Haul videos come out of the closet for holiday shopping season

By T.L. Stanley on Fri Dec 3 2010

Girlfriend, I just heard about the most amazing bronzer, and I can't wait to skip on over to Sephora and load up. That's the intended reaction, anyway, to this short clip from Macbarbie07, one of the most popular creators of haul videos on YouTube. The chatty teenager has this whole haul video thing down pat—she talks about what products she likes and holds them up so we can see the packaging. There's usually a comment or two about how it changed her life/made her day/saved her from fashion frumpiness. She's part of a trend that the pop-culture mavens at Intelligence Group say will become more pronounced as the holiday-shopping season gets into full swing. Macbarbie07 is a good example of the millennial generation's need for visual cues and peer reviews. It's the "just talk to me" generation, IG says, where haul videos from the likes of JuicyStar07, AllThatGlitters21 and RiceBunny are as important to certain demographics as paid advertising. Brands have already taken note, with North Face, Maybelline and others compiling haul videos that feature their products. Some sponsor the vloggers, who are obliged to disclose that fact but haven't seemed to suffer much of a backlash as a result. Though I’m not exactly the demo, I'll admit that a good tip can come from anywhere, and I'm inexplicably curious about what Macbarbie07 bought on her most recent Forever 21 shopping spree. It should be great for age-inappropriate ideas, and I have parties to attend. Fellow revelers, brace yourselves.

Ladies, would you buy a $795 pair of 'Tron: Legacy' high heels?

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Oct 20 2010


When are couture-inspired stilettos a good piece of movie marketing, and when are they just silly? According to Jezebel, Disney has come up with a $795 pair of futuristic-looking strappy sandals themed to the movie Tron: Legacy. While we can all argue about the price and relevance of such an item, let's back up a minute. First of all, high-end goods that launch with a movie are nothing new. They're almost de rigeur, depending on the flick and its target. (Example: Alice in Wonderland jewelry.) Second, designers like Jerome C. Rousseau, who created the sleek silver Tron heels, have been making deals with Hollywood for years, looking for a lift from the mega-million-dollar ad campaigns that surround event movies. Studios, in turn, enjoy the cachet (and potential revenue) they get from the association. That said, why would anybody want these kicks? If you're a woman with this kind of cash, would you a) be a fan of the December-opening sci-fi movie and b) want to display that on your feet? I wouldn't see much of a connection to the movie if a person were wearing the pricey footwear with no other outward signs of Tron: Legacy fandom. And in that case, what good does it do for Disney from an image-building/brand-awareness standpoint? Jezebel takes an even harsher view, saying: "There's something stomach-turning about the idea of Disney dangling a shiny shoe as a way to lure women into a movie about dudes playing video games." Plus, it's just opportunistic in a bad way, with the blog suggesting women can "smell a forced, non-organic, in-it-for-the-money marketing scheme a mile away. Manufactured cool is not cool." I'll be interested to see what the demand is for other Tron-linked products in the collection, like the $478 purse, the $495 earrings and the $2,600 necklace.

Plus-size models appearing in fashion shows… just not regularly

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Oct 5 2010


If your new spring fashion collection features a dress that looks like row after row of metallic masking tape with thigh-high slits and belly-baring middle, who better to model it than pop punk provocateur Beth Ditto? If you're Jean Paul Gaultier, you've found your runway muse. It helps, both for effect in the moment and chatter afterwards, that Ditto (shown here) is a plus-size model who stands out in the sea of junkie-thin waifs who sport the industry's most famous brands. Gaultier, ever the button-pusher, has cast plus-size models before and says he'll continue to do so, giving critics (and body-conscious women everywhere) something to admire, even if they're not into his outrageous designs. Ditto walked in his Paris Fashion Week show this past Saturday. But at least one editor, British Vogue's Alexandra Shulman, said she's had enough of the stunt casting and would rather see a steady stream of size 10s on the runway than one high-profile big-boned girl. She has a point. Readers, what do you think is the best brand representation for an avant garde design maven? Should he stick with heroin chic models or go out on a limb with "normal"-looking women? Would that make us buy his clothes? Answer: only if he does another tamed-down, bargain-priced line at Target. But props for showcasing full figures!

At last, a designer arm sling for those who want to heal in style

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Sep 27 2010


When a press release includes the statement "For the first time in medical fashion history," it's at least worth a read, because who in the world knew there was such a thing as "medical fashion history"? A brand called Sling Couture did. (Or let's figure they made it up.) The marketer (and savvy PR specialist) got its cashmere arm sling placed on the premiere episode of CBS's CSI: last week, on "injured" star George Eads, and wants to let everyone know that having a broken paw might be painful but it doesn't have to be butt ugly. The company's products, including cast covers, cost anywhere between $20 and $50 and can be embellished with your monogram, sequins, satin, crystals and lace trim. Now, if they could only do something about those horrible Elmo-themed scrubs. Think line extensions, guys!

U.K. considers requiring labels on airbrushed fashion advertising

By David Kiefaber on Tue Sep 21 2010


Concern about Photoshopped models in print ads has run rampant lately, especially after the Internet seized on a few supremely botched alterations. But now it's merited a stern review from the British government. Officials will be rapping the knuckles of advertisers and fashion editors next month in an effort to communicate just how negatively digital airbrushing affects the body-image confidence of girls and women. They might even require labels on ads in which photos have been airbrushed, too. The logic is simple: It was bad enough when models were picked for their junkie-thin bodies, but now they're being warped into something truly unattainable. The fashion industry is responding with the usual defense of "Let the market decide" and "We just give people what they want." But I've seen no evidence that the public really wants retouched fashion photos. I certainly don't recall any clamor for them. And digital alterations carry other stigmas (like "whitening" models of color) that reinforce already-regrettable social attitudes within the industry. Not to mention that fashion photography looks fake and dead enough without post-production draining what little character remains from every subject.

Dior's copy-and-paste Chinese ad campaign being labeled racist

By David Kiefaber on Tue Aug 31 2010


Dior's "Shanghai Dreamers" ad campaign, featuring row after row of copied-and-pasted Chinese men and women flanking a tall Western model, has struck a chord with people, and not a pleasant one. For one thing, the image of a Westerner standing out among identical Chinese people appears to some observers (like the Guardian's Jenny Zhang and Artinfo's Madeleine O'Dea) as racist Orientalism, and the Cultural Revolution-era clothing was taken as an indelicate callback to a sensitive time in Chinese history. Quentin Shih, the artist behind the campaign, explained that he wanted to "express a dialogue between Chinese fashion ... and Western fashion," and that he intended the Dior model "only to represent the clothes, not herself and not a Western people." Actual Shanghai resident Elaine Chow more or less agreed with this, noting that "China's own fetishistic use of white models in advertising" produces a similar effect. I wouldn't go so far as to call the ad racist, but it is provocative. But I don't think it will hurt Dior much either way—this is small beer in a business where black models are whitened in Photoshop pretty regularly.

Joss Stone and Nine West bring you some more retail-tainment

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Aug 30 2010


We're living in the era of retail-tainment, where we've come to expect live music at the Apple Store, mountaineering discussions at REI and product demos at Bed Bath & Beyond. Not surprisingly, well-known talent is stepping into this area because it's a welcoming and unique environment in which to plug one's latest project. Marketers, who benefit greatly from the star power, are only too willing to make this all happen. (Sarah McLachlan recently played a live show in a JetBlue terminal; no word on how many fans watched the concert instead of catching their flights.) Now, soul singer Joss Stone is hitting the Nine West flagship store in midtown Manhattan on Sept. 10 for a live performance. She'll also be at the Macy's on 34th Street in Herald Square that day to chat with fans and sign copies of her new CD. It's part of Fashion's Night Out, an annual charity event in New York, and Stone's promotion of a co-branded line she designed for Nine West. (She even wrote a song about it!) Stone's Vintage America collection includes shoes, clothing, jewelry and other accessories. Everyone involved hopes that grooving while you shop will boost the bottom line. You have to admit, it's catchy.

Fashion brands trick Snooki into toting around competitors' bags

By David Kiefaber on Thu Aug 19 2010


Designer brands have been courting celebrities for decades, but leave it to Jersey Shore to turn that practice on its head. Those of you who watch the show will be aware that Snooki's loyalty to her Coach bag was unwavering until recent photos showed her with new designer purses. The reason for her fickle taste is that, according to the New York Observer, various fashion houses are sending her free bags made by their competitors, because they think she's repulsive enough that viewers will automatically avoid anything she touches. This approach, while amusing and innovative, might be more effective if these brands weren't all doing the same thing, methinks. Whatever the result, this experiment will hopefully end before the Observer can give Snooki, aka "Miss Snickerdoodle," any more stupid nicknames.

Ann Taylor learning Photoshop from the people at Ralph Lauren

Posted on Fri May 28 2010


Did the fashion world learn nothing from the Ralph Lauren Photoshop controversy of last fall? That would be the heinous print ad where the model's head was actually wider than her hips and she was unrecognizable as a female form. Short answer: Nope. Pictures of models in Ann Taylor's new summer outfits on the marketer's Web site look like they've been stretched through a funhouse mirror. Major distortion! Just eyeballing it, I'd say the models' waists must be about 18 inches, and total body weight couldn't top 100 pounds. And these chicks look about Na'vi size—roughly 8 feet tall. Really, Ann Taylor? The feminist blog Jezebel busted you on this Photoshop-of-horrors, and you apologized, but those images are still on the site. Deplorable, and just plain dumb, especially since your sweet spot has always been adult, mostly professional women. You know, the ones with real bodies and middle-aged curves. You might want to think you cater to the young and hip (and/or size 00), but that's not the reality. Neither are these pictures.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Italian fashion brand's pink Hitler not receiving too many salutes

Posted on Mon May 24 2010


Latching onto the 2004 movie Downfall to indulge in a melodramatic Hitler meme is one thing. (It's not even really Hitler. It's actor Bruno Ganz having an epic meltdown that's been co-opted zillions of times now.) But using a photo of the real Hitler as a sales tool? For shame. New Form, a fashion boutique in Sicily, has papered the city with 18-foot-high posters of Hitler in a pink uniform—with a heart on his sleeve instead of a swastika—under the tagline, "Change style. Don't follow your leader." Even if it made sense, it would still be offensive. Local politicians and the citizenry are outraged, naturally. The ad agency, according to HuffPo, says the campaign doesn't cozy up to the infamous Nazi but instead makes fun of him. And hopefully makes a buck off him, to boot. It's just all so distasteful and wrong. And maybe the start of a trend? HuffPo says Chinese communist leader Mao Tse Tung is New Form's next poster boy. Let's hope that's a (horrible) joke.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley



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