Tag Archives: sample

Cynthia Rowley’s Meta Madness

In high school, I came to New York City and fell head-over-heels for an unattainable Cynthia Rowley bubblegum-pink strapless satin gown. (It was the late ‘90s.)

Ever since, the designer has remained a sort of NYC fashion fairy for me. When I moved here in 2003 I would wander to her boutique in the West Village when I needed some color. In my first job, at a housewares design company, I got to work on development for her Target collection. I can’t remember what I wore for my single meeting with her, but I’ll never forget a chance encounter on a busy Saturday in her shop, when she admired my (my!) loden green sweater hood, decorated with a knitted pink peony sticking out of my camel-colored leather jacket. I was thrilled last season when Dossier assigned me to cover her show (find below, my notes from the occasion), and pleased as punch to be assigned back this season.

Ms. Rowley has always struck me as a creature not just of fashion, but also of art and business…sort of a princess of pop culture. That combination of savvy and style came through this season, on her runway, in her front row (graced by her friend Thelma Golden) and also in a really clever collaboration with the Gagosian Gallery, where she is selling original samples from the show, photographic reproductions of her collection on fabric panels for fans to cut and sew themselves and even sewing kits, complete with a label, for customers to affix wherever they please…The New York Times called it Duchampian, but it’s sort of more Prince or Warhollian, no?

Whatever it is, I love it. It’s a sexy sort of meta mind-f— that one could also wear to dinner. (Or contrarily, in front of the computer, as they blog about blogging.) Maybe there’s some room in this  for an archival re-release of that rose-colored gown I never got to wear to the prom. It would look lovely printed on a floor-length cotton tank dress.

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Malia Mills NYC Sample Sale

I know it’s hardly swimsuit season, but Malia Mills‘ are the absolute best, and usually quite pricey. Here’s my own favorite, bought for $20 at their sale last summer:

The suits are made in New York City’s Garment Center, right across the hall from the sale. Here’s a little window into Malia’s workspace I shot last year, where she talks about the importance of overseeing her supply chain. For more on Malia and the Garment District, read up here! And find the details for the sale below. 

Malia Mills is hosting the ultimate swimwear separates celebration!

For two days, find favorite styles from seasons past for $20 bucks a piece at our Studio Sale Extravaganza. It’s a new year, and we’ve got “newly vintage” Malia Mills mixers galore!

Tops 30A to 40DD, Bottoms 2 to 16


Add to your swimwear wardrobe and 10% of your purchase will go to The New York Women’s Foundation. http://www.nywf.org/

When? Wednesday, February 24th and Thursday, February 25th

10 am until 6 pm

Where? Malia Mills, 263 West 38th St, Floor 16, between 7th and 8th Avenues

Cash, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard Accepted

It might seem a world away today, but summertime is inevitable.

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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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Double Trouble

Yesterday, at the end of a really beautiful fall Sunday, my friend Erin snapped this photo with her phone. I liked it. It captured a contented moment with a full glass of wine and reddening leaves. I posted it to my Facebook account when I got home, which is something I don’t usually do. Then this morning, I realized a reason not to…

sart.striped SA

When I went to get dressed, I immediately reached for that same striped shirt (Steven Alan, made in USA, cut long and lean–his sample sale starts Thursday, by the way). Maybe I was hoping some of that Sunday vibe would seep into my week, and in any case, I got dressed quite late yesterday and Erin was the only one who saw me in that shirt. But then I remembered the Facebook photo, and briefly reconsidered my re-run.

How many people really look at those pictures? Would anyone notice? I know at least one person who will. Kristen Joy Watts: a Facebook and fashion-savvy photojournalist who has previously noted my tendency to keep favorites on a (very) short cycle. I’ll likely see her later at the CUNY Journalism School.

But I’m taking a stand, I’m not changing out of this shirt. Furthermore, I’m announcing to you that yes, I sometimes love wearing the same thing two days in a row. (I’ve noticed lots of fashion designers have this tendency too. Sometimes thinking about clothes all the time can suppress the desire to dress.)

I have a friend with a nightly TV show who writes down what he wears to ensure he doesn’t recycle the same outfits within two weeks. Can you imagine? Screw it. I’m embracing the re-run.


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Rag Trade Rally: Schmatta and Swimsuits

Wednesday, at the rally to Save the Garment Center, Joey Raico, a former fabric cutter who took a buyout (“my job was shipped to China”), stood at the podium under the 39th Street button, and called the manufacturing zone on midtown Manhattan’s west side “a magical place.”

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There were days when I too thought it was magical, though for a different reason, when I was running between factories and fabric shops in the area as an assistant for Cynthia Rose. I remember thinking the Garment District was somehow frozen in time.

This was the New York I had read about, the dingy, dirty, sort of disgusting place, where people still brazenly spit on the street and catcalled, hurrying past peep shows and Port Authority. One slushy day, as I waited to cross the street with a roll of fabric, a passing truck actually splattered me. I once thought these things only happened in movies.

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But, with a little bit of perspective on the place, where I’m based now not as a production assistant, but an editorial one, I see it’s pretty special that in a single day at Cynthia Rose, I would work with people–actually talk with them face-to-face, from China, Greece, Ecuador, India, the Dominican Republic, all over the U.S., and more, all with the common goal of making something. Not money, an idea, or a multi-media web networking platform, but a real, tangible thing: a garment. Maybe that’s why the place felt frozen in time. American manufacturing, imagine that.

“We do need to examine whether we need to make things,” said Marc Levin, “as a society.”

Levin directed the recently released HBO documentary about the NYC Garment Center, Schmatta. Standing on the sidewalk after the rally, the director said he was initially dubious of fashion as a subject (it was HBO’s idea), but now he sees NYC’s garment industry as representative of the American economy as a whole.

It’s a powerful and seductive myth, said the director, that we can move manufacturing jobs overseas, replace them with better jobs for Americans, and continue to run up credit card debt.

“The economy has no clothes,” he said.

image from giantmag.com

The director said he didn’t know if Mayor Bloomberg has seen the film, though he knew HBO’s Sheila Nevins had given him a copy.

Levin said Michelle Obama would be the best one to get his documentary in front of. The first lady has been such a powerful proponent of American fashion, wouldn’t she like to see it stick around?

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No doubt, these ladies would, all of whom work for Malia Mills, a swimwear designer based on 38th Street. Below, is a beautiful example of their work–albeit a little wrinkled from my drawer: a spice-colored one piece bathing suit with cutout sides. The straps, lovely and narrow, tie in the back to make it adjustable.

sart.swimsuit

Their suits fit like a dream, which likely factors into their pricey-ness. Frequent fitting sessions, myriad styles for multiple body types, and domestic manufacturing all add up–to a beautiful, but expensive garment. But here’s a valuable secret, ladies. You can go and visit their studio on 38th Street, which also serves as a sample outlet. (And a peek behind the scenes!)

The suit pictured above cost me just $20 earlier this summer. A $20 investment in the domestic development of swimwear, made, as Malia Mills’ website states, “lovingly in the U.S.A.

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The Sartorialist's Dilemma

In yesterday’s introduction, I mentioned Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book that poses a simple question, one I spend a good deal of time, energy, and money in efforts to correctly answer: What should we have for dinner?

Here, I’m posing a dilemma even dearer to my heart (rather than my stomach), that also has a bit to do with value, as well as values.

What should I wear?

I spend even more time, energy, and money thinking about what to put on my body than I do thinking about what to put in my body. Both of these “dilemmas,” the omnivore’s and the sartorialist’s, are problems of privilege. It’s because we’re blessed with so many choices, and presumably, a little bit of time, energy, and money, that we can question these matters at all. Combine that with an affinity for fashion, and ever-increasing information, and you’ve got the makings for a great deal of debate.

What on earth am I going to wear?


Sometimes it’s a question of fit, others it’s a question of cost, sometimes it’s about instinct, history, or dare I say, love.

Here’s an idea…I’ll deconstruct what I’ve got on in that snapshot (taken last fall,not for the purpose of this exercise) to give an example.

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Okay, the necklace was my mom’s. It’s a tiny butterfly on a gold chain that my dad gave her a long time ago, and is unquestionably my favorite accessory. An identical necklace would probably twinkle at me from a jewelry store’s display case, but what makes it irreplaceable is its sentimental value.

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The white top came from a little vintage shop in Rio I wrote about for Nylon. You can read a few of the reasons that I loved their store in that little article, and they sort of apply to the top too: it took a little bit of looking to find it, it’s one-of-a-kind, and both delicate and durable. Although the straps are a little fragile, it has worn beautifully. The fabric is a woven cotton, kind of like a thin sheet, so it hasn’t gotten stretched out or pilled. I have no idea how old it is, but I do know that to buy something similar (handmade and well-designed) new, rather than vintage, would be very expensive, and without the joy of discovering a little gem in a special shop at the top of a hill.

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The cardigan is a sample from Edun, the fashion company I went to work for in 2006. I have lots of stories to tell about that, but let’s stick to the sweater. It’s a sample, which is sort of like a rough draft for the fashion industry. It was made at a small factory in Lima, Peru, where the boss lady was a fantastic creative problem-solver, which is pretty important when you’re trying to make a quality product at a specific price. That particular style didn’t make it into the collection, which means the stores didn’t purchase enough to warrant manufacturing, so it was cancelled. At Edun we used to dream about a collection called cancelled to incorporate all the lovely styles that never made it to the market. In the meantime I have my own little collection of cancelled samples–some from various jobs in fashion, others from sample sales. I’ve since updated this one by switching the buttons from metal to old-fashioned black leather knots.

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Topping it off is a wool hat I bought in a market in Arequipa, Peru–a souvenir from a visit to Edun’s yarn manufacturers in the Andes.

So…as you can see, everything has a story. And I’m only scratching the surface here. My hope is that I’m going to be able to use my closet as a case study, to begin asking, on various levels–whether economic or ethical, scientific or sartorial…what to wear?

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