28 November 2005

Style Intelligence Report has moved to Omiru.com

We've officially moved to Omiru.com! You'll be automatically redirected to our new site in 10 seconds. If you're still sitting here after 10 seconds, however, click here.

What’s new at Omiru.com? A complete redesign of the site—including better navigation and easier ways to contact us for story ideas, cool products, and anything else that’s on your mind.

We hope you enjoy the new site. And don't forget to bookmark Omiru.com for all the latest news and tips on style!

Your friends,

Susannah and Trisha

27 November 2005

Trendscape: Raw Edging

We love the frayed detailing that we've been seeing everywhere lately: It's feminine, yet just a tad rugged, and elegant without seeming too contrived.

ABS Pink Jeweled Cotton Tank

ABS Pink Jeweled Cotton Tank | $105 at Bluefly

Banana Republic Rhinestone Chiffon Cuff

Banana Republic Rhinestone Chiffon Cuff | $19.99 at Banana Republic

J.Crew Sequin Tank

Sequin Tank in Heather Pewter | $128 at J.Crew

Prova Necklace with Beads

Pearl and Silk Ribbon Necklace with Bead Charms | $395 at Kirna Zabete

25 November 2005

Hengst Now Available Online

Considering how impressed we were with Susan Hengst's collection at the Gen Art Fresh Faces fashion show, imagine our excitement when we discovered that one can now buy Hengst online!

Nymph top in Golden Peach | $210 at Style.com

Fashion at the Intersection of Art and Commerce

One of the things that makes fashion particularly interesting is its position at the intersection of art and commerce. With one foot in the art world and the other solidly in the business world, there exists an inherent tension.

Unsurprisingly, the fear among the fashion community is that fashion is moving too far towards the side of commerce. Indeed, the last decade has seen the close of a number of haute couture houses, perhaps most notably that of Yves St. Laurent in 2002. But it's not just couture houses that are in danger. Teri Agins of the Wall Street Journal wrote in September:

"Mr. Lam has built a $4.8 million-a-year business but it has yet to reach the critical mass necessary to operate profitably and efficiently. Derek Lam Co. will lose money this year, as it has every year since it was formed in 2002, although Mr. Schlottmann declines to say how much.

Mr. Lam is part of a new generation of rising fashion stars struggling to follow the path to financial success blazed by American fashion icons such as Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, and Bill Blass. Handicapped by broad changes in retailing and manufacturing, these young designers are finding it difficult to capitalize on industry acclaim and turn a healthy profit."

Agins is right on the mark when she identifies the financial difficulties faced by designer ready to wear designers like Derek Lam. Lam's contemporaries--Zac Posen, Peter Som, and Behnaz Sarafpour, to name a few--are also feeling the tension between fashion as art and the need to make a buck.

Today's fashion marketplace is especially unfriendly to such designer ready to wear manufacturers. But why is this?

At the top of the fashion totem pole sits haute couture, where fashion as art reigns. With a steadily declining number of customers as patrons, couture is often "subsidized" by other divisions of a luxury house--fragrances, handbags, perhaps even ready to wear apparel. While couture isn't a great revenue generator, it can generate favorable PR, which intangibly helps other parts of a design house.

On the other edge of the market sits mass market fashion. Think of H&M, the Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch. Mall stores and the like that make their money on volume. However stylish their goods may be, they're primarily driven by commerce. At their core, they're not about a designer's artistic vision--they're about what will increase sales.

Between these two extremes lies designer ready to wear, the province of the up-and-coming fashion elite like Lam and Posen. Such designers are faced to walk the tightrope between art and commerce, and the end result all too often is failure. In the same WSJ article, Silas Chou, the former financial backer of Tommy Hilfiger who now backs Michael Kors, was quoted, "Out of all the 15 or so young designers, there will probably be just one that will make it and become a big name."

We don't pretend to have the answers here, and there are no established paths for upstart designers to follow, short of giving up (some) control of the company in exchange for outside money, which is in and of itself difficult to obtain.

Nevertheless, we do have hope for the future of fashion art, in spite of luxury conglomeration, regardless of the travails faced by developing designers, and in the face of the almighty dollar (or euro, RMB, or yen). Though intangible artistic merit is difficult to justify on a balance sheet, its value exists nonetheless...even if it's only in the hearts and minds of style philes like us.

23 November 2005

Our Thanksgiving Thanks

We're taking Thanksgiving Day off to be with our friends and families, but we'll be back on Friday to wrap up our Black Friday Blogging extravaganza with our take on fashion's unique spot at the intersection of art and commerce.

In the meantime, however, we wanted to thank you, our readers, for your continued patronage of our site. We sincerely hope that you enjoy what you find here, and we're working hard to make the site even better. And in that spirit, we welcome your comments, your ideas, and your musings.

Happy Thanksgiving, and see you on Friday!

With love,
Trisha and Susannah

The Best: Sequined Sweaters

While sparkly knits have always been a popular option for the holidays, this year sequined sweaters have really been at the forefront. Besides being glitzy enough for a night on the town, they also happen to be a perfect alternative to the ubiquitous LBT at holiday parties.

Shine Sequin Stripe Sweater

Shine Sequin Stripe Sweater in Heather Grey | $132 at Nordstrom

Bloomingdale's Dolman Sweater

Dolman Sweater in Copper | $99 at Bloomingdale's

ECI Sparkle Sweater Blazer

ECI Sparkle Sweater Blazer in Silver | $148 at Nordstrom

Sequin Cardigan

Sequin Cardigan in Heather Pewter | $158 at J.Crew

Walter Pointelle Scoop Back Sweater

Walter Pointelle Scoop Back Sweater in Gold | $231 at Nordstrom

Fashion as an Expression of Individuality

In our own biased opinion, we consider fashion to be the ultimate visual expression of one's self. Consciously or unconsciously, your fashion (or anti-fashion) choices determine how you present yourself to the world...and therefore contributes to how the world sees you.

We believe that your individuality comes through in three ways:
  • What garments you choose,
  • How you choose to combine these garments, and
  • How you wear that garment combination.
The first of the three is the most obvious and shouldn't require much explanation. If you favor glamour, you might consciously pick a dramatic top or a slinky skirt. Or if you favor conservatism, on the other hand, you might choose a high-necked top and/or neutral colors.

How you choose to combine garments gets a little more interesting. You might, for example, make a statement by combining a flirty, feminine skirt with a masculine, military-inspired jacket. Or combining flip flops with a jet black suit. How you combine garments sheds more insight into who you are, but at a less conscious level.

But how you wear that garment combination is perhaps the most telling of all. You might wear the flip flops + black suit combination with a side of confidence. Or you might wear it with a sense of indifference. We believe your attitude is your most important accessory, and it beats a status handbag, a bewitching pair of pumps, and a sparkly diamond necklace any day of the week. But to our point, because it is the most unconscious of your fashion choices, the attitude with which you wear your outfit offers the most genuine view into who you are.

22 November 2005

We're Moving!

Dear Readers,

We want to give you a heads-up that we're going to be moving to a new and improved site beginning next Monday, November 28th.

Expect a redesigned site with better navigation, and nothing less than the quality editorial coverage we've always had!

We will be providing more info, including the new domain name, shortly. Stay tuned...

Thanks for reading!


Susannah and Trisha

Susannah: Why Fashion Is Important to Me

On a superficial level (pun intended), dressing chic might appear entirely self-serving. However, I believe fashion has made a greater impact on us as well.

I believe that dressing well indirectly makes me a better person. Clothes make me feel beautiful, while my sense of style allows me to feel unique. When fashionably dressed, I am reassured, more confident, and overall more likely to put forth my best that day. Even when I feel my worst, I can show self-respect by dressing myself well.

While I would like to say that I dress solely for myself, I also know I am judged and categorized by what I wear, and I use this to my advantage. I love that in the same week I can play vixen, bookworm, elegant sophisticate or trendsetter. I love the fact that my quirky selections may keep me from being stereotyped into one category. I love that my outfits reveal other facets of my personality that would otherwise go unnoticed. The exciting transformations that I get to make are what living for fashion is all about.


21 November 2005

Why Fashion is Important to Me

On the most basic level, fashion is important to me because it makes me happy.

Among my interests are design and aesthetics, and fashion feeds both of these. I love line, silhouette, color, fabric, and construction. I love the look of a well-fitted garment. And I love combining garments to make a statement.

Fashion is my way of expressing to the world that I am me. I love that one day, I can "be" preppy, the next day sophisticated, the next day plain, and the next day glamourous. It's the easiest thing to change about your appearance. Plus it's non-invasive...a double plus on my list.

I find it intrinsically pleasing to dress up--and I dress for myself, first and foremost.

An added benefit, however, is the visual first impression that you give to others. It's been said that first impressions are mainly visual--that is, they depend less on what you say and more on how you visually present yourself. While I don't like this, my experience has shown this to be all too accurate.

Even when I'm shopping, for instance, I get radically different treatment from salespeople. If I'm dressed in flip flops, jeans, and a t-shirt, I often have to hunt salespeople down in order to make a purchase. If, on the other hand, I'm dressed in heels, a slim pencil skirt, and a nice top, I often can't shop in peace, receiving multiple offers for help.

Your thoughts? How does fashion make an impression on your life?


20 November 2005

Black Friday Blogging: Style Intelligence Archives

We hunted through our archives for relevant articles on fashion, consumption, individuality, and the importance of fashion in our lives. For your reading pleasure, we present:

Black Friday Bloggers

Julie of Almost Girl invited us to join a "Black Friday" Blogging event. We're pleased to participate.

Check back this week for our thoughts on why fashion is important to us, fashion as art and commerce, and fashion and individuality.