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Showing posts from 2014

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Gas is cheap.The job market is strong.Consumer debt is down.The nation’s weather is cold. “Retail sales are expected to top $22 trillion this year, including $1.3 trillion in e-commerce led by China and the U.S.”  - eMarketer “U.S. Retailers likely to just meet holiday forecasts.” - Reuters “Total retail sales tumbled 11 percent to $50.9 billion during the extended Black Friday weekend. “ - National Retail Federation (NRF). “Online sales on Thanksgiving were up 14.3 percent, while Black Friday online sales were up 9.5 percent.” - IBM “Despite growth, Black Friday has lost its punch.” - Retention Science
Notes: The NRF data above is based upon a consumer survey, not purchasing data. The IBM data is from eCommerce “shopping cart” transactions. Cold Weather is good for in-store sales - It brings consumers into stores to buy outerwear and accessories,Cold weather is bad for in-store retail sales - It keeps consumers at home, where they shop online and have fewer “impulse” purchases. To para…

2015 Resolution: Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli.

You need a code.
You need a mission statement for your personal and professional life. Your code is a framework for your strategies and behaviors; your reason for waking up each day.
Your code is also a brand statement and, as such, should include guidelines for honor, conduct, language and wardrobe.
Although absolute in its moment, it can be a work in process and evolve over time.
If you don’t have your own unique code you can borrow one. 
Here are some classic examples:

Christmas Eve - A Writer's Almanac

Winter, Thirty Below with Sundogs by Tom Hennen The sun came up chased by dogs
Across a field of snow.
As they passed the pile of broken logs
Frost fluttered in the air
Between the birch trees
Standing in that spot exactly
Where the ridge becomes a hill.
In another thousand years
Sky and woods and land
Will have come to be there, still.
And still pursued all day, a winter fox
Too smart for dogs,
The sun goes in animal delight
Over the farthest edge of earth
Not far ahead of night
And jumps into the dark pool
With a last great splash of light. "Winter, Thirty Below with Sundogs" by Tom Hennen, from Darkness Sticks to Everything. © Copper Canyon Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission.

Unbroken: Break, Repair & Repeat

“Unbroken" can be defined as either having never been broken or, to have been broken and subsequently put back together. To create a successful product, process or business - one that is truly exquisite - is rare and to be celebrated. Success is relative and transitory, it exists in a specific context and moment in time. Eventually every achievement will be challenged, it will “break.” A great accomplishment in want of repair is a significant loss, and a wondrous opportunity. In Japan, “Tsukuroi” is the art of repair; it is so revered that it is believed to create a new, and possibly higher, form of beauty. The same is true for business.

Top Google Fashion Searches 2014

Who Needs Amazon or Wal-Mart?

China Cuts Out the Middleman E-Commerce Goes Global—Buying a $52 Jacket From a Shanghai Factory, Direct to My Door
Wal-Mart and Amazon have become America’s main conduits for cheap, mass-produced goods from China’s factory floors. But who needs them anymore?

I am holding in my hands a men’s down jacket with fur trim, sent four days ago direct from a warehouse 67 miles west of Shanghai.
The $52.19 jacket won’t be confused for Prada. The fur appears to be “fur.” It came out of the box smelling like plastic and solvent.
What the jacket represents is far more interesting: It’s the final and direct link between China’s manufacturers and the global consumer. In the same way Chinese companies took over the production of goods, they are now increasingly capable of merchandizing those goods, using the Web and modern freight transport. Bentonville, you are being outsourced to China, too.

Before I Die, I Want To...

Cliché: “Create a Bucket List.” And… “If you only had 24 hours to live; with whom would you connect, what would you say, what would you do, and… what are you waiting for?” And… “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” (Disclosure; I’m guilty of using this one, recently.) They’re not bad thought-starters; however meaningful these motivational sayings were at creation their recent ubiquity has made them cliché and no longer powerful. Inspiration: Candy Chang is an artist, designer, and urban planner who explores making cities more contemplative through the creative use of their public spaces. When Candy lost someone close to her, introspection, in symbiosis with her passion for public places, yielded the “before I die” project.

Artificial Intelligence Isn't a Threat - Yet

The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”— Stephen Hawking, Dec. 2   
Does artificial intelligence threaten our species, as the cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently suggested? Is the development of AI like “summoning the demon,” as tech pioneer Elon Musk told an audience at MIT in October? Will smart machines supersede or even annihilate humankind?
As a cognitive scientist and founder of a new startup that focuses on “machine learning,” I think about these questions nearly every day. But let’s not panic. 
“Superintelligent” machines won’t be arriving soon. Computers today are good at narrow tasks carefully engineered by programmers, like balancing checkbooks and landing airplanes, but after five decades of research, they are still weak at anything that looks remotely like genuine human intelligence.

A Store in Brooklyn Reminds Men to Take Risks

Emily Andrews for The New York Times 
AT THE CORNER of Smith and Butler used to be Smith & Butler, a motorcycle-friendly outpost of manhood that was one of gentrified Brooklyn’s first bro-tiques. The vibe was rugged, a little foreboding. There were never quite enough clothes to fill the space. I used to try mightily to buy something there but never quite could.

That was the Smith Street of, oh, five or so years ago — a time before men’s wear blogs (interesting ones, at least). A thoughtful, higher-end men’s store was as likely to be found there as in Bushwick. But the neighborhood is changing, in coughs and twitches. Now Smith is a strip walked by middle-age men whose first loyalty is to their family and young men whose last loyalty is to their liver. (Or is it the other way around?)

Surely these man-children need clothes, which means that WP Lavori, which recently took over the Smith & Butler space, isn’t a lonely, aesthetically idiosyncratic outpost, but a wide net cast ove…

Ad Campaign: Of the people, by the people, for the people

The Evolution of an Ad Campaign - MR Magazine - Karen Alberg Grossman
Countess Mara neckwear has a history of compelling advertising; Randa Accessories, owner of the brand, wants to ensure that the legacy lives on.

Beard Ornaments

What can I say?  - DJK
Yes, they're real

Must Have Brains & Legos

THE SINGULARITY: The point in time when augmented intelligence, be it artificial, biological or a combination of both, will exceed human intellectual capacity and radically change civilization and life as it is currently understood.What if we could take your brain and put it into a cybernetic body? Imagine “RoboCop,” only a real life version. What if we could upload your brain to the cloud and connect it to the Internet? Imagine “The Matrix” or “Transcendence,” only a real life version. What would you say if I told you that last week scientists took one small step for man, one giant leap toward the singularity? They did it in real life. Last week scientists put a worm's 'brain' into a Lego robot's body. 

Robots Grow Smarter and Apply for Jobs in America

As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.
Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

Which Wallet Matches Your Personal Style?

Men’s Wallets: Which Matches Your Personal Style“GETTING A WALLET is not quite a bar mitzvah, but it’s a rite of passage,” said Sid Mashburn, designer and CEO of his eponymous Atlanta- and Houston-based men’s shop. 
But while guys tend to remember their first wallets—sporty nylon billfolds in camouflage or a favorite team’s colors—later in life, the quotidian accessory can be taken for granted. Meanwhile, loved ones often view the accessory as a safely bland gift in the vein of ties or belts. Wallets, however, are quite nuanced—evoking everything from nostalgia to status and projecting glimpses of their owner’s personality each time they’re pulled out. 

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs

This winter, the hankies are coming out. It isn’t just because this is the season of sniffles. A current hankering for retro men’s accessories, such as hats, tie bars and pocket squares, is reawakening interest in handkerchiefs, some retailers say. 
After years of being tucked away while a germ-conscious society turned to tissues, the humble handkerchief is being rediscovered and in some cases reimagined with bold patterns and colors.

Same-Day Service for Online Shoppers

More Home Delivery, In-Store Pickup
Pajamas ordered from Bloomingdale’s at the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, N.J., and delivered to a northern New Jersey address the same day.

This year, online holiday shoppers want it now.
They are expecting more, after last holiday season when overpromising retailers, overburdened carriers and bad weather caused many packages to arrive late under the tree. 
Retailers are poised with two get-it-now solutions. Shoppers can buy online and pick up in stores, the more widely available same-day option. Or, they can get same-day home delivery, the Holy Grail of e-commerce.

Wearable Tech is More Than Gadgets

NEW YORK, United States — For many, the market for “wearables” — often called the next major technology battleground — refers to gadgets worn on the body. The category has yet to truly take off, but devices that monitor health and fitness have emerged as a key vector of growth.

You Need a Signature Look. Here's Why.

Johnny Cash wore all black, Tom Wolfe wore all white, and Albert Einstein wore only a grey suit. Cash, Wolfe and Einstein made conscious decisions to wear and codify their signature look.

Cash stated that black clothes were cheaper to buy, looked clean longer between washings on the road, and signified “rebellion against the status quo.” This look reinforced his persona and messaging throughout his career and set him apart from his peers.

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

While I like to think I know a little about business writing, I still fall into a few word traps. (Not to mention a few cliché traps.) Take the words "who" and "whom." I rarely use "whom" when I should -- even when spell check suggests "whom" I think it sounds pretentious. So I use "who." And then I sound dumb. Just like one misspelled word can get your resume tossed onto the "nope" pile, one incorrectly used word can negatively impact your entire message. Fairly or unfairly, it happens -- so let's make sure it doesn't happen to you.

A Fashion Incubator Grows in Brooklyn

New York City officials today will reveal plans to invest $3.5 million in a newfashionepicenter called theManufacturingInnovation Hub for Apparel,Textiles& Wearable Tech.

Why is This Tea is Worth $45?

[Because a passion for product, quality, presentation and customer experience is a good reason to post a story. - DJK]

A look at three of New York City's finest tea programs, which are currently offering table side match service, multiple infusions, $45 pots of tea, and much more.

For a long time, tea was an afterthought in restaurants. It fell behind wine, coffee, and even water. You'd visit the finest restaurants in the city, have an amazing meal, and then finish with lackluster and poorly steeped teas. But that is changing. 

Amazon Disrupts Itself

Sometime last summer, a quarter-billion dollars went missing at Amazon.
Analysts were expecting the usual gangbusters third quarter. But it was about $250 million short of forecasts.
Here is one way to look at the disappointing results: Amazon, for all its heft, is starting to lose momentum. It was rejected by some customers who were put off by its acrimonious dispute with the publisher Hachette over e-books, while others found its prices less compelling than they once were.
But few things about the retailer are ever clear-cut, so here is another interpretation: Amazon is intentionally cannibalizing some major product lines — offering free or nearly free music, video and e-books — to draw tens of millions of people into its ecosystem.

The Mall of the Future

The future of the shopping mall Officially shopping malls are defined as “one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnected walkways enabling visitors to walk from unit to unit.”1 Unofficially, they are the heart and soul of communities, the foundation of retail economies, and a social sanctuary for teenagers everywhere. In recent decades, the concept of the shopping mall, which has its origins in the U.S. and became a full-blown modern retail trend there in the post-WWII years, has proliferated across the globe. The five largest malls in the world now reside in Asia. China’s New South China Mall in Dongguan stands at the top of the heap with 2.9 million square meters of space.
Despite its ubiquity, the mall as it’s been conceived for the last half century is at a critical inflection point. A storm of global trends are coming together at the same time to cause malls to change the role they play in people’s lives. No longer are they prima…

This Belt Can Charge Your Phone

Nifty, a technology start-up based in the United Kingdom, is teaming up with clothing designers Casely-Hayford to craft a fashionable belt that will double as a mobile charger.

Online Sales Set Black Friday Record

Mobile and international sales drove online business on Black Friday to a new record level. E-commerce sales surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time on Friday — far outpacing growth seen on Cyber Monday the past few years, according to data from Adobe Digital Index that tracked more than 350 million visits to 4,500 retail Web sites.

The day hit $2.4 billion in sales, a 25 percent increase from last year when sales reached $1.8 billion. On Thanksgiving, online sales hit $1.33 billion, slightly less than the predicted $1.35 billion. Adobe projects that Cyber Monday sales on Monday will reach $2.6 billion.

The Power of a Simple Act

"All is not lost.  The Power of a Simple Act and a Simple Image."  - DJK
As thousands gathered to make their voices heard during a rally earlier this week, one officer and a young man paused to hear each other out.
This image, shot by freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen, shows Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum hugging 12-year-old Devonte Hart during the Ferguson demonstration in Portland on Nov. 25, 2014.

Dressing for Success 2015

You can learn a lot about human behavior and tendencies while on an airplane, especially when you’ve packed on enough miles to circle the globe more than a handful of times. I’m constantly traveling, but people’s style of dress never ceases to capture my attention. Time after time, I encounter more passengers that lead me to wonder if they even bothered getting dressed in the first place.

Mortar & Brick Fights Back

Wal-Mart and Target Take Fight to Amazon for Holiday Sales Macy's CEO says the Internet didn’t appear to be making a dent in the chain’s Thanksgiving weekend foot traffic. 
After losing ground in past years to online competitors over Thanksgiving weekend, brick-and-mortar retailers are striking back by becoming more aggressive in pricing and selling goods on the Web.
The strategy appears to be driving traffic to their sites. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Friday that Thanksgiving was its second-biggest day ever for online sales. TargetCorp. said Thanksgiving was its biggest online day ever, with sales up 40% from a year earlier.

Where to Put 4.5 Million Pounds of Thanksgiving Leftovers

"We sold enough food storage containers to hold 4.5 million pounds of Thanksgiving leftovers and we sold enough towels to line the banks of the Mississippi River.” 

The First Thanksgiving

April Showers bring May Flowers, and Mayflowers bring... Pilgrims
The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to The Netherlands, to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly, and the funny wooden shoes had termites, and made clunking sounds when they walked.
The pilgrims did NOT wear black and white clothing with huge buckles on their hats, clothes, and shoes. Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the seventeenth century when the Randa Belts & Furnishings division introduced them. Black and white were worn only on Sundays and formal occasions. Women dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, while men wore white, beige, earthy green, and brown. The Randa Trend Team includes more informat…

Omnichannel Has Arrived

Rebecca Minkoff enters her phone number in the Connected Fitting Room at her new store, opting in to link her session to her MyRM account so she can go back and look at what she tried on at a later date.

Retailers are at last beginning to flex their omnichannel muscles.

Omnichannel will become more than just an overused buzzword this holiday season. A series of technological advancements look to link the online and offline experiences in a real way — and this means a lot more than just arming sales associates with iPads. 

Wireless electronic implant delivers antibiotic, then dissolves

Wireless electronic implants deliver antibiotic, then harmlessly dissolves November 25, 2014 Optical (and corresponding IR) images of the dissolution of implant device (top row: powering induction coil with resistor/heater) (credit: Tufts University) Imagine an electronic implant that delivers a drug when triggered by a remote wireless signal — then harmlessly dissolves (no post-surgical infection concerns, no fuss, no muss) within minutes or weeks.

Story of Kohl's, Black Friday and the $5 Toaster

Before the lights had dimmed on Black Friday last year, executives at Kohl’s Corp. were already at work on the deal they would use to pull shoppers into their stores this time around: a $5 toaster.

First the Parade, Then Black Friday

Originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, in 1920 first generation immigrant employees welcomed Santa Claus to Herald Square and enthroned him on the Macy's balcony at the 34th Street store entrance. Over a quarter of a million people attended and the parade became an annual event. In 1924 the parade was rebranded the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and first featured animals from the Central Park Zoo.

How Successful People Stay Calm

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

Menswear Quotes

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”– Gore Vidal, Writer

“A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.”– Hardy Amies, Designer

“Trendy is the last stage before tacky.”– Karl Lagerfeld, Designer

“One pretends to do something, or copy someone or some teacher, until it can be done confidently and easily in what becomes one’s own style”.– Cary Grant, Actor

“It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes.”– Hardy Amies, Designer

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”– Epictetus, Philosopher

"A good trick as you get older is to get a thick pair of glasses that have a dark frame. Everything else can droop and slide but that pair of dark glasses stays sharp and crisp. Look at Cary Grant. Look at Vidal Sassoon."– Tom Ford, Designer

"If you're not sure whether it looks good on you, it doesn't."– Scott Omelianuk, Author…

Conspicuous Consumption? Yes, but It’s Not Crazy

Photo CreditTim Cook
"Let me tell you about the rich. They are different from you and me," but they're not crazy... DJK 

"Rich people buy luxury goods for many reasons, but even those seeking to display their wealth can almost always find efficient ways of doing so. "

Automation Makes Us Dumb

"Evidence suggests that our own intelligence is withering as we become more dependent on the artificial variety. Rather than lifting us up, smart software seems to be dumbing us down."

It's Always 9:41 on an iPhone. Here's Why.

January, 2007 and Steve Jobs is taking the stage. It is precisely 9:00 AM in San Francisco. As planned, rehearsed and carefully staged it is 40 minutes later when Apple’s famous CEO states, “One more thing. This is a day I have been looking forward to for two and a half years. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything." Jobs announces, "Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone." The giant screen behind him flashes an image of the first iPhone. It was 9:42 a.m.

Smart Buttons Activate Tasks on SmartPhones

Flic is a 'smart button' that tells your iPhone to STFUAs far as smart gadgets go, Flic is about as simple as it gets. It's a tiny magnetic button that can be programmed to control various functions of your phone, from silencing an alarm to snapping a photo. Each button can be programmed with three different functions -- initiated by either a single tap, double tap, or push and hold -- and at US$27 they're relatively cheap.

[How can Randa use this concept and technology?  Think of touching your tie bar to take a photo, or your belt buckle to set a reminder, and more... DJK]

Some Retailers Promote Decision to Remain Closed on Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, the open-versus-shut debate has grown even louder.
Walmart, Kmart, Macy’s, Target, RadioShack and many other major retailers are proclaiming that they will be open on Thanksgiving Day to make shoppers happy. But Costco, Marshalls, GameStop and T. J. Maxx are riding the backlash against holiday commerce by boasting that they will not relent: They will remain closed that day to show that they are family-friendly and honoring the holiday.

It's a Special Occasion

"Every time our customers walk through a door it could be the start of a special occasion, and we don’t want to miss it.” - Countess Mara

Amazon is Listening- Literally

At home, when you talk about products or shopping, is listening.Literally listening.
Last week Amazon unveiled a wireless speaker with voice recognition technology similar to Apple’s Siri and OK Google.  Named “Echo” the new product is positioned as a tabletop voice-activated internet search tool.  Ask about the weather in Chicago, the number of ounces in a liter, the capital of Bolivia, or to play Taylor Swift, and Echo responds aloud.

Beware: The Dire Pit of Mediocrity

Mired in Mediocrity[or, is Meh the New Black? DJK]Photo Credit Mark Pernice  WELCOME to the “new mediocre.” It’s not quite the New Look, or the New Deal, but it is the new normal.
At least according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who coined the term a few weeks ago.
She was referring to the global economy, of course, which she thought could use a jolt lest it “muddle along with subpar growth,” but her words, uttered during a relatively small-scale speech at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, have had an impact far beyond the school’s borders and the world of economists (though said economists were very het up about it), reaching into the Twitterverse.
Macroeconomic theory rarely seems to have much to do with the minutiae of everyday life, but in this case Ms. Lagarde’s phrase has a surprisingly resonant application. Suddenly, that free-floating malaise and lack of inspiration everyone keeps complaining about has a name.