S.U.E Screwed Up Essay Clothing Brand

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It all started when the founder of a website, who I had just recently met, cc’ed me on an e-mail correspondence with his assistant. He was trying to introduce us and in doing so, made the mistake of not deleting their previous conversation thread. I scrolled down and noticed that he’d confirmed to her that I was “verrrrrrrry funny. Smart, too.” This made me feel wonderful. But as I kept reading, there it was.

“She is ugly as fuck tho. Truly a man repeller.”

My initial reaction was to laugh — chiefly because it seemed incredibly unusual if not highly offensive that he would describe a fellow woman to his female assistant as “ugly as fuck.”

But then I got emotional. Ugly as fuck? Really? And that was the chaser for a descriptive clause that pegged me not just smart but funny, which had to mean looking at my face for the course of our 30 minute conversation was as painful as say, getting a colonoscopy without the preliminary anesthesia.

A few months prior to this I noticed that the details of my makeup regimen (or lack thereof) had become something of a hot topic on the Man Repeller Instagram feed. I chalked up the cause of conversation to either people taking notice of the fact that I don’t wear very much makeup or to my taking notice of their having taken notice.

The comments sometimes appear as compound questions like, “you could be cute but why don’t you wear makeup?” Other times they’re just plain insulting. As recently as last week, I’ve been called an ugly whore (not so far off from “as fuck”) which seems really inconsistent with the Man Repeller ethos seeing as we don’t typically sell bodies — we sell ideas.

That and clothes.

But have I started to notice the criticism because of that website founder? And what has that awareness elicited intrinsically?

It occurred to me last month when I was laying in bed beside my mother in a hotel room in Milan, trolling my own comment feed and half lamenting, half giggling about the abundance of distraught comments over the state of my face that maybe I should wear makeup. Something so simple that my mother said, so benign and innocent, so obvious, released a trigger in me.

“Makeup is meant to enhance the natural beauty of a woman, Leandra, so, really, why wouldn’t you use it?”

I contemplated her question for a moment but frankly, the answer is simple.

I’m not making a statement. I’m not trying to act like the most extreme, hyper-literal and violent version of a man repeller. If you read this site you know by now that Man Repelling is an attitude. It is a state of existence. It is not whether you do your hair or curl your lashes, or even what you wear. It is how you approach doing those things. Why you do those things, and perhaps most importantly, it is a love letter to individuality, which is something that manifests itself in plentifully different ways.

So the reason I don’t wear makeup is because I am lazy. And don’t get me wrong  — I am as much a sucker for the newest “anti-aging miracle cream” as the next guy. Just because I don’t wear much makeup doesn’t mean I don’t believe in good skin. I want to know that if I don’t wash my face, I won’t tarnish my pillow. I don’t want to see the ingredients that constructed my previous night’s visage wiped off into a towel. I also read somewhere that if you sleep with mascara on your lashes they are 70% more likely to fall out so as far as I’m concerned, maintaining real lashes that aren’t quite as plump as they can be is ten times more compelling than having none at all.

More important than that though, I am comfortable with how I look. I don’t hate what I see when I look in the mirror. Even if legions of others don’t agree. I have accepted the reflection that reliably bounces back at me for its perks and its flaws. I understand that there are thick, dark circles under my eyes. I have grown to appreciate them. I have noticed that my nose grows a little hookier on a near-monthly basis. That’s fine. I know there are wrinkles ready to stake their claim as full time residents on my forehead any moment now. My dad has those, too, and I find that endearing.

My eyes will never be blue, my bone structure will never allow for you to mistake me for a Scandinavian model. I am who I am and even if that infers “ugly as fuck,” I think it’s, I don’t know, beautiful.


Click here to watch our Adventures in Beauty Vlogging. You will laugh, you will cry. You will get disco-eyeshadow in your eye. Also, if you are trying to take the plunge, think about contouring.

Leandra Medine

Leandra Medine is the founder of Man Repeller, which she likes to call a nudist colony, and author of Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls. She just started making her own chia pudding.

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In starting over, Ms. Mellon has kept her boho-scandalous aesthetic (“I can’t take myself out of it”) but reset her methodology. This time around, she is bypassing stores, including Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, which once stocked her wares, selling directly to consumers via her website. Hers is a model that cuts out the middlemen and, in so doing, lowers prices. (A suede bootee from Ms. Mellon’s line costs $525; a similar one from Jimmy Choo was $875.)

“The next generation of luxury brands will not be built the way that I built Jimmy Choo,” Ms. Mellon said firmly, looking out through pastel-tinted sunglasses on her terrace with its views over Los Angeles. “The next generation of luxury brands will be built in a very different way, and in the business model I’m doing now.”

Los Angeles has been magnetizing designers with a stronger pull lately. Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff and Rachel Comey will each move their usual New York Fashion Week shows here next month. Tom Ford will introduce his next collection here, just as he did in 2015. And Maria Grazia Chiuri, the new artistic director of Dior, will present her cruise collection here in May. But Ms. Mellon envisions her operation less as a fashion brand than as a tech company, albeit one in stiletto heels, just like so many others sprouting up along Los Angeles’s growing Silicon Beach.

“Basically, every industry will be eaten by technology,” Ms. Mellon said. “Right now, it’s the fashion industry’s turn. We’ve seen it in movies; Uber has eaten transport. But I always say to people, the best analogy is the music business. We all still love music and we want to listen to music, but we don’t go to Tower Records and buy a CD. We download it. The same thing’s going to happen to fashion.”

In her quest to be fashion’s premier direct-to-consumer luxury brand, she has been buoyed by investment from the venture capital firm NEA, which has stakes in such digital-forward properties as Goop and Moda Operandi, and by her connection with Mr. Ovitz, who is now a private investor and consults with companies in Silicon Valley.

“She’s gotten a lot of great advice from all the people I deal with up north,” Mr. Ovitz said in an interview. “She goes up with me often.”

Ms. Mellon’s new label will effectively test whether luxury consumers, raised on high-end department stores, will warm to an online-only model where success stories tend to center more often on items like T-shirts (Everlane) and mattresses (Casper) than on $975 stretch-leather thigh-highs. Not everyone is convinced.

“In the designer world, you’re selling more than a product,” said Ron Frasch, a partner in Castanea, a private equity firm and the former president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, who worked with Ms. Mellon when she was at Jimmy Choo. “You’re not really selling anything that anyone truly needs; you’re selling wants and dreams and stories about the product. I think it becomes more difficult as a direct-to-consumer play, particularly if it’s an online direct-to-consumer play. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it certainly is more difficult.”

The buy-now, wear-now model that Ms. Mellon has been championing since her last go-round (there will be new styles added to TamaraMellon.com monthly, rather than seasonally) has “a long way to go,” he added. Ms. Mellon acknowledges the concept is still in its infancy, but she noted that some powerful industry peers were cautiously beginning to experiment with the same strategies. (Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry and Tom Ford have all shifted the timing of their shows and production to send products from the runways immediately into stores.)

The stumbles of the first Tamara Mellon brand have not dissuaded her of the wisdom of her approach. Along with bad timing, Ms. Mellon blamed the interference of her former colleagues at Jimmy Choo for its ultimate failure, saying the company “boycotted her” from using her former factories, even after a noncompete clause had expired. She is now suing Jimmy Choo; the companies have a February court date in New York. (“This suit is groundless and will be vigorously contested,” said a spokesman for Jimmy Choo.)

In Ms. Mellon’s favor are her long track record making (and marketing) hits. Jimmy Choo was an early proponent of celebrity placements, and Ms. Mellon continues to charm red carpet stylists and the celebrities they need to shoe. An article on Observer.com clocked Ms. Mellon’s breakout style, the Frontline sandal, which featured clear plastic straps, on celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner.

“Hers is one of the only shoe lines I wear not on the red carpet, as well,” said Constance Zimmer, the Emmy-nominated actress, who was a guest at Ms. Mellon’s starry launch party in October. “I wear hers out. I rarely wear heels, but when I wear heels, I wear hers.”

Ms. Mellon has, in the words of a friend, the jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer, “an intuitive sense of what a woman wants to wear.”

And Mr. Ovitz said: “It’s pretty extraordinary to me. It’s an area I know nothing about. I always marvel at her closet, which has over 3,000 pairs of shoes in it that she’s designed, and think how extraordinary it is that she could design that many different objects when they all have soles and heels. It’s kind of frightening.”

For his sake, Ms. Mellon has also adopted a new custom. Mr. Ovitz won’t allow shoes to be worn in the house.

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