Sunday, October 27, 2013

Animated Garments

These Mind-Blowing Animated Garments Go On Sale Next Month

Starting soon, you’ll be able to buy computerized, animated womenswear once only available to celebrities like Katy Perry. Here’s how the line came together after 10 years of prototyping.

Many of the brave new companies trying to integrate fashion and technology have largely missed the mark. By trying to re-create functions computers already did efficiently, they forgot about the basic purpose of clothing: to express personality and start conversation.

Legacy fashion companies haven’t fared much better, largely rejecting the tech industry’s idea of wearable technology as ugly and impractical. Technology companies don’t seem interested in fashion either, opting instead to focus on rubbery, unisex dongles like the Nike Fuelband. But after 10 years of prototyping, one savvy fashion design company called Cute Circuit is about to release its first ready-to-wear collection with fully animated, computerized garments. And they are awesome.

Even if you haven’t heard of Cute Circuit garments, you’ve probably seen them. On September 30th this year, Katy Perry closed the London iTunes Festival in a Cute Circuit dress that made headlines. While she bounced and jump roped around stage for her final number, ROWR, her skirt displayed dynamic tiger stripes, lyrics, an eye of a tiger, and an abstract animation of a tiger roaring, its mouth enormously stretching, echoing the crowd’s roar for Katy.
“We are trying to create new functionalities,” says Fransesca Rosella, one of Cute Circuit’s cofounders. “It’s all about people communicating with each other and choosing their body as the interface.”
The Cute Circuit ready to wear collection will debut in Japan at the end of October, and the company says the new garments to be available on their online store by mid-November, where consumers can buy skirts with functions like the one Katy wore for the iTunes Festival.
Until now, Cute Circuit tailored outfits only for special events and celebrities, since its garments used to take weeks to construct. Here’s how they made the transition between one-off prototypes and mass produced wearable electronic womenswear.

Started From The Top, Now They’re Here

Culturally, clothes have always served as a form of communication. Whether they indicate an ethnic background or give off signals of eccentric personalities, at the most fundamental level, clothes are just another way people talk. They tell others how to perceive us and reflect the world around us.
But back in the late 1990s, no one seemed to care about tech in clothing. In those days, Rosella was working for Valentino—designing purses and traveling around the world.
Once, in a meeting with other designers, a consultant announced a new electromagnetic thread. Rosella was quick to see potential. “I was like ‘Guys! Why don’t we make a bag with a GPS built in, and if you lose it, it’s going to give you a code and then you can go and find it!’” Rosella recalls on the phone.
“They were basically like, ‘Well... the previous purse that you designed was just black leather, and that one sold all over the world. We don’t know if this will really work.’ They all just looked at me like I was plain crazy. Inside, I was like ‘Oh my God, I am giving you this great idea!’"
That’s how it went for a while. When she pitched a black lace evening gown with electromagnetic thread, she observed the same apprehension form everyone--one that would drive her to follow her own creative trajectory.

For the last six months, Cute Circuit has worked withMagnum on the Pink and Black collection for a new ice cream line. The campaign took place in 10 different countries with celebrities in each market wearing their collection. The buzz came from the audience’s ability to change the celebrity’s outfit. The color of the star’s dress was enabled from a fan’s tweets. By using the hashtag #makeitblack or #makeitpink, the red carpet became interactive and the line viral in social media.

Taking Cues From The Original Innovator, Coco Chanel

In the 1920s, Coco Chanel launched the jersey revolution. In a society of corsets, bustiers, and oppression, women often fainted due to an inability to breathe. Chanel designed her collections by dreaming of comfort. Outraged, people accused Chanel of wanting to send women out on the streets naked. Today, most people don’t walk out their door without a piece of jersey on their body.
One day, Rosella came across an ad for the Italy Interaction Design Institute at Ivrea where they had faculty from MIT, Stanford, the NYU ITP program, and the Royal College of Arts. They were looking for 15 researchers to pair with professors.
“I had this amazing job, doing all this travelling around, designing shoes and little bags, and I left because I said: Yeah, I want to do strange things with clothing,’” says Rosella. She resigned her position and a week later she was at Ivrea.
Rosella met her Cute Circuit cofounder Ryan Genz at Ivrea, and their creative styles clicked. When they graduated in 2001, their professors advised them to start their own company, so they did.
At the beginning, there were no materials readily available for them. Most of what existed was not meant for wearing. “The first time we decided we wanted our circuits to be shaped like hearts to honor our name Cute Circuit, we were back in Italy, and we thought ‘Oh we’re going to find an engineer and we’re going to get him to design a circuit for us!’” says Rosella. It wasn’t that easy after all.
“When we approached [one engineer] he was horrified. He spoke about ‘true whole components,’ and I said… ‘I think we need a new circuit, these are too ugly.’ I always think if people decide to disassemble one of our products, and they find something ugly inside, they are going to make so much fun of us for having a ridiculous name. We are Cute Circuit.”
Genz, an autodidact with an art and anthropology background, decided to learn how to design circuits on his own seeing the lack of cooperation from other engineers. Now, eight years later, he designs all of the company’s technology.
Today, Cute Circuit is one of the only startup companies working in wearable technology that is doing the whole development process in-house. They design all the products, all the textiles, and all the conductive fabric. They manufacture everything down to the radio protocols, their own processor software, and the apps for the outfits.

“A Strange Entity That Wants To Hug You”

Genz believed strongly that wearable interfaces shouldn’t be like those on your computer or a website--it should be a physical interaction allowing people from any culture to communicate with another person. The team set about building a prototype for something the likes of which fashion had never seen.
In 2002, Cute Circuit released a shirt allowing two people to send each other hugs in different places. After getting a notification on their phone, the hug-receiver, who is ideally always near his hug shirt, puts on the garment. When they put on the shirt, the hug is awaiting them. The shirt then begins vibrating warmly, tightening around them. Each hug is personalized by the hug sender’s grip and the amount of time they held on to their own hug shirt.
At a conference in Spain in 2006, Cute Circuit displayed their creation and invited people to try it on. They were awarded one ofTime’s best inventions that year.

“After [the Spain conference] everyone was like: Oh my God! Wearable technology! It looks so cute and you can hug people!” Rosella says. “This is basically how it all started. Someone saw us, and we became this strange entity that suddenly appears and wants to hug you.”
Imagine sitting there and watching your shirt change colors and patterns because I tweeted you. No need to text or call , I could subtly let you know I am thinking about you by enabling your outfit to change designs with a hashtag.
In a world where people are so plugged in, Cute Circuit saw an opportunity to reduce the friction in an aesthetic and subtle way by taking communication to the next level.
One of the features on their Pink and Black collection is an iPhoneapp, where a person can change the setting on their dress to “network update.” This enables the dress to change patterns or colors based on tweets from friends. They can also change it themselves. The idea was to make communication visual and aesthetic.

Previously, they had designed the Twitter dress, where real time tweets displayed on the garment, but this time they wanted the communication to be more subtle and symbolic.
In fact, this was a secret function in the Istanbul fashion show for Magnum’s new ice cream line. Cute Circuit launched this campaign in different countries including South America, Mexico, Hungary, Singapore, and Turkey--the largest ice cream market in the world. “People would be rooting like crazy to win a battle to change the color of their dress,” says Rosella.
When the model walked down the runway, not only did her dress turn pink, the most voted color, but the audience saw the entire city’s skyline turn to pink in real time. Light installations for the buildings were secretly waiting for the final color to be announced.
“The whole skyline, all the ancient buildings! It was amazing watching everyone getting together to work for a common objective. The power of thousands of people all voting trying to do make something light up. This was what we dreamt of years ago--communicating together. There was this openness of sharing and feeling with other people,” says Rosella.
“When people think about wearable technology, they think about recreating the function of a computer on your body—but you don’t really need to replicate that because computers already work pretty well.”
Instead of trying to make a new photo-copy machine so you can wear it and print copies, which is extremely impractical, why not enhance the original purpose of what we throw on every morning? “If you want to have some sort of technology on your body then you really have to use it and wear it and make it into something new and unique,” says Rosella.

The Death and Rebirth of the Plain White T-Shirt

Back to your closet for a second, think of your classic pieces. Do you have multiple versions of the same shirt? Maybe you like the fit and cut of a certain brand, so you have it in every color. Now imagine you own just the one shirt, but instead you can download the different patterns and colors.
When Rosella was a girl, sketching Fashion shows for her Barbie dolls, she daydreamed about a color-changing fabric.
“Back then I had the idea that if I were to go for a walk, and I saw clouds go by, or flowers, my outfit would change accordingly. I used to come up with so many ideas. And that’s what it became--a more interactive and challenging process for me as the designer. I wanted to take 20 photos of a garment and have it be 20 different garments. Not one photo would be same,” says Rosella.
Cute Circuit’s downloadable patterns allow you to own the plain white t-shirt and change it up accordingly. It takes the normal logic of “No, I just want to sell you one T-shirt and then you can download all of these patterns and enjoy it,” says Rosella.
At the same time though, this function allows you to change things up. It will never be the same outfit. Ideally, you would log on to your library and think up a million combinations. It would also allow you to interact with friends over distance, and go from a day to night look in seconds.
Cute Circuit is working to make these technologies possible. “In the beginning, nobody was willing to try and see the bigger picture with us. But now people know us a little bit better and they are more willing to take the risk. There’s been a shift in attitude. And I am rejoicing, saying ‘Finally! Finally, people can see how wearing technology is so cool!” says Rosella.
[Images courtesy Cute Circuit]

The marriage of streetwear & workwear

One of the most interesting stories of the past couple years has been the unexpected marriage of streetwear and workwear, two once disparate styles that now seem to butt up against each other at every possible opportunity. This relationship has lead to many unlikely collaborations and collections, but few, if any, have been executed as masterfully as Carhartt Work in Progresses’ new Over All Master Cloth line. The collection, which was conceived by Carhartt’s well-known European licensee, and designed by a former head designer of Supreme, takes the centurion workwear brand into uncharted territory.
You won’t find any camel colored zip-ups here, as those signature duck canvas jackets have been replaced by Harris Tweed chore jackets, and Loro Piana suits. The traditional workwear look remains, if only as the foundation for O.A.M.C., which uses Carhartt classics as a starting point before delving into the world of high-end streetwear. The result is a collection in which thick-soled derby’s are constructed out of Bison leather, chore jackets are crafted in dark canvas colors, oxfords are affixed with contrasting shooting patches, and sport coats are cut from duck camo wools.
While so many streetwear meets workwear collections fall flat, O.A.M.C. is not only logical, but quite beautiful as well, working to alter our conceptions on what both of these styles are “supposed” to look like. The collection is really made in its juxtapositions, which simultaneously takes streetwear into a more refined realm, while giving some staid workwear designs a much-needed facelift. With the O.A.M.C. line Carhartt W.I.P. continues to transform the once quiet working class label into a brand that is ever-presently ahead of the curve. -JG
Over All Master Cloth is available at UNION.
Lloyd Shoes (Bison)-2

A Knife Fit For a Gunfight

Craziest Multi-Tool Ever - Kills in 100 Different Ways

Most Swiss Army knives could be pressed into service as a weapon. They have a pocket knife and a corkscrew with a decently sharp end. Even that nail file could do some damage if you really wanted it to. But all of that stuff starts to look pretty innocent—cute even!—when placed next to the multi-tool gadget you see above. Just take a moment to appreciate its absurd complexity. This amped-up Swiss Army-style knife has 100 functions, which is a demure way to say there are 100 very scary looking blades of different varieties packed into its 10-inch handle. Oh, and did you notice the fully-functioning .22-caliber pin-shot revolver tucked in between the shears and dagger? This is, simply put, the most badass Swiss Army knife ever created.
Solingen was appropriately nicknamed the City of Blades.
There’s a story behind this bizarre and beguiling piece of weaponry. Oddly enough, the craziest Swiss Army style-knife to ever exist wasn’t even made in Switzerland, explains David Miller, an associate curator of armed forces history at the National Museum of American History. A product of the F.W. Holler Company, the knife was actually manufactured in Solingen, Germany, a medium-sized town in the North Rhine region of the country. Solingen, appropriately nicknamed the City of Blades, has been home to some of the most finely crafted knives, swords and shears since the Middle Ages, though it’s now better known for its quality flatware. It was here in the late 1870s, in the cutlery capital of the world, that John S. Holler decided to expand the company. “[The cutlery companies of Solingen] were trying to get into the world market, and were competing with the bigger, more connected British firms who cornered the cutlery market exports,” says Miller. This led John S. Holler to open up a store in New York City.
Like any good salesman, Holler needed a marketing plan. And since Twitter did not exist, the company was going to have to create a demo piece to showcase the its products and craftsmanship. This object, the one you see in the photos, would hang in a window or be displayed in a case when the company traveled around to world expos. So basically, this foldable knife is a very sharp and very dangerous catalog. Other companies made similar exhibition knives, but none were quite as stunning as the Holler piece. “Some were made in England, but not nearly as spectacular as this,” says Miller. “This is the finest one I’ve ever seen.”
“If you bring this knife to a gunfight, you’re OK.”
It’s hard to tell by photos alone, but this multi-tool is much larger than your typical Swiss Army knife. Its handle is about 10 inches long, 6 inches wide and 4 inches deep, which makes a lot of sense when you realize how many different types of blades have to fit into it. To start, there’s two dagger blades, a serrated bread knife, a few pairs of shears, a couple of saw blades, a corkscrew, a lancet (for boils?), button hooks, a cigar cutter (hey, why not!), mechanical pens and pencils, and even a piano tuning fork (whew). Really, the only thing the knife is missing is a bottle opener, since the bottle cap we know today wasn’t invented until 1892.
The tool weighs in at around 9 pounds, and with everything fully extended, the object reaches about a foot in diameter, which makes this much more a suitcase knife than a pocket knife. Miller says it takes about 25 minutes to fully open the gadget, and even when you take your time, it’s a dangerous task. “I’ve cut myself on that darn straight razor,” he says. The Smithsonian acquired the knife in 1986 after it was donated by James F. Parker. While alive, Parker was well known in knife collection circles—he owned his own cutlery company and served as the first president of the Knife Collectors Association. Miller says the first time he saw the object he couldn’t believe it was real. “I was particularly impressed with the revolver,” he recalls. “If you bring this knife to a gunfight, you’re OK.”

Marketing: Make it Meaningfully Different

Marketing’s Mission: Make it Meaningfully Different

For example, look at Lululemon. Founded in 1998, Lululemon produces sports apparel for women that is fashionable, environmentally friendly, and as technically advanced as sports apparel for men. The company spends virtually nothing on advertising. Instead, it concentrates on building an ardent consumer base by creating a unique customer experience. Instructors wear the clothing at in-store events like self-defense and goal-setting workshops, simultaneously building product awareness and forging ties with local communities. Through the community portal on its website, Lululemon invites customers to share their experiences via Instagram and Twitter. They are encouraged to apply to become Lululemon ambassadors, “unique individuals … who embody the Lululemon lifestyle and live our culture.” The company now has over 200 stores, and sales soared from US $40 million to US $1.37 billion in eight years. In the US alone, sales grew 40 percent in 2012.
People have always been attracted to brands with meaning, whether their experience of that meaning is tangible and functional or more of an emotional nature. Meaning drives volume; brands that stand for something meaningful and different in customers’ minds can generate five times more purchases than less meaningful brands.
What is marketing’s role in realizing such results? For one thing, we know that getting the word out about a brand makes it salient – marketing’s term for being included in the set of options a customer is considering. The faster a brand comes to mind in relation to a specific need, the more likely it is to be chosen. Meaningfully different brands are the most likely to benefit from a marketer’s efforts to improve salience. (In fact, a better way to think about how salient a brand is would be to ask: How quickly does a sense of what the brand stands for form in the mind of the consumer?)
But marketing plays a broader role in shaping a brand. It does not just manage to get a brand into a customer’s consideration set; it powerfully influences which aspects of that brand the customer notices and experiences. Good marketing helps ensure that brands are meaningful, different, andsalient.
Chobani provides an example of how a product that delivers a noticeably different experience can overtake the competition. The company came along in 2005, after years of focus on low-fat products had left the US yogurt market vulnerable. Chobani’s brand strategy focused on the taste, texture, affordability, and authenticity of its “real” yogurt. Consumers responded enthusiastically and the brand attained mass distribution in just two years. In five years, the company held over half of the U.S. Greek yogurt market, and nearly 20 percent of the total yogurt market. By 2011, Chobani was the number-one yogurt brand in America.
Or consider the Mini Cooper, a car that reentered the US market in 2002 after an absence of 30 years. Younger, more non-traditional car buyers were attracted to the unique brand appeal of the Mini’s compact size, fuel efficiency, and fun, sporty performance. The company relies on clever stunts (challenging a Porsche to a race), event marketing (annual road trips for owners), and offbeat outdoor advertising to stand out in a crowded marketplace and appeal to the non-traditional consumer base. As a result, Mini has grown from one to seven available models at 119 dealers in 38 US states. Sales in the US have eclipsed those in the UK, and the company posted a 26 percent increase in 2011 and 15 percent increase in 2012. Mini’s well-defined and targeted purpose clearly made a clear impact on the bottom line.
By working in ways like these to make a brand more meaningful, different, and salient, Marketing drives the positive consumer behaviors that yield financial value growth. Our analysis of the annual reports for 49 corporate brands found that the strongest brands returned an average of 31 percent more operating profit as a proportion of revenues than those that lacked meaningful differentiation. Additional analysis looked at changes in value market share over time and found that meaningful, different, and salient brands are also four times more likely to grow.
This finding should come as no surprise. Strong, profitable brands are meaningful to their consumers, perceived as different from the competition, and are more salient than the alternatives. These three qualities determine how likely people are to choose the brand, pay a premium for it, and stick with it in future. If a brand is more meaningful, different, and salient than its competition, then it will likely command the highest value market share among its target audience. And this value is what will drive sales and profits, not just for now but for a while down the road.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Advice on Writing Well

Writing Rules! Advice From The Times on Writing Well

Lesson Plans - The Learning NetworkLesson Plans - The Learning Network
Teaching ideas based on New York Times content.
The Times has recently published a few features that we consider gifts to English teachers everywhere, including a summer “How To” section of the Sunday Book Review, and a new series, called “Draft,” on the art of writing, which features essays by grammarians, historians, linguists, journalists, novelists and others.
Below, we collect some “rules” we’ve derived from these features and from other pieces on the Times site, along with links and related activities we hope writers at any stage will find fun or useful — or both.
Before you go, please note Rule 10, in which we ask for your writing advice.

Rule 1: Listen to the Voice Inside Your Head
In a post for Draft, Verilyn Klinkenborg notes that he is often asked what his “writing process” is. “My answer is simple: I think patiently, trying out sentences in my head,” he writes.
He advises student writers to do the same, in contrast to school-writing, in which students are “asked repeatedly to write papers that are inherently insincere exercises in rearranging things they’ve read or been told.” (Or, we have to add, are school exercises masquerading as sincere personal essays, such as the one spoofed in this Onion classic.)
Mr. Klinkenborg advises, “Before you learn to write well, to trust yourself as a writer, you will have to learn to be patient in the presence of your own thoughts.”
You almost surely have a voice inside your head. At present, it’s an untrained voice. It natters along quite happily, constructing delayed ripostes and hypothetical conversations. Why not give it something useful to do? Memorize some poetry or prose, nothing too arcane. A rhythmic kind of writing works best, something that sounds almost spoken. Then play those passages over and over again in your memory.
Try Mr. Klinkenborg’s suggestions and see what happens. And if you’d like to record the voice in your head, or some of the sentences you begin to experiment with, try keeping a journal. The Personal Tech section of The Times reports this week that you can now do that via phone apps, without the “inconvenience of paper.”
Rule 2: Learn From the Masters
A classic Times series, “Writers on Writing,” asked contemporary writers fromAndré Aciman to Hilma Wolitzer to talk about their work.
Glean insight from authors like Jamaica Kinkaid on why she writes; Allegra Goodman on calming the inner critic; and Carl Hiaasen on scrounging for material in newspaper headlines.
What are your favorite bits of advice? Copy them out for future inspiration.
Rule 3: Read Like Writers
To learn “How to Write Great,” immerse yourself in great literature, which, according to writer Roger Rosenblatt, can be anything from “Harold and the Purple Crayon” (“the lessons of the ‘Odyssey,’ minus the sex”) to “The Great Gatsby” (“Jay Gatsby, who stood straight and sober in the drunken Twenties, and who, nutty as his yearnings may have been, really was great”).
What books do you admire most? Why? As Mr. Rosenblatt does in this essay, you might try writing a paragraph describing what you find important and enduring about a book or author, whether your choice is an official classic on everyone’s list or an overlooked gem you think others should read.
Rule 4: Review the Rules
In his hilarious “How To Write,” Colson Whitehead plays with shopworn advice that will be familiar to many student-writers. For instance:
Rule No. 1: Show and Tell. Most people say, “Show, don’t tell,” but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they’re like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do. “And what do you have for us today, Marcy?” “A penetrating psychological study of a young med student who receives disturbing news from a former lover.” “How marvelous! Timmy, what are you holding there?” “It’s a Calvinoesque romp through an unnamed metropolis much like New York, narrated by an armadillo.” “Such imagination!” Show and Tell, followed by a good nap.
Before you read the rest of Mr. Whitehead’s rules, you might brainstorm, alone or in a group, your own “Rules for Writing” — derived from what you’ve learned in school, from “real” writers, from your own experience, or from anywhere else. When you’re finished, consider:
  • Is there a difference between the rules you’ve learned in school and those you’ve learned about writing on your own?
  • Which rules seem most sound to you?
  • Do we need rules for writing?
Then, read the rest of Mr. Whitehead’s essay, and compare the two lists. What did you learn about writing from his piece that you didn’t know before?
Or, use his list as a model, and create a list of rules that spoof the advice on, or the clichés about, a topic you know well.
Rule 5: Study Sentences
In “My Life’s Sentences,” Jhumpa Lahiri writes:
In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.
Sentences matter. In fact, Constance Hale notes that sentences can even act asminiature narrativesAs Hale does, you might collect your own examples of great sentences that are mini-narratives.
Ms. Hale also explores the “Sentences of the Masters” to demonstrate the different effects of short and long sentences:
Gabriel García Márquez writes unhurried sentences that almost defy parsing. William Faulkner wrote a nearly 1,300-word sentence that ended up in Guinness World Records, but he used the five words “My mother is a fish” as a complete chapter of a book. Joan Didion can stop us short with simple truths, and she can take us on strolls down labyrinthine corridors.
Look for examples of interesting sentence structure and sentence variety in a work you are studying or reading, then write your own “copy-change” versions, in which you borrow another author’s structure and use it to create your own piece.
You might also consider excerpts from children’s book to review sound literary devices and explore the music that sentences make.
Rule 6: Write With Non-Zombie Nouns and Verbs
Delve into Strunk and White’s fourth style reminder “Write with nouns and verbs” by reading about what Helen Sword calls “Zombie Nouns”:
Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings.
Fight those nasty zombie nouns with vivacious verbs.
And to consider tricky questions like “Do verbs have to be in the active voice?” and “When is the passive voice useful?” use the rules and examples in this postby Constance Hale.
Rule 7: Punctuate That Thought
In a post on exclamation points, Ben Yagoda writes
Habitual e-mailers, texters and posters convey quite precise nuances through punctuation, which is after all one of the points of punctuation. A friend’s 12-year-old daughter once said that in her view, a single exclamation point is fine, as is three, but never two. My friend asked her where this rule came from and the girl said, “Nowhere. It’s just something you learn.”
Look through e-mails and texts you’ve sent for examples of “precise nuances” you’ve conveyed through punctuation. What “rules,” like the exclamation-point rule cited above, do you think govern the use of punctuation in forms of communication like texts and I.M.’s?
How might an older generation less fluent in these methods get the unwritten rules wrong? (Teachers: sites like When Parents Text might be useful here, but please consider whether they are appropriate for your students first.)
Here are some punctuation marks to consider:
Exclamation points
Use Mr. Yagoda’s post to examine and appreciate the role of the exclamation point in a sentence, then track exclamation points you see in “the wild”— in texts, e-mail, advertising, literature, or anywhere else. How do audience and purpose help determine when and why an exclamation point might be necessary or desirable?
Mr. Yagoda’s post also alludes to the use of the period in the Obama “Forward.” Slogan and what it suggests. What, exactly, does that period tell readers? What about the period the band Fun. has in its name?
Semicolons mystify many. In Semicolons: A Love Story Ben Dolnick recalls
When I was a teenager, newly fixated on becoming a writer, I came across a piece of advice from Kurt Vonnegut that affected me like an ice cube down the back of my shirt. “Do not use semicolons,” he said. “They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
While Vonnegut’s admonition may be harsh, Mr. Dolnick offers a good primer to using semicolons sparingly and eloquently, helping them understand the comma-period hybrid as writers and readers, which is useful, as one never knows where one might pop up.
Correct comma placement matters. Just ask Grandma:
Let’s eat, Grandma!
Let’s eat Grandma!
Use the Draft post “Fanfare for the Comma Man” as a jumping off point to examine comma use in a book you are currently reading. Copy sentences which include commas and use them to deduce the rules for proper comma use.
Then, turn to this post to check the accuracy of the comma rules you’ve come up with and check that your writers are following the rules.
Rule 8: Nobody’s Perfect
Yes, Times writers and editors do make mistakes and the in-house feature “After Deadline,” which the public can view, too, takes them to task by highlighting and correcting errors in grammar, usage and style that appear in print.
Use this blog to understand grammatical points, like subject verb agreement. Then, become a better editor of your own work by taking the After Deadline Quiz.
Rule 9: Fail
Learn from your mistakes and failures, a topic Augusten Burroughs tackles in 
“How to Write How-To”
… to pass along the knowledge of how to succeed, first you must know how to fail. A great deal, if possible. This is essential because it’s far more common (and easier) to make mistakes than to enjoy success. Being aware of potential points of derailment helps to better and more accurately navigate your readers past your own missteps so they can succeed where perhaps you first failed quite miserably.
Value mistakes, and the successes that grow from them, by keeping a portfolio of your work, including revisions and editing exercises. You might even reflect in writing on how your writing has progressed, or create a timeline of your development as a writer to see, laid out chronologically, how you’ve grown from as a writer over time.
Rule 10: Fill in the Blank
What would you add? Why? We invite you to tell us below.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IMAGINE: What's Next

Randa Accessories: The World's Largest, and Best, Men's Accessories Company... and more.

This blog is created for Randa Accessories associates to share innovation, future-think, re-examination, and imagination.


Randa Accessories: one company, the global leader in lifestyle accessories. Collaborating with 75 leading brands, we design, reinvent, manufacture, distribute, and market men’s belts, wallets, neckwear, small leather goods, luggage, backpacks, business cases, slippers, jewelry, and gifts. From our origins as a neckwear company over a century ago, Randa now provides fashion, lifestyle, luxury, and private branded products through retailers in all channels of distribution, worldwide.

Randa — the world’s best, largest, and most adaptable men’s accessories company.

The industry leader in scope and scale. We offer the broadest spectrum of choices and the highest caliber of product to the finest marquee retailers, worldwide. We are aided by our unparalleled speed-to-market, unique technologies including 3D modeling, and vast global development teams, to create, manufacture and deliver the finest men’s accessories.

From Kenneth Cole dress belts to Levi’s casual leather belts and wallets, from Williamson-Dickies belts at over 4,000 doors to Columbia Sportswear active performance gear, from Guess wallets to Tommy Hilfiger accessories everywhere you shop, and Dockers, America’s most successful belt brand, Randa defines leather goods and gifts for men.

Randa: the stylish and competitive advantage.  Our extraordinary speed-to-market is propelled by a vertical business model and forward-thinking designs. Bolstered by in-house silk printing and a dedicated philosophy to live, work and create where neckwear dreams are born — Como, Italy. From conception to delivery Randa nurtures each tie, whether four-in-hand or bow, whether Geoffrey Beene or Countess Mara, Perry Ellis or Ben Sherman.100 years and 1 billion ties enable Randa to create premium-quality, fashionable neckwear better and faster than any other company.

Randa Accessories added another gem to its classification portfolio with men’s jewelry, acquired along with Swank, Inc. in 2012. Our jewelry features the classic styling, sophistication, customization, and superior quality workmanship that are the hallmarks of Randa Accessories’ products. From cufflinks to money clips, bracelets to tie-bars, in precious metals and semi-precious materials, for everyday and special occasion, our new jewelry collections add a finishing polish to our customers’ lifestyle repertoire.

Swank, Inc., a Randa Accessories acquisition in 2012 and a leading player in men’s fashion accessories, was founded in 1897. With a storied history, including making Purple Hearts during WWII, and its beginnings anchored in men’s jewelry, Swank produces a broad selection of high quality men’s belts, personal leather goods, jewelry, and gifts under world class brands, throughout the United States and Europe. Its premium quality collections are an excellent complement to Randa’s product and brand portfolio, appealing to many consumer lifestyles while delivering exciting new products season after season.

In 2012 Randa proudly partnered with several fine brands, including Geoffrey Beene, 32˚ Heat, 32˚ Cool, and Weatherproof, to launch lifestyle seasonal footwear. Randa’s distinguished collection showcases handsome slipper and flip-flop silhouettes and features unique characteristics for all lifestyles. Ours is multi-function footwear, spanning activities, able to cross from indoors to outdoors use. Whether taking it easy at home or by the pool, running to the store or to pick up coffee, Randa’s seasonal footwear fits all walks of life in comfort and style.

Creative solutions for lifestyle mobility. Thriving at the intersection of performance and design, Randa Luggage produces top quality suitcases, carry-ons, casual bags, backpacks, and business cases for men and women. With leading-edge product design, merchandising and industrial engineering teams, we craft brand-aligned and uniquely styled collections. Anchored in superior construction and dressed in extraordinary style, Randa products lead their classification in style, design, materials, and function. Randa’s prestigious licensed and proprietary luggage brand portfolio includes Tommy Bahama, Nautica, Diane von Furstenberg, Perry Ellis, Chaps, and Timberland.

Our luggage, casual bags, backpacks, and business cases combine the best in artistry with innovative materials and design. Our consumers are on the move — from school to work, boardroom to ballroom, Paris Texas to Paris France. They need to take their personal possessions, phones and sunglasses, sweaters and shoes, along with them, and Randa exceeds their expectations with tools of travel created for durability, organization, maneuverability, comfort, and easy care. Lightweight fabrics and ergonomic telescoping handles to expertly protected smartphone pockets and 3-1-1 compliant toiletry pouches, Randa creates superior products that gratify our consumers’ desires and make their mobile lives more enjoyable.

For Randa, global is an attitude: an awareness of the changing and connected world marketplace. We recognize a shrinking world and growing markets, instantaneous communication and domino effects. We observe and distill trends, source and design product, and distribute via retail partners, worldwide. Our designers, sourcing teams, inspectors, logisticians, and analysts are based in Randa offices in 11 countries across 5 continents. We are global and much more. We are aware, responsive, adaptive, and growing. Just as designers and streetwear in Milan or New York or Johannesburg or Melbourne or Mexico City influence what people wear in Milwaukee and Dallas and Little Rock, Randa refines and harnesses the power of our expertise, creativity, information, and resources to bring our partners — The World.

At Randa, we are fully vested in the success of the whole as much as we cultivate the accomplishment of the individual.  In the whole, our portfolio of 75 lifestyle brands is the successful marriage of a carefully considered brand matrix to a dynamic spectrum of all major lifestyles reaching across all demographics. From highly penetrated brands to emerging designers, from young to mature consumers, from affordable to luxury pricepoints, from active to relaxed products, ours is a balanced portfolio far-reaching in its scope and diversity. As for the individual, each design consummately aligns with our brand partner’s DNA; every product imbued with the brand’s voice. Laser-focused attention, innovative merchandising, dedicated sales teams, and brand ambassadors champion the brand’s message.
100+ YEARS

Founded in 1910, Randa has more than 100 years of institutional knowledge and continual transformation which we leverage to create success for our partners and ourselves throughout changing global economies, shifting channels of distribution, new materials innovation, and speed-to-market. Each year our products and processes get steadily better, offer greater value, and adapt to current and local needs and desires.

Each year Randa reaches further, gets stronger and moves faster.

The Randa supply chain is global and end-to-end. From concept to consumer Randa has eyes, hands and minds on every touchpoint. From onsite 3D sample making to in-store selling, quality assurance and in-house customs brokerage, Randa adds value at each step of the journey. It is Randa’s culture and competency to re-evaluate, reformulate and optimize every product, brand and process to flawlessly assure that our customers can buy precisely what they want, whenever and wherever they choose.

Randa sales managers meet with our retail partners’ buying and planning teams determining quantity, distribution and delivery dates for product launches.  Meanwhile our forecasting managers in Chicago, New York, London, and Shanghai schedule production, receipt, distribution, and delivery.

Award-winning in-house packaging and component designers create display elements, markings, and attached marketing components. Upon customer sign off production begins.

Whether it is carry-on luggage or a suitcase handle, a wallet or an ice scraper, whichever step of the journey, every product is produced under supervision of Randa quality assurance inspectors monitoring the progress, quality and social compliance of the entire process.

Randa Accessories has significant strategic and financial investments in Tata, the largest belt manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere. This investment in manufacturing provides Randa customers with a complete end-to-end supply chain for men’s leather goods, providing increased speed-to-market, unique access to Mexican, Central and South American tanneries and customers, and reduces supply chain risk.

Tata was founded in 1985 to export Guatemalan handcrafted leather belts, bags and other small leather goods to the United States. Tata has evolved into a major manufacturer of high quality dress and casual belts. With modern, efficient, and state-of-the-art Italian equipment, Tata not only produces exceptional high quality goods, but does so in large volume, with rapid deliveries, from a convenient location, and with little, or no, customs duties. Tata customers include a powerful portfolio of major retailers, importers, and global brands.

Production is a global symphony of sorts: A tie is finished or a buckle manufactured in Hangzhou, China. A belt strap cut and finished in Central America, from hides purchased in Europe by our sourcing managers, is assembled by Randa’s affiliate in Guatemala City. All of it finely orchestrated to complete the manufacturing journey in the most time-efficient manner with high-quality results.

Once production is completed, an appropriate Randa office in places like Xiamen China, Guatemala and Chicago complete forms and documentation for transit and for our in-house customs brokerage to process.

Ultimately one of our global logistics centers in New Orleans, Reno, Taunton, Toronto, Melbourne, Glenrothes, Johannesburg, or Mexico City, inspect the products once again and move them down high speed conveyor systems to be packed, weighed and shipped that same day to their final destination.

Randa delivers our competitive advantage in-store with MCG and its 3,500 nationwide employees at point-of-sale. We merchandise, stock and replenish, demonstrate, and sell product — champion brand presentation and optimize sales. The advantage is sustained by forecasting and planning. Armed with point of purchase data, analysts in Shanghai and Chicago provide weekly sales summaries analyzed and strategized to provide retailers with a blueprint for success.

As a responsible global citizen Randa is committed to social and environmental sustainability. We are dedicated not only to protecting employees who work for us, but also those who work with us and the vendors that supply us with products and services.  We are passionate about the protection and conservation of earth’s resources. Consequently, we are pledged to reduce energy, water and harmful substances consumption. Our eco-lighting initiatives saved 500,000 kilowatt hours of energy and our water conservation, 500,000 gallons of water. Our corrugated recycling has saved more than 50,000 trees.