Everyone’s going nuts for sci-fi yoga pants made of car seats and rotten milk that are also edible. Workout clothing made of car seats and Silverescent and Kevlar (the stuff used for flak jackets, which I just learned is a German contraction for the word “Flugzeugabwehrkanone”—and that’s no joke). From May 2013-May 2014, apparel sales rose just 1% over the year prior, while workout clothing went up 8%. That’s because people are jonesing to wear sports bras made of sour milk: “You dry it to a protein powder that looks sort of like flour,” explains Anke Domaske, the founder of Qmilk, which makes its thread from, yes, sour milk. “…Add the flour, add some water again, then you have the dough…” The resulting material is resistant to bacteria and fire, and because it’s just milk and water, is compostable and edible. “I’ve been eating it with strawberries,” says Domaske. In sum: we’re looking at a world in which we roll into yoga class in a jacket meant to protect us from grenades and pants made of cheese curds. Namaste. So: is science better at seducing consumers than fancy fashion marketing? Are we going to have to stop rolling our eyes at smart fabrics? Shall we tout the thermodynamics of Fendi 2Jours? Did Chanel’s new silk-mercury bomber give this socialite cancer? (NYT)
Andre Leon Talley thinks you should get reading. A power trio of ALT plus the inimitable Toledos did a Q&A at Sardi’s last Wednesday for YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund recipients, and of course the whole discourse was studded with pearls of wisdom. A highlight, from ALT: “Mrs. Vreeland and I remained friends for all her life and I have to say a lot of it was based on literature and reading. Of all the things you can do in life, the best thing you can do is read. Whatever you’re interested in, whatever your field is, be it marketing, fashion design, whatever, you have to do your homework…. I take mental notes. Anna Wintour and I have sat at fashion shows for thirty years and we’ve never taken a note because somehow I have some elephantine memory, I know the best dresses. I don’t know every single dress in every single show, but I can remember the best dress collar in 1982—it was on Bonnie Berman, a white dress in double crepe, a spring dinner dress but done like a man’s shirt, men’s tailoring around the pockets and it was all embroidered in gold by hand. To borrow from Judge Judy, Vogue didn’t keep me around for 30 years because of my looks, they kept me there because I knew what I was talking about.” Carmel Snow, ALT notes later, could simply smell the best dress. (Vogue.com)
WWD is now really sure Dior’s numbers are up. After a math snafu, WWD is back! with more on how well the house is doing. Raf Simons’s women’s RTW is doing brisk sales, of course, but men are apparently taking to Kris Van Assche’s menswear and Victoire de Castellane’s jewelry, too: both are up double digits. Dior attributes their growth to an effort to position their brand even higher in the marketplace. (WWD)
All the news having a fit in print.
This is the front page of today’s WWD. Just kidding. It kicks off a four-page (yes!) story on the anodyne reality of today’s fashion advertising, which has eschewed the controversial imagery it was once known for—think Benneton, things getting between Brooke and her Calvins, and Tom Ford—in favor of bland messaging and an emphasis on digital strategy for brand awareness.
Those interviewed point to the growing (if not singular) importance of digital media—it’s hard to be provocative when everything’s already been done, people are too afraid to be controversial, etc. But it’s more than that. Digital strategy is now the required way of communicating with your audience, and so difficult to get right. And most notably, it is about exerting control over your story. If someone says something negative about your brand on Twitter, it’s time to bring in the crisis management team, not celebrate the fact that you’re owning the news cycle. Consider Kenneth Cole, whose (seemingly?) misguided tweets that improbably attempt to tie international crises into his products. He’s always met with groans that he should get off Twitter, though he admitted to Details in 2013 that it’s all on purpose.
Nonetheless, his messages are always met with groans to get off Twitter. It’s still seen bad social media. For a brand, it seems, enthusiasm now means a round-up of links with commentary amounting to “Loved this.” (WWD)
- Harrods to open 42,000 sq.-ft. nail polish department. I mean shoe department. That’s smaller than Saks, which has its own zip code, 10022-SHOE. (WWD)
Dior Couture sales are slightly down. No wait, they’re way up. A “miscalculation” (FASHION MATH!) means the print edition of WWD reported a 1.5% dip in sales for Dior Couture, when in fact they’re up 13.4%: “Due to a miscalculation by WWD, the percentage changes are incorrect in the print edition of the paper dated July 28.” I am pretty bad at math. But that is quite the, ah, disparity. (WWD)
- Move over, Supreme. There’s a new…Supreme Leader. (BoF)
All the news that’s in the news!
“White Birkenstocks are Taking Over.” Walk outside your apartment: lurking to your left, behind a building, you see the massive, looming shadow of a menacingly stark white comfort shoe. To your right, a 50-foot-tall white Birkenstock crushes a crowd of Ohio tourists on the TMZ Bus Tour, who scream but cannot be saved from the sole of this decidedly ungentle giant. White Birkenstocks are Taking Over. (Fashionista)
Enrique Iglesias has 44 million fans on Facebook. Enrique Iglesias, who I forgot about until I finished writing the previous sentence, is releasing a fragrance. Why? Who is putzing around our big beautiful world thinking, “What scent is me? Am I musky scent? Or am I more floral? Do I prefer notes of maple jasmine? This would all be solved if I could just smell like Enrique.” The joke is on me, because Enrique Iglesias has 44 million Facebook fans who are ready and willing and now, able, to smell like Enrique Iglesias—even if it means risking death. Except for that last part, that’s all true. What does it mean to smell like Enrique Iglesias in 2014? Per WWD, “Top notes are of Italian mandarin, cedrat and violet leaves; its heart is of black pepper, saffron and pomarose, and the drydown features Texas cedarwood, roasted tonka beans and suede.” In other words. (WWD)
- CFDA buys the fashion calendar. And it was 50% off because it’s almost August. Nonagenarian Ruth Finley is handing over the keys to the CFDA, who are hoping to make the entirety of NYFW less of a fustercluck of hopping from the reaches of West Chelsea to the blahly corporate tents of Lincoln Center for 15 minute stretches. Historically, NYFW is the least streamlined of the big four, particularly because IMG and Made have hosted shows as separate entities, often in competition. Fashionista reports that both entities are in, which should do much to simplify the schedule. Finley will stay on as a consultant and she is a force of nature; picture a woman with old school chic and a mean collection of brooches tellingStyle.com in 2010, “If we don’t like a time—if you book four o’clock on Monday—I’ll tell you you’re not going to get the top models because Marc Jacobs booked from three to nine.” (WWD)