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Archive for November, 2010...

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  TARGETING THE TEEN MARKET:  This is Target’s fifth year of collaboration with top designers, and to celebrate the anniversary, the store has asked 17 past participants in the Go International program to design a series of dresses for a special Designer Collective which will be launched this March. The Collective will feature 34 dresses and will represent the large variety of styles and designs that Target has promoted over the last five years.   .

     When it began, in 2006, Go International was Target’s marketing initiative aimed at capturing more teenage dollars

    At first, each designer was available for three months in the stores.  In order to keep things fresh, the store later cut that time to 45 days.  Alexander McQueen, Anna Sui, and Jean Paul Gaultier are just a few of the illustrious international designers who have been part of the collaborative.

    Target has also developed a jewelry and accessories category for the Go International program, and has featured items from Mulberry, Temple St. Clair, Anna Sheffield and Miss Trish of Capri.

GOOD NEWS FOR THE SANTA SEASON:  The National Retail Foundation expects a 2.3 percent uptick on holiday sales this year, putting it at a total of $447.1 billion.  And, in a survey by the Cotton Inc. Lifestyle Monitor, the majority of women plan to spend about the same thing on holiday gifts this year as last, while 8 percent say they will spend more.  The survey also found that 72 percent of women who buy gifts plan to purchase gift cards, 58 percent will purchase apparel, 50 percent will buy toys, and 30 percent will spend on fashion accessories.

ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS SPENDING MORE ON CHRISTMAS GIFTS?  YOU CAN HELP ATTRACT MORE DOLLARS WITH THESE VALUE-PACKED GIFT ITEMS:

 

 

 

UPBEAT FLORALS ARE HOT NEW TREND:  Florals, florals, florals:  they are

taking the fashion world by storm this year, with everything from dainty prints to highly

sophisticated modern art expressions.  Many of the hottest new looks are offbeat:  lacy

florals with an impressionistic appeal, or big, wildly exaggerated florals, a la Georgia

O’Keefe.

   These florals aren’t meant to stand alone, however.  Pair them up with an interesting

patterned clutch bag or a bag-on-a-string for summertime lightness.  Then put on a pair

great looking sandals, such as Tory Burch has out.  Finally, add an impressive, casual but

assertive necklace, preferably medium length, maybe modern, maybe tribal.  Great look!

WORLD RECORD:  WOW!  Can you imagine? $46,158,674 was the auctioned price

for a spectacular pink diamond sold to well-known (and super-rich) gem dealer Laurence

Graff in Geneva last month! This is a new world record for the highest price ever paid for

a gemstone. That’s “EVER”.  The 24.78 carat stone is said to be a “fancy intense pink”

diamond and its new owner lost no time in naming it “The Graff Pink” diamond.     

 

“It is the most fabulous diamond I’ve seen in the history of my career and I’m

delighted to have bought it,” Graff declared

The price was more than double the $24.3 million paid by Graff for the blue 35.56-carat

Wittelsbach-Graff diamond in 2008. The pink diamond was last sold 60 years ago by

New York jeweler Harry Winston.

YOU CAN LOOK FABULOUS AND FOOL THE WORLD WITH SOME OF

TODAY’S TRULY GREAT FAUX  DIAMONDS.  LOOK AT THESE:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

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  THE RING:  It is back in the news, in headlines, photos, and films world wide and it is just as quietly spectacular now as it ever was. Of course we’re talking about Princess Diana’s engagement ring, now given by her son William to his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, in order, as he said, to keep his mother “present during all of this.”  The ring is not flashy or unconventional in any way, and yet, it has been the object of controversy since it was first chosen to join the Royal Jewels back in 1981.

Kate, as you all know, is a commoner, and so, you might say, is The Ring.  It was never specially designed for Princess Diana; instead, it was chosen from a catalog by the ring’s famous British maker, Gerrard. Back then, it sold for about $45,000 and anyone with that kind of cash hanging around could just as easily stop by Gerrards and pick one up, too.  Oh, my!

Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t exactly pleased with The Ring.  It was not exclusive, as the jewelry of the Royal Family had always been.  As for its design, well, it was pretty enough. But it features a 12-carat circular cut solitaire sapphire, admittedly beautiful enough.

But…it is not a diamond.  And we are talking about engagement rings here, aren’t we? The design is somewhat familiar:  It is not unlike rings (albeit they’re smaller!) given to young girls by their parents as a graduation or 16th birthday gift. 

 

YOU CAN ENJOY YOUR OWN VERSIONS OF ROYAL JEWELRY.  LOOK AT THESE GREAT ITEMS:

 

 

 

                                                   New Choices

But it is a sapphire.  A fabulous, huge sapphire.  And when Princess Diana chose it in place of a diamond, it began transforming the way young women looked at engagement rings.  Suddenly, it was OK to choose a gemstone other than a diamond.  Suddenly the traditional plain solitaire (this one is surrounded by a ring of diamonds) wasn’t really required.  Suddenly, a bride-to-be could actually choose a ring she liked best, and wear it for her engagement without criticism. New designs entered the field.

Now, The Ring is back, and it has never been so popular.  Sparkling on the left hand of the remarkable Miss Middleton, it has never looked so good.  Consequently, it is at the center of a second wave of replicas already.  Everybody, it seems, wants The Ring! 

 

Michael Arnstein, CEO of New York’s Sapphire Co., said that requests for copies of The Ring started pouring in the minute it was photographed on Kate’s finger. He further told Associated Press, “We’re in a frenzy.  This is changing our business overnight.” And that is most “uncommon.”

                                             Coronation Ring

 

Rings have long been prized by the Royal Family, but they are not the only outstanding rings of the monarchy.  Perhaps the most famous is the coronation ring. According to the official web site for the British Monarchy, the largest coronation ring was made for King William IV and used for every coronation since his except for Queen Victoria’s.

The center of the coronation ring contains a large sapphire.  Lying over it in the form of a cross are five rubies.  Around the sapphire is a circle of diamonds which represents the cross of St. George.  (Does this sound at all familiar?)

The coronation ring, along with the entire collection of British Crown Jewels is on

display at all times in the Tower of London, a somewhat peculiar (if not eerie) place to

show off the jewels, since they must share the Tower with centuries of historic torture

mechanisms. 

The engagement Ring, however, is not in the Tower.  It is on Kate’s hand, after a very

long wait.  Stunning! 

SAPPHIRES AND DIAMONDS.  CROWN JEWELS AND CORONATION RINGS.

IF YOU’RE FASCINATED BY THE MONARCHY, YOU’LL LOVE THESE ITEMS:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Accessory Trends
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  DANCER ON FASHION:  Shen Wei, China’s extraordinary choreographer and the man behind the epic opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, is in the midst of a whirlwind around-the-world tour that is centered on him and his process of creativity. His work is nonstop and prolific.  For example, he is presently choreographing Rossini’s “Moise et Pharaoh” Opera in Rome, and has a dance performance scheduled at the Berliner Festival in December, among other things. 

      As part of the tour, the many facets of the choreographer, from his dance works to his paintings, and photography, are being filmed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his dance company

       In a rare discussion about his works, Shen Wei talked not just about dance, but about fashion – understandably, since he designs all the costumes for his dancers himself.  “I’m a painter, a photographer.  It is easier,” he says. 

       “I do everything myself.  I love fashion, especially designers who have really clear visions and make designs not simply to sell.  Fashion,” he asserts, “should be leading the culture, and not just trying to fit in with what people like.”

       Wei adds that he personally favors fashion that is related to what’s going on in the moment, the current culture, how humans feel. Wei says he shops in a boutique called If, in SoHo, which is known for its constructionist luxury.  The store also carries such off-beat brands as Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester.  What he likes are outfits that are devoid of pretension.

         “I tend to avoid much color,” he says.  “I think I’m, too old (he is 43). I don’t want to be the spotlight outside my work.  I wear black, navy, brown and gray, which is my favorite.  It fits Asian people’s skin.”

QUIETLY RICH.  YOU CAN CAPTURE THIS WEI AESTHETE BY CAREFULLY CHOOSING YOUR JEWELRY ITEMS.  TRY SOME OF THESE:

 

 

                     ACE AWARDS PROMOTE CREATIVITY, INNOVATION

The 2010 Accessories Council Excellence Awards are in and the big winner for Designer of the Year is Alber Elbaz, creative director for Lanvin.  Elbaz is known for putting accessories in the prime spotlight with all of his fashion collections.  The couture collection he heads up isn’t cheap, but it is always wearable.  His accessories run from wild baubles to handbags with chain details, and shoes to match light-colored stocking hues. 

    Elbaz will introduce his new diffusion line for Target later this month, and it will include jewelry, hats, sunglasses, handbags and footwear.  “It is very much our aesthetic,” Elbaz declared. “It is very much Lanvin.”

                                                    More ACE

 

        Tiffany & Co. took the ACE Hall of Fame award for 173 years of outstanding accessories designs.  The firm presently operates 200 stores globally and plans to press on with its international expansion in 2011, emphasizing its new high jewelry salon, and new iPad app, among other things.  One of Tiffany’s big recent jewelry offerings is its key collection, including old fashioned gold and silver keys to be worn as a pendant. The look became a major winner for Tiffany, as well as all those firms (which are many) that copied the key theme. 

        Henri Bendel was named ACE Retailer of the Year, a major kudo for the company which has specialized exclusively in accessories and beauty products since 2009.  Prior to that, Bendel offered the public a variety of high fashion products and became a haven for independent designers. 

         The store also forged a number of innovative retailing ideas within its main store space in Manhattan, such as its “Street of Shops,” where it housed separate fashion categories such as handbags and jewelry, each in their own enclaves on the same floor.

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A BENDEL LUXURY LOOK, DON’T THINK IT HAS TO COST YOU A FORTUNE.  HERE ARE SOME IDEAL BENDEL-LIKE ITEMS:

 

 

                                      MISMATCHED TREND

The French say Americans are “Crude” because they always have to match things perfectly.  Well, those days seem to be rapidly fading, as a new global approach to design brings forward all sorts of mismatched items and teams them up as unsuspected pairs.  Among the latest offerings on this scene are earrings from the Swiss designer, Suzanne Syz, on display in New York recently in the Marianne Boesky Gallery on East 64th Street. 

       Syz might not be American to start with, but she readily admits her design consciousness was formed in no small part by America’s famed pop artist, Andy Warhol.  Well, OK, by Europe’s Jean-Michel Basquiat, too.  The earrings we refer to are made of titanium, pearl, topaz and kunzite.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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   WHAT’S THE NEWEST story on the fashion horizon?  Well, it is one Americans are well familiar with, a story that dates back long enough to be a classic, covering a good portion of the country and its history.  Think Little House on the Prairie, and you’ve got it!

Of course, the Prairie Look is just one of many trendy stories in fashion right now.  But if your taste runs in this direction, you are going to really enjoy the Look, because it can be quite delightful.

The big items here are big brimmed straw hats, little gingham prints, soft leather belts and bags, handmade jewelry, canvas totes, and plenty of feminine ribbons and bows.  It is a sweet look, yesteryear with some jazzy upgrading.  Who wouldn’t love it? 

Coming in for the spring and summer seasons, imagine standing in the wind, feeling the breezes in your hair, and still not having to stop and comb and brush and reposition half of what you have on. Why not?  Because this is an extremely nature-compatible look, a green look in extreme, a retro extraordinaire. It is natural. Charming. Hair that moves in the wind.  Finger nails that look real.  Faces that smile without the tightness of plastic surgery or Botox. Ohhh, can we handle it?

A QUICK WAY to get into the mood of Prairie Girl Natural is to look through some magazines and pick out those outfits and overall looks that would be compatible with a pioneering spirit of the 1800s.  Things that could be made at home are a good place to start, but don’t assume they have to be unattractive or even primitive.  Many of the hats, dresses, et.al. made by pioneering women were highly sophisticated and refined in their own way.

At the same time, there are plenty of top designers flirting with the Look as well.  Gucci has a marvelous new leopard-like print bamboo bag that would work wonders here.  It is very rich, very natural, and at the same time very fitting to the overall expression of the Prairie Look.  Georg Jensen has a beautiful little gold bracelet, very fragile looking, and perfect for the plains of yesterday!

BIG BRIMMED HATS AND PRETTY CUTCH OR BUCKET BAGS ARE GREAT ADDITIONS FOR A PIONEERING LOOK.  CHECK THESE OUT:

 

 

                                      Conservative, Not Sexy

THERE ARE SOME THINGS that should be eliminated right out in creating your own Prairie Look.  This is a very ladylike story, so rid yourself of low cuts, high cuts, cut-outs, and anything else that is too skin-exposing.  Keep skirt lengths longer, which works well with the new story coming in, for longer, below the knee skirt and dress lengths. If something looks sexy, racy, or edgy, don’t go near it!

Choose jewelry judiciously.  Don’t go over-board on the number of jewelry pieces you’ll wear at one time.  Remember:  Most of the prairie ladies didn’t have a lot of money to spend on luxuries, so a simple necklace was something to be cherished by itself.  Pearls are always good.  So are beads. Rings were not in the highest demand; most women limited their ring wardrobe to a wedding ring. But young girls might like a plain gold or band with a little stone in it.

Color is an important factor in putting together a Prairie Girl fashion collection.  Many of the colors from this era were natural:  tans, browns, washed whites.  Pale blue was a dressup favorite.  Black was used frequently. Pale yellow was another big time hue.  

Materials play an important role in this story.  Think in terms of leathers, cottons, and straws.  Hand worked metals are also a highlight for handbag hardware, even certain types of jewelry.  Straw totes are hot here, along with brown beads, bright ribbons, and plaid, handknit-looking scarves.

The Prairie Look also crosses over many other stories, so you can turn to them for inspiration in choosing products for this category, too.  This Look was made for Naturals of all sorts.  It is also not unlike the Hippie Look of the 1960s. Remember all those wonderful long skirts and macramé jewelry pieces?  Bring them back! 

And hey, the Safari Look has a lot in common with the Prairie Look, too.  Just don’t choose things are too sophisticated or British-elite, they would outrank and maybe overwhelm the simplicity that makes the Prairie Look so appealing.

JEWELRY WAS PRIZED OUT ON THE PRAIRIE…KEPT FOR THE RICHEST AND MOST PRIVILEGED.  HERE ARE SOME GOOD CHOICES TO PUT YOU IN THAT CATEGORY:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Marketing
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  THE JEWELRY IS FANTASTIC!  The prices are remarkably modest.  And the ladies who promote the collections are a glorious 60 years and older, a long way from the skinny young things the Fashion Industry is most used to. 

But….we are talking about Alexis Bittar, that designer extraordinaire, who doesn’t believe in doing things like everybody else and has thus forged a maverick but wildly successful career in the world of jewelry making.

BITTAR TOOK THE Accessories of the Year Award at the Council of Fashion Designers of America earlier this year and now, here he is in the classy Saks Fifth Avenue Emporium in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, presiding over a trunk show of his unique jewelry, the same that nabbed him the Award in the first place.  Bittar takes it all in his stride.

                                               Modest Start

THE 42-YEAR-OLD Brooklyn-born designer started his business in 1990 in a one-bedroom apartment and has moved up the fashion ladder at a breakneck pace. His jewelry runs from handsculpted and handpainted hinge bracelets (part of his Lucite collection) to oversized floral brooches handpainted the color of pomegranates. 

Trendy gold hoops and teardrop earrings are remarkably popular, along with rings, such as one that is crystal encrusted, chunky, gold…and simultaneously classic and wild!

Bittar appeals to an older audience of buyers.  “Is she going to be buying my jewelry?” Bittar asks, pointing to a picture of a teenage model. “Probably not. The woman who (is going to buy my jewelry) is probably going to be 60 years old, And that is a reality.”

Bittar’s advertising reflects that demographic.  The star of his next ad campaign will be 66-year-old Lauren Hutton.  And she is a full decade younger than his most recent advertising celebrity:  Joan Collins. 

“In the advertising world, you always try to be provocative,” Bittar declares. “Isn’t it amazing that you could use a mature woman and that’s provocative?  People all over the world noticed that ad and talked about her age.

YOU CAN FIND JEWELRY THAT FITS ANY AGE CATEGORY RIGHT HERE, PIECES THAT EVEN BITTAR WOULD APPRECIATE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                            Surprising Prices

BITTAR IS BEST KNOWN for his exceptional Lucite jewelry, which sells for as little as $45 for a thin bangle.  His Dew Drop Lucite earrings are just $90. He has three distinctive collections, including Miss Havisham, which is a mix of punk and Art Deco pieces.  Elements uses semi-precious stones plus 60s metal smith work with inspiration from sculptor Alexander Calder. This grouping also shows the influence of painter Gustav Klimt.

Lucite is perhaps his most popular collection.  Here, Bittar fuses the techniques used to create Bakelite plastic jewelry of yesterday with the present day glassmaking art of Lalique crystal. The Lucite is initially made by some 250 American artisans in Brooklyn who cut and sculpts it.  Then, Bittar takes it through another six steps, gilding and painting it so that it reflects light.

Bittar is in the process of opening four stores, which will bring the number of Alexis Bittar boutiques to seven. And while he talks about the 60-plus ladies who wear his jewelry, the fact is, just about every age group is turned on by his work. 

Alexis Bittar jewelry is worn by the First Lady, along with celebrities galore.  Even young girls on their first jobs wear his jewelry, because some of the pieces are priced low enough for their budgets.   

But whatever the price, Bittar’s interest is in creating and selling what he calls “special pieces,” pieces that could be considered collectible.  “I went into the business thinking that way,” he asserted, “understanding that if I was handsculpting a piece out of Lucite, which no one was doing, then it would be collectible.”

IF YOU ENJOY BITTAR’S WORK, YOU’LL SURELY LOVE THESE PIECES, ALSO MADE WITH A CRAFTSMAN’S FINE ATTENTION TO DETAIL:

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

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  CHINA’S NEW ELITE BUYS BIG:  Chinese tourists now spend more money than American, European, and Japanese tourists abroad,” says Zhang Guangrui, of the  Chinese Academy of Social Science.  And nowhere are they spending more lavishly than on high end fashion products.

  The Chinese Tourist Agency estimates that Chinese tourists spend about 500 Euros or about $700 an hour when shopping in Paris.  They like buying high-end products,” Guangrui says. “Fashion forward products or products still not being sold in the domestic market are very popular.”

  ‘The majority of Mainland Chinese pay with cash.  They also buy very quickly — they know what they want and do not mess about.” Says Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford. 

   Chinese  shoppers go for skin care products and jewelry like jade, and single diamond pieces.  They also are big on items from Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Lanvin, and Celine.   In the first three months of this year, the number of Chinese tourists shopping in department stores rose 125 percent in the U.K., 217 percent in Italy, and 243 percent in France.  Many major European stores have added customer service personnel with skills in Asian languages, including Mandarin and Cantonese.

   Coach has added a number of Chinese-speaking associates in its stores, internationally.  “As our brand awareness has grown in China, we are seeing significant interest in Coach from the Chinese tourists in North America, notably in key destination cities such as New York, Vancouver and Toronto,”  declared Mike Tucci, Coach retail division President of North America.

GOOD QUARTER:  And, talking about Coach, the firm’s first quarter profits soared 34.1 percent on a sales gain of 19.7 percent.  The quarter was boosted by a 27 percent jump to $136 million in shipments to the United States and the international wholesale channel. Coach CEO Lew Frankfort attributed much of the growth to the brand’s new merchandising, marketing and pricing strategies.  He also said (is this a surprise?) that China now represents Coach’s fastest growing business.

PURITY FROM THE LAND OF LA DOLCE VITA:  Italy’s hot couturier Giambattista Valli turned away from the animal prints he has been so famous for, choosing, instead, to concentrate his latest Paris showings on sheer white silks with baroque appliqués. 

The move wasn’t exactly a surprise, though, since the catwalks in Paris have been flooded with white for spring and summer.
 
 

 

YOU CAN ADD A TOUCH OF PARIS WHITE TO YOUR PRODUCT THIS SPRING.   HERE ARE SOME GOOD CHOICES:

 

 

BYE-BYE BIKER BLACK:  If the trend in Los Angeles is any indication, Biker Tough may soon give way to Scooter Sophisticated.  Internationally, there has been very little action in this quarter, despite the enormous popularity of scooters in major cities such as Rome. Now however, women are demanding more fashion for their rides, and companies are giving it to them.
   “Scooters are a personality statement,” says April Whitney, editor of California’s Scoot Magazine.  One West Coast scooterist, Arlene Battishill, now has her own line of clothes aimed at allowing riders to step off their rides and into a restaurant without looking like they’ve been in a race.  The new designs mimic trench coats and military jackets and were inspired by the classic lines of Coco Chanel.  Colors are softened from black to grey.  The line is called GoGo Gear and is positioned to do just that in the seasons ahead.

NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS:  Aeropostale has opened a wild new interactive flagship store in Times Square, branching out into a whole new concept for retailing.  The major maverick store aspect is its balcony, a 700 square foot room that includes a camera to film customers’ antics and shenanigans and then put them up, maybe twenty or so minutes later, on a 1200-foot animated Times Square billboard made up of 2 million LEDs. 

   –Whoo!  Can you imagine the reaction of guys and gals to this one?  Anyway, the whole film/billboard experience is devoted to shoppers’ entertainment only, and no part of the balcony experience is given over to product.

“No other retailer would want to do this because it is not productive space,” declared Thomas Jefferson, co-chief executive officer.  But that’s not to say that Aeropostale isn’t highly involved with selling.  In fact, the store will even sell its T-shirts up until 2 a.m., proving that Times Square still belongs to a city that never sleeps. 

Aeropostale has a wide variety of fun products.  The company says that its stores average $635 a square foot annually, adding that it expects the Times Square flagship to do considerably better.  There is a SoHo shop-within-a-shop on the second floor, and fabulous, worn wood floors and brick walls (very vintage New York) all over, The store also features lots of fascinating illustrations and details, such as a gas pump, and a Brooklyn Bridge.

The firm also expects to get into the dorm business in a big way in the new store.  It also plans “to exploit jewelry.  We see jewelry as a business we can expand. We really think that’s another opportunity,” co-ceo Mindy Meads said.
 
 

 

YOU MIGHT NOT BE TIMES SQUARE INTERACTIVE, BUT YOU CAN ATTRACT A YOUNG, HIP CROWD TO YOUR STORE WITH THE RIGHT PRODUCT. LOOK HERE:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, November 12th, 2010

Filed under Fashion History
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  ORANGE.  IT IS HALF WAY  between red and yellow and it is a dynamite color right now!  Many say it is not as intense as red.  But you can use red in large quantities in many places, and it will work just fine.  Try doing the same with orange and you could be totally overwhelmed!  So, you might say orange is deceptively strong.  It is also bold, and often riveting. 

Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren are just two designers who have used orange for years now, frequently letting it identify them in fashion lines, simply by its presence. Orange is preppy.  It is also a holy color.  Orange has been the color of Himalayan Tibetan monks’ robes for centuries.

ORANGE IS SHOWING up more and more throughout our culture. It is an ideal color for accessories, but it also is being used in unexpected ways, too. For example, the exterior of a recently renovated Taco Bell restaurant near me is orange and quirky and suddenly drawing in a large number of customers.  Yesterday, an orange SUV was sitting in front of the place, for a double whammy!

Of course, not everything is what it seems to be.  Oranges, you might be surprised to learn aren’t really orange.  They’re green, and dyed oranges.  If they were allowed to ripen naturally to orange, they’d go bad by the time they reached the supermarket shelves.

YOU CAN FIND ORANGE USED IN MORE AND MORE EXCITING AND FASHIONABLE WAYS THIS YEAR.  LOOK HERE FOR SOME EXAMPLES:

 

 

                                             Metaphysical Cure

ORANGE IS A WARM COLOR.  It is a stimulant, especially for the emotions and appetite.  If you want to lose weight, keep it out of the kitchen!  Metaphysicians say if any area of your life needs healing, burn an orange candle for 7 days.  (We’ll have to get back to you on the validity of that one.)

In Irish culture, the color orange represents Protestant supporters of the British and the division of the island nation in two parts.  It dates back to the time when King William of Orange reclaimed the North of Ireland from the insurgent Irish.

Orange is the color of the second chakra (one of the seven spiritual energy centers of the body), known as Svadhisthana, which can be found in the lower abdomen just below the navel.  Its element is water and it is aligned with the planet Mars and the Sun. 

 

                                  The Color of Creativity

ORANGE IS THE COLOR of creativity and sexuality.  It is also the color of joy, enthusiasm and creativity.  When out of balance, orange blocks the chakra and causes the individual to feel guilt, stiff  lower back, restlessness, and lack of sexual desire.  

Back in Elizabethan times, not everybody was allowed to wear the color of their choice. Garment colors were more often than not dictated by the English legal system, in what was called the Sumptuary Laws.  The color of clothing provided information about  one’s wealth, religion, and  social standing.

Because the color orange was frequently produced by using cheap dyes from the madder root – dyes that were not colorfast – the color orange was often worn by the lower classes.  However, in a strange twist on the cast system, upper classes were also allowed to wear it!

Today, everybody wears orange, but none so much as the wealthy.  Why?   Because the most expensive haute couturiers have fallen in love with the color, and are using it incessantly.  Just look at the fashion in the fashion capitals of the world!

                                        On the Runways

CHRISTIAN DIOR SENT OUT a fabulous looking bright blue evening dress on the runway for Spring, accessorized with a very large statement necklace of beads and feathers, almost African-looking, and all very orange.  Eddie Borgo designed a collection of new looking rings, one that looks like a bullet belt wrapped for the finger, in orange-gold.  It is tough, but classy.

Pierre Hardy has a super high heeled platform shoe on the market, all in orange, while Kenneth Cole offers an orange print dress that just skims the body and ends in what might be called a long mini.  Everywhere you look, you’ll see orange.  In Ts, in sweaters, in blouses, in scarves.

Orange handbags in leather and fabric are hot.  Orange framed sunglasses are very IN.  Orange belts give dresses and pant an updated, different look.  Orange beaded earrings are kinky. 

TO BE SAFE, DON’T OVERDO ORANGE.  YOU’LL SET OFF TOO MANY VIBRATIONS!  BUT DO ADD IT TO YOUR WARDROBE AND PRODUCT MIX.  THIS IS THE QUINTESSENTIAL 2011 COLOR!  CHECK IT OUT HERE:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, November 11th, 2010

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  WHEN IT COMES TO CHRISTMAS, MACY’S HAS LONG KNOWN HOW TO DO IT.  The store launches its big seasonal push with a spectacular Macy’s Day Parade — a New York City annual highlight, complete with gigantic floats and sky-hugging balloons, as well as celebrities, clowns, Broadway musical stars, bands from around the nation, and all sorts of additional entertainment — an hours-long phenomenon that wends its way through the streets of New York every Thanksgiving Day, when a big-bellied, laughing, and always lovable Santa Claus officially comes to town.  

NOW, MACY’S IS PUTTING A WHOLE NEW TWIST ON RETAILING for the season, as well.  In the past, Macy’s has rolled out a large collection of Christmas gifts starting in November. The gifts have included jewelry, cosmetics, and various types of cold weather accessories, and were all boxed and attractively wrapped, all ready for giving. This “buy and go” idea has long been a favorite of store buyers, boosting sales significantly every year.

                                               An Even Better Idea

SO, WHY CHANGE?  Because the store obviously thinks it has an even better idea for gifts this year.  And since, as we already said, Macy’s has long known how to do it for Christmas, we won’t question their expertise.  Instead, we’ll tell something about this year’s new plan with the expectation that you’ll be able to copy some of the ideas for yourself – admittedly on a much smaller scale! –But, hey, don’t forget:  The pre-packaged gifts idea the store used in the past is still a great idea to grab on to and run with!

YOU CAN MAKE USE OF SPECIALTY ITEMS, CAREFULLY PURCHASED AND ALREADY PACKAGED IN YOUR STORE, TOO.  HERE ARE SOME TO WORK WITH:

  • Plaid scarf.  Cozy 100% acrylic with the feel of wool.

 

 

THIS YEAR, HOWEVER, MACY’S IS  setting up new Gift Shops, which range from a few hundred square feet in size to over 1,000 square feet, all at the store’s landmark Herald Square location in Manhattan.  The shops will be filled with all kinds of quirky, colorful gifts for the holidays, more than 400 items for kids, men and women.

The Gift Shop items are well priced and even off-beat in nature, yet all of them ranking high on any gift-giving scale.  For example, a baby onesie (an infant’s one-piece jumpsuit) decorated with skull and crossbones sells two for $20.  Fat digital watches in fun Day-Glo color come in at $36.  And a set of three false eyelashes is just $18. 

Enamel jewelry is a big item for the Gift Shops.  So are makeup cases from Kitson.  In case you aren’t familiar with that name, Kitson is a popular Los Angeles store that sells a bevy of designer brand items. Like Macy’s, Kitson apparently knows how to do it with gift items, too!

                                       The Color Quotient

MARTINE REARDON, MARKETING vice president at Macy’s, says that about 90 percent of the items in the Gift Shops were developed and made by Macy’s.  Most especially, Reardon noted, “the colors are exclusive to us.” 

Macy’s, Reardon added, has tried to break out of its holiday gift mold.  Apparently, it has done it now in a big way with exclusive products, specialty items, hand-picked gifts, and unique color waves, all presented in Christmas Gift Shops that are at once inside Macy’s, and yet aside from the store’s daily fare.  Any one of these factors is a merchandising idea worth looking into!

But…back to the store’s overall Christmas Gift Plan: Macy’s is also unveiling what it calls “celebrity gifting nooks,” smaller gift corners, you might say,¸ with more exclusive items, created for Macy’s by specialty brands such as Betsy Johnson, Calvin Klein, Donald Trump, and a long list of other outstanding designers.

These additional International Gift Shops, slated to open in 25 stores around the country, will carry things like handwoven baskets from Rwanda, Maasai jewelry from East Africa, and wooden trays from Indonesia. Specialty items with a gift-giving twist! 

   –Great gifts!  Great ideas! You might try putting some of them to work for you this year.  They could put extra dollars into your cash register this Christmas! 

 

WHATEVER YOU PLAN TO SELL FOR CHRISTMAS, DON’T MISS OUT ON THESE GREAT ITEMS, VALUE-PACKED FOR GIVING:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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 “NOTHING IS NEW IN FASHION,” says Vera Wang, “It’s a matter of how you reinterpret it.”  She contends that there are just so many ways a garment can be sewn to be functional and flattering.  “The challenge is for the designers to twist it and make it their own,” she says. They can also use additional items like jewelry and other accessories to give an outfit an updated, high fashion newness.

Vera Wang should know!  The high fashion designer has a long history of remarkable successes in the fashion industry, from a job as Editor at Vogue to a stint as a designer for Ralph Lauren before she set out on her own some 20 years ago.  In that length of time, she’s learned a great deal about fashion, some of which she shares with others in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

 

The interview tells a lot about Vera Wang, too, not the least of which is her charming humility.  Rather than take bows for her award-winning design years, she says “Luck helps.  It’s better to be lucky than smart,” she asserts. “Sometimes the big break comes from something beyond your control.” 

 

                                          From Obscurity to Fame

WANG POINTS TO THE AMAZING, young Jasan Wu, who designed Mrs. Obama’s Inaugural dress and then was “lucky” enough to be put on the First Lady’s Hot Designer list, getting numerous additional commissions since then.  Wang sees Wu as a great designer more than worthy of all the hype and kudos but…do you remember when his name was announced as designer of Mrs. Obama’s gown?  Nobody had ever heard of him before!  

Fashion is expressive, Wang points out.  She advises using accessories to change an outfit depending on your mood.  “But,” she says, “Keep the core pieces classic.  Change proportions; wear fine jewelry with T-shirts or a chunky necklace with a gown.  But then keep those pieces and wear them in new way next year.”

   —­­This is terrific advice, especially for fashion accessory retailers.  It gives them the opportunity to show customers how and when to use accessory pieces, making their purchase that much more desirable. 
CHOOSING DIFFERENT STYLES IN NECKLACES AND BRACELETS CAN RADICALLY CHANGE THE LOOK OF THE SAME BASIC OUTFIT.   HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES:

 

 

                                                True Fashion

WANG ALSO FEELS that everyone deserves true fashion at any price. Nowhere is this more significant than with accessories.  “No matter how much something costs – high or low – it’s an investment on the part of the shopper, and she should be getting something that looks good.” 

   —Jewelry gets high marks in this category!  What other product gives so much for so little, as well-made fashion jewelry?  Often you cannot tell the difference between a costume jewelry necklace that sells for $10 to $20, and a fine jewelry necklace, selling for thousands.  Now, that’s real value, and true fashion at its best!

WANG ALSO TALKS ABOUT “creating an attitude.”  She notes that the accessories you wear will change the feeling you have, and that will change the entire look and feel of an outfit.  “You aren’t wearing the same persona in ballet flats as heels, and clunky Uggs create a different aura altogether,” she says.  

Likewise, Wang has an interesting take on whom she designs for, and why.  She notes that she has spent her entire career styling, dressing, and designing only for women. 

“But never,” she asserts, “underestimate the client.”  In fact, Wang goes on, it doesn’t even matter what men will think.  “If a woman feels pretty and sexy, she is pretty and sexy.”  Wow!

YOU CAN HELP YOUR CUSTOMERS LOOK AND FEEL BEAUTIFUL, SEXY, EVEN YOUNG, WITH THE RIGHT FASHION CHOICES.  TRY THESE ITEMS:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

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  HALLELUIA!  There may not be a rash of spending this Christmas, but if the National Retail Federation’s latest survey is at all correct, we can all expect an encouraging boost in sales as consumers ease up on their budgetary tightness and actually let go of some of those iconic greenbacks.  Yes, indeed, says the NRF, this holiday season is shaping up to be somewhat better than last year’s.  And, we all know that anything is an improvement worth rooting for!

NRF’s Holiday Consumer Intentions and Action survey indicates that total spending on gifts is expected to rise 2.1 percent to an average of $518.08 per person. Holiday sales, in general, are expected to go up 2.3 percent to $447.1 billion. Oh, those billions are nice to see when we are talking national sales, aren’t they?

Consumers are still aching from the sting of the recession, one national newspaper claims.  But there are small signs that they feel a bit more confident than last holiday season. On one hand, a big trend in gifts this year is expected to be simple necessities, with luxury items falling far behind.  That is in keeping with 2008/09 Holiday patterns.

On the other hand, though, there is a growing number of consumers who seem to be more willing to splurge this year on gifts.  Understanding that, gift recipients are getting a little bolder, too!   NRF’s survey shows that 23 percent of people will ask for jewelry this year, a more than 10.5 percent jump from 2009!

The number of people who will buy gifts for themselves this year has also gone up, a full 8 percent to 57.1 percent.   — So, what do you want for Christmas?  You might ask yourself that question!

CHRISTMAS GIFTS ARE ALWAYS A JOY TO SHOP FOR, EVEN WHEN MONEY IS TIGHT.  LOOK HERE FOR SOME WONDERFUL ITEMS AT GREAT VALUE PRICES:

 

 

                                      Gift Cards Are Hot

THE NUMBER OF BUYERS who listed customer service or quality as the most important factor in buying gifts rose, the NRF survey found, although recessionary factors still remain strongly in place. Discounts, sales, and low prices in general remained very important buying considerations, indicating that economic restraints still wend significant influence on what is purchased. 

What individual gift recipients want for Christmas was also noted in the survey.  For example, 57 percent of people surveyed put gift cards on their wish lists; understandably, gift cards remain the most popular holiday gift.

Although discounted items were given high consideration by people surveyed, it is interesting to note that the number of people shopping at discounters (or expecting to shop at them) has fallen from 70.1 percent to 65.1 percent this year.

When people will buy their holiday gifts was also probed by the NRF survey, which found that 37.2 percent expect to begin their shopping by Halloween.  It is not that long ago that major holiday shopping did not begin in earnest until Thanksgiving!

                                                Baby Steps

“CONSUMERS WILL STILL SHOP with the economy in the back of their minds, but we’re starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal,” declared Matthew Shay, President of NRF.  Many retailers agree.  

For example, Julie Veenstra, assistant manager of the Helzberg Diamonds store in Wellington, Florida, says, “It’s obviously way too soon to see how things will play out, but it just feels like there’s an energy in the store lately.”  The Palm Beach Post further reports her as saying that more people are putting things on layaway for the holidays, and there is increased interest in sterling silver, an affordable alternative to white gold or platinum. 

Still, while there are many positive signs in play, most fashion accessories executives warn against feeling too optimistic about sales this year.  Consumer confidence, they contend, is still shaky. What’s more, 67.1 percent of shoppers say the economy will affect their spending this year.  Now, that is admittedly down from last year, but it is still significant.

The message:  Rejoice, but conservatively.  Rock bottom, it seems, is behind us!

 

BUYING GIFTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS?   HERE ARE SOME DYNAMITE ITEMS AT PRICES YOU’LL APPRECIATE:

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, November 8th, 2010