Category Archives: Performance Gear

Eddie Bauer’s Mountain

Eddie Bauer is going back to its original roots by hiring mountaineer legend Jim Whittaker for insight on its expedition outerwear. The goal is to revive the brands sense of adventure and produce better performing products. Also to move away from its focus on indoor casual apparel in hopes of a big comeback.

When conservative companies hire athletes as design consultants they take a pronounced risk. In my opinion it is a great way to get the inside scoop on athletic apparel. Athletes know best what works and what does not. Brands that hire designers who live and breathe the brand are more successful.

Eddie Bauer’s new line of apparel will be put to the test when their new collection is launched in 2009. Their goal is to sell $450 per square foot, which is far from their $260 per square foot from last year. If sales increase for Eddie Bauer, these types of partnerships may become a more common occurrence. HANNA

MacGregor Golf: Interview with Innovator

Greg Norman

MacGregor Golf is a 100 year old golf company, one with a new CEO. Michael J. Setola shares with us his vision and strategy for keeping the innovative brand strong.

NATALIA: Please give folks a bit of insight as to what your role entails.
Michael: As CEO of MacGregor, my primary role is to manage the investments and direction of the company. As it relates to product, inventory is our largest investment, so I keep a keen eye on product and product development.

NATALIA: How did you first become interested in fashion?

Michael: Funny story, but my first job was with Hanes Underwear. I was selling boxers and white briefs. Suddenly for the first time, colored underwear came on the scene and I saw the effect of fashion on something as simple as underwear. I was hooked on the excitement of newness and the effect great product has on business.

NATALIA: How would you define good innovation?

Michael: Good innovation is the combo of design, merchandising and sell through to the consumer. It needs to be relevant as truly new, but have meaning to the consumer.

NATALIA: Is innovation important to you? MacGregor?

Michael: At both the Greg Norman collection and in our MacGregor Golf Club companies, innovation is what separates us from the field.

NATALIA: How is innovation realized in your business?

Michael: Design, product development, technical services and production all must work together to bring innovation to the market in sync.

NATALIA: Any challenges or successes you have had bringing innovative design to market?

Michael: There are always challenges in getting all these components firing at the same time. Often, one area is ahead or behind in the ability to deliver innovation, so a project may be delayed.

NATALIA: What are some of the current innovation projects you are working on?

Michael: In apparel, climate controlled fabrics are becoming more important for the active golfer. Body temperature regulating developments are in our market and improvements are in the works. In golf clubs, we have a new metal that we are introducing to the clubface for game improvement.

NATALIA: Do you feel technology in fashion is just a trend?

Michael: Everything is a trend. It’s just about how long it stays with us. Technology will be with us for a long time, the consumer likes it.


NATALIA: In a few words please share with us your vision for the future.

Michael: Companies that innovate and develop consumer centric products will excel even more in the future. The combination of economic challenges and modern expectations will raise the bar for products to succeed.

Michael J Setola

No to Nano-silver

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Freshness during the day is more than just applying deodorant in the morning. Due to many consumers longer workday’s, consumers are in search of apparel fabrics that, not only feel fresh but also smell
fresh for longer periods. Many of these fabrics require certain finishes in order to maintain its freshness.

According to a survey conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres Inc, 51% of male consumers would pay the extra dime to purchase clothing with specialized freshness treatments.

Silver has a natural antimicrobial ingredient that seems to inhibit the growth of bacteria and it has been used for years as bandages to cover up wounds and irritations. Because silver particles are measured using the nano scale it does not modify any fiber characteristics or performances. There are even
washing machines that spray out the particles that place the nanosilver straight into the clothes while they are being washed. The hope is that we not only have clean and fresh clothes but we can also be cleaner and bacteria free.

So what’s the catch? Silver run-off found in the concentrations has been linked to systemic disorders including retardation, cancer and blood disease. Yikes.

HANNA

Organic, Eco and Affordable

Organic, Eco and Affordable

Increasingly, mass-market fashion designers are creating eco-friendly products. The rising demand for GREEN has encouraged brands such as: Levi Strauss, Quiksilver and The Gap to provide organically grown and eco-friendly products at a competitive price point.

GREEN garments are being made from exotic materials such as: corn, wood pulp, recycled plastic, byproducts of soybean oil, seaweed, organically grown bamboo and cotton.

Sportswear brand, Patagonia produced the popular “Synchilla Marsupial”, a polyester fleece made from 85% recycled soda bottles and unusable second-quality fabrics.

Wellman Inc, a U.S. company, produces these fibers from recycled products (FRPG) and packaging products (PPG). Their efforts keep 3 billion plastic (PET – polyethylene terephthalate) bottles out of landfills each year (bottled water will become a trend of the past).

Kate O’Connor, a designer known for her fluid lines enjoys the soft hand of silk and other luxurious fabrics. She found a less expensive alternative to silk in bamboo.Bamboo fiber is completely biodegradable and is the fastest growing wood plant farmed. Bamboo fabrics absorb moisture well and help keep you cool. Bamboo is also anti-bacterial, making it useful for producing next-to-skin garments. With all its benefits bamboo is controversial because many bamboo fabrics do not last as long as cotton fabrics.

The fashion and textile industries are in the early stages of exploring and innovating GREEN materials, that said, the future is a go. NATALIA

Remote Wink

Remote Wink

In this age of computers and technology people often try and find the shortest and easiest way to accomplish tasks. Recently, a group of Japanese researchers led by Kazuhiro Taniguchi (http://www.osaka-u.ac.jp/eng/) have taken this idea to a whole new level. They developed a wink-based system for controlling devices suchs as MP3 players. The system being used will allow people to play their iPod with just the blink of an eye. The wink remote is a single chip computer system that uses infrared sensors to monitor movement in your temples. The temple switch is small enough to be built into a pair of glasses. Imagine being able to fast-forward, skip or backtrack to a song through eye movement. The system is advanced enough to distinguish between a one-second wink and a natural blink. The temple switch is also able to control many other household appliances. The device is underway and will be made available within the next two to three years. Researchers have also begun developing a sister to the wink-based technology, the teeth-clench method. NATALIA ALLEN

Show and Tell

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Showstudio.com has been a keystone site for me for the past few years. Photographer Nick Knight has developed an amazing platform where the worlds of art design, fashion, photography, theory, films, and just really cool content collide in a thought provoking and entertaining way of digesting fashion, images, and presentation.

Roger tredre, Editor in Chief of WGSN contributed his thoughts in an essay called, “ Fashion’s Ecopolitical Drama”. This is the beginning of numerous essays from theorists for “Political Fashion” a project conceptualized by Nick Knight on Showstudio. Roger’s essay highlights fashion fickle relationship with “what’s new” particularly with the green movement we are witnessing. He stresses that there is no time better than the present to implement our knowledge in a way where it becomes a part of the fashion cycle, and not just a momentary trend.

In this essay Roger tredre states, “For fashion, in particular, fence-sitting is not an option. The hard truth behind the rapid depletion of the world’s resources is that we must learn to consume less. But fashion is intrinsically linked to consumption. From clothes to mobile phones and cars, fashion is the driving force of modern consumer culture. Indeed, the recent retail industry emphasis on “fast fashion”, based on a faster turnover of trends – coupled with ultra-low prices – has encouraged us to buy more, not less.”

How can the fashion world straddle both worlds of consumption and quality? I don’t feel suggesting to others to buy less is the answer. The world is expanding, always offering something new, even if it is not a tangible product. Desire is always going to be there. The fashion world needs to offer a desire for quality. It’s not about consuming less. It’s about consuming intelligently. SOSA

Ten Trends to Top

My synthesis of the most significant trends impacting design, commerce and the success of global brands.

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1 Internet- the Wild West of the First-World
Approximately 2 Billion users and growing. The World Wide Web is the future of interaction. Brands must develop intelligent and creative strategies for how to effectively utilize the Internet.

2 Diversity- the Second-World is gaining
Cities such as Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires and Qatar are rapidly rearing a middle-class eager for aspirational products.

3 Environment- Green is the color of choice from fashion to fuel
Sustainable products and practices are top of mind with consumers. From luxury to mass-market the audience is aware and choosing to side with the environmentally conscious.

4 Innovation- New is never new for long
A buzz-word with real meaning. Global corporations shall look to technology and creative ideas to distinguish and revitalize sluggish performance. Studies show that consumers continue to choose technologically enhanced products at retail 2 to 1.

5 Travel- Mobility is key
Increased space travel, domestic and international flights are a big part of our future. An emerging foreign middle-class that demands inexpensive travel coupled with a new wealthy-class that is willing to pay for on-demand jet service has created a boom, here to stay.

6 Super Luxury- Personalized exclusivity for the exclusive
Traditionally high-end designers frequent collaborations with mainstream retailers have led to over accessibility of luxury branded products. In response, a new category called Super Luxury is the future. Brands will reclaim ownership and focus on core customer specific designer products.

7 Egalitarianism- the most accessible is best
While luxury brands strive to be most luxurious, mass-market brands are becoming more accessible. Providing style and taste to the majority at a low price point will continue to be important for retailers and designers.

8 Alternative- Anti-mainstream and extreme everything
The popularity of dance movements such as Techtonik and sports such as snowboarding are a small example of the power of the underdog. Many customers identify with lifestyle brands that provide the feel of being emerging and alternative.

9 Slow Fashion- the anti-thesis to Fast Fashion
A classical approach to purchasing, dressing and selling apparel, where time is not sacrificed and permanence is the goal.

10 Wellness- Healthcare outside of the hospital
A promise of longevity and prosperity influence what consumers choose to buy, from fashion to food. Products that genuinely promote balance and healthfulness shall continue to be popular in global markets.

Please email innovate@designfuturist.com for more information.

Copyright © 2008 NATALIA ALLEN, LLC. All rights reserved.