Category Archives: fashion

Boomerangs: Special Edition, sweet deals invade the South End

As you might have noticed, I can’t get by without a semi regular thrift fix. This week’s exploration: Boomerangs, at their new South End location. I’ve heard some buzz but had to check it out myself.

Boomerangs: Special Edition, which opened in February has a distinctly different feel from its thriftier predecessors in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury. No giant denim jumpers. No worn-in flannel. No crushed velvet leggings. Perfect for the second hand junky who would rather not sift through racks upon racks of closet clean-out. In fact, the cozy spot tucked just past Foodie’s on Washington Street blends into the chic South End landscape like every other charming, high-end boutique. The only difference: these designer clothes have adorable hand stamped price tags that are surprisingly low, most items ranging in price between $20 and $50.

The concept for this location:  to provide a niche for some of nicer, more high-end garment donations, injecting them into a location where there is a corresponding market. As a fundraising branch of the AIDS Action Committee (AAC), all Boomerangs proceeds go towards a variety of philanthropic programs. Last year the Boomerangs stores alone raised 15 percent of the agency’s revenue.

With a relaxed aesthetic of exposed brick and vintage-inspired furniture, the store is neat and seeping with labels– folded sweaters from Banana Republic and J. Crew; hanging racks of designer denim and crisp men’s button downs. There’s a gauzy floral Diane Von Furstenberg top for $35. Skinny Diesel jeans for $30. A Ralph Lauren blazer still wearing its original $215 price tag is re-priced at $50. Without a tiny toe scuff a pair of black and white patent Marc by Marc Jacobs peep-toe heels would be seriously swoon-worthy. The selection is well-edited and hardly feels second hand, though the handbag and jewelry selections were somewhat sparse.

The expertly-curated designer brand selection at Special Edition is a far cry from the stuffed, less-filtered racks of the older locations. But I can’t help but feel that a touch of vital character was lost in the editing process. I love Boomerangs for its vintage wares and quirky cool finds tucked between old little league jerseys and stained Tweety Bird tees. Special Edition is just like going to a boutique. But clearly that’s the point– catering to their South End constituents, the label is ultimately what matters here. For a classically effortless, designer chic look at a steal, the store fits the bill. But for a funkier, and arguably more interesting find, that takes a little more scrounging around, the more eccentric might prefer to T out to the old locale. But at least now, the choice is yours: do you or don’t you relish the hunt?

Boomerangs: Special Edition. 1407 Washington St., Boston. 617-457-0996.

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New Brahmin: a refreshing take on Boston fashion

When 27-year-old stylist and fashion journalist Liana Peterson moved to Boston from New York City five years ago, she spent the first six months hiding in her bedroom, reading the Internet and being depressed: it was 10 degrees outside and there was nothing online about Boston fashion.

“I mean I guess the Globe has their blog. And there’s the Bostonist,” Peterson says. “But everything that I was reading about that was regularly updated was police blotters, politics and sports. And none of those apply to me.”

Despite her occasional penchant for a gritty police blotter report, none of Peterson’s daily blog go-to’s – Fashionista, The Cut and Racked – were Boston natives. No blog offered a comprehensive guide to the fashion landscape of Boston.

So Peterson took it upon herself to change that, crafting a space on the Web to fill this gaping void. Her answer: New Brahmin, a part-newsletter part-style diary documenting Boston fashion.

CLICK HERE to check out the faces behind New Brahmin

“We want to be a go-to for Boston and for Greater Boston,” Peterson says. “Unless something directly affects Boston, we don’t comment on it. If we didn’t witness it, it didn’t happen.”

Their formula: maintain a balanced mixture of fashion news items and editorial opinion. They feature local designers, shops and personalities as well as items and trends they recommend. All non-Boston fashion headlines are relegated to a one-liner and link in the Daily D’s.

While other local blogs spend graphs upon graphs reflecting on runway shows and red carpet fashion, Peterson says: “Everyone does that, why would we? The only time there’s ever been a celebrity on our blog is the time I saw Beyonce at a Celtics game.”

Now two years old, the site is finally getting up and moving. Run by four staff members – executive editor, managing editor, beauty editor and Web editor – along with a smattering of contributing writers, the venture recently set up shop in a South Boston studio space leased by the Fort Point Artist Community.

Just over a month ago they re-launched their website after switching platforms from Typepad to Squarespace, and Web editor Jessica Sutton says she’s currently focusing on working out the kinks.

Her first objective: to create a social media presence.

“I sat them down and said ‘OK, there needs to be a fan page and there needs to be a Twitter,’” Sutton says. “But we’re contemplating now how much presence we want to have– we don’t want to be so in your face like follow us here, follow us there. From a blogger’s perspective that can get kind of annoying.”

Through tweeting out important news and linking to their blog posts on Facebook, they’re already building a substantial presence and a name that resonates with many fashion-lovers in Boston.

As for incorporating more innovative aspects of new media, particularly video, into their coverage, Peterson says it will simply come with time. Right now, creating a consistent and reliable stream of content is their utmost priority.

“We just re-launched, we’re still trying to get our momentum per se about posting,” she says. “We do five posts a day sometimes six, and that’s not easy to do. There’s not a lot going on in town to really write about every day when it comes to style and fashion and shopping. Some days are harder than others where we have to pull teeth to try and fill in the blanks, but we’re getting better at it.”

With the recent addition of managing editor Janine Stafford they’re getting closer to that goal. In January the middler communication studies major from Northeastern University decided to make the up-and-coming blog into a six-month co-op. Now, rather than constantly stressing about getting up enough posts before the end of the day, Stafford (also known as the ‘whip cracker’) works as an idea generator crafting weekly budgets to keep everything on a strict schedule. When generating content, Stafford looks at what is happening in fashion at large and cuts it down to an idea that is digestible to their Boston readership.

“You see gold all over the runway,” Stafford explains. “And then Jeannie [Vincent, their beauty editor] pops in and says ‘Here’s how to do it; here’s how to take thing that are crazy on the runway and should stay there and turn them into something that you can do yourself. But please, don’t have like blue eyebrows just because they’re on the runway.’”

With this service in mind, Peterson lovingly named their target reader Patty D. after a friend of hers.

“She works in a bank, in like community relations and works 8:30-4:30 in Downtown Crossing and wears uncomfortably ugly heels and suits to work and has that spark, that interest in shopping and fashion and style but doesn’t necessarily have the confidence for it.”

It’s taking things from the runway along with things that they like personally, and laying them out in a format for which the reader can digest.

“If you like it, cool. If you don’t, cool. We’re here to start a conversation. Tell us why you don’t like it,” Peterson says.

As for making money, the girls agree: after the re-launch they have to smoothe out the kinks before settling on any kind of advertising plan. But it’s definitely something they’re looking into as their out-of-pocket budget for rent, photoshoots and other production costs becomes somewhat draining.

“We don’t just want traditional ads either,” Peterson says. “People don’t pay attention to that. I have no problem with sponsored posts.”

Peterson says she sees such sponsored content as a win/win situation – New Brahmin can afford to pay its rent, and the featured product (only ones that merge with the website’s message, of course) are seen by their recently measured readership of 4,500 unique views per month.

Stafford admits, the numbers aren’t sky high, but since their relaunch less than a month ago the figures have already doubled. To keep with that increase, they’re focusing on features and editorials that will reel in more interest around town. And for a blog with such a niche audience, Stafford says she’s not upset by the numbers.

“We’re not a general interest blog,” she says. “We are pretty niche and although 150+ unique a day isn’t huge we certainly aren’t unhappy with that number.”

Ideally, at some point,  New Brahmin will pay for itself. But for now their focus is the product: a site that can act as an effective reference point for the fashion scene of Boston.

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FashionAIR

I could spend all day up to my eyeballs in fashion websites and blogs. But when it really comes down to it, the one that’s racked up a truly absurd amount of hours most recently, is my latest find: Fashionair.com.

Perhaps you recall the video I posted about a week back of Christian Louboutin tap dancing?

Well, the site is home to the only viewable version of that video and so many more.

They’re specialty: video journalism, and lots of it.

The brainchild of Sojin Lee, previously head of retail and buying at Net-a-Porter, debuted this past September in response to what Lee saw as a gaping hole in the world of fashion blogs.

In a phone call with the New York Observer’s Daily Transom, Lee explains:

I felt there was a huge hole in the marketplace when it came to an immersive fashion web experience. You either had retail sites or magazine sites or bloggers, but you didn’t have anyone that pulled them all together. The democratization of fashion is really important because that’s what the Internet has provided and it just made sense to celebrate the breadth of fashion and bring all that information to the consumer.

And that is quite specifically what he’s doing– gathering together the expanse of fashion info and packaging it in a way that is completely accessible. The site is split up into four categories: Fashion Bites, Shopping, People and Personal Style.

Fashion Bites provides a daily dollop of FashionAIR favorites, with links to check out on everything from food to designers to new bloggers. Shopping pulls together clothing from all across the Web and allows users to shop by criteria like style, body shape, item or location. It also links to their series of Style Council videos that give a tutorial on how to wear a certain look or item.  People is quite possibly my favorite section, and simply consists of magazine-style video features on important fashion characters, like this cool glimpse into life as Margherita Missoni. Finally, in Personal Style video series’ like 7 Days of ChicStyle Profile, and Closet Quick Hit give the viewer a peek into the individual taste of famous style icons as well as that random adorable gal you see on the street.

While the site could do a bit more in terms of involving their audience, and organizing their information, what I find most innovative about this site is that they’re using video as a single form of communication– you’ll find no articles on this site. But why would you want to read about style when you can watch those who embody it?

FashionAIR almost takes on the role of a television station, but one that you can watch at any time. Their different series’ are produced on a regularly basis, so that new episodes are constantly being made, almost in the same way that a tv show would work. It seems that this could be a completely new and very popular form of online journalism because the reader, or viewer really, can essentially sit back and enjoy the show.

By picking and having access to fascinating individuals who people care about, and presenting them in a way that feels personal– like having designer Even Fetherston take you to her favorite Paris spots– people will always want more. And quite unlike watching TV, they can have it whenever they’d like.

FashionAIR is showing its viewers the interworkings– not just the collection on a runway– but the actual human behind it all. What they talk like, what their house looks like, their mannerisms. It’s the kind of stuff people are hungry for. The kind of stuff people want to see.

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The Wooly Mammoth: A Lagerfeld Confection

Karl Lagerfeld would stage a fashion show around an iceberg. And not just any old iceberg. One specifically transported from Scandinavia. Completed with a smattering of fur-clad models splashing through the melt.

Check out his Fall/Winter 2010 show at Paris Fashion Week for yourself:

Lagerfeld’s concept: What would Coco look like all bundled up?

Well, take your pick. There was enough fur to clothe the entire cast of ewoks from “Return of the Jedi.” And then some. But these are the chicest woodland creatures I’ve ever seen.

Though peppered with Chanel’s classic knitwear and tweedy stamp of identity, with 78 furry looks, the collection almost erred away from Ready-to-Wear and into couture territory with it’s heavy dose of conceptualism and artistry. There were fur boots, fur cuffs, fur coats, and fur pants. Fur was even woven into the classic tweedy suit.

But then there’s the kicker: It was all faux. And who would have thought? With Lagerfeld’s famously lavish taste, I supposed he’d find such substitutes far too commonplace and “cheap”. However I guess that aging eccentric is always out for a surprise.

In an recent Q&A with Vice magazine, Lagerfeld explained his views on fur:

It is farmers who are nice to the cows and the pigs and then kill them [that are] even more hypocritical than hunters. At least the hunters don’t flatter the animals. I remember when they killed the pigs when I was a child. I still hear the noise in my ears. I have to eat meat once a week because my doctor wants me to, but I prefer fish. I don’t like that people butcher animals, but I don’t like them to butcher humans either, which is apparently very popular in the world.

As for furs as a luxury item, like those in his collection (whose prices are rarely spoken aloud,) he said:

If you cannot afford it, just forget about it. Don’t use it as an investment piece to show people how rich you are. Use it like a cheap knitted thing. It’s like a big stone. Lucky you that you can have a big stone, but if it troubles you financially to have the stone, don’t have the stone.

And I suppose, however elitist or pretentious that opinion may be, Lagerfeld is quite right. A pair of all-fur Chewbacca-esque pants are hardly an investment piece to serve you through the next decade– but isn’t it simply wonderful that they do exist for that daring segment of elite who can wear them as simply what they are: an outrageous and somewhat hilarious fashion statement.

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{tap}shoe lust

This video,

Or well, the full version of “Dancer in a Daydream” that you can only watch here. Has me drooling all over myself. For a pair of patent leather, red soled, silver studded, Christian Louboutin tap shoes. [sans the tap]

Of a similar, men’s model, Tommy Ton of the Jak & Jil Blog wrote:

What do you do when these puppies grace your presence? You sell your soul to the shoe devil and make an arrangement with him to do absolutely anything you can to get your hands on the Christian Louboutin ‘Rollerball’ studded flats. I would even give up both legs for these shoes!

I’m with you Tommy, too bad not even my soul is worth that $995. And I’m far too squeamish to sell a kidney.

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Bobby’s World.

Bobby from Boston is tucked away on Thayer St., nestled deep in the South End like a hidden gem. Filled to the bursting seams with treasures from bygone years, it’s hardly a vintage store but more like a museum:  A carefully curated collection of clothing and all the finishings, with a smattering of relics from ages past peppered throughout. It’s like stepping into another world. Owner and curator Bobby Garnet has dedicated his life to tracking down rare, high-end vintage, with pieces said to date back to the 1800s. Within the organized, dimly-lit clutter  fellows will find blazers and bombers; delightfully printed bow ties and button-downs. Ladies will uncover a lovely selection of mint condition vintage dresses garnished with an assortment of perfect hats from every era and t-strap heels.

Bobby’s collection of vintage pieces (particularly those rumored to exist only in a warehouse out back)  marks a landmark location for vintage-lovers across Boston and the U.S. Famous for clothing the casts of Titanic, A Beautiful Mind and Road to Perdition, the spot has been mentioned in Travel + Leisure, Lucky Magazine and Boston Magazine.

You haven’t done Boston vintage until you’ve been to Bobby’s. So let’s put in on a Google map.

Bobby From Boston. 19 Thayer St., Boston. 617-423-9299. handicapped accessible. Hours of Operation: Tues.-Sat. 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

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Somewhere over the rainbow.

Jaws dropped at the Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2010 show last Monday, and not for the usual reasons. There were no bold neons. No screaming prints. Not even a particularly eccentric hairstyle.

A classic look from Jacobs' Fall/Winter 2010 Collection

For the first time in his life, Jacobs delivered a collection that was delightfully subdued.

There were simple suits in muted tones, below the knee hemlines in classic shapes, even sweet little ankle socks peeking from underneath vintage-inspired t-strap sandals. When all set to the soft whispering of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, also, appropriately, the collection’s name, everything looked just so, well, sweet. Like delicate, pink faced girls, quietly sipping tea.

My go-to guru Tavi, [who was, of course, front row] said rather eloquently:

The models resembled the tiny graceful figurines that spin in an opened jewelry box, or the human sums of numerous collages crafted by young dreamers out of magazine clippings and backyard finds. There was a clear air of foggy nostalgia that drifted throughout the room, clinging to coattails in shades of pale yellow and grey.

But what would provoke Mr. Jacobs, king of the bold print and eccentric shape, to create something so traditional?

According to Style.com after the show Jacobs said:

It’s refreshing to see something that isn’t trying so hard to be new. There’s so much striving for newness now that newness feels less new.

And I think that quite accurately captures this collection’s essence– where so many are trying to create the wackiest most out-there looks, perhaps true innovation is reworking the styles and silhouettes of ages past. And when coming from a designer so traditionally non-traditional, the classic look certainly makes a new kind of statement. It’s a modern twist on age-old Americana. How ’bout an A-line skirt with that apple pie?

Photo (cc) by Kukumaku and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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