Monday, February 24, 2014

Update on my "Open Letter to Vogue"


As many know, last May I had heard that there was a new President and CEO of McCalls patterns, a Mr Frank Rizzo. (The McCalls brand includes Vogue, Butterick, and Kwik Sew patterns.)

This news made me hopeful that we might be seeing some positive changes at "McVoguerick" (as some refer to them), so I wrote an Open Letter to Vogue Patterns.

This has been a very popular post, but nothing really came of it.

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to about three weeks ago. On February 5th, I received a note from Mr Rizzo's assistant that he wanted to speak with me. I provided her with my cell phone number.

The next day, on Feb 6th, I was working at the Google office in SF, and my cell phone rang.

It was Frank Rizzo.

We spoke for about 20 minutes. Frank had read my blog post last May, but it had resurfaced recently and he wanted to reach out. He agreed with some of my points and he wanted to talk with me.

He offered to fly me to the Puyallup Sew Expo at the end of February to meet with him, his art director, and some marketing people.

Was I willing to come?

Was I?!

WAS I???!!!

Uh... YES.

I will be at Sew Expo for one day, so I will not be attending any classes, but I hope to make a quick sweep through the vendor floor and, I hope, will be able to see the Marcy and Katherine Tilton Fashion Show. (I have never been to the Puyallup Expo before.)

If you see me, please say "hi!" (The Vogue/McCalls/Butterick booth is #605.)

And save me some delectable fabric from Marcy's booth (#830).

Stay tuned for my report!

51 comments:

  1. What day are you there? I'm there Thursday and Friday and will be - hopefully at Marcy's morning show on the Thursday. It'd be great to see you.

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  2. So cool! Can't wait to hear the next episode, and also all about Puyallup. (I've never been either.)

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  3. I love this! You speak for all of us! Can't think of anyone better. Looking forward to hearing what comes of it!

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  4. Totally intrigued with what may happen with the McVoguerick interaction. And I'm sure you will represent us as the public behind you supporting what you have had to say about the Big 4 pattern world/concept. Looking forward to hearing about the experience and future possibilities for you with this. And Puyallup?!! It's actually the closest sewing expo to happen in my world, but still far enough away to make it be a challenge to make happen. One of these years! I can/do always live vicariously through your experiences with these opportunities (as well as others') and love it. Look forward to your feedback on this trip!

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  5. Have a great time and TELL THE TRUTH! I need some plus size designer patterns PULEEZE!!! And point him to this blog post: http://young-broke-and-fabulous.blogspot.com/2012/12/fuck-you-burdastyle-another-plus-size.html - how do they ever expect to attract younger sewists if this is their feeling about the Big 4?!

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  6. Yay! Shams - I will be at Sew Expo Thursday and Friday, and working in the ASG booth on Saturday afternoon. I would LOVE to hook up with you if you think it is possible. Shoot me an email at maris at sewmaris.com if you want to try to arrange something.

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  7. I'm giddy with excitement for you!

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  8. Oh Wow! That's amazing, and very smart of him to do so, I do think. Looking forward to hearing what goes down!

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  9. Wow, that's awesome! So they do listen... At least to the first chapter, that's a start. If they follow your advice they might reverse the value decline in their patterns (I gather you can buy them for a couple of dollars over there, that's not usually regarded as a winning brand strategy except for use once, massive volume items). Go you!

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  10. I have often complained that commercial sewing patterns are responsible for the decline in home sewing. Your May post echoed my sentiments to the letter. Thank you for articulating a complaint that has troubled me for years - and great that you have become "one who can't be ignored" by the big four.

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  11. Go Shams! You are now the Official Spokesperson of the online sewing community. Have a nice trip and telll him what we want!

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  12. I love the open letter and what comes out of this... hopefully!

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  13. How exciting! This is your chance to represent all of us from around the globe ... go get 'em ... J

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  14. Interesting! Hope it is a fun day.

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  15. Shams I went back to re-read the open letter and most of the comments. The essence is that Vogue needs to update it's blocks for Women, Misses, Plus sizes, Juniors, Children and Men. Standardise their fit and make it consistent. Put some attention into their neglected areas.
    But you now what I'd really like to see? Designer patterns with the 'wow' factor.
    The other end of the scale from fast and easy. Tricky, difficult, fabulous. We used to expect it from Vogue but it got lost along the way. Please tell him that. You are our mouthpiece!

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  16. Oooh! I can't wait to hear what happens! I was in one of the McCall's Focus Groups at the American Sewing Expo last September. I never wrote about it, but I should!

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  17. Good for Vogue! I do love their patterns. Have fun.

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  18. Way to go, Shams! Mr. Rizzo may be flooded with letters now :) I'm sure the meeting will be meaningful to you both - have fun and good luck!

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  19. Wonderful! I will be at the Expo on Thursday and Friday. Meeting a friend there, and excited to check it out. My first time attending.

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  20. Have great time, and let us know how it goes!

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  21. This is indeed exciting! Congratulations, shams. Mr. Rizzo sounds like a smart man.

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  23. Very exciting! How refreshing that a CEO is willing to listen! Listen to the people that buy and sew his patterns. Hoo Ray!

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  24. Ditto to what Valerie said. And I'll add: Vogue! Please ditch the outdated home-ecky sewing directions. We want modern techniques that give professional looking results.
    Oh, and I'll be at expo Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I'll keep my eyes open for you.

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  25. Shams, have a fantastic time up north! if i had big bucks, i'd definitely fly you in for a day's confab - tho it's only across the bay - hey! you ever ride in a helicopter?!?!? ;)

    I second BeckyMc and Valerie - bring back the glory that was Vogue Paris Designers for today's world!

    and oooo-whee! if our own fanatic diarist is willing to drop an f-bomb, even in a link, you KNOW things're bad!

    hmm. being well known as of a paranoid frame of mind, my impression is Mr. Rizzo's going to want to hire you as a consultant on forward direction and also to 'explain' such direction to the masses (us plebes over here). Which could indicate two opposite type plans: 1) McVogueRick is sincerely committed to making changes which reflects the desires and concerns of home sewists today and want someone smart, keyed in to said community, who is excellent at communicating to ehlp them do this right or 2) they fear the changes they'd need to make would be massive, difficult, and take forever so they want to sponge of Shams' very hard and legitimately earned credibility in order to keep the masses thinking that McVogueRick is listening and making changes based on that listening when really they're dragging their feet at best.

    Whichever way it goes, (most likely a third way i've not outlined, heehee!) this is a Major Move toward bloggers on the part of McVo...etc. My personal feeling is that if they were all that interested in making changes we would've seen or heard something by now - maybe we have, i'm not super tuned in?

    Best Wishes to you Shams!!! and again, have a blast up there! it sounds so fun, i've never been, i would pry pass out from sheer overstimulation five minutes in! What a way to go, ha! take care everybody, steph

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  26. What everyone else said.

    And I so wish I was going so I could meet you. It's pathetic that I have never been as I am in driving distance. Oh well. Have fun and kick some butt (metaphorically)

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  27. This is the best news so far today!! Lead on and see if they would create a purchasable archive of the Vogue Paris Designers! Vogue Patterns showed some wisdom in their response to you - let's hope they continue to grow wise to the sewistas and fashionistas of the 21st century!! Get Mr Rizzo on a conference bike and enjoy your day in Puyallup!!

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  28. You are awesome. Have a blast and go to bat for all of us who feel the same way you do!

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  29. You are our voice! I have cancelled my Vogue Pattern magazine this year. Too many high fashion garments for tall, thin A/B cup sized models, and when you alter them to fit real women - they don't even look like the same garment. I hope you can make an impact. thanks!

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  30. How cool is that? How cool are YOU? I'm so excited for you. I can't wait to hear what they have to say. Bravo!

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  31. This is super exciting! Way to go, Shams...and can't wait to hear your report! I know that no one wants to feel they're 'copying' RTW...but for heavens' sake...let's bring the designs and techniques into this era!

    Attracting young sewists to make apparel (versus mountains of tote & cosmetic bags) is an uphill climb because of this. AND - pet peeve alert - GET SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO SEW to make the outfits you're going to shoot. Some of the garments aren't even pressed correctly. And who picked that fabric out?! Come on...I think we're all kind of over having to look past all that to figure out if the basic design is solid and appealing!

    While you're at it, PLEASE tell them to get someone with catalog (like GOOD, JCrew catalog shooting experience - Talbots' recent revamp is a case in point!) to style and shoot your patterns covers...PLEASE! Take a tip from Burda's great looking mini catalogs. Just because we're making our own clothes doesn't mean we want to feel like Suzy Homemaker from the 50s home ec classes...! You know what I mean - anyone remember those awful colored stackable buttons we all went nuts for in the 60s? Yeah.

    Have a great time, and congrats on this! You'll be a great voice for those of us who have found ourselves wondering what's wrong with the big 4...I mean, I'm ordering patterns from DENMARK for goodness sake, working with translations, and ADDING SEAM ALLOWANCES! Come on, McCalls et al...get with the program!

    Good luck and enjoy this great opportunity :) We're all cheering for you!

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  32. I agree with all the above and look forward to the results of your meeting. It's nice to see the upper echelon reaching out to sewists, after reading your blog, to get some input of their product. I often wonder if the head honchos of big or small companies ever read any feedback from consumers. I wonder if he sews ;-)? Have a great time!

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  33. Awesome news! I'm looking forward to hearing the outcome!

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  34. Oh darn! And I can't go to Puyallup this year because my VW van needs a new transmission. (Guess crossing the continent and back last year was too much for a 25 year old vehicle.) Whahh!!

    Wouldn't I just LOVE to be in on that meeting with you. Our hopes are with you, Shams! Give it to 'em straight. And then eventually I guess we'll find out whether or not they got the message, huh?

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  35. I'm so excited for you! I know you will be the best spokesperson imaginable...I second and third the requests for more designer fashions...I spend a LOT of money on OOP Designer patterns...no more "Easy" rectangles!

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  36. Great news! It goes to show that your persistence paid off! Thank you for being such a great advocate for all of us!

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  37. I don't know if I'm more excited for you because of the meeting or because of the expo. I'm sure both will be great. If you have any time at all, do take a class...even the very short ones are really excellent. Congratulations to you!

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  38. How marvelous!! Oh, how I have longed to learn the commercial sewing techniques and stopped sewing long ago due to pattern companies not updating sewing techniques. Since discovering your blog, I again became interested and bought a couple patterns only to discover techniques have not updated. Thanks for being the voice in the wilderness!

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  39. This is just Fantabulous! Enjoy and I know you'll do us all proud!

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  40. Great news. You're a terrific spokesperson. I'll look for you at Puyallup. There's lots of great fabric! And difficult not to be overwhelmed by the size of the fairgrounds and the number of booths.

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  41. Shams, what an opportunity: for you, for us, and for Vogue! They need to develop better sizing, better shaping, better techniques, more exciting designs, more details. Look to RTW; there is lots of gorgeous, well-fitting clothing (for many of us). If using Vogue patterns could produce clothing as exciting as some we can buy but have it fit better and better express our individuality, that would be the supreme temptation to draw in more people to sewing.

    My heart goes with you, Shams, that what you convey to Mr. Rizzo inspires him to transform the Vogue company.

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  42. You go girl! I am so excited that they are willing to listen to what you have to say. Have fun at Expo too.

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  43. Fantastic! I can't wait to hear how it went!

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  44. I stumbled on all of this ... and wow ... what a great job you did of communicating the issues we are all having with patterns these days - especially Vogue, Butterick and McCalls are all one now - I have found myself returning to Simplicity & New Look because they are more consistent, though certainly not without their own set of problems. I can make formalwear and have for decades had a formalwear business for many years. Have made a couple of fully detailed, underlined, boned, interlined, beaded and embroidered wedding gown but I gave up on commercial pants patterns several years ago for the reasons you cite.

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  45. So glad you are meeting with Mr Rizzo. I'm glad his assistant had the good sense to bring your letter to his attention although the wheels of change at McCalls/Vogue/Butterick seem to move verrrrrrrrry slowly. I feel certain that you'll articulate your blog followers' sentiments. Hope you enjoy the Expo, too!

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  46. What a perfect spokeswoman! Will be breathless awaiting what transpires - you go girl! Have a interesting time at Expo. All the best to you!

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  47. Wow, what an awesome opportunity for you! I used to love Vogue Patterns as well. I used to look forward to their five easy pieces collections. For me, it meant that one pattern envelope contained sharp, on trend coordinates that were easy to mix and match and were a fresh update to one's wardrobe. More designers please. Maybe extend vintage patterns from being mostly just 1950's patterns. Maybe visit previous and subsequent decades and eras as well. Maybe do some throwback patterns, take something hot from a previous designer or the 70's or 80's and freshen it up. Most of the current vintage offerings all look the same. I'm very bored by most of them. And, yes, please more options for plus sizes that are truly thoughtfully designed to stand with the misses sized patterns and not look out of place. Thanks for being the voice of the people to McVogurick.

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  48. you rock. Remind Mr. Rizzo we are not all size 8 16 year olds. thanks for going for all of us.

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  49. I'm so very happy for you and proud of you for taking action. Enjoy yourself while there. I know you will speak for all of us when you inform Mr. Rizzo just how disappointing their patterns have been lately. Can't wait to see your report on the meeting. Thanks for stepping up to the plate. You certainly earned the free trip and all that goes with it.

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