Monthly Archives: February 2017

THE MEN’S SHIRT THAT WILL GET YOU NOTICED

SOME CASUAL OBSERVERS of fashion viewed the arrival of the Hawaiian shirt on high-end runways a couple of years ago with surprise. What place did something that for the most part symbolized boorishness and cultural insensitivity have in a luxury context?

But truly creative designers, like Miuccia Pradaand Dries Van Noten, excel in transforming the outré into the très chic. With their deft encouragement, the world of menswear said a hearty “Aloha!” to the picturesque Aloha shirt, which has stuck around as a stylish, springy piece for a few years.

This season, rather than retreat to a world of safe solids and polite prints (see gingham, madras, Liberty florals), designers have doubled down on in-your-face motifs. “We’re seeing a lot of wild stuff,” said Gabriel Ricioppo, creative director of Richmond, Va. store Need Supply Co. that carries shirts with big-scale florals and other patterns from labels like Obey, Gitman Vintage and Ami.

“People are looking for that one conversational piece in their wardrobe,” said Chris Olberding, president of Gitman Bros., an American brand known for its prints. And perhaps because men are generally wearing more attention-getting pieces, it’s necessary for designers to go bigger.

This season, Gitman Bros. is offering a shirt covered unabashedly with mint-green and teal palm trees and another on which red and blue parasols unfurl (pictured).

For Alex Colon, 31, an editor at tech website PC Mag and a fan of the scaled-up print motif, these shirts’ appeal lies in their slightly giddy and madcap quality. His current favorite shirt, from Chubbies, features a print of Froot Loops. “After winter, when everything feels and looks a little drab,” he said, “these prints are telling you that happy days are here again.” Arguably, you’re less likely to frown while wearing images of electric-hued cereal.

With so much joie de vivre compressed into one article of clothing, it’s important to keep everything else relatively understated. “The bolder the print, the less it needs,” said Mr. Colon. He pairs his with fairly subdued chinos, jeans or Bermuda shorts—allowing the shirt to do the talking. With their loose structure, camp collar and straight hemline, these shirts are inherently casual and should be filed under weekend and vacation. The only guys who can wear this to the “office” are lifeguards and professional surfers.

Need Supply’s Mr. Ricioppo recommends paying attention to proportions as well. “We’re seeing a lot of boxier fits in this shirt, and you need to make sure you’re matching that on the bottom.” He suggested slightly wider trousers hemmed to ankle height to complement the shirt’s shape. These shirts and slim pants are sartorial oil and water.

Our final piece of advice would be to get ready for a few curious stares. Said Mr. Ricioppo, “It’s big, it’s loud. You’re going to get some attention when you wear one of these.”

WOMEN, FASHION HAS YOU COVERED

It is a truism of the history of dress that decade-defining looks generally don’t congeal until quite late in the period they eventually come to represent. The miniskirts and Crayola colors of the 1960s, the power shoulders of the ’80s, the minimalism of the ’90s — all reached critical mass well into the midpoint of those eras, when whatever had been bubbling up in wardrobes and on sidewalks found its reflection in the wider world.

Well, we have finally reached that stage in the 2010s. The tectonic plates of fashion have shifted. Look around. What do you see?

Look to the runway: During the recent round of fashion shows, suits — and sleeves and long skirts — dominated. Look to the street, and the stores.

“Women who once bought strapless dresses with a little skirt are now buying evening gowns with sleeves and high necks,” said Claire Distenfeld, the owner of Fivestory, the destination boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “Four seasons ago we couldn’t sell a blouse, and now everyone wants a blouse. Young women who used to come in and buy Balmain’s nonexistent dresses are leaving with knee-length skirts with a sweater or blouse by Emilia Wickstead.”

And speaking of Balmain — even that label offered long knits, long sleeves and long crocodile skins among the short-’n’-fringed styles in its last collection.

Look to the red carpet: There was Ruth Negga owning the last awards season in a series of generously sleeved frocks, and then showing up at the Oscars almost entirely covered in red Valentino — long sleeves, high neck, long skirt — and making pretty much every top 10 best-dressed list of the night. Ditto Jessica Biel (in long-sleeved, high-necked, floor-length gold KaufmanFranco) and Isabelle Huppert (in long-sleeved, crew-necked, floor-length white Armani Privé).

Look to your own closet.

I did. And I discovered that after over four decades of believing long skirts represented women’s antiliberation, acres of material that impeded progress, of choosing to get married in a short dress and wearing short dresses to the Met Gala (twice) and cheering whenever celebrities wore miniskirts to awards shows as a declaration of independence, I had acquired over the past six months not just one ankle-length skirt, but two dresses with handkerchief hems that likewise reach my feet. Also long sleeves and round necks.

“It’s a macrotrend,” said Ghizlan Guenez, founder of The Modist, a new fashion site. Which is to say, a trend that goes beyond fashion. But what exactly is it?

The end of the naked look. The beginning of a new age of female “pluri-empowerment” (as Iza Dezon, a trend forecaster, told CNN), as expressed through the kind of dress that prioritizes the individual and her needs over the clichés of female role play. Arguably it began, as these things do, at least two years ago — The New York Times began chronicling young women on the streets of Brooklyn layering clothes in creative ways that shielded or swaddled their bodies back in 2015. But it is only now reaching critical mass, thanks to a convergence of social, political and cultural factors as reflected in clothing.

FASHION DESIGNER SAYS SHE WON’T DRESS MELANIA TRUMP

First ladies have served as a canvas for both established and up-and-coming designers for decades. But it looks like the incoming FLOTUS may have a harder time leaving her fashion mark on history.

Last week, French-born designer Sophie Theallet, whose vibrant designs have been spotted frequently on Michelle Obama, shared an official statement on Twitter saying that she will not provide clothing for Melania Trump.

“As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady,” she wrote. “The rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by. I encourage my fellow designers to do the same.”

Apparently, Theallet isn’t the first designer to distance herself from the Trumps.People reports that during the election campaign, several undisclosed designers refused to provide clothing for Melania or for the president-elect’s daughters Ivanka and Tiffany. As a result, the three pulled wardrobe pieces from Ivanka’s eponymous fashion line, bought them online and “shopped their closets.”

Although no other designers have come forth to outright state they will not dress the next FLOTUS, a few have pledged to donate some or all of their proceeds to charities that came under threat during Trump’s campaign, like Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter.

New York-based designer Kaelen Haworth, who designs the Kaelen label, announcedon Nov. 11 that all the designs on her website would be sold at a 75 per cent discount for one week, and all proceeds would be donated to one of 17 charities that were targeted by the Trump campaign.

Similarly, The Outrage, an ethical fashion brand with a feminist focus, pledged to donate 100 per cent of the proceeds from their “Pantsuit Nation” range to Planned Parenthood.

“To have such a qualified, intelligent and inspiring woman come so close and lose like this is absolutely devastating,” co-founder Rebecca Correa Funk said to Marie Claire. “But it’s also a signal that we have a lot of work to do.”

The range includes tank tops, T-shirts, sweatshirts, baby onesies, mugs and cotton tote bags.

It may seem unwise to take such a decisive stand, but for someone like Theallet, who is herself an immigrant (she’s now based in New York), some of the things espoused by Trump during the campaign felt like a direct threat.

“I am well aware it is not wise to get involved in politics,” she wrote. “That said, as a family-owned company, our bottom line is not just about money. We value our artistic freedom and always humbly seek to contribute to a more humane, conscious and ethical way to create in this world.”

It seems doubtful, however, that the incoming First Lady will have trouble finding designers willing to dress her.

In an interview with the Business of Fashion, Venezuelan-born, New York-based designer Carolina Herrera said: “I think that in two or three months [designers will] reach out, because it’s fashion. You’ll see everyone dressing Melania. She’s representing the United States.”

EMERGING GLOBAL TRENDS IN LEATHER AND FASHION

As the global population boom, there are inevitable implications on livestock. Demand for food and shelter have grown manifold resulting in an alarming scarcity of land meant for rearing animals, says Satyadeep Chatterjee.

Trends have to be predicted taking into consideration possible drastic changes. Fashion consumers are becoming more conscious of the environment. They prefer eco-friendly material, conservative use of resources, reduced emission of pollutants, greater social commitment and fair treatment of employees in production facilities.

The presence of a large number of players in the sector has intensified the competition to garner a larger chunk of the market share of this lucrative industry. On the demand front, consumers are rapidly aligning towards new designs and innovative leather offerings to ensure they are in sync with changing fashion trends. Another factor that needs to be taken into account is the rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) economies. Their dominant position in the labour-intensive textile and leather industries makes it difficult for other countries to match them.

Owing to high demand, the leather goods industry is on a growth spree. Forecasts are, this vertical will grow at a CAGR of 3.4 percent over the next five years and will touch US$ 91.2 billion by 2018.

The softest, most luxurious leather comes from the skin of newborn or even unborn calves. Sourcing this leather is unethical. Though it is a very durable and flexible material, the process of tanning leather is incredibly toxic. Most of it is chrome tanned, which results in carcinogenic chromium (VI) being pumped into the water table.

In many countries, quality standards are very high. Leather manufactures are trying to produce more sustainable products by prohibiting harmful dyes and chemicals. Unfortunately, only a few customers are willing to pay more for these ‘greener’ products. One pioneer of this trend is renowned fashion designer, Stella McCartney, who is using eco-friendly material for her shoes and handbags.

Innovation in luggage and leather goods with new technologies and design is the major driving force for the industry. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, Coach, Inc., Kering SA, Prada S.p.A, and Hermes International SCA are some of the major manufacturers of the luggage and leather goods industry.

Professors at the University of Delaware chemical department are developing artificial eco-leather that can be used to make shoes, handbags and other fashion accessories. Richard Wool, director of University of Delaware, said at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Bethesda, “We are basically taking aerospace engineering of highly complex materials and using it to make wearable items that offer a much better design for consumers, than the original design from an animal would be. And it is all green and sustainable.”