Saturday, June 02, 2012


That's Calvin Klein above, wearing one of his famous tee shirts. 

Klein had the smarts to realize that every man wanted a form-fitting tee shirt like Brando had in "Streetcar Named Desire." Actually, even Brando didn't have a tee shirt like that. The one he wore in the movie had to be pinned back. Anyway, Klein turned out great tee shirts for years til he sold the company and the new owner allowed the quality to deteriorate.

Calvin Klein was a hero. He was the first to make sophisticated design accessible to the common man. His clothes sold at Macy's for Pete's sake, and were only a little more than twice the normal price. In the world of fashion that's still dirt cheap. That means that anyone with a job could afford them, as long as they were willing to skimp on something else.

Actually, when you think about it, designer jeans had to sell for more than normal jeans. They could only sell to a limited market of reasonably fit people because there's just too many variations of  plump and pulpy. Also a lot of advertising was needed to launch the idea. 

The hippies hated Klein. For them, plain old Levis 501's represented the ideal of the classless society...any tinkering was the work of the devil. They were right in one way, but wrong in another. Status seeking is a fundamental part of human nature.You can't eliminate it, you can only hope to take the most harmful edges off it. By making fashion available to everyone, Klein created a new version of the classless society, one which persists right up to the present. 

Gee, all this talk about fashion calls to mind my own struggle with it. Here's (above) a low-priced shirt I bought in 2011 and have worn only once.  It's horribly shapeless, the fabric doesn't hang naturally, the collar doesn't cling to the neck and shoulders, and it's mostly cotton, so it requires ironing. The collar and sleeve sizes are correct but nothing else is.

Here's (above) a designer shirt I bought way back in 1984, and have worn continuously since. It has a nice shape, the fabric hangs naturally, the collar clings to the neck and shoulders as it should, and it's a polyester/rayon blend that requires no ironing. Don't be deterred by the polyester...all polyesters and rayon are not made the same. This fabric breathes almost as well as cotton.

The shoulders are reinforced for shape, but the soft three-part reinforcement (I'm pointing to it) still allows the fabric to hang naturally. It only cost twice as much as the checkered shirt I never wear. My only regret is that I didn't buy five of these when I had the chance.


Jules said...

1984, Christ I don’t I've owned a piece of clothing that's lasted more then a couple of years.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jules: I know what you mean. I wonder if the shirt's longevity has something to do with the fabric?

At Neiman Marcus I was surprised to see how many expensive clothes were made of polyester, rayon, or nylon blends. I'll bet Auralynn's green dress was made of artificial fibers.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Kurtwil just put up this comment on the 9/18/2007 post, "Thinking About Art School."

"Eddie, has much changed with Art schools since this was posted?

When I taught digital animation techniques at CALARTS in mid 90's, I discovered, then, that studios wanted people they could plug into various work roles, __not__ students trained to be independent filmmakers, which CALARTS was biased towards.

Most small (and many big) FX companies hire contractors given a paycheck and little else. Tight deadlines prohibit most on-job training (I worked during day, learning software/drawing/3D at night - 20 years of 14+ hour days took its tole.)

IMHO wrt tools, 3D still remains a media requiring intensive, mostly technical training. MAYA in particular's popular with big studios because it's reprogramable for specialized use (You'll need C++, Python or MEL training). Toon Boom's the 2D animation toolset right now, but while more artist friendly than MAYA, it too requires technical chops to master.

I applaud you, JK and the other true believers who remain active in this business! There are still a few great opportunities out there for those who can find or trip into one!"

kurtwil: Thanks for the interesting comment. So far as I can tell, animation departments focus more than ever on 3D and suppliment it with a little figure drawing, design and animation history on the side. That's not a very good curriculum in my opinion.

Jules said...

Oops, I meant to write "I don't think I've owned".
I do own a nicely tailored suit, but since that was so pricey and it's the probably the fanciest fashion item I own it only comes out for job interviews

Anonymous said...

Kurtwil's comment reminded me of something I've been meaning to ask you for a while now. Since I will be living about 40 minutes from New York City in a few months and a lot of the major animation studios are there, what's the best way to begin some internships at some of those studios in the next year or so (possibly Summer 2013) if I've already developed some strong drawing skills and have a great handle on all the basic animation drawing principles and fundamentals? Again, I'm so glad that I'm not going to any of those art schools because I'm saving so much money going to a reputable public university and not wasting my money on a lousy animation curriculum.

Anonymous said...

One thing I forgot to mention in my comment. Even though it's very early in the game, I was also considering grad school, especially for animation and I've had my eyes set on The Pratt Insitute for a while now, but maybe NYU would be viable too. What do you think?