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Commando Founder Kerry O’Brien On Business & COVID-19

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Commando’s faux-leather leggings aren’t just one of the brand’s top-selling styles, they’re the physical embodiment of O’Brien’s professional creed: “Only wear things that make you feel truly happy and special and comfortable and confident,” she says. O’Brien often reiterates those three words — happy, special, confident — when talking about her customers and her company, which has been built upon the foundational understanding that women don’t just want more, they deserve more. That means top-quality, sustainable fabrics sourced from Europe and cut here in the U.S., designs that are fiercely functional, and a range of comfortable intimates, casual wear, and hosiery made to feel “better than nothing,” as Commando’s tagline goes. And considering O’Brien is actually able to be a litmus test for her own designs, it’s not surprising that her realness resonated with shoppers almost immediately. Commando offers an unparalleled degree of authenticity, establishing itself as a brand that is made for women, by women since 2003 with almost 90% of its current employees, from the headquarters in Burlington, Vermont to distribution warehouses across the country, being female.

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Fashion & Style

How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting With Celeb-Favorite Wines

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E-Comm: How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting With Celeb-Favorite Wines, Kourtney Kardashian, Karlie Kloss, Shay Mitchell

Getty Images; Shutterstock; E! Illustration

We love these products, and we hope you do too. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchases. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!.

If you’ve been connecting with friends and family via video chat, consider this idea for your next get-together: a virtual wine tasting. Not only will this activity get conversations flowing, but it will also help everyone find new wines they love. Personalized wine club Winc winemaker Robert Daugherty has the perfect wine lineup for you below, and everyone in the group can conveniently have them delivered to their homes via the service.

But first, allow Daugherty to run you through setting up your virtual wine tasting:

1. “Decide on a lineup of wines ahead of time, so that you can taste along together. I’d recommend tasting no more than four wines at once. You can also set a theme for the tasting, whether it’s unique varieties you’ve never tried before, natural wines, or wines from a particular region or country. This will also help inform light bites and food pairings to go with each.”

2. “Assign a host. This person can help lead the discussion and have information on each of the wines readily available. An understanding of where the wine came from, the winemaker who crafted it and context surrounding the wine’s history and narrative makes the tasting more meaningful, informative and engaging.”

3. “Don’t take it too seriously! Have each person talk about what they are noticing and tasting. Flavors, color, viscosity, etc. Adding a trivia element or making it into a drinking game is always a great idea, too. Have fun with it!”

4. “Decide which one you personally like best. Then fill up your glass and enjoy.”

Daugherty suggests that you always start with sparkling wines and rosés first, followed by white wines and lighter reds next and full-bodied red wines last.

Check out the wines Daugherty recommends for your tasting below, some of which have a celebrity fan-base.

2019 Pacificana Chardonnay

 The Pacificana chardonnay is dry and fruity with notes of apple, butterscotch, honeysuckle and lemon rind.

2019 Cherries & Rainbows Red Wine

How fun is the packaging of this wine? It’s dry with notes of dark fruits.

2017 Porter & Plot Cabernet Sauvignon

Enjoy notes of plum, red cherry and rosemary in this dry wine.


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Gucci’s Alessandro Michele Will Reduce the Brand’s Shows From 5 to 2, Will the Industry Follow?

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Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, this much is clear: the fashion industry will forever be transformed by this global crisis. If our business is ever to feel normal again, it will be a new normal, with once grand department stores now shuttered or shrunken, and many designers and brands sadly gone for good. And the fashion show system? As glorious as individual shows can be, as a whole they’re unsustainable—excessive in terms of cost, time, and waste.

Over the last two weeks, designers, business leaders, and fashion’s governing bodies have begun setting out proposals for change. This Memorial Day weekend—precisely a year after his resort 2020 show at Rome’s Musei Capitolini, the acme of “the old way of doing things”—Gucci’s Alessandro Michele took to his Instagram account to tease some of the shifts he’s been considering. Extending over seven screens and including dated ruminations, the post dubbed “Notes from the Silence” suggests a new way forward for Gucci, one that rejects seasonal shows in favor of more personal expression. From May 2: “Now we know that too furious was our doing, too insidious was our ride… This is why I decided to build a new path… away from deadlines that the industry consolidated…and an excessive performativity that today really has no raison d’etre.” From May 3: “We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story. Irregular, joyful, and absolutely free chapters, which will be written blending rules and genres, feeding on new spaces, linguistic codes, and communication platforms.”

Today, the designer hosted a “virtual gathering” from his home in the Italian countryside to elaborate on his written statements. The technical challenges of simultaneous translation aside, he was poetic and optimistic. “We should not start over in the same way, breathless. It’s been too difficult. I want to start over with a breath of fresh air, with oxygen,” he shared. Some of the details remain to be worked out, but an outline of the next year or so is starting to take shape. Gucci’s two shows—down from the current five—are to be co-ed and scheduled in the autumn and the spring, however the September show that had been previously announced by the brand is now unlikely. Michele hinted that there might not be enough time to be ready. Regarding the potential for a live audience at those shows, that, too, is in question pending government regulations about gathering in groups. Resort, one of the five big shows Gucci usually produces, will be shot instead on his studio assistants. The resulting digital show, to be presented at Milan Digital Fashion Week on July 17, will act as a sort of “epilogue” for the house’s old way of doing things.

At least some of the uncertainty about the future stems from the fact that Gucci is just one brand in a globe-spanning ecosystem. Michele urged an “open dialogue” with other houses and fashion’s governing bodies. “Rewiring” the system, to borrow the language of one of the industry proposals that emerged earlier this month, will require coordination on a massive scale, both externally and internally. For Gucci’s part, Michele indicated that much of the responsibility will fall to Marco Bizzarri, the company’s President and CEO. Bizzarri has Gucci’s customers to consider, but also its 40 million social media followers. “The fashion world has become a sort of Woodstock, open to a huge audience,” Michele said. “We’re followed by many people who’ve never entered our stores. The community outside the company is scattered all over the world.”

The unspoken message of all this may be that fashion shows are not the be all and end all of consumer engagement that their massive expense would seem to suggest they are. That said, Michele is committed to them. “I’m passionate about fashion shows, but maybe we can be open to seeing them in a different way. This is a suggestion we’re receiving from our current experience,” he added, nodding at the journalists on the virtual call. The dialogue will continue. Meanwhile, one of the brand’s first post-COVID innovations is the upcoming launch of a gender fluid shopping section on Gucci.com called Gucci Mx.

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Independent Fashion Designers + Retail – Footwear News

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout, the businesses of young, emerging and independent designers are likely to be the most vulnerable. In a Supporting Independents, FN gives a spotlight these creatives to learn how they are adjusting to a new way of working and living.

Having launched as a direct-to-consumer label in 2015, Aeydē has always been digital first. In fact, co-founders Luisa Dames and Constantin Langholz-Baikousis previously worked worked together at Zalando private label Executive Shoes & Acc.

While the Berlin based label is now also carried by global e-tail platforms like Net-a-Porter, its own website still accounts for around 30 percent of business.

“We’ve been really lucky,” said co-founder, managing partner and chief creative officer Dames. “While sales completely dropped when the lockdown started, they are now practically back to normal in Europe and the U.K.”

With many European countries, Germany included, having relaxed their lockdown restrictions, strappy sandals from the recently launched high summer collection a proving to be a popular buy. “The U.S. market has completely collapsed though,” she admitted.

 

When it comes to wholesale partners, however, results have been mixed:  The high summer collection spent weeks stuck in their Berlin warehouse and many retailers have canceled their fall orders.

As a damage limitation exercise, the brand adopted a pre-emptive strategy, encouraging partners to reduce their orders rather than cancelling completely. This has seen some success. Nevertheless, said Dames, “a 40 percent decrease from wholesale is big problem for a small retailer like us.”

That said, she would prefer to keep stock levels with retailers low and performing well rather than creating a glut in the market. “We wanted to preserve brand integrity to avoid markdown,” she explained. “We’d rather that products sell out than having an overstock.”

“Retail is great a channel for us but margins are high,” she continued, adding that her brand’s seasonless approach doesn’t always gel with the buying rhythm.

“The pandemic will change the industry entirely so we all need to find new strategies,” she concluded, hinting, however, that she might reassess the brand’s approach in the future.


aeyde

CREDIT: Aeydē

To buy: Aeyde Larissa sandal, $275


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