Making the Cut: The Next Global Brand
April 24, 2020 7:37 PM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Again, this is a two-for-one post, covering Episode 9: Pop-Up Shop and Episode 10: The Next Global Brand, where the winner of the $1 million is announced.
posted by sardonyx (16 comments total)
Okay, before I write anything else, I just have to say that iridescent white thing that Heidi wore at the finale's fashion show was insultingly, obscenely, offensively bad, frighteningly ugly and inconceivably poorly fitting. It hurt to look at it.

I have no idea why in the pop-up shop episode they were harping on Johnny's brand about feeling too much like other brands when they let Sander get away without comment for his Miss Bos name. I know it's his name, but you can't tell me Hugo Boss would let him market something so similar sounding. I'm sure the well-suited Boss lawyers will be on his doorstep in a matter of seconds the second he tries to really market that name.

Was I the only one who had concerns about Johnny hanging black mannequins (apparently by the head/neck)? I know it was supposed to look like they were ascending like the butterflies, but I think I would have gone with mannequins of a completely different colour. Butterfly pink or ivy green or something.

I think if they were given three tasks (pop-up shop, business plan creation and collection design) all three designers should have been given the opportunity to do the first two at the very least. Sander really missed his opportunity by not having any extras beyond clothes in his shop. This is a branding competition, that means sticking your name on everything, and he didn't see that, whereas Johnny really did, as did Esther (to a lessor degree).

Of course, there was no way Esther was going to win as she refused to embrace any colour, and her answer to the Amazon executive sealed her fate, but even still, for somebody of Johnny's experience, answering the 'what will you spend the money on' question by saying hire a digital marketing team and save the rest should have disqualified him immediately. That's not a business plan.

That Italian judge was pretty useless. I would have much preferred to see Nicole Richie in every episode as she seemed to have some useful insights and comments to offer. Even though I ran hot and cold on her, Naomi Campbell also had a lot of valuable insights. Altuzarra could have been replaced by literally any other designer. He was such a bland placeholder.

The heavy-handed music has been annoying all season, but that level of annoyance was ramped up to overkill over these last two episodes. That really needs to stop for next season (assuming there is one). I guess it will depend on Amazon's sales numbers.

It's funny, I just realized I wrote this much without commenting on the designers' clothes. Sander's pop-up stuff was not to my taste, as much as I love colour and can appreciate pattern. Esther's finale looks were generally fine. There was nothing that got me too worked up or too excited. She delivered a solid collection well within her current wheelhouse. For her pop-up stuff and her jewellery, there is no way I'd a) pay those prices for costume jewellery of unknown metals and b) wear that taste-for-life/utensils logo. I can appreciate the look of the tulle but I can't imagine wearing it over a coat. I have no idea what Johnny was thinking with his latex gloves. Maybe I could live with the big yellow boots, but latex gloves are not and cannot be a fashion statement. Not even Dexter could pull that off. (Love that comment by Nicole.) He certainly demonstrated his leather skills (or the skills of his leather workers) on that braided jumper.
posted by sardonyx at 8:11 PM on April 24, 2020

I forgot to mention that I was absolutely shocked that Heidi couldn't come up with a way to give her the last word in declaring the victor, and instead let Nicole break the tie.

As for woman with a strong plan and lots of details versus man with vague idea where the man comes out victorious, I get the feeling I've seen that happen before, somewhere, sometime. Heaven knows where.
posted by sardonyx at 10:11 PM on April 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Okay, before I write anything else, I just have to say that iridescent white thing that Heidi wore at the finale's fashion show was insultingly, obscenely, offensively bad, frighteningly ugly and inconceivably poorly fitting. It hurt to look at it.

That outfit ticked all the boxes of things that would get people aufed on Project Runway. Terrible fabric, short enough to show her hoo-ha, weird wings, far too much cleavage, hoochie, costumey, trashy, tasteless ... Heidi needs to fire her stylist.

I enjoyed the pop-up shop episode and I really liked Sandor's clothes. A 20-year-old me would buy those multi-colour tunics with the sparkly collars. I thought they were adorable.

Esther's clothes do nothing for me. It's not just the colour, they're just not appealing to me.

I'm not thrilled with Jonny's style either, but I like him as a person and so I was glad he won.

I love Tim Gunn, but this series was a big mis-step for him.
posted by essexjan at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

I guess my best outcome out of all of this is a new appreciation for Nicole Richie, who I knew very little about before -- she's charming, elegant, smart, and everything she wears is spectacular. I'm a fan. And I ended up appreciating Naomi Campbell quite a lot as well.

I feel like the votes from David Altuzarra and Chiara Ferragni should have counted less in some way, as they had very little to say. I checked out Altuzarra's label and I'm generally unmoved by his aesthetic. Honestly: There's a bunch of weirdly Amish-yet-breezy ruffled colorblocked dresses, then a sleek-jacketed business suit with straight-leg, knee-length shorts as bottoms. And then there's this horrific, utterly unwearable, $450... crocheted trivet top? I'm completely baffled. What would Naomi say?

But that said, Esther would never have won because of the whole color thing for mass market offerings, and setting the runway shows in the dark of night instead of, say, a clean white gallery wall was the kiss of death when it came to showing off her collection to its best advantage. She's lovely, though, and I love her Berlin apartment, her colorful and heartfelt metaphors, and her focus how well-designed, well-made clothes can make you feel. Maybe it's better she came in second -- she gets name recognition, but she gets to remain fully hands-on and in control of a very personal boutique in a very stylish city. If I ever get to Berlin, I'd love to visit her shop.

And I liked how Christine Beauchamp found ways to put both nervous contestants more at ease during the business plan presentations.

Jonny was smart to include so many accessories in his popup, and the candle idea was genius. The vogueing in that tiny space, not so much! And, sardonyx, those hanging mannequins were so wrong and I was right there cringing with you! But I did love that off-shoulder dress, and that asymmetrical dress that was the best-seller, and the stripey rib-knit dress, too, and I'd be happy to wear any of those. And I liked the big print coat, too, although the detail kind of looks like a line of little Galaga alien ships. The weird fringey macrame mesh, though? No.

Here's the whole Cota collection. The maxi dresses and those linen wrap pants are fantastic, but the rest is... well, you'll see. That men's leopard print bowling shirt is one of the most awful things I've seen since... well, since that potholder top!

And I'm shocked no one called out the butterfly/metamorphosis metaphor for being so cliche. I mean, honestly.

This was such a bizarre series. The latter episodes got a lot more interesting, but the ending felt as disjointed as the beginning. I know the whole thing is called Making The Cut, but what I'd really enjoy is something like eight solid designers who remain week after week, until a necessary finale of three. That way, you'd get more options/variety for the Amazon winner of the week, and you could keep compelling people like Ji Won and Sabato around even if one particular assignment isn't their jam, and it puts the focus on celebrating design and designers instead of falling into the tired elimination game show/bow-down-to-our-format feel.
posted by mochapickle at 10:44 AM on April 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

OMG, that trivet top is ... I don't honestly have the words. And that price. I'm more than speechless. On the basis of that monstrosity alone, he should be banned for life from ever designing or sewing another garment for the rest of his life.

I think you're absolutely right that this was the best outcome for Esther. She would have chaffed under Amazon's control. I really think, however, that Amazon would be smart to commission pieces from her and from Sander and some of the other contestants. The retailer may as well capitalize on the exposure it has provided these designers. Plus, it would be a way to show the company is actually interested in mentoring and assisting designers as they develop through their careers.

Johnny's pop-up dresses were nice (although I though that asymmetrical one was way too short on the short side). It was nice to see a knit dress as well (I love them, even if they don't love me). As you said, mochapickle, that full collection however, some real stinkers. In addition to the ones you mentioned, I'm not really a fan of the zipper placement on the men's pants. It's a little too "look at my manhood" for my taste, although I'm sure some people will love it.
posted by sardonyx at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

So . . . anyone wanna take bets on whether Johnny's working with people in Bali because he can pay them dirt cheap wages and get away with it?
posted by Anonymous at 4:08 PM on April 25, 2020

I actually really loved Esther's collection and I wanted her to win. Her clothes lacked color but they had so much texture. Each garment was cut well, finished well, and had some unexpected element or detail. They were dramatic but not flashy, and I think there could be a significant market for that.

Johnny had some great pieces at the beginning of his show - I liked both tops that had long fringe. But after the fourth look or so, it was a mix of bad and boring. He will probably be able to sell some clothes but I think it's less likely that he'll build a name that people will remember in 20 years.

I would have liked to see Sander's collection. He was the other designer this season who consistently made work that looked new to me.
posted by mai at 4:16 PM on April 25, 2020

I really think, however, that Amazon would be smart to commission pieces from her and from Sander and some of the other contestants.

I'd be excited to see that. The Making The Cut store's main page promises a "shopbop edit" for Esther, though I'm not sure what that means. And there's links to some curated shopping ideas from the top three. Esther's picks are remarkably Estheresque, and even include a stripped-down visor version of her ever-present hat!

The more I think about it, the more I hate how they use the title of this show. I mean, it works because Making the Cut refers both to sewing and to the designers surviving multiple eliminations, but every time Heidi has to say it to a talented contestant, I cringe more than a little. For the final three, she had to say that tagline to Sander, who really was doing well -- his popup shop was super fun, he'd really impressed the judges, they all agreed he had a bright future ahead working in the industry. It wasn't that he wasn't making the cut -- it was that he just wasn't moving on in this particular self-important show. (And honestly, what would have been the harm of including him as one more option in the final show? All that work he did was squandered for a little manufactured drama (bluh), when having an extra fashion show would be so much more interesting and watchable.)

schroedinger, I don't think he's fooling anyone that he's working with a factory in Bali for the cheaper labor. He said he started with $500, and in LA, that's maybe enough to make a jacket or two. In Bali, that'd be a whole rack of garments.

It's funny. This show was uneven an at sometimes even unappealing to me. But it makes me want to get out the sewing machine, or maybe just find some grannies willing to knit some potholders that I can attach with nylon backpack straps...
posted by mochapickle at 4:29 PM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've got a fair number of silver pieces purchased from a company that manufactures in Bali. The spin the company puts on the story is that they are handcrafted pieces produced by artisans carrying on traditional family businesses. These artisans bring a spirituality to their work and the go through a blessing ceremony on every finished piece. (I've also got silver pieces from a company that took a similar approach but in Nepal.)

The jewellery I've bought from both companies has been (generally) reasonably priced--although the prices have certainly jumped over recent years. The heads of both companies will admit that in addition to all of the romantic hand-crafted artisanal appeal, a large part of the reasons they manufacture there are the costs, and how what would be paltry payments here make a huge difference there. Now, I've been curious for years how much they actually pay the workers. I'm sure they're being underpaid by our standards. I just don't know how badly they're being paid by their standards. The company that manufactured in Nepal used to make a big deal about employing women for their beading skills and giving them an opportunity to earn a living they wouldn't otherwise have. Again, I don't know how true any of that is.

There is anther company that I'm aware of that sometimes offers silver pieces from Bali, and the price difference between the one I buy from and the other one is outrageous. Now, I don't know if this piece is actually from Bali (but it looks like others that I've seen stamped Bali), and the look and feel is right, so I'm going to work on the assumption it's from there. Bracelet example from the over-priced company.

Bracelet example (with a higher silver weight) from the other company--well from one of it's sales partners., since I can't find an equivalent on the company's own page (where prices are more than the sales partner but still cheaper than the expensive jewellery manufacturer). I guess SS/18K TWISTED CABLE BANGLE W/ ROUND HAMMERED GOLD END CAPS 59571BA.SLGO would be closest but it doesn't have the gemstones and instead has gold. (I don't have a bracelet of that style, as it's not my style, but I do have the SS/18K BALINESE DESIGN RING 53879R.SLGO on the same page. I've also got some earrings that are similar -- but not identical to -- SS/18K ROUND SWIRL EARRINGS 55751E.SLGO. In both cases, I didn't pay those prices. I got them significantly cheaper than that. So when I say I wouldn't pay Esther's prices for her jewellery, it's because I'd rather buy gold or silver rather than costume pieces, and I shop around for what I feel are fair prices.
posted by sardonyx at 5:12 PM on April 25, 2020

Well, that was bullshit. I knew the Amazon woman, Christine Beauchamp, was blowing smoke out of her ass when she said Jonny "had an innovative idea for global manufacturing" ie, small workshops in Bali. Not innovative because small clothing producers have been doing that for, oh, the last thirty or forty years but it will never scale up to Amazon quantities and there are many, many difficulties. Jonny was lucky he started just after US textile quotas were abolished otherwise he'd have been buying those (aka paying bribes) else his shipments would be held over until the next year. But yes, you can order smaller runs and the workers are paid less than they are in the west but they're not in sweatshops and production stops periodically for the numerous Balinese ceremonial holidays. Any halfway decent fabric has to be imported which means paying double duty. And of course now....well, there's no flying over to check on production, is there?

Apologies for the rant. I expected the finale to be between Esther and Sandor during the season once Ji-won was voted off. They constantly surprised me. Jonny was more competent than innovative. As both he and Esther had years more experience running boutiques compared to Sandor's flipping hamburgers, I'm not surprised they excelled in the pop up shop challenge. Sandor's multi-colored dresses weren't to my taste but I still wanted to see his collection. Esther's collection was on a superior, sophisticated level, yes all black but so many textures. She was right that including more color in a limited collection would have diluted the impact and cohesiveness. Jonny was smarter and he aimed for mass-market commercial. The only body that I found interesting was the oversize coats.

Agree that Heidi's half-dress/here are my boobs outfit was distasteful. And I'm still worried about Tim's health.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:12 PM on April 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Forgot to add: how did they keep the final two a secret? PR has the decoy shows, did Sandor get to show after all?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:27 PM on April 25, 2020

No need to apologize, TWinbrook8. That was really interesting. I didn't know anything about US textile quotas, and that's fascinating. Anything else you want to add about international clothing production and textile importation/exportation is appreciated.
posted by sardonyx at 8:46 PM on April 25, 2020

So yes, Heidi's cleavage. Really curious what Nina might have said about that! The dress seemed so ill-fitting and it was hard not to stare right at it (and I think some of the judges were being careful not to stare at it). I doubt Tim liked it much. Agree about Nicole Richie (much more smart and thoughtful than I imagined), and I came around mostly on Naomi, who really spoke out for the people she believed in.

But the over-the-top shopping spree at the pop-up shops, on top of Heidi's hotel room strewn with carelessly tossed about clothes, I found so distasteful. (Does she even pack her own bags? I doubt it?) Same distaste for the beautiful rich young "influencer" who had nothing useful to say. Yuck. I did enjoy Tim's quiet, orderly packing of his suits though.

I always wonder at the last two (or three) contestants, do they agree to maybe give $25,000 to the loser? I would totally do that. Probably can't say so on the show even if you plan to, though. Agree this was great exposure for Esther, and hopefully Sander, too. While Esther had a better plan, Jonny's clothes will probably appeal to more people. I wish him well. I would not mind one or two of his coats, and I rarely feel like I could wear anything from these shows.

Meet you guys at the Sewing Bee? (With my imaginary husband Patrick Grant, who also has a great Ted Talk about the business of clothing.)
posted by Glinn at 7:04 AM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oooh, I want to watch the Sewing Bee! Is there a way to watch it if I'm not a cable subscriber?
posted by mochapickle at 4:18 AM on April 27, 2020

(Good question! I haven't checked yet but I've watched some/all of seasons 1-5 on YouTube - with some episodes missing. Figured I would check there again unless someone has a better option.)
posted by Glinn at 6:15 AM on April 27, 2020

You can watch the Sewing Bee here, but you need REALLY good adblockers, so best to watch on a laptop with adblockers installed rather than on a tablet or you'll be bombarded with ads for hot girls who are waiting to meet you right now.
posted by essexjan at 5:31 AM on April 28, 2020

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