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Thank You, Dr. Zizmor

Emily walpole

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Thank You, Dr. Zizmor

 

Photo-Illustration: Artwork by Joe Darrow for New York Magazine/dolgachov

A few months ago, I met up with a friend who works in fashion for a socially distanced walk through Prospect Park. I noticed she was wearing a Yankees cap. Three years ago, she would have been dripping in Dries. “These days, it’s all I want to wear,” she said. I’m pretty sure she can’t name anybody on the team.

On a Zoom recently, a friend who definitely doesn’t follow fashion mentioned that he had been out buying pita bread and found himself momentarily paralyzed while looking at something pinned to the wall of the market, unable to answer a question in his head: Why do I covet this not particularly attractive T-shirt from Sahadi’s?

A woman I work with texted me a dating-profile pic in which a handsome bachelor named Matt kneels in a Fanelli’s shirt in front of a Cellino & Barnes advertisement. Gotta love a man who loves his hometown enough to steal a subway ad and pin it up in his apartment, amirite?

For me, the urge first came in the form of a vintage Milton Glaser New York Magazine logo sweatshirt, which blossomed into a deli bouquet of items from places like Nightmoves and Economy Candy. Soon I was buying $10 N.Y. hats from OK Uniform three at a time. In the fall, I started wearing a “baseball” cap from the Frick Collection. It’s a great hat, and I love it, but I haven’t even been to the Frick in years. At Christmas, I gave my son a royal-blue MoMA hoodie and then stole it for myself. What was going on? Why was I having this sudden desire to own the Russ & Daughters shirt Jake Gyllenhaal wore in the Handstand Challenge? Never more than three decades of living here had I let my closet be overrun by memorabilia.

I’m not the only one who’s succumbed to the sentiment.

“This year, I’ve definitely seen more people wearing things you can only find here,” Miyako Bellizzi told me. Bellizzi is the costume designer known for the garish, ultraprecise style of Uncut Gems, which is not just viscerally New York but New York in May 2012, and not just that but New York in May 2012 on 47th between Fifth and Sixth, plus some parts off the LIE. She specializes in the subtle microdifferences of regional dress. “Normally, I travel for work and I’m gone more than I’m here. This year, I never left, and it made me see the city in a new way,” she says. “It made me connect with the people here so much more.” Forced to remain in New York, she has been wearing a knit beanie from B&H Photo Video. She doesn’t even know where the hat came from — it just showed up in her office one day like a good omen.

A year into the pandemic, with high-fashion trends nonexistent, everywhere I look people are cloaking themselves in NYC merch — from the average citizen to the hipsters of Bed-Stuy. And not just the classic I❤️NY tees or Knicks jerseys but hats from Con Ed or their local hardware store. Unable to travel but spared the herds of sidewalk-clogging tourists, New Yorkers have been supporting their neighborhood joints, snapping up polity-branded souvenirs as if we were flyover kids on a shopping spree in a Times Square gift shop. Wearing the “Yankee fitted,” as the nonadjustable cap is known, has long been a way for people to declare unironically, “I am on Team NYC.” Repping the city by repping its establishments — forestalling their bankruptcies one T-shirt purchase at a time — has become a big part of street style.

Desus Nice, who co-hosts the talk show Desus & Mero and the popular podcast Bodega Boys, says he used to see a shirt from a local bar and think, That would be a cool thing in my collection. Since COVID, it’s gone from fashion statement to something more political: Wearing the shirt may mean saving that bar. “We’ve been through a lot,” he says. “We were hit harder than most places in the beginning, and wearing New York on our chests, it’s a way of saying, ‘We’re not going anywhere.’ Everyone is finding new ways to wear their pride for New York, like on bags and hats and pins. And when you see it, it gives you a little warm feeling. It just means so much more now.”

If this wearable city pride had a name, it would be Zizmorcore.

Photo: Photograph by Bobby Doherty for New York Magazine. Styling by Miyako Bellizzi. Styling assistance by Lyndsea LaMarr, Alex Lee, Alex Kennedy. Soft Styling by Johnny Machado. Pants, shoes and chain custom made by stylist. Vintage courtesy of Jason Fox and Fantasy Explosion. Additional items courtesy of Charles W. McFarlane, The Neighborhood Spot, Veniero’s, Punjabi Deli, The MET, The Odeon, Mamoun’s, Economy Candy, WNYC, Gem Spa, Katz Deli, Zabar’s, Pearl River Mart, B & H Dairy, Grays Papaya, MOMA, American Museum of Natural History, The Sockman, Trash & Vaudeville, Keens, Joe’s Pizza, Raoul’s, Junior’s.

For about 25 years, starting in the early 1980s, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor’s ageless face gazed down upon commuters in nearly every subway car in New York City. His promise of “Beautiful Clear Skin” rang out like a prayer at a time when few things in the city were beautiful, let alone clear — least of all the design of his advertisements. The typography looked like a guy at the local copy shop had set it himself. Sometimes Zizmor was smiling; sometimes his hands were open, as if we had caught him giving a sermon on acne. Always, he wore a white lab coat and a tie. The city skyline sat like a pot of gold under his manic neon rainbow, an aesthetic chaos best described, by my mother, as ongepotchket, a Yiddish term that translates roughly as “too much.”

I cannot overstate the amount of time I spent over the years studying those ads. I can still recite his phone number: 212-594-SKIN. Visually, that era of New York — the mid-’80s to the late ’90s — had a kitschy specificity. It wasn’t “cool” like the mythic Beat era or the heroin chic of the Warhol ’70s. It wasn’t the dawn of punk or hip-hop. Like the other ubiquitous faces of the MTA — lawyers Cellino & Barnes (800-888-8888; “Don’t Wait! Call 8!”) or the AIDS PSA of Julio and Marisol (“I love you, but not enough to die for you!”), Dr. Z forms part of a repressed collective memory of when the city had a shabbier, livable quality.

By the time Dr. Zizmor stopped advertising in 2013, subway ads were sold as single-car takeover affairs for giant banks and multinational soft drinks. I would often hear people claim to be “Brooklyn based,” but, like our former three-term mayor, really they were citizens of the globe acting like they were doing us a favor just by working here. The trajectory seemed to move only in one direction, away from the affordable city of the past millennium and toward one where chipper professionals from elsewhere treated the place like a pleasure garden that needed to mold to them, as opposed to the other way around.

I often longed for the era of New York I had grown up in. Zizmor’s city. Pre-globalization. Pre-Starbucks. Where the bodegas sold dime bags and you could always find a 24-hour Greek diner that served decadent bowls of viscous, cinnamony rice pudding. Maybe there was no High Line, but my parents, schoolteachers, could afford to buy a house and see Les Miz once in a while.

Clockwise from top left: Jake Gyllenhaal in a Russ & Daughters tee. Miyako Bellizzi wearing a B&H beanie. Desus Nice in his New York Yankees hat. Timothée Chalamet in a Gem Spa beanie. Photo: jakegyllenhaal/Instagram; Courtesy of Miyako Bellizzi; Courtesy of Desus Nice; Christopher Peterson/SplashNews.com.

Clockwise from top left: Jake Gyllenhaal in a Russ & Daughters tee. Miyako Bellizzi wearing a B&H beanie. Desus Nice in his New York Yankees h…
Clockwise from top left: Jake Gyllenhaal in a Russ & Daughters tee. Miyako Bellizzi wearing a B&H beanie. Desus Nice in his New York Yankees hat. Timothée Chalamet in a Gem Spa beanie. Photo: jakegyllenhaal/Instagram; Courtesy of Miyako Bellizzi; Courtesy of Desus Nice; Christopher Peterson/SplashNews.com.

At first glance, Zizmorcore may appear to be an evolution of normcore, a trend we reported on in this magazine back in 2014. Don’t be fooled. Both are about casual style, both are rejections of Eurocentric fashion trends, but normcore celebrated the anti-style style of the suburbs. It was a trend for Mayor Bloomberg’s sanitized business-class lounge of a city. The blank, nowhere-special, “one in 7 billion” ethos of normcore paired perfectly with a Sweetgreen salad delivered by Seamless to a prefurnished condo in Hudson Yards.

Zizmorcore, however, is a rejection of that urge to make every city feel the same. It is an embrace of hyperlocality. It’s “Lemme eat a slice while I sit on this stoop that doesn’t belong to me.”

Zizmorcore is about wearing merch from places that feel truly authentic to New York. One New Yorker’s Zizmorcore is another’s kitschy pabulum. It’s not relegated strictly to obvious classics like the 92nd Street Y, the Oyster Bar, or Spumoni Gardens. Its only rock-solid rule is that the thing you’re repping could not exist in the same way in another city. In some ways, it’s a perfect New York trend because it’s great for arguing about.

Zizmorcore doesn’t try to look glamorous. It’s not harking back to the Bungalow 8, Sex and the City, brunch-as-status-symbol years. It’s Howard Ratner’s midtown. It’s George Costanza’s Upper West Side. It’s Mookie and Radio Raheem’s Bed-Stuy. In that regard, Zizmorcore is selling the wildest fantasy of all: that anybody can live a regular life here. Find love, raise a family, and buy a removable car stereo at J&R Computer World.

If you’re trying to decide what is truly Zizmorian, consider the following: It’s not only about how long a place has existed; it’s also about vibes. Who started it? Who goes there now? What kind of New York does it seek to cultivate? Does it cater to some nerdy, hyperspecific niche of fandom or culture? Does it capture some fundamental quality of living here?

Some things that are Zizmorcore: a Zabar’s reusable tote. A Gray’s Papaya tee. A hoodie from Playground Coffee. Anything from Keens. Fairway. The Sanitation Department. Reading “Page 6.” Buying in bulk from Economy Candy. Eastern Athletic. Film Forum and Metrograph. Shopping at Century 21. Vintage Pearl Paint caps. Fran Lebowitz, but also John Wilson (who, incidentally, has a Dr. Zizmor ad in his living room).

Some things that are all over New York but are decidedly not Ziz: Equinox. Drybar. Shake Shack. Sugar Factory. Whole Foods. No matter how good it is, and even if it started here, a brand designed to be exported to any city in the world simply isn’t part of what we’re talking about (Cha Cha Matcha, Sky Ting, Kith, Nobu, and SoulCycle all fall into this category). High-fashion brands pair well with Zizmorcore — Mel Ottenberg, the creative director of Interview magazine, says he likes to mix it with staples like a Prada down coat and Helmut Lang jeans — but they cannot by themselves be Zizmorian.

“It’s not about having the latest status sneakers,” according to Ottenberg. He describes his perfect version of Zizmorcore as “a heather gray Russell Athletic sweatsuit you might find at Modell’s,” paired with a T-shirt from a local hardware store or pizza joint that you actually frequent. He’s always looking for something novel that another local might appreciate, like the tees from Pines Liquor Store and C.O. Bigelow he bought during lockdown.

The civic-mindedness of choosing to represent your hardware store or your fishmonger isn’t incidental, as Desus pointed out — it’s often expressly the point. Places like Merch 4 Relief cropped up during the pandemic to sell limited-edition hoodies and tees to raise money for restaurants that could no longer make rent.

This isn’t your typical hipster trend because, for the most part, it’s sincere and not exclusive to “hipsters.” Your mom and dad also look great in a Barney Greengrass fish cap. Anybody can carry a Halal Guys water bottle or wear a Scarr’s Pizza shirt. Sure, there’s something wry about wearing an MTA jacket, but the gag isn’t about appropriation so much as celebration and support. In a gig economy, the promise of a municipal-union job with a pension seems genuinely aspirational. And the subway, our lifeblood, is in trouble. Buying a Wo Hop tee affirms your support for a struggling Chinatown. If you’re wearing a Punjabi Deli hoodie, it’s probably because you love your $2 curry.

They Love New York: 12 locals who wear their hometown on their sleeves. From left, Samuel Omare, Jane Shuai, Miyako Bellizzi, Kulwinder “Jani” Singh, Rajni Jacques, Victor Vegas, Richie Shazam, Mordechai Rubinstein, Brian Procell, Jessica Gonsalves, Aaron Wiggs, and Angie Chavez.
Photo: Photograph by Jamel Shabazz for New York Magazine

Signaling your neighborhood affiliation or status through NYC institutions, rather than, say, a Celine bag, can quickly lead to a competition for who is the realest New Yorker — especially for people who grew up here and can claim to have an original T-shirt because their parents were regulars at wherever. For certain downtown spots like the Odeon, Lucien, or Raoul’s, there’s a tinge of elitism to saying, “I actually went there back in the ’90s,” or maybe, “I know the owners.” Carrying a Citarella tote can be code for “I am the type of person who grew up eating gourmet black-and-white cookies.”

Or it can just be funny, like a guy who sells weed for a living wearing a Goldman Sachs fleece. In fact, NYC merch is often a subtle inside joke. Ottenberg recently Instagrammed himself working out in a Ralph Lifshitz T-shirt — a spoof of the Ralph Lauren logo made by Noah Rinsky, a screenwriter and bartender who runs the Instagram account @oldjewishmen. (You can be sure he posted video of Jerry Nadler and his Zabar’s bag at the impeachment hearings with the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song playing over it.) This year, as his bartending job dried up, Rinsky has been supporting himself by making merch for his account. Although old Jewish men aren’t exactly proprietary to this city, they are perhaps at their most plentiful and stylish here, a cliché Rinsky has turned into a business. When I asked him what makes New York style so recognizable, he echoed Ottenberg: “There’s a disjointedness about it that’s in no way cheesy. None of it goes together, but it all goes together great.”

Collecting the sartorial artifacts of the city was once a niche hobby for people like the obsessive Mordechai Rubinstein, a longtime New York style fixture and fashion consultant. Rubinstein was snapping up Pearl Paint caps and New York Sanitation uniforms long before most of us were even thinking about them. He says he once bought a hat right off the guy who was working the door at Peter Luger. “I love something where you can’t just see it on Instagram and buy it,” he says. “For instance, wearing an Odeon hat was cooler when it wasn’t on the menu, you know?”

People looking for local gear can turn into hypebeasts for the city by collecting its most obscure items. That kind of one-upmanship makes sense if you consider that it’s more difficult to find an original Crazy Eddie shirt than a Supreme hat these days.

Jessica Gonsalves and Brian Procell, who deal in high-ticket vintage streetwear and exclusive vintage New York items, say that customers were clamoring for their Lower East Side store to reopen after the lockdown. “We’ve always thought of the store kind of like a New York gift shop,” Procell says. Some of their most coveted tees sell for hundreds of dollars, and their collection of old niche New York tees numbers in the thousands. It includes every one of the commemorative “blackout” tees (as in I SURVIVED THE BLACKOUT OF 1977). Some are for sale, some aren’t, but if the Metropolitan Museum wants to come calling, these two have a great show in mind.

Stores like Fantasy Explosion in Williamsburg indulge the impulse to have something nobody else has but don’t take it to that extreme. Most of its tees top out at $30. The owner, Kevin Fallon, has been picking rare vintage clothes from the tristate area for the past eight years. He says that for his customers, the pride of living in New York City was always there, but “moments like these put a mirror to it and expose it in the best way possible.” He’s not interested in exploiting that at all: “Probably the best takeaway is that I get to give these things back to people who otherwise would never have had them.”

At the other end of the spectrum, an artist who goes by An Honest Living makes bootleg versions of merch for defunct institutions, like the Official Unofficial AHL x Belmont Park Degenerate Gambler ‘Eddie Mush’ Tee.™ The homages walk a fine line between humor and guile but ultimately land on earnest. That earnestness dovetails with the political moment, too.

After the murder of George Floyd and the cathartic protests in the streets, a heartbroken group of trendsetters, organized by Supreme’s Aaron Wiggs with his friends Perry Goodman and Sachiko Clyde, started a sidewalk sale in McGolrick Park in Greenpoint. What started as a few friends selling old skateboards and clothes grew to include people like Bella Hadid and Chloë Sevigny chipping in items from their personal closets. Soon, the sales had raised more than $266,000, which went to causes like Black Women’s Blueprint and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts. (Wiggs never expected that kind of money and is now meticulously documenting the donations for tax season — which is nerve-racking, he says, because he’s “hoping the IRS doesn’t do anything wack.”) The hyperlocal merch they made became a kind of secret handshake for the people who came to the sales, signaling not only neighborhood affiliation but political commitment to an equitable city. Last summer, there was nothing cooler than buying a Cookies Hoops shirt in McGolrick Park, Brooklyn.

Clockwise from top left: Princess Nokia wearing an NYC Taxi tee. Mel Ottenberg in his Ralph Lifshitz tee. Bella Hadid considers a Punjabi Deli hoodie at the Sidewalk Sale for Social Justice in Brooklyn benefiting the Black Lives Matter movement. Jerry Nadler with his Zabar’s bag at the impeachment hearings. Photo: Courtesy of Princess Nokia; Courtesy of Mel Ottenberg; Backgrid/Copyright B) 2019 BACKGRID, Inc.; Public Domain.

Clockwise from top left: Princess Nokia wearing an NYC Taxi tee. Mel Ottenberg in his Ralph Lifshitz tee. Bella Hadid considers a Punjabi Deli hoodie …
Clockwise from top left: Princess Nokia wearing an NYC Taxi tee. Mel Ottenberg in his Ralph Lifshitz tee. Bella Hadid considers a Punjabi Deli hoodie at the Sidewalk Sale for Social Justice in Brooklyn benefiting the Black Lives Matter movement. Jerry Nadler with his Zabar’s bag at the impeachment hearings. Photo: Courtesy of Princess Nokia; Courtesy of Mel Ottenberg; Backgrid/Copyright B) 2019 BACKGRID, Inc.; Public Domain.

No one embodies the current obsession with the city quite like Nicolas Heller, a.k.a. NewYorkNico. A New York kid in his 30s, Heller has become something of a local apostle, tirelessly promoting mom-and-pops hit hard during the pandemic. He loves to champion the people who make New York unique. Characters like “Larry the Pigeon Man” or “the Green Lady of Brooklyn” are as likely to show up on his Instagram as Desus and Mero or Jada-kiss. Early on in lockdown, when it was harder to go up to people and talk to them, Heller made national news with his contest to find the best New York accent. He’s a man so intertwined with his hometown he has rebranded himself as a living logo. Some of the serious mayoral candidates of 2021 have reached out to him. (He has even become a contributor to New York Magazine.)

Heller admits to wearing an “obnoxious” amount of NYC merch, which he mixes with Timberland boots and, of course, a Yankee fitted. He even made hats that say THANK YOU, DR. ZIZMOR! (Sorry, they’re sold out.)

After the success of the battle of the accents, Heller launched his Best New York T-Shirt contest in April 2020 and promised to produce the winners. Sales from the shirts exceeded $65,000, which he donated to God’s Love We Deliver and the Campaign Against Hunger. The collection hit at exactly the right moment for a population eager to show off its newfound civic devotion. Everywhere you looked, the slogan NEW YORK TOUGH flashed on LED screens.

After the summer’s protests, with Trump’s drumbeat of “New York is dead,” New Yorkers dug in harder. Community fridges popped up in Brooklyn, supplied by Bed-Stuy’s Playground Coffee and its already socially engaged, politically radicalized klatch. Fund-raisers for everything from the Emergency Release Fund to Building Black Bed-Stuy became virtual ways to help ailing businesses. Heller auctioned off two framed subway ads for Cellino & Barnes, fetching more than $5,000 (for a donation to charity). His Best New York Photo contest raised nearly a quarter-million dollars for racial-justice organizations like Warriors in the Garden, an NYC-based collective of nonviolent activists devoted to dismantling systemic racism.

This February, on Lunar New Year, Heller released a subway campaign for the ages, recruiting famous New Yorkers to record custom messages. Jerry Seinfeld, Young M.A, Bowen Yang, Natasha Lyonne, Bob the Drag Queen, and about two dozen others can now be heard across the Metropolitan Transit Authority telling us, in their very New Yawkiest of accents, to wear our masks “ova the nostrils!” Everybody involved donated their time (even Fran Lebowitz!) in what can only be described as a true mitzvah for commuters.

Chloë Sevigny (left) in a shirt designed by stylist Haley Wollens for NewYorkNico’s #BestNYshirt contest. NewYorkNico at home with his Cellino & Barnes poster. Photo: Lizzi Bougatsos, T-shirt deign by Haley Wollens; Courtesy of Nico Heller.

Chloë Sevigny (left) in a shirt designed by stylist Haley Wollens for NewYorkNico’s #BestNYshirt contest. NewYorkNico at home with his Cellino & B…
Chloë Sevigny (left) in a shirt designed by stylist Haley Wollens for NewYorkNico’s #BestNYshirt contest. NewYorkNico at home with his Cellino & Barnes poster. Photo: Lizzi Bougatsos, T-shirt deign by Haley Wollens; Courtesy of Nico Heller.

Like a lot of people who move to New York, I felt like a New Yorker long before I had the right to call myself one. In fact, I felt like one before I’d officially moved here. I can even recall the exact moment in 1986, while visiting my soon-to-be stepfather in my soon-to-be new city, when I thought, I may live elsewhere, but I will never belong anywhere else. I was 10, and I’d found my spiritual resting place standing outside Canal Jean on Broadway.

Was I an overly dramatic kid, drunk on the perfume of honey-roasted nuts? Perhaps. All I knew was that in Washington, D.C., where I had been living for the five previous years, no one looked as cool as the people coming in and out of that store. It wasn’t just the spring of their curls or the tightness of their tank tops I wanted to emulate; it was their confidence — the way they lit one another’s cigarettes with the end of another cigarette, the way they zigzagged around every minor sidewalk obstacle. I felt if I could only carry that black-and-white-checked shopping bag stuffed with vintage clothes up and down that Riviera of style spanning Broadway from Canal to Houston, then everything wrong in my little life would be okay.

As years go, 1987 was a rough one in New York. When we finally arrived in Brooklyn, I began my tortured life as a sixth-grader at M.S. 51. Our house was broken into, our car was stolen, and my parents were mugged outside the Tower Records in Times Square. I used to walk home along Fifth Avenue in Park Slope and scoop handfuls of safety glass from the piles at shattered bus stops. Then came Black Monday, and though my family was psychically a million miles away from Wall Street, I gathered it was very, very bad. All the headlines seemed to be about murder.

My joy at being in New York, however, was undiminished. I had already memorized the route to downtown Manhattan from our visits. Disregarding strict instructions to avoid the subway, within weeks of arriving I had convinced my new friends to sneak into “the city” every chance we could. We would steal quarters from the change bowl, buy a five-pack of the small tokens with the Y-shaped cutout, and set out to find glory under Dr. Zizmor’s watchful countenance.

I imagine that as life opens back up, some of this desire to smother ourselves in local merch will subside. I hope we’ll reenter street life with renewed sartorial gusto — free to be our own versions of the colorful characters we love to see walking around the city. It’s also likely that we’re in for some rough economic times. The tax base is shifting. Rents in Manhattan are lower than they were a few years ago. Storefronts remain unfilled. But for the people who didn’t move away, this is our reminder that the local community life was always what made it so great to live here. In the meantime, be sure to hold on to your I STAYED IN NYC DURING COVID-19 tees. You never know what they might be worth someday.

*This article appears in the March 1, 2021, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Fashion

Celebrities in the Boardroom: Pros and Cons

Emily walpole

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Celebrities in the Boardroom: Pros and Cons

Last week, Italian luxury shoemaker Tod’s appointed the globe-trotting mega-influencer Chiara Ferragni to its board, making her the latest celebrity-entrepreneur to become a corporate director, like Oprah Winfrey and basketball star Shaquille O’Neal who sit on company boards in the US.

Ferragni, whose ascent began with her blog The Blonde Salad, now has more than 23 million followers on Instagram and oversees a budding fashion empire that includes her digital publishing business TBS Crew and a multi-category fashion label, Chiara Ferragni Collection.

“Chiara’s knowledge of the world of young people will certainly be extremely valuable,” said Tod’s chairman Diego Della Valle. Investors agreed, sending shares soaring by 12 percent.

Tod’s has struggled to keep pace with a fast-moving fashion market and build relevance with young consumers. In recent years, it has launched initiatives such as its Moncler Genius-like Tod’s Factory to rejuvenate its brand. And Della Valle appears to be betting that hiring Ferragni will not only boost awareness and send a positive signal to shareholders, but help fundamentally transform the company’s business model for a digital, direct-to-consumer world.

There is little precedent for a celebrity board member driving this kind of transformation at a company, though the right partnership between Della Valle, who controls the company, and Ferragni could deliver results for Tod’s, according to executive search specialist Anne Raphaël.

Once upon a time, brands hired celebrities as little more than faces for advertising campaigns. But in recent years, as more entertainers, athletes and other celebrities have become entrepreneurs and built their own sizable businesses, more companies have recruited them to their boards, hoping the combination of star power and marketing savvy will pay off.

Winfrey joined the board of Weight Watchers after buying a 10 percent stake in the company, while O’Neal is a director at pizza chain Papa John’s. In fashion, Emma Watson was appointed to Kering’s board of directors last June, while tennis champion Serena Williams has served on Poshmark’s board since 2019.

But celebrity directors can come with risks as well as rewards.

To be sure, celebrity board appointments bring immediate marketing value to a company, generating buzz with consumers. Celebrities can drive impact by appearing in advertising and representing the company at events, but also by offering valuable behind-the-scenes insights on popular culture and consumer behaviour, as well as fresh thinking on communications.

Celebrities are good at getting attention. Many have built formidable sales and marketing machines of their own and have far greater fluency with social media than typical directors.

Famous board members also come with high-level connections and can help to open doors. They can boost efforts to recruit top talent to a brand. And for companies increasingly under scrutiny on the racial and gender composition of their leadership, the right celebrity appointments can bring greater diversity to boards that are often stacked with white men.

But the disruptive energy that celebrities bring to a board can present challenges.

Managing celebrities can be tough. They typically have limited time to dedicate to their directorships and regular attendance at meetings can be a problem.

Celebrities can also bring challenging dynamics to the boardroom, attracting those angling for some of their stardust, while repelling those who doubt their credibility.

When push comes to shove, celebrities will always put their own personal brands ahead of the interests of the company. And, of course, their skill at generating public attention can backfire spectacularly if they become entangled in scandal.

It’s critical that companies think strategically about celebrity directorships and carefully carve out roles that play to specific profiles and relevant experience. For example, at Kering, actor and activist Emma Watson, known for being a champion of ethical and eco-conscious fashion as well as portraying Hermione in the Harry Potter films, chairs the company’s sustainability committee.

But board roles aren’t the only way to derive value from working with celebrities. Beyond simple marketing deals, companies can work with celebrities as “brand ambassadors” or hire them as consultants. Companies can also invite celebrities to advisory boards.

Celebrity directorships can offer real value. And there’s no doubt they are trendier than ever. But companies should consider the alternatives before plunging into a flashy board appointment.

THE NEWS IN BRIEF

FASHION, BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY

Bernard Arnault leaves the Louis Vuitton spring 2021 womenswear show in October 2020. Getty Images.

Bernard Arnault leaves the Louis Vuitton spring 2021 womenswear show in October 2020. Getty Images.

LVMH’s fashion sales surge, setting high bar for rivals. LVMH was the first luxury company to report first-quarter revenue Tuesday, and a sharp jump in its fashion division’s sales not only points to a return to pre-pandemic health for the conglomerate, but has raised the stakes for its competitors.

Gucci presents its centenary collection, “Aria.” Creative director Alessandro Michele incorporated nods to the Italian fashion house’s past, in particular, the Tom Ford era, as well as Balenciaga co-branded pieces, inspired by the brand’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia. The collection was presented online on Thursday.

Growth in China, US fuel more retail optimism. After a dismal year for retail, consumers seem ready to get back to the shops amid signs of strength in key markets. China’s economy grew 18 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with retail sales up 34 percent in March compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, US retail sales accelerated in March by the most in 10 months, while UK shopper numbers surged as shopping districts reopened this week.

The Met Gala will return in September. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on Monday that its next major exhibition will open on September 18 with a theme focused on American fashion. As part of the exhibition’s opening, the Met Gala will also return as a smaller event on September 13, “timed to coincide with the close of what will hopefully be an in-person New York Fashion Week,” according to Vogue.

CFDA plans for in-person New York Fashion Week in September. The CFDA said it anticipates “a return to in-person shows” between September 8 to September 12, following health guidelines. Some designers, the council said, will still choose to present digitally.

American Eagle forecasts sales above estimates on full-price selling. The company has recorded stronger sales as more customers spent their stimulus checks on its jeans, trousers and tops. American Eagle also forecast operating income of about $120 million for the first quarter, compared with $48 million in 2019.

JD Sports reinstates dividend as online boom lifts forecast. Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer struck an optimistic tone as stores reopened across the UK this week. The company has performed well during the pandemic and has embarked on at least three big acquisitions in the US and Europe in the past few months. More deals are expected to follow after the company raised £464 million ($638 million) in equity in February.

German fashion e-tailer About You cracks €1 Billion in revenue. The company is widely reported to be preparing for an IPO. Revenue grew 57 percent to €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) in the year to February, while in the last quarter the company turned its first profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation since its launch in 2014.

The Hut Group upbeat after profit jumps on online demand. In its maiden set of annual results since market listing in September, the company operating retail brands such as Lookfantastic and skin care group ESPA posted a 36 percent jump in annual underlying profit to £46 million ($63 million).

Kohl’s to add two activist group nominees to its board. Kohl’s Corp said on Wednesday it has reached a deal with a group of activist investors to avoid a proxy fight, agreeing to add two of the group’s nominees to its board as independent directors.

US companies and executives unite for voting rights. In a full page advertisement that ran Wednesday in GFN, the signatories called for “all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right.”

THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY

The deal values Beautycounter at $1 billion. Courtesy Beautycounter

The deal values Beautycounter at $1 billion. Courtesy Beautycounter

Carlyle Group take a majority stake in Beautycounter. The investment values Beautycounter at $1 billion, and marks a major bet by Carlyle that the brand’s philosophy of avoiding many common synthetic ingredients, and its reliance on customers to sell its products, has staying power.

L’Oréal revenue recovers thanks to help from China. Lancôme maker L’Oréal on Thursday reported a stronger-than-expected 10 percent rise in comparable first-quarter sales from a year earlier.

Report: Indian beauty start-up Nykaa taps banks for $500 million IPO. The online cosmetics retailer is reportedly working with Kotak Mahindra Capital Co. and Morgan Stanley on the potential offering. A listing could value the TPG Capital-backed start-up at about $4 billion.

Courtin-Clarins family invests in clean skin care brand Pai. Pai Skincare, a London-based beauty label known for its clean and vegan products, will use the funding to expand its development and manufacturing.

Guangzhou builds ‘Beauty Park’ to boost Chinese cosmetics industry. The park is expected to generate 8.6 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) worth of cosmetics and skincare products annually and will set up more local brands to compete with international giants in a beauty market valued at $52 billion last year.

PEOPLE

Todd Kahn, CEO at Coach. Coach.

Todd Kahn, CEO at Coach. Coach.

Todd Kahn appointed Coach CEO. Thursday’s announcement made Kahn’s appointment to the position, which he has held on an interim basis since last July, permanent. He will report to Joanne Crevoiserat, chief executive officer of Coach parent Tapestry Inc.

Anthropologie names Tricia Smith global CEO. Smith joins the brand from clothing retailer Tilly’s, where she served as chief merchandising officer from 2019. Before that, Smith spent over 26 years in merchandising roles at Nordstrom. She succeeds Hillary Super, whose last day at the company was April 9.

Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company. Three of the e-commerce platform’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s chief executive and founder said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Stitch Fix’s founder Katrina Lake is leaving the CEO post. Lake, who launched the company a decade ago, will remain at Stitch Fix as executive chairperson. The fashion subscription platform’s current president, Elizabeth Spaulding, will assume the top role effective August 1.

MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY

Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. Shutterstock.

Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. Shutterstock.

Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. The photo-sharing site, which is owned by Facebook Inc, said this latest test came after seeing mixed responses to its experiments in which it removed likes.

Karla Otto doubles down on influencer marketing with new acquisition. On Thursday, the global fashion agency’s parent, The Independents, announced the acquisition of marketing firm Lefty, deepening its offerings in the influencer space, a bright spot during the pandemic.

Robin Meason, PR for Paris Indie Brands, sells agency to OBCM. Olivier Bourgis’ OBCM agency will acquire Ritual Projects, the Paris-based public relations firm which helped to establish Vetements and its then-creative director Demna Gvasalia, as well as brands including Y/Project, Ottolinger and GmbH. Financial terms of the deal, which is set to close May 1, were not disclosed.

Southeast Asian ‘super app’ Grab set for US IPO. Softbank-backed Grab is gearing up to merge with a blank-cheque vehicle in a deal that will value the technology group at about $35 billion, according to a report in The Financial Times.

Kakao reportedly eyeing fashion e-commerce app Zigzag. A deal, said to be in the works by local media outlets last week, could see the South Korean tech giant acquire a controlling stake worth around $1 billion in Zigzag, a six-year-old start-up.

Compiled by Darcey Sergison.

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Fashion

44 of the chicest Amazon fashion finds under $100, according to stylists

Emily walpole

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44 of the chicest Amazon fashion finds under $100, according to stylists - CNN Underscored

 

From cleaning supplies to personal care products to even groceries, Amazon has it all. And after some extensive perusing through the site, want to know what our latest obsession is? Amazon fashion.

“Amazon has done a great job of breaking down the trends — from utilitarian options, retro prints and women’s suits,” says celebrity stylist Erin Noël, who styles clients for red carpet events, music videos and commercials.

But what should you buy this season? Celebrity stylist Alyssa Sutter, who is known for her work with Rachel Zoe and looks on the red carpet, commercial and editorial shoots, encourages everyone to start with a trench coat, a statement piece of jewelry and a chic sneaker — all of which can go with anything.

Creative manager and celebrity fashion stylist at Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment Kelvin “K.J.” Moody recommends people get their hands on a pair of fitted shorts, some basic T-shirts, lightweight dresses and pops of color — noting that basics and monochromatics are having a serious moment. “These are easy to make into a nice high-low look,” Moody says, a method of styling he calls ‘seesaw.’ “Fashion is most aesthetically pleasing when something is weighted more heavily than something else,” he explains. “It gives it a focal point, looks cohesive and balanced, but adds excitement and interest because something is different.”

Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of their favorite fashion finds at Amazon, all under $100, along with some top-rated options we couldn’t help but show you.

R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress (starting at $29.99; amazon.com)

R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress

Amazon

R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress

Yes, this is the “it” dress of the season, and we aren’t mad about it. The nap dress is equal parts comfortable and feminine, making it practically irresistible.

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The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress (starting at $62.96; amazon.com)

The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress

Amazon

The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress

Noël loves this utility dress because it’s an on-the-go option that’s easy and fashionable. What more could we ask for when we’re forced to leave the house, not wearing pajamas.

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Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal (starting at $28.02; amazon.com)

Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal

Amazon

Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal

What should you wear with a utility dress like the one above? Noël recommends these cute sandals by Franco Sarto. Although the tangerine shade would be her pick, we think the black or white pairs would be stunning too.

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R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress ($31.99; amazon.com)

R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

Amazon

R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

If you want to incorporate florals into your spring wardrobe, this puff sleeve midi dress is for you. Pair it with your favorite sneakers for that casual, cool-girl vibe.

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The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket ($59.90; amazon.com)

The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket

Amazon

The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket

Designed in partnership with influencer Lisa DiCicco Cahue, this faux leather shirt jacket is giving the ultimate New York vibes, and is one of our favorite trends of the moment.

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Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat ($99; amazon.com)

Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat

Amazon

Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat

Accessories are a necessary fashion statement too. Sutter loves the texture and color options of this bucket hat. She can image the hats paired with swimsuits on a beach day or paired with a dress and flats for an everyday look.

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Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer (starting at $32.71; amazon.com)

Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer

Amazon

Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer

Moody thinks this cropped blazer is a great piece for your everyday wardrobe, recommending to pair it with this ribbed tank top and these bike shorts from the collection as well.

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Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet ($45; amazon.com)

Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet

Amazon

Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet

Sutter believes that “Amazon is a great place to find on-trend jewelry without the splurge.” She loves this chunky gold bracelet to elevate any spring look.

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Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress (starting at $18.76; amazon.com)

Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress

Amazon

Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress

We’re finding any way to transfer the comfort of our sweats to other aspects of our wardrobe, which is why we want this tie-waist sweater dress is every color.

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Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse ($18.99; amazon.com)

Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse

Amazon

Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse

Noël recommends updating your typical white t-shirt this spring, and try puff sleeves instead. “Wear these with the wide leg jeans I already know you added to your cart.”

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The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater ($39.90; amazon.com)

The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater

Amazon

The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater

This sweater by The Drop, designed in partnership with influencer Suyapa Lucy, is easily one of our favorite Amazon finds. The racer tank fit sets it apart from other pieces we have our eyes on.

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Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag ($95.31; amazon.com)

Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag

Amazon

Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag

Your handbag is just as important as the outfit at hand. You can’t go wrong with this crossbody by Fossil that’s available in five colors and even features a large front buckle that gives it a sophisticated touch.

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London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat (starting at $93.87; amazon.com)

London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat

Amazon

London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat

A trench coat is proven to stand the test of time. Invest is a well-fitted option like this by London Fog that can easily transition through all four seasons.

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Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress (starting at $13.98; amazon.com)

Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress

Amazon

Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress

Some dresses are seriously love at first sight. “This bohemian dress will take you from the beach to dinner in style. Throw it on with sandals and some gold necklaces and you are ready to go,” says Noël.

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The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress ($59.90; amazon.com)

The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress

Amazon

The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress

Available in sizes XXS to 3X, this poplin maxi dress will suit a wide variety of body types. Better yet: It’s so roomy that you won’t ever feel restricted while you’re out and about.

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Puma Carina Sneaker (starting at $49.99, originally $60; amazon.com)

Puma Carina Sneaker

Amazon

Puma Carina Sneaker

Now introducing your new everyday white sneakers. Don’t be surprised when you want to wear them with everything.

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Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean ($39.90; amazon.com)

Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean

Amazon

Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean

“Ditch your skinny jeans, and not just because Gen Z said so, but because a wide leg is in style for spring,” says Noël, noting that the fit is more comfortable and chic. “Wear these with an oversized blazer, or your favorite T-shirt, and you’ve quickly updated your look.”

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Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal (starting at $44.29; amazon.com)

Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal

Amazon

Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal

“These lime green heels will look great with all of the neutrals you picked up in 2020,” says Noël. The pop of color this spring and summer is sure to turn heads.

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Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag ($36; amazon.com)

Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag

Amazon

Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag

We totally agree with Sutter when she remarks that reusable tote bags can go beyond the grocery store for a cool everyday bag. She loves ones from Baggu like this one because the brand “makes really fun prints and colors to match all your looks this spring.”

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The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater ($31.52; amazon.com)

The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater

Amazon

The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater

“Knitwear is a big trend this coming season,” says Sutter. “Try a full knit set, which is a great way to stay comfortable but still look put together.” That’s why she recommends this pullover sweater by The Drop. If you want the full set, pair it with the matching ribbed shorts.

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Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans (starting at $47.70; amazon.com)

Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans

Amazon

Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans

“I personally always buy my jeans from Amazon, specifically Levi’s,” exclaims Sutter. “Their styles are always so flattering and never boring, plus they are under $100!”

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Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants (starting at $19.79; amazon.com)

Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants

Amazon

Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants

Headed back into the office? These roomy palazzo pants, available in 24 colors, are sure to even impress your most stylish coworker.

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Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt (starting at $45; amazon.com)

Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt

Amazon

Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt

According to Sutter, “this celery-colored slip skirt is perfect for spring’s pastel trend, especially when paired with a matching kitten heel for a tonal look.” She recommends completing the look with a faux leather shirt in a camel color to mix in the utilitarian vibe that’s super on trend.

Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt ($49; amazon.com)

Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt

Amazon

Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt

This shirt is a favorite by two of our fashion insiders. Sutter says that this “hits a couple different trends for spring — retro and knitwear all in one.” Noël recommends pairing it with some cropped black pants.

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Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch ($28.96; amazon.com)

Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch

Amazon

Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch

Looking for a new watch without breaking the bank? How sleek is this matte black wrist watch that just screams luxury.

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Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater (starting at $10.93; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater

Amazon

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater

“Stripes are classic, and this option from Goodthreads would look great with a pair of pants or denim,” says Noël, which obviously makes it a good choice from your Zoom meeting to dinner.

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Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis (starting at $16.01; amazon.com)

Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis

Amazon

Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis

If you have to ditch your sweats, the replacement pants should at least be comfortable right? One reviewer wrote that “the relaxed fit shape of these combined with the slight stretch in the fabric makes them super comfortable,” so you know these are a great choice.

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Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button-Down (starting at $29.17; amazon.com)

Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button Down

Amazon

Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button Down

We’re obsessed with the blue striped pattern of this Tommy Hilfiger button-down, vibrant but classic enough to be worn year after year.

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Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal (starting at $29.43; amazon.com)

Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal

Amazon

Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal

Not only are Birkenstocks comfy, but they can also be a powerful accessory — especially in a fun color. “I would style these with a straight leg trouser in beige, white tee and printed short sleeve camp shirt,” explains Sutter.

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Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt (starting at $19.59; amazon.com)

Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt

Amazon

Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt

A graphic T-shirt is a great way to let a more casual outfit make a statement. Check out this one that’s at the top of Moody’s list.

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Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket ($77.10, originally $89.99; amazon.com)

Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket

Amazon

Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket

A trench coat is a quintessential wardrobe staple for warmer temps, for both men and women. Sutter calls this one a “perfect, timeless” option.

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Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean (starting at $38.48; amazon.com)

Levi's 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean

Amazon

Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean

“This style from Levi’s is giving me serious ‘90s skater nostalgia,” says Sutter. She’s loving the loose fit denim trend for men.

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Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket (starting at $24.60; amazon.com)

Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket

Amazon

Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket

Noël let us know that shirt jackets are in as a great lightweight jacket style, so we couldn’t help but find the perfect one on Amazon.

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Adidas Performance Samba Shoe (starting at $39.99; amazon.com)

Adidas Performance Samba Shoe

Amazon

Adidas Performance Samba Shoe

According to Sutter, the Adidas Samba shoe “is making a major comeback in neutrals and fun color combos.” She says you can’t go wrong with this classic pick.

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Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt ($17.80; amazon.com)

Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt

Amazon

Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt

This palm tree print just screams vacation, right? You’ll surely reach for this number to frolic around in this summer. ___________________________________________________________________________

WT02 Jogger Pants (starting at $20.99; amazon.com)

WT02 Jogger Pants

Amazon

WT02 Jogger Pants

Want to dress on trend, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort? Luckily Noël is loving a relaxed feel for menswear this season, so a pair of joggers like these definitely fits the bill.

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Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt (starting at $12.13; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt

Amazon

Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt

An oxford shirt is essentially an elevated basic. These bad boys should be your go to for that work event or even date night.

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Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket (starting at $49.05; amazon.com)

Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket

Amazon

Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket

In case you haven’t heard, bomber jackets are back and better this season, according to Noël. She says that “this Billy Reid sweater bomber jacket is great with a white tee and jeans.” The thing that sets this apart from other bomber is the quilted knit material. She says this “is a nice change from leather or heavier outwear that you may have picked up this winter, in a softer color for spring.”

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Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater (starting at $13.43; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater

Amazon

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater

Noël loves a quarter zip sweater like this one because it can “polish up a T-shirt and provide a nice layer under a jacket for both style and warmth.” She remarks that because this option is available in a variety of colors, you can totally pick one that best fits your wardrobe.

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The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat (starting at $10.99; amazon.com)

The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat

Amazon

The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat

Moody recommends adding this 100% cotton bucket hat to your casual everyday outfit. Grab one in an unexpected shade, if you want to add a pop of color like he advises.

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Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt (starting at $8.77; amazon.com)

Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt

Amazon

Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt

“Casualwear is big right now because of the pandemic,” explains Moody, and what’s more casual than a basic short sleeve T-shirt like this one by Champion.

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Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short (starting at $16.50; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short

Amazon

Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short

What would Moody pair with a basic T-shirt and the bucket hat above? A pair of shorts by Goodthreads. We love that these are made of a canvas material that’ll remind you of lounging around at home.

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Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo (starting at $8.35; amazon.com)

Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo

Amazon

Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo

Can’t go wrong with adding another polo to your collection, especially when you can take your pick of 12 different color options.

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Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt (starting at $6.96; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt

Amazon

Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt

Imagine all of the possibilities with this linen and cotton blend shirt. Available in 12 colors, this is sure to become a wardrobe staple for $30 or less.

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Fashion

Carolina Herrera’s creative director on fashion post-pandemic

Emily walpole

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Carolina Herrera's creative director on fashion post-pandemic

In this episode of Facing Forward, Margaret Brennan talks to Wes Gordon, Creative Director of Carolina Herrera, to discuss what the post-pandemic fashion industry will look like.

HighlightsOn what changes the fashion house made to reflect the pandemic economy: “The first decision we made was to reduce the size of the collection. And that greatly influenced the way I design. My goal is always to give a woman something that’s glamorous and exciting and takes your breath away and makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. But now I wanted to do that with an added layer of comfort and ease and wearability. And by having a tighter collection offering, I really need to make sure that each piece we’re creating serves all of those purposes.”On scrutiny of women in fashion: “I think clothes are incredibly powerful and what people wear can convey so much and there can be so many levels of meaning and communication about what a man or woman is wearing and how he or she is presenting themselves. And I don’t think it’s that we over-scrutinize women, perhaps it’s that we don’t discuss enough the symbolism of what men are wearing and that we should be a little more equal in that because we have a tendency not to talk about the men, but really only focus on the women–and there are extraordinary communication messages that happens in- that happen in a man’s wardrobe as well. And then so- so talk about fashion, I think. You know, I think it’s OK to- to discuss what was the symbolism of the White when Vice President Harris took that stage. I think these are important things. And I don’t think in any way, shape or form that’s a negative conversation. But don’t just do it for the women, you know, I think do it for everyone, be equal about it.”On markets seeing a surge in fashion post-pandemic: “We absolutely saw a correlation, you know, between geography and- and sales numbers, particularly in North America. The regions that, as you pointed out, were less locked down and were opening earlier, we saw those- the spending habits and the retail activity accelerate much more quickly.”

Download, rate and subscribe here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher

“Facing Forward”: Wes Gordon

Producers: Richard Escobedo, Anne Hsu, Kelsey Micklas

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Fashion designer Wes Gordon walks the runway at the Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 10, 2018 in New York City. / Credit: IMF Photo/Joshua Roberts
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Fashion designer Wes Gordon walks the runway at the Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 10, 2018 in New York City. / Credit: IMF Photo/Joshua Roberts

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wes Gordon, welcome to the pod.

WES GORDON: Thank you, MARGARET. I am delighted to be here. It’s an honor and privilege to be chatting with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I think it’s fun- you know, one of the things that people may or may not know is my first official beat as a cub reporter was covering consumer and the retail business. And one of the reasons why I liked it so much is, you know, consumer spending is 70% of economic activity in this country. So it’s a huge part of the economy. But fashion and parts of it are also kind of the more fun, artistic expression of these, like, moments in time. They kind of give windows, I think, into how people are experiencing things, how comfortable they are spending, what they want to look like. And we’ve just gone through this incredible period of time. I’m wondering, coming into this spring, this has been a really long, tough period. What are you looking for for inspiration these days?

GORDON: I love everything you just said. I think the way you just summarized the fashion industry, I think is so beautiful, because in addition to being a reflection of what people are feeling in a moment in time, fashion is also an insight into what people are dreaming and what their hopes are for the future and their level of optimism about what lies around the corner. And all of those things, I think, are- are what we’re witnessing and focusing on right now. The past year was extraordinary, horrible, you know, knock on wood, fingers crossed, something we will never live through again, but we certainly learned a lot from it. And how I design changed over the past year in many ways. But in answer to a question right now, sitting here in my office sketching, I’m focused on the magic that our women are looking forward to, again, coming out of- of the darkness.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I love that, coming out of the darkness. Well, so- so what is it we’re all going to be sort of aspiring for? How is it that you are visualizing what’s to come in?

GORDON: I think what we’re all aspiring for are the very essence of our humanity, you know, laughter, togetherness, family, joy, love, all the things that we’ve been de- deprived of in so many ways over the past year. You know, it’s- it’s- it’s those things that make us human, and it’s not in our nature to live 24/7 in fear and- and sadness and isolation. Right now, you know, everyone’s excited about getting back to life, getting back to being humans, it’s getting back to their friends, their families, celebrations that were postponed, a summer of joy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So does that mean, like, long hair and long beards, those are all going to get shaved and cut? I mean, are people going to drop their sneakers and put on their stilettos?

GORDON: Listen, it’s not that black and white, because I think what happened over the past year wasn’t just a surrender, right? It wasn’t that we all just stopped caring about how we looked. I think in many instances people did a lot of soul searching and better understood what makes them unique and who they really are. So I think, I hope, that there are some expressions of individuality and uniqueness that will remain. But I certainly think that in instances where people maybe stop making the effort, we will see- we will see that resume.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I read that you cannot keep evening gowns in stock. How is that possible? Who is wearing an evening gown in America right now and where are they wearing it to?

GORDON: So it’s- it’s been an incredible thing, and one of the great signs of optimism for me is when I see this data. You know, it’s not just the idea of an evening gown. It’s- it’s celebration clothes and the clothes that mark those milestone moments and occasions. And you have to remember that for 12 months, so many events and celebrations had to be put on hold, weddings in particular, birthdays, anniversaries. So, of course, the format of those occasions has changed. It’s no longer big groups of hundreds. It’s smaller. It’s more intimate. But in no ways has that minimized the importance of those occasions and those celebrations, and a woman still wants that dress that makes her feel her most beautiful and empowered to mark that day with.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the hottest markets I read were Florida and Texas for you. Is that- I mean, these are two states that opened early. They really kind of shirked some of the health restrictions that the rest of the country did. Does that mean, like, that’s just where events were being held, therefore, that’s where sales were taking place?

GORDON: We absolutely saw a- a correlation, you know, between geography and- and sales numbers, particularly in North America. The regions that, as you pointed out, were- were less locked down and were opening earlier, we saw those- the spending habits and the retail activity accelerate much more quickly. Right now, at this point in time, you know, I’m sitting here in New York and New York State is doing a very good job with vaccinations. There’s definitely an optimism on the sidewalks. It’s- the weather’s beautiful. So we’re seeing those numbers, that- that improvement certainly work its way north. But, yes, we saw our first signs of life, let’s say, in the southeast.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that from what you’re seeing now and what customers are buying, that that signals were like around the corner from this Roaring Twenties moment where it’s just going to go super glam to swing back from pandemic sweatpants wearing?

GORDON: I want to see all the people I haven’t seen for the past year. I want to have dinner with my friends. I want to have drinks with my friends. I want to dance. I want to celebrate. I want to have a great time. And I think there are so many people who are in that same boat. You know, it’s been- it’s been a terrible year, and we’re all so lucky to- to, you know, that what we’re complaining about is that we were isolated and sad and that we kept our health and- and survived it. But it’s- we all want fun right now and color and joy and dancing. We’re a brand about embracing life and treating every moment as a celebration and and being grateful for the here and the now and the people you’re with and your family, and I think that’s never been truer than- than right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’ve had a pretty remarkable career. You worked with Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, you took the reins at this house, Carolina Herrera, about two and a half years ago. You’re only 34 years old. That’s pretty incredible.

GORDON: Thank you. I mean, I went to design school and then as soon as I graduated, I started a small collection and did that for nearly eight years and then had the great fortune of coming to Herrera to consult. And it was right around the time that Mrs. Herrera was stepping down from her role. And I became creative director. So I feel incredibly fortunate to have identified at an early age what it is that that brings me joy and what I feel passionate about, and then to have had, you know, supportive parents and opportunities to- to kind of make that a reality.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s an incredible time to try to also keep a business going. Right? I mean, we had a really horrific contraction in the economy this time last year.

GORDON: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We saw big bankruptcies of big names and layoffs across major brands. What was that like for you? Did you feel, at a point that- that this was coming to an end?

GORDON: I never felt it was coming to an end in the sense that I am the most aggressively half glass- glass half-full person you’ll ever meet. I’m very optimistic. But there were very trying moments throughout the past year, and we- I, you know, the president of Herrera, Emilie Rubinfeld, is an incredible leader and did a brilliant job navigating us through it. We’re incredibly grateful to have a parent company, Puig, which is a remarkable group of people. And I think, you know, we did what- what many businesses at the time were doing, which is trying to simultaneously adjust for that immediate moment and also plan ahead, because if you focus too much on that immediate moment and kind of went too far into survival mode, you know, it’s going to make it more challenging, I think, to- to resume activity quickly, which is what we all need to be doing right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said you learned a lot over the past year and, like, changed some of what you were doing. Like what do you mean by that? What- what changes do you think are going to stay with you?

GORDON: The first decision we made was to reduce the size of the collection. And that greatly influenced the way I design. My goal is always to give a woman something that’s glamorous and exciting and takes your breath away and makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. But now I wanted to do that with an added layer of comfort and ease and wearability. And by having a tighter collection offering, I really need to make sure that each piece we’re creating serves all of those purposes. So rather than having a beautiful cotton shirt and a fabulous, over-the-top cocktail dress, can I fuse the two of them? Can I take the versatility and ease and, you know, kind of sportswear chic of the shirt with that magic and spice of the cocktail dress and kind of morph them into one product that- that a woman is able to wear many times and always feel great and maintain that comfort and lifestyle component that she’s become so accustomed to over the past year. So that’s something that has definitely been a learning from the past year, a fantastic improvement to our business, I think a more focused articulation to our clients of my design vision and something that we absolutely will be carrying forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Wes, stay with us. We’re going to take a quick break.

(BREAK/SOUNDBITE)

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that was Kamala Harris giving the victory speech, becoming the first woman Vice President of the United States, and you dressed her for that speech. What was that like?

GORDON: I mean, I just- just hearing that sound bite. How cool was that moment? I- I, for one, will never forget watching that. And- and it’s not just because she was wearing a suit that I designed. It was just because it was an extraordinary moment to be an American, to be a human, and I had the great opportunity to- to play a tiny, tiny part in that evening by making her a Carolina Herrera suit and blouse, and Vice President Harris has- frequently now wears Herrera suits, which is so exciting to me. And it’s just- you know, in a year of a lot of sadness and darkness, that evening was so extraordinary.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it was a historic moment. I mean, tell me, what was the image you thought you were helping to project?

GORDON: You know, I- I was incredibly lucky to have met Vice President Harris, and I will say that there are very few people you encounter, and you can probably agree who when you become accustomed with their media image and their social media image and the idea of that person, very often reality is a letdown, unfortunately. And in the case of Vice President Harris she’s even cooler and more brilliant and more amazing and more spectacular and more inspiring in person than you possibly could imagine her to be. So I was so excited at the prospect of creating that shell and that wardrobe and that outer expression of her inner super powers, and that’s really how I thought of it. You know, it wasn’t- it was just about what’s going to make her feel like the best version of herself on this extraordinary night for humanity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There’s a lot of scrutiny about- over what women wear, right? And unfairly women in the public eye. I mean, I- I get it. I- I get the incoming myself just being on television. But like, do you feel as someone who is helping to craft presentation for women at one of the top fashion houses in the country, do you feel responsibility in that, in like how you set trends, and how you source things that you have to somehow become either protective of the women you’re dressing, but also of the industry that you’re representing. You know, there’s so much scrutiny these days over environmentally conscious sourcing and things like that. How much of that do you actually digest when you sit down and design?

GORDON: I think, starting with the- the scrutiny level and what’s appropriate and what’s OK of women in the spotlight and powerful women in particular at this moment in time where we have the second-highest office in the nation occupied by a female. I think that’s a really valid question to ask is what’s OK and what’s not OK to talk about when it comes to fashion?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.

GORDON: And Dr. Jill Biden has taken a particular stance right now about not- not wanting the focus to be on what she’s wearing and something really important that I believe is, number one, it’s up to the woman herself how much she wants to talk about what she’s wearing or not. That’s every woman’s choice. That’s every first lady’s choice. And I think we should respect that. That said, I’m- I’m biased, I work in fashion. I think clothes are incredibly powerful and what people wear can convey so much and there can be so many levels of meaning and communication about what a man or woman is wearing and how he or she is presenting themself. And I don’t think it’s that- that we over-scrutinize women, perhaps it’s that we don’t discuss enough the symbolism of what men are wearing and that we should be a little more equal in that because we have a tendency not to talk about the men, but really only focus on the women–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.

GORDON: –and there are extraordinary communication messages that happens in- that happen in a man’s wardrobe as well. And then so- so talk about fashion, I think. You know, I think it’s OK to- to discuss what was the symbolism of the White when Vice President Harris took that stage. I think these are important things. And I don’t think in any way, shape or form that’s a negative conversation. But don’t just do it for the women, you know, I think do it for everyone, be equal about it. So that was kind of the first part of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GORDON: Then the next one about, do I feel a responsibility for- for operating with integrity, let’s call it, and- and- absolutely. I’m enormously concerned about the climate crisis and global warming and- all- and- and- unfair treatment of- of workers around the world and all of these things right now that are directly affected by the fashion industry and that are issues that we’re seeing already the consequences of. So it’s critically important to everyone at Herrera that we be the best global citizens possible and that we make a product that represents beauty and joy and celebration and life and color, inside and out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you feel that that- you said that was like your own internal pressure, but like, do you feel like there’s pressure in the market from people who are out and shopping? I mean, how much do people actually think about that? Like- like you said, there isn’t a lot of scrutiny of men. Like I haven’t heard many people worry about whether Joe Biden’s tie was made by a environmentally sustainable line or a responsible manufacturer. Like it’s- it’s really kind of pick and choose when people seem to put that weight behind it.

GORDON: Absolutely, I- I absolutely agree. You don’t see that same level of GFN and scrutiny. And you should, because, you know, there’s- there’s an equal impact from those decisions in terms of the consumer, what they care about and do they care? Had you asked me that, say, three years ago, I would have had a very different answer. Right now, the consumer cares definitely more than ever.I think the idea of sustainability in textiles and fashion has very quickly gone from being kind of a fringe concept to something that is on the top of everyone’s minds, whether they’re designers or consumers or fashion executives or retailers, and that’s great. And we’re seeing just- just from my end and internally the rate of acceleration that fabric mills are quickly now offering, you know, maybe they would have had two or three out of a thousand fabrics previously available sustainably with organic cotton or with a sustainable finish. Now, suddenly we’re seeing that’s gone up several thousand percent. I mean, now we have dozens and dozens of options from each mill of sustainable fabrics. And you’re only seeing that because there’s that consumer demand. So it’s definitely a real thing. And, you know, I- I think was heightened and expedited by the experiences of the past year. And is another great example of something I hope remains people looking for integrity and purpose in the products that they buy and the pieces they bring into their lives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is- what do you mean by sustainable? You said organics, is- is that–

GORDON: So–

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that mean?

GORDON: Yeah, sustainable is complicated because textiles are made up from so many different components. Right. So we have viscoses. We have silks. We have cottons, wools. And the criteria and classification for what makes each of those different fibers. Be deemed sustainable varies tremendously and how you measure whether something sustainable varies tremendously. Are you talking about it being sustainable because the cotton in the dress was organic or you talking about it being sustainable because it was, you know, included in a bulk shipment rather than shipped piecemeal with more carbon footprint? So there are- there’s so many different levers and- and mechanisms for labeling something sustainable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.

GORDON: And it’s very gray at the moment, I would say. But what matters is that people are trying and I really do believe that they are. And it’s- it’s- it’s thanks to some designers who kind of really stuck their neck out there in the past and were saying that this was something that was possible and they believed in that now the entire industry, I think, is really understanding that this can work, that- that you can make a beautiful product and it doesn’t have to be, you know, bad for the world, let’s say. And you’re as a result, you’re seeing tremendous change happening very quickly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to end with kind of a fun prediction, if you can give it to us.

GORDON: OK. OK.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So everyone wants to know what normal is going to look like. What do you think Fall Fashion Week will be like? Will we be back in-person and gathering?

GORDON: OK, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m going to tell you what I hope is the case. I hope that come September for Fall Fashion Week, which will be Herrera’s fortieth year of New York Fashion Week. I hope that we are presenting a live fashion show. I imagine it will be to a smaller group than it was in the past. Last February, so a year ago from February, we did a fashion show with nearly 800 people in the audience.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.

GORDON: So do I think we’ll be doing that in September? Absolutely not. But am I hoping for, let’s say, 50 to 200 people, you know, very safely assembled? Yes, because there is a magic to a fashion show that I miss. The industry as a whole has come up with so many creative, exciting ways to tell fashion stories over the past year, digitally on social media, with video, with photography. But that in-person experience and seeing the clothes and sharing with people, the clothes in person and the models and the music and the hair and the entire ambience, there’s a magic to it. And New York Fashion Week is- is that goosebump moment that American designers love, and it’s something that I think is- is we should all, as Americans, be proud of and hoping to return to.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wes, thank you so much for your time. Fun talking to you.

GORDON: Thank you. So fun talking to you as well. I really appreciate it. And this has been a- this has been a blast.

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