

In many ways, Google and DVF are a natural fit. Both are known for their willingness to experiment. And the tech titan and the fashion mainstay seem to have hit it off.

“We were at a conference together and we were testing out a prototype,” Brin said of the collaboration. “I talked about it to her and she loved it. We thought about it. It's really a perfect combination. What we really have been going for is style and comfort, and I can't really think of a brand that signifies that better than Diane's.”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shops For Men

Shops Just for Men

New Wrinkle in Men’s Wear: Shops Just for Men

By ERIC WILSON – New York Times

The conventional wisdom about guys and shopping has always been that they go together like paisley and plaid, which is to say not very well. There is a reason men’s wear in most stores is relegated to the back walls and the basements, while women’s wear is front and center.

But at the beginning of another New York Fashion Week, an event long dominated by the top designers of women’s wear, it would seem that the fight for gender equality has finally come to the place where one might least expect it. When shopping, men are demanding better service, and retailers are providing it.

“For too long, male shoppers were considered to be the stepchildren,” said Jim Moore, the creative director of GQ. “There were a lot of assumptions on the retail level that men weren’t interested in fashion and that they just went to department stores to buy socks and underwear.”

But in recent months, a surprising number of retailers have opened stores that cater solely to their male customers, with specialized environments and customer service. Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue have remodeled their men’s floors, and Urban Outfitters created a separate catalog for men. Even Fashion Week has more events tailored to men’s wear.

Details magazine has rented a space this week at Lincoln Center, home to the fashion shows, to encourage more men’s designers, like John Bartlett and Mark McNairy, to show their collections here, rather than in Europe, where men’s designers typically get more respect.

While men have traditionally been stubborn consumers, and the fastest to close their wallets during times of economic strain, there is a growing sense among retailers, evidenced by the phenomenal success of new men’s concepts from labels like Coach and J. Crew, that a new generation of male consumers actually embraces fashion. Or at least that younger guys are not so afraid of shopping.

Luxury designer labels like Hermès and Bottega Veneta have responded to a growing market by opening distinct stores for men, and Lanvin, the French fashion house that dressed both the best actress and best actor winners at the Oscars this year, plans to open an expensive one on Madison Avenue this fall.

In August, Christian Louboutin, the designer known for his red-soled stilettos, opened a store for men in the meatpacking district, the first of three men’s-only stores planned this year. Mr. Louboutin expects men’s shoes to grow to 20 percent of his business, from 5 percent, within a few years. And they typically cost $2,000 a pair.

The trend has also reached more democratically priced stores like Club Monaco, Ralph Lauren and even Ugg, the shearling shoe company, which opened a men’s store this summer. On Thursday, Nordstrom is opening a temporary men’s store in SoHo, with products selected by the editors of GQ, like Warby Parker eyeglasses and Billy Reid sportswear. Other touches intended to appeal to guys include a coffee bar, complimentary shaves and, naturally, lots of gadgets.

The reason for all this attention to men is fairly obvious: since the recession, they have represented the fastest-growing segment of the adult apparel market, according to the NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service. In 2011, dollar sales in men’s wear increased 4 percent, to roughly $55 billion, led by strong gains in categories like dress shirts, tailored suits and sports coats. (The women’s market is twice as large, but it grew at a rate of 3 percent for the same period.)

While the gain in men’s wear is partly attributed to the economy, a bigger factor has likely been the broader interest in fashion.

“Men’s wear has traditionally lagged behind women’s wear for decades and decades,” said Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst of NPD. “It’s the first thing to spiral downward during a recession, and the last to recover — with the exception of this one.”

In a much-noticed remark made during a CNBC special in May that focused on the rise of J. Crew, Mickey Drexler, the chief executive who has long been considered a merchandising visionary, observed that “to walk through a women’s department, always, is just not a men’s thing.” And anything said by Mr. Drexler, who also charted much of the Gap’s growth in the 1990s, is generally seen as retail gold.

When the company began experimenting with men’s retail concepts in 2009, its success with a style of tailored suit called the Ludlow was a big surprise. So in March, it opened a spinoff suiting store in TriBeCa called the Ludlow Shop that has been a hit with male shoppers. Sales of men’s wear at J. Crew are now growing at a higher rate than women’s wear, according to the company, which has plans to open two more men’s shops this year, in Boston and Los Angeles.

Figuring out the new male consumer, however, is not so simple, and retailers are studying their shopping habits in intimate detail. Among the unexpected things they have discovered is that guys like chairs, which create the impression that it is fine for them to hang out in a store, even if they are not shopping. Darker colors are also important in the décor. And the music should be tailored to their tastes. A lot of stores are using the term “man caves.”

Since Coach, a company best known for its women’s handbags, began opening stores for men two years ago, its sales of men’s products like briefcases and wallets quadrupled, to a projected $400 million this year. Men have become such important customers that the company has differentiated the shopping environment for them in existing stores.

In its store at 595 Madison Avenue, the men’s area has chocolate-brown walls and subdued lighting, while the rest of the store is lined with gleaming white subway tiles. And men are greeted differently.

“Women like to be helped, while men like to help themselves, but be guided,” said Greg Unis, a senior vice president. “They don’t want to be pounced on when they first walk into the store.”

Inside Club Monaco’s Bloor Street flagship in Toronto, a dedicated space for men’s wear opened in November and has displays of tweed jackets mixed with chopped logs, and you might hear a track from the Rolling Stones album “Exile on Main St.” or 1960s reggae.

At the same moment in the women’s area, you would hear contemporary music from First Aid Kit or Warpaint, songs that inspired Caroline Belhumeur, the store’s women’s designer, this season. Another store for men is planned to open in Hong Kong this month with a theme of Americana, featuring Rancourt & Company shoes, Southwick suits and vintage Rolex watches.

“At this point,” said Aaron Levine, the company’s vice president for men’s design, “our guy wants to have his own environment and wants to be catered to much in the same way that our girl does.”