Fun at Market: Good times in NYC and Dallas

DallasNYC

I’ve been on the go lately and have had an unusually fun time seeing what’s new and exciting at market.

Two weeks ago I was in New York, combining pleasure with work. My husband Sammy and I went a couple of days early for a Broadway play, great dining, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lunch with some El Pasoans transplanted to New York. Nothing beats experiencing all the best of New York.

Then last week, I was in Dallas for a couple of days. I don’t go to every market with our buyers, but I am especially drawn to Dallas because of the information we gather as members of the “prestigious Retail Advisory Board, selected by Dallas Market Center management and exhibitors to provide valuable feedback on the industry and how markets can better serve retailers.”

While some claim this is a “prestigious board,” the real reason for attendance is to reconnect and laugh with longtime industry friends, have a great meal with wine and see what tips we can gather from our retail peers about hot sellers and innovative practices.

Patty and Bobbie

Among those friends from around the Southwest is Patty Hoffpauir, owner of The Garden Room in Austin, who thought it was cute to give me bunny ears in a photo with the dinner’s special guest, Rawlins Gilliland! By the way, when you are in Austin, do stop by The Garden Room, which is a wonderful women’s boutique.

This board meeting didn’t fail to entertain. The Market Center had invited Gilliland to share his insights on this year’s holiday gift items. Gilliland scours the market so he can share his finds with retailers on the wonderful private tours he leads through the various vendors.Nan, Rawlins and devilish Patty

Gilliland is an interesting guy. He started his retail career with Neiman Marcus where he was named top salesperson and eventually earned the title of National Director of Sales and Product. He helped create and direct Neiman’s amazing personal shopping program. Since 1999, he has been a consultant to the wholesale and retail industry, specializing in market buying and sourcing for specialty stores and small businesses.

Nan and Rawlins

Gilliland is also a natural entertainer, humorist, philosopher, poet and National Public Radio commentator.

“Rawlins Gilliland and his stories are one of a kind!” says Jim Gold, president of Neiman Marcus.

Needless to say, Tres Mariposas buyer Bobbie Baldridge and I had a thoroughly fun evening at our Retail Advisory Board meeting.

We did pick up plenty of suggestion of products from Gilliland and other retailers that might be great holiday gift items.

The part of buying trips that I rarely talk about is the products we don’t buy. Part of the joy of being a buyer is the thrill of the hunt. I will go check out just about any tip, even though some explorations lead to groan-worthy products. Even though they may be bestsellers for some, these are items you won’t find at Tres Mariposas this year:

• A birdhouse that looked like a miniature Airstream style RV complete with 1950s decor and porch

• Giant Christmas ornaments made with wishbones

• Lit Coolers, for campers who need their ice chests complete with interior lights

• Bling-A-Go-Go, t-shirts that can be customized

That last one sounded so bad that Bobbie refused to go with me to check it out. Of course, she was right and Bling-A-Go-Go wasn’t for Tres.

A few holiday gifts that you can look forward to seeing:

• Jeweled evening bags in Art Deco patterns

• Limited edition individually hand-crafted fashion jewelry with Egyptian themes.

• Italian Renaissance-style candles with domes

In future columns, I’ll be sharing with you some of our observations about the styles and trends we saw in both New York and Dallas. We’ll also be giving you some ideas that might inspire “the thrill of the hunt” in your own clothes shopping this fall!

Designer Trina Turk: Cool and on Trend

Having a long relationship with a design house can pay off with extra benefits, like the surprise we received recently from Trina Turk, that iconic lifestyle brand that’s perfect for our region.
The designer’s collections have been successful at Tres Mariposas for many years and we were thrilled when they sent us a delightful bonus addition to regular shipment: a fun package of popular pieces from their pre-fall collection.

We’re holding a special two-week Trina Turk trunk show where you can buy these limited bonus items on the spot. Women love the fresh Trina Turk look, which celebrates cool and casual “California modernism,” as Trina calls it.
Founded in 1995 by Trina and her husband, Jonathan Skow, a stylist who became an expert photographer, the company has a consistent appeal that hasn’t changed in 20 years. Trina Turk’s success involves the best of classic American design, yet staying on trend.

I thought about why Trina Turk has been successful at Tres Mariposas for a sustained period of time, and here are a few reasons:

Trina Turk’s fuchsia lace skirt

Trina Turk’s fuchsia lace skirt

• Color. Trina Turk’s line consistently includes bright colors. El Paso women always want color. When we’re shopping the fashion markets, finding enough color is always a challenge and Trina Turk offers great options.

Zigzag print dress

Zigzag print dress

• Prints. Women in El Paso and Juárez seem to want clothing that is interesting, energizing and visually engaging. That means that many women find solid color apparel a bit lackluster. Vibrant patterns are part of Trina’s DNA.

Fuchsia romper

Fuchsia romper

• Youthful styling that fits. It’s easy to find youthful-looking apparel. But youthful-looking outfits that look good on a normal body? That’s another story. Trina gets it right. Her fit is relaxed and works for a women of a wide age range.

Over the years, I’ve learned a bit about Trina. I find it interesting that Trina’s mom taught her how to sew when she was 11. Her mother was a creative seamstress who showed her how to modify a pattern and make it her own style.
“In the old days of home sewing, you basically bought a pattern and made the style as it was pictured,” Trina recalls on her website. “But my mother showed me how you could change the style. That lit a light bulb in my head.” The idea led Trina to launch her namesake brand in her apartment’s spare bedroom in 1995.

Amazingly, Trina has been successful for 20 years – but she didn’t start off with a business plan or manufacturing experience. Sometimes it seems that so many young women – including every other job applicant who comes into Tres – aspire to be successful fashion designers. Most have no idea what it really takes.

“A challenge I faced was naiveté: not really knowing what I was getting myself into,” Trina Turk says. “I never did a business plan and had I done one, I would have scared myself out of starting, because the idea of starting an apparel company from the ground up is a daunting proposition. But I was on a mission to do it so I thought ‘I’ll just do this!’”

To help the Trina Turk look come alive for this column, Eduardo Munoz, who does our social media photography, did his magic. Eduardo has a “day job” at BMW of El Paso, but he’s also a very talented photographer. With the rise of social media, many retailers post to Facebook, Instagram and so forth. This has created a new cottage industry and given a platform to many amazing photographic artists. I am really appreciative of Eduardo’s talent.

The model, Keri Smithers, is another talented young person. Keri works almost behind the scenes as an assistant in the Tres Mariposas fine jewelry department. She has also been a great model for our social media photography, another new role prompted by digital marketing. She is slender, sweet, unpretentious – and an natural fashion model. If we take a photo of five models in the same outfit, photographs of Keri will invariably look the best. She is not a traditional “glamour girl,” but it’s as if she has a secret magic. I’m also really appreciative of Keri and her talent.

Here are some of Eduardo’s pictures of Keri in typical Trina Turk styles, including “the romper,” basically a jumpsuit that’s short instead of full-length, and lace that’s young and hip. As you know, prints have their own fashion cycles, and zigzags are in. These prints can be bold and bright – it just takes the right attitude to wear this on-trend look!

Fashion Icon, Diane Keaton, and Me

South_Side_Crystal_Pier_Long_Exposure_Panorama-M

Two weeks ago, my husband Sammy and I were on our annual beach outing to San Diego, where many El Pasoans get their beach fix.We stayed at the landmark Crystal Pier Hotel in Pacific Beach because it allows neither my husband nor I to have to compromise on our beach criteria. Who woulda figured that a husband and wife might have different ideas about vacations?

I want to go to a deserted island and read a book a few feet from the water’s edge. I don’t want to just be near the beach. I want to be so close to the water that I can leave the windows open at night and fall asleep listening to the waves.

Sammy, on the other hand, wants to go to a hip, happening beach town with nightlife and great restaurants where he can join the crazies roller-blading on a boardwalk.

Fortunately, Crystal Pier has helped save this marriage. The hotel is a collection of renovated 1930s cottages built on a pier over the ocean. The views are amazing! When I’m in the cottage or on the deck I hear nothing but crashing ocean waves and see only the vast sea and skyline. But at the other end of the pier is all the energy of Pacific Beach. Paradise for both of us.

This year we encountered a delightful surprise as we checked in. The hotel office is at the base of the pier with an automatic gate to allow guests to drive onto the pier. If someone stops at the gate while they are checking in, other guests are blocked from driving onto the pier. I went to check in while Sammy waited in the car.

When I came out, someone’s big black Mercedes-Benz GL was blocking the way. I asked the young lady standing beside it if she knew whose vehicle it was so I could ask them to move. The young lady pointed to the office and said, “She’s in there, checking in. She’s an actress.”

So off I went to ask the person to move their vehicle. I stopped in my tracks. “Whoa! She really is an actress. Wait, what is her name?” I asked myself.

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton

 

I went back to my husband waiting in the car and said, “What’s the ‘Annie Hall’ actress’s name?” “Diane Keaton,” he replied, and then said, “Well, did you ask her to move her car?” Of course not! I couldn’t bring myself to ask Diane Keaton to move her vehicle.

Not to worry – Sammy said he would go ask her. He later confessed he just figured I was confused and it wasn’t really Diane Keaton. But it was!

He did ask her to move her vehicle. And she was totally lovely. Keaton stayed in a neighboring cottage on the pier, and, of course, I had to get a photo.

Diane Keaton and Nan

Diane Keaton and Nan

I was so amazed that she was still true to her signature style. She was dressed in a fantastic navy pin dot menswear-inspired pantsuit with a crisp white cotton blouse, a handkerchief in the pocket, bolo-inspired necklace and oxford shoes.

The next day she wore all black including a haute couture winged skirt and a hat, which is part of her signature style. In person she is friendly, open, warm and energetic, just like you would think she’d be.

As you know, Diane Keaton’s first famous film role was playing Kay Adams-Corleone in “The Godfather” more than 40 years ago. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” (1977), the role in which she established her iconic style. Her film credits go on and on, including co-starring with Woody Allen in other comedies and with Jack Nicholson in “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003). In addition to acting, she is also a photographer, real estate developer, author and occasional singer.

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keeton, in the film 5 Flights Up

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keeton, in the film 5 Flights Up

What can we learn from Diane Keaton about style? Her trademark is sporting menswear as womenswear. She is famous for tailored pantsuits, vests, hats, polka-dot ties, matching handkerchiefs, turtlenecks and quirky hats.

What made it work all these years is that Diane Keaton is always being true to herself. Like other style icons – think Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn – she embraces who she is with confidence and isn’t deterred. She changes what she wears, but not the personality and panache of the look. She isn’t afraid to take risks.

In a September 2013 People magazine article about her, Diane shared some of her Fashion Must-Haves. I like her list:

• Pockets: Pockets are my life! I do not carry a bag ever, because I hate it.

• Expert tailoring: I’m interested in tailoring because when you have a body like mine, without shoulders, you don’t really have much of a silhouette.

• Hints of color: Colors as accessories punch more. If it’s the whole show, count me out.

• A smile: As you get older, there are certain things you can show off – your attitude and how you feel – the smile. Because it reflects warmth. Warmth is really a plus when you’re older.

It was such a thrill to meet such a talented actress and important fashion influence – and to see what she was wearing each day! You never know who you might run into in California, right?

Highly Valued: Back In Style

A bag is a bag is a bag. Unless, of course, it is a vintage Chanel, Louise Vuitton, Celine or Hermes. Judging from press and paparazzi coverage as well our own experience at Tres Mariposas, demand for vintage handbags has skyrocketed.

Vintage luxury has become equally or more desirable than new. Vintage as in “used,” you say? Is that crazy? Not when you think of luxury classics in other categories.

For instance, my husband loves his recent model Porsche, but, boy, would he kill for a 1959 Speedster.roadster

A fine reserve wine, aged to perfection, is way more coveted than current season yields. A vintage Rolex has an appeal and heritage that today’s watches can’t match. An antique table has a certain charm and a mid-century chair can be a classic. Age lends a unique style to goods in many different categories.WGACA

Some of today’s vintage handbag collectors have similar goals as art collectors. They love owning beautiful pieces, but they also consider the item as an investment with an eye to an ever-increasing resale value.

At Tres Mariposas we recently began carrying vintage luxury bags. I was skeptical at first – but my gracious, they are flying out our doors. We buy from a source who travels the world hand selecting the finest items from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and others. An important aspect of buying vintage is checking the authenticity. Our buyer is highly knowledgeable and guarantees the authenticity of the handbags.WGACA6

Some of the handbags have never been used at all – they were purchased by collectors who might have displayed them, but never took them out of their homes. Other bags are in outstanding condition, but they have been enjoyed by their previous owners. These purses have a kind of mysterious history to me, a secret past we’ll never know. That’s just part of the charm of vintage accessories!WGACA2

Kaftans Are Back for Summer

Kaftans, sometimes spelled caftans, those comfortable robe-like dresses often made of flowy soft fabrics, take many shapes and silhouettes, so it’s hard to generalize about them.However, it’s easy to say that this old style is reaching new heights on runways, at markets and in women’s hearts this season. Designers have reinvented this classic garment and it’s winning fans everywhere.

“I will never forget the first time I went to St. Tropez with my parents and the most glamorous women all wore caftans,” says stylist and designer Rachel Zoe on www.harpersbazaar.com.

Supposedly, designer Diana Vreeland once called the caftan “fashionable for the beautiful people,” but we don’t have to be jet-setters to enjoy the flattering, flowing lines.

“A caftan is always chic and effortless,” adds Zoe. “It’s a trend that began in the 1960s and has transcended time.”

This season we have had kaftans by a young Australian designer flying off our racks. Our contemporary buyer at Tres Mariposas, Gesuina Legaspy, wrote about the design house in a recent fashion posting on her Tres Gal blog. I’m happy to share it with you here, from

Gesuina:Gesuina Legaspy color headshot

“Every so often, I become so inspired and excited by a designer that I find myself wanting to tell their story, beyond a single photo or a line in a blog about multiple trends.

“I’ve mentioned Camilla here before, but the Australian-based line warrants its very own post, perpetually stealing the show with its vibrant hues, luxe fabrics and inventive style. They are inspired prints from all over the world, and come in a variety of bold colors and graphic patterns.

Designer Camilla Franks

Designer Camilla Franks

“Founded a decade ago by designer Camilla Frank, this luxury brand first caught my eye a couple of months ago, when I scooped up a few colorful kaftans for Tres Mariposas and we sold out within three days. I was infatuated with Camilla at first sight.

“The line is brimming with ‘forever’ pieces – precious silk and Swarovski crystals that can be worn through countless summer events, each garment unique and distinctive.

“I can see these pieces on women of every age, since the kaftans, maxis, kimonos and flowing blouses are flattering on all figures. You’d be in good company in Camilla, since everyone from Beyonce to Kate Hudson to Miranda Kerr are fans.

“My very favorite thing about the brand is that the Camilla dress can be worn half a dozen ways. That’s right – one dress is really six gorgeous styles: one shoulder, high, low, bra tuck, short and mini.

“I had so much fun experimenting with this dress in particular. I’ve learned that when you look good, you really do feel good.

“We’ve got a new batch of Camilla goodies at Tres, and I invite you to come by and try the line for yourself. Nothing says summer quite like Camilla.”

Flowy kaftans by Camilla can be worn in so many ways.

Flowy kaftans by Camilla can be worn in so many ways.

Escada’s Fall 2015 Collection Comes to El Paso

We had an unusually fun and amazing event take place at Tres Mariposas last week.Let me start by sharing some insights into the apparel buying cycle. Like other fashion retailers, we go to different markets for different lines. Normally, we buy high-end and European lines the furthest in advance and in New York.

These designers do not take their lines to the regional markets like Dallas or Los Angeles. And the more premium the fabrics and construction, the longer lead time is needed. The high level of quality means these are not fast-fashion productions.Escada dress

Every February, we shop Escada, the famous German luxury collection. This February, however, the collection was not in their New York showroom due to unusual circumstances.

Helen Mirren in Escada

Happily, Escada offered to bring the entire fall 2015 collection to El Paso so we could see it all here, right in our own store. “We will just bring the showroom to you,” declared Rebecca Evans of Escada. What a fabulous idea!

And what an unforgettable sight it was to see all the beautiful dresses, tops, jackets, skirts and pants in all their glory, right here in El Paso. Unlike our typical New York showroom experience, we had the luxury of more time to get to know the collection – and we got to hear reactions and recommendations from all our staff and even a few customers.

I have a special affinity for Escada. The brand was founded in 1978, the same year I came to Tres Mariposas. A few years later, an Escada outfit – a peasant-influenced skirt and blouse – was my first-ever luxury apparel purchase.

I felt on top of the world when I wore it. The fabric was divine. The fit was perfect. The workmanship was flawless. There really is a significant difference in luxury apparel; I felt elevated and special.

Escada had interesting beginnings. Margaretha Ley, a model and designer, and her husband, Wolfgang Ley, were on holiday in Spain when they bet on a winning Irish racehorse named Escada. The winnings became the seed money for Escada the brand.

Miranda Kerr in Escada

Miranda Kerr in Escada

Margaretha’s distinctive creations with their unusual combinations of colors and patterns soon stood out in the fashion world. Escada became Germany’s leading luxury fashion brand and a leading player in the global luxury clothing market. North America became a strong market, in part because of American women’s love of color. Today Escada is a go-to brand for celebrities and many of America’s best-dressed, most stylish women.

Rebecca Evans (Escada) and Bobbie Baldridge (Tres Mariposas)

Rebecca Evans (Escada) and Bobbie Baldridge (Tres Mariposas)

Having the complete Escada line at Tres Mariposas for our buyers to make their selections was such a treat. We had a great time – too bad we can’t always get a major fashion design house to come to us!