Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Legally Speaking

Though some people have tagged trademark infringement suits as the 'ambulance chasing' equivalent in IP law, I can't quite tire of brands picking up their daggers and protecting their fortresses head on.

On March 26th, Levi sued Evisu International in the Northern district of California for trademark infringement. The jury will be out on this one for a while no doubt, but in the mean time, the denim veteran has made its point.

Levi is often credited with being among the original pioneers of the denim frontier, offering its 501's for under $50. In a culture that craves immoderately priced jeans (and wretched 'jeggings') Levi sometimes gets lost in the mire. The unmistakable dipping 'V' that signifies a pair of the brand's pride and joy has never lost its strength (in both the fashion and legal sense) even amongst fierce competition on backsides everywhere. (I personally find the rear pocket to be the single most important element in a pair of jeans. A plain pocket is always a safe choice when in doubt.)

But the question of protectable trademark falls to more than just strength of mark, and the 7 other Polaroid factors ( 287 F.2d 492 (2nd Cir. 1961)) must also weight in Levi's favor to score a win for the brand. Time will tell.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's the Allure?

When you see a pair of python Jimmy Choo sandals in the window of Saks as you pass by after work, and your heart leaps into your cheek, do you ever stop to think why exactly you have this visceral reaction? Harper's May issue features an interesting (although chauvinistic) article written by the husband of a socialite fashionista, expounding on the pros and cons of women's dressing, and examining just what exactly it is that makes an outfit 'likable'.

I agree with a few of Christopher Brooks' points (wedding dresses don't do women any favors) but, as any good lawyer, I strongly object to others (painted nails and flats should be eliminated for their lack of flattery). The core of his commentary centers on defining the tangible quality that causes us to lust after a fashion item. For some I imagine it is fit, flattering one's shape, or attracting possible mates (for just how long correlates inversely with the length of the chosen hemline). But it is nevertheless a contemplative inspection, and inspired me to search inside for my motivation as a peak inside the psychology that drives the multi billion dollar industry in which I work.

I rarely pick something because I think someone else, including my husband, will like it. In fact, I've read that men find the biggest trends in women's fashion to be utterly ridiculous (oversize sunglasses, harem pants, neon). Something that fits well is always nice, but not enough to pull my wallet from the bottom of my bag. Comfort? Also a bonus but doesn't seal the deal. Color and pattern often leap from the rack and snatch my attention, but at the end of the day, I usually end up with gray, khaki and ivory for spring. So what then? Perhaps the image of slipping the silk sleeveless top over my head and looking instantly fresh and new. Would the same allure still hold 4 weeks later once the top is no longer 'new' and instead hangs among its companions in the closet?

This visual exercise of placing the object in my wardrobe and fast forwarding a month has saved me several purchases this past week alone (though it did not spare the 5 new pairs of shoes I carted home from work today). In the interest of buying only what you truly love, practice this game and take home those pieces that will make you just as happy in August as they do in early May. And do not worry what the boys will think, they'll like anything that you look happy wearing (with the exception of Harem pants. They don't look good on anyone.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Thumb

The last time I can remember wearing a Laura Ashley dress was in the 7th grade. My mom took me to the Americana (aka the miracle mile) in Manhasset where she spent an inordinate amount of money on a pastel, floral frock that I had to have. The last decade shunned such patterns, which were more akin to bedding than couture. But like all things fashion, the tides have turned and washed up remnants of the early 90's by way of botanical, garden-like dresses for spring (Groundbreaking, I know. But pretty nonetheless.)

The Annual Macy's Flower Show (which is the only bright part of my walk to the west side of Manhattan every morning to catch the train) seems even more apropos than usual this year. Marc Jacobs has put his vintage charm on the trend with this sweet yet salty dress, just modern enough for those who balk at my former mention of Laura Ashley. (If you balk at Laura, I imagine you'd gag over Lilly Pulitzer. I will skip over the uber-preppy designer and request my friends who pack their weekend Lily in their Vera Bradley keep a safe distance.)

A cousin to floral numbers, calico is also gracing retail racks everywhere. Not just for Raggedy Ann, calico is a sweet nod to the country (think of when Carrie helped Aidan with his 'country cabin' in Suffern, New York. She baked a pie wearing a plaid shirt and silver Manolos, and then topped the weekend off with some overalls and green Hunters). If you can't quite pull off flannel and stilettos, no one does middle market vintage better than Anthropologie. (This patchwork smock is just another example of their market corner.)

Speaking of apple pie, a 13 hour work day certainly puts me in the mood for dessert.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Preppy Ranks

A smile was added to my usual 12 minutes of 'lunch' spent cramming a Luna Bar down my throat while using my free hand to tab down a 151 page best seller report. A fellow sorority sister and good friend of mine from college forwarded me a link to the Huffington Post's updated Preppiest colleges list. After scrolling down a ways (past a myriad of snarky comments on the subject) I instantly recognized the stone edifice of Hascall Hall and the winding quad path that is Colgate, and felt pangs of nostalgia for my mint green polo and extra large, red Solo cup brimming with keg beer.

Though the mere waft of keg beer now makes my throat muscles clench, the memory is one that still carries with it a certain amount of tangible joy not easily matched by the working world. While I love the remnants of my college years (a popped collar, Nantucket red pants for men, Vineyard Vines' fleece vests), I draw the line at Vera Bradley tote bags. They are better suited for toting one's knitting needles to and from the bridge game than for carrying your accessories around the city all day. The emergence of floral, quilted carryalls in a vast array of shapes and sizes gives preppy a bad name and should be cast aside in favor of buttery soft leather totes instead. (I apologize to my many friends who love these bags and have entire coordinating luggage sets. Please, carry what makes you happy. Just don't make me hold it for you when we're out and you need to use the bathroom.)

Luckily for me (and all those who appreciate a good pair of oxfords and a navy, gold-button blazer) the prepster scene has mingled and danced with the hipster scene to birth a new wave of urban-dandy that appeals to a larger pool of coeds. (Open any May fashion magazine for an example of the mainstreaming undercurrent that has swept through preppy islands.) Alternative brands that cater to Lower East Side hip, like Steven, are churning out new lines that embrace the classic tenants of east coast dressing. These loafers are flying off the shelves on Bleecker Street, and Christopher Street's Rag and Bone is decidedly taking cues from the movement.

Whether you love or loathe it, stand up and take notice of springs preppy awakening.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

All Hats on Deck

What better way to spend a sunny Saturday in early spring than by grabbing your girlfriends, popping your collar, slipping on your yellow Sperry's and heading to Long Island's North Fork with your very own wine glass in tow? (Perhaps the popped collar and boat shoes were my nod to college days an at east coast liberal arts school, but nevertheless, you get the point.)

Pindar Vineyards was the first stop on our thirsty romp out east. As if several middle aged men knee deep in a carafe of 1995 Cabernet before noon was not entertaining enough, in walked a gaggle of 20-something girls decked out in their Kentucky Derby finest. Had it been mid-August, and not early April, the white linen dresses and enormous straw hats might have been apropos. But on a 58 degree day, at 10:45 in the morning, the get up was more akin to costume than couture (assuming that they had been going for the latter). I love a straw hat as much as the next girl, but there is a time and a place for everything (the Hamptons in July? Spring break down south? A Sunday in Central Park?) Perhaps the hat-herd began their wine tour before sunrise, and the warmth from the '97 Pinot Noir eviscerated any need for actual clothing (and all judgment as well). Never a dull fashion moment!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Dangers of Inactivity

Not that anybody could mistake a large, plastic, tacky Guess 'G' for the no less ostentatious, yet much pricier Gucci tapestry, but the latter wasn't taking any chances. Originally filed in May of 2009, Gucci sued Guess for trademark infringement (namely for use of green and red stripes with interlocking 'G' pattern strikingly reminiscent of the Italian veteran's logo).

For all of us who breathed an enormous sigh of relief (and shed some tears of joy) when news of passing the bar trickled into our in-boxes last fall, we know the physical agony it cost to attain that precious 'Esq' suffix. Why any lawyer would chose 'inactive' status with the State Bar to save a few bucks is beyond me, but according to WWD, Gucci's in-house counsel must have spent all his paychecks on Italian leather goods and had nothing left over for Bar dues. Gucci's main man, Jonathan Moss, had reportedly been in 'inactive' status since 1996, and was hired by Gucci in 2002 without changing his membership capacity. (I better be sure to attend all those annually required CLE classes in a timely fashion to avoid a similarly embarrassing situation, should I ever become a famous lawyer.) Gucci fired the inactive lawyer, so perhaps now he will seek to pay those lapsed dues and regain employment fighting fashion crime, for the good of purses everywhere. I hope he saved all his CLE certificates of attendance, he'd be a prime candidate for audit.

Friday, April 2, 2010

You've Got Male

Now that the March lion has officially receded and pedicured toes can grace the tepid air, the much anticipated closet flip can get underway. But what's to come of the tweed-tailored menswear that bulked up fall wardrobes? Happily for those of us who love to pay homage to Yves Saint Laurent, spring carries the androgynous torch forward.

Though not typically a huge fan of the color pink (but in love with the 80's flick Pretty in Pink, and always thrilled to pieces when I catch it on ABC Family), my eyes fell immediately on these oxfords updated for spring in the fresh bubble gum hue. If you cant quite take the step into the uber preppy oxfords, these mens-inspired spectator pumps get the point across while retaining their femininity. Double breasted blazers in lighter weights and summer-appropriate linen are everywhere. And Vests are not just for stuffy trial lawyers who want to conceal their bellies while leaning over their podium in the courtoom. They can add definition to a bohemian dress or a crispy, classic white oxford.

There's also nothing subtle about spring's accessories. Large, heavy, men's watches fit nicely into the mix (I already asked my Husband to borrow his cobalt-faced Rolex, but he just looks confused and reminds me its a 'man's watch'). This Michael Kors piece is a great price point for such a statement watch if your male companion also won't hand over his timepiece.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, and try a little pink with your menswear (even if its just a Cadbury Egg).