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Exhibiting Heavenly Bodies: an Interview with Fashion Conservator Sarah Scaturro, part I
Hi, I'm Jeff Crowe and welcome to communist where every week we explore the ideas, values and practices that bring us together and help us live healthy and purpose. Phil. We talked to research scientists, congressman spiritual leaders, world class athletes and founders of international institutes about everything from personal wellness practices to ideas that inspire us to take action, welcome to commun- subscribe now for weekly episodes. With over seven billion people in the world. We all have one thing in common every day. We all get dressed, welcome to dressed the history of fashion. A podcast will be export who, what? When of why we were, we are fashion historians and your host abra Callahan and Cassidy's actually April out. Curious to know how many of our listeners like myself and I'm sure you every year with bated breath for New York's Metropolitan museum of art to announce their summer fashion exhibition paired with the highly anticipated met gala, which marks exhibitions, debut. It is guaranteed to be a blockbuster hit. And these years exhibition is no exception, and cast says is because if you have not are already seen the show, you still have time to see heavenly bodies fashion, and the Catholic imagination which has on view until October eighth and casting. And I have both had the pleasure of seeing it together and it is stunning. Absolutely. Studying and it's curated by Andrew Bolton, and the exhibition explores the myriad of ways that Catholicism's specifically has influenced fashion over the years and be at a quite literal interpretation or one of the more symbolic variety. This exhibition makes very clear that this is an influence that has had a far-reaching affect on fashion designers for decades. Yeah, and many ways in which fashion has engaged with the Catholic faith is evident and more than a hundred and fifty on samba lls dating from the early twentieth century to today and an incredibly rare collaboration. The Vatican itself loaned forty ecclesiastical pieces from this team chapel sack street dating from the eighteenth to the early twenty first centuries, these pieces which reigned from jewelry to papal vestments are feats of technical mastery and artistry, and the embroidery on some of these garments is mind blowing. I at least half an hour. Our with like my face practically pressed up to the glass looking at seventy. Absolutely beautiful. And another collaboration in the exhibition is between the seat a the costume institute and the department of medieval art, and the cloisters and April is especially love these interdepartmental exhibitions. The museum did something similar in two thousand fifteen with China through the looking glass in which they similarly interspersed fashionable garments and accessories throughout departments of the museum, not usually specific fashion. Yeah, agreed. And by exhibiting fashion pieces within the Byzantine and medieval art galleries at the met museum, and also uptown in the cloisters. Heavenly bodies is presenting this powerful conversation between medieval religious art and the fashions that ultimately inspired. I mean, there's a John Galliano for your address in the cloisters which is mounted horizontally nestled between two twelfth century Cirkovic I, it's incredible. And what. About that stand alone, nineteen sixty seven, Balenciaga wedding dress. It's a show stopper it's in prayer at the Flint Dwayne a- apps at the coasters the twelfth century apps which is essentially a recess topped with the dome. Ceiling was built in Spain, but transported to the coasters in the nineteen forties. And if our listeners have never made a trip up to the cloisters, this is an absolute must April and I went together at is so enchanting. Yes. So just a little bit more about the cloisters. It's a museum in northern Manhattan which is dedicated specifically to the art architecture and gardens of medieval Europe. And the museum itself was built to resemble the medal collection that it houses. But in many instances, it is even comprised of the actual medieval era architecture that like cast mentioned. The Spanish apps was originally from Europe, but then it was disassembled a relocated and reassembled in New York City comprising the cloisters. It's part of the Metropolitan Museum of art. Actually. I don't know if everybody knows that and right now. Additionally, it is full of fashion and this is really a once in a lifetime exhibition. It really is an while. The exhibition is certainly testament to the beauty of the relationship between fashion and Catholicism. It is also reflection of the talents of one amazing group of individuals in particular, who are tasked with bringing this exhibition to life. And I am specifically referring to the team responsible for ensuring the proper care preservation and display of the garments. We all love an admire the fashion conservation team, in fact, led by Sarah Sotero and we have the distinct pleasure of having her here with us today in part one of a two part episode. That's right. The second bonus episode will air in just two days of stay tuned. Sarah. Welcome to dress. Yes. Sarah welcome. Thank you. I'm so pleased to have the opportunity to share. Bit about fashion conservation with you today? I, I am hoping you can tell us a little bit more about your background. What was the path that led you to fashion conservation? Because it was in no way a senior pursuit. Considering you're also curator published, author teacher. Sure. I think my my path to becoming a fashion conservator is very much a combination of a lot of luck and hard work in a bit of hustle. I didn't even really know what art conservation was until I was in my late twenties actually, at the time I was living in New York working at an educational nonprofit, and I was taking continuing Ed classes in pattern making in tailoring at the fashion institute of technology. And it was there that I came across the graduate program in fashion and textile studies, which is, of course the same program that you in April went to. And yeah, the program required applicants to have art history, chemistry and a foreign language as prerequisites. And luckily I had all three since I've always been interested in all of those areas. And in fact, the program ended up being exactly what I had been looking for even at the time I had no idea what I was looking for in a way. Hey, I feel as if the program found me rather than the other way around, I know I feel the exact same way about that program. It's really amazing. It was really it just changed my life. So once I finished the program in two thousand six, you know, I began hustling quite a bit to be honest. I knew that finding a fulltime permanent job in this field might not happen right away. You know, I, I had confidence, it would happen, but I knew I would have to work to get there and I was, and I still am interested in all aspects of our field including archiving curing writing and teaching. And so I took this opportunity to do a little bit of each and experiment, and while I enjoyed all of these areas could actually see myself going into them as alternate professions conservation seem to stick the most with me. And it's it's really because I love the philosophical and affable Kwan. Juries conservation gives rise to. I love that it relies on hardcore science art history, and particularly in love with the access to objects that the profession enables. So once I decided conservation was it for me, I ended up working as a contractor at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian design museum in the textile up of Lucy commoner. She's now retired, but she is one of the most well respected conservative that I know of. And she advocated for preventive conservation, which is a type of conservation that aims to prevent damage artwork through proper storage techniques. And she actually ended up developing a lot of the textile storage techniques that museums today use, including here at the met. Those really lucky that I had the opportunity to apprentice under her relate, learn these core skills. So I work there for six years. And then the position as the head conservator of the cost of institute opened up and you know, I, I didn't apply as the was looking for someone with almost twice the experience I had. And frankly, I was scared. I mean, who is, I think I could ever be in this position, you know. But I, I had two friends there or here now since I am a Shannon, bell price. She's now a high level administrator at Parsons and Amanda Garfinkel who's now a curator here at the end. So they both encouraged me to apply and they helped bring my application to the attention of Harold Koda who was then the curator in charge. And so once I did apply the the museum brought me in immediately actually end they brought me in four times. To meet people in including our current curator in charge Andrew bulletin. And I even had an interview with the director's office and then, yeah, they finally offered me the position which was a really good thing because by that time might totally run out of interview outfits. And I was just like, okay. My, they're going to get this. And you had a lot of very excited FIT alarm when we found out you got this job. It was funny because herald at the time kept mentioning that he liked how supple my mind was. Wits might found a funny, but he was talking about how I do have a foot and Botha curatorial in conservation roms and that, you know, I, I feel like I can translate between them and I hope that that makes me a better collaborator when I'm working with Mike curatorial colleagues because I do think it makes me more sympathetic to what they're trying to accomplish. And that's such a cool aspect of that. If I t- program that we all spouse on trust is that there's two tracks the curatorial and the conservation. But before you kind of go off in those two areas, you get explore both. And like you said, it makes you such a more well rounded, historian, creator, conservative, or whatever you choose to do. So I totally agree. I think it makes you really. Sidik and a much better holistic professional in the field. It was a great program for me. Absolutely. And so for many years, the role of the fashion conservative and the filter fashion conservation fell under the umbrella of quote, unquote textile conservation. So you've personally worked very hard to make your field stand out as its own distinctive entity. Can you please tell us the differences between fashion, conservative and textile conservative, and why are these distinctions important to make sure it? I've been thinking about this for a while, especially since my approach for Cooper Hewitt's textile collection was very different than the approach I'm expected to take here for the fashion collection. I actually explored this topic in a paper that I wrote for one of my PHD classes. And then I presented version of the paper last year at the international council of museums, triennial conservation conference in Denmark. Where it provoked a lot of comment, some positive and some negative from my conservation colleagues. And you know, I see three main differences between fashion and textile conservation first. And most obviously, a the materiality of fashion includes a lot more than just textiles, for example, you know, I can be faced with anything from explosive plastics silos, nitrate to decaying animal parts and inner Ganic materials like ceramics and metals, which is very different from just flat textiles. A second reason is that unlike textiles which have a widely varying scale from small fragments to huge tapestries fashion always relates in some way to the human body and so often must be shown in the third dimension rather than flat in order to be rendered as it was intended. And lastly, and this was the most contested aspect. I am encouraging conservatives to assess how. They might manifest the values of fashion, which arguably rests on issues like temporarily identity, ephemeral, ity, and aesthetics. How do they manifest that within their conservation treatments are mounting practice? So this last point essentially privileges the context in which the fashionable object was created in used and seeks to recognize the inherent values at the holes. And to be honest, can be quite discomfiting because when to start reflecting on what that means, you know, trying to conserve fashion, which is the federal which is temple. It's a total paradox. Right. And so how do you as a conservative reconciled at or Canio? And you know, I'm not cleaning to know the answers. I'm not claiming to have invented the field fashion conservation, but I do think I am one of the first to articulate. A distinct approach to the conservation of fashion that identifies it as a kind of object that is fundamentally different from textiles and that has its own set of values. And you know, I am asking conservatives to look towards these inherent values in order to inform their actions you're on. It's interesting too, because the field of fashion studies in general, curatorial conservation people have fought for years to validate these as respected field of scholarly pursuit. So you know, you're really doing groundbreaking research and making really valid points. And so it kind of it's kind of expected that people would push back a little bit before it becomes common knowledge and an accepted way of doing things. And so as you're talking about now, the methodologies used in conservation, our ever evolving thanks to people like yourself and they're constantly being redefined. So what are the biggest ways that theories and methodologies and fashion conservation. Have changed over the years. You can still find images on the Mets website. For instance of men and women modeling historic pieces of clothing. Really entertaining, but it always makes you kind of cringe to no eighteen ninety worth gown or. It is. It is pretty cringe-worthy. It's also important information whenever I do see that I actually take a note and we try and put that into our database so that we have that information at hand. But to go to your question, you know, the the change in series and methodologies within fashion conservation mirrors that change within the conservation profession at large for which is a quite young profession. So for example, in the early to mid twentieth century, most conservatives or they were often called restores, then they entered the field through their own craft based or to stick practice. And they often do not have formal training, but by mid century, you start seeing the influence of the scientific paradigms begin to increase the importance. And so by the nineteen eighties, you know, almost all conservatives entering the field had to have some sort of formal university decay. Shen that included chemistry. You. Could argue that that shift to some degree has downplayed the role of artistry and craft within conservation. It's always a constant push pull between these these areas. I haven't last quarter of the twentieth century. There was an increased level of professionalization within conservation that really has caught a fide specific set of practices that are grounded in Essex science. But you know the profession, it continues to evolve, which I love it makes it really exciting, and there's always some new discussion happening, but now for fashion conservation, you know, it did not necessarily develop in a consistent or linear manner, especially because fashion is very contested as to. It is art or something else. In fact, I recall Harold Koda he talks about how he when he first started at the CI as conservation intern. He worked under woman named Elizabeth Lawrence, who at the time had the title master restorer, and she worked close with Stella Blom and remained during the seventies into the eighties. And in fact she could be considered the first official conservative, this guy, but but what herald was recalling is that you know, he was essentially roped into doing conservation work, even though he did not have any professional training. And in fact, most of the conservation back then was done by non professionally trained volunteers, and so that is something that would never happen today. I do take some pay programming but really rely on a certain set of educational SCO fats. But as you had mentioned, in your question, you know, one of the biggest changes that occurred within the last few decades was this prohibition of wearing costume artifacts that are held in collections. And this prohibition specifically came about in nineteen eighty six as a result of a resolution passed by the costume society of America, and also by a set of guidelines established by calms costume committee. So at that time, there was this United and international effort to stop these occurrences from happening because it was back Nuys that it was very damaging practice, and so I would face since then, you know, it's definitely been taboo to even consider placing historic garment on a living person. And I do see this change this kind of international effort as a key moment in which the field of. Fashion conservation begins to solidify as its own distinct field with its own set of acceptable and unacceptable practices won't fast forward to today two thousand eighteen, and we're going to be using the museum's current exhibition, heavenly bodies to gain more insight into the field of fashion conservation and the multitude of factors that go into the mounting of an exhibition as with any exhibition, the curator. In this case, Andrew Bolton, he comes up with an exhibition topic years in advance, and then he goes about selecting the pieces he would like to use. And what I always find incredibly fascinating is that these pieces can come from the Mets collection, but they can also come from all over the world from us EM's fashion houses, private collections. So once objects are selected and the approvals are in the works or processed, it's up to your team to begin the process of what you refer to as the Riemann terrorizing of an object. And I like to think of this, imagine you and your. Team, bringing these two life. It's such a wonderful image to have. Yeah. 'cause they're not stored exhibition ready. I mean, with the exception of Charles James gowns that I've seen stored, but they're flat or stored in various ways so and they're not always in a condition that can be displayed. So I'm hoping you can please speak to your team's vital role and the reading of these pieces for display and why it is incredibly integral to this success of any exhibition. Certainly. Well, I, our turnaround time for exhibitions is not. Here's like other typical museum exhibits. In fact, we have much more like months and so we embarking on huge projects the time line much more akin to fashions fast cycle. It's it's really it's incredibly fast paced. So we, we never have enough time as we would like eat. Aid to holistically approach the treatment for objects in our collection. However, with that said, you can break down our process of what I call a materialization into two main areas which are treatments in mannequin dressing. So I for treatments. Our main goal is to ensure that the objects selected for exhibition are in good and stable condition and can be safely displayed on mannequins in a manner that honors the designer's original intentions sounds easier than it really is. So our very first step is to analyze an object through performing condition report that documents, all of the objects damages imperfections. We do this so that we can understand what is happening with the object, be can anticipate what might happen to it if it is placed onto a mannequin and put on display for several months. So this is where our scientific knowledge of how materials age and perform under forces like gravity as well as our technical understanding of fabric and garment construction come into play. So if we think that a garment cannot be displayed safely beautifully, then we will execute a treatment to repair any aesthetic damage or stabilize weak areas. We often must break this work into two campaigns are kind of two cycles since we often have to prepare the objects quickly for photography for the exit. Shen catalogue, which usually Kerr's Wayne advanced, the actual exhibition installation. So I, we carry out absolutely essential repairs to ensure that an object can be mounted safely onto a mannequin for tog Raphy. At this time we might, you know, address some distracting shoes like wrinkles, but really focusing on the object stability, making it safe, not everybody realizes, I mean, I know you do that when you put an object on a mannequin, you're putting it at risk, and that is actually a moment where a lot of damage can occur to the object if you're not very careful. So after the photography occurs, we will then sometimes return to the objects and fix remaining damages ascetic flaws or add some sort of stabilization mechanism to ensure object safety. While on display for a period of several months, we always try to find a solution so that our curator is able to display the object. They have selected for the narrative. And I think that it's really. Only a small number of cases to feel were completely unable to address an object with satisfactory aesthetic and ethical results. So the second part, you know, that's the first part treatments. The second part is we materializing the objects through your mannequin Jesse and I have to say, I am so fortunate that I work with some of the best mannequin dressers in the world. They see is primary dresser is Joyce Fung. She has been leading the dressing of all of our exhibitions since our twenty eleven savage beauty exhibition. She excels at not only quickly mounting objects, but also making sure they look, absolutely exquisite. I mean, she hasn't credible. I in sensitivity, it's just a joy to see our at work. So for the CIA you know is not just about making sure the object is mounted safely. It's also making sure it looks fashionable and beautiful is a goal that combines both curatorial conservation concern. Than so Joyce kind of fits this intersection between these two areas. Joyce achieves this indicator achieve this kind of lifelike fashion, ability in different ways. You know, it can be done for styling with props or wigs, or mannequins gestures, or making sure the, you know, on sambas poofter used from right. Doesn't look deflated and. Or maybe might even redistribute a bit of the padding so that the Megan can shape appears closer to the fashionable ideal dry. Save that. So you know, voices are primary dresser. However, all the conservatives in the department do participate in dressing as do many of our on our collections and curatorial teams. As you know, it's a highly special skill set. We all took the Dubov as mannequin dressing class. Yeah, super fine. Really great. It provided a great foundation, but I do think that you know being here and being able to have Joyce's expertise in gentle suggestions to guide us in the dressing has really elevated our practice, so very, very happy to work with her. And I think this conversation is super exciting and so cool because I don't think a lot of people are going to realize that these are jobs that you can have guess are going to be inspiring. A lot of people, it's it's very cool and it's a very specialized field, but it's just it's just wonderful. And I also wanna give shout out to the met at met costume institute, Instagram where you can see Sarah and Sarah's team and all these behind the scene images, which is just as fascinating and it's so cool. Yeah, we're really thrilled to show people to share that with everybody. Hi, I'm Daniel and I'm more and we're here to tell you all about our brand new podcast. Danial Horry explained the universe in this podcast. Gonna talk about a lot of things, mostly my physics and the universe. All those big mysteries scientists. A lot of things left to figure out even pretty basic stuff. Like what is space? What is time? What is stuff made out of which movie gets time travel, right? That's an important question scientists are we alone in the universe? What is a black hole anyway, with inside a black hole that's about it's mostly me and hor horrific on stuff. We find fun and fascinating and hilarious. Look for Daniel, hey, leaned universe. We'll try to cover just about everything in the everything. Every dullish the whole shebang from cats to planets, two black holes and tiny parties. Having seen the show, I would like to say that your and your team's hard work relief shows. But in the case of conservation, the greatest compliment is to not have any of your work at all. Yeah. I was so lucky that you I was actually able to walk through the exhibition with you. And when we were taking a tour, you said to me, conservation is only successful if you do not notice the work. So can you speak to this goal of invisibility in your field? Yes, sure. Are alternate goal is to make sure our public experiences, they object as its maker intended it to be without seeing any evidence of conservation intervention. Although, of course, you know, the hand of the conservative might very well be there in always to a train die. Our interventions are completely recognizable. You know, we're not trying to fool anybody, but to, you know, to our public, the peace reads as authentic hole and only they upped vex essence comes through. Now, of course, that's easy to say not always easy to execute, but we do like, I think that conservation is an objective. Process, but you know, it's really not the conservation treatment depends on many things, including conservatives abilities, knowledge tastes as well as the curator's wishes. For me, there is some discomfort in our field with the idea of restoration which is when the conservative recreates damaged or missing part of an object. In this instance, we have a conservative acting as a defacto creator, but I feel that a well considered while documented and while executed restoration treatment should be option in some instances, especially if you can find a way to make it reversible or at least retrievable. But to be honest, it's still contested matter. I mean, what is more ethical bearing object in an archive because it has a devastating condition as you that renders it completely unacceptable, which therefore cuts off public access to it or carrying out a thoughtful and. Sensitive treatment so that the object is brought back to life and cabbie shirt with our public. You might say the ladder, the ladder. If this survey Shen results in an object with at least twenty five percent or say fifty percent or even seventy five percent new material. So you know, at what point is arrest ration- become unethical, and at what point does the object stop being? It's offense, self, whatever that means. I mean, that is a whole other loaded question, but these are, you know, questions were always asking ourselves and there's no one answer. We don't carry out restorations lightly. Instead we research historic techniques and materials. We perform arm a little tests. We investigate the art historical context in order to develop a plan. And then before we do anything, we share this plan with all of the state cold. There's a specially are curator's in order to get feedback into obtain consensus about a way forward. So it's, it's always pushing Paul, and it's always a really welfare out discussion. Initial in particular. There are over one hundred and fifty pieces and that does not include the forty on loan from the Vatican and I know that there are many factors as we've discussed to consider once garment has been selected to use an exhibition. And for instance, one of my favorite pieces in this exhibition was also one of the oldest fashion pieces that is on display and that was this nineteen thirty or is I should say this nineteen thirty nine dinner dress beige on the van. And so are there differences Sarah and how you and your team handle this almost eight year old garment versus a three hundred year old piece from the Vatican or Valentin? Oh, evening dress from last collection. Two thousand seventeen eighteen. It's impossible to say yes in it. It's impossible to say now. You know, every piece that comes in on loan receives what you might call the white glove treatment. Although, to be honest, most of us in the live, we were fashionable black, Nitra glimpse. We don't or white gloves by in short, we every incoming loan as we would an object from our own collection, though what that means is, you know, loaned objects are carefully unpacked. They're tagged documented inspected and stored in our state of the art facility until they're ready to go onto display. We take photographs of everything including how the object was packed and the condition which had arrived. And we monitor all of the environments in which the object might be placed some museums and design house to send representatives who are called careers. These couriers handle their own objects, including dressing them. So we normally don't handle them if they send a career, however, are conservation team provides support and assistance. As needed, and we insure that are working environment is as professional helpful in safe as it can be. So really, regardless of the age of garment, we look towards its condition, how it's made, what it's made from and it specific needs in order to understand how to handle it so much conservation. There's never a standard answer. It's always a customized approach for each object. We've talked about the remote terrorizing of these pieces earlier and mannequin dressing is incredibly integral to this process. These mannequins are all dressed by installation team. You talked about your fantastic leader earlier and it's done in an installation office before being transported and put on display. Can you speak to some of the challenges that were encountered with Jesse mannequins for this show in particular, because what immediately comes to mind is one of the first things you see as the rows of Saatchi indulging Gabbana dresses that are high high above your head. And then there's also these two incredible mannequins that are displayed horizontally in cases and that is I've actually honestly never seen anything like that before. Yeah, us either. Actually the mannequins that were laying down for installed by our conservative Glenn Peterson, who is, I think one of the best conservatives in the world for fashion as well as our team of installers are objects conservation department. And it first we, we honestly questioned if we would be able to install these mannequins lane down safely and beautifully. And it took a while, but through glens and the installers, creativity, and they're excellent hands goals and persistency. Now it all came together and I think they're two of my favorite pieces in the entire exhibition. I really love their display for the mannequins that are installed up high on the pedestals. They replaced there by technician, Michael Downer who has been with department for decades. He's truly a master mannequin Wrangler. He is installed many thous-. Of mannequins in his career here at the costume institute. So for those specific mannequins, the credit really has to go to him entertain. I've riggers and other technicians as well as other colleagues route the museum, like our project manager, Lauren, barely. What we did is we actually did a dry run where we tested installing a manic hint on a high pedestal in the space before the museum opened a few months before the exhibition, and we did this not only to find the perfect safe hospice seeking the objects up there, but also determine the height of the polls. One thing that conservation was concerned about is that we wanted the objects to be readable by our public. We wanted to be this really a hob, wonderful moment, but because the galleries are so tight and they weren't going to be retreating, we didn't want the pieces to be in touch distance. We didn't want our audience to be able to get too close. To them, which can be dangerous for both people and the art. So this Reimann was super critical. It ended up being very successful so that when it came time for the actual mannequin installation, it went very quickly. I mean, in a matter of minutes, it was so surprising. It was like this most beautifully. Choreographed ballet. One minute, there was no mannequin air and the next minute there was this incredible inviting display this incredible line of mannequins meet show. It was really, really special ain't now. In fact, you know, without this huge behind the scenes team which includes installers, mannequin dressers technicians, collection staff project managers, designers, registrars production, and building staff development administration. And of course, the conservatives. The whole, the whole exhibition process. It's simply fall apart. So it's it's a joy to be able to work with such a wonderful and talented team here at the museum. It's really, really cool. Like you said, all of these different jobs that I just don't think you go to amuse edition and you just, I think the average person just doesn't think about that or, you know, you're really enjoying experiencing the work that's displayed, but I think the display fashion more than any other field and just so much goes into getting that one garment out there totally and how that garment is dressed on a mannequin is incredibly important to the garments protection, but also to is the mannequin that it's dressed on an any material that comes into contact with that dress. For instance, those gorgeous wigs by shy Ashwell. There's so many different styles shapes colors, but you and he actually had to work quite closely together and how so? Yeah, he was so much fun to work with. Mike colleague, Melissa Huber who's a curator here at the CI. She helped initiate the discussion between shy in me about how best to protect the objects while still achieving the artistic result that he Adra Melissa wanted with a Wickes. So what that meant was that for every wig shy proposed, he had to pass the materials by me for prove all this included the kind of hair the type of cap that the hair was woven into an of course, all of the hair products. Now in a normal exhibition process, samples of each of these materials would go to our department of scientific research, many months in advance for rigorous testing to determine whether or not the materials will be harmful when place nearby on contact with an object. But you know, we simply didn't have enough time. In fact, to be idea for custom wigs was decided incredibly late in the process. So literally as shy was making. Away. He would send me a photograph of the products he was using. Then our research fellow marina Hayes would gather list of ingredients in the products. We would send this list to our scientists, Eric, by tongue in Katherine Stevens who would let us know if anything was a major issue. And then I would have to use this information and make a call whether or not shy could use these products me mile this process is going on while he's making the wake still. So it was a case by case decision based upon the kinds of materials that were in the whig, whether or not the object was displayed in a train because of its a train. You know, the off gassing will be held in an enclosed environment which could exacerbate any damage, or if the wig would actually touch the object or not. So the this process happened incredibly quickly with approvals or requests for changes being communicated back to him in only a few hours. So if a wig ended up touching garment and it did have a hair product on it. We didn't like the, we placed Mylar barriers underneath a hair so that nothing is actually touching the art work again, hidden element. You do not see, but so fascinating. Yeah. I mean, it's fascinating. I mean, this is definitely not an example of normal museum practice, but it is a real life scenario showing how standard conservation protocols do not always fit into the timeline of the kinds of shows we do here at the i. r. conservation team always has to find a way to enact best practice while still remaining realistic, flexible and responsive. And you know, open to this idea that we are all in it together to create this amazing blockbusters spectacular exhibition. But you know, with every one of these kinds of challenges, I do try to find tune ity. And so in this case, we now have the opportunity to develop a list of standard chemicals and products that are used in the styling of wigs and hairpieces, and we. You can have these chemicals tested by scientists so that we have this kind of information more by late at our disposal whenever we need it next year. So much to consider and display materials that come into direct contact with objects. They're not even the only potentially hazardous factors that Sarah in her team must consider when dressing and displaying garments. In fact, many of these dangers are invisible to the human eye, making them that much harder to detect. So light, for instance, can irreparably harm garment as can temperature moisture any member of environmental elements. Sarah, are there different factors to consider when putting garment on display in an exhibition versus eight putting it into storage long-term? Definitely. You know, our conservation team seeks to always ensure that most of the same conditions occur during display as we have in our storage. But of course, that's not always possible. For example, we like to protect our objects from dust. But in general, there is a desire in fashion exhibitions to see garments out in the open without between. You know, this approach creates immediacy in connection with the audience, and although, you know, it's it's not ideal from a preservation perspective because dust can be very damaging. It contains compounds that both physically chemically can harm fabrics, and it also makes them look pretty bad. You know, unsightly if they're getting really dusty, although that never happened stars because we take care of them. But you know, we also tend to have a curious public who liked to touch objects. So we try to make objects or at least arm's length out of reach, although that is not always possible. Do you think that people wanna touch garments? Because why do you think that is? Because to me, is it something about the fact that it's a familiar in a tactile piece that everyone can relate to that makes people wanna touch it. Definitely. I think people feel comfort with it. And I mean, clothing is incredibly tactile and soft and supple or hard and rigid. Why not? I mean, I totally get their desire to want to touch it. However, it's my job to try to avoid it that from happening. You know, I said, another major difference between storage and exhibition is of course, light exposure. We store are objects in the dark, but went on display. You, of course, need to have some sort of light on in order to see them. The problem is that light exposure is cumulative, and what that means is that all light, regardless of the level, even low light will do irreversible damage to the art. It's a complete myth that you can display object and then allow it to quote unquote rest in darkened storage. Frankly, I don't like that term. When people use it. It implies that the object can somehow like take nap and rejuvenate it some for being displayed again, and it's totally impossible. You know, light causes permanent irreversible damage. However, we do understand you need light to the object in. If an object is going to be brought out onto display your already. Riskiness for the mannequin dressing process, screw whatever treatments you might have done. You know, you're doing so much to it. Why not give it a little bit of light so that it really looks beautiful glorious. And I think we've been able to find Millie beautiful solutions that both incorporate conservation concerns of having low enough light levels with the really artistic element that we want to have. And you can see those in our heavenly bodies exhibition, especially up at the cloisters where we have the iconic one scene wedding dress by balancing alga basking in his beautiful light. That's emanating from an arched window in the apse of the fun to join at chapel and the light coming through the window is actually a projection, and it is too high to safely display the object. You know, it needed to be a really dramatic high light level to get this kind of arched window shape. The floor. But what we were able to do is we worked with as the exhibitions designers, Dillard's Kafia Renfro, and because it's a projection digitally rendered, we were able to mask out the silhouette of the garment once it was installed in displayed and replace that masks area with museum appropriate lighting, which is below. The nobody actually sees that we have appropriate light on the bond Siaka object, but superlight in kind of window shape on the floor now. And we also have this effect in the medieval galleries with the priests cardinal in pope phone call. You would never know one of my favorite pieces on view in the bit. Are these wooden wings by the late great outs McQueen we talked about the challenges of environmental elements, but what about the challenges posed by the garments themselves because would is especially susceptible to warping, but it can also get quite brittle over time. McQueen wings are absolutely fantastic of, but they are completely scary. They were remade for the savage beauty exhibition in twenty eleven at which time the customers to to choir them. Initially, we thought that the wings were made out of fresh balsa wood, which has a tendency to shrink and become embroiled quite rapidly as it ages. This would have been a major problem since the wings actually flatten out quite a lot when not mounted. So they remain in this flat shape and storage, and then have to be significantly pull old and bent into their beautiful arched shape through securing the buckles at the back of the mannequin. And we were really nervous before attempting to dress this because they had been in storage for several years, and we didn't know if they might crack or break because they had dried out too much. I had even contemplated during the wings in a micro climate. Meta relative humidity of about sixty percent, which would have discouraged education. Made the wooden more supple. But yet of course, mold wouldn't have started growing. And so that could have been once Aleutian. However, in this is something I truly love about the met, I was able to discuss the wings with an object's conservator Daniel, how store and he confirmed that they were actually made out of Birch aircraft plywood, which is a much more forgiving material. It's actually intended to be bent and placed under strain, which was a great relief for me. So with Daniels watchful, eye and Joyce's leadership, a team of us I gather together and we were able to successfully and safely dressed the wings. And I think you know, this example exemplifies not only unorthodox materials that fashion conservatives have to deal with. But the truly team approach that is acquired the kinds of exhibitions that we do. I love fashion absolutely. And even sit incredible job with all of these. Fashion pieces. But in my opinion, the star he says on display in this exhibition are the items on loan in the Vatican they're just exceptional in their beauty, and we don't in craftsmanship and we don't really get always get an opportunity to see pieces like this up close. We will hear more about your work with these spectacular pieces, including your trip to the epicenter of the Roman Catholic church and fate after a brief sponsor break. Hello. I'm Becky Graham and I'm Susan Vala whiter the history chicks podcast. What did you ever learn about history when you growing up wars dates, famous men of science and literature. What's missing? Curiously fifty percent of the population. And we didn't think that was acceptable Oprah at the history jokes podcast. We tell you the stories of famous women from history, and we make them come to life, relate them to the modern day, give you a complete picture of the world and and sedately some facts for the next dinner party or water cooler session. Try this one without Lucille ball. We wouldn't have Star Trek. See how that goes. The history chicks two women have the population several thousand years of history. So the Balenciaga gown at the cloisters one particular challenge that you guys genius -ly solved that was posed by this exhibition specifically, but there are also numerous pieces of clothing on display outside of the cloisters. For instance, also there's those Valentino caves in the sky light. Was a challenge for sure. You know, it wasn't ideal, but I think we did a very good job of making it work as best. We could to the the two main challenges to exhibiting fashion in this location stem, actually from elements that makes the coasters the incredibly special place it is. So the first challenge is the lights that pours in from all of the windows and skylights and the second Fallon JR is the proximity of the outdoors to the galleries which affects the environment. And also, of course, some of the galleries are actually outside. So I, you know, we have some absolutely exquisite pieces by Valentino in a gallery called the Saint Guillaume cloister I'm sure you've seen photos of these two mannequins dramatically dressed in floor link black robes and placed up high on pedestals. While, unfortunately, you know, the gallery has only skylights as the ceiling, which let in a ton of. Natural light. So in order to display the pieces there, we got permission from Pierpaolo Palo Piola. He's the creative director Valentino, and we are so fortunate that Andrew Bolton are curator. Hard has such a great relationship with designers like Pierpaolo, and we were lucky that he was able to discuss the display with him and hear Palo was able to see, you know, the aesthetic potential that the sort of display held. But to be Frank, it's still not a conservation appropriate space for displaying fashion. There is some UB filtration, so there is some protection of damage at Palmach level. However, the visible light will cause the black color of the garments to fade. Like I mentioned before, we always try to find -tunities in less than ideal display situations. So for this gallery particular, the conservatives including my colleague Christopher Matza, we're carrying out real time research including monitoring the actual lighting levels were performing real time fading experiments, using blue world standards strips and were also measuring in analyzing the quantifiable change in color on the garments themselves that occurs over the course of the exhibition through these of spectrophotometer. And so we hope to gather data that demonstrates both qualitatively and quantitatively the fact that light does damage fashion. The. Choicers is so special that we were able to enact some unusual solutions to like coming in from the windows of my favorite one is in one gallery, the glass gallery we were able to work with as the cloisters senior curator Barbara beim and they're managing horticulturist caliber Liege. He planted fast growing hops in the garden, which were trellis over the portico to create more shade into actually blackout light coming into the gallery, Mike, absolutely. So it was awesome. It's really cool. Alas conservation issue is of course the objects that are shown in the between the outdoor area is of the cloisters. This is not usually done as the dramatic swings in temperature humidity that can have a damaging effect on textiles. So we worked with our scientists and an outside consultant who specializes in museum environments to come up with a solution. And I'm pleased to say we did come up with a pretty good one. We were able to create micro climates inside the cases using silica gel condition to forty percent, humidity silica gel. Are those little packets that you'll find in, you know your shoe box when he buy new shoes that actually helps modulate rapid shifts in humidity that occurs with fluctuations in the outside temperature for staying yet. So we were able to the Hugh. Humidity pretty well, but we knew we would have a harder time controlling the changes in temperature, especially since the exhibition is open during three seasons spring summer and fall. You know, in an eye Dobro be want to keep the temperature around seventy degrees, but that would have been impossible. And so again, we obtained permission from the lenders to show their objects under these circumstances and similar to the monitoring we are doing in his game cloister with Valentino gowns. We are collecting real time data to better understand what is actually going on inside the trains that are placed outside in the Coosa coaster. We actually have loggers placed on mannequins themselves underneath the clothing and we can access them with our phones using bluetooth. Wow. Yeah, it's pretty great. I, I'm pleased to say that the silica gel is working really well and keeping the humidity at a safe and stable level. Very fascinating and just not something you consider when you see these garments. Now, in person. So my absolute favorite pieces on loan from the Vatican where these nineteenth century Dahl Matic's given to pope highest the night and they are so beautiful there entirely covered in the most delicate Hanan birdie I've ever seen and then you read the Didactics and it turns out at took fifteen women over sixteen years to complete. I've never seen anything like these and their displayed in a way which you can really get up close to the object and observe the hand craftsmanship. But this is not the only craftsmanship we are seeing or not seeing the work, your team put into mounting. These stork pieces is incredible. Can you talk about the analysis conservation and mounting process for these very special pieces starting with the fact that you yourself went to the Vatican and into the archives Shoko? Yeah. It was. I mean, a chance of a lifetime. Tell me I had to pinch myself. I was extremely fortunate to be able to travel to the Vatican severe the objects that we were going to borrow a. I wince at the same time as Katharina job. She's the photographer for the catalogue. If you haven't seen a catalog, I really encourage you to look at it. She actually was scanning the garments holding up a scanner. And just as an aside, I do analysis with our scientific research department to determine the scanner was emitting safe levels of light. But it was an amazing experience being locked into the sacristy of this Osteen chapel. You literally have to go into the Sistine Chapel in the new take door off of it and very are with his incredible collection of objects that are still in use by church. So this is different from museum. This is the sacristy collection. Unfortunately, my time there was very brief and so I had to be very focused on what I was trying to achieve. And so my goal was to I view every object quickly assesses condition and whether or not it had to be treated before it would come to was I measured each object to make sure that we could potentially like pre build amount before it arrived. You know, when it arrived at the museum, we only had in a very short time to mount them in. So I knew that we could kind. Of pre load a lot of the work if I could get the right measurements. So I've you'd everything conditioned it briefly measured it. And then I also answered any questions that are curator's might have had regarding specific technique or material I was in and out very quickly. I wish I could have stayed but had work to do. And so after I returned to the lab, then our team created a plan for mounting, the objects that could be executed quickly safely and kind of in a modular way so that the objects really appear as if they're just floating on this poll and the mounts are completely integrated into the objects. They hopefully are invisible. And you know, I'm not going to give away all of our secrets. It is safe and it is beautiful, and it was a pretty simple system that we actually ended up using in. So there are those dome Matic's or some beautiful copes. They're also this room that is full of TR's on display. One of which in particular was a gift from Queen Isabel. The second of Spain to pass the ninth in eighteen fifty four and it was giving us a sign of respect and devotion. It's composed of Amir, nineteen, thousand precious citizens. The majority of which diamonds. And when I I thought I remarked that it was impressive that the Lapid paint on the back where stiff enough to hold themselves out to which you pointed out that actually they were not holding themselves out. There is a mount constructed, so meticulously the color matches lining. So precisely that it is indistinguishable? Yes, yes. Again, our work is only done well, if you don't notice what it is that we're doing right. Edible. Yeah, the laugh. It's are really heavily jewelled and embroidery. And we were worried about them dangling without support over the course of the exhibition because we didn't want them to tear at the connection points because of the cumulative effects of gravity. So for the Kiara and mitre mount specifically, we purchased fabric that matched the lining of the lap. It's so that we could disguise the mounts and then we worked with our colleagues are objects conservation department at remember, these are the same colleagues who helped us install the mannequins flat. They specialize in mounting, three d objects of all kinds on. They were responsible for mounting pretty much every object in that entire gallery, including all of the mazing rings jewelry, pectoral costs everything in. So in working with them, we were able to devise this mount that we felt safely stabilized on support. The lap IDs womb feely disappearing. And so why you see, hopefully when you go in is just the object, not our work up Lutely on it's stunning. It is an incredibly beautiful exemptions. Congratulations to you. All. Thank you. Yes, congrats Sarah to you and your team. The show is really incredible. And so is Sara April. She is such Iraq's are field. Do you know that she actually currently getting her PHD at Bard as well, studying theory and practice of fashion and design conservation. She also curated an exhibition of last year called the secret life of textiles and that materials, and she is quite literally brought a face to her profession in the way that just did not exist before and might just say that she herself is incredibly silage. Is that weird that I wanna be her when I. I think you already are just a different way. Yeah. And she's she's really wonderful also because she gives so much credit to each and every individual on her team and other people within the department. And you can see some of the work that Sarah and her team do in quite a few videos. We will provide links on our website which is dressed podcast dot com where you can also find links to some of her written work as promised earlier and do not forget our conversation with Sarah, continues on Thursday, a special bonus mini sewed where we discuss the work that was happening when I got a special opportunity to pop into the Mets conservation lap. Sarah has really provide us all with an eye opening behind the scenes treat. And I hope just listeners, this will give you a new insight and appreciation for the team of skill professionals behind each and every exhibition visit, but also something new to consider. Next time you get dressed catch you on Thursday. We'll post images of Sarah enter team at work on our Instagram, which is at dressed, underscore podcasts. This is also our Twitter handle. You can find us on Facebook at dressed podcast without the underscore and we love hearing from you all. So please write to us at stressed at how stuff works out com. Don't forget about our merch store which you can find at t public dot com for its stress. That's t public dot com or flash stress. Check out the new designs. We just added and as always thank you to our producers fry Casey PICO and everyone else at how stuff works. That makes the show possible each week. Hello. I'm Becky Graham and I'm Susan Vala wider of the history chicks podcast. What did you ever learn about history when you were growing up wars dates, famous men of science and literature. What's missing? Curiously fifty percent of the population, and we didn't think that was acceptable over at the history. Jake's podcast, we tell you the stories of famous women from history, and we make them come to life, relate them to the modern day, give you a complete picture of the world and and suddenly some facts for the next dinner party or water cooler session. Try this one without Lucille ball. We wouldn't have Star Trek. See how that goes. The history chicks two women, half the population, several thousand years of history.
Dressed: The History of Fashion
Aired Last month 64:11
Fern Mallis Discusses the Fashion Industry (Podcast)
The. This is masters in business with Barry ritholtz on Bloomberg radio. This week on the podcast. I have an extra special guest. Her name is fern malice. And if you are at all interested in fashion, clothing, retail or any of the things related to that you'll find this conversation, especially interesting, I wish I would have had more time. I wanted to ask her about some of the changes in the industry cetera et cetera. But I think you'll find this to be really an interesting and fascinating conversation. So with no further ado, my interview with fern mouse. My special guest today is furnished now this she is the president of fashion and design consultancy firm LLC previously. She was the executive director of the council of fashion designers of America where she has been awarded the lifetime achievement award as well as other such awards from Pratt institute, and the fashion institute of technology better known as FIT she is the creator of fashion week in New York fern malice. Welcome to Bloomberg. Thank you, very happy to be here. So let's talk a little bit about your background in fashion. I is this an air. You were always interested in and how did you break into the field? E S. I guess you could say I was always interested in it. I grew up in Brooklyn. My dad worked in the garment center and his brother's work there as well. My dad was an accessory, scarves, primarily and the uncles were in textiles and in sportswear business. I grew up in going going with him to work every time I could every day off from school to the garment district when it was a bustling hustling place all those carts on the street and all those people who knew each other. And I learned and I watched and I loved it on I love clothing. So what was your first job? We will working not for a family member. Well, I never worked for family member. Luckily, I just grew up surrounded by them and learn about the industry apprentice simulating, but my early jobs in high school, my summer jobs were simplicity patterns, which was a big deal. So at that time when people used to make their clothes and a department store you ever remember the name or backs? Oh, sure. Thirty four th street. I worked in our backs one summer. I remember one read with a root for New Jersey. Eventually they they did expand. And they you know, shut down like everybody else. But those when my first jobs in squad is in school. Then my first real job was at Mademoiselle magazine Conde nast. So would you do for Manama's Zell? Well, I actually that's how my career really start. I wanna contest I was a assed guest editor, which was a very big deal. When I was growing up. They picked twenty students from around the country to guest edit their college issue come to New York from today. It would be a reality TV show with twenty girls out to kill each other in some apartment to get the job or the boyfriend, and it was an extraordinary experience. Sylvia. Plath was a guest editor alley. Gras Betsy Johnson all before me. And and before they were famous wail before they when they weren't college. Getting the getting the junior senior year of college, and I was at the university of buffalo came back and did my my guest editorship. And then I was the only one of my twenty in that group that was asked to stay on at the magazine a fulltime job. So what did you do with the I'm going forward forward? I was in the college competitions area, and then merchandising and marketing, but then the college comp area, it was very interesting because we're talking nineteen seventy seventy one I graduated in sixty nine I'm being revealing my age do the math. But it was when the world was coming apart. It was Vietnam war was craziness. And so going to college campuses to talk about a fashion magazine and Mademoiselle was more than a fashion magazine. It was really the thinking woman's magazine in its time was one of the best. Books in the cunningness stable. So you started post fringe, but pre polyesters that affair. Yeah. You could say that. And and it was great experience. And then when I moved into the merchandizing area, I in my twenties was traveling to every single country state in the country going to department stores when they all had regional names and densities for they were all bought by Macy's and doing store events, bringing the magazine to life. It was a great experience. So how did you go from working for a magazine to setting up your own consultancy? What was in between that several things in between that including working for jimbo's east as fashion director uptown store when that was there. I worked on seventy ever knew for short time. A hated that side of the business. Why what was what was the problem? I like it was the nitty-gritty not the actual selling. I like being the one people wanted to come to. I it just wasn't the right fit for. Me. But eventually I opened up a PR firm. And I basically did that because I thought I had nine four one one on my forehead everybody would call me for where do I get this? How do I get that? Can you connect me with this? I was like what am I central booking information here? And I realized I could get paid for that information. So I opened up a PR firm in my friends offices who are architects and interior designers, and at the time to place it contextual. They would designing studio fifty four. So that was fun heady time to be around them and I to late seventies now. Yes. And we I had a PR firm. And I started representing the first one was a fashion. Client was share very store that was very famous on the west side, summariser and few other fashioned friends, and then shifted to architecture interior design and representing all the major furniture companies and textile. Companies. I love that world. I love the whole design world how it all connects lifestyle. And then ran left that to join one of my clients, which was the IDC NY international design center, New York, and Long Island city was right over the bridge. It was extraordinary project building a million square feet of showrooms for the interior furnishings industry, and we help build it. And I was very much involved in that working with I pay in partners and quasi Siegel. And I am and the neely's did the graphics. It was wonderful time in my life. I dec- opened the building in New York. Now, didn't they know they might think? The decorator, and there are several designed buildings in New York DC now relate IDC was competition tall buildings out city. People were very nervous that everybody was going to go over the bridge, though. Orca it didn't work out, you know, going over the bridge in New York, if you're Sean if you're not going to airport or going home, you don't cross the water. I mean in Chicago, Paris everywhere else. You cross water all day long. Thanks thinks Chicago, but New York didn't work, and we had they were closing lanes of the bridge. All the time all they really screwed. It up time. It was a multi-million dollar complex. And it still is one of the most extraordinary set of buildings old factories that were retrofitted to design showrooms the best architects in the world design them all now that whole areas hot as a pistol preempt Kinney. I wish when I was there that I bought property Long Island city on. They were building huge. I that's right. You know, we thought okay whence arrested this to happen. But took a long long time, by the way, you mentioned department stores that are no longer with us. Let's test your memory were standing in a building sitting in a building Alexander's alexan-. That's exactly right. By the way. Alex zander's is the story was thinking of on route for that had the giant was it? A Calder was a giant piece of artwork outside of the building on route four I want to say just past Hackensack. But I was a kid. I don't go root for national bridge and tunnels, you never leave Manhattan unless you go into that. And that's not to or an airport. So let's talk about before fashion week. What was the state of the fashion industry before this event existed, well before fashion week was formally created and organize centralized and modernized which is what I like to say. We did they were. Fashion shows. I mean the industry had its biannual timetable to get its collections out in front of buyers. But it was a very very exclusive insider event if you weren't in the industry, you didn't know about it. If you went by building on seventh avenue, you might think what's going on. If is a line outside getting in or something if they were fifty shows, they weren't fifty different locations, and nobody talked to each other. It was uptown downtown midtown. You know, if somebody had a show in the Pierre hotel in the morning, they'd have to take everything down in the afternoon because somebody had mitzvah there that night. And then somebody wanted to rent it again the next day you'd put it all back in there. It was a bit chaotic sounds complicated and expensive, and it was complicated expensive. And it was it was at a time. When the American designers weren't really well known and reaching out to Europe the biggest European expansion. Was Calvin Klein may be doing fragrance. And I'm glad you brought that up because I'm now, my perspective on this is colored by pop culture and movies, like the devil wears Prada. But you get the sense that both Paris and Milan were much more structured and organized, or is that just culture, Paris and Milan where the that. That's where it was that will that's what it was about London. A little bit New York was somewhat of an afterthought, right? New York was treated as their last on the calendar. They're waiting to see what we do in Europe. And they're going to copy us, and it was it was crazy. So I had just been hired. This is back in ninety one. I was selected as the executive director the CFDA after they did a very long search after I left the design universe of IDC, and y and all of that. And there was this little organization the CFDA which had done a big aids benefit. Seven th on six of on sale. And that's when I got involved with them, and I was hired as their executive director. It was March of ninety one. And I believe that member exactly I was hired at the end of March. I didn't start till mid April. There was a market weak fashion week in between Michael Kors had a show in an empty loft space, and Chelsea and when you turn the base music on in a space for a fashion show. It's very loud. And if things aren't nailed down, they tend to tremble, well, the ceiling trembled and plaster started falling off from the ceiling and the ceiling literally was falling down on the runway Hebrew through FDA while there you go. He wrote the roof down and plaster was on the shoulders of Niamey, and Cindy, and Linda and all the one named supermodels of the day. But when the but they kept walking. But when it landed in the laps of Suzy Menkes from the International Herald Tribune, Carrie Donovan, the fashion critic. At the New York Times, they wrote the next day we live for fashion. We don't wanna die for it. And I looked at all that. And I said, I think my job description just changed and it be my job, then started immediately. When I got there to figure out a way to save sound places for the American designers to their runway shows. So the concept was let's get all this together in one place one location one week make it safe make it accessible make it more reasonable and more efficient amortize the costs for everybody. And so how did you end up finding away to Bryant park, which if we're talking ninety one Bryant park was we'll see. But it was on. It was in the last throes of its renovation at the restaurant. Wasn't there? Right for people who are not familiar with this. Bryant park is basically the full city block behind the new York Public Library in the sixty seventies eighties. It was very much a haven for drugs arms, right? Needle park and mice to visit my dad's office on Madison Avenue say if you come in by train, don't go up forty street. And now my office forty which is pretty it's one of the most beautiful urban renovation Jim ever an a jewel of the city. It is it is very very special place and the lawn. There was it was like the backyard to the garment center because it was a block away from seventh avenue. Broadway were all the showrooms were was walking distances everything there was lots of public transportation and subways block away from Times Square, two blocks from Grand Central. I mean, you don't get fatter location. Bryant park. It's pretty much smack dab in the center of the city, you can get to it from anywhere easily. Yeah. And so we we began my job became find a place. So I was riding around New York. I'd look at every empty pier. Every big parking lot. Could we put tents up here? How big could we do this Sant Herman who was the president of the DA's office is actually on the corner of fortieth n and six overlooking Bryant park, and he was on the board of the community board there and work closely with Dan Biedermann, who I know you've interviewed right? He he held the bid dark improvement. We wound up eventually making a deal with with Dan and with Bryant park. It was literally the backyard to the to the industry people loved it there, and I used to again for people who may not have actually seen this, and you could find time lapse photography impressive. The park goes from this big open space. It's I don't know. Let's call it half a city block, and that's the lawn and suddenly a giant Seta tents, go up and a little city. Now what they do is in the winter. There's a ice skating rink and a a lodge. That's temporary shop, right herb. Well, they disappeared January fifteenth. So they're gonna ready, but you still have urban space there, and you still have the ice skating rink. But if you watched fashion week show up it was an amazing bit of logistics to build it. And then you could go see the video, and you don't really you. It's hard to imagine that this temporary space when you see images from the fashion show. It always looks amazing. So how what was it like setting up that first one? It was pretty extrordinary. I mean, we had started I at the Macklowe hotel, which was the then became the millennial hotel just to see if we can get more than three designers to do something together because their egos is such that nobody wants to do anything in the same space, but they realize genuine problem which was the problem at the beginning. I is there jockeying for oh. Oh, absolutely. It's it's the war room with the with the slots and moving the posted Ceram till you got us calendar that that's the wedding where all sorts of crazy stuff, and you had to deal with that, much, bigger egos. Yeah. You could say that. But, but they understood at the beginning that this was going to if this is gonna work we all have to do it together. So the first seasons we did have Calvin Klein in the tents and Donna, Karen. And Ralph Lauren who eventually those designers moved out to do their own thing, which was fine. But it helped get this off the ground. We invited all the European press and buyers to common I it changed the world had changed the fashion industry. How long did it take before you realized hey, we have something? Oh, it didn't take long at all it it happened very quickly. And it I'm extremely proud of what that meant to these people into the industry to our city, and our culture. But that first season that I sound check when the music really went blasting goosebumps all over, you know, you just couldn't believe it was really happening. We did a ribbon cutting with Dinkic mayor Dinkins wife. Let's talk a little bit about the business of fashion. Because after all it is a business whose purpose is to sell products to consumers. How do you look at the world of fast fashion after the show in Paris and Milan, it seems to weeks later, they're cheap knockoffs from China hanging on the racks in the US is this a good thing as a Sabet thing. How do we how do we think about this? Well, it depends on who you are. If you're a consumer who wants to buy something really fast than of the moment. And that's really inexpensive. It's a great thing. If you're a designer, and you know, accompany with integrity who plays by the rules of time. And place and making something putting out a quality product. It's not such a good thing, if you're into sustainable fashion in the industry, it's not such a good thing. Because there's a ton of stuff that's being made that is filling landfills in their lot of problems with fast fashion has woken up a lot of people. I mean, the names of the world and top shop in Sarazen. What have you but the customer who's buying? That is not the customers buying really designer clothes, people know the difference. The luxury business right now is doing very well LVMH is the Louis Vuitton Chanel, I never really thought of fast fashion as a threat to the either aspirational luxury or full on luxury. But I do look at e commerce and everything being online as well as things like rent the runway and prep quarter as potentially satisfying some of the demand for those products. How does the industry look at either ecommerce or high end pre-owned or even rentable fashion? I think those are all the different aspects of the industry that have evolved over the years. I think, you know, rent the runway is a brilliant business. Jennifer started I worked with her at IMG. We were there at the same time. It's quite remarkable read the rental business period is becoming a big business because people it's all so sustainable. Also, you don't need to buy the stuff. You don't need to own it in your closet, all of that is great. But ecommerce is very much part of everybody's business eve, the highest end luxury people that everybody's available on ecommerce one way or another whether it's their own site, or they're part of matches fashion or Neta Portese or some of the very big conglomerates. You know, what's the word? I'm thinking of. You know, who put all the different looks together. Far fetched to has all the different stores on it. I mean, the ecommerce online businesses enormous this holiday season, it was huge and. What then is hurting more than anything is the retail experience. So it's forcing stores again at least smart stores to rethink what they're doing and to create an experience to make shopping matter again. I mean, it's very sad. And you walk around New York in you, see all the forensic science. You know, Lord and Taylor just closed down for just the headquarters now New York store. Yes. But but that's still was an iconic jor New York store the for the for Sachi source closing on on Fifth Avenue. There's all sorts of stores going out everywhere the gap stores closing on Fifth Avenue but retailers are looking at creating experiences again, I note sex of avenues going under major renovation. They moved you know, excessively is up and pan begs down 'cause medics at another set up to another floor. They've just bringing in a very fancy. Restaurant from France Lavenu, the trying to create reasons for people to come back into the stores, and I think that's a good thing and e commerce companies like rent the runway have begun to open retail outposts. So they're still there. So people like going to a place and seeing it trying it on and having that experience. I previously had a conversation with Barbara Kahn who's a professor at Warton. And she was telling us about some of the new technology. That's come in where when you shop Amazon, they have this Yuejin formation advantage. If you click this. Well, we could tell you what everybody else looked at these are the three most popular ingredients of or objects or items not ingredients, these are the three most popular items for other people bought this. What profess car saying is you they're using our f- radio tags and a smart? Mirror. And when you bring an item in certain stores into the dressing room, the Mera will act very similar to the way. Amazon did and said people who looked at this item. Also looked at this belt the scarf this accessory and not only are they getting a higher percentage of sales. But they're also getting a higher percentage of Anand's and other things which is a long winded way of asking what is the role of technology in fashion. It's a huge part of the fashion industry. It's a huge part of every industry. I mean technology has changed the way we do everything at a little bit of big brother watching you in a way. And it's a little bit scary. Some some days, you know, if you just look at something online the next time he opened up you compute ten sites jump in your face. Like are you looking for a tote bag, you know, here? Whatever it's I it's invasive, it's a it's it is scary. That's a generational thing. You and I hate that younger folks, they could care less about it PS. I've discovered that if I log out a Facebook while I'm online that sort of stuff happens much less because Facebook tracks everything you do on Facebook off Facebook. And they're the ones who are serving you a lot of that stuff. Just just making should be happy that I've been I've been hacked on Facebook, like six seven months ago, and I can't I can't get back on. No matter what I've tried everything connecting with everybody under the sun. And I've to two pages, you know, a verified one and a personal one. Both of them. I cannot log onto Facebook messages all day long from people on emails so-and-so commented. I I can't see any of it. So anybody's listening from Facebook come on tell me how to get. I'm. Good good customer year. I'd like to be back on. Well. We'll forward this to someone there and make sure the if it was Twitter, I could help you. I have no context that actually that's not true. I do have contacts Facebook. But I don't know if I can help you with it after I slagged them constantly about being such a we'll say, something I. So let's let's talk about ecommerce. This raises. A really interesting question is fashion and clothing, the sort of thing that people are always going to go into a store for or can you have a will. We eventually get to the point where the stores become virtual and people don't have to go physically shopping now that'll never happen. That's your forecast. It's never persist. They're they're the smart ones will adapt and and change and evolve as any smart business, but I think you still want to go and see touch and feel and if you can make the experience unique and service being important part of it. I mean, I'm a little nervous in New York in a few months. There's a new Neiman Marcus's going to open up in the city and a Nordstrom in this year. I mean, those two serious department stores opening in New York City in a time when people are just nervous about shopping and going to stores always saturated with big department stores in New York City. No, I don't think we are at all. That's why I think this is going to be interesting having the two of them open. But it's gonna be interesting. That's I don't want to pass judgment. I don't want to predict. We'll see nordstroms is new to New York, isn't it? I mean, it was a men's store that open. I, but that's a very different culture and even Marcus is can open in Hudson yards. You know, and that's going to be interesting. It's not a place with a lot of foot traffic, the not yet anyway, the nation, although this certainly between the high line and everything else that's over there. The certainly ton of tourist attraction making its way near the Hudson yards. It's really not all that far away from that, you you mentioned Nordstrom, I know Nordstrom in suburbia from Nordstrom rack, how do you? Although that's not true because I've gone to the Nordstrom that is in Roosevelt field. I don't go to malls. So I don't remember. But I've been in nordstrom's and Nordstrom rack, which raises the question. What do you think about the sort of outlet center shopping that has blown up over the past twenty years for a while? I think is still happens in New York. The tourists would get on. Bus and drive an hour and a half north to go to the giant outlet center. That's up in just north of White Plains. I'm trying to comments and to me what access that, but I literally busloads of people go up there to go shopping is that a viable business is at the same clothes that you see in the main stores what what are your thoughts about outlets, viable business? And Woodbury Commons is quite phenomenal amount of stores. They have they they create those shopping destination. Yeah. To replicate the the headquarters store, so it's not just a bunch of racks close somewhere. You feel like you're in a Burberry feel like you're in a in a, you know, Barney's or whatever's up it's high in names to it's not just it's not the same urchin dice that you can find in that current lines. It's it's generally passes in or it's an in many cases, there's separate business companies make stuff for that. Let stores they make other lie. Lines that you can't even buy anywhere else that they're lower price. I don't think those customers getting on the buses at you know, the big hotels at the what's the bus? What's of course, from the time. So let's call the bus terminal authority authority. Thank you. They aren't busloads of people like you, say tourists and a lot of Asians fill up those buses and go there, they mar- they market to people into tourists come here from China, Japan and elsewhere and part of the week or two they spend in the United States is a bus pulls up in front of the hotel as part of their vacation. And they go up to the Woodbury outlet centers that show. That's what my understanding is. I was up the years and years ago, in fact to do a radio show W O R with Joan Hamburg. We did it from woodberry Commons. And it it always intrigues me that I should go there. But I. Across the bridge got across the water. And we know you won't do that airports Hamptons. We got that. So let's talk a little bit about the power of brands how important or brands whether it's a designer a manufacturer or retailer do brand still carry the same cachet and power that the used to. Well, that depends on the brand, you know, I mean, the sneak the biggest thing in the world now sneakers, you know, whether it's Nike Adidas, whomever. I notice you're wearing a pair of Yee's from. From. When you have nothing else to do Google fern Konya west trust me. That's why brought that up. I know you guys have had a falling out, and they reconciliation. We just had a little brouhaha brouhaha. No, no, no, no squirm purposely did not wear mama sneaker head, and I purposely did not wear anything too. Well. Like a sneaker. Yeah. These are all birds there will there kind of funky online things, but but Brian's, but brands matter to some people some people are very brand conscious. I mean, you know, the the phenomena of supreme having a name on in a line outside that store crazy. But you know, what seems to be resonating more with people now are brands and companies that stand for something and give back and have a moral purpose for existing people are really looking for some attachment to company and why they're doing certain things like when Nike did took their stand with Kemper Nic, Colin cavern, push back on you back. And then we'll talk about Gillette. So think about the people who are pro and con Colin Kaepernick, the people who are all up in arms over them taking in the the red state folks there lower disposable income, folks. Older that's not Nike's core demographic Nike's core demographic or. Young hip. I mean, I I think the number was seventy five percent of their sales people under thirty five the business went through the roof after it was genius. It was the best marketing moment of Twenty-eight teen. It was totally insightful. It was emotional. It was the right thing to do. You know, and that's what resonates with brand when they do that. That's when you really want to support a company so now, we're recording. This the day after Nike did their big release about their sneakers that lace up on a medically for three hundred sixty dollars. I haven't seen them yet. But it was all over the press yesterday. Why see you get your automatically sub sneakers and going your driverless car, right? So you have a button over here can loosen it or tighten it. And there's also what makes it so interesting is it comes with an app for your phone that tracks your activity your calories. Burn your miles all that stuff. So it's a smart sneaker. Not just a self lacing sneaker ends if you're engaging in sports. This wasn't supposed to be an ad for Nike, but. I'll speak to Phil Knight whenever he wants. When you move and play sport, the sneaker actually adapts to what you're doing to provide better support, and you know, the technology. Well, think about the first time you tried on a dry fit shirt where they the wicks the waterway. If you're you mentioned Dinkins, playing tennis, if you've ever played a sport where you're just drenched, and you close to brilliant. It's it really is just fascinating. So back to brands brands that are innovative and pushing the envelope and stand for something you're telling us this really makes a different resonates. Yes. What about have you seen the Gillette? Add some of the brouhaha on that. I I'm now, maybe I'm just a New York. Liberal east coast. You know, social summer camps the line from the Woody Allen movie. I watched that Anna, Mike. Understand what the hey, don't let your kids bully other kids. What state a complain about? Well, apparently, we're on our little Manhattan island bubble. So we see the world differently than some other, folks. Well, I hope they stay with that. Because I think that kind of advertising marketing is brilliant. I mean, we need more of that everywhere. I'm that that that universe needs to get those messages out. So when you stop and think about it with you, whether you're a snowflake who's triggered by one of these things or you think it's fine or anything in between. If you just think about it from an advertising and marketing perspective, we're talking about Gillette. And that's a win for them. Everything is so saturated cluttered to breakthrough is not easy to do. You're absolutely right. So Bravo to these companies doing that. Let's for now stick with the business of fashion, and and what sort of changes are coming. Away. You mention issues in retailing, and we talked earlier about fast fashion. What other changes do you see coming to this industry? Some of the things that I see on the horizon are a lot of designers and a lot of people doing what we wanna call genderless fashion clothing that is designed for a man or woman. This a lot of that starting to really I've seen that was sneakers. What else is genderless? Sweaters, tops pants. I mean, really the fits different depends on how how it's Zayn. There's a lot of that happening now. And I think it's I think it's really interesting. There's a lot of season Liz clothing that is year round because of the technology and textiles and the layering of clothing. There's also a lot more size inclusivity happening where what does that mean to find that for many years all the good brands and designer clothes? You buy would if I'm talking women. Now, you know, you go up to maybe a size twelve maybe four really now they're going up to all the plus sizes being included in creating collections for. Big Earls and people who who are not model size zero in two four six. I mean, that's a huge. I think fourteen sixteen is the biggest size in America of the most people and most designs don't even address them dress that you mentioned plus size models that seems to be a big part of fashion week. Now when you see it and advertising when you look at all the ads, they're girls across the spectrum from nice and thin and lovely too big and beautiful and proud of it, Ashley Graham has opened doors for lots of people when she became the first plus size model, I think on the cover Sports Illustrated, wasn't her name was Kate. Hudson. One of the swimsuit models was considered plus size, and you look at her and she's gorgeous. And not what you would really think of. It's been a very interesting industry. That's been about that thin skinny, you know. Waif? And now, they're more Softic and beautiful, and and proud of it, you know, and and in fashion now, and and at the shows, you see more eco inclusivity of of an diversity of black models and Asian models and Indian models and people of all the different ethnic cultures. I mean, that's who the customer is. That's who the world is and designer suit. You know, put out that one, you know, one blonde girl with straight blonde hair, you know, sixty girls, woken it. That's not what it's about. And so there's been a demand in the industry in in the customers and the media have really gotten fired up and said come on. Let's reflect what's happening in the world. And I think that that's all really good positive changes for the fashion industry. And it'll be interesting to see the fashion week. That's coming up. How again how that plays out? Out because the runway becomes a big bulletin board for what's happening. So that raises really interesting question. How important are the runway shows and events like fashion week to a selling the latest designs, but b also being an influence her on culture and society. I think the importance of fashion week in the fashion shows is is changing, I think we're in a very disruptive moment in fashion. People aren't quite sure if they should be doing shows and spending the large amounts of money for it. But it still is a vehicle that generates. Millions of Instagram moments. You know, so it's become a vehicle for social media to really get the message out or the look out. And that's the good news bad news in my mind, because I'm still a generation like you save it. I I wasn't born with an iphone in my hand. And you know, and I think eventually it's it's all changing so much. I mean, I you sit at a fashion show, and I find it very frustrating that hardly anybody's looking at the runway they looking at their phone and photographing everything in sit of looking at the real thing happening looking at it in a two inch by three inch little frame to be present. And then put it down just look at what you look what's in front of you. I really admire concerts. We hear people where they say, no funds loud. I just saw. Who was it? I just saw a show with. I'm drawing a blank on his name. I'll figure it out. I went to a show recently where everybody puts their phone in a bag, and I actually left the phone in the car. So I didn't have to deal with it. Because I thought it'd be a giant line. It turned out. It's just a little magnet, and they pop it open it really their people like Dave Chapelle who appears in various places will not allow us of Monje as another one. I mean, you look at these things all you see is a Siham arms in the in the air. You can't even see who's performing because you got to look through everybody's arms to the pictures. They're taking right. Do they do with all that footage in those pictures? The it goes up to apple or Google photos. And they never looked at it. Again, the concept of being present in the moment and participating in what's happening right now. I think the car generation while they have a lot to speak for their their motive, they're intelligent. They see the world in ways that we may not sometimes it feels like they're missing that moment 'cause they're trying to Instagram and everybody's designing things for that. Instagram. -able moment, you go to any party now or opening for something. It's no longer just the step and repeat wall where the taking pictures with the brand name on there, if finding some unique visual that conveys something that doing, and that's the place where everybody they expect a one everybody to take their picture, you know, to their selfie not pick not even a real picture. Take your own picture in front of that that Instagram -able spot, you know, and that's how the world is viewed now through Instagram so fashion week becomes a place where everybody wants quickly say I'm out. You know, I'm there. I was. There. I that's the best. Look smart companies understand how to track data, and and use that information and can say this was the biggest look that came out of that show. This is what we should get behind. You know? And this is something we should maybe, you know, do a bigger production run on you know, if you could use the information correctly, I think that there's some value in it. But you know, but otherwise fashion week is is fashion shows are still the best way to see a designers vision come to fruition from head to toe. What are they thinking? What's their what's they look, what's the point of view? But I question now who's who you doing it for who's again. I'm getting too old now. I mean, I go, and I you know, everybody in the front row and then the second row and maybe even the third row. Now, you go who are these people? You know, I didn't know that was a job called influence or when I was growing up. I would apply. Lied. Well, when you were growing up that wasn't a job that didn't exist. Pre internet pre mobile pre cell phone. I forgot I don't remember the brand. But I read a something not too long ago. It might have been in wired magazine that even ice cream companies are changing their labelling on the packages. So they're Instagram -able. Like, oh, look how nice this is take a photo, and that's free marketing and advertising for them. So the idea of actually building something from the ground up. You get lost in a sea of competition. But if you can get in front of enough, people, the Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, or what have you? It's a leg up models are hired and booked for shows based on how many Instagram followers, they have, you know, models and people celebrities used to have to build a career. Now, they build their their on platform. They do it all by themselves. You know models. Have tell the story without you don't have to wait for them to be on fifteen vote covers to have a career they reach out, and they do this story, and they have millions of followers, you know, an Instagram. There was one of my favorite jokes. I saw was on. I think must have been a New Yorker cartoon of couple of people a couple editor in restaurant eating and the chef walks over to them and looks at them and says, what's the matter? Didn't you like the food, and they sit they sit because nobody was took a picture. You know, I'm trying to pronounce your name. Emily, rod Caskey, who is in the blurred lines video. I think she has some like four million. It's it's really shocking and that is here. I could actually pull it up while we're her official. Oh, I'm wrong one point three million. So but still a million people that's a lot of people. She got famous long before that. But at a certain point if you want a career in fill in the blank, having the ability to influence or attract in the modern era being adept at marketing, especially online and social networks is a user Yuejin vantage for anybody pretty much in any career. At risk it man's planning that, but it seems to be a big big part of that a many industry it is. Well, that's people get their information online and on a screen on a cell phone. I mean, I have nieces who don't ever turn television on they watch everything on their computer on their, laptops. Never never have TV on. So so what is all of this mean for the future of fashion and clothing? If people aren't watching TV, if they're not paying attention to what's going on around them, how do companies and manufacturers and advertisers reach the the audience. Well, you know, how it affects them on me at the end of the day. People still wearing clothing people haven't all the last week. They walk that on the subways with no pants on or something. There was some it was a big deal day or something, but people are still getting up every day and putting clothing on and they still wearing clothes. Still buy things so thin distri is not going too far away. But how people reach out to them. That's that's a good question. I mean, you have to be you have to hire smart and Brighton, and I and you have to get into that head of that millennial and some of those young people who really out there thinking coming up with clever ideas, you have to create experiences, and you have to create something that resonates, and that's why it's whether it's resonating about the environment and things that matter to people this generation is finally caring about the environment because it's the planet that they're they're growing up in. And I think there's more and more attention to that learning about that brands that are making a real concerted effort to do something that is sustainable and correct. And we're all still learning about that. And don't even know what all those words mean, you know, I'm on the board of the F IT foundation. And our gala this year, April is honoring is focusing on sustainability. It's gonna be surrounded by a conference for two days about the issue of sustainability with great people speaking, it's all about the the young generation these kids at school. They care about that. They they recycle the them. They they really work things through and companies have to start having a message that matters. And I think that that's where somehow those messages get through, you know. Can you sit around a bit? I have a bunch more questions for you. Sure. We have been speaking with fern malice of the firm, Alice, consultancy and fashion icons at the ninety second street, y if you enjoy this conversation, be sure and stick around for the podcast extras will keep the tape rolling and continue discussing all things fashion. You can find that wherever fine podcasts are sold. I tunes overcast Stitcher. Bloomberg dot com. We love your comments feedback and suggestions write to us at M I B podcasts at Bloomberg dot net. Follow me on Twitter at ritholtz. You can check out. My daily column at Bloomberg dot com slash opinion. I'm Barry ritholtz. You're listening to masters in business on Bloomberg radio. Welcome to the podcast for thank you so much for doing this. I've been looking forward to having this conversation. I was going to drag my wife in Kush. She spent a longtime teaching fashion 'lustration and design and is since retired. But there's a bunch of things I want to get to that I didn't including fashion icons with fern malice. So let's talk a little bit about the series. You do with the ninety second street, y how did the idea for this come up and tell us a little about the program? Well, I'm very very proud of this this series almost as proud as I am of having creative fashion week saying something really means a lot to me. I'm when I left I m g fashion when the tents were moving from Bryant park to Lincoln center. It was time for me to leave. I said, you know, what I've done this. Almost nineteen years at Bryan park. It was my baby. It's moving to a new location, which I wasn't. So thrilled with neither was the industry. It's out of there already. I said, you know, what I need a break. And so I took I took time off I was happily able to do that. And I experienced what I call, and it's in my book because I have a book fashion lives from this series. What became the coffee phase of my life, which meant that all of a sudden, you know, I'm I'm trying to just chill and enjoy my house in the country. And and I'd get calls. Can I meet you Cup of coffee? I have this idea. I wanna talk to you bet. I have this new project coming up Africa Cup of coffee. My friend told me I should talk to your Goodwin to help me on this new startup. Can we have a Cup of coffee? I said everybody wanted to take me for Cup of coffee. Nobody wanted lunch or dinner coffee. I was crazy. And it was oddly enough over a Cup of tea at of good friend of mine. If otographer Timothy greenfield Sanders who said, I'm gonna introduce you. End of mine, Betsy whose who handles speaking tours and all this. You have great stories to tell PS she introduced me to Susan angle from ninety second street y head of their programming. And we have a Cup of coffee, and she said, you know, we've always loved fashion up here at the Y we've done one offs. You know? Diane run I been up here this one or Calvin through the years, but nothing that's been concrete like a series, and they do have some very good series there. And for people who don't know the ninety second street, y is truly the preeminent cultural institution in New York. I mean presidents prime ministers authors actors celebrity anybody doing anything that matters. It gets up there, and and is interviewed or talk somebody in their auditoriums. It's extraordinary place. You can go there three hundred fifty days a year and and sunny. Every night. This something politics. It's an unbelievable. So Susan said would you be interested in doing fashion designers and doing something with us? And I said, you know, I'm usually the one being interviewed. But I'm sure I could string together some intelligent questions we named it fashion icons with fern mollis. And she said, let's see if we can get some good people. So the first one was normal Cumali and who's an old old pal? And I think one of the most creative designers in the world and the next one was Calvin Klein, and when I Calvin on the stage, and I said to him one of my first questions to him was why are you doing this? You're out of your business. You sold it at that moment was like over ten years ago. You have nothing to sell and pitch. No new fragrance coming out. And he said, I'm doing it. Because you asked me and doing it for you. And I'm doing because the why you know, talked important the why was and I was like good answer. And that kick off. This series where people buy tickets is like eight or nine hundred people notorious, and it's been Calvin, and Donna and Tommy hilfiger and Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs and Andre Leon Talley and Diane and just goes on and on and on. And it's now in my eighth year. No kidding year. I do maybe depends scheduling is a nightmare some years six or seven some years. It's ten some years. It's three. Away from one hundred. Well, I'm forty forty three in them. I guess have forty three I have a lot of people on the horizon, but dates are not confirmed. But I I mean, in addition to the people I mentioned, I've done Leonard Lauder, you know, who was an extraordinary interview was Valentino, Victoria Beckham Eamonn, Cindy Crawford in the Massoni and Alexander Wang, Zac Posen. And I mean, just the all the hoses. I just Arthur l gore the photographer in December. I did Peter Marino architect who talk about retail is retail important on one street in Manhattan from fifty seventh street from Madison to fifth. He's designed the Fendi store the or store the Chanel store. The Zenya store the Louis Vuitton store and bogery. It's one architect and his office has done all of that in mobile. I mean, it's extrordinary and creating. That make you wanna come in those stores and spend time there by something. So, you know, it's it's the within breath of the industry. So if people wanna find either the video or audio of fashion icons with fern malice at the ninety second where do they go can go to the Ninety-two wise YouTube channel and put in Ferndale in fashion icons, and you can get like a three to five minute clip. The whole interview is not available. Well, when we make that available. You know, this podcast thing would have been big one day. We have to have you actually and how long conversations Forty-five minutes an hour, sixty ninety minutes, hour and a half. And it's it is the definitive interview of these people's lives. There. You learned who they are held. How did you become this person you grow? Most of these people grew up with nothing and had started a business with nothing. And I'm fascinated held you build a billion dollar business. How did you how did you when you made your first sale who who so the labels in? Did you need to hire ten people how much money did you need to borrow? How do you do this? How did it go to the next step, and how to go to that, you know, to hear Michael Kors his story about being on the, you know, ring the bell. When the the stock went public on his mother looking up at him at the podium going fiction tie. You know? You know, he said it was better than his bar mitzvah. Wonderful stories of these people's lives and careers. So we have to get this stuff. We have to free the content get it out from behind wherever it is. And we'll help you do that that'll easy enough to do. So I only have you for a limited amount of time. And I wanted to get to my favorite questions. I asked him. I guess we'll put you on the hot seat minutes. Let's start with a an easy one. Tell us the most important thing. People don't know about firm Alice. I mean, really a soft in a real pussycat. People think I'm your reputation is your tough cookie. But tell me it's marshmallow inside. All right. That's good to know your sister's laughing behind your back, just so, you know, see agree with that. Who are some of your early mentors who influenced your career? I'd have to say my dad my uncles. My my sisters. This family around me. They were they were few in business. But. Yeah. I I never was that like tach myself to somebody. What about designers who influenced the way you look at clothing, and fashion. All of all of them all of the above metal Albright here. So let's talk about books not the one you wrote will include that in all of our links, but what are some of your favorite books? What you read to relax fashion on fashioned. When I reach relaxer, you know, three or four newspapers every every day to relax crazy. But you know, one of my favorite books of all time is a book called thousand women never heard of it is so good get it on Amazon one thousand white women. What's it about? It's about a time. When president grant was the president and the century ago, and they were looking to assimilate some Indian tribes and bought and take their land, basically. So there was a deal struck between some of the Indian chiefs to give. Well, with chief semi administration to give them the tribes thousand white women to become part of the tribes to assimilate the cultures. It's quite fascinating. Just starting the becoming Michelle Obama's book, which is bestselling book in two thousand eighteen was released in either the November December just went went to see her talk at Barclay center. And she's great met her and couple of times extraordinary. Very nice sharp dresser. Well, she was very important to the fashion industry was she oh, she wore so many young designers, and unknown designers and up and coming designers and establish designers. And she knows fashion was a huge messaging for her. When was the last time? We saw a first lady who did that is that Jackie O? Jackie was an important one. It wasn't. Oh, but it was Jack Kennedy. Yes, I think Michelle Obama. Well, you know, Nancy Reagan had her -fession moments with galleno and certain designers that she wore Arnold scuzzy. And but Michelle Obama was a champion of the American fashion and disarming quite quite fascinating. So what are you excited about in the fashion industry right now? I'm I'm excited about seeing what's going to be coming up in the next few weeks in how things are going to evolve in change, four important fashion, especially important fashion show for twenty nineteen or is this the first of this year. It's the, you know, the fall collections that we're going to be seeing. I mean, it's fashion week. It's there's another one going to be in September. So so tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from the experience. I wish I. I can't I don't remember something where I could say I really failed at it. I mean, I I've been a good good girl. You know? I don't mean a bit. I mean, sometimes you try something, and it doesn't work out. And there's a life lesson in it, not necessarily good versus bad. But gee, that in turn out the way I was hoping. But here's my take away. The most recent one was the chicken soup. I made last weekend. I bought a really expensive free range chicken. And it was tasteless so soup wasn't as good as my normal chicken Sube, really because it just didn't have all that fat. And it just, you know, the chicken didn't fight the same way. So that was the minivan. What do you do for fun? What do you do outside of work to either relax or, you know, stay busy and interested. What what what non fashioned stuff keeps you occupied house out in east end. And I love going out there. Thank god. It keeps me sane right? And it's on a lake and I just so enjoy being there. I'm a very good gardener. And I do like cooking on the weekends in spite of my not so great chicken soup. Have you become a year round halftime because that's been more and more. For years. I think mostly became a much more year round after nine eleven I'd say, but. I think he might be right about this people started moving out there and getting out there and living out there. But yeah, I've had that house since I was at CF FDA. And I remember moment when I thought I can't do this. I'm not married. Why am I buying a house by myself? And I said, what am I gonna have at the end of this ten years here? A lot of close to show for it. You know, sophistication I ever made in my life. So what sort of advice, would you give to a millennial or a recent college graduate who's interested in a career in fashion? I'd say why? You know, like every other thing you're interested in become a sponge just absorbing and just shut up a little bit. And listen, just listen, you don't you don't really have the answers to everything as much as I think, they do I, and I think we need to at some point. Also, listen, more to some of these millennials. And finally, what is it that, you know, about the world of fashion and marketing today that you wish you knew thirty or so years ago when you were really gearing up your career, it's hard to say because I wish thirty years ago. I understood technology the way we have it now because it's it's it's just so different. But if I could have done something differently than I would have learned more about finance and business and numbers. I mean, I never took that very seriously. I always said, oh, I'm on the creative side let somebody else worry about that. And I think that's important to always have an understanding and a grip on. The financial implications inside of everything you're working on quite fascinating. We have been speaking with fern malice. She is the head of fern malice LLC as well. As the creator fashion week runs, the fashion icons with fern malice at the ninety second street, y if you enjoy this conversation be showing up and intra down an inch on apple I tunes, and you can see any of the other two hundred fifty or so of these conversations we've put together over the past five years. We love you comments feedback. And suggestions if you're not happy with this show. Well, write to us at M I B podcast at Bloomberg dot net. And tell us why if you are happy going to apple I tunes and give us a good review. We appreciate that. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack. Staff who helps put together these conversations each week. Medina. Parwana is our producer Carolina O'Brien is my audio engineer. Taylor. Rigs is our Booker Michael bat. Nick is my head of research. A tika Val Brin is our project manager. I'm Barry ritholtz. You've been listening to masters in business on Bloomberg radio.
Masters in Business
Aired 6 months ago 55:48
239: Paris Fashion Week, Michael Kors + Versace, Moschino Questions
This is Lisa, and this is Kara, and this is cop fashion. Lisa. Hello. How you doing sexy lady you are all dressed up because you had pressed today. Yeah. I did some PR for work. And then I decided to squeeze in a dinner date between work and this podcast. And so I flew in the door dumped food in the cats bowls and here, I am. Well, you look fantastic. You've got that like reporter sheen to you beautiful hair. Oh, that's what it's Florida. It's what it rained here and also wine. So that do that three dollar happy hour. I'll do it to you. Holy moly, three bucks. I'm minority. Minard? Yeah. I have three of those at dinner. That's awesome. Kids do as I say not as I do move to Florida to. But you know, the thing you have to know about moving to Florida is that happy hour shifts like in the north. It's like four to seven four two eight five two eight happy hour in Florida. It's like a three to six or three to seven. So you have to plan accordingly. I see I had no idea. You gotta be prompt for happy hour here on the south. I see. Anyway, that's enough about me. Let's go on mean. What's going on with Michael Kors? Sure. You can transition right in a fashion is if you don't wanna talk about yourself because we gotta talk about this Michael Kors bought for Sachi. What is happening? Lisa. Slow acquisition action happened in for the holidays. No big deal. He went to happy hour except happy hour was buying for Sachi. I just don't I slightly more than the price of the wine injuring. I'm so perplexed by this story. And all I did was report on it yesterday. I saw you and your husband tweeting about it. I know we both did I know I was like do you guys have jobs get back to work? The cores brand is buying the Italian fashion house for two point one two billion dollars. Donatella Versace sake will remain as for she's creative director. She's kind of the heart of the brand. She staying where she is. If you remember cores bought Jimmy Choo last year and today, it is Tuesday, the twenty fifth it came out that they are rebranding and the cores over arching company is going to be called, Capri holdings, Capri holdings. Lisa like, the island or the son like the island, supposedly sure twenty eighteen nothing should be. Surprising me now. But still here we are. Capri holdings will be the parent company and cores chew and for she will be under it as very similar to what coach did with tapestry. We do the story earlier on in the year coaches parent company is called tapestry, but coach Kate Spade. And Stuart Weitzman are all under the umbrella brand. I got some great tweets about this story everybody and their momma contacted me yesterday about it. It was a hilarious day. Please read all of them one listener contacted me directly and said, so I guess we'll be buying for Saatchi Kohl's now. Oh, sick burn. Sick burn. I was like it's funny because it's true. We got a tweet from listener at being spelled who said, quote, this doesn't look like a very good deal for Michael Kors based on a two billion purchase price. Michael Kors would need an operating margin of eighteen percent and ten percent sales growth through twenty twenty one to benefit Michael Kors? That's a lot of math that I'm glad he did instead of me, but there is kind of like this mathematical equation behind it of like is this a good financial move. What do you think? I mean, I feel like Michael Kors is sort of playing monopoly trying to get park place. And in monopoly, the more you buy the more, you're likely to earn. Therefore, I don't think it's the worst idea. But for such is so different in brand ethos than Michael Kors. Yeah. But if you look at what's under the umbrella of LVMH or carrying don't you think there's also a diversity and brand there that Michael Kors could emulate in his collection. You have a good point. You're right LVMH is so diverse. I think maybe it's like me struggling with Michael Kors as a person being behind us. I mean for him as a brand it's kind of nice to be like, I'm not just going after expanding my brand, I want everything I want to expand. I want global domination with fashion. And here's how I'm going to do it. Because that's what a lot of other companies have to do these days. It's not just about can I make it out on my own. But let's combine. Or work with other brands, so we can have a larger Omni channel. And from what I'm seeing right now, the average consumer is not going to know a difference now that this acquisition has taken place. Right. Like, you're still going to be able to buy for Saatchi. And they're going to still remain the same fashion house in output. It's just the back end that going to be different fray and something I was saying to a friend today was that a lot of the time when this bringing a luxury brand under the umbrella sort of happens, it's because that other brand has the means to do the ecommerce already and to do these sort of online promotion already whereas the luxury brands may be held back a little bit because of preserving the brand. So now, you have the knowledge from this other brands that has been online for a long time and has been dealing with ecommerce for a long time and has been cold for a long time. And has been a gold for a long time, and you can use that sort of knowledge base to the larger benefit. I'm still not over the Jimmy choos thing. I think that's where I'm stuck. I'm stuck at twenty seventeen beautiful shoes. And you know, what like Michael Kors just wants to make beautiful things. Whatever the heck price point. He can get away with how to our listeners feel about this, please tell us look I mean, he's probably not gonna make any more from syndication of project runway episodes. So he's, you know, get a new sideline. Okay, side-hustle. It just happens to be a two billion dollar side hustle. God bless 'em small side hustle. That's all that's all. Segue. Do you wanna talk about fashion week in Paris? Yes, pairs fashion. We the big shows. We've gotta talk about number one. Do your number two Gucci because. Oh, yeah. Gucci's in Paris right now. Instead of Milan, tell me about your reaction to your. Yeah. Cirque du Soleil show up is that what happened. Not kuwait. But there was a choreographed dance going on not really behind the runway models, but kind of in woven. Within them woven throughout the show as someone who gets distracted easily. I will say the performers at your show were a little bit distracting. A little bit much. But I love that your collection on. I don't know if it's because I'm a boring person inside who loves the colored grey or because it was truly beautiful well, Robin von who is the fashion editor at the Washington Post wrote an amazing article she combined both that your Gucci just shows and talked about them together. And I want to read you the section right now about DR because I think she hits on something. That's really important. First of all, she talks about the dancing. She says this, quote, the dance was a thing of beauty a kind of human witchcraft in which the body is transformed into pure grace and emotion, they are mesmerizing when they move individually. But when they flow in unison, they are almost a'miracle Lord knows we need a little cumin grace right now, we need a reminder of what can be accomplished when chaos gives into harmony fashion has a choice to reflect the madness or to offer an alternative. She says something kind of similar to what you head on. She said that there wasn't anything new in this your show. But there was interpretations of classic silhouettes classic pieces. But they were just so refreshing because it's what we need as fashion people. She said, quote, these are not the clothes for marching in the streets or storming the corporate boardroom these clothes. A pedal is self care. It's like when you this is the wine talking. You know, sometimes you get dressed up, and you're like guys don't like this outfit. But I love this often. I'm getting dressed up for me, you know, that sort of mentality. Like, that's what the your show is like for me. Like fuck the guys, I feel great. I just felt like it was a high end bubble bath. That was very muted and beautiful and soft and flow e but recognizable. Like there was nothing there. That was jarring to me at that, my recognized it I could do some projection of like, ooh. What would I look like in that? How do I feel about that? And said of it being so of on guard that I couldn't quite know what to do with it. So it just felt like a warm luxuriance bubble bath. Like, a high end one which was the total opposite of how the Gucci show fout. Yeah. Gucci was like this is what I thought Gucci was Gucci. Was if Janice Joplin was in the late seventies and early eighties. That's Gucci was one hundred percent. First of all they have the show in an old theater. Honesty with like bright stage lights, right? It was like clothing in the spotlight, but like a ton of models. You know, the scene roller all out at the end. It just looks like the cast. Of hair. They're all out there. There's a bunch of colors. There's a guy wearing a shirt that looks like my dad wore long before I was born. I mean, the thing I loved about the Gucci show. It was that it had a lot of really fun looks and it was very gender neutral in terms of who was walking down the runway. And what however it was a totally different aesthetic than the Dior show, which was very slowly and soft and warm, and the Gucci's show was fun and loud and brash in my mind. Yes, me too. I don't know if I liked it to be honest. I was aboard this is visually. Interesting somehow, they like tapped into something that was exciting to see I didn't know what was going to come next. And I like that. And in the middle of the Gucci show. Something happened Jane Birkin stood up and sang right in the middle of everything. Jane Birkin of the Birkin bag, the creative director of Gucci said. Quote, we stopped the fashion show with her performance because in our life. We have to take breaks. Yes. But when I take a break in my life. It's usually silent. I'm just in the bathroom alone. Just nobody bothered me. Just sitting there playing scrabble on my phone. That's not not on. That's not a break to me. That's performance. I would have to practice for it. You aren't singing a song in the middle of a runway? It was truly a work of performance. Art. You could see that for good Chee and for Dior, and they're totally different. But both so enjoyable like what you said about it being like, a performance of hair you were wrong. Like, it was this like FIA trickle interactive show that was more than a runway show. He can't say they weren't fun. Do you want some fashion week drama? Yes. Please which fashion week couldn't tell you Milan fashion week, which was also vaguely in this month. I can't keep them all straight. The hot topic for several days was did mosquito copy another designer for the spring twenty nineteen collection. Assitant? Fashion. Crime is alleged till it's proven. At a Guinness is a Norwegian womenswear designer based in London and she took to Instagram last week to accuse mosquito of taking on credited quote unquote, inspiration from her spring twenty sixteen and spraying 2017 collections for the Italian houses spring twenty nineteen collection, which it's showed recently in Milan. Danny mouth for fashiony store wrote the similarities between the two collections is scribbled on dresses, hats and bags are striking to say, the least Giminez said she actually met with someone from mosquito in New York last November and show that person she does not name all of her work, including her sketchbook, and ideas Giminez is not some unknown. She is a graduate of the London college of fashion. She's been covered by the New York Times British vogue women's wear daily. Offer Elbaz is a mentor reportedly and she has dressed both gee-gee hit he'd and lady Gaga. So she is not she's not some kid just getting started. She's got her shit straight. Right muskie. No. And Jeremy Scott have responded to her claims. This is where it gets you. Jeremy Scott shared his references for the collection on his personal. Instagram's stories. And according to a Representative for the brand Scott and his design team never saw gymnasts designs or sketches. Along with the official company's statement. Jeremy Scott posted some content of his own on Instagram because when I want to clear up rumors, I go right to Instagram stories in his story. He wrote morally I do not address gossip or questions about my inspirations. But I feel the need to defend myself against untrue. Accusations regarding my latest mosquito collection on the next slide says first of all in all caps with a mosquito ad from nineteen eighty six in this scribbled style that Giminez alleges is hers from previous collections as of Monday night the night before we recorded Guinness had not made additional statements on Instagram. And this is a big old cluster that I am just on the edge of my seat for KARN. I mean, would you see the pictures side by side what they're talking about with the scribble stuff? If you haven't seen the collection is that so many of the mosquito pieces, it looks like if you took a marker on on a piece of muslin. Yeah. I just scribble scribble scribble down. It looks like that. It's so much fun. It's so much fun. And when you look at the pictures side by side, it looks like there could be a direct line from one to the other. Or if you didn't know and mix up the slides, you couldn't tell whose was whose work you really couldn't. Yeah. Yeah. It's highly suspect, I do believe that there can be like, I have this theory that sometimes artists understand subterranean ideas that are happening at the same time. I think that can happen. A lot of the stuff where people are like oh you stole from me. I think like people can have the same idea at the same time or shortly after one another the thing that I don't understand this whole equation is she met with somebody from that design team allegedly allegedly. And so what happened right there? I don't know. And also, I was talking with one of our listeners via Instagram about this particular story and she brought up some great points, including like, if you're a smaller designer going up against mosquito. Like, you have to have some Bank behind you. If you want to hire a lawyer, she's a known entity she is successful in her own, right? But going up against a big fashion house. Is a financial hit. So part of this is. You know, it's kind of easy to say hire a lawyer. But like, do you have the money to hire a lawyer like do any of us know, I think if you're a designer of her position, and you feel that maybe you've been slighted or you've been copied or you've been wronged feel like one of the best ways to go about is put it on social media. Yeah. For better for worse. Right. But it's a platform. That's available. Then if you've got the readership or the viewership or it gets picked up by a place like fashiony STA. Yeah. Your argument could have legs, and maybe even stronger legs than if you would call up an attorney, I was so excited about this collection. And what it has done for me as a fashion lover is be like, oh now when I think about it. There's always an asterik what happened whose collection is this really passionate mystery fashion. Mistry maybe more will come out fashion crime. Coolest. Yeah. Yeah. So I I don't know. Like, there's a part of me. That's like, I don't know. Jeremy Scott would be so into this Instagram take down if he wasn't confident right rates because this is a guy who borrows from pop culture all the time. But it's very clear about where he gets inspiration. He never hides it. That's such a good point. He does borrow. But his way he borrows is. So it's almost satire. Yeah. Why would he need to go out and copy, right? Exactly. He could just be like, I loved this collection. It is inspired in part by XYZ done. Yeah. And also say that it's inspired by the mosquito archives? You know, you can you can have it all Jeremy if you credit your inspiration. I don't know. I don't know either. Tell me another one. What's more drama? A group called the clean clothes campaign is calling out H A M. H allegedly hasn't been paying garment workers a living wage a group called the clean clothes campaign slammed H M for failing to pay Gherman workers a living wage despite pledges the company made twenty thirteen so back twenty thirteen. They came up with a big plan. H M published a quote roadmap toward fair living wages, which aim to ensure that eight hundred fifty thousand people were paid relative living wage by twenty eighteen well, guess what year? It is people is twenty eighteen the plan was to develop fair pay structures and prove purchasing practices approve access to education and work with governments for setting a minimum wage, the clean clothes campaign recently interviewed workers across Asian factories and Bulgaria Turkey. India and Cambodia and guess what not happening now happen. None of them were being paid a living wage. Oh, so they talked to your just to get an understanding of what's happening. They talked to sixty two people. So it's not like they interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people for coming back with these statements. They interviewed sixty two people across these countries. Many also reported that fainting in the workplace that was very common workers also reported that they were afraid to organize into independent unions staff at a factory in Cambodia reported that two-thirds of the workers had fainted at work. This is the surprising number eighty five percent of the respondents were on contracts of just one two three months. So we're talking very short contracts. Why are they doing that? Why are they doing that? With most workers. That's like the summer. A quarter one quarter of the there's four quarters in the air. It's not even a quarter. Yeah. In some rate. It's a shit show. I understand that change take time. And I think that agent them has done really good work at a number of areas with their company, especially when it comes to sustainability and on being voice that's trying to make improvements. But I think it's okay to be like, hey, we had this plan, and it didn't really work out. But what I think these people are saying is you had this plan. And like you didn't even call a mile within trying to make changes. Right. I think it's very honorable to say we missed our target. And here's what we're doing to make up for it in the coming months, year, whatever. But when you're not even close, I mean, granted we're talking about sixty some people, right? But for a company that large even sixty people. Who are talking about disadvantages and struggles in the workplace. I mean, it's enough to be taken seriously. These are not outliers right there Representative of a larger problem, right? Asian hasn't responded yet they may respond, and if they do we'll talk about it ancient I'm loves to respond to allegations directly after the news cycle of this particular podcast. I know right. I have noticed. They love to respond on a Wednesday morning, right? When we're done not to say that it has anything to do with us. I think it does Lisa. I mean, I think it's just shade formation him. They're like girls, we're we're only the longest continuously running fashion pockets out there. But whatever whatever H M. You're sizing is wack. I'm just going to say it. I have heard the word wack used in so long. That's why I'm here. That's why our friends so you could tell me when things are wack. Intimate sizing. It makes no sense. Okay. Anyway, do you want another like actually all the remainder of my stories are fucked up labor stories are you ready for him? Walk. The New York Times released an investigation last week about the conditions faced by people mostly women who work at home as invisible members of the luxury fashion machine in Italy. One woman said it takes me about one hour to so one meter so about four to five hours to complete an entire coat. I try to do two coats per day. Wow. Said that she worked in part for max Mara. Although the company denied it Louis Vuitton and Fendi were also named the most the woman ever earned for one garment. She said was twenty four euro for an entire coat, and as of this recording one euro converts to one dollar in eighteen cents American businesses in the north of Italy where there are generally more job opportunities and higher wages than come out Milan and Milan fashion week northern Italy has suffered less than the south economically. And so there's been this boom of cheap foreign labor in southern Italy. That has Lord a whole lot of companies to moving their production operations abroad or having foreign labor. Essentially work on their goods. Italy doesn't have a national minimum wage, but roughly five to seven euro is considered an appropriate standard by many unions in extremely rare cases a highly skilled worker can make eight to ten euros per hour. But the homeworkers who typically work for these high end fashion houses doing work that is not in the factory. They do it at home. They're usually paid by the piece, and it adds up to significantly less than what is considered that typical wage for a skilled worker, so whether they're doing leatherwork embroidery or other artisanal type of work they can be earning considerably less than someone else with similar skills who might be on a contract or be on the payroll of company. One woman told the New York Times that a decade ago, she would do embroidery on wedding gowns for two euro per hour. Oh my gosh. Each gown. Took ten to fifty hours to complete and the woman said she worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day. She was only paid when a garment was complete. Oh, oh, this is so painful. Yep. Luxury manufacturing is responsible for five percent of the Italian gross domestic product and an estimated five hundred thousand people are employed directly and indirectly by the luxury goods sector in Italy. So it's a huge amount of people in it'll either such a tradition of high end, fashion and accessories in manufacturing in Italy. According to data from the Italian National Institute of statistics, three point seven million workers across all sectors in Italy worked without contracts in twenty fifteen there's some more recent data that says about seven thousand homeworkers actually had regular contracts for the work. They were doing for the companies that they? Worked with but there's no official data for those operating without regular contracts, and no one has attempted to quantify this group of homeworkers for decades. So like the story you were just telling us the New York Times investigation is primarily from anecdotal evidence from about sixty women in the pool region, which is in like the boot part of Italy in the heel of the boot, and they were all working from home without a regular contract in the apparel sector an expert in the history of homeworking in Italy estimated that there are two to four thousand a regular income homeworkers in apparel production. So that's not an insignificant amount. When you think about the skill that goes into this. The New York Times also cited cases where luxury shoe companies with hand sewn uppers had women do work irregularly in their homes, and they would pay seventy to ninety euro cents per pair. Meaning that in twelve hours, a worker would earn seven to nine euros and just to bring it back as a reminder the standard wage. Is considered to be seven to nine euro per hour. And so these people working on shoes earn seven to nine euro per day. I just this is so devastating because I think a lot of people are making decisions on their purchases because they don't want to add to a fast fashion world where especially right now as consumers we're getting more hip to like the conditions under which certain garments are made. We think okay, I'm an opt out fast fashion. I'm going to look to other things I can save my money and buy maybe two pieces this year and by luxury so it lasts longer and supposedly people get paid what they should. And to know that that's not happening is just crushing. We've come so far as consumers are understanding that we're looking at you other ways that we could still purchase garments, still love fashion. But not contribute to exploitation freight. And what do we talk about last week Bangladesh? Raise the minimum wage for workers. But it still doesn't seem to be enough. We have this stigma out built in about clothing. That's made a Mangla dash that it might be made through some means that exploit someone who has some skills to share. Right. And so we look to Italy. We look to France for things that are made with quality and with social Justice in some way, shape or four. And when you see a report like this from the New York Times that saying that these women a lot of whom are retired and don't have traditional jobs anymore, but still feel compelled to work because of the economic situation in Italy when you see that they are doing beating on beautiful ornate wedding gowns for pennies on the dollar. It's just very disheartening to think about the whole system. And I think that there's an automatic assumption of this is expensive. So everybody. Getting paid. Now, if only there is this idea of like, the retired skilled labor person working on this. But I also think that like when you have exploited workers they tend to be from disadvantaged groups and mostly within a garment industry, they're mostly women. But also, it's not like really rich people are going. Hey, by the way, I'd want a side hustle for a few years. So I'm going to spend hours and hours on beating getting nothing paid like that's not happening. Exactly. These are already people who are struggling economically because of the geographic region, they're in or their social satis that they were just living in by chance. Right. And the the women quoted by the New York Times for the most part, they just say this is how it is here. And I can't imagine doing any other work. But this, and I think if you ask a lot of garment workers around the world. They would tell you somewhere things and in a lot of industries, not just fashion to you. But there's there's an expectation that doing what you love will pay you. Well, but there are still a lot of people who will still do that work, even if it's not adjust and right situation in so many industries. I'm sure our listeners could right in tells all about this. Yeah. Yeah. So so thanks for that cheery story. But it's important because I had no idea this was going on. I just was very ignorant of it. So I'm glad that the New York Times wrote about it in other news on a completely different subject. Let's talk about Sears. Is it closed yet? Mostly not call me when it's closed almost about to call you. Okay. Sears chairman Edward Lampert revealed a plan to eliminate over four billion dollars of Sears debt, burn it. Close labor is the CEO. And he's also the company's largest shareholder. He wants to make this work. He's going to try to make Sears a much smaller company L well that ship sailed in eighteen ninety-five he's going to try if his plan is an accepted. He says that Sears will be facing bankruptcy as soon as next month. Sears has one hundred and thirty four million dollars in debt coming due on October fifteenth that one hundred thirty four million dollars is a lot of money, but it's a drop in the bucket of the larger picture of what's going on. But October fifteenth market calendar CFC's meets that debt. Lampard's plan includes selling one point seven billion dollars in assets and one point four billion dollars in real estate. Do you think he's going to pull this one out? Nah, the fac- saw me making car. And when you mentioned what's due in October in terms of is the same face. I make when someone reminds me that freelancer taxes are every corner. And I'm like. Also, do you? Remember all his times. I said the JC Penney would go under before Sears. Yes. Do you still stand behind that? I'm concerned about my own predictions. You think that Sears might collapse? Sooner rather than later. I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying I'm concerned. I'm concerned about my predictions. This is an outrageous plan. Do you really think you're going to pull this off in Q four of twenty eighteen in America? I think it's a hail Mary. This is a hail Mary in retail. This is what it looks like we're just gonna try it. We're gonna try guys look though, if the Cleveland Browns can win a football game. Maybe see your skin pull this one out this year. I am a sucker because I'm still rooting for them. I'd still like you guys. Just try try it. But this one hundred thirty four million dollars debt is like giving me a heart attack October fifteenth is like is like tomorrow, you guys do you have any bills? Do don't worry about it. If it's not one hundred thirty four million dollars. Suddenly my student loans seem so try flam to keep this in check. Remember, you can only be a billionaire for this to work if you're like small potatoes. Like, you and me the government will come after you. Oh, yeah. We we the smallest of potatoes. We nail French fries. Alarm. I had some of dinner tater talk. Oh, anyway, I could talk about potato products more, but I'm going to abruptly change gears and talk about Amazon the holidays are coming just want you to keep that in mind as I read the next the next piece and by read, I mean, tell you as if I am just learning at myself with that enthusiasm the Washington Post reported this week that Amazon has been calling workers around the country into all hands meetings where they've been given raises of twenty five to fifty five cents an hour. Oh, that's so chin arrays. Oh, really? Snakes one worker in San Bernardino. California said the forty cent bump to thirteen fifteen an hour was the first rays. He's received since he began working at the company for years ago. He said it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough at all the HR manager and the room was like aren't you excited? Come on clap. We started a slow clap with no emotions in our faces. A three percent raise in four years at feels like damage control. I mean, this is a variation of what happened to the garment workers where they got a raise. And everybody said, are you kidding me? Exactly. Exactly. And this time it's the warehouse workers workers in other parts of the country reported small increases that bring pay to between eleven fifty and fifteen oh five per hour after rages ranging from two to four percent the median Amazon worker was paid twenty eight thousand four hundred forty six dollars last year. According to company filings that is the medium that is the salary in the middle. You have them above it half of them below it. I don't have the economic wherewithal to explain that further. But I'm just saying that's the median. One warehouse worker told the Washington Post. The general message was that with benefits were being paid fifteen an hour. Even though we're only getting eleven twenty five by the time that meeting was over all the employees at that location had gotten a pay increase to eleven fifty an hour fulltime warehouse workers also receive benefits like health insurance and restricted stock units. But like I like to be compensated in real cash money. I mean, getting health benefits they essays is a big deal. But it still doesn't make up for the fact of living wage, and what that should be exactly I I mean. I mean, what what do we do with this information? I don't know. I don't know. Can you imagine car? Okay. You're you're a person with a desk job now for three whole weeks. I know everything asked me whatever you want. She's slow ready. Can you imagine? If your boss came around to your desk and said Carne, you're doing a great job where him and give you a raise. And then she sprinkled a near hand a couple of quarters and then walked away. How would you feel the thing that got me about your story is how the HR manager wanted this false enthusiasm of like arch? You grateful aren't you excited? No bitch. I still got a FEMA family. I gotta pay my bills. Guess what's going up every year my property taxes property taxes you act as if the people who are going to Amazon warehouse can afford property, right? You're so right. I can't afford property card. Have a salary and free health insurance. Most people can't afford property. I mean, honestly can anybody these days? Hardly anyone herb any join my club. The non homeowners committee of America established nine hundred and five. I mean, Amazon is a machine that in our lifetime. It's gonna come to blows. It just will like. Do you? Remember, you don't remember this? Because do you remember the Toine Festa? We'll talk about this. I say all day the guy who does those videos on the internet is amazing. Okay. We can't we can't. It's over. Why? Are we talking about this on this new show move on? Why did you sing that song? It's awesome. I love him. Okay. Do you remember, and you don't because you were not even a fetus at the moment. The triangle shirt ways there that caused widespread worker labor reform in America. Okay. Why why do we have the eight hour work day with fire exits in our buildings it's because a whole bunch of women died because the factory caught on fire, and they couldn't get out because the doors were locked because they were supposed to be working, right? And it set off this whole snowball of labor reform when you know, what's about to happen Amazon. Mushroom cloud a few things number one. What year was that? Do you remember nineteen fifteen ish nineteen ten this? You honestly asked me if I remembered if it happened back night out. We'll do you think I am do you remember learning about it? No because I went to public school. So I learned about it. Okay. I have to history degrees, slim, but of snot right now. But I mean, I learned about it from you since the show started. Yes. Roximately one hundred twelve years ago or thereabouts. Where did it happen? New york. Okay. I don't think we are anywhere near that happening with Amazon. I don't think it's going to blow up anytime in the near future because we like free shipping. Too much just kind of like with fast, fashion, we like cheap shirts too much. But I think all of this will eventually come to a head before we started recording. I was like car and look what I got from Amazon today. I mean, we participate in this. We can't. Condemning and participating in it at the same time. Have you seen right? The movie. Yeah. That happened in this past one hundred years, I have not seen the movie. Required viewing for a retail reporter. I know who you're talking about though. Yes, how I feel solid you. Okay. I'll talk about Sally field. Of course. I'm having a hard time connecting the dots here because everything from grad school is just like smashing together my head, but like watch this story. Okay. Like, this is not over. Oh, it's definitely not over. And I am here. Like, I got the popcorn. I am ready. I'm ready for it to let me tell you my primes about to expire data dot level the John revolutionist coming. It's not starting at my house. I'm going to change subjects really fast farfetched just made a shoot ton of money. How much tells how much eight hundred eighty five million dollars? Lisa eight hundred eighty five million dollars. You know, what you could do with that amount of money. You could save Sears. But why if you have a successful company would you want to go after that pit you wouldn't you would get fourteen yachts farfetched is a London-based website that facilitates the selling of luxury goods they went public last week and their initial public offering on the stock market raised eight hundred eighty five million dollars. They have on their website. Almost one million active users Jose Nevis owns about fifteen percent of farfetched his stake in the company is now worth one point two billion dollars. He is forty four years. Old. He single. 'cause I am well sort of. But I mean, I could be it's good to see somebody succeeded on the new York Stock Exchange, that's kinda cool. But holy moly. Is this thing overvalued right now. I do not know do you do you? Remember what the projected IPO was. I don't remember. Yeah. Said they were expecting between seventeen and nineteen dollars a share. And I think they got twenty two twenty twenty two twenty two. Yeah. I wish I was over overvalued as a tech startup. No, you just want to be worshipped like a tech startup also that I mean, I wouldn't turn it down. Isn't it called a unicorn when you reach one billion dollars in valuation if your tech startup, yes because they do consider themselves a tech company and not a retail company. Let's see if they reach unicorn status. I mean there with it ridge of it right now. It's all about the algorithm. It's all about the unicorn power big unicorn energy. Be yui. Boom. Okay. That's been have the same ring. Be big dollar energy. That's the rated G version if you don't want to curse and you like stock exchange information big dollar energy. That's how many people I gotta send that to now that I've come up with that. When you personal finance website. You're always looking for that pun. Anyway, I'm out of news like I'm all tapped out. Okay. Cool. Do you wanna go to like letters? Let's do it listener letters. Okay. I only got two so buckle in this. First one is from Carla who starts her letter with high pops a little bit. I like it a few episodes ago, you read a letter from someone who wanted to start their own clothing line. But wanted to source things like t shirts from an ethical company. I think I may have found a really cool company that the listener could look into working with I have been trying to cut back on shopping from bigger companies. So when I have that shopping urge I like to purchase merchandise from musicians that I enjoy supporting the artist and not feeling fast fashion. I recently purchased such a t shirt, and when it arrived. I couldn't believe how great the quality was very soft and the cut fits me nicely curious to see where it came from. I check the inside tag it read responsibly sourced for brands who care from brand called continental clothing. I didn't dive too deep into the research, but it turn. Turns out continental clothing as part of a bigger picture company called the fair wear foundation upon visiting its website and learned that they advocate for good manufacturing practices such as fair wages, safe working conditions reasonable, working hours and notice cremation along with intensive documents about specific working conditions from certain factories all over Asia. They also have a list of brands they work with including some high end brands like acne studios. So if you're listening to still interested they might want to check out continental clothing to source their basics for screen printing etcetera. Thanks for all your fashion news reporting. I totally support pop. Fashions lack of physical merchandise. But theoretically, if you ever wanted to throw in a shirt here on there, maybe looking into continental clothing would be the way to go. Love you guys Exo exile, Carla I love how you guys look out for each other. It makes me so happy. Thank you for supporting each other through letters like this and noted Carla about like using this. If we ever decide to go in this direction. Our next letter is from Melissa who is a therapist and wrote in response to our response to our listener last week who was going through some difficult transitions. And this is a letter that I have abridged Melissa said just having this open discussion about mental health will be so helpful for so many people. It's the best way to combat stigma and research shows that stigma accounts for about fifty percent of the burden of mental health suffering. You're playing your part to make things better. And given how many people are currently actively fucking things up a helped makes Thursday's a bit of a respite my heart goes out to your listener. And to everyone just doing their best to get through it while it's inspirational and admirable to be able to hold it all together, even recovery. It's okay to not be able to do all the things to it's okay to have to hand over some responsibilities and to downsize, do what you need to do to survive and to get better. There. It feels frustratingly slow at the beginning. But you will actually be better able to take on more sooner and to do a better job of it. If you take the time now to really look after yourself think of it like an injury. If you sprain your ankle. You would probably force yourself to walk around on it all the time. But odds argued slow and miserable and the ankle won't heal while you'll be left with the less than functional ankle for a lot longer in the long run resting at for six to eight weeks will likely save a lot of hassle. I feel like I'm rambling and this long. But I see so many awesome people struggled with this exact issue like they're somehow failures unless they get back to one hundred percent immediately. And it's not true, nor is it going to actually make things better. However, not knowing the person's financial situation just want to be sensitive that realistically survival can take up more time and energy than we really have to give. And that's okay. And as you guys say so often do the best you can with what you have also laugh seriously black humor. Is. So so necessary when things are hard and overwhelming. Sometimes it's the only way to survive, Melissa. Thank you for sharing your insight. I will say the Ida great time at therapy last week. Oh, that's wonderful. I'm so glad my therapist uses all the same nicknames for guys that I do. Because clearly we're bonding, right? And he's trying to keep them all straight. And it was just I asked him several times. It was like my doing this. Right. He was like, do you think you're doing it? Right. And I was like no, I actually really want you to tell me if I'm doing. But it was a great experience. I'm so glad I went I hope that our listener from last week is having a semi good week or like a slightly better week than last week. You know, it's all baby steps small victories are still victories. And I appreciate listeners like Melissa who write in and say, hey, like, you're doing the best you can. And it's okay. If you don't have it all together because here's the big thing. Nobody has it all together. Now I cried in therapy. Can't remember why it doesn't really matter? But I only used one Kleenex was shoved all my tears on the one single square. I was like I know you got stock in Kleenex, but I need to like get it. After this. I'm going to try to refrain from using the entire box. Yeah. That's it. That's all. I got this week this week. If you want to get in contact with us, go to pop fashioned podcast dot com. You can find us on the Graham on Instagram at pop fashion podcast or on Twitter at just pop fashion lethal. What is your one good thing this week this week? I have a new podcast to recommend. Ooh. If you like true crime, but you are not necessarily into the grime and gore and gruesome reality of, you know, death and murder and stuff. Do I have a crime podcast for you? It is called last seen. It is a collaboration by WB. You are in the Boston Globe in his base out of Boston. And it is a retelling and continued continued investigation into the art heist that took place at the Isabel Stewart Gardner museum. Nineteen ninety. Oh, yes. If you're not familiar with this event. It was either twelve or thirteen pieces of priceless art that were highsted. I think is the verb from this legendary museum, and this is an unsolved case of art theft. And so if you are someone who really loves the fashion crime that we tend to talk about on this show, aka the jewelry, heist in the embezzlements, you will be into this. I will say that it took me to episodes to fully get into the host's, tone and voice and people who listen to criminal with Phoebe judge will will immediately. Be like, okay, I'm fine with this some of the rest of you might need a couple of episodes to get into it. But we're only two in. So you have time to catch up if you are new to it. I would say give it a shot. Like, I was listening to it on the treadmill yesterday and forgot to stop running at the time are supposed to stop running. That's a good sign is the sign of a good show. So that is my recommendation for a new podcast. They said Jim note that I know a lot about art theft is it because you come from museums. Have you stolen, art? I refuse to answer that question on advice of counsel. And I know a lot about art theft because I like it. Oh lot. Okay. So can you do, you know about the garner museum heist, of course, obviously? Okay. So can you please listen to the show like in your spare time in your copious amounts of spare time like whenever you get to it? When you start listening can you catch up with me about? Yes. Yes. Of course. Because whenever I say to friends outside this particular, circle like Alicea new pockets are like what else and I'm like. I want to talk to about it, whom I talk to I think you've come to the right place. Catch man. Get ready for some Boston ass accents in this podcast. Because is great. I love it. My one good thing. This week is called oh transcribe. It is a website. Is it a great thing or what? Oh, transcribe dot com. One word. It's a free. Oh, oh, Lord. Thank you for existent. Transcribe? It is a free service that does transcription Lisa, and I were nursing out about it before the show started a colleague of mine said, hey, you have to try this because transcription is the bane of existence for journalists. It is so hard before you say, oh, there's transcription services out there that you could go to a lot of them are crappy. And also, I know people do it as a profession, but a lot of times in journalism. You don't have a lot of money to pay for it. And then the turnaround time is really quick. And then to like, you kind of want to be an autopsy of your own accuracy with quotes because you're responsible for them. So you end up doing a lot of your own transcription. So what the website does is that it doesn't do it for you? You still have to do it. But it makes it a lot easier and the formatting is easier. So if you have a job that RIC. Choir. Some kind of transcription I highly recommend this website. We are not getting paid to say this. We are genuinely excited about it. Because we are nerds. You know? I'm pretty sure I saw on the website this week that the person who developed transcribed did it as a hobby, and it's still just side project. What it's so brilliant, the thing that makes this website, so great as a lot of times of transcription, you're working with multiple devices to listen and the your computer to type on what it does is it takes the sound. And you could download it puts it on the top of the screen, and then you can push the escape to play or to pause it. So you can listen to transcribe at the same time. There's a way you can put in Timestamps, really easy. And then it goes back just one second when you pause it. So you can make sure it's accurate. Oh my gosh. It's made my life so much easier this past week. I had to flip a story really fast at interviewed five people for it. And I didn't. Know how I was going to do proper transcription and hit my line. This is the thing that made it happen. The thing with transcription is that it's like that. Then diagram like do you want it fast and cheap or like fast and good? And like the two circles, don't meet. For someone like me who has been told. Hey, Lisa, stop expensing, your transcription. Like do it by hand. I'm like, I don't want a good use of my time. But also, it's not a good use of our money as a company, and so this I I had to longer interviews in the past week where Kearns like saved my. But just because she emailed me a Lincoln was like don't forget this exists. And so then I turn around to someone behind me at my office. And was like, hey Caitlin. Did you remember this exists? You gotta plug this shit in. Yes. Making life easier. But cultivable transcribe is strong. It is for good reason. You guys have a good week. We love you take care of yourself. Make choices by.