March 26, 2009

News flash: Do try this at home. Well, some of it.

While retailers desperately try to offload their wares, the media have found a new tack: how to make the most of the clothes you already have. The Today Show offers up an unintentionally hilarious demo on how to update your current wardrobe (answer: glue on zippers and fringe. No, no, no!), while AnOther magazine includes homemade cardboard bralets and plastic-bag bustiers in a sexy spread of '50s pin-up looks. Meanwhile, Teen Vogue, an early adopter of the DIY ethos, this month has designer Rachel Roy show you how to convert a T-shirt into a rather frightening zebra-striped prom dress. Not sure what exactly this bodes for retailers, since Gap's effort a few years ago to showcase spokesmodel Sarah Jessica Parker's techniques for customizing her clothes completely bombed.

One thing retailers can do, though: band together. New organization S-3 in New York ("Shop Small Stores" -- not original,  but to the point) is gathering boutique owners to swap tips for customer retention, lobby for more tax-free days, create a festive atmosphere for the month of May, and plaster their windows with stickers of the org's ugly, generic logo. Small boutiques, listen here: Your advantages lie in your small size and ability to give personalized service to the customers in your niche. Just do what you're doing well, and please use your windows to show off your merchandise, not unnecessary signage.

In other, non-Topshop-related good news for New York, the city is considering taking over an 8th Avenue building to run as a nonprofit space for apparel manufacturing only, a rare respite in the gradual takeover of the Garment District by restaurants and other non-apparel businesses.

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