The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever

The time when “fashion” was defined by French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by elite has ended. Now designers take their cues from mainstream consumers and creativity is channeled more into mass-marketing clothes than into designing them. Indeed, one need look no further than the Gap to see proof of this. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal, reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, anmd licensing to image making and financing. Here as well are fascinating insider vignettes that show Donna Karan fighting with financiers,the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and the commitment to haute conture that sent Isaac Mizrahi’s business spiraling.

100 Years of Fashion Illustration

A visual feast of 400 dazzling images, this is a comprehensive survey of the genre over the last century. The book also offers an overview of the development of fashion, as seen through the eyes of the greatest illustrators of the day. Early in the century fashion illustration reflected new, liberating currents in art and culture, such as the exoticism of the Ballets Russes, while the postwar period saw inspiration from the great Parisian couturiers. After the dominance of the celebrity fashion photographer in the ’60s, a new generation of illustrators emerged, embracing the medium of the computer, while many returned to more traditional techniques.

Developer Life, Yo

These days there are a lot of documentary shows on TV about various professions. I am somewhat addicted to them – I watched whole seasons of shows about hairdressers, crab fishermen, lobster fishermen, tattoo artists in Florida, tattoo artists in Nevada (but not the one about tattoo artists in LA), restaurateurs ice road truck drivers, custom motorcycle builders, custom car builderscorrectional officers and inmates, and the Philadelphia meter maids.

My own profession is mostly untelevisable. Mostly. Well, maybe some TV network might make a show out of Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks With Geeks. I also think that there could be a tiny market for a heavily edited “looking over the shoulder” video on the code writing habits of colorful  alpha geeks like Linus Torvalds, Donald Knuth, Brad Fitzpatrick, Dries Buytaert, and maybe even  JWZ. I’d buy that for a dollar.

I found that there are two occupations that are unexpectedly similar to that of a software developer: prison inmate and line cook. Both of these are heavily male dominated, involve a disproportionate amount of minorities and are very stressful.

I recognized offices in which I worked all my life in prison layouts.  The common criminals usually live in a common area in the center of the prison. This is exactly like a common area of an office, except with bunk beds instead of desks. Some actually have semi-private cubicles. Inmates organize into gangs, just like departments. Gang leaders are usually placed into single or double cells that line the perimeter of the common area to cut down on the communication between them and their reports.  Even there you have to be a manager to score an office.

Restaurants are a lot like developer shops. You have your front of the house: waiters (sales people),  hosts and managers, food runners (analysts). And then you have your back of the house: chefs (architects and lead developers), line cooks (developers) and  prep cooks (producers). There’s no good equivalent for dishwashers in a typical developer shop.

People often assume that a chef primarily cooks and a lead developer primarily codes. Do you know the title of Julia Child’s awesome show? Well, she was neither French nor a chef. Chefs do surprisingly little cooking, they are more like conductors in  orchestras. They create menus,  divvy up the tasks, check quality, train and supervise cooks.  Best chefs, just like the best lead developers do find time to cook, but still spend more time organizing, tasting and researching.

Old Hat

Same old album. Here I am, at the shore of the Black Sea wearing my favorite cowboy hat. Man, did I love that hat. It had this feeling about it… The feeling of something a bit forbidden (cowboys after all were an American icon), and a feeling of freedom. My parents only let me wear that hat as a reward for finishing my summer homework assignments on time (which I rarely did), so there was also a feeling of accomplishment.

It’s kind of sad that wearing hats is out of fashion these days. Hats make you feel special. A fedora, a cowboy hat, a top hat, a derby hat. Gone, nobody wears them anymore, nobody remembers how special they are.

I keep meaning to buy a cowboy hat like that again, but never get around to it.

That Tactical Sensation

Today I am going to explore the geek/NYPD cop connection. Let’s see:

Geeks have Dockers Mobile Pant. I am not sure why Dockers marketing people all of a sudden decided to use the singular form of the word, but I guess they wanted to play on the connotation of “panting”. “Mobile Pant(s)” are dorky and ugly khaki pants that somewhat lessen the bulges from cellphones and pdas. I used to own a pair, and can’t say that I liked it much.

NYPD has “Patrol Tactical Pants”. Most New York newspapers ran gushing stories about NYPD being oh so very fashionable with the introduction of these pants. You can still find regurgitated bits of those stories over at Gothamist blog.

Moving on. Geeks have their Darth Vader lightsaber replicas. You can purchase a a cool plasma one with crazy effects or in a true Jedi manner build one out of a Heiland photo flashgun, just like the real thing.

Traffic cops started to appear with red led lit batons – mmmm, dark side color :

You can purchase your own pair of “Patrol Tactical Pants” over at Galls. They also have duty jackets (these are perfect for fishing), buckle less belts (these just look neat) and gloves.

Police gloves are cheaper, look and fit better than most good quality civilian gloves. I always hated wearing gloves because taking them off when I need to pay for something, use a camera or a phone. Some police gloves are made so that you can pick up a small coin in them easily. Just look at these: “enhanced tactical sensation”, cut resistance and “Water-resistant kangaroo leather palms”? Can you say the perfect winter fishing glove?

They also have more esoteric equipment:

Cold Water Immersion Suit – for NYC sewer diving

Rhino® 14″ Wheel Immobilizer – for that dumbass whose car alarm wasn’t letting you sleep all night

Holding Cell and Holding Cell Bench (perps sold separately) : as a gift for everybody’s favorite night club owner

Who Is The King Of New York Metrosexuals?

So, I sit down in my favorite seat on my favorite train and open the Fair und Balanced newspaper, ya? And what do I see? “Dmitry Paperny spends $60 a month more on grooming than fiancee Laura Rohrman.” And a full page photo of and his fiancee as an illustration to the article about metrosexuals. Yes, yes, according to the article is a full-on flaming metrosexual.

I have to say that being a closeted metrosexual myself, I mostly spend my money on books, electronics, bay items, tools, fishing stuff and cigars. I do have some Zirh “products” in the bathroom. So, , you go boy!

Embed With Microsoft

An auction for a special Microsoft shirt:
“The MICROSOFT� WINDOWS� EMBEDDED signature NAME and LOGO”

This reminded me of a t-shirt I’ve seen somewhere that said: “Embed me, link me, treat me like an object”.

Logo apparel is an amazingly effective propaganda tool. My favorite Microsoft shirt says “MS Commerce Server 2000 Surf Naked”. I still wear it even though it’s 3 years old.

I really want to get “Apple T-Shirts: A Yearbook of History at Apple Computer”, but it’s apparently rare and expensive at $180. Dang.

Some pretty cool shirts at http://geekt.org/:
Heh heh, so Outlook’s original code name was Ren. I am still working on that database of Microsoft codenames. Stay tuned.

I think Dave Cutler gave out Zero Bugs shirts also, but Netscape’s shirt is more famous.

How I wish there was a source for logo polo shirts from cool companies. I could go for some Amdahl, Cray, Microsoft, Apple, Xerox PARC shirts.