Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Tattoo

After spending 20 straight hours doing my own and a friend's project (for $, of course) for my Advanced Computer Design class and ending a hellacious finals week where I slept 16 hours in seven days, I finally mustered up the courage to get a tattoo on my wrist that's been on my mind for about two months (check out about 6 pm in November the "From the Desk of Josh Stevens" thingy from the feature in by Alex at Studio 28 Tattoo in Manhattan... Great reputation and they did perfectly precise work for me.  It's the text "MONSTR."  Despite my sleepless nights, it wasn't inspired by an energy drink, I promise lol...

One thing I've loved my whole life is the process of burly, ferocious actions.  In my teens, my favorite activity of all-time was rollerblading.  Though my best friend at the time, Mike Ladrigan and I, each chipped in to buy a camcorder to tape ourselves and friends skating, a lot of the tapes of the footage is in no-man's land somewhere.  There is a DVD copy of a video we made with our friends for school somewhere in my mom's possession in Cincinnati, but I'm not sure where...  So the visual record of all this is sparse. 

Growing up, the activity of rollerblading instilled in me values that I still try to live up to and abide by today.  There were so many times when I would try a trick over and over and get hurt and still keep trying it.  The most famous example is, when I was in 8th grade and basically "scorpian-ed" my body face-first on the sidewalk pavement on my 7th attempt to spin out of a grind down a rail on Miami Ave. in Madeira.  As is said in Latin, "Multis sanguis fluit" (much blood flows) and my friends called an ambulance.  The best part of the whole video (yes, this is all in video-form somewhere on the planet) is me, bloody napkin adhered to my face, standing there, messy hair flecked with cement dust, arguing with the paramedics I didn't want to take an ambulance because "it'll cost a lot of money."

Anyway, what happened is they finally hauled me away on a stretcher with a neck brace (totally overkill, in my humble opinion) and admitted me to the E.R.  My lips swelled up like a cartoon character and I was eating by taking a rubber baby spoon my mom had from my toddler days and wiping mashed potatoes on the inside of my cheek for the weekend.  Come Monday though, there I was at school with a big scrape on my face, wiggly front tooth and swollen lips, looking pretty brutal.  Three weeks later, when I was all healed up, I went back to the same rail and did the same trick but alley-opp (backwards).  That mentality and persistence is something I've always admired in others and tried to live up to.

One of my favorite skaters was (and I guess still is) Jaren Grob, whose nickname is "The Monster."  I actually got to see him skate in Cincinnati in person and wanted to talk to him but was too shy of a person at the time.  Here's his bio from the Action Sports World Tour website:

Jaren's "Shock and Awe" skating style earned him the nickname "The Monster" early in his career...  Jaren holds nothing back when he skates. Thrilling audiences with death defying gaps and lofty spin tricks. he is the only skater ever to win two consecutive X Games gold medals in a men's street event. 

Here's some highs of his skating:

And a brutal low (fast forward to 1:37)  The absolute best part is @ 5:20:

I've always loved tapping into that dark, ultra-aggressive, monster-like energy within myself.  While I love to run, my favorite runs are the ones where I'm totally dead-tired after and finish so fast the balls of my feet feel hot from such a hard final kick.  I look forward to my speed sessions the most for this exact same reason and have been known to envision myself as a predator chasing down his prey in the last 400 meters of a mile repeat.

I think it's kind of interesting since I'm such an otherwise chill, relaxed guy, but everyone has multiple facets to who they are.  I just need to be careful in expressing this energy in destructive ways... but I certainly don't want to stifle it because I consider myself blessed to have it.

Being so busy with school that I hadn't been able to run in 3+ weeks, I couldn't resist doing the same thing the last part of the semester (i.e. loading myself up with so many commitments, I slept such an unreasonably small amount)

There's a like a certain spirit that goes along with the term "Monster" that I really resonate with and always have.  This music video is basically everything that gets my juices flowing, with the track being produced by none other than one of my favorite producers Swizz Beatz, who's regularly plugged himself since '98 when he was doing DMX's tracks, as "Swizz Beatz the Monster."

So that about explains the actual word and it's meaning, but the reason there's a star is because I really want to be a star in everything that I do.  I don't mean famous... I mean a star, like a high achiever. 

Though the design seems simple, there was a lot of thought and contemplation that went into it, from the exact type of font (all caps or all lowercase or capitalized "M" only, sans serif vs. serif, then Trajan vs. Big Caslon) and the exact star size, color (or lack of) and shape which I decided on a white with black outlined, 2:5 ratio 5-point star with only the top peak above the rest of the text.

And the location of my right wrist was intentional as well, as I am right handed and want to constantly remind myself of it.  There's a little bit of a Travis-Barker reason as well for it there.  

According to Barker, there is a simple explanation as to his decision to cover his body with tattoos. He said that he purposely had tattoos etched all over his body so that he could not live a normal life with a normal job and thus play music all his life.  

I don't want to cover my body with tattoos to the same degree as him, mostly because I personally prefer the look of a more clean body, but damn... that do-or-die mentality is exactly what all the people I was just talking in this whole post have.

Not intentional but amusing that it's on my once-broken, zombie-looking wrist.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 - I'm thankful for...

  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Extra dry Cabernet Sauvignon
  • My wonderful mother, who always has sacrificed for me and is the most caring and nurturing woman I know
  • Living in a time when I can travel hundreds of miles in hours
  • Being selected to participate in the 2010 FIT vs. Parsons show in March
  • My drive to voraciously improve myself in all areas WITHOUT being unhappy in my present state
  • Being surrounded by super-creative, hard-working people in the Menswear program
  • The fact that at this point in history, anyone can literally learn how to do nearly anything
  • My amazing Allen Edmonds shoes and tan crocodile cowboy boots
  • Deciding to make a comment to Stu Nizny about his massive belt buckle several years ago and got to know him and buy from his sick collection of vintage clothing multiple times
  • Recognizing just how important understanding online culture and business is to the future of the world
  • My girlfriend Rachel who, honest to God, in addition to being the sexist woman I've ever seen in my life, has an outlook, funniness and temperament that fills me with joy every time I talk with her
  • The fact that all of my female cousins are on great paths for their future
  • Finding out about Eben Pagan and learning from his multiple information product businesses
  • The fact that I'm not normal and probably considered by a reasonable portion of the population to be a weirdo
  • Being able to have developed a friendship with both Amy and Mark from simply listening to each of them speak at UC and following up with them afterwards.  Two awesome people.
  • Having a job in clothing retail at a small boutique
  • The fact that I mustered up the courage to leave Cincinnati in 2009 to do what I wanted as opposed to staying and "playing it safe"
  • Having a great relationship with the guys at Arbitrage, who have given me the opportunity to learn and grow in my knowledge of the business of fashion
  • My Macbook Pro is functional now because, despite it being 800 days past the warranty, Apple finally gave the green light for $1,600 worth of repairs at no cost to me restoring it to brand new condition, because there was a defective part.  A customer since middle school and will always be.
  • My strong, healthy body
  • Being able to grow a full beard on my face
  • Being able to live in NYC cheeeeeap (by our standards, of course haha) in a clean, modern place with a roommate I get along with well
  • The fact that all of my tattoos have exceeded my expectations and I still love them
  • Being born in America where we have freedoms some other people can only dream of.
Nearly all of these things would be impossible if I was born in a place like North Korea, Iran, Burma, India or other countries like them.  I can't be so arrogant to believe that America puts out the most innovative and creative businesses, ideas and people because we're in some way genetically superior to the rest of the world.

There are people trapped inside the borders of some countries, who will literally die without even the concept that they can have more abundant, happy lives.  Though China is changing a lot, do you really think in the past few hundred years, there haven't been minds in the billions of people that have lived and died there that weren't on par with OR BETTER than Thomas Edison or Billy Durant or Bill Gates?  

So I am MOST grateful to be in a location on the globe where I can fully realize who I am.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ralph Lauren - A Renaissance Man

A multi-billion dollar company all started with just one tie.

That was what we learned at the Polo mansion last Tuesday with my Marketing of Menswear class. Ralph Lauren, like so many people who start companies, recognized what he saw as white space in the market, wrestled with his employer (Brooks Brothers) to fill it to no avail, left and exploited the living Hell out of it.

The little blank area of men's fashion he filled was wide ties... 5 inches wide. That's about the length of your hand. I don't foresee those having the same splash in today's world but it was the right look because it was the right time for them when they debuted.

On a side note, the ability to see what people want before they verbalize it is the most highly paid skill right behind salesmanship.

As Ralph sold his own ties originally, he had a good amount of both.

But let's be honest. You can only do so much business for so long with a polarizing article of clothing. In the 60's, as Lauren was attempting to develop his collection of ties, Bloomingdale's insisted he remove his name from the ties' label and make them slimmer. Not giving into the retail giant Bloomingdale's, Lauren stuck to his guns and refused to sell to the department store under such circumstances, a great example of a designer LEADING, not capitulating to a retailer's past-looking vision.

I think Ralph never saw his business as small though, and the rest is history.

The wide ties he designed gave him the chance to make a name for himself. But likening it to the music industry, they could have been very easily a one hit wonder. I believe one-hit wonders are caused not because of lack of creativity or skill but simply refusing to be one and actually having vision and a game plan to repeat what you've already done once. If you created something incredible once, the only thing stopping you from doing it ad infinitum is your hunger and sense of entitlement.

Rapped succinctly by Jay-Z about his career, he "did it different, did it better, did it nice, did the impossible then did it twice." And thrice. And 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 times over. Jay-Z has outsold Elvis and The Rolling Stones with 10 consecutive #1 albums.  In addition to this, he claims to operate 16 businesses in total, with Rocawear Clothing being one.

Like Jay-Z, Ralph Lauren has consistently put out quality product people respond well to, season after season eating up more market share. He's expanded his world into the brands Purple Label, Black Label, Polo, Double RL and American Heritage. As a musician refusing to be a one-hit wonder, Ralph consistently put out his work throughout his life.

My perspective right now is this trait is more valuable than raw talent. If we look at Leonardo da Vinci, despite his status as an amazing artist, he didn’t really have that high of an artistic output in his life.  

None of his sculptures have survived and only fifteen paintings of his are known.  And though he wrote a lot about architecture, no buildings are credited to him.  Of course his most famous work the Mona Lisa is what people first associate with him.  It is a very nice painting but he also worked on it on and off for years, with many scholars saying the painting shows signs of such a lackadaisical method (a matter of opinion as art critic Vasari commented, the Mona Lisa would make "the most confident master... despair and lose heart.")  However, I believe Leonardo knew he could have lived with more fire and produced magnitudes more, as in his latter years, about his life, he wrote, "“Di mi se mai fu fatta alcuna cosa (Tell me if anything was ever done.)”

Compare da Vinci to a rival of his like Michelangelo whose greatest work was the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  He painted panels like the following in a day’s span:

The man was totally into what he was in.  So much so that, as the book The Life of Michelangelo said “he was indifferent to food and drink, eating more out of necessity than of pleasure and that he often slept in his clothes and ... boots."  He completely loved working and it shows in the consistent output of his work. 

Consistent, peak performance.

I see the same spirit in the way Ralph Lauren has built his business.  Even down to the no-expenses-spared attitude, as we heard about him replacing a $150,000 carpet in his flagship store the same day he noticed it because it simply seemed worn out.  Demanding only the best materials for the goose that lays the golden egg seems to be a common trait among high achievers.

Ralph built his empire with the same intensity of focus as I would assume Michelangelo and Jay Z have built their own works of art.  Among many, another commonality shared by them all is consistency of output of their work… 

While offering wide ties was the right product at the right time, Ralph probably understood that that couldn’t have that be his whole business.  Indeed, things always change.  Just look at a snippet from Thursday’s WWD article: “Slimming down is all the rage today in the dress shirt and neckwear markets.  Driven by demand from a younger consumer, shoppers are responding to narrower silhouettes in both categories, and manufacturers are responding by slicing material from billowy shirts and narrowing the width of their ties.”  

The only way to stay relevant in fashion is to evolve, fill existing voids and know what is most right for the moment, which Ralph Lauren has proven his mastery of in his career.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Field trip to the Theory design studio

Last Tuesday morning, I got an opportunity to go to the men’s design studio for Theory down in the Meatpacking District with my Marketing of Menswear class.

We got the chance to meet with the men’s design director, Ben Stubbington, who worked at Calvin Klein and Rogan, before being snatched up by Theory’s President, Andrew Rosen.  A native Englishman, Ben greeted us all pretty warmly and told us about the company and how it was started, their core values, who their customer was, etc.  The company started out making pants and really just focusing on getting those and everything about them air-tight.  Having visited their retail store across the street afterwards, I can vouch for them.  From that point, they expanded into other aspects.

It kind of reminded me of listening to Kenneth Cole speak last year...  He started making shoes, and, once he felt good about them, he could either make different kinds of shoes for a different consumer to expand or develop other cool stuff for the same core customer that responded well to his shoes.  He chose the latter path.

So it seems that’s how Theory has evolved.  Their aesthetic is, for the men’s at least, stripped down of frills, or as Ben said to me, “realistic design with a level of sophistication and intelligence, not design just for design, a true understanding of menswear.” 

They have a strong perspective on what their company is and has to offer.  Ben mentioned Theory is a company where the owner will (and does) say things like, “Well, they can get that somewhere else” in response to something the market is asking for but doesn’t fit with who and what Theory stands for.

In answering one of my classmates questions about fashion forecasting services, he said something to the effect of that they don’t pay them any attention really for two reasons…  One, as a designer, you should already kind of be in touch naturally with the pulse and flow of the world and be able to anticipate and pick up on cultural currents.  And number two, he believes Theory can get enough traction so that they can actually be the ones originating trends and concepts.  But it’s not a “we want to set trends so people follow us” kind of thing, it’s just “yeah, we’re over here doing our own thing and if you like what you see and are inspired by it, cool.”

Theory also had their patternmakers on-staff next door.  They were all shared (I think, at least) by the cornacopia of other brands under the same ownership like Rag & Bone and Helmut Lang, who were in the same building.  Having that close relationship is a huge competitive advantage.  Of course it costs more, but what greater of a luxury could you have than time?  Yeah, it’s cheaper to have a sample commissioned from China but the lag time can easily be 30 days as opposed to a day or two, not to mention they’re next door!  I believe one of the most critical aspects of running a good business is quick and clear communication and execution of ideas and having this luxury is fantastic. 

Ben also shared about his experiences working with other companies.  At the company he was previously at, Calvin Klein, they had a very corporate environment.  One of the positives he drew from his time there was keeping his studio clean and presentations clear and concise.  He was able to take this with him to Theory, and it showed in the neatness of the studio and clearness of the concept of the inspiration board for an upcoming season.

When the President Andrew Rosen spoke with us, he talked about several things, but the ones that stuck out were his stressing of getting retail experience and the continued growth of e-commerce.

Like John Bartlett advised me in the spring, getting retail experience will allow you to understand the man you’re selling to better and make you a much stronger designer. 

Trusting John's advice and having worked with Lacoste since August, it’s no surprise to me Andrew recommended this also.  

I worked at the pop-up boutique at the US Open and was then invited to help open the new Lacoste L!VE concept store in SoHo.  This has helped me in a few ways…   First off, being in SoHo, and just seeing so many hip people from all around the globe, from Denmark to Paris to China, I get a nice sampling of the world. 

Not surprisingly, selling to people and seeing what products they respond to, what they don’t and what they “love” but don’t BUY has been invaluable.  

Finally, when we’re slow, I’ll take time to analyze the top sellers and the margins we make on them.  The highest margin (i.e. marked-up) items we have are our sneakers… I wonder why our goal for the Lacoste L!VE brand is to grow our revenue for shoes from our current 12% to 40%???

P.S. We do have wicked looking shoes… on December 12th, we’re gonna have 12 new sneakers designed by 12 different artists available exclusively at our SoHo and Paris boutiques.  My favorite two are the grey ones by Tim Hamilton (below) and the ones by i-D, which are high top green fake croc leather.  Both are wicked...

But back to the task at hand…  The other thing Andrew talked about was e-commerce and how critical that can be to a company.  In my spare time, I study marketing like some people study their fantasy football team and my favorite part of for the past few years has been INTERNET marketing.  Doing business online in anything is magnitudes more efficient and profitable than selling to a brick-and-mortar store, who then sells to a consumer.

As Theory prefers to stand out in aspects like fit and hand of the fabric used, I inquired how as to how such in-person selling points could be conveyed online.

The two things he said that could help with conversions were perhaps to have a personal message from him on there and have a simple, simple pain-free return policy.  In addition, he stressed that, as a company, online, they're able to control their image and communication with their customers to a degree that is simply not possible when going through a retailer.  

I think nearly EVERY company in the world (minus those that teach this stuff like Jeffery Gitomer, Eben Pagan and Ryan Deiss) could benefit from taking more steps to personally connect with their customers online (ever heard of, building a prospect email list and building a relationship with them through regular, personalized email from a human being, not a company, if you get what I mean, and taking as much risk out of the buying process as possible.

All in all, I had a great time seeing the inside of a company like theirs, was inspired and a learned a ton!

Thursday, October 14, 2010 be live ya'llll!!@!

Look at this face:

In the past 2 days, this face has hit a pillow for two hours.  Two accidental hours of sleep from 8 am - 10 am Tuesday and no sleep last night.  It was a combo of completing my FIT vs. Parsons Fusion Fashion Show application to an insane degree of maniacal perfection and launching my website,

To be straight up honest, related to Fusion, if I get passed over this year, then I'll just shrug my shoulders and be like, "Whatev."  Worst case scenario, I put together a fantastic, clean, innovative 5-outfit collection I can take on interviews with me now that forced me to figure out how to suggest folding in fabrics and gave me the sense of urgency to finish my website, after over a year of "Coming Soon."

I spent a good amount of time sketching on receipts at Lacoste, thumbing through dozens of seasonal designer look books in our library from the past 15 years and tightening up my drawing skills.  One of my 101 goals is to be able to sketch a figure without reference material on a napkin and be proud of it.  I'm not there yet but I'm getting there.

Anyway, I'm really not wanting to type much so I'll let my work do the talking:

Again, my time was also chunked off to completing my website...  I'm soo happy this is finished.  Updating it now is a breeze so I'm pretty happy about closing what was once a year-long open loop.  Oh yeah, and did I mention it looks pretty bangin' too?  I looked through it and was like "Yo, this guy's pretty good." haha

I brought back old work that I had that really showcased my aesthetic eye and design sensibilities...  It made me really miss learning about design in general and concepts of harmony from my time I spent at DAAP.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm way, way happy here, but it also made me really grateful I'd gone through an actual YEAR of design foundations, not just some boo-foo class first semester called Basic Design.  We learned about complimentary colors and saw miserable artist's work in Chelsea selling for $2 million+...

 ... and with website bios that start out like this:

"_____________ has often been regarded as a playboy of the art world. He has had lascivious relationships, and he has run among strange and crazy artistic circles."

I find an artist that charges that kind of money for this kind of work more offensive than any sacrilegious or irreverant sculpture or instillation, especially when I know that there are a handful of people in the world who pay that for these.  But it's their money and they can do with it whatever they please (though I feel like people who inherit money blow it on this stuff, not people who have earned it themselves... but  that's just my perspective right now).

Now, how in God's name did I end up on that topic?  I need food and sleep!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WWD Summary and a rant on "Unborrowed Vision"

On August 29th, Women’s Wear Daily published an article titled Las Vegas Shows See Strong Orders (no longer available) summarizing the sentiments of those involved in both sides of fashion at the trade shows… the retail side and the design side.  Despite the title of the article making it seem like things are strong across the board, some attendees noticed an uptick in business while others did not.  Analyst Eric Beder described it as “tame.”

A major issue relating to men’s fashion today is “raw materials shortages.”  Oscar Feldenkreis, President of Perry Ellis commented that they’re “keeping an eye on… rising material costs.  I think we’ll be facing a shortage of cotton for a while.  The rising costs could add 5 to 15 perfect in final price tags.”

Further, “rising production costs in China and increased expenses for shipping internationally” also is inhibiting a full recovery in retail.  Feldenkreis said his company is watching their “sourcing and fright.”  The article doesn’t elaborate as to what is causing these increases in cost.  While a cotton shortage is given as a solid reason for rising materials costs, we have to speculate on shipping and labor costs.  Are they driven up by tariffs and taxes from import taxes from America, export taxes from China, cost of fuel increases, new regulations on worker pay in China or any other factors.  Of course, this is an issue better understood by a logistics company, not a fashion publication.

Having survived the recession thus far, it’s safe to say that all retailers have had to operate more leanly and efficiently.  One way to do this is to manage your inventory more carefully to avoid losses, stifle the number of damaged goods and try to avoid having a huge surplus of garments left over at the end of a season which must be marked down.  CEO of Devanlay, US licensor of Lacoste, Steve Birkhold said “I think people have been very careful about managing inventories and trying to get away from promotional strategies by offering more value and maintaining their brand equity.” 

As far as what was shown in Las Vegas, there seemed to be a trend toward bottoms that were non-denim like chinos and corduroys.  An example of this would be Seven For All Mankind’s offering of lightweight spring corduroy jeans for guys.

This is a good example of the kind of subtle changes that happen in menswear in general… nothing too radical and out there usually.  Seven For All Mankind’s Susan Kellogg sums it up pretty tidily saying “You want newness and trend, but at the same time, you have to defend and protect your core… You can’t swing too far toward the front of the train.  Our dark boot cuts are still selling well.  It’s a balancing act.”

When I first started studying fashion at FIT, I really resisted and “didn’t get” out there, wacky types of stuff on the runway.  And there are still designers that I can't help roll my eyes at.  However, no matter my reaction, it’s people and companies like that that are at the front of the train, driving new ideas.  

Fashion isn’t a dictatorship however where men HAVE to buy the newest concepts.  If they don’t like what they see, they just buy something safer like another blue dress shirt.  And you can "keep it real" all the way to the soup kitchen.  But my perspective right now is that the people in charge of the companies that are creating new concepts and ideas are the ones truly adding the most value to the landscape. 

In the book The Fountainhead, the main character Howard Roark said:
“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won. “
It’s tough as all hell to truly create something new with “unborrowed vision.”  I remember I developed a collection last year based off of the theme of lumberjacks.  I was super proud of it.  A month later, I went into Barneys only to see that their display set up had firewood and hatchets as the theme and even a vest that was realllly similar to one I developed.

At the same time, Gap had also changed their holiday logo to near the same plaid (different color) that that a unifying fabric I’d chosen.  

If I was trying to create something that would have fit seamlessly into the market and sold well, then, yes, this would have been perhaps a positive.  But despite my best effort  at creating something truly original, I probably unconsciously let myself be too influenced by what had already been created.

Now, there’s a time and place to experiment with new concepts.  Working for Old Navy or LL Bean is not the place.

Speaking of innovation, I learned recently just how controversial the short-sleeved piqué shirt (aka a polo shirt) was.  In short, René Lacoste was sick of having to wear dress shirts and a blazer to play tennis in.  There was a knit fabric called the piqué that was perfect for athletic wear but not utilized.  It wicked sweat away from the body much, much better than the regular woven shirt.  In fact, the technology Nike uses for the most technical of their fabrics uses the basic mechanical concept of this. 

Lacoste's design was a much better design than the stuffy clothing required before.  Among them:
  • the short, cuffed sleeves solved the tendency of long-sleeves to roll down
  • the soft collar easily could be loosened by un-buttoning the placket
  • the piqué collar easily could be worn upturned to block the sun from the neck
  • the jersey knit piqué cotton called the "tennis tail" prevented the shirt from pulling out of the wearer's trousers or shorts
Anyway, during the 1926 U.S. Open, in the middle of it, he and some of his friends refused to play unless they were permitted to wear these wild, controversial new shirts.  Faced with the option of having some of the best players not play, the officials allowed it.

Also, Lacoste’s nickname was Le Crocodile, for his tenacity and refusing to “let go” of his opponent.  With the help of a friend, he had this emblem added to his shirts.  This was the first know example of a logo on the outside of a garment.  

He's actually a super interesting guy that continually developed and invented things with unborrowed vision like the grip on a tennis racket, the ball-throwing machine and the metal tennis racket among other things.  Here's a little more about him:

Polo players, after hearing of this, wanted in on the action too, as they were bound by the same haughty uniform constraints as tennis.

Decades down the road, in 1972, Ralph Lauren capitalized on the concept and used the now famous Polo logo.  Now the shirt is called the Polo shirt, even though it was originally designed for tennis and not a concept developed by the company Ralph Lauren.

While this is a crystal clear example of borrowed vision, it’s also an example of a person who is one savvy man in regards to business.  

I think the ideal creative person is a creator of unborrowed vision as much as possible and also tenacious enough to do all they can to retain credit for their work through intelligent branding and naming.  Lacoste’s name for their signature shirt is the L1212.  A little wiser branding in the beginning and the shirt we know as a polo shirt probably would be called something else.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jumpin' on the tabloid bandwagon!

Check this out...  I'm sure you've heard of Steven Slater, the wing-nut flight attendant that told off the unruly passenger on JetBlue, grabbed some beers and slid down the inflatable emergency exit slide.  Who hasn't?  All of last week, in NYC, at least, the story was getting as much press as the Tiger Woods debacle.

On Wednesday, I got a call routed from the Arbitrage office to my cell phone at 6:30 pm.  Nothing unusual here.  But when it announced the caller, I heard "Um, hi, this is Sheila, I'm a reporter fo-" and it cut out.

So anyway, I accept the call and we start talking and she tells me she's a reporter for the AM New York.  She's like "Does the name Steven Slater ring a bell?"

I recount what I remember from the story and she's excited I'm familiar.

I have no idea where this is going, but she's got a fun energy and... whatever.  I wasn't doing anything at the moment anyway so I just let her lead things.

Well, supposedly his dream job is to work in fashion.  She asks if I think he has a chance and what kind of advice I could give to him to help him out.

I tell her how most people that are fashion designers don't actually have formal training in apparel; Tom Ford has an Architecture degree, Kenneth Cole has a Law degree.  You don't need a degree to be in fashion, as the proliferation of celebrity fashion designers proves.  It's so prevalent, it's gotten to be a huge cliché.  I mean JWoww from Jersey Shore just launched her own label, Filthy Couture (actually I think a lot of her dresses are really sexy and it's totally my girlfriend's style, so no hate).

I said, basically, like so many things in the world, the people with a compelling idea or vision hire people with the technical skills to execute their ideas.  So I don't know what kind of unique perspective Steven Slater has, but yeah, I think he could succeed if he has something interesting to contribute to the landscape.

She asks me if he has any personality traits that would help him.  Of course, considering the context, it's a hilariously leading question haha...  Apparently I said, "He's got some spunk, and people in fashion like attitude... I'd rather work with him than a 'yes man.'"  I kind of was going for the idea of him sticking up for himself being a valuable trait.  Click on the image to read the little blurb:

And just because it's the diva-licious world of fashion, for every Naomi Campbell (who was banned from British Airways in 2008 for physically assaulting and spitting on a police officer and a flight attendant over lost baggage at Heathrow Airport), there are a ton of other kind-hearted, emotionally-stable people who are tearing things up as well (in the good way).

So while I appreciate and am entertained by the movie-like plot line of the story, I certainly don't think his temperament is an asset.  But it's such a freakin' hilarious series of events, I almost don't give a hoot.  Whether he goes into fashion or not, he's got options.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It may not Bryant Park but...

Last night I got invited to show some clothes at the Pearl Studios.  I had no idea what to expect but figured nothing bad could come from it, so, what the heck...

I made my way over to the 8th and 35th and didn't see where the address was so I called the number I stored in my phone of the hostess.


"Oh my God, really?" I laughed.  After I looked around me, I spotted the address.  I kind of wandered the building for about 10 minutes, then finally saw a computer to use and pulled up my Facebook messages.  I checked the phone number and saw I accidently put the digits in wrong!  So I called her up and she told me the room it was in, 1212.

I go in and NO ONE was there.  So much for "Meet at 6pm sharp for preparation."  It was all good though...

I laughed, sat down at the table in the middle of the room and called my friend Luis, who was coming too.  "On my way," sweet.

After a little bit models, started coming into the room, and I found out they were actually in the hallway seemingly just not wanting to be the first to go in, I guess.

I picked out which outfits went on which guys.  The guy wearing my Poker shirt was supposed to rock a pair of blue wool Arbitrage pants.  They were unhemmed at like 36" and the model's legs looked like a Shar Pei's.

So when Luis got to the studio, like the future master tailor he is, he hemmed them up... with NO pins and using WHITE thread.  Totally flawless looking, too.

Our stuff went on at about 8:45 PM, I think.  The people liked it, it looked pretty good and everyone was having a great time!

Things were kind of delayed and but I got to see some fun designs, listen to to cool music, watch some sweet dance routines and even got to talk to the crowd a bit :)

Here's a few of my favorites from other designers:

Unfortunately, all the flashes I was firing drained my battery so I didn't get pictures of the last designer's stuff or the last rapper.  The last guy to perform came in from The Bronx with a belt dripping in rhinestones (think punk rock but jewels instead of studs and spikes) with his manager (maybe?) in a suit, Gucci belt buckle and Fendi shades.

I'll be straight up, when he started rapping about driving Lamborghinis and it raining money, I thought back to earlier in my day... On my way back from an appointment, I was walking down Park Ave, saw the Ferrari North America showroom and stopped in to do a little dream-building.

In the back, I saw a group of customers in a glass room that they were giving a presentation to...  I imagined the guy rapping, in that meeting, and started grinning and laughing to myself.  I just couldn't see it.  But you gotta picture it in your mind before you have it, right?? I mean, I'm all over the Spyker C8... only 2 years old for $159,990.  By the time I'm 35, a Spyker will be mine.