Proenza Schouler Complains Target Copied their PS1 Bag

Proenza Schouler PS1 bag on top; Target’s Messenger Bag in Olive on the bottom.  Img source

As you may or may not have heard, Proenza Schouler recently expressed disappointment that Target had begun selling a bag that was similar to their PS1 bag.  From the New York Times blog: “[Proenza Schouler designer Jack] McCollough can understand that people love bargains and knockoffs, but variations, clever or not, rob companies, small companies like Proenza, of opportunities. Reading the post, he remarked, “Yeah, why save up and buy ours when you can buy theirs right away?”

Well, whom is knocking off whom?  And is it correct of McCollough to assume that theirs is the original, and that the Target bag is directly derived from Proenza Schouler’s re-imagining of the standard messenger satchel?

Mulberry Oversized Alexa Bag

Fossil Vintage Re-Issue Flap, $108

Express Top Handle Satchel, $59.90

Aldo Kreisher Bag, $50

TopShop the Mimi Bag by Marc B**, $84

Oryany Flap Satchel, $398

Marc by Marc Jacobs Saddlery Sophie, $478

ASOS Clean Line Double Buckle Satchel, $44

Pathfinder Laptop Messenger Bag, $49.95

Vintage B-15 Pilot Messenger Bag, $31.99

And add all of those to Refinery 29‘s recent exhaustive list of PS1 doppelgangers

And these are just the bags that are currently available for sale on the Internet…not including the messenger bags used by the U.S. army throughout the decades…schoolboys in Europe in the 1940’s and 50’s…oh, and all satchels ever existing in the history of Time.

What do you guys think? Does Proenza Scholer have the right to be issuing statements about design infringement towards Target?  Do you think the designer for this bag for Target intentionally copied the PS1…or just designed a messenger bag with a few similarities?  Which came first – the chicken or the egg…or, in this case: the PS1 or the iconic messenger-bag-style design?

Though the Mossimo bag ($34.99) is out of stock online, I spied it the other day at my local Target store.  And if you’d like to worship and purchase the original PS1 in all its original glory, it’s available here for $1,995.



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Zero Waste Fashion: New York Times Article

photo: Fred R. Conrad, New York Times

Remember that article I wrote on Zero Waste design waaaay back in January?

Zero Waste is a concept of creating no cutting waste when cutting out the pattern pieces for the garment – all the pieces fit together like a puzzle, virtually eliminating the 15% of fabric that is essentially wasted in the process.

It’s a method that designer who manufacture on a smaller scale such as Mark Liu have been able to implement in their production processes, but one that is extremely difficult for larger manufacturers to integrate.

The New York Times has featured this movement in fashion manufacturing, discussing how this coule potentially be implemented in the design and manufacturing of jeans – and highlighted Parsons professor Timo Rissanen!  Way to go, Timo!  Love the photo, too, btw…


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The Death of Luxury: Huffington Post Reports

photo from all over the web; not really sure where the original’s from.

The Huffington Post points out that the idea of luxury has deflated and independent designers have business that is booming among consumers tired of the ol’ branded shtick.

This is exactly why I began Chic Steals two and a half years ago: to examine the idea of “value” of clothing, brands, and labels – and to deconstruct the idea of “luxury.”  I want to teach people to try their hand at making their own fashionable items – to demonstrate that value is conceptual, and instilled in an object when one takes the time to create it oneself.  It’s amazing how much you value something, crooked seams and all, when you’ve slaved over it, day after day, or researched how to do a certain process in the making of it.  YOU become invested in your creation – and though the cost at the register may be insignificant, the emotional and skillful investment you’ve made into your piece is immeasurable.  One of my core beliefs is this:

Luxury is a concept.

It’s a fleeting idea, created in the minds of consumers chiefly for the purpose of constructing a demand for expensive items manufactured by large brands.  Your handmade item becomes a luxury item to you – something whose value is not necessarily determined by the quality of the materials or the extensive skill of the craftsperson or the social cache of the label, but made so by the hours labored upon it and your emotional investment in it.

I’ve noticed as of late, with the economy sluggish, clothing retailers closing, brands going out of business, and sample sale sites abounding – the idea of luxury is being taken apart, brick by brick.  Consumers are getting smarter.  We want to see behind the curtain of the brand – to see why something is priced the way it is, to see where our money goes when we pay at the cash register.

DIY is a movement to get you involved in the creation and/or personalization process – to have you invest a little bit of yourself so as to better grasp the concepts of value and the principles of design.  It gives you skills and makes you a smarter shopper in the long run.  Even if it doesn’t appeal to you as a long-term hobby or an experience you’d like to repeat – you now know how much it cost you to buy the tools and materials to make the item in question – and how long it took you.  This can help you calculate what’s a good deal and what isn’t when it comes to buying something similar at retail.

And, a wonderful side effect of DIY is that you appreciate the process – and can rationalize better the retail price of clothing and accessories made by indie designers and upcoming brands.  (A constant question I got from customers when I was selling my line is “Why does it cost this much?”  This is a common question independent designers receive from a consumer base used to Forever 21 and H&M prices.  People have no idea what is involved in the manufacturing of clothing and the costs that go on behind the scenes, especially when you’re dealing with small, limited runs.)  By encouraging everyone to try making their own fashion items, you educate and inform – which makes to easier to rationalize purchasing items from younger, growing brands, rather than from overpriced luxury brands.

What do you think?  What has making or DIY’ing your own pieces taught you?  Are you still swayed by a Louis Vuitton bag, a Juicy Couture tracksuit, a Gucci belt just because of the name and cost attached to them?


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Street Style Trumps All?

Out with the old, in with the new: Street Style and its Chic Factor.  Goodbye People Magazine…hello, American Apparel lookbook collaboration with users and Style Sample Magazine.

Could it have just been a few short years ago that we saw the rise of those snazzy, hyped-up boutiques that advertised their products “As Seen on Audrina Patridge and Kim Kardiashian!” —  Paris Hilton as style icon — and celebrities and demi-lebreties fueling consumer mania?  Once upon a time, the public was hanging on to J. Lo’s every move, snapping up heeled Timberlands and the latest Juicy Couture velour tracksuit (as seen on Pamela Anderson!).  But times are a-changing, it seems, and the wave of interest in A-listers has waned (perhaps in part due to a flailing economy, general disgust towards Hollywood salaries spiraling out of control, the emergence of celebrity stylists and their minions to the media forefront *ahem, Rachel Zoe*, the rise in popularity and box office power of indie films, and more exposure to the PR vehicle behind every star, just to touch on a few factors in all this).  Though what the Stars are doing and Wearing is still hot fodder for many blogs, magazines, talk-shows [and the E! channel’s programming]… the people watching today are smarter, have more access to information than ever before, and have begun to turn away from the carefully constructed circus of image.  Now it seems we’ve entered a completely new era: that of the EveryMan (or, more specifically, EveryWoman)…and now everyone seems to be sitting up and taking notice.

Heralded by the runwawy success of street-style photoblogs such as The Sartorialist and, and personal style-sharing sites such as and Chictopia, in the last 2 years alone there has been an online explosion of sites on the internet devoted to the style of the stylish unknown: the girl (or guy) who has that certain je ne sais quoi about them.

Women check out these blogs and see the Beautiful Stranger.  They check out her outfit details, hairstyle, and makeup.  And sometimes, such style can lead to an impromptu purchase by the onlooker.  And retailers are increasingly taking notice of this street cred influencing consumers.

ModCloth contest with

What with ModCloth sponsoring outfits for many bloggers (so much so that the term “ModCloth Robot” has been floating around the blogosphere for awhile), StyleList and Bluefly’s search for America’s Most Stylish Blogger last Fall where they sent the participants items from Bluefly and had us style them in our own outfits, Ann Taylor LOFT’s campaign partnering with Jessica Schroeder of WhatIWore, and most recently, the newly-launched scrolling functionality of The Gap 1969 Stream photo collage of both models and regular people wearing their Gap jeans.

The bag Emily designed in collaboration with Coach, from Cupcakes and Cashmere

Well-read blogs are beginning to wield huge influence – with the bloggers elevated from just another stylish person online to luxury bag designer [Emily Schuman for Coach], front-row Fashion Week attendee [Tavi Gevinson at Dior Fall/Winter 2010], shoe design collaborator [Jane Aldrige with Urban Outfitters], and campaign model [Rumi Neely for Forever21], just to name a few.

It’s no longer just a handful of corporate websites out there – it’s all over the place that we’re seeing the beautiful, almost anonymous stranger showcasing her personal style (which seems so much more attainable to the average person, right?).

Even the Wall Street Journal has picked up on this trend with their recent Seen on the Street: Strangers as Style Icons article (which is an interesting profile on the website).

Since I just received Banana Republic’s “Life at Work” Fall catalog (see above), replete with photographs of their products shot on the backs of what appear to be regular people (along with their job descriptions next to them – and not just “model” mind you!)…just how strong a trend Street Style has become is an issue that’s been on my mind lately.

So here it’s opened up to you: is Street Style the new litmus test of What’s Fashionable?  Do you pay more attention to the celebrities and A-listers, models during their down time, or what that cool-looking Beautiful Stranger is wearing in some street snapshot somewhere?  Is Street Style the new determinate of chic?


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10-Year-Old Fashion Designer Cecilia Cassini…Yes, TEN!

10-year-old Cecilia Cassini is being touted as the “youngest fashion designer ever,” launching both a  clothing line and a company.

Starting sewing at the tender age of six, she has taken “taken a few sewing lessons here and there; but, mostly, she has learned by breaking a lot of needles on her machine and ripping out a lot of crooked stitches.” (according to her website above)

At her first trunk show, Cecilia sold almost 50 pieces in three hours to impressed and eager young girls.

Here are some of her designs (dresses selling from $92 – $143):

And a little more from her site:

Unlike Da Vinci or Coco, Cecilia insists that she does not want to wait until she is an adult to create masterpieces and to begin making a difference. And, why should she? Of course, school is a priority; but, Cecilia still has plenty of time to design and sew.

Cecilia was lucky to be discovered and taken seriously by some journalists whom have given her incredible exposure. Cecilia has been featured on several television and newspapers across the United States. CBS news and the front page of the Los Angeles Daily News are just two of many.
Numerous children have contacted Cecilia to say that because of her story, they are encouraged and inspired: One child said, “just because we are children does not mean we should not or are not able to follow our passions and turn our dreams into realities.”

I have a very strong emotional reaction to this, on many levels (as a wannabe designer still looking for my “big break,” as a creative just evaluating design aesthetics and value in an already oversaturated market, as a mom against the exploitation of children, as a consumer fed up with big business and carefully-crafted PR/marketing company puppets, and as a consumer reacting against overpriced clothing and brand-label-cache).

Plus, I’m just a bitter old woman who really should give her a “you go girl!” high five but instead stews about how this reflects on me.  Ask Donna Karan or Marc Jacobs about this girl – or another designer who’s enjoyed a great deal of success and is secure in themselves, and they’re likely to give that high five (at least publicly). 

Sure, her “career” is also being spun as “empowerment” for young girls and as “inspiration for them to follow their dreams.”  Cecilia has gone to speak at a few elementary schools to inspire and motivate the students.

She’s also caused a media frenzy (man, journalists just love a juicy “youngest EVER!” story…and Tavi had to be outdone sometime), and presented the “Style Icon Award” to Ashley Greene at the Young Hollywood Awards, appeared on the cover of GIRLS Magazine, the front page of the Los Angeles Daily News, CBS News, and will be in a future issue of PeoplePeople Magazine, people!!

Note: On her “Contact” page she has a manager listed, in addition to emails for Press, Sales, and Cecilia herself.

This is a business with a young girl’s face on it, no doubt about that.

What do all of you think of this?

(p.s. – to the person who asked about Cecilia in my account – it’s so funny!  I was actually writing this post as your question came in.  We must be sharing brainwaves!)

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