Will Haters Kill The #Curry2 Chef Sneaker?

Curry 2 Low Chef Sneaker Debut Lambasted

Under Armour debuted NBA, All-Star Steph Curry’s new Curry 2 Low “Chef” athletic sneaker, June 9 to an immediate explosion of haters on social media. They had a field day mocking the all-white, low-top sneaker on Twitter #Curry2 with snarky comparisons to “Dad shoes”, Seinfeld and elderly walkers. Although they were pretty creative and witty in their criticism, I couldn’t help cringe for the battered creative team at Under Armour and the innocently blindsided, two-time Golden State Warrior’s MVP, Stephen Curry. It hurts.

All white sneakers have been trending recently, but they are only “cool” in the context of being worn by cool people. When an urban, badass 18-year-old wears them, they are cutting edge. When clunky, all-white athletic sneakers are worn by anyone over 40, they conjure up images of low-brow, comfortable, nurse and mall-walker shoes. Fashion is always about context; for example, a Millennial can rock a bucket hat, on a man over 40, its touristy, geek-chic.

Curry 2 Low Chef

Curry 2 Low Chef

A Case Study of The Power of Social Media

As a design director, I can easily imagine the path followed to get to this design. White sneakers are trending and they probably thought it was a sure thing to preview this color. It comes in several other colors, that are considerably more radical, like black with team orange details, which was the most sold-down color on their website, as of this post. (White was available in all sizes.) Personally, I would have taken a more risky approach to the overall design and colorways for a such a mega-superstar shoe. Safe can backfire in a crowded market, but it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

I don’t believe in collective designing but with social media we live in times of instant approval or rejection of people, thoughts, services and products. For a high-profile intro with so much anticipation and hype, I think I would have focus-grouped the design concept mid-stream with sneakerheads, pre-release. This skewering of the #Curry2 can’t help the Under Armour bottom line.

Not sure if the haters will prevail to dent sales, but I think this will go down as a case study for academia on the power of social media and commerce.

Some other posts you might enjoy:

Tough Retail: 7 Ways to Grow Your Consumer Brand

Are Sporting Goods & Outdoor in a Death Spiral?

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on business strategy, creative direction, brand experience, trends, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

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7 Common Fashion Brand Management Mistakes

Great Fashion Brands Sell A Promise, Much More Than Products

It’s easy to think of fashion, consumer or retail brands that have lost substantial brand value over the decades. A great example is Talbot’s, once a venerable specialty retail force that sold customers a promise of the well-bred New England costal life. They also happened to sell preppy clothes and accessories. Over decades and several owners, the brand has been diluted to a unremarkable chain of apparel stores, a mere shadow of it’s storied past.

Great brands sell a relatable promise, values and even fantasies at an accepted value/price relationship. Products are number one, but it so much more than product. If you can’t identify and express this “magic quotient” in your fashion or retail brand, you have a serious problem. This is a big part of the “why me?” of a brand.

The “magic” is often so intangible that owners, managers, finance, merchandisers and even creative staff don’t get it. They find themselves stewards of a brand without the know-how to take it forward, without losing it’s soul. They collectively tinker with the recipe, ending up with a thin soup. Their individual actions are often random and lack a singular vision.

7 Common Fashion Brand Management Mistakes

Consumer goods, especially apparel, home and footwear markets are brutally competitive today. Brand relevance and management has never been more critical in these fashion businesses. Here are 7 common fashion brand management mistakes:

  • The brand doesn’t have a clearly understood brand promise that the whole organization works from.
  • The company targets the wrong persona for the brand.
  • The products aren’t compelling and/or full of mixed messages. They extend the brand into new categories without a shepherd with a consistent vision.
  • Companies have the wrong people in key positions. Creative directors are often the brand visionary and steward for brand integrity across the organization. Hiring a poor creative leader can have disastrous results. A great creative director can get the best out of an average design and marketing team. They have to be clear , motivational leaders and able to stand up to equally senior employees in the company.
  • Companies sometimes overly-empower newly-minted designers, assuming they innately know what customers want. Experience does matter.
  • Design, merchandising and sales teams continue to repeat the same products without evolving the products for modern needs and relevance. They may be blind to demographic and fashion trends that affect the brand. Some insiders resist change.
  • Sometimes management outsources brand reinvention to branding and marketing agencies without the experience or market knowledge to make sense of the real path to growth.

Sorel,  A Perfect Case Study in Brand Evolution

Whether a brand is two, five years or many decades old, it’s value and brand promise has to be continually monitored for current relevance. It’s difficult to turn around a flagging brand, not impossible, when things have gone too far. I perfect case study is Sorel of Ontario, Canada.

Sorel was a men’s and women’s winter boot brand owned by Kaufman Rubber Company started in 1962 in Canada. At one point, they were one of the largest suppliers of waterproof “outdoor” boots in the world.

In 2000, the brand was bought out of bankruptcy for $8 million by Columbia Sportswear, of Beaverton, OR. The line plodded along until 2008, when they decided to revamp the brand. Sorel is now a big growth story at Columbia and was projected to do $200M in 2015 sales. (sales were $60M in 2009).

Sorel president Mark Nenow is quoted as saying to Bloomberg… “We’re going to make it about style, we’re going to make it about premium, we’re going to make it about design, we’re going to make it impossible to ignore.” He also said it is going to be about women, women, women.”  They started to make more feminine boot styles aimed at urban, fashion conscious women. The strategy upped the fashion ante, within the framework of brand heritage. Design and marketing delivered a consistent message. Sales grew rapidly.

They tried a pop-up shop in Manhattan in December of 2014 and it was a hit. It became their first permanent store. They recently opened a store in Burlington, MA.

This store stopped me in my tracks. It put Sorel in a whole new light for me, from “that boot brand” to “I gotta have it”.  They didn’t take the expected route of an “outdoor” store with winter and mountain references. It has a nod to heritage with their polar bear logo in a fun wall patchwork, but the brand experience is a hip, fashion store with rustic contemporary displays and lighting.

They now design a complementary  collection of innovative, “active, boot-inspired” sandals and booties that would make any fashion lover swoon, whatever the season. The newborns have the DNA of the traditional classic boots. They’re sexy, edgy and rugged.

I think about the marketing journey I travelled to see the brand as fashion, instead of functional winter boots. Fashion credibility started by seeing the boots at Nordstrom, but experiencing their store and the unique shoe collection changed my perception entirely. I can’t say I saw anything on social or other media. It was the store and the shoes that changed everything.

Sorel is the perfect example of a heritage fashion brand with a modern evolution. Genius!

 

Some other posts you might enjoy:

Are The Sporting Goods & Outdoor Industries in a Death Spiral

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

Decoding Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on trends, creative direction, brand experience, business strategy, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post! 

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

Athletic Apparel Has Been Permanently Disrupted

Remember when athletic apparel was mostly made by footwear and sports equipment companies? It was budget-priced, logo-driven basic tees, sweats and shorts, sold primarily in sporting goods stores, for working out and active sports. It was the ugly step child to the primary businesses.

Market disruption started about 10 years ago when higher-value athletic apparel started to hit the market by fashion and price pioneers, Under Armour and Lululemon. They were innovators with more costly, functional fabrics, fashion-driven styling and unique branding; think of Under Armour’s powerful mannequins and Lululemon’s yoga cult brand experience.

Their flattering and comfortable styles, outperformed and outlasted their cheaper competitors. Customers found emotional value paying for creative, sexy and fashionable looks at a higher price and started wearing them in and out of the gym. They created “aspirational status” athletic brands.

The athleisure trend took off and has been the biggest trend in apparel for more than 5 years. Active and casual apparel blurred into a new category. The genie is out of the bottle and it is never going back.

Athleta pushes urban lifestyle products.
Athleta pushes urban lifestyle products.

Competition in Athletic Apparel Has Gotten Fierce

As athleisure has grown, the competition for market share has gotten fierce. Many non-athletic brands including Tory Burch (Torysport) and Free People (FP Movement) now offer their own active apparel. Footwear companies like Nike really upped their fashion game and companies are doing designer collaborations like Stella McCartney and Kayne West’s Yeezy for Adidas.

High-end, ecommerce specialists like Carbon 38, and Bandier (online and opening stores), have sprouted up, carrying ediger brands, like Michi and Heroine Sport. Designer ecommerce company Net-A-Porter started Net-A-Sporter.

Lululemon is seriously challenged lately by Gap’s Athleta. Athleta fully understands the blurring of the category with their combination of performance and sophisticated street wear looks (they used to only carry bright colors and the cliché “zen-like” NorCal prints). Lululemon has recently vowed to double-down on market-leading innovation and put a greater focus on performance athletes, in a recent article with Bloomberg.

Lululemon is pushing market-leading innovation.

Lululemon is pushing market-leading innovation.

Retailers like Target, Kohl’s and JC Penney greatly improved their active offerings. Macy’s, late to the athleisure party, now has a big selection in 700+ stores and online. Victoria’s Secret has an growing sports bra and athletic business. In fact, the sport bra  business has seriously dented fashion bras. Fast-fashion stores like Primark, have large active assortments at rock bottom prices.

Primark has rock-bottom prices, like $10 pants.

Primark has rock-bottom prices, like $10 pants.

Active Apparel Distribution Has Been Diluted

Distribution has been widely diluted across all retail channels. Sporting goods stores are no longer where most women buy their athletic apparel. Footwear and sports equipment companies have to sell direct to consumer and forge forward-thinking relationships beyond the sporting goods channel to regain market share.

It’s no wonder retailers like Sports Authority and defunct City Sports didn’t capitalize on this mega-trend. Sporting goods stores have to do more than display apparel in cavernous spaces and start competing head-on with real apparel merchants. They must be discerning, take brand risks and edit out the so-so.

Adidas at Urban Outfitters.

Adidas at Urban Outfitters.

2016’s Definition of Active Apparel

Athletic apparel is two-pronged. A smaller percentage is worn for true performance sports, but the lions’ share is used as casual, lifestyle clothing. Shorts designed for running, are a teenager’s summer staple. Sports bras are worn all day. Leggings and sweats are paired with Uggs for school. Hoodies are everywhere.

Design teams must understand the bulk of their products will never be worn for active sports. Personally, I own at least a dozen Lululemon tops and have never even tried yoga. Active designers simply can’t assign cursory importance to the “lifestyle” part of their business.

The definition of athletic apparel in 2016 is predominantly knit-driven, fitness inspired, comfortable casual apparel that is made of functional and innovative fabrics that can be worn for range of casual uses, including sports activities.

Fierce competition in the women’s and men’s apparel and accessories markets requires real innovation in styling and function. I’m not just talking “anti-stink” here, but unique and compelling designs as trend relevant as the underlying brand. The emotional connection to an active lifestyle is more important than the intended use of the clothes.

The world doesn’t need another ordinary half-zip. If the label was removed would anyone recognize your brand? What’s compelling about your products? The innovative brands will have pricing power, the copy-cats will experience significant mark downs and price deflation.

 

The Dix & Pond Blog is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting,  a Boston-based, company that consults on trend and creative direction, brand experience and business strategy, product development, merchandising and provides executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies.  CONTACT US TODAY!  or call 617.733.7411

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Top Women’s Casual Shoe Trends for Fall 2015

The Top Casual Women's Footwear Trends For Fall 2015

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE SLIDE SHOW

THE TOP WOMEN’S CASUAL FOOTWEAR TRENDS                 

There are five big trends in women’s casual footwear for fall 2015. Look for strong athletic inspiration, vintage looks, under-construction, simple styling, ultra-comfort and the contrast of glamour with sportiness.

Vintage Sport: Simple, vintage, vulcanized shoes continue to be a strong trend for fall 2015. Look for hipster sneakers, slip-ons, boxing and basket ball styles, as well as rubber soles on leather-upper boots and shoes. These under-constructed, athletic-inspired shoes pair with skinny, boyfriend jeans, skirts and athletic pants.

Seventies Bohemian: Under-constructed, hippie sandals and boots complement the retro, seventies, bohemian, fashion trend. There is a resurgence of suede, tan leathers, cork, stacked heels, lug soles, chukkas, ankle boots, sherpa and fringe details. Reemerging flared jeans require higher-heeled boots, sandals and shoes.

Easy Living: Comfort is a mega-trend in casual shoes. Soft, bend and stretch ballerinas, slip-ons, lace-free styles, brogues with rubber soles and driving moccasins, in a range of colors, patterns and materials are endlessly wearable for work and on the weekends.

Looking Sharp: Very pointed toes emerge in women’s ballet flats, Mary Janes, loafers, menswear looks, booties and lace-ups in suedes, patterns, metallic, rustic and patent leathers. These pair well with pants, short skirts and jeans.

Glam Sport:  Sport shoes go glamorous. Sneakers, loafers and shoes with rubber bottoms get a serious dose of cosmopolitan in metallic, patent leathers and edgy details. These pair well with urban minimalist and athletic looks.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SLIDE SHOW

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Boston-based, product development, creative, branding, business consulting and executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post!

Caged Animals – Gladiator Shoes

Act out your best warrior, bondage, bohemian and dominatrix fantasies. Take a walk on the wild side. Very few shoes have the power to transform the wearer and “blow-the-mind” of the observer to the extent, of the the “Caged Animal” gladiators for 2015. This badass shoe trend proves it’s good to be bad!

Gladiator sandals are white-hot for 2015.

Gladiator sandals are white-hot for 2015.

Sexy caged sandals, pumps and wedges come in a variety of leathers, suedes and metallics. Look for powerful details like studding, zippers, tassels, ties and athletic bottoms. Radical fashion trends like knee-high gladiators, are burning white-hot and will give birth to tamer versions for the masses in 2016. Wear them with shorts, skirts and culottes.

These shoes are scene stealers. Keep everything else minimal for maximum impact.

Some of the best are from Chanel, Ancient Greek Sandals, Stuart Weitzman, Valentino, Christian Louboutin, Sam Edelman, Free People, Michael Kors, BCBG, Joie, many others including the athle-chic, innovative Lunarsandiator Sky Hi from Nike!

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Hot Shots – Warm Up to Summer 2015

Warm up to the sexy, sultry colors of spring/summer 2015 in endless shades of coral, pink, orange and red. These uber-feminine shades make scene stealers out of life’s understudies. This fashion trend is what impulse purchases and standing o’s are made of.

Warm colors are trending for spring/summer 2015.

Warm colors are trending for spring/summer 2015.

Hot shots of color take center stage on dresses, tops, jeans, active, swimwear, lingerie, shoes, sandals, handbags and accessories. They look especially modern paired in tonal combinations, accented with white or light neutral browns, to avoid an epic sugar rush.

Most notable shades are impatien coral, ripe tomato, begonia, juicy pink and blush. Expect this salable color trend to do an encore in 2016 apparel and footwear collections.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Blue Color Worker Spring/Summer 2015

Looking at 25″ of snow outside, I’m big-time craving the blue skies of spring and summer 2015. One consolation is that we will be seeing a lot of blue in fashion over the next few months. The “Blue Color Worker” is the backbone of America in deepest navy, Air Force blue, royal, periwinkle, tender baby and blue tint.

The perennial favorite color will be front and center in fashion on everything from handbags, tops, sweaters, dresses, jeans, outerwear, active apparel, accessories, swimwear, shoes, etc. There will be a range of denim washes from light to very dark as well as solid dyed twills.

As MVP of the color spectrum, it can morph sharply nautical, softly sensual or boho seventies. Versatile blue is a power player, the king of casual and an intoxicating pastel.

Pair blues tonally or use navy as a neutral foil against bright primaries, such as navy and citrusy yellow. Navy with tinted pastels are chic and sexy. Combine the spectrum of blues with shades of grey, khaki or optic white.

Blue is the hardest working color family for spring/summer 2015.

Blue is the hardest working color family for spring/summer 2015.

For color seasonal color forecasts, see COLORSCOOP.

 Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Women’s 5 Fall 2014 Fashion Essentials

Stylish women seem effortlessly modern and have a certain je ne sais quoi. What’s the secret? They understand that a great wardrobe is a continuous evolution not a revolution. The fashion-savvy build upon their curated closet seasonally, with a handful of new items that have the power to change everything. Here is my round-up of five essential, trend-right items for Fall 2014, that will simply give you an up-to-the minute look:

Fall 2014 Fashion Must-Haves

Fall 2014 Fashion Must-Haves

1.  The slip-on sneaker. Sneaker style is white-hot. The not-so-humble “slip-on” in modern materials, such as metallics, leather, quilted, perforated, printed or embroidered, has my vote for the casual shoe of the season. Pair them with jeans, skirts, dresses, athletic pants, just about everything, for a comfy update to your fall footwear wardrobe. Think Vans, Steve Madden, Dolce Vita, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Joie, Vince, Prada, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo and just about all the usual suspects.

2. The clutch bag. There is something so elegant, so fresh , “clutching” a bag when everyone else is schlepping a sack over their shoulder. The clutch is a sure glam-slam.

Clutch bags come in envelope or clasp styles or and the more user-friendly wristlet clutch; either way it is an instant fall 2014 style update. I particularly like them in a pop of color, textural metallic or animal print, paired with neutral clothing. Check out Valentino, Alexander Wang, Marni, Proenza Schouler, Smythson, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Ted Baker, Kate Spade, BCBG and many more.

3. The athletic jean. Jeans are down-trending as women are wearing athletic or “athleisure” looks in and out of the gym. The trend has gone beyond basic yoga pants to spandex blend and nylon pants in 5-pocket jean-styling, cuffed sweats, boyfriend shapes, cargo details, etc.

Pair fitted pants with an oversized sweater, layered tops or sexy top for the gym. Pair baggy sweats, boyfriends or cargos with smaller, close to the body tops. See some of the best at Athleta, Carbon 38, and Net-a-Sporter.

4. The graphic top. “If you see something, say something”. The lowly graphic tee or top has been elevated to fashion status this season. Words have the power to express something about the wearer, simply amuse, suggest or confuse the audience. Text is powerful and playful, a small investment for an instant seasonal update. Look for intarsia sweaters and printed sweats and tees from Madewell, J Crew, Zara, Pam and Gela, Haute Hippie, Free People, Current/Elliott, Alexander McQueen, etc.

5. New outerwear. Outerwear is daily wear and more people see us with our coats on than off. An investment in an updated trench, parka or jacket can change-up your current wardrobe and attitude in an instant.

Look for down-filled, shine, quilted, luxe leathers, pop colors and metallics in puffers, 3/4 styles and cropped moto jackets. I particularly like casual styling in upscale materials. My favorites include Moncler, Burberry, Barbour, SAM., Mackage, Via Spiga and Uniglo.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

 

Fall 2015 Fashion Colors for Women

Are you a little bored with the same old color trend services year after year? Any design director who has been in the business for while starts to recognize the color service without seeing the box. A bigger problem is that many pricey forecasts come out about 18 months in advance. How can they be right? Fashion designers should strive to work closer to season.

Check out a new women’s color trend service for sportswear, active wear, dresses, accessories, intimate and footwear called COLORSCOOP. What sets it apart, is it comes out closer to the season (about 12 months in advance) and is chock full of beautiful, current images to support the forecast. This exciting service comes as a wired-bound book, with Pantone textile references and understandable commentary. Created by a design director for design directors and an economical $495 per season. Get the scoop now, SEE COLORSCOOP for immediate delivery.

Colorscoop is easy-to-use, salable and economical.

Colorscoop is easy-to-use, salable and economical.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Metal Urge for Home & Fashion

Our obsession with casual living, dressing and entertaining refuses to wane. At the same time, there is a serious trend in the “glamming of casual”. It is expressed in our urge for metal. Silver, gold and rose gold metallic looks, pervade all-things-casual… chunky sweater knits, tees, deconstructed totes, rustic espadrilles, thong sandals, outerwear, sneakers, jeans, even the ultimate hipster Birkenstock. Lustrous metal has invaded the home in rustic textiles, pillows, baskets and glamorously irregular, hand-hammered metal or molded serve ware, trays and frames. Perhaps we are craving the luxe status of metal in a sea of laid-back sameness?

Metallic is a big trend in casual fashion and home décor.

Metallic is a big trend in casual fashion and home décor.

Metallic is the perfect textural foil in home decor and elevates a neutral color scheme to royal status. Layering of low-luster metals in the home enhances their innate richness.

In fashion, metallic clothes and accessories speak a modern language, when used as a single, bold statement at a time. Metal apparel and accessories provide a similar textural contrast to sophisticated neutrals and solids. Pairing metal with casual items like jeans, spotlight the notable against the vanilla masses. Wearing more than one metallic item at a time (other than jewelry) and the wearer may slip down a steep and matronly slope.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

 

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