Chikashi Miyamoto

philosopher by training, gentleman by accident, pervert by nature, glutton by choice

Category: style

The Cockroach of Fashion

Jordache Basics

Stone-washed denim.

Just when I think it has disappeared for good (again), it comes back (again).

It simply won’t die.

Forget Brexit. Forget Trump. This is a serious matter.

A Perennial Challenge in Retail, Part 2

In the 1970s, a woman and her partner opened a Louis Vuitton Malletier franchise boutique in Munich and introduced the brand to Germany when LV was still owned and managed by the Vuitton family. Unsurprisingly, she still has several LV pieces from the 70s, one of which is a well-used Keepall bag.

Several years ago in the south of France, decades after her affiliation with LV had become a distant memory, she visited a Louis Vuitton boutique, owned and operated by LV, now a subsidiary of LVMH Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton, to have a repair job done on the Keepall.

After listening to her requirement, the LV sales associate took a quick glance at the bag and pronounced that it is fake.

Priceless.

Now, imagine if that sales associate told the same thing to someone who doesn’t really know the origin of the bag because it was a present from a thoughtful and generous person, or, so awkward to mention in this age of throwaway culture, it was handed down from a previous generation.

What can one say after receiving a divine revelation like that? My experience at Bottega Veneta in Paris was, I must say, a lot more subtle, if that’s the appropriate word.

With 1 1/2 times as many shops as Ikea, it’s no small undertaking for LV to train and manage all the front-of-house staff in all those retail locations. And, by training, I don’t mean just product knowledge but also conduct.

I know, it’s hard.

What bemuses me is the current trend (more like a mad rush) amongst product brands to have an army of ‘brand ambassadors’. They hand out products to these ‘ambassadors’ so that they can be seen in the wild and on social media using their products. The tactic itself has been used for ages, even before the advent of the Internet, but the practice of giving these people a formal designation is, I believe, a more recent phenomenon.

Some are famous people. Some are ordinary people.

With due respect to these people and without undermining the contribution that some are making in increasing awareness of the respective brands, none are ambassadors of the brand.

The real ambassadors, or rather, the people who should be the real ambassadors, are the brand’s members of staff, particularly those that come in direct contact with existing and potential end users and influence how they form a view about their relationship with the brand. That is not a revolutionary or innovative concept. Rather, it’s a very old one that has not lost one bit of its relevance.

However, it can be difficult to remember the important things when there is so much focus on gimmicks, buzz words, page views and likes.

Or, call me a dinosaur.

Break Rule #22 or You Are Not a Real Roadie

Most roadies know or at least heard of The Rules. The Keepers of the Cog wrote them with their tongues firmly in cheek. It is an entertaining read. It’s a cycling classic. The problem with these things is that they sometimes get the unimaginative and humourless ones all earnest about some or all of the Rules. The one that regularly comes up in a variety of channels, including those containing articles written by people paid to write them, is Rule #22.

I’m sure that some of those authors also have their tongues firmly in cheek when they mention it. However, I suspect that some are rather earnest. If things get repeated often enough, it’s bound to become gospel to the unenlightened.

Rule #22 states:

Cycling caps are for cycling.

Cycling caps can be worn under helmets, but never when not riding, no matter how hip you think you look. This will render one a douche, and should result in public berating or beating. The only time it is acceptable to wear a cycling cap is while directly engaged in cycling activities and while clad in cycling kit. This includes activities taking place prior to and immediately after the ride such as machine tuning and tire pumping.  Also included are cafe appearances for pre-ride espressi and post-ride pub appearances for body-refueling ales (provided said pub has sunny, outdoor patio – do not stray inside a pub wearing kit or risk being ceremoniously beaten by leather-clad biker chicks).   Under these conditions, having your cap skull-side tipped jauntily at a rakish angle is, one might say, de rigueur. All good things must be taken in measure, however, and as such it is critical that we let sanity and good taste prevail: as long as the first sip of the relevant caffeine or hop-based beverage is taken whilst beads of sweat, snow, or rain are still evident on one’s brow then it is legitimate for the cap to be worn. However, once all that remains in the cranial furrows is salt, it is then time to shower, throw on some suitable aprés-ride attire (a woollen Molteni Arcore training top circa ’73 comes to mind) and return to the bar, folded copy of pastel-coloured news publication in hand, ready for formal fluid replacement. It is also helpful if you are a Giant of the Road, as demonstrated here, rather than a giant douchebag.

In a normal world, I would read articles mentioning the above rule, be amused and move on. If some seem rather earnest, it is of no consequence.

However, we no longer live in a normal world.

Baseball caps are bloody everywhere.

They have infiltrated the pro-cycling circuit by being presented as ‘podium hats’. Bleedin’ blasphemy.

In any case, anyone who refers to caps as hats must be treated with the same suspicion as a man who wears his tie in a so-called full Windsor knot or a man who wears brown shoes with a navy suit. Not. To. Be. Trusted.

They make the 3 highest ranking cyclists of the moment look like under-nourished 18-wheeler drivers.

They are standing in front of global media channels, with their images beamed to all corners of the world.

Wearing baseball caps instead of cycling caps.

Nobody complains about all those people going about their business wearing baseball caps outside a baseball field. Some even wear a baseball cap with a lounge suit — if you have never seen such a specimen, go visit North America where there are plenty of them and other exotic species.

However, roadies are not supposed to wear cycling caps off the bike? And, what, wear baseball caps instead?

I don’t think so.

You’re not a real roadie if you are not habitually breaking Rule #22. You’re just a poseur.

I’m totally and utterly serious.

Curating a Wardrobe

What does that mean? (That is, assuming that it actually means something.)

 

Business Drivel, part 16

We’ve seen many key personnel changes at fashion labels, namely, in the creative director role. There have been many ‘departures’ and replacements, as well as the creative director role effectively being eliminated altogether in rare cases. In other words, the fashion industry has been keeping headhunters quite busy.

A principal of a niche headhunting firm was interviewed by a US broadsheet about the recent turnover in creative directors and said: ‘There is a hunger and a desire within our industry to be relevant, always to the next generation and the next generation… If I were to point to any trends, it would be to achieve that relevance without losing the DNA.’

Was that a damning assessment of how the fashion industry has been operating and hiring in the past? Achieving relevance without losing the DNA is a new trend?

Or, was that a damning assessment of consumers, previously having bought piles of stuff that’s not relevant to them?

Or, was that a case of verbal diarrhoea?

Do I Know You?

The Incredibles

image via Disney.com

 

You’re bound to know at least a few people that you are accustomed to seeing in a very specific context but only in that context. Until one fine day you see them outside of that context.

Your reaction can range from a mild surprise at seeing that person ‘out of context’ and doing a little double-take, to actually struggling to recognise that person at all.

Do I know you? You look somewhat familiar, but I can’t quite place you…

One fine day, you see a cycling buddy out of his Lycra and wearing civvies, and you mumble under your breath, ‘So that’s what you look like in normal clothes…’

It can be a little unsettling when you first see a normal person out of his usual civvies and in Lycra instead.

But you get used to it soon enough.

No?

‘Luxury Goods’, ‘Luxury Brand’

The terms are being used in an increasingly loose sense and have already ended up being stripped of any meaning.

Please give them some peace and privacy in this time of need so that they can endeavour to recover their meaning.

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