Saturday, August 1, 2015

Something To Do Now - Frida Kahlo exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens

This week, I attended the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens, where her artwork is beautifully displayed on the walls of the buildings surrounding the lush gardens.

Among her sketches, paintings, and other artistic explorations, there was some mention and artwork related to her clothing.  As a person afflicted with spina bifida, and a traumatic injury, she needed special clothing and equipment to navigate her artistic world, and sought every opportunity to express herself artistically through her garments.  The exhibit doesn't focus much on these, but the spirit of her fashion sense is definitely there in her self-portraits.

The phrase, "Bloom where you're planted" comes to mind...

I highly recommend this article from NPR on the subject of sewing for differently enabled, and the link to the story below:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

All about the July 27 Speakeasy... What happens on a Speakeasy

It was a great day. We formed a small huddle at our meeting spot, where I explained how to navigate the wild fabric adventure upon which we were about to embark.

Normally, I would keep the secrets of a Speakeasy, but since there won't be another until Fall, and so much of it is "right now" information, I will happily share this time...

I am writing this post in real time today... just for fun... so this post will just be continuously updated as I write.  Enjoy... and if you comment or ask questions, I'll see them, because I'm right here!

So... what did I tell the group in the huddle?

I told them what to do/not to do when they find a fabric they love, how to know if they are getting a good price, different ways to tackle common pitfalls of the district, and got a feel for what they hoped to see, and where they had already been.

Our first stop was Paron Fabrics.  Why? Because they currently have a 40% off sale!  Deeper than their usual 25%, and in my scouting before the weekend, I saw some of the dreamiest things I could imagine!  A lovely, cozy striped jersey that defies description (one of the tour participants bought it - there may not be any left by the time you read this), a random eyelet in a great, magical coral shade, some heavenly silk prints, and a delightful silk ombre that had one of the tour participant's name all over it! 

Was that the most fun?  Nope... not yet...

There is a new trim store in the district, gradually filling in inventory.  Very neatly organized and of great appeal to the creative brain, the shelves are full of interesting buckled, crystals, beads, and embellishments of every kind.  A tour participant who makes costumes was particularly interested in the crystals.

But personally, I loved these buttons...

The store is called Lauren Trimming, Inc.  and they welcome both retail and wholesale customers.

Contact info below:
Lauren Trimming, Inc.
247 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018

Conversations with the participants in that store led me to suggest our next stop, not originally in the plan, but necessary because we started to talk about possibilities in leather and suede:

Leather Suede Skins
251 West 35th Street
Suite 1100

We headed upstairs together, amid mumbles of "How would I even know this is here?", waited to be buzzed in, and breathed a collective gasp at the magic we found inside.  They always have fun stuff inside.  Once many years ago, I found this fabric, and made myself a baguette, to which my daughter is now desperately attached...

The baguette...

And while exploring options, it became abundantly clear that the group needed to see Manhattan Wardrobe Supply.  What a fantastic place for all the notions, supplies, and tools you never thought you needed.  Wanna feel some fantastic elastic?  You have to feel it in person to understand...  They also have a great website, and run many great sales on the website!  Don't feel left out, New York City Folks... You can even buy things on the website and come by to pick them up! When I go there, i go for the wonderful bust support products they have, that help me make swimsuits that can make the well-endowed look like rock stars!

I made this (years ago) for a HH cup -  with some help of supplies found at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply

So, by then, it was time to eat. Over lunch, we talked about many things, and I gave specific suggestions for places to fit each person's quest.  I also included some who would be particularly fun right now, because of specific things they have to offer, and mentioned the places EVERYONE knows about, if they still had energy for that afterward.

When we finished lunch, we headed over to Pacific Trimming, where people were happy to find inspiration and purchased embellishments, zippers, buttons, elastics, and such.

Pooped and happy, we ended our day at Pacific, and bid each other a very satisfied adieu!

Wanna come on a Speakeasy?  Updated info can always be found here!

Okay, I'm done with this post now. Got questions or comments? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Heroes of the Garment District - Example #3 - Boaz David of Human B

"I used to say I wanted a career like Donna Karan. But now, would I want to be Donna Karan? I'm not even so sure Donna Karan (the person) wants to be Donna Karan (the brand) right now."

-Me, last week...

Prophetic words before she left her eponymous label with no successor last week. I didn't know what was about to happen when I said it. Reviewing my lifelong professional objectives in what felt a bit like an impromptu professional therapy session, I sat in the office of Human B, talking about the fashion industry.

I've always loved designing, but never loved fashion.  I think it is important to have a hero - a person whose career you want to emulate. Do I dream of starting my own fashion line?  In theory, perhaps, but I have a sense of what it would require, and still find it daunting.

Do you dream of starting your own fashion line?  Well, dreaming is not enough.

There will be much to learn.  The practical stuff.  The potential pitfalls.  You'll need to be introduced to the people who can actually do the work. While I'm sure that it comes as no surprise to you that you can and will learn much of it the hard way,  I can absolutely promise you that you really don't want to learn in the hardest (too much work, missed deadlines, quality problems) and most painful (financial) ways.

My personal experience with this?  I have worked with and for some fantastic apparel and textile companies, and I have worked for some struggling and failing ones.  Over my professional career so far (about 30 years, because I started really young, not kidding), I have seen that so many budding designers and fashion professionals who want in but can't find their way, have questions, and there's no one to answer them with the designer/founder's best interests at heart.

Enter ... Boaz David of Human B

Through some professional relationships with sample/pattern/dressmakers I know, I had heard great things about David Boaz and seen evidence of his great consulting work before we had the opportunity to meet.  Last week, I arranged an appointment with him in his garment district office, and I sincerely appreciate the enlightening hour we spent talking about the district, how new designers are navigating it, how he is helping them achieve, and how his knowledge helps them get there. Confident, knowledgeable, and with a garment industry history of his own, Boaz is exactly the type of practical help a creative person needs to get started building a fashion brand.

So... Is now a good time to start a fashion brand?  

Well, I will tell you this... It is the perfect time for the RIGHT one.  That means looking at all of the predictable angles and making an educated analysis of the unpredictable ones.

Read Boaz's cautionary tale of how success threatened to kill a start-up.

Be sure to visit HumanB's website to look at the free resources as well.

Note: This is not a sponsored post.  This is a profile of a business I have seen work with people who are ready to develop products and get things started!