Archive for Rag Trade

All about our new plant

Chemstrand, which began as a joint venture of American Viscose and Monsanto — eventually Monsanto bought out its partner — would like to show you their new plant in Pensacola, Florida, but they also figure that nobody reading whatever magazine this came from is interested in seeing their new plant. Instead, they show a product made from the output of that new plant:

Advertisement for Chemstrand nylon production facility

If you’d rather see the production facility itself, Frank Hardy has a photo of the plant in the 1950s:

At one time back in the 1950s through the 1970s, I would guess that Chemstrand was in the top five of employees in Escambia County Florida. Even though they had photography department, we were hired for miscellaneous jobs at the plant.

Monsanto spun off Chemstrand in 1997 as Solutia Inc., maker of industrial chemicals; it survives today in St. Louis County, Missouri. No hosiery, though: they sold off the nylon business in 2009.

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Instant heels

Or instant flats, if that’s what you need — or somewhere in between. Yes, really:

Meet German shoe retailer Mime et Moi! Back in April, the brand started a Kickstarter campaign to create one shoe that has five different heel heights! (We will give you a second to bask in that awesomeness.) High heels really do complete certain outfits! So say goodbye to painful feet, and HELLO to blissful fashion. The heel options range from stilettos to flats. With a quick snap on/off option so you will be able to change your look in 1,2,3!

Mime et Moi shoe with switchable heels

The Kickstarter raised nearly €20,000 from European Union countries; I don’t know if they’ve started retail sales in the States yet. Price is probably on the far side of $200, though you’re sort of getting five pairs, right?

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Eventual backfire

Guys of the era, I’m pretty sure, surrendered pretty easily:

Vintage Cannon hosiery ad

Cannon made its fame making sheets and towels and bedspreads; they came late to the hosiery game, but they did manage to get a seat at the table. This particular ad — they repeated it with variations for years — dates to 1964.

Fieldcrest-Cannon made it into the 1990s before the inevitable death spiral:

In September, 1997, Fieldcrest-Cannon was sold to the Pillowtex Corporation for $700,000,000. Sales slid, and problems began to appear as Pillowtex lost money. According to a former CEO of Pillowtex, its largest product buyer, Wal-Mart, encouraged the company to move production overseas [to remain competitive] but Pillowtex refused. It was undercut by competitors (producing overseas at lower prices) and when its prices were no longer competitive stopped (or lost) its opportunity to supplying Wal-Mart.

The Cannon brand still exists, should anyone wish to license it from its current owners.

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A woman of many phases

It wasn’t that long ago that we looked in on Lorna Burford of Raindrops of Sapphire and saw Tinker Bell looking back at us.

Lorna Burford as Captain AmericaAs far as I’m concerned, she can dress up as anyone she darn well pleases:

Not only is Captain America my favourite comic book character as you all know, but turning myself and these photos into a real life comic book was like a dream come true for me too. It’s taken hours to edit and do this entire shoot from start to finish, but I have to say that I’m incredibly proud of these photos and I haven’t had as much fun on a shoot as this!

Sourcing, because after all she’s a fashion blogger:

I got this costume from Escapade and I think it’s fantastic. It fits really well actually and is quite comfortable, but it doesn’t come with the boots, so I had some help getting hold of these thigh high pvc red ones from a friend and I think they suit the costume perfectly.

We’re only giving you the faintest hint of the look here, hoping more than usual that you’ll dial over and see the whole photoset.

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Dressy enough

Tatyana finds a shoe she can live with:

[I]magine my joy (yes) when I saw them at DSW: low (but noticeable) heel, comfortable ankle hug detail, reliable arch support, figured (not plain) leather. And very unusual play on “maryjane” theme. Something very “roaring 20s” about them, isn’t it?

I like it. It’s from Josef Seibel, billed as “the European comfort sole,” and while I didn’t spot it in the current line, there’s a distinct advantage to buying a style that’s on the way out, especially when it doesn’t look like it’s on the way out.

Low-heel Mary Jane variant by Josef Seibel

Given DSW’s pricing, she almost certainly snagged these for under $100. And that Mary Jane variation is clever: you see two straps from this angle, but they meet just before a single buckle on the outside.

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Mix and match and mix some more

Not so long ago, I showed you a Simplicity Pattern advertisement from 1974 which proposed nine different skirts that could be worn with the same top.

The next step was obvious. One pair of jeans, ten tops:

Simplicity advertisement from 1974

I tracked down the next issue of the magazine where I found these; there was apparently no third entry in the series. Too bad.

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Satisfactorily sneaky

This is Mayrah, a waterproof (!) sneaker from Geox in Italy, available in burgundy or black:

Mayrah by Geox in burgundy

Says Geox, this series was inspired by skateboarding and snowboarding women. List price is €140.

But here’s what they’re not telling you online: they also make this model in white. Well, slightly off-white, anyway:

Mayrah by Geox in white

Apparently the white ones are sold in Geox stores only. Cristina likes:

With their thick but smooth leather exterior, they’re also easy to wipe clean. Not to mention that they’re treated with patented technology that repels water, and keeps your feet warm. And at the same time, their outsole is breathable. Yep, nothing goes in, but air goes out. I still don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad they do!

There apparently also exist high-top versions of this sneaker.

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Sew what’s new

Patterns have been sold under the brand name Simplicity since 1927. (They’re still active today.) This 1974 advertisement, aimed at the teenage market, plays up the value of separates: why, you could come up with nine different looks with but a single top!

Simplicity ad 1974

Forty-odd years later, I wonder if anyone made all nine of those skirts. And I admit, 6789 (wrap skirt with patch pockets) reminds me of someone.

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The product of our influences

InStyle.com considers this shoe “trendy”:

Paul Andrew heels

And I have to admit to a certain admiration for this paragraph:

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund–winning footwear designer Paul Andrew says Scandinavian architecture influenced his PS17 collection, and these beechwood suede slingbacks are a case in point. The graphic straps remind us of the interior of Helsinki’s underground Temppeliaukio Church.

Which is, I concede, a pretty spiffy place of worship. This shoe from Paul Andrew, at $895, may or may not be cheaper than a flight to Finland.

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Please clap

Fashion blogger Lorna Burford (Raindrops of Sapphire) takes Halloween very seriously; in fact, she’s asking for costume advice in advance of the Big Day.

Personally, I think she’s going to have to work pretty doggone hard to beat her 2014 appearance:

Lorna Burford as Tinker Bell

Then again, I suppose I’ve always had something of a weakness for Tink.

(Greyscaled because I wanted to give you more incentive to look at her site, where she’s live and in colour.)

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I suppose this was inevitable

It’s still, however, a bit disquieting:

But maybe that’s just me and my aversion to things hanging out of one’s nose.

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Mary Jane in stereo

Cristina of ShoeTease has been crushing on this Nine West (Canada) Mary Jane:


I haven’t worn Mary Janes since I was young. And I mean, really young! I’ve always loved their flirty, school girl appeal, but never thought anyone over the age of 25 could pull them off. But then I started seeing some amazing street style. You know, with these fabulous older women wearing their strappy closed-toe heels with kick flare jeans, boho dresses and more. I was inspired.

Three inches might be just a little tall for a Mary Jane, but I have very nearly persuaded myself that the double-strap array visually offsets some of that perceived vertical. In the States, Amazon is selling this in blue or in grey for $99.

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Shorts subject

Does the fruit of the loom eventually rot?

I recently read that most adult males keep pairs of underwear for, on average, seven years.

When I look at the underwear in my drawers it’s hard to remember how long I’ve owned them. Unlike larger purchases like houses and cars, I don’t think most people — or at least I don’t — have a good frame of reference as to when any particular pair was purchased. They don’t change models each year.

I didn’t keep the receipt.

I’m pretty sure all the underwear I currently own I also owned in our previous house. Some of them I owned in the house before that, which we purchased in 1998. If that seven-year average is to be believed, there must be people out there who wear their underwear once and then throw them away.

Not me. I tend to keep eight in rotation, and then every, um, seven years or so replace half of them. I will probably have to replace them all in short order, though, inasmuch as I’ve lost about five, maybe even six inches of circumference this year.

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The late, great Cousin Itt

So they tanned his hide when he died, Clyde, and Gucci made a pair of loafers out of it:

Gucci shoes that look entirely too much like Cousin Itt

“Actually really scary,” says Cristina:

During their Fall show last year, Gucci had their runway models strut their stuff in what appeared to be wig adorned & human hair lined footwear. Hair shoes, really. Seriously, though, some of the ugliest shoes of 2015, if you want to check them out!

But apparently these horrid shoes were soooo popular, that they’ve come out with the exact same line of wigged out shoes for the current, Fall 2016 season. With some newly added special designs. And yes, I’m talking that kind of special.

The effect is something like bunny slippers made from actual bunnies:

Natural hued, real long animal hair is particularly grotesque. Like these Gucci designs, that give me a serious case of the creepy crawlies. And I’m not even a vegetarian or anything. Can you imagine the disgusted reactions of the vegans to shoes that look like wearable, taxidermied animals? Ick.

Except to the magazine editors during fashion weeks, because they live in a world that is theirs (and theirs alone!).

As if the thousand-dollar price tag wouldn’t be offputting enough.

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Sweetening your life

This sandal showed up in my tweetstream:

DV by Dolce Vita Baina

Dolce Vita’s DV line used to feature “Baina” here, but it’s pretty much out of stock at your major retailers. (I checked Nordstrom Rack, where it was marked down from $79 to $50, or $36 in a nude-ish shade.) A one-inch platform doesn’t offset a 4.5-inch heel, and there’s a zipper up the back you can’t really see at this angle.

I noticed this shoe, though, because John Salmon remarked that Sandra Bullock could rock them. I looked through a few Sandra Bullock pictures, and didn’t find any instances of her wearing this particular shoe, but I’m not about to disagree.

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It seems all too reasonable

Cristina asks herself: “Why, 6 years later, am I still blogging about shoes?”

[T]he simple answer is: even though I’ve deviated from the daily stiletto-wearing lifestyle and have zero time (or energy) for schmoozing at media events, I do love blogging and am still very much in love with shoes.

There are, I understand, women who wear stilettos every day, though I don’t know any.

Although, working at my desk all day, I usually remain shoe-less. No, the irony isn’t lost on me.

I admit to wondering on occasion if brand-name fashion bloggers like Chiara Ferragni or Wendy Nguyen ever sit around in a T-shirt and jeans.

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Vague holiday gestures

Girls, we all know, mature faster than boys, and it’s worse when the boy is much younger than his alleged peer group: the seventh-grade version of me, barely ten years old, was not at all able to deal with thirteen-year-old classmates in skirts. There’s a line in Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl in which some lad is extolling the virtues of Gregory’s younger sister Madeline: “She’s only ten,” he declared, “but she has the body of a woman of thirteen.” Fortunately for me, this film didn’t come out until I was nearly thirty.

That said, I once came up with the Dave Barry-esque idea of tacking up a pair of sheer stockings on the mantel, in the hope that Santa might see fit to, um, fill them up. The parental units did not approve, and the scheme was never implemented. And I’m not about to claim that I’m the only person who ever thought along these lines:

Sears Cling-alon hosiery ad

Actual Sears catalog displays were, if anything, even more endearing, which probably explains why I don’t have any of them anymore.

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Two of a kind, maybe

Just watch where you step:

You might stab someone in the shin.

(Via @syaffolee.)

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Beyond the little black dress

In fact, beyond much of the universe. This astronomer has an image from the Hubble Deep Field imprinted on her dress:

Hubble deep field dress

She swears she found it at Macy’s.

(Via TYWKIWDBI.)

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A hundred years of heels

I have no idea what’s next, but this is what has gone before:

HelloGiggles notes that the most recent styles are also the most dangerous-looking. The significance of this is left as an exercise for the student.

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Prepare for your head to hurt

Migraine-detecting dress designed by Grace BuckwalterIt’s kind of stylish in an early-80s TRON way, but it’s far more than eye candy:

[I]t’s sometimes difficult to tell when a migraine is coming on.

To help her mother, 15-year-old Grace Buckwalter decided to find a way to help detect a migraine before it starts. She has designed a dress that changes colors based on brain activity. Grace says, “It’s like a mood ring, but a dress.” Her efforts have resulted in a great deal of attention, including local television and TEDxLancaster.

How does it work?

The dress has a very special accessory, a headpiece that Grace borrowed from the game Mindflex. In Mindflex, the headpiece uses electroencephalography (EEG) technology to steer a Styrofoam ball through an optical course. With the dress, the headpiece interprets brainwaves, then transmits data through a circuit into a microprocessor. The microprocessor then emits light of different colors through optic fibers incorporated into the dress. There are six optic fiber bundles on the dress with colors scaling from red to blue to purple to green. Grace says that the meditation fibers turn red if the wearer is nervous and green if they’re relaxed.

Says Grace, the project took about 40 hours of work, at a cost of about $150. She will wear it at TEDxLancaster on the 10th of September.

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Meanwhile in the Southern Hemisphere

I suppose you couldn’t run an ad like this today:

Fiesta hosiery ad from Australia

A poodle in a sombrero? Sure, why not? And I smile at that bit about “made in an air-conditioned factory where nylon cannot contract.” Said factory, incidentally, was in Australia; Bond’s Industries sold it off in 1958, citing a decline in demand for its uncontracted products.

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Quickly spotted

By gum, here’s another vintage item from The Fashion Capital of Delaware:

Chiffon dress with polka dots

I think you have to be exactly the right age to appreciate this sort of thing.

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Is it Mary or Sue?

From the faraway early 1960s, a dress over which to obsess:

Pretty Girl dress from Braunstein's

Stag line, indeed. (Yet the dateless guys still queue up, even today.)

And I have to chuckle at “The Fashion Capital of Delaware.”

(Tip of the hat to Roger Green.)

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Once this was cool

Now, I guess, it’s a political statement, but in the 1970s it was kinda whimsical:

Landlubber clothing ad

Yeah, I suppose it is sort of uncomfortable.

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Strictly boho

I have a feeling I’d like this dress:

What I’m seeing is pretty spiffy.

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Because I needed this

I didn’t do any Rule 5 stuff this week due to, um, illness, but I had to say something about this Bai Ling tweet.

“Rawr” should about do it.

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Block partier

Not so long ago, Stuart Weitzman came up with a shoe called, for good and sensible reasons, “Tasselmania.” What happens when the shoe is not so, well, manic?

Tasselean by Stuart Weitzman

The nice thing about the block heel is that it looks like it won’t give way under you, unlike some styles you could name. Says Weitzman’s storefront about “Tasselean”:

Boho goes modern by way of a tassel detail and a minimalist single-sole design. This fashionista favorite is finished with braided straps and is crafted from cipria leather or suede. Wear with structured shorts and a silk tunic.

Um, “structured”? Okay. These are structured AF, or at least A&F.

The cipria version of “Tasselean” is “Frosted White.” Either way, it’s $398.

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Fantasy and then some

Claire Farron here is the new face of Louis Vuitton, kinda sorta:

Lightning for Louis Vuitton

Not that she’s going to walk the runway for them or anything: Ms Farron, better known as Lightning, is the protagonist of the game Final Fantasy XIII, and her existence is purely virtual. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess:

On the ad pages of a recent Vanity Fair, Lightning can be seen sporting her trademark pink hair and brandishing a metallic leather handbag. The clothes and purse look ordinary, but her skin is smoother than that of even the most excruciatingly Photoshopped human woman. Lightning dwells in the uncanny valley; she is real enough to pass as a model, but her dead eyes and perfectly regular features create a subtle sense of unease.

If you ask me, she’d create a subtle sense of unease were she “real”:

Lightning is determined, concentrated and independent. Initially, she is cold and standoffish, distancing herself from her companions. She only looks out for herself and doesn’t care if others are left behind.

Sound like any flesh-and-blood models you’ve heard of?

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Hey, (almost) nineteen

The 21st of this month is Rebecca Black’s 19th birthday, but I figured I’d mention it here today because it’s Friday and that should require no further explanation.

A couple of weeks ago she turned loose a video in which she’s talking music with the two brothers who make up funk-pop duo Fox Wilde, with whom she’s apparently working on some tunes. The main thing I gleaned from it, though, was a reminder of how great a simple t-shirt/jeans combo can be:

Rebecca Black as casual as she wants to be

Interestingly, there’s apparently only the single rip, over her left knee, so these jeans aren’t fully “distressed” in the contemporary sense.

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