Category: Business of Fashion

Did You Watch the Debate Last Night?

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Did you watch the debate last night? Hillary Clinton wore a fire-red pant suit as per her usual and threw jabs with Trump last night. Her pant suits are a little boring but work well for her political persona. Pant suits can be very comfortable, I hardly ever see Hillary in a dress.

Anyway, are you registered to vote? It’s National Voter Registration Day. Make sure you’re ready for November 8th, a big day in America. Register here if you aren’t already registered.

To shop suits similar to Hillary’s, click here.

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda F. Knowles

Why Loehmann’s is Going Out of Business

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So, as you may know Loehmann’s has officially bit the dust declaring bankruptcy for the third time last month. They listed assets of $100 million and debt of $500 million with no real prospective buyers. Loehmann’s was the last true off-price giant standing.

As a kid, I remember going into Loehmann’s with my mother and late grandmother who would show me tags with the dramatic discount marked with “original price” markers. There was an air of excitement when we went to Loehmann’s and we always seemed to come out with something special. Over the years, we stopped going into Loehmann’s and I remember the store becoming somewhat of a mess with home goods being sold and all kinds of things unrelated to its original womenswear premise. I stopped enjoying the store and that was the end of it.

Here’s a few things to remember about Loehmann’s:

1) Frieda Loehmann and her son Charles opened their first store on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn

2) Frieda would always pay cash for purchases for the store and was reluctant to open up any more locations

3) The company filed for bankruptcy three times, each time pledging to appeal to a younger audience, revive their image and stand out against competition

4) Loehmann’s had a website but did not jump on the e-commerce bandwagon until late 2011

5) Online flash sale sites like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La upended their business model of selling off-price season old merchandise

The company indeed made many terrible mistakes but in a world of cheap, fast fashion where quality is being sacrificed for price, a store like Loehmann’s simply could not stay in business. The retailer will go down in history and hopefully, the fashion world will return to valuing quality merchandise sometime soon.

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Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

Future of Fashion: What Year Will “Plus Size” Be Considered Mainstream?

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Eden Miller Makes NYFW History

My random fashion thought for 2013. So what year do you predict plus-size fashion will be considered somewhat mainstream fashion? 2040? 2050?

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

On the heels of 2014 and another year passed, I reflected today on what will be the future of the fashion industry. Online trade shows, market weeks and incoming fashion for ‘curvy’ women? This year Paris held its first plus-size fashion week, Pulp Fashion Week, and New York Fashion Week debuted its first plus-size collection from Eden Miller. It felt like a small victory for the curves in the world and was kind of a ‘new’ thing for NYFW. So, when will plus-size fashion be considered mainstream? When will designers go up in size and possible have spin-off ‘curvy’ collections just as they do petite? I mean, the average American woman is a size 14 and many women complain about not being able to find fashionable clothing appropriate for their size.

This is quite the opportunity. But, as designers, are we really thinking about how a fabric might drape from a curvy arm or leg? If you read my Sketch Model Wasnt Skinny Enough post, you definitely saw that most of us fashion students aren’t trained to think about the plus size woman (or average American size)! It’s quite possibly insane but from the looks of it, the industry is starting to make some strides to change. So, I ask again, what year do you think we’ll see ‘plus-size’ as simply ‘average’ size?

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

My Sketch Model Wasn’t Skinny Enough

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Rough Fashion Sketch by Malinda Knowles, 2012

I have a confession to make. When I first learned how to sketch fashion models and various fabrics, I remember being repeatedly chastised for drawing too wide of a nose and hips. It was like I had to re-learn the human body outside of my own shape or what I thought most people look like. Now, hey, fashion language is fashion language. And, fashion rules are ‘rules.’ Right? At this point, there’s just a few books being used to teach sketching, and an entire segment of our population is being ignored.

I’m not just talking about plus-size folks. I’m talking about anyone above a sample size. Anyone who isn’t at least five feet eight inches tall and skinny. And the largest segment, anyone who isn’t fair-skinned. It was funny that in class I naturally drew some color on my models while many others reached for the light pink marker only. Nothing wrong with that in class, but isn’t there something wrong with that in real life?

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As Fashion Week (or month) approaches, we will all wait with bated breath to see the new Spring 2014 Collections, but we will also wait to see if anyone used a different marker for their models. That is, will we see any African-Americans or just plain non-white models on the runway? Recently, designers have missed the mark. And as the rich and famous (i.e. Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kelly, Beyoncé) continue to be a muse and advertisement for designers, what does it really say that they can be photographed in the merchandise but no model on the runway can look like them?

Now you may care less and really this is not about my personal feelings. This is business. The world does not all look the same. I have admittedly not done my statistical research but from what I know, non-white women buy and enjoy high-end fashion as well.  So why not break up the monotony of those fashion sketch models and moreover real-life models on the runway and represent the true diversity of the world?

08zJPRACE1-popupAccording to the New York Times, fashion model Iman will be organizing a social media campaign at the beginning of New York Fashion Week to bring attention to the lack of diversity on the runways in the past several years. She contends that something is “terribly wrong.” Her experience in the 1980s and 1990s was that designers would routinely hire black models and now they barely hire one.

Whatever happens, I just hope that designers and the industry can wake up and see that huge business opportunities are being missed by completely ignoring of an entire group of people.

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

Google Glasses Taking Over The World?

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So I just came across my first Google glasses fashion statement at the Absolut Vodka Open Canvas Event in Brooklyn this past weekend and I was in awe. I was casually chit chatting with crochet artist Olek’s and her friend when it dawned on me that I had never seen these glasses that she had on. I put my fashion blogger cap on and had to ask, what kind of glasses are those??

They both quickly answered saying they were Google glasses. First thought was how high-tech and interesting. Second thought was that she looked kind of geeky and that they were clunky and not too fashionable. ‘Nerd Gear’ were the exact words that came to mind. I wondered if these so-called ‘sophisticated’ Google glasses were really worth all the hype and hysteria? And not to mention, $1500 price tag? I do not own a pair but supposedly it’s like having a smartphone, but it’s on your face. I actually prefer search engine Bing, I wonder can I access that through Google glasses? I mean, just how important is it to be so uber-connected to society that you need to physically wear glasses that will allow you to record a “Google video” or conduct a “Google hangout” while riding a rollercoaster?

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For now, I remain skeptical. It looks like another unnecessary and over-hyped piece of ‘fancy technology’ that Google is using to make a good profit. And, at $1500 a pop, I’m sure they certainly are generating a fabulous return. And, of course wearable technology is the next fashion frontier. Hell, perhaps one day we’ll look back at this post and laugh, and Google glasses and whatever else really will have taken over the world. In the meantime, however, I’m not buying it. Google glasses are just an unnecessary technological toy that might make you look cool at a party.

What’s your opinion?

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

Miami Design District, Graffiti and Louis Vuitton

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Graffiti Covers Louis Vuitton Store in Miami

Louis-Vuitton-Graffiti-Alma-Horizontal-Satchel-Handbag-_37236_front_large_0According to Business of Fashion, developer Craig Robins’ Miami Design District is growing at a rapid pace. Artists, interior designers, architects, and luxury good stores have clustered in the neighborhood. The feel of Miami, everlasting impact of Cuban and Latin American culture, as well as the artwork are shaping the character of this new district and business is experiencing success. Real Estate professional Zendell stated that “…before, Miami was a place to unload your summer gear, now even cashmere sells in Miami.”

I thought it was particularly interesting that artwork and even graffiti seem to permeate the area. Street artist Retna covered the Louis Vuitton store graffiti-style and the brand has marketed graffiti-covered merchandise as well. Robins states that “when you come here there will be a lot of art, anchored by the Rosa de la Cruz collection and my own collection.” Robins is an avid supporter and collector of the arts. He is Founder and Chairman of the Anaphiel Foundation, member of the Board of Trustees of the Miami Art Museum, and Principal of Art Basel Miami. Over 100 brands are expected to have locations in the District by the end of 2015, and I am very excited to see the area develop.  

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Graffiti Wall in Miami
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Graffiti Wall by Rime in Miami

Sincerely Yours,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

Fishy Business: Goldfish Swim in Handbags for Graduating Designer Cassandra Verity Green

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So Central St. Martin had their annual fashion show to showcase the work of its graduating students. Designer Cassandra Verity Green decided to feature her ‘pet goldfish’ swimming in her handbags on the runway. Now that’s fishy business.

According to the Telegraph UK, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) absolutely does not approve of the use of living creatures on the catwalk. A spokeswoman for the organization stated: “While we understand that a graduate fashion show is about grabbing attention and headlines, we do have concerns that using a living creature to create a novel or unusual accessory encourages people to see them as replaceable ornaments, rather than living creatures in need of care and commitment.”

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Now fashion is an art form and the runway features lots of fashion that never retails. Fashion always seems to strike a nerve, push boundaries and create controversy. But, isn’t that what fashion is supposed to do?

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Whether Cassandra meant to retail her goldfish handbags or not, we must admit that it was a creative idea. It is the translation from runway to real way that the RSPCA is concerned with. But I think most of us want our handbags to accommodate items such as cell phones and lipstick, not goldfish.

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

Retail Fashion Truck on Wheels Post in Olena Fashion TV’s Magazine

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Hope you had a great Memorial Day Weekend! Olena Fashion TV recently reached out to me to feature a guest post in their online Fashion Magazine. Check out my post First Food Trucks, Now Retail Fashion Trucks on Wheels? article in the online magazine here.

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

Will Anyone Ever Return to Sewing Their Own Clothing?

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I was doing some research for a project on Twiggy and came across an amazing Prada advertisement in which she posed upside down in what was at that time, a brand new television (and probably a fascination). I started to think about the speed of production and delivery in this digital age and began to think back to the time when ready-to-wear was not as popular. My grandmother was a master seamstress and knew how to make gorgeous garments because back in those days, they would teach women “Home Economics” at school. The topics? Manners, sewing, cooking, and cleaning. We just might need a class like this again! But in any case, I thought to myself why didn’t I spend more time watching and learning from my grandmother in the sewing room?

And then I remembered. As a child, I was absolutely afraid of the needles that would pop out of her “strawberry” cushion and the speed to which the needle would pound the fabric on the sewing machine. Yes, I remember, I was terrified as a child! Now I look back and say, yes it could be very painful if you slip up with the needle but sewing is absolutely worth it. Why? Well, you can control your fabric choices, cost of production, quality and if you’re creative, you can design your own masterpiece.

That’s all well and good but let’s get real. How many of us have time in our daily lives to sew our own clothes for ourselves and our families? It’s so easy to shop ready-to-wear online, run to the store or buy off the street if you live in New York, so why sew? As I do all my homework in preparation for producing some of my own product, I ask myself if anyone will ever really sew again in the United States? And that, my friends, in the wake of an ever increasingly interdependent global economy, will remain a question to be answered.

Sincerely,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles

How Socially Responsible is “Socially Responsible,” Really?

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So, in light of recent events like 385 people dying in a poorly run Bangladesh factory collapse and the unrest that has resulted, I ask myself how socially responsible is socially responsible really?

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Lots of manufacturing companies these days want to call themselves socially responsible but are they really? Now we all understand that everyone is in business to make a profit. Popular consensus is that being “socially responsible” or “green” doesn’t always mix with running a profitable company, but I would have to disagree. Arthur Caplan, chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s medical ethics department says that “fashion companies had better be pretty green and socially conscious, because they’re very much about image,   …they’re selling products that induce guilt. Who needs all that high-end stuff? You’d better do what you can to make it guilt-free.”

GreenConsumers and shoppers are becoming more and more educated, aware, and even skeptical of so-called “organic” anything or “green” companies. For this reason, it is imperative that companies create policies and stick to them. According to University of Missouri 2011 research, consumers are willing to pay an extra 15 to 20 percent for truly socially responsible or “green” products so it just may be in company’s best interests to change their practices.

Most of us have seen the issues that some companies have had with their consumption of water and fertilizer in cotton production, chemical processing at plants, airway and environmental pollution, worker safety problems like the disaster in Bangladesh, and fair wage and child labor exploitation. So what to do about it? When shopping in-store or online, check the label for where the product was manufactured, its fiber content and also look for the brand’s information on their code of conduct or social responsibility policy. Most companies employing socially responsible international policies publicize the information and post it on their websites such as J.Crew and the PPR Group (Gucci, Balenciaga, McQueen, etc).

Yours,

“Fashionably-Late”

Malinda Knowles