Speaking Of Fashion

Weekly Fashion Podcast on Communication and Fashion in Our Everyday Lives. Listen Up!

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This week’s Speaking Of Fashion podcast is live! We chat on luxury sportswear. Is it here to stay? Diversity in fashion - huzzah! Brooks Brothers taps Zac Posen, Twitter commerce and more. Listen up!

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Speaking Of Fashion Podcast Ep. 84 Transcript

Let’s talk Millennials (and their price tag)

  • First sentence: “Millennial women, a unique voice and a shopping basket are just three ingredients for a profitable fash-tech website.”

  • So why are Millennial women a point of attraction for investment? Only because they’re born in the capital of fashion: the dream shopping destination for all consumers with a soft spot for designer wear.

    • These women have it all on their doorstep and are the first to set the trends that now dictate marketing. As they have access to fresh-off-the-catwalk fashion, puts them on top of the ladder of futuristic fash-tech.

  • For editorial - their content is more shoppable (ecommerce and affiliate marketing)

  • For advertisers/brands, there are digital ad buys, licensing partnerships and percentages of revenue sold

    • This can be covered by usual forms of marketing like events, designer collaborations and curated shopping guides

    • At the forefront, Editorialist started out with just two founders and was able to obtain investment through a committed readership that was built on content that is tailored to them. Co-founder Davidson Hudson says, ‘We’re also realizing very strong sell-through’s and an extremely high user engagement in the way of time spent consuming the content on our site, which is proof that our model is working,’ highlighting the importance of investing time in talking with the customers, not just to them. Yes, that’s in bold.

  • So what does the millennial want? Immediate content with relevant e-commerce. Read: relevant.

Want to know what else is relevant? Clothes that fit!

  • Melissa McCarthy is designing a plus size fashion line

  • Direct quote: “Two Oscars ago, I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me,” McCarthy told Redbook in an interview appearing in their July Issue. “I asked five or six designers — very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people — and they all said no.”

  • Her line is called Pearl — a line of plus-size clothing she is creating with designer Daniella Pearl, with whom she collaborated on her 2011 Emmys gown.

  • Apparently McCarthy originally went to school for clothes and textiles at FIT - fitting

  • There’s no actual information out yet about what’s to come in the collection, but Refinery29 posted a slideshow of her style so we can guess what to expect!

In other socialite news…

  • This post highlighting Olivia Palermo brought forward some good points

  • First off, she’s successful. Her blog, OliviaPalermo.com, runs primarily on revenue from affiliate links. Well done.

  • One of those brands is Westward Leaning, for whom she’s been driving sales for years, only now she’s getting paid for it. She’s inked a deal to collaborate with the sunglasses company on a collection of eight styles to be sold exclusively on said blog for $210 per pair.

  • The question was asked: Why don’t we see Palermo collaborating with brands more often when there’s such concrete evidence of her ability to drive sales?

    • Is it A: She’s being discerning to sell her own line?

    • Or B: Do brands still not really get collaboration and still focus on just sending product and crossing fingers?

Speaking of not getting it…or is this (finally) a smart JCP move?

  • J.C. Penney is ripping up its marketing playbook once again, this time fashioning itself as the department-store destination for Hispanics.

  • In a push for growth, J.C. Penney isn’t just zeroing in on the Hispanic customer — it’s identified the demographic as its “North Star.”

  • The push will be on display this week with an expansive World Cup campaign that specifically addresses Latinas (there is no general-market component, a first for the retailer) and a sponsorship of Univision’s World Cup coverage.

  • Lyris Leos, director-multicultural marketing at J.C. Penney stated that until now, the department store has “never overtly stated and assertively made the claim that the Latina is our brand muse.” *sigh

  • The numbers: Hispanics make up 9% of J.C. Penney’s customer base and account for a double-digit percentage of store sales, in addition to a single-digit percentage of online sales. The segment is expected to be the single-biggest source of growth for the retailer in 2014.

  • Internally, J.C. Penney has done away with its dedicated Hispanic marketing group, embedding those execs into existing marketing groups and hiring new talent. It’s added Havas to its roster, which already includes Grupo Gallegos. And recently it introduced a new, inclusive tagline, “when it fits, you feel it.”

  • JCP has launched a Hispanic Facebook page and a revamped rewards program. It has rolled out two lines of cookware targeting Hispanics — Simplemente Delicioso and IMUSA — and more products could be on the way.

  • The retailer has also updated its list of Hispanic-designated stores — now more than 180 — which are defined as stores in areas that have twice the national average of Hispanics or stores where sales from that demographic are higher than average. In those stores, bilingual associates are identified; Latin music is mixed in with popular tunes; and bilingual signage, a casualty under former CEO Ron Johnson, is being reintroduced.

  • With the coming World Cup, J.C. Penney is looking to stand out by speaking to women in a typically male-dominated environment. Ms. Leos, citing a Nielsen study, said that more Hispanic women watch World Cup than non-Hispanic men. She described that realization as a “breakthrough moment.” Yes, yes it is.

  • The campaign includes two 30-second spots that will air during each of the tournament’s 56 games on TV, as well as online. There have also been integrations with the Univision morning show “Despierta America,” which began in early May.

  • According to YouGov BrandIndex, the plan seems to be working. While J.C. Penney has always been in Hispanic women’s consideration set, along with Kohl’s and Macy’s, it has seen a bounce in perception during the last two weeks. “Clearly, something from J.C. Penney has caught the attention of Hispanic women,” a YouGov spokesman said.

  • Hm, maybe a “finally!” is in order?

You know what goes great with fashion? COFFEE! (And make it a stylish one)

  • Starbucks is partnering with Los Angeles-based clothing label Band of Outsiders for a collection of two exclusive mugs.

  • The Band of Outsiders for Starbucks Limited Edition Designer Ceramic Mugs (12 oz.) feature a design that pays tribute to founder and creative director Scott Sternberg’s favorite slang word for coffee, “drip.”

  • The mugs feature black or multicolor paint dripping down Starbucks’ signature coffee cups. The mugs retail for $14.95 in the U.S., and $16.95 in Canada. They will be available today (6/10) and be in 9,000 stores.

  • Sternberg said the deal came through Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America

  • This is Starbucks’ fifth designer collaboration. Previous collaborations have been with Jonathan Adler, Rodarte, Charlotte Ronson and Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia.

This “collaboration”…not so stylish

  • An Italian socialite who is about to be released after 16 years in prison for ordering the murder of her husband, an heir to the Gucci empire, says the fashion house should now give her a job.

  • Patrizia Reggiani, known in Italy as “the black widow” or “Lady Gucci”, was jailed in 1998 after being found guilty of paying a hit man €300,000 to murder her 46-year-old husband Maurizio Gucci.

  • Her initial 29-year sentence, after a trial that transfixed Italy, was reduced to 26 years on appeal, which in turn has been further reduced for good behaviour. For the past three years, she has been allowed out on day release to work in a jewellery shop in Milan, with her full release expected soon.

  • Um, random: In recent weeks she has been photographed shopping in the city’s upmarket boulevards with a blue and yellow macaw on her shoulder.

  • Her overriding ambition was to find a job with Gucci, she said – despite having been found guilty of ordering the assassination of one of the multi-millionaire scions of the family.

  • “I dream of returning to Gucci. I still feel like a Gucci – in fact, the most Gucci of all,” she told the daily paper La Repubblica. “I have the qualifications – for years I went shopping around the world. I came from the world of jewels and it is to that world that I want to return.”

  • And um, she has a macaw on her shoulder. Watch out as she might have it bite you.

Maybe she should consider an education?

  • Marketplace reported that Conde Nast is partnering with a venture capital firm and some as-yet-unnamed universities to launch a set of co-branded certificate courses, and eventually a master’s degree.

  • In response to “why”: “We have a very strong interest in being part of developing the next generation of talent,” Jill Bright, chief administrative officer at Condé Nast, told Inside Higher Ed. “It is an opportunity to introduce our brands to new audiences by creating something that’s unique in an educational setting.” Wow…thanks for that clarity.

  • And no, this isn’t new. Corporate-branded forays into the world of higher education are nothing new. Conde Nast itself is involved with the Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design in the UK, where you can get a 10-week Vogue Fashion Certificate.

  • Now the real question why - publishers need more money and they’re trying to be creative in finding it. And no, they said this is not regarding their shuttered internship program due to the lawsuit settlement two months ago.

  • To end with, we want to share a reader comment: “wow starting a degree to introduce brands to people. what a lofty goal.”

And just to end things on a smelly note…

  • When one thinks of Burberry, their iconic trenchcoat often comes to mind. That school of thought is exactly what Burberry is going after with their latest fragrance, My Burberry, which was developed with their well-known trench in mind and is scheduled to be released in early September.

  • With Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne leading the ad campaign that was photographed by Mario Testino, Burberry is keeping its British roots in check and, as WWD pointed out, also highlighting the range of women Burberry is targeting with this fragrance.

  • Additionally, the packaging was created to evoke the thought of the trenchcoat as the bottle has a horn-finished cap, which is a nod to the buttons on the trench.

  • The color of the fragrance can be seen through the glass bottle and is reflective of the tan trench.

  • Another touch is the hand-tied gabardine bow that adorns each bottle as its made from the same fabric as the trench, and it’s even woven in Castleford, Yorkshire, which is home to Burberry’s factory.

  • The scent will have “the feeling of the light of London: clouds, wetness, rain and flowers,” commented Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer that worked with Burberry, to WWD. Yay I want to smell damp!

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Speaking Of Fashion Ep. 83 Transcript

Louis Vuitton wants you to meet…the Iconoclasts! 

  • Louis Vuitton has recruited Karl Lagerfeld to design for the label. The Chanel helmer has been asked by Vuitton’s executive vice president, Delphine Arnault, to give his interpretation of the signature LV monogram for a series of bags to celebrate the label’s 160th anniversary.

  • Designers Marc Newson, Christian Louboutin, and Rei Kawakubo, photographer Cindy Sherman, and architect Frank Gehry are also taking part in the collaborative project - called The Icon and the Iconoclasts

  • Priced between €2,000 to €4,000, the bags will be available in mid-October.


Alpha Sizing: As bad as it sounds 

  • Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported on the rise of “alpha sizing,” meaning using small, medium, and large designations as opposed to numbers. More retailers are adopting it for a very simple reason: It’s way cheaper. And for shoppers, it’s way more frustrating.

  • According to the WSJ, megachains like Zara, Old Navy, and Uniqlo use the alphanumeric system, but Activewear chains Athleta and Lululemon are sticking with numbers for now, dubbed “vanity sizing”.

  • Please, for the love of God, give us measurements!

Who pays the bill for Michelle Obama’s clothes? 

  • Some first lady fashion history:

    • Mary Todd Lincoln racked up tens of thousands of dollars in clothing bills and considered selling manure from the White House grounds to pay them off, according to the National First Ladies’ Library.

    • Jacqueline Kennedy’s father-in-law stepped in to finance her Oleg Cassini wardrobe to keep clothes from becoming a political liability for President John Kennedy.

    • Nancy Reagan got grief for borrowing designer gowns and not always returning them or reporting them as gifts.

    • Laura Bush, in her memoir, said she was “amazed by the sheer number of designer clothes that I was expected to buy” as first lady.

      • Anita McBride, chief of staff to Laura Bush during her time as first lady, said Mrs. Bush paid for all her clothes, including her two inaugural gowns: a red crystal-embroidered gown by Texan Michael Faircloth and a silver and blue V-neck creation of Oscar de la Renta.

      • McBride credits the Obama White House with finding a cost-saving way to “keep Mrs. Obama in all those incredible clothes and to have the use of them not once but multiple times.”

  • So how does she do it?

    • For starters, the Obamas reported adjusted income of $481,000 last year, and assets worth $1.8 million to $7 million.

    • And like most people, Mrs. Obama (mostly her personal aide, really) looks for discounts.

    • And, for really big events, the first lady has an option not available to every fashionista.

  • Here’s how Joanna Rosholm, press secretary to the first lady, explains it: 

    • "Mrs. Obama pays for her clothing. For official events of public or historic significance, such as a state visit, the first lady’s clothes may be given as a gift by a designer and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government. They are then stored by the National Archives."

  • Mrs. Obama and Jason Wu both were there when the first inaugural gown was presented to the Smithsonian in March 2010. The first lady said in her remarks: “The dress I donated today, made by Jason Wu, is a masterpiece.” But the Smithsonian lists the gown as a “gift of Jason Wu in honor of first lady” Michelle Obama, making clear it came from him. The first lady’s office had no comment on that.

  • Two other examples of gowns worn by the first lady that were donated by designers: the blue Carolina Herrera gown that Mrs. Obama wore to February ‘s state dinner for French President Francois Hollande and the gold beaded Naeem Khan gown that Mrs. Obama wore to the 2012 governors ball, now on display at the American Museum of Natural History. Herrera and Khan declined comment.

  • In a 2011 Washington Post story about Mrs. Obama’s personal assistant, Meredith Koop, the first lady’s office said Koop acted on Mrs. Obama’s behalf “in arranging for purchases, including considering the best offered price and buying on discount if discounts are available.”

    • That’s still true today, the first lady’s office says, without elaborating.

  • Smithsonian: http://americanhistory.si.edu/first-ladies/michelle-obama

Taking luxury from the White House to Africa… 

  • Businesswoman Reni Folawiyo is building a concept store with celebrated architect David Adjaye on Victoria Island in Lagos. The mission? To redefine African luxury for Nigerians—and for the rest of the world.

  • Folawiyo is the founder and CEO of the luxury concept store that will open in a new 3-story building in Lagos, which she named Alara—”wondrous performer” in Yoruba. It will stock both Western brands and pan-African design.

  • She and the building’s designer—the internationally recognized Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, whose design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington, D.C., broke ground in 2012—imagined Alara as a multiphase project. It will eventually include two adjacent buildings, a restaurant and a landscaped garden

  • The shop’s offerings will include a mix of fashion, design and art, in the manner of Milan’s 10 Corso Como, Paris’s Colette and London’s Dover Street Market

  • A glass-enclosed cubicle will display accessories. A terrace on the roof will double as an event space, while the first-floor will showcase design. Small movable stairways will allow the space to be reconfigured for exhibitions and to accommodate new products. Adjaye designed the large, open-plan interior with references to Nigerian architecture

  • Customers at Alara will be able to browse a selection of brands previously unavailable in West Africa, including Stella McCartney, Dries Van Noten, Marni and Valentino.

  • Here’s why: Victoria Island has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the world. With the energy sector leading Nigeria’s fast-growing economy, the government released new gross domestic product figures this year that placed the country well ahead of South Africa, the continent’s long-standing economic powerhouse. Abundant natural resources; burgeoning telecom, banking and tech enterprises; and a lucrative “Nollywood” film industry put Nigeria’s GDP at $510 billion—89 percent higher than previous projections. - Rachel

  • Now we get to the meat of it: Folawiyo’s ambitions for Alara go far beyond filling a gap in Lagos’s luxury-retail landscape. She hopes to address a deeper issue—the fact that so little of what’s made in Africa is considered luxurious in the first place.

    • "Reni wanted to create an African-inspired store that would be a destination for clients in Nigeria but also for pan-African travelers," says Adjaye, describing Folawiyo’s initial pitch, "one that would curate the incredible talent pool on the continent that’s been invisible."

  • Tokini Peterside, Alara’s strategy and project manager, explains that many African intellectuals feel that the responsibility for changing perceptions about the continent ultimately lies with Africans themselves. More than a half-century after Nigeria and many of its neighbors claimed independence from European powers, certain countries in the region are poised to surge ahead culturally and economically within a newly globalized economy—accompanied by a renewed sense of what defines African culture. The conditions for change are right: Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world, with 70 percent of the population under 30 years old

  • With this mission in mind, Folawiyo ranks fashion designer Amaka Osakwe among Alara’s most important brand ambassadors. The 28-year-old Lagosian debuted her first collection in 2011 under the name Maki Oh. Though her clothing is made in Nigeria using traditional techniques, it looks right at home alongside the other edgy designers at the Manhattan boutique Maryam Nassir Zadeh, where her line is stocked. ( Michelle Obama wore one of her blouses when she visited Africa last year. See how we tied that Obama mention in there?)

  • She doesn’t just struggle with the cultural perception though. Think logistics. Inter-African travel is rare, in part because it is difficult and often harrowing. In Nigeria, where only a small percentage of the population can afford to fly, departure times are erratic and the aircraft are often outdated. (Folawiyo arrived in Senegal’s coastal capital city, Dakar, the night before on a carrier that left Lagos several hours late, without explanation, and failed to make a scheduled stop in Cotonou, Benin.) She explains that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—established in 1975 to promote economic trade and the free movement of people and services between West African countries, rather like the region’s version of NAFTA—should make the shipping of products to Alara easy. In reality, underdeveloped trade infrastructure and the high cost of aviation make shipping difficult. She has considered renting a truck and hiring a driver to chart a giant loop, stopping at the studios of every artisan she hopes to represent at Alara.

Betsey Johnson going for activewear 

  • First reported by WWD, Johnson, who is bouncing back after declaring bankrupty and shuttering her brick-and-mortar stores two years ago, will release a collection of activewear inspired by her fall 2013 runway show (with the apt theme “BJ kicks A!”). The line has been in the works for some time now — models in the fall 2013 show not only wore workout-appropriate gear, they did calisthenics on the runway — and will finally hit stores this fall.

  • Johnson told WWD that the collection will be “the perfect mix of performance, prettiness and punk,” and according to a release from the brand, it will include a number of her signature details, like fishnet, peplums and bows.

  • Pieces from Johnson’s activewear line will be priced at $49 and up and will be sold in-store and online at Nordstrom and Macy’s.

CFDA Winner and Roundup! 

  • Joseph Altuzarra awarded Womenswear Designer of the Year!

    • This is a big deal as the up and coming designer beat out more established designers Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang for the evening’s top honor.

    • This was the second time Altuzarra has been recognized by the CFDA, having picked up the award for emerging womenswear designer in 2012.

  • Menswear Designer of the Year: Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow for Public School

  • Accessory Designer of the Year: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for The Row

  • Swarovski Award for Womenswear:Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters for Creatures of the Wind

  • Swarovski Award for Menswear: Tim Coppens

  • Swarovski Award for Accessory Design:Irene Neuwirth

  • Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Ford

  • Media Award: Paul Cavaco

  • Founders Award: Bethann Hardison

  • Board of Director’s Tribute: Ruth Finley

  • International Award: Raf Simons

  • And ummmm….

    • Rihanna: Style icon of the year

And the CFDA also went to Instagram - Ryan

  • The first-ever Instagrammer of the Year Award went to one of the following colorful nominees: @donalddrawbertson, @dapperlou, @aguynamedpatrick, @paridust, @troprouge, @amy_stone, @hokaytokay, or @bessnyc4.

  • The winner? Drumroll….

    • Patrick Janelle (@AGuyNamedPatrick)

  • The group — selected by a panel of judges including Rachel Zoe, the Coveteur, and the Editorialist — was voted on by the public (you could vote on the CFDA site or by liking one of the nominees’ Instagrams hashtagged #MyCFDA), and the winner was announced on May 30 before the awards took place on June 2. Mr. Janelle got to attend the ceremony as the CFDA’s official Instagrammer for the event. Lucky fella.

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