Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Stiletto-Strapping" and Fashion-Hacking with 19th Amendment

I don't have to preach to anyone on either coast about Startup fatigue. You know, the syndrome where everyone you know has a Kickstarter, or an app about to release, or some amazing idea that's going to change the world. It's great in theory, but it kind of gets to a point where you're all "system overload." How can you come up with your own great idea if your brain is constantly being co-opted by everyone else's? 

But luckily, there are still ideas that come along and make us sit up and say, "wow, that's really effing cool," followed immediately, of course, by a resounding "why didn't I think of that?"

19th Amendment is one of those. Started by two fashion-savvy young entrepreneurs, Gemma Sole and Amanda Curtis, 19th Amendment seeks to revolutionize the way the fashion industry operates, making it easier for genuine design talent to surface and succeed. It works like this: designers showcase their designs on the 19th Amendment website. Users can then pre-purchase designs before they are put into production, thereby saving both the planet and the pocketbooks of emerging talent. Once a certain number of purchases are made, the pieces are put into production at a partner facility in the US. And then you, the patron, receive a covetable item that you're highly unlikely to see anyone else at the party (or office, or sidewalk) rocking. It's truly a win-win. 

Beyond-badass black horn dress, available:

Pretty white lace dress, available:

I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Ward, who happens to be an alumna of my college, the University of Rochester (who knew we weren't all fashion-challenged engineers in bad sweatpants?) And yes, if you're wondering, I fell in love as soon as she referred to what they enable designers to do as "stiletto-strapping". I mean, really. (And also, why didn't I think of that!?) 

From the moment I heard about 19th Amendment, I thought it was a great idea, so what I was interested in learning more about wasn't necessarily the business model itself, but how they came up with the concept. "In an industry as transient as the fashion industry," Sole stated, "it mystified Amanda [who had prior industry experience] that the process of starting a fashion brand hasn't changed much over the past 100 years. This system is broken for all designers, from those just out of school, to Project Runway alumni to Fashion's sweethearts - case in point, famed American fashion designer Zac Posen.  Mr. Posen has been on the fashion forefront for the past 12 years, he's shown at fashion week in NY and Paris and he's sold in major stores from Bergdorf Goodman to Target - YET he still has not reached profitability." 

Who knew? But it's true. I Googled it. There's a weird assumption in the fashion industry (and art, and music, and the list goes on) that once you've Made It, you've made it, cha-ching style. Like having your gowns go down the red carpet on the likes of Rihanna and Diane Kruger or sold on the racks of prominent department stores somehow automatically pays the bills. Not the case. And even if it were, getting to that point takes a hefty investment to begin with. 

Fringe jacket, perfect for leather weathers to come, available:
"We decided to do something radical to change the industry and help our fellow design peers.  We find fashion hacks by using technology and lean methodology to find creative solutions for these constraints. We're applying what we've seen work in the tech startup sphere, such as collaborative co-working spaces, and applying them to the fashion world in hopes that we can make it more profitable and efficient for all involved parties." It feels timely, as we're all trying to simultaneously innovate for today while downsizing our footprints for the sake of tomorrow. And as Sole mentions, for an industry so obsessed with the "next big thing", there certainly haven't been too many shifts in how a designer goes about becoming that thing.

So what's next for our stiletto-strappers? "Three flash fashion shows around Boston culminating in a catwalk at the Liberty Hotel," as well as a major push towards building out their designer database and getting as many designers set up as possible. So check back often, like them on good ol' Facebook and get your noggin-piece ready for the retail revolution, because I have a feeling it's coming sooner than you think. Sole also mentioned they are looking for more designers as well as perspective partnership opportunities, so if this is you, don't be shy! Contact info is here.

The perfect Stevie Nicks dress that will take you from a festy to a wedding, available:


Friday, October 4, 2013

happy birthday, gwen stefani!

If you haven't heard yet: it's Gwen Stefani's birthday today. This is deserving of a post because duh, the woman is an ICON, but also because she writes a song like nobody's business. I remain convinced that no one is able to articulate the tortured psyche of a woman enraptured in jealousy quite like Gwenny. She just gets us, doesn't she?

"I kind of always knew I'd end up your ex-girlfriend."

And we're all just like, "Boy did I ever."

In celebration of the girl I grew up alternately jamming and crying to, here's some of her most badass pics. Kids today better recognize that Miley so did not start the double head buns thing. Also, can we talk about how she has not aged a day in the past like, fifteen years? What are these celebrities doing to themselves, and who do I need to speak to about reserving some for the future?

This is my fantasy concert/festival makeup.

Back up off the buns, Miley.

Old school glamour.

Tomboys have more fun. Especially if they're hot girl tomboys.

Who doesn't remember this look?