Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Fashion Muse - Stevie Dance

Stevie Dance is the impossibly cool editor of Russh magazine. She also works as a stylist and creative consultant in Sydney and New York. One of the few Australian editors catching the eye of the international fashion scene, Dance tends to fly under the fashion radar, letting her images and articles speak for themselves. However, after catching the eye of street style photographer Garance Dore and Tommy Ton from Jak & Jil, Dance's unique style is becoming just as well known as her work. Favouring minimal make-up, Dance has the ability to mix and match different textures and colours in an effortless way. Tending to favour pants which she pairs with interesting shaped and textured jackets, Dance has a minimalistic approach to fashion. With Dance and Christine Centenera currently flying the flag for Australian Editors on the international fashion scene, let's hope more Editors follow their lead and help put the Australian Fashion industry on the map!

Get Stevie's look with natural make-up, cut-outs and details, and by mixing prints and textures.

A simple outfit with....

.....unexpected detailing on the back of the jacket

I love the mix of khaki and blue
Dance does her take on man style fashion

Dance somehow makes this interesting mix of textures
and colours work
Looking effortlessly cool in a Isabel Marant jacket
Dance in a simple trench coat with Harper's Bazzar Fashion Editor
Christine Centenera
Dance favours all white outfits

The interesting jeans make stops this outfit from
being too plain
I love the cutout back of the beautiful dress

Dance looking naturally beautiful 
A great top with interesting cutouts
Brightening up a classic white suit with a bright shirt
In amazing Alexander Wang corset shorts

Images sourced from http://garancedore.fr, http://www.hanneli.com/, http://fashionclocked.blogspot.com, http://vanessajackman.com, http://wantwhatsheswearing.blogspot.com, http://streetpeeper.com/fashion, http://philltaylorblog.blogspot.com, http://gra-ceblog.blogspot.com, http://harpersbazaar.com, http://style.com

Monday, 30 May 2011

Want to own a piece of Witchery and Mimco?

Now’s your chance to buy your share in two Australian fashion icons. Global financial services firm JP Morgan have confirmed that Australian fashion brands Witchery and Mimco are moving to public ownership by listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. JP Morgan will be working on the Initial Public Offering (IPO) process for the two companies.

An IPO is the first sale of a stock to the public, and is used as a way for companies to raise finances. It is predicted that the Witchery/Mimco IPO could raise around $300 million. With this extra money comes increased responsibility; not only do public companies have more stringent reporting requirements, crucially, they assume a responsibility to shareholders - who are now part-owners of the company - to perform and make money.

With this IPO, Witchery and Mimco will join the likes of Myer, Oroton, Just Group, Pacific Brands, David Jones and Country Road, all of whom are listed on the Australian stock exchange. In Australia, not many fashion companies are listed on the stock exchange so it is difficult to predict whether there will be much demand for the stock and what the resale value will be. With Myer's stock hitting a record low of $2.77 last Tuesday, significantly lower than it's float price of $41.10 18 months ago, and David Jones' stock not fairing much better, it doesn't look like it is a great time for retailers in the stock market. It is also not clear how the introduction of Zara - direct competitors to Witchery and Mimco - into the Australian market will influence potential investors.

It will be interesting to see how Witchery and Mimco use the money they raise from this IPO. They need to be smart about future campaigns, collections and advertising if they are to compete in an increasingly competitive retail market.

Information sourced from http://www.ragtrader.com.au/news/jpmorgan-confirms-witchery-and-mimco-ipo
Images from http://witchery.com.au and http://mimco.com.au

Friday, 27 May 2011

Mission 65 - Interview with Philip Boon

Philip with designer Kim Kneipp in a Vintage Workshop
run for the Whitehouse students
Last week I did a post on Mission 65, a fantastic charity event which aims to raise money for the tireless work of the Prahran Mission.

I was lucky enough to interview one of Australia's most successful stylists Philip Boon, who has played an integral role in the planning of this fundraising event. Philip will also be co-presenting on the night with Australian fashion legend Jenny Bannister.

1. Why did you decide to become involved with Mission 65?

My close friend Erica Myers Davis is the General Manager of Fundraising at Prahran Mission and ten years ago she asked me to style a fashion show for the Mission, she asked me again and it was great to be involved, this time with a different theme.

2. You came up with the great concept to involve students from the Whitehouse with the planning of Mission 65. How do you think this practical experience will benefit them in the future.
My 3rd year Styling students at Whitehouse had to create an event for this semester and I thought what better way to get experience with working with a major client than to work together on a fashion show that is actually for a charity and a great cause. The experience that they will have and the rewarding nature of the job I hope will give them an experience they would need to have worked in the industry for years to get.

3. What is your role in the organisation of Mission 65?
Project Manager/Style Director

4. Why do you think it is important for the community to support Mission 65 and the Prahran Mission?
Prahran Mission doesn't get any government funding like many other charities and they have worked with displaced people, some with mental health issues for 65 years, a subject that not many people want to talk about let alone care for. Considering that one in three people in Australia will have mental health issues at some time in their life I think they deserve more than our money, they need our support.
Thanks Philip for taking the time out of your busy schedule to tell us more about this fantastic event!

If you haven't already bought tickets you can do so here. They are selling fast so make sure you get in quick!

To follow the event on Facebook click here.

Check out the Mission 65 blog here for behind the scenes action.

To learn more about the fantastic work of the Prahran Mission click here.

Here are some behind the scenes pictures, showing all the hard work that is being put in to make this event possible:

Images courtesy of http://mission65fashion.tumblr.com/

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Interview - Bento Part 2

In Part 1 of my interview Samantha discussed her background and why she decided to manufacture her garments in Melbourne.

In Part 2, Samantha discusses business issues she has faced since starting Bento.

Samantha modeling one of her beautiful
7. Do you think there was enough guidance and support (from the industry and government) to help you when you decided to not only pursue a career in the fashion industry, but start your own small business? (e.g. you’ve spoken about the difficulties about initially finding stockists for your designs) From government, absolutely. The fashion industry on the other hand is incredibly skeptical of newcomers and really make them prove their value before they’ll work with them.

8. How are you using social media (e.g. your blog) to support and promote your business? Primarily, we use social media to stay in touch with our friends, fans and supporters. It’s a great way to hear from individual Bento devotees as well as share what’s happening behind the scenes.

9. What are some of the challenges of being an up-and-coming designer? What support would you like to see given to designers such as yourself? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m really not a designer! I’m a marketer who is lucky enough to be able to create the product as well.
But anyway – the challenges are huge… finding quality support from a supplier perspective is one of the biggest. Developing genuine, meaningful relationships with stockists is really tricky too.

10. You said the majority of boutiques are buying less, buying lower value and buying from “established” label. As a new label in the market, how do you market your designs to attract stockists? We’re much more hands-on than other labels in the market. We spend time in our stockist’s stores, getting to understand their customer. We also provide very detailed training and point of sale information to support retail staff. Unlike many labels, we can also warehouse stock for boutiques, do custom colours with low (or even no) minimums and have sold-out styles recut for special customers.
More than all that though – we have a product that is virtually unequalled in quality and is designed to complement the rest of the store.

11. With the GFC and rise in e-commerce, the Australian retail industry is struggling. How can designers and retailers collaborate to improve current marketing techniques? Due to my marketing background, we recently launched an e-mag called The Boutique Broadsheet specifically for buyers that looks at such things. I do however believe it is paramount for labels to work in conjunction with their stockists to ensure survival – not just in the current climate, but on an ongoing basis.

12. What do you love most about your job? 
That you never know what will happen in the next 24 hours. 

Thanks to Samantha for taking the time to answer my questions! It's great as a consumer to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by different labels.

All the best for the future Samantha!

Checkout Bento's website here.
Find Bento on Facebook here.
Follow Samantha's blog here.

Here's the stylish Samantha showing how you can mix versatile Bento pieces into your wardrobe:

Images courtesy of http://republicofstyle.blogspot.com, Six Wolves for Pedestrian TV, http://www.pagesdigital.com

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Street Style - Melbourne

This Street Style special features the stylish staff from AGAIN Recycle, a fantastic vintage boutique in Camberwell, Melbourne that sells beautiful clothes and accessories for men and women carefully sourced from Los Angeles and New York, among other major US cities.

Check out my feature on AGAIN Recyle here!

Dress: 80s Poly dress from AGAIN Recycle
Hat: 1940s American Rag from AGAIN Recycle
Coat: Faux fur coat from AGAIN Recycle

Bag: Lizard Skin from AGAIN Recycle
Jewellery: From Op shop

Dress: 60s lace dress from AGAIN Recycle
Boots: Jeffery Campbell-Joe boots
Hat: From Camberwell Market

Watch: Mimco
Ring: Indonesian coin

Hat: Sent from LA by one of store owners
Jacket: Nike hoodie
T-shirt: Michael Jordan t-shirt from weekend market in Bangkok
Jeans: Dejour
Shoes: Chucks

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Would You Take Fashion Advice From An Engineer?

An example of a popular "set"
How have 3 engineers created a fashion site which is 6 times more read than Vogue? Launched in 2007 by 3 ex-Yahoo engineers, Polyvore is one of the companies changing the way we shop online.

When Pasha Sadri, Jianing Hu and Guangwei Yuan sensed a shift from print to digital media, they pounced on the opportunity to capitalize on the online fashion market. Despite being a popular online subject, companies had not yet realised the potential to make money from e-retail.

Exploiting this gap, the trio created Polyvore, a place where fashion conscious people from around the world could share their style and thoughts on fashion.

One of the site’s most popular features is called “sets”. This allows users to pick their favourite items from the site, and make collages resembling the trend pages of a fashion magazine. Users can browse other users’ “sets”, enter them in competitions, join groups and buy merchandise directly. Users are also able to share their sets on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Create your own set
With over 6.5 million unique hits per month, Polyvore has unsurprisingly attracted retail partners such as Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom, and designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Diane von Furstenberg.

The benefit of having tech-savy people at the helm of a fashion company is that they can create smart ways of allowing users to interact in the online fashion community. For example, a bookmark drag bar allows users to “clip” products from other stores or sites. Around 95% of content on Polyvore is collected using this method.

One of the many competitions run by Polyvore
Competitions on Polyvore allow users to interact in the online community, not only with users, but designers. Competitions such as a recent clutch ‘design-off’ have also involved designers such as Rebecca Minkoff.

Features do not just benefit consumers. A new function called Dashboard, allows companies and designers to “take the temperature” of their brand. This can tell them how popular a particular item or collection is in real time, instead of waiting until the season is over.

Like many other websites, Polyvore embraces social media sites such as Facebook to further enhance their offering to their community. Sites such as Facebook allow easy interaction between Polyvore, brands and online users.

When asked why he thought Polyvore was so successful, Polyvore’s CEO Pasha Sadri said for most other sites, “immediate revenue is the focus for a lot of shopping oriented sites. Whereas on Polyvore, [users] want to come and browse and interact. That suits the way a lot of women shop.”

Despite being technologically focused, Polyvore relies on the taste of their users to drive their site. When questioned about why the site does not use algorithms like Google Boutiques, Sadri said the Polyvore “belief is there is actually no substitute for human taste. You cannot capture in an algorithm. Following that person whose taste you like it the best way to discover products that you are likely to like as well. An algorithm might capture the average of your taste, but it leaves out the element of surprise that a real person gives you.”

So what can designers and retailers learn from Polyvore's success? Polyvore have mastered the art of using basic techniques to great effect. Here are some examples of Polyvore's smart marketing:
  1. They are getting the community to promote their company by making it easy for users to upload their sets onto social marketing sites such as Facebook, which increases exposure to their brand exponentially. They also provide Polyvore "badges" for bloggers to put on their blog which links to the Polyvore site. These techniques are not only effective, but relatively cost-free.
  2. Their site is consumer focused with users selecting the content of the site through the sets they create. 
  3. Polyvore have formed relationships with big brands such as Bergdorf Goodman and Yves Saint Laurent who have bigger marketing budgets Polyvore can benefit from.
  4. They encourage users to get involved, not only through creating their own sets, but by creating competitions which give those in the Polyvore community, a unique forum to show their skills.
  5. They support and reward users who are part of the Polyvore community. For example, they will have regular features with bloggers who post Polyvore on their blogs and interview bloggers who are actively involved in the Polyvore community.
Checkout the site for yourself and let me know why you think Polyvore is so successful - who knows, you might be inspired to create your own set!
Check out my post on Google Boutiques to learn more about the new wave of online shopping changing the way we buy online.

Information sourced from http://polyvore.com and http://fashionmarketinggroup.tumblr.com/
Images sourced from http://polyvore.com

Monday, 23 May 2011

Spotlight On: Lost and Found Market

In my search for an outfit for the upcoming Mission 65 Event I decided to explore some of Melbourne's fantastic markets. Recently mentioned by superblogger Susie Bubble in her blog and by Rudy Rose on MTV, I was keen to checkout the Lost and Found Market in Collingwood.

With over four levels full of vintage clothing, accessories, furniture, books, records and bric-a-brac, you could easily spend hours searching through the fantastic range. As there are 38 different store holders occupying the space, you get a fantastic range of items with each store owner's personality and style coming across in the layout of each stall. Stall owners take turns working in the Market for free, which not only keeps the cost of goods down for shoppers, but means you can ask them about the history of items you are interested in. They also can provide advice on vintage items from different eras.

Two of the lovely store holders Kat and Joh were nice enough to give me some background about the market and their stores:

Kat is the Saturday Manager at the Lost and Found Market. You can find her stall at number 38. She specialises in small space dining, desks and small furniture, perfect for apartment living. She also stocks kitchenalia, barware and has a love for 70s things. Her homemade 70s bell sleeve African print dress colour co-ordinated perfectly with her stall!

Joh started trading vintage in 1996 in Flinders Lane before moving to Lost and Found. Joh gave me the following information about her stall: "I provide quality authentic garments, great examples of their time - like structural 80's designer prints, etc. 90% of the things you see in fashion magazines is derived from designs of the past. I offer the original garments, generally made from natural fibre, usually made in Australia and always better value than the new version."

Thanks to Kat and Joh for taking the time to have a chat to me!

If you're a lover of vintage, or are just looking for that special one-off piece, you must check out the Lost and Found Market. The difficult thing won't be finding something to buy, it will be trying not to buy everything in the whole shop!

Here are some of the great things to see at the Market:

Check out the Lost and Found Market at 12 Smith Street, Collingwood.
Contact the Lost and Found Market on (03) 9419 4477.
Opening hours: 7 Days, 10am - 6pm.
Find them on Facebook at the Lost and Found Social Club Group
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