Thursday, October 15, 2009

Economies of Scale

There's been a lot written on the blogosphere of late about the demise of Cookie Magazine.  To me, it was a gorgeous, well designed parenting magazine that offered beautiful fashion, dreamy vacation photos, yummy fast recipes and inspirational interiors.  It seems my opinion was not shared by everyone, especially this writer for Babble who directs a lot of ire at Cookie for ack! daring to show $400 dresses, vacations in the Maldives, and cashmere layette sets.  She takes the layouts as an affront to her abilities as a mother instead of escapist fantasy that most fashion magazines are.  If she had looked closely she would have seen the Target pieces next to the Isabel Marant, the simple dinner solutions (If you have a.... was the best!), and the great movie & book recommendations.  I've encountered this attitude frequently during my time working in boutiques.  People get really offended by expensive clothes...and on some level I get it. I'm a stay at home mom and my husband is a newspaper journalist so you do the math and figure out where my clothing budget is.  But, there is great design on every level these days so you can take that $1000 coat you're in love with and find a similar version at H&M or the Gap.  There are also things with dreaming about, worth saving for and spending the money on timeless, quality pieces is something I will never regret.  When you buy a small independent designer, like Phillip Lim, there is an amazing amount of work  behind it and not a lot of payoff.  They don't buy fabric in bulk so that is expensive, they don't use sweatshops, they generally have to pay commission to a showroom to rep the line, and then the boutique has to mark it to cover their expenses as well.  So that $400 dress was $200 to the boutique and maybe the designer made $25? on it.  The boutique has to cover rent, utilities, payroll, and takes a risk on the product selling.  I've yet to meet anyone in this industry who is making a lot of money.  They generally do it because they love fashion and not for any financial gain. 
That said, I definitely feel guilty when I splurge on a special item, but I feel the same guilt when I support businesses that I know use sweatshops and knock off the original work of small designers.  It's a tossup, but I'm trying to take a lesson from our European friends and buy 1 nice coat instead of 5 trendy ones, etc., I will continue buy my basics at moderately priced and stylish chains like Anthropologie and J Crew and I will fill in the gaps with cheap & chic items from Forever 21, H&M, Target etc.  On Pretty Mommy, I aim to show a wide variety of price points and quality and I hope you bear with me if you find expensive clothes insulting and take a look at some of my budget friendly finds as well.


  1. As a children's clothing designer who has no children- I loved Cookie. I would read it even if I wasn't in the business of children's apparel. I thought it had a lovely layout, featured interesting women/interiors, great photos and had glam mom advice. I think your completely right on in that people get offended by expensive clothing and fashion in general. Anna Wintour comments on this in The September Issue and as a fellow boutique veteran, I have seen this time and time again. I too an not wearing the latest Balmain, but I can scour a thrift store for a military inspired look. Fashion is something to inspire, aspire to and fantasize about. We all need something pretty to make the real world bearable.
    Milk is a french children's mag that I discovered a few years back that has the most amazing photo's, fashion and people I have ever encountered in a "children's" mag. I have found it at Barnes and Noble. They also have a great website- Great post Michelle- keep em' coming!

  2. Wow, thanks for explaining all that. Honestly, I wish I knew all this before I made the judgement that I didn't like Cookie. It was exactly how you said it. But now, I get it. Ok, now I feel bad but I do feel so much more wiser! Love, Barb


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