The Tech Generation: Editor’s Letter, September 2014

At the end of July, I joined some friends at a sidewalk table in Manhattan’s Union Square, where we attempted to recover from the events of New York City’s hectic-as-ever jewelry week. (To see what you might have missed, check out this issue’s party-centric Social Diary.)

As we sat there admiring the crowded nighttime scene, a stick-thin young woman wearing a very short pair of pleated yellow shorts stood on the corner, spinning in a slow circle, seemingly oblivious to the people walking around her.

We couldn’t help but laugh—she looked so darn awkward rotating in circles right there in front of us. When we realized she was wearing Google Glass, we laughed even harder. Wearable tech may indeed be the new black, but there’s still a limit to what looks good, what looks bad, and what looks plain ol’ dorky.

Courtesy of Rio Tinto and MVS Studio
In the WJA photo booth with JCK Events’ Lars Parker-Myers and JCK managing editor Melissa Bernardo

Is this, we asked ourselves, the future?

I suspect some version of it is. To get an even clearer sense of what’s coming (fast!) down the pike, turn to this issue’s cover story, “Coming Attractions.” Designed as something of a stand-alone guide, the feature includes discussions of the most salient topics a future-minded retailer needs to be aware of: big data, seamless inventory, trend forecasting, 3-D printing, and Pinterest. (We haven’t forgotten about wearable tech—you’ll just have to wait for our ­December–January 2015 issue for our comprehensive guide to the good, the bad, and, yes, the ugly.)

We round out our annual Future of Retail coverage with two timely features: senior editor Emili Vesilind’s provocative primer on pop-ups (“Should You Have a Pop-Up Shop?”), which helps explain how ephemeral stores can make such lasting ­impressions, and contributor Amanda Baltazar’s must-read piece on the teen scene (“Everything You Need to Know About Generation Z”), which documents the tastes of Generation Z, poised to be a consuming force that will make even the boomers feel scant by comparison.

Courtesy of Rio Tinto and MVS Studio
The WJA photo booth shenanigans were priceless: Here’s JCK’s Jen Heebner (far back) and Billy Furman.

Finally, we place our product spotlight on pearls, a category near and dear to my heart. In 2000, when I went on my first press trip to a pearl farm off the coast of Australia’s remote Top End, the gems were considered gorgeous, expensive—and stodgy. Today, they’re the hippest jewels around. If you don’t believe me, read senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s informative take on why young trendy designers are suddenly clamoring for pearls (“Saved by the Shell: Why Pearl Sales Are Soaring”). Then turn to “Glamorous Pearl Jewelry for Your Chicest Customers” for what I daresay is our most sumptuous still-life shoot ever.

I’m writing this letter from my home in Los Angeles, where I’m licking my wounds after one of the most upbeat, fun-filled, and liver-damaging New York City jewelry weeks I’ve attended in my 14-plus years in the business. After spending the week racing from trade show to private viewing to party (after party), I pored over the photographic evidence and came to the same conclusion I arrived at years ago, when I first became acquainted with the business:

The jewelry industry is full of people who genuinely love and admire each other. To hear refugees from the fashion world tell it, that’s an unusual quality, to say the least. In the spirit of our Future of Retail issue, I’ll sign off using the patois of the moment: #luckyus.