Sunday, November 02, 2008

To increase or not to increase? That's the question.

Rumor has been circulating that Chanel will increase the price of their "classic" bags by 20% starting tomorrow. A bag priced at $2,850 will then be $3,420. 

Does that mean that the Chanel bag I purchased in Feb.2008 appreciated in value, and so I need to buy one more before the price goes up again? Hardly.

At the same time, consider the following case:

If you invested in Oct.2007 at the peak of the S&P500 of 1,565, your investment has been down 38% as of October 31, 2008, when the S&P closed at 968.75. 

Now, please compare the 38% stock market decline (interpretation - an average stock investor has lost 38% investments) with the 20% price increase by Chanel. Oh, by the way, did I mention that the Euro is depreciating? How disturbing is that? 

Not only won't I purchase a Chanel bag now, I would argue that the price increase initiated by Chanel is silly. I had this conversation with our retail analyst the other day. I told him that Chanel was being silly. But his answer is that I'm one of those "aspirational" consumers who are not the core customers of Chanel's. That's fair. However, I would also argue that some of the uber rich who don't even blink before shedding $3,500 on a bag are probably sophisticated enough to realize that they are better off walking a few blocks up to the Hermes store instead. By spending a few thousands more, they can bring home something better made, more exclusive and possibly more recession proof than the mass-produced Chanel bags. Assuming that the non-core customers contribute to 30% of the bag sales (by numbers of bags sold), and 30% of the uber rich crowd are more investment savvy, Chanel will only sell approximately half of the numbers of bags they used to. That's more than sufficient to offset the price increase of 20%. Furthermore, I am afraid that the brand will be damaged by its relentless and greedy price increase without offering better quality, product innovations or service improvements. 

CNBC just reported that Chanel has cancelled the plan of a price hike. But a peek at the Purse Forum proves that the Chanel sales force around the world haven't been informed about the final decision yet. To increase or not to increase? That's the question. If you find out what happens tomorrow, please post here and let us know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Best news in the past months!

EUR (Euro) to US Dollar now is trading at 1.2856:1

That means all fashion goods made in Italy and France will see falling prices! Remember when Sex & The City just started showing, Manolo Blahniks were merely $300+ a pair? Now I see hope! Let's just try very hard to keep our jobs during this ugly recession and then we'll be able to enjoy the fashion heaven for the years to come!
SS09, or FW09 will be priced better. Or at least I hope! Unless houses like Chanel still raise prices relentlessly without any reason. In that case, I might just travel to Paris to get Hermes instead! Businessmen in Europe be aware!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

SS09, The Summary

My favorites:

Ann Demeulemeester
Dries Van Noten
Hussein Chalayan
Louis Vuitton
Marc Jacobs
Yves Saint Laurent

It's quite a challenging season. I think that most of the designers are aware of the financial situation around the globe; but few have offered clear visions. Maybe the buying managers have seen more commercial oriented choices in the show room, but a collection like Givenchy's seemed to be out of touch. 

I think that the New York designers will be particularly challenged due to their reliance on private equity money and debt financing. Small businesses will be challenged and fashion is no exception. We'll see more consolidations.

It's a triumph for Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. I really like what Marc Jacobs did this season. Contrary to many who think that the LV collection is too similar to the Marc Jacobs collection, I think that this latest LV collection is actually Marc Jacob's best for the house. Some have said that the LV collection is more YSL than YSL, and I don't disagree. Stefano Pilati looks too much of a minimalist in comparison. On the other hand, I like his vision and his precise presentation. There is no confusion or ambiguity. 

Nicholas Ghesquiere has special eyes for the next new things. His designs are generally very current (except for the SS06 collection) and he's shown us some new fabrics along with some silhouettes and geometric shapes true to his roots. The venue completed the entire package. 

Ann Demeulemeester and Undercover both did lots of gorgeous white designs. White is not a non-color. It's extremely colorful without distraction when it's done right. The two showed us exactly what that means.

Chanel showed only three colors: black, white and pink. The venue reminds me of the Coco Chanel movie I watched on TV while switching the channel to CNBC to get updates on the Lehman Brother bankruptcy news during the too many commercial breaks. I could have been watching CNBC all along, but Chanel is just too much mystery to me that I had to watch to know her more. The SS09 collection is Karl's better ones. 

Moving on to the more colorful collections, Chalayan once again balanced extremely well between a creative mind and a businessman. Dries Van Noten, without trying too hard, showed a uber Parisian collection with delicious degrading colors and bold jewelry.

As to Versace, she showed what an Italian collection is supposed to be.  She gave us glamour and energy when we were mourning. Bravo and a big thank-you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a crazy week......

I didn't wear any colors Monday in mourning. Bless all the hard working people and the good souls at LEH.
London fashion week has been disappointing so far. I have seen Mac Women and animals from the jungle so far. But not a single beautiful dress in sight. It's been a long and depressing week for me. The worst part is that it's only Tuesday.

But I'm trying to keep my spirit up. We have the Milan fashion week next week and then the world-saving Paris fashion week the week after. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the financial market will stabilize by the time the Versace show starts. Then I will be able to go home before 9pm to browse the internet with you, my fellow fashion lovers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rodarte SS09 - The Easy Way Out

I was blown away by the sisters' FW08 collection. They were the real deal. The SS09 collection is equally gorgeous, but it leaves me a little bit empty. I can see Anna Wintour whispering to the sisters after the previous show "......well, why don't you guys keep the direction and refine it a bit for the summer season......""......look at what Nicolas Ghesquiere has done so far......That's all." I understand that designers need to be consistent and keep their directions clear, but the latest design from Rodarte seem to be lazy to me: They have taken the easy way out to recycle their ideas from the previous season and even borrow ideas from the signature Balenciaga looks. It's not even a remix. It's a re-release!

Question: which dress is from FW08 and which one is from SS09?
If you chose the first look the spring look because of the colors, you are WRONG. Nope, they are not from the same collection. The first is from FW08 and second is from SS09, shown in NYC yesterday. What's the point of doing the same look twice? U2 doesn't record Sunday Bloody Sunday every time they have a new album. Why do you, Rodarte?

Don't get me wrong, the dress is beautiful. The hard metal accessories and the fragile chiffon balance each other so well and the drape is so well done. But isn't it a little dishonest?Those two pictures, from afar, without contact lenses, look 100% Balenciaga to me .(the regulars here know how much I love Balenciaga.) Nope, they are also Rodarte. The first will fit perfectly with the looks from Balenciaga SS07 and the second look is produced by Balenciaga every single season.

So what's the verdict? 10 for execution. 2 for originality.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Marc Jacobs for President!

Some powerful fashion people please take note: never mess with Marc Jacobs. If Marc Jacobs leaves the New York Fashion Week, there won't be any point of putting up a whole week of events.

Marc Jacobs saved the New York Fashion Week, again.

Marc Jacobs for President. With all the politicians, business men and what not, Marc Jacobs is the only one who understands what America is all about.

I saw a mix of the "greatest hits" that work together beautifully and elegantly. There were metallic colors in deep red and blue with prints. There were also raised shoulders like what YSL did many years ago (but not those shoulders in the Seinfeld) and the silhouette was punctuated by wide belts. Skirts were kept long (mid-calf) but the entire outfits were fluid and lean. There was much oversized jewelry and large handbags were nonexistent. The espadrilles didn't do much for me, but the heels with a single stick of steel and a little heel pad extension look perfectly proportioned and they elongated the entire look.

Fashion designers always provide certain restraints during recessions. I was always wondering what designers would do for the coming season and here is how it’s done. The immigrants, the nostalgia and the mirrors. The beautiful women showed us what the great America is all about.

Marc Jacobs 2008!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Shopping report: Seize sur Vingt

Our office dress code will go back to "Business Formal" after the Labor Day weekend and it's time to stock up shirts again.

I've been buying shirts from the Thomas Pink store across street from my office. My sales associate, James, even has my measurements handy and all I need to do is to tell him which kind of shirt styles I'm looking for. I love Thomas Pink: their fabics are the finest and the colors will remain vivid even after over ten washes, the service is always just right - never too pushy yet always provide help when needed, they have practically all styles one can think of, and it's the only shirt maker that stocks odd sizes such as my husband's, super tall, and mine, super petite.

If there is only one thing that Thomas Pink can potentially improve, it is providing made-to-measure shirts for women. Seize sur Vingt does it (as claimed by Lucky Magazine) and so here came Jing, looking for the next perfect shirt.

The store is tucked in a row of NYC local boutiques on Elizabeth Street, just off Prince Street. I was at first a bit surprised by how plain the shirts looked. Well, it's their aesthetic, I suppose. Then I noticed that the white shirt hanging on the rack is so loosely knitted that the bra is guaranteed to show. I tried on the xxs, the smallest size, and realized that it was too roomy on me. To be fair, the length is fine but the body and the sleeves look way too big.

Well, that's why they provide made-to-measure service. But I quickly learned that the first order has to be at least five shirts. Their tailored shirts are from $260 to $490. Five shirts will easily add up to $1,500, before I see a single shirt that fits. What if they don't?

"Well you can have the shirt altered", said the salesman. I liked his British accent, but the math he demonstrated wasn't equally appealing. They would charge for alteration and my final bill would be around what a tailor-made shirt costs. Did I mention that the shirt fabric didn't feel luxurious at all?

Seize sur Vingt also sells suits and made-to-measure suits. A three-piece suit will cost $3,400 and up and require three fittings. The downside is that it's only partially hand-made. I guess that it's worth trying as long as the fit is good. And I don't have to order at least five of them to place an order. The lead time is approximately 10 weeks, so I guess that they are made off-shore. It's a nice concept, and I might give it a try next year.

As for shirts, I guess that I will see James tomorrow.

Friday, August 01, 2008

FW08 - Have the shoe designers gone too far?

The biggest let down from the FW08 collections is the shoe design. It looks like everybody has caught the disease "ugly". Just when you think that Prada has been doing ugliness for too long, others followed.

Yes, those are Pradas. Which kind of lettuce is it?
I've seen the short boots in person. They look very futuristic, but they weigh a ton. The big block of stone-like things on the heels are actually made of rubber. Each shoe probably weighs 10lbs. If you have skinny legs and need to built more muscles, get them.Those are Rick Owens. No more comments from me. The picture speaks for itself.
Yves Saint Laurent. I can tell that they are from the Tribute style, but they are not balanced. Clunky is an understatement.

So what do you think? Ugly or avant guard?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm back!

I can't believe how long I have not updated my blog! My apologies!

A few updates from me...
First of all, the financial market has not been doing well and that explained my busy work schedule.

...and my husband and I just purchased our condo in North Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY!

I have not shopped much (if at all) in the past months due to the home purchase. But that doesn't mean I no longer care about fashion. Quite on the contrary, I have just had my custom closet built and started tring different styling with my existing pieces. That's actually a lot of fun.

So I'm back, and I'll keep updating. Stay tuned, my friends!