Archive for Rag Trade

No place for a face

Lindsay Ellingson, thirty and tall, meets the general definition, as once specified by David Letterman, of “leggy supermodel.” But this sentence from her Wikipedia page, describing her work for Victoria’s Secret, somewhat messes with my head:

In 2011, she became one of the brand’s signature Angels, as well as the face of its perfume line VS Attractions and its new bra, Gorgeous.

I really, really don’t want to imagine someone being the face of a bra. Really.

The actual introduction, however, seems kind of prosaic:

Lindsay Ellingson introduces the Gorgeous bra for Victoria's Secret

Um, okay. (By the way, her eyes are up there.)

Last week at Cannes, by comparison, she was downright futuristic in Ulyana Sergeenko:

Lindsay Ellingson at Cannes 2015

Says Heather of the Fug Girls:

I like the liquid-look fabric. This whole outfit looks to me like a special-effect — like when Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 would be in the middle of morphing from metal into human. In that vein, I like the middle of the dress and am waiting for the rest of it to catch up.

And then it doesn’t happen:

Lindsay Ellingson at Cannes

Heather again:

Naturally, I hate the back. She looks like a very expensive circus performer.

Normal guys will be delighted to hear that Lindsay married a normal guy last year, quite uncharacteristic of leggy supermodels.

(Photos: Gorgeous bra, Adam Bielawski; Cannes, Getty Images.)

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Ann and Lane, BFFs

Whether this portends anything else, I can’t tell just yet:

How many women’s suits and dresses could you buy for $2.2 billion? For Ascena Retail Group, Inc. the answer is all of the suits and dresses sold in all of the Ann Taylor and LOFT stores.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ann Inc., the owner of stores Ann Taylor and LOFT, has agreed to sell itself for $2.2 billion to rival Ascena Retail Group, which operates Lane Bryant and Dressbarn.

Both companies … have reportedly struggled recently when it comes to the weak retail environment for their target group of women 20 to 40 years of age, the WSJ reports.

Meanwhile, Dressbarn is mutating, or is being remodeled, into “Dressbar”: apparently the Dressbarn name will be reserved for garments that are, um, not dresses. Okay, fine. As long as Lane Bryant doesn’t hook up with Kobe.

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Frontal assault

Sometimes I imagine it’s just this difficult:

Triumph – Find the One from ChezEddy on Vimeo.

(Via Cartoon Brew.)

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Credibly blue

We have on occasion presented an outfit worn by the First Lady, mostly because her choices have sometimes seemed random: for every “Oh, this is lovely” I’ve breathed, there’s been a “What the fark was she thinking?”

Michelle Obama in Tadashi Shoji

While this is admittedly just about the least flattering pose I could find from this particular state dinner, FLOTUS here, I think, has chosen well:

While Michelle Obama is known, generally, for her lavish design choices — remember, for a moment, that $2000 sundress that looked like it had been purchased at Target — last night, possibly in response to criticism of the White House and DC media’s out-of-touch Correspondents’ Dinner performance, the First Lady instead chose a modest gown by Japanese-American designer Tadashi Shoji that would likely retail for around $700.

Part of this was protocol: His Excellency Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, was the honoree, and Shoji was born in Japan, though he never did any serious fashion work until he moved to Los Angeles. And this isn’t quite the version Shoji showed on the runway — someone between there and here wisely added a lining — but this is a very nice blue, and it’s not being cluttered up with accessories. Besides, Shoji does texture well: consider, if you will, Octavia Spencer’s gown for the 2013 Academy Awards.

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Stepping outré

I still think there’s a greater need for variable heel heights, but maybe that comes later. In the meantime, we’re on the verge of variable trim colors:

I do hope there’s enough security built into this system to keep other people from changing your shoes with their apps.

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A whole bunch of color

Once in a while, a celebrity will send up a shoefie — selfie of her shoes — and occasionally (probably fewer than 96 times out of a hundred) I’ll notice. This one I noticed:

Clover Canyon’s pitch for this collection:

Everyone knows about the color in Africa: The women in their bright, printed dresses, ripe fruit in the baskets they carry from the market on their heads; the larger-than-life flowers; the endless savannah, all umber earth and toasted grasses. For Pre-Fall 2015 Clover Canyon sets the colors of South Africa into stark relief, printing on black for maximum graphic impact. The geometric painting of Ndebelli village houses is one key motif; another is tribal body painting, interpreted via delicate pointelle neoprene and lasered dots. Of course, there are flowers, too, blossoming out of the signature Clover Canyon collage prints that have been super-sized this season. Pattern here is bolder and more straightforward than before; likewise, this collection’s shapes communicate an unmistakable sense of ease.

At $350, this runs about twenty-odd times the cost of a copy of Paul Simon’s Graceland, if you’re into South African culture once removed from the source.

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Sturdy yet jaunty

An artifact from about nine decades ago:

Iron Clad Hosiery Number 883

And you know, “jolly sassiness” is an attitude I tend to appreciate, even way out here in The Future. “Artificial silk,” usually shortened to “art silk” in the trade, was officially renamed “rayon” in the middle 1920s, about this time this Iron Clad ad appeared.

Cooper, Wells was in business back in the 1880s; they survived at least until 1936, by which time the other major industry in St. Joseph, Michigan, Upton Machine Company, had been making washing machines for twenty-five years. Upton had merged with the Nineteen Hundred Washer Company of Binghamton, New York, and kept that name until after World War II, after which they came up with a new one: Whirlpool.

Incidentally, Frederick Upton, one of the two Upton brothers of St. Joseph, had 18 great-granchildren, one of whom was supermodel Kate Upton, born there in 1992.

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Loyal plastic robots

“Brown shoes,” observed Frank Zappa, “don’t make it.” How prescient he was [warning: autostart video]:

One of St. Louis’ oldest public companies, Brown Shoe, is stepping out with a new name, Caleres.

Brown has been part of the corporate name since the company’s founding in 1878. Next month, however, that name will be dropped once shareholders approve the change on May 28.

“Brown Shoe doesn’t conjure up the image of who we are today,” Brown Shoe’s CEO, president and chairwoman Diane Sullivan said in an interview. “Our name has to be more than a name — it must be managed as a brand. It’s hard to be emotional about a brown shoe.”

Late last year, Brown Shoe announced plans to pursue the Stuart Weitzman brand, which was eventually sold to Coach.

On the rebranding, I’m with Brian J. on this one: “‘Caleres’ conjures up what, exactly?” And what happens to Buster Brown?

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Expansive thinking

This prodigiously cool Armour Dress comes from an Etsy shop, and yes, I suppose I have a weakness for simulated chain mail:

Armour Dress Feirefiz by Mitmunk

What may be more remarkable, though, is that the sizes don’t stop with a smallish Large:

Armour Dress Feirefiz by Mitmunk

Says a happy customer, closer to Figure 2:

My jaw dropped. The print job is gorgeous. The design is fantastic. AND IT’S ON A PLUS SIZE MODEL. I have gotten used to not even bothering to look at cool geeky print stuff because it NEVER comes in a decent plus. It’s usually juniors, or very small straight sizes. But this sexy, warrior woman dress: it came in MY SIZE.

If I’m reading the charts correctly, she’s a 2XL, and this is a stretchy fabric, but hey, it does look pretty good on her. And realistically, one should not expect a warrior woman to be a waif.

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Very nearly scarlet

A not-necessarily-fashion bit from earlier this week:

Outraged celebrities tore into Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana on Monday after Dolce described children born to gay couples through fertility treatment as “synthetic”.

Pop superstar Elton John, leading the chorus of criticism, called for a boycott of the brand on Sunday.

I am not convinced that a boycott will make that much difference. By coincidence, Eric Wilson’s “Look Smart” article in the April InStyle — Wilson is the magazine’s Fashion News Editor — looks at the case of John Galliano, a designer who was pilloried back in 2011 for what Wilson describes as a “drunken outburst of anti-Semitic and racial remarks,” resulting in the house of Dior telling Galliano to take a hike. Galliano is back in the industry, as creative director for Maison Margiela, and all, or at least most, seems to be forgiven:

Flash forward to the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 25, when Jennifer Aniston became the first A-lister since the uproar to wear Galliano, a deep-cut gold dress from his signature collection for 1998, on the red carpet. And there wasn’t much to-do. Not even on Fashion Police, where the E! critics made no mention of Galliano’s past. On February 8, Sophie Hunter wore a Maison Margiela gown at the BAFTAs in London, the same night Rihanna performed at the Grammys in a Margiela tux.

Dolce & Gabbana window in Florence, photo by Debra KolkkaSo if there is any banishment of Dolce and Gabbana, I suspect it will be brief, and then no one will ever speak of it again — with the possible exception of Eric Wilson.

In the meantime, Debra Kolkka has done some window-shopping in beautiful downtown Florence, and judging by D&G’s window, their signature color for the moment is red. Not just any red, of course; we’re talking Spanish bullfighter red. I could learn to like that very quickly, I think. And you should definitely read the whole thing, from which you will learn that (1) not everyone in Florence is thinking of that same color, and (2) yes, D&G will happily sell you the appropriate shoes to go with those dresses.

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Um, probably not

I mean, if I’m going to wear nearly nothing, I might as well wear nothing and be done with it, right?

(Below the fold for reasons that might be obvious.)

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Taint necessarily

You know those used-panty vending machines in Japan? Well, forget about them:

When foreigners gush about finding a used panty vending machine, they’re usually referring to a gachapon machine. While many of the machines advertise the contents as used, anyone who can read Japanese knows that this isn’t the case…

Above the price … are the words “super used kakou.” Kakou, in this case, means that the panties were manufactured to appear used — kind of like the Abercrombie jeans that are sold with holes and frayed edges straight from the factory. The addition of [the] two kanji characters makes it instantly apparent to a native speaker that the panties are not, in fact, used. Perhaps an enterprising gachapon machine salesperson realized that they could trick non-Japanese into believing the urban legend by slapping a single English word on the sign.

If this restores your faith in humanity, do not proceed below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Foiling photographers

The “candid” celebrity photo is not yet a thing of the past, but perhaps this scheme will catch on:

Thanks to DJ Chris Holmes, celebrities can now ward off those pesky paparazzi and their intrusive photography with ease. They just need to wear pieces from Holmes’ new “Anti Paparazzi Collection” — a line of clothing made from a reflective material [that] completely ruins flash photographs.

The collection currently consists of a hooded jacket, an infinity scarf, suit pants, a blazer, and a hat. While they look like regular clothes, the fabric is actually coated with glass nanospheres. This coating makes the clothes act like mirrors when hit with bright light, so the resulting images are horribly underexposed and the wearer is practically invisible.

For example:

Result of photographing a chap in the Anti-Paparazzi Blazer

The line is actually being crowdfunded, and not all the items are currently completely funded yet.

(Via American Digest.)

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Measure for measure

On one level, I absolutely adore this:

Then again, my sight-reading is already questionable without the presence of, um, distractions.

(Via pianist Wayne McEvilly, who wouldn’t have such problems. I think.)

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Training heels?

Elle UK has put up a slideshow of what they deemed the best catwalk shoes on display during Milan’s Fashion Week. Some were awful, some were really awful, and then there was this curious specimen from Moschino:

Moschino shoe from fall/winter 2015 collection

At one level, it seems sorta cute, though I can understand this reaction: “YUK!! A GAZILLION X YUK!!”

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Studied indifference

Some, in fact, majored in it, and this is the sweatshirt for them:

I Literally Do Not Care shirt

The UK branch of Forever 21 has this garment for £12. Size 12 is as far as they go, though: the model here appears to be a 5, maybe. And what’s with the comma after “literally”? Is this a Briticism I’d not previously seen?

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A bag with a grin

Celine, the Shoe Girl, with new discoveries:

Fendi shoes and bag courtesy of the Shoe Girl

These are from Fendi, and I have some reservations about the shoes — exactly what the heck is going on there at the toe? — but that’s definitely a friendly-looking bag. As she says, “Too much cute.”

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Note to future husbands

Of all the red-carpet appearances on Sunday night’s Grammy Awards broadcast, it was Meghan Trainor’s that shook me up the most:

Meghan Trainor at the Grammys in Galia Lahav

This appears to have emerged from Galia Lahav’s MoonStruck collection, about which the designer says:

As the moon is the spotlight amongst the many stars in the night sky, so is the female’s body when reflected within layers of lace and silk. This collection is a black prism of black shades and shimmers of sheer textured fabric representing a midst summer nights dream. Moon Struck elegantly takes you away to a place of serenity where body silhouettes are revealed as a revolutionary era of evening gowns are born.

Rediscovering the mermaid shape as nymphs once roamed the oceans in Greek mythology, this is like a collection like never before, elegant with movement in the night. Each gown holds the shape to a figure of a goddess.

And then suddenly it made sense. Trainor, as she’s mentioned before, ain’t no size 2; but a goddess appears as she damned well pleases. If you have designs on her, so to speak, here are your marching orders. Keep in mind that she brought her dad to the Grammys.

(Via InStyle.com.)

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Size approximate

What is a size 16, anyway? No two manufacturers seem to agree:

[S]itting in my closet are clothes — including jeans — ranging from sizes 14 to 20. Just like no two bodies are ever the same, it would seem no two pairs of jeans are ever the same, either.

So because I’m into fashion/beauty experiments (like finding out how photo editors around the world manipulate my features or gauging reactions to my low-rise bikini), I decided to use my median size of a “16” — which is what I find myself purchasing most often — to investigate what different brands and designers think that number actually means.

Even better, she distinguishes between stretchy and non-stretchy jeans: either “Lycra” or “No Lycra.”

Interestingly, I’d read her Photoshop Me! article when it went viral, so I was ready to take a look at the swimsuit shot. Not half bad, if you ask me.

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Don’t let the stars get in your thighs

Hikaru SkirtThe young lady on the escalator is wearing the Hikaru Skirt — “hikaru” translates to “shining,” which sort of makes sense in this context — and, says Neatorama, it was “designed to illuminate the thighs of anyone certifiably insane brave enough to wear it.”

Of course, this could only happen in Japan, and here’s how it did:

The brainchild of Japanese designer Kiyoyuki Amano, the skirt is lit from underneath with LED lights equipped with gyro sensors, so that the light colors and patterns change with the movement of the model.

Amano said that he was simply experimenting with lights on skirts when he discovered that they shone a spotlight on the wearer’s thighs, which he found enlightening.

There is, so far, no indication that the Hikaru Skirt will be produced in commercial quantities. There is, however, a Tumblr.

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A new Madrid

No, Spain is not moving its capital, nor is that scary fault line through the Missouri bootheel attracting more than perfunctory attention, except among geologists. “Madrid,” in this context, is a shoe from Klogs, which doesn’t appear to be an actual clog — I suppose we could see if there’s enough wood content to make them float — but which have a charm of their own.

Madrid by Klogs from their Villa Collection

From the Klogs Villa Collection, “Madrid” is available in Coffee Metallic (as shown), black, and white. The latter two colors have silver buckles. A Zappos customer likes them:

[I] have a high instep, wide toes, narrow heel, and I supinate and pronate. I have a history of falling arches with hairline fracture and tendonitis, not to mention diabetes and RA. The pain, swelling and fatigue in my feet, ankles, knees, hips and back are gone.

And Fillyjonk likes them:

I know there’s a school of thought that says women’s shoes should be alluring and “sexy.” And yeah, these shoes begin to approach the territory of what a college friend used to call “B.C. Shoes” (B.C. for “Birth Control,” as in “No man will look twice at you when you’re wearing these”).

But to be honest, any more, I dress to please myself rather than to please anyone else, and I like these shoes. I think they’re cute. And they’re definitely comfortable, which is a consideration when you spend multiple hours in a day standing on floors that are a thin layer of tile over poured concrete. They have good support built into the footbed, and I need that. They’re also not too flat, which is something else I need.

“Not too flat,” in this case, is about half an inch of heel rise.

The Villa Collection includes a couple of men’s shoes as well; assuming similar prices, they’d be worth my consideration if they made sizes larger than 13.

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It’s Deb, Jim

The disappearance of one-time mall stalwarts continues apace:

[A]nother mall staple is putting down the store gate for good: Deb is liquidating and closing all 295 of its stores.

You know, Deb. That store where you tried on a bunch of prom dresses but ultimately didn’t buy any of them. Or maybe that was me.¹ The chain was still in existence and almost 300 stores strong, but sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of 2014. Without a buyer, the company will close all of its stores and liquidate.

And actually, it’s not just Deb; dELiA*s is dead, and Wet Seal is shedding two-thirds of itself. This is not to say that retail targeting teens is in irreversible decline, but there seems to be a serious squeeze-out going on.

¹ [It wasn’t me.]

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A bigger Coach

There exist tags on this site for both Coach and Stuart Weitzman, which makes it almost mandatory for me to incorporate the news that the two brands are moving in together:

Footwear fanatics, rejoice: Two of your favorite labels are joining forces. In the latest fashion move, Coach has signed an agreement to purchase the Stuart Weitzman brand in a transaction valued at $574 million, WWD reports.

This is Coach’s first acquisition, and perhaps it was a wise one:

[F]ounder Stuart Weitzman and the existing management team will continue with the company to oversee the brand’s operations, working closely with Coach’s team to breathe new life into their designs.

This is not the first time Weitzman’s sold a business: after the death of his father, Weitzman and his brother sold the family shoe biz to a company in Spain. Twenty years later, Weitzman bought it back.

And maybe this is just me, but I tend to think of Coach as primarily a bag company with a shoe line on the side, so the combination of Coach and Weitzman seems to make a bit more sense than it might otherwise.

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Approved by the Bureau of Appropriate Clothing

They’ll get my hoodie when they pry it off my (up to that point) warmly insulated body:

After consulting with the Department of Public Safety, Senator Don Barrington (R-Lawton) has authored a bill that would make it unlawful to wear a mask, hood or covering during the commission of a crime or to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place.

There are provisions. Such as, pranks of children on Halloween, religious beliefs and special events like a parade, masquerade party or weather.

But if you wear a hood with ill intentions, you could be slapped with a misdemeanor fine of $50 to $500 and or one year in jail.

I grumbled about this earlier:

This is the epitome of “Well, let’s give the prosecutors something else to hang on ’em.” And the first time some woman in a burqa gets busted for something like shoplifting, what you’ll see hitting the fan will not be at all halal.

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Kicks far from pumped up

Robert Stacy McCain, still amused by feminists, tossed out this line:

[S]tand-up comedians have endlessly mined the female obsession with shoes. I’m convinced that every woman, no matter her socioeconomic status or cultural background, secretly yearns to be Imelda Marcos. Even the wealthiest man is probably content with owning two or three pairs of shoes (dress shoes in black and brown for business, plus a pair of sneakers for the weekend) while his female office assistant owns a closet full of shoes in every color and style imaginable.

I left him a comment to the effect that I had, in fact, seven pairs of shoes. The breakdown, should you be curious: sneakers (2), walking shoes (2), sport sandals (1), black wing-tips (1), slides (1). In those cases where I have two pairs of a type, one is newer and the other is awaiting demotion to yard duty or lower.

In fact, I’ve been at between six and eight pairs for at least a decade. I note with no small amount of amusement that so far as I know, Trini has never owned more than five.

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Sneaked in

Rebecca Black by now has done enough shoefies over the last few years, on Facebook and Instagram, to make it possible to identify her just from an ankle shot — providing she’s wearing Converse. This one from a couple years back testifies to her loyalty to Chuck Taylors:

Rebecca Black from here down in Converse high-tops

This one, however, threw me for a loop. She put this picture on Facebook with the tag “if only you knew how i took this”:

Rebecca Black from here down in Converse low-cuts

Phone in her third hand, am I right?

No?

Assuming she did take it herself, I’m thinking the most plausible explanation — I’ve worked with timers, and you never get yourself back into position exactly the way you wanted to be — is that one of those two hands actually belongs to someone else, and I see what I think is just enough disparity in wrist diameter to confirm.

Oh, and one more thing:

Make that two more things:

After three years, it still elicits the giggle.

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Funky kicks going down in the city

Last week, Jeanine Pirro sent up a shoefie — a more-or-less spontaneous photo of her shoes of the moment — to Instagram. (You may have seen it here.) Apparently this is something she does on a regular basis, and these heels appeared Saturday night:

Jeanine Pirro's Nicholas Kirkwood heels

She didn’t say whether she’d walked to work in them.

This appears to be Nicholas Kirkwood’s “Ava” sandal with a 105mm heel. Kirkwood sells these from his UK Web storefront for £616.67, which might as well be a thousand dollars.

I just wish she’d sent up a picture of the white dress she wore for her TV show that night.

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In and out of chambers

Jeanine Pirro (currently “Judge Jeanine” on Fox News) posted this picture to Instagram earlier this week:

Jeanine Pirro in some fancy duds

“Can you believe I just walked 14 blocks in these heels?!” she said. “Cold outside, but warming up the office with my #ootd.” Outfit Of The Day, if you’re not hip to the lingo.

Let’s get a closer look at those heels:

Jeanine Pirro from here down

Manolo Blahnik, of course. (The dress is by Hervé Leger, and it’s clearly not one of his Bandages.)

And because every point needs a counterpoint:

Jeanine Pirro cuts the grass

The grass never had a chance.

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Dollars for scents

Various forces converged this week to tell me that famed fashion designer Tory Burch now has her very own fragrance:

Tory Burch announces a new fragrance

As usual, I’m behind; she actually pushed out this product last fall, though apparently Bloomingdale’s had an exclusive for the first year.

Burch, arguably the wealthiest art-history graduate around — Forbes says she’s worth about a billion — is inclined to share the wealth:

The New York-based designer is promoting a new partnership between her Tory Burch Foundation, a nonprofit launched in 2009 to support the economic empowerment of women, and Bank of America.

The joint effort, launched in January, is known as Elizabeth Street Capital and named for the New York street where Burch launched her first boutique. Through it, Bank of America is giving a total of $10 million in loans to female entrepreneurs — first in eight markets, including Charlotte and the Carolinas region, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia, and then in other markets over the next two years.

An exceedingly comfortable place to be in. Then again, she always looks comfortable:

Tory Burch in her flagship store

Before you ask: she’s forty-eight.

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The yellow-ish peril

This probably will not end well:

Would Sephora really ban customers who spend thousands of dollars every year with them? Last year, frequent customers say they had their ability to place online orders taken away for buying too much stuff. This year, frequent customers report having their accounts shut down or their ability to place orders restricted. Funny thing though: all of these customers have e-mail addresses based in China, or Chinese surnames.

This must be one of those definitions of “funny” that don’t actually involve laughter.

Why would Sephora cut off any customers, let alone Asian customers, right now? This week, there’s a 20% off sale for Sephora customers who spend more than $350 per year, which is a fabulous time to go shopping and boost your profit margin if you’re a reseller. The question for Sephora is this: how can they tell the difference between someone who is reselling and someone who just reapplies eyeshadow a lot?

Angry customers claim that in the last day or so, Sephora has been using geographic and ethnic profiling. In addition, customers who use e-mail providers based in China like qq.com or 163.com say that their orders have been canceled and their accounts deactivated.

Well, duh, says Sephora:

[I]n some instances we have, indeed, de-activated accounts due to reselling — a pervasive issue throughout the industry and the world. As part of our ongoing commitment to protecting our clients and our brands, we have identified certain entities who take advantage of promotional opportunities to purchase products in large volume on our website and re-sell them through other channels. After careful consideration, we have deactivated these accounts in order to optimize product availability for the majority of our clients, as well as ensure that consumers are not subject to increased prices or products that are not being handled or stored properly.

You can probably imagine what reddit thinks of this.

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