Tag Archives: Jonathan Saunders

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)

Saunders patterns

Fall Begins!

It may be the last thing you want to think about just after a heat wave, but fall is here – at least at Louis! Here is a taste of what to expect: a modern twist on the past – an overall feeling from the 1930’s in terms of cut, fabrication and silhouette, but with a modern twist in mixing fabrics, colors, tones and patterns; refinement; sexy in a way that fabric falls away from the body rather than hugging the body; higher necklines and longer hemlines that don’t look modest; thought not just in the design of a garment but in the make. This is a season that you will have to spend time playing in your closet, mixing and matching and trying new things. This is a season to get excited for. We know we are.

Pictured: Jonathan Saunders top and skirt

An Old Friend Reminds Me Why We Do This

An old friend stopped by on Saturday, Jonathan Saunders, whom I’ve known for nine years. I came to find him by way of the Jil Sander showroom. Jil’s showrooms were filled with beautiful SOILD color clothes. Then one day there was this printed blouse….one single blouse and the print was amazing! It was then that I asked the production manager “who made the print on this blouse?” and she said “Jonathan Saunders”. Those were not the days of the internet like today..I had to search a long time but I found him in a basement studio in London. When I came to my appointment he seemed surprised (he had forgotten) and when I want to buy his pieces he stood frozen (he didn’t know how to proceed). Needless to say it turned out to be a successful relationship for both parties. One of our first Jonathan Saunders customers wore her original piece to the presentation on Saturday and Jonathan recalled how he had made the print in his bathroom over Christmas for that Spring/Summer collection. I don’t think the customer knows what it takes to get a label off the ground, never mind what it takes in todays world to keep it going.

There are many tools in the toolshed to make it work, but I find great product, talent, and passion are the strongest tools for “the win”. Jonathan has all three. He is an artist and he has an amazing sense of color, and color mixing which happens to be the the strongest trend going into the Spring 2012 Season. Here is a sampling of what is coming.

 

Jonathan Saunders Pre Collection, Just Look at These Colors

 

So I am proud to include Jonathan for the Spring 2012 season again. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.

 

There He is Signing Postcards on Saturday

We sold out of these scarves this spring and these are the selection for next spring.

 

Check out all this color it just makes you smile