Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fashionably Active: The Resurgence of Fashion Fitness Apparel

Adidas Originals Spring 2013 Ad 

Active wear is making a huge impact in the fashion industry. From incorporating active influenced details into apparel to new avenues in which to introduce active wear to the market, this sector is providing consumers an apparel category that provides comfort and utility. This surge in active wear, specifically in Yoga apparel, stems from the success of yoga apparel pioneers Prana and Lululemon as well as the addition of active specialty shops by major brands such as Bebe Sport and Victoria’s Secret Sport launched in 2003 and 2011 respectively. Newcomers such as H & M Sport launched in 2013 and Net-a-Sporter and who both launched active categories this month have solidified the staying power of fashionable fitness.  

Hand in hand with the growth of the fitness apparel category has been the expansion of the wearable technology trend. From Jawbone Up to Tory Burch’s Fitbit wristband the popularity of wearable technology is becoming a must-have accessory. With the ability to track, all aspects of your daily activity from what you eat to how you sleep designers are finding ways to track your life in style. Nike, one of the pioneers of this category, has discontinued their Fuel Fitband which sparks the question of whether this move has opened the door for others to thrive in this category or whether it’s a passing phase of the Technology Age, only time will tell.

Titans of Industry:

  • Founded in 1924 in Germany
  • Launched Adidas by Stella McCartney in 2004 as a designer performance line for women
  • Fiscal Year 2013 Revenues of €14.49 Billion

  • Founded in 1964 in Oregon
  • Owner of the Converse and Hurley International Brands
  • Fiscal Year 2013 Revenues of $25.3 Billion

Harper's Bazaar June 2013
  • Founded in 1992 in Carlsbad, California
  • 5 corporate owned stores
  • Known for Yoga apparel in sustainable fabrics

Vogue Netherlands August 2013
Under Armour:
  • Founded in 1996 by Kevin Plank, headquartered in Baltimore, MD
  • Pioneer of the moisture wicking fabric that keeps you dry while exercising
  • Fiscal Year 2013 Revenues of $2.3 Billion

Harper's Bazaar Australia Jan/Feb 2012
  • Founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 259 corporate owned stores worldwide
  • Fiscal Year 2013 Revenues of $1.6 Billion

Vogue UK
  • Founded in 1998 in Petaluma, California
  • 75 stores in the U.S.
  • Owned by Gap, Inc. as of 2008

Elle Brazil

Elle Vietnam July 2012

Vogue Australia January 2013

Vogue Paris April 2012

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Business Report Card: Donna Karan and LVMH

Spring 2012 Ad

“Women should always take care of themselves first. It makes you more equipped to take care of others.”    - Donna Karan

Body Suit Collection 1986

1999 Ad
1999 Spring Ad Photo by Peter Lindbergh

2001 Ad 
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Donna Karan, an amazing milestone that all designers would dream of achieving. Since 1984, the company has evolved from a brand built around the singular idea of easy dressing for women and evolved into a business that carries the energy and glamour of New York City to its consumers around the world. The opening of this brand was brought about to fill a void for consumers who wanted luxury clothing they could feel comfortable in whether going to dinner or going to the red carpet. The reflection of this attitude is in the draping and soft fabrics that Karan has used throughout the years to dress her loyal clientele.  

Vogue Feb 2011 Photo by Mario Testino
In November of 2001, LVMH and Donna Karan saw an opportunity to expand the brand globally, introduce accessories, and to solidify the luxury status of the brand. Thirteen years later, the question remains what ultimately were the gains from this acquisition and has it paid off in the end for both companies. The first goal was to expand the brand globally. In the late 1990’s, Donna Karan had 27 freestanding stores and today there are more than 200 stores worldwide. The second goal was to introduce and expand upon the accessories component of the business. The accessories available from Donna Karan are fragrance, hosiery, and some casual scarves. This are has been a challenge as far as leather products or any expansions in cold weather accessories or jewelry. This would be the biggest disappointment for the brand because accessories is where luxury brands are able to capitalize on margin and introduce the personality of the brand to consumers at entry level price points. The third goal to solidify Donna Karan’s status as a luxury brand LVMH achieved early on in the acquisition. In 2001, LVMH removed the brand from discount stores and closed any underperforming stores so that only the high end and best performing locations remained. This strategy limited the accessibility of the brand making it more exclusive and allowing the brand more control over its image.
Vogue Japan Nov 2011

Donna Karan has expressed anguish over the lack of an expanded accessories category, but there is no doubt that the brand has become a global entity as well as a luxury brand of the highest caliber. This acquisition is successful in that it has given LVMH an entity in its portfolio that caters to a worldly woman who appreciates quality fabrics while wanting to be comfortable. In addition, contributing to the success of this partnership is Donna Karan’s worldwide reach. Not only is the brand a staple as far as having stores internationally, the company has launched several initiatives globally to help underprivileged nations, most significantly in Haiti. Through the Urban Zen Foundation Donna Karan has given creative groups in Haiti the resources to use their talents as a way to start businesses and empower people who have been in despair for many generations. Although there has yet to be a substantial accessories (leather goods, jewelry, etc.) business this partnership has elevated the brand in a way that would have been challenging if the acquisition did not occur. In the next 30 years there is no doubt that the company will continue to expand and introduce new categories and initiatives that are even more impactful.
Spring 2012 Ad
Dujour Magazine April 2013
Spring 2014

Resort 2012 Ad

Spring 2013 Ad

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Inspiration: “Mademoiselle C”…Carine Roitfeld

“We don't create a fantasy world to escape reality. We create it to be able to stay.”
- Lynda Barry
Mademoiselle C
This weekend, I watched the documentary “Mademoiselle C” which guides you through the makings of the inaugural issue of CR Fashion Book, of which Carine Roitfeld is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief. What amazed me most about this documentary was the lesson in perseverance, passion, and energy that it takes to do something new.  Moreover, to do it not only to prove you could for yourself, but also to create something that will encourage those that believe in fashion as strongly as you to continue creating and finding new ways to interpret the beautiful fantasy that is fashion.

Elle France June 1990
Vogue Italia May 1997
Vogue Paris November 2005
This attitude of preserving the fantasy of fashion should not be so surprising coming from someone who, for almost 40 years, has experienced the fantasy and the sometimes nightmare that is the fashion industry. Her journey is an interesting one, starting out as a writer and stylist for French Elle through her 20’s, styling alongside Mario Testino, and Tom Ford, and eventually becoming the Editor-In-Chief of French Vogue. Then, almost two years ago, in September 2012, starting her own publication, CR Fashion Book, as a way to create her own lane, and develop a voice that is not associated with a conglomerate or storied publication. In the documentary she states that her children were raised under the guise of “no bosses, no employees; we gave them the freedom to do what they wanted to do”.  With the CR Fashion Book, she has given that freedom to herself, and now the world gets to see with irreverence the vision of Carine Roitfeld.  
CR Fashion Book Issue #2: Dance
CR Fashion Book Issue # 1: Rebirth
CR Fashion Book Issue #3: Hope
CR Fashion Book Issue #4: Fairy Tales
The first four issues have covered the subjects of rebirth, dance, hope, and fairy tales. The theme that runs through the fashion book is fantasy infused with an unwavering belief in the ability to achieve one’s dream regardless of how impossible that dream may seem. Throughout the documentary you witness the obstacles in creating the publication such as not being able to use certain photographers, reluctant support from fashion industry insiders, and staying true to the vision of the magazine without relying on what has worked in the past. Through each of these obstacles, Carine Roitfeld has an energy that proves that failure is not an option and the production of this publication at the highest quality with a revolutionary take on fashion is inevitable.
Vogue Paris November 2009
Vogue Paris September 2010
Vogue Paris November 2010

CR Fashion Book Issue #4

Louis Vuitton Ad Spring 2014
It is her energy throughout the documentary that was truly inspirational because for someone who has been in the industry for many years she still gets excited about each shoot, and is still passionate about all of the details that go into creating the emotions of an image. We all dream and to watch someone still have the capacity to dream about something after they have accomplished so much and then to accomplish that dream and propel themselves to a platform of influence that they could never have imagined. A month after the release of the first edition of CR Fashion Book, Carine Roitfeld was named Global Fashion Director of Harper’s Bazaar where she is still fulfilling her dreams and inspiring others, myself included, to do the same.

Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld
Carine Roitfeld and Kate Moss

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
                                                                              - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Monday, May 5, 2014

Beyond Fashion: The History of the Met Ball

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, 2011
Tonight marks the premiere annual social event in New York City and the most important event in the fashion industry as a whole. Each year in support of the Costume Institute fashion heavyweights, celebrities, and global cultural influencers ascend on New York City for the Costume Institute Gala also referred to as The Met Ball.

Met Ball circa 1960
The Met Ball started, in 1948, as a way to promote the newly formed Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since it's inception it has been the responsibility of the American Fashion industry to host and curate the event. Eleanor Lambert was the pioneer host of this event and rightfully so as she was also the primary crusader for American Fashion with the formation of this event, the creation of New York Fashion Week, and the founding of The Council of Fashion Designers of America. Consistently embedded in Lambert’s efforts is the notion of raising funds to preserve the history of fashion and design in the U.S., and the Met Ball is no exception. Other chairs of the event include Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue (1963-1971) and Pat Buckley, chairwoman of the Costume Institute (1978-1995).
Cher escorted by designer Bob Mackie, 1985

Inside the Met Gala, 2008
In 1995, Anna Wintour took the helm of the event bringing the element of celebrity and red carpet glamour to the gala. Incorporating this Hollywood aspect to the event has also put the designers who dress the attendees on the red carpet onto a world stage. Wintour has often made notable designers of past and present the theme of the event. Some of the past subjects include Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, and Gianni Versace. This year marks the beginning of a new era in the institute's history with the unveiling of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, which will house the collection of the Costume Institute. The first exhibition references and illuminates the work of Charles James who invented many important silhouettes, such as the figure-8 skirt and the puffer jacket, influencing much of the 1940's through the 1950's. James, considered America's first couturier, also was as an inspiration for Christian Dior's New Look.

Met Gala Red Carpet 2009

Sarah Jessica Parker arriving to the Met Ball in 2013

Beyonce at the Met Ball 2012

Model as Muse Exhibit, 2009

Punk: Chaos to Couture, 2013

This retrospective of Charles James' work is meant to educate those who are not aware of his contributions to fashion design and to celebrate the subject of authentic creations and innovation in its purest form. The exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion will be on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May- August 2014.