Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's Raining Bad News, Maybe Some Uncertainty.

Just thinking that it's been a rocky few years for the world with bubbles popping and a mild general nervousness and probably a look around your own lifestyle. Shopping stopped for a while, and every purchase was considered. It got better and life was pretty much as before, more considered certainly while savings were going up.

The remnants of fear are easily stirred up and maybe there is fear again. Maybe it's not pervasive but it's global and maybe the efforts of governments to stabilize economies, maximize employment and do good things for the future aren't working efficiently, but are chugging along like a steam train crossing the Rockies in a blizzard at night.

The stock market's gyrations are ugly right now and today cinched the deal. Bear market, lost decades, all kinds of words, labels and technical terms that frankly mean your net worth has declined. It's a battleground for traders now who are playing against black boxes, flash trading, economic news and trends. Going to cash, which might have preserved several percent of one's portfolio today, isn't that easy. There wasn't an "oops, straight down and hard" note passed around this week and there's as many reasons for the market to go up as to go down. The volatility will probably be intense until there's a reason for it to settle. Going to cash in a down market can make you beat the indexes simply because you're not losing money. It's so frustrating that some really good stocks (apple, poor apple) are falling down as quickly as silly ones. They'll bounce up again at some point and that's usually enough to make many investors optimistic.

It's so much like a shop's inventory. It doesn't stagnate - some things sell, some things get rearranged, there will be markdowns. Buying for a shop is very dicey in this environment, which also seems to bring out more of those sites that do fakes. Inventory management even with an iPad is tricky. Maybe that's why shoes have become take-your-breath-away-can't-live-without quality.  Barney's and Bergdorf's and Maxfield's have such wonderful things but sometimes you just have to stay away. Slap a little lipstick on it and go to a movie. Scrabble on your iPhone. Anything to not shop.

I wish it would get easier.

Repetto, A Very Good Company

Chanel, Lanvin, Delman, London Sole, Prada: they've all done them. But then there's Repetto. Brigitte Bardot asked Madame Rose Repetto in the fifties to make a flat based on the classic ballet slipper. My own Repetto black satin toe shoes are as supple now as when I last put them on when I was sixteen. The satin ribbons are not frayed, still soft and beautiful.

Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto have collaborated with the house. There's something very special here. This selection is from their website, link here. There is great value here as is often the way it is with very fine houses. And I love these ... so relevant and perfect today, whatever today it will be.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Papa Bear, Big Doggie Prejudice, Moving

Papa Bear is not small, no. He's rather like a living giant stuffed animal. A lumbering, gentle beast with brief bursts of enthusiasm. We have suddenly run into another kind of prejudice: big dog prejudice.

My wonderful original California bungalow is very simple, built in the '20's and the last round of modernization was in the '50's; certainly not grand. It's been cozy with its small fenced back yard, perfect for Papa Bear and me. It's a leased house that we've been in for four years and everything just fits, especially Papa Bear as it turns out.  I thought it would last forever but it cannot. The owners need to sell it and while I am trying to conjure gobs of money to buy it, it isn't likely. It's true that house prices are still depressed even by the beach, but there's only a handful to lease. These houses have become very rare with costs going up as much in percentages as houses for sale have come down. I've spent the last week looking and am dismayed and shocked. It's a kind of grieving period and I haven't accomplished very much and completely ignored blogging. 

There were several bungalows in Venice that included a qualifier about pets such as "under 25 pounds." Papa Bear is not in that category although he is of a far more glamorous variety than most smaller dogs. Strange how the debate over curvier models being on magazine covers and walking for designers has invaded my life.

Big dogs are beautiful too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do You Really Know What You're Buying On Line?

 Yoox.com and Netaporter.com deliver beautiful boxes of delicious designer clothing to your door, accept returns graciously and have page after page of exquisitely edited merchandise. Gilt.com has developed another type of business; bringing designer merchandise with seriously good reductions that are available for a limited amount of time. Perhaps some of the thoughts talked about at the recent FT Luxury Conference are already relevant; many people do prefer to avoid expensive stores that have uneven service, limited inventory and stringent return policies.

 Where there's success, there will suddenly spring up an entire industry. I think most are simply hard-working entrepeneurs with a love of fashion who do this with style and find ways to create their own niches.

 But there really is a problem, the layers of which I'm just becoming aware of, feeling completely naive frankly. How does one know which companies are actually offering authentic merchandise and will stand behind it? The truth is that I don't know and from my own sad experience of buying an "authentic" Chanel Baby Cabas bag in black patent and not knowing that it wasn't authentic until I came across the specifics of false serial numbers and countries of origin, I think it's painful in all ways to pay for what you are not getting. I know some shoppers are happy with extremely low prices and things that may even be similar to the designer's own products. There's an astounding amount of sites that label themselves Replica, Mirror, Copy, etc.

Fakes. An ugly word which carries some risk, even if you don't know it's fake (ouch). Fakes can be confiscated and I know Italy slaps a 5,000. penalty and I think that is becoming prevalent. Can you imagine having your designer product confiscated and then being fined?

There are several of these companies that have made me feel queasy. It was so easy to go to the designer's website and dash off an email to ask whether the sites were authorized. Balenciaga, Burberry and now Jacob & Co watches responded immediately. The sites I asked about were not authorized and in the case of Balenciaga, I was informed that their legal department would review the situation.

 I asked my credit card company what support they can provide: One has ninety days (it can stretch a bit longer if you have a good reason) to let them know that the product is not authentic and they will charge it back to the merchant.

Oh and those Lindsey Lohan or other celebrity tweets about a great sale? It's a commercial arrangement for which they receive a fee.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Awards

There's a lovely custom amongst bloggers: The Beautiful Blogger Award. Eilis Boyle, who writes the most beautiful blog - The Silent Storyteller - that really should be gathered into a book, nominated my blog two weeks ago along with The Persophone Post, Art Inconnu, Sunday Suppers, The Errant Aesthete, My Marrakesh, Abundance ... each so wonderfully unique. And so it is my turn to offer my nominations for the Beautiful Blogger Award, with thanks.

Beautiful and Poetic Designer Blogger Award

Beautiful Designer and Writer Blogger Award

Marian Kihogo
Beautiful Style and Smile BloggerAward

Jewels From The Roving Stove
Beautiful Style and Food and Stories Blogger Award

Wendy Brandes
Beautiful Jewels, Writing and Living Blogger Award
The Cherry Blossom Girl
Beautiful Photography and Fashion Blogger Award

Couture Carrie
Beautiful Fashion Layouts Blogger Award

Bloggers quickly find a community and within it one finds blogger friends. There are so many good friends and I am glad there is Bloglovin' to track them.

Fashionista.com - On The Day Filene's Basement Basement Settled With Fendi for 2.5 Million Over Allegations The Retailer Had Sold Fake Fendi

  • 22 Jun 2010 at 2:16 PM
  •  /

Could Balenciaga Sue BeyondtheRack.com For Selling Unauthorized Merchandise? (link to original article here)

It’s hard to keep track of the seemingly countless sample sale sites that promise designer labels and luxury brands at deep discounts. But can you trust them?
After hearing that La Lohan (red flag!) had purchased a “beautiful” Balenciaga bag at BeyondTheRack.com, reader Madeleine Gallay asked Balenciaga if the site was authorized to sell the luxury brand’s merch.

She got the following reply:
“Unfortunately, Beyond the Rack is not an official Balenciaga retailer. In order to guarantee an authentic Balenciaga product purchase, we recommend that you purchase from an official Balenciaga store or retailer.” Click on the image below to see the response:
BeyondTheRack.com countered with a tweet: “Even if not officially ‘authorized’, all we sell is authentic.”
Suspicious, no?
Blogger Vicky Sullivan had a similar experience wrangling with site Sassy City Chicks for selling what what she believed to be fake Fendi bags. “I didn’t actually buy the Fendi because I knew that there was no way it was real…it was fake immediately because it was too shiny and rough to the touch,” says Sullivan. Luckily, Haute Life PR, the company who runs Sassy City Chicks, has been responsive. President Isela Blair emailed Sullivan to say that her vendors “have never been accused of having fake merchandise,” and that she “takes this information very seriously,” and is looking into the allegations.
And as this morning’s settlement between Fendi and Filene’s illustrates, even established discount retailers like Filene’s Basement can’t always be trusted to sell authentic luxury brands–at least not directly from the retailer. Fendi settled with Filene’s Basement for $2.5 million over allegations that the retailer sold counterfeit Fendi, reports the AP.
Earlier this year, the luxury brand was awarded $4.7 million from Burlington Coat Factory and co-defendant Cohoes Fashion Inc. for violating an injunction which prohibited Burlington from selling Fendi without permission, according to WWD.
So what’s your take? Do you trust these lesser known sites?
We’ve reached out to Balenciaga and Haute Life PR and will update with any responses throughout the day.

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  • 1 person liked this.
    Thank you for running the story I blogged about yesterday. It's so disturbing and unfortunately rather ordinary. These sites are unregulated and while some absolutely work with designers, many are less reputable and simply picking up on a trend. It often takes a while for the customer to know she's purchased a FAKE and unless the credit card company is alerted within 90 days, there's little help available.  InNewYorkParisTomorrow.blogspot.com

  • i don't know. the balenciaga email sounds like standard corporate jargon as they are very protective of their brand and rightfully so. i read the disclaimer on beyond the rack's site and it said something to the effect of the bags could be purchased from the manufacturer or from another retailer authorized to distribute the items. so it's possible that they could have bought unsold merchandise from another store like neiman's or saks. while i'm all for discounts, it you're going to drop that much money on a bag, maybe it's best to suck it up and pay full price from someone reputable. though it may cost more, at least you know you're getting a legit product. also i'm curious to know what's the going rate to get lindsay lohan to tweet about your company?

  • Good question! I'll look into that. Thanks Musings!

  • I read she was getting $10,000, and it immediately struck me as odd that Balenciaga, a brand said to not even let Fashion mags shoot their pieces unless it's a complete runway look, would let Lohan hock their goods. This article clears up the confusion.

  • I just received an email from Burberry - BeyondTheRack is NOT an authorized dealer of that either. 

    Very upsetting.

    Madeleine Gallay

  • Would the same standards be applied to vintage shops or consignment shops that re-sell merchandise? Also, where would they be getting the bags from in the first place?
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