Friday, September 8, 2006

Jocks, Jiffies and the Veronicas en route to the Big Apple

Leaving Australia, I was overwhelmed by a sense of Steve Irwin. But not solely to do with Monday's news of his stingray misadventure.

Throughout Melbourne airport, Irwin seemed omnipresent: Steve Irwin posters, Steve Irwin chocolates, Steve Irwin DVDs, an episode of the latter even being playing inside one tourist store.

"This green mamba is one of the world's most venomous snakes and if I make one wrong move I could be dead in five minutes" beamed Irwin out of the plasma screen.

A small Japanese girl and I stood transfixed in front of the screen, then looked at each other blankly.

"Well, actually you are dead now, but it wasn't a green mamba" I said, wondering just how many times Irwin must have made similar statements. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Good trip, save for the confiscation of two pink lipglosses and a jar of Blistex at the security check. Silly me for failing to check them of course. But honestly, Blistex?

In the extremely unlikely event that Donatella Versace had been down in Melbourne for Rosemount Australian Fashion Week and on the same flight, I might ostensibly have been able to talk to same about both the impending Milan collections and the phenomenon of celebrity death on the internet.

Donatella's brother of course died at a time when the net was still in its infancy. Gianni Versace's death, just prior to New York Fashion Week in 1997, was nevertheless the big story at the collections that year.

But sadly Donatella wasn't there. In her place however was an intimate apparel and footwear supplier to Australia's discount department stores, who just happened to be seated next to me.

And what a fascinating conversation that turned out to be.

It traversed the ins and outs of presenting products and concepts to the buying powers-that-be at Coles, K-Mart, Safeways and Woolworths, illustrating just how gutless and/or clueless some buyers can be. At least in the experience of this particular supplier.

One buyer, when presented with a cotton elastane mens' hipster trunk and told it was all the rage in Europe, once reportedly responded "That looks poofy to me".

The store didn't back the idea, the trunks became all the rage in Australia at the store's competitors and that buyer is now, or so the supplier claims, out of a job.

Woolworths buyers apparently think they're the "bees knees", there is a "wicked witch" at Safeways, Sainsbury's in the UK is the best place to harvest product ideas, Bonds' designers are slackers and a killer slipper idea can net an order of 300,000-400,000 units.

That's a hell of a lot of Jiffies.

I wondered if perhaps the encounter wasn't some sort of sign from above. That, just as I was embarking on this pilgrimage to the Grand Slam of fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, perhaps the Big Fashion Question is not, "Is there more money at the volume end of the market?". But rather, "Do the big buyers from Bloomingdales and Barneys ever say to Hedi Slimane, when he presents ensembles from Christian Dior Homme, 'That looks poofy to me'?

Flying from LAX to JFK I noticed a boy two rows in front with silver aviators and emo hair. His entire entourage in fact seemed to be sporting the same black, asymmetric do.

On closer inspection at the baggage carousel, I had an epiphany: it was in fact The Veronicas.

"We live in LA but we're here to do a party tomorrow night for Garnier" said Lisa Origliasso, who added that she didn't mind flying coach.

Nice to see the world's biggest beauty conglomerate (Garnier parent L'Oreal) really looking after its talent.

Original post and comments.


Blog Archive