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

 

If we want fashion to be sustainable, we must slow down (Part II)

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From luxury retailers to fast fashion, the fashion industry’s main concern is getting to the next trend and getting consumers to buy into it. Creating needs instead of producing items consumers actually need. I launched Senza Tempo, an accessible luxury women’s clothing line, because I couldn’t find a simple, well-made, black A-line skirt — a style that’s never really out of style.

Globalization accelerated the retail life cycle and ultimately created a vicious circle that’s wreaking havoc on retailers bottom-lines (it’s no secret the fashion industry in crisis) and the environment (most don’t realize that the fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry behind big oil and rife with labor abuses.) 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 the overall quality of our clothing declined along with prices. Clothing is cheaper than it was 20 years ago, but there’s a cost in terms of its impact on the environment and the human condition.

Ethical, organic, sustainable, fair trade — they are all great buzzwords, but if consumers really want to shop responsibly then they need to shop mindfully. In order for fashion to be truly sustainable, we must slow down. Fashion companies need to get back to basics and produce fashionable high quality, versatile wardrobe essentials. The market is missing a brand that makes garments that are meant to be worn repeatedly and last for years. Consumers need to buy less and buy better.

In order to buy less, every garment you own needs to be truly versatile. Versatility starts with the design and ends with the fabric. The designs must have clean lines and classic silhouettes. Three timeless silhouettes anchor Senza Tempo’s collection: the hourglass, shift and A-line trapeze. The shapes flatter a wide range of body types and personal styles — and they are always available. We also keep our designs deliberately simple with clean lines and European style tailoring

If you inventory your closet and identify the items you’ve worn the most, I’m willing to bet there’s an inverse relationship between the number of times an item was worn and how ornate it is.

Fabric is the second aspect that determines a garment’s versatility. At Senza Tempo, we use only the finest natural fabrics, and line all of our garments in silk. Using silk linings is common in high-end ready-to-wear, but less so at the advanced contemporary price point. Silk linings are a luxury and necessity in our view. Silk is breathable and adjusts to your body temperature — cooling you in the summer and warming you in the winter. It isn’t necessarily the wool that makes a suit or dress unbearable during the warmer months, but the fact that it’s lined in acetate, which is a plastic derivative. The one detail helps a garment better span the seasons, thus increase its wearablity. The seasons are blending, unseasonably hot or cold temperatures are the norm no matter where you live, yet most retailers continue to produce highly season specific garments.

Buying better quality items isn’t about the label, but the design, fabrication and construction. Details like interfacing around the neckline or armholes, which give it a clean finish, are skipped since the consumer can’t see them. All the consumer sees is the label. Most garment workers are paid based on the number of garments they complete in an hour. The factory where our garments are made in downtown Los Angeles, which has some of the strictest labor laws in the world, are paid by the number of hours it takes to make a garment. Whether I produce 12 or 1200 Jackie dresses my cost of labor is the same. Volume doesn’t change the fact that this dress takes approximately 11 hours to create. If volume is the goal, then quality will never be a priority.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Day to Night Outfits For The Real World

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Why is it that the most common advice out there on how to take an outfit from day to night is to simply swap my work-bag for a sparkly clutch or heels?  It’s a great idea in theory, but in all my years in the corporate world I never once changed into sparkly heels or carried an extra clutch bag. And I certainly wasn’t going to leave my workbag at the office.

Before launching Senza Tempo I worked long hours in investment management and on a trading desk on Wall Street. If I had a date or met friends after work, I went in whatever I wore to the office. Most of the time I was lucky to get out of the office on time and not miss dinner or drinks. I carried two cell phones and living in New York City there was always a pair of flats in my bag — I didn’t have the room to carry additional evening accessories.

When trying to make an outfit work from day to night, it’s more realistic to choose a dress or outfit that simply works for both. Choose a dress with a fabric that has a little sheen to it, or a style that is a little more festive. Our Carmel and Lawson day are made with a black silk wool strikes that perfect balance. The silk elevates the wool and gives it just the right amount sheen — it’s on the dressy side, but doesn’t look out of place in an office environment. The key to having an outfit that works for the office or out to dinner is wearing something where the style is simple made with a fabric that works for day or night.

 

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.

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.

 

New York Style: Uptown Elegance, Downtown Spirit

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In New York City there’s a distinct difference (sometimes real, sometimes perceived) between how someone who lives Uptown dresses versus someone who lives Downtown. Uptown style is generally classic, polished and sometimes conservative. While Downtown style is a bit more casual, hip and edgy. Uptown women usually wear designer names with matching accessories, while Downtown women wear a mix of designer, vintage or smaller brands in order to create a look all their own.

As Michael Pollak wrote in the New York Times: “Uptown style means having your collar starched, while downtown indulges in the wrinkles. The habitants can wear the exact same labels and yet create two completely different looks.”  New York women who work on Wall Street or at a law firm may have a Downtown style, but office dress code is typically a bit more Uptown and leaves little room for sartorial self-expression.  New York women, regardless of where they live, make looking totally pulled together completely effortless.

How to dress like a New Yorker
Dress for comfort, but add a little pizzazz.
Embrace neutrals.
Have a style that is all your own.

Neutrals are key to building a mindful closet, but adding statement jewelry and colorful accessories are the easiest ways to personalize a simple navy shift dress or black skirt. Our English Garden scarf, with it’s oversized dimensions adds a pop of color and will keep you warm in a drafty office. New York women are always ready for anything.  You’ll never meet a New York woman who doesn’t have a pair of flats in her bag. Whether they live on the Upper East Side or Tribeca, New York women always have a style all their own.

Wardrobe Essentials — Joy, Versatility and Longevity

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It seems everywhere you turn someone is raving about the KonMari Method and the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The question of whether an item sparks joy, especially for fashion lovers, is a loaded question. While I’m a fan of decluttering, trimming my wardrobe is tough.  I love fashion (obviously).  An interesting cut or beautiful, bold print could be the feature that brings you joy — even if you only wear it once or twice a year.  What I did notice when I started Marie Kondo’s approach to cleaning was the amount of overlap I had in my closet, but few simple basics that would work across the seasons and in different environments.  For me, wardrobe basics go beyond tees and khakis.   I have close to thirty black dresses, but few truly simple dresses I could style in a way that would work for a business meeting in New York or dinner in Los Angeles.  The easiest way to clean out your closet is to only buy truly versatile pieces so that you need less.

The Senza Tempo approach to cleaning out your closet
Does the item spark joy?
Is it versatile?
Is it well made and will it last?

What constitutes a wardrobe basic varies widely.  It depends on your personal style, where you are from and what you do for a living. Southern women can’t live without the perfect selection of colorful skirts and dresses, while a New Yorker can’t live without a wide selection of black basics.  Regardless of your personal style, wardrobe basics need to have clean, simple lines in order to be truly versatile.  Details and embellishments reduce an items versatility.  The fabric is another factor to consider.  Far too much of my wardrobe is highly season specific.  The items that are a lighter weight wool gabardine or wool crepe are lined with acetate, which is like lining a garment in plastic.  My lightweight wool shift dress is completely unwearable come July and August because the lining is suffocating.

I founded Senza Tempo because I felt there needed to be a brand making high quality, upscale, versatile wardrobe basics. We line our garments in silk, not only because that’s what luxury ready-to-wear brands do, but also because it’s practical.  Silk is breathable and extends the wearability of a garment as a result.  We hope our garments always spark joy not only for their beauty, but for their quality and versatility.