Thursday Night Fight in the Box

Just your normal day at the office….with the exception of the huge brawl that broke out between our finest athletic specimens here at Zappos.
Fight…Fight….Fight!!!

Feet Tech: Gore Tex

One of the most interesting technology advances in the realm of fabrics and textiles is Gore-Tex . Gore-Tex fabric is fairly amazing. It is meant to be breathable and waterproof at the same time. Gore-Tex is used in a variety of products – from ski gloves to waders to coats to shoes. Indeed, Gore-Tex is very popular in hiking shoes and boots . This is due to the fact that it can help keep your feet dry in a variety of situations.

The Technology Behind Gore-Tex

Gore-Tex is a revolutionary fabric with proprietary technology.However, there are some basics as to how it works. Gore-Tex is comprised of three layers: an outer fabric, a Gore-Tex membrane and an inner liner. Each of these layers contributes to the qualities of a windproof and waterproof fabric that is ideal for outdoor use. The secret, as you may guess, is in the Gore-Tex membrane. Yes, the outer fabric and the inner liner are durable and breathable (they have to be in order to keep Gore-Tex from becoming unduly uncomfortable), but the
Gore-Tex membrane is made on a microscopic level.

Using technology that allows for things to be constructed on a micro level, the membrane consists of pores. The Gore-Tex Web site points out that each pore used in the membrane is 20,000 times smaller than a water drop. One thing that Gore-Tex can’t save you from, though, is what happens when you get to a point where the water does get in. I learned this the hard way. When I was hiking, I had to wade into water that went half way up my calf.

Now the Gore-Tex in my hiking shoes kept my toes dry, but there wasn’t a “seal” to keep the water from getting in through the tops of my shoes. And, the water did seep down from the top. The main downside is that once water gets in, it stays in for a while.

Gore-Tex Shoes vs. Non-Gore-Tex Shoes

Even with that one drawback, I still really like Gore-Tex shoes (and I got some Gore-Tex-lined snow boots recently as well). They protect my feet from most instances of getting wet, and the insulation keeps them warm. The fabric is breathable, so it doesn’t trap too much sweat in my shoe. And, even when I am wading in water, my feet don’t get nearly as wet as they did when I had hiking shoes without the Gore-Tex.

There are other waterproof shoes that don’t use Gore-Tex. However, many of them don’t have the same technology that allows for a breathable fabric. A lot of the time you either get the breathability of mesh – and wet feet – or you have to give up the breathability to keep your feet dry. And if it’s hot, giving up that breathability can eventually lead to uncomfortable feet as the sweat is trapped by your waterproof hiking shoes. Gore-Tex is by no means perfect. Water can find its way in, and the fabric isn’t as breathable as mesh. But Gore-Tex does combine the best of both worlds, allowing for a shoe that is reasonably comfortable.

Motor City Fashion Week!

Those of us in the fashion industry tend to forget there’s a whole country in between New York and L.A., and many who may never have attended a fashion show in their life, but still have style and taste. While we’re reading WWD and obsessing over whether our cut of jeans is in or not, they’re going about their everyday business, and if they’re young, hip and inventive, they’re creating street fashions that well-known designers will eventually latch onto and adopt for the runway. Now that fashion has become a spectator sport due to TV shows like “Project Runway” and “Ugly Betty” and books and movies like “The Devil Wears Prada,” the rest of the nation is no longer content to sit back and let a handful of people on both coasts dictate what they will or will not wear. Hence the proliferation of Fashion Week in every city in the U.S. with a population of more than 500,000.

One of the more interesting of these Fashion Weeks is a relative newcomer; Detroit Fashion Week is in its fifth year now, and these shows are annual, not biannual like the bigger Fashion Weeks. Detroit may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of a fashion show, but it has a long history of style, and Motown left its imprint on fashion in a big way in the 1960s and 1970s, an influence that’s still being felt today.

Detroit Fashion Week

Detroit-based fashion photographer Brian Heath conceived Detroit Fashion Week in the hopes of creating a serious fashion industry in the city that’s possibly been hardest hit by recession in the country. Detroit Fashion Week has employed a number of skilled designers, stylists, makeup artists, models, photographers and publicity people, and their youthful optimism and energy could be just what Michiganders need to regain their confidence. It’s kind of like when you’re depressed and your mother tells you, “Put a little lipstick on and you’ll feel better!” It may not solve the whole problem but it’s a start!

Detroit Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2009 will be held from Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, 2008, with most of the events being held at Campus Martius Park. One of the designers to look out for is Lasijas Miller, a 25-year-old male Detroit native who designs under the label Nethade. Miller, who also works as a fashion stylist and as such is familiar with the myriad and competing needs of performers, is a versatile designer who does sportswear, menswear and couture with equal composure.

My favorites of the looks at his 2008 fashion show were the evening gowns, which included a brown mermaid shaped gown with velvet bodice, embroidered skirt and tulle ruffles at the hem and collar (it may sound busy but was fiercely sophisticated), a silver metallic asymmetrical gown with black ribbon accents, and a black jersey halter gown with ruched satin bodice. Keep your eyes out for Lasijas Miller in years to come. If I were attending the Oscars and needed something for the red carpet, he’d be one of the first people I would call.

Running Tips: Setting Goals is Key

Create mini goals for yourself when running and see how fast they add up to big goals

I’m a goal-oriented person. In every aspect of my life, I set goals. I have goals for my job, goals for my finances and goals for my writing career. I even set goals for my love life (get through a week without calling him…. cancel one date a month just to keep him on his toes…...), and goals for a host of other stuff.

So, it was a bit surprising that, when I first started running, I didn’t set goals. Partially, because I was concentrating so much on buying the running shoes, the shorts, the running bra etc., I didn’t think about what I was going to do when I actually started running. Then, once I got outside and set off, it suddenly struck me. “No goals! What the heck am I doing this for?” That’s when I decided setting running goals was important. Now, if I was to give a running tip to a beginning runner, setting goals for yourself is one of the most important I think. But where do you start? What running goals should be your first?

I started out really simply. There’s no point deciding your first goal is to run a marathon. After a week of training, you’ll be so frustrated, the idea of a marathon will go out the window along with your running. You’ll probably hang up your running bra, shove your running shoes in a closet and never run again. So, for your first running goal, make it simple.

When I started running, I made the simplest running goal I possible could. I started by deciding my goal was to get to the end of the block. Once I got there, I kept on going, and now my goal was to the get to the red car with the dented bumper. At the red car, I aimed for the tree at the end of the street and on and on. As I kept doing this, I discovered every day I began to run further and further. It was easy to get to the end of the block and, surprise, I wasn’t tired. The next goal of the red car was even easier. By this time, my body was loosened up, I was breathing well and my mini goals were so easy to achieve, I looked forward to making the next one.

Over the next few months, I continued to do this until, one day, I decided to measure how far I was running. I got in my car and hit the odometer (that little clock thingy that measures how far the car goes) and off I drove. Imagine my surprise when I drove to the end of all my mini goals and realized I was running 10 miles a day. Not bad for quick runs to the end of the block, the post office and the crack in the sidewalk that looks like a boomerang. All added up, they created a run for me that was far beyond what I thought I could do.

So, my first running tip to you is this. Think small, then create large. Make mini goal after mini goal and, before long, you’ll be running that marathon – one block at a time.

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History of Shoes: Loafers

Learn how loafers developed from the Native American mocassin shoe design.

Many styles of modern footwear evolved from ancient or primitive footwear designs. The loafer, for example, which has been a popular casual-dress shoe since the 1930s, actually evolved from the Native American shoe called the moccasin. The moccasin was popular with many tribes in the United States because it allowed the wearer to feel the texture of the ground while at the same time protecting their feet from sharp or coarse terrain, as well as from extremely hot or cold ground temperatures. The word “moccasin” was derived from the Algonquian word makasin, which simply means, shoe made from deer skin.

The Birth of the Loafer
While the design of the modern loafer is modeled after the Native American moccasin, the first loafers were actually based on pictures published in 1932 or 1933 in Esquire of a Norwegian slip-on shoe worn by a dairy farmer. These pictures inspired the Spaulding family, who had ties to the leather and lumber industry, to create a slip-on shoe called a “Pony.” By 1934 a bootmaker from Maine named John R. Bass modified the slip-on design to include a strap that crossed the vamp and that was capable of holding a coin. This was the birth of the Penny Loafer. However, instead of a penny, a dime was usually carried in the woman’s loafer so that she could call home if her date got too fresh.

The Fashion of Loafers

Loafers were such a versatile and comfortable shoe that they were worn by both sexes as both a casual and a dress shoe. Women’s loafer styles tended to revolve around the basic penny loafer design, however, tassel-topped loafers also were fashionable for women. When women wore loafers they were usually paired with knee socks, especially during the 1950s and ’60s.

Men tended to wear tassel-topped loafers instead of penny loafers. College men during the ’60s and ’70s tended to wear loafers without socks, especially when tramping on campus, when going out dancing or just wearing them with a pair of jeans. The tassel-top loafer eventually became a fashion symbol for the legal profession when they became a staple for lawyers’ wardrobes. In this case, a dark dress sock was paired with the loafer.

Don't Fear the Ballet Shoe!

One of the hot shoe styles for women today is the ballet flat. But, like most popular shoe styles, it is hardly a new invention. Rather,the modern ballet flat has evolved both out of the dance shoe it is named after, and the women’s slippers that have been fashionable periodically throughout history.

The ballet flat takes its name from ballet, of course. The modern shoe can be described either as a more structured version of a traditional ballet shoe or a less structured and more flexible version of the pointe shoe, but constructed without the toe-box that allows dancers to elevate themselves on the very tips of their toes. There are also ballet shoes with heels known as character shoes as well as soft slippers with slight heels worn by dance teachers for comfort. Ballet flats are named as they are to differentiate themselves from these two types of ballet shoes to which they are unrelated.

While today we think of ballet as a performance art, ballet steps were once a part of social dancing. In the Georgian and Regency eras (1795 – 1825) social dancing involved many vigorous ballet steps and everyone well-positioned in society sought out dancing masters to help them perfect their form and technique. At this time, the correct shoe for a formal ball was
not today’s high heel (which was also popular in earlier eras), but a beautifully adorned dance slipper, usually made out of leather. This was the precursor to the ballet flat.

These slippers weren’t just for women, but men as well, and there are a number of Regency-period illustrations showing a man on his way to a formal event with his dance shoes tucked into his back pocket.

Today’s structured ballet flats acknowledge the active lifestyle of women while also preserving the delicacy, dance allusions and comfort of the dance shoe from which it evolved. Synthetic materials, cloth and leather are all common materials used in ballet flats. Today’s ballet flats are defined by their almost non-existent heel and rounded toe. The shoes range from studier replications of ballet slippers (right down to a soft pink or peach
color and the tiny bow centered over the base of the toes) to flats that merely invoke dance without actively representing it.

While ballet flats have often been popular in the last 30 years, it is only recently that they have become acceptable for formal occasions. While many have viewed the emergence of the ballet flat at formal events as a casual concession to comfort, this show actually has a proud
history as a part of formal attire and women armed with this history should be confident in their choice of a ballet flat for dressy occasions.

Lynn, our college graduate!

Our beloved Lynn has been working with us at Zappos since 2005, but that is only a fraction of the amount of time she has been studying for her degree. With working full time and other life intrusions, it has taken Lynn 10 years to get her bachelors degree in social work. We at Zappos are so very proud of her. After all, she is a part of our family, and families know how to celebrate!

Thursday we surprised her with a couple of gifts and cards letting her know how proud of her we are and how wonderful a person she is. Here is the short interview we did later in the evening:

Q: Now that you are done with school…. are you going to keep partying or will you settle down?

A: I’m never going to settle down, I will party to the grave!

Q: If you were going to do a psychological study of your fellow employees, what would you focus on?

A: All your childhoods, to see why you are all so crazy!

Q: What is your favorite color and what does that color stand for?

A: Blue. It is cool, calming, universal and peaceful.

Q: What type of social work are you currently involved in?

A: I work with Kentucky Impact through 7 counties services assessing children 6-18 years in their current environments and ongoing daily struggles.

Q: How has what you’ve learned at school helped you with your work at Zappos?

A: School has taught me to always look for the good in people, even in frustrating situations it has helped me be more tolerant of others.

Q: If you knew it was going to take 10 years, would you do it all again?

A: Yes – it is what I have always wanted to do.

Q: What will you do with all your free time now that you won’t have to go to school and work around the clock?

A: Catch up on sitcoms…..relax!

In conclusion, Lynn, YOU ARE AWESOME, and we all love you!!

FASHION BLOG - SLIM JIMS:

Jeans with special construction and shading with front pockets that act like a girdle are a girl’s dream come true. Well, wake up ladies, it’s a reality. Well, according to the website skinnyjeans.com, Oprah and Rachel Ray. I have noticed Rachel has been looking slimmer on camera in jeans, but just assumed it was diet and exercise, yeah right. Purportedly they slim your thighs, flatten your stomach, shape your butt, make your legs look longer and, oh yeah, come in many rinses. They can be found at skinnyjeans.com. The technique stems from classic denim but with a high nylon/elastane content. This gives them a ‘beefy’ strength to hold you in (no wimpy, gummy stretch here) and creates ‘memory’—the jeans never stretch out, bag out or lose their shape. (You will not have to wash them every time you wear them), said Catherine Hart, the company founder, via her website information. Don’t take my word for it, go to the website, read the testimonials, send your questions of disblief to hello@skinnyjeans.com or orders@skinnyjeans. Of course, there is that old fashion way of calling: 212/755-5577 or 866/946-8348.

Obviously, muffin-top stops here!