ShorteesStyle

fashion, lifestyle, dating and humor for the average guy

Archive for the month “February, 2015”

What do you do after starting Lululemon? Chip Wilson dives into his new venture Kit and Ace

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Images courtesy of Kit and Ace

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Images courtesy of Kit and Ace

 

What do you do after becoming a billionaire selling $100 yoga pants to women?  You sell a little less then 13.85% of the company for $845 million (leaving you with 13.85% worth almost $1.3 billion), walk away and start what you hope is the next big thing.

That is exactly what Chip Wilson, the 59 year old founder of Lululemon did the other week.  Wilson sold half his stake and resigned his seat on the board to focus his attention on the venture started by his wife and son.  Their new company Kit and Ace focuses on technical cashmere.  With t-shirts starting at $84 there is no question that this is luxury company through and through.  Wilson has invested $7 million in the new venture with plans to take on $300 million in debt that among other things will allow them to expand from the current 7 stores to 102 by 2018.  They expect to be doing $1 billion in sales within the next five years.

Wilson founded Lululemon in 1998 after selling snowboarding apparel company, Westbeach.  Popular in Japan, Westbeach had developed a fabric for long underwear that would form the basis for Luon, the source of those glute hugging yoga pants that women love and guys love to look at.  Having concluded that the letter L in a name convinced Japanese customers that a product was authentically American, he decided that his next venture would have three L’s in it.

Wilson, who had stepped into the background of Lululemon returned to the public scene when the too-shear yoga pants debacle hit.  His infamous video apologizing to the employees of Lululemon demonized him as an insensitive, uncaring jerk.  True or false, Wilson’s clashes with the board of directors did lead to drastic changes at the top of Lululemon’s corporate structure and a massive jump to its share price.  On more then one occasion he accused the company of not being progressive and had the offer of bringing the technical cashmere fabric to Lulu rebuffed.

Who will get the last laugh?  Perhaps Wilson.  He did manage to convince the world to buy overpriced yoga pants.  You might not want to bet against him hitting gold twice.  For those of you on the Shortees side of life, I wouldn’t bet on any products being designed to fit those of us in the 5’8″ and under club but we will have to see.  If you have tried any of their clothes let us know.

For a fascinating look at Chip Wilson and his journey read Amy Wallace’s article in the New York Times Magazine here.

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Are There To Many Stores In The USA? Thousands Are Closing.

The New Rules of Retail – Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace / Via Palgrave Macmillan / Robin Lewis and Michael Dart / ICSC calculation from Cushman & Wakefield, KSA and other sources

The New Rules of Retail – Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace / Via Palgrave Macmillan / Robin Lewis and Michael Dart / ICSC calculation from Cushman & Wakefield, KSA and other sources

Not the dreaded winter of retail death.  No! Arghhhhhhh!

Ok so maybe it’s not that bad but it despite the uptick in the economy and the stock market surging, there has been a recent shake up in the retail fashion world.  And the source may be…..to many stores.

Noooooo. Don’t take away my favorite mall.

America has 7.5 billion square feet of retail space.  Since 1980 we have seen an increase of 3.3 billion square feet.  That comes to 20 square feet of shopping space for every single US resident, including all those high fashion consuming illegal residents.  The next closest country by retail space is the U.K. with a whopping 3 square feet per person, followed by France and Brazil at 2 and Germany at 1.  Yet another reason to be glad we aren’t German.

Go America, an extra, unnecessary 17 square feet of shopping space per person.  Who says we aren’t world leaders.

Oh and that number only includes gross leasable space, not freestanding retailers so the number is actually way bigger.

So what is the cause to the recent spate of retail closings and bankrupcies?  Why have more then 1,000 apparel and accessory stores closed or are on their last tottering legs? What has caused Wet Seal, Delia’s, DEB Shops, C. Wonder, Gap’s Piperlime, Kate Spade Saturday, Jones New York, and Caché to all close or go bankrupt within the past two months? The answer for most of them is….. to many stores.  Yes we have to many stores.

We have a glut of retail space and too many store options.  Sure we all like having choice.  Yes we like being able to express our individual style and personality by dressing differently from each other, or in most cases dressing just like a group that we want to be indetified with but unlike other groups.  Oh you wear Lucy to the gym, I only wear Lululemon.

As wonderful as choice is, sometimes there is just to much.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad to have 27 different tank tees to choose from.  It just means the free market can’t support 27 different retailers who all want to sell something similar.  If one company can’t keep up with the latest trends and demands they may face being pushed out of the marketplace by a faster, or more popular competitor.  At the end of the day, we just can’t support 20+ square feet of retail space per person.  Ironically, as quickly as those spaces are being vacated there are other retailers just waiting to snap them up.  There seems to be no stopping the desire for expansion.  There is actually demand for more space from retailers then we currently have.

Now in some cases such as Gap’s Piperlime and Kate Spade Saturday, their parent companies want to do away with smaller scale disctractions and focus on their primary brands.  If something can’t grow fast enough with high enough margins then cut and run and focus on what you know works.  I wish I could say a $100 million business like Piperlime was a distraction and has to go.  Oh to have such problems.

So what is going to happen next.  Hold on as even more stores close down.  Perhaps even one of your favorites.  But don’t worry.  There will be a new H&M or Zara or Wallmart to take their place.  The engines of commerce will keep on rolling.

For an interesting look at the issue check out Sapna Maheshwari’s take on the issue on buzzfeed here.

 

Today’s fail: Urban Outfitters Celebrates the Holocaust.

Urban outfitters Holocaust tapestry

While political correctness often goes overboard, there are still a handful of issues that are universally accepted and understood to be topics of great sensitivity that should be handled with a certain level of respect.  Genocide is generally one of those topics.

Once again Urban Outfitters missed the class on sensible decision making and released a tapestry with a grey and white striped pattern and a upside down pink triangle.  A fabric that looks strikingly similar to the uniforms worn by concentration camp prisoners with a badge that is clearly stylized on one that homosexual male prisoners were forced to wear to identify themselves.

While the gay community has reclaimed the upside triangle as a sign of pride the use of it in this context with striped pattern is clearly reminiscent of the atrocities of the Holocaust.  It doesn’t take a historian, gay activist or former concentration camp survivor to look at this item and instantly see this obvious imagery it is meant to provoke.  Any average person with any knowledge of what has happened in our past would be instantly struck by how familiar and inappropriate this print is.  How this product made it through Urban Outfitters development process and into the retail chain is a mystery.  It is in-explainable how in their entire operation no one noticed or mentioned the similarity of this item to concentration camp uniforms.

This isn’t Urban Outfitters first accidental step in the wrong direction.  Last fall they printed a sweatshirt with a blood splattered pattern in homage to the tragic shooting that occurred at Kent State.  Before that there is  a lengthy list of other groups that have been targeted with offensive imagery.  This seems to be Urban Outfitters way of staying in the press and developing brand awareness.  Yes controversy does get your name out there but there is a significant difference between controversy and being just plain offensive.

It doesn’t take more a small dose of common sense to know that invoking imagery of the Holocaust to either promote sales or promote controversy to improve sales is one of those instances where the uncrossable line has been crossed.   Yes comedians often poke fun at and use humor in discussing some of our societies darkest moments and actions but those are professionals in a very specific environment using humor as a means of social commentary and they have learned that even they need to tread carefully when touching upon such sensitive topics.  Most fail miserably and pay the price for it.  In the fashion industry there is no place for this level of insensitivity.

Maybe its time that Urban Outfitters customers sent a clear message to the company about what they deem acceptable.  Perhaps if every loyal Urban Outfitters customer boycotted the store for just one quarter, the drop in sales would convince their leadership that a different approach in necessary.  We’re not saying that you should never shop there again.  If its your style and fit and you love their other products then great, continue to be a customer but use your voice to tell them when they are on the wrong path and need to change.

To read another take on the topic check out Lauren Tuck’s article at Yahoo Style:  https://www.yahoo.com/style/urban-outfitters-selling-tapestry-eerily-110637515003.html

 

American Apparel marches on with a new CEO. Edgy but not as overtly sexual.

Source: American Apparel

Source: American Apparel

Anyone who has been following the apparel industry in North America (if you can even say there is enough manufacturing left to call it an industry) knows the story of American Apparel.  Slightly kooky CEO/founder builds the largest garment manufacturing operation on the continent through the savvy use of sexually charged images targeted at teens and young adults.  Wildly successful company faces all sorts of financial challenges and more then once teeters on the edge of bankruptcy.  Questionable CEO is repeatedly accused of sexual harassment and bizarre behavior until his is finally driven from the company.

It sounds like a soap opera and certainly will eventually be turned into a James Franco vehicle for him to once again channel his inner oddball.  In the meantime hudreds of millions of dollars in revenue continue to roll in and it is now the responsibility of new CEO Paula Schneider to create some sort of order out of the chaos.  Schneider recently gave her first public interview to Bloomberg and the headline that has been all over the internet for the past day, edgy but with less skin.

By Matt Townsend at Bloomberg

Paula Schneider, American Apparel Inc.’s new chief executive officer, wants the brand to be as provocative as it was under expelled founder Dov Charney. Just with less skin.

“It doesn’t have to be overtly sexual,” Schneider said in her first wide-ranging interview. “There’s a way to tell our story where it’s not offensive. It is an edgy brand. And it will continue to be an edgy brand.”

Schneider, an apparel industry veteran who has led private-equity backed companies and ran the swimwear division at Warnaco Group Inc., has been in the job only a month and is still formulating her strategy. But it’s already clear that she wants to build on the battered chain’s underlying strengths.

To read the full article go to: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-06/american-apparel-ceo-wants-less-skin-but-isn-t-afraid-to-be-edgy

No more waiting in line for limited edition Adidas sneakers.

Adidas Year of the Goat / source Adidas

Adidas Year of the Goat / source Adidas

Technology is coming to save sneakerheads from standing in long, cold lines for the latest release of the newest pair of Adidas.  Thanks to a new app named Confirmed, Adidas fans can reserve their pair of limited release kicks without fighting off the masses.

By Kyle Stock at Bloomberg

Are limited-edition sneakers still special when buyers can reserve them via an app, like a pizza or a pair of movie tickets? Adidas hopes so.

The German sportswear giant just launched Confirmed, a mobile platform that will let sneakerheads skip the long lines at Foot Locker, obscure shoe lotteries, and the occasional disturbance of the peace that come with the sale of a rare pair of shoes. “You hear a lot of chatter and frustration that the existing system is somehow rigged for friends of friends or VIP customers,” said Simon Atkins, the company’s vice president of brand activation. “We saw a real opportunity to change the paradigm with customers.”

Here’s how it works: Consumers who download the app, register with personal details, and allow push notifications from Adidas will get offers to reserve limited-edition shoes and apparel as they become available. Those who respond first are given the right to buy the products at a certain time and place, both in Adidas-owned stores and other retailers.

“The primary function for us it to create an equal and uniform experience for all consumers,” Atkins said. “We’re creating a virtual line.”

An app is also a great way to carefully parse who gets the sought-after shoes. If Adidas has 500 pairs of a particular model and wants them going only to urban tastemakers, it can confine its reservation blasts to such places as Antwerp, Belgium, and Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Bushwick neighborhood. This is a way to reward the most loyal customers.

Just wanting the shoes badly and beating everyone else to the store will no longer be enough. On the flip side, digital computer programs—so-called bots—won’t be able to scan the Web for reservations and lock up multiple pairs of shoes ahead of release dates. There are already plenty of apps for sneakerheads that indirectly link customers to coveted shoes. The “buy” button on the Sneaker Crush app, for example, takes browsers to secondary market listings at which sellers are auctioning shoes that have yet to be released.

Cultivating a class of super-customers, meanwhile, cannot come soon enough for Adidas, which posted a 19 percent slump in profit in the first nine months of 2014. Nike generally dominates the special sneaker market. But Adidas has recently been signing celebrities and star designers to bolster its credibility with collectors, including deals with Pharrell Williams and Kanye West.

When it comes to sneaker sales, West makes Michael Jordan look like a slow-footed rookie. In 2009, Nike quickly sold out of 3,000 pairs of Kanye-designed “Air Yeezy.” With a retail price of $215, a pair of the shoes quickly fetched more than $4,000 on EBay and other secondary markets. This week, a new pair of the Yeezys was listed on EBay for $6,000.

Atkins at Adidas wouldn’t say exactly when Kanye’s new sneakers will go on sale, but the app was designed in part to manage the wave of demand expected for them: “Unprecedented, I think, is probably the best word.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-03/adidas-app-lets-sneakerheads-wait-in-virtual-lines-for-limited-editions

Is menswear going to the mountains?

Men's jacket by Aether, source Aether

Men’s jacket by Aether, source Aether

Perhaps there is hope for those who can’t seem to find anything to relate to fashion wise when they scan the latest pics from the runway or pursue  the ads in the latest edition of GQ.  I know every time I pick up a fashion magazine I shake my head wondering what tiny percentage of the population is actually buying the looks I see.  Not 99% of the guys I know.

One subset of the fashion universe that has slowly been coming back are looks based on heritage/vintage styles along with more tactical and outdoors performance based looks.  The bonus to most of these styles, they hold up well to the elements and make you look like a man, not a dandy.

Rebecca May Jonson over at The Business of Fashion took a look at the topic today in A Survivalist Streak in Menswear

From triple seam sealed Gore-tex and ballistic nylon to shearling vests and stylish axes, why are men buying fashion fit for surviving the apocalypse?

Dubbed a “snowpocalypse” by sensational American media outlets, a recent winter storm in the US prompted New York City mayor Bill Blasio to declare a state of emergency, ban cars from the streets and shut down the city’s subway for the first time in history. The snow never really materialised (only 5 inches were recorded in Manhattan’s Central Park) but politicians and consumers alike responded like doomsday survivalists, battening down the hatches in preparation for apocalypse.

In fashion, amidst an uncertain climate — geopolitically and economically, as well as literally — it seems like menswear has taken on a survivalist streak too. “It’s a brave new world. We are in a different climate both politically and meteorologically,” agreed men’s fashion consultant Nick Wooster.

To read the full article go to: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2015/02/survivalist-streak-menswear.html

 

Yahoo/ET shows love for 5’5″ Bruno Mars

 

Bruno Mars Taylor Swift

Usually when I come across an online post from a major outlet that mentions a guy’s shorter height the article turns out to be a shot at short men.  Even when they think they are trying to be complimentary it’s usually a back-handed compliment that actually insinuates that being short is somehow inferior to being tall.

Hey guess what, in our imperfect world it is.  Sure there are plenty of exceptions but overall women prefer taller men, taller men earn more and get ahead easier in the workplace and it’s just plain hard to reach those high shelves in the kitchen.  The world is also unfair to women, the overweight, older individuals, the poor, non-heterosexuals, and minorities.

Bruno Mars Victoria Secret

At the end of the day most of us who are short have learned to embrace it and love who we are.  I happily turned it into a business opportunity.  The last thing we need is the popular press taking cheep shots just because they need to push out so many meaningless pieces of material to fill their web pages and blogs so when there is a little love for the short man and a celebration of just how awesome he can be I want to take a moment and acknowledge it.  And yes, we have a sense of humor and know how it looks when we are standing next to an extremely attractive, extremely tall women.  I don’t think Bruno Mars is complaining about any of the company he is keeping in these pictures and I’ll bet those women are pretty happy to be next to him.  Funny how one of the worlds hottest musicians and entertainers is one of the shortest.  Perhaps the world should stop looking over our heads into the distance for the next great thing and glance down a bit.

For a great look at Bruno and the tall women in his life check out: https://tv.yahoo.com/news/bruno-mars-standing-next-tall-220000452.html

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