My good buddy Jose Cuadra was hard at work with Lilly’s very talented team of Print & Pattern designers– Jeff Mattia, Victoria Davis and Paige Smith, creating a stunning visual masterpiece for Lilly Pulitzer’s latest store opening in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Jose and I worked together when I headed-up visual for Lilly, and let me tell you– Jose is not only one of the most talented visual merchants in the business, he’s also one of the all-around greatest guys going (BFF). At Lilly, the print department houses some of the best designers in the business– they are all truly artists that paint, sketch and create through heart & hand. They are not just click and drag CAD jockeys. What this inspiring team of artistic talent created is truly incredible. As Brad Bradbeer would say– “Go team!”
Sorry Antonio– this image is too good, I had to borrow it. The irony is incredible– “Live Beyond Your Means” on the window of a store that went under. Says a lot about the retail climate we’re experiencing.
There’s a lot of reactionary “strategy” in motion right now by apparel retailers & wholesalers who are desperately trying to stop the bleeding. Slash prices, cut inventory levels, homogenize the product, reduce the workforce, cut expenses, close stores– but what’s the long term answer? The industry is facing unprecedented times– but this didn’t happen overnight, and we only have ourselves to blame. The industry is finally paying the price for years of over-saturating the retail landscape with too many stores, an excess of irrelevant “me too” brands & products, and in many cases– undeservedly fat markups.
“The consumer is so well-informed today, they don’t want to be told how to buy and they feel conned and manipulated by big flagship stores, and by the disproportionate margins the brands are making,” Inacio Ribeiro said. “However, the consumer will welcome suggestions, and that is the way forward.”
Fashion’s reliance on ever-lower prices failed last fall, as sale signs shouting 60, 70 and 80 percent off attested. Value is making a comeback across the price spectrum. –WWD
In short– we got fat, lazy & greedy, as the consumer became more sophisticated and savvy. Now they are deciding with lethal force who will survive and who will die– and quite honestly, a lot of us deserve to die.
Retailers and vendors are responding quickly in anticipation of the consumers tighter spending habits and are dropping initial retail prices by up to 30%. We should start to see the adjustment for next Fall. Spring/Summer selling remains to be seen– will people spend a little to pull themselves out of the slump and brighten up their wardrobes? Or will it continue to be about holding out for markdowns, and last year’s closet rehash?
In a candid conversation with an executive at arguably one of the nation’s best specialty retailers, the current state of apparel sales was reported as such–
Womenswear = tough.
Menswear = worse.
Men’s tailored clothing (suits in particular) = abysmal.
Answer = a wide-sweeping retail price correction is much needed in order to start the process of regaining consumer confidence.
There are a lot of us caught in the grips of the ever-worsening recession global depression– those of us in apparel and retail are definitely feeling it hard. I’m holding out hope that come April the economy will start to “Spring” back with new optimism. But now I’m hearing of more imminent lay-offs and cutbacks coming down the pipeline. It might have you feeling imprisoned in a way you’ve never felt before.
A good friend shared a story with me yesterday– his brother was giving a talk and the economy came up (2.8 trillion dollar deficit, btw). In the audience was a guy formerly of the Securities and Exchange Commission. When asked where he would put his money, his answer was “Gold and a shotgun.” Nice.
But there is something you can do if you find yourself laid-off and seemingly without prospects. In a market where luxury is currently a dirty word, we do have the luxury of time, energy, experience and relationships. Us little guys can turn on a dime, and create new models and paradigms faster than the large corporations that are currently focusing on how to stop the bleeding. New thinking, energy, excitement and products will go a long way towards dragging us out of this, and then hopefully the banks will start to follow in time. The economic turnaround will only start by us pulling ourselves out of our mental rut first.
Because my mind works in strange ways, this all got me thinking about economic life in an actual prison. It’s important that we keep our circumstances in perspective– it can always be worse…
I’m still not getting what I want from Brooks Brothers, and I’m starting to wonder if I ever will. Bring back the pure, unapologetic, timeless icons of American sportswear & clothing– make it fresh, get the fit right, and roll it out. It still feels too much like a European (Italian) interpreting classic American style. It has a very continental feel in these photos from WWD.
Menswear designers new and old are tracing fashion roots and embracing brand heritage– whether it’s their own or borrowed. Ralph is the true master of classic American sportswear, and no one is more in their element at this time than him.
Yesterday Racked NY scooped that the Thom Browne / Brooks Brothers long-awaited Black Fleece store on Bleecker was about to open any day. This morning, WWD announced that today would be the day– and in time for Fashion Week. Skinny fashionistas everywhere rejoice.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Sid Mashburn at the Warwick Haberdashery Show. He stopped by to see the Robert Redd line and hung out for awhile.
The S0510XX uses 100% Texas cotton which is famous for being a “rough” cotton due to it’s high amount of short fibers. Normally, the short fibers are removed to make a smoother fabric, but Samurai adds more short cotton fibers to make the yarn even rougher. The result is a yarn that is highly uneven in size, making the woven fabric very “slubby” (irregular). Moreover, while most jean manufacturers mix different cottons from various areas, Samurai uses only 100% Texas cotton in the S0510XX. Even the thread is made of 100% Texas cotton. This creates a jean that captures the essence and spirit of this tough Texas denim.
Like all Samurai jeans, the S0510XX uses 100% pure indigo with no fillers, using the maximum amount of indigo that the yarn can hold. Weighing in at 15 ounces, Samurai also maximized the tension of the weave, so that after washing, the denim actually becomes even more stiff and the weave even tighter resulting in a jean with unprecedented “atari” (fading).
When did design get so trendy? Seems like everyone I know now– even the garbage man, for cryin’ out loud– knows about Pantone. The world is getting smaller every minute, people. Anyhow– The Gap’s Patrick Robinson brings very wearable color, and a welcome fun, graphic punch into The Gap, with this cool– even if it isn’t quite original– Pantone partnership.
It’s no coincidence or surprise at all, that the previous post on Mad Men got me thinking about Thom Browne…
There seems to be some activity over at the soon-to-be Black Fleece shop in the West Village. Thom Browne & Brooks Bros. acquired the space some time back, and workers are finally on the scene– painting walls and cleaning up. Let’s hope it opens soon. Thom Browne has given rise to an army of well-dressed men in their shrunken suits & bare ankles- I’m just not sure the look is for everyone. If I were a statuesque guy, I might feel like I was wearing my little brother’s suit. Know your limitations guys.
Hanging out this morning reading the daily news, I came across an article in the L.A. Times on John Varvatos. It was about his upcoming runway show in Milan and hopes for the line going global, etc. Going through the article, it rattled off some of his accomplishments over the last 9-10 yrs- his great rock-flavored menswear, inventing the laceless Chuck Taylor, turning CBGB into a clothing boutique… stop right there.