Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Designer Swim

This spring some of the main players in the fashion scene have also released swim lines. Some of the designers include, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Trina Turk, Diane von Furstenberg, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren Polo and Milly Cabana (see left). I particularly like the designs by Trina Turk (see right). She mixes fun colors and flattering designs, almost all of her pieces include gold links which would look good on tan skin!
A newcomer to the swim scene is Jessica Simpson, who is apparently dipping her toe in everything from shoes to jewelry. However her designs are bland and unoriginal. The fit however is very good, so I predict that it might sell well, because most women care more about fit than design when it comes to swim. The price range on the Jessica Simpson swimwear collection is also substantially lower than other designers ($40-$60).


Cameron Newland said...

That's too bad about Jessica Simpson's swimwear being unoriginal...her shoes have just been spot-on over the last year (after thinking about it, that doesn't make her shoes 100% original either). I do notice when girls wear her felt-toe flats/wedges though, so really I think they're pretty iconic despite being kind of plebian/accessible.

Come to think of it, the only brands of womens' shoes I can identify more quickly than Jessica Simpson's is Tory Burch, Chanel, and Coach. Speaks pretty highly of Simpsons' ability to differentiate/brand herself.

Jeanna said...

As if Jessica Simpson actually designs anything...

Jessica Simpson shoes = knockoffs of iconic designer shoes. No originality whatsoever.

I also wouldn't group the Jessica Simpson collection with the other designers mentioned. They are in completely different leagues, which explains the lower price point. The Jessica Simpson swimwear is more comparable to Roxy, Billabong, and Victoria's Secret, in my opinion.

Jeanna said...

And one more thing:

You make it sound like this spring is the first season the designers have produced swimwear. Just a nitpicky thing about the intro.

Xavier said...

What makes this swimwear fit "very good"? Lingerie and swimwear incorporating stretch textiles are garments of such personalized fit that such a statement becomes hopelessly meaningless - about as meaningless as predicting that something "might sell well". Vague descriptors like "fun colors and flattering designs" don't give me any impression about Trina Turk's swimwear either. I am really quite confused about what point you are trying to make, but I'll leave it at that.

On a sidenote, I agree with Jeanna. Jessica Simpson shoes are best-known for copying designer shoe brands quickly at Macy's-level prices. Past designs have had uncanny resemblances to shoes from Lanvin and Jil Sander, among others. Recognizing Jessica Simpson shoes involves recognizing lower-quality versions of past season's shoes.

Cameron Newland said...

Xavier said (1/30/08 22:00):

"Recognizing Jessica Simpson shoes involves recognizing lower-quality versions of past season's shoes."

Actually, recognizing Jessica Simpson shoes involves recognizing good design, no matter the muse or the price. Just as H&M and Forever21 bring knockoff fashion to the people, so too does Jessica Simpson with footwear.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, you're not a cobbler or a footwear construction specialist, so nobody can trust your opinion when rating the quality of footwear. Just because an item was inspired by another does not mean one or the other has inferior construction or materials.

I've met people who were brand whores (whether to Lacoste or Tory Burch, the price point is no matter), but it's only the rare instance that I come upon a price whore (someone who disregards anything not made by a CFDA-chartered fashion house or similar, making them blind to anything with an accessible pricetag).

Fashion is living design, and it comes from low price points (American Apparel, H&M) and high (Chanel, Christian Louboutin.)

You might think about that before commenting.

Jeanna said...

H&M and Forever21 bring "inspired" items at a lower quality also. Are you suggesting that Jessica Simpson makes the same quality shoes as Louboutin?

While I do believe we are paying high prices mostly for the name on designer items, there is a lot more time and money spent on the item in the first place. Can you really compare the design team, marketing process, manufacture, and materials used, etc by high-end designers to those of a mass-producing brand like H&M or Jessica Simpson?

I don't know if you've ever tried on a pair of Jessica Simpson (or other BP shoes) and a pair of Lanvins (or other salon shoes) at Nordstrom, or even just held them. There's no contest for quality. Maybe from a distance, they might look similar enough, but look closer or wear them around for a while and I'd question your vision or the nerves on your feet if you did't notice the difference.

Here are basic, silverish, platform peeptoe pumps:

Jessica Simpson

Christian Louboutin

I'm sure I could find a better example if I wanted to spend more time on this, but the point is that they're only comparable on a basic aesthetic level.

Like you said, fashion is living design. It starts at high fashion and gradually trickles down to the greater population through those companies with lower price points. The innovations that move fashion forward are rarely sparked by these companies. The world of fashion needs both and everything in between.

What makes something iconic or originally and brilliantly designed? Somehow I doubt that Jessica Simpson shoes could be used to answer that question.

Xavier said...

You are missing the difference between "lower-quality" and inferior design. Furthermore, I take offense to anybody inferring that I am a "price whore". I have absolutely nothing against low price products and don't believe what you misconstrued from my comment says anything about my supposed snobbery. Nothing in my claim regards me as a price whore. The claim to quality is undeniably correlated to price on a certain level, simply because the cost of raw materials and construction costs more. Cost constraints are a huge part of design constraints. When it comes to clothing, every fit device and design line related to silhouette, durability and comfort in construction creates additional notches and pattern pieces that creates additional cost for a product.

Price is definitely a concern when it comes to inferior construction, which is an entirely different entity than inferior design. There is undeniably good design at places like H&M. Success in the world of fast fashion involves the ability to create patterns of on-trend looks, usually derived from ready-to-wear, using incredible economy in terms of adding notches and additional parts where necessary. H&M is an exceptional example of good design at a low price. However, while this may be scholastically viewed as "good" design, the ability to make high-quality clothing is simply out of reach for any purveyor of low-priced goods. That much isn't about design, it's about the ability to find suppliers and factories that specialize in techniques that simply can't be used in garments at lower-price points. There's pleating in garments of all price points, but specialized pleating processes are done by specialized companies that cost more because their output simply cannot be increased past a certain point without compromising quality. Most especially in the details is the difference in quality made apparent. Forever 21 uses polyester threads of a much lower-quality than the high-quality polyester or spun-cotton threads of a higher-end manufacturer. It's evidently after washing in the loose fibers coming from the stitching. It's seriously as simple as this: compromises have to be made to present a product of a certain look at a certain price. Even with massive economies of scale, you can only buy so much for your dollar before you have to start making compromises in quality.

In terms of shoes, such as Jessica Simpson's line, the same principles apply. No, I'm not a cobbler, but I have been learning the difference between quality and construction from my fashion design professors and discussions with those who have worked at Michael Kors' footwear division. It's obvious at Michael Kors, where they design shoes at the designer Collection level, contemporary Kors Michael Kors level, and the mid-ranged Michael Michael Kors level. Their shoes are not all made equally. The Collection shoes are created at an entirely different level as the lower two brands, made by a different design team, tested for comfort and durability to a much greater extent, and constructed with much more expensive leather, using stitching to reinforce construction in addition to the adhesives that the lower-end shoes rely on alone. Softer leather in the more expensive shoes requires mechanical treatment, not simply chemical treatments that affect the quality of the leather more dramatically. The richer colors in Collection shoes requires more expensive dye processes. Even design issues like the weight of the shoe are considered so much more in-depth by the Collection design team, and the solution to the problem often involves lighter weight materials that do not compromise durability, which are necessarily more expensive. While each level has what can be considered good design, you seriously can't think that the shoes are all of equal quality. Jessica Simpson's shoes may be of a wearable, acceptable quality, but there are certain design and construction processes that prevent them from being equal quality to, say, Christian Louboutins. There's a market for all levels of quality, depending on a consumer's needs, but more money can, in a very general sense, afford higher quality. Bring a friend to Nordstrom downtown and compare the construction details between a pair from B.P. Shoes and a pair from Salon Shoes and tell me you still disagree.

Yes, price doesn't always equal quality. Marc by Marc Jacobs is a brand that sells some incredibly inexpensive products branded with the Marc logo for an incredible mark-up. That's a marvel of marketing, as opposed to one of design, but in a wider sense across the industry, there's no question that you can't create the highest-quality product without additional costs that will be apparent in the price tag. Yes, marketing, advertising, and all that are intrinsic to the higher-price of certain clothes, but that isn't the only concern. And if you STILL don't believe me, look at issues of Marie Claire, where they regularly deconstruct pricey products in order to determine what construction techniques have led to higher costs.

Xavier said...

Look, Cameron and Blakeley and whoever else, none of this is personal at all. It's simply what I've learned about fashion. While I don't appreciate the inference of being a whore of any kind, you should seriously not take anything that I personally say as offensive or anything like that.

Blakeley said...

Xavier said: "What makes this swimwear fit "very good"? Lingerie and swimwear incorporating stretch textiles are garments of such personalized fit that such a statement becomes hopelessly meaningless..."

Actually certain brands such as Tommy Bahama, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Trina Turk are known to fit well. I work in retail (specifically in swim/active) and these are the brands that typically fit more people the best. They stand out from other brands as generally fitting different body types the best. I say that the fit of Jessica Simpson Swim line is decent and I say it with not only my own experience, but also with helping other customers and seeing how the items fit.

Cameron Newland said...

Who's the price whore you speak of? Was anybody called a price whore? I really hope not, because doing so would be reason for being banned from commenting on the site.

Xavier said (1/1/2008 19:27):

"Jessica Simpson's shoes may be of a wearable, acceptable quality..."

This kind of rhetoric (the double meaning of your word choice, mostly) makes you sound as if you're the prince of an island made of gold; as if a pair of $60 shoes is so 'below you' that for anyone to even speak of them being stylish and quality-built is immediately dismissed as heresy by his highness. Sort of makes it hard to take you seriously.

Let's put this to rest, once and for all:

Jessica Simpson is not a designer.

She does not sell her shoes in the top tier of price or materials.

Her designs are often knockoffs of the original works of others.

Settled? J’espère !

Xavier said...

"Wearable" means it can be worn without major defect, "acceptable" refers to a product achieving a level of quality that the general consumer of said product would find satisfactory for the price paid. There is no value judgment in my statement, and I'm not dismissing anything in a haughty manner. Referring to what I sound like in that manner is closer to a personal attack than a reflection of the text. But whatever, issue settled. I love debating, but this is ridiculous.

Cameron Newland said...

I'm glad you could confirm the meaning of those two words for me. Thank you, Merriam Webster.

For the record, I too love debating.

Xavier said...

Now why would you say something as snide as calling me Merriam Webster? Let's just throw this absurd non-debate out the window. Truce.

Anonymous said...

Jessica Simpson Swimwear is bland and unoriginal, it is something I would group with Roxy and Etnies. However I love the Marc by Marc Jacobs line. He continues to impress me.
-Darcy K

Cameron Newland said...

Xavier, I said "Thank you, Merriam Webster," for a very good reason.

Previously, I'd pointed out the contextual meaning in your usage of the words "wearable" and "acceptable" as condescending, and you responded with a textbook-ish definition, implying 1) that I'm wrong for interpreting those two words as carrying negative undertones and 2) that you really meant "wearable" and "acceptable" as compliments. Because of the context and specifically the sentence construction: "Simpson's shoes may be of a wearable, acceptable quality, but..."), there's no way I can interpret your word usage in any other way.

I've too have access to a dictionary. Telling me what your interpretation of those two words is without defining their usage in this context doesn't help at all. It's misleading. Tsk tsk.

The contextual meaning is paramount.

Imagine if I were to do the same, wouldn't you be a little peeved? Here's an example:

Xavier's comments may be decipherable and his ideas workable, but his reasoning is misguided and under-developed.

If I were to make a statement like that and then defend it as if it were a compliment to you (perhaps I'd provide you my preferred definition for "decipherable" and "workable"), that would be ludicrous. The context and sentence construction show this example statement is a jab and not a compliment, and I'd never masquerade it as being otherwise.

Xavier said...

Seriously? Isn't this all a little petty? Dude, come on, just let it go.