News from you 11/20/07

Welcome to another edition of News From You, an eclection of news, the weird, the arcane and the downright useless of interest to F-I infovores. I’m publishing NFY out of sync because some items are time dependent and I couldn’t announce them until now. Which those are will become evident as you read.

I welcome noncommercial submissions from anyone be they useful, quirky, weird and offbeat. Commercial notices are encouraged from community members (guidelines). I credit all sources, include your web address for link love. Be kind and include your url with your message. If it’s not obvious from the content that you want to remain anonymous, you’ll have to tell me. Send your submissions to News From You.
First, an opportunity:
Coop America, in the course of producing their Fair Trade apparel buying guide, is looking for sweatshop free sewn products manufacturers who can provide compelling photographs and stories of their employees.

We will need a few positive apparel-worker images for inside the guide, and one stand-out, amazing worker image for the cover. For example, we recently published this Fair Trade guide with an arresting cover photo of a girl on a Fair Trade farm amongst cocoa beans. The ideal cover photo for the Sweatshop Guide would be similarly beautiful and powerful, but would portray a garment worker.

Please note: The only photos we would consider for the cover would be images that come with stories that confirm for the reader that the worker pictured makes products under fair and safe working conditions. That means that as editor I will be very strict about placing only photos that can be captioned with information like the worker’s name, location, and iron-clad assurances about the condition of their workplace (i.e. Is your production done in the US under your own supervision and pay a living wage? Do you disclose information about wages, benefits, and working conditions on your Web site or in your shipments? Does someone from your company visit the factory on a regular basis?)

Coop America is a great organization. I’ve belonged for a couple of years now. Business membership is juried and costs $85 a year. Contact me if you’re interested in this opportunity for dramatic exposure of your fair trade apparel related company.

Jincey says in The Convoluted California Laws on Garment Manufacturing

Fashion Lawyer has not forgotten about the ongoing project with Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator! On January 1, I will post an e-doc that you can purchase and download that dishes all the dirty details on the California law, and how best to go about seeking registration. I will give away 10 free copies to the first 10 folks who e-mail me with the subject line “Fashion Lawyer, I want a free copy of your e-doc!” For my e-mail, click the ”About the Fashion Lawyer“ section of the blog, and once there, click on the link that says “e-mail”.

From Freecycle comes a reminder to clean out your linen closets to benefit your local animal shelter.

They have been running low on linens for the animals for a while now. If they don’t have them, they have to sleep on cold concrete surfaces. I know a lot of people don’t like the place, but this is the end product of bad laws and a society that thinks spending skads of money on idiocy is more important than helping out the helpless. They have to kill animals because, society just won’t stop the madness. I think everyone could take the time to drop off their old linens out at the human society themselves and do yourself a service by getting rid of things taking up space. Those who would like to help out the cats specifically… They need more of those fake sheep skins. Cats do not do well on hard surfaces and just a thin towel is not adequate for them, besides everything else gets buried in the litter pan.

I have polar fleece I intended to make cat beds with. Duly chastised, I’ll drag it out tomorrow.
Alison sends me an email saying that I’m doing it all wrong. That based on the information of a gentleman who has the only site explaining how to make money in the fashion business, named appropriately enough, the fashion hustler. Does this mean I can go home now?
Speaking of silliness, Lisa -who’s always great with links- sends this one on how to press and fuse leather (to presell you on the full fledged how to sew leather video). I shivered all over just watching it. You do not need a maple block. You do not need a ham. You do not need a layer of flannelette (what is that?) and you do not need yet another pressing cloth to top it all off. Why do they make things so complicated? You just need an iron with a teflon shoe (the woman in the video had one). And don’t you dare hold down an iron that long to fuse on leather! Get a low stick temp fusible. Nylon tricot is sweet. I should make videos.
Speaking of buying stuff, Amazon has Black Friday specials too. You have to use that link to get the goodies (which won’t be posted till Friday), and yes, I get a commission. If you use it and end up blowing scads of cash, tell me all about it. I’ll donate my take to the charity of your choice. Otherwise, I’ll apply the proceeds to the aforementioned cat beds and think of you fondly as I stitch.
On not shopping comes this news of China Toycott: According to a recent Harris poll, “nearly half of all American shoppers this holiday season will steer clear of toys with the ‘Made in China’ label”. I don’t doubt people say that but I doubt those percentages will follow through for two reasons. One, 80% of toys are made in China so parents risk non-delivery (and you thought your doors got mad). Second, consumers are predicted to temper their spending, looking for bargains being increasingly concerned about energy prices and a possible recession.

Also from the NY Post, the average American revealed. Not surprisingly, I’m confirmed to be not average.
Speaking of niche sewn products, a post from Calorie Lab: Dummies help rescuers train for helping overweight people:

Consider, for example, the Ruth Lee Fire & Rescue Equipment company in England, a proud maker and supplier of lifelike dummies for use in fire and rescue and resuscitation training by police and fire departments. The company has just introduced, in response to requests from fire and rescue services, a 400-pound training dummy created to help emergency personnel cope with the obese individuals they now find themselves frequently dealing with.

As a company spokesman noted, “Rescuers need specific training in lifting a person of this size safely, both in terms of avoiding further damage to the casualty, and in preventing injury to the rescuers.” Accordingly, the dummy, which takes six people to lift, has been designed to accurately replicate the actual body mass and weight distribution of an obese human.

Based on early sales, and expressions of interest from a growing number of countries, the folks at Ruth Lee have struck an international product need that could be pure gold. The obese victim represents, pardon the phrase, a growing market.

Mindhacks says all of the past issues of the Journal of Anatomy and Physiology are freely available online -as far back as 1867. I wish I could find the index; it’d make searching for anything anatomy/apparel related stuff easier.
From Geek Press
“A pair of mathematicians has created a video that shows how to visualize and understand Möbius transformations, which are a fundamental and highly abstract mathematical tool. The new video, Möbius Transformations Revealed, has become an Internet sensation, with 60,000 hits on YouTube so far”. My fascination with mobius (ala torus) scarves is here.
Kahindo writes:
I am looking for resources that can help me translate apparel/clothing lingo between English and French. I studied Fashion Design here in Chicago, but I am originally from Congo, which is French speaking. I’m looking to have production there, but need to translate some more technical words from English to French, such as dart, side seam, etc. Would you happen to know any resources that can help me with this. I am looking for something that would be a fashion/clothing/apparel English-French dictionary of sorts. Thanks.
I like Dispatches from the Frontier. His (very low key, no push here) business is helping innovators get their products to market. In a recent post, he elaborates on a post from Guy Kawasaki on the idea that serial entrepreneurs are arrogant -among other things. Ouch. Dave chalks up their subsequent failures to attribution errors, favoring dispositional rather than systemic characteristics.
Joan writes to tell me about a kind of cool podcasting widget. Talkr will turn blog rss feeds into podcasts. You might like it but I won’t be using it. I don’t want to publish my entire posts in feeds because it makes my content too easy to scrape by link farm harvesters.
Eddie Barcellos encourages you to support tree planting. He says “the goal is to plant 8 million trees in the poorest country in the world to help to fight desertification and poverty, which is a bonus on top of the offset you are looking for. You can purchase as little as 1 tree at a time”.
AutoCAD is twenty five years old.

But there’s a darker side of CAD, too. While it can be used for everything from early-stage concept development to final product surfacing, it is only a tool. And like any other tool, CAD can be overused, says Logan. Among other pitfalls, designers often lose a sense of emotional relationship to their products when working in CAD, he says. “It gives you a different level of freedom and … because the software is so prevalent, and some versions are so inexpensive, you end up getting a lot of clichéd and bad industrial design.”

There was a great story about recently deceased Bernice Lavin, co-founder of Alberto-Culver Company (Alberto VO5) in the WSJ. Apparently, she was a pistol.

Mrs. Lavin’s determination to keep a tight rein on costs showed up once in the early 1960s, when labor unrest struck while Mr. Lavin was overseas. “She never wanted him to be bothered” with that sort of trouble, says Mrs. Bernick. To keep Mr. Lavin out of negotiations, she canceled his airline ticket and “literally booked him on a boat. He thought he would drink and watch the girls, but no dice. It ended up being a religious cruise.”

Knowing I’ve become a hat person, Marguerite Swope sends a link to this hat maker. Annoyingly, said proprietress has disabled right click (most likely in the interests of “protecting her designs”) so you have to navigate back from your browser buttons. Don’t do this. Ever. It doesn’t protect you if somebody really wants to copy you and it’ll annoy everyone else who may not agree your products are worth the drama. Few are.
Most affordable places to live well.
The next MAGIC Show is Tuesday–Friday, February 12th–15th, 2008. in Las Vegas. Where else? Registration is open.
A PR blurb from New York Magazine:

New York Look, a new, twice-a-year fashion magazine from the editors of New York, is on newsstands now with an issue capturing the spring 2008 collections and the parties, personalities, and drama that defined them. From the best of the trends to a photo portfolio of life on and off the runway by Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin to features on fashion powerhouses Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, and Roberto Cavalli and a column by the always entertaining Fug Girls (on Anna Wintour and crush Roger Federer), the issue is bursting with style and a bit of sass. And as the magazine’s editors note in the introductory letter, “fashion isn’t ephemeral at all. It’s constantly renewing, creating, recycling. Which means in five months, we’ll get to do it again.”

JC says:

The flavor of the month is developing the Marketing and Sales plans for the company. I found an interesting article (pdf) which I think will benefit DEs. It encourages them to consider ways to manage their sales reps. While this document is written for the internal sales organization, it can be easily translated and re-applied to managing road reps. I don’t know that it necessarily warrants being part of NFY. But, it’s not an unpleasant rabbit hole to trail down.

Some of what I learned last week was the definition of epistemology (following the crumbs Anir left in a recent comment on Christopher Frayling cum Polanyi): From an Amazon review of Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy:

…Polanyi shows (himself a chemist turned philosopher) … that in reality, scientific knowledge, like all knowledge, has an ineradicably personal element to it. That is, you learn to be a scientist not by studying test tubes but by being an apprentice to someone who already is a scientist, who teaches you, disciples you, so to speak, trains you in how to know things in a scientific way. The key element is personal trust, you must trust them, have faith in what they are teaching you, believe in them and the truth, the reality of what they’re teaching. This trust aspect is the ‘tacit dimension‘ to all scientific (and every kind of human) knowing. Not only is it interpersonal at the start, all of our knowledge also includes our involvement in a community of fellow knowers (not unlike a church!). They help to validate our knowledge, they correct us, they serve to adjudicate our discoveries. Polanyi’s point is that this personal knowledge is the only kind of knowing there is, even though it is not the kind routinely set forth by scientists in their own accounts of what they’re doing and what they know. The force of his description is to take away the false dichotomy between supposedly objective ‘factual’ knowledge and purportedly subjectively impure ‘beliefs.’ All knowing has a faith-based foundation to it and we’re all on the same ground when it comes to arguing for coherent views of the world, of what is and what’s not. It’s a great book, far from easy, but as important as any book of the last century. Read it!

Also (as I ponder what will eventually emerge from my hive):

example: New realities emerge from pre-existing conditions. He observes that a higher level of structure is never actually manifest in the lower level from which it emerges. Lower levels are stepping stones which can set the conditions of what will emerge, but not determine the outcome of what actually emerges. A swarm of bees is a good example of this: the study of an individual bee will not enable you to predict the behavior of the hive.

Now something a little lighter. Crazy, mostly Japanese toys. [Via MR]
Bad Mom Good Mom sends a link to Patagonia’s site describing their carbon footprint. Oh do click through! It is so cool. My description is lame.
UPS rates are increasing. These will take effect December 31, 2007.
US man charged with trade secrets theft over 2008 Nike catalog. Two take aways:

  1. Manufacturers aren’t as unethical as most people think -think- why might a competitor act this way? Competitors have their own brands, look and market. Not everyone needs or wants to be Nike, particularly if one’s USP is that they aren’t Nike.
  2. Intellectual property always gets out -it has to for consumers to see it. Thus, others (contractors et al) have no control and don’t want to be held liable. It’s more likely that contractors will be tattle tales than not.

Lisa found this when she was searching for how to make neck ties and says this is hilarious. Scroll down to the very end. If you’re interested in how to make neckties, here’s what she found. Neither method is the way I do it. I don’t, officially, know how to make them, just what I’ve figured out.

Lisa also sends a link to an article in Science News Daily –Cutting Edge Student Assignment: ‘Sew’ With Sound Waves — No Stitching, Gluing Allowed. Ultrasonic sewing is a mature technology but I’ll bet few have heard of it. I had a friend who used to sell Sonobond sewing machines. It’s pretty cool.
/anne sends a link to a chapter of Engineers Without Borders in Melbourne who are involved in an appropriate technology program. I know you don’t like hearing this but it’s closer to what I’d be doing if I didn’t love you all so much and could do it over again.
The Boomer Balancing Act (WSJ) is about retail’s renewing flirtation dressing women baby boomers:

Overtly courting the roughly 40 million baby-boomer women, born between 1946 and 1964, can be difficult for retailers. These women spend more than previous generations did at their age. Many of them view themselves as youthful. Defunct chains like Gap’s Forth & Towne stores and Gymboree’s Janesville failed, in part, because many people didn’t want to shop in stores that were labeled for older women.

But several retailers are plunging in afresh. Macy’s Inc.’s Bloomingdale’s chain is rolling out a new department called Quotation, which sells casual clothes aimed at 35- to 50-year-old urbane moms and professional women. The idea is that by pitching to boomers as well as younger women, Quotation will have a hip vibe that will appeal to a broad cross section. Each department is positioned next to contemporary labels like Juicy Couture, which are favored by women in their 20s, and has a diverse range of separates.

Career-wear giant Ann Taylor, which has sold suits to working women since the 1970s, is also preparing to target this market with a new retail concept it will launch next fall. And the 615-store Chico’s chain, which had a cult following among suburban women but has stumbled lately, is trying to draw more shoppers in their 30s and 40s with new items like embroidered jeans and fitted jackets. Younger models with long flowing hairstyles now appear in Chico’s ads, along with middle-age models with shorter graying hair.

I am aghast to find myself shopping at Chico’s. Does anyone besides me find their sizing strategy silly? Still, they do make it easier for me to shop; no belly button flagging styles to wade through to get to something presentable. From my bed, I can see the most recent jacket I bought there. Even after a full day’s wear, the sleeves are tilting backwards. I hate that. Good grief, hasn’t anyone learned to cut an armhole and sleeve yet? I’d be happy to shop their competition.
This should have come in the last issue but Kim sends Ken Goldberg and Vijay Kumar: reinventing US manufacturing. They pin it all to hopes of a Turing Machine of sorts. I don’t want to be a naysayer but technology isn’t the major problem; I think it’s processing or rather, attitudes toward processing. As long as we have chairs of engineering departments describing lean manufacturing as “comic book engineering”, I don’t have much hope. Similarly, the professors of the position paper failed to mention process engineering as a strategic advantage worthy of pursuit.
Well, I’ve been working on this most of the day I think, time to put it away for better or worse. If I missed yours, please resend (nobody ever does). As ever, I will print your commercial news posted such as openings, launches, new websites, news and press pieces if you’re one of my designers or allied member of the community; we’re thrilled to see your progress. All other commercial parties should review submission guidelines. I regret the limitation but if I didn’t, then NFY would be dominated by PR fluff, jewelery and handbag designers with no ties to the community looking for free advertising. Send your submissions to News From You.

If I fail to mention it tomorrow, have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. /anne... says:

    Flannelette is the Australian (&UK??) name for that brushed cotton fabric used to make pyjamas.

    The fact that she used the non-US name for it makes me wonder if she’s planning on selling it to people – ‘only available from ME!!’. I hate that :-(.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t shop anywhere that decided middle-aged women have short grey hair. I think 47 counts as middle aged, and my hair is neither short nor grey (and I don’t dye it, not that I object to that). I want clothes that suit my lifestyle, and quite frankly my personal clothing rules at work haven’t changed in 20 years; all I need is a bigger size, as I’m about ten kilos heavier. I don’t think I’m old, and I don’t want to be patronised.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing embroidered jeans :-)

  2. Lisa Bloodgood says:

    According to my textiles notebook that has samples of practically every fabric under the sun, flannelette is the cotton fabric mentioned above for pajamas and blankets and stuff, while flannel is only wool. What we think of as flannel is flannelette, and wool flannel isn’t even really brushed or fuzzy (well, it kind of is, but doesn’t look the same as cotton).

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.