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19-04-2012
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Have You Ever "Broken Up" With a Fashion Brand?
‘It’s Not You, It’s Me,’ We Tell Our Clothes

By MARISA MELTZER



CATHY BEGIEN estimates she has purchased 50 shirts from Steven Alan, the house brand of the independent-design hub based in downtown Manhattan. “I loved their washed-out, wrinkly, comfy preppiness,” said Ms. Begien, 36, a brand manager for a designer, who lives in the West Village. “I loved having a brand-new one because it smelled a certain way.”
But at a certain point, she began to feel as if she and the line no longer quite matched up. “The personality was a little off,” she said. “It felt contrived.”
So, Ms. Begien “broke up” with Steven Alan. She gave away some shirts, sold others and stopped walking by the store. And she started buying other brands, like Opening Ceremony and Freemans Sporting Club.
In a retail climate overrun by new labels, with design teams frequently changing direction to remain competitive, the days when a customer would stick to, say, Brooks Brothers or Talbots for life might be over. And severing ties with a brand, for whatever reason, can come at an emotional cost.
Ms. Begien’s breakup was relatively easy, she said, but Audrey Brashich’s with J. Crew not so much. Ms. Brashich’s high school job was at the company’s first store, at the South Street Seaport. “I was in love with the clothes and became a devotee,” said Ms. Brashich, 41, a writer who now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. “I considered myself a J. Crew person.” But over the years, she said, she found the clothes became “too refined” for her lifestyle.
It was as devastating as a romantic breakup, she said, only half in jest. First, she felt anger. “I would go into the stores and tell the manager, ‘I’m your target customer; you’re losing me.’ ” Then she felt depressed. “I don’t have my brand anymore,” she said. “I don’t know where to shop. If I need new, hip khakis, I don’t know where to go.”
Penny Lovell, a stylist for Rose Byrne and Ginnifer Goodwin, was not surprised at the intensity of such reactions. “Clothes are so psychological, they’re like a second skin,” Ms. Lovell said. But “some seasons just don’t work, they’ll be too avant-garde or just not your personal style, and you’ll want to go explore something different.”
Not without occasionally clinging to the old, though. Meredith Baughman, 18, a student at Barnard who lives on the Upper West Side, can’t bring herself to get rid of Juicy Couture sweatsuits in five colors. “They are something I wore for a long time,” she said. “It’s kind of like hanging on to photos or mementos of an old relationship.”
True, some designer breakups end with nothing but a sense of relief. Sabrina Soto, 36, an HGTV host who lives on the Upper West Side, recently ended a long affair with lines like Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. “It was all this stuff I should not have been wearing in the first place,” Ms. Soto said. “Low-rise jeans? They’re not meant for my body. My 16-year-old niece took it all, and I was so glad. It was like a mini-intervention for me.”
Indeed, aging out of a brand is common. Elisabeth Donnelly started shopping at Anthropologie in high school, and her habit of “dressing Zooey Deschanel-ish,” she said, reached its peak when she worked a few blocks from the SoHo location. When Ms. Donnelly, a 30-year-old development assistant, moved to Albany, she had a realization. “These are art-teacher clothes,” Ms. Donnelly said. “Who is this version of me, the slightly awkward ingénue trying really hard to be cool? That’s when I started figuring out how to dress like a woman and not a girl.”
Thanks to a new baby, Anne Slowey, fashion news director at Elle Magazine, has gone through a few recent designer breakups herself, with both the towering stiletto-based silhouette she formerly favored from Balenciaga or Yves Saint Laurent and fashion-forward Japanese designers like Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons. “Now I barely have time to take showers, let alone figure out how to wear a third sleeve,” Ms. Slowey said.
Meanwhile, Kimberly Clark Ratto, 34, a former product developer in the fashion industry, has started to sour on a former love, Marc Jacobs, whose clothes she discovered right around the time she was graduating from college and ready to “look like an adult.”
“He was of the moment, yet youthful and sophisticated,” said Ms. Clark Ratto, of Pacific Grove, Calif. “Now it’s too young,” she said, also citing the line’s “excessive branding.”
Breaking up with Marc Jacobs was “a metaphoric putting my foot down and creation of boundaries,” she said. “I’ve felt for a long time that fashion often is the only place in a woman’s life that she doesn’t have to compromise or where her voice is most heard.”
Yet men, too, sometimes put their foot down where fashion is concerned. Zach Baron, 29, who writes about culture and lives in Park Slope, began buying the French line A.P.C. after college. “If you’re a guy, and especially if you care about clothes but not in a ‘I work in the fashion department of GQ’ way, there are not a ton of people who service that on a regular basis,” he said.
With A.P.C., something clicked. “I get it, this is the jean I’m supposed to have, and they had smart-collared shirts and winter jackets,” said Mr. Baron, who has 12 “active” pairs of A.P.C. jeans. “My level of trust was high.” But a few years ago, he began to become bored.
“When you identify as something and it changes, you’re legitimately adrift,” Mr. Baron said. But “in that sense A.P.C. did me a favor, they drove me to be more adventurous.” He has been shopping for pieces by Patrik Ervell, Band of Outsiders, a little Acne.
As for Ms. Brashich, the J. Crew graduate, she has tried other lines like Lands’ End Canvas and L. L. Bean Signature but is still searching for a replacement. “Nothing has really taken J. Crew’s place when it comes to smart, midpriced classics,” she lamented.
Maybe she should just wait it out, suggested Ms. Lovell, the stylist.
“I see it as more of a break than a breakup,” she said of disenchantment with a brand. “A designer can be off one season and then come back the next and be great again.” (nytimes)

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19-04-2012
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this reminded me of my love affair with express clothing in jr. high and high school.

there's nothing in there for me now of course.

and i agree with the person quoted about marc jacobs - his branding is excessive.

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19-04-2012
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thanks for sharing the article!

definitely some truth to those words...
i'm thinking of lots of brands now that i used to love but that don't speak to me any more in effect...

There are things in my closet that are definitely borderline...

I've moved away from some of the quirkier items I favored in college that's for sure.
I just pulled out a pair of yellow Irregular Choice shoes I bought in London 6 or 7 years ago.... they (and that brand) are just not me anymore and have no place in my wardrobe... that's just one example.

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20-04-2012
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In my high school year I bought almost all of my clothes at H&M. Preferably online since I lived far away from all kinds of stores.

I still shop at H&M, but mostly their Trend Line and usually no more than a few pieces each year. Also sold a lot of my old H&M dresses, since they didn't satisfy me for more than a months time.

Also used to adore the danish shoe brand Lola Ramona, which has a very humoristic and rockabilly look. I still love my 50's and 60's references, but these days I go for a more grown look, so I've sold some of my LR shoes, and the rest I do not wear very often.

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14-08-2012
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I broke up with Christian Louboutin when the brand morphed into the Ed Hardy of the shoe world.

Does that count?

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15-08-2012
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I have some LV monogram bags I got in high school (one I bought and one was a gift), now I find those excessive logos tacky and they have been sitting in my closet for ages!

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16-08-2012
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I used to love how quirky Marc by Marc Jacobs was but lately its either been too childish for my mid twenties self.

I remember I used to buy a lot from Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle when I was in highschool. I sometimes buy some of their pants but I feel like I've outgrown the whole mall kid look

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20-08-2012
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^yep, don't even think about marc by marc jacobs, and when it first debuted in the early 00s i was all over it.

same thing about my love of marc jacobs and prada in the late 90s and early 00s. the quality was just so bad on the leather goods for both, i was shocked and never have gone back.

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20-08-2012
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I wore a lot of Guess and Abercrombie as a teen; I started phasing it out in my early early twenties (it was all donated to charity).

Then I had a Banana Republic phase for about a year when I was 21...


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21-08-2012
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I used to love old navy, now I realize their clothes are nothing but cheap fabric that can't hold up! I also used to love Hollister, but so over that style!

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21-08-2012
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I had to break up with Marc Jacobs too, for the reason cited in the article--too young.

I've also recently broken up with Jag, which used to fit me perfectly. Until recently, every single pair of casual pants and jeans I had were Jag. Now they've changed the fit, and no size fits me. One is too small, the next is too big. Before, I had a range of sizes in my closet, but they all fit. Sooo disappointing ... everything was comfortable and looked good and fit perfectly. To make it all worse, two pairs wore out this season, just as they changed the cut and I couldn't replace them

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27-08-2012
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I broke up with Herve Leger. Even though I always favoured the simple designs that reminded me of Cindy Crawford in the early 90s it just became too tacky and has such a bad stigma attached to it.

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27-08-2012
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I have, I used to buy a lot of Alexander McQueen before he passed away and since his death and the brand has become so commercial I have yet to buy anything under Sarah Burton's creative control, after seeing so many 'average' people wearing pieces by them it puts me off, such as the scarves...

I've also recently stopped shopping at Topman/Topshop I just find the brands image and the clothing they're selling totally irrelevant and quite frankly, hideous, I used to shop there a lot, especially for jeans, I've since moved onto Zara and Reiss, I don't know whether it's me moving on style wise and or as I've said, the brands image.

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28-08-2012
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i lost all love for hermes when posh spice started collecting Birkins...

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17-10-2012
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^^^LOL. Guilty by association!

I adored Dolce and Armani in the 90s. Dolce seems to be a garish caricature of their former self. And the type of people-- not just celebrities, but the type of customers that gravitate towards the label now, very Guido, very Eurotrash-types, have completely turned me off to them.

As for Armani, I miss the fluid, light simplicity of 90s -Armani. Perhaps its his age showing, but his sense of proportion, color, and timelessness has given way to a sense of desperate quirkiness that's unflattering, awkward and sometimes just plain ugly. And that new logo design is all kinds of garishness.

I still own and wear some "vintage" pieces from these designers that I've had since the 90s. And if someone's generous enough to gift me with their new pieces, that's all fine-- because, somewhere amongst all the mess, Dolce still cuts a great suit. But I'll be damned if I'm spending my money on them.

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