Tag Archives: Retail Boston

Although it’s a Season of Black and White, Here is a Word About Color

Three Cheers for Color and Pattern

So I can tell you right now by the time the collections are complete in the stores for Spring/Summer everything will look black and white. After two springs of “color, color, color” EVERYONE went back to black and white. But by April the stores will look so boring and unappealing consumers will be begging for some color.  As a buyer you choose from what is in front of you. But as I have been telling you for many years there has been this consensus before the shows even start and the media and stores are forced into a storyline. “These are the TRENDS”. If you are not careful as a buyer you might fall into this trap. But I find these trends leave little to the imagination of the consumers, making the consumers feel like mindless idots who can’t dress themselves without a STAR in a magazine showing them the way.

I am so excited about the merchandise in the store right now. It’s design at its’ best; modern, fresh and yes colorful. We will have our share of black and white, but why does everything have to be all or nothing? Here are some examples….

The Mix of Colors in this Dress are So Special!

Though the “trend ” for printed trousers started a few seasons ago, I think some designers are mastering the art of partnering patterns with high tech fabrics.

The Print on these Trousers Really Need to Be Seen in Person

Mix and Match is Half the Fun

One last photo of a cute little dress from Suno…nothing loud or on TREND just a cute little dress from Suno that you would love to wear all summer.

Stretch Silk and So Easy to Wear

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!

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.

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

 

When the Economy Tanks Elegance Becomes Essential

“Does anybody know who Wallis Simpson is?” I once asked and got a big stare back….I understand that women, who influenced style during the last 100 hundred years is not essential to ones knowledge of modern history;  but could we have a cheat sheet made up (since there are not that many) for the younger generation. These women represented style not only with their clothes but their lifestyle as well. Wallis Simpson was not a women that lived a commendable life, neither did Coco Channel, but they influenced “women’s fashion” during a period of major economic turmoil (the 30’s) in a way that would truly be relevant today.  Only today they would not have to compete with the tonnage of CHEAP merchandise that has flooded the retail environment.

For many years there have been several trends that don’t feel right to me. When there is so many indicators that the economy is weak, why does the fashion world promote flashy, aggressive clothes as if we are living during boom times? I think I know why…it’s because we are a Global Society now and fashion houses are catering to emerging markets. The US is not the major consumer it once was. We are down on the list and our number one concern is how cheap can we get it…..not how it’s made or who made it , or how long will it last (style and make)…but what percentage discount can we get it. When was the last time you read an article on how good clothing is made? When have you seen a segment on the “Today Show” about how to buy a garment that takes months to design and make or a segment on clothes you bought ten years ago that are relevant today because they were designed and made well. OK enough lecturing…now back to Wallis Simpson:

 

Wallis Simpson Married the Abdicated King Of England, Edward Duke Of Windsor

The 30’s were a time of elegance and style, just look at the dress Mrs. Simpson(Duchess of Windsor) is wearing in the picture above. You can see the how luxurious the fabric is by the way it drapes on her upper body under the matador Jacket and the skirt falls gracefully from the waist down. The 30’s were also a time of austerity, a time of quiet refinement. The Styling of the dress covers the whole body, almost prudish (and she was far from being a prude). So we finally get to the point of this blog which is trends today do not yet reflect the socio-economic times of today. But  Louis has moved strongly in this direction, without the support of the media, for a few seasons very successfully. We made a trip to London(ironically) in January and found some great lines that we felt moved in this direction of elegance and refinement. Here are few pics to help you see what we are talking about.

 

Alessandra Rich really Captures the Mood, no?

Alessandra Rich is an Italian living in London. She know quality like an Italian and she gets the design feel from living in London…a perfect match.

 

Lee Klabin's Cut and Drape along with Great Fabrics Make this Dress

check the dress out from the back

Lee Klabin has been making boned, rock and roll wedding dresses for the lucky women in London for many years. This is her first season making ready to wear and Louis is her first American store. The quality shows when you zip up the asymmetrical zipper and it fits like a glove….and the midnight duchess satin is delicious.

Osman is the Perfect Blend of the 30's and the 70's

Osman is a Cambridge educated designer out of London who again, only worked with private clients until this season. Originally from Afghanistan, he has a retro esthetic with a modern twist.

Well this will be the first of many blogs on this subject. We are in a time of refinement and appreciation…our new words for this decade…we better start understanding the meaning of these words or we will miss the point of living well.

 

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

9/11, 9 Years and 8 Months Later

Samantha Greenberg (right in the middle) Outside the White House May 1, 2011

This is my daughter outside the White House last night drinking in the excitement from the news of the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden for  the 9/11 catastrophe that happened 9 years and 8 months ago. She was 9 at the time….. I was, in fact, in New York at the time, it was “Fashion Week”.  I was walking back to my hotel from the gym with a Starbucks in my hand when I witnessed the first plane fly into the World Trade Center. I could see papers flying everywhere, I was ten blocks away in Soho. I ran into my hotel lobby shouting that “a plane just went into the World Trade center Building” and people just looked at me like I was crazy…I probably would have done the same thing. I ran up to my room called my husband and described what I had just seen. I had the television on and “The Today” show was on and Katie Couric was just announcing the same story. My husband and I discussed how we were going to tell Samantha, my daughter that her mother was OK and that he would pick her up from school so that no one else would say anything to her. When I got out of the shower my husband called me back to say (to my disbelief) that a second plane had also crashed into the World Trade Center and again made a plan to make sure that Sam talked to me on the phone when she got out of school so she wouldn’t worry.

After watching the remaining disaster unfold (in real time only seen on New York television) I got dressed and walked outside to see if I could help, only to witness ash covered people, hundreds of them, walking up the street towards uptown in a zombie like state. There was a smell in the air even though the smoke and smog didn’t actually infiltrate Soho until the next day. I tried to go to the site but the police had already restricted the area. I remember standing in the street thinking life as we know it will never be the same in America, that safe “we’ll never be attacked in this country” feeling was gone.

I went back into the hotel and called my husband and Sam. She got on the phone to tell me about some incident in school where a girl fell off a swing and had to be taken to the hospital…she really couldn’t understand the scope of what happened. Our worries, we thought, were overblown

The next day I went and stood in line at St Vincent’s Hospital to give blood. It was there that I saw all the photographs being posted. People had already made posters of their friends and family members to circulate near the hospital hoping that their loved ones made it out in time. It was heartbreaking, There will always be a hole in my heart from the experience.

Yet there was something unexpectedly rejuvenating about seeing my daughter celebrating in these pictures last night. I realized that although she wasn’t immediately affected by the trauma of my experience, her life was TOTALLY affected by it everyday thereafter.  9/11 is a noun to her. Every time she travels on a plane, everyday in the newspapers, on TV or online, she is exposed to the resulting wars and acts of terrorism. Hers is a life void of the secure feelings we USED to have. And with Bin Laden’s death comes a fresh sense of hope for her that life might one day return to a world at rest instead of full of unrest.

Here’s Sam at the gate of the White House

Celebrating for the Cameras

With all that has happened in this world,  three wars being fought and financial instability a constant in our future, it has been reassuring watching the youth all around the world  trying to change the status quo, pushing the boundaries to make a more peaceful and caring world. It’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Why Going Long Makes Sense For The Summer….

For the last few summers I have been buying long comfortable dresses for the summer. I must have this romantic view of summer seeing women in light airy dresses that flow in the breeze but expose your shoulders to the sunset. Well they haven’t sold in past seasons….surprise!….But this season I have been seeing lots of long dresses shown in magazines and blogs…..surprise ! (I’m always way too early for these trends even with the internet)

The print on this dress was great although the fabric isn't flowy

It is so predictable to wear a sleeveless blouse and a short skirt or a short dress out to a restaurant on a wharf (see what a romantic I am?) but to me arriving in a long dress and breezing by the other patrons is a way to make a small statement without too much drama.

This dress has a hand printed under dress in linen with and a mesh overdress in the same print

I just love this dress….so fresh so hand made …..so summer!!!!  Lindsay Thornburg’s downtown sensibility is so right for dressing in a relaxed way, when the rest of the world is so uptight.

OK how about long but with legs?

This is another version of  long…the jumpsuit…ok ok I know this is definitely a throwback to the 70’s and it will take a certain individual to be able to pull it off…but if (they) you could look like this in Lindsay Thornberg’s linen pull on jumpsuit how much fun would that be?

This is the ultimate long romantic dress...and it's flowy

Are you starting to fall in love….I am with the idea of bare feet on the sand, sandals in hand and my dress blowing behind me from the wind ….I keep dreaming that it’s coming sooooooon and then I wake up to another cold morning. Ok I have one more selection that has a POP of color and then you can go back to our cold spring.

Sam Mendoza is our in house custom maker of long dresses for Summer.

Sam will be here every Saturday for a while to help you custom choose the long dress the suits your fantasy (and body)…..I know I am going to continue to include long dresses for summer when I can find them, the dream will never die.

Appreciation

Look at the workmanship of this jacket...and this is the inside!!!!

This jacket is so clean on the inside it would be a shame to put a lining in it. The back has folds in it that are also part of the incredible design. This kind of offering will disappear if consumers don’t APPRECIATE what it takes to make an garment like this. During an economic time like this,  fast retailing crappy merchandise is not the only solution…maybe purchasing really special pieces that you can totally enjoy each and every time you wear them (which will be for decades to come) may be another solution.

The shearling is so soft that the folds drape beautifully