Tag Archives: men’s fashion

The Perfect Fit (It’s Not Over Until It’s over)

Well, 2015 is certainly off to an exciting start, isn’t it? By now I hope that most of you have read the blog I wrote to address the incredible responses we had to the announcement that Louis would close in July. If you haven’t, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you, again, to our loyal customers – old and new, from near and far – who have articulately expressed that you will miss everything Louis has represented in Boston for nearly a century.

It was a pleasure to hear from so many women who have shopped at Louis throughout the years. I found their comments reflected a sense of sadness that the discovery and entertainment of an afternoon spent at Louis would soon be lost. Many confessed the love they had for coming to the store to find something they had never seen before, or to fall in love with a garment that clearly went against the grain of mediocrity.

It’s been equally nice hearing from the men whom we have been dressing for decades, but the comments I’ve gotten from them seem a bit more distressed. Perhaps it’s because they understand that they can’t find the things we sell at Louis anywhere else in the country – and truth be told, they can’t.

The product I buy is made by hand and I am able to spec it to whatever I want. It’s very interesting to me when I go into stores like Neiman’s, Bergdorf’s or Saks, because while they may carry some of the brands I carry, they usually stock things in only exceptionally large sizes. I often wonder, do they think only a big or tall man can afford quality?

At Louis I know that our customer prefers a cut that is fitted and tailored to perfection. I also know they will want every last drop of the inventory I have because #1, I never buy an abundance of any one item, and #2 these men want (and need) to have a selection of sizes that truly fit.

What some men may not understand is that when you buy a garment in a department store that is already much too big on you, you are essentially asking your tailor to suck the soul right out of it by having it re-cut for you. When you try on a garment and have to adjust the sleeves or a nip or tuck here and there, it’s not taking the soul out of it – it’s making it fit you. That’s what we do best here.

So, I invite you all to come in to Louis before we close in July because, well, it’s not over until it’s over. I’ve spent a lifetime figuring it out what you want, and I understand what fits you well and what you will feel good in – from the moment you put it on, not after you get it back from the tailor.

I invite you all to come to Louis to discover the perfect fit – while you can still find the perfect fit in Boston.

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Is That The Groom? (It’s Wedding Season)

It’s wedding season.

You know how I know? Gorgeous young brides-to-be are walking though the doors of Louis Boston with desperation in their eyes, and bewildered fiancés following closely behind them.

Several weeks ago, one such bride-to-be entered the store, with her bewildered fiancé not very far behind her. She had actually been in two month earlier when she purchased a brilliant Jason Wu gown for her wedding. Designed in ice colored satin and silk, it was sleeveless with an intricate high collar. But the element of design that we knew would take their collective breath away during the ceremony was the dramatic open back – with just a delicate chain that draped flawlessly across in just the right place. It was all at once, soft, sophisticated, sexy and kick ass!

There I was, recalling every detail of the dress, and at the same time my mind was working its way through our inventory so I could pull some things for him that would compliment her perfectly, and he said…

“I don’t want to wear a suit.”

“Excuse me?” I said. Not really believing what I was hearing. I took him gently by the hand and said “I understand, you’re getting married in July, by the water, and you don’t want to wear a heavy suit…” and he interrupted me to say, “If I have to I’ll just wear navy.”

Huh?

And this is the part where I got to do what I truly love to do: style someone who doesn’t understand his own potential. I pulled a featherweight cotton suit with 1% cashmere (to hold it all together), a blueberry and white checked linen shirt, and a pair of kick ass Common Project sneakers, before I nudged him toward the dressing room.

Thinking about her dress again, I knew this look was going to compliment her well. I knew that when she saw him she would feel proud to approach him as she was walking down the isle. And as I was thinking that, to my amazement, he was turning around, looking at himself in the mirror not believing what he was seeing. He looked great and now he knew it.

He looked at me and said he couldn’t believe how comfortable the pieces were and how well everything fit him. I explained again the difference beautifully tailored pieces could make.

He grinned. He nodded. He looked at himself again in the mirror. I really thought he was there.

Then he turned to me and said, “What if I don’t wear the jacket…just the shirt and the pants?” Besides the fact that he looked incredible from head to toe, and that should be reason enough, I explained that the pants were part of the suit and were not sold separately.

He shrugged and said, “I don’t want to buy the suit. I never wear a suit.” Then he turned and walked back into the dressing room.

I took one look at his bride-to-be and saw her face drop. She quietly said, “If he doesn’t wear a jacket, won’t I look nicer than him? Won’t I look too dressed up?”

So I excused myself, pulled him aside and whispered to him, “I know you don’t know what she’s wearing, because it’s a secret, but your fiancé has gone to a lot of trouble to make sure she looks super sexy, and sophisticated for you – because she wants to. Don’t you want to do the same for her? She loves you in this suit…”

Don’t get your hopes up. He walked back into the dressing room, pulled on his old jeans and t-shirt, and they started to leave. She looked back at me with a defeated look on her face before she shrugged, as if to say, “what can I do?”

I wondered what he was going to do, and I prayed, for her sake, that he wouldn’t be renting a tux.

I wondered why he wasn’t willing to take more pride in himself and his appearance on his wedding day. Even if he did only wear the suit once, wouldn’t it be worth it to look back in later years and feel proud of who he was, and how he looked for the occasion? A wedding is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities where a man should move outside of his comfort zone and raise his own bar – just a little bit, or even a lot.

Having been in this business for a very long time, I know that men used to really care about how they looked. Unfortunately we now live in the age of “Casual Friday Everyday,” and a lot of men just don’t really care at all. The times may have changed, but one thing should remain the same, and that is an understanding that there is a certain decorum that we should all adhere to when it comes to how we present ourselves for certain, if not most, occasions. Don’t you agree?

In other words, why do you want to look like everyone else on your wedding day?

In the end I’ll probably never know how he shows up to the wedding, but I will know that his bride looks stunning.

Guys, you don’t have to do anything, but don’t you want to?

 

Bowie? Say it isn’t so…

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After All That Movement Where is The Real Fashion?

I just got back from Paris where the much anticipated shows from Dior and St Laurent produced a wild media frenzy for collections that were …um …OK. Yet again the media created controversy for the big houses with tons of copy and air time, and I am pretty sure the luxury consumer could care very little about the outcome . My take on these shows was that they were derivative of other designers work and the press gave the credit to these mega brands. Let’s start with St Laurent. The good news about the St Laurent show is that Mr. Slimane used the foundation of St Laurents original looks from the 70’s for his 2013 show.

St Laurent in the 70's

Now St Laurent 2013

St Laurent 2013

 Rachel Zoe’s has always been accused of copying St Laurent (but updating the fit). Here are pictures of her past shows and advertisements….

A Rachel Zoe Ad

From a Rachel Zoe Fashion Show

Confused? So was I….what was all the fuss about? Another show, much anticipated,was the return of Jil Sander, back to her namesake (which she sold for $250 million) . Granted Jil is still getting her feet back into the business at age 68. Her show was OK….good attempt…lots of press and lots of talk about it….But the Marni show was Jil Sander at her finest (only not designed by Jil) Marni has been exploring a new version of Minimalism for a long time but the press only talks about the big advertising accounts which is not Marni. If they do talk about Marni it’s usually a small blurb about her prints not her architecture. Who do you think did Jil better?

Jil Sander S/S 2013

Jil Sander S/S 2013

Or Marni?

Marni S/S 2013

Marni S/S 2013

 

Raf Simons did a pretty good job for his first Dior Show…Over 50% of the show was decent. The press LOVED it which was over the top but of course Dior is a BIG advertiser. Here are a few shots of that show.

Dior S/S 2013

Dior S/S 2013

What’s the point of this blog? Fashion has so many dimensions and unfortunately  the public only gets about 15% of the information. Plus if advertisers are the only people that the press talks about how can anyone grow in this business? Same old houses, same old designers….no credit for the real new and different….this bothers me.

WBUR’s Cognoscenti

Sorry it’s been a while since I have blogged but I was traveling, buying actually, for Spring/Summer 2013 (can you believe it’s 2013 already?). But in the meantime I was fortunate enough to participate in WBUR’s cognoscenti page on their website. Here’s the link, I think it came out well.

Cognoscenti

Meanwhile thanks for reading!

How Did We Get Here?

Every day I keep hearing the question “how did we get here?”. The only answer I can come up with is; “because we don’t want to pay for anything”. How did we manage to ship all our jobs overseas?….because we didn’t want to pay for anything. “How did we get into this healthcare mess?” ….because we didn’t want to pay for it (and then some of us ended paying too much for it)…. How is it you can’t go into a store anymore to see TV screens and only a few manufacturers still make them?…Because no one wanted to pay for them…so you can only choose from 3 adaquate manufacturers. Don’t get me wrong we WANT all these things….even though most people can’t distinguish the difference between good and bad quality….we just don’t want to pay a lot for anything. We want the big DISCOUNT of life….no matter what. That’s what drives the American consumer and it’s no secret that everyone takes advantage of that fact to give us what we want…one big DISCOUNT…because somehow we feel entilted to it!

Please read this article I ran across the other day.

The new dynamic: Off-price is not for the faint of heart

May 1, 2012 By Karen Alberg Grossman

 “What’s an off-price store anyway?” asks David Lapidos, EVP of the OffPrice Show, alluding to the extent of discounting and promotional activity in conventional stores. “Off-price stores come here to do the bulk of their buying; regular stores come to improve their margins.”

According to Lapidos, the show’s exhibitor base these days is half manufacturers and importers, half jobbers. “Jobbers can no longer exist on just clearance merchandise since few manufacturers are overcutting or taking risks. Consequently, several have developed their own lines for department stores that they also show here; others have goods made specifically for this show.”

Tom Joyce of Building 19 is a retail expert in off-price. His stores, based inMassachusetts, are famous for value product and wonderfully quirky advertising. As he explains, “It takes expertise and finesse to get good brands at good prices, especially in a tight market. There are no longer large quantities available domestically, so jobbers are going overseas. What’s more, it’s a gentleman’s business: if a jobber’s stuck with something, you help him out and then next time around, he’ll help you. With the right relationships, you can lock up exclusives, especially from department store shelf pulls. So I can sell a gorgeous designer name sweater at $9.99—maybe it’s Pantone 423 vs. 422, but who cares? Having last year’s goods is less of a factor in men’s.”

According to Joyce, great offerings are finite. “There are only limited amounts of most off-price product; when it’s gone; it’s gone. And the biggest change over the last few years is that as stores and manufacturers reduce inventories to accelerate turn, availability of the most desirable goods has diminished.”

Another issue, he explains, are the growing middle classes inChina,Indiaand other Asian countries. “Many opportunities of the past are staying in local markets overseas. If factories can sell goods in their own country, they don’t have to use quota or pay duty.”

Joyce cites another issue: chains (Bealls, National Stores, etc.) using larger quantities so that one call from a vendor could be 12,000 units—the end of that style if the chain buys it. “Several of my key vendors sold out of half their offerings by the end of the second day of the show,” he explains.

As regular-price department and specialty stores look to increase margins, off-price buys are an increasingly important part of their strategy. Concludes Joyce, “If they buy a $40 MSRP item for $5 (which means out the door at $17.99 to $19.99), they can special sale these goods at $14.99 and still triple their money. So while it’s hard to forecast and there are many frustrating variables, off-price remains a dynamic and viable business.”

Well there you have it….a whole industry built on the idea that it really doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s cheap and you can take advantage of the cheap consumer it’s on the shelves of your local stores and internet sights…..Be careful what you wish for, you’ll destroy the value of what you already have. (I sound like a fortune cookie)

 

 

Women Now Outshine the Men at Work…Is That Acceptable? Really?

Donald Trump Bad Hair Day

Here is the supposed KING of Business. So are we (I mean the work force of America) saying that it is OK for a man to parade around like this just as long as he makes a lot of money?  Would that be acceptable for women? Funny, every time a women runs for office, all the press and opponents talk about is her dress and her hair, but we don’t even speak about a man (well ok we are finally making fun of “The Donald”).

Is this Best We Can Do?

Here you go…here is the perfect illustration of our illustrious young male workforce, badly dress and groomed. Why aren’t the women of the world screaming for a revolution….Would you really look at these guys and think they are the best you could hire for your company?  How can you tell them apart?  They all think they look the part, and what they really look like is that they have white man’s disease, you can tell they can’t dance either. Maybe one of them could have worn a dark trouser that possibly would fit them without having a saggy ass. Maybe one of them could have worn a patterned shirt or dare I say a tie. We all know they were wearing blue blazers (without a spec of a design element anywhere). Somewhere there is a secret code that informs these men that it’s the only acceptable uniform to wear; khakis, a blue or white plain shirt and a navy blazer and you are all set for the business world. Get an $8 hair cut while you are at it.

Well guess what men of the secret code…your competition isn’t each other any more. it’s women. And I can say for certain, because many of them are my customers, women are grooming themselves to look more modern for business to beat the competition in their saggy assed suits from Joseph A. Banks. Get ready… So when you walk out of an interview all wrinkled (or unwrinkled in your stay pressed shirt and pants) that the women (or male) interviewer is going to respond better to a candidate with an aura of a well dressed and groomed person, not someone in the secret code uniform.

Now I know that I’m a woman, and women aren’t part of the CLUB…. But this code has gone on for way too long. It was cool to see men stop being so buttoned up, but of course we had to go to extremes and soon they are wearing pajamas around because they are comfortable. If that’s the case why wear clothes at all?

Is this Really Sexy? I Guess if You Have Money You Shouldn't Care..I Think You Should

Whether men like it or not, to compete in this business climate they are going to have to put more time and effort into their appearance or be left behind. There are leaders in this endeavor. The look may not scream out (which is the point) but check out the grooming and the variety of dress.

He Looks Modern Without Looking Stuffy

Look a Different Colored Shirt?

Now There's a Man Who Knows How To Tie aTie

See my point? Please….

That Grand Feeling of Perfection

I love my new boots. Yes I know you hear it all the time the “perfect boot” for Fall. But I mean this…but how would you know. Every magazine, every website, every shopping website, every catalogue, even every store claims this every Fall. It kinda looses it’s meaning. Having said that when you find the right one for you, it feels sooooo good. Every time you put them on, with every outfit, you say to yourself, “wow these are great boots”. Your start to take care of them…you bring them to be resoled with a rush charge. When you pack to go away you start with the boots and figure out your outfits that will surely highlight the boots. You find yourself wearing them everyday and when you have to wear another pair you sigh and make sure your wear the “great boots” the next day. Sometimes if you are really careful you wear them two years in a row everyday until the boots just plain wear out.

cool side buckle, tight at the ankle and calf, tall, great leather, flat, comfortable

Great heel, no shiny leather, open at the knee, easy to get on and off

Sorry for the blurry pictures I was in a hurry but you get the picture right? Pierre Hardy had these boots last year, but he perfected them this season. You will probably not find these in any magazine, you will probably not find these on any website….because they do not register as perfection from the photos. They do not register perfection from the description. They do not register perfection from the name brand. Actually they would only register perfection if you actually saw, felt, tried on these boots when someone pointed to them in front of you and you tried them on immediately. The consumer is missing so much by falling into the trap of brands, ease and the addiction of point and click.

When I “buy” for the store, I look at each piece I purchase with the same inspection as I did buying these boots for myself. That feeling of perfection when you own something that rewards you every time you wear it, is the goal. There are so many items that are chosen that even looking at them on the racks of our store you wouldn’t know were perfection until you tried them on. I make sure I see everything on a body before I “buy” the product, especially shoes. Shoes look so different on and off the foot. Not everything comes out the way it was shown…fabrics can change fit can be funny, but to be sure I am inspecting and selecting with a sharp focus, and aiming for no mistakes.

But what I’m really reaching for ALL of the time is giving you that feeling of confidence every time you pull that garment out of the closet and put it on your body…..ahhhh appreciation!!!!!

Is It Relevant?

 

Who Are They Talking To?

In today’s style section of the New York Times, Cathy Horn wrote an article about the five things you need for Fall. The article starts off with her version of how the ads in all the “Big” September Issues of the major Fashion magazines have nothing to do with the modern working women…she then proceeds to ask all the editors from these magazines and others, what are the five top items that they are really lusting for  (meaning the items that they really WILL buy) this Fall Season.

The way that the fashion magazine world works is that if a brand advertises, then their clothes will be prominent in the editorial sections in the back of the book. A certain major editor set up that paradigm many years ago and now the integrity of fashion journalism has been tainted and the magazines are completely IRRELEVANT.

So much money, time and energy are wasted on advertising and editorials that the true American consumer of these kind of clothes wouldn’t buy. As always I ask…What’s wrong with this picture?…..In a time when the economy is forcing everyone in this industry to be as sharp and clever and as economical as possible, how can these people be wasting so much money on bad fashion and bad fashion advertising?

The joke of the NYTimes article is that after reporting on these fashion shows last spring as if they were the gospel, they dismiss all their efforts in one article that gets to the heart of the matter….what is it that the consumer WANTS to buy instead of what “god(the magazines)” tells them to buy. I remember one vendor saying to me that it doesn’t matter what you buy for your store it’s more important what the magazines TELL you to buy….really???? We never bought into that.

These paradigms are fading…slowly. When something become too obvious it’s time to move on. Another one of these is the combination of a “Famous Person” in association with  “DESIGNING” clothes and other products. First they are not designers….they sell their name to promote clothes that are copies of other peoples work, in Chinese Factories. I don’t fault the people who make these clothes they make lots of money doing this….the fault lies with the consumer for buying into this falsehood. Madonna’s daughter is 13, I’m sure she’s creative, but you can’t put her in the same category as Proenza Schouler who have , I think, reached 30. Jessica Simpson is probably going to meetings and saying “I like this I like that” but she hasn’t had the training to know how to construct a garment. But it seems everywhere you turn this formula is appearing…..make-up, bed linens, QVC…..Are the top requirements for purchasing items; 1. They have a “famous” name attached to them  2. That they appear in magazines (maybe worn by Stars), 3. That there is a fake discount (or flash sale) attached to the purchase? Is it that formulaic? Are we not capable of judging  a product on it’s own merits anymore?…I don’t know you tell me….We’re betting that you can….and we are  betting that you will prefer it that way.

 

 

 

Who Goes to the Waterfront?

 

The tall Ship in the Background with the Screen in the Foreground Says it All

Last Saturday was great day at the waterfront. RedBull sponsored an Extreme Diving Event off the roof of the Institute of Contemporary Art. 80 feet above the water (12 stories high) 10 men had the nerve to do triple summersaults with double twists and land feet first in the water. There was no doubt that these men were insane….but you couldn’t take your eyes off them. It felt like the 50’s something very daredevil but no high tech involved….just men in their speedos.

 

Starting from a Handstand....I can do that

Here’s another shot taken with a tanker cruising through the  middle of the event…never a dull moment. But that is the Waterfront, there is always something moving and there are so many pieces that complete the puzzle. We are so happy down here. The attitude  is fun and relaxed especially when the world is not. We had 25,000 visitors at the Waterfront on Saturday…the store (Louis) and Sam’s were hopping and the energy represented…well RedBull. I used Hipstamatic to take the next shot (film which makes your photo look vintage) . I think it is appropriate for the day.

 

Old Time Boston in Real Time

 

Have We’ve Become the Communists?

Just look at us…. yes the capitalists that we are, how are we choosing to spend our money as a collective group? Ok let’s narrow down the question to how are we spending money on clothes in this country….what is an “acceptable look” when we walk down the street. Here are a few pictures of people I shot while I was walking down the street this morning.

 

Notice the uniform, flip flops, t-shirt etc.

The uniform, t-shirt, jeans and flip flops

Uniform, t-shirt and flip flops

Don't we look elegant?

All photos were shot within 3 minutes of each other

The reason why I called us capitalists is that we HAVE the freedom to choose individual clothes to represent our individual personalities. We don’t have to wear a uniform, we don’t have to equalize our society by dressing exactly the same. So why are we dressing the same…and by the way looking sloppy as we do it….Why?  OK I know the economy is in the tank and  disposable income is non-existent…but at a certain point we’ve  become a nation of people dressing sloppy with cheap, disposable clothing….. maybe we might want to start taking pride in our appearance….because that might make us take pride in ourselves and our country.

When I am in showrooms with stores from China (yes there are many) I notice the buyers to be exceptionally well dressed. They spend time to put themselves together in a way that reminds me of American women in the 50’s. These women look like Grace Kelly in a 1950’s movie. They have an individuality in their appearance that rivals the glory days of Hollywood. I realize these women are a small percentage of the total population of China but they symbolize a new generation of Chinese moving forward toward an affluent society. Where are we in America moving to?….Will we continue to buy cheap clothing and throw it away 3 months later? Will we continue to meld together and begin to look exactly the same as each other? Will we except sloppy as OK instead taking pride in ourselves and our appearance?

Maybe we are the ones who are moving towards communism and the Chinese are moving towards capitalism???? What a switch…..