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California Chrome Has A Shoe Deal with Skechers

skechers california chromeSkechers, the makers of Fit Flops and the debunked Shape-Ups “fitness shoes,” has signed a marketing deal with California Chrome, such that the brand will be the apparel of choice of the thoroughbred’s handlers, will appear on California Chrome’s blanket, and will make its way to the winner’s circle if the horse wins the Triple Crown on Saturday. Sources say it’s the largest deal since UPS spent major bucks on a deal with Big Brown in 2008.

“We’re spending a couple bucks to the roll the dice and if this horse wins it all, we’ll be part of it,” said Skechers CEO Robert Greenberg. He said the company will spend about $175 million on marketing this year.

If California Chrome wins, it’ll be the first time in 36 years that a horse has taken the Triple Crown. For a company that expects to take in $2.2 billion this year, this is a gamble on history that is worth taking.

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Abercrombie & Fitch Revamps Its Stores, Adds a Little Black, And Gets Serious About the Internet

abercrombie IGAbercrombie & Fitch has had its fair share of ups and downs. And now they’re definitely in a slump. Sales are down (77 percent last year), the CEO, Mike Jeffries, is under siege for not moving the company forward and they’ve insulted just about everyone in one way or another.

It’s time for a change, and A&F has decided it will “appeal to a new generation of teens by toning down the stores’ nightclub vibe, minimizing the chain’s signature logos and enlisting so-called Instagram kids in marketing,” says Bloomberg.

That Instagram comment is a little worrying, but the changes that are described are actually pretty dramatic considering how A&F previously presented itself.

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Ann Taylor Loft Has a Too-Detailed Explanation For This Photoshop Fail

ann taylor loftAnother day, another Photoshop mishap. This time it’s Ann Taylor Loft. They took this perfectly lovely model (above) and removed a few ribs, maybe extracted a few organs, and generally made a mess of things.

At this point, we know that these things happen. Whether it’s a misguided attempt to add a thigh gap, the omission of a shoulder, or a crotch that goes adios, folks are Photoshoppin’ like it’s going out of style. And when it happens, there’s an apology and a correction.

Loft has taken down the image — it’s available here and here — but they’ve also offered an explanation. What do you think of it?

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Levi’s CEO’s Message About Not Washing Your Jeans Comes at a Good Time

levi'sSpeaking at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Green conference yesterday, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, wearing a pair of jeans (naturally) admitted that they hadn’t been washed in a year of wears.

“We are the ultimate in sustainable apparel,” he said. He also talked up a new line of Levi’s , Wellthread, that can easily be recycled and uses less energy and water to create. (They’re available in Europe and online in the US.) And there’s a line of jeans called Waterless that use less water to get a “wash” when they’re produced.

These comments come at a good time. Climate change is in the news daily. Despite the number of people out there still denying the very clear science that says, yes, this is a fact and it’s happening, addressing the issue in some way is smart. People ready to act on the global warming crisis will be happy for the opportunity to purchase products that do something to help. A sustainable message right now is a very relevant one; it’s good for business, good for the brand, and, hopefully, good for the Earth.

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Millennials, Fashion and Brand Loyalty: What Does It All Mean?

Millennial Phones

“Omni-channel engagement & insights platform” maker Punchtab doesn’t just sponsor cool events like the one we attended earlier this month–they also produce their own studies.

The most recent report from the company concerns three things of great  interest to every PR/advertising/marketing pro around: Millennials, their buying habits, and the ways in which to convince them to keep spending money on your brand.

The biggest surprise from the survey of 1,200 young people is that they rely less on social for product recommendations than you might expect, given all the headlines:

60% of young women learn about brands from direct contact/word-of-mouth

They’re also fond of loyalty programs–as long as those programs deliver. More findings and an infographic or two after the jump.

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Mannequin’s Ribs Set off Backlash Against La Perla

elle tweetCertainly, no one expects the mannequins at high-end lingerie purveyor La Perla to be anything less than thin and perfect. But when they used a mannequin with exposed ribs, that was a step too far for too many. Customers began calling out the mannequin with the hashtag #NotBuyingIt (it looks like the hashtag has been co-opted by a bunch of other things as well) and the brand was pressed to respond.

The anger over the mannequin, which critics blame for furthering the unrealistic and downright harmful body images that are pushed upon women, spilled over onto many of the Twitter feeds of the magazines and fashion blogs that are oftentimes blamed for this very same issue. So are we on the path to seeing a little more body diversity across fashion media? Hmm… we’ll have to see about that.

But as for La Perla, the company was quick to respond by removing the mannequin and issuing a statement that reads in part:

We are in the process of redesigning all La Perla stores with a new concept image and the mannequins that are currently displayed in our US stores will no longer be used.

Good work La Perla. It still begs the question why the company thought this mannequin would go over well with customers, but the fast turnaround is a positive.

Separately but related, this isn’t the first time in the last week that exposed ribs have been an issue.

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Maybe Lupita’s Fashion Misstep Was a Good Thing?

lupita met galaIn case you forgot, the other night was Met Gala night, the most fashionable night of the year.

The style star of the moment, no doubt, is People‘s most beautiful person, Lupita Nyong’o. So for an event like this, everyone was waiting. And then she steps onto the red carpet wearing a green net dress with lots of sparkle and bauble (the theme was “White Tie with Decorations”), a nude body suit and a matching headband. Sooo…

Nyong’o has made a name for herself for scoring on the red carpet time and time and time again. And while she has taken risks with her makeup — lipsticks and eyeshadows in bright oranges and pinks, for instance — her outfits have been a little more traditionally elegant and beautiful. With a season’s worth of fashion successes and a slew of magazine appearances under her belt, she may have thought it was time to break out and spend some of the style currency she’s amassed over the past few months.

And the fact that there are a fair  number of people who didn’t like the outfit might be a good thing.

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Did Zac Posen Steal the Spotlight at the Met Gala Last Night?

metmuseum zacThe Met Gala was in full effect last night, which means everyone today is talking about who wore what. Given that this year the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is featuring the exhibit “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” ball gowns would be a most appropriate tie-in. James’ own designs included lots of volume, lots of strapless, lots of what you would think if you were to immediately conjure the image of a princess.

So it should be no surprise that Zac Posen was a popular choice. Sarah Silverman, model Arizona Muse and Dita von Teese were among the seven celebs on the red carpet wearing his designs.

“Posen’s gowns tend to be elaborately constructed, often sporting bodices with folds and creases that resemble sartorial origami,” writes The Washington Post. In a world where modern red carpet fashion tends to vacillate between sleek and slouchy, Posen’s heavily tailored and structured pieces are fussy in a way that can seem anachronistic. ”

But when the moment calls for it — and let’s face it, if you’re going to the Met Gala, you’re having a moment — this is when you want to pull out the big guns. (Or big ruffles, if you will.)

For the designer and Project Runway host, this could be just the moment that his label needs.

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Prince George Is Nine Months Old, Powerful, & A Fashion Icon

prince georgeThere was never any question that Prince George was going to captivate the world. If being English royalty weren’t enough, he’s the son of the most popular couple the English crown has seen in a long time. And while it’s usually mom, Kate Middleton, that has the fashion elite swooning, the royal family’s tour of Australia and New Zealand has also turned little George into a fashion plate.

“Every mother, especially the British ones, dream of dressing their children like the royal baby,” Christine Innamorato, creative director of fancy children’s clothier Bonpoint, told The New York Times.

One company, Early Days, which has been around since 1952 and is based in Leicester, England, had to shut down online sales because demand was too great after George was seen in the company’s “prewalkers.” The shoes generally sell at around US$50.

And Rachel Riley, whose children’s designs have been worn by little George throughout the trip, says she’s already seeing the business benefit of the royal connection. A pair of short paints he wore with a sailboat design on them sold out in hours. The same can be said for the blue cardigan he wore while deplaning in Canberra. And the outfit he wore while meeting a bilby. All of those pieces are $75 to $99 apiece.

The kangaroo backpack that pop Prince William was seen carrying early in the 19-day trip had already sold out. But those who want to get their hands on one can pre-order it for $14.95.

It’s the same impact that the “Kate effect” has had: a mad rush to retailers who make or sell the items that are seen on both the Duchess and her little boy. It helps that the clothes are affordable enough for commoners to indulge in.

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Are You So Fit You Can’t Wear Regular Jeans? A Group of Athletes Have Created Barbell Jeans With You In Mind

barbell jeansA group of very fit and very ripped athletes are sick and tired of not being able to find jeans that will comfortably cover their fine muscular bodies. So they’ve created Barbell Apparel jeans that are designed with small waists and “meaty” thighs in mind.

According to the brand’s Kickstarter page, the makers of Barbell jeans spend a minimum of 20 hours per week in the gym and do things like mountain biking and snowboarding in their downtime. So they know the problem first-hand. We do not, but all of that sounds pretty bad.

The brand’s crowdfunding efforts have certainly benefited from the media attention they’ve been getting from Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Business Insider and other outlets. The jeans promise more flexibility, “custom stamped rivets,” “hand finished brass buttons,” and many more features. And they’ve had the platform to talk that up.

But more than that, the co-owner of Barbell is using some very trendy language to generate interest in their special jeans for juicy thighs.

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