Sunday, September 19, 2010

NEW AUTHENTIC RETAIL

For a long time now, I've believed that retailers need to be mroe authentic... in their product, process, design and decor, delivery, services and relationships.

Shopping in New York always offers an opportunity to discover new and innovative reatilers, off the beaten path and in the unusual locatons. Lately, for the last two years or so, I've been talking about "authenticity" in retail. I think retailers have lost who they are, they're out of touch with their customer and have no idea why they're even in the business. Product looks like all other product, knocked off in colors and patterns and fabrics, but no innovations. One retailer looks the same as the next and there's no differentation.

About 5 years ago, I stumbled on Earnest Sewn in the Meatpacking and knew it was the direction of things to come... truly authentic, unpretentious, about the product and the process. I am starting to see look-alikes, perhaps not by chance. But, my new favorite is AllSainsts Spitalfields in Soho. The store design brings back inspirations from the original garment industry, with 493 vintage sewing machines in the windows and throughout the interior of the store- an AllSaints signature design detail.


AllSaints reminded me of the first time I encountered Earnest Sewn in the meatpacking so many years ago... wow, I was blown away! And, then I noticed the followers.... but, that's all good too. If retail gets authentic again, that everyone wins. So, seeing others follow is a good thing.

Located in Nolita, bordering the Lower East Side (LES) and East Village, the area has attraced more interesting retail like Jamin Peuch, Double RL, Scotch and Soda, and others who get "boutique and authentic" retail. New stores in Nolita that are following this same trend, including Double RL, Ralph Lauren's concept and Scotch and Soda, a retailer based in Amsterdam, Area ID, and others who really understand the concept. Many focus their retail design on authentic aspects of their products, including spools of thread, machines that weave or sew, molds and models for product design, recycled product.

I believe that the emergence of these European brand is also a reflection of the slow mentality of American brands who just don't and can't move fast enough to change with the times. American brands work so hard to be something they are not. These European brands really seem to get it.

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While Nolita is experiencing this cool Renaissance, LES is where innovation really is. One of the coolest retail enironments is KAIGHT on Orchard between Broome and Grand. Carrying many recycled and innovative products, KAIGHT offers an array of "designed" goods and products design in collaboration with such designers as Prada, Betsey Johnson, Alexander McQueen and others. My favorite were recycled plastic shoes designed by Melissa. Brazilian brand Melissa has become an international sensation because of its ethical and environmental focus, its use of advanced technology, its collaborations with such design heavy-weights as Vivienne Westwood, the Campana brothers and Zaha Hadid and, last, but not least, comfort.

KAIGHT is an eco-boutique dedicated to advancing the image of green fashion. KAIGHT stocks only the hottest emerging green designers from the U.S., Europe and Canada that make clothes that push the boundaries of fashion in an environmentally conscious and ethical way.

With such cool retail, the older formats will likely die quickly! Watch out!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Q&A: Guy Trebay - Media News - WWD.com

Q&A: Guy Trebay - Media News - WWD.com

Conversation with Guy Trebay on fashion, the fashion industry and ThreeAsFour. Writer for the York Times’ Style Section, Guy Trebay comments about the trio of designers, "he thing that really means most to me is design, per se, not styling. And they’re really about design and the body and all dimensions, and that really appeals to me. They’re theoretical but they do make obviously quite interesting clothes."

Friday, September 17, 2010

ThreeAsFour Spring 2011 Show






























For the first time in a few years, I attended the show of my cousin Gabi Asfour, one of three designers of the collaborative team of ThreeAsfour. While most of the shows of Fashion Week moved to the new venue of Lincoln Center (the old location of Bryan Park was abandoned), many of the independents chose to forgo the costs and expense of showing in the new venue for locations that were more suitable to the mood, ambiance and message of their brands. ThreeAsFour chose the Lower East Side. LES is the perfect "neighborhood" for the brand, which is about invention and reinvention, innovation and renovation, geometry and architecture, texture and touch, sight and sounds, grit of old and polish of new, and a completely new perspective and reception of something familiar, creating a new vibe in something so organic and natural as a park in the middle of China Town and the LES.

The show opened with a series of models in white sacks, who paraded through the streets of the LES to the park, literally, to conceal the creations so they would be exposed through the art of the show, and not a moment sooner. The ethereal music and graphic light show added to the mood and ambiance and made the audience feel as though they were somewhere else, somewhere between the present and future, somewhere other than China Town but in the coolness of the LES.

The sacks were removed to reveal innovation and creativity, along the ThreeAsFour context of shapes, silhouettes, minimalist color, detail and drape. Though the lack of color was evident, the contrast of black and white to neutrals of tan and grey in between alluded to the mood of the times in the country, but the details embedded in each piece spoke to the craving of consumers for the beauty of fashion, of fabric, of details of what's been missing in fashion for many years. While ThreeAsFour often focuses on accessories, this show was about the fashion, the garments, the silhouettes.

The music, by Nico Muhly, was entrancing with a softness of movement, ebb and flow, sounding of nature, water, a breeze over a field, the moon glistening from the ocean on a cool evening. It entrenched the audience in the ambiance and mood of the show. Chills were down my body as I was moved by the music, visually stimulated with the light show and fashion.

The lazer light show and abstract film was by Christina Kruse, starring various nineties models, was projected onto a canvas spiral that was the centerpiece of the show, as well as onto the models themselves. There was interaction of light and fabric, movement and shapes, the play on light.

The garments themselves, the atmosphere, the location, the music all spoke to a calm creativity in the midst of chaos.... fashion happening in the midst of life; a seamless integration of life in a public park and the creative force of Threeasfour.

My personal hope is that this show sends a message to the wanabees, to the fashion industry, to those who spend $200k on a fifteen minute show.... this is fashion!! This is real creativity, innovation and the true beauty of ART!

































































From interview magazine, the music and a short videao featuring ThreeAsFour: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/media/

For additional images from the show:
http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/09/hot_shot_glowing_spirals_at_th.html
http://nymag.com/fashion/fashionshows/2011/spring/main/newyork/womenrunway/threeasfour/
http://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/show.aspx/full-length-photos/id,9774
http://www.elleuk.com/catwalk/collections/threeasfour/spring-summer-2011
http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/S2011RTW-TAF

FASHION CONVERGES ON STOCKTON!


Have you always wanted to work in fashion? Here is an opportunity to meet some impressive insiders from the fashion industry. Fashion is converging on Stockton for an amazing event and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

On Thursday, September 30th from 5:00-7:00 pm in Danner Hall on the San Joaquin Delta College Campus, four fashion leaders will be presenting their perspectives on the industry, offering advice on getting your foot in the door, sharing insiders' myths about the fashion business and the "real" world of fashion.

"We really want to give access to the fashion industry to Stockton. While Stockton isn't a fashion center, there's no reason we can't create amazing fashion events right here," said Leslie Asfour, Fashion Program Director at Delta College, who, last year, also brought and exclusive showing of the movie, Valentino, the Last Emperor to Stockton, as well as the film producer who held an a Q & A with the audience. She's worked hard to change the fashion landscape of Stockton by using her extensive industry connections to expose, not only her students, but the community to the exciting things going on in the industry. While the students benefit from her trips to San Francisco, Paris and London, they get the most from meeting one-on-one with people who are in the business doing amazing things.

This is the second year that the Fashion Program at San Joaquin Delta College has presented this event. Last year’s event was a standing-room only success. “We were really experimenting with the format and event and had no idea how it would be received,” commented Asfour. “We quickly found out that we had a gold-mine of a format and there was a demand for fashion events in Stockton. Bringing such notables in the industry was a real treat for the community.”

Last year's panel included professionals from many facets of the industry, from styling to modeling to retailing. The insiders shared ideas, thoughts, directions, myths, insider knowledge to a fast track success, and the audience had a lot of fun while learning about the industry from the inside!

While last year’s panel was impressive, this year’s is a “powerhouse.” Bringing industry insiders from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, this year's event will be a dynamic and rare opportunity for those who attend. The Fashion Program is presenting the best of the best in the fashion industry to the audience and bringing some impressive names in the business to Stockton!

This year's panel includes:

MICHAEL PALLADINO:

Michael Palladino has been in the fashion business for over thirty years and is now an Adjunct Professor at both LIM College in NYC and CUNY Kingsborough in Brooklyn.

Michael draws on his extensive background that includes Macy’s, Filene’s Basement, Lord and Taylor, Furrari Furs and his recent post at Henri Bendel as the Director of Client and Studio Services which he held for almost 18 years. It was at Henri Bendel that Michael cultivated a private international clientele and also began working with celebrities and costume designers on wardrobe selections. Some of his clients included Queen Noor of Jordan, Rudy Giuliani, Paula Abdul, Paris Hilton, as well as costume designers Patricia Field and Eric Daman. While at Bendel Michael also did fashion segments on The View, Entertainment Tonight, Sally Jesse Raphael and Access Hollywood. Michael has also been quoted in various publication and newspapers and labeled the “Guru of Fashion”.

He is also on the board of directors of the LIM Fashion Education Foundation and Safe Horizon.

UDUAK ODUOK:

With a passion for law and fashion, extensive experience as a trial lawyer litigating a wide variety of issues in both civil and criminal law; and almost two decades of first hand knowledge and experiences that are as diverse as they are deep in the fashion and entertainment industries (model, journalist, publisher), Uduak Oduok is an attorney who “gets it” when it comes to resolving legal issues for the fashion and entertainment industries.

She has counseled a range of clients from musicians, models, actors and actresses to designers on numerous areas of the law including contracts, business law, fashion and entertainment law, copyright, trademark and intellectual property law.
Uduak earned her B.A. in Speech Communications, with honors, from San Jose State University, with a minor in philosophy. She attended both Georgetown and UC Hastings School of law, obtaining her Juris Doctorate (J.D.) in 2001 from UC Hastings College of the Law. She is also the founder and publisher of Ladybrille Magazine, the first ever publication focused on bringing African fashion and entertainment to the Western masses, Ladybrille. In 2008, her effort was recognized with a feature in the prestigious American Bar Journal. Recently (2010) Uduak was nominated for the Africa Fashion International Africa Fashion Awards for her, “Outstanding Contribution to Fashion Communications.”

She hopes to impart basic fashion and business law principles to Delta College Students to guide them as they prepare to enter the competitive fashion industry.

JENI ELIZABETH:

Celebrity and TV Fashion Stylist, Jeni Elizabeth is based in Los Angeles, California and has trained under some of Hollywood’s best. With over 7 years of experience, her styling can be seen on such stars as Carrie Underwood, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton and Marissa Jaret Winokur. Jeni’s work is everywhere from fashion look books, music videos, and celebrity editorials, to some of the hottest Network Reality Television Shows. Along with these projects, she also enjoys styling her private clients for all occasions.

With an education from FIT in Fashion Merchandising, Marketing and Design, Jeni went on to work at New York’s legendary Boutique, Henri Bendel, where she ran the women’s department for three years. It was there that she met Michael Palladino, the man that would influence her to become one of Hollywood’s best and hardest working stylists in the industry.

Jeni is quickly becoming the “Must Have” in everyone’s fashionable closet before an event. Her fun and crazy personality make her a delight to work with and an instant favorite amongst all her clients. Her passion and devotion are immediately evident and inspire everyone around her. Jeni’s love for her craft gives her the ability to make anyone feel absolutely amazing about themselves after just ten minutes with her.

BILLY HUTCHINSON:

Billy is currently the Assistant Manager of Gump’s in San Francisco.

Billy is also a master Calligrapher/Stationer. He designs elegant stationery, invitations, menu cards and all stationery needs with his own calligraphy for private clients, as well as retail establishments such as Gump’s, ABC in New York, Soolip Paperie and Press in Hollywood, Bloomers and Nest in San Francisco, and Wish List in Stockton. His stationery and calligraphy has been featured in InStyle Weddings, Elegant Bride, 7x7, Surface, and Better Homes and Gardens Magazines, as well a the local San Joaquin Lifestyle Magazine. His clients include fashion designers, celebrities and the elite clients who plan exquisite and elegant events, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and parties for all occasions. He designs invitations, menu cards, place cards, stationary and a variety of interesting fine paper goods.

Billy is a former Delta College Fashion student. Prior to Gump’s, Billy worked as production and design assistant for Slips of San Francisco, and as a manager for Aria Antiques, while also working as a freelance stylists/photo assistant. He spent time in interior design working for the exclusive fine linens and home decor company in their San Francisco location. His experience in fine retailing has allowed for his elegant creativity to become more polished and known.


Attendees at the event will be entertained, inspired and romanced by the personalities of the panel. This year will be even more enlightening, entertaining and insightful!

For pictures and information from last year's event, please visit http://www.deltacollege.edu/div/finearts/fashion/MEETTHEFASHIONINDUSTRYINSIDERS.htm.

For maps, directions, and parking information, visit www.deltacollege.edu

The event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

For additional information, contact Leslie Asfour, Fashion Program Director, San Joaquin Delta College, 209.954.5573, lasfour@deltacollege.edu