News from you 7/20/2007

Welcome to another edition of News From You. Boy, I remember when I first started this series, I thought it’d be an easy post. Just cut and paste the goodies people send me. Ha Ha. Now it takes hours to scour, read, fact check, excerpt, get quotes, permissions… complain complain. You’d think that’s all I do. Stay tuned, some nice contributions in this issue.

Lisa Blank sends a link to Georgene’s entry on a Mexican factory she visited. It looks to be a good working environment if not a bit sterile. I was pleased to note standing workers had floor mats.

A couple of issues ago, I’d mentioned the recent interest in intellectual property in the restaurant business. In Wasabi To the People: Big Chains Evolve Or Die, comes another interesting correlation with fashion. Apparently, disseminating different food ideas and trends has gotten much faster; almost, fashion cycle-like, along with commensurate product development, branding and marketing strategies.

Mark Miller, the chef at the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M., said that flavors are moving faster than ever from his upscale kitchens to chain restaurants. New dishes or ingredients are publicized within a year of showing up on chefs’ menus, he said, and it takes no more than 18 months after that for them to go mainstream. ”That’s much faster than 5 or 10 years ago,” Mr. Miller said.

Eric found the JC Penney Center for Retail Excellence. As I’ve mentioned before, JCP is the leader in quality control. I’m not as impressed if a DE is selling to Macy’s as I am if they’re selling to Penney’s. The center is based at SMU in Dallas. If you’re considering a career in retail management, I’d think this would be an attractive option. Scan the school’s library (including indexes, databases, references etc), there’s plenty for entrepreneurs. If you can’t access the data and want it badly enough, go to a local university library and use their computers. You can email yourself the docs from there. CC me on it too.

Eric also sent a link to a photo of the world’s tallest and the shortest men together. Both from Mongolia, the shorter man looks like a doll in comparison. Lastly, he sends a link to The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know (Fast Company) which describes Wal-Mart’s sourcing practices as the biggest driver of manufacturer outsourcing due to “the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us every day low prices”. Haves and Have-Nots Of Globalization explores the complexities of the impact on American workers versus the benefits realized by investors.
The Men’s Wear issue of the JC Report is out. Free. If you’re into trends and such, you can have it delivered by email subscription.
New heights were reached in the reusable bag trend (or frenzy?) when Anya Hindmarch’s reusable grocery tote went on sale at Whole Foods. Lisa Carroccio sends a link on the story and Gloria uses the opportunity to mention a contest converting plastic bags to apparel. That’s a twist on Abigai’s contest entry in which she converted a tee shirt into a shopping bag. That project has garnered some site traffic.
If you’re thinking of launching with Pool, sign up for their newsletter. It gives you an inside view of their operation and activities.
My favorite DIY geek Eric Wilhem sends Instructables for a DIY laptop bag made out of an antistatic workbench rubber mat. That gets my vote for clever materials usage with respect to material properties for cushioning and electronics protection. For the more technically astute, learn to make a “Poorman’s WiFi”- USB adapter. Less challenging but telephony tools required (if you’re the sort to own these tools, you can do it) is a crossover dongle you can use to turn any straight cable into a crossover cable. It would be apparent my electronics fetish still looms large. It’s not too late for me to get my electrician’s license and leave this all behind.
Women’s Wear Daily is offering a free two week trial subscription. The offer says it’s open to all headlines news subscribers which isn’t any articles, just headlines. Maybe the link will work if you don’t get headlines, I don’t know (I subscribe). You could always sign up for headlines and then try the link. I note the price to subscribe has been reduced from $149 (what I paid) to $99.
Sky Ferren has launched and is seeking constructive criticisms.
Speaking of site launches, I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that Alison Cummins, probably our most cogent commenter, has launched her own blog. Her first piece on the veiling of women is both poignant and thought provoking.

We were settling in our seats when a vision of loveliness floated by us in airy layers of black and brown chiffon. I immediately understood the Arabian Nights tales where our hero nearly dies of lovesickness after glimpsing the beautiful princess. How do you know a woman is beautiful enough to develop an adolescent crush on if she is draped in loose clothing that only reveals her eyes? Well, you do. If you haven’t experienced it yourself you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Press, stylist, buyer and retailer registration for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York has opened. The event is September 5-12, 2007. More information.
Apparel has made a new white paper on PLM: Mastering Process to Improve Product Development” available for download (pdf). Free but registration is required. Registration is required. Registration is required. Registration is required. And finally, registration is required. It is beyond annoying that I’ve been registered on their site for years, download frequently -and even subscribe- but continually have to register. The paper is suited for big players but you may find some salience within.
Malissa Long has won the BurdaStyle design competition with a prize of $300. Congratulations!
Melanie Scott mentions that the UK BPA Baby & Child Show has a launch program for new companies. Email for information, I don’t see it on the site. BPA Baby & Child 2007 will take place at in Birmingham UK, October 7-9.
Esther sends a link to an entry on the Patry Copyright blog (Patry is a senior level copyright lawyer for Google). In The Emperess has no clothes [sic], Patry discourses on the legal suit brought by Gwen Stefani against Forever 21. Apparently, the latter are copying her textile designs.
I haven’t had time to review this but J C Sprowls sends two links with discussion on the pros and cons of venture capital. Although directed at the software industry, it still applies to anyone seeking funding.
Joi Ito Our investment process
Joel on Software Fixing Venture Capital
Speaking of vintage pattern books, Patricia Laurent found a gem on ebay. An enterprising individual is selling electronic copies of books in the public domain, one being Morris’ Ladies Garment Cutting & Making circa 1940. I have the hard copy, it’s enormous. The seller (who I wrote but from whom I’ve gotten no response) is selling the download dirt cheap, $5.50! I paid $125 for my copy 15 years ago. The seller has other items, millinery, glove making, tailored skirts and dress form making (paper tape). I’m interested in the glove making one ($3.75) but haven’t bought it yet.

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  1. Eddie says:

    i will be doing a tour of american apparel next week and i would be happy to relay any questions one might have for the folks over there. the answer would be posted on the next “news from you”.

  2. J C Sprowls says:

    That FR Morris book isn’t cheap. I think I paid something around what you did – ’bout 10-ish yrs ago. There’s also a 1-yr folio of Tailor & Cutters on eBay for $300 OBO. I keep talking myself out of it. I’ve got probably 300+ pp of clippings spanning 25 yrs, so it’s likely that 1yr span would repeat what I have here.

    RE: Patry Copyright Blog. Thank you. That will certainly make searching for info a little bit easier.

  3. Anir says:

    The Eunice Close glove making book is online:
    with complete illustrations
    FYI–the illustration Diagram 22 is incorrect, sorry i don’t a copy of the corrected illustration–but if you look at most manufactored leather gloves, you’ll see what is correct.

    The website
    Vintage Sewing
    , which Kathleen has mentioned before, has many copied/edited versions of sewing/tailoring clothing books in the public domain. However they don’t have the FR Morris book.

  4. Jill Homiak says:

    Since BurdaStyle was mentioned here, I’ll ask my question in this section. What is your take on it? I know these aren’t “store-bought” patterns since pattern-makers are submitting to win, but should DEs use them for their lines?

  5. Kathleen says:

    I’ve been at a loss to respond to this, hence my delay. You’re doing us all a favor by leaving comments on entries no matter how dated. It is a great way for newer visitors to explore older topics that are still relevant.

    The issue is not “store bought” vs “online and free”. The central reason you should not use enthusiast level patterns or any patterns that have not been vetted is because they are not suited to your purposes. And this is very very important, I regret it hasn’t been more clear. I write about it a great deal (pp.65 on or here). It is not any different than buying a house without having the foundation inspected -and could even be worse.

    Patterns are the foundation of your whole business. You buy or acquire the very best patterns you can. Unfortunately, acquiring the very best patterns is not easy or inexpensive. An incalculable number of people have tried any and everything to get around this but it doesn’t work. It’s not a rule I made up, [because I want more business for myself] people who last in the business have good patterns. Ones they paid to have made just for them. These days, it is hard enough to know who is a decent pattern maker or have meta awareness about it all without compounding the challenges by looking for an easy and low cost way out.

    Nearly everyone who fails, fails due to problems that can be traced back to their patterns. If patterns fit lousy, they go broke. Alternatively, they fit crappy but the brand has a growing name so they fail because the patterns can’t be sewn well. Or, they can’t manage style development. The ones who die fastest are using home patterns. There is a funny-sad story in my book about a firm grossing 30 million dollars a year who tried to use a home sewing pattern. Again, it is not that the pattern is store bought. It is that the pattern is poor quality.

    As far as whether you should use these particular patterns, BurdaStyle’s rights precede anyone else’s. As a practical matter, pattern submission is a cattle call and I don’t have high hopes for submission quality.

  6. Jill Homiak says:

    I realized after I wrote the question that I could have answer it myself. I mean that in the sense that, even if I were to buy these patterns, they wouldn’t ever be made to fit the niche of my line. I guess BurdaStyle is focused on someone who’s sewing just for themselves.

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