Fashion in the Digital Age

It’s a good time to be in fashion. We are at the cornerstone of fashion and technology becoming united even more so than ever before. There has always been a relationship between technology and fashion, however now the ties are even closer. One of the most obvious fusions of fashion and tech is through online shopping. Ecommerce now makes up trillions of dollars in retail revenues. Recent reports have many department stores lagging in sales. For brick-and-mortar fashion, it’s not necessarily a good time. Famous department stores no longer have foot traffic from years gone by. A decade ago it was hard to find a parking spot at the local shopping center. Now it’s not uncommon to see stores and boutiques empty on Saturday afternoons.

One reason for the demise of shopping centers is because over the years stores didn’t update enough inventory and their physical appearance. It’s a letdown to walk into a famous department store hoping to discover fashionable gems only to be met by dirty carpets and unkept clothing displays. And we all know the horrors of fitting rooms. Fitting rooms are synonymous with dirty public restrooms. It seems difficult for stores to keep public areas clean. It wouldn’t take a lot of resources to make visible changes. For instance stores could dedicate a certain allotment of money to be spent on replacing carpets. They could go region by region in the beginning. Small changes such as the carpets make a huge difference. Not every store needs an entire renovation, but many of them do need cosmetic tweaks and upgrades. Shoppers want to be wooed and surprised. Dowdy stores will not encourage them to open their wallets. Sales associates also need to be trained properly. They need to go out of their way to make sure their counters are cleaned and polished. Associates also need to keep clothing racks tidied and fitting rooms clean with clothing regularly picked up and put away in its proper place. You will notice that many of the sales associates have a better work ethic than their younger charges. It’s not surprising as we live in a time where an old-fashioned worth ethic will be extinct within a few short years. These are several good points for stores at the corporate level to keep in mind as we discuss fashion in the digital age.

In the past few years, ecommerce has really hit its stride. There are fashion sites for every taste and bank account. If you want to buy a $20.00 pair of espadrilles, you can. If you need a $3,000 handbag, one is easily a click away. Designer fashion has never been so readily available as it is now. That is not a bad thing. If you don’t live near a major city or fashion capital, you can still dress as well as any fashionable around the globe. If you have collect designer iPhone cases, you can find them on nearly any high-end fashion site. In this digital age, fashionable designer iPhone cases, such as those from PLIA Designs, are in-demand and selling out fast.

The Best iPhone Cases for Fashion Week

With fashion week upon us, one of the hottest topics will be tech. More specifically, how fashion and tech fit together. Fashionistas from all over the globe will descend upon New York with high expectations. They are seasoned style stars that already have their looks and wardrobes artfully assembled. These are not people who need to be taught fashion for they are the leaders within the industry. Today’s fashionable is highly educated and has developed a style of her/his own over the years that reflects their personality and sense of style. It’s refreshing when not everyone has the same style or way of dressing. New York fashion week never disappoints when it comes to endless style and enviable wardrobes.

It should be of no surprise that fashion and tech are related. The two are often grouped together because there is obvious overlap within the industries.Take Apple’s iPhone for instance. It’s a huge hit the world over and has many adoring fans. The fashion world can’t put down their iPhones. Apple has always been a hit with with the fashion crowd, but the iPhone truly sealed the brand’s worldwide popularity. Many of us grew up using Apple computers. So for those of use that had Apple in our lives from an early age, then the iPhone seemed like a natural progression. However if you were not used to using an Apple computer, the iPhone was an entirely new and beautiful discovery. Other computer brands come across as clunky both in easy of use and design. Nearly every Apple product is thoughtfully designed and sleek the eye and touch. There is a consensus among iPhone users that it is the only smartphone they will ever use. Because technology has advanced so much in the past decade, the fashion world wants to be a part of it as well.

One area of tech and fashion that is flourishing are designer iPhone cases. Everyone wants to wrap their beloved iPhone into the best cases available. New York fashion week will be flooded with only the most luxurious and amazing iPhone cases on the market. These iPhone cases are the perfect intersection of tech and fashion. Every fashionable with an iPhone will not only arrive to NYC with one iPhone case, but several. It’s not unusual for someone to change their iPhone case up to three times a day. Tech wardrobe changes if you will. By far some of the most wildly popular designer iPhone cases on the market are by PLIA Designs. PLIA Designs makes the most original iPhone cases on the market to date.

designer iphone cases

What makes these cases stand out from the rest are their custom designs. The designs on the back of each case are first painted by hand on traditional art canvases. When your iPhone is cradled in a PLIA Designs iPhone case, it is an entirely luxurious way to protect your iPhone. In fact, PLIA’s cases remind me of little works of art. The best designer iPhone cases for Fashion week are by PLIA Designs. There is a wait list a mile long, so if you already own one or several, you are the lucky one!

The New Tech Accessory

I’m an accessory addict.  From shoes and jewelry, to designer handbags, I have collections of all of them.  My accessories collections are so vast that I have to rent extra storage space.  Luckily the storage space is near my home so I can stop in and take items when I need them.  I own several handbags made of exotic skins and those are stored in temperature controlled cabinets.  My love affair with accessories began early.  I grew up in a home where fashion was revered.  My great grandfather was one of the top designers in Paris during his day.  The fashion house he founded is now one of the most famous brands in the world.  Open any glossy fashion magazine and you will see slick advertisements for his brand.  Our family still owns a percentage of the brand.  When generations of your family are entrenched in the fashion business, it makes sense that I would be a part of that world as well.  When my mother was little, the seamstresses that worked for my grandfather, made her beautiful one of a kind dresses.  In turn, I wore many of those well preserved frocks when I was little.

From a young age I learned and absorbed what hard work really goes into fashion.  Most people see fashion from a different perspective.  The average consumer thinks fashion entails shopping and picking new outfits and accessories.  What most don’t understand is all of the hard work behind the products you purchase.  With couture, all of the dresses and new designs are handsewn.  If a certain ball gown has a lot of accoutrements such as beading, the product can take weeks to make.  Sewing is a skill that takes time to master.  Not everyone has the patience to learn to become a good seamstress.  Couture will last a lifetime, actually, many lifetimes.  I’m astounded at some of my great-grandfathers couture pieces.  They are as relevant today as they were all of those decades ago.  The brand’s archives also house many accessories.  I love going through the archives for accessory inspiration.

designer iphone cases

This summer I’m working in the brand’s accessories department.  I’m a freelance accessories designer and I love working with the label my great-grandfather founded.  Because it’s so large, it’s more than a family business, but that doesn’t stop me from going through the archives any chance I have.  It’s important to understand any labels history of design before moving forward in this modern world.  At the moment I’m creating an edited line of tech cases for them.  We are all glued to our iPhones and it makes perfect sense to create a few beautiful designer iPhone cases.  I’m collaborating with a famous artist who will create illustrations for the backside of the iPhone cases.  I’ve already heard from several fashion editors that they can’t wait to get their hands on my new iPhone cases.  Truthfully, I can’t either.  We live in a modern world and we need up-to-date accessories for the time in which we are living.  Designer iPhone cases are the newest in luxury accessories.

Happy iPhone Cases

I love the word happy.  It just makes you smile sometimes for no reason at all.  I love the song Happy.  It makes you want to get up and dance.  They are many things in live that make us all happy.  Some of them are tangible and some are not.  Happy could be a smile from a stranger.  Happy could be a nice phone call from a relative.  For many women, happy is shopping.  For dogs, happy is a cuddle and kiss from their owner.  Many children find their happy in the summer when school is out.  What is your happy?  I love discovering what the term ‘happy’ is for  different people.

Happy for me is being with friends and doing things we love.  One thing we all love doing together is going shopping.  Every few months we meet up and pick a new venue with shops and stores we haven’t visited before.  Sometimes that’s hard because we usually drive to our destinations and make them day trips.  We have now hit all of the towns and cities nearby several times so we are well versed in all of the shopping.  We recently set out to visit a brand new shopping complex.  It’s called Harbor Island Shops and it’s built out in the middle of nowhere.

It was a beautiful drive to Harbor Island Shops.  It was a relaxing drive on a long stretch of road with corn fields framing each side.  It only took us an hour and a half to get there.  The parking was super easy.  After we parked our car, we spotted a tea shop and decided to get a drink before we embarked on some serious shopping.  I ordered a peach iced tea and it was delicious.  Two others ordered hot tea.  We also shared a few cookies between us.  Outside the tea shop was a map of the shopping complex.  Since we basically all have the same taste, we knew we’d visit all of the handbag and accessories stores.

designer iphone cases

PLIA Designs was the first boutique we visited.  WOW is all I can say.  What a beautiful store with stunning products.  They specialize in accessories for women.  PLIA Designs crafts amazing designer handbags.  I couldn’t get over all of the beautiful leather goods.  One of my friends mentioned she’d seen the brand in a VOGUE magazine article.  In the middle of the boutique were new PLIA Designs iPhone cases.  They were the cutest iPhone cases I’d ever laid eyes on.  Seeing these made me happy!  So very happy.  Right then in there I fell in love with PLIA Designs designer iPhone cases.

PLIA Designs Steps up Accessories and Handbags

PLIA Designs adds a new satchel to its growing roster of handbags.  That is music to my ears.  I have been a champion of the line of accessories for years.  It is a brand that understands quality and the test of time.  Their handbags last a very long time because they are so well made.  The work that goes into their products and customer service is nearly unrivaled.  Not many retailers include a handwritten thank-you card with their products.  All emails and phone calls are returned within 24-48 hours and everyone I have dealt with at PLIA Designs has always been so pleasant.

In case you do not know, PLIA Designs makes a range of accessories for women.  From designer handbags,purses, satchels and leather goods, to even iPhone cases it is a famous and well loved brand.  Their satchel handbags are beloved by fashionables and women the world over.  PLIA Designs satchels can be seen everywhere.  From St. Moritz in winter to St. Tropez in summer, the satchels are on nearly every socialite and style star.  I love this handbag as well.  I have used mine now for a number of years and I still love carrying it.  It fits everything inside.  I take my laptop with me everywhere and I will only carry it using PLIA Designs satchel.  There is so much room inside this handbag it’s not even funny.  And it even has its own iPad pocket.  Also, it’s not a heavy handbag.  So you can put a lot of things inside and it won’t hurt your arm to carry it all day.  That’s why I also love it for travel.  They have created the perfect everywhere handbag.

Designer iPhone Cases

With the success of their courier satchel line, last year they introduced a smaller design.  It looks exactly like their original Reid satchel, but smaller in scale.  This line was hugely successful as well.  Just last week PLIA Designs released a statement that they would be launching an even smaller size of the satchel.  It will be called the ‘Pixie’ and it is the smallest Reid satchel to date.  Now this silhouette will be rounded out with three sizes.  I know their small Reid satchels were a hit and no doubt the new Pixie will be uber popular as well.  It is great to see a brand such as PLIA Designs stepping up their assortment of designer handbags, but not overdoing it.  They have perfectly edited collections.  Also on my radar are their designer iPhone cases.  These are tech cases with amazing pops of color and so beautifully illustrated.  I’ve never seen iPhone cases like these in my life.  And that says a lot since I adore shopping and I’m always popping into the boutiques and department stores.

Style.com to Transform into an E-Commerce Site

Early this morning news broke that style.com would no longer be an editorial destination and instead it would become an e-commerce site.  You could hear the ground reverberating throughout the fashion world.  style.com was always VOGUE’s love child and it will now fold into the publication.  It’s not a surprising move as everyone wants a piece of the e-commerce pie so to speak.  Let’s not mince words:  everyone wants to what net-a-porter.com has accomplished.  Not only are they the number one destination online for luxury fashion, but they also publish an incredibly successful print magazine.  VOGUE already has their glossy print magazine, but now they want to dominate e-commerce as well.

E-commerce is over a trillion dollar industry.  Everyone wants to be a part of it.  However, it’s worth noting that not all succeed.  Yes, style.com has the power of Condé Nast behind it, but they will soon find out how difficult the digital shopping landscape proves to be.  Online shoppers can’t always be pinpointed or put into certain categories.  Consumers use a combination of social media, search engines, and recommendations from friends before making online purchases.  And of course we cannot forget the elephant in the room: VOGUE magazine.  One has to wonder if the fashion glossy will start recommending many of the products seen in the magazine to their new e-commerce site.  For instance an article that discusses this seasons hot new tuxedo pants will probably have a few recommendations where to purchase and one or two of those will be style.com.  This brings paid content into the debate.  Powerful fashion houses have huge advertising budgets and this influences fashion editors.  Affiliate advertising will also play into this.  Other large e-commerce sites will pay for style.com to mention their products.  When a consumer clicks on that product and purchases, style.com will receive part of that sale.  It short, much of the new e-commerce site will center around affiliate kickbacks and also product recommendation from big budget labels.  Are small brands left behind?  Possibly.

Designer Handbags Designer Handbags

Smaller brands don’t have such huge ad budgets, nor do they have massive PR personalities behind them.  Most of their revenue goes back into the business in creating new designs and products.  Let’s say they pitch VOGUE their new designs, they don’t have the backing to always sway editors in the same way as their larger competitors.  Chances are the large brands already advertise in VOGUE magazine.  By spending advertising dollars, this already gives them a leg  up on Condé’s e-commerce site.  There are many talented designers in the marketplace, however not all of them receive the accolades they deserve.  From designers creating jewelry to designer handbags, the marketplace is lucky to have many of these niche, luxury brands.  However, now that magazines are turning into e-commerce giants, we don’t know how this will fare for smaller brands.  Based on many new collections and designs, there is still room for labels that produce designer handbags to succeed; they simply have to be more creative than their larger competitors.

Pop-Up Popularity

If you are interested in retail, shopping, and the economy then you have recently read about many large stores closing down several of their outlets.  Target opened 19 stores last year, but in 2105 it plans to close 19 stores.  Sears/Kmart corporation plan to close many of their stores as well.  From the sounds of it one would think brick-and-mortar retail is dead.  Indeed, many of these stores are dormant and even a bit dead to consumers.  The teenager Abercombie once appealed to has grown up and moved on.  That consumer now has more sophisticated taste and doesn’t want to shop in a dark store with too loud of music pumping throughout.  Nor do they need to be walking billboards advertising the stores brand name on their sweatshirt or t-shirts.  One of the hardest aspects of retail is maintaining a relationship with the consumer over a span of years and life changes.  It’s not easy to be a brand that clothes a person as a teenager and also when they are in their 20’s and 30’s.  Some stores like J.Crew are adept at this, but it’s rare to find many that take a consumer beyond only a few years.  Many retailers have not kept up with the times.  Not only have they not kept up, they have not learned to adapt to their customers’ needs.  It’s important in retail to have a sense of what your customer wants before they even know.  That’s why Instagram is so popular and important.  Buyers and designers for these large department stores need to keep their finger on the pulse of what is important.  Consumers are glued to their phones and they love the most popular apps.  Instagram is nearly more popular now than Facebook.  Fashionistas are liking and saving products they see on Instagram.  Take designer handbags for instance, if a consumer sees several Instagrammers with many followers showing off the same handbag, they want that handbag, too.  Department stores and larger brands could take a cue from lesser known brands that are utilizing social media to leverage their products.  These stores could open smaller in-shop areas to showcase up and coming designers and get more shoppers into their doors.  These new eyeballs would result in more sales.

With many of these store closings one would think that storefronts will be empty, but in larger cities, that is further from the truth.  Surprisingly, e-commerce is incredibly bullish with offline retail.  E-companies that were once only available online have taken up brick-and-mortar spaces in the past few years.  Rent the Runway and Warby Parker are a few of the e-commerce companies that have jumped offline to better serve their customers.  Birchbox is establishing their own flagship.  Bauble Bar has even debuted a new television commercial.  It’s nearly a trend now for e-commerce companies to take advantage of vacant storefronts.  One term we hear a lot is ‘pop-up shop.’  The term pop-up shop means a small brick-and-mortar temporary physical presence.  We will discuss that more in depth in a bit.  What is important to note is how internet born brands are also eager to hop off line.  They recognize their shopper purchases both on and off the Internet.  Many venture capitalists are going so far as to say that all shopping will only take place online in the near future.  That’s a huge assumption to make.  Look at any grocery store on a weekend or near the holidays; they are packed with shoppers.  I will be as bold to say that there will never be a time when shoppers purchase everything online.  It’s much easier to drive to the store for coffee than to wait for it to be delivered.  There is a convenience with brick and mortar stores that online retailers still cannot match.  In fact, there does not need to be such a competition between online and offline shopping.  It’s ridiculous in a sense that the two need to be pitted against each other.  Instead, there will be a way in the not too distance future where online and offline retail work in tandem with each other.  In fact, they must reinvent a way to work together.  If e-tailers need a physical offline presence, then stores also need an online presence as well.  It won’t necessarily be a war between offline and online.  That wouldn’t make sense at all.  There is no dramatic death of traditional retail.  However, traditional retail must evolve to the needs of consumers today.  CEO’s of traditional retail stores will quickly realize they must make changes and evolve to continue a momentum of shoppers throughout their stores.  These stores will develop a way to appeal to both offline and online shoppers.  We will take a look now concerning online stores and how they are utilization vacant space in the physical world.

Pop-Up Shops

Pop-up shops or pop-up retail have been on the shopping scene for many years.  The term started becoming popular and heard more and more in about 1998-2000.  In short, pop-up shops are opening short-term sales spaces in vacant shops or buildings.  Usually the leases and rents with pop-up shops are for a shorter time period compared to traditional stores that signed longer leases.  In the early days, pop-up shops were seen as sharp, guerilla marketing.  In short, they would occupy space or spaces for a short time and/or until product sells out and then close shop or move on to new part-time storefronts.  Customers loved the idea of a short sell time in a store that would not be occupying its space for a long amount of time.  It was a sudden rush of “I must have this product” and many shoppers felt the need to buy the products at these pop-up shops.  Within a short amount of time pop-up retailing caught on across American and the UK.  Over the past few years it seems those not familiar learned more about pop-up shops, but in reality, they have been around for a while; more than a decade.  For smaller brands and businesses, pop-up shops let them test a market before signing expensive leases.  Some pop-up leases can last just one day.

pop-up shops

Many landlords are taking advantage of the pop-up popularity.  Instead of signing long-term expensive leases, they are fine renting out their space or spaces for a short amount of time to small and large brands.  Often landlords will let brands do whatever they want to the space as long as they turn it back to its original look.  Pop-ups are not only popular with startup brands, even large corporations like Target are taking advantage of short term retail.  To them it looks hip and cool.  On the radar super-trendy shopping districts are most favored for pop-up shops.  It has a cool element that traditional stores do not have.  Many tourists to New York city for instance will research where the pop-up shops are located and put them on a list of shops to visit.  Log on to Instagram and search the term #popup and you will find many temporary stores and shops across the globe.  It truly is an international shopping experience.  With so many consumers glued to their smartphones, pop-up shops are a way for brands to find their customers.  For instance if a music festival like Coachella is happening, startups and larger retailers may offer their goods in a temporary space.  This lets attendees see a brands products in person that they would normally only view on their website.  Online brands especially love to follow their consumer wherever they may be, even if it’s at a concert.

It used to be that established brands could only occupy physical retail space.  And then after they had many stores spread throughout the country, they would establish an online presence.  Now it’s the opposite.  The business model has change so that online only brands are able to secure fast space in the offline world.  You will find brands like Warby Parker taking advantage of temporary spaces to offer goods to their customers in a more touchy feely way.  Customers can try on their frames in person instead of order them and waiting for delivery.  If you live in NYC, it’s a perfect way to experience Warby Parker in person.  Customer aquistion online is actually more expensive than most realize.  Unless someone knows to go directly to your website, how will they find your online brand?  That’s why many of these online only brands hire expensive PR on a monthly retainer.  PR gets the online brand out there in magazines and on some of the most important blogs.  SEO is competitive and its very hard to find trustworthy people to help get your rankings higher on search engines.  Even though retainer fees with good PR companies are expensive, there is often better ROI than worrying about finding customers through search engine optimization.  Pop-up shops help relieve some of the worry of brand exposure and finding new customers.  Think of all of the shoppers who will find your temporary brick-and-mortar digs in NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Fast food trucks also lead the way for this second generation of pop-up shops.  In 2009, the food truck phenom took over the nation.  From New York to New Mexico food trucks were popping up in numbers.  Each day they would move their truck to different parts of a city notifying would be customers via social media.  On sites like Twitter and Facebook the trucks would let fans and followers know where they would be parked and what was on the menu.  Taco trucks especially caught on like wild fire.  Online only brands took notice of the food truck popularity.  They wanted to be in front of a physical audience in a similar way.  We call this era of pop-ups second generation because it’s actually a continued evolution of what became popular nearly 16 years ago.  Although the concept has actually been around for centuries.  Trade and commerce are not new.

On the opposite end of the spectrum larger retail giants such as Target want to be a part of the pop-up action.  They see it as a buzz word if you will and don’t want to miss out.  They foresee that the pop-up craze isn’t fading in the near future.  Large retailers like Target have budgets to go into massive spaces such as vacant warehouses and completely transform them for an experience in shopping.  Before the holidays for instance they may completely renovate the looks of an old sewing factory to lure in shoppers that may not necessarily shop at their main big box store.  Pop-ups also allow more established stores to re-tell their story in a modern way.  Remember, we now live in an area of 140 characters and our attention is held by fast snaps on Instagram without a lot of verbiage.  Attention span is shorter than ever these days and retail is aware that they only have a small space to attract not only customers, but customers who will open their wallets.

In order to have a successful pop-up in this fickle time of retail, you need to clearly state your brand’s story in a short amount of time and make sure the brand mirrors the pop-up space.  For instance if you are selling sparkly hats and headbands, don’t lease temporary space in a dark and dreary vacant store.  And if you do, make sure to hire good renovators to make the space appeal to your buyers.  Make the sure the location is easy for your customers to find.  Don’t lease space in the part of a city people rarely visit.  Also keep your end goals in mind.  Make sure you keep an eye on ROI.  Pop-up stores will remain popular with brands both big and small.

BIO:  My name is Sophia Bennington and I write about the changing landscape in retail and e-tail.  You can find my work published across several different platforms.  I’m also a fashion blogger and you can see several of the posts I’ve written about PLIA Designs and their range of luxury designer handbags.