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Location: Bi-coastal, United States

Working in the trenches of the fashion industry for years.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Second Life produces real millionaire

Thanks to fellow Sewing Diva Mary Beth at The Stitchery for sending me this story from Business Week's Techbeat on Second Life's first millionaire.

Just in case you were thinking that this is all so much fluff, it seems that if you are willing to devote your time to 'playing the game', there are real cash rewards. I guess that works for any endeavor - from the NBA to presidential politics. Notice that the headline on Business Week's webiste says "First Millionaire". More can be expected. Is this a new twist on Timithy Leary's mantra "turn on, tune in, drop out", as we turn on the computer, tune into Second Life (or any other all-consuming community) and drop out of real life?

I am feeling particularly curmudgeonly on this topic. Who can devote that much time to amassing fame and a fortune on-line? I have a job in real life, family, laundry, stuff I want to do like sew, read. Most of the time I can barely sit down to devote time to The Sewing Divas and MondoMode. I guess I won't be making a fortune in Second Life anytime soon, I seem to be devoted to First LIfe.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Virtual Living

RL vs VL? Real Life versus Virtual Life? Mondomode noted last week that Dior has an on-line shop for Victoire de Castellane's Dior Joaillerie collection and that the French have embraced Second Life way beyond the inroads made here in the USA.
NYTimes technology guru David Pogue's blog topic this week Second Life includes part of an interview with the founder. The average member spends 4 hours a day on-line in Second Life, and millions of dollars are spent on virtual products that can be used only in Second Life.
You know how that insulting idiot says "Get a life!" to you when you're not behaving how they think you should? Perhaps we should be advised to get a Second Life. Go to your room, shut the door, and live in a virtual world if this one is too complicated for you.


I see that Women's Wear Daily has deigned to notice the new upstart fashion community Iqons. Claiming 1500 members, with 100 a day signing up, Iqons intends to be the FaceBook or MySpace of fashion. Designers are not paid to participate, but somehow they have convinced folks like John Galliano and Alber Elbaz to be featured Iqon of the Month - to interact and offer advice to other Iqon members. Members include designers, photographers, stylists and students. The founders of the site hope that it will provide networking opportunities for the fashion business, as well as entertainment for fashion consumers.

Daniel Goleman, of Emotional IQ fame, wrote about "the online disinhibition effect" and the emerging field of social neurosicence for the NYTimes Science Times section this week:

In a 2004 article in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior, John Suler, a psychologist at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., suggested that several psychological factors lead to online disinhibition: the anonymity of a Web pseudonym; invisibility to others; the time lag between sending an e-mail message and getting feedback; the exaggerated sense of self from being alone; and the lack of any online authority figure. Dr. Suler notes that disinhibition can be either benign — when a shy person feels free to open up online — or toxic, as in flaming.

Apparently it's due to the lack of social cues we normally get from reading the faces of those we interact with in RL (Real Life). We've noticed this devolution of discourse into flamewars, trolls and emotional vampires elsewhere, haven't we?
I am looking forward to seeing how the Iqons community can control this real and unfortunate tendancy to sink to the depths in cybercommunities. It's not like anyone involved in the fashion industry has a tendancy to cattiness and snark anyway, is it, hmmmm?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Virtual Fashion, Design, and Marketing

Boing Boing reports that Victoire de Castellane's new jewelry collection for Dior has a site within the massive multi-user on-line game Second Life, with a link to the original post at ShowStudio. Why, you may ask, should I care?

There are rumblings that sophisticated French netizens are embracing virtual on-line worlds and setting up shop. What better way to reach your demographic, than in the on-line version of guerrilla marketing? All you need is a team of techy nerd graphic artists to design your campaign and voila!

Let's see, first I have to figure out how to sign up and log in to Second Life. Then I have to be able to navigate in that world well enough to find the hot spot. We can assume that I already have a level of 21st century sophistication that is beyond high powered Wall St. exec that can't program his TiVo or enter phone numbers into his cellphone. You know, the one that sends you emails in all caps because he can't be bothered using the shift key. Or using spell check.
I guess within the designer/techno-nerd community, someone must be making money. How else to afford Dior Joallerie?

Designers, if you are tired of plying needle and thread, you can become a cyber designer and construct and sell clothing and accessories for online virtual worlds. A different skill set, to be sure, but at least you don't have to worry about cutting something the wrong grain, or slicing off a hunk of your armhole accidentally with your overlock machine. (Ask me how I know!)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Times Reporter Bitten by Sewing Bug

Michelle Slatella writes on cybershopping for the New York Times. Her column was in the technology pages of the Circuits section for ages. This week's article "On Pins and Needles -but Not Missing a Stitch" appeared in Thursday's Styles swing section, where one is now more likely to find her 'barely techno female wowie look what I found on the web' pieces. It is all about her newest addiction - to sewing.

She starts out small, as in doll clothes for a daughter, and wonders if she can make big people clothes too. Typical of a Slatella piece, she tells us what she's been searching for on the internets, and what she found. While some of us more sophisticated sewing enthusiasts can hardly argue with her mentions of Clotilde, and Reprodepot, why on earth would she devote her last paragraph to Joanne's?

We hope that Michelle's path to sewing excellence will carry her quickly past Joanne's and onward to Emmaonesock, Textile Studio, or Timmel Fabrics.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fear of Sewing

How many of us have approached a project with that knot of terror in the pit of the stomach? I know that I regularly feel that I am sewing above my skill level. How about you? After years of working in sample rooms, sketching, and making patterns, I know how things are supposed to be made, for the most part. There is a big gulf between that, and actually sitting at the machine and doing it myself.

I recently came up against my sewing anxiety while working on this boiled wool sweatercoat. Everything managed to go smoothly until I got to the pockets. Of course, one could always make patch pockets...but then, I would have to match the pattern. I couldn't imagine interupting the design with a mis-matched patch pocket. That left me with puzzling thru inserting a single band/single layer "buttonhole" pocket.

Why single layer? The whole garment is unlined and made for the most low-bulk finish solutions possible. This double face boiled wool jacquard sweater knit fabric is very heavy, and I wanted this to be a sweater, not a coat with linings and interlinings, etc.

Starting with a commercial pattern, New Look 6536, which had a similar collar to what I wanted, I have added length and tweaked the fit. But now I am in uncharted waters!

Here's how I finished the collar: I have used the selvedge as a trim for the collar/front edge, and the cuff edge. I will use the same trim for the pocket band. So far I have managed to get past my fear and trembling to install about 2/3's of one pocket. The body is slashed and I've turned the back of the pocket to the inside, so it's definitive.

Let's see how long it takes me to get up the gumption to finish the rest of it. I am shooting for it to be finished before the warm weather comes. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Levi's goes after 'copyists'

See the Jan. 29, 2007 NYTimes article "Levis' Turns to Suing Its Rivals" for revelations on how the San Francisco denim maker is attempting to protect its brand.

Not only must other denim manufacturers be wary of placing any form of topstitched arc on the rear pockets of their jeans, you can't place a label in the vertical pocket seam on either the right or left side. They have a world wide team of store detectives looking for violations of their patent.

It's rare to have a patent on a sewn product in the garment industry. Gee, I guess Levi's really did invent something, huh?

Take a look at what Levi's considers to be an infringement~ As we saw in a previous MondoMode post on piracy and intellectual property issues in the fashion industry, copying can sometimes spur innovation. Apparently innovation is no longer Levi's business.

Stories abound in the Garment Center of design team meetings at the Gap with file folders with 500 pocket designs on the table. Don't quite like the look of that one? Let's try this.

Is Levi's, and in turn all of the denim manufacturers that it has spawned, so bereft of ideas? I agree that those manufacturers that are able to protect their brand should do so, no quarrel there. What gets me is that Levi's, a company that has more money than God, and 'owns' the concept of denim jeans, was unable to see which way the wind blows. Let's do some designing, what do you say?

Don't get me started on how the Gap has also given up its pre-eminent place as well! Is it something in the water in San Francisco? Nah, more likely it's the fickle finger of fashion. It's hard work to stay on the edge, maintain your customer base, and attract new customers as your base ages out.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tag you're it - Part 2

According to Mary Beth at The Stitchery who tagged me today:

Here’s how it works:

1. someone tags you,
2. you post five things about yourself that you haven’t already mentioned on your blog,
3. you tag 5 people you’d like to know more about

If you already knew that I grew up in Hawaii, I need to come up with 3 more things to tell you about.

I first saw this image of Gloria Swanson when I was about 8 years old in a wonderful coffee table compendium of the old Vanity Fair photos and articles. I am sure that it seared my brain with the ultimate Diva image. I loved that book! It was like my bible. I taught myself how to draw from comic books. Besides Archie and Jughead, there was a Dobie Gillis comic, based on the popular TV show of the time. And Patsy and Hedy, a fashion comic that encouraged readers to submit drawings for publication. I drew many many things, but never submitted them.

My mother's cousin was Tina Leser, a well known designer of mid 20th century America. She is one of the designers credited with inventing 'playclothes' and American sportswear. She is often mentionned in the same breath with Claire McCardell, and won the Coty Award in 1945, the same year that Adrian won. I suppose knowing this must have had some influence on me, but I never met her until my mother took me to see one of Tina's fashion shows at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki when I was 15 or 16 years old. (When I was in high school I thought I was going to get my PhD in historical linguistics, I had no aspirations to be a fashion designer.)Tina was pretty busy, and fairly distant - I think she barely knew my mother - they hadn't seen each other since they were 9 or 10 years old.

My second time around moving to New York, after working in fashion on the West Coast and Hawaii, I worked with Tina for about 5 or 6 months. She had moved from 550 7th Ave (THE designer building with Ralph and Calvin, el al) around the corner to 40th St. It was the beginning of her last hurrah. Though she was kind enough to me, she was a 'screamer' - later when I told my button supplier, an old timer, that I had worked with her, he rolled his eyes heavenward. I apparently wasn't the only one to suffer. Her half-brother told me that he hadn't even lasted that long working with her.
"Never work with your family" he said, words I have lived by ever since.

OK, I will have to think about the last item of the 5. Meanwhile, whom shall I tag? I will have to think on that as well.


Mary Beth, fellow Sewing Diva, at The Stitchery has tagged me. I am supposed to reveal 5 things that never revealed in my blog about myself. That leaves it pretty wide open.
But you knew I grew up in Hawaii?

Did you know I designed for a sweater company, Objects d'Art, for a long time? We made this sweater for Keiko her first winter in NYC - poor thing she was shivering. This was the first fitting. We needed to raise the centerfront neckline.

I worked in imports for a long time in junior sportswear. "Back in the Day" we had our yarndye recolorations hand painted - CAD systems cost $40,000 and were not particularly intuitive to use. We also used to carry graded sets of hard paper patterns in our suitcases on overseas trips. I made more than 36 trips to India - I lost count.

Hmmm, I will have to think of another couple of things to add. Right now, back to work. Check in later and see what else!