A Letter To Mickey Drexler – What Happened To J.Crew?

Dear Mickey,

We need to talk. I thought you were “the one”. I consider myself a classic girl, the type you can bring home to mother, with an individualist fashion sensibility. After a very long loving relationship with J. Crew, I feel we’re drifting apart. You showed me the love, always wanted to please and surprise me. I gave you loads of attention and spent a lot of money on you. Lately our relationship has gotten repetitive, lost its color and doesn’t fulfill my needs. I’m not faithful to you anymore. Let me be specific on where our relationship lost its way:

1. You missed the athleisure trend. No, I don’t do downward dogs, but am very active at 2 gyms. I have blurred the lines between gym clothes and ones “formerly known as casual” in my wardrobe. Lately, I’m tired of shapeless cotton tees, that get little holes at the waist. I’m buying more substantial, expensive, inventive and sexy athletic tops for everyday use. You continue pushing twill cropped pants, when I am buying knit pants that look like jeans and sweats. I’ve never seen a comfortable knit dress in J.Crew.

I had a big crush on Lululemon, but find myself stalking a new love named Athleta. I’m loving athletic inspired outerwear, too. Who would have thought 2 years ago, I would buy a $500 leather/French terry moto jacket from my new crush?

Great outerwear is dominating athleisure apparel.

Great outerwear is dominating athleisure apparel.

You are the master of the casual playlist, taking classic pieces and pairing them in a hipper way. Somehow you missed the macro trend of mixing quality sport-inspired items into one’s everyday wardrobe.

2. You used take me on quality dates. Lately, you seem to be cheaping out, taking me to “fast-fashion ” places. I would rather pay more for a good meal. Why did the fabric qualities go down hill? I’d rather pay $98 at Lululemon for a relationship that will last, than $58 for a quick hook-up.

J. Crew stores lost the sharp focus of Madewell and became cluttered with junk food. Are you distracted by the Zara and Forever 21 effect? They aren’t your competition.

3. I thought you loved tall girls? Many of your clothes don’t fit me. I’m on the tall side (5’9″) and physically fit. Many of your specs are either too short or cut really small. Your customers aren’t all 24, 5′ 4″ and a size 0.

4. You don’t give me the attention you used to. I would never “trash” your catalogs, and always took your calls. The catalogs arouse me, causing emotionally driven online behavior. I would always buy more than needed. I get fewer catalogs now, so you  stopped “playing me” with your enticing images.

A look from J Crew for Spring 2015.

A look from J Crew for Spring 2015.

5.  Something changed. I trusted you to color my world. Some of the colors got very repetitive and harshly un-wearable. Dirty ochre anyone?

Mickey, I will never forget the good times. I’m definitely willing to give us another chance. I think about you often and still drive by your house. I need you to be the reliable source for key items like tees, shirts and sweaters, but mixed with more exciting quality pieces. You have a special place in the mall. You just got in with the wrong crowd.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Blue Color Worker Spring/Summer 2015

Looking at 25″ of snow outside, I’m big-time craving the blue skies of spring and summer 2015. One consolation is that we will be seeing a lot of blue in fashion over the next few months. The “Blue Color Worker” is the backbone of America in deepest navy, Air Force blue, royal, periwinkle, tender baby and blue tint.

The perennial favorite color will be front and center in fashion on everything from handbags, tops, sweaters, dresses, jeans, outerwear, active apparel, accessories, swimwear, shoes, etc. There will be a range of denim washes from light to very dark as well as solid dyed twills.

As MVP of the color spectrum, it can morph sharply nautical, softly sensual or boho seventies. Versatile blue is a power player, the king of casual and an intoxicating pastel.

Pair blues tonally or use navy as a neutral foil against bright primaries, such as navy and citrusy yellow. Navy with tinted pastels are chic and sexy. Combine the spectrum of blues with shades of grey, khaki or optic white.

Blue is the hardest working color family for spring/summer 2015.

Blue is the hardest working color family for spring/summer 2015.

For color seasonal color forecasts, see COLORSCOOP.

 Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Do Fall Short This Season

Salt and pepper, black and white, sweet and sour, contrast brings things to life. The short story is, cropped tops are one of the big fashion trends for Fall 2014. Major trends are in short supply this season, but the mixing of proportions will give you a style update in short order. There are many ways to wear this modern look without short-changing yourself.

Cropped tops and are trending for fall. Layer over tops and tees.

Cropped tops and are trending for fall. Layer over tops and tees.

This is the long and short of it.  If you have the abs, rock the cropped top over pants or long to medium length skirts. I don’t recommend wearing this to the office unless you want your career to be short and sweet. For a wearable look, pair cropped sweaters and tops with longer layering pieces and shirts. This is the way to get a serious style boost without the doing the crunches or “walking a short plank” in the office.

Proceed with caution, midriff baring tops over short shorts and ultra-mini skirts take the look from tasty to torrid. If that is what you are after, it’s to guaranteed to please!

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Sweet Things – Fall Fashion Power Trend

The pleasure of fashion is the ability to transport the wearer and captivate the observer. Fashion is a game, played well, by a scarce few who understand its incredible power.  Fashion choices can help one transcend mere mortal status. Think of the ability of black leather to dominate, a Navy uniform to officiate or all white to glamorize.

Nothing is so sensual, so alluring, so downright sexy as the “Sweet Things” trending in fall fashion. These girly, fitted, ruffly, lacy, pleated, cropped, sheer, sequined and embellished items have the ability to bring men to their knees.  Women get caught in their emotional web and can’t resist the impulse. Think legal nudity.

Power trend: Sweet and sexy blush items for fall.

Power trend: Sweet and sexy blush items for fall.

Most often, these trouble-making tops, dresses, handbags, shoes, sweaters, active wear, bras, panties and skirts are in delicate shades of blush pink.  Look for these delicate colors in beauty lines, as well.

Caution, there can be too much of a good thing. Wear them tonally or in single servings. Pair sweet pieces with edgier ones like jeans or leather jacket. Pair with grey, navy or maroon. Head-to-toe blush pink can lead to a matronly sugar rush.

Look to Herve Lerger, Ted Baker, Tory Burch, Club Monaco, BCBG, Zara, La Perla, Athleta, etc. for some of the best Sweet Things.

 

For color seasonal color forecasts, see COLORSCOOP.

 Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Fall 2014 Color Trend- Grape Escape

Purple is a color with multiple personalities. It’s fans include a huge range, hipsters, outdoor geeks and the hottest of hot femme fatales. Purple  has a rebellious streak and is the color of royalty. Not to mention, it flatters just about everyone and is endlessly feminine. This powerhouse color is taking a walk on the red-casted side for fall 2014 and will continue for 2015.

Look for soft tender and dusty lilac, purple rose, red grape and the deepest red plum in sexy lingerie, athletic wear, dresses, tops, sweaters, jeans, outerwear, handbags, accessories, jewelry and shoes. These godly shades are fabulous paired tonally, with grey, olive, navy, pinks and berries.

Red-casted purples are dominant for Fall 2014-15

Red-casted purples are dominant for Fall 2014-15

 

For color seasonal color forecasts, see COLORSCOOP.

 Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

 

Women’s 5 Fall 2014 Fashion Essentials

Stylish women seem effortlessly modern and have a certain je ne sais quoi. What’s the secret? They understand that a great wardrobe is a continuous evolution not a revolution. The fashion-savvy build upon their curated closet seasonally, with a handful of new items that have the power to change everything. Here is my round-up of five essential, trend-right items for Fall 2014, that will simply give you an up-to-the minute look:

Fall 2014 Fashion Must-Haves

Fall 2014 Fashion Must-Haves

1.  The slip-on sneaker. Sneaker style is white-hot. The not-so-humble “slip-on” in modern materials, such as metallics, leather, quilted, perforated, printed or embroidered, has my vote for the casual shoe of the season. Pair them with jeans, skirts, dresses, athletic pants, just about everything, for a comfy update to your fall footwear wardrobe. Think Vans, Steve Madden, Dolce Vita, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Joie, Vince, Prada, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo and just about all the usual suspects.

2. The clutch bag. There is something so elegant, so fresh , “clutching” a bag when everyone else is schlepping a sack over their shoulder. The clutch is a sure glam-slam.

Clutch bags come in envelope or clasp styles or and the more user-friendly wristlet clutch; either way it is an instant fall 2014 style update. I particularly like them in a pop of color, textural metallic or animal print, paired with neutral clothing. Check out Valentino, Alexander Wang, Marni, Proenza Schouler, Smythson, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Ted Baker, Kate Spade, BCBG and many more.

3. The athletic jean. Jeans are down-trending as women are wearing athletic or “athleisure” looks in and out of the gym. The trend has gone beyond basic yoga pants to spandex blend and nylon pants in 5-pocket jean-styling, cuffed sweats, boyfriend shapes, cargo details, etc.

Pair fitted pants with an oversized sweater, layered tops or sexy top for the gym. Pair baggy sweats, boyfriends or cargos with smaller, close to the body tops. See some of the best at Athleta, Carbon 38, and Net-a-Sporter.

4. The graphic top. “If you see something, say something”. The lowly graphic tee or top has been elevated to fashion status this season. Words have the power to express something about the wearer, simply amuse, suggest or confuse the audience. Text is powerful and playful, a small investment for an instant seasonal update. Look for intarsia sweaters and printed sweats and tees from Madewell, J Crew, Zara, Pam and Gela, Haute Hippie, Free People, Current/Elliott, Alexander McQueen, etc.

5. New outerwear. Outerwear is daily wear and more people see us with our coats on than off. An investment in an updated trench, parka or jacket can change-up your current wardrobe and attitude in an instant.

Look for down-filled, shine, quilted, luxe leathers, pop colors and metallics in puffers, 3/4 styles and cropped moto jackets. I particularly like casual styling in upscale materials. My favorites include Moncler, Burberry, Barbour, SAM., Mackage, Via Spiga and Uniglo.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

 

Fall 2015 Fashion Colors for Women

Are you a little bored with the same old color trend services year after year? Any design director who has been in the business for while starts to recognize the color service without seeing the box. A bigger problem is that many pricey forecasts come out about 18 months in advance. How can they be right? Fashion designers should strive to work closer to season.

Check out a new women’s color trend service for sportswear, active wear, dresses, accessories, intimate and footwear called COLORSCOOP. What sets it apart, is it comes out closer to the season (about 12 months in advance) and is chock full of beautiful, current images to support the forecast. This exciting service comes as a wired-bound book, with Pantone textile references and understandable commentary. Created by a design director for design directors and an economical $495 per season. Get the scoop now, SEE COLORSCOOP for immediate delivery.

Colorscoop is easy-to-use, salable and economical.

Colorscoop is easy-to-use, salable and economical.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Wrong Prescription for Coach’s Ills

Coach continues its downward slide. Sales in 3rd quarter 2015, dropped 15%. Some blame currency issues and the over-proliferation of outlet stores. Note to leadership, it’s the merchandise. Stuart Vevers strategy is stodgy, European and not much fun. The sleepy handbags are more matron than Millennial. Note to pundits, Millennials love outlet shopping. I still contend that their turnaround strategy is seriously flawed and too dependent on overly competitive apparel. I wrote this post in 2014 and not much has changed except Michael Kors and Kate Spade are hitting some headwinds, as well.

Coach’s 2014 first quarter profit fell 20%, while aspirational fashion rivals such as Michael Kors and Kate Spade continue to ratchet impressive gains. Coach experienced a steep drop in North American accessories sales. Coach’s strategy for slumping sales is a planned full lifestyle assortment, to include apparel and a greater emphasis on higher priced bags over $400, the volume sweet spot.  They recently hired a new creative director Stuart Vevers, to take over for Reed Krakoff (who is resigning); his first product introductions will be in Fall 2014.

Coach spring 2014 styles

Coach spring 2014 styles

As a Coach watcher and stock holder, this strategy goes down like bad medicine. Instead of aiming to win in the sweet spot, they are abdicating to the competition. Michael Kors’ apparel is a footnote to his successful handbags, watches and shoes. Kate Spade offers some of the most whimsical, colorful, bags, shoes and accessories and apparel is secondary. Tory Burch is a shoe and bag story with apparel paling in comparison.

Accessories are the democratic categories in which women of all ages and sizes can play, women’s apparel is stuck in a highly competitive funk.

Coach was riding high, in the early 2000’s. Their then colorful, fresh, “C” logoed bags were the “it” bags for the aspirational designer masses. Over time, they became ubiquitous, as every hairdresser and soccer mom carried them. As they down-trended, they didn’t follow with renewed  innovation, instead made the critical mistake of looking back and doing a rehash of the sturdy, vintage Legacy styles. These unrefined bags, although colorful, looked like a clunky 1980’s LeBaron instead of a chic 2013 Audi. The competition was forging ahead with exciting materials, color and patterns, like Michael Kors’ glam styles, Kate Spade’s playful totes and tech cases, the silicone Furla Candy bag and styles by Rebecca Minkoff, Marc Jacobs, Ted Baker and Longchamp.

The current assortment is sleepy at best. It feels like a lightly-veiled nod to Salvatore Ferragamo. They played it safe and sexless. There is no emotional must-have draw. Even with 25% off coupons, one is hard pressed to spend the deal. The prospect of a larger selection in the $600 plus range is a miscalculation of opportunity. They need to focus on modern, forward  materials, shapes and details in the $400 range sweet spot; then offer additional showstoppers in the $600 plus range.

Coach went too safe.

Coach went too safe.

A  key asset for Coach is their well-priced, quality shoe line. They offer slightly more wearable shoe heights than Kors and at prices lower than Kate Spade. I hope they don’t think they need to raise prices and heel heights to get a new customer. Maintain the $198 average price point and expand the selection to include more options of fashion-forward sandals, pumps, wedges, loafers and boots.

This great American brand has had a small stumble. When you take fashion risks as good brands do, you will trip-up sometimes. This brand has a cold, but certainly isn’t terminal. They just need the right prescription for renewed health.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Great New Color Trend Service

Are you a little bored with the same old color trend services year after year? Any design director who has been in the business for while starts to recognize the color service without seeing the label. A bigger problem is that many pricey forecasts come out about 18 months in advance. How can they be right? Fashion designers should strive to work closer to season.

Introducing a new women’s color trend service called COLORSCOOP. What sets it apart, is it comes out closer to the season (about 12 months in advance) and is chock full of beautiful, current images to support the forecast. This exciting service comes as a wired-bound book, with Pantone textile references and understandable commentary. Created by a design director for design directors and an economical $295 per season.

A page from spring 2015 Colorscoop.

A page from spring 2015 Colorscoop.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Spring 2015 Fashion – Green Energy

Green the color of optimism, growth, renewal and happiness. Couldn’t we all use some of that right now?

Bountiful greens are the biggest trend for spring 2015 fashion. Expect the unexpected, you will see them everywhere including sportswear, handbags, lingerie, active wear, swim, footwear , accessories, jewelry and in beauty. These exuberant greens range from the palest mint, jade, spearmint to deep dark forest. They cast slightly blue. Green can be a tad retro, bohemian or classic. This is the most sustainable form of green energy. Check out COLORSCOOP, the best new women’s color trend forecast!

Fresh greens are the big news for spring 2015!

Fresh greens are the big news for spring 2015!

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel,  footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

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