Tag Archives: accessories

Bags, Tags and Automobiles

This is my favorite purse. It’s by Jerome Dreyfuss. I got it in Paris four years ago, and to replace it at the designer’s new store in SoHo today would probably cost close to $800. Although it cost a little less then, it is still the most expensive accessory I’ve ever owned. (It was a different place and time, when I traveled to France for fabric shows, and designers subsidized my purchases so they could examine my choices.)

If you’re gasping at the price-tag, consider this: Most women in New York City do not drive cars. Sure, we ride the subway, but in many ways, our purses are our vehicles. They carry our valuables, they are with us everywhere we go and might be one of the first things someone notices about us (depressing, as it is with cars, however true).

image from Chicago Classic Cars

Therefore, like a car, bags must be reliable, comfortable, functional, and ideally, beautiful. But reliability is of utmost importance, lest you end up like Malika Ritchie, who I met during Fashion Week. Malika had traveled from Seattle to work dressing models backstage, and this was after the Karen Walker show, midway through her week:

I’ve had better luck with my Jerome Dreyfuss. I would estimate I carried it every day for the first two years I owned it, and then for the following two, gave it temporary breaks until occasions like Fashion Week or travel required the convenience and convertibility offered by the bag’s design details: the genius key-leash (long enough that you don’t need to detach them), the outer and inner pockets for passports and pens and the inner straps that let you gather it up small when it’s empty-ish, and expand it to hold a notebook when necessary.


That’s not a bad record, when you calculate the price per wear. But then just yesterday, as pictured above, a strap gave way. The bag didn’t come crashing down, no cell phones skipped down stairs. It happened quietly, the strap held strong by reinforcements and buckles until I could knot the end in a temporary fix.

I brought the bag to Sweden last week, where all my cameras, recorders, notebooks and cosmetics likely did it in. That’s also where I met Mike Schragger, at Stockholm’s Sustainable Fashion Academy. There, he proposed an interesting solution: leasing, rather than purchasing clothing. That way companies would be compelled to make their products more durable, since they would be responsible for the maintenance. He compared it to leasing a washing machine from Electrolux–a concept as foreign to a New York City girl as automobile ownership, but compelling nonetheless.

You might be thinking you already heard this idea, from Jennifer Hudson’s character in the Sex and the City movie.

But Schragger’s proposal sounds different–more like making a purchase from a company reliable for repairs and returns like Patagonia, rather than renting a patchwork Louis Vuitton until the trend passes. The benefit, of course, would be that rather than dropping $800 on a new bag (or $1800 in the Vuitton case), you could make smaller payments over the long-term, either working towards ownership, or returning it for a new ride when the time is right.

For the moment I’ll have to take of my own bag maintenance–although there is an updated model at Jerome Dreyfuss’ new downtown dealership I’d love to take for a test-drive.

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Small Scale Production

1.  Alpaca:

2. Yarn:

2. The subway:

4. Reinforcements:

4. Product:

5. A friend in need–Erin, incidentally, has a head cold:

6. Payoff

7. Karma (arrived in the mail, knit by mom from midwestern alpacas!)

 

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What Becomes of the Broken-Heeled?

On Valentine’s Day…

Any girl can tell you it’s dangerous out here. We fall, but with a little help from our friends, we get up, brush ourselves off, and fix our broken heels.

The shoe designer Nancy Kim happens to live in my neighborhood, and when I sent her a picture of the damage to my A.P.C. boots from a date a couple of weeks ago, she prescribed a visit to the shoe repair shop on Graham Avenue, just north of Grand Street. (I think it’s called Arthur’s–the photos of it were lost with my old phone on Wednesday.) $27 and 24 hours later, my broken heel was as good as new, both boots were protected with tough Vibram soles and the worst scuffs had been brushed away.

Today I’m wearing them with chili-colored tights and hopping between melting slush-puddles on my way to the fashion shows. I suppose they might break again, but after that last spill, they seem a little bit stronger.

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A Well-Heeled Girl

Did you ever have one of those great first dates, where you just find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Well, I had one the other night.

My suitor was exceedingly cute (in a tie under his sweater!). The food was outstanding. The conversation came easily. We were having a great time, and decided we ought to go for a drink after dinner. As we left the restaurant, I missed a giant stoop. I tripped, he caught me. No problem–until I went to take another step, and found one leg to be considerably shorter than the other.

The other shoe–or heel, more specifically, had dropped–ripped clean off my boot. This pair (made in Italy by A.P.C.) came from INA, the consignment shop on Prince Street, and seems likely to be a sample, based on some analysis of the inner cobbling. In spite of an uneven keel, I pressed on until the end of what turned out to be a totally terrific date.

At least nobody got hurt.

If you have an NYC shoe repair shop you love, please advise.

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Heavy Metal: H&M Strikes Again

It’s the third strike this month against H&M: first there was the disposable clothing incident, then the not-so-organic cotton, and now a settlement over unlawful levels of lead in their handbags. 

From the Center for Environmental Health

A federal law that went into effect last year requires that materials in products for children contain no more than 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead. But there is no federal standard for lead in purses. Under the CEH agreements, purses sold in California from all of the companies will ultimately be made with materials that contain no more 300 ppm of lead, with an even stricter standard for some materials.

Last year, CEH found purses and one wallet from the four companies that, according to independent lab tests, contained between 13 times and more than 115 times the 300 ppm standard reached in the settlement. Testing on a small sample of other purses also showed that weathering can dramatically increase the amount of lead that wipes off of them, suggesting that lead in purses can become an even greater hazard as the purses age.

Lead is listed by the EPA and other federal and state agencies as a cancer-causing chemical, and lead exposure has been linked to higher rates of infertility in women, an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure, among other health problems. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children.

Those bags might not come so cheap after all.

A few of the other brands with high lead levels included on CEH’s list include: American Eagle, Charlotte Russe, Billabong, Bloomingdale’s, Diesel USA, Volcom, Coldwater Creek, Forever 21, Kate Spade, Saks & Company, and Tory Burch.

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Brand DNA

With this post, I’m introducing a new category to Closettour called “you know what’s weird?” Named in honor of my friend Laura’s favorite game to play on high school road trips, the category will join closet case study, denim diaries, in the field, news, and to market, Closettour’s current categories.

So today, you know what’s weird?

Branding an item with DNA.

Not figuratively, like when designers at J Mendel told me that a certain level of workmanship was “part of their brand’s DNA.” No, I mean, literally using DNA to brand an item. 

Massimo Gammacurta lollies from fashionphile.com

According to a press release, Applied DNA Sciences, “the only company in the world that is making use of the complex codes embedded in botanical DNA as the ultimate solution to counterfeiting,” has struck up a deal with a Europe-based luxury brand to supply DNA markers that will be used to verify authenticity. They’re not saying which brand signed the deal, but it’s got to be someone with a good deal of clout. (LVMH? Gucci? Chanel? Hermés?) 

Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami: Designer QR Codes

image from highsnobiety.com

My money’s on LVMH. I’m imagining this will be used for luxury accessories, but how will one go about showing off their cutting-edge DNA marked handbag? And how will the layman know it’s not just another knockoff?

Maybe they’ll contract an artist to play with some DNA strand logos for their DNA branded bags. I can see it now…but who’s to say they won’t get cloned on Canal Street? 

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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

I went to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the Film Forum the other night and realized I’ve never watched the entire movie from start to finish. I absolutely loved it, and suffice to say I could identify with Ms. Golightly when she expressed her love of Tiffany’s–not so much because of the jewelry, but because I too have felt that inside certain shops, nothing bad could befall me.

On the way home from the movies, crossing SoHo, we passed Purl, the knitting shop where I bought my first skein of yarn in 2003. It was dark, silent, and freezing on Sullivan Street, but Purl was lit up like a Christmas tree.

It was the first night of the year, and I think they were doing inventory.

I stopped to peer into the window undetected for a moment before continuing to the J-Train. Incidentally, I had a project waiting for me at home, for the very fella who escorted me to the Film Forum. (Well-earned, you may be thinking, but I think he liked the movie as much as I did.) This is it–completed just a couple of days ago. Nevermind that wavy rib.

I started this in California, with the help of  Strands Knitting Studio in San Clemente.

It was a fortuitous find  on my way home from the Casa de Kathy Thrift Shop. I couldn’t resist.

Once hooked, I picked out a skein of charcoal grey Misti Alpaca yarn and the Gwyneth Paltrow-lookalike manning the store helped me work out a pattern.

Strands got me started, but I couldn’t have finished that beanie without popping by Purl, just a couple days after passing by that cold night. (It really takes a village.) I had knit myself into a bit of a corner and needed help getting the hat off the needles at the end. My stitches were too tight. As ever, one of the ladies at Purl was patiently helpful. Maybe she shook her head at me ever so slightly, but it was only as she bailed me out.

You might not believe it, but on my way across SoHo to Purl that very afternoon, for help with the project I started at Strands in San Clemente, I came across yet another amazing, and completely different knitting store.  All I wanted to do was buy the yarn to start another project, but I made myself wait, at least until the charcoal beanie was finished. Now I’m ready for my next project, and dying to return to my new find so I can tell you all about it, but it may have to wait for a day or two.

As Ms. Golightly could attest, this restlessness is exhausting.

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