Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Retail Suicide

December 23, 2017

It’s a known fact that fashion retail is in the crapper right now. Sales are off, markdowns rule and companies are more interested in analytics than creativity. As I strolled through the mainstream shops, seeking gifts for a fashionable almost 18-year-old, I was dumbfounded by how dumb retailers really are.

Store after store was filled with lackluster merchandise, less than enthusiastic employees, and signs announcing high percentages off, and “buy one get one” schemes. I literally saw the same items in every single store, with nobody bold enough to put their own spin on them.

After spending decades in the fashion world, as a designer and retail design executive, let me “woman-splain” to you how it works.

Teams of designers labor to create a collection that the merchants or buyers purchase for the stores. Financial plans are considered, as are prior successes. Fast forward to line review, when the designers show the buyers what they created, based on these requirements. In a perfect world, there was a collaboration of creativity and business acumen, meeting somewhere in the middle to create an assortment that would delight and inspire the customer. In the real world, especially when business is tough, analysis paralysis takes over and the product often gets so watered down that the message is lost. I am willing to bet that most of the product decisions this year were belabored, re-assessed and reworked many times to get to this place, at great emotional expense to the teams. Experienced and talented designers have in many cases been replaced by less experienced workers who shop and interpret what’s already out there. This had to have been the case at many stores where the exact same item appeared at all. Organizations like the Gap have done away with their high-level design talent, in favor of merchants partnering with Google analytics.
The result; same old same old products, and markdowns galore.
Don’t even get me started on the store environments. Other than a little music, there is nothing compelling about any of them. Don’t ask me about the morale of the staff, as only one person approached me in the eight stores I entered.

Come Monday morning, or in this particular case, Tuesday, the teams will gather to rehash the holiday sales. Some will blame the weather, some will blame where Christmas fell on the calendar this year, and some will blame marketing for picking the wrong the shade of red for the sale banners. The reality is that they all need to take a good hard look into the mirror and blame themselves. Shame on you for not creating an environment that draws people in and makes them feel festive and inspired. Shame on you for not stepping out and creating a product assortment that is compelling and proprietary to your brand. Shame on you for either not hiring real creative talent or even worse, for squelching it.

Gone are the days when collections were created with a brand in mind, and a desire to stand out in the sea of sameness. Gone are the days when we felt it in our gut that something was the next big thing. Gone are the days when shopping was an experience, not a chore. If the tactile and interactive experience isn’t pleasant, I might as well let my fingers do the walking and let Amazon bring it to my door, quickly and free of charge.

Retail is dead, and it is a result of suicide provoked by fashion executives who lack the vision to nurture and develop original and inventive thoughts.

photo: Glasshouse Images


Talking Turkey: Countdown To The Big Day

November 12, 2015


Thanksgiving is the Olympics of cooking ( and eating!). If you approach this event as a marathon, not a sprint, you and your guests will enjoy it more. We wouldn’t want to head into the big event without doing some advance work, and you shouldn’t either.  Since the holiday is just two weeks away, its time to do some serious planning. If you are preparing the entire meal from scratch, it is virtually impossible to do it all in one day, or to just “wing it.” Grocery stores sell out of key ingredients at the last minute, and the crowds make the shopping experience more stressful than it needs to be. While some people cook ahead and freeze it, I prefer to make everything fresh within the last day or two leading up to the holiday.

Here is a a schedule of what needs to be done so that you can plan a low-stress, delicous and fresh feast for Thanksgiving.

Two or more weeks ahead:(that means NOW!)

Invite guests

Plan the menu

If you are doing a potluck, assign guests specific dishes to bring to avoid duplications or holes in the menu. If you are doing it yourself, start a file with all your recipes in it. This can be digital or paper, but it helps to have everything in one, convenient place, rather than pulling out cookbooks and magazines. Photocopy the pages you want, and put the books away.

Order your turkey from the local farm or butcher. We get ours from Dipaula Turkey Farm and they are far superior to any frozen bird you will find. It costs more, but it is well worth the splurge.

Make shopping lists. Go through all of your recipes and make a list of what you need. Inventory your pantry items to see if you need to add any of the basics to the list.Don’t forget aluminuim foil and plastic wrap! Then, break the lists down by perishable and non- perishable items. The sooner you can pick up the non-perishable items, the better. Just do it, and get it out of the way. I tend to buy different types of things at different stores, so I list things by where I will need to get them.

One Week Before:

Make pie crusts and freeze them. Pie crusts are one of the very few things that I freeze. If you are planning to make several pies, it pays to do this in advance. The crusts benefit from a good chilling before baking to avoid shrinkage, and they don’t need to be thawed beforehand.

I also freeze rolls or biscuits unbaked and pop them in the oven at the last minute. Getting these messy items out of the way are a big help.

Inventory your serving dishes, tableware and linens and see if there is anything you need to buy, or take care of. Don’t wait until the last minute to iron 30 napkins, or polish the silver. Do it ahead of time. You will be glad you did.

Two Days Before:
If you are serving soup, now is the time to make it. It will stay nicely in the refrigerator and some will actually taste better once they have had time to sit. If there is any excess fat, it will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy to skim off.

If you have time, make the cranberry sauce and any dessert items that won’t get stale, such as chilled cakes, or cookies.

Pick up the rest of the groceries. At this point, I buy everything but any seafood I might want for appetizers, and the turkey.

The Day Before:

Pick up the turkey.

This is the day I try to go all out and get as much done as possible. I make the sweet potatoes, cranberries if I didn’t do it already, and clean all of the vegetables I will need for the salad and side dishes. I bake the pies and any other desserts and wrap them to keep them fresh. I even toast the bread for the stuffing, since the drier, the better. I make salad dressings or any sauces that can be prepared in advance. Mis en plas is your friend.

Set the table, or better yet, get someone else to do it for you. Bring in all the extra chairs needed.

Lay out the serving pieces. I serve the main meal as a buffet, so I line up my bowls, platters and serving pieces along the buffet, and put a post it note by each one assigning it to the item it will hold. This not only ensures that I have what I need when I am scurrying around at the last minute trying to get the food out, but also that I don’t forget something. I have opened the refrigerator many times at the end of the evening only to discover an item I forgot to serve, or a garnish I didn’t remember to use.

The BIG Day: 

Prepare the stuffing and make the turkey. Never stuff the bird until you are ready to cook it. This promotes bacteria growth that can make you and your guests sick. Wait until you are ready to put it into the oven before stuffing it. Also, be sure to remove all of the stuffing before storing the turkey for the same reason.

Wipe down the bathroom, sweep the floors and make sure the dishes are done and the dishwasher is unloaded.

Right before the guests come, get any other last minute dishes ready, and begin to slowly reheat anything you made in advance.

Bake the rolls or biscuits.

Toss the salad, make the gravy and anything else you couldn’t do in advance.

Have a glass of wine with your guests, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Closet Cleanse: Day 2

May 21, 2015

This closet thing is taking me awhile. I reached a point on Sunday, where I was digging the old stuff out of the discard bags because I didn’t have anything else to wear. On Monday, I decided it was time to shop a bit.

I had scoured the stores over the weekend, scoping out the merchandise choices and deciding which stores were worth a return visit. With the goal of looking polished and relavant, without being overly trendy, I made a mental list of what I was looking for. One thing for sure I knew I wanted to add to my closet was a jumpsuit or two. They are a must-have item this year, and with a depleted closet, they offer a ready-made look in one simple piece. I picked up a full length black one, that could be dressed up or down, and 2 shorter ones; one in a fun print that is more casual,but still pulled together, and another black and white version that is youthful, but sophisticated. ( read: not too short, not too bare and work appropriate.) I also picked up a couple of tops that would work with what I had, and replace a few of the holey ones in purge pile.

Packing up the winter clothes

Packing up the winter clothes

Next, I set out  to tackle the accessories. I weeded out all the broken and truly junkie jewelry that had found its way to me via grandmother’s junk drawers, and goodie bags, and organized the rest so I could find it.I hung the necklaces that tangle easily on a hangar, and put the rest into a bin.  I shelved the bags and hats, and rolled all of my light weight scarves so that they fit into one bin without becoming a wrinkled mess. I packed up the winter footwear, and cleaned the floor and shoe racks before replacing the summer edit. I took a quick trip to the shoe repair to rehab a great pair of shoes and a Hermes belt that I love, but was getting a little shabby.

Much better already!

It’s much improved already!

Now it was time to play dress up. I tried on what was left, and made outfits, including accessories and shoes, to be sure I had everything I needed to make these pieces work. B got a couple more hand-me-downs of things that still looked good; but not on me.  I recommend either taking a selfie, or laying the outfits out on the bed in their entirety, and taking a photo to document every successful look. I opted to do some quick sketches with notes, since I am camera shy.

Quick doodles of outfits I liked

Quick doodles of outfits I liked

This exercise not only ensures that you have things that work together, but also that you have the right accessories, down to the sweater or jacket to toss on when the air conditioning turns a nice place into a meat locker. My try-on session yielded me quite a few looks from a tightly edited amount of items, and helped me identify a need or two. Now when I go into the closet, I can see everything I own clearly, and have a stack of go-to outfits to get me started.

Today’s project: Eliminating the “stuff.” What is the “stuff” you ask? I haven’t a clue, but it is taking up a lot of real estate in there! I’m fully armed with 13 gallon trash bags, and I’m going in!

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Tweet along on Twitter.

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One More One Day Sale

December 25, 2013

Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 3.40.38 PMIt’s Christmas Day, and we are relaxing at home. Gifts have been opened, and wrapping paper remains have beeb packed away for recycling. I stopped to check my email, and  I am shocked to see that I am STILL being inundated with messages from retailers, hoping upon hope that I still have some shopping left in me to help them push their numbers into the positive zone. I’d like to send them back a message:
Dear Retailer,

Get a grip dudes, it’s over. Move on. You’re starting to look pathetic.

Merry Christmas to you too!

The sales began before Thanksgiving, and those”special one day only” Black Friday specials lingered throughout the month. Customers were bombarded with emails, and anything and everything they could do to buy our business was shamelessly done. Christmas has become a giant end of the year sale, which looks like it will extend into the New Year.

I cringe when I see the seasonal Facebook postings where people are offended that the term “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by the more politically correct “Happy Holidays!” Clearly, the whole Christmas spirit has gone awry in more ways than one. Call it what you will, but what began as a religious celebration for Christians, has evolved into a bargain basement shopping frenzy for all cultures.

So, if you will excuse me, I am going to step off my soap box and go off with my family to celebrate the day as Jews worldwide have done for decades: We’re off to the movies followed by Chinese food!

I  hope you all have a Happy Holiday, a Merry Christmas, and if it suits you, Jolly Bargain Hunting on the internet!

photo: Glasshouse Images

GIving Tuesday

November 27, 2012

The day after Thanksgiving is thought to be the biggest shopping day of the year. The term “Black Friday” comes from a time when the boost in sales helped businesses move from being in the “red” to being in the “black,” or achieving profitability.

Black Friday is the kick off to holiday shopping. Consumerism runs rampant this time of year, and it is difficult to remember why we are celebrating the holidays in the first place.

Stores opened as early as Thanksgiving Day, setting off a barrage of criticism from workers who wanted, justifiably to spend the time with their families.

Black Friday has spawned other shopping days, such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

In an effort to step back and embrace the true meaning of the season, Giving Tuesday has been created to encourage people to give to others in need.

Statistics show that in 2011, the average shopper spent almost $400 on Black Friday, with almost 25% of them hitting the stores by midnight.  What if just a small amount of that money was spent on giving back to their communities?

Today, I ask each of you to think about what you are grateful for, and find a way to express that gratitude by donating time or money to a worthy cause.
As for myself, I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to help me raise money for the treatment of rare cancers through Cycle for Survival.  Each year, I ride in a charity indoor cycling event, which has raised over $18 million dollars for the research and development of treatment protocols to aid those suffering from rare forms of cancer. A friend of mine, Jennifer Goodman Linn, whose 7-year battle with cancer ended just over a year ago, founded it. She was an inspiration to everyone whose life she touched, and her legacy has helped fund over 53 clinical trials at Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital.

Please click the link below to donate to my team, Shari’s Spinners to help us find a cure for this devastating disease.

If you are in New York City, and would like to join the team, or would like to form a satellite team in your town, please contact me directly at for more information.

I am thankful that I am able to do something I enjoy and truly make a difference in the lives of others. What will you do to give back today?

photo:Glasshouse Images

What’s For Dinner?

June 30, 2012

I’ve been out and about, from the greenmarket to the fish market, taking lots of photos. Can you guess what might make the cut for dinner?

Fresh seafood from Chelsea Market perhaps?

Gorgeous radishes?

Ripe red tomatoes?

Lush leafy basil?

Stay tuned… I’ll show you later!

photos: indigo jones



Take it to the Streets

June 11, 2012

The weather in Gothenburg, Sweden is cold and wet. While it may feel more like October than June, the stores tell a different story.

Color is everywhere, and garden florals are abundant.


Bare tops, dresses, and swimwear grace the windows, in the hope that soon it will be warm enough to be able to wear them.

The look here is casual, yet feminine, and the vibe is very relaxed.  I hope the sun comes out soon!

Color REAL

May 1, 2012

Color and trend forecasting is a big business. Most large apparel and accessories companies use some sort of outside service to help guide their product decisions, which are often made 9-12 months before the merchandise hits the stores.

The information is usually disseminated via suggested color palettes and trend reports, based on the forecaster’s interpretation of catwalk trends, textile shows and a gut reaction to what feels right for the future.

Interactive artist and software developer Pedro Miguel Cruz, has taken a more scientific approach to the process, for French retailer Pimkie.

Cruz has installed webcams in the most fashionable areas of Paris, Milan and Antwerp, and puts the imagery through a computer program, which isolates the colored pixels and logs the information.

The data can be viewed on their website, as live feed, colored graphs, or as color recommendations for items available for purchase at the Pimkie store.

The information is also available on Twitter.

While this may not directly impact those needing long-term color direction, this is a great tool for short term planning, and getting a handle on what is trending in real time.

Sites We Love

December 9, 2009

Lately, it seems that everyone is a fashion expert. From Lindsay Lohan’s debacle as creative director at Ungaro, to Jon Gosselin trying to launch (unsuccessfully, I am relieved to report) a kid’s line, everyone who actually wears clothes, has become a self-proclaimed expert. But every once in a while, you stumble upon a site that has a fresh point of view, a great eye for trend, and a “tell it like it is” approach to reporting on it all. Such is the case with Refinery 29, a fashion blog that really gets it, in a non-pretentious, yet authoritative way.

Refinery 29 is a great destination for the newest and best in style, shopping and emerging trends. They deliver insightful reports on designers, global street style trends, new boutiques and sample sales, as well as the latest places to be, and people to watch.

Check out their site, and sign up for their daily Pipeline report via email.

Fashion’s Night Out

September 9, 2009


Join the global celebration of fashion by participating in the first ever “Fashion’s Night Out” event, being held September 10th, in New York City, and major fashion capitals worldwide.
The event is co-sponsored by Vogue, the CFDA and The City of New York, and features over 700 participating retailers. From 6pm to 11pm on Thursday, stores will feature music, hors d’ oeuvres, and special appearances capped off by Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Michael Kors appearing with the cast of “Hair” at the Macy’s in Queens!!

Masterminded by Ms. Wintour and spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the evening is intended to enliven the consumer spirit that churns our economy.

As fashion week approaches and the weather begins to cool, we are all itching for something new. Fashion’s Night Out is the perfect excuse to get out and shop while enjoying all of the great activities taking place around town.

To find out up to date information on special events and appearances, log onto and shop til you drop!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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