How do you adapt yoga for a POST-DEMOGRAPHIC society? Moon & Son on filling a void, going it alone & staying unique

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Our Featured Innovators series once again returns to the FUTURE OF BETTERMENT, this time talking to Stephen Watson - former Fashion Director at Men's Vogue and creator of Moon & Son, a new brand of yoga clothing and equipment especially designed for men. We discuss the POST-DEMOGRAPHIC nature of his new venture, as well as the challenges and frustrations that come with changing the context of the conversation about yoga leisurewear in general. 

Stephen Watson, Moon & Son

What was the inspiration behind Moon & Son?

Moon & Son was really born out of my own personal frustrations in finding the right kind of mens clothing for practicing different types of yoga — especially hot yoga. The conditions of heated yoga are so unique, I found it difficult to find simple, modest, functional gear, made especially for the extreme temperatures.

I also wanted clothing that avoided the usual yoga cliches — hippy patterns, mandalas, sacred symbolism — something that would appeal to the cool city guys I see in my classes here in Brooklyn. The clothes are very serious in their technical make and fabrications — but with a sense of fun in color and design.

I wanted things to wear that could enhance my practice instead of creating the usual distractions — like glued seams or strange fit. I also thought there was potential in marketing this idea to men directly — especially in a field dominated by women with products usually made for women.

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What have been the biggest challenges you've faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Honestly, the hardest thing is getting the word out. I created Moon & Son on my own, with the intention of starting out small with e-commerce and taking my time to grow the business slowly. Getting press, managing all the necessary social media, and creating web traffic, has been extremely difficult to maintain by myself. I created the business while doing other freelance work, and managing everything has been tricky and time consuming — not to mention expensive. 

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers' changing expectations?

The best advice? Fill a void, go with your guts, be brave, and go for it. A perfect example: I created a very simple black yoga short because I thought it was a necessary 'basic' that would be an immediate best-seller. I found that the customer came to me because Moon & Son was different, a simple black short could be purchased from anyone. Discover what makes you and your brand special and capitalize on those unique details. 

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You're featured in our briefing, falling under our POSTDEMOGRAPHIC BETTERMENT trend covering the throwing out of old preconceptions when it comes to gender and health behaviors. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

In terms of trends, I see activewear filtering into all types of daily wear more and more. Guys are discovering the benefits of yoga and I'm finding that many of my customers are wearing my gear all day, not just to class.

In the past few years, I've seen the number of guys in class increase steadily, and these guys need mats, towels, and clothing, with specific needs. There is tons of yoga stuff out there for ladies, and I wanted a line that spoke to this growing group of guys directly. Yoga clothes only for guys - I figured the niche was probably small, but possibly worth trying to go to market as one of the first.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

My favorite innovations, especially for a small business owner, has to be all the amazing technological developments available online like shopify or squarespace. The idea that I could easily open a virtual retail store, customize it, make it look totally unique, accept credit cards, create various shipping options  — all on my own — is completely mind-blowing. 

Reaching customers directly online, avoiding the typical retail channels, using my own site and through social media is totally fantastic. The fact that I can sell Moon & Son stuff around the world, simply and easily, never ceases to amaze me.

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