Tag Archives: women’s clothing

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)

 

 

What Do The Working Women Wear?

I’m in the middle of buying “Pre-Fall”…whatever that means…and I’m looking at some pretty nice things when it occurs to me that I keep say the same thing to these brands, “What is she going to wear “that” with to the office?” You would think I was asking the most ridiculous question. The answer is always the same “oh they can throw “that” over black pants or a skirt”. Really? So I ask “who do you think is wearing these $1500 tailored jackets?” The answer is women who work.

This kills me. I come from a time when women were lucky just to be able to be in the same office as men, never mind having the same job. We have gone through several incarnations of workwear for women and we finally have the freedom to express ourselves (granted with some limitations) and we still have to explain to manufacturers that all these expensive clothes are worn by women who have somewhere to go in them…they actually serve a purpose. it’s not just fashion.

Look at the Cut (which is outstanding,) the Fabric Brings in the Freshness

As you can see we are just getting in some great suits for spring that I think show there is creativity in this category…..which means someone is thinking about the customer,  not pandering to the unrealistic pages of fashion magazines. This next suit is from Jason Wu. He’s part of the new generation of great creative and technical designers that move the needle forward for womens wear.

His use of lace, technical fabric and zipper closure freshen up this spring staple

So Simple but is it Really?

Last but not least (at all) is what looks like a simple black suit from The Row, but upon closer inspection the delicious fabric, the hip structure that make you look skinny (believe it or not ) and the skinny pant makes this suit a head turner. These are just a few examples of the new work wear. This is also a reminder that when you come to Louis you are NOT just looking at “fashion” that a designer puts out there, you are looking at an edited collection of clothing that has a purpose for your lifestyle….and isn’t that why you buy clothes?

Why Is Ugly The New Black?

So I land in Paris at 6:30 A.M., make it to my hotel at 8:00 A.M….of course the hotel room isn’t ready so I have a leisurely breakfast (lots of coffee) and take a walk down Rue St. Honore to look at the selection Fall clothing displayed in the French shops. I see a glimpse of the beginning of “Ugly” which is what I’ve seen in New York for the last two weeks (buying women’s Spring/Summer 2012). I’ve been trying to digest the large quantities of FASHION that have been thrown at the retailers/consumers and I keep asking why?  Why now is the industry (and it’s pretty unanimous) pushing ultimate, in your face, loud, FASHION? These are clothes that will wear you, that scream VICTIM !!!! Why now?

It has it all loud color, embellishment, mixing everything

Shiny and Overly Designed

These Shoes have been promoted in every Magazine this Fall

There are two theories I have about this. First I think the internet has such a strong influence on the designers and the industry that it forces a consensus of trends and these “trends” make every designer look the same. When most of the designers and magazines utilize the same trends they are pushing these trends on the consumers as if they were already a fact, which they assume will force the consumer to buy. But not all consumers are blind followers. Second, I think no one knows the answers to the economic downturn so designers are trying too hard, looking desperate, thinking they will jump start the consumer into buying again. In the end the collections look all over the place.

I am not afraid of FASHION, but I’ve been around fashion long enough to reject superficial techniques as an excuse for modern design. I’ve seen merchandise on my sale rack that scream that mistake…my mistakes…the customer has taught me well…they will spend money on new, innovative and yes, different but the consumer will not fall for clown like clothing (especially expensive clothing) readily.

When consumers have such a lack of confidence in…well everything…. why would the clothing industry push such over the top FASHION on them? This will only make them feel more uncertain.

Meanwhile I have managed to find some beautiful clothes for next spring, yes it has color and it has innovation but it’s not theatrics…it’s clothes you will want to put on your body and make it your own. But as I keep looking around I shake my head and ask is Ugly the new Black?

I Forgot How Much Fun We Had in The 70’s

 

I usually poo-poo the fashion worn in the 70’s…it definitely was the worst time for men…it ruined the industry, Men have never trusted Men’s Fashion media and manufacturers/retailers since.  Separates dominated Women’s fashion during the 70’s and were the vehicle for individual expression. After the 70’s, the fashion mantra became EVERYONE wears black or EVERYONE wears denim and EVERYONE carries the “it” bag. Actually Women’s dressing during the first 50 of the 20th century were dresses, dresses, and dresses with a nod to jeans during the 50’s and a bigger nod to them during the 60’s. The 70’s gave the newly liberated woman a fashion choice with separates…separate tops, jackets, sweaters, pants, skirts and yes dresses. We had lots of fun in the dressing room the other day channeling the 70’s and here are some of the results. 

 

Check Out The Bag and Boots

 

This picture was taken with my IPhone and the Hipstamatic App. The film was “Float” and the lens was “Jimmy”. I love this App. Finally after eliminating the creativity of photography with digital cameras, there is an app that can change your photograph before you take the shot. It allows you to change the mood or the color or brightness….the possibilities are endless…what fun. Here’s another outfit created by “separates”.

Here's a Long Dress with a Knitted Fur Jacket

This again was shot with “Float” film and a “Jimmy” lens. Just as the word indicates the designers of these items are all separate as well. That’s the beauty of “separates” you can create new outfits everyday. This may change the way you shop, suddenly items have more merit by their flexibility, what you can put them with, instead of its’ designer.  It’s like the photograph you can mix films and lens and have multiple possibilities. Here’s another possibility:

 

Don't you just love Corduroy?

“Jimmy” again was the lens but the film was “Ina’s 1969” , doesn’t it look like it ….it matches exactly with the outfit. The color of the film looked like it came from a Kodak Brownie. Candice looks so cute and fresh with a vintage twist….so individual….Corduroy…. I don’t think I have worn that fabric since the 70’s. I forgot that it makes noise when you walk, and that it’s soft and comfy.

It is fun looking back….it’s fun teaching the next generation a look we created 40 years ago…..they look just as cute as we did…maybe.

 

Old School Jeans

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.

 

They make it easy to understand "Made in America"

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…..

 

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

Why Did The “All American” Look Go from Healthy to Trashy?

When networks decided to save money by utilizing “Reality TV” the women in these shows were suppose represent the “everyday woman” in America. We used to show women on TV looking clean cut and healthy, now we show them in strapless everything, and short skirts and dresses. I think the networks use the phrase “women, other women can relate to”. Really? Maybe the line should be “women who represent our seedy side”. The problem is young girls now think that it’s cool to look and and act like this. And everywhere I look today there they are  women in strapless whatever, monster shoes and always acting a little tipsy.

Is this the Gold standard for Young Women Today?

Television DOES influence people into thinking this is the way to live …or this is the way to look…..Well I say fight back. To use a word for people 25 and older  I think it is totally INAPPROPRIATE . This look is trashy!!!! Women can always RESORT to this look but if you have depth in your mind, body and soul you can create a less …uh…obvious look that would make you look elegant….complicated….intelligent…and yes beautiful.

We need to show an alternative to this…I hope that there is an alternative to this otherwise woman should just stop trying altogether. There is no need for design and creativity if this is the uniform for “every woman”. It’s funny how women are responding to the way women dressed in the 60’s when they watch “Mad Men”. Though the women are very finished and well groomed in the show those clothes were uncomfortable. Today we have so many more choices of clothes to wear. We have lifestyles that can afford several different “Looks” with sleeves and a neckline and maybe length from the thigh down.

The "LOOK" looks the Same Coming and Going