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Wednesday
Dec172014

TFG's Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Ultra Chic Fashionista In Your Life

The holidays can be daunting when it comes to shopping for gifts, especially when you're looking for something special for that fashionista in your life. You know who we're talking about. That someone in your life who you think you can't please because her taste is so particular, and in some cases so expensive. No need to fret. Our Holiday Gift Guide will provide you with endless options, at various price points, that will be sure to impress. The products below are some of our team and Editor-in-Chief's personal favorites and officially TFG approved. Shop the guide, with links and descriptions provided below, starting from upper left going clockwise.

 

The Fashion Grid: Holiday Gift Guide


 

Comme Des Garcons Pouch: Our Editor-in-Chief's personal favorite accessory due to the star print and versatility. She can use it as a clutch for an evening out or an accessory to store make-up and other personal items in her everyday bag. 

 

 

J. Crew Pajamas: Our Editor-in-Chief owns these and declares them a must-have. They're a throwback to the old-fashioned men's pajama, with a polished cut for women that makes them ultra chic without compromising on comfort. The fabric has also withstood the test of endless washes, making this PJ set a long-term investment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Frends Headphone: If you're tempted to get your fashionista an electronic gift, you may want to throw in these headphones as a fun accessory. Frends headphones have great sound and their handcrafted faceted metal ear cups are interchangeable and come in many other colors and designs, including gold and silver, making it easy for your fashionista to coordinate them with her other accessories.

 

 

  

In My Shoes by Tamara Mellon: If your fashionista is a bit of a fashion geek and as obsessed with the business of fashion as we are, Tamara Mellon's In My Shoes will definitely peak her interest. As the former Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon made the brand one of the leaders in the luxury footwear space in the 90s. The book chronicles both her personal and professional life as she launched and grew Jimmy Choo into a leading luxury company, only to be eventually pushed out. In My Shoes gives the reader an honest account of the struggle between the "financial" and the "creative" when private equity gets involved in fashion. The book is TFG's January pick for book of the month and we're sure your fashionista won't be able to put it down.

 

 

 

Acne Studios Gloves: Acne Studios is one of our Editor-In-Chief's favorite brands known for its minimal, avant garde, quintessentially Swedish aesthetic. These bordeaux gloves are the perfect accessory that add a little edge to any ensemble.

 

 

 

Freds At Barneys New York Gift Basket: Gift baskets for the holidays are very cliche, but take it from us, this isn't your ordinary gift basket. If your fashionista loves Barneys, then she loves dining at their restaurant Freds. Their tasteful sweet treat gift basket is a true holiday winner, especially if she has a sweet tooth.

 

 

 

Burberry Cashmere Poncho: Scarves have always been a staple gift choice in order to avoid sizing issues, but why not break the mold with a poncho. And if you're in the mood to splurge on your fashionista, then you might as well go for the "it" poncho of the season presented by Burberry and seen all over the streets during fashion week. Many inspired-by versions have come out, but nothing as beautiful and versatile as the original.

 

 

 

Le Labo Discovery Set: Le Labo's scents are world-renowned for their exciting "unpolished" complexity. A favorite of fashion bloggers, their products have been all over Instagram. Rather than take a guess as to which scent your fashionista would like most, let her discover it on her own with this set of five fragrances - including the best-selling 'Rose 31' - nestled into the label's signature organic-meets-industrial packaging.

 

 

Tom Binns Necklace: In our opinion, Tom Binns is the designer responsible for starting the statement necklace trend, and every one else just followed his cue. A recent purchase of our Editor-in-Chief that we are obsessed with, this particular design can go from day to night and is currently at a steal on Gilt.

 

 

 

 

Rodin Luxury Face Oil: If your fashionista is obsessed with skin care and beauty products, than this face oil is the must-have item that everyone has been talking about. Creator, Linda Rodin, spent over a year making the elixir to satisfy her own beauty needs and we love how it makes our complexion so luminous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Adler Geode Coasters: If you want to steer clear from fashion and beauty gifts, then why not venture down the home decor vertical and get your fashionista these beautiful Jonathan Adler Brown and Gold Agate Coasters. Take it from our Editor-in-Chief, who has a similar set, these coasters are one of those hosting details that catches everyone's eye.

 

 

Diptyque Genevrier 5-Candle Winter Coffret: This candle set is another fashion blogger favorite and a great addition to any fashionista's home. Diptyque has created this beautiful limited edition gift box for the holidays containing a sampling of fragrances perfect for winter - wood fire, opopanax, amber, pomander, and juniper.

 

 

Christian Dior Tribal Pearl Earring: As seen on our Editor-in-Chief, Christian Dior's Tribal Pearl Earring have been a red carpet and street style favorite. These aren't your mother's ordinary pearl earrings. Their true edge and beauty can only be appreciated once she puts them on and gift like this will be sure to send the message to your fashionista that you really know what you're doing.

Friday
Dec122014

TFG Exclusive: Fashion Quote of the Day

"I want to get away from couture just being done for a picture or for a single moment on the red carpet. I want to convince women that couture can be done during the day and that there's a reality and relevance there, because that's what Mr. Christian Dior wanted."

-Raf Simons, Creative Director of the House of Dior                                     

         

 

Wednesday
Dec102014

TFG Exclusive: Style Curator

Sunday
Nov022014

Fast-Fashion: Predicted by Coco Chanel, Embraced by Today's Designers, and Supported by Vogue

In the Spring of 1931, Coco Chanel set sale for Hollywood after signing a one million dollar contract with Samuel Goldwyn to design and dress his female stars on and off the screen. Upon her return to France, she stopped in New York where she discovered Samuel Klein, a popular discount store where customers shopped without any assistance through the iron racks and selected dresses that were all copies of one design or another. Klein's business model relied on rapid turnover of inventory by cutting prices. The company didn't spend any money on advertising and still managed to generate 25 million dollars in annual sales, which at the time was a considerable amount of money. Samuel Klein in 1931 was what Zara, Forever 21, and H&M are today in 2014. What Coco Chanel stumbled upon was one of the first fast-fashion businesses. Based on all historical accounts, she was in awe at the industrialization and democratization of fashion and had the foresight to declare that fast-fashion was inevitable and Klein's selling policy was a sign of things to come. 

Coco Chanel (right) with actress Ina Claire (left)

The bold and sharp-tongued designer stated that "fashion does not exist unless it goes down into the streets. The fashion that remains in the salons has no more significance than a costume ball." Her response to copies was more accepting than other couturiers, declaring "what rigidity it shows, what laziness, what unimaginative taste, what lack of faith in creativity, to be frightened of imitations! The more transient fashion is, the more perfect it is. You can't protect what is already dead."  Coco Chanel even went so far as to present a fashion exhibition in 1932 where she invited dressmakers and manufacturers to attend in order to copy her designs. She wanted her look to reach the mass market because she understood that this imitation was what made the designs into fashion. 

Even with this stamp of approval from one of the most influential and innovative fashion designers in history, fast-fashion continues to be a polarizing topic among industry insiders and fashion lawyers. There are those who view fast-fashion as part of the fashion cycle, creating trends by taking the aspirational looks and designs seen on the runways and bringing them to life on the streets by making it affordable. The trend continues until the fashion elite decides to differentiate themselves from the group and create a new set of trends, starting the cycle all over again. Those who hold this viewpoint believe in what has been coined by legal scholars as the "piracy paradox," where copying plays an integral role in the cycle and business of fashion.

Then there are those who view fast-fashion companies as nothing more than knock-off mills that copy major and emerging designers and dilute their brands. Those who adopt this point of view do their best to steer clear of stores like Forever 21 and Nasty Gal. Fashion blogs like Racked, Fashionista, and The Fashion Law have even made it a point to police fast-fashion companies and call them out whenever they produce a copy of a famous design.

While it's important to encourage fast-fashion companies to avoid copying original designs and producing knock-offs, these articles go so far as to put a "ban fast-fashion" spin to their stories, which is a drastic over simplification and unrealistic solution to a business model that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales and revenue. It is also ignoring the industry's own acceptance of the importance of fast-fashion in spreading trends. Designers like Proenza Schouler, Altuzzara, Marni, Maison Martin Margiela, Isabel Marant and many more have launched design collaborations with stores like Target and H&M as a way to take their look to the masses in an effort to reach out to a larger, untapped customer base and bring brand awareness.

This strategy has also been criticized by bloggers, who claim that such design collaborations target customers who won't be able to afford the designer line anyway and simply encourage consumers to shop more fast-fashion. However, these types of partnerships aren't just mere short-term sales drivers. They ultimately serve as a customer acquisition tool, be it immediate or in the future, by allowing luxury brands to access an entirely different market of young and budding fashionistas. Maybe she can't afford the Marni, Isabel Marant, or Altuzzara line in the short-run, but she now has accessed the brand and will likely grow to shop it in the future when she can afford it.

Even Vogue has acknowledged the significance of fast-fashion, most recently in its issue last March with an article on Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal. However, some industry insiders were critical of the coverage due to the company's history of copying designers. While these views held some valid points, they were a bit short-sighted and ultimately showed a lack of understanding of Vogue's very own mission statement, which is the following:

“A commitment to visual genius, investment in storytelling that puts women at the center of the culture, and a selective, optimistic editorial eye.” 

As part of the Silicon Beach start-up scene, Sophia Amoruso and Nasty Gal are at the epicenter of the growing fashion-tech space. The company and CEO's success reflect the impact of E-commerce and social media on the industry, reveal the consumer habits of the Millennial generation, and embody the entrepreneurial and #Girlboss spirit and female empowerment of the time. While Nasty Gal has a long way to go in improving its business model to avoid selling blatant copies, Vogue was completely in the right to cover the story. Bloggers and industry insiders often forget that the magazine isn't just about promoting high-end designers and luxury brands. It is about providing its readers a snapshot of what is in fashion in both the literal and figurative sense, and that includes the business of fashion. Furthermore, looking back on Vogue's history, the editorial choice is not at all unusual given how Anna Wintour launched her tenure at the magazine. Her first cover in 1988 heralded a high-low street style, featuring model Michaela Bercu wearing a $10,000 Christian Lacroix jacket with a pair of $50 Guess jeans.

The general criticism of Nasty Gal outside of the Vogue article also reflects a lack of understanding of the growing pains a fast-fashion company has to go through as it transitions from a start-up venture to early stage company to eventually major corporation. The path to keeping up with the growth is often filled with mis-steps as the companies iron out their organizational issues and try to become more efficient. It is often true when companies claim that they are unaware of the infringing nature of any one item. Their large merchandising teams make quick purchasing decisions at high volume from foreign third party vendors in order to meet the customer demands. In many cases where a knock-off slips in to the selection, it very well is a mistake prompted by the fact that the original fashion work is not as readily identifiable as one would assume. This isn't an endorsement of companies that intentionally sell knock-offs. There are fast-fashion companies who have been in business for many years who implement this business practice, and we here at TFG don't condone that. However, the policing of this activity must be done within the context of the stage the fast-fashion company is in. 

When it comes to fast-fashion, rather than ban it or be obsessed with it, we here at TFG encourage a more middle of the way approach. As a consumer, it should be shopped in a conscious way for filler pieces and add-ons to one's wardrobe. There's no need to raid the stores for every trend one sees in magazines and fashion blogs. Define your style, set your budget, support quality designers where you can, and make fast-fashion a vehicle for rounding out your look in an affordable way.  

As a business, the fast-fashion companies that have managed to push the envelope in adopting the runway trends without actually copying the original fashion work are the ones that should be emulated by other fast-fashion companies. While walking this tight-rope is not always successful, companies like Zara have managed to take the runway trends, have their internal design team tweak as needed in order to avoid infringement issues, and make them affordable for the masses to enjoy. It does what fast-fashion companies should do with their merchandise, which is to take the look, give a nod to the designer's aesthetic, and transform it into its own inspired version. Zara's model exemplifies how literal copies aren't necessary to produce a multi-million dollar business. And while other fast-fashion companies have a long way to go in perfecting their business model in order to avoid becoming knock-off mills, one thing is clear...fast-fashion is here to stay. Merely policing the infringing activity over blogs isn't a sustainable solution. A more viable and business savvy approach would be to provide specific tools that fast-fashion companies can realistically utilize to help them become more compliant. For example, in my current job at a fast-fashion company, I work with the merchandising team to go over monthly selections and help them identify which items are infringing copies and which are not. I then work with the design team and vendors to alter the infringing items, removing any registered design marks or protected features, and transforming them from knock-offs to inspired-by versions. Over time, the merchandising and design teams have learned to apply these practices more efficiently and intuitively without any policing. I also created guidelines to help the merchandising team identify infringing goods before placing a large order from foreign vendors.

The examples above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the types of turn-key programs that can be created to develop better business practices. Fashion lawyers, reporters, and industry insiders should shift the focus away from criticizing fast-fashion to adopting a more solution-oriented approach to its deficiencies. The business model has clearly stood the test of time and fashion lawyers and professionals must extend their knowledge base beyond policing the companies and start putting on their business caps to come up with specific tools and training that can be integrated into a company's operations. No single blog or online article will have as significant of an impact as developing detailed and viable guidelines that become inherent to the company's practices and provide a long-term solution towards compliance. Not even this post.

Tuesday
Aug262014

Gucci, Balenciaga, YSL, Bottega Veneta, et. al. File Suit Against Alibaba Group for selling Counterfeit Goods

The battle against counterfeits in China rages on in the latest lawsuit filed by Gibson Dunn last month on behalf of their clients Gucci, Balenciaga, YSL, Bottega Veneta and several other luxury goods manufacturers against Alibaba Group, a privately owned Hangzhou-based group of E-commerce businesses. The Plaintiffs are alleging that the Defendants facilitated the sale of millions of dollars in counterfeit goods.

The heavy hitters in luxury goods are going after a major internet giant. Alibaba comprises of business-to-business online web portals, online retail and payment services, a shopping search engine, and data-centric cloud computing services. It handles more transactions than any other E-commerce company in the world, totaling $248 billion last year (more than that of eBay and Amazon combined). Reports of Alibaba's impending IPO are speculating that it could be the largest IPO ever by a technology company.

The Plaintiffs are claiming that the Defendants assisted the counterfeiters' business operations by providing the marketplace, search engine, advertising and logistical services for their illegal enterprises. The complaint provides details of the search and sale process, demonstrating how the Defendants cause the sales to take place by directing customers to the illegal counterfeits through their proprietary algorithms and keywords sold to the counterfeiters that include Plaintiffs' trademarks and the word "replica."

Given the ongoing battle of counterfeiting in China, Alibaba's deep pockets, and the detailed 147 page complaint, we here at TFG don't foresee this case going away anytime soon without a major fight or a major settlement. We'll be sure to keep our fashion law readers updated. Until then, more details of the case can be found in the copy of the complaint below:

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