Tag Archives: women’s fashion 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.

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!!!!!

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?

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.

 

Here’s What the News Didn’t Tell You

I’m sure it’s a big deal that Whitey Bulger got caught….now that’s he’s 81 years old. Everyday down here at Fan Pier there is heavy security and three police boats on the harbor for every visit. There are also a tons of “News Vehicles” and reporters ready to report his every move. Here is the scoop the tax payers are paying for his expensive transport, his healthcare and his legal team for years to come and he will probably die before he ever gets sentenced. But you would think while they have news crews down here they might walk 500 feet to their right and find an amazing event taking place on the water for the next four days. Extreme sailing races  happen all over the world and followed by millions of fans. The organization chose Boston as its’ first destination in the United States because it was the perfect set up to bring the people closer to the races. Usually the races are farther out at sea and video is the only way to watch them. The races started yesterday and will continue until Monday.

How LUCKY we are to have this in our city yet our press and television stations find it NOT noteworthy. What wrong with this picture?  Is it too POSITIVE  a new story so we should not be privileged to the information? Are they holding the story a secret  until the races have been here for five years and then they might mention them???? OK maybe sailing isn’t generic enough to be put on television…how about the most amazing FIREWORKS ????? The fact that they had to close Logan for the fireworks last night, would that be newsworthy ?????? Oh NOOOOOO even the Globe couldn’t drum up a photo and report on what’s happening right under their noses but I’m sure they had an article on who visited the courtroom yesterday….500 feet away.

By the way here’s the fireworks finale from last night…it was amazing!!!