Saturday, August 11, 2012

Youtube for your webstore

SEO, it seems to be the buzzword on the internet, and also of fora of webstores like Etsy, SEO is the single most used word, at least so it seems. If I would have to make a guess on the second most popular word, my bet would be on Google, and then, Google as in the Search engine Google, not the company. Not realy surprizing, since its all about being found, and the synonym of "being Found" seems to be Google. Nothing wrong so far. The weird thing though is that, if we look at ways of being found, after Google there is a long... no a loooooooong silence. Then maybe Ask, Bing or Yahoo pop up, and maybe a cup of Facebook, a teaspoon of Pinterest, a sniff of Wanelo and maybe a hint of Instagram. One name keeps on missing, and yet it is the second biggest search engine in the world. Its name: Youtube!

Some Numbers*:

  • Every day, some 4 billion video's are being watched;
  • Every month, Youtube has some 800 million unique visitors;
  • 70% of all youtube traffic origins outside of the USA (I will explain why this can be important).
  • 100 million people a week perform some sort of social activity, like subscribing to a channel, "liking" a video or leaving a comment.
  • every minute, 500 tweets link to a youtube video.

So what makes youtube so important for your webstore? Well, its threefold.
First of all, like already stated, youtube is the worlds second biggest search engine, so NOT using youtube would effectively be like roughly cutting your internet-presence by a third. 
The second reason is the unique content that Youtube can deliver. I believe that, if done right, youtibe can hugely increase your store's visibility, even by more that 50%.
How so? Well, now a days, there are a lot of people using youtube to search for tutorials. So lets just say you have a webstore focussing on hand-made glass beads, or, crochet tops. If you would take the time to, preferebly with the assistance od someone else, make a few tutorials on "how to make" either of these, you are likely to attract people interested in acquiring the knowledge, or at least, have the aspiration. "Isn't that dangerous for me?" is the most likely question. Well, it depends, but in general not.
We all know that mastering something takes a lot of time, and practise. Unless your crafts are more of a trick than of skill, its not so likely people will master it after seeing your vid. But it has two other effects. Firs of all, you can (ofcourse) put a link to your webstore in the vid and on your youtube page. I betcha that a lot of people will click it or visit, just out of curiosity of what you have created. But there is more, by GIVING to the internet community (in this case knowledge), you build a reputation and are more likable. And in sales, its all about people perceiving you as likable. 
Lastly, youtube offers something that google itself does not: social capabilities. By liking your video, tweeting about it or leaving comments, more people in their circle will see your content, the famous oil-stain effect.

OK, I still owe you why its important that 70% of the searches come outside of the USA.  This is a more Etsy-specific issue. Non-USA Etsy sellers attract relatively little non-US viewers, simply because Etsy is most widely known inside the USA. And US based stores, find it harder to attract non-US buyers too (for the same reason of course). So by using Youtube, you are in fact broadening your geographic area of activity. Now, isn't that exactly what most shopowners want?

* source:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fashion Marketing: Tour de France

If you want to get noticed in the crowded fashio world, marketing is key.
Basically, there are two type of marketeers, the ones that prefer to spend a lot of money on add campaigns, commercials and the likes, and the other type, that prefers smart-marketing: gathering attention for free.
Schutrups, a Dutch shoe store clearly is the latter type.

In Europe, this summer is a Sport summer: European Championship Soccer, later on the Olympics and right now, the famous Tour de France!

This last event obviously inspired the Schutrups to come up with a novelty. They commissioned a set of Tour-de-France inspired shoes with Kops-schoenen, one of the few remaining  shoefactories, that once were a big source of employment around the Dutch city of Tilburg. Together with a designer of Kopsschoenen, Schutrups spawned a series dedicated to the worlds most famous cycling tournament.

The shoes are designed around the well-known shirtcolour that can be earned in the tournament, the Green, Yellow, Orange and of course the polka-dot shirt for the mountains classification.
Shutrups commisioned them for the  Dutch former cyclist and co-presenter on a Tour de France TV program, Tour du jour. And in case you wonder: yes, he wore them on TV as well.

Kops, happened to be the only company able to design and produce 11 of these shoes within the 10-day window between idea and start of the tour de France.
They have received quite some attention from different media with the production of these shoes. They are not cheap (400 euro's a pair) but its definately reasonable if you take in account that each pair takes several hours of hand-production. And for that price, you get not only a pair of wonderful, handcrafted shoes, but also a pair of conversation starters. They sure leave an impresion!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fashion Technology: BioCouture

When we go to the store to look for a new dress, a pair of shoes or some other fashionable items, technology is in general not what springs to mind. But in fact, Technology and Fashion are not as far apart as you might think.

Ok, now you think this blog is going to be about the development of Looms, or CAD / CAM like production streets. No, that IS a reality, and maybe one day food for another blog, but this a little bit more laboratory-like. This one is about  biotech, yes, about growing your own garments.

Enter Suzanne Lee. London based Lee is founder of BioCouture, and a research Fellow on Central St. Martins College of Arts and Design.

She explains the process:

"The process uses a sugary green tea recipe, to which, a bacterial culture is added. It takes about 2-4 weeks to grow a sheet that is thick enough to use. Sheets are then dried down; either shaped over a wooden dress form--like the ghost dress and ruff jacket [images, below]--or sewn together conventionally. Depending on the recipe the material can either feel like paper or--more desirably--like a vegetable leather.
In testing with dyes we found no need for mordant [a substance used for dyeing fabrics] and an incredibly small amount of dye goes a long way so it's eco-credentials go through the entire process. We also recycle a percentage of the fermentation liquid."
The result is a seamless piece of clothing, and I must admit, it has definately got some sort of Eco-Look-and-Feel to it, but in the positive sense.
Right now its not yet commercially available, but I guess its a matter of time before you will be able to buy it prêt a porter or even made to measure!
[All pictures: courtesy of Suzanne Lee]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fashions next big thing: China

While the fashion magazines are sending their editors and journalists to Florence, Milan, New York and Amsterdam, more and more pundits are predicting the next Big Thing is not coming from either of those cities. No, neither is it coming from Italy, The US of A or even France, The next fashion wave that will hit the market will be coming from: China! Designer and retailer Elio Fiorucci told Reuters lately, “the next big issue for fashion is not China’s economic boom but Chinese creativity, and while the Western world knows little about China’s aesthetic sensibility, China’s emerging designers may surprise us, since they have the talent and a deep knowledge of the Western fashion world". I think that Elio could be right, although Gianluca Brozetti, Chief Executive of Roberto Cavalli, qualified these sentiments by saying that" while the culture and creativity of Chinese designers will certainly be appreciated in the West, it will take time to make a major impact due to the lack of economic power". Well, I wonder when was the last time Gianluca visited China, he probably still has a 1960's  travel guide on China on his bookshelf.
Ji Cheng,
(photo courtesy of Ji Cheng)
China has built up a reputation of cheap copycats and lacking quality, at least this is the perception of many Westerners. But they forget that almost EVERYTHING they use daily, from their ├╝bergerman Miele washingmachine to their Ultra Swedisch SUV Volvo has Chinese-made components in it. Yes, even their Good 'ol American iPhone is almost entirely built scratch up in China. The money those Chinese made with all of that is, for now, happily spent on Western brands such as imported Mercedes Benz's  and French Chateau Latour. But deep inside we all know that this is just a phase in which the Chinese will endulge themselves in what for long has been considered something forbidden. And we all know that, forbidden fruits are the sweetest.... until they are no longer forbidden. THAT is when the true road of self-reflection will start, and China is about to embark on that road. Its puberty is ailing, and adulthood is on the brink. Adulthood that comes with confidence. And its just the confidence that some Chinese designers still lack.

This is also the vision of Chinese media Mogul Hung Huang, or as westerners would say, Huang Hung. Hung is one of China's most influential Fashion critics, Publisher of iLook magazine, author, actress and a media figure, by CNN compared to Oprah Winfrey. She know also has a column Womens Wear Daily. Hung also thinks that confidence is all that is lacking. Jenny Ji, or rather Ji Cheng since I am not a supporter of the adopted western names by Chinese, designer behind the LaVie label is one of the promising designers in the new China. Having had her training in Milan, she clearly makes the connection between East and West in het ravishing designs. The Fall/Winter 2011 collection was marked with exquisite embroidery, a true feast of the eye, her Fall/Winter collection shown in London, calles Zen Awakening was far more contemporary, tremendoulsy wearable but still with the connection to its Chinese heritage. I predict a bright future for China's fashion industry, and when I say "Industry" this has less to do with Looms and more with design!
From Ji Chengs Zen Awakening line: [Photo: Christopher Dadey]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A preview to Summer 2013: Mens fashion

Its just a few days to the Amsterdam International fashion Week, but of course we have already seen some designs in the designer presentations that have been made in Florence, Milan and Paris.
If we are to believe what the male fashion for summer 2013 will bring, its among others male legs!

Some top designers like Mugler, Viktor & Rolf, Raf Simons and Louis Vuitton have shown their men-collection for summer 2013, and short pants are going to be the norm!

Some impressions from LV's catwalkshow in Paris
Louis Vuitton did it in an almost old-fashioned way, with nautic themes: Blue, and white marine like colours, knitted pullovers for the cooler summer evenings and here and there a bright yellow coat. Kim Jones, with Louis Vuitton responsible for the male fashion line, definately went back to the eighties and made sure it was all wearable and not over the top!

Belgian designer Raf Simons Made more of a fashion statement: combining daring prints with no-so-out-of-the-box combinations of oversized and tall, almost dress-sized shirts with short trousers, definately brought a feminine touch to its collection for 2013. The collars were high-cut or alltogether gone. But he too decided in a way to go back to the eighties: The punk-like hairdress of the models as well as the feminization of the male, all well remembered from bands like The Cure The Cult and Culture Club is suddenly back again!

But Nicola Formichetti, Thierry Muglers Creative Director is definately the one that pushed the envelope when it comes to daring design for next year. Nicola combines blazers with short trousers, front-open short trousers and even pantyhoses for men!
Thierry Muglers male fashion for s/s 2013

Lets see what Amsterdam will bring next week!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Belts: a short history

Belts have been documented for male clothing since the bronze age, which, for Europe, was between 3600 and 600 BC. Both genders used them off and on, depending on the current fashion. In the western world, belts were more common for men, with the exception of the early Middle Ages late 17th century Mantua, and skirt/blouse combinations between 1900 and 1910. 
A Japanese Obi-variant
In the period of the latter-half of the 19th century and up until the first WW, the belt was a decorative as well as utilitarian part of the uniform, particularly among officers. In the armed forces of Prussia, Tsarist Russia, and other Eastern European nations, it was common for officers to wear extremely tight, wide belts around the waist, on the outside of the uniform, both to support a saber as well as for aesthetic reasons. These tightly cinched belts served to draw in the waist and give the wearer a trim physique, emphasizing wide shoulders and a pouting chest. Often the belt served only to emphasize waist made small by a corset worn under the uniform, a practice which was common especially during the Crimean Wars and was often noted by soldiers from the Western front. Political cartoonists of the day often portrayed the tight waist-cinching of soldiers to comedic effect, and some cartoons survive showing officers being corseted by their inferiors, a practice which surely was uncomfortable but deemed to be necessary and imposing.
In modern times, men started wearing belts in the 1920s, as trouser waists fell to a lower line. Before the 1920s, belts served mostly a decorative purpose, and were associated with the military. Today it is common for men to wear a belt with their trousers.
Over the course of history, the belt has known many traditional different styles. In Japan, for women wearing the traditional Kimono, the Obi came to be. Worn both by men and women, though the width would differ, the men wearing less wide versions. Some have extensive folding on the back.
Tribal Cowrie belt by Studio StebbyLee
Also in Tribal  Africa the use of belts as adornment has a long history.About the practical purpose is little known, but the most logical explanation has to do with adornment and showing of wealth. In olden times, far before currencies were introduced, Cowrie shells were often used as a form of payment. Well-to-do women would use all sort of jewelry and show off by using cowrie shells in them. To today standards it would be as making a necklace out of 100$ bills.
On Etsy you can also find them, though they are not plentiful, for instance in the store of Studio StebbyLee

Of course, the Belt has a very practical use now a days, keeping pants from ending up around our ankles. Although they are still a way to express ourselves. Either by colour, material or with adornment, such as the studded belts worn in Rock- and Grunge scene's. If you want to make a statement, a belt definately is a part of it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Amsterdam International Fashion Week

In just over a week, the Amsterdam International Fashion week, or AIF for insiders, will strat again, in its usual venue of the Westergasfabriek.
For people not familiar with this location:

The famous "Gashouder" at Westergasfabriek Amsterdam
[Photo: Westergasfabriek]
At the end of the 19th century, the Imperial Continental Gas Association (ICGA) built two coal gas factory complexes in Amsterdam: the Ooster Gasfabriek (Eastern Gas Factory) and the Wester Gasfabriek (Western Gas Factory). The latter was completed in 1885, strategically located near to waterways, the rail network and access roads. Originally, the gas was used for street lighting..Now, the Westergasfabriek is providing a new surge of energy and light. The redeveloped factory site and the beautifully laid out park are an asset for the local area. Creative entrepreneurs work in the renovated historic buildings and many high-profile events and festivals are held here. The Westergasfabriek is regarded as a model for redevelopment, far beyond the Netherlands’ borders. Its different buildings form an ideal backdrop to host a variety of exhibitions or meetings, and the AIF is a regular attendee.

This summer, a plethora of aspiring and already settled designers will fill the catwalk, among others Marga Weimans, Bas Kosters, Gestuz, Claes Iversen  and Rebecca Ward.

Its not more than logical that The Fashion Corner will pay attention to one of the top Fashion Events in The Netherlands, so stay tuned!