Marc Jacobs: 30 years later

Last week I was in New York for a busy buying trip. Fashion Week had just ended and so the serious work of reviewing collections and making decisions was in progress in showrooms across the Fashion District.

mj bag2

One of my favorite stops was the Marc Jacobs showroom. I was there to shop the handbag collection. This designer has long been a leader in this category and the Marc Jacobs line of handbags has been among our top sellers.

Handbags on display in showroom last week

Marc Jacobs, of course, is an American design success story like no other. A former designer for Louis Vuitton, he is a creative genius who knows what women want. Today he continually surprises the market with his creations and holds a significant role in the industry.

However, I first knew of Marc Jacobs 30 years ago when he was only 23 and just starting out. In fact, designs from his very first, very small ready-to-wear line were shown at Tres Mariposas in 1986. I’ll never forget how that showing came about.

Back then, once a year, our New York fashion consultant brought interesting items from a number of design houses to El Paso to present at Tres Mariposas. In 1986, her selections for us included a few wool sweaters from some unknown guy named Marc Jacobs.

I remember thinking, “Oh, my gosh, those shrunken little sweaters look like he found them in his grandmother’s attic.” Turns out, my impression was not far from the truth! Jacobs began his fashion career by learning to knit from his grandmother. Our New York consultant said, “His sweaters may look like moth-eaten nothings, but you watch, he is going to be big.” Boy, was she right!

mj 8-019

Marc Jacobs has always been known for retro-influenced designs and fresh takes on vintage looks. Frequently, his designer collection runway shows are full of things that are just fantastical and far out.

But they are also so on target. His show for fall 2016 was no exception and even featured Lady Gaga on the runway!

“Jacobs showed his extravaganza of fashion noir on a stark white set to the sound of single chimed notes by Japanese musician Keiji Haino,” wrote a reporter in Women’s Wear Daily. “The models’ eyes and lips were black. The clothes were dark, wondrous, inventive, eccentric pilings of tweeds, furs, silks, and endless decoration, Victoriana meets Goth meets Biker Chic meets Varsity Chic meets Red Carpet meets Violet Incredible and countless other girls of Jacobs’ runways past.”

Marc-Jacobs-Fall-2016-NYFW-02

The collection was indeed flamboyant, fanciful and exaggerated. The showroom that we visited was set up like a runway with looks from his recent Fashion Week show, so we got to see some of the styles.

Sure enough, what we saw in the Marc Jacobs showroom set the tone for our entire trip. Fashion is moving to a Victorian-inspired trend for fall. Think high necklines, lace, femininity and some gothic darkness. This trend was also pleasantly interpreted at hip, contemporary lines like Elizabeth and James.

M Jacobs 5

This designer has certainly come a long way since I first saw his work 30 years ago – and I’m always curious to see what he’s going to come up with next!

Fall trends, observations from a fashion insider

Gregor Simmons

Gregor Simmons

Last week we enjoyed hearing about current trends from a fashion insider: Gregor Simmons from New York, who has worked as an independent buying consultant for the last 20 years.

I enjoy working with experts in a variety of fields, whether it’s a management specialist or a store designer. Gregor is one of those experts who challenge us to take our business to the next level.

Each year, she speaks at the Dallas Market and other markets, but she works in only a few trend presentations at stores, so we were delighted to have her visit Tres Mariposas. She understands what most women look for when they think of trends: “They want to look good: not cutting edge, but not dated.

“Trends transcend more than six months or a season,” she says. “And trends can be interpreted in different ways that are all age-appropriate.”

Illustrating her talk with dozens of examples pulled from two long racks of clothes, she looked at what’s happening in fashion this fall:

• Stormy weather: “It’s unclear to me whether the design community had a crystal ball, a secret Farmer’s Almanac or a groundhog hidden in a bunker,” Gregor says, “but the weather certainly had a huge influence of this fall’s fashions.”

Shades of gray can be found in the sky this time of year – especially during last week’s hail storms! – but also in jackets, sweaters, tops, pants and accessories.

You’ll see a variety of soft and cozy styles that conjure up comfort and warmth, no matter what the weather conditions are outside. Warm and comfortable fall must-haves include ponchos, turtlenecks and cowls, robe coats, chunky sweaters, fur or faux fur long scarves, leather or leather-trimmed leggings and quilted accessories.

Gregor Simmons with a ‘vegan’ leather and fleece jacket.

Gregor Simmons with a ‘vegan’ leather and fleece jacket.

• Pro-sport/tomboy: Think of all of today’s styles that have been influenced by physical activity, such as yoga, bicycling, skiing and working out – and you invariably think about stretchy fabrics and functionality.

“Active wear and athletic references are powered by technical fabric,” Gregor says. “Nylon, neoprene, fleece, cotton cashmere sueded ponte, jersey and elastine – all present.”

But this trend doesn’t mean grungy sweat suits. Hoodies in luxury fabrics, bomber jackets, drawstring pants and leggings are popular, along with what is known as the “two-fer,” a crop sweater layered over a shirt combo. She showed us some nice-looking quilted vests that would be good for our weather here and that fit into this sporty trend.

• Boudoir/retro chic: This trend doesn’t mean you’re dressing for the bedroom! It refers to soft, feminine looks in satin, lace, velvet, silk charmeuse and brocades. Inspired by old Hollywood glamour and luxury, this trend includes soft or flowy dresses, blouses and jackets embellished with fringe, bows and occasionally ruffles.

Look for glamorous details, such as a jeweled or pearl-trimmed collar on a simple blouse or a fur trim on a jacket.

An embroidered, Bohemian chic jacket.

An embroidered, Bohemian chic jacket.

• Folkloric/hippie chic: “It’s a mix of Bohemian and folk with some funk,” says Gregor. “Some of these pieces are a work of art.” This is where you’ll again find lots of fringe, plus appliqués, embroidery, beading, patchwork and prints from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Sheer print peasant blouses, with the little string tie at the neck, are back, as are long maxi-dresses.

After the fall trends presentation, attendees had the chance to chat with Gregor about such topics as which pants to wear with which tops, what women wear in different regions, and why it’s so darn hard to shop for men! Stay tuned for a future column on what Gregor has to say about trends for spring 2016.

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!

Things to look forward to in 2015: Part II

 

Gesuina Legaspy

Gesuina Legaspy

Guest Columnist Gesuina Legaspy, contemporary and special occasion buyer at Tres Mariposas.

Last week we looked at five interesting trends and design houses that caught our attention on our recent New York buying trip; this week, we look at five more. Here’s a preview of what will be hot in 2015!

Fashions from Helmut Lang

Fashions from Helmut Lang

Helmut Lang: I was pleasantly surprised by the change in direction from Helmut Lang. Gone are the edgy twists on classic styles. His newest line has evolved with his collection, and the designer has ushered in a richer, more chic aesthetic. A longtime fan of Lang, I am excited and curious about the change.  It’s a risk for the designer, and a return to the fashion house’s core looks, but our buying team loved the collection and look forward to receiving the new and improved Helmut Lang Collection for 2015: Clean lines, crisp blouses, tailored suits and jackets. Trés chic!

1970's-inspired denim

1970′s-inspired denim

‘70s-inspired denim: High-waisted jeans and flare legs are back in style, but don’t throw away those skinnies just yet. Do add a few pieces of flare-legged denim to your collection. My favorite styles were from Rag and Bone, who showed dark washes that give off a dressier, cooler feel, but also expect to see many lighter-wash denim options. Each showroom we visited offered at least one pair of flared pants or jeans.

Athletic-inspired apparel.

Dynamic sportswear: Make room for dressy athletic wear like sweatshirts, jogging pants, and football jersey-inspired tops. Athletic wear is definitely having a moment and we want to capture it! I ordered some great jersey-inspired sweatshirts donning celebrities’ names, like Cara Delevigne, Kate Moss and Beyonce. Rag and Bone showcased the best athletic-inspired apparel. 

Special Occasion Drama

Special Occasion Drama

Evening Gowns: As we saw at the Oscars this year, intricate formal dresses are back in style. Lady Gaga, Emma Stone, and Lupita Nyongo all wore dresses that were works of art in their own right, and anything but plain. I was happy to see this shift in evening gowns. For Fall 2015, expect decadent, extravagant and over the top!

Soji Tadashi and his line of eveningwear.

Soji Tadashi and his line of eveningwear.

 

Soji Tadashi’s elegant gowns and dresses were by far my favorite line I saw this market. He showed leather, beads, fringe —you name it, he had it all! It was the most diverse, interesting collection by far. There was lots of jewels, beads and embroidery. All his dresses were red carpet-worthy.

Gray is the color for fall 2015.

Gray is the color for fall 2015.

50 Shades of Grey:  The color for Fall 2015 is none other than grey! This includes all shades, from heather to charcoal, slate to gunmetal. The color is clean and chic and pairs perfectly with a variety of other hues. Grey boots, grey evening wear, grey handbags and gr sweaters.  Mix it up with unexpected accent colors like burgundy, hunter green, and even navy blue. Gray is neutral and basic and should definitely be in your closet in 2015.

 

 

 

Things to look forward to this year: Part 1

 

I am delighted to welcome a guest columnist today: Gesuina Legaspy, contemporary and special occasion buyer at Tres Mariposas. We’re back from a very productive buying trip and I asked her to identify trends and designers to watch for in the coming year. Here’s the first half of this two-part series.Nan Napier

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Gesuina Legaspy

Gesuina Legaspy

 

The best part of being a buyer at Tres Mariposas is – well, the buying trips – particularly the trips to New York City. My most recent visit, just the week before last, was marked by 9-degree weather, vintage bags and of course, fashion.

We’re gearing up for spring in the Sun City, but the fashion industry is looking ahead to our autumnal wardrobe. However, some of the trends, designers and delicious items that I saw in New York already inform your 2015 wardrobe:

Stuart Weitzman's LoveFringe heel

Stuart Weitzman’s LoveFringe heel

• Go forward with fringe: Trends, by definition, fade away as quickly they’re introduced. Not fringe. Fringe is stronger than ever, with its versatile appeal on handbags, evening gowns, apparel and even shoes!

In the fall, we will be seeing fringed cashmere cardigans from Repeat and Central Park West, and fringe on supple leather handbags we ordered from a line called B-Low the Belt. Fringe forward and keep wearing it, because fringe is not going anywhere.

Fashions by Jonathan Simkai

Fashions by Jonathan Simkai

• Jonathan Simkhai: Jonathan Simkhai is a New York-based designer who was introduced to Tres Mariposas by our New York buyer, Lucie Jordan. She was right on by leading us to his showroom in 2014. We loved the collection and carry it in the store now, and it’s very exciting to see how this up-and-coming designer is now everywhere, seen on celebrities like Chanel Iman, Jennifer Lopez, Alessandra Ambrossio and Gigi Haddid.

Legions of Hollywood “It Girls” have been seen in Jonathan Simkhai, and I am proud to feature the collection at our store. The only thing better than the line itself is its price point – super affordable.

Jewelry by Goldish

• Jewelry trends, my favorite: I am a minimalist when it comes to fashion jewelry, but I can assure you that these trends will have me decked out! Edgy, eye-catching pieces like body chains, hand chains and ear cuffs will be everywhere this year.

Tres Mariposas owner Nan Napier and co-buyer Bobbie Baldridge discovered a new line called Goldish that makes necklaces that can also be worn as 14-karat gold hand chains, which are combination bracelets and rings.

This fresh and fun trend is a great way to play with fashion and an inexpensive way to try something different. The best part is that you can mix it all together; these pieces look even better when worn together to create a statement outfit.

Midi Dress by Elizabeth and James

Midi Dress by Elizabeth and James

• Midi-dresses/skirts: The longer the better! This look is called “The Midi,” referring to a hemline below the knee and above the ankle, a nod to the 1960s and ‘70s.

There are endless ways to wear this style. Pair midi dresses with tall boots or heels and midi skirts with anything from a basic t-shirt to a crop top. Midi styles can be pencil shaped, A-line or circular.

Vintage Celine Handbags

Vintage Celine Handbags

• Vintage handbags: Until now, it was impossible to purchase a Chanel, Celine or Louis Vuitton handbag in El Paso.

Three years ago at our Fashion’s Night Out event, we hosted a Vintage Chanel Trunk Show. We were surprised to find that our vintage friends carry not only vintage Chanel, but many other brands as well!

“Vintage?” you might ask. Doesn’t that mean they’ve been used? Not necessarily.

Vintage handbags aren’t always pre-worn; in some cases, the bags may have been an older style, gifted and never used, or worn once or twice and in impeccable condition.

Nan, Bobbie and I handpicked each bag while we were in New York, ensuring all classic styles are still available at regular price in the designer retail stores, and in pristine condition.

Each bag is certified and inspected, and less than the original price!

Stay tuned next week for more fashion news from New York!

A New York Travelogue

1Last week we went to the Coterie apparel market at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.  Self-described as “a premier global marketplace that bridges apparel and accessories designers to the international Who’s Who of Retailers,” this is the largest show of the year. It is so huge that it’s really hard to describe just how many vendors and buyers attend.

It is always held after the official New York Fashion Week.  Fashion Week is full of runway shows meant to impress celebrities and the press. The following week, it’s time to get down to the business of fashion.

For Tres Mariposas buyers, this September trip includes a couple of days at the huge convention center show and a couple of days dashing to showrooms from one end of Manhattan to the other – Seventh Avenue, Soho, and Midtown. Market is not all glamour. For instance, the Meat Packing District of Manhattan is now a “cool” fashion district.  That means riding up a nasty, grungy freight elevator to see the Rag & Bone showroom.

The Coterie is miles and miles of designer booths displaying their lines for the Spring 2014 season.  Clover Canyon is one of the most popular vendors due to their innovative mixing of prints and fabulous bright colors.

The Coterie is miles and miles of designer booths displaying their lines for the Spring 2014 season. Clover Canyon is one of the most popular vendors due to their innovative mixing of prints and fabulous bright colors.

Herve Leger, king of body conscious dresses, has an amazing showroom.

Herve Leger, king of body conscious dresses, has an amazing showroom.

The “Edit” show was a small, exclusive segregated area within the giant Coterie venue.  Vendors and buyers had to go through a rigorous vetting process.  Whew!  Tres Mariposas passed inspection.  Most of all I enjoyed the colorful sophisticated displays at the entry to Edit.

The “Edit” show was a small, exclusive segregated area within the giant Coterie venue. Vendors and buyers had to go through a rigorous vetting process. Whew! Tres Mariposas passed inspection. Most of all I enjoyed the colorful sophisticated displays at the entry to Edit.

Sometimes it’s hard to get work done because of the distraction of amazingly entertaining visual displays!  Alice and Olivia is a line full of young creativity.

Sometimes it’s hard to get work done because of the distraction of amazingly entertaining visual displays! Alice and Olivia is a line full of young creativity.

The fringe trend isn’t stopping anytime soon.  Go ahead and splurge.

The fringe trend isn’t stopping anytime soon. Go ahead and splurge.

A TRES customer, KC Nelson, happened to be in New York also.  Our contemporary buyer Gesuina Legaspy (right) and KC are excited to discover they have the same phone covers.

A TRES customer, KC Nelson, happened to be in New York also. Our contemporary buyer Gesuina Legaspy (right) and KC are excited to discover they have the same phone covers.

Jonathan Simkhai is a relatively new designer we discovered.  He started working in a boutique when he was 14.  A few good people helped him along the way and he’s making it in the fashion world – not easy to do.  This photo is in his showroom.  He was adorable to visit with.

Jonathan Simkhai is a relatively new designer we discovered. He started working in a boutique when he was 14. A few good people helped him along the way and he’s making it in the fashion world – not easy to do. This photo is in his showroom. He was adorable to visit with.

Our trusty travel agent, Priceline, put us at the very wonderful One UN Plaza Millennium Hotel.  Our 35th-floor rooms had a magnificent view of the East River and the city as well as the United Nations complex. Each morning when I got up I opened the curtains and felt exhilarated because it was so stunning, as you can see by this view from my window. Before going to bed at night, I marveled at the city lights reflecting in the river. Speaking of New York rivers, we all remember US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the “Hero of the Hudson.” He executed that emergency water landing after his plane was disabled, saving every passenger and crew member. When I see that murky river water, I am in awe of that safe landing and admire Captain Sullenberger’s skills even more. I’m also proud of my son Creed, an Air Force pilot – he now shares a distinction with the hero: they both have received the Jabara Award from their shared alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. Creed thought he was in mighty fine company to get the same award as Sully.

Our trusty travel agent, Priceline, put us at the very wonderful One UN Plaza Millennium Hotel. Our 35th-floor rooms had a magnificent view of the East River and the city as well as the United Nations complex. Each morning when I got up I opened the curtains and felt exhilarated because it was so stunning, as you can see by this view from my window. Before going to bed at night, I marveled at the city lights reflecting in the river.
Speaking of New York rivers, we all remember US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the “Hero of the Hudson.” He executed that emergency water landing after his plane was disabled, saving every passenger and crew member. When I see that murky river water, I am in awe of that safe landing and admire Captain Sullenberger’s skills even more.
I’m also proud of my son Creed, an Air Force pilot – he now shares a distinction with the hero: they both have received the Jabara Award from their shared alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. Creed thought he was in mighty fine company to get the same award as Sully.

Fashion Forecast: Notes from New York Market

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As I wrote last week, I’ve been to market in New York City twice this spring; our second trip took us to the annual spring Fashion Coterie at Jacob Javits Convention Center.   This is a huge show of women’s apparel from some 5,000 exhibitors spread out over a half a million square feet. With about 20,000 buyers and other industry attendees, this is a busy place during its three-day run every February.

The fashion industry categorizes apparel according to price point, with labels starting at mass market (or budget) and moving up through moderate, private label (a department store brand such as Charter Club at Macy’s), contemporary, better, secondary lines (such as Marc by Marc Jacobs), bridge, designer, and lastly, couture. The Coterie offers clothes in the better, bridge, and designer categories.

We like to shop the Coterie because of its incredible variety of designers, all vying to become the next big thing. Unless you are a real industry insider or a “Women’s Wear Daily” reporter or something, you will have never heard of the vast majority of the exhibitors filling the shared showrooms and major spaces.

What we want to do is discover the best of these new names while keeping the well-known designers our customers love. That’s what I like about the whole buying process – that combination of fresh and familiar, talent search and tradition.

We also like the Coterie because it provides a great preview of trends, both new and continuing. Here are some pieces and places that caught my.

 

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

 

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

 

It's the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

It’s the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

 

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

 

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

 

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.