Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Topic: How much is enough?

I started a post a while ago (ok, MONTHS ago) about something that was really troubling me- and I think a lot of other people. Then it was the holiday season and at times I felt, well, mad.

A school project required me to visit stores to compare Halloween candy promotions and next to it all- already in October- were bibs'n'bobs for Christmas. We hadn't even had Thanksgiving! It made me think of all the crap we buy and just don't need. All the plastic decorations and wrapping paper and all that other stuff that lasts barely a day before ending in the trash (or hopefully, the recycling at least). Why on earth do we need it? 

Recently I went to my storage space and discovered I had enough clothing in there to open a store. Trouble is, not much of it was any good- which is obviously why I never missed it. Most of my good stuff has taken a trip to the consignment shop (how many years of being uncomfortable did it take for me to stop buying fabrics that irritate my sensitive skin?) and now random cheapo stuff is left, and looking a bit forlorn to boot. Out it went.

I have never been a huge consumer- having worked with Europeans for 20 years has definitely trained me in the "buy one, buy well" way of thinking- but even I was surprised at the amount of stuff I had. This made me think about my constant purging and simplification of my apartment (and closet) and if others were also on my bandwagon. We know there's a trend of anti- consumerism to some extent because of the recession but are people buying less because they want to OR have to?

I've already stopped shopping at the fast fashion stores for the most part- aside from the low quality fabrics, I just got sick of seeing myself on the street; but I'm thinking about how I can improve my eco-ness for 2012. I drink shade grown coffee, avoid plastic when i can, compost, won't drink bottled water and anything else that to me is common sense. But fashion is harder- for all of the labels who want to be green, it's not easy. But i have to try harder too. So, the rule will be designer, green or vintage wherever possible. Yeah, I know but designer does tend to last longer because the quality is usually MUCH better.

Oh, and I may just skip Christmas next year, unless I make presents or buy locally made goods from small designers. 

So, it makes me ask:
- do you fel the consumer pressure of the holidays? Does it make you buy stuff you'd rather or wouldn't usually buy?
- do you think about being eco or ethically -conscious when you shop for fashion goodies?
- do you feel like you have too much stuff and what do you plan to do about it?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Topic: the Design BUSINESS

Carol Lim & Humberto Leon from their Opening Ceremony profiles
So this week came the announcement that Humberto Leon & Carol Lim, of Opening Ceremony, were hired as creative directors for Kenzo. I have to say, I was surprised. Not because they're not talented- I think they have more than proven themselves in knowing what people want- but we're talking about a major design house here. One based in Paris- city of tradition- no less. I felt like this may even border on scandalous. The fashion press seems to really like the idea though, and considering Jessica Simpson's "fashion" business is worth a billion dollars, does it really matter that the creative directors of brands have never been to design school? Maybe the Lindsay Lohan at Ungaro situation lowered the bar so far that nothing seems like a surprise announcement any more. And should we even talk about the Halston/ Sarah Jessica Parker/ Harvey Weinstein development that happened a couple of days later?

I'm curious- what do you think?
- does the caché of a big name bring attention to the brand enough to revitalize it even if it doesn't live up to expectations from a design standpoint?
- does it matter if the creative minds can conceptualize a big vision without the formal training of technique?
- does the customer even care?

Friday, April 8, 2011


Patricia Mears with Carol Lim & Humberto Leon

Ok, it's been a while...and now I'm back.

Recently I have had the opportunity to attend some talks at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) where I now take some classes. First, I saw Garance Doré, world famous blogger (with 80 something thousand unique hits per day) talk about how she got started- and she was just SO nice. Then, I saw Humberto Leon and Carol Lim from Opening Ceremony talk about how they got started (interviewed expertly by the eternally elegant Patricia Mears from the Museum of FIT- one of my favourite NY secrets). They filled the house and everyone eagerly awaited their answers in the Q & A session- I mean, they founded the hottest store in New York then branched out, trailing coolness in their wake. Well, they just came across SO nice too.

I was confused- where was all the pomp and circumstance demanded by these fashion folk? What did they mean- reach out to us, we love to hear from you? We helped other stores, we share resources sometimes, we all help each other. What was this crazy talk?

WHEN DID FASHION GET SO SOFT? Hey, I'm not complaining. I've been working in fashion since high school and I've worked for and seen some of the biggest divas in action- I mean, we secretly called my first boss Evil-lyn instead of her given name, Evelyn, she was such a nightmare to all in her employ. I learned a lot from them (especially in the what not to do department) and lived to move onto bigger and better things, but isn't fashion about stabbings in the backs and bitchiness? No one helping each other so there can only be one queen bee? Apparently not, according to these guys.

While that might not be completely true for all, I have to say it was really refreshing to see some humanity and hearing that people were helping each other. We know this happens but usually only so someone looks good and gets a PR opp (or lots of dosh) out of it.

And then last night I saw Grace Killelea speak. She's not in fashion- she was speaking as a guest of the Advertising & Marketing dept (of which I'm now part of) and she told her story. It was one of fighting her way to the top, helping others and having them help her back. Of working with grace and dignity and refusing to settle when she thought she deserved more. She stressed working hard and KINDNESS- to ourselves and to each other.

OMG, that's it! In these times where everyone is expected to do more for, and with less, a little kindness goes a long way. Isn't there enough for everyone? How much of the pie does one person really need anyway?

These people, who started with a few ideas and a lot of determination have made themselves into something pretty big and are now sharing their stories and telling us that they're just like us- now that's great PR.

What do you think?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Long's the Line?

image from
In the last couple of weeks there have been over 50 sample sales in New York City- many of them big name designers. I personally went to the Alexander Wang and Helmut Lang ones and decided to skip the Calypso- usually on my list for colorful, bohemian looks for summer to offset my layers of black for winter. There were others I'd have liked to have braved but the idea of the crowds was just too intimidating.

The amount of merchandise at these sales can be astounding. Yes, there are the clunkers of the collection- a sore reminder of listening to Anna Wintour and putting into production a  coat she bought off the runaway that looks good on no one else or the crazy prints that are interesting but not very commercial- but there are also plenty of pieces that are just "extra". This extra merchandise is money, a LOT of money and it needs to be liquidated. In my job as a managing director of a small retail chain, I had this problem once, and let me tell you- the longer you keep it, the harder it is to move. Fashion has an expiry date and your loyal clients know when things came out and they are interested in it when either new or vintage and a lot of time passes in between those.

The secrets of outlets stores and sample sales are another one of those fashion insider things. We insiders know that brands manufacture garments that are solely for the outlet stores although the general public does not. There is also another rumour that brands are overproducing to stock their sample sales (they still make money even with the discounted prices) and I just heard that a well known Paris designer was told to "stop" with her seasonal sample sales or she'd be dropped from one of the major department stores as they felt it cannibalized their full price sales- a pretty serious request for a supposedly secret sample sale.

A friend of mine who is relatively new to NY asked me how everyone knows about them (especially considering I knew about one that the company her husband works at was having and she didn't). was my answer. Websites like Racked and SampleSally report on all things shopping and give views (sometimes real time) on what is happening on the front. Photos of pricelists, available merchandise, progress reports on lines to gain entry- readers constantly email them to keep them up to date. Sample sales used to be a thing of knowing people and paper flyers but the internet of course has changed that- although it does help to know someone to have access to the Friends & Family preview which usually takes place a day before opening to the general public.

I love sample sales and as a long-term fashion professional rarely pay full price for anything bar special editions (Jil Sander at Uniqlo etc)- I just don't need to. And my designer-heavy closet is proof of it.

So I ask:
- is it worth brands cannibalizing potential full priced sales to purge excess merch at a sample sale? is this good business?
- do you think it matters if it's only the "insiders" who know about it and can get to them? Or do you think the word is out- everyone know about them?
- do YOU shop full price or wait for sample sales to get your designer goodies?

Monday, December 6, 2010

update to last post: And So It Begins

Well, just as we were discussing speeding up the fashion cycle and access for all... It was recently announced that NY Socialite Lauren Santo Domingo has partnered with an ex-Gilt founder to launch a site- Moda Operandi- that will allow shoppers to buy from the runway 48 hours after the show has taken place. It will work like a trunk show- they'll take your orders (with a deposit of course) and you'll receive the pieces when they're ready.

Is that quick enough for you?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let 'em in!?

I recently was on looking at the much talked about Prada runway show and I started to think how great it would be to hear the music that went with the show, to see one outfit transition into another on the runway....and then it occurred to me that it was probably available on their site- I mean, it was done last year already by others- no matter how resistant the Italians have been to technology maybe it's there- didn't Prada just update their site?  So off to go I, et voila!

Well, isn't this fabulous?! I enjoyed the show: loved that it showed un-matchy-matchy outfits that shouldn't work but do, loved that Miucca can pull off the granny look more elegantly than nobody's business and watched Suzy Menkes' little hair bubble run out of the front row (probably to the next show). I felt like I was there watching from the nose-bleed section.

But (and there's always a but) is it all getting too public? Will the riff raff wreck the Ball? Should everyone be able to see this THIS quickly?

Just last week, NY Mag had an article entitled "Shop the Runway: 20 Fashion Week Looks for $200 or less". It took looks from NY Fashion Week and matched them up with pieces available in stores now. This isn't necessarily new- the fashion crowd have been influenced by the runway as soon as we saw the photos in WWD the next day, but this is now reaching out to those not in the industry- those who's money makes up the business of fashion in the big dollar way- in the derivative market (we all remember the blue sweater scene from Devil Wears Prada).

Back in February, Donna Karan said that we need to return to in-season deliveries as well as stating that we are killing our own industry with making it all too public. Recently, Imran Amed from BoF interviewed Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter and he posed the question regarding the speed of seasons. Her response? We should take a season off and let everyone catch up. (Click to see interview here)

The new buzz surrounds an article in the IHT where Suzy Menkes questions whether shows are needed at all as designers increasingly rely on short movies for showing their collections (and advertising campaigns). Leader of the fashion show-movie genre, Nick Knight says in the article- “Firstly, it is a true artistic expression that the designers can control,” he said. “Secondly they can get so many more people, from 300 to three million. And because — although it hasn’t happened yet — designers will want to sell their clothes.” By this he is referring to instant ordering online that would take place while still watching or shortly after the show has finished.

We know that the internet is going to change the fashion industry- it already has. We can see things faster, more closely, and have more accessibility for purchasing across countries and currencies. But will it be affected by letting the "behind the scenes" parts not be so "behind"?

So this leads me to ask the following:
- are designers letting too many cats out of the bag and will there be no surprises when that season comes around?
- are we already sick of the clothes before they go into the stores? or, on the opposite side of the coin- have the consumers been salivating so long that they rush the stores the moment the collection hits?
- will we still need people to "translate" the runway trends when we can see them, sit on them and work it out ourselves?
What are your thoughts?

PS- all images are from the Prada S'11 show- check it out!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crazytown in Fashionland?

image from Refinery29- see link below

There hasn't been any big issues I've felt the need to address lately so I've been quiet. Recently I've been perusing the September issues and they have triggered a few thoughts. Firstly, the thought that I have not felt compelled enough to not be able to put them down. I pick one up, flick a few pages and then am completely ok with putting it back down and moving on. So here we are at NY Fashion Week already and I haven't even done my homework. Although I have had enough of a flick that I know that if I don't have a camel coat and a pair of clogs (i do actually- at this point they're vintage- and Miu Miu's on top of it!) I'm not allowed out of the house.

Secondly, I'm happy that we seem to be returning to the using of models for ads and editorial. This has been talked about but i really feel it now and- thank god- isn't that what they're there for? I'm also loving that some of the oldies but still-stunningly-gorgeous-goodies are back. Big time! The Aussie press is ALL over Emma Balfour and we have several others joining Christy and Linda back on glossy pages. Age is but a number ladies- especially when you look THAT good for THAT number.

Disturbingly though, i seem to be noticing a few too many WTF? moments. I mean, things that really make me question- what WERE they thinking? Considering i do not think of myself a certifiable fashion expert but more a lover of it with a good eye (or so i like to think) I'm wondering if I'm the only one. In times of suffering retail isn't this the time to nail it, no excuses, make it happen, be spot on?

a few examples:

Blumarine ad in Harper's Bazaar- the model's face/head looks like it is photoshopped onto a random, leaping, predictible and editorial looking series of poses.

Saks 5th Ave. high fashion with a sport theme. Not worth anymore words it's so insane- except I'm guessing you're looking for a new marketing team?

Jennifer Aniston as Barbra Streisand? Really? REALLY??? and this has to do with.....??? Cause she's starring in yet another total blockbuster that everyone just RUSHED to see?

Let's not talk about 21 (21???!!!) pages of Julia Roberts- who is historically a questionable fashion icon. Especially as this issue has so little real content this REALLY stands out.

Halle Berry as cover girl? Cause her new movie is...???

You get the point.

Luckily there are still lots of beautiful pages to make up for the crazy ones but I have to ask- did anyone else think a few people had taken one too many crazy pills? maybe it was the accountants?

What were your thoughts on this year's September Issues?

PS: Refinery29 did a recap and shared their thoughts here

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Old Guard vs. New Talent

It's no secret that the market, after this latest recession, has changed. It has made some seemingly untouchable people or roles more vulnerable than they thought they may ever be and more importantly made us stop and think about what is really important and (for me at least) WHO is really important- or as I usually like to say- "what makes YOU so special?"

Now more than ever it's time to be able to back it up. Being famous for being famous isn't enough. There was even an article recently about blogs which discussed that some well known blogs weren't even the most read. Well, I guess that's ok, we blog to share, not usually to make money but fashion is very, very different. Making clothes takes money- a LOT of money. TV reality shows don't really capture this and the explosion of newly “famous” designers must make more than me question- where did they go? Every month the fashion magazines run columns of the newest, hottest designers which always makes me wonder where last year’s designers who were on this page now are.

Having read this article in the NY Times recently I was happy to see it raised some of the very points I’ve been thinking about for a while and it seems Paper Magazine founder Kim Hastreiter in particular may have ruffled some sensitive feathers by speaking some truths (quel horreur!) although it seems she voiced what more than a few had been thinking.
For example: “I am in complete agreement with her,” Mr. (Prabal) Gurung said. “Talent should not be instantaneously celebrated, but rather nurtured and grown steadily.”

There have been some famous people who have been designers (both successful and not) as well as talented designers who just haven’t been able to stay in business. With the youth of today (and especially all of those recently graduated fashion students!) wanting to be famous maybe even more than wanting to be respected for their talent or work ethic we run the possibility of having yet more unprepared designers wanting to break out on their own instead of taking time to learn from the pros.

As everyone gets more careful with their money and needs to believe in what they buy more than ever before, we can ask:

- just because someone is recognizable, does it mean they can have a fashion collection? And if so, is it guaranteed success?
- does fame build the business or raise expectations to an unrealistic (and unattainable) level
- what does it take to be successful in fashion?
- should fashion design come with a residency or apprenticeship program to help make the designers appreciate and learn the industry as a whole? I mean after school, like Med school requires full time in a hospital- not a semester of an internship while studying.
- should fashion school teach more business classes? Including lessons on getting financing?

What do you think will help the Emperor stay clothed?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Follow up to last post

Covered today on NY Magazine's blog: Full Figured Fashion Week Expands

I usually find the comments on these kinds of articles interesting.

On another note, changing it up- sick of this look so as soon as I get a chance: New post, New look.

Let me know if you have problems with comments as I've heard there have been. I'll post them if you can't seem to make it happen- I'd love all the input i can get, that's what keeps it interesting. Sometimes it's your browser, so maybe try another one if you have one.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fat is the New Black

photo: + V magazine

I started a post about this topic a while ago and have been going back and forth about whether or not to even go there. But recently there have been articles that keep bringing it all up. It? You know, the SIZE issue. (Links are live so if you want to read them, knock yourself out!)

This has been gaining strength over the past few months, actually even longer. New York mag showed Christina Hendricks in all her curvaceous glory, V magazine did a "Size" issue in January and even French Elle has reported they "are giving up on skinny" as quoted by the Times UK. In addition, there is the ongoing issue about models with the British Fashion Council along with the US's CFDA attempting to install some health guidelines so the girls don't fall down mid-catwalk because of their malnutrition. Most interesting piece about the 2010 discussion on the 2007 initiative here. Thanks Jezebel for not summarizing an important discussion into a fluff piece!

Everyone has an opinion. Renowned blogger Garance Doré criticized the movement towards well, let's just call it large- i mean, anything over an American size 6 (GB 10, EU 38) is just plain huge isn't it? Even Alber Elbaz (who is not very tiny) says in an interview with that realistically, if we ask women what they want, they say they want to be skinny and the designers can't be blamed for it.

The latest hoopla has been about Photoshop-ing. I think we all saw the Ralph Lauren ad last year and you'd think we might take a lesson. But just this past week Photoshop has been on our minds. British "Healthy" magazine was made an example of in an article in the Daily Mail and just today the Ann Taylor website got a swipe for over-retouching. Where will it stoppppp?????

So, let's think big:

- are we really ready to be faced with reality? Do we want to see "real" women in magazines that are meant to be aspirational? Or do we like the clothes on the skinny Minney's cause we can't afford the clothes anyhow and everyone knows the skinny chicks make the clothes look better (tongue-in-cheek alert here)

- will there be a backlash and a new market develops? We all know that there have been brands that are aimed at the "Plus Size" market for a long time but they haven't exactly been seen as glamorous. If the media gets on board, will that change?

- what about the health issue- can we look at large without thinking unhealthy? How large is ok? what's the line that "curvaceous" and "fat" ride?
With the whole world getting fatter should we be glamorizing large? i mean, we've been glamorizing anorexic for years...