GAP co-founder and philanthropist Donald Fisher lost his battle with cancer this past weekend and left behind his own gap in the San Francisco arts and charitable community. A lifetime Bay Area resident, Fisher did many things that enhanced both the city of San Francisco and community at large. It’s a shame to see him go.
In an article in Monday’s San Francisco Chronicle, they offered up an interesting bit of history about how and why he founded the Gap back in 1969:
Donald George Fisher was born to middle-class parents on Sept. 3, 1928. He attended Lowell High School and UC Berkeley, where he starred on the swimming and water polo teams.
In an incident that he described in a 2002 memoir, he was once caught cheating on an industrial-relations exam by Clark Kerr, then a professor and later the university president. Kerr gave him an F but didn’t expel him, Mr. Fisher said, an “act of mercy” for which he was forever grateful.
Mr. Fisher was a 41-year-old real estate developer with no retail experience in August 1969 when he and his wife tried to exchange a pair of Levi’s jeans that didn’t fit him and couldn’t find a store in the city that carried all sizes. So they bought a shop on Ocean Avenue that sold blue jeans and records, invested $63,000 and called it the Gap - Doris Fisher’s shorthand for “generation gap.”
“I didn’t plan to go into the clothing business. I was just fortunate to have a bit of bad luck,” Mr. Fisher said in an article in UC Berkeley’s alumni magazine after being named Alumnus of the Year in 2007.
With Cal football players among its first salesmen, the business filled a gap, in both the retail pants market and the booming base of customers age 12-25. Gap Inc. thrived in the early 1970s, issued its first public stock offering in 1976 and grew into a worldwide chain.
Gap Inc. now has more than 134,000 employees at 3,100 stores in 25 countries, with sales of $14.5 billion in fiscal 2008, the company said. Mr. Fisher was the chief executive officer until 1995 and the chairman until 2004. He remained a company director until his death and never missed a board meeting, said Glenn Murphy, the current chairman and CEO.
Ever since I was a little kid flying between Texas and California (and between parents) for holidays, I’ve had a love affair with the way clouds look out the window of an airplane. Not only are they beautiful and serene, but I think there’s an inherent wisdom in being able to see the temporary nature of the weather that engulfs, and at times overwhelms, us when we’re on the ground.
To me, it’s always served as a physical example of the temporary nature of certain emotions and phases in my life that can have the same overwhelming affect.
On my recent trip home from New York, the clouds were particularly awe inspiring, and it was a great reminder of that realization I had so long ago. I also happened to have a nice camera on hand, so I snapped a bunch of pics in hopes that I wouldn’t soon forget.
Recently, Evil Monito founder Rickey Kim posted a video blog blaming his current lack of inspiration on the contrived state of the creative field. I have my own opinions, as did others, but one person offered some poignant criticism:
LOL. I feel the same way, but it’s ironic, because that’s how I feel about your writing, “thoughts,” and blog. They’re completely mediocre. You seem to be more interested in self-promotion than talent, which is what I see everywhere. Kids like you are good at marketing themselves, but are really in possession of little talent. If it wasn’t for the internet, you wouldn’t be shining. Who you know and hang out with doesn’t make you talented by association. Being good at throwing events, spotlighting talented people and corporate products like Pepsi doesn’t necessarily infer creative ability. Perhaps you lack inspiration because creativity in you is not innate, but contrived?
Don’t throw rocks if you live in a glass house, ya feel me? That’s all I’m saying. And if you want to talk about mediocrity, call some people out! Good day.
Harsh words, but I think that great people all share in the acknowledgment of their own fallibility. And, in that same vein, Rickey offered up the following response:
Thanks Andy for putting me in my place. Truly appreciated.
Criticism is tough to take. But, if you want to get better at anything, you need to learn to use it constructively. Rickey went from calling out the industry to being called out, and he took it in stride. You have to respect that.
I recently had a dose of the same courtesy of my mom. We write together at the Mongan Group, and she noticed that my dedication to our technical work had been waning as I picked up new side projects. I had been feeling lazy and irresponsible, and she confirmed it. Never the one to mince words, the first line of her email read:
Yes, I’m upset. You’ve let me down big time and slow work is becoming your norm.
It was tough to take. Reading it made me angry, but I quickly realized that the anger and disappointment I felt was actually towards myself. Now, the true test begins: my response.
This week, I’m working on three things:
1. Responding faster.
2. Paying better attention to detail.
3. Closing out projects.
And, I’m going to make it happen by:
A) Spending less time on the Internet
B) Parsing my tasks, less multi-tasking
C) Setting deadlines for myself
Hearing it wasn’t easy, nor was typing it on the Internet for all to see. Sometimes, you have to hurt to grow, and I’m hoping that doing this will increase my accountability.
Have a good week.
Style and clothing is a confusing subject, especially as you learn more. Gianluca Isaia, head of the famed Italian label Isaia, keeps it simple: Wear what you want, how you want, and never take it too seriously.
Courtesy of Men’s Style:
1 - Style
A few years ago, guys had to identify their style as either fashiony or traditional. Those somewhere in the middle were considered indecisive. Now if you’re in the middle, you can take the best from both worlds and create something new. For me, it’s handmade Neapolitan tailoring with a modern cut.
2 - Vengeance
There’s an old saying: “Wait on the shore of the river and you will see the body of your enemy pass by.” If someone wrongs you, don’t react with anger or vengeance. Cut off all ties with that person and wait—eventually he’ll get his.
3 - Fitness
When I eat pasta or mozzarella di bufala, I chew extra hard to get in some exercise. I’m joking, but the point is I still enjoy food and I still look after myself. You need to be in shape, but don’t be obsessed with your body. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
4 - Traveling
Do things the way they should be done or don’t do them at all. When I go to Miami, I’d rather spend three days in a beautiful hotel and eat in great restaurants than spend 10 days in a mediocre motel, eating in so-so restaurants. If I’m going to do something, I have to do it right.
5 - Suits
Get a suit you really like even if it’s not the safe choice. Buying another blue or gray suit makes you another sheep in the herd. I want to be the black sheep.
6 - Sex
In Neapolitan dialect, there’s an expression, fare una sciammeria, which means to have a wild, passionate, crazy night of sex. They don’t come easily—you need to make a bit of effort. To get one you need to invest money—take a woman out to the right restaurant, buy her flowers, do vacations. The money spent will bring you pleasure. It’s the same with a suit—you need to spend money to get the most from one.
7 - Shoes
You don’t always have to wear wing tips with suits. In the summer, I wear sandals, handmade in Capri, to make my suits a little less dramatic. As long as you wear something naturally, it can never lose its elegance.
8 - Shirts
You can recognize a good shirt immediately on a plane. If a guy, after placing his luggage in the overhead storage, has to tuck his shirt back in his pants, then it’s not a well-made shirt. A good shirt has a high armhole that fits right under your armpit. It gives you more movement and guarantees the shirt will always stay in place.
9 - Jewelry
A man can wear a ring, a bracelet, or even a necklace—any jewelry he wants. What’s important is that the object become a part of him, or else it’s going to clash.
10 - Rules
The biggest fashion mistake men make is to follow the rules of other men. Make your own rules—don’t follow mine.
Extra points for the selvage sign
I went to meet with David Mullen at the Save Khaki store on the Lower East Side, and he mentioned to me that I should visit a really cool denim store around the corner. I thought I’d wander down and see what’s up, but I was genuinely surprised at how cool both the store and its product were.
Kenji Kawasaki, owner, designer and all-around great guy
Kenji Kawasaki, the owner, immediately greeted me as I walked in the door and was incredibly cordial, giving me both a tour of the store and product. I’ll do my best to recount what he said, but he’s a native Japanese speaker and I don’t know much about denim, so you can probably guess how this went…
First up, he showed me a seamless cloth-based raw denim (does that make sense?) that had an awesome vintage look to it. I’ve actually never seen a jean without an outside seam, so it was a pretty cool look on its own, not to mention the single reverse pleat centered between the pocket and fly. Kenji, of course, made it look badass. On me, they probably would’ve looked like hammer pants. I have big thighs.
The second pair — the first with the pleats came out blurry…bummed.
The second pair Kenji showed me was a darker hand-dyed pair with a different weight front and back. He said that the idea was that they wear differently, and that we typically want a lighter, softer feel on the front. (At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said…It makes sense, right?)
Then, I took a little stroll around the store where had carried on the tradition of some other great Japanese designers’ pristine Americana collection. Kenji, as it turns out, was a textile designer for some big name companies in his former life, which explains his obsession with the super soft fabric and details. It also explains why he had tons of bobs lying around from old textile mills, in addition to vintage boots, flannels and a badass raw denim-framed mirror.
The mirror frame and boot collection.
As we entered the back area to see his denim art installment, which consisted of vintage distressed denim, I was greeted by his cute little dog named Professor. He pretty much just hung out in his little shirt and kept guard like the regal little animal that he is.
Kenji and Professor - love that name.
Before I parted ways, Kenji pulled out a couple of news clippings, one which explained where he got the store’s name. Amoskeag XX, as it turns out, is an homage to the old Manchester, New Hampshire-based textile manufacturing company of the same name. Well, Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, actually.
If I had one complaint, it would be that the store was no optimally lit for picture taking — I find this to be a real problem in retail spaces. Oh, that, and that he didn’t hand over his badass Bell&Ross BR 03-94 orange chronograph, of which only 250 were made (I seriously have it as my screensaver). Kenji’s a lot cooler than I am…
The shop also sells a host of jackets, shirts and other items. Be sure to check it out. It’s north of Ernest Sewn on Ludlow. Save Khaki, on the other hand, is just east of Ernest Sewn on Broome. Be sure to ask for Professor.
I landed late Saturday night and immediately hit the town until 5am. New Yorkers, I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t do that if it were on Pacific Time, luckily, being in the east meant that it was only 2am for me. However, waking up at 11am (8am PT) the following morning was rough…Ben knows a ton of bartenders, and I think we took advantage of it a little too much.
Yesterday, we just cruised around the city and hit a few sports bars to watch some football. I was pretty hungover and near exhausted, so it wasn’t particularly active. We ended the day at a dive bar where his friend bartends (turquoise shirt), and we were met by his new lady who also bartends at a spot we hit the night before. The place yesterday was really something. I don’t think the decor has changed a bit since it first opened.
Also, one thing to note: Ben has a hot tub in his apartment — it’s the big gray cinnamon roll/UFO looking thing.
Here are some random pictures I snapped along the way, most of them while walking hence the poor quality.
But the Watch Will Likely Bankrupt You.
Luxury jeweler and watchmaker (and many other things, apparently, now that I’ve looked at his Web site) David Yurman has just jumped head first into the iPhone app game with a viewing application for his Classic and Belmont watch lines.
Users can view the watches in detail using the phone’s multi-touch pinch feature, and they can double-tap to see the phone in it’s actual on-wrist size — a very neat little trick. When it comes time to drop the big $ (anywhere from $2,000 to $18,000), the application will connect you to a personal shopper via phone or email. Unlike the Rugby app, I actually understand the personal touch of this one given monetary risk on both ends.
Yurman’s Classic Moon Phase — my personal favorite.
This app should drum up some interest for Yurman, who is much better known for his line of men’s jewelry—cuff links, rings and even the occasional Jesus piece—than his watchmaking prowess, similar to Jacobs & Co. (but in a more tasteful way). It could even convert those who previously might have considered purchasing an entry-level watch, such as a Tag Heuer, Breitling or low-end Rolex.
However, I don’t see an iPhone app selling many $18,000 watches — I’d think that’s something you’d want to consider a bit more carefully before buying. Then again, this is coming from a guy who gets all his off the back of a truck in Chinatown from a guy who SWEARS they’re real…
The app is free at the iTunes store and is a good time-waster if nothing else.
The link is actually a Facebook quiz. Great strategy.
For those who like five doors (yes, the hatchback counts) with their 1,000hp. Click on the photo to see the gallery at Jalopnik.com.
The Galibier carries a front-mounted W16 engine, weighs around 4200 lbs. and is capable of achieving a top speed of around 217 MPH and won’t need a second key like its 2-door brother in order to reach that incredible speed.
On the exterior, we’re told it’s body is entirelycarbon fiber and has a total length of about 208 inches long — almost 32.3 inches longer than the Veyron. - Jalopnik
This morning, it was announced that the innovative online money-managing platform Mint.com is being purchased by tax/accounting software giant Intuit, makers of Quicken and TurboTax, for $170 million. Mint.com, who’s nearing its fourth birthday, is a great service that many of my friends both use and love. Here’s the transaction by the numbers:
(from Crunchbase)Total$31.8M Seed, 10/06 1
First Round Capital
$325k Angel, 11/06 2
First Round Capital
$750k Series A, 4/07 3
First Round Capital
$4.7M Series B, 3/08 4
First Round Capital
$12M Series C, 8/09 5
The Founders Fund
First Round Capital
I suppose the last round of financing in August made them that much more attractive to Intuit and possibly pushed this transaction over the top. With competitors and banks readying their own Mint copies, it should be interesting to see how the purchase fairs from Intuit’s side. From Mint’s perspective, I think it was a perfect time to sell. At 4x Mint’s funded value, it’s not the crazy youtube-like transactions that we saw a couple years back, but it’s still a healthy amount for everyone to divide amongst themselves. And, 1 million unique visitors per month is nothing to laugh at.
Mint’s social media presence, led by its robust Facebook fan page, was vital in helping it solicit honest feedback and push innovation and usability. Jeff Widman, former TechCrunch and current VentureBeat writer, was the man behind the push and both he and CEO Aaron Patzer have cemented their places in the elite of their respective fields.
Intuit, meanwhile, had FY09 revenues of $3.2 billion (8/08 - 7/09) and nearly 7,800 employees.
Nice shirts and sweaters
Paper Mag recently profiled designer Antonio Azzuolo’s a.a. clothing line’s coming season. a.a. is one of many lines who release a new category with each season. For Spring/Summer 2010, it’s sweaters and shirts.
While often presented as a gimmick in the fashion world, scaling is a fundamental business principle. We all only have so much attention to go around. Fabrics, dyes, silhouettes, patterns — there are a lot of details that go into creating a quality garment (more than I probably know), let alone enough garments to fill an entire line.
As a bespoke tailor, Azzuolo certainly has the chops to produce any kind of garment that he wants. But, as a businessman, he knows that rolling out all product lines at once is a risky move. It takes a lot of money, and we’re in a recession, dammit. So, a.a.’s taking the slow road to greatness, and it’s working.
While this kind of scaling may seem like an obvious case of constrained resources, it’s also an indication of Azzuolo’s attention to detail and pride in quality craftsmanship. Further, it’s a lesson in how to turn a negative (i.e. not having a full line) into a positive by creating an aura of anticipation and heightened awareness around something that would otherwise just be judged on the whole with the rest of his collection.
Thus far, he’s generated a lot of buzz in the industry after only three seasons. If things stay on track, his quirky, Thom Browne-esque style may win him a place in the upper echelons of the menswear industry. I don’t see myself personally wearing it, but I’m not exactly his core audience, either.
Ralph Lauren Rugby recently released a free iPhone app that allows users to create, preview and buy custom shirts—including custom embroidery and patches—as well as superimpose their pictures on models’ heads for the ultimate in vanity on the go.
The first is obviously in response to the grossly underserved market who desire custom clothing but don’t have the time to log onto their laptop nor the money to go to a real tailor. It’s understandable — I mean, who has time to screw around on their computer these days? Much better to do that on the train or impress chicks at the bar. Girls are suckers for that king of thing — I can picture it now:
Chick: “Hey, why are you ignoring me?”
Rugby Guy: “Hold on, I’m making a shirt, a CUSTOM shirt.”
Chick: “Oh, that’s hot.”
Advantage: Rugby Guy
The only problem for these lucky people is that the embroidery is limited to eight characters, and there’s no profanity. As one reviewer from the New York Times pointed out, “With only eight characters, my name wouldn’t fit, for instance. My former rugby position, hooker, was disallowed as ‘inappropriate language’”. Clearly, it isn’t perfect nor necessarily practical, but neither is the iPhone and look how well that’s done.
From the iTunes app page — at least they have a sense of humor
On the other hand, the ability to superimpose pictures is quite the neat parlor trick. Not only to you get to “preview” what a garment would look like, but you also get to:
- Customize model skin color and hairstyle
- Upload them to Facebook
- Attain that rock-hard model physique you’ve always dreamed of
- Achieve a feature on the Rugby site as the “look of the day”
But, beware, that last feature is based on user ratings, so there are no guarantees (even though there are only 11 reported clothing combos for men and 8 for women).
Once you complete your shirt, there is a 72-hour review process during which RL reps review your design (and you sober up) before they authorize it for purchase. Then, they call you to get your payment/shipping info.
Yes, you read that right, they actually call you. To me, it makes no sense to create an app that culminates in a customer service call that’s both inconvenient and annoying to users, not to mention inefficient from RL’s side. But, this is Ralph Lauren and Ralph Lauren’s gonna do what Ralph Lauren wants to do — you and your personal time can suck it.
To download the free app, go to Rugby’s site and you’ll find the download link at the bottom of the page.
I was all about defending DDB’s ridiculous ad for 9/11 under the guise of it serving a higher moral calling (saving the environment), until I recently read that it was more or less created for entry in the One Show contest. It ran once in a small Brazilian newspaper without approval, and the WWF never ok’d the print ad nor the video version which actually shows the planes hitting the tower.
Now, the jackasses have gone and gotten themselves banned from the competition for five years as a result of their stupidity.
I thought there was some genius in channeling the emotion behind 9/11 to raise environmental awareness. But, I think it stopped channeling and became a cheap parlor trick when it showed the planes hitting the towers. The print ad shows a bunch of planes closing in on the city, but the video version went and recreated the whole kit-and-tower-smashing-kaboodle. Great idea…
In retrospect, the only way to win this mess would’ve been to compare numbers. Any kind of imagery, even a wave crashing into the twin towers would’ve brought the clothesline of morality. I suppose it’s inevitable because of how different the nature of man-made and natural disasters are: natural disasters are tragic whereas man-made disasters are horrific.
Natural disasters cause untold destruction and countless deaths.But, they are explainable. Man-made disasters, especially those deemed terrorist attacks, peel back our façade of civility to expose our unfiltered aptitude for destruction. It’s something we don’t even care to think about let alone see played out. And that brings us to where the WWF now stands as a symbol for all that’s wrong and tasteless about advertising, even though it’s really DDB’s fault.
The one thing I think that everyone missed in this leg drop of patriotism is considering the actual people who died in 9/11. Would they really mind their death being repurposed to save the environment? After all, it’s about as big as causes get these days. If not climate awareness, then what did they die for? To ensure that you have to put your no-more-than-three-ounce liquids in a plastic bag in order to board a plane? There are lessons to be learned in death; that last one shouldn’t rank high on the list.
If I have to go, I’d love for it to have a positive impact on the world. Then, I’d at least go out swinging, even if it’s in a post-mortem bout.
For Christ’s sake, Nicolas Cage and Oliver Stone made millions off their god-awful movie about it, and no one really seemed to mind. The Bush administration used it as fuel for a consumer-spending drive and nary a peep was heard condemning it.
My point is: 9/11 has been exploited many times before, and never for as pure a cause.
Before we go getting all riled up and ready to flag-pole stab someone, we should stop to think about the big picture. The world and its eco-system are much bigger than you, I or America — that was the point the ad was trying to make. Unfortunately, that crucial idea was lost through DDB’s selfishness.