Notes of a shopaholic
Saturday, February 01, 2003:
Out with old, in with the new! My first Bluefly purchase of the month: yellow mesh hightop sneakers by Marc Jacobs, and a cotton blend riding coat by Moncler come in at $130 including delivery and with a %15 discount (FLYDEAL). A few notes on last month: Mall chains accounted for $140. Local, small boutiques: $126. Ebay: $75. Bluefly: $28. The remainder is from Bloomingdale's and a local discount store. Its kind of surprising how large that mall figure is even in a month when it seemed like I wasn't buying much from chains at all. On the other hand, only $30 came from Banana Rebuplic, and Club Monaco and Sisley aren't very prominent chains in the US.
Steven Sherman // 1:50 PM
Purchases in January:
Suede belt: $10 Banana Republic
Velvet stripe cotton pants: $40 Diesel (Ebay)
Gray cotton jacket: $80 Diesel (Bluefly: returned)
Woven shirt: $25 Express
Wool blend hat: $20 Banana Republic
Microsuede embroidered tunic: $44 Toku (Urban Evolution)
Wool vest: $35 Martin Margiela (Ebay)
Khaki twill side stripe pants: $45 Sisley
Glen Plaid Stretch shirt: $40 Club Monaco
Light grey textured cotton pants: $13 DKNY (Bloomingdales)
Linen/cotton faded army green pants: $42 Theory (Wardrobbe)
Black and white print cotton shirt: $28 Diesel (Bluefly)
Tartan plaid stretch cotton pants: $32 Keanan Duffy (Lookout Clothing)
Distressed black leather sneakers: $40 Natha Studio (Soho Shoes)
Total: $415 what??!! NO! Can't be! We did have about $250 in returns from previous months... I guess we can plead January clearance. And resolve to be better in February. Although I don't think I'm going to pass up those Marc Jacobs sneakers on Bluefly...
Steven Sherman // 11:22 AM
Thursday, January 30, 2003:
Shopping on the web, as I've said a million times, is great, Bluefly, Guyshop and Ebay open up whole new worlds if you live in a place like North Carolina... But, that said, we definitely need better websites for shopping for clothing. Ebay is quite unwieldy--you search Prada, you get hundreds of results, some (not all) with tiny little pictures, some (not all) with the size indicated before you have to open up the whole page... Furthermore, people trying to sell their own stuff or designers off the well worn path get screwed. For example, it seems like I am going to be the high bidder at $15 for a Kenzo jacket. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, but it should be easier to find the many people who'd be willing to pay quite a bit more (I'd say at least $80) its just that not that many people are going to search Kenzo these days. You can set the lowest bid price on Ebay, and a reserve price that you won't let go of the thing for less than, but it costs you money if you want to keep relisting an item week after week waiting for someone. Since pictures are pretty much necessary to sell clothing, it can easily wind up costing you close to one dollar per week. Its also a bit of a pain in the butt to relist your items every week. Since every clothing company must have a catalogue somewhere, why exactly can't we just access the photos there, along with accurate measurements, descriptions of materials, etc? Yes, someone needs to think through a website that would be friendly to small sellers of clothing. I'll have more to say on this at some point, right now I'm tired. Don't miss the cashmere sale at Bluefly.
Steven Sherman // 6:47 PM
Wednesday, January 29, 2003:
Nine new pages of Marc Jacobs at Bluefly! Including lots of his variations on Converse sneakers for $75. TAKE15OFF brings the price down another 15%. Love the 'crackle-finish' leather stuff.
Steven Sherman // 6:10 PM
Stores frequently sell brands that their customers may not have heard of, or that offer aspects of expensive styles for lower prices. Doing this is fairly simple: you put the less well known product in the proximity of a more famous one. For example, the last time I was at OffSaks, they were selling Buckler (?) jeans, which obviously rip off Diesel, by placing them near their selection of Diesel. Of course, some styles are well enough known that you can just put the stuff out on the sales floor--customers might approach it expecting the high price of a designer, only to find, voila, it is an affordable imitation.
But how does this dynamic work in a selling forum like Ebay, where buyers frequently search for items by their brand name, and its difficult to simply work through all the clothes which appear through a more basic search (for example, a search for 'shirt' in men's, called up 43,927 items)? Many sellers have hit on a simple solution, which is to piggyback on more famous labels. For example, if you're selling a pair of beat up, faded jeans, they might put 'Diesel' in their subject line, so fans of the latter can see them and assess if these jeans capture enough of the aesthetic to be worth purchasing. People offering their original clothing on Ebay do the same. However, this is completely against the rules of selling on Ebay. I learned this because a couple of my listings were unceremoniously removed this morning for luring shoppers with phrases like 'Not Prada' in the heading.
This actually creates the paradoxical situation in which EBay, which brings together low-capital sellers and buyers, may create intensified importance for prominent brand names. Whenever I search Ebay, I always search things like Diesel, Prada, etc, and look forward to seeing what those who are piggybacking are also offering. If Ebay is going to enforce their rules, I won't see the piggybackers. I have no idea how they'll bring their products to my attention, particularly considering the very limited nature of Ebays search categories. We could actually use an online store with much more sophisticated ways to group merchandise together, if the piggybacking method in fact violates copyrights, as Ebay claims.
Steven Sherman // 3:36 PM
Tuesday, January 28, 2003:
January, inevitably, is a busy month for the shopaholic. Stores are clearing out their inventory, and eventually, prices go down far enough so as to be irresistible. All of which is preface to admitting to one last purchase for January, a pair of distressed black Natha Studio sneakers for $40 from a local store in our nearby spanking new mall, which looks awfully quiet lately.
Pretty much for now until late spring, it will be hunting around Bluefly and Ebay.
Steven Sherman // 6:25 PM
Monday, January 27, 2003:
The twentieth century was undoubtedly America's century. After World War II, the US emerged as the unquestioned leader economically, militarilly and culturally. However, by the 80s, the US was being challenged economically by Japan, and many predicted the twenty-first century would be dominated by East Asia. When the US re-surged in the nineties, those predictions waned, but I never stopped believing them. What does this have to do with fashion? Along with US leadership came a new aesthetic/ethic of leisure, health, and casual living. This was good news in many ways, but in fashion it resulted in a general collapse of standards and the homogeneity of the jeans and sneakers look. On the other hand, if this century does turn out to be centered on Japan, things might get more interesting fashion-wise. America's designers are epitomized by the simplicity and wearability of Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. The avant-garde insanity of Comme des Garcons embodies Japanese style. Furthermore, the 'street' style of Japan is a fascinating blend of innocence and the bizarre. You can get a sense of it paging through the archives of Japan today here.
Steven Sherman // 8:08 PM
Sunday, January 26, 2003:
The New York Times this morning has an article in which people fantasize about what they would do if called upon to run their favorite corporations. Its a fun game. Here are some of my ideas:
Donna Karan: Close the signature and the DKNY Jeans lines. Tweak the more basic items (khakis, dress shirts) sold at places like Lord and Taylor so they're easier to distinguish from merchandise from the Gap or Banana Republic. Wider variety of suits and jackets. Expand underwear. Refocus some energy on the Donna Karan New York line to generate some fashion buzz. Get a web site.
J. Crew: Reorganize stores so it's easier to find stuff and get a sense of what the look of the season is. Mark down stuff faster to move it out of the stores.
Kenneth Cole: Close down the Unlisted shoes line, and the Reaction clothing line, both of which just make you look cheap. Work out the bugs in your website purchases delivery system. Reassert the validity of the Kenneth Cole look in shoes--black, assertive, dressy, rather than trying to keep up with all the Camper imitators.
Steven Sherman // 5:47 AM
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