Archive for the ‘spaces’ Category

commuting by bike

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

last night I took the bus from work to the Levi’s Commuter Workspace party downtown.
the party’s turnout was insane: and it was a great crowd.

Simply designed space with all your biking needs (mechanic, tuneup, jeans with stretch….denim covered bike seats!).  I’m in love with the windbreakers that look indigo dyed.

It’s up for a month…so ride on over to 157 w 5th downtown.

 

Esprit

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Lately, almost without meaning to, I’ve developed a little vintage Esprit habit. I mean, I mean to, as my eye and hand are drawn to the shapes, colors and fabrics, but that lovely three parrallel line “E” is becoming a deep part of my wardrobe, and competing with my 1980s Liz Claiborne problem.

The pieces are great, but the old ads were even better.

Which was actually a part of the problem with the rise and fall of Esprit.

The whole story of Esprit is a story about the zeitgeist, in fashion, sure, but mostly about culture and that 1960s cohort and their ideals….and it’s fascinating. It seems as almost everyone and everything related to the Esprit story affected or filtered culture in someway.

Esprit was started by Jane Tise and Susie Russell in the 1960s, looking to give American young women a Mary Quant or Biba equivalent. That line was called Plain Jane.

Their third partner, Allen Schwartz, pushed the line into department stores. I think a lot of us know what happened to him.

Susie Russell picked up a young hitchhiker, Doug Tompkins, in the 1960s. They got married. Doug was working on developing his climbing store in San Francisco. That climbing store became The North Face.

Doug sold the North Face and headed down to the Patagonia region of South America to do some climbing with some friends, including his friend Yvon.

After the trip, Yvon founded Patagonia, and Doug became inspired to work on Susie’s growing business.

He encouraged her and Jane to change the name to Esprit de Corps (a hippie play on the Marine Corps). He and Susie started to aggressively move the line and company in the direction they saw for it…eventually buying out the other partners. Jane left in the early 70s. The only thing I could find out about her is that she might be a photographer now.

Susie and Doug pushed onwards. Doug was the head of image and worked on making sure the ads were eye catching, new, and elevated. Susie was the design director.

In the 1970s and early 1980s things were very good.

Here’s their home office. They had a gym, roof gardens, an environmental desk where people could learn about how they could help the environment and days off to volunteer.

Here’s a catalog with Susie and Doug  from the 1980s.

But there were problems. Were the ads better than the clothes? Would the money ever run out? With so much growth, did they have a structure in place to handle tightening margins and changing tastes?

Doug and Susan had ultimately different goals for the company, and for their life, and by 1985, they were living apart.

But they were still working together. Doug had his eye on building the company into an empire (and escaping the tastes of mercurial department store buyers) by making stand alone stores. But, just like with the ads, he only wanted the best, and the most high-brow. An example is the 14 million dollar LA Esprit store that’s now a CVS in West Hollywood (more on that location here).

The stores looked amazing, images below from Doug’s book about Esprit.

Remember how we were talking Esprit=Zeitgeist? The Esprit store in LA was where Sarah Jessica Parker’s character worked in LA Story.

By 1986, Esprit grew to be a 800 Million dollar business. However, sales started to decline.

Customers were maybe over big, blocky pastels and primary colored pieces, department stores were asking for lower prices, and Doug’s stores were visionary, but not in the right locations. All the attention had been paid to the front of the house, while the back end was in disarray, and couldn’t cover the deficit in sales.

In 1988, Doug and Susie divorced.

Then things got weird. Doug and Susie appointed an interim board to pick which of them got to lead Esprit. The board picked Doug. Susie left, and Doug kept being ahead of the tide as far as culture goes.

In 1989, Doug took out an ad in Utne Reader, asking for a decline in conspicuous consumption.  People were shocked, and the LA times asked, “Did Esprit define the New Spirit?”

He totally had, but the new execs at Esprit weren’t really happy about it.

They wanted Susie, and her on trend pieces, and the sales to match, back.

The way the couple had split meant that Doug was supposed to buy out Susie’s shares. But he didn’t. Perhaps, maybe this anti-consumer move was supposed to lessen the value of Esprit, and Susie’s buyout? Was he being sneaky and trying to ruin the company? So Susie rallied people to take over Esprit. Other companies tried to buy it. It got tense.

Susie came out on top with Esprit.

Doug took his buyout and ended up being a big environmentalist. He owns a huge environmental foundation in Chile, which he runs with his wife since 1993, Kris, the former CEO of Patagonia.

Susie, meanwhile, was at work in 1992: making new lines (Susie Tompkins signature collection bombed…can’t find any pictures)

and new ad campaigns that attracted attention…but not sales.

Maybe you remember this one?

Esprit tried to figure out what to fix. They eliminated all the hippie + forward-thinking perks, and the progressive ads, but the company still ended up being bandied about to several buyers and CEOs.

Susie is now mostly known for being a Democratic fundraiser, and maybe Hilary Clinton’s best friend. She’s currently not funding Obama as of 2012, because she’s disappointed in his environmental leadership.

Esprit is now based in Hong Kong. It’s earnings were down 98% in 2011.

“The brand has gradually lost its soul over the past few years. The heritage of the brand has been neglected and the company lost its customer focus,” Group CEO Ronald Van Der Vis said in a statement [in 2011].

They planned on dealing with that by spending $6.8 billion Hong Kong ($872.9 million) over four years to reshape its brand. The company will create a trend unit based in Paris and a design center in China so that hot fashion trends can be brought to market faster.


Oy. They posted their first annual loss since the IPO in 1993, in 2012.

A variety of missteps, lawsuits, changing tastes, and maybe just bad taste led to the current state of Esprit. Or, if Esprit is a metaphor about American culture and ethics, and maybe the decline of the company from idealistic brand to being destroyed by it’s own greed and then sold to Hong Kong where it now focuses on fast fashion products for nations other than the US is indicative of the decline of American culture and civilization as a whole?

Nah. It’s just about clothes, right?

Here’s a huge, awesome, exhausting article about Esprit from 1997, which goes more in depth on the legal battle.

Of A Kind

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Isaac and I made a limited edition product for one of my favorite sites, Of A Kind.

The edition launches tomorrow, but they’ve already posted an article where we talk about working on the Sqirl redesign, and about some of our friends who also collaborate with their loved ones.

Sqirl

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Isaac and I have been working like crazy on the Sqirl redesign, and it soft opened on Sunday…all pictures from Eater.

 

sentimental magazine

Monday, August 12th, 2013

good friend Emily Spivack’s Sentimental Value show got a great write up in the NYtimes T magazine blog today.

More here.

land art

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Isaac has curated a show on our land in Highland Park.

Please join us on Sunday, August 11 from 6-9pm for the opening of A Round World Distorts a Flat Map, which is a group show on a vacant lot in Highland Park. The show, which includes works by Michael Bell-Smith, Jedediah Caesar, Jennie Mary Tai Liu, Shana Lutker, Nancy Lupo, Mungo Thomson and Isaac Resnikoff, is mostly invisible or at least easy to miss. Several of the works emerge at dusk. Some are fleeting, others buried. One never gets here at all.
The show takes its name from some found text printed on the map which Douglas Huebler used to document his 1968 site sculpture Windham College Pentagon. The map, which is titled “The Putney Countryside” includes the following warning:
WARNING
Roads are shifted, houses burn, are abandoned
or rebuilt; a round world distorts a flat map;
man’s memory is fallible; expect not exactness

When all is said and done we’ll record the whole thing (or some edited and annotated version of it) in a catalog including contributions from Whitney Hubbs and Lauren Mackler.

After Sunday, you can see the show by appointment only: 215-205-0617

 

Friday

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Mitra’s been working on this thing for a while…and it’s going to be insane. Check out her Blood is the New Black Pop-up at Space 1520 tonight…kissing booths, ice cream, hot dog eating, wet tee shirt contests, dry tee shirts…basically see inside her crazy and wonderful mind for the night….:)

rsvp here.

peru pictures

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

are trickling in, finally.  These are all Margarita’s panorama shots from our inspiration trip to Peru!

our beach day:

the contemporary art museum

overlooking the bridge of souls in Barranco

a square in Lima

the main square in Lima

more to come!

creative class issues

Monday, March 25th, 2013

lots of articles, rebuttals, retorts and concessions last week regarding Richard Florida’s creative class that was supposed to rise all boats. Florida said in the Atlantic: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.”

Sociologists can be wrong, but this one in particular had a consulting company making a lot of money off of hard-hit cities hoping to use Florida’s theory to woo creative types (and the $$$ that was supposed to follow).

Joel Kotkin takes aim on Florida in the Daily Beast here. And then Florida has a good rebuttal here.

It’s all good content: and it’s fun to see sociology take the front stage:)

 

time machine

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

sometimes i love LA for all the LA reasons. Right now, Figueroa St is all dressed up like it’s the 1940s or 50s: all the empty storefronts (and the real ones) have new signs, new fronts, fake merch, etc. It’s all for filming “the Real Gangsters” but that might not be the real name.  Spiderman was filming on York with a fake name last week.

What’s really great, is that the signs that are above the windows (and maybe above the camera line) have been left.

it’s a bit sad to me.

Highland Park has gone through some economic shifts: but even though it used to be a richer neighborhood, I don’t think it would ever be considered a wealthy neighborhood, but at some point, probably all of the storefronts were filled, not covered in graffiti, not selling all weird discount stuff, but also not selling fancy stuff, just supporting the families than ran them, who sold things to support a community.

behind this kitchen appliances storefront is a store that sells plastic-y shoes and a surprisingly colorful assortment of synthetic blend bras and underwear.

this storefront is usually empty.

this hello kitty store couldn’t resist putting it’s sign and pink succulent outside

and as you can see: this notions store….

is usually the rock factory: where you can get manic panic and striped socks and probably fuzzy dice and and spiked tongue rings