Monthly Archives: May 2010

Garment District Incubators

Now that I’m settled down from Sweden, a story this morning from the Wall Street Journal’s Ralph Gardner Jr. fanned the fire under my buns to get back to my reporting in the Garment District. I’m glad he put designer Bibhu Mohapatra in the lede, or he might have lost me with his paragraph-long flashback of watching supermodels strip backstage in the ’80s. Gardner (who professed being foreign to fashion) said the word incubator made him picture “a climate-controlled box,” and many involved with the CFDA’s glossy-floored corridor of 12 glass-walled studios on 38th Street seem take issue with the name. Even a mailman in the elevator there told me, “it sounds like a place for growing aliens.”

A Bibhu Mohapatra gown at his F/W 2010 show in February

These designers may be, um, growing, but they’re well on their way to being established names in the fashion world. Bibhu has been one of my favorite ones to watch. In the months since reviewing his  Fall 2010 show (pictured above), I’ve spent some time with the designer and his staff, as they moved from their studios uptown to their new space in the Garment District.

The Designer in his former Upper West Side studio, March

At work in the new space, April

As Bibhu and his hall-mates have been settling into their new workspace on 38th Street, I’ve been settling into mine on 40th, which was also referred to as “the incubator,” before being rechristened The Center for Journalistic Innovation. From here, I’ll keep reporting on the Garment District, and amass material for a project to address the garment industry’s relationship with our city. Stay tuned this summer. Both in fashion and in media, it’s going to be an exciting run-up to Fashion Week in September.

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A Moment with the New York Times

A Moment in Time, the NYT Lens Blog’s interactive compilation of photos from around the globe, all taken at the same time, is genius and beautiful. It’s touching, funny and revealing to see the different objects, people and, well, moments, that readers contributed. They vary widely. A camel rests in QatarA dad takes his new son to church in Texas. I absolutely love this shot of an Ecuadorian woman in arresting orange.

When I finally left behind a Moment in Time, I found my way to this little interactive feature in the Style section: photos of readers’ favorite vintage finds that accompanied Sarah Maslin Nir’s piece, “Prospecting in Manhattan’s Richest Vintage Veins.” (For my own take on the topic, see here.)

A Screenshot of the NY Times’ “Vintage Finds from Around the World”

It’s less grandiose than a Moment in Time, of course, but no less revealing to scroll through readers’ vintage favorites. I’d be smiling too, if I were wearing this striped dress in the sun. But I especially loved the shot below, with the little glimpse of what I imagine to be the photographer’s dresser, captured among her photographs.

A little moment all its own.


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What to Wear…When You’re Nervous?

It will probably surprise exactly no one to learn that I deal with anxiety over an event by planning my outfit. (Remember the first day of school?) Suffice to say, then, that I’ve been wondering what to wear tonight for weeks. In a couple hours at The New York Times, I’m going to stand up in front of a crowd that includes faculty and friends from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, as well as journalists like Barbara Walters and Charlie Rose (so apt at public speaking!!), and accept an award from the Dean of the school. I’m so excited for the honor, but after mining my closet and tormenting my friends all weekend, I still haven’t landed on an outfit.

I’m about to hop in the shower, where an assortment of dresses, jackets, skirts and shrugs hang, waiting for the wrinkles to fall out in the steam. (Now that Julie and Lina’s opening film revealed this strange setting, there’s no point in hiding it.)

The Dean might be happy to know I’ve taken a few minutes from this turmoil to work on my speech. Essentially, I’ll talk about CUNY being a place that gave me the confidence to stick with the material I believe in, and the tools to repackage it for the worldwide web. (See: Sweden.Closettour.) I’m hoping for an outfit that can remind me of the same. A solid piece, maybe made modern by an accessory or two, that still lets the story shine through. 

Hit the showers!

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An Introduction: Sweden.Closettour

As some of you may already know, I’ve spent the last few weeks working on Sweden.Closettour, a new site about sustainability and style, inspired by four days of reporting in Stockholm. It’s an alpha version of the sort of stories I plan to produce in the future–like a little swatch of material, presented in a slightly different format than you’ll find here at the blog. Like all the stories and posts from Closettour, its purpose is to put the “wonder” in wondering what to wear.

Erin Dixon wonders what to wear at the Scandinavia House

It all began, as you’ll see in the video below, when an invitation arrived from the Swedish Institute, to meet the curators and designers behind EcoChic, a new exhibit opening this week at New York’s Scandinavia House. 

The subject of sustainability, in the worlds of fashion and journalism alike these days, wears a cloak of mystery. Sweden.Closettour is an experiment in discovering sustainable models in both fields. For the time being, my work is funded by a grant for entrepreneurial journalism from the McCormick Foundation–and this trip had a little help from the Swedes. (See “The Trip” for details). 

Kajsa Guterstam kept us caffeinated and on course in Stockholm

Along the way, I talked with fashion designers and physicists, farmers and factory managers, all of whom shared excellent insight. But the truest one came from Mathilda Tham, a brainy beauty who teaches design in Stockholm and London.

“You can’t be sustainable or holistic on your own,” she said, at the end of our meeting in March. “You’ve got to do it with other people.”

Julie Miller and Lina Plioplyte stick my face on the map

I’ve joked these past few weeks, working long hours on a website about sustainable fashion, that my lifestyle has become less sustainable, and decidedly less fashionable. But, as Mathilda foreshadowed, the project wouldn’t have been possible at all without other people pitching in.

Michael Lanzano shoots fruit and candy for the H&M story

Everyone whose name appears on that About page had a vital hand in getting the website up, and some of them were perfect strangers a few weeks ago. In the end, Grace Koerber helped weave it all together beautifully for the web (if I do say so myself), and the whole project would probably still be an elegant poster-board if Indrani Datta hadn’t helped whip it into shape.

Indrani Datta erases Sweden.Closettour’s to-do list

So, I’ve learned a lot about sustainability (and style), much of which you’ll find on Sweden.Closettour. I hope you find the clothes and characters there as compelling as I did, and that you’ll collaborate too, by sharing criticisms, questions and ideas on the comments page.  

Thanks for your contributions so far. I hope this is just the beginning of the conversation that can sustain itself for a long time to come.

 

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An Invitation to…

SWEDEN.CLOSETTOUR.COM!

The next chapter from Closettour, an interactive journey in search of sustainable style in Stockholm!

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