Ok, so now that that's done (finally!) I'll get on with some details from the event:
The Friday fashion editors event wasn't anything all that special. A few models walking around but mostly it was clothes on manequins. There were really only a few pieces that caught my eye - the chambray swim trunks, the rope/carabiner belt, and the madras sport coat (if you're into the natty look). Much of it was the same as before - regular looking Lands End pieces with a "detail" or two tacked onto them. Event was a blast though. Got to meet George from Oak Street. Really nice guy and I'm looking forward to his LEC collab. I shouted him out in the video they were shooting (and SF too, of course) so hopefully some schmuck will watch it and buy some of his shoes.
The next day was the meeting with the VP. Never let it be said that I don't stand up for my boys - I emailed the list of questions you came up with to the VP, and printed them up to bring along as well. The Q&A session left quite a bit to be desired. Actually, it was pretty fucking aggravating for me because I couldn't pin down any concrete answers for you guys. (when asked about the list of questions his answer was "I think I saw that.
) The general gist:
-We fucked up. We're trying to fix things (emphasis on the trying).
-LEC was under separate departments before and now they're bringing all the separate areas under one house. What this will hopefully mean is a tighter, more controlled environment where less things will get fucked up. Again, I'm not too hopeful.
-RE: working cuffs on jacket sleeves - there was a small argument at the table about workwear vs. traditional. One of the guys in the group enjoyed the "functional details" but most all of us bitched about this. They've heard this constantly from customers. Nothing was settled on whether they were going to fix this shit or not.
-RE:pricing - their excuse for the increased prices was 1) the obviously increased cost of cotton, and 2)the "details" that they were putting on the clothes were expensive to produce. I informed them that everybody was unhappy with the increased prices and, if they were going to play the "JCrew game", they needed to step their shit WAY up. Unfortunately, again, no resolution here as to what would happen on pricing.
-RE:horrible shoes - they are going to collab with Oak Street but I wouldn't expect that till 2012. Other than that, I suggested an Allen Edmonds collab, and the answer was "its a possibility."
-RE:the differing complaints about tie widths and such - the answer I got was "well, we obviously can't please all our clients." This was an overall them of the conversation.
-RE:Tall sizing - something they're working on. No guarantees. When I pointed out that Lands End regular had it, the answer I got was "they do?"
-RE:On the lack of fitted clothes - again, more of the "we can't please everybody". Much of the back and forth centered around the fact that people are liking the clothes, thus, they don't need to be changed much.
-RE:better accessories - I told them their belt was "shit". One of the guys at the table went "yeah, we know. we're getting better accessories soon."
-RE:the many colored chinos - coming, but no idea when.
-RE:flimsy shirt collars - "people are happy with them." Really, who??? Again, more of the same. They would say that it would be "looked into."
-RE:sizing consistency - I wanted to pound my fist on the table after hearing the VP tell me that "well, we can't size test every single item out of each batch, and many of these problems stem from the producers we're using. We're trying to fix this and we know its a problem."
-RE:chinos - there is supposed to be an improved model coming in the spring and they were very excited about it.
-RE:shipping to Canada - something we're looking into.
The reality is, I am holding out little to no hope that all these issues are going to be solved. The VP seemed as if this was more of a burden for him than anything else and struck me as someone who was completely out of his league. The sizing inconsistencies, the quality control problems, and the pricing are all probably going to be here to stay. I think we'll be able to find one or two pieces, here and there, where you'll strike gold. But on the whole, I think most of the lineup is going to stay the same.
There is an obvious image issue over at LEC - They have no fucking idea what they want to do. Are they going to do cheap but cool clothes? Are they going to be a "hip" wing of Lands End? Are they going to go head to head with JCrew and Banana? Nobody had any answers.
If I missed any of your questions, let me know and I'll rattle off the answers they gave me.