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Fashion/Beauty

PR Fail: Kenneth Cole Still Thinks War Is A Funny Promo Gimmick

We have no idea who’s in charge of the Kenneth Cole Twitter feed, but they clearly haven’t learned that the prospect of armed conflict isn’t a good tool for selling clothing.

Ugh.

Here’s the thing that really gets us: It’s been, as of this post, about three hours (and many outraged responses) since the tweet went live. No deletion, no apology, no follow-up explanation. And, given the flack the Kenneth Cole received for this equally tone-deaf 2011 tweet about Egypt, we have to wonder if its social media managers are toying with us here. Seriously. Tell us we’re wrong.

What Can Estée Lauder’s New Focus on Corporate Responsibility Accomplish?

Yesterday brought news that The Estée Lauder Companies, in an move clearly designed to strengthen the brand’s reputation as a responsible company around the world, created a new position within its corporate responsibility unit.

The company chose Pamela Gill Alabaster, former SVP of corporate comms, sustainable development and corporate affairs at L’Oreal, to fill the new role with the general purpose of keeping CSR strategy “in alignment with the Company’s long-term business objectives”. What does that mean, exactly?

In recent years, Lauder launched various CSR initiatives focused on highlighting environmental programs and presenting a more diverse face to an expanding global market. The company has faced related PR challenges in the past, particularly on the subjects of sustainability and animal testing—both of which will be central to this new CSR move.

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Can Vogue Make Google Glass Fashionable?

Google Glass started appearing on models in runway shows nearly a year ago, so Google has known for some time that the “wearability” aspect of its newest product might prove…problematic. Several of the interviewees in the New York Times Bits blog’s recent take on this fashion conundrum even used the word “dorky” to explain their reluctance to wear Glass in public. But will a twelve-page Vogue spread really turn the tide in Glass’s favor?

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Unilever Restrings Musical Instruments with Human Hair to Prove its Strength

Agency JWT Singapore/Manila recently teamed up with Unilever shampoo brand Cream Silk Hair for an undeniably creative (and undeniably creepy) promotion.

In order to prove how well Cream Silk products strengthen hair, the pair organized a string quartet concert in a Manila mall. All of the bows used in the concert — usually made with horse hair because of its durability — were instead strung with human hair that had been washed and conditioned with Cream Silk products.

The ad below shows South East Asian bow-maker Paul Goh crafting the bows out of human hair as an instrumental version of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” plays in the background. The spot culminates with a clip of the 40-song, 240-minute concert, all of which took place with zero hair breakage (pretty impressive). The video closes with the compelling line, “Not only can strong hair be seen, it can be heard.” Read more

You’re Not Going to Love the Way You Get Fired. The Board Guarantees It.

Men’s Wearhouse has fired its venerable founder, executive chairman and beloved pitchman, George Zimmer. Mr. Zimmer launched the men’s clothing enterprise in 1973 with one store in Texas. Today there are 1,143 locations across North America.

The public came to know and love Mr. Zimmer from the popular commercials featuring his famous slogan “You’re going to love the way you look. I guarantee it.” Not only was Mr. Zimmer the face of the brand, but he also became part of our culture, a sort of everyman that made men who couldn’t afford $5,000 suits feel proud about the way we looked. He guaranteed it. And we believed him. The departure of Mr. Zimmer marks the end of an era.

As PR people who tout the many indisputable benefits of transparency when dealing with the public, we’re bemused by this development and lack of details surrounding it. The public likes Mr. Zimmer. His ousting appears to have been done with an intentional amount of disrespect and disdain. What else could explain the lack of an official statement from the board regarding such an important and controversial decision? Instead of getting in front of this, they did nothing, which is the PR equivalent of pleading the fifth. It’s how guilty people act. Read more

Abercrombie & Fitch Apologizes for CEO’s ‘Cool Kid’ Comments

Abercrombie & Fitch has been embroiled in controversy since Business Insider re-published disturbing comments CEO Mike Jeffries made in a 2007 Salon article, including doozies like, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely,” and “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids…we go after the cool kids.”

In a society deeply engaged in anti-bullying discussions and efforts to make standards of beauty and “coolness” more inclusive, these comments ignited a widespread and fiery backlash, including a grassroots re-branding campaign and a Change.org petition.

The petition, started by 18-year-old Benjamin O’Keefe (who has himself overcome an eating disorder), garnered over 70,000 signatures and asked the company to stop sending the message that teens aren’t beautiful, demanding A&F start selling clothes larger than a size 10.

Here’s a graphic recently published in the Huffington Post, which shows the major hit Abercrombie & Fitch has taken over the past month. For the full effect, we recommend listening to this audio clip of a nosediving airplane while viewing the graph.

After a brief apology Jeffries recently posted on Facebook failed to turn the tide, the company invited O’Keefe and members of the National Eating Disorders Association to its headquarters in Columbus, OH last week to discuss their concerns with executives. After the meeting, A&F released this statement: Read more

Happy 140th Birthday Blue Jeans!

We couldn’t let today pass without honoring a staple of Americana that ranks alongside hot dogs, July Fourth and apple pie. Blue jeans were introduced to America on this day in 1873 by Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis, whose patented denim pants with copper rivets have become a symbol of everything that is celebrated in our culture.

Blue jeans are emblematic of everything American from the hard-nosed, can-do attitude of blue collar workers to sexy supermodels in cutoffs to rebellious rockers in ripped up Levis… and everything in between. The public loves blue jeans, and every generation since 1873 seems to have defined blue jeans in its own way.

Here are some examples: Read more

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Allegedly Doesn’t Want Fat or Uncool Customers

We always knew we didn’t belong in Abercrombie; being accosted by overpowering cologne while dodging deer antlers and shelling out a year’s worth of allowance on a sweatshirt never particularly appealed to us. But then again, we weren’t blonde, lead cheerleader, and built like, well, we usually say “an Abercrombie model”, so we were pretty sure A&F didn’t want our business anyway.

Turns out, we may have been right.

When speaking with Business Insider last week, Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, claimed that A&F CEO Mike Jeffries “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”

So what exactly deems a kid cool enough to earn the privilege of wearing the A&F brand? In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries said, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids…We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

So who’s automatically excluded from this “cool” group? Girls above a size 10, apparently. Abercrombie doesn’t even list women’s XL or XXL on its size chart. According to Lewis, the only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL men’s sizes is likely to appeal to beefy athletes. Read more

Getting Inked for Income? Company Offers Raises if Employees Get Tattoos of Logo

While many companies may reward employees’ loyalty, New York City real estate company Rapid Realty is asking for a lifelong commitment in exchange for a bump in pay; any employee willing to tattoo the company’s logo on their body will automatically receive a fifteen percent raise.

Selling your own skin as billboard space? Crazy, right? That’s what we thought, but apparently at least forty Rapid Realty employees have already deemed the bribe worth the body art.

Stephanie Barry justified her decision with hard-to-deny simplicity, telling CBS: “I was like, why am I throwing my money away when I could give myself from $25,000 to $40,000 for the same amount of work?” And she’s not alone. Since there are no size or location restrictions, workers have gotten creative, one person getting inked stealthily behind her ear.

Not everyone is buying in, though. When CBS asked non-Rapid Realty-employees if they would do the same thing at their jobs, responses ranged from “[the reward] would have to be extraordinary” and “It’s a scar for life. I have enough of those.”

What about you, readers? Would you be a walking billboard for a hefty pay raise? Tell us in the comments section.

‘Great Gatsby’ Movie Promotions and Parties Capture Glamorous 1920s New York Lifestyle

The New York metro area is giddy about The Great Gatsby, and for good reason. The highly anticipated movie, to be released on May 10, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary novel of the same name was set on the north shore, or Gold Coast, of Long Island.

Locals are already enjoying movie tie-ins galore, including Tiffany’s ‘Gatsby’-inspired jewelry collection, Prada’s exhibit of movie costumes and Brooks Brother’s new menswear line. The Plaza Hotel’s ‘is unveiling a Gatsby’ suite. Long Island’s historic north shore mansions inspired the cinematic backdrop, so they’re getting in on the action with springtime ‘Gatsby’ galas.

Here’s what we’ve gleaned about the glitzy goods and the upcoming festivities:

Tiffany’s Collection: The luxury jewelry brand, where Fitzgerald was a client, is showcasing a series of 1920s era windows at its Fifth Avenue flagship store. On the main floor, dazzling art deco items are on display. The fourth floor is showing clips from the movie and interviews with designer Catherine Martin, wife of ‘Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann. Nearby are cases of crystal bowls, diamond tiaras and chandelier earrings.

Brooks Brothers’ Clothing Line: Fitzgerald was also a fan of the clothing brand, which has long served affluent customers. The retailer designed the movie’s menswear and recently launched a ‘Great Gatsby’ line. The limited edition clothing interprets the film’s period looks with items such as waistcoats and formal wear. Brooks Brothers is also highlighting its ‘Gatsby’ connection with different window displays at each of its New York City stores.

Prada’s SoHo Store Exhibit: Famed Italian designer Miuccia Prada created the “period accurate but modern” women’s costumes for The Great Gatsby. Starting today, those stylish fashions are being shown at Prada’s store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Items include dresses and accessories, in addition to sketches and behind-the-scenes photos.

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