WWD: Leather and Launches

Sometimes I find interesting tidbits in WWD. I don’t write about them much because none of the links are live unless you’re a subscriber. Anyway, I thought to mention this from today’s issue…

Elie Tahari Ltd. has opened a freestanding store in Atlanta …shoppers were buying $1,000 prewashed leather jackets and $600 dresses well suited for New Year’s Eve.

…because I’ve said repeatedly that you can wash leather. People like to argue with me about that. Now we’ve got the likes of Elie Tahari selling prewashed leather coats (the website says they cost $1,200) so I rest my case.


Then WWD had an interesting article today entitled Ladies who Launch. It was about 4 different start ups who are “determined to make their new collections the next big thing”.

The first profiled was Sophie Simmons who got her feet wet in bridal but decided to move into lingerie. Her debut line is Dessous and she’s launching with -count ’em- nine pieces (see, it’s not just me). By the way, a message to all of you out there, please have a website up and running before you get any press. I couldn’t find one for Sophie -who wants to slog through all the results for dessous+sophie simmons?

The second launcher is The Avant , an interesting collaborative of 3 -perhaps more- designers. From WWD:

The Barcelona-based contemporary line is the collaborative effort of three women living in various European zip codes – Barcelona’s Silvia Garcia Presas, Amsterdam’s Nicole Schutz and London’s Lucy Fine – as well as numerous other guest players around the Continent who contribute to the collective. Amazingly, says Presas, “we work by e-mail, basically, and see each other twice a year.” Schutz handles knitwear, Fine does accessories, and, as creative director and brainchild, Presas is the glue that brings all the pieces together.

The third designer profiled is Bahar Shahpar of Agricult (I couldn’t find her on the web either) who seems to share many of the philosophies you’ll find embodied on this site -that ecologically sane apparel is not incompatible with cogent manufacturing. The article says in part:

Even the frontier influence at the core of her collection is significant: “It’s the spirit of pioneer women,” she explains. “There are so many parallels to our modern times. These were women who were not afraid of work, who were aggressive and leaders in their own right. It was a completely new environment and they had to start from scratch. That’s what people are realizing today. Environmental issues, social issues – we can’t just keep sticking to the status quo.”

The fourth label mentioned is Flowers of Romance run by two sisters named Monica and Maureen Meyers (they could have named it 3M!). WWD says

Flowers of Romance is exactly the kind of collection the name suggests: soft, feminine, romantic clothes, but sans the froufrou frills popular in seasons past. The offerings include gentle patchwork vests and skirts in hand-dyed linen; allover embroidered jackets that hint of Art Nouveau designs, an oft-cited influence for Monica and Maureen, as well as embellishments like hand-stitched stuffed heart charms and twisted floral appliqués.

But then WWD also says the pieces can be described as “handcrafted, homespun quality … simple, almost homely, silhouettes”. Of all the lines mentioned, this last one was also the priciest with wholesale running from $148 for a cotton jersey shirt to $1,250 for an antiqued lace dress.

It seems that WWD’s description runs perilously close to “home patterns” and “home-made” but I couldn’t find this company on the web either so I wouldn’t know.

The lesson to take from this is that if you’re getting any press, you should have a website that’ll land on Google’s first page. Be sure to use your label, real name and product description as key words to assist running searches.

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7 comments

  1. Alison says:

    I do love a search challenge and duly tracked down an e-mail address for Bahar Shahpar: bshahpar AT earthlink DOT net.

    But I wasn’t able to find anything else at all.

  2. Gigi says:

    Okay, I’m most intrigued by washed leather. I have read about it quite a bit lately. Do you just toss the leather into the washer and dryer? Sounds a little scary but I have a bit that I could experiment with. Does this work equally well with different types of hides or are softer hides better? Sounds like a great way to weatherproof purses!

  3. AV says:

    I bought a washable suede jacket by Bernardo, exclusively for Nordstroms, a couple years ago and it is my favorite jacket. I have not tried to wash it yet and it has gotten damp in the rain a couple of times without a problem.

    The tag says to turn it inside out, machine wash cold using woolite, tumble dry low, do not hang dry, do not spot clean, iron on reverse side as needed or use cotton cloth under iron to press the suede directly, for optimal washing performance, do not dry clean.

    If I ever wash it, I will let you know how it goes.

  4. Diane says:

    I am also interested in washable leather as I abhor dry cleaning. Kathleen, are you saying that I can use leather as trim, appliques, etc on cotton, silk and linen fabric and they’ll all come through the wash ok? I prewash wool all the time but I thought the leather would stain leaving watermarks and hello! it’s kinda pricey to be playing wash-o-matic with. Do tell!

  5. Kathleen says:

    Do you just toss the leather into the washer and dryer?
    The info from AV sounds about right (pasted in):
    The tag says to turn it inside out, machine wash cold using woolite, tumble dry low, do not hang dry, do not spot clean, iron on reverse side as needed or use cotton cloth under iron to press the suede directly, for optimal washing performance, do not dry clean.
    …although I’m partial to inexpensive shampoo rather than Woolite which I haven’t tried, thinking that using shampoo would be good since it’s for protein fibers already and if you can wash your hair with it, that’s delicate treatment enough.

    I’d amend the pressing part tho…if you have an iron with a teflon plate (separate thingy you buy) you can probably press from top side.

    There’s no guarantee with washing leather. Each piece should be considered an experiment unless it’s a hide that was designed to be washed. Now that said, I’ve had pretty good results with washing just about any kind of suede. The results with grain have been less successful (by that I mean I’ve often had to recondition the leather with lotion to get a shine). The iffiest part of washing hides is exactly that- hides. If you’re washing more than one hide for a project, you may notice some color variations btwn the two hides and may have to plan your piecing of the project a bit more intently than usual.

    About drying…if you can, letting it air dry is best but low temp dryer works. Also, after your hides are dry, you may have to stretch them a bit to even out the ripples.

    are you saying that I can use leather as trim, appliques, etc on cotton, silk and linen fabric and they’ll all come through the wash ok?

    Maybe, maybe not. Usually yes tho. Still, you’ll have to prewash your hide before you go and make it into something. If it doesn’t survive the first wash, then at least you know before you went and made it into a product. Now, if you are making something that will be washed a lot, you’ll need the specialty leather made for washing. While you can wash leather, that doesn’t mean you should wash it often. If it is something that will be washed often, I’d stick with suede. Try pig suede. Pig suede is low cost (@$1.65 a sq ft, much less expensive than ultrasuede) and fairly stable. Also, you can sew pig on a home machine and any industrial dressmaker machine.

  6. Alison Cummins says:

    Yeah, ok, I tried. It does appear to be a genuine fashion site, but finding a particular designer? Not for those in a hurry.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Oops!
    I just deleted that comment that Alison refers to. From the interface, it looked like spam to me.

    I just came back from visiting that site, I’ve seen it before and I thought it was bizarre and weird. What’s with the convoluted site design that seems to be so popular? If you force visitors to think just to navigate your site, they’ll split. The site is very download heavy, navigation is a mystery, it’s ridiculous. So Mr love raw meat, if you come back here to check on your comment, it’s gone but I have a tip for you: redo your site. A lot of people are going to delete your comments based on your url address alone. You may be right and we may be wrong but you’ll never be right if no one sees your site, so you pick.

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