Category: Innovation

cold-weather helmet liner bathing suit

This has become an annual tradition for me, a kind of tribute to my mother. I apologize to those who have read it before, but I have new readers who I think will enjoy it.

It’s bathing suit season, in preparation for the unveiling of the bathing suit I have been collaborating on, I think reposting this old story about my mother is appropriate. If you haven’t read it before I hope you enjoy it. 

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During World War II, my parents became refugees and ended up in a DP (displaced persons) camp in Germany, where they were taken care of by an organization that eventually became a part of the United Nations. This is a picture of my mother, in a bathing suit she made there, out of cold-weather helmet liners. When my parents fled from Latvia they had been able to bring, like refugees everywhere at every time, only what they could pack in one suitcase. 

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the 3 worst aspects of swimsuit shopping

XSwimwear

The Richards

Named for Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America since 2006 and daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards.

 

 

 

Richards

There once was a woman sitting in a corporate meeting, looking at a Powerpoint presentation about cars, daydreaming. She noticed how the the body of the car was, really, just a body. That woman is Sarah Krasley, my new boss, mentor, student, co-worker, and friend.

Sarah likes to swim, is a feminist, is committed to diversity, loves a challenge, and believes that: 

The moment when you’re most naked in public, is not the moment to be an S, M, or L.

Because Sarah is also an engineer and designer, with a business degree, she took on one of the biggest challenges in the garment industry: the swimsuit. As we all know, one of the most challenging things about swimsuit shopping is… finding one that fits. Swimsuits are notoriously hard to engineer to fit. 

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retail is dead

The retail shopping business is literally being erased in the face of unprecedented:

environmental degradation
political unrest
socioeconomic distress
multicultural confusion

Store2These four factors are enmeshed; even a slight jostle in one, produces changes in the others. These upheavals are changing everything, and so of course they’re changing retail shopping, and how we shop for clothing. I’m going to share what I’ve learned in the past few years. 

Retail is one of the canaries in the coal mine, one of the things we could have been paying more attention to, to better understand what’s going on in society at large.

After all, we are a nation of chronic shoppers. 

You already know what some of the changes in retail are, you’ve probably been involved with the biggest one, online shopping. We’re creatures of sophistication and access, we no longer have to go places to see, buy, and, to a certain extent, experience new and beautiful things: they’re at our fingertips.

One minute we can be looking at Venus de Milo, the next shopping for a Prada bag, and then we can be ziplining through a rainforest.

All done courtesy of your laptop, the one you bought in the the Store, the one that looks like (and sometimes actually was) a church. Apple stores, with their genius bars, are a relatively recent phenomenon that we’re all accustomed to now. No going back now; there’s more disruption to come.

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a bathing suit for us

anita 3I’ve been thinking about a “bathing suit for us” for two or three years now. In my mind I would design all kinds of possible variations—but I’m not a designer and my designs would just be filed away in the won’t happen file. Then I met Germaine DeNigris of Arkins, a young designer with talent, a collaborative spirit, and an open mind.

 

Who, I thought, would want to design for women over fifty? Who would want to design edgy, slow and ethical fashion for us?

 

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Germaine did! I was afraid maybe I’d overwhelmed her with my “enthusiasm” and detailed accounts of what was filed away in my won’t happen file, but we settled on that quintessential example of the kind of thing women our age want re-designed for us, the bathing suit. 

 

Germaine took the challenge on and told me it could happen.

 

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