Some of these logos represent manufactured fashion brands. Can you tell which ones?

We watched over the years designers turn into brands and vice versa and wondered if it was ever a good idea. We heralded Target’s invention of the capsule collaboration but shunned the pop star turned designer ethos of K-mart. In any case, brands that embrace inspiration from high-end designers to TV shows (Olivia Pope for The Limited), brands thrive on reaching crowds through innovation and the constant need to look and dress like the ones we admire. However, it has not worded for designer brands like Noir. Juicy Couture and Betsy Johnson (who have both morphed into a brand) found that gimmicks destroy rather than increase loyal customers for designer brands. In this case study, we will explore what they did wrong and how you as a designer, can avoid the same fate.

Why not become a brand in the first place?

Some may argue that becoming a designed brand is possible but that is just fiction. Two aspects define a brand, they focus on trends of the market and the price is friendly to most of the population. Designers produce work unique to their point of view and the price reflects the uniqueness of their product. Crafters produce products with a unique point of view and a friendly price. If you happen to design your work on a raising trend with prices not too friendly to the consumer, you become a designer brand which is the kiss of death as Betsy Johnson found out. In retrospect, BJ never really found her niche market and worst her prices were too high to sustain general interest. A designer brand must go one way or another either lower cost and to compete with others who produce the same or similar products or limit distribution of your work to your niche market. In any rate; you will loose money the longer you stay in between until you either go out of business or sell. If you sell, you will be reverted into a brand as your products become manufactured and you will no longer have any influence in future production. You will no longer be a designer and your name will be attached to a brand. Nothing is more humiliating. So here are some points to make sure that does not happen.

Manufacturer brands can copy designs that can lead a designer to go out of business, the trick is to design items that are not worth reproducing because of cost or a niche market.

Discover your Niche Market and Expand it

The problem with designers is that they are increasingly fighting with manufacture brands for reproduction of designs that sometime borders on counterfeiting. So if you create broad trendy products like urban or kitschy (like Juicy Couture and Betsy Johnson respectively), you will be pushed out of the market as manufactured brands copy your looks for a cheaper price then you can afford. If you wish to continue your work then find another market where the style has not gone mainstream but still desired (BJ in Japan anyone?). Juicy Couture’s journey into a brand was also because urban chic became a staple in America but London is still on the rise and by expanding to that location could of saved them from becoming a brand.

Expanding to new locations does not necessary mean outside the US, you can move from Cali to NY if you create bohemian chic products since that trend is on the rise here but not mainstream as well as take urban chic to Chicago or Normcore to Seattle. In any rate, expand and save.

Too many sales or a sale at high percentages can hurt rather help your designer credit.

Keep your prices in the right market and don’t compromise

Lowering your prices only work if you want to become a brand and continue to produce trendy products while reaching that broader market. If you want to retain your name and make money from your designs then take a page from Michael Kors and limit sales. Do not let seasonal and holiday sales deter you from holding firm to your price points. If you do have sales limit them to no more than 25% so you do not seem desperate for sales. People are weary of sale items which now are damaged or faulty. Keeping sales few and between will increase customer loyalty. If you do need to clear away product, consider offering loyal customers a discount that others will not have access. This is a great way to build loyalty without sacrificing profit.

Create a consistent Voice

Some designers can feel detered from thier vision when sales take a downward turn and decide to go with gimmicky collaborations to entice new customers. I knew a designer who paired with a celebrity that not only did not take his brand into consideration but also put out a collection of questionable morality. Needless to say, it ended up not doing much for sales. It may have been better for him to take a look at his inventory for inconsistency.

1. Clean house: Remove products that are not selling and focus on the ones that are selling. Decide what is similar between all these products and develop a voice through these similarities. Alternatively, toss out all other products or re-invent them using your new viewpoint you just discovered.

2. Commit: Only produce the products in step 1. Even if you like a design, it is important to make a profit because that is what drives your future as a designer. It is how investors decide rather you are a risk or not and how you can file for grants or incubators.

3.Stay away from craft selling sites: Sites that have a variety of products will limit how many customers come your way because you will always be in competition with other designers as well as crafters who have more price friendly products. Build your own website to your voice so customer can get an idea of who you are as soon as they enter.

In conclusion, take care to create products that are unique and price within the market you want to attract. Stay away from producing products that has become mainstream or too trendy and hence picked up by brand stores.

We received the Frosty VoxBox this week from Influenster and could not wait to try out the products. The frist set of products up for review is the Rimmel duo of “Just let it go… ” gentle eye makeup remover and scandal eyes eyeliner in kohl. My fellow blogger tried on the eyeliner frist.

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EYELINER REVIEW

The eyeliner goes on highly pigmented and smooth. It has a way of widening the eyes. However, it is waterproof which makes it hard to remove. Also, my fellow blogger complained of eye irritation so it shouldn’t be worn for extended hours. A thin line will do for this eyeliner. It is also capable of producing eyeliner trends like winged  and Egyptian double line.

THE EYE MAKEUP REMOVER

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The “Just let it go” eye makeup remover could not remove this stubborn eyeliner. We suspect it is mostly water based and hence will not be able to remove waterproof eye makeup products. However, it can work on non- waterproof products. We suggest using oil based makeup removers of this eyeliner.

We all work long hours and sometimes mass retail sales offer so much incentives to buy that we end up buying that scarf and hat set that every store has on clearance but what really makes a last minute gift special is the thought put into it. So here are some basic tips to make last minute still special…

GO FOR PERSONAL GIFTS

The packed stores, the absence of parking and the hoards of cheap discounts with “something for you” incentives are enticing but they can not predict the perfect gift for your family.

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice. — Dave Barry

Instead, go to the many local holiday markets that offer scores of handmade gifts. In NY there are seasonal markets everywhere including Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, Shops at Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bazaar. Handmade gifts offer a special touch and even when shopping at the last minute, the thought is there and hence that “last minute” attempt is forgotten.

GO FOR IN-STORE PICKUP

Some sites drop things in hours depending on your location (Amazon.com offers 1 to 2 hour shipping in NY and LA) but if you are not lucky enough to live in those cities, shop online at stores that offer in store pick up like Macy’s which offers next day pick up. Target and Best buy are both great places to pick up the items in one day. JcPennys is one store that is not reliable for one day pickup. Nordstrom is new to the pickup in store crew and so we really do not know the time frame. Neiman Marcus, however, offers pick up in as little as two hours if you order by 4pm!

SHOP ON APPS

Most of these pick up stores also have apps so if you can’t make it to your computer, then download that app and start shopping for gifts. By not going to the store, you stop yourself from buying things you do not need and are able to focus on that perfect gift. The holidays are not really about the cost but the thought so save the hat and scarves from Old Navy for “Secret Santa”.

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We usually do not pick a site for review but with such price-friendly dresses, we thought this site, known for prom dresses and custom tuxedos can do double duty as a go-to for event dressing.

Feature – colors

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With about  30 colors for each design, there is an infinite amount of dresses to choose from at this site. We love that each color possibility is added in “swatches” on every page.

Feature – body conscious

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For each size above 22W, an additional cost of 2.00 pounds is added to the price, making this on of the few sites that offer a body-friendly choice to every consumer.

For consumers with less standard sizing the site also offers tailoring for a fees. It takes from 3 to 14 days but worth it for the best fit.

Not sure of your standard size, check out the size chart.

Feature – On demand

All dresses are created on order so no worries about products that may have sat too long in the warehouse. Even though it takes up to 22 days for the garment to arrive, the quality is worth it. It is true we have “fast fashion” tendencies but this has “couture” quality.  In an hurry, skip tailoring and go for standard sizing.

Feature – all on one page

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The website uses tabs to give you access to all information about  the website as well as other dresses you may love in one page !! Navigation is made easier and the look also makes the site mobile friendly.

So many choices and features, you must check out  www.promtimes.co.uk to get prices starting at 65 pounds in 30 colors.

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Like sporting events, there doesn’t seem to be a break between sales and they seem to last longer with higher percentages. Consumers are rejoicing but are high-priced retailers sending the wrong message?

The proof that constant sales are not good for business is how black friday turned into a week (or two) ordeal with cyberweek following as stores extended cybermonday deals. Stores want to attract more consumers but sales can keep in the  red and the economy suffers for it.

Today’s customers come into the store and ask two questions,” said Cocke, retail consultant, “What’s new and what’s on sale?”

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The best strategy may be the incentive. PINK by victoria’s secret offers suprise rewards cards and gifts with purchase which packs their stores daily. Of course, sales drives traffic but it also makes consumers wait for items to go on sale.

The best thing for the economy, go back to seasonal sales and offer incentives throughout the year. Your customers will be saved “sale-shock” and it would save your profit margins.

Consumers be weary of deep discounts because it usually means products have sat on the shelves too long or  have a defect (especially true with electronics).

Ornate Earrings

 

Bold earrings are in style and are easy accessories for the holidays. We loved the Betsy Johnson earrings for Punk and rock dressing. Look for earrings with black metal detail for a hard edge. For Classic dressing, scroll detail are unassuming, pick gold hues and ditch the crystal. For vintage and romance, try timeless details like tassels, pearl drops and a small amount of crystal detail. For casual, we picked a cabochon in amber with little scroll detail. Finally, glam goes all out with crystal detail.

Nordstrom rack has some great prices for earrings and stop by on cybermonday for details.

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SOREL is one of the go to brands for comfortable winter boots. In order to shop the brand in personal, you had to track them down through several retail stores like DSW and Macys.
Now, SOREL has removed those obstacles (until march) with their first retail space ever…a pop-up store located on 345 W 14th Street between 8th and 9th ave. Even  though the shop opened on October 30 ( no doubt overshadowed by Halloween) the launch party was held on November 12. We were greeted with champagne and sweets and shelves full of boots..

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The boots were stylish, comfortable and functional all adjectives usually not associated with shoes all at the same time.

Christine Cameron, blogger of my style pill, hosted the event and after spending a ski trip in a pair of the boots had this to say

I have been eyeing a pair of karaboo SOREL boots and finally tracked them down in my size…I wore them all weekend and even danced in them..

She went on to write about wearing SOREL boots in different ways and has been in love with the brand ever since.

We can see why..so stop by the SOREL pop up shop on 345 w 14th street until March and get a pair. You won’t have to track down your size, they carry wide width, narrow and large sizes as well.

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We all were looking for something new this fall but we ended up with hybrid silhouettes with corky names from blanket-igans to coat-igans. Are these new ideas are just a way to fool us into shopping? We wait it all here!

A coatigan is a coat and cardigan hybrid.

The Coat-igan

The coat-igan is a combination of a coat and a cardigan. The item is categorized by no buttons, is long like a coat but made of a soft jersey material like a cardigan. The coatigan is not for cold weather and it is mostly for causal or classic dressing. The coat-igan comes in mostly basic colors but can also come in prints. If you want to add it to your collection:

Rocker/Punk – think about punk prints from skulls and stars as well as stripes.
Romance/vintage – Lace accents are rare on coat-igans so choose pastel colors and coat-igans that resemble more of a coat with boxy shoulders
Glam – Plaid prints are a great pick for the timeless charm

Stay away from the robe coat hybrid because it can easy look like a bath robe.

The blanket-igan is a cross between a blanket and a cardigan and usually does not have sleeves.

The Blanket-igan

This mostly sleeve-less hybrid combines the easy wrap-around cozy appeal of a blanket with the casual cardigan. Prints are mostly Aztec in nature and because of its loose fit, I find that it is easy for bohemians (a form of casual dressing) to add it to their wardrobe. However, my punk writing partner has taken to wearing this style by adding kitschy sweaters and studded boots. Indeed, it may be the most flexible of the three combinations. However, be mindful of print and length in this style. Longer lengths are great for punk and rockers where shorter lengths are for romance/vintage types. Glam should stick to the length at the hip.

The robe coat traditionally comes with a belt.

The Robe Coat

Somehow, someone thought that a bath robe would look great as a coat but we find it the hardest of all hybrids to fit into any style. Mostly, this look is not body friendly.  The previous looks appeared last year and have just slowly dripped down to the general population (circa “the days of devil wears Prada”) but this look is totally new and may need a year as well to worm its way into our closets. Wear points:

For Classic – Wear it with a tailored men’s wear look like the model above.

For Casual – Stay away from baggy sweats and stick to skinny jeans.

For Romance/Vintage – Ditch the skirt for a form-fitting dress.

For rockers/punks-  Wear with leather for a more upscale look.

Glam – Add sequin elements.

 

This coat is not for plus size girls because it exaggerates the middle area while erasing all curves.  Hence, the need to accent them with the clothes you wear underneath it. Too much trouble? I thought so as well and  this look is one that won’t be in my closet!

Sweaters in every style

 

Trends haven’t really rotated from year to year and some people may say that simple differences can date the look but in reality, it is just an excuse for you to shop for new items. Splurge on the basics based on your style but these soon to be staples are most likely already there.

Basics for every style

ROMANCE/VINTAGE – Crochet sweaters and lace accent sweaters

ROCKER/PUNK – leather-like and studs accents; bright colors for punks w/ catchy sayings

CLASSIC/CASUAL – Turtlenecks

GLAM – Sequin accent sweaters

The difference is really more to fit then with design as is shown in the diagram above. There are also a lot of crop sweaters as a throwback from this summer’s style of crop tees. These looks are great to layer but do not wear alone.

Makeup trends have gotten to the point of being feature specific; enough to make it a costume within its self. From dark eyes to fancy eyeliner, these are the looks you can turn into a costume.

Pale with dark eyes

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From fashion vampire to patient zero, this look is so versatile. Add red lips to become a sexy vampire (wear leather). Wear the dark eyes with pale lips to become a zombie (ripped clothes, wounds optional). Even less scary outfits like “black swan” and heavy metal princess will go as well.

Liberal eyeliner

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Eyeliner has come a long way from black and chunky. Use bright colors to create a tribal look and pair it with a hula skirt and a bra. Or add it to your monster costume (bright fur coat and  printed leggings). Even a bird of paradise if you have feather clothing in your closet.