Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fashion Planet

Sorry for being so late to report this - this took place in January, but the February Project was taking up all my creative time. More on that next week.

Today - Enter the Exciting Pulse-Pounding World of Fashion. Now, I know that all of you come here to Excelsior for the latest in janitorial and home-improvement advice, and for updates on Syd the cat, and the Evil Gondi, but today, we travel to the world of Fashion - the exciting Style Max Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

Fashion designers and clothing wholesalers from all over the world come together to show their latest discoveries and creations to retailers. My wife and I are opening Alana - a women's apparel shop (shoppe?) next month in one of our commercial spaces in Milwaukee's Joyce Skylight Court.

Joyce has been a fashion model, modeling instructor, and clothing consultant for all of her life. I'll admit that my tastes in clothing run all the way from JC Penney's to Farm and Fleet. I know that flannel is for around the house, and when you go out, you wear that other, you know the white shirt and suit coat stuff. My job in this whole scheme of the fashion world is to do all the infrastructure stuff, like finding racks, assembling cabinetry, computer and phone network, janitorial, etc. And the world of fashion is an alien planet unto me.

My job for this phase of the project was mainly logistical: Get Joyce There. Protect the Queen.
Phase One: The best and cheapest way to get to Chicago from Milwaukee is the Amtrak train. It's $22.00 each, which is about 1/2 what it would cost you to park in Chicago. Our friend Stephy, who was answering to our cats for the weekend, (she is also the President of the Gondi Fan Club) took us to the train station. On the other end, it was a little more complicated - from Union Station to the Merchandise Mart. Did you know that Google Maps connects with the transit routes? I went into the unknown equipped with bus numbers, stop schedules, etc to get us right to the hotel. (CAUTION: bus schedules for weekends are different from weekday schedules, so be sure you ask Google for the correct data). And since the Holiday Inn is connected by skywalk to the Merchandise Mart, we can safely say: Mission accomplished! Only one panhandler at the bus stop.
From a man's perspective, the next phase is not a pretty sight, and at first glance may induce seizure in some men - aaaaaaargggh!!! endless shopping. . . Truly we are standing at the Gates of Hell!
But this was different from our local mall, because in this place we were shop owners, and the many vendors are eager to set up orders with us. Most of the vendors and at least half of the buyers (store owners) are men. Surprisingly, they could easily speak in terms of part numbers, order requirements, and shipping terms. But with Joyce in high gear on the creative aspect of the mission, my memory of it is a blur of booth numbers, product codes, business cards, contact info, order delivery and billing, etc. In other words, I was too busy to be tired.
At the end of the day, there was a reception and fashion show, to give us ideas of what to look at tomorrow. With over 4000 vendors represented, there is no way to see the whole exhibition in the three days alotted.
When the exposition closed for the day, we went over the skywalk, and up to the Holiday Inn. A futuristic looking hotel - the main lobby starts on the 15th floor of its building, and all the hallways are exposed in a central cavernous courtyard.
Chicago wasn't as scary as it at first seemed, and someday perhaps we could visit it as tourists. Two more panhandlers on the way to the train depot. The queen was safely delivered back to the royal palace. Now for the onslaught of UPS drivers....

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