News from you 7/27/2007

Welcome to this week’s eclection of news, the weird, the arcane and the downright useless, of interest to F-I infovores. Feel free to pass your news along. Regarding commercial notices (vested parties), if you’re one of my designers or allied member of the community (meaning, you’ve bought my book), I’ll announce your commercial notices such as openings, launches (including websites), news and press pieces. All other commercial parties should review submission guidelines. I credit all sources, be sure to include your web address if you want a link. Lastly, you may remain anonymous but you have to tell me.
Carissa mentions a new blog from Sandra Wilson, founder of Robeez, a soft soled shoe for infants to newborns. With a background in finance, she started from home in 1994 (bio), her sales have topped 15 million. A Canadian entrepreneur, she was recently acquired by StrideRite and now has over 400 employees. A recent entry called Expanding Your Sales Team, provides advice on hiring sales reps and working effectively to set sales goals.
Is sourcing in China worth it?

The cloud over Chinese goods does have a silver lining. Some Americans are shopping harder for goods that say MADE IN THE U.S.A.

JC mentions the Doing Business Law Library, “the largest free online collection of business laws and regulations, offering links to laws in 175 economies”. He’d also sent a link to all US registered businesses by NAICS code which I may have posted already but I don’t know because it was misfiled.
Plush Toy Laws
From WWD (sub):

Claire Watts, who was among the $345 billion retailer’s top women executives, will leave the company this week, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman said. The move comes as the retailer struggles in apparel and home decor, categories Watts ran.

One of her mantras was: “At Wal-Mart, we must have the courage to be contemporary.” But her plan to bring in trendier and pricier home decor and fashion hit a sour note with core customers. Skinny jeans and a higher-priced George collection designed by Mark Eisen with a more body-conscious fit languished on racks last year. The retailer took heavy markdowns to clear goods and blamed apparel for denting comp-store sales.

The critical mismatch was thinking that contemporary styles were compatible with the needs of their core customer. Skinny jeans might have been fashionable but Wal-mart’s core customer isn’t skinny.
Many wrote to mention two recent lawsuits. First, that Levis is suing Ralph Lauren for design infringement of pocket stitching and second, that Forever 21 is being sued (sub) by everybody.

Initially, Forever 21 said it was taking steps to organize itself to prevent intellectual property violations from happening, Lewin said. Since then, DVF has found additional products they alleged infringe on their designs. The discoveries led to a number of amendments to the original complaint. “Their credibility is substantially down in our opinion,” Lewin said…Forever 21 does not have its own design team, and in litigation has said it is simply purchasing the designs created by its vendors.

Forever 21 doesn’t even have a design staff? Hmmm, haven’t they learned that hiring people means you can more easily hold them accountable? You can only blame the contractor for so long. Some contractors are so used to customers coming to them with designs to copy, they don’t see the distinctions of what is legally and morally permissible. Forever 21 needs to cough up some of that loot they’re raking in and hire a designer or two.

Malissa writes to mention the resolution of another suit. Topshop has been ordered to destroy 2,000 dresses from Chloé. Topshop acknowledged the infringement and will pay thousands of pounds in fines.
Cool link to a site showing paper clothing. Unfortunately, it would appear the site has been so popular that the “account has exceeded it’s bandwidth quota and has been temporarily disabled”. Maybe it’ll be up later.
Several people sent related links to the most recent research from the authors of the too-expensive women’s intimate apparel book. The abstract is entitled Development of a new chinese bra sizing system based on breast anthropometric measurements. This article sums it nicely.
A thought I had: what would you tell you, twenty years ago?
The 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs. Who has the time?
Have I mentioned the Fashion Informer? I added it to links. Nice, clean blog with interviews of designers written by an unnamed professional journalist. Definitely not another of the fashiony pink pony product blogs.
Why It’s Hard to Admit to Being Wrong, an NPR podcast with Elliot Aronson discussing his new book, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). I’ve been influenced by Aronson since the early days of F-I.

We all have a hard time admitting that we’re wrong, but according to a new book about human psychology, it’s not entirely our fault. Social psychologist Elliot Aronson says our brains work hard to make us think we are doing the right thing, even in the face of sometimes overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

For example, Elliot predicted that if people go through a great deal of pain, discomfort, effort, or embarrassment to get something, they will be happier with that “something” than if it came to them easily. For behaviorists, this was a preposterous prediction. Why would people like anything associated with pain? But for Elliot, the answer was obvious: self-justification. The cognition that I am a sensible, competent person is dissonant with the cognition that I went through a painful procedure to achieve something — say, joining a group that turned out to be boring and worthless. Therefore, I would distort my perceptions of the group in a positive direction, trying to find good things about them and ignoring the downside.

This probably isn’t a good time to mention that book owners should apply to join the forum.
It seems we’re not the only ones with the paradoxical lack of garment workers.

SYDNEY: The Australian government is all set to ease out the evaluation of the skilled migrant workers by setting up assessments centres in India and other countries.

People applying for skilled migration qualify for 15 extra points if their nominated occupation is on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) at the time when their application is assessed. (link)

Apparel workers are on the list. Options abound; unlike Alexander, I actually have the option of moving to Australia after a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Textiles imports to United States up 250% since 2000

U.S. imports of tariff-defined home textiles have increased by more than 250% by volume since 2000, with sheets, towels and blankets comprising 82% of the total inflow in 2006. The top importers of home textiles are the “Big Box” stores… In addition to the tariff category of sheets, towels, and blankets, the home textiles trade sector includes apparel, fabrics (including raw cotton), and rugs and floor coverings.

The report…showed that exports from the United States have plummeted since 2000, with the top export, fabrics, experiencing the most pronounced drop. The only commodity within the sector to achieve export growth in recent years has been apparel.


MUMBAI: India is on its way to overtake Turkey as the largest producer and supplier of organic cotton. India will also become the leading supplier of textiles and garments made of organic cotton which is eco-friendly. Almost every big textile mill in India is now looking to produce organic textiles for the international market.Around 175,000 hectares of land is already under organic cotton cultivation. link

Catherine says:

Cornell has some images of body scan data that may be of interest to you. In particular, zoom in on the wire frame and wireframe-with-structure versions (link). Perhaps the way your brain processes visual information enables you to see what others need a laser scanner and CAD software to visualize.

Letitia is blogging as is Kim who is a textile and fashion designer.
If you’re looking for business plan templates, the SBA provides some free.
Julia‘s an enthusiast but her storyboard puts many DEs to shame. However, the style numbers aren’t recommended.
Lisa Carroccio sends a link to a video Computerized Fashion Design, that describes the usage and function of CAD systems in apparel manufacturing.
There’s a great interview of Stacey Potter on how she started her line, Karma Baby.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth but the zipper and welt pocket tutorials on the site made me sad. Really sad. Is this how most enthusiasts are still doing it? Maybe I should charge for mine, they’d be seen as having more value.
Why fear of failure is the most common blockage to success.
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  1. Alisa Benay says:

    This is an IP question that came to mind after reading the ‘tutorial’ links about zippers.

    I learned how to do zippers from your list of tutorials. Why had no one shown me this before? It’s great, easy, simple, & makes everything look so professional. I now feel like there was some sort of evil master-minded plot to make me have crappy zippers :-). Like there’s a secret tiumvirate out there who wants zippers to scream “I was made by a home sewist” (I hate that word, btw, it’s creepy)

    Here’s the question: Now what happens when others ask me how to put in a zipper? I’m teaching sewing classes & it comes up. Am I free to pass that information along?


  2. Vespabelle says:

    Julia’s enthusiast storyboard has pattern numbers not style numbers. It’s helpful for others doing SWAPs because we can find the patterns easily online or at the fabric store (BWOF is Burda World of Fashion magazine, B is Butterick, V is Vogue, etc…)

  3. Laura says:

    As Vespabelle says, Julia’s storyboard numbers are pattern numbers. Storyboards of that sort have become SOP for those of us home sewers doing SWAP and wardrobe capsules, particularly for contests, as it shows the entire plan in one image – and others can check the pattern company sites for more info on the patterns used. No idea how this compares to industry practice.

  4. Babette says:

    Yes, Australia lacks skilled apparel workers. Please, Kathleen, if you’re interested in moving, come down under.

    It’s all very well for the Australian Government to offer additional immigration points to those with desired skills but, given that they also require English language skills, I’m not sure that many apparel workers such as machinists will qualify. Engineers perhaps. Some policy inconsistency here.

  5. Julia says:

    Yep, Julia’s an enthusiast who’s getting a lot more enthusiastic with this attention! I can’t take credit for the storyboard idea. As others have said, I learned that this is a great tool by entering a contest on Going forward, I’ll continue to use it because it helps me keep myself organized and should make my individual sewing projects add up to a well-planned wardrobe.

  6. J C Sprowls says:


    Using the pattern numbers for an enthusiast storyboard I think is OK. I mean, as you state, the organizations have standardized the communication method by electing the info they want to share.

    In industry, the style number is effectively a pattern number. Though, we might be prone to issuing style numbers much more frequently than one of the Big 4 commercial pattern companies. If we attempt to replicate the same style using a different fabric – oh, knit, for example – the pattern for the knit would have shrinkage/stretch and other modifications done to it, so it would receive a different style number.

  7. Laura says:

    JC, thanks for the additional info. It’s occurred to me that for those of us that sew a lot at home, it might make sense to come up with some kind of personal numbering system, that takes into account any originating patterns (if relevant), alterations and style changes, as well as variations for different fabrics, lined/unlined, knit/woven, sleeve and pocket options, etc. I know I’ve got patterns that have been so changed they’re hardly like the original at all.

    So far, I’ve started numbering my few TNT (tried and true) patterns by first the garment type (dress, top, pant etc.), then knit or woven, then a number. It doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, but I can look in my little index binder and find it. I’m still trying to get better at noting the pattern changes I make and the things I discover during construction. (I’m not neurotic, I just play one on TV.)

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