Category: Business of Fashion

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


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.



Malinda Knowles

Will Anyone Ever Return to Sewing Their Own Clothing?

Vintage sewing machine 008

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.



Malinda Knowles

How Socially Responsible is “Socially Responsible,” Really?

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?


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).



Malinda Knowles

Fashion Group International’s Fall/Winter 2013 Ready to Wear Trend Presentation

So this week I attended the Fashion Group International’s Ready to Wear Fashion Trend Presentation with host Diane von Furstenberg and discussion panelists blogger Bryanboy, Fashion Consultant Julie Gilhart, Fashion Editor Ana Maria Pimental, Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Director Colleen Sherin and Beauty Director of InStyle Magazine Amy Synnott D’Annibale.

Between the video and panel discussion, there was a lot to be said about current Ready to Wear fashion trends. The presentation mentioned several interesting trends including what I’ve been talking about on the blog; art, graphic prints and pop art on garments like that of Tom Ford’s Fall 2013 Collection (shown below) and Mary Katrantzou Spring 2011 Collection.


Also on the trend list, 3D fabrics and ‘touchy-feely’ quality like Commes des Garcon’s rose fabric manipulation in his Fall  2013 Runway Collection shown in Paris shown below. The presentation also touched on Marc Jacob’s nightwear to red carpet lingerie looking collection, hot pants and  the Chanel runway boots shown for Fall 2013 shown at Paris Fashion Week.


It was noted that slouchy, comfortable and less rigid handbags like those from the Celine Fall 2013 Collection (shown below) were making the trend list.


In an amazingly patterned arm sling, Diane opened up the panel discussion asking the question: “what is fashion?” She added that “anything goes” these days as you see people wearing high and low end, mixing it all together. She also said that “everyone is a stylist. Bryanboy answered that it was about comfort; “lifestyles are different now…women work insane schedules” so they need clothing that will go from day to night.  As someone that fits into that category, I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.



The conversation continued with comments about the future of fashion shows in the digital age, accessories on the runway, Yves St. Laurent’s Collection and John Galliano’s racist remarks. Diane brought up some major points including that shoes are really not accessories since a woman thinks about where she is going and if she will have to walk first before deciding the rest of her outfit. She also mentioned that 3D printing is big now and that if you don’t know what it is you will. When asked about the price of clothes going through the roof, Diane commented saying that her wrap dress “…was 86 dollars back in the day, now it’s about 400 dollars.” She explained that “things are different” and designers have more expenses. In the past, models would bring their own shoes to runway shows.


Moral of the story is that there are definitely trends happening but it is true that seemingly “anything goes” these days and everyone is simply adjusting to the rapid pace of change with the advent of the digital world in which we are living.




Malinda Knowles


NORDSTROM - Shop Fall Looks from Vince

I’m Having a Curious George Moment: LED Lights and Mobile App Controlled Fashion from CuteCircuit

So yesterday I was reading that on the Today’s Show, tech expert Katie Linendoll came on to talk about her LED Light dress from CuteCircuit. I hadn’t heard of such a thing and was quite impressed. While the techies programming t-shirts and dresses for use with mobile apps, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else may be on to something great I was not that into the actual fashion of it all. But, maybe that will come down the line. For now, I’m just fascinated with the idea that you can ‘program’ your clothing and turn on a virtual light show with what you’re wearing.

Katy Perry in an LED Light Dress
Katy Perry in an LED Light Dress

I do wonder though how do you wash something like that? This is a trend that clearly has a lot of developing to do but for now, bravo to the tech geeks and folks at CuteCircuit for exploring such an idea. Check out the video from CuteCircuit below for their Pink and Black Haute Couture Collection for Summer 2013. Interesting is all I have to say.



Malinda Knowles

Cold Weather Messing Up Things

So, this is the first April that I really haven’t been much excited about getting a cute spring birthday outfit (I’m an income tax baby, birthday is April 15), because it’s still just about 50 degrees in New York!

This is really messing up business. According to the Labor Department, accessories and apparel stores cut 15,300 seasonally adjusted jobs last month and according to Women’s Wear Daily, retail employment fell by 24,000. This isn’t just messing up Spring/Summer Fashion 2013 business but it’s disheartening Northeast spring fashion lovers too. Yesterday, I went to a Guess event in midtown and they had some beautiful, lightweight pastel skirts, pants and jackets for Spring but with the wind blowing outside, there didn’t seem to be too much impetus to buy. I did pick up this cute neon ring and can’t wait until it gets a little warmer.


Cold Weather really is messing up things but I have some ideas to share while we wait on Spring Summer that have been keeping me feeling “winter-springy” up to this point.

Get yourself some nice leather pants and maybe some with pops of color. Yellow, magenta, and black of course will definitely be in for the Fall so not only can you wear them while we wait for warmer times, but you can wear them for Fall Winter 2013-2014 too. Check out a few below from J. Brand, Balenciaga, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Acne. For a lower price point, Nasty Gal has plenty of vegan leather leggings to choose from.




Malinda Knowles


The NastyGal Story: Fastest-Growing LA Company


As a 22-year-old community college dropout, Sophia Amoruso started selling one-of-a-kind vintage pieces on eBay and, according to the New York Times, Nasty Gal sold nearly $100 million in clothing and accessories last year. The name was inspired by the “Nasty Gal” album made by 1970s acid-funk pioneer Miles Davis and his wife Betty Davis.

So, with the “Nasty Gal” edge of Betty Davis, Sophia Amoruso’s NastyGal lends itself to the perfect place for the cute and pretty look, yes, but a good bit of what I like to call funky street style. And with its highly affordable prices ($15-$60 on average per item) the online retailer does not disappoint. They’re also doing free shipping on orders over $150!

Check out the site here.

 Yours Truly,


Malinda Knowles

5 Things a Fashionista Can Do Around Tax Time

It’s that time of the year folks. If you haven’t done your taxes already, you better get to it, you have a bout a month.

What to do? Well you’re either getting a refund, getting nothing or paying up. So here are a few tips for whatever situation you might have.

1. Have to pay up? Now is a great to do some spring cleaning in your closet. Make some money and sell off those old handbags or clothes you haven’t worn in over a year to a consignment shop. There are plenty around and even online (i.e., or LXR & Co).

2. You can also give those old clothes and even pieces of furniture to charity for a tax deduction.

3. Getting a refund? Well you can save it in the bank if you don’t have your 3-6 months of emergency reserves. Or, you can save it in a mid to long-term vehicle like a brokerage account, cash value life insurance or an IRA.

4. Been saving all year? Pat yourself on the back and reward yourself with a gift from the new spring collections.

5. Plan a vacation. Cheap or not. It’s always great to get away. Make sure to take a new bikini and sunglasses with you.

Whether you’re paying up or getting a refund, make sure to carefully review your taxes with not just an accountant, but a financial professional to ensure that you’re not missing any opportunities to save.

First Food Trucks now Retail Fashion Boutiques on Wheels?

So CNN recently did an article on a new budding trend- retail fashion trucks. I must say food trucks in New York City are rampant, you can’t turn a corner in Manhattan without running into one especially at lunchtime. But, retail fashion boutique trucks I have not yet seen. So far we just have street vendors and Chinatown but I have a feeling that New York might just be crawling with these soon enough.

The concept? Lower start-up prices for aspiring store and boutique owners. According to the CNN article, Abigail Franklin, owner of The Trunk, described their value in saying “we can bring our products to you instead of waiting for you to come to us.” She bought her truck on Craigslist for $25,000 and has been truckin ever since. Stacey Steffe and Jeanine Romo, founders of Le Fashion Truck in Los Angeles, pay about $1500 in monthly business expenses (before inventory) as opposed to $7000 for a LA rental retail space.

Apart from tiny fitting rooms and weather hang-ups, seems like a great idea. Now I wonder how this could translate to New York City. What do you think?

Sincerely Yours,


Malinda Knowles

The Cost of Producing a Fashion Show


New York Fashion Week is almost here and everyone is very busy getting all those last-minute details together to make for a perfect show. And, you know that old Murphy’s Law– what can go wrong will go wrong.

So, I was thinking to myself, just how much does it cost to put on an amazing show? Well, of course it depends on if you are keeping it basic or doing something over the top like Chanel. But let’s get to the bottom line. It’s business and designers are selling clothes and an image. So how much does it really cost?

Well, here’s a list of a few possible costs;

Production and Equipment; 50K to 300K+

Videographer: 3K to 5K per hour

Stylists: 5K to 20K per day

Hair and Makeup Team: 5K to 100K+ per show

Models: unpaid to 200K+ 

Venue: 10K to 50K+

According to the New York Times, the Marc Jacobs show cost $1 million in 2011, or $1750 per second. The breakdown on that; 500 guests, 63 outfits, 45 second model appearance, 22-inch human hair extensions for each model at $180/head, 50 hair stylists, 35 makeup artists and 70 dressers. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show rang in at about $12 million last year, says Business Insider.


Last year’s Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2013 Paris show directed by Marc Jacobs featuring models descending from escalators in the Louvre. Burberry literally made it rain/snow at their Fall 2012 London show.


The smaller fashion brands have done presentations instead of runway shows, spotted their own venues, casted their own models and utilizing the help of volunteers and interns to cut costs. So, given what brands shell out in terms of money, we can all understand why it’s so important who is at your fashion show and where they are sitting.

I can’t wait to see who takes the cake this year in over-the-top fabulousness.

Yours Truly,


Malinda Knowles

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