Thursday, September 27, 2007

Handmade in the USA

The NYT published an article, "Reborn in the U.S.A.," in yesterday's paper about the luxury denim industry currently thriving in Los Angeles. It reports that an estimated 100 companies making premium denim are based there, but the more interesting story is how a handful of these companies are producing the jeans right there in L.A. versus overseas.

Hm…sounds a lot like the article I wrote for this summer's Textile View magazine: "Handmade in the U.S.A."!

My article makes note of the Undesigned bamboo-fiber jeans made in the Los Feliz area of L.A., but I focus more on the efforts of smaller, upstart artisans—luxury T-shirts from Turk + Taylor and Quentin and Claude (that's their awesome batik T-shirt in the image above) and Kim White Handbags—as well as the Ground Zero of the anti-sweatshop movement, American Apparel.

I loved how Quentin and Claude (Olaf Derlig and Moises Chavez) batik and silkscreen each T-shirt by hand in their Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, and talked at length about the "soulful spirit" (!) the process gives each garment. The guys at Turk + Taylor use only organic fabrics and told me: "There's something really magical about that whole hands-on process." How great is that?

My hope is that all these DIY artists are the pioneers of a second wave of made-in-the-U.S.A. manufacturing. With all the money circulating on this Coast, shouldn't the wealthy support artists making the real thing by hand at home, rather than shelling out for mass-produced, overpriced lookalikes made overseas?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Luly Yang Fashion Show

Last night Luly Yang showed her 2008 collection at the Paramount Theatre and pulled out all the stops: a gorgeous, Tom Douglas–catered event with cocktails and dessert, all benefiting Children's Hospital. The collection was beautiful, as always, with shades of Bo Peep, peacocks, and a finale party dress that lit up like an effervescent sea creature. The crowd went nuts!

Another highlight was the "real people" fashion show: Children's Hospital patients dressed to the nines and strutting their fine selves, and Luly clients wearing their own couture—including our own Melissa Coffman! (see blurred-out picture above right—my best shot out of, like, 10).

Melissa (also seen at left—the blue tweed lunch box she's holding is the night's goody bag: B&B hair products, journal, inspirational words from Luly, etc.) is the associate publisher at Tiger Oak, which publishes Seattle Bride. The picture’s no good so you'll have to trust me on this: girlfriend worked it. At the last minute she swapped out Luly Bondage Heels for a more streamlined, walkable pair, but it looked hot. As Carrie Bradshaw would say, "I likey!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Skirting the Law!

I'm a week behind on this story but it's so crazily skirt-centric I had to comment!

Kyla Ebbert, a 23-year-old college student and busty Hooters employee, was almost kicked off a Southwest airlines flight for wearing a frayed white denim miniskirt, tight, white scoop-neck top and little green shrug a flight attendant deemed too short. She was removed from the plane, lectured in what she claims was earshot of the passengers, advised to buy a less-revealing outfit from a gift shop, and then allowed to reboard anyway, as long as she tugged down her skirt and pulled up her neckline. Shortly after that, another gal got the same humiliating lecture on a different SW flight, and was made to cover up with a blanket before takeoff.


The ladies got themselves lawyers, natch, and appearances on the Today Show and Dr. Phil, but I think they need to rally the enthusiasm along the lines of Zoe Hinkle, the 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who protested her school's Draconian dress code last year, marched in a blue denim miniskirt while waving a sign that read "Style is Freedom!"

No doubt this story will be passed off as a joke (the airline issued a mock press release on the subject in what must be an attempt to steer public opinion into thinking the two women are buffoons), but I think it's a story worth watching.

Will Southwest Airlines start an official dress code? Can a flight attendant have absolute power to deem which clothes are appropriate for a "family airline," (the reason given for Kyla's reprimand) and what isn't?

And most importantly, is the busty hirsute SW Airline stew who served me in 1992—the last time, and I mean the LAST—I flew SW—still pushing her own low-cut cleave against female passengers' faces and dragging her waist-length curly mane through passengers' cups of Pepsi?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

As the Hemline Falls...

Hilarious! Right on the heels of finding that video about the Hemline/Stock Market theory (see earlier post below), this article, "Do Low Hemlines Spell Bad News for the Market?" comes out via Reuters about the longer hemlines seen at Fashion Week. The invariable conclusion? Watch out, because the Stock Market must be crashing down again.

Pu-leeze. What about the Zandra Rhodes and Pucci inspired maxi-dresses and skirts that made a comeback in summer 06, not to mention this past season, two periods they report as economically thriving? And on Wednesday L.A.M.B. put thighs-the-limit microminis on the runway (not that Gwen Stefani is the end-all regarding the direction of high fashion, but still. Miss Sixty streetwear for spring showed hot pants, for Pete's sake, and Alexander Herchcovitch had tulip miniskirts.) The Hemline Theory was a cute idea in its time, but reporting on it now—as fact—is lazy. It's been disproven repeatedly. I'm guessing Reuters is looking for a way to report on fashion week that will pique the interest of readers who wouldn't otherwise give a flea about the shows. Maybe they're seeking to make news, not report news?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I do love it.

Admit It. You Love It. It Matters.

"It" being fashion and the article is from Sunday's NYT. The writer (Guy Trebay) loves his adjectives and he's crams a bevy of them into his 2-page article to describe Fashion: bourgeois, girly, unfeminist, conformist, elitist, frivolous, anti-intellectual, cultural stepchild, superficial, blameless, to name a few. It's no wonder we're fascinated by It!

Fashion insiders and fashionistas get their own laundry list of creative monikers: pixie-dust people, cuckoos, extravagant mythomaniacs, fops, dandies, flibbertigibbets, socialite geishas, second-rate celebrities, editorial priestesses, idlers and dupes. (I wonder where I, a Seattle-based fashion editor, fall into the mix?)

In between all the demiurgic wordage (see, I can do it, too), the article is a good read and makes some good points. Namely, that despite all the fanfare, criticism and debate, fashion is not only irresistible, it serves as an important measure of history. Agreed!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Skirt Length Theory

Crashing Down! (and up and down again).
In chapter 4 of The Long (and Short) of It, I write about the Skirt Length Theory, an outdated way to measure the economy based on the length of women's skirts. So I was surprised to see this clip on YouTube from a 2006 video called History's Hidden Engine about that very topic, even though today’s economists and historians pretty much agree that 21st-century styles, which see hemlines at every length, make the Skirt Length Theory entirely obsolete. I haven't seen the whole film, but there's some great footage in this clip: dancing flappers, early catwalks and decades-old fashion shoots.

Here's my take, from Chapter 4 of "The Long (and Short of It): the Madcap History of the Skirt":
Since the Depression and the subsequent finicky nature of hemlines through World War II, the height of hemlines has been used as a barometer to determine the outlook of the stock market. Though market analysts didn't pick up on the connection at the time, the Skirt Length Theory, an indicator of market value and consumer behavior, was born. The thinking behind the theory goes that shorter skirts tend to appear in times when general consumer confidence is high, and when hemlines fall and skirts are worn longer, the overall outlook is gloomy and fearful. (The same goes for lipstick sales, according to Leonard Lauder, the chairman of Estée Lauder.) In 1971, hot pants were the rage, and the advice at the Dow Jones was, "Don't sell until you see the heights of their thighs!" Now, in the 21st century, with hemlines all over the place, the Skirt Length Theory serves only as a cute colloquialism of the past.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

On the TV ... today!

I just found out that I'm on the History Channel today on a show called "The States". It airs nationally at 2 be sure to tune in!

From what I've been told (the show originally aired in June), I'm only on for a couple minutes--if that--but I had a lot of fun taping the segment. I met the producer when I was visiting my friend Jeri Callahan (aka the Houseboat Lady) on her houseboat in Lake Union last July. She was filming a bit for them about houseboat living and when they met me and heard about The History of the Skirt, they invited me to contribute to the show (I'm sure the fact that I was lounging around in a bikini had nothing to do with it!). We met the next day at Top Pot Donuts and they set up this elaborate filming area and we chatted about my fabulous life working as a freelance writer in Seattle. All in all, we taped for about an hour, so I'm anxious to see what was included!

The States, 2 p.m., The History Channel

Update: My scintillating "segment" aired for a mere 3 seconds not 3 minutes and none of it was about my book! But as my friend Dave pointed out, all of Eastern Washington hit the cutting room floor and I got 3 seconds, so I didn't do too badly.

The skirt may be the next fad

Well, this is exciting news. Reuters reports yesterday that the skirt may be the next big clothing trend, following the eventual waning of the ubiquitous dress. I actually love wearing dresses as much as skirts and blouses, particularly in cold weather--keeps the waist warmer!--but it would be nice to see choices of both in stores. Why does it always have to be one or the other: skirts or dresses?

"The skirt is such a conversation. All the stores are talking about it -- 'Will it hit, when will it hit?'" said Krissy Meehan, head of wholesale sales for Urban Outfitters Inc's Free People line.

"Everyone's stocking skirts just to see what happens. Everyone's playing back-up," says another buyer.

The article then goes on to say that skirts might not be the next trend: The Next Big Thing just might be pants or...shorts. Pshaw!

Read the whole article here: