November 23, 2009

Gifting Power

As someone who's worked at a few consumer publications over the years, one of the few eternal points in the editorial cycle is the dreaded and wonderful "Gift Guide." Every magazine does one every year, and it can be at once liberation (we can feature anything we love!), formulaic (every year, the same product categories are presented without little variation), advertiser-driven, and fun.

But this year, I'm much impressed with Candy Pratts Price's gift guide for - bonus points for gorgeous and definitely original! So sad that her contract will not be renewed for the website for next year!!!

November 13, 2009

The Issue of Pricing

I want to write a full length, thoughtful post about this this weekend...but I've been thinking a lot about the issue of pricing fashion goods a lot recently. In design school, you're taught how to price your goods based on your material and labor costs...but that doesn't quite work, because that gorgeous Hermes bag isn't probably costing the brand half of ten thousand dollars or whatever to produce. So maybe the idea is to start with the consumer you want to sell you, and price your goods comparably to the other brands you'd like to compete with. Or it can just be arbitrary...

On the other hand, as a consumer (and fashion industry insider), I'm perpetually confused about what I should or want to be spending on any particular item. What is the price something is worth - is it simply what I'm willing to pay for it? Or what I think it cost to manufacture? Is it the retail price, or the discount store price, or the sample sale price, or the wholesale editor's special price, or the online secret shopping club that anyone can join price???

What is your purchase policy?

November 11, 2009

The Future of Fashion

This was the title of a panel at the 92nd Street Y that I went to at the last minute a few weeks ago. Someone on my Twitter list had an extra ticket and I decided it would be interesting to listen to Cindi Leive, Ashley Olsen, Isaac Mizrahi and Robin Givhan speak about the future of the fashion industry.

I went away wishing that the event had just been a presentation by Robin rather than panel discussion, since she definitely had the most thoughful and interesting commentary on the fashion business, standards of beauty in the media, and the role of clothing in our lives.

But nevertheless, attending the event forced me to rethink some bleak truths:

The power of celebrity to sell products, whether it's Ashley Olsen as a designer or Michelle Obama as a trendsetter.

We live in a time where the same idea will be sold at dozens of different price points and quality levels, and it is up to us as consumers to decide where within the range we will participate. This decision is to be repeated ad nauseum. As a designer, the goal is to figure out where in the spectrum you are comfortable being, and where your skills and aesthetic tendencies are best utilized.

No one really knows what the future will hold - you could've had me and a few of my friends in the industry up there instead of the panelists and although our opinions may stem from less practical experience, our guesses could have been just as valid.

Above, an image by illustrator Anna Higgie

The end of Luella?

For me, Luella has always been a quirky favorite. One of those brands whose samples I always relished trying on and requesting for work, because the adorable girly shapes and frou frou fabrics created a sense of romance on the bleakest of days. And yet, as much as I loved looking at the clothes, I never ordered or bought at retail anything from the British label. Perhaps this is because I thought the quirks and romance of bows and ribbons had no place in my practical New York life.

And it seems like I was not alone. In yesterday's Woman's Wear Daily, it is revealed that the brand is being shuttered and its Spring 2010 collection (which was just shown weeks ago at London Fashion Week) will not be sold.

I wonder, aren't we supposed to use fashion as an escape, especially during a recession?