Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Is Old and Old is New

Todd Taking A Tea Break

I return every year to the factories that I deal with the most for a couple of reasons; one is to renew our acquaintance and compare notes on our experiences with the business climate and their condition in particular, another is to walk through their showroom;  again.
At first blush it seems redundant to go back to a factory just to review a bunch of samples you have already seen.  I mean, what’s the point;  why would anyone do that?  First of all the factories are working for other customers as well as myself, which gives me a look into what competitors are thinking, which allows me to gauge myself against what they are doing.  In a competitive environment like our industry, I have to constantly re-evaluate what I am doing; in taste level, style, and price point.  
Something else interesting happens when I visit the factory again, I see things I did not notice before.  That’s not to say they were not there before but I just hadn’t noticed them.  This is a phenomenon which goes back to a changing fashion industry.  Two years ago, the thought of doing something in coral for example would never have crossed my mind, therefore had I seen something in this coloration I would have breezed past, simply because I had other things on my radar at the time.  On the next visit coral had indeed been added to my radars menu of items to focus on and I was able to take advantage of some decorating techniques on glass to capitalize on this new fashion color for one of my collections.
This is a dramatization of course, but coral has in fact become more important and I began to add it to the collection last year.  At any rate you get the point; something that was not important a year ago, old in fact, can become important again overnight, provided we do not take the item as it is; an update is always necessary when taking an older look and applying to current fashion.  Vintage is a good example.  If we take a sheer layered lace encrusted white dress and put it together with Victorian mid ankle lace up boots then we have an “antique” or a historical replica of vintage, and let’s throw in a cameo broach for good measure. If we however combine taller lace up (combat) boots and some newer interesting jewelry with some current color accents, we have an updated version (urban vintage) that could even handle a cameo broach and survive.
So, you might ask why this discussion is even necessary. Mainly it’s because there are not many truly new techniques (save perhaps fish leather), that come onto the market very often; therefore we are left with the same basic raw materials to work with (and our imagination of course) and must always look for new combinations, techniques, or manipulations to render something fresh that might remind someone of something they saw once but is new, fresh with a twist, and definitely not their grandmothers prom dress. So, yes I suppose you could say I go back to factories every year looking for vintage and perhaps a technique that will elevate it…