Saturday, September 10, 2011
Monday, August 2, 2010
APC and me have a long love affair. I remember receiving their catalog in 1996 after seeing an item I liked of theirs in Sassy magazine. This was a time pre-online stores and pre-internet proliferation. It was when only about 10% of the population had internet access and it was dial-up AOL. The biggest thing going on was chat rooms-- and online shopping? What's that? It's when Sony's website was in Times New Roman 18 point font and that was the coolest thing you could come up with for a website.
So it was such a special treat to get this APC catalog in. It was stark white with bold and simple black intitals. I coveted everything single item in it from their box-pleated minis to their sweet, floral blouses insprired by gamine schoolgirls. APC was the uniform I wanted, but it was hard to find (there was only one store in the US and in Paris at the time). How shopping has changed since then! The internet has made labels much more accessible. Even luxury labels like Marc Jacobs, who once created websites that were no more than giant lookbooks, are finally giving online shops a go due the stagnant economy. Exclusivity is less important, democratization rules.
Monday, July 5, 2010
My boyfriend (who wants to move out west) often asks me why I want to keep living in New York. I usually keep silent because I understand what he's saying. It's a bitch to live here. It's tough if your pockets are deep and even tougher when your pockets are full of lint.
Here's my long, rambling answer to him:
I was thirteen and thought Sonic Youth's "BULL IN THE HEATER" video was the coolest. KATHLEEN HANNA from BIKINI KILL (who incidentally has been dating AD-ROCK from the Beastie Boys for about a decade) jumps around like a maniac in the music video and I remember thinking, "Who is this feisty brunette? I want to be her!" It was a time when I kept a pile of SASSY magazines underneath my bed including the issue with Kurt and Courtney on the cover. I still remember my favorite writers on the staff by name (Jauretsi and Gigi Guerra).
This was why I wanted to move to New York: it seemed like a place where smart, young women could do creative things, start their own business, and write about fashion and their favorite bands. The ceiling was as high as you wanted it to be. Who wouldn't wouldn't want to be there? People come and go all the time from the city, mostly for the summer, but few stay. You have to be smart, resourceful, tough as nails, and take rejection well. Most end up leaving. But the ones I admired STAYED.
It was X-GIRL clothing, co-founded by Sonic Youth's KIM GORDON, that really caught my eye. I really wanted an X-girl t-shirt back then and the only place that carried them in Chicago was UNTITLED (the era when Untitled was the size of a closet on Clark St. and they still owned Sole Junkies). But alas, they were too expensive for me at the time and I really was just not cool enough to be wearing an X-girl tee, but the idea of fashion sense combined with market appeal, independence, and entrepernuership still stick with me today.
SOFIA COPOLLA and KIM GORDON were my teenage inspiration. Does anyone remember the show hosted by Sofia Copolla on MTV? There were only two episodes and it would air late night. I remember a segment on how Thurston Moore would record the sound of garbage trucks and make noise rock out of it. I need to find it!) Anyways, I think about those women, how important and influential they were to my generation, how they made careers out of their passions and that's why I live here. So leave me alone.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
1. The rise of "South Brooklyn"
Yeah, that's right. I love south Brooklyn. I'm not talking Gravesend, but south enough compared to where the typical non-Brooklynite will go and south enough compared to"North" Brooklyn--Williamsburg and Greenpoint. As every school semester passes I see more and more under 25s moving to Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, and South Park Slope. And new bars and businesses spring up with them.
But bottom line--there's money in these here parts. The average income is significantly higher here than in north brooklyn. After all, Billyburg and Bushwick hipsters aren't known for their excess income and before their population burst the neighborhood was (and still is) working class. But not so in Cobble Hill. Only a few years ago Smith St. was not as gentrified as it is now, but for some reason this area attracted professionals with professional salaries. (I think it was all the trees and the handsome Brownstones).
Based on numbers, opening shop in Cobble Hill makes more business sense. And that's probably why Urban Outfitters jumped at the chance a couple of years ago. (I worked for OU many moons ago, and while I didn't think they had the best policies when it came to their workers, I do have to say the company has sound business judgement. Coincidentally their stock is doing very well). Smaller upscale chains like Steven Alan also opened shop in the area.
Yes, it is a little weird that Barneys is opening in Brooklyn, but its new Dubai-based owner is eyeing expansion. I'm curious to see how it works out.
2. Retail Expansion During Fiscal Crisis
I'm already seeing many new small businesses popping up on the LES and there are less vacant store fronts (except on Ave. A--what's going on there? Many vacant storefronts). The small businesses that I'm seeing are more niche and bespoke than ever which I'm pleased about. Remember when boutiques actually carried products that were hard to find anywhere else? That's why you went to these places in the first place. So what happens when every women's boutique carries Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang and every men's boutique carries Comme de Garcon? And then Bloomingdale's begins to carry Robert Geller? And the The Gap does a collab with Phillip Lim? Your customer either gets bored or goes to Bloomingdales because they have a credit card with them. Yes, it's all great product, and I still want me a Comme wallet, but oversaturation is bad for business.
Sadly, oversaturation was much the fault of retailers. 2005-2007 were great years for shopping. Many young, American designers came up during this time: Vena Cava, Thakoon, Loefler Randall. There were plenty of stores that were looking to fill their racks with something new and edgy and it just so happened that many young companies were coming out with great product and there was a large enough customer base with extra money to spend. Supply and demand matched. But by 2008, those edgy designs were getting ripped off and you could get Loefler Randall look-a-like boots from Steve Madden for a fraction of the cost (of course, their not real Vachetta leather, but hey, you can save $500). It got a bit much and supply exceeded demand. And then the 2008 crisis happened and unfortuanletly some stores and some clothing labels didn't make it. 2009 became the year of the sample sale to get rid of overstock and to give businesses and designers a chance to recoup at least some costs.
But with every crisis, comes growth and the discovery of something new that will change everything. Apple and Microsoft were both companies founded during a financial crisis, and I'm excited because I believe we've reached the turning point.
The recession is technically over and unemployment did not rise in November. While it's not stellar news, it is an improvement from what we've been hearing. I don't think retail will return to the highs of 2007 numbers any time soon. Shoppers have changed their habits and priorities too much for that to happen now, but with a changing customer will come business owners who will cater to this new customer.
Seeing new stores open, new shop owners with faces bright with new ideas and potential, and new expansions of chains is good news. Now is the time. Better to be a leader in the growth that will eventually happen than a follower.
Monday, October 5, 2009
'As early as this November, it's projected that for the first time in US history, more women will be working than men..."It's just sort of this dramatic revolution that's taking place but nobody's really talking about it that much," said Kobliner. "Also, we're seeing that more married women have unemployed husbands than ever before, a record 21 percent ... so the question is: are we going to start seeing the real 'Mister Moms' -- men doing the laundry and taking care of all those household jobs?"'
The article goes on to say a big fat "NO." The truth is women are still the primary caretaker at home, and still do not earn as much as men in the workplace.
Women Working More Than Men
Monday, August 24, 2009
The weekend was eventful!
-Day One. Train to East Hampton aka "The Party Train!" Long Island kids are funny.
-Bike ride through the woods to the middle of nowhere. Too much quiet makes me scurred.
-Beach time with the Atlantic looking fierce from all the waves from Hurricane Bill hundreds of miles away. Dangerous and breath-taking.
-Bike ride past beach front properties like in the movies and plenty of trophy cars. Having a convertible out here almost seems neccessary.
-I called a woman a bitch at the grocery check out because she was being very rude to the cashier (After working years of customer service, I have developed a soft spot for other service workers). The woman bought rice pudding and triscuts. Immediately after calling her a bitch, I felt bad, but the woman seemed to enjoy the title. She took her Gucci purse and walked away looking satisfied.
-Day Two. Tresspass onto painter's Jackson Pollock's property in the woods. His backyard view is about three acres of untouched wetland. Imagine painting surrounded by that.
-Stella McCartney pop-up shop (Fall 09 in stores already!) and Agathe Snow installation. Free popscicles on Stella.
-Back to the beach. Watch surfers, sunbathe, play with the waves. I was so happy I couldn't stop screaming.
-Train back to Crooklyn.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I'm loving "A Love Letter For You," a new project ESPO's been working on along with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. I'm planning a trip to Philly to check it out when the mural project of 50 painted walls is complete. They're even holding sign painting classes! Frank has a few cans of sign paint at home, maybe I should give it a go. My first sign would say, "My Cat Loves Me." It's the truth.
I recently watched The Universe of Keith Haring on DVD three times and was amazed at how thoughtful Keith was about doing public art. Keith wanted to do something that would last, that the general public could enjoy everyday and not have to go to a musuem or art gallery to see. Here we are 25 years later, and his artwork still can be found in many major cities from public parks, to schools, to even Woodhull Hospital in Bushwick (NOT a nice place--the building looks more like a prison than a place you would go to get better. So genius that Keith would do a colorful mural there. The place needs it).
So happy about all the new murals from Anthony Lister and Os Gemeos. While the twins were painting the Deitch wall on Houston street last month, there was steady stream of onlookers, some were fans, mostly graf heads, and then random people walking by who had no idea who the Brazilian artists were.
I stopped by the wall almost every day because it was on the way home from work, and there was ALWAYS a group gathered around watching them paint and just chillin' on the street, taking photos and video. I always stopped by myself, too. This shows how there is a desire, maybe even demand (especially from other graf/street artists), to see the process of their work. It was a great and rare opportunity to see Os Gemeos use spray paint for the entire mural, to see how they do their detail work, use stencils, and have almost no pre-sketches (at least from what I could tell). Frank took some great detail shots of the mural along with Os Gemeos painting a truck. Maybe I'll put those up soon.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Bet you didn't know it's summer by the way it's been raining every single day.
Seeing this lemon dress by Phillip Lim cheered me up a bit.
3.1 Phillip Lim dress available at Bird
It made me remember that uhh...I LIKE CLOTHES. This sounds silly, but it's important to me because I've been going through this guilt about liking fashion which is connected to my serious MONEY GUILT. I realized recently that I spent more than I would have liked to spend because I was so determined to live in New York and work in the fashion and retail industries. I often feel like I have a closet full of nice clothes whose combined costs total more than my current net worth.
Yes, it's a bit of a downer, but it's important to note moments like this so that I don't make the same mistake again. And I'm writing this so that others out there understand that while it's important to look the part and it's nice to surround yourself with things you find aethestically appealing (soft silks! comfy chunky-heeled booties!)--they are LUXURIES and should not be put before paying, you know, the rent.
I am lucky to have a few favorite dresses by Isabel Marant and Tsumori Chisato--I worked at a very nice boutique and got the clothes free. But I have sold a few items on ebay I no longer loved and made some nice loot. Anyway, lesson learned. In future postings, I'd like to explore building a wardrobe on a budget that incorporates the emerging and European designers I love with mass finds from Uniqlo and Forever 21.
Since I'm on a compaining rant, I've also been feeling like there are so few real men left. Now with more and more young women holding the reigns on their educations and careers, I've seen many a scumbag (sorry, just being honest!) come along and mooch of the ladies' hard work. Men on unemployment dating hot women with good jobs? And what's with all the men on unemployment taking trips to Europe? Where have all the cowboys gone?
Who knew lemons could make me realize so much?
Thursday, July 31, 2008
All I've been reading about lately in the media is how everything in my house could potentially kill me. Talk about consumer scare tactics. The modern lifestyle revolves around plastic. We rub out armpits with chemicals proven to cause Alzheimer's disease. And while the cancer stories may exaggerated, all those plastic water bottles I buy to keep myself hydrated and cool in the hot months are not good for mother earth. And frankly, Alzheimer's scares the shit out of me. So here's a slew of products I swear by to keep cool during those 90+ degree days that are environmentally sound and not bad for your body either.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Opening Tuesday is Den's newest installment of rotating designers featuring menswear by Robert Geller, whose spring collection proves to be utterly wearable hipster fashionings.
Geller gained cult status revamping the label Cloak with fellow designer Alexandre Plohov. Cloak shut its doors, but the clamor for Geller's designs grew louder. Robert Geller Collection was launched in 2005 and is currently found in only a handful of boutiques. Den will carry a broad collection of the line that includes many exclusives. The crisp grey sharp-shouldered blazers and slim trousers are perfect for any discerning satorialist.
Den is located in the East Village at 330 E 11th street, NYC.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
She's done it again. If you haven't seen it already, check out Bjork's innovative new music video for her single "Wanderlust." It's a 3-D (yes, get out your glasses!) visual menagerie directed by Encyclopedia Pictura. Filmed with a custom made stereoscopic camera rig and a mix of live action, puppets, scale models, and computer generated animation, the stunning video channels the folklore of the mountainous Alps.
The video premiered in 3-D at Deitch Projects Studio in Long Island City, Queens earlier last month. The official release date of the video was yesterday, but it's hard to find a good quality version in virtual world. The video will be released later on DVD.
In the meantime, I highly recommend viewing the clear 2-D version of "Wanderlust" on the Enyclopedia Pictura website here. Wow.
Scrumptious natural fibers like plush cottons, easy linens, and washed silks have made Isabel Marant a rising star. She creates bohemian perfection in her own signature label and her diffusion line appropriately named, Etoile ("star" in French).
Her collection of short flouncy skirts, baggy pleated linen pants, and various voluminous tops mix well together--on the racks it is very easy to envision coordinated outfits. It's casual, unconstrained, and easy to layer in unconventional ways. It's this relaxed, just-thrown-together mix that is giving Marant notoriety. The perfect t-shirt is a linen Isabel Marant tee in a muted neutral color.
For spring '08 she appropriated the pattern from the ever-popular Afghan scarf and made it fresh fabric for sleeveless tops and dresses. Her flat boots are spot-on slouchy.
She's hard to come by (which makes her even more special). So if you can't stop by her boutique in Paris, try Jumelle or Hejfina. See Isabel Marant's spring 08 fashion show here.
Images from Isabel Marant Fall '08
Yes, I watched it every damn episode of Fashionista Diaries on SOAPnet.com and i loved every minute of it. Why? Because Project Runway annoys me now (I am cable-free and happy--the internets is all I need!). I respect the work ethic of each of the assistants (except maybe Andrew). I can totally relate to working entry-level in a competitive industry 50 hours a week while having to look "fashionable" on a three-digit paycheck. Workoholics like other workoholics.
In the end, it was a show about doing what you want because well, it's what YOU want. And it's refreshing to see a few hard working and motivated gals learn the ropes and not some Orange County bimbos who want to be a fashion magazine editors because they "love" clothes.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Instead, what will you spend your refund on? Or have you spent your refund already? Are you disciplined, buying something small and saving the rest? Many gals I know look forward to their yearly tax refund and use it directly towards a new spring wardrobe. After all, it feels like free money--and that's the trick: get mid-income consumers to spend their refund (plus the extra $600 coming mid-year) to literally buy us out of recession.
While I also enjoy fashion, be smart about your consumer choices. Even I can rationalize spending $160 on the perfect Isabel Marant t-shirt I'll wear 50 times, but I try not to put myself into debt doing so (although I have put myself into debt in the past for such silliness). And remember, consumer waste inevitably equals garbage waste. How many things from H&M and Urban Outfitters have you discarded in the past few years?
One thing I've learned in working retail is how to spend wisely on clothing. I've worked at expensive boutiques were few of the customers could truly afford the lifestyle of luxury shopping. Most shoppers were just good at floating debt around, and to be honest, none of those women are particularly stylish, even though they spend thousands of dollars a season on their wardrobes.
If you are lucky enough to be receiving a refund, be smart. Buy yourself something new for spring you will actually wear the whole season (as long as that special something isn't a $1200 Lanvin bag) and put the rest towards paying off your debts. Am I channeling Suze Orman or what? Sheesh.
Above photo of Cheech the Cat doing her taxes.
Monday, March 10, 2008
I've had a huge obsession with spring shoes this season because so far I've found spring 08 in stores to be a little...uninteresting. I still have yet to find a dress that blows me away, maybe because I keep seeing the same rounded, bulbous silhouette as last spring. (Instead, I'm much more into separates, but I'll post about that later.) The dresses aren't catching my discerning eye, but this season's shoes and accessories are spectacular!
Take these Thomas Wylde skull encrusted sandals if you have $950 to spare. They're a great bottom anchor to toughen up a frilly floral dress. The rows of miniature skull-shaped studs on leather the color of metal are smart, more discrete and trend-proof than the typical black t-shirt will skull graphic.