ShorteesStyle

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Tall men earn more then short men, what else is new?

004As the founder of a clothing line for short men I long ago became comfortable with the reality of my height.  I fully accepted that life isn’t fair, it is in fact universally unfair.  Attractive people have it easier than unattractive.  Some people suffer horrible illness or watch their loved ones suffer.  Others get everything handed to them and breeze through.  Somebody wins the lottery and someone else is run into at a stop light.  Being short to me wasn’t that bad of an issue to have to deal with.  Yes it made dating harder, I was never the guy that a women walked into a bar and wanted to meet but it just meant that I had to develop other social and personal skills along with a little perseverance.  In the workplace I have noticed that people are less responsive and open towards a short guy with his own opinion and a willingness to express it but that just made me more confident in my own thoughts and lead me towards a life of entrepreneurship.

Rarely do I take offense at the ridiculous things that people say and write.  I get a great laugh out of the occasional troll who reaches out to us online.  I thoroughly enjoy when one of my friends can actually come up with an original short joke that I haven’t heard a version of before.  I never take offense at a good one liner tossed out.  So it is an unusual exception for me to be bothered by some anti short guy comment.  I was a touch irritated when sitting with my fellow soccer fans at a local MLS game when someone started to heckle an opposing player simply because he was a Shortee.  Yes he didn’t play for my team but some out of shape, beer swilling, nachos dripping down his chest slob who couldn’t run up and back on the field had nothing better to toss out at a someone who had excelled at his sport to such a degree that he had managed to become a professional athlete and regularly play then a jab at his being short.  I’ll take my Messi card and play it any day of the week.

I was also surprised to be bothered by a recent article in The Atlantic; The Financial Perks of Being Tall.  It’s old news that tall people do better in the work force.  They get more promotions and are often seen as being leaders based on their height and superficial attributes, not on their knowledge, skills and accomplishments.  Yet for some reason I was thoroughly disturbed reading that,

In Western countries, a jump from the 25th percentile of height to the 75th—about four or five inches—is associated with an increase in salary between 9 and 15 percent. Another analysis suggests that an extra inch is worth almost $800 a year in elevated earnings. “If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it,” one researcher told Malcolm Gladwell for his book Blink, “we’re talking about a tall person enjoying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage.”

The article goes on to reference research suggesting that short men are less confident (not a surprise), less entrepreneurial and even less intelligent and less happy than taller individuals.  I’m sure with the right manipulation of data or a specific population I could prove just about anything as well.  Are their stupid short guys?  Of course.  Are there insecure ones?  No doubt.  Are their unhappy ones?  Plenty.  And the same can be said of average height men as well as tall men.

I consider myself secure, reasonably intelligent, capable of meeting interesting/attractive women (don’t tell my girlfriend, honey I never meet any interesting/attractive women) and generally happy.  Do I want more in life?  Yes, most people do but I am happy.  So as for the article in question, read it, be angry at it and what it say because it sucks that we make less in the workplace just because we are short and then go out and give the world the middle finger and do what you want to do, be who you want to be and at the end of the day, be happy (though maybe with a few hundred thousand dollars less).

To read the article in The Atlantic go here.

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Want to live longer? Be short.

Very Old Gravestones.

Who doesn’t want to live longer and be healthier.  I know I do and for that reason today is another good day to be short.

Yes a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that tall men are less likely to develop heart disease then shorter men.  However if you read Dr. James Hamblin’s article in The Atlantic, you will soon learn that shorter southern European men have lower rates of cardiac death then their northern neighbors.  Those tall Swedish and Norwegian folks are twice as likely to die from heart disease as shorter Spanish and Portuguese people, who happen to be five inches shorter.  On top of that a 2013 study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that short women have lower cancer risk.

Not convinced yet?  Another study found taller individuals at greater risk for cancer and with higher mortality rates from cancer.  And lets not forget the extra short Okinawan’s, the worlds longest living group with the worlds lowest rates of cancer and heart disease.  Yes there are multiple factors that contribute to the long lives of Okinawan’s but you can bet that height is one of the major contributors.

So the next time the cute girl at the bar chooses to go home with the tall blond guy, don’t worry, he doesn’t have nearly as much time as you to enjoy the extra attention he is getting now.

To read all of Dr. Hamblin’s article click here

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

 

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

Target shows love for plus size women.

Ava & Viv by Target

Ava & Viv by Target

The average women wears a size 14.  More then half of the population is overweight.  That is a lot of potential plus sized customers.  Despite this fact, almost the entire fashion industry ignores this reality, and the $17.5  billion in annual sales plus-size women produce.  Starting mid-February Target, yes that Target, is going tackle the problem head on.  They will be launching a new 90 piece collection designed in-house specifically for today’s full figured women.

The new line, named Ava & Viv will feature basics and statement pieces in sizes 14-26.  Hats off to Target.  How this market has been so under-served for so long I have no idea.  It is one of those problems and solutions that is so obvious, so in your face that its shocking so few people try to tackle it.  It reminds me of another under-served but giant market, short men. Oh wait, someone is taking on that problem, me (www.originalshortees.com).

I’ve gone shopping with women who wear sizes that have two digits in them.  It’s a frustration process.  The options are incredibly limited, the styles and generally atrocious and unflattering and they are often designed with little thought to how plus size customers are really shaped.

Target isn’t just solving a clothing problem for today’s women.  Besides the revenue potential this line can generate, they know that today’s plus size women is also a girlfriend, wife, mother, homeowner.  If they can give them a genuine reason to come into the store their cart is not going to hit the checkout line with just a pair of pants.  Toilet paper, soap, cleaning supplies, books, beauty products, groceries.  Customers coming in to look for new clothes are going to buy more of everything Target has to offer.  And that is some pretty smart business.

Read more about it at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarathau/2015/01/27/why-targets-new-plus-sized-line-could-redefine-17-5-billion-underserved-market/

What Label is that? Will Men Buy The Same Brands Their Girlfriend Wears?

Looks from Michael Kors Autumn/Winter '14 Mens Collection | Source: Michael Kors

Looks from Michael Kors Autumn/Winter ’14 Mens Collection | Source: Michael Kors

The menswear market is growing.  Faster then women’s.  Will today’s average guy be willing to slap his girlfriends label on his shirt?  We’re betting the average guy doesn’t know who Michael Kors or Tory Burch is.  And those that do are willing to put on whatever their wife or girlfriend buys them, just so long as they don’t have to go to the mall to try it on.  The upscale men’s fashion market in the US is small.  For all the blogs and TV coverage about fashion, most men don’t care.  They want basics that make them look like they belong.  Most men don’t want anything that is going to stand out to much and the smaller percentage that do, don’t want to be to loud and overstated.  Just look good and have a dash of something that will garner a compliment.  Sure there will always be a small fashion forward market and yes, it will generate billions for the luxury houses and brands that capture it but it will still make up a small percentage of the menswear sold.  And for today’s shorter man, forget it.  The odds of any of the major fashion brands catering to us is slim to none.  Perhaps if you are extra lean and closer to the 5’7″-5’8″ mark you can squeeze into a small, otherwise you’re out of luck.

NEW YORK, United States — When Michael Kors’ 22,000-square-foot flagship opens at 520 Broadway in Soho this December, there will be a floor dedicated to accessories and fragrances, another to women’s fashion and shoes and another, entirely stocked with menswear, kicking off the multi-billion-dollar brand’s foray into the men’s market. “From there, we will begin to test free-standing men’s stores next year and believe that there may be the potential for as many as 500 men’s stores worldwide over the long term,” said Michael Kors chairman and CEO John Idol on an earnings call in August. The company projects its men’s business will generate $1 billion in revenue by 2017.

By Lauren Sherman, Dec 15, 2014 at Business of Fashion.

Read the rest at: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/12/womenswear-brands-make-play-mens-market.html

The Chinese Vs. Japanese luxury market. One region, different desires.

Japanese flagChina flag

To the average American it may not seem like there is a vast difference between the desire and demand for luxury goods between Japanese and Chinese consumers.  The reality is that couldn’t be far farther from the truth.  Sure both countries border the same body of water and both are in Asia but other then that they are two very different markets.

In his article from Business Insider, Erwan Rambourg sums it up this way, the Japanese customer buys luxury goods to fit in, while the Chinese consumer purchases luxury items to stand out.

In his 2003 book, “Living It Up: America’s Love Affair with Luxury” (Simon & Schuster), James Twitchell made the case that the urge of fitting in is depressingly vulgar but essential. The message from many luxury brands is that products will enable consumers to ‘re-invent’ themselves and that they ‘deserve’ to reward themselves.

Two recurring questions I hear are: ‘How is Chinese luxury demand different to Japanese demand?’ and ‘As there is limited growth with the Japanese, what is the risk that growth moderates quickly now with the Chinese?’

First, China is the only male-driven luxury goods market. Japanese consumption in the space has been essentially female driven.

But beyond that, there are many more consumer profiles in China and many differences in culture, history and sociology which make me believe that growth can continue strongly with the Chinese for some time still.

I have a friend, Francis Belin, who runs Swarovski for Asia Pacific and used to run Jaeger-LeCoultre (a watch brand, part of the Richemont group) for Japan. His view is that Japanese people used to purchase luxury products to fit in whereas Chinese are buying the goods to stand out. There are actually similarities there: consumption serves a purpose of being perceived as part (or not part) of a group. In Japan, you became part of society; in China, you leave the have-nots and show face when buying luxury. As Tom Doctoroff puts it in “What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and the Modern Chinese Consumer” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), individuals in China ‘stand out in order to fit in’, meaning individual expression usually does not imply a break from the norm but a slight step up without straying away too much from conformity. This also may explain why it is rare to come across extremely innovative brands of Chinese origin.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chinese-vs-japanese-luxury-booms-2015-1#ixzz3PbyvL3M3

 

Can Abercrombie & Fitch come back from the dead?

abercrombie-spring 2015

abercrombie-spring 2015

For years they made their stores as uncomfortable for adults as possible.  Excluded anyone who wasn’t tall, thin and desirable.  They weren’t ashamed about it and made millions of dollars.  Then things went bad.  Really bad.  Can Abercrombie & Fitch re-invent themselves and return to profitability?  If they do one thing is for sure, they won’t care about short guys.

Erika Adams at Racked.com takes a closer look at the challenges A&F faces:

“Effortless, all-American style.” Abercrombie & Fitch works hard to embed that slogan into everything it produces these days, which now includes categories like neoprene crop tops and lace-trimmed midi dresses—quite a different look from denim cut-off shorts, a flannel and flip-flops. But it wasn’t always that effortless: Just a year ago, Abercrombie aimed for the “essence of privilege and casual luxury,” a slogan that was more in line with the cooler-than-you brand high-schoolers in the early aughts pictured Abercombie to be.

Years ago, Abercrombie’s biggest media concern was paying off the Situation so that he would stop wearing its heavily logo-ed graphic tees. Now, in an effort to reposition itself as a more inclusive brand, every move is strategic. The product team hasscaled back logos; there are press previews for new product lines; and the store’s notoriously semi-nude male models put on shirts. Abercrombie no longer sees the color black as taboo, and stores have started stocking clothing above a size 10. The most striking change, however, was an announcement made last month that CEO Michael Jeffries was leaving the company. Bit by bit it might not mean much—plus-size options have only been around for a year, and those male models have only been clothed since the summer—but combined and coupled with the retirement of Jeffries, the changes signify a new phase of the brand, one where Abercrombie exerts a ton of effort in an attempt to find its footing in a heavily competitive and highly digital retail environment.

Read the rest at: http://racked.com/archives/2015/01/13/tracking-abercrombies-plan-to-get-cool-again.php

The changing face of men’s fashion designers

Selling clothes that people actually want to wear.  That was the message that Paul Trimble, a founder of Ledbury, expressed in a recent New York Times article, “But Can They Write Fashion Code? “New wave of male entrepreneurs changing fashion scene”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/fashion/new-wave-of-male-entrepreneurs-changing-fashion-scene.html?_r=0

This article struck close to home as the founder of a men’s clothing line that was designed to not to express some unmet creative need or cater to an elite sartorially inclined group but to meet the need of a large and long overlooked segment of the population that craves basic, classic pieces that actually fit.  A simple solution to a long standing problem.  Shortees was founded with a simple mission, create a t-shirt that could be worn untucked by shorter men.

I identify with the founders of these companies as someone with no fashion design or industry experience who dove into the deep end on the first try.  Like them it was far harder then I ever imagined.  The lack of industry knowledge, unfamiliarity with the secret language that all industries use to streamline communications and keep outsiders from understanding what is going on and the total lack of connections have made it a near impossible task some days.

Every day that I get online I find multiple new apparel companies and countless others talking about starting one.  The entrepreneurial side of me salutes every one of these founders or prospective founders for taking the bold step.  The practical side of me wants to shake them and say they have no idea what they are getting into and the odds of their success are vastly small then they could ever imagine.  When I started Shortees I at least had the advantage of having completed business school along with a number of years of experience developing small businesses so I understood both the challenge as well as many of the business functions that were going to be necessary.  Even with those skills I still faced a monumental challenge entering an industry I knew nothing about , and still feel that I barely know.

The t-shirt industry is a unique animal.  For most new brands they stake their space based on graphics and the segment of the population that identifies with their ascetic and lifestyle message. The growth of street-wear totally changed the t-shirt market and made it not only cool but a potential source of riches.  The tales of small brands started by no-names in their garages abound.  Suddenly everyone thinks they have the greatest new graphics that everyone will love as much as their close friends and mother does.  For these founders the path is actually quite simple.  Pick any of the countless mass produced blank t-shirts that are manufactured in enormous quantities.  They are quite inexpensive and readily available in both large and small quantities.  Find a decent screen printer and for a few hundred dollars more you have inventory.  Throw up a basic shopping site for a few hundred to thousand more and you are in business.  For a lucky few the orders start rolling in.  For  the majority its a lesson in Field of Dreams Theory.  If you build it they will not come.  You have to go out and find them and drag them back to you.

For those like Shortees that want or need to redesign their products and have them manufactured to custom specs its an entirely different and much more challenging process.  Designers, pattern makers, sample makers all have to be identified and vetted.  If you can get through that process then you have to deal with finding a manufacturer.  While there are hundreds if not thousands of garment factories around the world finding one that can not only make your product but make it to your actual specifications at an acceptable level of quality is an enormous challenge.  Then there is the cost.  If you just want to print a few dozen to a few hundred shirts its pretty affordable.  If you need to go through the entire design process and custom manufacture its an entirely different economic scale.  Tens of thousands at a minimum if not hundreds.  And we haven’t even touched on web site development and marketing costs.

As I read the New York Times article what stands out to me about the companies they mention are the backgrounds of their founders.  Private equity, finance, technology.  These founders are used to six figure incomes and had resources to finance their new projects or at least savings to support themselves as the launched their new careers.  Do I feel bad for the failure of You Tube founder Chad Hurley’s foray into upscale apparel and accessories with Hlaska? Not at all.  He will be fine living off his millions.  I stumbled upon a Hlaska store when they first appeared.  They suffered from the same mistake that many others do.  Simply launching a brand and expecting that by virtue of your price point that consumers will identify and value you as a luxury brand.  Yes it works for some brands but it either takes a lot of money, time and patience or a great deal of luck.  Most luxury brands earned their way to the top or spent a fortune positioning themselves there.  Though Chad, if you want to invest in an up and coming men’s brand focusing on the 25% of the population under 5’8″, touch base.  I’m easy to find.

I’m proud of my roots in personal training.  Shortees was built on the back of hundreds and hundreds of personal training sessions and continues to be supported by my other business.  Its the primary reason for the slow growth of my apparel company.  It would have been wonderful and ideal to work full time on Shortees but I had the misfortune of having to earn a living while I launched it and generating some form of cash flow to support the company until it was able to reach a self sustaining level.  Even today our biggest limiting factor is the cost of expanding is greater then what we can cover at any given time.  The result, a slow but steady growth curve and a long list of happy but frustrated customers that want more then what we can deliver them.

Do I feel like a fashion designer?  Not usually but some days. So go out and support your local small scale fashion designer.  Skip the big box retailer and large fashion houses and try something new.  You never know, your next favorite shirt may be designed by a former equity trader, internet-technology start up code writer or even a personal trainer.

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