Why We Sell Direct To Our Clients

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Selling direct to our clients eliminates the middle man, thus MULTIPLE levels of additional markup.  We sell direct in order to provide the best value to our clients at the outset.  We don’t have seasonal collections and we don’t have seasonal sales.

In a former life, I was a foreign exchange sales-trader at various major Wall Street banks.  I didn’t have a background in retail, other than as a consumer.  When I had the idea for Senza Tempo and was researching the industry I assumed I would wholesale the product (and spent more hours than I care to think about learning about what that entailed).  It was a project in the last semester of my MBA that made me realize why the direct to consumer model was the only way to go.  It’s the only the only way we can provide the best value to our clients.

Instead of artificially inflating our prices and then offering promotions so that our customers can feel like they are getting a great deal, we eliminate this

 

The Black Skirt That Started It All

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Simple black skirts should be the easiest thing in the world to find. It’s like the little black dress — one of the most ubiquitous fashion staples behind jeans and tee shirts. A few years ago I couldn’t find a simple, well-made, black A-line skirt that didn’t break the bank. I found plenty of cheap options that fit poorly and would last maybe two wears before they started falling apart. Higher quality, designer pieces were simply too expensive — I rode the subway. My black A-line skirt is the go-to item in my wardrobe. I wear them all the time and with everything — with tee shirts for weekend lunches and my favorite Chanel jacket when meeting clients. It needed to be good quality and fit well, but it also needed to be functional.

This was the dilemma that sparked my idea for Senza Tempo. I wanted create a brand that consistently carried the three timeless silhouettes. Shopping shouldn’t be hard, especially when you know what you want and what styles best suit you. Most people have better things to do than search stores or sort through hundreds of options online trying to figure out how something will fit.

My initial plan was to sell via the traditional wholesale route — to boutiques and department stores.  I was completing my last quarter of my MBA and a market mapping analysis showing trends in price and quality of clothing at the middle market and designer brands. The gap was widening — middle market brands were increasing prices and decreasing quality, while high-end designers were aggressively increasing prices with no change in quality. As a consumer it was frustrating, but as a business person I saw an opportunity.

Selling directly to the consumer wasn’t anything new — every mall across America is filled with them. Direct to consumer in the luxury space is new, however. It’s also the only way we can provide luxury quality without the markup. Quality clothing shouldn’t be out of reach.

 

 

Buy Less.  Buy Better.  Buy American.

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Mindfulness: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

Instead of buying a stack of dresses or skirts from the sale rack at the end of each season, figure out what style best suits your shape and buy one.  Buy the best quality you can afford. Learn to identify marks of quality that go beyond a logo and what makes a garment last.  And whenever possible buy American made goods.  In the long run, shopping mindfully saves time and money.

What Is Heritage?

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“Make a better future by developing elements from the past.”

— Goeth

Heritage is about the threads that link the past and future. A heritage brand is more than its history and longevity. It’s about a commitment to values of quality and craftsmanship. It’s this commitment contributes to their longevity. We’re a young brand, but one with nostalgia for the past — when making quality clothing was the standard not the exception. Too often today, quality clothing is reserved for the top end of the market.

Quality starts with the people who make the garment. Quality garments require skills and expertise, which can’t be acquired in a short amount of time. Our patterns are created by hand and by artisans with over twenty years of experience. Quality is also about the details. Most of our items are feature blind hems finished by hand. Interfacings, a detail the consumer never sees, support fabric from the inside and keep our hems, armholes and necklines from puckering over time.  Vintage garments are typically better made, but also feature interesting design details that are both beautiful and functional.

Heritage isn’t about the age of the brand, it’s about a commitment to creating a product that will last and stand the test of time. We as consumers turn to them because we know what to expect and know that their values haven’t changed over time. Senza Tempo means timeless in Italian. Every garment we make lives up to that name.

Carefully Edited Collections

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Once upon a time women shopped in a department store or local boutiques where salesmen and women truly knew their customers, what they needed and were likely to buy.  Prior to the 1990s, clothing was relatively expensive — people bought around 25 garments a year and spent close to 10% of their annual income. Wardrobes were carefully edited because they had to be. Garments had to be versatile and last for multiple years. Today, we have more choices than ever when it comes to clothing. We buy more than 70 garments a year and spend less than ever relative to our total income. Numerous items at various fast-fashion retailers are cheaper than a latte. No one thinks about what they buy because they don’t have to because clothing has become so cheap. American closets have quadrupled in size, yet we still have nothing to wear.

At Senza Tempo, we are going back to the future.
We carefully edit our collections to ensure every piece is both timeless and versatile.

We spend hours researching designs and styles that have truly stood the test of time. Some styles are vintage updates, like our Lawson Day dress a less voluminous version of the trapeze dress first created by YSL in 1958. Or our original Jackie with it’s 60s inspired retro princess seams. We also create more modern versions of these styles, such as our Jackie 2.0 which will be coming out later this year.

Before we decide to produce an item, we always think about how many different ways the item could be worn. Can it go from day to night? Is it easy to combine with other items in your closet for different looks? Is the sleeve narrow enough to fit under a blazer, like our Brigitte, to help the piece better span the seasons and increase its versatility.

Our goal is to create elevated, wardrobe basics for women whose style is anything, but basic.

The Paradox of Choice and Shopping Ease

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Our time is finite. People have more than ever to do and tools to help them, yet it seems like there’s fewer hours in the day than ever before. In 2004, Barry Schwartz argued for eliminating choices to reduce shopper’s anxiety in his bestseller The Paradox of Choice. He notes, “that happiness is affected by success or failure of a goal achievement.” Whenever I look at my closet, calculate how much I’ve spent, how much time I spent finding and caring for my clothing, and how few items I actually wear — it causes me a great deal of anxiety.

Shopping shouldn’t be a chore.

Our goal at Senza Tempo is to make shopping easy. The idea for Senza Tempo came to me when I was searching for a simple black A-line skirt. I needed something that could take me through varying weather as I was on an extended trip where I was in San Francisco one week, then Atlanta the next. I needed a skirt that was well-made and simple enough that I could wear it with a tee shirt to a casual dinner, or a Chanel jacket to a business meeting.

Months of searching came up dry for an affordable version of a very basic skirt style that is never really out of style. Poorly made, ill-fitting cheap versions were easy to find, but I just can’t tolerate them. My grandmother and mother instilled from an early age to always buy the best you could afford. Growing up most clothing was made in the U.S. and even middle market brands offered decent quality for many years — but not anymore.

Buy quality basics instead of cheap trends.

Black skirts are a wardrobe staple for me and I needed something that fit well and would last. I found a few very high-end versions, but they all started at $2000. While I’m not opposed to investing in my wardrobe, I do ride the subway.

Shopping shouldn’t be a chore. It shouldn’t create anxiety, but when you can’t find what you need despite hundreds of choices or find what you want, it becomes both. At Senza Tempo, we’re trying to make shopping easier for women who know what they want and don’t have the time to waste searching for a dress when they know exactly what you want.

 

Dress For The Season

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When it comes to shopping for wardrobe essentials, you can dress for the season, or try to build a more versatile closet filled with as many seasonless items as possible.

It’s whats inside that counts.

What makes a garment seasonless? The outer fabric, of course, but in lined garments, the lining itself is the most important feature that determines its ability to span the seasons. Most brands line their garments with synthetic polyesters or acetate. Both fabrics are and are effectively plastic derivatives — highly chemically processed with low moisture absorption. It isn’t the wool that makes your gabardine suit too hot in July it’s the lining. At Senza Tempo, we use only 100% silk to line our garments. Silk absorbs moisture, which makes it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

When it’s hot outside everyone immediately thinks of cotton and linen as the optimal fabrics, never thinking that the reason they are our go-to items for warm days is because they aren’t often mixed with synthetic materials which tend to trap heat. Natural fabrics like cotton, silk and wool are all breathable. Breathable fabrics absorb moisture. A lightweight merino wool dress will cool your body temperature better than a synthetic jersey because it helps to transfer heat away from the body.

Silk linings are common in luxury ready-to-wear.

Our Brigitte dress is made with a finely spun Italian virgin wool and lined with silk charmeuse with a touch of stretch. The charmeuse keeps the dress from being see through and makes the dress feel like you are wearing your favorite pajamas. But it’s the hint of Lycra in the outer fabric and the lining that perfects the fit. The bodice and the sleeves are narrow enough to pair it comfortably with your favorite blazer for client meetings in January, or alone with a pair of strappy stilettos for a night on the town come June.

We never sacrifice function for form at Senza Tempo. We make dresses that look good and feel good. Dresses that you can and want to wear throughout the year. Dressing for the season is out. Versatility is in and how fashion is moving forward.

 

You Can Buy Fashion, But You Can’t Buy Style

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“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”

— Lauren Hutton

The size of a lapel on a jacket, the width and cut of a pair of trousers, even the look of a print can give away when you bought an item. One of the most obvious giveaways is the logo.

In today’s supercharged fast-fashion cycle, the popularity of wearing logos seems to rise and fall faster than hemlines. Irrespective of the actual logo, simply wearing a logo can suggest being trendy, or hopelessly out of style. The logo you are wearing may distinguish fashion insiders from mass-market followers. Logos convey instantly how much you spent on an item, which can be considered either tacky or a measure of success — depending on the logo and where we are in the economic cycle. Some women believe a logo is what gives them style, while other believe wearing logos is the antithesis good style.

Luxury isn’t a logo or high prices, it’s about quality and attention to detail.

Timeless clothing and true luxury has nothing to do with a logo and everything to do with the craftsmanship of the item. The discerning customer knows the difference.  The preeminent heritage brands (think Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermes) with the most recognizable logos are recognizable after over a century, not because of a successful branding and PR campaign, but because of their unwavering commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

At Senza Tempo, we believe our clientele doesn’t need a logo to convey how stylish they are or their level of success — they simply are. They demand the quality and craftsmanship that was once common and is now rare.  Most brands today are focused on the next trend rather than producing a quality garment that will withstand time and trends. The Senza Tempo woman knows that true style can’t be bought and isn’t in a logo, but how you wear an item.

A New Look At Sustainable Fashion

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In 1947 Christian Dior changed fashion history with his “New Look” collection. It was in this collection he introduced the Corolle line, a new silhouette that celebrated the feminine form, what we now know as the fit-and-flare. Some fashion historians argue that part of its widespread appeal was related to pent up demand for feminine clothing after years of austerity due to the war and masculine inspired styles. The same could be said when it comes to the demand for sustainable fashion.

If we want fashion to be sustainable, we must slow down.

Women want to shop responsibly, but they also want to be fashionable. They want their clothing to be ethically made and to be fashion forward. Often times people think of sustainable fashion, or eco-fashion, as clothing made of organic cotton and recycled materials. Clothing that is anything but fashionable. Wikipedia defines sustainable fashion as a design philosophy and trend where the goal of which is to create a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of the impact on the environment and having a social responsibility.

Prior to the 1990s the majority of our clothing was made in the U.S. and made to last because trends lasted years. Feminine silhouettes defined 1950s. The 1960s were modern and simple, while the 1970s brought about a more ethnic and bohemian style. Until the early 2000s one could look at clothing and easily identify its era of influence.  Today we live in a world of short-lived micro-trends brought about by the collapse in trade barriers in the late 90s. Manufacturing was outsourced to the lowest bidder and quality declined along with prices.

Fast fashion might be cheap, but it doesn’t come without a cost in terms of its impact on the environment and human condition.

Well-made items, in classic styles that are fashionable season after season — that’s what’s sustainable. Garments made by people paid a living wage — that’s what’s sustainable.  At Senza Tempo, we’re doing both.