News from you 5/4/07

Notice: I will be away all next week attending the SPESA/Material World show in Miami Beach. I will be checking in from time to time but I wouldn’t imagine I’ll respond quickly. I don’t know how posting will go either but you should have plenty to read for awhile.

Karen Clark (Bella Sofia) mentions

This might be useful. It’s a link to a site with instructions on how to reach an actual human being by phone for the listed companies. I especially like the instructions for Compaq.

An ex boyfriend (don’t ask why he’s an ex) sends a little eBay black humor. It’s the feedback page that this user gives to merchants. If it were visuals, it wouldn’t be safe for work. Some sick humor too.
Erin says

AND! I meant to tell you, I met Diana Eng from Project Runway (which I’ve never watched) and when I mentioned FI she nodded knowingly.

FI came up because someone who saw something I made (I believe it was the “Does this make me look crazy” rainbow skirt) asked if I had ever considered becoming a DE (although they didn’t use the term DE) and I said that I knew better, because it’s not like a magic fairy comes and turns your ideas into stuff people will buy. I’m a home sewer and I’m perfectly okay with that, because by reading FI I know how hard it is to be a DE!

“mk” (Marie K) posted the 6,000th published comment on the blog this morning. As luck would have it and although welcome, she’s not a regular visitor. The entry is Petite Models Question. That entry draws a lot of traffic. Most comments I delete because posters list their dimensions and work availability. Some get indignant about it too, such as the young lady who claimed that her measures of 35-27-38 on a 4’11” frame were more than suitable for runway modeling.

Alice Wu of Feral Childe sends newsy anecdotes and feedback on DIRECTION and PRINTSOURCE.

Thanks for posting the tidbit about Feral Childe’s new season and new stores. I didn’t send it expecting to see it make the community news on FI, so thanks for making us feel great! and a part of the FI community.

I just got an invitation to apply for SECOND and so thankful for Todd’s review on POOL. After walking the show last May, I’m thinking of doing Designers & Agents in NY which would be better suited for our market (we are somewhere between contemporary and designer I think — I’m looking for a thread on what bridge, contemporary, designer, etc really mean and if/how important to self-define that way). If you know DEs who have done Designers & Agents I would love to be put in touch with them.

The D.A.I. indie designer sale in San Francisco mentioned in my newsflash was OK – I didn’t make my sales goals (wrong market) but had a good time and met other designers and people are so much more open and willing to share their experiences out there! I have a great peer group of designer friends in NYC. I wrote down your link & book info for my new friends so hopefully you get some more sales. Anyway – my point is that my new friends were surprised I don’t do more designer sales — how do you make money? wholesale? and so then I learned that many West Coast independent designers count on the designer sale circuit (Capsule, Thread, Shecky’s, Billion Dollar Babes, Kamishe, etc); meanwhile I thought wholesale was the way to go (but we do sales like The Closet, Renegade Craft Fair, etc. to get rid of excess stock, test new markets, meet our customers).

Then the next day I flew to NYC — my partner and I went to DIRECTION and PRINTSOURCE. I hate to admit they were snoozefests — that, or as designers they weren’t the right shows for us to be attending anyway, but I thought at least we’d get some insight into trends and innovations. I was hoping we might be able to source fabrics (those are the first sourcing shows we’ve attended). We walked both in about 2.5 hours. Not a lot of traffic at all. We met some super nice and friendly people with booths who taught us about this side of the garment industry that we’d previously never given much thought to. I was shocked that you’d go to a tradeshow just to buy vintage fabric swatches for “inspiration,” or illustrations that I’d somehow then get somebody else to make fabric out of, or those mini-sweater samples that I could buy and “do whatever I want with” (does not come with pattern). Bizarre! Nothing tangible was really for sale — just other people’s ideas!

I have no interest in following trends but what trend reporting I did see seemed just totally un-trendy — how could something that looks positively un-cool and totally dated NOW be cool next year, and what’s more, how could anybody be convinced by those terrible presentation boards? Is trend forecasting just a racket?

I also didn’t see anything new or innovative in textile design. I was interested in the Pointcarre Design & Print software, because we’d like to learn produce our own textile designs (currently I take our drawings, clean them up and make the repeats in Photoshop, and have them shot and silkscreened by a local tee shirt printer who’s trying to expand into yardage printing, a hit or miss affair but they’re getting better at it); and for the same reasons we spent a long time talking with a few digital fabric printing houses as another option since it can look so amazing but the cost is as prohibitively expensive as when I first explored the option two years ago (still around $100/yd!). I’m not able to go to Material World but that also seems less about fabric and more about equipment. So I’m really looking forward to Premiere Vision NYC (July?), but we should have Spring 08 finished and look book shot by then and have sales appointments initiated (For new designers I am learning that August is already too late to start these new relationships. Takes weeks for people to respond to phone and email).

Whoa – I got a little carried away up there – if you think any of this information would be useful to others please feel free to pass it along. I’m always happy to connect with other people and share what I’ve learned! I’d love to hear somebody else’s take on DIRECTION and PRINTSOURCE. Take care, Alice

Danielle sends tidbits:
I will teach you to be rich for retailers and “user feedback” and spin around skinless people

Also, she mentions this listing of the top 50 fashion blogs in the US. Fashion Incubator ranks 17th which is pretty amazing when you consider all of the pink pony blogs.
Jeffrey Betcher of Yam Street sends this:

You may have heard about the launch of Glimpse by EToys co-founder Frank Han. They got some good press yesterday. The Associated Press described the site as “part fashion magazine, part search engine, part shopping-comparison site and part shopping buddy.”

If you’re thinking about apparel industry marketing, website design and online sales, you owe it to yourself to visit Glimpse as they’ve spent money on market research that could benefit us all. And they are arguably on the cutting edge of apparel marketing and the increasingly competitive world of online retailing.

A couple things I culled from the site:

  • They’ve identified women in their 20’s and 30’s as the best target for fashion: they are savvy, aren’t waiting for bargains, and love to shop.
  • Women want more and bigger product images and information.
  • Glimpse was surprised by how many of their potential customers had Facebook or MySpace accounts.
  • Women want to have a shopping adventure, and want to interact (e.g., on Glimpse, you can sign-up for product sale alerts, leave feedback or email a friend).
  • Sadly, there was nothing on the site to indicate a values-driven strategy, or recognition of the audience as caring about anything other than fashion.

I’d be interested to know what others think. One thing I haven’t figured out is why, when you click to buy a product, the site refers you to another site…a store where that product is sold. It seems counterintuitive to me to let customers leave like that, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.

Chari Coffey (who Sally and I met at Magic) says

Think of you often and the wonderful things you are doing for our businesses.

My Lazer cut is in re-order so I am very happy about that and I am getting the sub prints out to all this stores in a mailer this month so I am hoping that this will be a great venue for summer and the prints can be confined even for small stores. Hope all is well with you and hope to see you again in Vegas for the August show.

I wrote her back and asked how the show was for her. She said:

It was OK. It was my first big show and as you know the first in Las Vegas so I am proud to have been a part of it. They put a lot into it and have been very good at follow through.

What is funny is that when I tried to do the Lingerie America show I could not get in because it was full and now they are trying to get me to switch for the next show coming up in Vegas. So it was worth it because now I may have a chance to work the NY shows. I still cannot thank you enough for the write up I think it was a positive for my business just the recognition.

My problem is with LA reps so far I have not had the best luck. This is the one thing everyone talks about is the lack of good sales reps. I am taking the time this month to focus on my business myself for now until I see which is the best way to go. I’m off today to see some local stores with the new sub prints the reaction has been great.

Chari Coffey, CHIARI

Here’s the latest on Fibonacci spirals. Odd how these also explain grading patterns.
Via Danielle’s blog I found an interesting blog called Drastic Measures from a freelance designer in Singapore. Of interest is this post where she has analyzed a freelance design job for a uniform company. Excellent, excellent job analysis. As I mentioned in the comment I left there, being a freelance designer in real life means one often has to design within parameters and constraints. It’s actually easier with boundaries, and success is defined by execution and implementation. A creative and successful designer (as defined by those who pay them) is one who can balance the limitations of the job and still come up with a viable result.
Karmen Flach is a dear friend, a custom clothier who lives in Arlington TX. As an aside, she is -no one else comes close- the most generous financial supporter of Fashion-Incubator. I wish I could throw her some business. Karmen sends word to check out this blog on men’s tailoring. One minor irritation about the site -somehow and I don’t know how- the discussion -and definition- of sleeve heads has been twisted, mangled, trampled and distorted, leaving no semblance of its former self. Sleeve heads refer to a bit of scrap (usually wool or batting) sewn into the top of sleeve caps on men’s suits. It does not mean the profile and construction of a sleeve cap.
Victoria writes:

I’m a big fan of your blog. I was just on Esquire -another favorite site of mine- and I saw an online contest I thought you might enjoy: the search for the Best Dressed Real Man in America. It’s a kick.

Erika E writes:

Like most start-up entrepreneurs, I’m having a hard time with financing right now and am wondering if you know of any Small Business Grants for clothing manufacturers. I’ve done some preliminary research online but I’m not a minority and I’m not starting a non-profit company so I don’t think I’m eligible for most of the grants out there. If not Small Business Grants, then I’ll consider any form of fund raising. Perhaps you know of a fund raising advisor that I can hire to help me get larger amounts of money. Sorry to bug you, but I’m already putting all the money I earn into this business and I’m still coming up short.

Dave (aka Big Irv) mentions the latest outrage in ridiculous lawsuits. A judge (!) in Washington is suing a dry cleaners for losing his pants –to the tune of 65 million dollars. The dry cleaners are owned by the Chung family who are so disheartened, they’re thinking of returning to South Korea. As it happens, they found his pants a long time ago and tried to return them and have tried to settle with him (for several thousand dollars) over the past two years but to no avail. I can only hope this judgeship is an elected position and that voters will see fit to remove him from office at their very first opportunity.

“There has been a significant groundswell of support for the Chungs,” said Manning, adding that plans for a defense fund Web site are in the works.

To the Chungs and their attorney, one of the most frustrating aspects of the case is their claim that Pearson’s gray pants were found a week after Pearson dropped them off in 2005. They’ve been hanging in Manning’s office for more than a year.

The #116 issue of the JC Report is out, The Fabric Issue. One tiny excerpt:

Textiles from the People-Brazil
In Brazil, the design of new fabrics is strategically allied with the industry’s desire to build a stronger fashion identity. The country’s young identity already reveals a singular knack for humanitarian causes, sustainable and 100% organic materials, and the rescue and reinterpretation of traditional weaving techniques. In fact, according to Fernando Pimentel, director of ABIT, the Brazilian Textile Industry Association, the development of these concepts by major brands and textile companies will work as an important advantage in differentiating from and finding a way around Asian competitors.

Also, a mention that the Red Army Faction plotted to kidnap designer Karl Lagerfeld

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