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.
Anyone who has listen to me talk about sportswear in the last five years has also heard me say “the one thing your closet doesn’t need is another pair of jeans. First of all I was sick and tired of looking at every American wearing jeans 24/7. No matter where we are, no matter what we are doing we are wearing jeans….sometimes ripped, sometimes bleached, sometimes hand rubbed they look sloppy and predictable. The funny thing is that jeans are supposed to be the great equalizer, but really they are the most toxic garment one can wear. 80% of the jeans made globally are made in China because of the toxic waste they produce. They have traced cancer in children near the rivers wear they have dumped the indigo dye that makes blue jeans …well… blue. Having said that….the best looms to make denim are in Japan (about 10% of the denim made). The Japanese bought all the machinery from American companies when we decided to make denim cheaply and washed out.
OK so here I go…I found a company “Raleigh”that makes jeans old school. I don’t know why but I was in the mood for it….The sales person for the company, John, will tell you I walked into their showroom with such an attitude….”I don’t buy jeans I leave that to department stores and jeans stores and A&F and The Gap and anyone else who wants to join in”. So why was I there? Because he asked me to come by. I felt like I was looking at jeans that James Dean would have worn. The denim was Japanese which means they had selvedge edges and the color that pure denim weave produces which is true dark denim. The fit has a low rise but not too low so they have that 501 feeling. Of course to make the jeans authentic they were raw (not washed) with a button fly….but after all it is 2011 so I had them rinsed once (so your washing machine and dryer won’t turn blue and the jeans won’t feel like sandpaper) and put in a zipper fly (so it’s easier to get on and OFF).
Old School Raleigh Jeans
I even shot the picture with old fashion film, and had the models cuff them, just like James Dean. Look at the women’s jeans they’re not skinnies, they are manstyle which looks great with a feminine top. (The women’s jeans have stretch in them which technically does not make them authentic but they sure do look like it.)
She really looks like she was from the 50's
One of the most important facts about the history of denim is that they started in America because they were made in America. Raleigh is also made in America. The tag in the back of the jeans states that fact and gives a certain air of authenticity. I guess if I was getting back into the jeans game I should start at the beginning.
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.
Right about now most people are ready to hibernate and never get out of bed….but we have to. And when we do we have to truck our way through 3 feet of snow. Last week I was in New York buying menswear for Fall 2011. It was cold, wet and snowy. To my surprise, since I was so focused on menswear, the shoe choice men chose to wear when it is clearly wet and cold…….
Did he think his feet would stay dry even though there was 6 inches of snow on the ground?
Does he think the shoes will stand up to the weather?
There are other solutions to this. It’s called boots….I found amazing shoe boots for next fall which I prefer to show you …well next fall (I have to make sure nobody will copy the idea and the boots) Needless to say I did find some intelligent men whose shoe choices are warm, dry and good looking. Why is it so important that every item of clothing that men choose to wear should fill every situation in life. They don’t feel that way about cars or video components, or computers or well anything they use frequently other than clothes. Can you imagine if they actually put some thought into their appearance what we would see? Here are some examples;
See what happens when you give a little attention to something?
Look how good traditional can look when you pair it with great pants!!!
Unless it's a buzz cut get your hair styled (not an $8 haircut)
There is no excuse for men not to groom themselves…no not one….money? You can find a hair stylist on the web for a reasonable price. Time?…It takes just as much time to get a professional haircut as it does to go to a barber or have your sister in law cut your hair…It’s not manly? Well it is definitely not manly to look disheveled and in need of an updated look. At a time when feeling good about life is difficult, taking care of the way you look can actually make you feel good about yourself. That’s worth more that time and money.