September 29, 2009

Wild Things, you make our hearts sing

So everyone and their mother has been presenting their lines via film lately, as we've been covering... but promoting a film by creating fashion lines — that's a new one for us!

This month sees the premiere of Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. But with the film yet to hit theatres, at least two — count 'em, two — clothing lines inspired by the film have come out: perennial fave Opening Ceremony's collaboration with Jonze, above center, featuring shaggy jackets, dresses, and skirts that also capitalize on the current fake fur revival; and Urban Outfitters' collabo with Brooklyn designer Mary Meyer, a series of hip, slouchy printed knitwear pieces (above, left and right) that would be utterly wearable even without the movie tie-in.

Now to see what happens when Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie comes out next March!

September 28, 2009

TheGreenShows at NY Fashion Week

While the big names at the Bryant Park tents and MAC at Milk were busily hogging most of the attention at NYFW, a small, green revolution was going on in Soho... on Greene Street, naturally! With EarthPledge's usual high-profile FutureFashion show on hiatus, a new player stepped into the mix: TheGreenShows, featuring our longtime fave Bodkin along with pieces from Ekovaruhuset (above), a boutique carrying intricately crafted work from international designers; along with collections from Bahar Shahpar, Lara Miller, Izzy Lane, Mr. Larkin, and Study by Tara St. James, with makeup by eco-beauty line Suki.

September 25, 2009

The future of fashion is virtual.

As Fashion Week evolves from industry event to public phenomenon, designers have been contemplating how to keep their shows exclusive while making all of their customers feel included. Fashion's Night Out, while not a financial success, was a big step toward the democratization of Fashion Week, letting the public meet (or at least gape at) influential designers and buy in by, well, buying in.

Twitter-happy designer Alexander McQueen has another idea. His shows have always been as much performance art as fashion showcase, featuring real flames, live insects, giant chess sets, heaps of rubbish, and a hologram of Kate Moss among their wonders over the years. With video of previous shows already available on his website, he's involving the public in real time this season by broadcasting the SS10 catwalk live over the internet. And he's not the only one: Burberry, Sienna Miller's Twenty8Twelve, Michael Kors, and Isaac Mizrahi already did the same this spring; while some designers on a budget, like Shipley & Halmos, flipped the equation (above) by presenting their designs via video at their Fashion Week shows.

Photo via Racked

September 16, 2009

David Byrne, saving the world one bike at a time.

New York has gone bike crazy this summer, and David Byrne would like at least some of the credit, please. Best known as the geek-chic Talking Heads frontman, Byrne has been doing some thinking lately about how urban life could be better. And it revolves around bicycles — you see, he's been riding one around New York for 30 years.

First, inspired by judging a citywide bike rack design competition, he paid to have 9 Keith Haring-esque bike racks installed around New York, each an original design by, well, David Byrne. Now he's organized an exhibition of bikes created by artists other than himself, opening Oct. 4 in Connecticut.

And with a memoir-cum-philosophical tome, "Bicycle Diaries," coming out next week, he's penned an article in the Wall Street Journal summing up his vision for ideal urban planning: medium-sized cities, with human-scale construction, wide boulevards, mixed-use neighborhoods, and ample public spaces. His ideas are nothing new, but as with Bono and Africa, perhaps his celebrity glow can rub off on his cause: better cities for everyone. And if that's not sustainable, what is?

September 14, 2009

6 ways Fashion's Night Out is like the internet

Both are 1) open late, 2) extremely well-connected, 3) rife with celebrity appearances, and 4) swarming with enthusiastic visitors, making it 5) nearly impossible to filter out the noise… but at the same time, 6) neither has turned out to be the instant moneymaker everyone thought they would be.

This we suspected already the night of the big party, with crowds, performances, and fancy displays making it difficult to actually shop for clothes. As it turns out, we're not the only ones who felt this way: Barneys creative director Simon Doonan, admits that although "just from an energy point of view it was fabulous," the much-heralded evening of shopping was "not incredible from a business point of view." In the same interview, Doonan refused to say whether Barneys lost money on the night, but acknowledged that the event "was not inexpensive."

Of course, as with any promotional stunt, the question is whether Fashion's Night Out can have an impact long-term, perhaps getting people back in the mood for shopping so they'll return another time and actually buy things. Measuring that, however, is best left to posterity.

9/16/09: Comments NYC gossip blog Gawker on the situation:
The problem isn't that people don't like shopping, it's that they have no [unprintable term] money!
Well put indeed.

Photo via The Cut

September 11, 2009

When high-low goes even lower...

Hard to know which event this week was more shocking: Anna Wintour making an appearance in a Queens shopping mall for her pet project, Fashion's Night Out; or Emanuel Ungaro hiring Lindsay Lohan as an "artistic advisor". It's quite clear, however, which move was commendable and which was a bizarre attempt to pander to celebrity-obsessed fans.

Meanwhile, also during last night's Fashion's Night Out, Opening Ceremony had designers sell their authentic wares out of battered vans much like those selling counterfeit bags on nearby Canal Street; and Louis Vuitton, staunch anti-piracy crusader when it comes to its own much-copied bags and inciter of several recent Canal Street pogroms, was sued by New Balance for —drumroll, please — copying a pair of its sneakers.

Okay, people. We know the fashion industry has been shaken up plenty by the recession, globalization, etc, etc. But troubling as these times may be, they provide a fantastic opportunity to shake things up a bit: streamlining operations, improving the product, strengthening the brand, and coming out stronger than ever on the other side. Not to compromise essential values and cheapen your image — and yes, Ungaro and LV, we're talking to you.

September 10, 2009

Saving energy through fashion in Bangladesh

Loose lips may sink ships, but loose ties just may help to keep Bangladesh's power system afloat. Amid recurring energy shortages, the nation's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has changed the dress code for government offices, aiming to reduce energy use by banning jackets and ties for men, including ministers, and allowing shirts to be worn untucked. Air conditioners, meanwhile must be set at 75ºF or above.

Extreme as this might seem in the American business world, it's perfectly in keeping with retailers' newfound emphasis on selling clothes in season: shorts in summer and heavy coats in winter, and not the other way around. If we can buy seasonal clothes, why can't we wear them, too?

September 3, 2009

Sales down, theft up!

There's bad news, and then there's... more bad news. According to an article in WWD, retailers already hard-hit by reduced sales are seeing a wave of theft, both from organized and disorganized criminals. To wit:
A survey released in May by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which measured the first four months of 2009, found 61 percent of retailers had seen an increase in amateur and opportunistic shoplifting, while 72 percent had seen an increase in organized retail crime.

In a move straight out of a cops-and-robbers movie, one gang has been stealing jewelry from J.C. Penney's locations in Texas and Louisiana by hoisting themselves down from the roof.

But it's not all customers who are doing the thieving. In Chicago, high-end clothing boutique Jake has stiffed 28 designers for sums ranging from $860 to $48,000 by closing down their parent company and opening a new one, while continuing to run the shop itself under the same name.

The designers have collectively filed suit to recover their unpaid money; for smaller designers such as Costello Tagliapietra, the more than $20,000 they are owed represents a significant chunk of their business, while 3.1 Phillip Lim's brand director, Maria Vu, says the suit is also a matter of principle.

Regardless of the outcome, the designers, whose numbers also include Chris Benz, Lutz & Patmos, and Band of Outsiders, are pleased to have banded together created a community where they can discuss the issues facing them collectively as young designers..

Photo via Jason Tester on Flickr.
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