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09-12-2013
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Scott Sternberg Slams 'Retarded' Fashion Industry
(NEW YORK) Dish alert: In the autumn/winter issue of indie Spanish mag Apartamento, designer Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders and Boy. by Band of Outsiders gave the interiors glossy a tour of his abode. But the pics, while pretty, aren’t the intriguing part: Sternberg was delightfully filter-free as he sounded off the fashion industry. Highlights include some very frank thoughts on Tom Ford. The article’s not available online, so check out Sternberg’s juiciest bits below. (fashionweekdaily)

On the perils of an expanding company:
“I have 26 employees. I used to do everything myself. It was ten times easier and more enjoyable. Now I have to socialize with all these people and tell them what I want, which would be much easier to do myself.” Some uncensored thoughts on the biz: “The fashion industry is retarded. It doesn’t make sense. There is too much product out there and when you’re a wholesale business it’s really impossible to resolve. You can’t, because if you want to be in a store like Barney’s, you can’t just deliver twice a year. You can’t just have two runway shows.”

Musings on the circus that is the fashion industry: “There’s this layer in fashion in between me and the person buying the clothes, which is the buyers and the press. They’re this kind of hilarious community, this council of judges. They love a dog and pony show. They complain about it to no end.”
Sternberg marvels at getting it done, Tom Ford style: “Tom Ford is an interesting one. He’s somebody that got out, not intentionally. I think he sort of screwed up. He played his cards a little too far and they said, ‘bye bye,’ at Gucci and then he somewhat successfully made a movie…Then, he gets back in the industry. At the beginning I thought, ‘God, this guy is kind of genius.’ He launched fragrance and eyewear first and then beauty, makeup—all of it. Now these are the tertiary things that you do. Actually, that other people do with your brand so that you make a lot of money. Now I’m like, “Oh my god, he’s so ****ing smart, ‘ because he doesn’t have to do all this crap, waste all this fabric, make all these clothes that nobody is ever going to buy that’s essentially for a few stylists to shoot and is part of the ‘dog and pony show’. He just cut right to the chase. What a genius.”
…Or maybe Ford isn’t a genius, Sternberg muses: “And then all of the sudden, he’s doing menswear and opening these ridiculous stores that are so out of touch to me with where consumers are at these days, even the luxury consumer. And then he’s doing womenswear and then he’s not showing on the runway and I’m like, ‘He’s a genius, he’s not doing the runway.’ And now, he’s showing on the runway. So I don’t know, I guess we’re not on the same page, Tom Ford and I.”
But still, there’s plenty to envy about the TF model: “He’s selling a dream without the middle part, without that sort of wasted part.”
Why having a smaller label sometimes sucks: “I didn’t raise a lot of money when I started or open 20 stores like A.P.C. or Tory Burch. So you’re sort of stuck in this cycle. It’s something to resolve. It’s hard.”
Whether designing for guys or girls, there’s a lot of wasted effort: “With women’s, they pretty much spend half the year on the dog and pony show ‘cause they’re always looking at collections, we’re always presenting them. We present four times a year and they just sit there and they wait for us to show what we do. Even though with men’s, for example, there’s probably like three editors in the US that like matter, you’re still doing this. You’re still having to go through this because the stores need to know that you did that show or that thing that the press are watching to have some feeling that there’s not so much risk involved with buying all this product from you.”

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09-12-2013
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This piece is meant to shock and awe, standard low-brown "made for the internet" snippet journalism, and I'm not going to get sucked in. I disapprove of his use of the word "retarded" more than anything. I don't think what he said about Tom Ford is actually all that bad or controversial.

I own quite a few pieces by Boy. but they are the most basic of basic pieces (oxfords, blazers). Sternberg's far from being an interesting designer. His recent collections have been laughable attempts at doing something current -- honestly, I fail to find them worthy of the runway presentations they have been given. So to hear him slam the fashion circus or speak of Ford not knowing what the consumer wants is eye-roll worthy. Maybe don't play the game, and go back to doing what you did best.

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09-12-2013
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It kind of boils my blood that he is so openly slamming press and buyers. I am a stylist I consider myself part of the press, we are the ones who have to parade your shitty collections to the world and MAKE them appealing to your clients. Its our job to make your brand interesting, which is hard to do when you can get all your pieces for a quarter of the price at walmart. Fashion is competitive and the "dog and pony show" is the only way to distinguish your brand for the hundreds of thousands of others. He doesn't have to work in fashion.

With that said I will give him the benefit of the doubt, reporters have a way of coercing these kinds of statements.

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09-12-2013
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The usage of the word retarded is so tired and just incredibly rude and anyone who uses it, I have no desire to hear out.

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10-12-2013
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I don't even remember his designs but he sounds like good fun, mostly because he's stating the obvious and not trying to bull readers by making himself sound grateful when he's not, or like it's all teamwork when he's perhaps naive at heart and truly feels like it hasn't been teamwork.

One thing that does seem to have been fished out of the Apartamento interview with the sole purpose of stirring the pot and that's got me conflicted is the use of the word retarded... did Apartamento share the original interview in English with fashionweekdaily or did fashionweekdaily just translate it? or does Apartamento have translations at the end? (never bought it). Just saying cause it was probably "retrasado" and it hardly has the same meaning and context and reception as in English.. meaning he might've even said the industry is backwards and it will be translated as "retrasado" just because it's brief and means the same and then translated back to English as "retarded" and bam, headline. I also don't think such contrived political correctness is global, but sighs, he doesn't sound like he does global either so you never know...

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10-12-2013
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I think the use of that word (as well as the political correctness of it) is confined to British and American English colloquialism. In all other English speaking parts of the world, it's still a strictly medical term.

Although he is stating some things that are very obvious, I do like that he is opening the dialogue for it. However, as an outsider looking in, I can't help but feel the ungratefulness of it all. To be able to have a viable career that you love, especially when it comes to any field of design, is truly one of life's luxury that many people simply cannot chase. The term starving artist exists for a reason. I feel that he could've perhaps expressed his frustrations in a better manner - I'm not talking high brow academia (*gag*) but like all of you, that use of the term just screams controversy for the sake of controversy rather than a true visceral expression. I mean everybody knows these problems exist - but like any other industry, there are inherent problems with the system. That's why I'm glad he's begun the discussion for it.

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10-12-2013
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just searched and saw some of his collections... did he really think without the press and buyers, he would really make a name for himself? Also, no one ever forced him into following the trend of creating 4 collections a year, if he is so talented and interesting, stick with the two main seasons like jil and he will still survive.
he sounds bitter and is crying for attention.

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10-12-2013
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Sternberg is a very unpleasant guy. read this interview if you want to get a clearer picture of the guy he is.

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10-12-2013
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certainly not the most eloquent speaker this guy but i do understand the ambivalence he comes from. hell,many of us feel this way these days.

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10-12-2013
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Not trying to jump to his defence because I actually don't know him as a designer despite owning quite many pieces of band of outsiders basic shirts, coats and pants etc. but I find the article somewhat sensationalized, esp the details magazine one.
I mean I can't imagine somewhat so blatantly blunt and crass can even make it so far to create his own brand, knowing how many people along the way you need to work with...
So my guess is that it is probably being taken out of context or intentionally twisted to make it funny, this guy may just be a super boring guy who has some points to make but is not PR worthy to begin with...
Personally I do agree to a certain degree with what he said though. Fashion these days aren't as pure a form as it used to be, commercialism, mass, media seem to be more relevant now.

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11-12-2013
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If it were Jil Sander or Ann Demeulemeester complaining about the "dog and pony" show, I would completely understand. The only innovative and interesting component of this guys's brand is the name Band Of Outsiders. Outside of that, the designs are typical, basic preppy essentials with a very common NYC-sartorial "twist"-- at it's best. It's not bad, but I'd still rather buy from A.P.C. or any other handful of other similar brands.

His obvious disdain, juvenile vernacular, and douchey portrait aside, He should be thankful he's got the much despised "dog and pony" show to distinguish his basics from the legions of similar designs and brands out there.

I think he may want to come off as cool, wry and gruff in that Details ten commandments bit, but he-- or the writers, just ends up giving me the impression of an extremely juvenile, charmless little man who thinks he's more influential, or important than he will ever be.

Him and his brand will not be missed.

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11-12-2013
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^Agree!

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11-12-2013
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^2 Sorry but I feel that your reply is coming from someone who has not followed his brand and or the time when his brand was at its peak (more menswear focused). If you did I apologize. Now I may not totally agree with what Scott says but how you feel about his brand doesn't dismiss what he has to say. People easily forget that, if it was Jil and you did not agree, maybe you would reply only to say "she's too old to know how things work now" etc etc. Don't just dismiss because you do not agree with someone.

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12-12-2013
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^^^ No need to apologize Desi. Did you read the Details bit Lucy92 linked to to get a handle of this guy's charming vibe?

I initially had no problems with his thoughts on the industry. No industry is without its frustrations and obstacles. I do have a problem with his very juvenile tone when the Details feature is compounded to this guy's attitude. A professional, an adult man using words like "sissies", "gay" and "retarded" to demean and insult doesn't really endear me to him, nor does it make his points any more valid or clearer. Does he really think he's cool or provocative to resort to bitter and schoolyard name-calling?

As for his designs. They really are not anything that will secure him a place in fashion history-- I think they're "nice". So his pompous contempt for the industry he's willingly participating in comes across as ungrateful. No one is forcing him to participate in the dreaded "horse and pony" show; no one is forcing him to connect with the upscale shops he sells to. Although, I would strongly suspect without the polish of these PR components, his brand of design wouldn't even get the exposure since it's is pretty common upscale "preppy high fashion" branding. He really should be thankful for the "horse and pony" show, because he's no Azzedine Alaia who will always be sought out for his unique signature. Will press and buyers actively seek out Band of Outsiders should he withdraw from the "horse and pony" show? I highly doubt it.

If you feel he's an innovator, a visionary, or even one with just an individual streak you admire, you're perfectly entitled to that perspective, of course. I just feel some discretion and modesty would go a long way for someone of his abilities when he's expressing his thoughts in interviews.

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13-12-2013
  15
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get over the word retarded-
every single thing he said is true...
and it's nice for me to hear someone say it out loud for a change...

market editors, bloggers and PR people are not the creatives in the industry...
and most of them could not tell you what a dirndl skirt is or come up with an original idea...
they are just part of the spectacle that stirs the pot enough to get some designers some media attention which makes scared buyers think that people will purchase the designers' clothes...
because buyers get fired if the clothes they buy don't sell...
this makes them afraid to take risks on smaller or unknown brands...
and a great deal of the public are sheep who follow what other people wear- no matter how much they claim to have some sort of individual personal style...
in reality, most don't...
they are mimics...

this makes the whole circus a necessary evil...
but it doesn't make it any less evil...
and it doesn't feel any less like selling your soul (if you have integrity)...

it's incredibly unpalatable to a great many creatives/designers/etc...
to have to make small talk with air-brained girls and guys who have no idea about fashion or design or anything much at all...blah blah blah....smile for the camera....blah blah blah...


being a designer should not mean you must be a public figure and learn to tap dance...
if you enjoy that- fine...
it works for tom ford, sure...
but it backfired on john galliano...
and it killed alexander mcqueen...
which one do you think is the real talent of that group...?

pay attention...fashion is dying...
what passes for fashion these days is laughable...
* if you have any doubt about this- take a look at the tFS homepage...

no one should really be surprised at this, imho...
what is surprising is that this guy was brave enough to say it out loud and in public...

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Last edited by softgrey; 13-12-2013 at 11:41 AM.
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