Minnetonka and Minneapolis Minnesota will never compare to 5th Ave. My favorite part is always looking at the talent behind the visual merchandising.
Macy's in Herald Square is every Fashionsitas dream. No matter what your taste or budget is, there will be a section for you with the large floor plan of 2.2 Million. From Cartier to trendy Kate Spade, a paycheck could easily be spent in minutes. There now is even an Etsy pop-up shop!
The Row’s items fit into the luxury apparel and accessories category. The line consists of modern basics that are updated than what fashion has provided in the past. Neutral colors are used throughout the line, throughout exquisite suede’s and leathers.
The brand is unique in the way that they are very conscious about producing most products in the USA, this also a reason for their high price points, as it is much cheaper to outsource production outside of the United States.
Nico: Studied Film in Orange County, and had the opportunity to study aboard multiple times in college. He lived in Paris twice, and also London, and even China. He now works on global studies and some product development. His main jobs at The Row consist of Red Carpet product placement, and working with celebrities with the press. He highly emphasized how studying abroad gave him a broader outlook on life, and really helped him feel where he needed to be in regards to his career.
Isabella: Isabella was an inspiration with all of the companies she has had the opportunity to intern with. She is originally from Connecticut, and attended NYU. She was able to do so many internships because she was completing them during school, and was also getting class credit for them. Although they were all unpaid (she informed us that most internships are unpaid in NY) they granted her great experiences and connections. Her internships were with Chanel, and she had two with Vogue. Although they were very exciting and in the very inner circle of some of fashions most elite, it was not the life for her. In fact, she basically did not have a life. She said that in a moments notice you would go from coming back from a shoot in LA, and have to fly to Turkey for another. Each work day would consist of long hours and time consuming tasks, there was barely ever a moment of rest. She did have the opportunity to work with numerous fashion shows, and look book shoots since she was doing the PR.
Her current title for The Row is: Press Manager.
Advice & Schooling experience: Is to get as many internships as possible before going out into the workforce. Whether they are paid or unpaid the experience from them won’t only help you get your foot in the door when applying for full time jobs, but also help you understand what you want to do for your full time career for the rest of your life. For example, Isabella informing us that although she was always working with pretty big names in the fashion industry and fun trips, she wanted some time to herself and a social life. She also learned that a corporate setting was not for her, and that is why The Row was perfect since it is still a new company. Also for Nico, he decided that he did not want to stay entirely in film, but his passion is what got him this job. The passion for film that can be translated into passion for styling and the fashion world.
Entry Level Job Qualifications: Nico and Isabella had both been working with The Row for about three years now. Before this they had both had multiple internships and or studying abroad which really helped to further their resumes. I personally asked them if an internship in NYC or with a large fashion retailer is necessary to get a full time job in New York. Isabella responded with that it might help a resume stand out more, but all that really matters is how you “sell” and “brand” yourself and how your personal experiences cater to the position that you are applying for.
Why important to the Fashion Industry:
The Row: Is still pretty new to the fashion industry, but has taken off quickly. With pieces ranging from $3,000.00 to over $20,000.00 for just one jacket. The brand is found at high end retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Barneys.
It was really great to see the simplicity of the line, and how intuitive the Olsen twins have been. It is crazy to see how much of an influence and the level of growth that they have achieved in just nine years. The whole line is based off of Savile Row in London, and really reflect the Olsen twins personal style. The whole line gives off in my opinion:
-A clean line men’s wear look
-Hiding your body
-Solid color scheme
Even just the exterior of the MET is beautiful. From fashion to ancient art, they have it all. In fact, this is the largest museum in all of the United States. The area that I spent the most amount of time in was the technology and fashion exhibit. It is weird to think that some of the gowns featured were from the early 2000s, when that does not seem that long ago, but then again that was over a decade ago. I found myself wanting to take pictures of everything at first instead of really being able to take in the beauty of each item being displayed. After taking pictures of almost every gown, I went back to examine all of the time and effort that would have gone in to making each of these gowns. Even transporting each gown seemed like it would be labor intensive. Karl Laugerfeld had designed some of the most breathtaking Chanel gowns. One in particular was the wedding dress in the center right when you walked in, with the longest train I have ever seen. Other dresses were completely made of flowers head to toe. One was made of straws, material that looked like bone, spikey items, metal, etc.
Top Designers featured included: Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent
My other favorite was all of the dresses made from 3D printing. The concept is still new to me, but it is amazing. Literally any design can come to life with the 3D printing, and it has opened a lot of creative doors for fashion.
Why this is important to Fashion: Ready to wear is such a big part of fashion today, that people usually don’t take the time to appreciate Haute Couture. It is very time consuming, and available to a small portion of the elite. Classics such as the Chanel suit, will forever go down in history, and this is a beautiful and respectful place to showcase them. The MET Gala which is held at the MET is also a huge event for fashion each year. What everyone is wearing is immediately highly praised or scorned by the public eye and all over social media the night of. This even is invitation only, and is held to raise money for the Costume Institute. This would be the peak of fashion for any designer when each celebrity goes up to the news and they ask “So what are you wearing tonight?” and they then tell the world of the designer’s name. Although the museum isn’t all clothing, items such as old statues and vases still influence fashion and art.
It was really interesting to learn more about this flower shop. Being family owned, their business is similar to Trim Lab in the way that they are the only ones standing in New York. Walking in there were flowers everywhere, I almost did not know where to look or what to keep my eyes on.
Adam: Adam started working here because it was his family’s business and he is part of the 4th generation. They have had a lot of success in the past 100 years. I had no idea that so many big names such as Sex and the City, Anne Hathaway, athletes, or bridal magazines would have their specific flowers featured.
They can make flowers out of anything you bring them. From leather to lace to, 15 sheets of a sheer fabric to make a thick flower, they can do it all. With all of the small spaces in the garment district, it was convenient for them to have a normal showroom and offices in the front, and a decent production area in the back where they make everything. Each flower is cut with a stencil. Depending on how many need to be made, they will stack all of the fabrics together and then cut them all at one time. A machine helps to cut the stencil. After this they are sewed together, and details can be added.
Experience needed: Adam and basically everyone in the office were all related in some way. Although it may not have been his initial dream to carry on the family name of making flowers, he pursued it. Today Adam noted that he was never really much of a seller, that was more of his father’s role. But, his father passed away and he has come to take on the role of being more of a business man. Although there are not extensive skills needed to make the sets of flowers, a textiles background would be very beneficial when it comes to knowing the way that fabrics work since M & S Schmalberg does not turn down any material for a flower. Business skills are also needed. He mentioned that some orders will be for a 100,000 flowers, and they will work day-to-night to get the order done. It was really astounding to see all that they do by hand! This hand-made passion for flowers is what makes each final product the highest quality, and helps it hold a unique set of creativity.
Why this is important in the fashion world: This business is very important and relevant to the fashion world because they are the only one’s left essentially! Because they specify in just flowers, they are able to make them, and have so many versions of them vs. having an embroidery shop try and produce them. Once one celebrity wears a flower, word gets out of their company and a domino effect happens. People then started to recommend them to others and this is a large part of why they have so much success. Their largest sector would be in bridal, but they also can get creative with non apparel items. Flowers can be used for table pieces, window hangings, flower crowns for Coachella, and so much more. Fashion is creativity, and M&S Schmalberg is the epitome of creativity and hard work.
Medusa’s was one of my favorite places to visit! Just by looking at Kathryn Hauseman, you would never guess the level of success she has reached so far in her career. Today she has been working wholesale for over 45 years. When she started out there was no such thing as fashion school. In 1970 she hand-made her own bracelet’s and sold them on the streets on New York, and actually had success! Her bracelets now can be found in Henri Bendel, Anna Sui, Holt-Renfrew, and other hip-hop stores all over the world.
She attended FIT and then NYU for art studies. Her first store was on 1st Ave and 65th street in the basement. Back then she did not have really any competition against her famous bracelets, hair accessories, headbands, etc. Henri Bendel was the first big company to pick her up and start showcasing her items in their stores. She has also been president of New York’s Art Deco society for 15 years. Wholesale is the most profitable, and she now sells all over the world. Her business became so profitable at one point that she had to move offices, and now when we just visited she was also in the process of moving. Kathryn was also a little late in the game to the world wide web as she just got a website three years ago. But, her business still boomed without the website for years. This shows the true beauty of a loyal customer base and networking.
Experience needed: Some people find success without schooling, but now in this modern day and age, most people or companies will not take anyone seriously without a college degree. You do not necessarily need a college degree in art to create what Medusa’s Heirlooms has become, since some people can be creative on the side. But you do need a true passion since it is a large dedication of your time and effort. I loved seeing Kathryn’s true passion! She had a niche for jewelry and decided to go with it, and someday I also hope to be as happy with my career as she is now.
Why this is important to the fashion world: Kathryn’s journey was really interesting as it showed how the fashion industry has changed over the years. It’s crazy to think that there was no fashion school when she was young, and that she got discovered on the streets. Today that is not the way that most people would do business, nor would people really spend their time trying to make a profit on the streets. With modern day business connections, and brand development firms like RJM, building a business has become a lot more feasible in a shorter amount of time. Medusa’s Heirlooms also represents fashion in the way that antiques become one-of-a-kind, and worth so much more. Versus an old t-shirt from the 1980s people aren’t going to save like Kathryn did with an old necklace. Accessories cycle much faster through the fashion cycle.
Mundi Westport works with accessories for men and women. They design and produce accessories that are under the Mundi Label.
Some popular brands that they work with include: Steve Madden, Timberland, Marc New York, and Kenneth Cole Reaction.
Collaborating with these brands they produce wallets, card cases, iPad/iPod cases, handbags, totes, and hobos.
Presenter Joshua Hall: Josh attended The University of Michigan and graduated in 2002. One of his friends who was working at Target while he was still attending school invited him to dinner. Josh never had really contemplated a future career path with Target Corporation, but after meeting with his friend it seemed like a company he could not turn down. After graduation and applying to Target (which included extensive math tests) he got the job. Working both in corporate and the brick-and-mortar stores, he got to see both sides of production from the buying offices to the physical loading dock in the stores where the merchandise was received.
After a few years at Target, he set his sights out for NYC and has been there ever since. He started out working as a buyer for a few years, and then decided to move to the other side of merchandising sales. Through Mundi Westport he has now worked his way up to the title of VP of Sales for the Men's Division.
Experience and daily tasks needed: His responsibilities include representing the brands that Mundi Westport houses, and getting them into stores. This done from the start of the manufacturing process, all the way to distribution. The company has two locations. Corporate headquarters are in New Jersey, while the showroom is on Madison Ave in New York, New York. Mundi Westport is the licensee for Kenneth Cole, and has other licensed partners. They also have 50+ private label programs. As flash sales are not as popular now, e-commerce and direct distribution have become a significant factor in revenue. When products are not accepted between business to business selling, Josh informed us that negotiation may occur, or they will try and find mutual ground in order to move forward with the sale. Therefore, having normal sales associate experience to a corporate level of business in retail is crucial to success when working in sales and distribution.
Overall it was very inspiring to see a successful business man who was from the Midwest like myself, make an impact in New York. Although we have heard it from almost every business, he also emphasized keeping and making connections. His other piece of advice was to think creatively in ways that shopping can become more of an "experience" as some are quick to assume that one-day brick-and-mortar stores will no longer exist. But if the experience stays alive, physical retail stores will never cease to exist.
Why this is relevant to the world of fashion: It would be too much for Marc Jacobs for example to design himself every single product for every product category that he sells. This is why companies such as Mundi West help when it comes to the designing and production of products. They work on the opposite side of buying, and stick to the designer’s protocols, but still have some freedom when it comes to design.
Trim Lab is a family run business, and has been prosperous from the start. The main inner workings of Trim Lab are based off of the zipper. They are based in the middle of the garment district, and work with over 320 companies. They have worked with big names in retail such as DVF, Liz Claiborne back when the company before she was huge. Trim Lab is the people you come to when your garment’s need zippers and other sorts of applications and closures. Even something as simple as a fish and eye hook is what they can provide. When a designer comes in, Trim Lab will work with them closely to look into and try out what their business concept is, and where they see their line going in the future. A big thing to factor for designers is that although the company tries to keep their minimums low, you still would be buying hundreds of zippers in each order. The financial side of things is also important to look at closely to make sure that designers won’t just break even after paying for the closure expenses, but also to have a profit in the end.
A little history about the zipper: It was Patented in 1914. Over the course of 100 years, the zipper virtually has not changed. I thought that this was super interesting because technology has advanced so many things in the apparel design world, and has even made some items obsolete. It was really amazing to hear that the zipper still holds its initial design.
Presenters were Dave and Robert: Both of the men were middle aged, and have seen a lot of success throughout their careers. Dave worked with AG Trim Source which was established back in 1897. Robert is the Director for marketing and media within the company, and was a YKK manager before. They explained that Trim Lab is a family business at this point because they are really the “last ones standing” when it comes to making zippers. Everything that YKK produces is produced ethically, and “everything is looked at under a microscope” to make sure it is the high quality standards that they stand for. This also is because the standardization rules are becoming more and more extensive every year. They also explained that Trim Lab is part of the Fashion Group International. The Fashion Group International, “FGI provides insights on major trends
in person, online and in print; access to business professionals and a
gateway to the influence fashion plays in the marketplace” (FGI Mission Statement).
Experience needed: Both men had special circumstances that got them to where they are today. Robert was born into the company, and Dave had done a research project on improving the zipper, which YKK liked and decided to take him on board. They now have been business partners for over 40 years. For college students, there is a mentorship program that can really open doors. This would grant you a position with a major player in the garment industry. Otherwise, a business and textile emphasis would be needed to succeed in this field. It was also interesting to hear that neither of them were very proficient in social media, and that their past intern really taught them a lot since social media is now a critical platform to use.
Advice: Use any excuse or holiday possible to throw a party. They usually have a few parties each year. These parties become a great networking tool for anyone involved. Whether it is the designer, another producer, a brand manager, or a public relations individual, it is always crucial to network.
An example of a success story for Trim Lab: Was for Flagpole swim which is now sold at Barney’s New York and Saks for about $400.00 a swimsuit. Two women teamed together to make this happen. Trim Lab helped them plan out their business plan and make it all happen. That is one of the best things about their job- is being able to see a client of theirs have success and happiness in the end. When working with a client they will initially give them samples for them to try out on their garments. Most of the zippers are made in China as they have the most proficient factories. They can customize zippers if needed. They also help each client with finding their own personal niche, and making sure their logo works with them. Trim Lab has even expanded into providing bra cups as well. But, they have found little success in this sector as most people cannot afford or do not need to purchase as many bra cups that are in their required minimum.
Why this is important in the fashion world: I feel like a lot of people do not contemplate the fact that just one place isn’t going to construct the entire garment for you, nor will they have every piece needed to finish it either. Trim Lab is relevant in fashion today because when looking in your closet, almost everything has a zipper or some sort of closure on it. Especially having the company being a leader in their division because they are one of the last successes standing, they have a name and a standard to uphold to all of the apparel design individuals and companies out there. A zipper is no longer just a zipper, it can be almost hidden, decorative, you name it, anything is possible when it comes to creativity and this company. Also just having everything done on time, and doing what they said they were going to by a certain date is also crucial in the production side of fashion. They mentioned that people will get very mad and annoyed when their order is not completed when it initially said it would have been. In fashion there are very strict guidelines, and if you miss one then you are out.
The RJM Group was created in 2001 by Rita Overzat. She had a very unique story in regards to how she got where she was today, because it started out neither design nor fashion related. Rota grew up in a family of doctors, and therefore felt obligated to go into a profession in the medical field. She got her BA in nursing.
Experience needed to get into the brand consulting field: Because Rita was a nurse for many years, it shows that years of schooling for brand consulting is not needed. But, in order to even start up a business like she has, connections, money, and interpersonal skills are what make it all possible. She also was the director of sales for Badgely Mischka for some time, which brought great connections into her life.
What RJM Does: Different designers of mainly accessories will come to Rita. They come to her because she does all of the work needed to get a company on their feet that they otherwise would not have been able to do on their own. A really big thing that she helps companies out with is getting them their own Trademark or License. Once they obtain their name from either of these, legally no one else can use it.
Some labels that they feature: Berin, WXYZ, Julieri, Jennifer Mark
Once a brand has their own name, and a solid product selection (Rita may make suggestions of what the designer needs to change in order to be successful), she uses her PR connections. Through this the brand development really comes to life once she brings the products to trade shows and showrooms. Some of her brands have successfully even sold out after being shown to buyers. Brands that she has brought on have even made it in department stores. Rita really has found success and has a knack for design and networking. Brands can even start to sell internationally through Rita. A downfall though she spoke of was in handbags recently. Everyone she works with would say that lately the retail world just has not been as prosperous as it has been in the past. The word that most people would use is that it has been “challenging.”
Why important to the world of fashion: Everyday hundreds of designers and creative individuals are trying to pitch why their particular design or item is better than the ones already out there in the stores. Most of these individuals do not have the money or the connections to make their product successful on their own. Brand consultants are crucial to the fashion world to help people and their brands become exclusive and successful. But, Rita did mention no matter how great your product is, the one thing that always is a factor of success is the timing of entry within the market. When a customer comes to her, she is very picky when it comes to who she decides to work with in the end. When they come in they must have multiple prototypes, and or drawings of what they would like to sell. The sector that they really don’t have to be prominent in is their own marketing scheme, since Rita will help with this. When all of these steps tumble to the finish line, she says that it becomes super rewarding to see her clients reach success.
SemSem is a factory and was named after the owner’s daughter. Everything produced is somewhat based off of the owner Abeer’s Egyptian heritage. Abeer had an engineering degree, and that is what made all of this production come to life.
Susan Lam: Was the presenter. Susan studied marketing and management, and when it came time to get a job in these fields the recession hit. She was not inspired, nor was she passionate enough to keep going in this direction. She then quit her job and went back to school at Parsons. Originally not from the New York area, it was possible for her to move here spontaneously and pay for school at the same time since she was going to be living with her boyfriend and friend in New York. Otherwise, she said for most people it is not possible or financially feasible to move here on your own and still be able to make ends meet. She’s been working for SemSem for about four years now. Some brands that they work with include Code Hippie, Neli Lotan, and The Row. Part of Susan’s job is to make sure that everything is going smoothly from the beginning of the production process. There is about a three to four month incubating process while getting the clothes ready. Directly following the shows, they then put the merchandise on the market if it was bought. Buyers will come to the showrooms, pass on their numbers from the orders, and from there production will then produce what it was asked to so that there is not a huge excess amount of inventory. But, they do usually order a little extra of the merchandise for trunk shows.
It was really interesting to find out how expensive everything was after it is made when it is sold on the retail floor. SemSem focuses on mother and daughter pieces. For example, there was a particular fabric that was light pink and white used for both mother and daughter pieces in differing styles. My favorite was the blue children’s blazer that matched a tan replica for the mother. These pieces did not come cheap as some of the children’s clothing starts at $10.00 and goes up to $495.00. Most of the adult pieces were at least $1,000.00, but start at $495.00. But, by just looking around at the workers in the factory, the price points made sense due to the high level of detail being put into each garment. She also explained that a lot of the fabrics are from Italy and France, and run $30-$60 a yard. 20% of the garments are made in Madagascar, and the other 80% are made in the United States.
Experience needed: When working on the production side, Susan spoke highly of working your way up. Although she no longer personally works in the exact factory that we visited, she had to at one point. It may not be the glamorous side to retail and apparel design, but factories are the reality of it. It is also very beneficial just as it was said in the embroidery studio, to know exactly how to construct a garment. The knowledge of how a garment starts can go very far even when on the corporate end of things.
How this relates to the fashion world: The SemSem factory shows how the fashion industry can constantly multitask. Susan was telling us how she usually is working with about 40 styles at once. Also production relates to so many different sectors of retail. There is private selling, pop-up partnerships, internal and external resources, and having holidays come to a selling advantage. There are also more private selling events each month because of the owner of the SemSem Factory has inner connections in the fashion world. It was really eye opening to see how much work really goes into not just embroidery, but instead the production of a whole entire garment that can be categorized in a high end sector of apparel.