A Maxxinsta’s Delight

While shifts in consumer tastes and technological advancements have reinvented the face of retail, we are certainly not in a “retail apocalypse,” contrary to popular belief. According to Mark Matthews of the National Retail Federation, “the narrative that retail is struggling — or even dying — is significantly overblown.” Furthermore, one retailer in particular is consistently thriving— T.J. Maxx.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

As a self-proclaimed Maxxinsta, I believe that I may be partially responsible for T.J. Maxx’s continued prosperity. According to Fox Business’s Suzanne Kapner, T.J. Maxx relies on creating a “constant treasure hunt.” By rapidly turning over merchandise, T.J. Maxx is able to capture the consumer and keep them coming back. Personally, I frequent the T.J. Maxx closest to my home once a week, or every two/three weeks when I’m trying to watch my wallet. To uphold Kapner’s point, the uncertainty and thrill of searching through the merchandise is one of the reasons I enjoy shopping at T.J. Maxx.

Low prices— another ingredient in T.J. Max’xs recipe for success. After purchasing a pair of Jack Rogers for $60, a Rebecca Minkoff bag for $99 and a Trina Turk bikini for $40, T.J. Maxx has set a standard for me. Knowing that I can find designer items for half the retail price at T.J. Maxx makes me less likely to ever pay full price from the original source, hence why I have become loyal to T.J. Maxx.

Who does T.J. Maxx attribute majority of its success to? According to Kapner, it’s their buyers, as “each buyer controls millions of dollars and has authority to cut deals on the spot, unlike most department stores, which can take weeks to review and approve orders.” After intensive training for several years, T.J. Maxx buyers are given an immense amount of responsibility yet freedom to bring sellable merchandise into the stores.

T.J. Maxx currently operates “3,800 physical locations and plans to open 250 stores this year,” as cited by Kapner. Even in the dawn of the e-commerce age, T.J. Maxx (and similar retailers, such as Marshalls, Saks Off 5th, etc.) still reap the benefits of a unique, bargain business model. Clearly, Maxxinstas everywhere are rejoicing.


Works Cited

Kapner, Suzanne. “How T.J. Maxx is Bucking the Crisis in Retailing.” FOX Business, FOX News Network, LLC. 20 June 2017. foxbusiness.com. Accessed 25 June 2017.

Matthews, Mark. “Retail’s Reinvention Story Is Just Getting Started.” The National Retail Federation, National Retail Federation. 14 June 207. nrf.com. Accessed 25 June 2017.

The Evolution of Carrie Bradshaw

As I relax on vacation and binge watch numerous episodes of Sex & The City, I am reminded of Carrie Bradshaw’s complete style evolution during each of the six seasons and the two films from 1998 to 2010.

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From a tight 90s cocktail dress in Season 1 to a pair of skinny denim jeans in Season 6, Bradshaw certainly fell victim to the time’s evolving trends. However, some things never changed for Bradshaw- her oversized fur coat, her beloved collection of Manolo Blannik shoes and her curly locks. Take a look at some of Bradshaw’s most memorable ensembles from each season of Sex & The City, as well as the two films.

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Fashionable & Functional: Flatform Sandals

Looking for a summer sandal that is both fashionable and functional? Look no further! As the proud owner of multiple pairs of flatform sandals, I can confidently say that these shoes are my “go-to” for almost every outfit. Whether at a family dinner where I am chasing my niece (who recently learned to crawl) or a night out in downtown Athens with my friends, flatform sandals give the illusion of a trendy wedge, with the comfort of a flip flop! Another amazing aspect of the summer’s hottest shoe? There are a variety of options, with several pairs priced below $100. To shop this look, click below!
Flatform Sandals

 

Now on summer vacation, I have been spending much of my days shopping. I stumbled upon a pair of MIA Elisha Gladiator Sandals in silver at TJ Maxx last week (shop other colors here) and I absolutely adore them! Go ahead and treat yourself to a pair of this summer’s hottest sandals; your feet will thank you!
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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017. 

Trend Alert: Tassel Earrings

From beads and pom-poms to leather and fringe, tassel earrings are this season’s hottest accessory! Whether the baubles add a pop of color or fun element to an outfit, these earrings are certainly a necessity in your jewelry box.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Celebrities and fashion icons, such as Julianne Moore, Rose Huntington-Whiteley and Julianne Hough, as well as royals like Kate Middleton, have adopted the tassel earring trend. Truly, these bold accessories have infiltrated  he fashion industry and become a staple for many women’s outfits. In fact, there is a vast range of retailers that now offer this trend in their jewelry lines.

Anyone and everyone know and love Lisi Lerch’s Tassel Earring; some say she was one of the first to design a tassel earring. BaubleBar offers several affordable options such as their Piñata Tassel Earrings, Crispin Drops and Gabriela Fringe Drops.  Additionally, Vanessa Mooney created a variety of tassel earrings, ranging from The Astrid Knotted Tassel Earring to The Dynasty Earring. If you are looking to splurge on this trend, turn to Ranjana Khan’s Chandelier Earring, Oscar de la Renta’s Long Beaded Tassel Drop Earrings or Auden’s Topanga Suede Fringe Earring.  On the other hand, if you are looking for a steal on this trend, Target’s SUGARFIX by BaubleBar is a fabulous collaboration, with styles such as The Beaded Tassel Earring and The String Tassel Drop Earrings with Embellished Top. Also, Bluumoon Collection offers their unique Four Layer Tassel Earring and Topshop stocks The Sequin and Tassel Earring.

Whether pairing with a simple off-the shoulder gown to a cocktail party or a white t-shirt to have brunch with the girls, tassel earrings can add that needed element of fun!

The Conundrum With Copycat Couture

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 10.17.23 PMIf I told you one of these jackets was an authentic design and the other was an imitation would you be able to distinguish the two? Most likely, you would barely be able to spot the differences. However, the jacket on the left is an authentic Chanel jacket, while the one on the right is a copycat. Within the fashion industry, there is a growing issue with the lack of authenticity, in terms of designers copying each other’s designs and stealing their intellectual property, with little to no penalty. In fact, the overall counterfeit market produces $600 billion annually. According to Chavie Lieber, knock-off and copycat products “represent about 7 percent of the global trade, with a revenue that’s nearly twice that of the illegal drug market.” Although trademarks, patents and copyrights do slightly protect fashion designers, these counterfeits still run rampant. Therefore, there is a blatant need to regulate copycat items in the fashion industry—from their conception, to their creation to the end consumer—with the implementation of public policy.

Before presenting a potential policy to quell the crisis of stolen intellectual property and copycat fashion, let’s take a look at the history of the issue.

 Because there is little intellectual property protection in the fashion industry, fast fashion retailers often copy designs from high-end, well-known designers and mass-produce them for a fraction of the cost. For example, anyone who is familiar with Zara knows that the Spanish brand is infamous for their imitation creations. In fact, Alexandra Jacobs of The New York Times visited the Zara flagship store in Midtown Manhattan and reported, “my friend tried on, and liked, an Alexander Wangish motorcycle jacket made of leather pounded thinner than a veal paillard, but couldn’t bring herself to buy it. ‘It smells like burning rubber,’ she said.” Clearly, these consumers were able to recognize the lower quality of such a knock-off item.

However, a few regulations do exist to regulate copycat items— such as, copyrights, patents and trademarks. Copyrights apply to “anything that is functional, or has a physical function in the real world,” as stated by Tyler McCall. For example, “Jewelry gets copyright protection, in large part because jewelry is a lot like miniature sculptures and art is copyright” according to McCall. McCall also shares that “two-dimensional designs: fabric prints, jacquard weave and lace patterns” can receive copyrights. Patents, on the other hand, have “to be something that is not only useful, but new or novel to all the world,” according to McCall. However, there is a subcategory of patents, called design patents, which McCall describes as “the ornamental aspect of the functional items.” For example, Alexander Wang has several design patents for his handbags, only because of the unique hardware included. Lastly, McCall explains that “lot of fashion companies and designers default to trademark protection.” McCall further explains that “trademark protection typically can’t protect an entire garment or accessory, but at least can protect the logo or the label.” There is also a special category of trademarks known as trade dress protection. McCall offers Christian Louboutin shoes as an example saying, “Even without taking off the shoe. . . you see the red sole, you know it’s Louboutin; therefore, that red sole can serve as a trademark.” Clearly, these copyrights, patents and trademarks are useful to many designers, but actually contribute little in the overall fight against counterfeit fashion.

Now with greater understanding of the limited protections for fashion designers and their creations, we can examine how imitation fashion affects the economy.

Not only is copying and manufacturing another designer’s creation ethically wrong, it also poses economic threats to the fashion industry. Manufacturing and selling imitation fashion impacts the country where the products are manufactured, the country where the products are sold and the end-consumer. For example, countries that produce copycat goods usually suffer “tax losses, since the counterfeits are normally sold through clandestine channels and counterfeiters are not generally keen to pay tax on their ill-gotten gains,” according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Additionally, the OECD states that, “Although many consumers believe they are getting a bargain when they buy counterfeits, the actual value of the product is normally much lower. Hence, they end up paying an excessive price for an inferior product.” Looking further into this issue, the mass-production of replica fashion and robbery of intellectual property has grown so much that several law schools have begun to incorporate programs to train lawyers in this field. In June 2015, “Fordham Law School became the first accredited law school to offer a degree in fashion law,” according to Marianys Marte of The Fordham Observer. Fordham University School of Law describes intellectual property as one of “the four pillars of fashion law,” upholding how vital it is to have trained professionals in this subject.

While Fordham University recognizes the need to solve the problem surrounding imitation fashion and stolen intellectual property, a concrete plan to solve this issue must be developed and implemented.

In order to effectively combat the creation and sale of knock-off and copycat fashion, the best plan of action is to establish an International Trade Association, dedicated solely to the fashion industry. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “There is no international trade association for the fashion clothing industry. Most luxury brand owners employ in-house anti-counterfeiting officers and are members of national pan-industry anti- counterfeiting associations.” However, efforts in recent years have been made to fight the growth of knock-off and copycat fashion. For example, The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) aims to “strengthen the international legal framework for effectively combating global proliferation of commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy,” according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Therefore, the creation of one, unified body would allow for (1) control over the fashion industry, (2) the generation of more agreements such as the ACTA and (3) for legal and financial penalties to be placed on offenders. This association would be formed of key players in the industry—such as, designers, global trade officers and lawyers trained in fashion law. Overall, an International Trade Association would allow global trade in the fashion industry to be closely monitored.

However, with this plan of action, there also come disadvantages and counter-arguments.

 With the notion that the fashion industry should establish an International Trade Association, it is important to understand the practicality of this plan and how it would unfold. The main disadvantage to the creation of one global, governing body would be the limitations it would bear on the creativity of the fashion world. For example, some designs look almost identical, not because one brand copied the other, but because the silhouette is a current trend in the fashion cycle. Therefore, the International Trade Association would need to be careful when distinguishing between the latest trend and a designer’s original creation. Additionally, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presents two valid counter-arguments. First, the OECD claims that “counterfeits actually contribute to the marketing of the brand without causing any significant loss in profits.” More specifically, this insinuates that someone carrying an authentic Louis Vuitton bag and someone carrying a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag generate the same amount of buzz for that brand. Therefore, a counterfeit item does not seem so negative in this context. Secondly, “some consumers buying fake luxury items do so knowingly and would not be prepared to pay the price of the genuine item,” as stated by the OECD. Therefore, these customers actively seek out a faux-designer item to achieve a certain status, without the hefty price tag. Despite these disadvantages and counter-arguments, the creation of a regulatory body remains a viable plan. Coupled with copyrights, patents, trademarks and regulations (such as the ACTA), the creation of an International Trade Association is needed to actually monitor these current regulations, as well as implement more detailed protocols.

Because there is a serious need to regulate knock-off copycat items in the fashion industry, this need can be fulfilled through the creation of an International Trade Association. Counterfeit fashion degrades the authenticity of many fashion designers and their original creations. Additionally, it poses many economic threats—for the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Although replication may seem like the biggest form of flattery, within the fashion industry, serious action needs to be taken for the future wellbeing of clothing.


Works Cited

“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).” Office of the United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Oct. 2011, ustr.gov/acta. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

“The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1998, www.oecd.org/sti/ind/2090589.pdf. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Jacobs, Alexandra. “Where Have I Seen You Before?” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 27 Mar. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/fashion/at-zara-in-midtown-its-all-a-tribute.html?_r=0. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Lieber, Chavie. “Why the $600 Billion Counterfeit Industry Is Still Horrible for Fashion.” Racked, Vox Media, Inc., 1 Dec. 2014, www.racked.com/2014/12/1/7566859/counterfeit-fashion-goods-products-museum-exhibit. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Marte, Marianys. “Fordham Becomes First Law School Accredited For Fashion.” The Fordham Observer, Fordham University, 26 Aug. 2015, www.fordhamobserver.com/fordham-becomes-first-law-school-accredited-for-fashion/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

McCall, Tyler. “Copyright, Trademark, Patent: Your Go-To Primer For Fashion Intellectual Property Law.” Fashionista, Breaking Media, Inc., 16 Dec. 2016, fashionista.com/2016/12/fashion-law-patent-copyright-trademark. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

“MSL in Fashion Law.” Fordham University School of Law, Fordham University, www.fordham.edu/info/23328/msl_in_fashion_law. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Fashion & The First Ladies

A First Lady’s fashion not only expresses the trends of that era and her personal style, but also provides the nuances into her husband’s presidential administration. At the National Museum of American History, there is an entire collection based on the first ladies, with their gowns as the focal point. Majority of the gowns housed in the museum were worn to either inaugural balls or state dinners.

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The exhibit presents each of the gowns in a glass enclosure, often with the accompanying accessories, such as shoes, handbags or jewelry. From Martha Washington’s silk taffeta gown from the 1780s to Michelle Obama’s embellished, one-shouldered, white silk chiffon gown designed by Jason Wu in 2009, the exhibit clearly shows the progression of both fashion and politics.

According to Cady Lang of TIME, “Throughout modern U.S. history, inaugural balls have given First Ladies a high-profile chance to officially introduce themselves and their values to the American people. As one of the first formal introductions to a President and the first family in their new roles, something as simple as choosing a dress for the occasion can speak volumes.” For example, Jackie Kennedy’s one-shouldered, yellow gown spoke to both her fondness for tradition and keen fashion sense. Additionally, Laura Bush’s ruby red gown was a bold color choice that helped her stand out from her mother-in-law, Barbara Bush.

Whether it be the silhouette, the color choice or who designed the gown, a First Lady’s clothing indicate both her position in the White House and the presidential administration, as a whole. While it may seem as though the First Lady is nothing more than a political figure, she has the ability to make a difference in our nation. However, it is vital that she dresses well while implementing her philanthropic campaign!


Works Cited

Lang, Cady. “From Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama: 16 Stunning Inaugural Gowns.” TIME, Time, Inc. 18 Jan. 2017. http://time.com/4636471/first-lady-inaugural-dresses-trump-inauguration/

For the Love of Python

Although snakes are one of my biggest fears, I do admire their beautifully printed skin. From handbags and shoes to skirts and dresses, snakeskin has infiltrated department stores and boutiques for spring 2017. According to GQ’s Justin Fenner, 2016 was the year of snake, primarily because “Snakes hold different places of esteem across different cultures, so depending on where you are, they can represent evil, fertility, rebirth, or healing.” The trend may have roots in the past year, but snakeskin print is taking 2017 by storm. For example, Carven, Altuzarra and Rachel Comey has all incorporated some type of snakeskin print into their Spring 107 Ready-to Wear collections.

Personally, I love the concept of snakeskin print, as it can be such a statement, but also be quite subtle in certain garments. After opening my closet doors, I came to the realization that I own a blue-hued snakeskin print dress, snakeskin print espadrilles, a snakeskin print handbag, snakeskin print athletic leggings and a green-hued snakeskin print off-the-shoulder blouse (pictured to the right). Sarah Young explains, screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-6-33-41-pm
“To add the perfect dose of texture to any outfit if the trend has caught your (snake) eyes, try experimenting with accessories to begin with and choose neutral colours to keep it tame. If you’re looking to make a statement though, the catwalk has shown that snakeskin is by no means confined solely to earthy tones. Opt for a colour washed version; just make sure too keep to one show-stopping piece and always go faux.” Overall, there are almost no rules when it comes to incorporating snakeskin into an outfit!

Scared to try this trend? Start out with something like this Free People crossbody bag or these Steven Madden heels. If you are feeling more confident about this trend, go for something bold like this LPA skirt, this Show Me Your Mumu tunic dress or even a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.


Works Cited

Fenner, Justin. “It’s Official: 2016 Is the Year of the Snake.” GQ. Conde Nast, August 31 2016. http://www.gq.com/story/snake-print-embroidery-trend

Young, Sarah. “The year of the snake: How to wear this season’s serpentine trend.” The Independent. Independent Digital News & Media,  26 September 2016. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/snakeskin-trend-aw16-gucci-burberry-rodarte-a7321086.html

Written In The Stars

Astrology, itself, has certainly gained popularity in recent years, and because of this apparel, accessories and everything in between have acquired a zodiac motif. With Cosmopolitan’s weekly horoscopes in their Snapchat story to articles entitled Horoscope-Inspired Outfit Ideas for Every Zodiac Sign and The Spring 2017 Runway Trend You Should Try, Based on Your Zodiac Sign, astrology has truly penetrated the fashion industry.

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My roommate and I wearing our Capricorn and Taurus chokers.

From astrological nail polish to keychains, phone cases and necklaces inscribed with each of the twelve zodiac signs,  fashion brands certainly have found a way to market this trend. Some consumers, like myself, purchase zodiac-related products because they are fascinated and proud of their sign.Others purchase the merchandise as an astrologically themed item can make a great gift, as it is personalized to the recipient, but not overdone.

As a proud Capricorn, I read my horoscope daily and constantly save facts and tidbits about the typical Capricorn on my Pinterest. Personally, I believe that majority of the stereotypical Capricorn traits truly are applicable to my life. Furthermore, my roommate also sees much truth in her sign, Taurus, and we actually have matching beaded chokers with our zodiac signs on a pendant.

Want to uncover the stereotypical fashion sense of your zodiac sign? Visit InStyle to see how the stars influence style. Don’t know your zodiac sign? Find out below!

Aries // March 21-April 19
Taurus // April 20-May 20
Gemini // May 21-June 20
Cancer // June 21-July 22
Leo // July 23-August 22
Virgo // August 23-September 22
Libra // September 23-October 22
Scorpio // October 23-November 21
Sagittarius // November 22-December 21
Capricorn // December 22-January 19
Aquarius // January 20-February 18
Pisces // February 19-March 20

What I’m Watching: The True Cost

“This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.” 

The True Cost

While scrolling through Netflix hoping to stumble upon a sappy romantic comedy, I instead found The True Cost. The documentary follows the lifecycle of clothing; from its earliest stages in cotton farming to the sweatshops in Bangladesh to fashion designers who create for the runway. So I do not spoil the film, I won’t divulge all the details, but I did find a few statistics quite eye-opening. For example, 1 in 6 people work in the fashion industry in some form, making it the most labor dependent industry in the world. Additionally, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, second only to the oil industry. Furthermore, the average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year, producing over 11 million tons of textile waste from the US alone.

Clearly, The True Cost presents several statistics on the detrimental side of the fashion industry. Overall, the documentary is a call to action for all components of the fashion industry. Individuals in the agricultural sector have a responsibility to produce fibers that are non-GMO and use limited pesticides. Factory owners must find a way to employ their workers with fair working conditions and a living  wage. Fashion designers have a responsibility to only outsource production to places where the workers are treated well. Americans, as consumers, must learn to only consume products that we truly need, to reduce excess. All actors in the fashion industry have a responsibility to fix the true cost of the industry that encompasses much of our global society.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Bustle on the BeltLine

Three-day weekends most certainly call for spontaneous adventures. On Saturday morning, three of my friends and I decided to spend the day in Atlanta. We walked around the city, sauntered down the BeltLine and found ourselves at Ponce City Market for some shopping and a bite to eat! Atlanta certainly is a city full of life in many forms. From the art that is displayed around the city, the musicians who play along the BeltLine and the fashion seen in local boutiques and on individual’s bodies, Atlanta brings its own type of flare.

In terms of my fashion for a day in the city, I opted for a casual yet on-trend ensemble. Pairing a basic white v-neck with black distressed jeans, allowed my accessories to shine. I layered on multiple necklaces, added a  statement belt and slipped on my newest favorite pair of shoes- Steve Madden’s ECENTRCQ sneakers. Additionally, I threw all my essentials for the day in my Pixie Mood Black and Grey ‘Rachel’ Tote and let the unique design speak volumes for my outfit.

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Stay cool, ATL.