Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Shirt That Came Back Home

In a galaxy far, far away, and in an fashion industry that seems to be lightyears away from what it is now, I designed. Among others, I had envisioned and created a collection called Vluxe, and for the Fall 2007 season in particular,  I had invented a particular technique.

It was simple, yet created an effect not quite seen before. I took relatively traditional patterns in men's shirting fabrications and designed a second pattern that would be printed over it. The particular uniqueness of this was the fact that I had purposefully left "holes" in the printed designs, much like port holes on a ship that one looks through, and in this case one would see the unaffected traditional pattern of the fabric. The end result turned out to be a success in the men's market, a fun shirt that looked great with a pair of jeans.

But that, is just some context for what happened next. Years later with a new brand and collection in an online store, I received an order followed up with an e-mail asking me, I believe on Facebook, if I was really me, that is, was he, Matt, actually speaking with Lucky Nahum. Well yes he was, and he proceeded to tell me a few things. Matt told me how big a fan of my work he was and how many of my shirts he had bought in the past. Then he said that there was a particular shirt he loved but had never bought, he had "let it get away", and he literally sends me a picture of it. I had to give him the bad news that they were all long gone, and the only one I had in my possession, was my personal one and it wasn't in his size (a Large), it was an XL. Quickly he said "I can make it work, you really don't know what your shirts mean to me". That was an interesting statement in and of itself, what could a shirt, or a collection of shirts "mean" for someone?

Matt proceeded to tell me how at one time he was considerably heavier and my shirts had played a role in making him feel confident with the very first Vluxe he had ever worn, confident enough to eventually shed considerable amounts of weight and picking up more shirts and more confidence along with them.

We left it that I couldn't let go of my shirt, I just couldn't, I was attached to it due to it's particular design. I was leaving for a trip to Europe and the order from the online store was about to be filled while I was in Italy. Perhaps it was the good wine I was consuming in Tuscany, but I started to think about Matt and "the shirt" he so loved. I called my office back in the U.S. and directed them to include my shirt with his order for free, as a surprise gift from me. The story had moved me and I simply felt Matt had "earned it".

Move forward to 2015 and I discover the same exact style on eBay as I check for fun every so often to see which of my shirts are being sold. There it was, "the shirt",  and in my size too. Was this Karma at work? Was this my shirt coming back home? With a few clicks I placed the order and today "the shirt", my shirt, came back home.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pantone Announces The Color of 2015: Proving Drinking Is Part Of The Selection Process

Pantone, the company, whose job it is to tell the world what colors will be cool in 2015 and what an idiot you are to hold on to the color they told you was cool in 2014, has done it again. They have announced the color for 2015 to be Marsala

Marsala is a wine produced in the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala, Sicily and is of the red variety. But as much as I love both wine and food from Italy with great abandon, we will leave that conversation for another time and place.

As someone who spent the better part of his career as a fashion designer, I had the privilege to participate in all aspects of fashion, good and bad. Many of us would attend, twice a year, what was the show of shows for designers, Premièr Vision Paris. This was where many of us would view and select the tools of our trade for each upcoming design season, in particular fabrics and accessories. It was always a big deal and in as much as they do now have competition such as Milano Unica from the Italians, this was a big affair.

One of the "tools" we could get was found at the area where the "colors of the season" would be displayed. This was no mere afterthought, no, this was a very large, and to many, an important display. From the very beginning, as a designer of neckwear (ties) to start and later to shirts, knits, sweater and outerwear I combined my fabrics from those I personally or my team designed with those that were offered by the very best mills in the world. Early on I made a choice of going with my gut, to be different, to have a vision instead of being given one. This was risky of course, but what is fashion without risk? Don't get me wrong, on my very first show I did go to the color display, and I did inquired about buying the book they were selling with all the colors of the season in it. But the price tag for a young designer as I was then would take me beyond my means, so I did the next best thing. 

Observing and therefore learning, from those around me I began to take notes. Pictures were prohibited and very strongly enforced. It was also before smart phones, so even trying to take a pic was not going to be a choice, they would literally take the camera from you. I noticed that many would write down the colors, but how would a description on a piece of paper going to show me, once back in my studio, what the colors were. Still, I did as others were doing. Once I was back at my studio I realized that this system just would not do. The following season I was in the same predicament, but this time I noticed something else. The colors they were showing, still encompassed the rainbow of colors available on earth. You see, although as it is stated that Marsala is THE COLOR for 2015, they show many, many other colors. Yes what was different this season from last season were the shades, but the colors were the same. Yellows were available, as were greens, and reds, and blues, and so on. I decided to go it alone. One other factor though, the mills had already been in on this game, so the colors they were offering were THE COLORS of the season. So, in reality what I needed was my good eyes, my good taste and lots and lots of intestinal fortitude: guts.

Designers, those that are successful have an inner sense, they also are creating from season to season so there's an evolution that is practically natural from season to season. There are also other ways one can get around the very expensive cost of the color book that is on sale every season, but that tidbit of information, might have to wait for another time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2000, 2006, 2014 And How GQ Magazine Made These Years Matter To Me.

"Be the first and be the loudest".
This is the advice I give all budding fashion designers as they often seek my advice. Rightly so designers want to protect their work, but how can they? Patent attorneys will take your money to do the paperwork and filing, but it's worthless, it is simply to easy to alter the design minimally enough to render the patent null and void.

In my career as a fashion designer and manufacturer I have had several designs copied by the best in the business, and I along with all others who design have been influenced by someone or something…it's an inevitability.

I have also played the game, over one too many bottles of fine wine, of trying to come up with a word, a term, that would become everyday jargon. Am I and my friends the only ones that have done this? I don't know, but in the past I have made up words to describe one of my designs, to create another category of garment or as we say, to create a new classification.

Somewhere between 1999 and 2001 I created some items that I wanted to be able to have identified by name and worn in a certain way. Although the design itself was not particularly unique, the fabrics used were and more importantly the name for them was. At the time I was living in the Hollywood Hills and the weather particularly lent itself to this garment. It was a cross between a jacket and a shirt, you could wear it alone or over a shirt or knit, easy, what else could it be but a SHACKET?

Five days ago I read on GQ MAgazine about a shacket, as they stated, "Shirt + Jacket = Shacket, but together they're worth more to your fall wardrobe than the sum of their parts." This created mixed emotions, the adage about imitation being the greatest form of flattery only goes so far, after that you want to see your name attached to it, hey, I never claimed modesty. So, I thought I would go searching through some external drives long ago put away. I quickly found two documents, the first is in Italian in a letter to the factory discussing deliveries where it is mentioned to be delivered by February 28, 2001. While in the second document it is mentioned in descriptive terms for what was going to be part of a line book. I've blurred some parts to not mention companies or individuals that may want to remain unnamed at this moment. At the bottom of each document you can see the dates of April 5, 2007 and December 27, 2000 respectively, representing the dates when these documents were last created or modified prior to me using them in this blog, proving two things: one, they were created before GQ used the term, and two, that someone with as many assigned tasks as I had, simply didn't take time off because it was the Holiday week between Christmas and New Year.

besides digging these documents up, I also was curious to do the proverbial Google search to see what I'd find. A listing for shacket, appeared in the Urban Dictionary as you see here, showing the term, the description and the date it was first entered.

The last shacket I designed and manufactured was for Vluxe in a cotton/linen blend as you see it here in a washed & crunched charcoal gray and bright royal blue inside.

There, I got it off my chest, or perhaps I should say, off my shoulders for it to be worn by new designers and customers.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York: Making Things Happen

It shouldn't be a shock to anyone at this point that New York City is just one of those places where you're bound to see things you'll only see in a handful of cities in the world.

My many years in the fashion industry has exposed me to many possibilities of scenarios, so shock at this point is sadly, a bit rare. And yet....and yet.

While taking a respite for an espresso I became part of two waves converging, the popularity of cafes and the continued desire to "make it". Meet Marisa, a budding designer.
As I was also interested in catching up with e-mails I looked for a more secluded, quieter area. A second floor seemed ideal, and it was. As I turned the corner I immediately realized "fashion" was happening. After all, I'd seen it once or twice before.
I discovered a young lady "presenting" a series of garments to a woman and her assistant. I knew the woman wasn't a buyer as I have also seen a few of them in my time.

I followed intently with a grin on my face, witnessing what I soon came to understand what was a meeting between designer and her model maker.
Once the presentation was done I introduced myself. The young designer was packing the remaining garments after giving some to her model maker to take back to her workshop. She said her name was Marisa and I concluded of Eastern European origins. Pleasant but in a rush to her next appointment, who knows, perhaps to select trimmings, I thanked her and encouraged her on.

She left get working area spotlessly clean as she headed down the stairs while I contemplated how we all adapt on the way to "making it"...thank you Starbucks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fashion Star on NBC, Another Unreality Show

It's that time again where one more reality show I'll be asked about is about to premier. Fashion Star on NBC  will invade America's homes tonight as yet another "reality" show that is anything but real, but let's not get lost in the facts right away.

Wanna-be-designers will compete for the privilege of being selected to have one of their garments chosen by buyers from H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's each week as explained in the shows preview.

As in any "reality" show there's nothing real about having one's life in from of lights and cameras, but then there are the particulars of the specific shows. One can't truly present the life and mindset of a survivor when that "survivor" has a safety net which is that he knows he doesn't risk starvation and death because the show's producers will always be there to ensure that doesn't happen.

As a disclaimer let me say that I have not seen the show, I am commenting based on what has been presented so far and my considerably vast knowledge of the fashion world having worked in it my entire working career. I would also like to make clear that at the moment the only thing I can say about the participants is that I understand their wanting to be part of this show as they will get a huge leg up on any of their counterparts in the real world.

So, what is so unreal about this show? Everything!

Starting designers do not get John Varvatos as a mentor. They do not get pattern makers, sewers, make-up artists and stylists at their beckon call. They do not get the opportunity to show their collections to the type of buyers they are talking about here, let alone being able to show any buyer a single item as they are doing on Fashion Star. You would never see these stores participating in any way were it not for the incredible amount of publicity they will receive and have already received by being part of the show. Like all other "reality" shows the amount of publicity received by the participant and/or product would be utterly unaffordable and so good, bad or indifferent they are automatically elevated superficially.

So, what is real? The viewer's insatiable desire to be a voyeur, to be a spectator to a car crash, that is real. There will be real people in unreal situations with plenty of drama generated by drama queens and expert editors that will keep you glued to the TV. There will be enormous desire to want to suspend disbelief to the point of even criticizing me for showering you with the truth because reality is a harder pill to swallow. And because we have gotten to the point where as a society we know not about much of the topics to make our own educated determination as to what is or isn't reality.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Emperor And The Designer Have No Clothes.

I'm ready, go ahead and tell me that I just don't get it. but before you do hear me out.

The Fashion industry and the world at large is certainly ever evolving as it should be, we apply words to objects, concepts, entities and so on. We use words so that we can understand each other when we communicate. If we were to use the word "car" we know that we're talking about an automobile, we understand that two cars may look different from one another but we still know they are cars. We wouldn't and shouldn't call something that isn't a car a "car". If and when a car evolves into something beyond what our original definition stands for it should be called something else that more appropriately reflects it. If you invite me to go see a movie, I don't expect to see a play.

You get that? Good!

So, with this in mind I believe that we should re-evaluate Fashion Shows, break them down to no less than two categories and perhaps more and appropriately named them as to appropriately depict the difference between them.

Certainly we can agree that there's fashion shows that exhibit clothes that will actually be produced and sold in clothing stores and then there's fashion shows that exhibit conceptual clothing that look more like costumes in a theatrical production and that at best will only be sold in considerably modified versions of the original.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about using two Fall 2012 Collections, Thom Browne (top two) and Giorgio Armani (bottom two). Strictly concentrating on the clothing (hair and make-up aside),

it's obvious to see which designer designed for theatrical effect and which one designed with practical salability in mind. I'm not criticizing, I am making what I believe is a valid point.

These are not quirky outfits in the collections, these are very representative of what the collections are.
 I get the role of both, I just don't think they should be labeled in the same manner. After all,  you wouldn't want to be served meatloaf if you ordered a cheeseburger would you?