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Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

I saw several blog posts about Chanel’s “Le Vernis Black Velvet” nail polish. It is a gorgeous color, and if you go to Chanel’s Makeup page, the model is wearing the nail polish. It is PERFECT for Fall!! It looks absolutely gorgeous, and Chanel is minting money off of it. It costs $25!! Essie bottles usually do not cost more than $6, and this is $25 for a small bottle of nail polish! No wonder Chanel’s PR team is on it – they can clearly pay for the team!

I first came across the color on nymag.com. Blogdorf Goodman has also written about it, but the nail polish in their photos is messy and looks terrible.

Recent studies show an increase in the sale of nail polishes. Due to recession, people did not go to mani-pedi places as frequently and preferred to do it at home, which increased the sale of nail polishes. Essie and Opi are the most commonly seen nail polishes in salons. A few months back, Essie was acquired by L’Oreal. Sephora has come out with its own collection in partnership with Opi, and you can get very tiny bottles from Sephora.

In Spring, Chanel came out with the Jade nail polish which became a top seller. Its insane because people were selling it on eBay for $100!! It’s so contradictory! Sales of nail polishes increased because people cut down on salon visits, and there were some who were willing to pay $100 for a small bottle of nail polish! Really, Jade was not that good. You could easily replace it with MAC’s green color with 3 coats.

Anyway, I am off to buy the Chanel Black Velvet nail polish because I really really like it. This will be the most expensive nail polish I have ever owned. It better stay fresh for at least one year or so.

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Every year I review top fashion blogs to understand the inns and outs of the industry, and which bloggers we should partner with. Here is a comprehensive list. I think the list is by Imran Ahmed, although it does not specify. Imran Ahmen is the Editor of an influential fashion blog the Business of Fashion and Luxury Society. He gave a session at the WWD Social Media summit in NY that I attended. A smart guy who graduated from Harvard Uni. He gave some key insights into how to reach bloggers, the challenges they face with the volume of communication they receive, and the best way to catch bloggers’ attention.

On a regular basis it is very difficult to read all key fashion blogs. Go Fug Yourself is my favorite blog – it used to be #1, but it is #6 on this list. The Budget Fashionista is a good blog for best deals. So many blogs write about “seen in the city”, celebrities, and high fashion, but this one focuses on budget styles and deals. Fab Sugar focuses primarily on celebrities, and its sister-site ShopStyle is an affiliate and performs extremely well. The site is well geared for SEO and shows up on the first page of Google for most fashion categories.

I met bloggers from The Budget Fashionista, Coutorture, and Nitrolicious, among others, when they came for our “sneak peek” event. I have seen key blogs link to Nitrolicious, and the blogger left her full-time job sometime in 2008 to attend events and blog full-time.

I love the name “Blogdorf Goodman” – its just so clever! Bergdorf Goodman should pay that blogger a lot of money and take ownership of the blog – or better still hire the blogger – its just too perfect a name to pass up. BTW if you type in http://www.blogdorfgoodman.com, it redirects to Bergdorf Goodman – again clever on BG’s part.

My favorite source of fashion news is Nymag.com. I subscribe to their emails and read them religiously. I don’t visit the site, just click through emails. It is a great source of information on the fashion industry, models, magazine gossip, and all the ins and outs.

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Ideeli recently launched IdeeliAccess which gives Ideeli members handpicked deals and offers that are localized. The deal features a significant reduction in prices, and becomes active only if enough people sign up for it.

It is currently running a deal for Spa Chakra where you can get a spa service for 90 minutes at 67% off! Regular price is $337, deal price is $109. This is an excellent deal! I have been to Spa Chakra on Fifth through a deal I purchased on Haute Look, but it was not this good! There is a condition though. Enough people have to sign up for the deal to be a “go”. So if you want the deal to work, you can ask your friends to sign up. Once the spa meets its minimum number, the deal is valid. How awesome is that! I love these invitation-based sites – since they are e-com only, they go all out and do the most creative things.

I also checked out Gilt and Rue La La‘s iPhone apps. They are easy to use and quite nice, but I cannot fathom buying through iPhone. I like to look at products in zoom version, and the phone is too small to get an idea of the product’s look and feel. People do buy using the app – I am not there yet. Both apps are very similar – you can organize products in list or grid form. The only issue is that it takes a while for the pages to load, and by the time you go back and forth and check out all the sales, some may go out of stock. Its so much easier on the computer where I open one tab for each brand and browse away.

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Recession has lead to several new business models and growth opportunities. That is the beauty of economic changes – there is innovation and new business models come about.

I subscribe to several invitation-based sites. They are supposed to be invitation-only, but popular blogs have their own invites for readers. GiltIdeeliRue La LaHaute LookBeyond the RackBillion Dollar BabesThe Top Secret, and Modnique. All these sites sell designer brands at discount prices. The benefit to designer brands is that they can get rid of previous season’s excess inventory without having to dilute their brand by making discounted prices available only through select sites. The sites do an excellent job of bringing less known brands to customers. I have come across several new brands and discovered gorgeous fashion. The sites purchase products and re-sell them, so it requires capital investment and strong partnerships with good brands that encourage customers to sign up. But capital investment is relatively lower because it is primarily online, and just has one store to manage without hefty real estate charges.

Gilt is my favorite – I love its photography, and the look and feel of the site and products. However, I have never made a purchase through Gilt – for one, products sell out quickly; two, it is higher end than other brands. Its extremely innovative though and has branched out into men, home, kids, travel, and now city-related. I am curious to see what more is in store (pun intended!).

I have purchased from Ideeli, Rue La La, and Billion Dollar Babes. I don’t like paying for shipping, but all these sites charge a hefty shipping rate. Being in retail, I know that all shipping charges have a profit margin included. Its not fair to the customer. In addition, shipping rates do not vary by the size of the package. Rue La La charges almost $10 for shipping – wonder how much margin that has!

Ideeli is running a campaign with MasterCard – the site links to a MasterCard marketplace and if you make a purchase using MasterCard you can get upgraded to the 1st Row for 1 month at no extra charge. Quite innovative! I think usually upgrading to the 1st row comes at a price. Sales are first made available to 1st row members, and 2nd row members have low priority.

Rue La La has been experimenting with gorgeous photography. I particularly love the items with tropical blue background – they used that for summer items, and I felt the ocean and beach calling me just by looking at the gorgeous photography.

Beyond the Rack is my least favorite site. It is too “rock & roll”, and I am sure appeals to a certain set of customers.

Gilt launched Gilt Fuse last year and I saw paid search ads for that as well. It catered to a younger audience. However, you could find the same sales on Gilt Women and more, and Fuse was just a subset of Gilt Women. I am not sure what the business idea was especially since Fuse was just a subset, but it was closed down this year since apparently other customers felt like I did, that having Fuse separately did not make sense. I have been reading that Gilt sells through its mobile app as well, and customers actually make a purchase on their phones. One of my favorite blogs, nymag.com, did a write-up about how Gilt included selected customers in a “special program” if customers spent a certain amount on their site. (I don’t recall details). Customers wrote comments that Gilt was misleading its customers; they did not spend that much and yet were included in that special program. Ha… welcome to the age of the Internet!

In terms of marketing, the sites cannot use the traditional forms of direct marketing. You cannot run paid search and affiliate programs for sites that are invitation-based. You can run behavioral targeting and retargeting ads, as well as online advertising campaigns. The big focus, however, is on PR – blogs, social networks, partnerships, innovation, diversification, and working closely with brands to find the right product mix.

Are these sites in it for the long run? Yes, I think so. But I also see these sites as becoming “commoditized”. I see sales run on two different sites for the same brand, IN THE SAME WEEK! So Sweet Pea’s cute floral mesh tops were available on Ideeli early this week and I actually bought one top; today the same brand is running its sale on Rue La La. The products are different though – for now. You can’t blame the brands though – clearly they are trying to find the right partner, and want to diversify. But what does this imply for these sites? I enjoy following these sites, and am curious to see how many more will jump in to make money while the industry is still lucrative, and how long it will take for the industry to mature.

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE Catherine Malandrino’s clothes.I first heard of her when Blair Waldorf wore the marroon dress in Gossip Girl, and I checked out CM’s website for gorgeous clothes.

I chanced upon the store in Meat market, and fell in love with absolutely everything. This is what you call design and fashion. Gorgeous use of pleats, fabrics, and vision. While I loved everything, I found three to be very interesting. I had seen them online but these clothes you have to see in person and touch and feel the fabrics to get complete pleasure of fashion. The first one is of using hands on her dresses. The hands feature on the shoulder and one side of the waist. In one case it looks as if someone is grabbing the breast, but it is done so tastefully that it comes across as more elegant than sleazy. The second is of an eagle. The eagle’s wings are across both shoulders that meet just above the waist and join to form the head, which extends to the waist. The eagle was used on another dress where the wings formed the sides of each waist and met majestically at the back of the waist. The third was of a face… the face was on the side of one waist with pleats coming out of the lips. I had the vision of water springing out of the lips and going in all directions which is where the pleats went.

The clothing had really experimented with ruffles and pleats, forming ringlets, rossettes, and ruffles in all areas of the dress. A lot of sheer fabric was also used as a top layer. I thought DVF dresses were good, but CM is MUCH MUCH better than DVF. This is what you call design, unlike DVF where the prints and fit do the job which has more to do with use of fabrics rather than design. Unfortunately most of CM’s clothing were sizes 2 and 4, which I could NEVER fit ever. Damn. I am sure she has more sizes online, probably just not in stores. I will go back to the store again, just to relive the fun and pleasure I had in just seeing the gorgeous designs come to life.

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Theory

Theory is a clothing (men & women), handbags, and shoes brand sold through department stores and its own stores. The brand is VERY pricey. Its USP is that its clothing is made of a lycra-like material that makes it stretchy and comfortable; the clothes last quite long. I wonder, will customers pay $150-$200 for clothing that is so basic when they can get something cheaper? Will the brand last in this economy? Its collection in Bloomingdale’s was better than the one in their store in Meat market. Good collection, I have eyed their clothing for a while but never purchased any. Most people buy the brand on sale. Its parent compeny is a Japanese company. I do wonder about its being a healthy going concern. If I had $300 to spend, I would spend it on  Caltherine Malandrino dress… also, Theory’s collection features suiting and wear to work, meaning people don’t buy it as frequently. However, I have heard that the brand has a cult-following, and I so did like their denim pants in Bloomies. I have not seen that color used often. I also liked their ruffle plaid dress which had a sheer black overlay and looked cute.

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Herve Ledger is hands down my favorite designer. I love his bandage dresses. He is extremely creative in adding different elements of color and style to make his dresses all look different. Gilt had them on sale, $2,ooo pieces for $400-$500. Not surprisingly, within a day they were all sold out. They were such gorgeous pieces and such a pleasure to look at, every one of them. I looked at all of them very closely. You have to have a to-die-for hourglass figure to carry his clothes off. They are very fitted. Blair Waldorf wore one on Gossip Girl with a cardigan and looked gorgeous. Bloomingdale’s does not have the gorgeous ones that were on sale on Gilt. Anyway, enough of my blogging. I have to go check out appliances and my patient husband is waiting in the next room. Hee.

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