Tag Archives: Men’s Fashion Boston

I Just Gotta Share this With You

There was a special report about Walmart turning 50 in Women’s Wear Daily and I they had some numbers they wanted to share with the rest of the world .

Can You Believe This?

They had more information but I think you get the general idea. Walmart has changed everything. Doesn’t their size frighten you? It frightens me. How could anyone compete with this Goliath? Certainly I’m not talking about Louis but just in general, how can anyone compete in the retail world with something so large.  Then again I feel like everything now is big. I guess you can’t produce anything economically any more without HUGE quantities. The global economy now means that your product must reach every corner of the world. But how does that keep your product SPECIAL? For companies to be known all over the globe they have to have that BRANDING machine in place. Companies have to be accessible on the internet, and they have to have hundreds of points of distribution.  Zegna has 125 stores in China alone. Still I can’t help getting a queasy feeling that with so much exposure the product just becomes another commodity.  It’s almost a vicious circle that you can’t get noticed until you are already over exposed.

With media firing off information so fast to consumers, manufacturers might get a leg up with the exposure. “New and different” happens every day and then the news becomes stale just as fast. The consumer gets lost and confused and retreats to the familiar, “BRANDED” merchandise. Back to the circle.  On the other side of this issue is the elimination of brands because retail companies can’t compete. The perfect example of this is trying to find brands at CVS. Years ago vendors would fight for shelf spaces that were eye level, they would pay CVS to get the best shelf position. Now the best positioned product is the CVS Brand, which is usually cheaper than the name brand. But you find yourself looking tirelessly for the “name brand” which is usually buried between the CVS brands. The reason for this is that CVS can’t beat the price of Walmart for “name brands” so they try to win with their generic brand….sometimes these products are just not the same. So to get the “brands” you want you have to drive to a Walmart (or shop on line) or buy generic. Best Buy is another example of Samson and Goliath, which is funny because Best Buy used to be Goliath. Best Buy is now closing stores because Amazon is so BIG and they don’t have the expense of having to support brick and mortar stores which enables them to compete on price.

 The way we shop is changing so fast….but I’m not sure the consumer realizes what they are giving up to pay the least amount for what they want. And soon I fear they won’t have a choice to actually go to a store and sample the choices. Are we so willing to give up the act of experiencing things just to get the cheapest price? Obviously the answer is a BIG yes. 

Jil at Jil

Will It Be The Real Jil?

Twenty five years ago we started carrying a line from Hamburg Germany called Jil Sander. It was perfect for Louis, incredibly well made, modern researched fabrics, minimalist styling and a price tag that matched all this luxury. At the end of the 90’s Jil descided to sell 75% of her company to Prada because “she wanted to improve on the breathe of her handbag-shoe business” . She was promised by Prada’s chief executive officer that the business would remain the same. Well it didn’t stay the same. The first thing that Prada demanded was that all of the clothing would be made in the Prada factories. There went the quality that Jil was known for, and the fabric research was cut in half, there went the modern take on clothing. Jil couldn’t work under those conditions, and feeling duped, she left. There went the design. We dropped the line as soon as Jil made the announcement. (how could it ever be the same value?)

After that, Prada worked hard to try and restore the value to the company which was of course, impossible. After a few tries they brought in a menswear designer named Raf Simons.

He Had Never Design for Womenswear

Raf had never designed for womenswear. (Somehow they thought it was a good bet). A few seasons later they sold the company to an English investment company who quickly announced that they were going to sell the company as soon as they made it profitable again (like that could happen). Raf’s first attempts at a collection were actually better than I thought they would be and each season you could see he was learning and growing, but the company still struggled . A few years later a Japanese/Italian company bought the company and continued to support Raf and you could see improvements with the collections and sales (the quality still could not match the standards of the original Jil Sander).

Last year around this time John Galliano was fired from the Dior house for racial slurs during a night of drinking in Paris (one of many nights). It was announced the Raf was a consideration for the job. Well now…. here is the fashion world in a nutshell. Gibo, (the Japanese/Italian company) who had been investing money (while losing it) in Jil Sander (a company abandoned by it’s designer) watched it’s designer publicly announce that he was interviewing for a job in a company that was trying to rebuild their brand that was abdondoned by yet another designer. (I know that was a run on sentence) So Gibo fired him.

The fashion world is in a tizzy…They are mad at Gibo for firing Raf (who, by the way, miraculously popped out the most beautiful collection for his last season). They are thrilled that Jil is returning, and they are expecting the company to return to it’s original splendor. Well guess what….in won’t. I was asked to start showcasing Jil again in the store. I thought long and hard about it and I refused. There were two reasons. First, Jil is now sold at many stores not just the controlled specialty stores that she insisted on originally . Second, Jil’s control on quality will be minimal. She will not have the control over the factories like she did before, and her obsessive control over details will be cost prohibitive. I’m sure she will push the envelope of the company owners, but the price of her pants in 1998 are still considered outrageous at $1200 (and that quality can not be replicated for the same price).

The musical chairs of designers that is going on with these fashions houses are going to catch up with their customers and eventually their sales. Branding IS important, I know that, but product integrity is also important. Is the consumer so gullible that it will eat anything companies throw at them? One change can be understood, but when the consumer needs a road map to understand how far away from the original concept the company has gone, the consumer will abandon the product. Success in a label is usually a combination of design, make and fit. When these elements are rearranged or eliminated the BRAND can’t stand on it’s own…look at the GAP. I wish Jil well and I will be watching carefully to see if I did underestimate the situation. But I thought I would give you, the reader, insight into how decisions are made. I will be the first to admit my mistakes, but I have to have some guidelines to give my store the integrity that I demand from my vendors.

We Are Getting Older….So What I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way

I remember my grandmother at my age. As a matter of fact, I think she died three years ahead of the age I am now. My mother died seven years ahead of the age I am now. These facts help me put my life into perspective…. make everyday count, whether loving the people you love or accomplishing the visions you dream….don’t be afraid to grab all that life has to offer it won’t be there, (as well as you) forever.

From what I can remember of my grandmother she wore chunky tie shoes with a low heel, black dresses with thick nude hose (not pantyhose either) and a charm bracelet with a charm for each grandchild (it had our birthstone on the front and the date of our name and birthdate on the back).  That’s what was suitable for a “Woman her Age”. I’m sure she worked very hard to keep the family fed, clothed and clean along with the house and had plenty of time after her two daughters were married and out of the house to slow her life down and take things in stride.

I am just starting to understand this time in my life…. I had children later and I’m still working (harder than ever) and slowing down doesn’t seem like an option I want to have. I find my friends are living at the same pace as well. The goal to retire….well isn’t the goal anymore. Sure financial security would be a gift but I don’t think that would slow us down.

I also find beauty in the faces and bodies of my peers, as well as myself….(not to be conceited) All the rhetoric about looking younger….plastic looking women using product that couldn’t possibly make you look younger…who is anybody fooling ….you are not younger,  you are who you are and why can’t that be beautiful? What a waste of time searching for a fountain of youth which is not there. What you should really be searching for is the fountain of contentment.

There is No Replacing That Look of Contentment (or it could be the wine)

I love the fact that I can dress the way that best suits my body, with that freedom I can take advantage of the new and innovative designs that we discover season after season.  This renewal or reinvention of ourselves keeps our role as older, modern women open and experimental instead of closed and repetitive. Again an opportunity to keep moving forward. The “AT EVERY AGE” issue from Bazaar Magazine  makes me laugh as they try to define what’s right for a women of 30 to a women of 70…they both look the same! The answer is we can be, and look whatever we are. We are blazing trails for future generations of women who can define themselves not by their limitations but by all the choices that are available to them. They can also help to redefine beauty as something that gets better with age…..Just ask Maria!!!!