Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Great Gatsby Award? Which clothing and accessories companies are the most brazen in misrepresenting themselves through their marketing?

Where might a potential customer believe their products are made, reading the "About Us" section of their site (Link)?  They tuck away their "Made in China" tag (on the inside of the shoulder seam) with a certain aplomb.  

Patagonia has most things made overseas, but do they get points for being clear as to the country of origin, both on their tags and website?

American clothing companies and accessories producers enjoy a privileged position across industries. There are seemingly very little or no negative consequences for telling shameless whoppers in their marketing.

While journalists and academics are very comfortable discussing technology, entertainment, political, and (now) financial issues, the clothing sector gets a pass. It was a (Madewell) family member who wrote this piece on Madewell (thank you to those who brought it to my attention), and there is similar writing on the Gant site here under “Our History” (i.e. the history of the original Gant.)

1) Given that, which American clothing and accessories companies, big and small, are the most brazen in misrepresenting themselves through their marketing?
  • Are there brands that loudly promote a few token Made-in-America products while they push mostly made-in-China goods? Or use images of the United States the prominently while they present “imported-from-low-wage-countries” items? 
  • Are there companies that present themselves as having high stewardship, including around environmental issues, while often acting in a contrary fashion? 
  • Are there brands that talk about their heritage when either they bought someone else’s or are in the process of betraying the core principles they cite? 
  • Are there brands that package themselves as elite and upscale while serving broader middle markets? 
  • Are there brands that loudly tout being athletic, or otherwise for people of sport and action, with products that are, in quality and design, for the cubicle, mall, and couch? 
  • Are there brands that sell “young and hip” explicitly to a demographic that is neither? 
  • Are there companies using the assumed authenticity of social media in the hopes of presenting fiction as fact? 
2) Many people, perhaps the same reporters and academics, even various corporate apologists - might dub this "The Great Gatsby Award", and say this is not an issue.  "Don't call them hucksters, call them entrepreneurs and archetypal Americans.  Unlike technology, entertainment, politics, and financial issues, clothes don't really matter, so misleading potential customers doesn't matter."  Is that the healthier camp?  Has this current prevailing ethos served us well over the last decade?

 Three stipulations and guidelines:
  • To some degree, all companies do some of this; the interest here is in companies that are extra-shameless.  Similarly, for example, it is prohibitive for most individuals not to have a lot of items that are made in China (or other low wage countries).  We all take on a portfolio mentality.  
  • L.L. Bean has already been discussed thoroughly; let’s leave them out of this conversation. 
  • This is not a referendum or consideration of the company as a whole or their products in isolation, just the dissonance between reality and presentation. 
3) Finally, why is this area one where journalists and academics are so laissez-faire, even existential? Why is the coverage by New York Times, such as in their bizarre Fashion Section, and the Wall Street Journal (example of article vis-à-vis press release here) so poor?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Homemade Popovers and Grape Jelly

We were invited over for homemade popovers and jelly making.

Our Dear Friend and Hostess

There were a few remnants of warmer weather but the deep frost was on its way.

It was a good time to try out two items that were sent to me.

Knowing of my deep affinity for poultry, Pink Tulips had sent their charming Cockscomb III Handbag.

Tapestry Rooster...

...Structured Bag

This bag was made in Connecticut.

Wool Overs sent their Aran Sweater in Navy, of British Wool (Link).

A unisex item, this crew neck is a size Small.

We said hello to Max...

...and headed inside....

...where seating was a bit limited.

Friends from Dublin...

...meant a bit of an an Irish tea debate.

The kitchen was bustling with popover making.

Popovers Recipe
  • 4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teas. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk eggs in large bowl, add the milk and whisk, add the flour and salt whisk until blended and batter is smooth.

Generously coat a 12-cup muffin pan with melted butter.

Pour the batter into prepared tins, filling each two-thirds full.

Place in oven and immediately turn the heat up to 450.  Bake for 10 mins.  Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for 20 mins more.

Remember to use chicken eggs, not quail eggs.

Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes.

Thoughts turned to the Jordan Pond House.
There was also grape jelly being made.

Grape Jelly Recipe
  • 3-3/4 lb (1.7 kg) concord grapes or coronation grapes
  • 1 pkg fruit pectin
  • 5 cups (1.25 L) granulated sugar

Organically grown grapes from 100 year old vines

Rinse grapes; drain well. Remove enough from stems to make 10 cups (2.5 L), discarding any wrinkled or bruised grapes.

In 26-cup (6.5 L) pot, crush grapes with potato masher. Add 1 cup (250 mL) water; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Scoop cooked grapes into jelly bag suspended over large measuring cup or bowl. Let drip, without squeezing bag, until juice measures 4 cups (1 L), about 2 hours. (Or place in colander lined with triple thickness of damp cheesecloth. Bring up sides and tie top with string to form bag. Tie bag to cupboard handle or support bar over large measuring cup or bowl. Let drip, without squeezing bag, until juice measures 4 cups/1 L, about 2 hours.)

In large clean pot, bring juice and pectin to boil. Stir in sugar; bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Boil vigorously, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.

Using funnel, pour into hot sterilized 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) headspace. If necessary, wipe rims. Cover with prepared lids; screw on bands fingertip tight.

Sit jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Transfer jars to rack; let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal, ensuring that lids curve downward. If not, refrigerate and use within 3 weeks. Store in cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

Many hands making light work.

Fall is such a beautiful time in New En.... wait, what?  A four day Nor'easter is on the way?