Category Archives: Club Events

Weaving a Career Path with Whitney Crutchfield

The Underfashion Club held a members get-together on Thursday, May 9th at Slattery’s Midtown Pub featuring “Weaving a Career Path,” a presentation by Whitney Crutchfield. She shared the story of her career and journey towards creating her own business, We Gather, an educational textile studio! We Gather “shares the magic of textiles” in three ways: Hands-on workshops (weaving, dying, stitching), DIY kits that bring the textile learning to you, and commission art and public installations.

Whitney’s professional history has connections to the intimates industry. She’s always had a passion for textiles, beginning as a kid sewing quilts and Barbie™ clothes. Her father was a small business owner in golf and her mother was a teacher; both had some influence on her work today. Whitney learned how to weave and dye at the Art University of Michigan as an undergrad, then moved on to get an MFA with a concentration in textile studio art at Colorado State University. Her focus was on screen printing and repeat designs.

After school, Whitney moved to NYC and dabbled in different practices, taking on many jobs that she never imagined herself doing. She worked in designer projects for editorials and books, designed an apron for Stitch Magazine, did needle point projects for a book, interned for the Martha Stewart editorial crafts department, did paper crafting for QBC and HSN, and more. One of her strangest projects (for a photo shoot,) involved stitching a napkin for 14 hours that ended up under a salad.

Whitney spent a year in residence at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn where she continued to focus on designing and screen printing fabrics meant for interiors. She had a studio at the center where she taught workshops in her areas of expertise, getting her first introduction to the professional world. During one of her classes, she met someone who happened to be the head of the print and pattern department at Aerie. They kept in touch and that contact let her know when there was a department opening. It was a fantastic opportunity and she joined their small but mighty team.

At Aerie, Whitney cherished the opportunity to be around like-minded professionals. She learned so much, coming from the arts into fashion and apparel. She worked across many categories and products — anywhere from designing a print repeat in digital format to learning how to create a pattern and knit stitches for socks, scarves, accessories, and more. She also made prints and patterns for cotton undies and designed laces.

The technical knowledge she gained during her three years at Aerie gave her a new approach to integrate into her passion for hand-made works, which she would make into her very own business. Aerie gave her enormous support in this decision, helping her move forward. Through her entire career, Whitney continued to teach workshops and fervently desired to teach more hands-on techniques like weaving and dying.

Whitney wanted to start a business in a compassionate, sustainable way regarding scaling and growth. She started in her apartment as a product-based business, where she dyed yarns and would weave them into pieces that were ready to buy. She made rugs, blankets, pillows, and her own inventions with a goal to make products that lasted. She practiced techniques that have been used for thousands of years, wanting the pieces to be memorable. Soon, the practice moved into studios in Brooklyn as she steadily and sustainably upgraded her workspace. Eventually, she went into craft fairs and other markets to share her work.

Research and dye techniques were important to her as she attempted to scale up from hands-on work responsibly. Weaving and dying has been done for tens of thousands of years, so there’s a plethora of information and alternative techniques to take into consideration. Her practice honors traditions while also making space for new approaches.

One of the main branches of We Gather provides workshops that promote creativity. Being informed through research strengthens her ability to provide expert instruction. Whitney teaches these workshops in studios, even traveling for them. It amazes her what people learn and reveal about themselves while being around others in a creative environment. It’s an enriching experience to get people out of their usual context to do something new.

Flexibility is key to the evolution of products and the way they are presented to customers. We Gather offers mail-in kits with materials and instructions, ready to make anywhere. These flexible approaches helped the business grow and got Whitney some press, which was especially exciting as a one-woman business.

Balance is needed in making good, responsible business decisions. Whitney makes an effort to support social good when choosing where to purchase from. The pros and cons of recycled packaging and natural vs. fiber reactive dyes are considerations she takes into account for what she offers her students and customers.

Whitney also makes commissioned home goods, like baby blankets, woven wall hangings for custom spaces, and public installations. One of We Gather’s public installations features looms and woven textiles hanging on the wall of a 63-foot long hallway. This interactive piece has decals that give instructions on how to weave, which gave people in nearby offices the option to take a break to go observe the art, learn to weave, and add their own bit of artwork to the piece. The public installation loom was brought up to the Bronx and left in an art space where other people could add to it.

We Gather tries to create the least amount of waste in the world as possible. For example, Whitney takes leftover flowers and weaves them into sculptures with yarn, which are both compostable. Her wildflower workshop has been very popular. Recently, she did one with a group of Aerie women, where she felt like her career came full circle. It was a delight to bring her passion back to those supportive people from her professional past.

Community is an essential part of We Gather’s mission. Whitney gives free workshops, never ceasing to be amazed by how demeanor changes when people realize they can make things with their own hands. The group art made in We Gather workshops are auctioned or donated to organizations of mutual choosing. These community events are ongoing! The magic of new learners discovering their creative ability and the stories shared bring the community together and keep We Gather going.

See photos from the event on Facebook!

Consumer Evolution with NPD’s Todd Mick

The Consumer Evolution seminar was given by Todd Mick, Executive Director of Apparel and Kristen Classi-Zummo, Apparel Market Analysis Director of The NPD Group; an authority on market size and trends in over 20 different industries. They shared information regarding consumer trends in the intimate apparel industry with The Underfashion Club  at The Harvard Club of New York.

Todd Mick discussed the evolving consumer using 3 key themes:

  1. Category Performance
  2. Channel Performance
  3. Price Segment Performance

Bras are the #1 category of growth in intimates. More people are shopping in channels that offer value and convenience, like off-price retailers and e-commerce. Body positivity, ethnic inclusivity, and campaigns that uplift and empower women are gaining support. Big retailers are on a spending binge. The high-end and specialty lingerie market is growing more than we’ve ever seen before, now comprising a third of sales.

Even with all this disruption, sales in intimate apparel are flat at a $12-13 billion market. It’s only grown 1% in the past 3 years with sports bras and shapewear. Right now, the market’s all about slicing the pie and taking a share.

A modern business’s survival involves adaptation and focus in:

  • Retail & Product Innovation
  • Values & Community
  • Merchandising & In-store Excellence
  • E-Commerce, Excellence, & DTC

Millennials today have great spending power, high self-esteem, and a value for responsible shopping. Making personal connections and sharing concern over current social and environmental challenges will inspire consumers to support a business. About a quarter of intimate apparel sales are made online, where modern consumers do most browsing. Understanding the preferences of the modern market is vital to business growth.

Todd ended the seminar by giving the first-ever Underfashion Club exclusive NPD Bra Awards, showing the top-growing bras of 2018! Thanks NPD for the fascinating show.

Kristen Classi-Zummo‘s panel can be read here.

View photos from The Consumer Evolution on Facebook.

View The Consumer Evolution on YouTube:

Consumer Evolution with NPD’s Kristen Classi-Zummo

The Underfashion Club met on March 12th at the Harvard Club of New York to learn about Consumer Evolution with The NPD Group; an authority on market size and trends in over 20 different industries. Presenters Todd Mick, Executive Director of Apparel and Kristen Classi-Zummo, Apparel Market Analysis Director shared their knowledge and data regarding consumer trends in the intimate apparel industry.

Kristen Classi-Zummo described today’s changing consumer using key themes:

  • New Committed Consumption
  • Casualization Nation
  • Digital Divas
  • The Responsible Consumer

There have been significant changes in consumer culture recently due to the Internet’s accessibility. Over 25% of currency spent on apparel was made through online transactions. Apparel sales have been flat over the past 3 years and are expected to decline in 2019.

Where are consumers spending their money today? People are buying experiences—as observed in increased sales in park attendance, travel, and RVs. Subscriptions cost the average consumer about $300, which results in less for discretionary spending. Consumers of apparel subscription services often cancel within the first 3 months due to loss of interest.

Personalization is key to keeping the consumer invested. The sign-up process is a great opportunity to collect preferential data on individual consumers for personalized recommendations. Shipments that are varied, interesting, and considerate will more likely keep subscribers committed.

Activewear’s popularity helped influence a casualized nation. Despite being made for athletic performance, 60% of those who frequently wear activewear almost never exercise. More people are choosing to stay in, investing in the home’s comfort and streaming media. Meal kits and food delivery services replace grocery shopping. Home automation services and social media encourage the trend to stay at home even further.

The preference for casual comfort is seen in intimate apparel trends such as high-waisted underwear and wire-free bras.

Social media connects us to influencers and the latest styles, impacting how consumers view fashion. However, 46% of people don’t follow their favorite brands on social media. This is a big opportunity for businesses to use social media to connect to potential customers. Over half of consumers purchase clothing after seeing it advertised on social media, and over half of those made repeat purchases.

Social media is the perfect platform to showcase your brand’s message and values, connecting to the consumer’s will to shop responsibly. Social responsibility and sustainability is a movement that is growing, influencing consumers to consciously support companies whose mission reflects their personal values.

We’ll cover presenter Todd Mick‘s segment of this seminar in our next blog!

View photos from The Consumer Evolution on Facebook.

View The Consumer Evolution on YouTube:

Underfashion Club Holiday Party 2018

Happy Holidays!

Industry friends and colleagues left a bit of the holiday stress behind for a few hours of fun at the Underfashion Club’s Holiday Party on December 4th at The Harvard Club of New York. The festive venue provided musical entertainment, photo booth fun and 3 hours of open bar and delicious food.

 

It was also an excellent opportunity to give back to those in need. The following charities are receiving donations this year:

  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 
  • Breast Cancer Research Foundation
  • Citymeals on Wheels
  • St. Francis Friends of the Poor
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • WIN – Women In Need

This year again, the UFC chose to support Woman in Need Inc., a New York-based charity focused on supporting the homeless, as the recipient of the toy and gift drive. We received 180 gifts for the children this year!

Each gift given by a generous guest was rewarded with a ticket for fabulous raffle prizes.

Raffle Winners
  • Kathleen Kirkwood
  • Ellen Lewis
  • Camille Block
  • Clelia Parisi
  • Mitch Kauffman
  • Laura Pulgarin
  • Jean Criss
  • Andie Farkas
  • Zhanna Shmukler
  • Jenny Chen
List of Raffle Prizes
  • Gift Card from Commando
  • Gift Card from Wacoal
  • Pajamas Set from Fleur’t
  • Silk Robe from Christine Lingerie
  • Gift Card from Black Barn Restaurant
  • Fleece Robe from Splendid
  • 2 Tickets to the Femmy Gala
  • 1 Signature Cashmere Throw courtesy of Nordstrom
  • 1 Cashmere Robe courtesy of Nordstrom
  • 2 Tickets to Broadway Musical “The Bands Visit” courtesy of Eurovet

Thank you for joining the party and making Holiday dreams come true for the children of NYC!

Wishing Suzanne Beck and Walter Costello all the best!

See more photos from the evening on our Facebook:

Had your photo taken in the photobooth? See them here:

Success Means Understanding a Mobile First World” with Bora Chow

Industry Lead on Fashion and Luxury retail on Facebook and Instagram, Bora Chow shared her expert insight with the Underfashion Club at the Harvard Club of New York in her presentation “Consumer Behavior & Expectations in a Mobile First World”!

Bora has been at Facebook for about three years. Prior to joining Facebook, Bora spent a majority of her career in the publishing industry and most recently, she was at Vogue for five years, helping them grow from the one magazine platform to 10 different platforms. At Facebook, Bora consults with leading fashion and luxury retailers on their mobile and social strategy and how to execute a customer centric approach across Facebook’s family of apps.

The in-store retail experience hasn’t really caught up with the rapidly changing consumer behavior. Smartphones and the Internet are causing disruption across all industries. New startups are completely changing the brick and mortar landscape. Today, mobile is not a choice for marketers. It’s an imperative.

  1. Consumer Behavior on Mobile

By next year, mobile will surpass television on time spent. Millennials lock their phones 150 times a day. They’ve coined a new phobia: FOBO (Fear Of Being Offline), highlighting just how essential it’s become to be online. 64% of people are accessing mobile devices while shopping to learn more information about a product. 90% of all time spent on digital is spent on apps, and 90% of that time is split between top 5 apps. These apps are Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Spotify, and YouTube.

As a result, the consumer is in the driver’s seat with a newfound sense of control, expecting all things to be brought to them with the click of a button. We are now always shopping, creating an opportunity for companies to be always present in the consumer’s life by being where she spends so much time.

  1. Mobile Storytelling on Facebook

Fashion and luxury brands of the past dictated trends as consumers wanted to mirror those values seen in magazines. Today, to be exclusive is to be inclusive. Consumers will choose brands that create bespoke and personalized experiences and those that fit into their personal values. As a result, businesses are releasing so much more variety to address the personalized needs of their diverse consumer pool.

Creating content for mobile has become a new discipline for creative directors today. When producing video content for your brand, ask yourself if your content is passing the “three-second audition.” As people’s attention span is getting shorter due to mobile, today’s challenge for marketers is to earn peoples’ attention. To learn more about how to optimize your content for Facebook, please check out the Blueprint courses here.

To be a relevant and a competitive business today, mobile and the customer should be at the center of our business decisions. Your competitive advantage is driven more by your creativity than your budget. The more you create, the more you learn. Be open to testing, learning, and iterating for today’s fast-paced, mobile first world.

See more photos from the evening on Facebook!

Boutique Innovator Laura Henny and Parsons Intimate Apparel Design Contest

On Thursday, May 17th, The Underfashion Club hosted boutique owner Laura Henny as a speaker during the same evening as a Parson’s School of Fashion Intimate Apparel Design Contest at The Fashion Group International in New York City. During the reception, current and new Club members viewed stunning intimate apparel garments produced by the six exceptionally talented design contest finalists from the Parsons School of Fashion. The members then voted for their favorite design, and the results were announced at the end of the evening. Laura Henny, the event’s featured speaker, shared her personal journey from Amsterdam native to lingerie boutique entrepreneur in Brooklyn. Propelled by her enthusiasm for cute bras in inclusive size ranges and her love of sneakers, Laura opened “The Rack Shack” to serve youthful and diverse customers in a city full of women from all walks of life.

Thanks to Membership Committee members Becky Kneski and Michele Schrak, pictured here with Membership Co-Chair Tristine Berry, for organizing this special event!

Thanks to SAIG Committee members Yaysa Bello and Sonia Vizcaino, pictured here with SAIG Co-Chair Clelia Parisi (center,) for their work with the Parsons design contestants and faculty resulting in another outstanding design contest.

Professors Julia Poteat and Karen Rippy from Parsons proudly stand with the student design contest winners: 1st prize – Anna Colena Yap and 2nd prize – Bhagyashree Ghuwalewala. Congratulations!

See the garments that were created exclusively for the contest, truly unique expressions of the contestants’ talent and creativity!

Anna Colena Yap / 1st prize – $3,500

Bhagyashree Ghuwalewala / 2nd prize – $1,500

Pamela Cooper

Shine He Sang

Minzhi Jiang 

Ming Steven Chung

Thank you all for sharing your beautiful work! With each generation comes more variety in design and a clear progression in abilities. We’re glad to see that the future of the intimate apparel industry has greatness in store!

See more photos from the evening on Facebook.

The Retail Apocalypse?
Shifting Consumer Demands

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, The Underfashion Club hosted an open discussion at the Harvard Club in New York City with Sidney Morgan-Petro, Senior Retail Editor at the London-based trend forecasting company, WGSN. Morgan-Petro led an exploration of the turmoil in retail stores. Explaining how retailers in the U.S. are dealing with all the dynamic changes in the purchasing patterns of consumers.

To begin, Morgan-Petro shared some interesting statistics affecting retail stores for 2017, including the fact that about 3,000 retail stores had closed that year. Yet during the same year retailers opened over 1,300 more stores than the number closed. There was actual growth in retail. She also stated that in 2017, 42% of retailers have actually added stores, while only 15% have gotten smaller.

Morgan-Petro says that we are experiencing – not an Apocalypse – but rather a Transformation within the retail industry as consumers are shifting their spending from goods to experiences.

How is Retail Transforming?

Morgan-Petro said that retailers are generally transforming in 3 ways:

  1. Shifting their Business Models from selling products alone, to selling services
  2. Right-Sizing their Operations in order to better balance their businesses
  3. Creating Experiences within their stores that mirror the desires of the newer generations and at the same time, creating new channels

Shifting Business Models

When discussing shifting business models, it’s very worthwhile to review some of the innovations brands are taking. For example, some shoe stores are now offering shoe storage, shoe rental services, and shoe repair services, thus expanding their revenue stream.

Some clothing stores are offering monthly subscription clothing rental services that allow consumers to mix and match outfits by strategically selecting rented pieces of clothing to accent their own.

Luxury handbag stores have always offered repair and cleaning services, but now they are bringing the service “workshops” right onto the retail floor, where consumers can see their products being repaired and serviced.

Some clothing retailers are shifting to selling services rather than goods in specialty sponsored stores. A large international clothing chain is opening in-store, convenience laundromats for college students along with providing charging stations, beverages and music by a disc jockey on staff.

And in the lingerie business sector, some lingerie stores have embraced selling fitting services, consultations, educational services and half-sizes to lure consumers to their stores along with their traditional branded lingerie.

 

Creating Experiences

We’ve learned that both Millennials and the Z-Generation are more inclined to buy experiences rather than products. These younger people are more concerned with the over-all experience of buying the product rather than the actual product itself.

An example is that of a clothing store that sponsors, creates and administers music festivals and experience expositions for which they are charging a premium.

Increasingly, the differentiation between one product and another is not the product, but how and why it is made.

Here are a few statistics:

  • 65% of consumers globally try to support brands that are purposeful
  • 57% of consumers will support or boycott brands because of its stance on a political issue
  • There is a 30% greater tendency for consumers to purchase a brand, based on its beliefs, than there was just 3 years ago

Retailers must convey their message of relevance to these new consumers by making their stance know on ethical behavior, using factories that have policies of fair pay, humane treatment, and offer employees opportunities for personal growth.

These new consumers purchase with purpose. They care who the brand’s preferred charities are and they make purchase decisions that align with their own. They want the brands that they purchase to facilitate action by providing additional services.

 

The Retail Apocalypse?
No. It’s a Retail Transformation

This retail transformation is happening now and will continue to build and evolve as the needs and demands of the new generations of consumers grow louder. This is a call for retail innovation!

UFC Holiday Party 2017

Thanks to all who joined us for The Underfashion Club’s 2017 Holiday Party! We thoroughly enjoyed partying with you, taking photobooth pictures together, conversing with industry friends – old and new, and being serenaded with songs of the holiday season. The delicious hors d’oeuvres, and sumptuous dinner and dessert stations were outstanding. Special thanks to all those who spread the holiday cheer by contributing so many beautifully wrapped gifts to our annual gift drive for the children of Women In Need (WIN.) You’ve helped make this holiday season a brighter one for everyone!

Underfashion Club president Victor Vega welcomed the crowd of 100 revelers, and thanked Program Co-chairs Joe Smith and Ellen Lewis, and their hardworking committee members, for organizing the event. Victor also invited everyone to celebrate the Club’s 60th anniversary at the FEMMY Gala on February 6, 2018 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. We hope to see you there!

Program Co-chair Joe Smith took a moment to thank all the attendees for their generosity and recognized the representatives of two of the local charities receiving contributions from the Club this year: Gillian Mendez from Citymeals on Wheels, and Cyndi Snyder and Abigail Stevenson from Women In Need.

We had some great raffle prizes to share this year – An orchid plant donated by Gramercy Park Flower Shop (with the help of Roslyn Harte,) won by Casey Greenberg – His & Hers PJ Set, donated by UGG Australia (with the help of Meghan Murray Cox,) won by Ellen Lewis – A gift certificate donated by Exhale Spa (with the help of Meghan Murray Cox,) and a $100 gift card donated by Black Barn Restaurant (with the help of Kendall Wszolek,) both won by the very lucky Zhanna Shmukler – A $50 gift certificate donated by iPic Movie Theaters (with the help of Jodi Goldin,) won by Victoria Vandagriff – A $100 gift certificate donated by Wacoal-America.com (with the help of Joseph Smith,) won by Andy Blab – 2 Gift Baskets of Kusmi Gourmet Teas, donated by Kusmi (with the help of Rafael Camp,) won by Jamie Gardner and Delrose Taylor, and a luxury silk kimono donated by Christine Lingerie, won by Kaitlin Wilbur. Linda Burhance and Kendall Wszolek each claimed a ticket to the 2018 FEMMY Gala, and Angela Maffia was perhaps the most envied of the winners with her TWO VIP box seat tickets to a future Yankees vs. Red Sox baseball game donated by UBM (with the help of Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel.) Congratulations to everyone!

We ended the night with a dance, a jingle and a mountain of presents for the children. Happy Holidays!

 

See photos from the evening on the Holiday Party 2017 Facebook Album:

Did you use the photobooth? See them on the Photobooth Fun Facebook Album.

Recap of “Trends in the US Retail Landscape”

On October 10th, 2017, The Underfashion Club had the pleasure of hosting Don Unser, Group President of Retail with NPD, at the Harvard Club of New York for a discussion on “Trends in the US Retail Landscape.” The NPD Group is among the top 25 market research companies, providing marketing information and advisory services to companies. After an hour of cocktails and networking, attendees took their seats  to learn about the modern retail climate in the United States.

Don began his presentation by highlighting macro trends across industries and categories before digging deeper into apparel and intimate apparel. Based on tracking $1.8 trillion dollars spent by consumers in the US, Don Unser commented that “There has never been a more tumultous time in retail in the 30 years I have been in the industry.” The overall growth rate is -0.2%, the only time we’ve seen a negative growth rate in US retail since the recession. Apparel sales are now flat, which is a first given that a growth rate of 1-3% is typical in this industry.

Where is consumer spending being shifted? Though there is a downward trend overall, there are several industries that are experiencing a marked increase in sales. Prestige beauty, home improvement, cruises, national park attendance, and RVs are seeing positive growth rates. Don theorizes that this shift toward spending on memories and experiences may be influenced by millennials’ mobile use, online presence, and search for uniqueness. With platforms like Instagram being enormously popular, millennials are always on a search for the “money shot” to share on their profiles. A life that’s personalized and picture-perfect is high on the modern consumer’s priorities.

Even e-commerce growth rates have been slowing for the past few quarters as various categories reach their online maturation points. Don reminded the audience that brick-and-mortar stores are still key for growth, feeding the relevancy of a retailer’s online sales.

Despite its lack of overall growth, there are clear distinctions between the top and bottom performers in apparel. Woven shirts and dresses are the biggest drivers in apparel, while T-shirts and sweater sales are significantly declining.

The large number of store closings over the past year is a big factor contributing to the difficulty in retail. Don predicts that apparel space will continue to decrease for another two years. To adapt and to stay relevant as Amazon grows, manufacturers are ramping up their direct-to-consumer services. The majority of retailers are using data to figure out how to appropriately distribute their brand outside of stores.

The intimate apparel industry has remained relatively flat for the past few years. Sports bras and swimwear are seeing improved sales while shapewear is facing a slight decline. Bras have more online penetration than women’s apparel, though panties fall short.

Amazon has grown to become the top online retailer in intimate apparel, with nearly 22% of bra sales and 42% share of the underwear market – almost 8x the runner-up. Intimate apparel brands should take note, especially if they plan to partner with Amazon.

With the nature of the modern retail climate and its inevitable changes in mind, Don Unser concluded his presentation with a call to action for both brands and retailers with advice on how best to compete and adapt to this volatile retail environment. We thank Don and NPD once again for an interesting and insightful evening.

See photos from “Trends in the US Retail Landscape” in our Facebook album!

Watch a clip of the seminar on YouTube:

Recap of “Success, Tailor Made For You”

On September 26, 2017, Underfashion Club members gathered at the Fashion Group International in New York City  for the presentation of “Success, Tailor Made For You.”
We’d like to extend a warm welcome to the new club members who joined during that evening’s event!

After an hour of cocktails and networking with old friends and new, club members took their seats for the start of the presentation. Underfashion Club president Victor Vega welcomed Hsin-Yi Shieh, Account Executive – East Coast, Triumph International to the podium.

Triumph International was founded in Europe in 1886 and, with over 130 years of innovation and creativity, is recognized as a world-leading maker of lingerie and shapewear. Drawing upon her professional experience, Hsin-Yi shared her personal vision for “success” in today’s Intimate Apparel Industry.

She discussed the customer’s value of beauty and comfort in lingerie, and what makes the Triumph brand in particular so successful. She urged the audience to put themselves in new situations and believe in their abilities to find their own personal path to success. We hope everyone who joined us drew inspiration from Hsin-Yi Shieh’s heartfelt presentation!

View photos from the event on our Facebook Album: