Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chute your pants at Hointer

I stumbled upon the Hointer popup store at Pacific Place today. It's where the Restoration Hardware used to be. After scanning the poster-sized write-ups from Forbes, Geekwire, etc., in the front window, I was curious about this minimalist space peppered with suspended pants (not pants with suspenders, though) labeled with QR codes.

The nice young clerk in the shop was very helpful when I asked him about the business plan; very knowledgeable dude, which is always refreshing. Here're the basics of shopping at Hointer:
  • Cruise around the store and find jeans you'd like to try on.
  • Use your smartphone to scan the jeans' QR code tag. (This requires you to download their app, which is available for iPhone, Android, and Windows). You can also ask a clerk to scan the tag for you, if you don't want to download the app or your phone is being used by your dog/toddler/grandchild. Another option: hold your phone up to the accompanying NCF (near field communication) tag.
  • The app asks you for your size, and you tell it the usual lies.
  • The item is added to a virtual shopping cart, and you can keep shopping, or click a "try on" button, which tells you which numbered dressing room to use.
Now, I think the best part of this is how your jeans get delivered to the dressing room. So if you don't want to miss the fun, be within striding distance of the dressing room when you click "try on." Because your jeans get delivered to your room down a chute in the wall!

That's right, a mechanized delivery system works its magic like tiny orphan hands replacing empty spools in a Victorian England cotton mill. My hope is that you feel free to sing Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" in a doo-dee-doo fashion while donning your fresh-from-the-robot-hands pants.

It's an interesting business plan: target customers who want to avoid the kerfuffle of digging through racks and shelves, and give the product 360° display space so people can picture what their bums will look like in the jeans. "Showcasing," the consumer behavior of snooping around a brick & mortar retail shop to check out products  and pricing before heading to the web to purchase, is giving both online and physical shops a run for their money. So this is an interesting idea that bridges those two shopping experiences.

One thing that Hointer has invested in is customer service. The two guys I spoke with where very friendly and helpful. So if you still want to interact with humans while you shop, Hointer's filling that need.

So what do you think? Is this type of shopping for you? Have you shopped at Hointer? What did you think?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Robi at Rachel's Ginger Beer

I saw Robi through the window as I walked down Pine street. She was at the big open patio door of her daughter's shop, Rachel's Ginger Beer, on Post Alley in Pike Place market. Robi's turquoise sweater, ikat-ish scarf, and silver cuffs were complemented by the colorful growler bottles chilling on ice (in a galvinized holding pen, lest they should rumble away) and the little sample cups of pale yellow and blood orange ginger beer.

This photo (hey, man, I only have a camera phone!) doesn't do Robi and her ensemble justice. So I swiped a pic of some RGB growlers so I could put it next to Robi & you could get the full impact of something fresh and summery as we run out of summer. (Boo hoo!)

You'll have to go see her in person and try some of Rachel's spiceriffic, not-too-sweet fizzy goodness. And they'll put it into a cocktail for you. Yes. A booze cocktail. Not for the kiddies.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pink shoes and purses: Ann Marie

Stopped by the downtown Nordstrom today to see my cousin Ann Marie, who'll expertly guide you through the colorful labyrinth that is Nordstrom Designer Handbags.

Ann Marie has always had un senso elegante stile (I can say that because she's half Italian), and today she looked fantastic, as always. Don't the pink flats just make the outfit?

Because I tend to shop by feel (If I don't like the feel of a textile, why would I want it near my body?), I became aware that, while we chatted, I was being too fondley with the leather goods. I had to remind myself that, no, you are not in a tack shop in 1975 (which is a perfectly approprite time and place to put your hands all over bridles and saddles), and that you are in a very nice department store, so stop handling that red Proenza Schouler bag as if it were a blob of cinnamon roll dough.

By the way, Ann Marie gave me some interesting info on purse leather: when leather is tanned, it's fed through rollers to press it smooth. Then it's put through another treatment to add the grain back in. So the different finishes and textures on leather goods are actually created per the designer's specifications.

So next time you go feeling up handbags, thank your lucky stars for those dudes (or ladies) manning those big roller machines in the tannery. They're keeping you stylin'.

Phyllis Diller chicken

I remember seeing Phyllis Diller do stand-up on TV, and thinking, "Wow, that is some amazing old lady up there in that mini dress & awful hair." She was completely unlike anyone I'd met, because I mostly grew up around Quiet People of the Northwest. Who wore loud dresses like that? Certainly no adult whom I knew.

Being in horse 4H, my sister and I spent several days each summer at the fairgrounds. We'd constantly tour the barns when we weren't preparing for or attending show classes, and we loved visiting the poultry barn. We called any chicken with a crazy, tufty mop-top a Phyllis Diller chicken.

Today I was walking through Westlake Park and saw the back of some booths, and the words "Puyallup Fair" on a banner. And then I saw it: a petting zoo.

Now, I get a little squee-nutty around farm animals. I adore them, and want to take them all home and give them lemon bars and serve them tea in dainty china cups. So when I saw the pygmy goats, sheep, the rabbit, and the two chickens at the little mini-farm, whose intention is to lure us city folk to the state fair that starts this weekend, I was all over them like the kitten who shredded my hand in Mexico this spring. Except, unlike the kitten, the petting zoo inhabitants mostly ignored me. And there was no blood shed. And no rabies shots afterwards.

We should be so lucky to be like Phyllis Diller when we're older. Actually, we should be like her now, fashion sense and all. This little chick's for you, Phyllis.

Miss Springfield

My friend Melissa is probably the epitome of someone whose style is integrated into her everyday life. Her style is straightforward and chic, and once in awhile has post-modern quirkiness (whatever that is) tossed in.
Melissa in her frayed-hem jeans and Chanel shoes

But her fashion sense is not her identity, nor even an extension of it. It's like, you know you've met a farm girl because she simply knows how to carry a bucket. Or a woman who watched her mom cook, because of how she browns a roast and snips the string after she takes it out of the oven. That's how Melissa is with her personal style.

You know—like a really good roast in a bucket. (I kid! I kid!)

It also helps that Melissa is simply lovely, and she could put on a burlap potato sack and look gorgeous. So basically, Melissa is as wonderful as roast and potatoes.

She moved from Seattle to London recently, and I miss her. I am hoping she'll be my foreign style correspondent.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stylin' northern neighbors

Went down to Uwajimaya to see if there were any interesting Japanese fashion mags featuring foldy-origami-ish clothes, but most of what I saw was the same batch of styles that any U.S. magazine has. There were some nice books in the craft section (drape drape is particularly interesting), but I didn't feel like dropping 25 bucks today.

They both admired these Dress to Kill pants at Momo
  So I headed to Momo to visit my friend Lei Ann. She wasn't in, but Tom was, as well as these two fashionable ladies visiting from Vancouver, B.C.

I noticed them when they came in the shop: I love drapey linen clothes, and these women were stylish and confident in all their flaxy glory. And no wonder they're stylin': one of them owns Urbanity, a clothing shop in Vancouver. Will have to check it out next time I head up north.

Decades of style: my mom

It's only appropriate that the first post of this blog should star the woman who knew Frederick & Nelson Tea Room first-hand. My mother was fashionable then, and still is. She has an eye for detail, and most important, has always known what flatters her shape, coloring, and style.

One of my mother's first jobs was in the Seattle Bon Marche Infants' and Children's department in the 50s. She and friends would dine at the fantastic standbys that used to feed and entertain Seattleites who worked downtown: Other Place, Outrigger, Pancho’s, and Plaid Piper. Rhodes Department Store had a lovely  restaurant overlooking the main floor, and a live organist. There was Trader Vic’s, and Von’s, both great places for cocktails.

Up to around the 50s, a department store clerk wore a black dress and a string of pearls. It was a simple, elegant time for fashion. During WWII, rationing had limited the availability of fabrics and colors, and as usually happens, restrictions create new standards which are adopted and altered: when manufacturers aren't allowed to put cuffs on blouses, people figure out other ways to lend style to outfits.

Here's to Mom! 

This is probably at the Arboretum Japanese Garden
At my grandparents' house in Fremont
At The Fat Hen in Ballard, 2012