You’ll never get bjored with Bjork.

I remember when I was in London I saw an Iceland tourism billboard that read, “You’ll never get bjored in Iceland.”    This week I’m off to the great desolate land of active volcanoes and wild horses to see if that stands true.  Worse comes to worse and I do get bjored, at least I know I’ll never get bjored of Bjork.  I hope to see her in a hot spring swimming around as some sort of bird.  Now that would be a picture.

Where to shop for wardrobe. Part 3 – Know a Store’s Identity

It is important to know stores’ identities so that you don’t waste time looking for items in the wrong stores.  When I say store’s identity, I mean what a store is known for or defined as.  For example, Gap=Casual, Banana Republic=casual business, Bebe=female late night, American Eagle-Teenage, French Connection-Urban casual business, etc.  Some stores are also known for their trademark logo or like to plaster their label across all of their merchandise.  For example, Polo might have great options for the upscale female demographic in their 40’s I’m shopping for, but I unfortunately can’t use their product because of their recognizable trademarked logo.  The same goes for Abercrombie when looking for tops for the teenage demographic.  Another example of this for colors is Club Monaco, who only work within a particular muted color scheme.   If you’re looking for brights, you don’t want to waste your time stopping here.

This is an easy part of the job that doesn’t take too long to learn.  Again, it’s a little bit of research to save a whole lot of time.

Where to shop for wardrobe. Part 2 – Know the Return Policy

The element of returns is the most shocking to those who are learning about styling.  As I mentioned in previous posts, your job as a stylist is to offer the best options to the client you can for the project.  Options means that you’re going to have many, many items that won’t be used and have to be returned.  There is no correct ratio of what is bought to what is returned, but I would would say typically, 90% of what was purchased goes back to the stores (that may be generous), which is an incredible amount of stuff.  If one of those receipts comes from a store that only offers store credit or exchanges, your budget might be blown and you as the stylist would have to eat those costs.  Clearly you don’t want this.  That’s why it is very, very important to know your return policy.  If you’re shopping someplace new, make sure you know the return policy before walking out the door.

I think it is important to be sensitive to who you’re buying and returning from.  Generally, I’ll try to stick to large stores where their numbers won’t be as effected by my whopping return.  I never, ever shop at small boutiques for jobs unless I know a majority of the items can be purchased or rented and it would be worth that small business owner’s time.    I don’t have a problem returning to mass retailers because at the end of the month I’m still buying a lot more items than the typical consumer.  I also never return damaged items to stores because you NEED these big retailers to complete your job successfully and would never want to be blacklisted.  In Chicago, we have limited options in comparison to New York and LA, which means you must stay on good terms with all of your vendors.

Now you have two elements to consider when shopping, the demographic and return policy.  Lastly, I will talk about store’s identity.

Where to shop for wardrobe. Part 1 – Know Your Demographic

This is a start to a 3 part series that goes behind the rationale of deciding where you should shop for wardrobe.  There are a lot of reasons I’ll shop at particular stores for certain jobs.  A big consideration for me is thinking about the character I’m trying to represent.  For example, the video project I worked on last week contained actors playing jet set business executives.  Therefore, I shopped where it is feasible with the budget allowed at places business executives would shop.  If you’re portraying a character, I think it helps to think like the character.   Everyone identifies themselves with particular stores.  Granted, you don’t always have the budget to support this, in fact you never have the budget to dress executives with the expensive clothes that they’d probably wear, but you can find ways to cut corners.  For example, I would go for the expensive suit because that’s tough to fake, but since the jacket isn’t touching skin, it’s returnable.  Keep the pants, buy a button up shirt and tie at a discount retailer like Filene’s Basement or TJ Maxx and call it a day.

This also goes in the other direction for talent that are meant to be represented in a less fortunate manner.  It wouldn’t make sense to go to Hugo Boss and deck the talent out.  The nicer fabric and slicker cut is apparent.  A good example of this is the difference between network television and HBO.  On network TV, everyone looks damn good because they want each actor to appeal to the masses.  There is one particular show that I really like where one of the characters is from a broken up home in rural Texas, yet she wears Seven jeans.  This particular actress is especially tall and probably is tough to fit.  The quick solution was to go designer because you have more options, but for me, the recognizable stitching on her jeans throws off the character.   Also, the fact they fit her like a glove throws off her character.  The reality is that she would shop at a mall chain or Target and would buy the jeans that emphasized and fit the feature she likes the best, but hit her ankles at an awkward length.

I know that this may be overlooked by a majority of the audience, but I think the most successful projects are the ones that look at the minutia and makes sure those elements make sense in building the big picture.  The cut and fabric plays into the character because they may only be sold at a particular level of store.  That is why it is important to know your demographic and where they would shop.

American Apparel Seems to Actually Be on Its Last Leg

This is a re-post from the NY Times Fashion Blog’s news feed.  I’d be lying if I said this made me sad.  Maybe if they put something on sale every once in a while and thought of better campaigns than underage girls spreading their legs in leopard print, thong leotards.  For a company that is doing the right thing by manufacturing in the USA, their focus and intent seems to be a little off.  It sounds like people are finally taking notice and buying their neon leggings elsewhere.

American Apparel Seems to Actually Be on Its Last LegPhoto: Maura Murnanae

NY Times Post:

What would the world be like without American Apparel? What would your life be like without American Apparel? Naked? And cold, but with warmer ass cheeks? These questions, like it or not, become more real with each passing day as the clothing company’s financial woes reach terrifyingly dismal places. The company was just subpoenaed by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for switching accounting firms, which sent the stock price tumbling 13 percent — leaving the shares dropping 66 percent as a whole over the last twelve months. The company has also failed to file its second-quarter earnings, while the SEC continues to threaten to de-list the company from the stock exchange. Meanwhile, CEO Dov Charney says that American Apparel might not meet obligations to creditors, which could lead to them losing access to their last lifeline of credit. All of these things, the company says, “raise substantial doubt that the company will be able to continue” under the threat of going bankrupt.

So how much do you love your leggings and your reasonably-but-kind-of-overpriced bat-wing hoodies? Do you love them? Do you really love them? Enter WWD:

“Based on this, and trends occurring in the company’s business after the second quarter and projected for the remainder of 2010, the company may not have sufficient liquidity necessary to sustain operations for the next twelve months,” American Apparel said.

The company estimates it has more than $91 million in debt at this point. Charney recently told Business Week:

“A lot of assumptions that I grew up with are no longer reality,” he says. “Those were things that we could rely on: that lenders will always be there, that they’ll behave ethically and they’ll always have money, that you can trust that as the sun comes up the consumer will be healthy, that we’ll always be close to full employment in developed nations. Now there are no certainties.”

American Apparel estimates second-quarter losses from operations — just operations! — to total around $5 to $7 million. Charney wears American Apparel exclusively. How many people like him are there in this world who would rather go naked than dress in past seasons’ AA? Now, if there’s a question we never wanted to know the answer to, that would be the one.

The best worst movie.

You know how you always want to share how bad something tastes with your friends?  Well, I would like to share how bad this movie is with you and yes, I think you should try it because it is off the charts hilariously entertaining.  It goes in and out of #1 on IMDB’s top 100 worst movies of all time.  I finally got to see Troll 2 (#329) last night and let me tell you, it surpassed the hype.

My curiosity to see this cinematic wonder was sparked when I randomly went to see the documentary, The Best Worst Movie (#316).  Taken from “A look at the making of the film Troll 2 (1990) and its journey from being crowned the “worst film of all time” to a cherished cult classic.”

“In 1989, unwitting Utah actors starred in the undisputed Worst Movie in History: TROLL 2. Two decades later, the legendarily inept film’s child star unravels the improbable, heartfelt story of an Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie icon and an Italian filmmaker who come to terms with this genuine, internationally revered cinematic failure.”

Through the documentary, you fall in love with the stars of the film and understand how such an unfortunate masterpiece came to fruition.  It involved more than the stars aligning.  I know it sounds like I’m over hyping, but it is truly a classic.

I don’t know what would be more effective, to see Troll 2 and then the documentary, or vice versa.  My guess is that you can’t go wrong either way.  After seeing both films, my only regret is that I didn’t jump on the Troll 2 bandwagon long ago.  It truly is the best worst movie I’ve ever seen.

The Style Rookie – Tavi

To say this girl is ahead of her time is a vast understatement.  She writes so precociously that I almost wonder if she’s gets a helping hand from, maybe, her mom.   Regardless, Tavi’s blog is beautifully written, chock full of interesting posts, and boundless creativity.  I love that at an age when most kids just want to be like their friends, Tavi is paving her own way not only through junior high, but through the influences of top designers.  She gets asked to sit front row at every fashion week, yet she’s all of fourteen years old.  She may just be the next Tiger Woods of fashion, minus the fornication.  To boot, she’s not from NYC or LA, rather from our very own Oak Park, IL.  But I have a hunch it won’t be for long.  Make sure you get a good look at her blog because this girl is something special and I have a feeling that whatever she touches will turn to gold.

Sizes, please.

We all have jobs that pertain certain skills and check lists that we must go through before we enter the work place each day.  For models and actors, knowing your sizes is should be right up there at the top of the list.  Even more importantly, make sure your agent is well aware if there are any changes in your weight.

I think it would be extremely helpful if agencies had quarterly meetings with their rosters to take all of their measurements because if the sizes I’m given are off, my preparation for a shoot is obsolete.  I do always call the talent to reconfirm their sizes and bracket sizes when I shop for this very reason.  Even still, a good number of people believe they’re one size when they’re actually another, therefore having up to date measurements would be extremely helpful.  These women said so.  Thanks.

Shiny, plastic cards.

I got a little scared when my intern told me that she was super excited to get her new credit card and just couldn’t decide what to buy.  Clearly, this is bad.  But for a girl that wants to be a wardrobe stylist, it’s even worse.  To be a wardrobe and prop stylist, you need to have credit and lots of it.  The more you have, the better.  Credit = Options.  Options cost money.  Bottom line, being a stylist is about having all the right options to present to the client.

How do you make this happen?  You never miss a payment and never, ever buy things you can’t pay off immediately.  Creating good credit doesn’t happen over night.  It takes years.  Therefore, if you’re in college and want to be a wardrobe stylist, I recommend you get going.  You should first get a job so you have some sort of income.  Then, start with one credit card and use it as if it was a debit card to start building good credit.  Trust me, you’ll be happy you did it once you get your first big advertising job.

Zappos, my hero.

Make no mistake about it, I love Zappos.  Zappos has enhanced the lives of stylists across the nation because they can order all the shoes a job calls for, amongst everything else you can think of (since the collaboration with Amazon) and receive it the very next day with no shipping costs.  AND, most importantly, returns are incredibly easy.  I no longer have to explain to the salesman at Nordstrom, or more importantly waist his/her time, why I’m buying 15 pairs of shoes in 5 different sizes.  To top it off, they have the best costumer service.

Now for Tony Hseigh, he’s a software guy who hit it big during the internet boom in the 90’s and was a multi-millionaire by the age of 24.  He now makes 30,000 a year, which is what his lowest paid employee gets, as the CEO of Zappos.  Hseigh is a visionary and a business mogul, yet only owns one pair of sneakers.  He has forever changed online ordering because now everyone feels they need to offer free, overnight shipping.    I follow him like a teenage girl obsessed with Justin Bieber and find him endlessly brilliant.  I really wish I could pick his brain over a cup of tea.

Here’s a Nightline piece about Zappos success.