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Keeping Up With Kendall Jenner (And Her 16 Million Instagram Followers)

Forget about Keeping up with the Kardashians, how on earth will we ever keep up with Kendall?

On November 21st the New York Times published a rather lengthy article about Kendall Jenner – daughter of Kris, sister of Kim, and sister-in-law of Kanye – and the new face of legendary beauty industry empire Estée Lauder. This coveted contract has been in the possession of several talented actresses and supermodels in years past, but now…they are handing it over to Kendall.

Forgive the hint of sarcasm here, but I, like a lot of you, can’t seem to quite put my finger on why this family, and this sister in particular is deserving of any such coveted honors. Is it because she’s a leader in fashion and beauty? Is she a style icon in the industry? Has she has earned the spot by working her way up in the fiercely competitive world of modeling?

It turns out the answer is none of the above. It’s widely reported that she got the coveted contract because she has more social media followers than all of us combined, and this is her reward.

Foregoing the route of traditional publicity driven press releases, Vogue magazine broke the news of the contract on their website (their headline read “Kendall Jenner Social-Media Sensation Turned Beauty Star), and the New York Times reported that Kendall (she is trying to drop the “Jenner”) was encouraged to spread the word on her own social channels, and boy did she ever!

Her Instagram announcement post was “liked” more than one million – Yes ONE MILLION – times. The rest of her social media stats are also staggering. Believe it or not, she has 16 MILLION Instagram followers, 9.1 MILLION Twitter followers, and 7.3 MILLION likes on Facebook.

And I’m back to asking myself, WHY?

Why is this generation okay with famous people who are only famous because of the social media followers they have that made them famous? Is this Kendall Jenner’s credibility, and is this the new standard for credibility? Does it mean your fashionable because you have 9.1 Twitter followers?

I’ve addressed it before, but where have all the icons gone? Are you an icon because you have followers or because you truly have a sense of style and walk out the door looking sensational.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of liked it when the collective standard was a lot higher.

Some of you may be saying, “Oh Debi, you just don’t get it,” but I really do. It’s just difficult for me to understand that as a style icon, Kendall doesn’t have style – she has “followers,” and apparently that’s all you need…and what they say goes.

All of this brings me back to one last thought on Black Friday. As I wrote in my blog last week, Black Friday has become a manufactured holiday that maintains little to no real value. Vendors manufacture goods for this sales event to make the consumer think they are getting a deal. I was listening to NPR last weekend when they exposed that the retail giants don’t even change their Black Friday ads from year to year anymore. They simply continue to manufacture the same sub-standard products every season in an effort to dumb down anything the consumer has come to expect. Judging by the lines of people camped out in front of their stores for days and even weeks on end – it seems they have succeeded. They’re saving money and you are getting a deal. Does that sound right?

It makes me wonder, is Estée Lauder getting a “deal” with Kendall Jenner? Has her worth as their spokesperson been manufactured by her followers, so much so that the consumer thinks they’re getting what they want?

It begs the question, does the sheer amount of her followers justify the rest of us giving up standards that have merit, for something that really has none?

Is Kendall Jenner all that we can afford?

kendallpicstitch

Black Friday (It’s Not a Holiday.)

I can’t help but remember the good old days, when vendors actually believed in the value of their merchandise and went through the exercise of telling us when we had permission to mark their items on sale – which used to be the day AFTER Christmas. Slowly, over time, it kept moving. It went from the day after Christmas to the 21st of December (to help merchants move extra inventory), and then they moved it to the 15th, then the 9th, then the 1st, and then the day after Thanksgiving. Now the vendors aren’t talking, and no one is listening anyway. Retail does what it wants in an effort to compete with each other, and make all of you compete.

Just last week I caught a news story of two women were already camped out in front of a Best Buy store in California for the store’s Black Friday sale. These two ladies have committed themselves to sitting in front of a store, on camp chairs, for over three weeks – to save money at Best Buy.

Should we laugh or should we cry?

To save everyone the trouble of sorting through the hot deals of the season, let’s just say that from now on, Halloween is the new sale date. Hell, why not back it up to Labor Day? At least the weather would be better for camping outside while you’re waiting for the doors to open.

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I find it a little unsettling that merchants can no longer seem to sell merchandise unless it’s on sale. It’s the only tool they have left in the toolshed and they’ve trained Americans to think they should only buy something if it’s discounted. How do you explain “Friends and Family,” if everyone gets the coupon? What exactly is a “Private Sale?” Because the last I checked, if it’s loading in your Facebook feed, it’s not so very private – is it? All of these “sales” really just translate to 6 consecutive weeks of discounted merchandise for the masses.

Which begs the question, Is it even discounted? It’s no secret that some pretty big retailers have been caught before marking things “up” to mark them “down.” Do they really think they are fooling anyone? Do you really think they would take a loss for you? Apparently, the consumer really does. And the vendors keep saying…declaring…insisting, that they do all of this because it’s what “SHE” wants. But isn’t that a bit insulting that SHE won’t buy anything unless it’s on sale? Do customers really want stores to open earlier and earlier every year in an effort to create chaos in the lives of employees and shoppers everywhere?

So I have to ask, why is Saks opening a new 250,000 square foot store in New York City? And why are they moving next door to Century 21 when they already ARE Century 21? Do they really need more space to sell more merchandise at a discount? The last time I checked, when demand goes down, you don’t add more supply. Eventually, like the mortgage industry, which never should have failed (right?), this system will implode too. Retail giants continue to open more stores, but they will remain empty and merchandise will continue to be sold at marked down prices online.

Too much supply, not enough demand? How will they save the industry?

Create a Holiday!

Alibaba.com, a Chinese e-commerce company, broke all records this year with over 9 BILLION in sales for Singles Day. Yes, Singles Day. A “holiday,” created in 1993 to celebrate the young, SINGLE, fashionable set. Brands couldn’t even participate unless their merchandise was marked at least 50% off. And just today I read an article on PopSugar Fashion about the Black Friday “holiday” and the top 21 sales to keep an eye on. I’m sorry, but Black Friday isn’t a holiday.

And while they’re building up New York City, the rest of the country is pulling away from expansion. Retail real estate is projected to contract 37% year after year because malls and other brick and mortar retail stops can’t compete with their own, and others, online sales. Who needs a store if you have 2 dimensional pictures to click on? Consumers are not expected to expect anymore, and most retailers have gotten complacent and have stopped educating their customers about what it means to appreciate something they can actually experience.

By now you may be asking yourself, Debi, why do you care?

I care because retail has always been a huge part of my life, and my observations of the industry help me make better choices for Louis and all who have loyally patronized our store throughout the years. I care because it’s my job to stay connected with the newer shoppers who, despite having a laptop, still appreciate and understand the value of what we do. You can’t find what I have on sale. I keep it exclusive so we can all be reassured that you are buying something of quality, and something more special than the 8 million of something else you can buy online.

I remember, during the last great recession in the late 80’s / early 90’s when my father, Murray Pearlstein, said to me, “Debi, I lived through the great depression, and while things were very tight, there was always somebody who still appreciated something special.”

So people, take a breath. There truly is plenty of time to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

No matter what holiday you observe, let the spirit linger.

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The Lost Art of Outerwear

Perhaps you’ve noticed that over time different categories in fashion have all but been eliminated from the shopping experience. I can think of at least two of them that are centered in and around the extreme changes in the weather found in New England – the place we all so fondly call home – regardless of how much we need them.

Like you, I too wait with baited breath for the warmth to come after a long, drawn out, cold New England winter…and often non-existent spring. And, perhaps like you, I wait until at least June – after I’ve seen the sunshine for more than 5 minutes – before I even begin to think about shopping for a bathing suit. The issue is that by the time we all feel brave enough to stand under the florescent lights in an unforgiving dressing room, the bathing suits have been marked down considerably and warm sweaters and tall boots are beginning to emerge from the stock room.

As a result, bathing suits, historically a rather large category, are simply getting lost in the shuffle. We don’t even know they’re there before it’s too late and the retail season is coming to a close. A great bathing suit is difficult enough to find, especially if they’ve become nearly obsolete from department stores. Well, some still carry a small assortment, but it’s certainly not what it used to be.

Actually, it’s nothing like it used to be.

The same holds true for outerwear.

People, we live in New England, and to be honest we really can’t afford to have the same thing happen to this category as well. We’re not in California, it really does get freezing here, and during the winter months we need to wear a coat every day to endure the brutality of the season. We really need variations of outerwear in the region because A.) The weather gets really, really cold, and B.) Who wants to wear the same coat over and over and over again?

And can we just talk about “puffers” for a minute?

I don’t need to call out brands, you know who they are, but is it really necessary to reach for a “puffer” every time you venture outside? I get that we have some really cold, crummy, awful days around here…and I get that you can roll it up in a ball and stick it in the washing machine to fluff it up again…and I get that it keeps you warm, BUT it’s not appropriate for every scenario in your life, and I hate to break the news but they really don’t look so great…on anyone.

Do you think the new “shiny” puffers are helping matters?

Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.

Because certain regions in the country (including us) have such a dire need for outerwear during the winter months, you would think the category would be exploding with function and creativity. But it isn’t. Or should I say, it hasn’t been.

And because we have fallen into the habit of reaching for what has become, for lack of a better term, the lowest common denominator in outwear, our heads have been down and we’ve been missing the fact that some people are doing some amazingly new and different things with coats these days. Especially this season where I really saw designers taking fabric with vastly different properties and putting their efforts back into outerwear.

From Proenza Schouler’s wool and neoprene wonders to Jason Wu’s wool and shearling creations to Lucas Nascimento‘s modern interpretation of the 1940’s to Jonathan Saunder’s clever patchwork designs, there seems to be new life circulating around an old “category.”

Fabulous!

Last month we had some incredibly warm neoprene pieces from Jacquemus, and this month they are sold out completely – and we’re just coming to the end of October. Which leads me to believe that some people are packing away their puffers and really starting to get it.

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Alice Roi

Alice Roi

 

Meanwhile, in Paris…

Each season I board a plane to Paris and expect to find some inspiration when I land. I attend shows and visit showrooms; I talk to other businesswomen and men; I meet with designers and exchange ideas with magazine editors…all in an effort to find and bring new ideas and inspiration back to Boston.

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but as my trip came to a close last week and I found myself ready to come home, I realized that overall, I wasn’t so inspired.

Actually, I’m quite happy with what I bought while I was there, and I had no problem committing to the designers and ideas that I did, but I’m glad I went into it with a definitive point of view – because when people walk into the major department stores in spring, I don’t know if they’ll be able to find one. Sure, you’ll see the trends – but inspiration? I’m not so sure.

I really enjoyed what designers like Haider Ackermann, Jonathan Saunders, Victoria Beckham, and Roland Mouret had to say, but beyond that most everything else smelled quite unauthentic. It seemed the creative air was sucked out of the city in some odd way. Paris has always been about the artistry, but more and more it’s become about going “global,” and the art is getting lost.

I understand that the name of the game is the bottom line, but we can’t forget that ingenuity has paved the road to the bottom line for many incredible designers throughout the ages. There is no question that fashion is losing its edge and becoming too commercialized overall. Authenticity is becoming lost and not only is it affecting the subconscious behaviors of consumers, it’s taking an evident toll on the industry itself.

One of the last shows of Fashion Week was Chanel. Karl Lagarfeld transformed the Grand Palais into a Paris Boulevard and it seemed, a feminist protest. Models strutted together in a large group, shouting with and without megaphones, carrying posters to protest…I don’t know what, or more importantly perhaps, why. Was it a protest of fashion? Quite honestly it left me feeling confused, not inspired.

It seemed there was a sense of anti-fashion off of the runway as well. I couldn’t help but notice the fashion bloggers who are usually very well dressed were a bit more casual in Paris. I saw a lot of boy jeans and white shirts and man-style shoes, indicating that none of them wanted to fall into fashion? I got the sense that Tommy Ton didn’t know what or who to shoot because everyone was dressed so similarly. Nary a Christian Louboutin heel or Céline bag could be found. The tone was definitely toned down and it felt unsettling to me that people were holding back.

Other unsettling news came via WWD where I learned that New York would be adding five new 250k square foot department stores to the borough of Manhattan. Why? So they can sell everything on sale? So the conglomerates that own a great deal of the fashion space can continue to seek a dominant space in the market? At what price?

Quite often I feel like Vanessa Freidman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic of the New York Times, is one of the only other people who sees what I see, and is willing to talk about it. If you read her articles it’s clear she wants to know what the purpose is of fashion these days, and why the industry is behaving as it is. What’s going on and what’s it really all about? Do we need another paparazzi picture of Kim and Kanye arriving late to a fashion show?

Unfortunately, my need for authenticity and integrity wasn’t quite satiated this season. It seemed the designers wanted to say or demand something, but they didn’t quite know what it was – and it’s for this reason that the reaction of the industry to build more toward dominance seems quite counterproductive at this time.

My hope is that the industry starts to see and dismantle the hamster wheel they’ve built for consumers to build an appetite with, and instead find ways to encourage consumption that has some meaning behind it. Find a way to encourage originality and authenticity, and understand that people want to devour that even more.

Meanwhile…I’m walking around the city streets of Paris wearing pieces that I brought from Boston. Pieces from Louis, past and present – all mixed up but with a distinct point of view. People were stopping me, asking me how I put things together – finally something to talking about!

…and so I ask, do you really care where Kim and Kanye are today?

Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret

(all images: style.com)

Menswear 101: Intro. to Pants

Last week I wrote about fashion categories for women, and how I like to avoid them for those who shop at Louis.

This week, I want to talk about fashion categories for men, and how they’re pretty much unavoidable.

If you are a man, or shop with a man, or shop for a man…or own a clothing store that has been selling the best in menswear for decades, you’re probably already familiar with the rules of men which are: 1.) They’re always hot, 2.) They don’t want to wear anything scratchy, and 3.) They’ll only buy what’s comfortable.

You’ll also be familiar with the fact that men have fairly standard choices when it comes to fashion, and those choices fall into categories. It’s because of this, and the nature of what I do, that I embrace the predictability of those categories and find the very best in them: the best tailoring, the best fabrics, the best in comfort, and always the best in style. Especially so when it comes to pants.

Besides a very avant-garde few, every man will wake up, get out of bed, and put on a pair of pants – every day – one leg at a time. Therefore, it makes me wonder why the majority of them are so willing to follow the path of least resistance (also known as khakis) and less willing to take the time to search high and low for the pair that will ultimately make them look and feel good at the same time.

When men come into Louis to shop for pants they politely explain that they want something in a soft “cotton” that won’t wrinkle or stain. Then I laugh and ask them if they understand that finding “cotton” that won’t wrinkle or stain is like finding a unicorn running down the Esplanade. It doesn’t exist. And then I ask, “Do you really want to walk around with the most precious parts of you all wrapped up in Teflon?”

As you can imagine, after the shock of my question wears off, the answer is pretty much always “no.”

I understand that you can walk into any store and get a “pair of pants” for $75-$200, but what you won’t get is what you’ll find at Louis … hand tailored pants crafted from incredible fabric with an incomparable fit. And unlike the aforementioned, these pants will be worth every penny you invest in them.

And when a man invests in his pants this way he’ll notice that they’ll have the most spectacular fit. They won’t sag in the ass or be cut too wide in the leg, but they will have enough of a cut to allow you to sit down, or drive a car, and be comfortable.

And when a man invests in his pants this way he’ll have a better understanding about innovations in fabrication including corduroy made from cotton and cashmere, brushed or twilled printed cotton, and lightweight flannel wool. And he’ll appreciate the fact that when he comes into a store like Louis he’ll have the opportunity to see it all and have it available – in his size.

Listen, I’ve been in the business of menswear for a very long time, and I know that if men want to expand their repertoire and be prepared for every occasion they can do so by having 4 different types of pants in their wardrobe: wool tailored, cotton tailored, cotton washed, and either a jean or track pant – or some other kind of casual pant. And they should all be equally comfortable across the board.

In our response to the rules of men, I can say with confidence that the collection of pants we have curated here will 1.) Not overheat you (nothing is heavier than 250 grams), 2.) Will never feel scratchy, and 3.) Will be tailored to perfection and always feel comfortable.

Guys…I beg you, please don’t let your jeans become your excuse. Jeans are not okay for every occasion. There truly are so many more interesting options, and I promise they will be just as, if not more, comfortable than denim – and they will definitely look and feel better.

Life presents more opportunities than ever before. Put your pants on one leg at a time and walk through them effortlessly.

But don’t wrap yourself up in Teflon.

Please.

PT101 Pant, Mastai Shirt, Robert Clergerie Shoes

PT101 Pant, Mastai Shirt, Robert Clergerie Shoes

 

Valentini pant, Mastai shirt

Valentini Pant, Mastai Shirt

Tim Coppens pant, Sartoria Partenopea jacket , Common Project sneakers, Malo sweater

Tim Coppens Pant, Sartoria Partenopea Jacket , Common Projects Sneakers, Malo Sweater

Sartoria Partenopia pant

Sartoria Partenopia Pant, Robert Clergerie Shoes

No Categories. No Repeats. No Hesitations.

I suppose it makes it easier for everyone when fashion and fabric are separated into categories. And it’s probably safe to assume that when the typical consumer walks into a department store, large or small, it’s easier to ask where the silk blouses are so both they, and the sales person, will know exactly what the shopper is referring to.

But to be honest with you I’m beginning to feel like the “category” has seen its day, and that day is passing – at Louis anyway.
Right now, when you walk into Louis, you’ll find carefully curated pieces that don’t fall absentmindedly into any particular category, and that’s just the way I wanted it. Designers including SUNO, GOAT and Proenza Schouler have all created spectacular garments in matching and/or coordinating fabric that ironically make them some of the most versatile pieces you’ll find for the Fall 2014 season. While pants are pants, and skirts are skirts, and dresses are dresses – what goes along with them are not tops, blouses, or jackets. Instead they are pieces that compel you to discover how you want to embrace and incorporate them into your life. Wear them together or wear them apart – they are stunning, and they are going to allow you to really own your individuality.

The other half of the affair I’m having with fashion this fall has arrived in the exploration of innovative fabrication. From GOAT’s denim wool crepe fabric, to Proenza’s viscose knits and razored leather and wool, to Otto’s ultrasuede, to Simone Rocha, Alice Roi, Jonathan Simkhai, and Jacquemus’ bold and beautiful use of neoprene, technology has gone further than it ever has and is ultimately answering the needs of a generation.

Neoprene? Yes. Neoprene. Invented by DuPont scientists in 1930, it thrills me to no end that designers have taken hold and are using it for something other than what it was originally made for – as they should! The fabric has incredible flexibility, provides stunning shape and volume, and keeps you warm without adding any additional weight.

Even after all this time that I’ve been in the business, I still find a fashion season like this to be incredible. Overflowing with innovation that gives us all an opportunity to honor those who refuse to fit into a category and purposefully create things that should be seen and touched and APPRECIATED.

For those who find satisfaction in discovery…I look forward to meeting the women who are bold enough to wear these looks this season.

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GOAT

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SUNO / Proenza Schouler Shoes

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Jacquesmus / Robert Clergerie Shoes

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Proenza Schouler / Paul Andrew Shoes

“Loose Luxury” – Fall 14 – @Louis_Boston

For the first time since I’ve been in this business, I find that the evolution of fashion has moved us into a moment of androgynous, and/or ambisexual dressing. I suppose you could say punk and deconstruction flirted with the notion, but today any distinctly feminine element you may have found there have all but been omitted.

It’s no secret that I’ve been attracted for some time now to the casual, luxury, athletic inspired designs that line the racks at Louis, and as we move into fall, that tone continues to evolve. A lot of the new pieces arriving here hold on to those sensibilities, but increasingly they are embracing androgynous qualities that effortlessly accompany them. And it’s been interesting to observe our customers as they approach the new season because I’m finding the pieces I have bought, whether cut for men or women, show very little difference in the nuance of the design, yet they are being very well received and appreciated by both sexes.

In particular, pieces from Baha East and Greg Lauren.

Baja East, the recently launched brainchild of Scott Studenberg and John Targon is a new line to Louis. Studenberg and Targon met while working on the wholesale side of the businesss for Lanvin, and Celine and Burberry respectively, and come to us in Boston with what is only their second collection.

Creating clothing that “everyone wants to wear all of the time,” the pair has coined their look “loose luxury” and produce pieces that are easy and casual, but finished in luxurious fabrics.

From their sleeveless hoodie made out of the softest glove leather you will ever lay your hands on, to another made from luxurious pony hair – I saw the collection in their showroom in New York, and I knew you had to have it.

Greg Lauren, Ralph’s nephew, has also created quite a buzz at Louis with his incredible distressed pieces. Since 2011 he has been finding vintage army duffle bags and tents at flea markets and vintage dealers, and manipulating them to create collections full of astonishing contradictions. The pieces for men and women differentiate a bit, but I didn’t buy that way for the season. Instead I bought similar pieces for everyone. His cashmere patchwork coats look and feel like nothing you’ve ever seen before and his exquisite, yet casual pants have sold out for women and soon will for men.

And while I would like to say the success of both lines at Louis should be attributed to my good taste, that’s honestly not the case. It’s truly just the confluences of things that are going on right now. With no other real way to describe it, pieces from both designers are just very “now,” and that kind of says it all.

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Make no mistake about it, the mainstream industry at large doesn’t quite know how to describe it either, but they are determined. True to form, the fashion rags (magazines and trade publications) want so badly to talk about this new incarnation of luxury, but they first need to categorize it and make it accessible to everyone by lining it up nicely along side of the “athletic” inspired brands of the moment (think LuLu). And while one could argue that there are shared components as things relate to comfort, the Common Project sneakers and the elements of Baja East and Greg Lauren are truly in a category unto themselves, yet there is nothing categorical about any of it.

Not to mention the fact that each and every garment produced is made purposefully, by hand, one at a time. And you won’t know what that means in terms of unique look and delicious feel if you are shopping from your computer. You simply have to try it on. The garments are made to drape differently on every body. You really have to throw out your ideas about traditional sizing because some prefer these pieces more fitted, and others with a little more room. Either way they look fabulous but they have to be tried on.

And this is what I’m referring to when I speak about the evolution and movement in fashion. Your jeans are an option, but now they are only that…an option. If you embrace new ideas and are open to evolving the way you think about clothing it’s inevitable that you’ll find pieces that may not replace your favorite jeans, but they will certainly make you think twice before automatically reaching for them. You have options now – Incredible, luxurious, forward thinking, innovative, versatile, striking options.

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Nothing thrills me more than when a customer comes to Louis, sees what we have to offer them, and understands the philosophy behind it. They get it.

Just last week a woman came in and grabbed a pair of Greg Lauren pants that were washed and dyed to give them a very unique look and texture. She put them on her body and her face lit up. Before we had a chance to explain anything to her she was explaining to us how she would wear them with heels or sneakers, and dress them up or down as the occasion dictated. When she said she thought they would look great if she wore them under a silk slip for an evening out I couldn’t hold back my smile. She had to have those pants. She got it.

These pieces that embrace “loose luxury” represent a new way of dressing and a new generation. The designers are really putting their stamp on things and owning something fresh that is also holding steadfastly on to luxury and elegance.

When you come to Louis I want you to discover incredible pieces and understand that you can use them in ways you never would have considered before.

I want you to invest in a wardrobe you actually want to wear…

And I promise you will.

 

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren shirt, Belvest jacket, Haider Ackermann pants

Greg Lauren shirt, Belvest jacket, Haider Ackermann pants

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Discover Kiton, Cashmere for Fall. Luxury Like No Other.

I would hope this goes without saying, but it’s important that you understand I’m not just out here preaching about EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATION. I live it.

I want you to know that I don’t buy for Louis, and ultimately for you, from my computer. Doing so would be insulting to all of us, including the artists/designers who work tirelessly to craft impeccable garments that must be seen and touched to be appreciated. In my every effort to keep Louis looking and feeling like Louis, and make sure it never morphs into a “trendy” department store, I step out from behind my own computer and travel the world so I can ensure that the pieces I intentionally bring back to Boston are like nothing you’ve seen or touched before.

With that said…

While we’ve all been enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of the summer we never thought would begin, I find myself looking forward to seeing the leaves change color and feeling the slight chill that Autumn brings to Boston every September. New items for the season have finally started to make their way to the store, and while I am excited by every piece that comes in, none excite me quite like the menswear that has arrived from Kiton – especially their cashmere.

If you live in Boston, you simply have to have a different kind of appreciation for cashmere. We all need outerwear that’s deliciously warm, and while a puffy down parka will suffice, albeit awkwardly over a suit, it will never look and feel as luxurious as cashmere. In menswear, most outerwear cloth is purposely created to be an in-between weight that translates just fine in other parts of the world, but it just doesn’t work here in New England. Do you remember last winter?

When you visit Louis you will see cashmere from Kiton you likely won’t see anywhere else. From luxurious overcoats crafted from 600 grahams of blanket soft and incredibly warm cashmere, to lightweight cashmere jackets that look wintery, but feel comfortably cool. Offered in rich palettes that include beautiful browns, bright blues, and interesting olives, it’s immediately apparent that the man who shops here simply isn’t interested in adding another navy blazer to his wardrobe. The man who shops here is looking for depth and dimension, and Kiton delivers.

Not only will you see things here that you likely won’t see elsewhere, the shopping experience at Louis is also quite different. While other stores only offer “try on” pieces in navy or gray, along with fabric swatches to confuse you and make you wonder what your garment will actually look like once your order comes in, we want to do better. And we do so by investing where others won’t.

The bottom line is, when I visit the Kiton showroom I like to take some risks. Risks that other stores won’t take because having pieces handmade in interesting (and expensive) fabrics to carry in inventory is just not within their comfort level. Perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in their buyers, or perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in you. So in the end, they put the risk on you – with a navy “try on” and a 6-inch swatch.

Me? I’m I more than willing to take that “risk” because I have confidence in Kiton, I have confidence in my experience as a buyer after all of these years, and I have confidence in you.

Kiton has a taste level that’s unparalleled in the industry. They are the best at what they do, and I have no problem investing in the best.

Once you come in to DISCOVER and APPRECIATE the Kiton tradition of luxury, you won’t be able to live without it either.

Trust me. Try it on.

 

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It’s All About Discovery (Not eCommerce).

I travel a lot. I meet interesting people, I taste incredible food, I see creativity manifested in many ways, and hear foreign languages and the hum of big cities nearly everywhere I go. My senses are pleasantly on overload much of the time, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To have the ability to experience all of that adds so many things to my life – things that I know most people are missing today. And what scares me is I’m not sure they know they’re missing it, because their eyes are always on their computers.

But I do think it’s why a lot of people can’t seem to stop asking me, or understand why I’ve decided not take Louis online. They want to know why I keep avoiding ecommerce and all that goes along with it, but I assure you I have some pretty good reasons – reasons that continue to surprise and delight every person who walks through the door at 60 Northern Avenue. I don’t sell my things online for them. I don’t sell the things you find at Louis online so they can walk into my store and keep their senses connected with the world around them and continue to appreciation all of the things they could never experience with the click of a mouse.

I think a lot about ecommerce, and I understand why some people think I should “change” the way I do things and move in that direction, but that doesn’t mean they understand the true ramifications of that word. From where I’m sitting, Louis is changing all the time – in a never ending movement of new colors and shapes and designers and fabrics – all of the things those people will never be able to experience and appreciate from looking at a computer screen.

It all comes down to this: I don’t sell Louis online and I don’t have an app because I want you to walk into my store and EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATE all that the eye can see and the hands and body can feel. I want to you smell wool and touch fabric and ask questions and discover new things. Life is about discovery, and you can’t do it when you’re sitting at a computer.

Besides how it effects you, not going digital also effects me, and my business. But the truth is, I’m not interested in sacrificing everything Louis is to make a fast dollar on the internet. I am however, interested in maintaining our integrity and sustaining our longevity, and holding fast to the long term effects of my actions.

I stay off of the internet because I am not interested in being a hot .com for a little while. I’m interested in keeping the leadership position that I’ve earned, that we all covet in this industry. Four generations have given the Louis experience to our customers – and people won’t know what that is if they can’t physically come here to experience everything we have to offer.

If I turned my attention to ecommerce, everything would change around here, and not for the better. I would no longer be able to offer one-of-a-kind pieces from exciting, young designers…and you would have to wait to hear about them from Vogue. I would have to start buying for a much bigger audience, and things that are produced en masse, can become rather boring and predictable. Don’t you agree? I don’t want to be strangled by the buying machine, and trust me, you don’t want me to be either.

I want you to try things on to find your proper size season to season, and see that you are NOT two dimensional like some designers who sell online would like for you to believe. You are in fact three-dimensional and what looks good on you just might not look good on the next person.

I want you to embrace your individuality, stop buying what the lastest “it” girl was wearing on E! last week, and begin to understand that by doing so you are letting the industry control who you are and influence what you like. The truth is (and the truth can hurt), what they’re wearing and what the stylists are pushing on their bodies has no relevance to you and your life.

I want you to evolve as a shopper by abandoning the sites you frequent and buying the same things in different colors, and get into a store where you can be introduced to new designers and styles and cuts of clothing you may not have noticed before. Expand your ideas of what looks good on you because in fashion, ignorance is NOT bliss.

I want you to understand that random online clicking will never help you build a wardrobe, it will only help you collect things – things that will go out of style well before they wear out from washing. How can you build the cohesive wardrobe you deserve if you aren’t able to buy pieces that work several ways together instead of alone, one at a time?

You may not realize it yet, although I think more and more people are catching on every day, that the internet is turning into the Sears Catalog that first appeared in 1888 and flourished in early 1900’s, and that while it’s moving us forward, it’s also bringing us way back in time. If you’re paying close attention, there are a lot of new stores like Louis popping up here and there, because the old way is now the new way to do good business.

Not sold? Do you still think shopping online is the way to go? If so, I challenge you – the next time you want to go shopping – to shut down your computer, leave your home, and make your way out into the world for a real “user experience”. Your senses are waiting.

You’ll thank me someday. You’ll see.

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Inspire. Appreciate. Evolve. On Cue @ The ICA

Last Tuesday I had the honor of being part of one of the most inspiring events of the year when Cue Ball managing partner Tony Tjan welcomed a few hundred brilliant people to the ICA to share and discover inspiration.

From Hugh Herr who helped Boston Marathon victim Adrianne Haslet-Davis dance again, to Steve Callahan who survived 76 days adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in a life raft and lived to tell us about it, to renowned attorney Ken Feinberg who has handled some of the highest profile cases in the country- the overarching themes were purpose and integrity, and how imperative it is that we continue to live by those principals and teach those virtues again and again…and again.

Another group of speakers included best-selling author and art historian Sarah Lewis, Artichoke Co-Founder and Director Helen Marriage, Chineasy Project Creator and Founder ShaoLan Hsueh, and accomplished architect, urban designer, educator and theorist Moshe Safdie. They all spoke passionately about the importance of creativity, authenticity, and the greater, overarching purpose of contributing to and appreciating a strong community.

When I wasn’t introducing brilliant mind after brilliant mind, or speaking to the audience myself, I sat rapt throughout the day as I listened to them talk about who they were, where they came from, and what they did – and how important it has been for each of them to maintain an elevated level of integrity, creativity, and authenticity while they doing it.

Toward the end of the evening as the event came to a close, it became obvious to me why all of the themes that were woven into the day continued to resonate with and inspire me…

It seems to me that purpose and integrity, creativity and authenticity, and a strong sense of community are really the soul of all of our collective existence and should be honored as such. However, being the proprietor of a clothing store that has been in the same family for generations, I have seen throughout the years how those principals have changed and how big business is essentially trying to push them off the track.

These days, people, places and companies like mine, who continue to operate with those principals, can find themselves overlooked, no matter what their contribution is to their community. Unfortunately, the attention often shifts to things that seem to be “bigger” and “better,” even if they’re not. And it’s important to recognize that one “big” thing is usually trying to put everyone else out of business and is slowly eroding the very fiber of our existence.

I understand as well as anyone that our society is geared toward speed and accessibility, but technological advances don’t necessarily move things forward or truly help us evolve. All good things don’t necessarily come easy – they take time, energy, commitment, purpose and appreciation.

All of this made me think of  Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, and his presentation at Cue last year where he shared his desire to make Las Vegas the most community-focused large city in the world. Staying aligned with his idea to make the original Zappos headquarters a place where local business could thrive and employees could stay connected, Tony created the “Downtown Project” which has allocated $350 million to aid in the revitalization of the Downtown Las Vegas. He is inspiring people to follow their passions and create a “vibrant, connected urban core.” Sure, he could just start businesses of his own, but of the $350 million allocated, $50 million is being used to invest in small businesses that he knows are the very things that keep a community alive. Ironically, it’s not the internet, and community is not clickable. As a matter of fact, if we’re not all careful, the internet is going to be the very thing that takes it all away.

Sadly, there will be a generation who won’t experience having their feet measured before buying new shoes, or the smell of fresh bread baking at the bakery, or the controlled chaos of the butcher shop with people standing in line clutching their numbers and waiting their turn in line. It’s these experiences that help people learn and grown and evolve, because you have to actually put forth effort, not just click a button, to get the things you desire. When you go online for everything you begin to lose your senses – you can’t see or touch or feel anymore. I’m fearful that the current and younger generations will never experience – they will only know how to consume.

But I found faith again last week while sitting among these like-minded people who were also thirsting to spend a day celebrating the principles that have laid the foundation of what we all do as individuals. We came to one place to celebrate our collective purpose so we can continue to contribute to the evolution of humanity.

Do me a favor – don’t consume something if you don’t appreciate it. Take the time to look at how things have evolved, and are evolving, and appreciate them.

It’s not the history or heritage of Louis that makes us who we are today, it’s our continuing evolution. If we don’t move forward, we’ll lose it. And losing it is not an option.

 

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