picture perfect

The fashion world is riddled with everything from designer dog collars to designer diapers, things that my dad would not-so-delicately refer to as “a waste of money.” Yet, these products must draw in some significant wad of cash or else they would no longer be on any store shelves. So, how do these supposedly extravagant products find their way into shopping bags across the country? Two words: visual merchandising. That’s right; something as simple as the way products (any product, not just the ones that seem to be a waste) are placed in a store makes people more likely to buy them. So, naturally, I decided to check this out…

…and it totally holds up. Just look at this picture:


The way the mannequins are set up, the way the racks of clothing frame them, heck, even the garments chosen to be on those exact racks were all strategically executed. Stores want people to buy as much as possible so they organize products in ways that mirror real life and make picking up another piece easy. These mannequins are posed like a real picture, making them relatable to a passing customer so that the customer can picture herself wearing their clothes to make her want to buy them. The racks that frame the mannequins contain some of the clothes that they’re wearing mixed in with others not on the mannequins. It’s only logical that garments are placed on racks near the mannequins that are wearing them. However, this also makes people more likely to buy the other clothes as they would see how well they match what’s already on the mannequins.

I also believe, putting some of the mannequins’ clothes on other racks would be an effective merchandising strategy. It would draw people further into the store and make them see even more clothing not on the mannequins.

The next time you hit up your favorite boutique, or even the next time you stop at a gas station, pay attention to where products are placed. You may be surprised by the trends you see.



Follow up

I found that the majority of my followers on Pinterest are around my age (in their late high school or early college years). Most of them are women, but a few are male, and they normally log onto the website in the evening (probably when they’re watching TV after dinner and don’t want to pay attention to the commercials). Furthermore, they mainly “like” or “repin” my fashion and quote posts as opposed to my animal, art, or health and fitness posts.

All of this is important and helpful to me in making my Pinterest blog even better. I now know to post more fashion and less fitness to keep the interest of my followers and gain even more. I also know to keep the fashion posts centered on more modern and youthful looks as opposed to what older Pinterest users would like or wear.

My Instagram, however, is mainly followed by my friends and family, who give me the most likes on pictures I post with other friends and family. This helps me know to post more pictures like that as opposed to pictures of landscapes or pets, which was what I did when I first started the account.

All social media and blog sites are learning experiences, and checking the stats is like a free tutoring session.


Homemade Handbag

Companies often design or create their own fabrics to maintain the essence of their brands and create exactly what they want. I had to make my own striped pattern for a ParsonsxTeenVogue assignment and use it to make the signature bag that I previously designed.

I created the pattern by sewing together strips of various fabric remnants and then taping the fabric to the mockup test version of the bag I’d made out of a poster. In order to do this, I had to keep track of costs and create yet another cost outline to make sure I still had a viable product.

I found that creating my own fabric significantly added to the production time, so I would either have to sell the product on my own (to keep it at the estimated retail price of $47 that the one-fabric designed bag is) or raise the estimated retail price to $90 (see one of my previous blog posts to find out why). The cost outline of the striped bag is posted below.

Various remnants $1.29
Poster board $1
Tape $2
Thread $2
3.5 hours @ $8.50/hr. $29.75
Total cost $36.04
20% profit $7.21
Total cost plus profit $43.25





Signature purse

Brands and companies often make products in multiple colors and fabrics to better address the different tastes of their clientele. However, this makes cost analysis take a lot longer as it must be done for each material. I recently did this for a “signature purse” I had to design for my ParsonsxTeenVogue class.

I, first, created a paper version of the bag out of poster board, which was necessary to see what it would look like in real life, determine how much fabric would be needed for it, and to have a pattern at the ready for the start of production.

Then, I found five fabrics that I liked, and determined how much it would cost to make the purse with each one. I ended up picking fabrics that were in a similar price range, so the differences between the costs weren’t that much, but they often can be. For example, Michael Kors makes the same style bag out of nylon that he does out of leather, which leads to dramatically different production costs between the two. As a result, the bags are sold for different prices.

Companies have a choice when these differences happen; they can do as Michael does and sell them at different prices or they can sell them at the same (higher) price. However, if the materials are so obviously of different qualities, the companies risk having less sales as customers may decide it’s not worth it to pay the higher price for the cheaper material.

I chose to keep my purses all at the same price because the differences in production costs were minimal. You can see their cost outlines below with the style number of each fabric used written above their respective charts.

Fabric 1302207:

.25 yards of fabric $3.25
.25 yards of pellon $0.75
Thread $2
(estimated) 1.5 hours @ $8.50/hr. $12.75
Total cost $18.75
20% profit $3.75
Total cost plus profit $22.50
Estimated retail price $47

Fabric 14241582:

.25 yards of fabric $3.25
.25 yards of pellon $0.75
Thread $2
(estimated) 1.5 hours @ $8.50/hr. $12.75
Total cost $18.75
20% profit $3.75
Total cost plus profit $22.50
Estimated retail price $47

Fabric 12950127:

.25 yards of fabric $1.28
.25 yards of pellon $0.75
Thread $2
(estimated) 1.5 hours @ $8.50/hr. $12.75
Total cost $16.78
20% profit $3.36
Total cost plus profit $20.14
Estimated retail price $47

Fabric 13853312:

.25 yards of fabric $2.50
.25 yards of pellon $0.75
Thread $2
(estimated) 1.5 hours @ $8.50/hr. $12.75
Total cost $18.00
20% profit $3.60
Total cost plus profit $21.60
Estimated retail price $47

Fabric 12515920:

.25 yards of fabric $3.75
.25 yards of pellon $0.75
Thread $2
(estimated) 1.5 hours @ $8.50/hr. $12.75
Total cost $19.25
20% profit $3.85
Total cost plus profit $23.10
Estimated retail price $47


If it doesn’t fit… check again

You know how identical twins often have at least one tiny difference in their appearances, so that people (or, let’s be honest, really only their mother) can tell them apart? Well, clothes are the same way.

The most recent lesson in my ParsonsxTeenVogue Fashion Industry Essentials program taught me about how human error in production can lead to differences between supposedly identical garments. I tested this tid-bit of INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT information at my local Target and found nothing but support.

While I tried on multiple pieces, such as a black faux-velvet skirt and a thin pumpkin-spice-colored sweater, I focused my outing on a patterned purple raincoat that was all but covered in drawstrings, snaps, and zippers. I liked the coat because, though it was lightweight, it looked like it was durable in a trendy way, which is important here in the good ol’ sunshine state. We get hit with rain hard, but it never gets cold, so outerwear that shields from water without adding thick layers is a must for any native.

After determining which size I was—medium, I tried on all five raincoats that came in that size. I was shocked that they each fit a little differently. Three of them had looser sleeves than the others and two of them were more flared at the waste. This amazed me because, had I tried on one of the bigger ones first, I would have thought that the medium size altogether was not for me and moved down to the small, which may or may not have fit depending on the variations in the one I picked to try.

This was groundbreaking to me because I often struggle with finding clothes that fit. I workout a lot and, as a result, I typically find clothes that either fit my waste or my hips, but not both. When this happens, aside from getting nail-bitingly annoyed, I sort of deem the store, brand, or style of clothing that didn’t work as not meant for me and then simply avoid it. As you can imagine, I seem to have less and less wardrobe options every day, but now I know that there may just be something wrong with that specific piece, not the entire style of clothing or sizing system used by the company.

Now, if something is just barely too tight on me, I can simply try a second one in that same size to determine if it was just a production mistake or if it really doesn’t work for me.

So get ready, guys! You’re shopping trips are about to start taking a lot longer, but your wardrobes are about to become a lot bigger. You’re welcome.



What I learned about retail

Fashion is a world dominated by fantasy and creativity. Retail, however, is a world dominated mainly by numbers, price, and lots and lots of math. I recently dabbled in both on a project for the ParsonsxTeenVogue Fashion Industry Essentials program to learn how the two coexist.

For the fashion side of the assignment, I had to make a blouse out of one yard of silver linen fabric (I chose to do this assignment based on the blouse instead of the accessory I made, because the accessory was made with supplies I already owned and, therefore, accurate cost calculations would have been nearly impossible). I’d originally wanted the garment to be a tank top, but had to make it one-shouldered after a sewing error. This added to production time as I had to hand sew the majority of the piece to account for the design changes, which, in turn, increased the cost of production. It was still a viable product, though, as its estimated retail price was $55 with its total cost plus profit at $51.60.

However, I learned that in the world of retail, the cost of production plus profit is meant to be about half of the estimated retail price of the garment to allow the stores and boutiques (that aren’t owned by the designer herself) that sell the garment  to make their own profits off of it and adjust the price if the item must go on sale or clearance.

To meet these requirements. I adjusted the production time to what it would have been had I not messed up. The garment would still be the one-shouldered final piece, but I’d be able to machine sew all of it if I knew how it was going to turn out from the start, making the whole process more efficient.

That, along with finding a fabric sold cheaper and in bulk online, brought the total cost plus profit down to $23.69 per garment. This is about ten dollars less than what it needed to be to be in line with the rules of retail, making it possible to realistically sell the piece in retail chains without sacrificing the integrity of the garment.

The various numbers used to determine this information can be seen below.

Original cost outline:

One yard silver linen $8
Silver thread $1
4 hours @ $8.50 $34
Total production cost $43
20% profit $8.60
Total cost plus profit $51.60
Estimated retail price $55


Altered cost outline:

One yard silver linen (online) $5.99
Silver thread $1
1.5 hours @ $8.50 $12.75
New total production cost $19.74
20% profit $3.95
Total cost plus profit $23.69
Estimates retail price $55


Ugly Christmas sweater?

It’s been approximately fifteen hours and twenty-five minutes since the clock struck twelve and officially ended Christmas. That means everyone can start looking forward to what this holiday will be like one year from now, and I, for one, hope it looks drastically different.

Forget the fact that it was hot on almost every square inch of this earth (let the weather blogs complain about that); I’m particularly upset with the assortment of Christmas sweaters I saw this year. I thought the word “ugly” meant something. I wanted sweaters with rejected prints, you-can-hear-them-from-down-the-hall bells, and ribbons and bows stacked so high that people had to stretch their necks to see out the top. I wanted tacky, pattern-clashing, oh-my-word-what-is-that ugly sweaters; instead, I got nothing but disappointment with sleeves.

In a country that goes all out for everything from New Years’ Eve celebrations to college football games and even baby gender announcements, why did so few put effort into what they’d wear on what is arguably everyone’s favorite holiday? Why was a reindeer with glasses more common than a bright green light-up sweater with tinsel and little teddy bears sewn on?

A sweater is so much more fun than lights on a house; you can go all out without even having to get out a ladder, but so many more chose the former. Sure everyone has a so-called “ugly” sweater to wear when the occasion demands it, but too many of them are tame cop-outs. Too many of them could be worn on your average Tuesday as opposed to being solely reserved for the late-night office Christmas party that you (and hopefully your boss) won’t remember all the details of.

What’s wrong with fully embracing a tradition and going out on a limb? You’d get tons of compliments for your creativity, you’d have an instant conversation starter, and people would automatically see your die-hard Christmas spirit. It’s a win-win-win.

Ugly Christmas sweaters matter and are a fundamental part of this holiday. Sooooo…I’m calling on you, America, to step up your game, because this is definitely NOT a game. Buy a sweater, some Elmer’s glue, and as many craft supplies as your inner child can handle, because you’ve got exactly 364 days left to get something good for next year.