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I Can’t Breathe. With Comic or Sans?

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While the #icantbreathe protest campaign gets traction following NBA superstars involvement and a hint of Jay Z support, some observers have started issuing judgements on the quality of the action. This Hypebeast post will attest to the extent of the “outrage”. (Haters gotta hate)

Everyone will have to admit – well, apparently not these guys – that Comic Sans was not the best font to convey the message protesting the aftermath of the sad and upsetting Eric Garner affair. While notorious stars such as Jay Z and LeBron James have invested heavily money or their name into designed collaborations with clothing/sportswear brands (Rocawear, Nike…) resulting in quite decent and even outstanding design and impact on the communities, one can admittedly raise a (uni)brow at this quite amateur roll-out. Proof here:

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But designers with an engaged will to make the world better have decided to help, and have come up with alternate visuals to vehiculate the cause. I Can’t Breathe is a serious social affair, and obviously deserves an appropriate effort. Here it is. Guys and girls out there, please share. Surpassing the style, the context and the political statement at hand matters. Black lives matter. All lives matter. We hope to contribute to change, somehow, here, now. #fashioncanchangetheworld

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Sweatpants sold 175 euros. Swagger has a price.

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So sitting here in Ho Chi Minh City, I’m finally back online shopping as my stock of pants is running dangerously low and old. A couple of raw denim picks from A.P.C. later, I’m stumbling on AMI sweatpants – most regular: cotton and polyester, black, no special feature whatsoever, tagged at 170 euros. Seriously. These.

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Sure, designer Alexandre Mattiussi won the Grand Prize at ANDAM in 2013, but does it make a black pair of sweatpants worth 170 euros?

I’m still wondering how the menswear market went from blooming with authenticity, craft, proper added value to pure commercial premium based on trends influence – heavily shelled by online behemoths such as Hypebeast of course…

Anyhow, another pair slightly justifies its price better. 140 euros for the coolness of the Etudes Studio oversized inscription. Fair enough. The game is the game.

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To Be Parisian is to be “Fuckable”, really???

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You’ve probably read some interviews of Caroline de Maigret this week, who’s promoting her new book “How to be a Parisian”. It’s already a best-seller, apparently surfing on this French “je ne sais quoi” that seems to attract American women. According to CdM, to be Parisian involves to look always “fuckable“.   In Style.com, the argument is highly explicit:

“always be fuckable. When standing in line at the bakery on Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night or even picking the kids up from school. You never know”

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One month today and still a Best Seller in the US thanks to all of you! Thank you all for your amazing support and kind words. Much love from the 4 of us! ❤️❤️❤️@howtobeparisian

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We could start by condemning the women’s objectification: we’re not really sure that judging a woman’s style through her capability to get a d*** (to keep the same semantics) is, indeed, relevant. And we’re surprized that not many journalists or bloggers reacted before on that matter. But we do thank Amazon customers’ reviews who did this job.

We could also be very angry against Style.com: why haven’t they called other Parisian women to balance this quote and get a better sense of what a Parisian woman might be (if ever there’s ONE Parisian woman who could summarize the diversity of the French capital…)? We could also ask them if they’re not fed up with a book which takes Joséphine Baker, Marie-Antoinette or Romy Schneider as examples of foreigners who suddenly became supposed-Parisian myths (hum hum)…but no mention of modern icons of femininity or inspiring women. Except if CdM wants to keep all for her and considers herself as the heir of la Parisienne. We could also ask them if they’re not bored to always take the same clichés: do you seriously think that all Parisian listen to jazz at St Germain, drink a glass of Pinot Noir, are free but in love. And on and on…

It’s an intellectual snacking; as a lot of fashion advertising films are at the moment: we can’t recall how many times we’ve seen the same two bridges in Paris displaying the exact same sort of Parisienne without any spark of genius. In this book, no mention about hip hop or street culture: is South Pigalle (SoPi) really where Parisian trends do emerge?

We could be provocative and ambiguous like Karl Lagerfeld faux feminism can be when it comes to women, suddenly declaring that CdM is right in promoting this unique asset of women: her beauty and her charms. But it would be very mediocre, and another attempt to attract publicity by trolling.

Let’s really ask THE question: to be fuckable means to be fucked by someone, right? And this “fuckability” can’t rely on which cream or powder a woman picks, as the book tries to suggest.

The American woman could teach many lessons to this “fuckable Parisian”: when it comes to fusing sex, social status and life choices, we tend to respect more Mindy Kaling or Beyoncé than another style guru. This Parisianism has very strong problems when it comes to creativity; shall we repeat that the last fashion week was mostly saved by…American designers? This non-existing Parisian face no longer interests a lot of consumers…except the publisher of Nutella recipes (yes, for real). We told you it was all about snacking.

On the other hand, Alicia Florrick, the Games of Thrones women, Amy Dune (Rosamund Pike): they all represent a new femininity which inspire us.

Are we angry against CdM? Not at all; her book is like a chocolate bar, you know you indulge yourself with too much calories in too many layers. Style snacking is a business that works, and when it does work, it deserves some interest. But we dream about new feminine books to represent a better idea of Paris beyond the Seine river.

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Are Apple’s iPhone 6 and Watch items of Fashion?

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Apple did not ninja-launch their seasonal batch of new products for sure. A few hours before the Keynote introducing yet another iPhone and a Watch seemingly tailored to tackle Samsung’s leading innovations, there was a wind of disbelief in the Fashion Press where editors, influencers and followers alike felt they would feel the full blow of Apple Marketing Superpower.

Geek is now infamously chic, but why such a sudden direct poke (copyright?) at the trendiest industry?

BoF did not take this lightly either. The respectable source about The Industry took the opportunity to present their new hub for Fashion-dash-Tech:

 


Elsewhere, behemoths like Refinery29 are dropping their unusual Top Story about the iPhone 6 and the Watch, while invitations were dropped to regional top editors (Vogue China, Italia…) to have them join San Francisco’s event venue…

Capitalizing on the obvious trend making tech objects the new Talismans of our contemporary citizens, the brand seems to make a wise business move involving fashion partners more closely, but we’re still wondering: are these new products really worth the spotlight?

Here is Suzy Menkes’ review (seriously?)

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Paris Fashion Week Street Style – H&M Life: catching value chain, not people

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It’s always a tough job to try to capture the style of a city.

City dwellers swinging on the streets.

Commuters defeating the infernal time machine.

Fast movers challenging peace-keepers after 8am.

And suddenly, when offices grab their inhabitants, the city reveals a brand new face.

It can be this guy sitting on a terrace; breathing the calm wind of summer. Or this girl, finishing her late-night work and going to sleep. Or again this civil servant or banker, off for the day.

There are daily artists and on-going plasticine.

H&M shot some people of Paris; I’m not totally convinced: it could have been shot in NYC, London or Milan in any high-street.

That’s probably the only problem with super-retailer like H&M: grabbing so much inspirations to recycle them on our t-shirts that at the end, we don’t know anymore where we belong.

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How to Learn French with Camille Rowe: the reason why fashion should still love France

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Camille Rowe Pourcheresse was our hit-IT-heat-HIP girl in 2012 when our “friends” from fashion magazines were describing her body as “untypical” …Fashion history proved we were right as we now see everywhere a celebration of the diversity of women bodies. Anorexic shooting are now the realy “untypical”.

France as a brand is trying hard to redefine itself. We don’t have the American Dream, our myths and stories are moral, political. Not made for business per se.

Our know-how, our French Touch might be recognized worldwide, but who can really support this vision today? Most of the time, France is associated to a sort of Lost Paradise: Coco Chanel, Marie-Antoinette, Brigitte Bardot, even Carine Roitfeld…aren’t they from the past? Can they really root France in a contemporaneity?

That’s probably what Camille Rowe achieved in her French lesson: playing with clichés about the Frenchie (yes, in London, most of the guys think that our ladies are bipolar!), and suggesting a new interpretation…

A reconciliation of a sweet arrogance with an ultra-feminine power. A woman one might only desire, therefore respect.

As we like to be right, we believe far more in the Made in French instead of focusing on Made in France. France is a spirit before being a body. Camille Rowe proves once again that our French singularity is in this mix between a very physical attractiveness which empowers a captivating personality.

We love this sparkling Parisian woman: she’s evasive and so free. The best way to communicate about a French brand these days is not to tag it or qualify through the fact the brand is actually French. We need to leave the brand express its creativity. The most intriguing, disturbing, bizarre designers are the real French. A French brand should try to love complicated attitudes; French brands should maybe dive in absurdity. French brands should trouble its customers. That’s probably the only difference now of what French brands can bring on the table against every pop brand machine with a too clever, too simple speech. A French brand should be desired, should be tough to get.

Oh and Made in French don’t care about borders and territories: Camille is an American icon and / or French. Do we care?

Vive la République

 

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Pharrell on Elle UK. Why the controversy?

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Do you think Pharrell should not have worn a Native American head-dress on cover of Elle UK? We don’t.

Although this sparked understandable and respectable outrage from communities and commentators alike, resulting in a sincere apology by the cultural icon, we believe this new controversy shows society has figured fashion out all wrong.

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As a matter of fact, the base of controversy seems far-fetched to us, or at least most of commentators express it with little concision: most of the tweets bear judgments such as “it’s not ok”, ‘what’s wrong with you” and “this is scandalous”, only a few mention the reasons of anger:

“Urgh. Why does the fashion industry insist on turning sacred cultural items into fashion props? #NOTHappy @ELLEUK” – says @OnceAPARNATime.

Cultural appropriation seems to be the problem, as highlighted Refinery29. But the real question is where is the line to draw for offensiveness?

We believe blackfaceing a model is a mistake, but criticizing a graphic and photographic fashion job made with respect (at least benefit of that doubt can be given to the team in charge, right?) seems way over-crying. Why did fashion teams like this one chose this item? Because it bears positive symbols, it also has impeccable visual style and it may remind us that some cultures should not be lost in contemporary moments.

This cover is beautiful. It has character. It does not depict a community in any negative way. Let’s stop underestimating the fashion industry’s capacity to curate cultures. Fashion is not a superficial discipline, whatever twitter might say.

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The limits of Vogue and why Lily Allen question was right

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So yeah, fashion circus had another reason to get a grip this week. Alexandra Shulman was interviewed on BBC Radio 2, by guest presenter and singer Lily Allen.

And of course came the question about the size – of models that Vogue (and fashion magazines in general) cast on covers.

I was shocked by Alexandra Shulman’s answers; not because of the sort of business cynical attitude but because of the lack of understanding of her own business.

“People always say ‘why do you have thin models? That’s not what real people look like’ But nobody really wants to see a real person looking like a real person on the cover of Vogue (…) I think Vogue is a magazine that’s about fantasy to some extent and dreams, and an escape from real life. People don’t want to buy a magazine like Vogue to see what they see when they look in the mirror. They can do that for free.”

It’s a traditional answer from magazines that don’t want to change. But the argument is very strange: “thin” models would then generate more fantasy than other sorts of bodies? How about the dozens of actresses that are picked on Vogue’s covers? Are they all members of the thin-club. It’s also strange for a Vogue ambassador to put the responsibility on the readers: if Vogue was really THE trendsetter, THE institution, it should be able to generate change, impose new faces…and not lag…Maybe Vogue could have a look again to All Walks beyond the Catwalk that a lot of its own “Bible” editors supported?

It’s seriously misunderstanding the new usages of Vogue’s readership (average age: 33…). Let’s talk about Instagram. Instagram is all about reality and the fantasy of this reality: filters are new creative enablers. Starring people in their whole diversities, just made of more with these effects. Rising stars with very diverse bodies and styles generate more engagement than the full circulation of Vogue per month. Just to say.

I am a bit disappointed because Vogues does not surprize me anymore. Sparks of creativity are now very rare; we still find them when external contributors or new editors are scouted and are allowed to write few lines.

 

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GAP, Lived In: but where do you guys live?

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Dear GAP,

I used to be a very loyal customer when I was young. I’m French, and GAP was this sort of badass but smart brand coming from a foreign and mystic place; denims were high quality and if you were wandering around skateparks, guys were only wearing shrunk GAP or Levi’s denims. There was a sense of community, and it was not old fashioned at all to wear your outfits. Girls wearing your products were not basic. They were this bunch of aspiring people, who made our teenage years less Angst and more daring.

You’re struggling, as so many brands on the high streets, because you’re supposedly losing your customers. According to you and your fellows, it’s because of ASOS or Zara that you’re losing money.

I think you’re wrong, dear GAP. I think you’re just totally missing the point between what we guys expect and the way you communicate it.

So, I’ve seen your billboard ads everywhere from Shoreditch to Kensington. With your new motto: “Lived In”.

 

Basically, you’ve picked, like so many other brands emerging artists (is Birdy really emerging? I’m not sure…). And you’ve created a sort of content strategy in…social media, trying to make your words reverberate in our hearts.

But it does not work, because it’s not you. It’s not you and the guys you’re trying to talk to don’t exist. On Facebook, you posted that:

“Our Spring ads feature artists who live in their truth. Meet RJ Mitte, actor. Lives in his character. #LivedIn “

And one of your cheeky fans answers:  If he lives in his character why is he not eating breakfast?

Your Creative chief executive Richard Teideman declared:

“In a market where it’s progressively harder to gain visibility, what I love about this campaign is not so much the images, but rather what they’ve done with them (..) The fabric print deployment is such a fresh idea – and it plays right to the heart of what Gap is all about – product-centric, but also ingrained into our lives.”

I don’t want to offend anyone but seriously: in which world do you really live? Sometimes, I wonder if you don’t create ads or comms that are made to please a Vogue intern and not your consumers.

I’m fed up with brands which don’t dare any more. Yes, you should take pictures of people wearing your outfits in the kitchen. Yes, there are tons of places where we were your denims and that you never explore. Yes, creativity is not a title but a living organism.

GAP, we seriously like you; but embrace what we now expect: a bit of meaning, a bit of audacity, a bit of edge. We’re not your morons, we’re your wives…and not yet your widows.

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Few stereotypes against male fashion bloggers

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We’re not going to complain about our social condition as fashion bloggers at all. Nonetheless, after few years blogging about fashion, society and “lifestyle” as a whole, we have to face pretty regularly some clichés against us. As if a blog could now define one’s personality and identity.

Nothing too serious at the end, if we consider that it’s all part of the same circus. But still, here’s a short list of questions that we’re often asked.

Are you gay?

Yes, in 2014, having fun writing about fashion, trends, still suppose that you’re gay.

Let’s be honest: the way we write has nothing to do with our sexual preferences. Darwin would agree.

Do you know Garance Doré?

Well, star system effect also reaches fashion sphere; we’re always famous for someone as we say.

Are you really a fashion blogger?

Some of us don’t have to wear a clown outfit during fashion weeks. So sometimes, when you’re just wearing your regular outfits, people don’t understand why you’d be interested in fashion.

Bizarre.

Did you really study political science and management?

So, fashion writing is sometimes associated to shopping-list writing. I don’t blame the buddies who ask me this question when you look at some blogs or magazines (don’t ask me names) that are just e-commerce platforms. So yes, you can try to match politics and style.

Do you have a real job?

Haha. Yes, writing is associated to a life of leisure. They are the same people who can’t go out during the week because they work during the day. Mmm. Strange.

 

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