Archive for Rag Trade

Destined to repel

Fashion bloggers are not meek: they’ll style something and double-dog dare you to object to it. The lovely and talented Wendy Nguyen was sporting these shoes this week:

Fringed sandals from MR by Man Repeller

Of course, what I wanted to know is where the heck did these shoes come from. They’re part of the MR line by, um, Man Repeller.

Now I’ve read Leandra Medine’s Man Repeller blog now and then, and her fashion sense is based on this apparently inarguable premise: “Good fashion is about pleasing women, not men, so as it happens, the trends that we love, men hate.” I mean, she’s not repulsive or anything.

I had not noticed, though, that she’d introduced several garment lines, including those ineffably wacky shoes. (Yes, that fringe moves when you do.) I went back to Wendy’s Lookbook, contemplated them in the context of the rest of her outfit — a polka-dot top worn over barely visible shorts — and decided that this could be lived with, though Net-A-Porter expects you to fork over $485 for those shoes, which might be harder to endure.

As for the Man Repeller herself, she gave birth to twin girls last month. She and her husband of five years are delighted.

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Sort of punny business

The shoe industry, by and large, is not given to humor. But for about a century or so, Dunn & McCarthy Shoe Company, with facilities in Auburn and Binghamton, New York, got away with this punny brand name:

1960 advertisement for Enna Jetticks shoes

This advertisement came out in about 1960; it was 1965 or so before I realized what was being said here. (Then again, it was 1965 or so before I had any reason to notice this sort of thing in the first place.)

There exists a copy of an Enna Jetticks radio spot from the early 1930s:

Also in the Thirties, EJ bought a fleet of four Glenn Curtiss Aerocar travel trailers for promotional purposes.

Dunn & McCarthy, in business since about 1870, were evidently still in business in the early 1970s:

Falcon Footwear, last owners of the Enna Jetticks trademark, allowed it to slide into desuetude early in the 21st century.

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Hardly even there

I have admitted before to a certain not-even-slightly grudging admiration for women’s shoes which appear to lack substance, and these certainly seem to qualify:

Kenya Moore's transparent sandals

These are being worn by Kenya Moore, whom we noticed yesterday; feel free to peek at the complete outfit if you like.


Approved by your mom

Or by this mom, anyway:

I can’t imagine my mom wearing these, but then she’s been gone forty years and could not possibly care less:

Mom shorts from American Eagle

American Eagle has lots of variations on this theme, but they all feature a high-ish rise (11.75 inches), they all sit straight across the waist, and they’re “relaxed” through that brief quantity of thigh. Prices run $40 to $55. And if you’re climbing out of a minivan while wearing these, please let me know.

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It only looks fake

But no, this is a genuine Gucci bag from the 2018 collection:

Gucci 'GUCCY' bag

Gucci has several accessories styled in this way. Apparently, judging by the typeface, you’re supposed to shout “GUCCI!” in the manner of the guy who advertised videogames from “SEGA!”

(Via Lorna Burford.)

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Definitely a block heel

It does not, however, rotate:

The Margot by Katy Perry

Katy calls this the “Margot”; “Inspired by everyone’s favorite puzzle, the everyday sandal gets a well-heeled makeover.” It’s on the way out of the lineup, with a suitable price cut: from $100 to $50. And no, it doesn’t come with the cube.

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In the days of British birds

Before I learned about Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds, I operated under the assumption that British “birds” were in fact humans of the female persuasion, unburdened by excess avoirdupois. An example from that era:

A British bird in Kayser tights

One must be relatively devoid of curvature to pull off this Twiggyesque look. And there’s always the question of whether “one size fits all” truly means “one size fits scarcely any at all.” Still, I really like those shoes, with the block heel and the squared-off throat, and I suppose we should thank the merchant who sold these for a flat nine shillings and not, as one might expect in the late predecimal days, for eight shillings and eleven pence. (For those of you stuck in this century: 9/- equals £0.45.)


No pinching

A British startup, specializing in larger shoe sizes for women:

The Arabel Manners brand was born when my mother, a large shoe consumer, was frustrated that luxury footwear in her size was not accessible in the same way, as if she was a slender UK size 5. She was always made to feel second best when walking into a luxury footwear store as her size was never catered for.

Hence the Arabel Manners brand is built with emotion and creativity at the heart of each shoe design, and specialises in sizes 41-45 across all styles.

A UK size 5 is about a 7½ in the States; the European 41-45 range runs 9½ through 13. Lorna Burford interviewed Arabel herself and got to show off some of the initial offerings. I thought this one might be of particular interest:

Two-tone tasseled loafer by Arabel Manners

They’re not quoting prices yet; the collection launches officially on Tuesday, 13 March.

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Uneven dozen

What, precisely, is a size 12? I’ve long suspected that there was no consistent definition, and after 12 minutes of video, I’d swear to it:

(Warning: more than a few cuss words.)

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None too slick

The corporate plug:

Credited with creating the very first stiletto heel in the 1950s, Maison Roger Vivier today carries forward an extravagant artistic heritage. Each creation is meant to entrance with timeless Parisian elegance—sophisticated and inimitable, a rare and true luxury. Icons include the Miss Viv’ bag, inspired by mid-century modern architecture; the sharp and flawless Belle Vivier Trompette pump; as well as the romantic, buckle-topped Belle Vivier and Gommette flats. The latest handbag design, Pilgrim de Jour, interprets the house-code buckle in a sleek and nonchalant way.

M. Vivier, who died in 1988 at the age of eighty-four, is no doubt spinning close to redline in his burial vault, no thanks to this:

Slidy Viv Strass-Buckle Mesh Two-Band Slide Sandal

Fausta Wertz dismissed these as “$1500 Birkenstocks.” Bergdorf’s is actually letting them go for a mere $1325.

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Weaponized pumps

Dual-function, yet:

I was able to trace these at least as far back as 2014, but I have to figure that the demand is likely undiminished; it’s not like we’re running out of bastardos brujos.

(Via Emily Rose.)

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Valley chic

I’m not so sure about that “machine washable” bit:

Warmup jacket advertisement

And if you go jogging in that, everyone’s gonna see your Niblets.

(Have some background music. From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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A post-winter shoe

There’s a chance this shoe will make you look hot, but there’s no chance it will keep you warm:

Martini by Etienne Aigner

Says Etienne Aigner, vendor thereof:

With a slender set back heel and a buckled ankle strap, the Martini Heel in sand kid suede offers timeless sophistication and leg-lengthening height. Trimmed with white nappa leather that creates a subtle two-tone effect, this chic look pairs effortlessly with tailored pants, skirts, and dresses.

Also in “sunburst” and black, $148 a pair.

(Via Julies Dresscode.)


They do not choose to run

In fact, you’d have to work pretty hard to force these pantyhose to even look like they’re developing a hole:

There’s a Kickstarter mentioned, but just two backers put up over 75 percent of the goal, and forty others put them over the top.

And these are seriously pricey: $145 a pair, though backers — they’re still accepting backers for the next month or so — will be paying $79. Then again, if you can get 50 wearings out of a single pair, even at full retail that’s under $3 a wearing. Sizes S through XXL can be had.

(Via Real Simple.)

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Upright citizen

News Item: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi staged a record-breaking, eight-hour speech Wednesday in hopes of pressuring Republicans to allow a vote on protecting “Dreamer” immigrants — and to demonstrate to increasingly angry progressives and Democratic activists that she has done all she could.

When I heard about this, the first thing that crossed my mind — well, besides “Since when does the House have a filibuster?” — was “Does Nancy Pelosi even own a pair of flats?” I mean, she’s not going out there in really high heels at the age of 77, but I can’t imagine her in Birks either.

Found on photographer Erin Schaff’s Instagram, taken for The New York Times, a shot of the Minority Leader’s shoes:

The shoes Nancy Pelosi wore to give her 8-hour Dreamers speech

Four inches, right? I mean, seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in flats.

(Via Heather Barmore.)

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It seems like it ought to work

Many have tried, not so many have succeeded. I first caught Lorna’s take:

Now I have been thinking a lot about designer bags and how much they can cost, or how difficult they can be to get hold of. A lot of us tend to wear high street pieces for clothes and spend more money on our shoes and bags, I know I do, but I was thinking how annoying it can be when you really love some of the fashionable bags and pieces from the designer brands, but they cost too much to warrant buying as they’re not a staple. I was recently introduced to Nothing To Wear and I think the concept is amazing! You can rent authentic designer items for a small fee and then return them. How good would that be? It means you can wear all the cool and fashionable bags or shoes of the moment, without having to spend big money on them as you’d probably only wear them a couple of times anyway.

Now the pitch:

Edgy cocktail dress from Alexander McQueen[H]ow many times have you uttered these words in dismay in front of your closet full of clothes and accessories? Well, that’s the plague every woman is facing whether she is a fashionista or not. will address this major wardrobe dysfunction by allowing you to access a carefully curated selection of preloved and vintage fashion gems. You can rent designer and vintage items for 15% of their retail price, and choose from a wide variety of style and sizes. Own the moment, not the dress.

“I must see some of these thousand-dollar dresses,” I said to myself, and punched up “Alexander McQueen.” My eye fell upon this “edgy cocktail dress” in UK size 12, about an 8 in the States, which can be had for a four-day holiday for £98. (Retail, they report, is £650, on the far side of $900. Close enough to a thousand dollars, am I right?)

Who, I wondered, owned this dress? Here is how the process works:

Once we agreed on a rental price, we send the items to our trusted dry cleaner. They are professionally photographed on a model and stored in our show room in West London where either clients can come and try them on or are ready to be delivered by messenger to the client’s preferred location (home, office, hotel). Your garments and accessories are then messengered back to our show room where we make sure that weren’t damaged, dry cleaned and ready to make another customer look fabulous.

The actual owner collects 65 percent of the rental fee; NTW retains 35 percent for expenses and whatever.

I do hope this works out well for everyone.

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Well, that’s a relief

But it’s nice to know, just to be sure:

Top Gear t-shirt: These T-shirts were tested on animals. They didn't fit.

(R. Ted Phipps has one of these.)


Steadfast and firm

Supp-hose, a brand of support hosiery, used variations on this same picture for several years:

1960s Supp-hose ad

Let us now praise Alfred P. Slaner, creator of Supp-hose. After Julius Kayser & Co. and the Chester H. Roth Company merged in 1958 to form, yes, Kayser-Roth, Slaner, a nephew of Roth’s and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, was the first president of the merged firm, and he saw an opportunity. Compression stockings from your local medical supply house, he knew — his father had had to wear some after surgery — were not pretty and not inexpensive. Slaner reasoned that women would respond to a less obviously therapeutic product at the $5 price point, and given enough advertising, the company stood to earn a mint. They were no substitute for prescription-quality stockings, of course, but the ads claimed only “gentle support.”

Slaner enjoys one other distinction: he made Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” expanded version, revealed by John Dean in 1973.

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That’s about the size of it

Kids grow fast. Wouldn’t it be nice if their shoes did too?

Perhaps not the most handsome shoes, but it’s hard to beat ’em for functionality, especially at a mere $15 a pair.

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Life during wartime, sort of

A lot of things changed in World War II, and a lot more didn’t. Consider this 1943 advertisement for Claussner hosiery:

Claussner Hosiery ad 1943

At this point in time, all the good fabrics are being used for parachutes and such, leaving our Fashionable Woman making some compromises:

“Ration fashion, and the war-time woman emerges slim and effective as a magic wand! She accepts regulation as a challenge to her chic, counts on ingenuity to provide style innovations that laugh at limitations.”

Well, okay, if you say so.

While she’s made wardrobe adjustments, the young fellow earning his nickel is doing what young fellows were doing three years before — with the exception of having to submit to price controls, of course. Most of his customers, I suspect, are men, which might explain his apparent delight in having a woman visit his stand. I’ve been down this road myself; when I was in the Army, circa 1972, there was a female in the battalion who had me shine her shoes on a regular basis, since (1) I had a wooden box just like that, with a place to rest her foot, and (2) I did a pretty good job shining shoes. I didn’t even charge her 12 cents (a nickel after 29 years’ inflation) for it, and she was perceptive enough not to ask why. (Still have that box, by the way.)

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You call that fleshtone?

Having gotten an earlier loan paid back, I decided to help out these fine folks:

Launched in 2016, House No. 3028 LLC is the brainchild of sister and brother duo, Thressa Smith and Norrell Casey, based out of Oakland, CA. With Thressa Fashion Institute training, backgrounds in sales and fashion inspiration from their mother, this dynamic team set out to shake up the world of nude shoes.

On a wing and a prayer, they set out to make their dreams come true: be successful black entrepreneurs, make a mark in the fashion industry geared toward the inclusion of all women of color, and buy back the family home, located in the Oakland foothills, the home bears the House No: 3028! House No: 3028, nude shoes for women of color. The inspiration was fashion frustration. Unable to find the right nude shoe, unless she wanted to pay over $600 for a Christian Louboutin nude, Thressa decided to design and sell her own.

The initial offering of The NU 2″, 3″ & 4″ heels, in six stunning hues: Honey, Cookie, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Brownie & Cacao, was quite successful … NU Pumps allow brown girls to perfectly match, complement or contrast their skin tone. Before long, it became clear that women wanted a little more edge and more variety. After months of additional research to find the right supplier and product development to provide the best product, the best quality and the best price.

They’re seeking $15,000; they’re almost there.

Update, 31 December: They made it.

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Heels to the sky

Footwear News tells it like it is:

2017 was not a year known for traditionally “beautiful” shoes. And as the “ugly” shoe continued to dominate the runways this year, definitions of beauty standards also came into question — especially in the face of new gender ideas and how women will want to present themselves in a post-“Me Too” world.

Then again, they think this Prada sandal falls on the “beautiful” side of the line:

Prada feather-embellished satin sandals

I looked at 49 pairs in their slideshow, and frighteningly, this was one of the better-looking shoes.

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Shorts circuit

I can’t even think of an introduction for this:

[T]he Cleveland Clinic — the country’s leading center for clinical research in male fertility — found that men who keep their phones in their pocket for more than 4 hours per day experience a 50% reduction in sperm count! Here at SPARTAN, we didn’t want to this to threaten our modern life. We want to keep using technology without changing any of our habits. That’s why we have created the SPARTAN Boxers.

The product, briefly:

The SPARTAN Boxer is the boxer of the future. For the first time, we are bringing together design with innovation to create underwear that shields your family jewels from wireless radiation.

We’re bringing to underwear the same advanced technology used in space suits (no kidding!). We developed a unique technology, WaveTech, a high-tech fabric incorporating pure silver fibers within the cotton of the boxer. WaveTech acts as a faraday cage (or electromagnetic shielding), which prevents radiation from reaching your cherries. Our SPARTAN Boxers have been tested by the MET Laboratory, Baltimore, USA and they block over 99% of all cellphone and Wi-Fi radiation.

Is there a demand for this? Well, the Kickstarter goal was $2371; backers have put up about $27,000 so far.

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Somewhat single-minded

A little bit of self-promotion for a Fox News program:

Nothing too weird there. Then Katherine Timpf disclosed that she’d received a complaint:

So maybe what I’ve been saying all these years is true: the women from Fox News go largely unnoticed from here up.

And just for the heck of it, an item from Kat Timpf’s timeline, a few years back:

Kat Timpf from here down

And remember: it’s December, people.

Addendum: Rhetoric intensifies:

So there.

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You’ve presumably had your meat

And in 1964, this promotion might have persuaded you to get some pudding:

1964 advertisement for My-T-Fine Pudding

Perhaps surprisingly, they didn’t show a box of butterscotch pudding, which presumably would have come in your favorite go-with-everything beige tone.

The days when you could get a pair of stockings for 50 cents plus a box top are gone forever, but My-T-Fine is still making pudding.

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Unvanishing cream

An intriguing extended story prompt, proposed by Francis W. Porretto:

It is 2050, and all the “old” cosmetics are gone at last. Foundation, blusher, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick — all are now permanent only, and can only be removed by the use of a specially formulated cleansing agent. At first women were delighted, for they no longer had to fret about anything “running” or “smearing.” But then there was some fretting after all, for mistakes in application do happen, and the cleansing agent is not without cost.

But wait … what’s this? A devastating terrorist strike against the makers of the cleansing agent? Does anyone else know how to make the stuff? If not, what will happen when the current supply is exhausted? Will women never again know the joy of putting on makeup — or of taking it off?

There was a 1970 short story by Erik van Lhin (Lester del Rey) in which a suburban wife, conforming to the stereotype of the era, tries out a new cold cream which causes her to disappear, much to the perplexity of her husband. The stuff proves to have even weirder side effects than that. I have to wonder how del Rey would have dealt with this futuristic plot.

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Has no one noticed it’s December?

Then again, WFTV is a Florida television station:

Indeed, these do seem to be a Thing:

For those who don’t want to give up their flip flops in the winter months, there’s a solution out there that’s growing in popularity: Flip Flop Socks.

They can be found on sites like Etsy, where people are making them by hand and selling them.

One owner at a shop called “Sew Darn Comfy” says she can’t even keep the socks in stock.

The socks, which are toe-less, keep the rest of the foot warm, while keeping the toes exposed, allowing one to still wear a sock with a flip flop (practical), instead of jamming a closed-toed sock up into the flip flip (no).

Sophia Vernava says she’s been making them for years for people who love yoga, Pilates, ballet and dance because they keep feet warm and prevent cramping, but also the open toe allows for friction on the floor.

There is definitely a market for ’em:

And who am I to discourage her?

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Minor historical note

From the Bridgeport Post (now the Connecticut Post), 27 December 1956:

CT newspaper clipping: Only 1 woman in 1100 now wears black lace panties

I can’t imagine things have improved any since then.

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Track of the gastropod

Heck of an opening question:

If we told you to slather snail mucus all over your face, would you do it?

Um, no. Next?

What if we told you it would hydrate, stimulate collagen, and promote a gorgeous, glowy complexion? If you’re thinking “Not a chance,” the good news is that you don’t have to actually place these little critters on your face to reap the benefits (although snail facials do exist in South Korea, where they’re all the rage); there are plenty of skincare products stateside that deliver the same results. And trust us, you won’t even be able to tell that one of the ingredients comes from a snail.

One of the less expensive products:

Missha Super Aqua Cell Renewal Sleeping Mask ($17)

Smooth on an even layer before bed to soothe and hydrate skin. The combination of snail slime, botanical stem cell and baobab tree extracts makes for a firmer, more even complexion.

At the other extreme:

Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Fast-Acting Serum ($120)

If you’re still uneasy about putting actual snail secretions on your face but don’t want to miss out on all the benefits, this is the product for you. It uses synthetic snail venom paired with powerful neuropeptides and diamond dust to smooth expression lines in as little as three days.

If there’s a lesson in this, it’s that fake snail snot costs more than real snail snot.

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Not good in the snow

Although I know people who could not possibly care less about that:

Aquazzura says:

Our soft and lush Almaty high heel bootie is an elegant finish to any ensemble. Crafted from supple velvet in deep ink blue, this round toe style boasts handcrafted ornate embroidery that cascades up the front, wraps at the back and is finished with a flirty tassel. Pair with higher hemlines to show off the lavish details.

The “deep ink blue,” which might be the last remaining shade, is decidedly darker than what you’re seeing there. And depending on how high your hemline is, you might be showing off something other than “lavish details.”

For the heck of it, I went to Aquazzura’s Web site, and it popped up the standard “Would you like to share your location?” box. I clicked Yes, and they immediately responded that there’s an Aquazzura store nearby, to the extent that between 74th and 75th on Madison Avenue in New York is “nearby.” It’s certainly closer than the home office, which is in Florence.

I’ve occasionally picked up a grumble or two on the subject of shoes with triple-digit prices. Allow me to assure you that the price tag on Almaty — manufacturer’s list — does not come with three digits.

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