Hudson Yards

Recently Hudson Yards, a complex that includes residences, offices, shops, restaurants and cultural institutions all encased among innovative architecture (innovative for NYC) has opened up to the general public.

The Local Artisan Guide feels its important for you to have information at your hand for shopping destinations whether its on a charming small dead end street or a multilevel complex. Hudson Yards is certainly the latter.

Located at West 34th Street and 11th Ave. (you can take the #7 train to Hudson Yards directly or a crosstown bus), Hudson Yards is where the MTA has housed subway cars for decades (still does). After exiting the highly stylized new subway station, you encounter a complex of new, cutting edge buildings that include residences, the Equinox Hotel, and a very upscale mall for New York City.

Hudson Yards include a complex of residences, office buildings, shops and The Equinox Hotel.

Hudson Yards include a complex of residences, office buildings, shops and The Equinox Hotel.

There is a structure outside the shops that looks like the skeletal system of a bug or artichoke called “The Vessel”. It is a piece that you can enter and explore from the inside (much like the Statue of Liberty). To enter you need to go onto Hudson Yards’s website www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com and reserve a time and day to enter the sculpture (its free). 

In the center of Hudson Yards you will encounter The Vessel, a sculpture you are allowed to enter and explore (tickets available for free online).

In the center of Hudson Yards you will encounter The Vessel, a sculpture you are allowed to enter and explore (tickets available for free online).

After exploring The Vessel you can head straight to the shops across the way. The main store here is department store Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus has never been situated in NYC (except for Neiman Marcus Last Call in Brooklyn) so in a city that has been losing iconic department stores for the last few years (Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel’s etc.) it is nice to have one that has a long reputable establish itself here. Neiman Marcus presents itself in a minimal way, there is no or little clutter. They offer a strongly curated assortment of established and emerging designers in its store. 

Neiman Marcus is the dominant department store at Hudson Yards, located on the third floor.

Neiman Marcus is the dominant department store at Hudson Yards, located on the third floor.

A view of The Vessel and the trains lined up in at Hudson Yards from the interior.

A view of The Vessel and the trains lined up in at Hudson Yards from the interior.

What is interesting in the consortium of stores in the Hudson Yards is its range. Here you can find high end brands such as Christian Dior and Cartier’s, to mid range brands like Kate Spade and Tori Burch all the way to H&M and Zara. All presented much like the high end malls you see in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Downtown in the financial district you have a similar collection of stores in Battery Park City with high end brands, grand architecture, restaurants, hotels and residences all flowing into each other, yet at Hudson Yards there is a difference as the selection of stores at Hudson Yards has a curated feel to it. Besides the brands mentioned there are also more independent brands that you would find by strolling down the streets of Soho but you wouldn’t find their presence in American malls. These brands include Scanlan Theodore, M.Gemi and Hatch to name a few. 

Fendi is one the high end stores you will find at Hudson Yards amongst others.

Fendi is one the high end stores you will find at Hudson Yards amongst others.

Zara and H&M are some of the affordable stores you will find at Hudson Yards.

Zara and H&M are some of the affordable stores you will find at Hudson Yards.

Scanlan Theodore is one of the many independent brands that have opened in Hudson Yards.

Scanlan Theodore is one of the many independent brands that have opened in Hudson Yards.

Also unlike the malls in Asia or in Battery Park City, Hudson Yards strives to have something for everybody as shopping and eating there runs the gamut of all price ranges. You can find both high end restaurants and more affordable eating, like Shake Shack at Hudson Yards. 

Hudson Yards offers besides shops, multiple places of all price points to dine. Shake Shack is amongst food choices at Hudson Yards.

Hudson Yards offers besides shops, multiple places of all price points to dine. Shake Shack is amongst food choices at Hudson Yards.

Many of the shops have still yet to open at the Hudson yards. The experience of shopping at Hudson Yards is similar to the World Trade Center instead there the art structure is part of the interior shopping experience and in Hudson Yards its on the exterior of the building.  Hudson Yards incorporates art installations throughout the interior and exterior of the complex making for a cultural experience too.

Hudson Yards included art throughout the entire complex.

Hudson Yards included art throughout the entire complex.

Hudson Yards is bound to be a popular place to visit in the future, especially if you live there or are staying in Midtown when visiting NYC. It is definitely worth a visit.

By Natalie Rivera

Bleek Street No More

In the summer of 2017 The Local Artisan Guide wrote a blog on the sad state of Bleecker Street. With its high rate of empty store fronts, Bleecker Street was starting to look more and more like a street in the mid-west rust belt. Retailers both local and national were abandoning their shops due to astronomical rent increases while landlords were fine with waiting out for tenants that could afford high rents. A few national beauty brands were moving in such as Aesop and The Organic Pharmacy, but in general walking down Bleecker Street seemed quite bleak. 

Fast forward to early 2019 where walking down Bleecker Street is now a more positive experience. Rents have started to come down however there are still multiple shops that are empty. Unfortunately stores are still closing (Sunni Spencer just shut down) but a few new brands are opening up under the revitalization project “Love, Bleecker.”

Still many empty storefronts dot Bleecker Street.

Still many empty storefronts dot Bleecker Street.

“Love, Bleecker” is a collaboration between Skylight and Brookfield Properties, created to breathe back some life into Bleecker Street. “Love, Bleecker” has acquired four storefronts to introduce four online brands who never had a brick and mortar presence. The four brands are couture retailers Prabal Gurung, men’s leather good brand Slightly Alabama, cashmere brand Lingua Franca and plant based bodega with floral collab Bonberi & Fleurotica

Along with the storefronts “Love, Bleecker” will also introduce art installations, music and more interactive community events in collaboration with the shops. 

#lovebleecker

#lovebleecker

“Love, Bleecker” paired each shop with an artist to have fashion and art play off each other. For Slightly Alabama they paired artist Chelsea Hryrick Browne, who created an installation of intricately hand-cut paper designs that will be displayed in the shop’s windows for 6 months. Her designs, which are layers of hand-cut paper create the illusion of an abstract painting.

Slightly Alabama and artist Chelsea Hrynick Browne collaboration.

Slightly Alabama and artist Chelsea Hrynick Browne collaboration.

Prabal Gurung was paired with Edward Ross who crafted a glass sculptural lighting installation which will live in the space for the year.

Prabal Gurung and Edward Ross collaboration.

Prabal Gurung and Edward Ross collaboration.

Lingua Franca was partnered with artist Ashley Longshore who made a very colorful and glittery painting of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Lingua Franca and Ashley Longshore collaboration.

Lingua Franca and Ashley Longshore collaboration.

Bonberi & Fleurotica have been paired with Signe Pierce who created floral and neon illuminated sculptures. 

Bonberi & Fleurotica collaboration with Signe Pierce.

Bonberi & Fleurotica collaboration with Signe Pierce.

Besides “Love, Bleecker” there have been multiple store openings of brands that have not had brick and mortar stores including; TDE (The Daily Edit), Kilona, St.Frank, Naadam, Margaux, Hill House Home and gold no.8 to name a few. Some pop up shops have opened up indefinitely such as Netluxe, The Citizenry Bunkhouse, Buckberry, Quaker Marine Supply and Greyers. Other more established brands have opened up new locations on Bleecker Street, which include Faherty, Buck Mason, Jay Kos and Marine Layer making Bleecker Street an up and coming men’s fashion destination.

Welcome to Bleecker Street! New brands are popping up along the way.

Welcome to Bleecker Street! New brands are popping up along the way.

So in the end, just walk down Bleecker Street, enjoy the new brands, art and events and remember at the end of the road there is thankfully Magnolia Bakery.

By Natalie Rivera

Ethical Shopping for Black Friday

It's here, Black Friday. That day of the year that jump starts holiday shopping with cut throat sales on brands across the board. 

Whether you plan to shop at a Brick and Mortar shop or go online, The Local Artisan Guide has made some suggestions to highlight some of the many brands that now focus on ethical and sustainable products that you should know about.

BRACKISH BOW TIES  is a Bow Tie brand made in Charleston, SC.  No dyes are used, giving each tie a unique coloring. The feathers are all-natural and sustainably sourced. Each tie arrives in a hand-branded, pine gift box. including a list of the feathers used and instructions on how to care for your tie.  www.brackishbowties.com

BRACKISH BOW TIES is a Bow Tie brand made in Charleston, SC.  No dyes are used, giving each tie a unique coloring. The feathers are all-natural and sustainably sourced. Each tie arrives in a hand-branded, pine gift box. including a list of the feathers used and instructions on how to care for your tie. www.brackishbowties.com

ROTHY'S  is a San Francisco brand that created a women’s flat with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability. The flats fit true-to-size and have a removable insole and 3D knit upper for seamless comfort. Machine-washable in cold, gentle cycle; air dry only.  When you finally are ready to replace them simply send them to their Rothy’s recycling facility and help close the loop in making our planet a better place.    www.rothys.com

ROTHY'S is a San Francisco brand that created a women’s flat with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability. The flats fit true-to-size and have a removable insole and 3D knit upper for seamless comfort. Machine-washable in cold, gentle cycle; air dry only.  When you finally are ready to replace them simply send them to their Rothy’s recycling facility and help close the loop in making our planet a better place.   www.rothys.com

ANITA DONGRE GRASSROOT  is a sustainable luxury brand born to revive, sustain and empower India's crafts and artisans. The brand translates village art into design for the globetrotting woman, and showcase the handcrafted traditions of India in contemporary tales. Grassroot works with rural artisans to create local employment opportunities, empowering every village to become a self-sustaining unit.   www.anitadongregrassroot.com

ANITA DONGRE GRASSROOT is a sustainable luxury brand born to revive, sustain and empower India's crafts and artisans. The brand translates village art into design for the globetrotting woman, and showcase the handcrafted traditions of India in contemporary tales. Grassroot works with rural artisans to create local employment opportunities, empowering every village to become a self-sustaining unit.  www.anitadongregrassroot.com

PATENT OF THE HEART  is a handbag and small leather goods brand made in Turkey. Designer Elif Akaydin has artisans create her sophisticated collection made with the finest European leathers and materials. Patent of Heart assures you every bag purchased is not only made with high-quality craftsmanship, but with a strong sense of functionality and style. A portion of profits helps contribute to worthy cause especially helpings young girls attain an education.   www.patentoftheheart.com

PATENT OF THE HEART is a handbag and small leather goods brand made in Turkey. Designer Elif Akaydin has artisans create her sophisticated collection made with the finest European leathers and materials. Patent of Heart assures you every bag purchased is not only made with high-quality craftsmanship, but with a strong sense of functionality and style. A portion of profits helps contribute to worthy cause especially helpings young girls attain an education.  www.patentoftheheart.com

JOE GROOMING  was established in 2002 with a goal to create a natural and organic line of hair products formulated to meet their core objective. By lowering surfactant levels in their shampoos, adding soothing, moisturizing extracts to both cleansing and styling products, and fragrancing with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, they have taken the first steps toward achieving this goal.  Extra benefit is for every order of a Joe Grooming product, they donate a bar of Joe Grooming soap to a resident of homeless shelters across the USA.  www.joegrooming.biz

JOE GROOMING was established in 2002 with a goal to create a natural and organic line of hair products formulated to meet their core objective. By lowering surfactant levels in their shampoos, adding soothing, moisturizing extracts to both cleansing and styling products, and fragrancing with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, they have taken the first steps toward achieving this goal.  Extra benefit is for every order of a Joe Grooming product, they donate a bar of Joe Grooming soap to a resident of homeless shelters across the USA. www.joegrooming.biz

EDUN  is a sustainable high end fashion apparel and accessories brand that makes all its products in Africa from artisans using fair trade methods and guidelines.  www.edun.com

EDUN is a sustainable high end fashion apparel and accessories brand that makes all its products in Africa from artisans using fair trade methods and guidelines. www.edun.com

APOLIS  is a fashion lifestyle brand founded on the simple idea that people can live better lives when they are given equal access to the global marketplace. Apolis is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide.  www.apolisglobal.com

APOLIS is a fashion lifestyle brand founded on the simple idea that people can live better lives when they are given equal access to the global marketplace. Apolis is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide. www.apolisglobal.com

Black Friday doesn't have to be a consumer nightmare, it can be a practice in conscious shopping. Don't forget to check out your local brick and mortar shops for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, you'll be amazed at the wonderful Black Friday sales and products you will find.

By Natalie Rivera

The Truth Behind Counterfeit Stock

The Local Artisan Guide is fortunate enough to be based in downtown Manhattan, in the neighborhood of Soho which has great energy, stores, restaurants and some of the best residences in New York City. Soho is also surrounded by hotels, where you see countless tourists everyday exploring all New York has to offer. Usually their country’s currency is good for shopping in the United States so they have researched ahead of time premier shopping destinations that will give them more bang for their buck (or Pound, Yen, Euro). Soho, Century 21, Nolita, Williamsburg are on their list for shopping and finding great bargains however unfortunately so is an area right next to Soho which is Chinatown. 

Chinatown is a great destination in New York City to go to for delicious, affordable food, groceries, cultural shock and wares from Asia. However Chinatown is a destination for many tourist for all the wrong reasons.

Bus loads of tourists make their way to Canal Street and Chinatown every day in New York City to look for inexpensive souvenirs of NYC which are aplenty but even more notorious in this part of town is that Chinatown, especially Canal Street is the mecca for counterfeit products.

Handbags, luggage, watches, fragrances, sunglasses etc. are all counterfeit. They are copies of the most well known international brands in the world; Prada, Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Tumi, etc. Street hawkers will whisper to you as you go by to look at their wares, they will even invite you into backroom areas to see more high end product they swear are real. If you walk away they will start haggling with you to close the deal.

A view of the counterfeit shops that line Canal St. in Chinatown, NYC and their wares. Hopefully froggy is legitimate.

A view of the counterfeit shops that line Canal St. in Chinatown, NYC and their wares. Hopefully froggy is legitimate.

If you think for one second that the product is genuine or it doesn’t matter purchasing counterfeit products, let me remove all doubt and ignorance so you don’t even begin to justify that you are just getting a bargain or paying what you think is fair and the large multinational conglomerates will not miss a penny.

Counterfeit fragrances sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Counterfeit fragrances sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

The main bulk of the counterfeit products come from China. China is a master of illegally counterfeiting product. As most mass retailers have their products made in China, there is a culture of factories replicating and selling the products domestically and internationally at a dramatic cut cost in black markets across the world. Many so called reputable factories in China will produce legitimate products legally and near by have a sister factory producing the same stolen designs and intellectual property illegally. 

Counterfeit handbags and watches sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Counterfeit handbags and watches sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

As a former product development manager who had to travel frequently to Asia to review the product I was developing, I saw whole shopping plazas in China with stores that were all counterfeit. I even once found a store in China that had the name of the brand I was working for even though we did not have a brick and mortar store in the United States. As I looked into the windows of the closed shop, I saw a mixture of our handbag designs and their own designs but with our leathers and fabric patterns. The shop actually looked quite nice and luxurious. However it was all counterfeit. There was a fake Donna Karan shop, fake Calvin Klein, fake Pucci, etc., etc..

Here is what you are contributing to when you buy counterfeit items; besides depriving well known brands of your money for their products, when you buy counterfeit you are contributing to child slavery, dangerous work conditions, poor salaries with workers that have little or no rights plus a multitude of other labor violations. You see, when a factory is illegal there is no regulation of any kind. It is a sweat shop where the government or social compliance auditors cannot oversee to make sure there is a safe, humane labor practice occurring. 

Do not try to fool yourself for one minute that this is not the case no matter what the hawker will tell you. Unfair circumstances that we cannot imagine happening are occurring all over the world and when you buy counterfeit product you are not only contributing to it you are encouraging it.

Some of the counterfeit handbag brands sold on the street on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Some of the counterfeit handbag brands sold on the street on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

All over the world there are areas like Canal St. that specialize in selling counterfeit items. Once while I was in Florence, Italy walking down one of the streets that legitimately sold the high end accessories brands of the world, I noticed right after the shops closed, immigrant hawkers came and laid out the same counterfeit bags that you saw in the store windows on the ground and for a fraction of their retail cost. It was very bold. Yet still counterfeit.

There are even seemingly nice, legitimate stores in Soho that have a mix of genuine vintage high end handbags and what they claim are an overstock of “it bags”. These bags are very easy to fool even a trained eye. They have quality raw materials, follow the designs of “it bags” and copy the packaging of the bags to the tee. They even have the cards with the certification copied down expertly. If you see a vintage Chanel that you are quite sure is legitimate, why wouldn’t you think the Celine bag that is just a few feet away, still in new condition not real? Be warned these bags are not $100, they are sold for over $1000 and more as they are claiming the product is new or overstock. Remember if its too good to be true, it usually is.

Police raids on vendors selling counterfeit product on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Police raids on vendors selling counterfeit product on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

There are frequent raids on Canal St., but the norm is to see sellers are out in the open hawking their wares which makes a tourist think that this is quite legal. However you as the shopper can also get in trouble for obtaining illegal counterfeit product so is it really worth it? Some countries in Europe will give you a ridiculously high fine if they catch you with counterfeit product when you come into customs. If you have any questions on whether a product is counterfeit or not, you can call customer service of the brand you are questioning or Google as there are many articles and sites that teach you how to determine if a product is legitimate or not and how to avoid counterfeits.

So whether its a keychain, handbag, watch or whatever you see hawked on Canal St., Chinatown, (or anywhere around the world that have similar markets) The Local Artisan Guide wants you to remember if you read this article you now know the truth and your decisions are now informed decisions. What kind of world that you would like to contribute to?

No excuses.

By Natalie Rivera

Five Women's Staple Pieces for Slow Fashion

Recently at a holiday party a guest complimented me on my black tuxedo pants. I confessed to her that I had them for longer than I cared to admit, it was a Vivienne Tam investment piece I acquired for myself when I was much younger. The pants were on sale and once I tried them on I decided it would be one of those clothing staples I would always cherish. 

That got me to thinking about the pieces in my wardrobe that I have owned for years yet have remained fashionable and timeless. The Local Artisan Guide is a big advocate of "Slow Fashion". We encourage shoppers to invest in pieces that you know are going to be in your wardrobe for so long, you may to ward off your daughter and friends from trying to “borrow” them from you. 

After rummaging through my closet and asking some friends whose styles I have always admired for their feedback, I came up with five “Slow Fashion Staples” that every woman would benefit from having in their wardrobe. These are pieces that should be executed well and made with quality materials. Whether you find them at Prada or your local artisanal boutique they need not cost a fortune but will always be worth the investment in the long term.  With comparison shopping online or using The Local Artisan Guide you can find quality staple pieces that will act as your contribution to sustainable shopping which in the end in has a positive domino effect and benefits our planet. Here are my five top recommendations:

Black Tuxedo Pants I love how men look in a tuxedo. I can’t believe there was an era when men wore them daily which makes me realize I was born at the wrong time. Men have been wearing tuxedo pants for centuries and looking rather consistently divine so why shouldn’t we women follow suit? No pun intended! My black tuxedo pants go with everything from a white button down blouse to my animal pattern cape. I can wear it with boots or any type of dress shoe and it looks elegant and put together. Its a no brainer and perfect for any formal event or evening out. 

                                           Trina Turk Black Tuxedo Pants

                                           Trina Turk Black Tuxedo Pants

 

Sheath Dress On everyone’s list of "must have" items usually a LBD (little black dress) makes the top of the list. Although I definitely agree an LDB is a must, I feel you can have more range by owning a sheath dress. One of my first big purchases when I was younger was a sheath dress from Giorgio Armani. It is powder blue, the cut is quite classic and the material is of such high quality I am always immediately complimented when I wear it. The dress is actually an incentive for me to stay in shape as I would hate to not be able to wear it any longer. A sheath dress can be any color that compliments you best, it doesn’t have to be just black. It is great for interviews, presentations, formal events and can go from day to evening. Accessories will always make it look fresh and modern. Make sure the material and cut are flattering to your figure or it will defeat the purpose of the purchase.

                                              Ava-Aiden Sheath Dress

                                              Ava-Aiden Sheath Dress

 

Navy Blazer As one who loves to wear Breton stripe shirts in the summer, I discovered that navy blazers were very complimentary to this look. I was fortunate to purchase an affordable Ralph Lauren navy blazer with brass buttons and it has been one of my style staples since then. My blazer is immaculately tailored and very sliming. I love how it goes from high to low and elevates any outfit. I can wear it for work (over my sheath dresses) yet it looks great with jeans and a white tee. Its part of my uniform for when I travel making me look fashionable yet comfortable (not an easy feat when traveling). 

                                                                        J. Crew Navy Blazer 

                                                                        J. Crew Navy Blazer 

 

Statement Necklace I own a red beaded coral statement necklace that was made on a loom that came from a small island in the South Pacific. The color is vibrant and the weave is very unique. When I wear the necklace I am constantly asked where I got it from and on numerous occasions have had people offer to buy it from me right off my neck. It helps bring any outfit I have to life and is always a conversational piece. Whether its from your grandmother, a local jeweler, an accessories shop or a vintage store; a statement necklace, especially one that is finely crafted and not overtly trendy will be one of those investment pieces that can help bring your outfit from day to evening. Many local jewelers will even work with you on custom pieces that will make sure your statement necklace is original to you and your vision.

            Kenneth Jay Lane Statement Necklace

            Kenneth Jay Lane Statement Necklace

 

Vintage Bag When my stepmother’s mother passed away, my stepmom was kind enough to pass onto me her mother’s silver beaded flapper’s purse. I use it for galas and special events and can be assured no other woman in the room is carrying anything as lovely and special. In a society where women (and some men) use high fashion brand handbags to state to the world their net worth and self value, nothing to me is more confident and stylish than a woman proudly toting a bag that is either vintage or from a smaller more artisanal designer. To be assured that your handbag does not define you but reflects your unique fashion sense is a sign of a person who has truly mastered their own unique style and marches to the beat of their own drummer. Simply acquiring “it bags” makes a statement that emanates more from the ego and not your own sense of self which at length reflects the person you are. Vintage bags and smaller artisan brands are not only original in design but make for great sustainable slow fashion items. 

             Art Deco Rhinestone Handbag from Etsy

             Art Deco Rhinestone Handbag from Etsy

So when shopping and trying to figure out if you are growing your "Slow Fashion" wardrobe, just ask yourself these few questions.  Are these items made to last? When I am dead and gone will people be fighting over these items? Does this piece always make me feel good about myself? Can you see the piece as timeless and classic? Are you "IN LOVE" with this particular item and can see yourself years from now filled with regret if you walked away from it? Well if you answer yes to any of those questions, you are on your way to growing your Slow Fashion wardrobe and growing a more sustainable world around you. 

By Natalie Rivera

We Are Going Live...

But we still have quite a ways to go. 

Almost a year is upon us as we started social media for The Local Artisan Guide and we are now going live to show you some of the neighborhoods in New York City that we have been exploring and carefully curating for the discerning shopper. More neighborhoods will be added in the future and more stores, boutiques, artisans and smaller brands will be added on a daily basis. 

Plus besides Brick & Mortar shops will be soon be adding on a daily basis a "Local Artisan Brand" which are brands that operate with an online site or are wholesale. Future cities both domestic and overseas will be added and we are currently working on our app. The app will help you not only find the artisan of your choosing but will help you organize your speciality shopping finds, be apart of a rewards program, use your social media to highlight your finds and most of all shine a light on artisans, sustainability and giving back to the community. We are designing the app to be fun to use and share.

In the meantime please follow us on social media (links below), join our newsletter and any feedback, comments, questions inquiries will be greatly appreciated.

We will start having more blogs, interviews and video added to our site plus collaborations and promotional events.

We are very excited and we hope you are too. So if you don't want to walk in a room and find someone else dressed the same as yourself in head to toe Prada, are environmentally conscious of the impact "fast fashion" has in our world and love being an individual in your style both in fashion, beauty and home we are the site for you. 

Natalie Rivera

Founder, The Local Artisan Guide

Design Theft

The Local Artisan Guide

Design Theft

Last night Ivanka Trump walked onto the stage to the tune of "Here Comes the Sun" (much to the dismay and disapproval of George Harrison's estate) and while she spoke on behalf of how her father Donald Trump was going to make "America Great Again" and his plan to help small businesses, we thought it very hypocritical of Ivanka Trump as her lifestyle brand has been guilty on occasion of practicing the same corrupt methods of her father. Many small business will attest to how the Trump Organization will use their services and then pay a small percentage of their invoice if anything at all causing many businesses to practically collapse or have to let go of employees. Trump Organization assumes that small businesses do not have the funds for a long protracted law suit and bully their clients into accepting little or no pay for their services. Ivanka Trump is apparently a chip off the old block as her brand has been publicly called out and has a few lawsuits against them for design theft.

Ivanka Trump entering and addressing the RNC to George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun". More like "Here comes Trouble".

Ivanka Trump entering and addressing the RNC to George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun". More like "Here comes Trouble".

One of the problems of being a local artisan in today’s world is design theft.

Having worked in the corporate retail fashion industry for almost twenty years in the production and product development arena, this site is familiar with the workings of how large fashion brands create and develop their product. 

In the first stage of designing a collection for larger brands the designer is sent on a shopping trip for aspiration and inspiration samples (i.e. other brand’s products). Some brands send their designers on adventures to be inspired by nature, cultures and architecture. However most brands go to Europe or Asia and shop for items of clothing, accessories or jewelry that will be part of their samples for inspiration. 

A good designer would take one aspect of something they found on their trip and elevate and/or appropriate the idea to make it their own and within the aesthetics of their brands. It could be a pattern from an expensive piece of vintage wear, a dress from another brand, a piece of jewelry or a button from a low cost brand. Researching on the internet or catalogues has made seeing what is being offered globally much easier for most brands. The design team then creates inspiration boards which reflect trends, materials and color palettes that everyone has agreed to work from to form a cohesive style statement.

However especially in the last few years we are seeing well known brands that are high end or brands that specialize in mass production at low price points blatantly steal the ideas and designs of smaller, local artisans. Brands such as Zara, Banana Republic, H&M, Ivanka Trump and ASOS have knocked off designs of smaller brands without even changing much of the original design. Its not designing just another nude pump or t-shirt, it’s very intricate designs that are being copied detail by detail.

I have heard from many smaller brands that they do not let in other brands in their showrooms or even let buyers or merchandisers come in as they just steal their ideas and designs and have them created elsewhere. This isn’t only for clothing, its footwear, accessories, home decor, jewelry plus other areas of design. Many smaller brands are vulnerable to other designers just coming into their shops and downright stealing their ideas and designs.

These larger brands have access to legal teams and count on the “grey area” of stealing intellectual property from other brands. They rely on the fact that for the most part the local artisan does not have a budget for a legal team to sue for design infringement. Due to this atmosphere there is rampant theft of intellectual property that does not go challenged in the design world domestically and internationally.

While many may appreciate seeing a Gucci or Balmain knockoff in Zara now within reach of their budget they are ignorant that they, the customer contribute to the problem. They remain unaware that many (not all) of the designs they are purchasing are not original and hurt the business of the original designer whether it is high end couture or local artisans. 

Much of the blame can be laid at the hands of the venture capitalist who have acquired most of the well known brands you recognize. These investors don’t want to hear that fashion is fickle, they want a return on their investment and for them part of that is laying a very structured design process that doesn’t breed originality. They want a sure deal. Their buyers, sales teams and merchandisers have numbers on what worked and what didn’t so the design team starts out with limits placed upon them even before the design process begins. There are very few brands today that are design driven instead of merchant driven. The big business of corporate fashion is one of the reasons there are so many local artisans out there as they left corporate fashion to design their own lines and bring originality back to their trade. 

With the advent of social media, it has been a great tool to put a spotlight on when these infringements happen. Just recently the very artisanal Italian shoe brand Aquazzura has decided to take legal action against the Ivanka Trump brand for blatantly stealing their footwear designs. The style in question is very intricate and it was copied in its entirety. Of course in typical Trump fashion they denied they copied Aquazzura’s design however since the design was quite original Aquazzura feel they have a good case against Ivanka Trump and ask to cease and desist and take the product off the shelves (the main action a brand asks another brand to do when there is design infringement). The Ivanka Trump line also in the past was taken to task by Derek Lam for copying a footwear design that was quite original and not to be mistaken as a design coincidence. 

Here is an example of Ivanka Trump's brand blatantly stealing from the smaller more artisan Italian artisan brand Aquazzura.

Here is an example of Ivanka Trump's brand blatantly stealing from the smaller more artisan Italian artisan brand Aquazzura.

What is curious about this particular Aquazzura style is that Zara, Banana Republic and ASOS also copied this design yet they have not been sued as of now for design infringement. Aquazzura also is currently suing Marc Fisher for design infringement for another style that again was quite original and hard to believe it was a design coincidence. 

One of the problems with corporate fashion and design is that most brands follow very similar processes and trend reports which makes it definitely plausible to have designs that are very similar. If you walk down Broadway now in Soho nearly every mainstream brand has white eyelet clothing and dresses with men’s shirting patterns in similar color palettes. This design process is what the larger brands are counting on for their defense legally as to why their designs are similar to others.

Ironically no one gets as upset or puts more money to stop being copied than the larger, well known retail brands as so much of their production is made in China. The counterfeit problem there is of massive proportions as the Chinese love owning well known brands. There are plazas in China that resemble upscale malls where all the product is actually all counterfeit. The brands get very upset and invest a lot of money to try and prevent factories from copying and distributing “their designs” as they rightly resent the lost of potential revenue. However that is exactly how the local artisan and smaller brands feel too when their designs are copied.

My recommendation for smaller artisans when they see their designs copied by other brands (especially their more intricate, original designs) are to send a cease and desist letter to the brand and use social media to highlight the design infringement. Once its out in social media that a certain brand is stealing designs it is hard to get rid of that reputation and these days reputation is everything. 

In the meantime feel free to let The Local Artisan Guide know when this happens and we will be more than happy to shine a light on the matter. If we don’t let them get away with it in the first place this will be a diminishing problem in the design world however we all need to work together in the first place. And to the general public, as a customer you need to take on your responsibility of not shopping in places that you know are guilty of design theft. As for designers, wouldn’t you rather your work be an original? As Oscar Wilde use to say, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”