Tag Archives: shopping

COVID-19 Spending and Saving

Perhaps the only upside to what I call the “pandammit” is that I’m not shopping like a drunken socialite, to quote my friend S. Which doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shopping altogether; it’s more that I’m buying different things.

Big-ticket items flew out the window as life got simpler and our activities remain close to home. Meanwhile, entire categories (hello, hand sanitizer) became essentials. What a topsy-turvy world! (Google reports that the expression “may be an adaptation of the medieval verb ‘tirve’, meaning ‘to turn or to topple over’. It has also been suggested that ‘turvy’ is an allusion to ‘turf’ and that ‘topsy-turvy’ means ‘with one’s head on the turf’.”) 

Spending more

  • Amazon – miscellaneous household items, esp. hard to get stuff
  • Whole Foods delivery in the early months
  • Fresh fruits and veggies from farmers’ market and small specialty grocers
  • Cooking gadgets
  • Wine and booze – do you even have to ask why?
  • TV streaming services
  • Zoom membership
  • Books
  • Vitamins, supplements, acetaminophen PM
  • Face masks — whoever predicted one would need a wardrobe of these?!
  • Cute socks
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Fresh flowers to maintain sanity and illusion of elegant normalcy

Saving more

  • Makeup, especially lipstick – kind of pointless when wearing a mask, no?
  • Hair salon – spreading out appointments and doing trimming/touch-ups myself until desperate
  • Pedicures – My toes are not worth dying for
  • Restaurants
  • New clothes – to go where, exactly?
  • Travel
  • Cultural events/theatre/opera tix
  • Massages and facials (see pedicure)

Yep, things are definitely tirving these days.

photo of inverted woman on wooden chair

Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Fashion Revolution in the Age of COVID

black mannequin

Photo by Jan Kroon on Pexels.com

Sharing a very interesting fashion article, courtesy of Kat’s excellent Feather Factor blog:

WWD Business: Fashion’s Great French Revolution
By Laura Lanteri on May 11, 2020

“When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In 2012, when Miuccia Prada, sitting at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, was trying to reconcile her own political and philosophical beliefs (she was a member of the Italian Communist party during her youth) and the idiosyncrasies of her job, she commented: “Fashion is the first step out of poverty.” Her reasoning was quite simple. Once an individual satisfies all their primary needs — food, shelter, health — one of their first desires is to look better, to change, to “elevate” themselves.

Aspiration versus accessibility, equality versus exclusivity, relatability versus uniqueness: Miuccia Prada knew that fashion did have a place in bettering this world, but she was also deeply aware of the almost irreparable craters that separated her from the masses.

Fast-forward eight years and here we are, exactly where Miuccia Prada predicted we would be: the fashion revolution is here, and it’s disturbingly ugly. The dynamics that have driven the exorbitant financial and commercial growth of the industry are the very same forces that — exasperated by a global pandemic of unthinkable proportions — are now possibly risking its extinction.

And, this time, the Revolution started at the bottom of the food chain, from the very customers that fashion, and especially the luxury sector, tried to lure into impossible aspirational dreams of never-ending consumption.

Customers are most certainly not buying into the aspiration anymore, and the reasons for their unhappiness go well beyond the scarcity and misery brought about by this pandemic.

From reports that millions of garment workers in India and Bangladesh may be reduced into starvation by the current interruption in the supply chain of major retailers, to the increasingly popular images depicting a cleaner, less polluted world due to a halt in consumption, travel and productivity, to the devastating realities of hundreds of thousands of retail workers being furloughed across the United States, fashion has never looked so broken.

And fashion customers, just like the French Revolution insurgents circling around the impossible marvel that was Versailles, are taking notice. Not just notice — action.

It’s not that surprising then that — at the time when we are all forced to cling to our own very essential version of life — most of this “stuff,” the fashion stuff, is getting cut out. McKinsey & Co. is projecting a contraction of the luxury sector of up to 40 percent in 2020. I think that may be an optimistic figure. Earnest Research reports a 70 percent drop in spending for “Apparel and Accessories” for the week ending on April 1, 2020.

Even assuming that fashion and luxury will survive in some tangible form, the reality we will go back to will not resemble our pre-pandemic world in any way.

Fashion and luxury will have to change because the audience they used to have are not there anymore. Fashion is no longer simply a monologue, and customers are emerging as much more powerful voices in this dialogue. They are shouting. They are shouting at Madonna taking a milky bath with rose petals in her mansion while philosophizing about COVID-19 being “the great equalizer.” They are shouting at Ellen DeGeneres, who is comparing her quarantine in a multimillion-dollar compound to “jail.” They are shouting at Jennifer Lopez, who is joke-complaining about quarantine with her family in a massive mansion, oblivious to her privilege and to the horrendous struggle outside of her door.

It is worth noting that many of these celebrities were, as of a few weeks ago, considered the pioneers of change for fashion. J.Lo was seen as the ambassador of “older women,” showing us that we didn’t have to dress “our age.” DeGeneres has been, and maybe still will be, a pioneer in the advancement of LGBTQ rights, both in entertainment and in fashion.

Madonna has changed the way we think about how women dress well before she wore the much-clamored Gaultier cones. But not anymore — these women are not the voices or the aspirations of the zeitgeist. They were brand ambassadors for a system that was already on the verge of collapse. Their obliviousness to this current catastrophe only accelerated a process of self-destruction.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Fashion used to be — in many ways — an invisible force behind change. Not an equalizing force, but a transformative one. Taking pleasure in beauty and design is a quintessentially human prerogative. Beyond the obvious aesthetic qualities that fashion encapsulates, fashion used to mean something to its audience.

The most famous fashion designers in history have made significant contributions to how we relate to each other in society and how we perceive who we are. Not simply about how we look.

From Coco Chanel’s rebellion against uncomfortable clothing for women, to YSL’s embrace of the androgynous to Vivienne Westwood’s anti-establishment ethos, to Pierpaolo Piccioli’s vision of inclusivity, fashion becomes successful when it relates to its audience on a deep, visceral level. Not just on a grand scale, but — most powerfully now — on a human scale.

Fashion customers, the industry audience, seem to have suddenly noticed the difference. From the founder of Something Navy, who has been subjected to vicious attacks on social media after escaping Manhattan for the Hamptons during the pandemic, to Elle Macpherson, whose brand WelleCo has been heavily criticized after it sent out promotional e-mails marketing a “Super Elixir” allegedly promoting immune support (cost: $80), fashion customers appear pretty unforgiving and quick to discard previously beloved brands. Perhaps even more tellingly, Chiara Ferragni — the Italian model and “digital entrepreneur” ranked as the number-one fashion influencer in the world by Forbes — is now advertising pasta and mascarpone cheese on her Instagram posts. No more Giambattista Valli there.

Make no mistake: These are hard times for any company that is not selling essential goods. And buying a new dress is in itself an utterly insignificant gesture. But if this dress morphs into a determination of a person’s true presence, then fashion regains its power.

Fashion perhaps can be small again, it can shrink back to human scale, its beauty as vivid as the fairness of its (new) processes. Fashion’s ambition has probably always been — indeed as Miuccia Prada said — about a desire to better ourselves. Recently, we just lost track of who we are.

So let the screams coming from social media all around the world be a powerful wake-up call for all of fashion. Because the Fashion Revolutionaries are in. And they will not eat cake.

Laura Lanteri is an adjunct professor at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.

 

What is Luxury Today?

I’ve just finished reading an excellent blog post about the recent hikes in luxury prices, which has gotten me thinking about fashion in general and what’s even relevant anymore.

There’s nothing like a few months of quarantine to make fashion seem entirely superfluous. Where are we going, and who are we going to see anyway?  Layer on the implicit showing off that accompanies an expensive purchase, and it’s even more ridiculous when our thoughts are on slightly bigger issues, such as survival.

Good health: that’s the true luxury. But I digress.

At the same time, though, fashion has long had a role in creating optimism and cheering us up: Note the exuberance of Dior’s New Look after World War II when women couldn’t wait to get back into pretty clothes again. Even if it’s an illusion, it’s comforting to put on an outfit that makes you feel life is returning to normal.

The disconnect for me lies with hugely expensive items.  If nothing else, the pandemic has forced people to think about what matters to us: the health and safety of people we love. Recent features on how celebrities are “coping” with isolation in their multi-million-dollar, multi-thousand-square-foot bunkers have met with ridicule and pushback. Showing off anyone’s net worth seems particularly tasteless these days.

So, I’m wondering: Are you shopping at all? Planning to shop? Clearing out your wardrobe to keep only the stuff you love? Saving up for a special item? Or none of the above?

pink and orange textile

Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

 

To Brie or Not to Brie

Armed with gloves, Purell and facemasks, we sallied forth this morning to explore the dangerous terrain of a grocery store.  Terra incognita for over a month, we’d finally caved to the need for items beyond Amazon’s ability to deliver.

First, a great deal of strategy was required.  The store needed to be overpriced and inconveniently located, so as to attract the fewest customers. The shopping list needed to be air tight, with no room for impulse buys or backtracking through aisles already traveled. All equipment needed to be checked in advance for pinholes through which sneaky microbes might invade. Sanitizer needed to be at the ready.  Ditto, credit card… no fumbling for cash.

Upon arrival, we spotted a few other intrepid souls, all great distances apart and moving cautiously.  We carefully stalked the produce section, standing well back to furtively scan the available items before plunging into the fray.  While no one seemed interested in artichokes, we did note a mysterious convergence in the imported cheese section.  Pasta was also dangerously populated and best avoided.

For approximately the price of a skydiving session, we completed our daring expedition and emerged triumphant with empty wallets and a full cart. I, for one, am exhausted by all this exertion and plan to take to my couch with the vapors.

As the famous Earl Nightingale quote has it: “Wherever there is danger, there lurks opportunity; whenever there is opportunity, there lurks danger.”  Hopefully, the crisis will be resolved soon.  There’s only so much excitement I can tolerate.

man standing on cliff

Photo by Juliano Ferreira on Pexels.com

Pandemic Chic

March is usually a wonderful time of year for those of us who love fashion. The magazines and runway reports are bursting with inspiration, and we’re ready to do a little shopping and look forward to wearing our new acquisitions.

Not these days, though.  Where are we going to wear a dazzling dress or sexy shoes?

For anyone still craving that undeniable lift, why not order a new pair of sensual silk pajamas in which to lounge around all Nick-and-Nora-Charles and pretend it’s a simpler time while sipping your Quarantini*?

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 (per Reddit.com)    *Shout out to Betsy xoxo.

Toss in some maribou-trimmed slippers, while you’re at it.

Since we’ve had to cancel our trip to London — so disappointing — I’m consoling myself with possibly the world’s most glamourous lipstick.  Admittedly pricey for a lipstick, but pretty reasonable for Hermès and totally fabulous.

The refillable case, designed by Pierre Hardy, is lacquered, polished, brushed metal that closes with the solid click of a luxury automobile.

I’m determined to wear this, even if it’s only for my own sanity.

And if all else fails …

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Gift Ideas When Money Is No Object

While you’ve been agonizing over finding the perfect gifts, this post is sure to inspire a giggle or two.  It kinda gives new meaning to the phrase “insanely rich”.  Enjoy!

abundance bank banking banknotes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Shopping Frenzy

My inbox is shrieking with Black Friday this, Cyber Monday that — all the bargains we have to have NOW! Because they’re GOING FAST! In a sale I WON’T WANT TO MISS!

The urgency is terrifying.

Here’s what I’d like to see reduced for the holidays at a new, LOW! LOW! PRICE — for all of us:

  1. The cable bill
  2. Property taxes
  3. Medical fees
  4. Legal fees
  5. The phone bill
  6. Utilities
  7. Insurance: car, homeowners’, medical, dental, you name it

And I don’t mean some temporary, lull-me-into-thinking-it’s-forever, special short-term deal; I want to see a minimum 50% off.  Is that too much to ask?!?

Guess I will have to settle for a new pair of boots, a replacement for my worn-out black cashmere cardigan, and my favorite about-to-be-discontinued lipstick. Sigh.

Are you shopping the sales? Finding some good bargains? Do share!

paper bags near wall

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Good News Monday: Saving While Shopping

I should undoubtedly shop less and spend less, but sometimes there is simply something I want to acquire.  And I don’t want to pay a penny more than necessary.

That’s where ShopTagr comes in.

Having recently discovered this app, I find it an easy way to track an item I’m interested in to see if/when it’s going on sale or coming back in stock.

Once you’ve downloaded the ShopTagr app, their icon will also automatically pop on when you’re shopping — whether or not it’s on your saved list — showing coupons you can use.

Overall reviews for the app are good, although the above link shows some negative feedback from a Safari user.  I use Chrome as my browser and have not had any issues so far, knock wood… (hmmm, possibly a new myrtlewood salad set?)

banking business checklist commerce

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Unboxing: One of Life’s Small Pleasures

I’m a sucker for a great presentation.  And what’s more enjoyable than ordering something you want or need, and having it arrive beautifully packaged? Suddenly, it’s a special occasion that’s all about YOU.

My old passport case was getting a bit ratty, and it was a dark brown, always difficult to find in my bag. I finally found what I wanted online and decided to treat myself.

  1. Plain carton arrives.  I know what’s in it so no surprise there, right?
  2. But… when I open it, a beautiful card pops up on the lid.IMG-1347.jpg
  3. Cool! This has my initials on it. IMG-13484. A box within a box…IMG-13495. And now, the box my item is actually in….IMG-13506. Safely protected in its little pouch…IMG-13517.  The perfect shade of red.IMG-13528. With lots of room for credit cards and money too.IMG-1353 (1).jpg

Why shouldn’t something practical also be beautiful? Just looking at this makes me eager to plan my next trip abroad.

Treat yourselves to a great weekend, dear readers! xoxo, Alisa

In Praise of the Bolide, a “Stealth” Hermès Bag

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Can anything “Hermès” ever be truly under the radar?

While those of us who are familiar (dare I posit, “obsessed”?) with the brand can likely identify almost any bag, belt, piece of jewelry etc. the house makes, even someone uninterested in fashion can likely recognize a Kelly or Birkin bag, due to endless media coverage of the KarTrashians, et. al.  For some, the association with celebrities — and the difficulty of buying these styles without a long relationship with a boutique sales associate — can make these bags too “in your face” and diminish the appeal of even the most beautiful design.

What to do if you love the house but don’t want to be seen as someone who buys into the hype? In my opinion, the Bolide offers the perfect combination of Hermès history and impeccable craftsmanship in a style less likely to telegraph your income or invite unwanted commentary. It’s also a more user-friendly style than the fussy Kelly or the “I’m so wealthy I can leave my bag open and not worry about pickpockets” Birkin.

The Bolide bag has a glamorous yet practical history, dating back to 1923 when Emile-Maurice Hermès created it for his wife — the first handbag designed with a newfangled invention called the zipper.

In 1916, M. Hermès had traveled across North America. In the course of these travels, he met Henry Ford, toured his many automobile factories, and discovered an ingenious fastening mechanism used on the cloth top of a car. Hermès returned to Paris with a two-year patent for the zipper, planning to adapt this odd skeletal sliding system for use on leather goods, hand luggage, and suitcases.

By 1923, the French fashion house was ready to introduce a carryall that replaced traditional metal clasps with a zippered compartment. This simple yet innovative motoring bag kept jewelry and other valuables safe at high speeds, and could be easily stowed in the trunk of a sports car.

Originally called the sac pour l’auto, the bag was later renamed the Bolide, the 16th-century word for meteor. As automobiles became more ubiquitous and the Bolide design was adopted and customized for car, train and transatlantic travel, Hermès became associated with speed and elegance in motion.

A smaller version — a true handbag rather than a carryall or travel case — debuted in 1982 with its characteristic dome shape, single zip closure, removable leather shoulder strap and a padlock with keys in a leather covering called a clochette.

Hermès is known for its many different leathers* — some no longer produced — which give the Bolide two distinctive shapes and look. Mou, in soft leather such as taurillon clemence, tends to be more casual, while the Rigide is sturdier and harder.

Often spotted in Paris and Tokyo, the Bolide remains a timeless example of understated chic. Plus, I love the fact that you can buy online if you don’t happen to live near a boutique. With the current trend towards smaller bags, the 31cm and 27cm are perfect day sizes depending on how much you lug around with you, while the mini 1923 is a really cute evening option. The larger 35cm, not available on the Hermès website these days, is often available (and less expensive than the 31cm) on the secondary market. And if you’re looking for a larger travel or business size bag, the 45cm can easily fit a small laptop computer or iPad.

L’amour, toujours!

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Bleu Abysse taurillon clemence “mou”, left. Rouge H vache liegée “rigide”, right.

 

*Current Bolide leathers, per the Hermès website:

Volupto calfskin (1923 Mini)

A transparent, very sensual, delicately satiny heritage leather similar to the leather used for clothing. Its extreme suppleness and minuscule, barely visible grain are the result of a long drumming procedure.
First appeared in the collections: 2013
Appearance: Quite smooth; satiny; mottled; clearly visible natural characteristics; subtly contrasting wrinkles
Feel: Silky and slightly waxy
Hand: Very supple; no roundness; richly sensual; full
Change over time: Softens; acquires a patina; darkens; becomes shinier in areas most handled. Gains resistance as patina develops

Swift calfskin (Bolide 27)

This extremely supple, sophisticated leather is named after Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, to highlight its resemblance to Gulliver calfskin, which no longer features in today’s collections.
First appeared in the collections: 2004
Appearance: Almost smooth with a delicate shine; lightly marked grain that is sometimes hardly noticeable
Feel: Soft and tender
Hand: Supple and generous
Change over time: Becomes even more supple

Taurillon Clemence leather (Bolide 31)

Named in tribute to the daughter of the designer who introduced it into the collections, this leather was developed for luggage and is the ultimate example of a grained leather that has been drummed. This process softens the skin and brings a generous grain to the surface.
First appeared in the collections: 1992
Appearance: Semi-matt, generous and irregular grain
Feel: Soft and smooth
Hand: Yielding
Change over time: Becomes more supple

Taurillon Novillo leather (Bolide 1923 – 30)

This leather has a tiny marked grain and is appealingly responsive at heart. In Spain, where this leather originates, “novillo” means “bullcalf”.
First appeared in the collections: 2015
Appearance: Tiny, uniform grain and a satin effect
Feel: Waxy
Hand: Supple, full and responsive
Change over time: Becomes satiny and more supple