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Sep 28, 2014

The Secret Dressing Room Selfies!



Readers, I know it's wrong -- or is it wrong?

I don't often try on clothes in store dressing rooms and take stealth selfies because I hardly ever shop in stores.  Still, there are times when I'm exploring what's out there and it's the only way I can remember what I'm seeing.  It's not like I'm going to copy something for resale nor am I the store's customer; I don't buy ready-to-wear anymore (with the exception of socks).

I just want to record what I like so I can improve my own projects.

Plus, these same details can often be viewed on the stores' own websites.  But not always.

I've become obsessed with sporty outerwear since finishing my parka, and I'm already planning future projects and thinking about improvements I might make to the patterns I have.  There's so much cool "heritage brand" outerwear out there, updated interpretations of American classic workwear or vintage hiking/mountain climbing gear, often (though not always) created by Japanese designers.  This link is precisely the kind of thing I mean.

Today I visited a favorite store that carries brands like these, and I saw a wonderful coated-cotton raincoat with many marvelous details: hidden pockets and zippers and plackets and snaps, a detachable hood, and more.  It's much heavier than my parka and -- I hate to say it -- considerably hipper looking, in part because it's solid black inside and out.



Front pocket.

Chest hidden pocket.

Separate zipper shield.

Removable, snap-on hood.

Adjustable cuff.

Front metal zipper.

Inside collar.

Zippered inside chest pocket.



If I make another big coat this winter -- and I'm not sure I will -- I think I'll definitely go with a matching lining -- it creates a sleeker look.  And metal zippers are classier than plastic.  A detachable hood makes a coat somewhat more versatile.

If you're wondering what this Made in China coat costs, well...



I no longer make public judgments about price.  Is that price high or not?  It depends what you're comparing it to.

Meanwhile, I have received my latest outwear pattern purchase and hope to pick up fabric for it this week.



Confession: I have two more outerwear patterns on the way.  I'm officially obsessed!





In closing, I can't remember if I ever asked you this before:

Is it OK to take detailed dressing-room photos of clothing you want to copy -- provided, of course, you're not wasting a salesperson's time in the process?  And if you post them on your blog, does that cross a line?

Have a great day, everybody!

39 comments:

  1. I think that if they don't expressly forbid it, it's fine. You aren't copying for resale, you're advertizing their product and folks who don't enjoy sewing might see the products and buy them. Boy howdy, $445 for a parka? Yikes. For that it better come with diamond earrings on one of the pockets.

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  2. I see nothing wrong with the fitting room selfie. I try on all kinds of stuff I probably will never buy. Never occurred to me to photograph it but now perhaps I will since I am planning on sewing apparel again.

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  3. Think of it as research. Altho some stores might not like it, esp. if they are selling original designs, you are not damaging the merchandise or keeping it off the rack for long. I think it's smart to photo the details; I have learned a lot about sewing for durability by examining used clothing at thrift and consignment stores. Thanks for sharing your projects with us! I don't want to make clothes that scream "home made"; I want them to enhance moi without drawing the wrong attention to themselves. And last a long time.

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  4. If you are not going to copy to sell then it is perfectly fine to find *cough* inspiration in good design.

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  5. There's absolutely nothing wrong with snoop shopping!

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  6. Do not feel guilty. I know people who take a garment home, wear it, re-attach the tags and take it back! As for photos...some of my best sewist friends do it all the time. And one is a well known pattern designer!

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  7. Now reduce the price by 200% and then some and you may have what it's actually worth.

    Dude I turn every article of clothing inside out in the dressing room! And I take notes, pictures all the time! I even feel around for what kind of material they may have hiding between lining. And it's totes okay.

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  8. Not as far as the store or manufacture or designer is concerned. As a former designer, it is not a big deal if you use details but coping outright isn't a compliment. It is a sign of not having your own ideas.
    Years ago some companies would just go out and but stuff off the rack, then have their patternmakers copy it and then put it in different fabric and call it a line. Not so now days.
    for creative home designers, using photos is ok, but stores don't like it. If you need to be reminded then keep sample books, clip files, etc.

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  9. i didn't see an edit feature of this blog.Sorry for the miss spellings.

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  10. I'd reduce the price by 60-80% to get what it's actually worth. The markup on clothing is huge I think.

    Do you really like this one better? I thought the one you made for yourself was nicer and fitted better. The blue suits you. But I'm probably not up on what's "cool" for men!

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  11. What do you think the people sitting in the audience at fashion shows with sketch pads are doing?

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  12. While $445 would be more than I would be able to pay for a coat these days, I'm not going to say that it's overpriced. This is because I believe a lot of clothing is underpriced and people have gotten used to paying less than value. In other words, if $445 reflects paying someone a living wage (big if), then I think it is reasonable, even though I can't afford it right now. If a coat priced at --let's say $79.00-- reflects poverty wages, then I have a problem with the social implications and effect of that coat. It's also important to consider that the price reflects the full supply chain from growing/making the fiber; weaving/dying the textile; making a design, making a pattern; making zips/buttons,snaps, etc.; sewing the garment; and also the work involved in packing & shipping the product. That said, $445 probably reflects less feel-good things too like advertising costs and a substantial retail mark-up--but even those two items also pay individual wages. So my point is that the price point is not equal to value, and speaking hypothetically only, $445 might (might!) be a good value and $79 may be a lousy value, depending on what you think is valuable.

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    1. That is exactly how I feel about it.

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    2. Also the store must pay Manhattan rents, which are considerable!

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  13. I agree the coat you sewed looks much better on you. I think the selfies are a great way to remember details you might want to use on a future project as well to further evaluate styles that flatter or don't. And $445 is a crazy price for a casual jacket.

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  14. I think it's not a big deal. It would be wrong if you were doing this for production. But it isn't horribly wrong when you are doing it for your own use. And if you dig deep enough in the interwebs, then you can find all the detail shots for most garments.

    I'm usually the weird lady in the menswear section browsing through blazers,coats and shirts, looking at all the details and scrunching up my nose when I see something done wrong, haha.

    And 400$ isn't really too much. It is a bit overpriced but not insanely. And if it's made from a good quality fabrics and done with skill, then I think it's reasonable. I wouldn't pay that kind of money and I wouldn't let Mr.Man buy it either as I could make it for less money but for an average Joe on the street with no seamstress friends who would make something like this for them, the price is okay.

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  15. I think it's fine to take photos, no biggie. Sometimes we need them just to recall what items were under consideration, no harm done. I'm loving the sportswear luxe trend.

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  16. I think cameras make great shopping tools. I haven't tried on much RTW lately, but I do take pictures of design details that I like.

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  17. Cameras are a great way to record remember what you like and what fits well. I do it myself, but I know stores are neurotic about their merchandise and i do it discretely.

    Years ago I was a Girl Scout leader and the troop was putting on a fashion show for an award, one of the requirements was to talk to people in the industry. I called a couple of stores in the city to ask if someone could talk to the girls about fashion, how the store decides what to purchase, etc.

    From their reaction you would think I was asking them to turn over everything to the troop. We are talking twelve year olds not adults. One of the few times as a leader I was refused.

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  18. You might also take a photo to remind yourself of a proposed future purchase, or to assess whether an unfamiliar silhouette is great on you or terrible on you, or whether that color really does make you look like death, etc. etc. So long as you are not hogging dressing room time and inconveniencing either sales staff or other shoppers, taking a selfie is a legitimate shopping tool. A near-$500 purchase deserves some prior thought, no?

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  19. The jacket is over priced. Regardless of the "world behind the jacket - china factory worker, high end retailers, greed and the business of making money" A better price for the jacket would be $195.00.

    Peter, I think if you took a "business of fashion", marketing etc at FIT they would teach you about pricing clothing and why high end designer clothing costs so much.

    Taking pics of RTW clothing ... absolutely nothing wrong with it. Its inspiration. I think I said this before, I watch designer RTW collections and my idea is to "recreate those looks" with similar great fabric .. so that you are "current, modern"

    I believe you were going to do the same thing with the jumpsuit. Exactly the same as taking pics of clothing, besides, going window shopping and trying things on is fun.

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  20. When I was in NYC in May shopping in the garment district I didn't have the use of a fitting room. One store, Buitoni, had a big sign in the window NO PHOTOGRAPHY. This is a button and trim store! What did they think I would do? Recreate their button? I did not encounter this at any other store and Mood practically posed for me.

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  21. At one of the home sewing Expos, a teacher showed us how to trace off patterns of garments in the dressing room, using waxed paper and our fingernail....

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    1. That is where I draw the line -- no pun intended! ;)

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  22. Taking photographs for your personal use, while frowned upon - or 'against the rules', is within the spirit of fair play.
    The publishing of them may even create a sale for someone who is time poor, or still building up their skill set.
    There is quite a bit of work, fabrics and notions in the garment; and while that price does seem high, it appears to be a good quality garment that should last well.

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  23. There are quite a few fun details on that jacket. I don't think it wrong to photo them for something you might do in the future and reference some of the details. Yours won't be an exact copy. They have different trimmings and supplies that aren't accessible to home sewer.Your not selling it to the masses. Your just a guy making a parka!!!

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  24. I really don't think this jacket is all that great, and doesn't look like a jacket worth that much. I have never taken photographs of clothing but I have printed off ideas from the internet. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. Will be interesting.

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  25. I found this post very interesting, as I often make notes and sketches at clothing stores so I can alter a commercial pattern to get a look similar to a particular RTW item. It hadn't occurred to me to take pictures in the dressing room (I'd feel too self-conscious doing it on the selling floor), but I'm going to start! As far as I know, there's nothing legally wrong with photographing the clothing at a retail store. I don't think there's anything morally wrong with it either, unless the store posts signs explicitly forbidding it. In that case, you could get thrown out of the store for taking photos, but I don't think you could be arrested or sued. If you then used the photos to manufacture and sell copies of the clothing, that could be another story - but I believe the wrongful acts would be making and selling the copies, NOT taking the photos. In any case, copying for personal use is not illegal or, in my opinion, immoral.

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  26. This reminds me of the situation faced when you had the material that matched a designer's shirt. Even still, armed with the same material and a close up look at the original your version of the shirt probably still looked different. Personally, I don't think I see anything wrong with it (not that I've considered it before). Like others, I like your version better on you - it suits or fits you better. I'm not going to comment on the value of the jacket either - too many unknown variables. I do think we've become used to spending less on clothes though. Friends here, in the UK, think sewing is dear. It's not though, if comparing it with items of similar quality and where workers are paid at least a living wage. Rachel ☺

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  27. I got into an email argument with the original Ethicist, Randy Cohen, at NYT about this. His take: trying on a wedding dress and then going home and making one like it was wrong. My take is: it's perfectly good, as long as you're not taking your brand new knowledge and making your own line of parkas...wedding parkas.....

    I am a chronic detail snapper - and am surprised when I can take photos in museums. Also surprised at shows where you can't even get out a sketchbook (the Isabelle Blow show in London). We borrow, we improve.

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    1. I think the Ethicist was correct about that one. Companies don't create garments and pay exorbitant rent for stores to serve as design research libraries for people who have no intention of buying. If I see details I like, I try to remember them.

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  28. $445 sounds like a lot to me. But in the end, I guess,
    what something is worth is what someone will pay for it. A lot of high end clothing is made in the same factories as the cheaper stuff. Perhaps it's better made, who knows? Maybe, maybe not. I agree that we have been conditioned to expect very cheap clothing prices.
    I recently bought a high school home ec textbook from 1935, and in the chapter on budgeting the suggest that an average family should spend 15% on clothing (dividing this amount among all family members, not necessarily equally--the kids usually got less because their clothing cost less). I thought, wow! That's a lot! And back in the depression, too. Of course, my family consists of only two people, but we sure don't spend anywhere near that much. But they bought fewer garments than we did, but much better quality. There are entire chapters in this book on how to recognize and buy quality clothing, how to take care of it once you have it, etc. And how to make a one year, two year, or three year plan for building a wardrobe.

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    1. I like to read vintage sewing books, too, and the quality of fabric is where they start. There were more quality fabrics available, I'm guessing, when some were made in the U.S. and trade with China gave us silks and other fabrics that are now luxury imports. The care and construction tips are still relevant even if some of our options have changed. Most of us would look better and be better dressed if we had fewer clothes, but they all fit properly. Seems to me we have lost some of the dignity of life when so many people wear sweat pants and tee shirts and nothing else.

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  29. I've taken dressing room selfies this summer, for pretty much the same reason as you did. And blogged about them as well. I tend to think it's OK because my doing so doesn't cause any kind of loss to the store but I wouldn't make a habit of it.

    And are you sure about that last pattern? I had a pullover coat back in about 1990 and I remember it being rather annoying (but of course, I was, and still am a girl with long hair...)

    And about pricing, and the countries where clothes are made... I agree with Leigh Ann that we've become conditioned to expect very cheap clothes. Do the maths for any garment you've made, factor in the fact that stores sell at about twice the price they bought the items for and you can see that so many things in the shops today are ridiculously cheap. Low prices often achieved at the cost of those who do the actual sewing.... And I don't think country of origin explains everything when it comes to either quality or ethics. We should realize: There are sweatshops in the US and in certain parts of Europe and there are honest businesses which care about the workers and about delivering a quality product in Eastern Asia... The only way for the consumer to know is to look for brands which are open about their production process.

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    1. Right on!! There is also a revival of "made in america" for example, Noble Denim based in Ohio produces short batch jeans, etc, They make selvage edge jeans which are my favorite and I have been working on perfecting making these jeans myself with vintage sewing machines.

      There are several designers/craftsmen across the country doing exactly the same. If you can afford to purchase a 275.00 pair of jeans, then why not buy from these folks instead of "ralph lauren, donna karan, calvin etc" who all take advantage of foreign workers for bigger profit margins.

      I think as consumers you have to balance your budget with your purchases. For alot of folks the budget only allows them to afford clothing from walmart. For others second hand from the salvation army (i shop there, some great stuff).

      When it comes down to it, its all a matter of economics .. as your income grows we need to make wiser purchase decisions that support local craftsmen and not large corporations with shareholders, bottom lines, and wall street demanding big profits.

      I have come to understand large corporations have no ethics when money, profits and shareholders are involved. I firmly believe that if you understand where the goods come from, the production process, that you can make better purchases, if you can afford it.

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  30. Speaking as a mental health professional, I'd have to say it's only wrong if you're naked.

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  31. Have you seen Jalie 2008? Looks very high end RTW.

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