November 20th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Arts and Culture, Fashion, Fun and Fearless, Internationals at Smith. No Comments.
A few weeks ago, I read an interesting article on Fashionista.com about how Rihanna and Miley Cyrus were classing up raunchy videos with lots of Chanel.
Their corresponding clips share a couple of major similarities: One being an abundance of Chanel accessories, the other being an abundance of, well, ass.
If you look back, the highly Hip-hop influenced American pop culture is a history of obsession for exotic luxury. Rap Queens of the 90′s, for instance, led by Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott are known for their signature show-off of bling bling Chanel accessories in equally explicit video clips; Bugatti and Lamborghini have been classic lyric fillers from Akon’s hay days to Britney’s recent release; and there are artists who actually named themselves after Chanel and Gucci.
We get it. Hip-hop was originated from ghetto music and over-compensation is not uncommon. Don’t get me wrong. I grew up with Hip-hop and I love some of the old skool and hardcore stuff. But pairing strippers with Chanel is more ironic than iconic. Can I call it the inferiority-superiority complex? Well. It’s surely not Ms. Coco’s intention and it will never stop me from loving my Chanel!
See some of the pictures capturing some raunchy performance with Chanel highlights. I was stunned how Lil’ Kim managed to mix & match her expensive Chanel outfits and made them look so cheap!
(Source of photos)
November 18th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Internationals at Smith, People, Say What MBAs Say, The Smith Experience. No Comments.
Jorge Mejia is not your typical PhD student. He owns his own company and has just finished a six month research and entrepreneurial project abroad with the world’s largest incubator, Startup Chile. He’s working on his PhD in Information Systems at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Mejia did his undergraduate and master degrees in computer science at Georgia Tech. Ever since his first internship he has been engaged in a number of R&D projects that have become successful business innovations in their respective industries.
In 2004, he took an internship with NCR and was assigned to a task as part of a product development project of the “live” interaction system between humans and automatic check-out machines, which you see regularly in major supermarkets across the country.
After graduating with his MS, Mejia worked in a consulting firm for more than three years and spent half of his time traveling to countries in Europe. He worked with a Swedish telecommunications company in 2006 in research on cable live streaming, which was exactly what Netflix was doing three years later.
Most recently, he and his company Rively are researching and developing an app to enable customers to check in “moving objects” – the first of its kind – on their smart phones. If Foursquare helps you find the perfect places that are stationary, this app allows you to check-in on a particular bus, train or flight and review your transportation experience, not limited to the carriers.
“I like research,” said Mejia, “and I always try to find research that is interesting and people have actual needs for it.”
In 2012, Mejia and his college friends formed a team to participate in Startup Chile, a six-month $50,000 budget accelerator program backed by the Chilean government, which selected 100 early-stage start-ups out of 600 applicants worldwide. Mejia conducted research for his PhD project within the incubator to see how the entrepreneurs were using their money and time.
“Six months and $50,000 – you can use them for product development, or traveling to raise money, or going to networking parties for mentorships or ideas,” said Mejia. “I wanted to measure the outcomes of these different approaches.” He analyzed the data he collected and found out that if teams didn’t know each other well, the probability of raising money was low.
“We screwed up a lot,” he said, noting that they lost a teammate in the beginning and they couldn’t find a developer. “It was also our first time meeting with an investor,” Mejia recalled. “It was all about real-world learning and I highly recommend this incubator program.”
Mejia appreciates the support he received from the Smith School. “[The level of support] is unconventional for a business school,” he said. “My professor was putting his neck out for me and the school was not afraid to take a chance on me.”
Now, Mejia is looking at areas that could combine his strengths in academia and entrepreneurship. “I love research and I want to find cool problems to solve,” he said.
November 10th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion, Fun and Fearless, Say What MBAs Say. No Comments.
I still remember my own words during my first week in business school – “I find it really hard to develop affection for data.”
You never know.
One year later, I fell in love with data! Not simply because I am doing surprisingly well in heavy quantitative courses, in fact scoring A+ across all data driven classes, but also because I discovered the fun part of it.
Of course, I am never a friend of math. But data is not just about math. Math is merely a tool but what makes a difference is your business sense and the creativity involved in setting up hypotheses. Last term, I took a Marketing Analysis class and I am totally addicted to it. Upon completion, I chose to enroll in an advanced course in Data Mining and also take a major data analytics project in my recent internship at a fashion e-commerce company.
Yes. I will keep you posted of this exciting and challenging internship.
For 26 years, I have never thought of myself as a quantitative person and I have been trying to avoid numbers for my whole life. If it were not for the MBA, I would never have forced myself to acquaint with data and found the sexy part of it. So never make a conclusion for things you haven’t tried out yet. Outside the comfort zone lies the sweet spot!
November 1st, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion, Internationals at Smith, Say What MBAs Say. No Comments.
I was invited to write a buyer’s review on mytrnd.com - The no. 1 global reference point for passionate fashion professionals with 1,244 lookbooks and 38,207 styles!
Never thought about fashion would be my career some three months ago and now I am making things happen!
Check out my draft review for Dion Lee RTW 2014.
Dion Lee, arguably the best designer from Australia, has brought his signature filter design to the stage for three years in a row. As a young label, Dion Lee is able to establish a consistent personal style featuring wearable 3D-pattern making, architectural silhouettes, layered cut-outs, as well as highly selective fabrics. Still relatively underrepresented in the North American market, Dion Lee has huge potential to evolve to a haute couture brand. The 3D filter biker jacket is definitely a collectible classic piece that will prove its value in the resale market if it’s ever available.
In addition, I just finished an interview with co-founder of Material Wrld on Thursday and I will officially kick start an internship in an amazing, fast growing fashion e-commerce working on things I’ve dreamed about.
To be honest, this was one of the interviews in years that I truly enjoyed. It was like a heart-to-heart conversation with a like-minded friend with an outflow of passion.
It was the first time I had the feeling of wholesomeness – combining what you love and what you are good at, an inner strength that pumps out endless ideas, courage to overcome obstacles, and will to succeed.
October 28th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion, Internationals at Smith, Say What MBAs Say. 2 Comments.
Many of us love fashion, but few consider it a real career.
The mainstream sees fashion as glamorous from the outside but hideous from the inside. It is an industry with often ridiculously high price tags and dis-proportionally low average income. That’s why fashion is rarely associated with MBA. A typical MBA student targets a 6-figure post graduation income, while in the fashion industry, the mid-level income is almost half of that figure. So when I brought my resume to the Style Careers New York Fashion Career Fair, I found I really need to make my MBA education a legitimate story.
Late boomer as I am, I was not determined to jump into the fashion industry until the end of my year-one MBA life. Trying to identify my true career goals, I went back to school to give myself time to think and try out things. And it turns out that a setback is a blessing in disguise. If I were so sure about continuing my former career in marketing/business development, I would never have the chance to come across this industry that I have been in love since I was a child.
It’s difficult for international student and I have to face the fact that I am going to earn much less than the majority of my classmates if I could eventually land a job in fashion. But this is the only industry I would still love to work for if I were not paid and had to work 24/7.
So what I have done so far to get closer to my dream job? Check out some of the steps followed if you are also an international student and want to make it in fashion?
- Build LinkedIn network to explore opportunities
Join relevant groups and follow companies you are interested in. Connect to people that have an aspiring career path, even if they are completely strangers. Closely monitor group discussions and job postings on LinkedIn. I spotted the Style Careers job fair in a group discussion one day prior to the event!
- Utilize Specialized Job Board to identify your targets
So far I found the most useful ones are stylecareers.com and fashionjobstoday.com. Take full use of headhunters/agencies registered in StyleCareers.
- Cross check on myvisajobs.com to narrow down your targets
Search for relevant companies and check through their H1B filing history and positions offered for each H1B. If they are all about technical jobs, you can basically rule that company out. I used to fly all the way to Houston for a fashion buyer job and could not even start my interview conversation because the company has strict rules not hiring H1B students except IT professionals. Unless you can find a way to get around with the HR, don’t waste the time and money. We are not trying to make miracles.
- Take baby steps and build experiences as many as possible
Contribute to online blogging communities or take up an internship regardless paid or unpaid. You might be a PHD in engineering but you are a freshman in fashion. Start from the basics!
I wish the best of luck for all of us. Where there is a will, there is a way.
October 25th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion, Say What MBAs Say. No Comments.
Business schools open up a nation or even worldwide network for the entire MBA community. Different professional organizations, chapters, and clubs are platforms for students across different schools to meet and exchange.
The New York City is unarguably the best place for fashion in the U.S.. Just look at the business schools – both Columbia and the Stern School of Business have state-of-the-art retail and luxury clubs and each year they host annual conferences attracting hundreds of leading industry players and business school students to attend.
Last Friday, I attended the 7th Annual Luxury & Retail Conference held by Stern and I totally got my mind blown. As a second year business school student, I went to a lot of events of various themes and sizes across the country, but this, so far, was the best one. Not only because the topic was most relevant, but the line-up of speakers and organization rivaled those of WWD’s events at a much more affordable price point – $75 for non-Stern participants.
The Conference included three breakout panels and a key note by Barbara Cirkva, Division President, Fashion, Watches, & Fine Jewelry, Chanel. Retail’s Reinvention, the panel I took part in, featured five speakers, two start-up founders and three executives from Louis Vuitton, Moda Operandi, and Warby Parker. All three companies are at the forefront of retail innovation with distinct business models – Louis Vuitton continues its legendary journey that creates unparalleled customer experience; Moda Operandi offers exclusive pre-order of the latest runway haute couture; Warby Parker makes designer quality eyeglasses at revolutionary price tag.
I was very much inspired by the concluding sentences by the three panelists, wisdom drawn from their respective personal growth and I would like to share with all of you here:
“Stay humble. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know.”
- Alexander Winokur, Vice President of Client Development & Digital, Louis Vuitton Americas
“Work with people you admire and you will learn so much from them.”
- Indre Rockefeller, Director of RTW, Moda Operandi
“Be willing to take baby steps.”
- Shannon Malone, Director of Product Strategy, Warby Parker
Now, take a look at the Stern style!
(Photo credit: Stern Retail & Luxury Club)
October 10th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion, Fun and Fearless. 1 Comment.
With the conclusion of the global Spring 2014 Fashion Week, we probably all have our answers to the question — which was the most impressive show in your opinion. And I’m sure many have the same answer as I: Rick Owens.
Not because of the clothes, though. The models.
This was perhaps the first ever runway show in the fashion history that was presented by a college step team featuring African-American full figured women each wearing an angry face.
I barely watched through the show. If it had not been for Rick Owens, many front row guests would have left too. It was just not aesthetically pleasing. These poor girls were forced to frown and twitch their mouths during the performance and the choreography was mediocre. The clothes, already altered to fit, still looked too tight on their bodies that limited their movements.
At the first glance, we all understood the simple message Rick Owens was trying to convey: fashion diversity. But I’m afraid it just back-fired. This show seemed to become a demonstration of why there were few black models on stage.
Being a minority myself in the western world, I never think “over-reacting” is the best way out. In fact, all you need is “Just Do It”. Despite one’s skin color or nationality, the fashion world never rejects real talents. There are a growing number of Asian top models walking for the most coveted brands, not because they are Asian, but because they are good at it. Similar to designers such as Prabal Gurung, Thakoon Panichgul, Olivier Rousteing (current designer for Balmain) and of course Tracy Reece, none of them made it by making a big fuss about their races.
I wonder if Rick Owens will upgrade their body forms in store as well. But anyways, I will monitor their sales report really close!
October 9th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion. 4 Comments.
Over the past few weeks, I have been scramming up for the launch of my new website. Thanks to Wix, a disruptive web design service, that I was able to build a relative complicated site (to my standard) including blog feed and e-commerce from a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” HTML5 editing interface.
This marks the official start of my wardrobe business. Stay tuned on Facebook and Tumblr.
September 18th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion. 2 Comments.
(This post will also be shown in Fashionwows.com.)
Investing in young labels is similar to buying stocks. You care about the “expected value” years ahead. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry all have humble beginnings, proving brands do evolve over time. So an up-and-coming designer may grow to a most coveted luxury one day, just as an established brand might disappear from the mainstream runway.
Each fashion week is an opportunity to witness the reshuffle of the whole industry, you see freshmen and dropouts, you see new collabo fetching a media buzz or joint labels going separate ways. There should be an index that captures the brand value of major designers, so you can observe the pattern and estimate growth potential.
I started to notice Dion Lee as early as 2012 because I am always looking for one-of-a-kind design that does not compromise functionality. The Australian designer’s early adoption of 3D technology into daily ready-to-wear simply stood out. I purchased a dozen of silk blouses with cut-out design for my online boutique and they sold out the next couple of days! And I knew Dion Lee is going to be phenomenal.
It is important for an emerging designer to establish his/her personal signature even in its infancy. Dion Lee certainly has a good master of that. Spring 2014 was the designer’s debut New York show and a reinforcement of his signature 3D cutting and futuristic prints. Abstract yet feminine shapes are figure flattering. And the famous filter cut-out returned to the stage. The first look of the new collections seemed to revisit his 2012 classic, a stunning biker jacket that topped my 2012 must-have list.
Already overshadowing his Australian fellow designers, Dion Lee is certainly taking on a global dimension. He might not be aware that my clients in China are saving hard for his latest looks! Dion Lee, time to buy in. Check out the following runway photos and my favorite filter design across three seasons of collections.
September 4th, 2013 by Yang Zhao under Fashion. No Comments.
The sneak peek of Phillip Lim for Target is everywhere. TV commercials, social media campaigns, blogs are making this collaboration their headlines.
Yes. Phillip Lim is coming to Target right after the New York Fashion Week.
As a die-hard fan of 3.1 Phillip Lim, who luckily shares the same birth date with the designer, I have been following the brand since its debut in 2005. Understated elegance, premium quality, comparably affordable, each of my Phillip Lim pieces has become a wardrobe staple. My 2006 organza plaid top just stays forever in trend and I got so many eyes whenever I wore its Grecian Goddess look silk maxi wrapped with a rope belt.
So I couldn’t help look through the lookbook again and again. They are absolutely well crafted and deserve the prices. Some pieces seem to be modified from the recent main line looks. But with the price cap, they are missing a big part of Lim’s core - the ultra fine fabric. I have a big thing on fabric. And that’s why I love 3.1 Phillip Lim so much. Take Fall 2013 for example, many of its silk dresses and pants are using 40 mm weighted silk, compared to most commonly seen Chiffon silk weighted at 5 mm. I just couldn’t imagine wearing his beautiful design in poly…
So will Phillip Lim for Target sell good? I guess Kim Kardashian for Target might will…The designer has kept such a low profile and will the new collections light up the appetite of regular Target apparel shoppers? I just don’t think 3.1 Phillip Lim consumers are likely to spend heavy.
But I’m sure I will be lining up 8:00 am on Sept 15 and scan through each and every product on shelf. I almost feel obliged to purchase one as a token of appreciation for my favorite designer. Okay, I’m eying the leather jacket which could easily top $1,000 if it’s from the main line.
So see you at Target.
Photo courtesy of Target