Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday - Online

On Black Friday, the Real Fight Was Online
Retailers Tried to Amp Up Their Websites—But Get More In-Person Traffic, Too

By PAUL ZIOBRO and SUZANNE KAPNER - Wall Street Journal
Updated Nov. 29, 2013 11:30 p.m. ET

Brick-and-mortar retailers mounted a furious defense on Black Friday to head off incursions into one of the industry's biggest shopping days by such online rivals as Inc.
The tactics were evident in stores and on websites as millions of holiday shoppers lined up to spend their dollars on highly touted deals.

Chains like Macy's Inc. opened on Thanksgiving for the first time, and giants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target moved their deals earlier Thursday, shifts intended to retrieve valuable shopping time that had been ceded to e-commerce, where the doors never close.

Best Buy Co. kept some deals hidden until customers showed up at stores, and retailers put more deals on the Web to better compete with Amazon on its own playing field.
In the early predawn hours of Thanksgiving, Jason Goldberger huddled with his team on the 20th floor of a Target Corp. building in Minneapolis to make sure everything was ready at the chain's most important store:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Tie Dressing

Dressing For The Occasion: Black Tie

IntroductionTuxedo, dinner suit, black tie, cravat noir… 

Call it what you will, this formal code of dress is probably the smartest ensemble most modern men are expected to don during their sartorial career.With a lack of regular occasions to wear black tie nowadays, many younger gents may be unfamiliar with the art of effectively executing the look.In the United Kingdom, the tailored component of a black tie ensemble is known as a dinner suit. 

The name is self-explanatory; it was your uniform at the dinner table, and evolved as a more casual alternative to white tie (tailcoats and all).Black tie was exclusively an evening dress code, and remains so. Six o’clock or when darkness fell (whichever occurred first) was your cue to don your dinner suit.

We’re all familiar with the look of a tuxedo (US vernacular) from black and white films, but how do you put this look together and what are the finer details of its component parts?With party season upon us, we examine how today’s gent can approach this distinct area of formal wear, and how this traditional form of dress has evolved to cement its place in the menswear wardrobe of today…

The Jacket
The first item to begin with is the jacket. This should be made from pure wool and is traditionally jet-black. Midnight blue also looks rather fetching and is ideal for gents who are more inclined to make a statement; this tone appears ‘blacker than black’ under artificial light, and was particularly favoured by the always dapper Duke of Windsor in the thirties.

Bow Ties: Key Styles
For black tie, as the name suggests, your bow tie should be jet-black. Barathea silk, previously discussed in the jackets section, was also used for bow ties before shiny silks took over, and this matte-finish material will lend a more traditional, sharper finish to your ensemble.
Readily available from specialist formal wear brands, they cost a little more than standard silk bow ties, but are worth the extra pennies. For a super-louche alternative, velvet bow ties are also an option – just make sure if you take this route that your blazer isn’t velvet as well, otherwise you run the risk of looking like a 1970s game show host.
Some great brands to try for bow ties include Hilditch and Key, Drakes, Marwood London, Ralph Lauren, Austin Reed, Duchamp and Darcy Clothing:
  • AUSTIN REED BLACK SELF TIE SILK BOW TIEAustin Reed Black Self Tie Silk Bow Tie
  • RALPH LAUREN SILK SATIN BOW TIERalph Lauren Silk Satin Bow Tie
  • THOMAS PINK SKINNY SELF TIE BOW TIEThomas Pink Skinny Self Tie Bow Tie
  • BLACK SATIN SELF-TIE BOW TIEBlack Satin Self-tie Bow Tie
  • THOMAS PINK MARCELLA SELF TIE BOW TIEThomas Pink Marcella Self Tie Bow Tie
  • SIZED SELF TIE BLACK SILK BOW TIES CR535BSized Self Tie Black Silk Bow Ties Cr535b
Modern Lookbook Inspiration

Batteries & Turkeys

How Many Batteries Would It Take to Cook a Turkey?

Warnings... a) for geeks only; b) do not consume the batteries.  DJK

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I Really Want...

What I Really Want for Christmas

by Bill Gates

Let me explain what I mean. I’m touched that people think to send holiday treats. It’s a fun tradition. My team at the office always looks forward to the flavored popcorn that one of our partners sends every year. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful or deprive my colleagues of caramel corn.
But I can’t help thinking that the money spent on these gifts could go to people who need it more than I do.
For example you might know about Heifer International, a non-profit that lets you buy an animal for a family in need. Send Heifer $30 and someone gets honeybees. $120 buys a pig. There are lots of other options too.
You can even give an animal or other donation in someone else’s name. So if you’re looking for a gift to send your clients and partners this year, you could donate to a group like Heifer on their behalf. They will get a card acknowledging your gift. They’ll have to go get their own cookies, but on the bright side, they will know that your generosity in their name really helped someone.
Heifer is part of a project that Melinda and I are supporting this year called Giving Tuesday. The idea is to take one day out of your holiday shopping and dedicate it to giving back. The Giving Tuesday web site lists lots of great organizations that need your support. (Although Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, you can donate any time.) Melinda and
I have posted our list of four groups that we think are especially effective, including Heifer, but there are many others to choose from. If you run a non-profit, becoming a partner with Giving Tuesday could be a great way to connect with new donors.
I’d encourage you to check out the groups taking part in Giving Tuesday. You could help them make a tangible difference in someone’s life, which is just about the best gift any of us could ask for.

Windows Go High Tech

Retail Windows Go High Tech for the Holidays

Saks, Barneys Bypass Santa's Workshop for 3D Projection Mapping, Sensory Light Shows

The sign in front of Barneys' holiday windows in Manhattan offers a warning: Windows could cause seizures. Beware.
Barneys' display uses black and white light, 3D projection and mirrors to illuminate an icicle sculpture
Barneys' virtual sleigh ride
Barneys' virtual sleigh ride
The black-and-white light show in Barneys' holiday windows, unveiled last week at its flagship store, is that startling. As retailers try to keep up with technology, some are chucking the Christmas Village this holiday season for 3D projection mapping, dramatic light shows and mobile-to-window technology. Barneys concentrated on mirrors and 3D projections, while Saks Fifth Avenue revived its light show and unveiled an interactive mobile window.
Barneys used projectors, microtiles and all-weather monitors from visual-tech company Christie in its Madison Ave. window designs. The windows are composed of blinding lights, gritty music and black-and-white graphics. Their themes, inspired by French artist Joanie Lemercier, include a 3D city sculpted by laser, icicles with projection mapping and mirrors, and a virtual sleigh ride.
On the third floor of Barneys is a pop-up shop that imitates New York's underground, industrial environment. It's dimly lit with black walls that project a film of New York's underground and skyscrapers on loop, while tables in the shop look like they were constructed from a chain fence and projectors on the ceiling swivel with spotlights. The shop and windows are a result of Barneys' collaboration with Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, who created a line for the retailer that is sold in the pop-up shop. Barneys' efforts also supports Mr. Carter's charity, the Shawn Carter Foundation.
"This year, we really wanted to go for it because it's New York, and New York is tough. Jay-Z is tough," said Tommy Dobrzynski, VP-visuals at Barneys. "In the music you hear and the visuals you see, we wanted it to be a little blinding. At night, it really gets in your face, and we like that. Whenever we use the technology, we want to bring it back to the honesty of the material and using light as a medium."
For the fourth year, Saks asked Iris Worlwide to map the Saks holiday story onto the façade of the building with 3D projection mapping. Saks' holiday narrative follows a Yeti who moves to the U.S. from Russia and becomes a snowflake connoisseur who lives on the store's roof. With Iris' 3D video mapping, the light show plays every seven minutes and makes it appear as though the building moves, windows open and the Yeti waves.
The Saks Yeti
The Saks Yeti
Saks' windows, meanwhile, are courtesy of the Science Project, which created an interactive activity that prompts passerby with a mobile invitation to pick a Yeti name, create a snowflake, and flick it from the device into the window itself, where it will materialize and fall to the ground.
"3D printing has been a big of late, so some of the figures in our window this year are actually 3D printed," said Harry Cunningham, senior VP-store planning and visual at Saks. "As technology advances and as things move forward, we're looking for opportunities to inject that into our process."
Even the more traditional Macy's is joining the tech arena. Its theme of "Dream… and Believe" follows a boy's dream through six windows as he enters a world where everything is made out of crystal and ice. An interactive screen with a hidden camera allows points of light to mimic the movements of passersby, according to the Wall Street Journal. LED lights beneath the icy sculptures give the illusion the water in the scene moves, while animated screens in the background flash words such as "believe" and "magic." And in the background, ornaments bob in and out of the scene, run by individual motors.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Making a Hermès Tie  Women's Wear Daily

The Making of the Hermès Tie

Since its introduction in 1949, the Hermès silk necktie has set the standard. It is a staple of CEOs, politicians, and royalty. Michael Bloomberg has worn one while opening New York fashion week. Less brave politicos such as John Kerry and Bill Clinton reputedly wear Hermès ties in private, sensitive to being called out for not wearing garments made in the U.S.A. Prince Charles is a devotee, while designerMichelle Smith, founder of the Milly fashion line, sold one to Jackie Onassis during her days as a shopgirl. It was a present for Henry Kissinger.

“The tie is not an accessory but a product we pay great attention to,” says Christophe Goineau,creative director of Hermès men’s silk department. “The entire men’s silk department is devoted to it.”

After bags and scarves, the cravat is the biggest seller for Hermès, which is another way of saying it is the company’s most important item of men’s clothing. Last year, Hermès posted a record net profit of $958 million, with an estimated 10 percent of sales in ties.

When Superstition Works

When Superstition Works

Some boost the illusion of control and can even boost performance

Nov. 25, 2013 7:16 p.m. ET

Even if you scoff at Friday the 13th and aren't wary of black cats, you're probably still superstitious. Angela Chen takes a look at the research to prove people are superstitious, and whether superstitions can actually be beneficial. Photo: Getty Images.
It starts when people try something different—Pepsi instead of Coca-ColaKO +0.05% a blue tie instead of the old red one—and find that something good happens.
Soon, without realizing it, someone who wouldn't think twice about, say, walking under a ladder or traveling on Friday the 13th begins to associate their new behavior with good luck—and starts reaching for the Pepsi again and again.
Such "conditioned superstitions" can develop when people believe there is something they can do to control a situation, despite there being no rational reason to think so, says Gita Johar, a professor of business at Columbia University who recently co-wrote a paper on the phenomenon. Recent research shows that superstitions that increase the illusion of control can help people find meaning and psychological comfort—and in some cases, even boost performance.
People who have both a high need for control and a sense of helplessness in a given situation—such as the straight-A perfectionist who didn't have time to study for an exam—are the most likely to succumb to conditioned superstition, researchers say.
And while such superstitions can be broken, says Dr. Johar, it often takes a lot of negative evidence before people are willing to part with their lucky rituals. That's because they "provide some sort of a hedge against uncertainty," says Eric Hamerman, an assistant professor of marketing at Tulane University's Freeman School of Business who, with Dr. Johar, co-wrote the study, published in October in the Journal of Consumer Research.
In their experiment, Drs. Johar and Hamerman had 275 participants play the game "rock, paper, scissors" against a computer—10 series with their right hand and 10 with their left. Unbeknownst to the participants, the computer program manipulated the results to make some people fare better with their left. When given the chance to choose which hand to use for the final matches, more than three-quarters of those playing the rigged game chose the hand that "caused" them to win more.
If asked, few participants would say they consciously decided to choose the left hand because they thought it would make them lucky. However, their behavior suggests they conditioned themselves to make the connection, say the researchers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cunningham Gold

A rare street-fashion vignette, often observed on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, is a group of strangers, attracted by one another’s highly individual style of dress, who pause on their way to work to inquire of their clothes. The tradition may vanish, as one member of the group is moving to California. At times, they spontaneously try on one another’s look. Last week, nature provided a backdrop only it could create. In Central Park, a “Brigadoon” mist settled over the lake, and cascades of willows framed the Bow Bridge. All over the city, the ginkgo tree proved once again as the leaves fell that Manhattan streets are indeed paved with gold.

Digital Lollipop!

Virtual taste, added to the marketing toolbox. DJK

How many licks does it take to get to the bottom of a digital lollipop? That’s the question you could soon be asking yourself thanks to a team of researchers at the National University of Singapore who are trying to build a digital lollipop that can simulate taste.

While it might sound complicated, the technology is relatively simple. When the lollipop, which is made of a silver electrode, touches the tip of the tongue it reproduces four well-known tastes: salty, sweet, sour or bitter. Together these flavors can create different simulations close to the real thing.
The research is being led by Nimesha Ranasinghe, a Ph.D. research scholar in the university’s department of electrical and computer engineering. He hopes that people will one day be able to lick their television or smartphone to taste virtual things.

Mr. Ranasinghe told New Scientist this week that a person’s taste receptors are fooled by varying the alternating current from the lollipop and slight but rapid changes in temperature. While the project has been in the works for over a year, it was presented in its latest iteration at the ACM Multimedia conference in Spain last month.

You won’t be able to lick your iPhone to taste some strawberry ice cream or a bar of chocolate just yet. The researchers still need to add a number of simulated tastes, including more sweet and sugary flavors, and add smell and texture, which would help fool the brain into believing a taste is real.

If this experimental work ever makes its way to the commercial world — assuming it’s not too expensive to produce — you could imagine a number of scenarios where it could be used.

Advertisers might include the taste of a product in an add on your computer or television. Movies could become more interactive, allowing people to taste the food an actor is eating. And the technology could even have medical applications, allowing people with diabetes, for example, to taste sugar without harming their actual blood sugar levels.

“In a gaming environment we could come up with a new reward system based on taste sensations,” Mr. Ranasinghe told New Scientist. “For example, if you complete a game task successfully, or complete a level, we can give a sweet, minty or sour reward. If you fail we can deliver a bitter message.”

Lose Weight Instantly

It's all how you see it...

From Fat To Fit In 5 Minutes

Apparently, someone once said the camera never lies. Whoever that was obviously didn’t really think too much about the importance of very simple elements like lighting, posing and clothing. Melanie Ventura, an Australian fitness instructor (pictured above) has demonstrated very easily the importance of these elements that most of us as photographers are aware of but don’t always consider. Simple, basic technique can absolutely transform the people you shoot. Read on to find out more.
I’ve just spent last week working with Lindsay Adler on some very interesting material for a Kelby lesson she was teaching on how to highlight and bring out the strongest side of the people we shoot. Whether you are dealing with a heavy set individual, someone with glasses (and issues of reflections in their lenses), someone with challenging (large or wide) or asymmetrical features, oily or shiny skin and so on, Lindsay is masterful to watch because she knows that the slightest fraction of movement (by either her camera or subject), her subject’s posture, her lens choice and her lighting direction, intensity and quality can all bring about vastly different final images, and therefore perceptions in the people we see in the final shot. She also reminded me today of Melanie’s picture and her rapid transformation from the result of very simple and basic actions we don’t always think about but can all apply when we shoot portraits or images of people we want to make look their best.
Melanie’s amazing transformation shot was the result of nothing more than a quick pose change (note the negative space when she moves her arm away from her body making her look slimmer), better posture (pulling the shoulders back and kicking the hip out really makes more of a pleasing ‘S’ curve), an outfit change (black slims the figure and isn’t it amazing what proper fitting clothing can actually do!) and some simple hair and make up changes.
It makes you wonder how many of those “Before/After” shots we see everywhere, showing what the latest diet/exercise machine/slimming pill in action are really the effect of said remedy, or are actually just people making some small changes as Melanie did.
We all probably know this stuff makes a difference but often we forget just how powerful it is in how our final image is realized, or how to control these elements like those mentioned when shooting someone. Very simple, but very powerful stuff to apply on your next portrait session.

Google Glass No-No's

Google Glass: What You're Not Supposed to Do

There are certain things you won't be encouraged to do wearing one of these. Those are the things I did.

By A.J. Jacobs
Published in the December 2013 issue
Google Glass may or may not transform the future. But one thing is beyond question: It elicits mighty strong reactions in the present.

The first week I got my tiny new face computer, I wore it to a barbecue and sat down at a table to eat pasta salad. "That is the most annoying thing in the world," snapped a mom of twins, pointing at my new gadget from across the table.

"I disagree," I responded.

"No, really. It is."

"One second," I said. I tapped the black frames with my finger to turn the device on. "Okay, Glass, Google 'What is the most annoying thing in the world?'
In the miniscreen perched above my right eye, an article popped up. I clicked on it. I scrolled. She waited.

"All right, I have a list from The Daily Telegraph with the top hundred most annoying things. There's people who drive too close to you. Noisy eaters. Rude clerks. No Google Glass."

She remained unconvinced. Instead she yammered on about privacy invasion, the failure to embrace real life, the evils of distraction, the usual.

Friday, November 22, 2013



A team at MIT has what it says is the most waterproof material ever, taking inspiration from the plant and insect world. The scientist heading up the research, Professor Kripa Varanasi--he brought us LiquiGlide, squeezing every last drop out of our ketchup bottles last year--says this new super-hydrophobic surface could be used in next-generational waterproof clothing, and revolutionize the energy and travel industries. Airplane engines, for example, could use the material to fly planes through extremely cold conditions.
Tiny ridges similar to those found on both nasturtium leaves and the wings of theMorpho butterfly were added to a silicon surface, which made the water droplets bounce off up to 40% faster than existing waterproof substances. The more intersecting ridges you have, the more the droplets of water break up. Smaller droplets mean less water on the surface, making it more waterproof. "I'm looking forward to working with the fabrics industry to develop new clothing that stays dry longer," said Professor Varanasi. "What will be the next Gore-Tex?"
Back in 2008, French scientists used a similar technology to create self-cleaning windows. The silicon-based film was based on the patterns found on butterfly wingsand lotus leaves. Would this new breakthrough put the miracle spray NeverWet out of business?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anatomy of $2000 Sweater

Knit Sticker Shock: Why Sweaters Can Cost $2,000

Designer fashion is exorbitantly expensive, with the spring 2014 collections seeing a leap in prices. Christina Binkley takes a look why prices are so extreme for one hot look of the moment: the chunky sweater. Photo: F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal.

The basic sweater has a new, fancy price tag.
Prices for designer fashion have been creeping up in recent seasons. The spring 2014 collections will feature even higher prices, retailers say. This winter, the price hikes have hit the comfy, cozy sweater.
Designers' prices for this simple staple have climbed well over $1,000. A decade ago, one could expect to pay between $600 and $800 for a great natural-fiber sweater.
The high price of designer goods isn't isolated to sweaters. It's not difficult to spend five figures on a cocktail dress. A new label called Baja East sells a pair of double-knit cashmere sweat pants for $1,700. Designers John Targon and Scott Studenberg say luxury stores aren't flinching. Christian Louboutin pumps, in crocodile skin, sell for $4,645 at Barneys' website. A strapless day dress from Givenchy is priced at $4,450. Bergdorf Goodman online offers 801 bags priced over $2,000, but only 38 handbags priced under $150.
Exotic skins and hand-worked details explain some of those prices. But the prices of designer basics such as sweaters and coats have risen by more than 50% since the 2007-08 financial crisis—and are likely to rise further.
During Paris Fashion Week in September, Karen Daskas, co-owner of Tender Birmingham boutique near Detroit, expressed dismay at the wholesale prices of the spring 2014 collections. Prices had already leapt for the fall collections that are in stores now. The retail price of a wool winter coat is now above $4,000, she said this week.
Ms. Daskas worries that high prices are hurting sales. "No one is buying them," she says of the coats in her store. "And they're beautiful." Still, she says unusual items that capture women's fancy are selling better, noting that she sold three $7,000 mink vests by Lanvin in one day.

F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal; styling by Anne Cardenas
Retail markups have been increasing as stores seek to make up for slower sales and faster discounting, among other pressures. Fall sales, which traditionally begin in January, this year started in the first week of November and dove to 40% off last week for some stores and brands. For apparel, markups these days range from 2.5 to 3.0 times the wholesale price—up from about 2.2 times a few years ago. So a designer garment that sells wholesale for $100 would sell in the store for $250 to $300.
The price of a designer sweater is determined by a menu of ingredients, some grounded in the materials, others intangible.
The chunky, roomy sweater is having a fashion moment. Subtle differences in cut, such as the shape of the sleeves in a Fendi sweater, signal that the sweater is an up-to-the-minute designer piece. A Burberry Prorsum sweater offers complex construction, including contoured sleeves, fully fashioned seams and a fitted waist panel.
Lightweight yarns are particularly important in this year's fashionably bulky sweaters, and yummy materials don't come cheap. The difference between the best cashmere—mostly from a few producers in Italy—and the cheapest is vast. Using the longest hairs and processing them carefully—for instance, boiling the fibers at the right temperature for the right amount of time—affect a sweater's feel and longevity. Fine Italian cashmeres can cost more than double the price of China-made cashmeres.
Designer sweaters should be of extraordinary quality—far better than mass-produced sweaters. "If you lay them next to each other, you should be able to see the difference," says Ms. Daskas. "If you can't, you should be in the $29 sweater."
Jil Sander ($2,140) Made in Italy with a 'long-yarn' cashmere chosen for its lightness. The famously minimalist label chose a wide vertical stitch that gives the sweater its hand-made feel. F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas
Stella McCartney ($1,350) Made of South African wool in the Veneto region of Italy. Ms. McCartney vets wool suppliers for humane animal husbandry practices and sustainable farming methods. F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas
Labor standards play a big role in price. Most designer sweaters are made in Italy or Scotland, where workers are protected by labor laws. Designer labels produce smaller quantities and can't qualify for discounts available to mass producers.
Prices of goods such as sweaters are used to signal a label's tier in the retail world. "It's one of the ways to make customers understand what kind of brand you are," says Mario Eimuth, chief executive of luxury retailer Stylebop.
Stores stratify fashion labels according to their perceived quality and price point. "Designer" refers to the most expensive labels, generally grouped together on department-store floors. The next tier down is "contemporary"—brands such as Nanette Lepore or 3.1 Philip Lim. The threshold price for a designer dress these days is about $1,200, says Mr. Eimuth. It's roughly $600 for designer shoes. Lower prices are seen as risking the designers' status.
Finally, prices are affected by the label's ability to work a sort of magic: Certain names' cachet, reputation for their quality, and other perceptions can make customers willing to pay a huge amount more for an item.
That simple Saint Laurent sweater promises to have a bit of designer Hedi Slimane's soul in it. A Stella McCartney sweater includes a suggestion that the sheep or goats were humanely raised, because the designer has consistently made that a priority.
Brands often price themselves with their competitive set. Malo, known for its fine Italian cashmere knitwear, looks at rivals like Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli BC.MI 0.00%when setting suggested retail prices. "So we go to the factory and say, we want that sweater at $595. How do we get there?" says John Wilson, Malo's U.S. chief executive.
Write to Christina Binkley at