There was a song with a catchy little phrase about "short shorts" written in the 50's or 60's and used for a commercial at some point that could have been written about my office this summer. With a staff that literally includes a bevy of beauties (plus an army of interns) what's a biz owner to do when EVERYONE shows up in very short shorts? I had a little pow wow and explained that yes it was 100 degrees outside, but still this IS a business. We DO have clients coming in for meetings and NO I don't want to project the wrong image, because we ARE a strategic public relations firm and we take ourselves seriously. I'm just hoping others do too. Honestly. But after my pow wow the shorts just kept on coming. And if it wasn't the shorts then it was the show of short dresses, of which I am a culprit. When asked if the dress my associate was wearing was Philip Lim I was told, no it's Haute Hippie. Of course it is! Anyway, it is what it is. These ladies are going to do what they want when it comes to dressing, just so long as they get their work done and keep the clients happy, who cares if they look a little too cute for their own good? So short shorts, bring 'em on. It's summer, after all!
I was speaking with a colleague recently about WWD and he/she (gender has been disguised to protect the innocent!) made a disparaging comment about the paper. We were ranking the power of various media outlets. Now, we have (as I have said before) a wide range of clients in both the mass and luxury sectors. For some, WWD is the ultimate media destination. A good story in that publication can really put one of our fashion clients on the map, or at the very least validate their existence. It’s a POWERFUL platform. I get daily media alerts on the state of the industry and I can tell you understanding where a particular brand stands on 4th quarter earnings can say a lot about the state of the union.
I remember the day (many years ago) when we started considering WWD in the same league as bigger papers for exclusives—up against the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. With it’s significantly smaller circ you might think, “Hmmm.” But when your fashion brand needs recognition in the marketplace there really is no competition. We had an ex-WWD staffer work for us years ago and she said the paper would spend forever agonizing over it’s title for the front cover. (INSERT TITLE FROM DAY). They knew the power of their paper.
When I lived in Miami and worked in Bal Harbor shops during college I would buy WWD just to brush up on my industry news (not that I needed it then). I loved it. The paper seemed like this insider’s peek into a rarified world. Back then European fashion hit the states 6-months post runway. Nothing was instant then, there was no Internet. It definitely added to fashion’s mystique. And WWD was a way to access this fabulous world.
So, after breezing by my colleague’s comment, I decided to address it later in the day. I explained that fashion was a multi-billion dollar industry that accounted for tons of jobs and all kinds of economic stimulus and that though you might not love the paper you can’t deny it’s importance. This person agreed (honestly, they made the comment in passing before thinking it through). So, all was well again—order restored. WWD, we love you.
Source: Cover page of today's WWD paper from www.wwd.com
How brands are seizing the moment to offer affordable luxury to cautious consumers.
An interesting theory that developed after World War II was that lipstick sales are an excellent way to gauge the pulse of a flat-lining consumer. What economists found was that as the economy dipped, lipstick sales tended to rise, illustrating that to even the most fractious consumer, a small, attainable indulgence was considered necessary, a reviving jolt to the consumer’s heart.
Not only is this a smart idea—giving consumers an entry point to an otherwise unattainable luxury brand—offering “affordable luxuries” to consumers is a necessity in today’s economy. Ultimately, the consumer will do one of two things to squeeze a little luxury out of her diminished disposable income; she will remain a) brand-loyal, buying an item from her favorite luxury brand at the lowest price point, or she will become a b) brand-replacer, substituting a cheaper alternative for her favorite luxury brand, and the retailer runs the risk of losing her for good.
The scenarios are endlessly fun to dream up. Brand-Loyal Scenario: While this may not be the moment for a Nanette Lepore’s gorgeous “Cheek Cheek Velvet Coat” ($635), this is certainly a time to scoop up her collection of flats for Keds, ($20-40). Brand-Replacer Scenario: If Guerlain’s long-wearing KissKiss Laque ($28) is financially out of reach, L’Oreal’s Infallible Never Fail Lipcolour Compact ($8.39) is right on target.
How the presidential candidates are using creative branding strategies to capture voters' imagination and attention. We all know that a teeny-tiny, ever-so-slightly, very important occasion is upon us. Come November 4th, the United States will have a new leader, one we fervently hope will usher in an era of peace, prosperity and respect for the dignity of all mankind. As true pillars of bipartisanism (and discretion), we would never reveal who we plan to vote for, but let the records show that we have unbounded respect for both John McCain and Barack Obama. What we CAN reveal is our equally unbounded respect for the level of ingenuity and creativity we have seen in the lead-up to this election by the supporters of both parties. Naturally, we are drawn toward the aesthetics, style, and effectiveness with which each party has delivered its campaign messages and objectives, with the result of making the public a) care about the elections, b) recognize that their vote does matter, and c) get out the vote in anticipated record numbers.
There are some serious iconographic images and slogans at work here such as, "Change We Can Believe in" and "Great AmeriCain Hero," which will be remembered along with classics like "I Like Ike," "Give 'Em Hell, Harry," and "Tipeecanoe and Tyler, Too." We delight in the myriad ways the parties and their supporters have expressed their messages, prompting celebrities from both camps like Halle Berry, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel and Elizabeth Hasselbeck to pick their team and help spread the word. As our own tribute to the artisans and creative minds at work, we have compiled a roundup of our favorites. Clockwise, from top right:
- Artists for Obama: Poster artwork and imagery donated by artists to raise money. The two pieces here are by Scott Hansen and Shepard Fairey
- Great AmeriCain Hero: Logo designed by none other than La Hasselbeck, herself
- Obama Flowers Keds Shoes: Designed by VoteObama
- Palin Power mini buttons: Note the "i" is a lipstick -- Will anyone will soon forget the bulldog/hockey mom line? I didn't think so. Pure genius.
- Obama Necktie: Designed by the American Necktie Company
How high-end rompers and jumpsuits became the must-have luxury item for fall The once utilitarian pant-suit, preferred by auto mechanics and Kafka characters alike, have hit the runways in droves this fall. These aren't your run of the mill industrial cotton recreational rompers, however. The season's must-have pantsuit is a luxury item from clavicle to ankle, constructed from rich, luxurious fabrics like wool, cashmere and silk, and coming in at luxurious prices to boot, from around $900 - $2700.
Having enthusiastically embraced the "Great flowing dresses of Summer '08" trend, (a.k.a., the world's most flattering, comfortable coverup) we can certainly see how fashionistas might be craving a similar transitional piece for fall, so great was the comfort of the flowing sundress, so successful it was at camouflaging our "problem" areas. Designers have responded to with a smart strategy of providing loyal followers with an autumnal alternative to the summer coverup. The streets from New York to Paris and beyond are already filled with technocrat-suits galore, and we have even more to look forward to this Spring '09, judging from the catwalks. Thus we leave you with our brief take on the seamless transition from the comfy sundress to the even comfier one-stop jumper. We love Catherine Malandrino's gorgeous gold silk number to the left, and you can check out jumpsuit runway shots at style.com for more from Max Mara, Anne Valérie Hash, Dolce & Gabbana, and Pucci.
We couldn’t help but notice some of hottest looks for fall took a bold cue (or two) from Carla Bruni Sarkozy’s divine state visit wardrobe last spring. We’ve been drooling over Banana Republic’s stunning violet fall coat all the while thinking, “Ooh-la-la!....hmmm, where have we seen this before?”
Clearly, this is the signaling of what will become a long-term fashion love affair with the French First Lady. While certainly not the first time a sartorial muse has emerged from public office (Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana, bien sur), this could be the first time clothing manufacturers are able to respond with lightning speed to a public demand for “First Lady Looks.”
With stores like Spanish retailer Zara, H&M, and even GAP, that follow “fast fashion” business models to decrease the timeline from design to production to distribution, the “pillbox hat” of 2008 can be yours in no time at all. According to reports, Zara can take a design from drawing board to rack in two weeks flat. This is an incredibly smart move for retailers in need of ways to move products in a shaky economy as Sarah Palin's "specs" are virtually impossible to find at the moment, a major coup for designer Kazuo Kawasaki.
In the upcoming presidential elections, where it has truly become the “year of the woman,” it remains to be seen whether we will look to Sarah, Michelle,or Cindy for fashion inspiration. Judging from recent appearances by all, we can guarantee that retailers will be awash in fitted suits, vibrant jewel tones and decadent fabrics come late November, perfect for all of our holiday celebrations.
Fashion, Photo-Finishes, and Forty-something upsets in Beijing
We here at BBC are flush with Olympic fever from all of the incredible stories coming out of Beijing this week. Jason Lezak’s unbelievable photo finish during the US men’s freestyle relay caused us to practically keel over in excitement as the US overtook favored France by .08 of a second. Dara Torres’ “age record”—at 41, becoming the oldest swimming medalist in history—has us declaring forty the new fourteen, as Torres swam alongside and overtook swimmers young enough to be her daughters. But the story that really has us buzzing is the gold-medal worthy classic-chic ensemble pulled together by Polo Ralph Lauren for the US Olympic Team. As international brands are using the Olympics as a platform to capture the attention and cement the future buying power of China’s increasingly wealthy citizens, fashion gold at the Olympics should be an indicator of PRL's potential for success abroad. With PRL’s signature classic-elegant chic in check, the US Olympic Team has cast asunder the work-out wear of yesteryear in favor of tailored shorts, blazers, knits and PRL’s signature polo shirts. You can catch your own Olympic fever with PRL’s gorgeous line here--but act quick, before it sells out.