Loose Threads Podcast: Leveling the Playing Field for Independent Designers — with Amanda Curtis of Nineteenth Amendment

Loose Threads Podcast: Leveling the Playing Field for Independent Designers — with Amanda Curtis of Nineteenth Amendment

On the 17th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce, I talk with Amanda Curtis, a co-founder of Nineteenth Amendment. Her company is leveling the playing field for independent designers by streamlining everything from production to infrastructure. Emerging designers are often at a disadvantage when it comes to funding their business, securing competitive pricing for production, and integrating technology to help scale. Luckily, this is Nineteenth Amendment’s focus and the company has helped hundreds of designers grow. 

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Loose Threads Podcast: Keys To The Closet — with Alexandra Wilkis Wilson of Fitz

Loose Threads Podcast: Keys To The Closet  — with Alexandra Wilkis Wilson of Fitz

On the 16th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce, I talk with Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, the founder of Fitz, a company that starts by helping people organize their closets. From there, it recommends new products and services and helps people donate and resell old clothing all while learning more and more about its customers. 

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Loose Threads Podcast: Saying a Lot with a Little — with Matt Orley of Orley

Loose Threads Podcast: Saying a Lot with a Little — with Matt Orley of Orley

On the 15th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce, I talk with Matt Orley, a co-founder of Orley, a knitwear brand based in New York City that Matt runs along with his wife Sam and his brother Alex. It’s less common for brands to start with knitwear, since it’s much harder to produce and often has a steeper learning curve than cut and sew garments. But Orley intentionally started this way, primarily because it allowed them to realize the brand with a limited number of pieces, and then grow from there. We had a great talk about the founding story of the brand, how its grown and evolved over the last five years, and how the internet and the direct to consumer market is changing everything.

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What's happening with retail and fulfillment job growth?

What's happening with retail and fulfillment job growth?

There's a lot of commotion right now about the loss of retail jobs and the impending death of retail. While retail isn't dying—channels as foundational as physical stores don't "die"—legacy retailers are struggling. Retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores at a rapid clip. (Our new project Bankrupt Retail is tracking them.) When retailers go bankrupt and close stores, this has real implications on the economy and employment since jobs are getting cut left and right.

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Loose Threads Podcast: Data and Details — with Seph Skerritt of Proper Cloth

Loose Threads Podcast: Data and Details — with Seph Skerritt of Proper Cloth

On the 14th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce, I talk with Seph Skerritt, the founder of Proper Cloth, a company using tons of data and technology to make customized men's apparel affordable and accessible. Proper Cloth is one of those companies that has both the technical and creative chops needed to thrive today. My talk with Seph focused on the attention to data and detail that makes Proper Cloth what it is and the journey from what some considered a stupid idea to the ever expanding company that exists today. It was really cool to hear about the persistence across all aspects of the business that got Proper Cloth to its current state, and Seph’s determination to power through every new obstacle, be it technical, logistical or creative.

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Amazon is a catalyst, not a middleman, in a direct to consumer world

Amazon is a catalyst, not a middleman, in a direct to consumer world

This May, Amazon is holding a summit for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, according to Bloomberg. The goal is to convince CPG brands to rethink everything from manufacturing to packaging for the ecommerce-driven world we live in. Producing products that will end up on a shelf is very different than creating products that will end up on a customer's doorstep. 

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Loose Threads Podcast: The (Invisible) Long Tail of Packaging — with Stephan Ango of Lumi

Loose Threads Podcast: The (Invisible) Long Tail of Packaging — with Stephan Ango of Lumi

On the 13th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce, I talk with Stephen Ango, a co-founder of Lumi. Stephan’s company is simplifying the process of designing and producing all sorts of packaging, with a focus on digitally native brands. Packaging is what I would consider a visible yet invisible industries. It something people see everywhere but often know very little about. Stephen and I had an awesome talk about everything from the founding story behind Lumi to the company’s quest to be a packaging company that eventually sells less packaging. And it was great to dive into how Stephen’s design background informed Lumi as it exists today and how some parts of the industry that people find boring are sometimes the most interesting. 

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Why brands can't escape the reality of politics

Why brands can't escape the reality of politics

I recently attended a discussion with Jacques Panis, the president of Shinola, a company convinced it exemplifies the unrivaled power of American manufacturing and the ingenuity of the private sector. Panis spent a considerable amount of time explaining how the public sector has failed to create prosperity for its citizens—especially in Detroit, where Shinola is based—while the private sector, and specifically Shinola, has been a saving grace for job creation. Yet when asked about national politics and how the current political environment could affect his business, he was evasive and kept repeating that his company is immune from societal debates and prefers to stay out of them altogether.
 

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Loose Threads Podcast: Getting Better, Not Just Bigger — with Steven Alan

Loose Threads Podcast: Getting Better, Not Just Bigger — with Steven Alan

On the 12th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Steven Alan, the founder of his eponymous brand that started as a retail store in 1994 and grew into the international empire it is today. We had an awesome talk about how Steven got started; how he grew the brand over the last two decades, adding stores, a showroom and many different verticals along the way; how the his customers have evolved over time; how direct to consumer brands are changing the landscape; what is was like selling on Amazon in the early days of its fashion play; why the brand entered into the optical market; and how 2017 is the year of reinvention.  

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Loose Threads Podcast: Focusing on the Rules of Business, Not the Glamour — with Vishaal Melwani of Combatant Gentlemen

Loose Threads Podcast: Focusing on the Rules of Business, Not the Glamour — with Vishaal Melwani of Combatant Gentlemen

On the 11th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Vishaal Melwani, CEO and co-founder of Combatant Gentleman, about the brand's founding; how the team decided to build a suiting essentials brand meant to scale; how they incorporated technology into the company from the ground up; why they decided to vertically integrate to an extreme degree; how the brand approaches its own retail and relevant partnerships; how its products are priced affordably while still being produced ethnically; what opportunities are on the horizon for the brand; and what have been some of the most exciting parts of the journey to build a global apparel brand. 

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If people are price-sensitive to ethical products, then redefine the pricing scheme

If people are price-sensitive to ethical products, then redefine the pricing scheme

Liz Pape, the founder of Elizabeth Suzann, a direct to consumer brand based in Nashville, recently wrote a thorough post about the complexity of making ethical clothing and running a successful business in a time where consumers are increasingly price sensitive. The post, which is worth reading, as well as this follow up interview in Racked, discusses the challenges of making domestic, ethical clothing at prices that are both affordable for consumers and sustainable for brands.

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What happens when beauty, health and wellness products move from standardized to personalized?

What happens when beauty, health and wellness products move from standardized to personalized?

Right now, if you walk into your nearest grocery store, drug store or department store, you'll find at least thirty different types of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, mouthwash, sunscreen, moisturizer, makeup, lipstick, foundation and a litany of other cosmetics and daily essentials. Although there are dozens upon dozens of options on the shelf, finding the right one for each individual can be challenging, assuming that right one even exists. This is the current state of consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands in the cosmetics, health and wellness space. Lots of options, but little personalization. 

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Loose Threads 2016 year in review: six trends at the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce

2016 was quite a year for fashion, technology and commerce. This was the year where the reality of different ventures, channels, and theses started to become clearer, as we moved on from the pure hype cycle of endless venture funding and direct to consumer brands popping up left and right. There was plenty of great stuff that happened in this space, and there were a fair amount of reality checks as well. What follows is a review of the six major trends that came to fruition this year.

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Loose Threads Podcast: Pioneering Wholesale in a Direct to Consumer World — with Garrett Leight

Loose Threads Podcast: Pioneering Wholesale in a Direct to Consumer World — with Garrett Leight

On the 10th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Garrett Leight, the founder of his eponymous optical brand. We had an awesome talk about the founding story of Garrett Leight; the path towards building a wholesale-first brand in a direct-to-consumer world; the process behind designing eye-ware; how the optical market has evolved; how the brand approached its initial distribution strategy; how the brand has stayed in tact as its scaled; the role retail plays for a wholesale-first brand; and Garret's predictions on the potential of Snap Spectacles.

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The Scale Series — Part V: Bigger isn’t always better

The Scale Series — Part V: Bigger isn’t always better

Part I of this series explored the capital conditions that got us to a place where many brands swung for the fences, while Part II and Part III investigated some of the successes and failures in this growth environment. Part IV proposed a new framework for scaling brands globally while keeping them potent. Finally, it’s worth talking about the idea of scale itself. That itch that many founders and designers feel to keep getting bigger and bigger. 

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The Scale Series — Part IV: Localized Luxury

The Scale Series — Part IV: Localized Luxury

The early 2000s were full of brands launching adjacencies, some of which we looked at in Part II and Part III. Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Burberry and many others created endless diffusion lines and offshoots that tried to take the spirit and cache of the mother brand and infuse it into sister brands that sold lower priced products. While some of this worked, many brands also struggled as they scaled past their brand promise, which resulted in a litany of offshoot brands that were all diluting the main brand.

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The Scale Series — Part II: Brands that overscaled

The Scale Series — Part II: Brands that overscaled

In Part I, we looked at the factors that both businesses and brands need to consider when scaling. With this foundation, we'll now examine some of the failures and some of the successes in the fashion industry. This piece will look at the former, while Part III will look at the latter.

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The Scale Series — Part I: How and why brands overscale

The Scale Series — Part I: How and why brands overscale

A person starts a business to grow it. The general goal is to earn some revenue, and then some more revenue, and then lots and lots of revenue, while being profitable along the way. The process of getting there is often called scaling the business, with different definitions of what scale is. 

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Loose Threads Podcast: The Fashion Industry Is Not Exactly Broken — with Marc Bain of Quartz

Loose Threads Podcast: The Fashion Industry Is Not Exactly Broken — with Marc Bain of Quartz

On the 9th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Marc Bain, the fashion reporter at Quartz, about his path to covering the fashion industry, which included working for a fashion brand in New York; how he found his reporting beats and how the storylines often intersect; the similarities and differences between food and fashion; how the blockchain might impact the fashion industry; the current state of affairs in the fashion industry; how luxury brands will continue to scale globally; how luxury brands are approaching Amazon; how brands are handling sizing online; how Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs) are approaching retail; and how malls are being revitalized. 

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