King of Cowboy Couture : Designer Rides High With Western Clothes

King of Cowboy Couture : Designer Rides High With Western Clothes

MICHELE SEIPP | Seipp is a Beverly Hills free-lance writer. and

When Jerry Cohn realized his wardrobe would not be complete without a pair of denim boots, he did not think twice about where to go–he took his unusual request to his designer of the last 10 years, Manuel.

“It was my idea,” said Cohn, who manages the careers of such stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Cesar Romero and Rose Marie. “I said, ‘I’ve got a great idea . . . How about making me a pair of denim boots?’ But he’d already thought of it on his own. He pulled out a pair and said, ‘You mean like these?’ ”

“Everyone who sees my Levi boots says, ‘Gee, what a great idea!’ ” said Cohn, who paid $800 to fulfill his sartorial fantasy.

Celebrity Clients

Manuel, who uses no last name, is renowned among fanciers of Western-style clothing. The 55-year-old designer, working out of his North Hollywood store that bears his name, has put together wardrobes for such high-profile entertainers as Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakum, Randy Travis and Emmylou Harris. Sylvester Stallone and Bob Dylan have purchased his brightly colored jackets, made from Indian blankets.

“People don’t realize that they’ve been wearing Western clothes all along–jeans and Levi jackets are all Western-American clothes,” Manuel said. “The American heritage, the settlers, the Army, the real Indian costumes, the weavings and patterns. I have absorbed all this and put it on the clothing. I try to follow the American tradition.”

Manuel, who was born in Michoacan, Mexico, said he started sewing “odd ends and shirts” when he was 8. When he moved to this country 34 years ago, he went to work for men’s clothier Sy Devore.

“I started working in several of Sy Devore’s shops,” he said, “but he made nothing but the regular clothes. Nothing got fancier than the regular suits. I was looking for something more than that.”

After just a few months with Sy Devore, he went to work for a North Hollywood-based clothing designer named Nudi, who specialized in Western clothing. “Country and Western was Nudi’s clientele,” Manuel said. “He used embroidery and rhinestones. I incorporated a little more than he had. It gave the clothes a more sophisticated look.”

Movie Costumes

While working at Nudi’s, Manuel started to create movie costumes. He clothed the characters in movies such as “Myra Breckenridge,” “Xanadu” and “Rhinestone,” but said the work was not satisfying. “I don’t like to deal with the character of the so-called movie star. Sometimes my way of thinking interfered with that. I don’t believe in ego stuff. I believe in professionalism.”

Manuel left Nudi’s 14 years ago to set up his own shop. And in the past few years, he has phased out of movie costuming entirely.

He looks askance at Americans who wear imported, European-tailored clothing. “I don’t think Americans should wear Italian- or French-made suits,” he said. “Those people are built so differently. When Americans wear those clothes, they look like they’ve been wrapped like a mummy.”

In addition to traditional materials such as cotton, wool, denim, silk, suede and leather, Manuel also uses blankets made by New Mexico’s Chimayo Indians. Manuel turns them into striking coats that sell for $4,000 and up. “Bob Dylan has a $7,500 jacket made out of one of these blankets, Sylvester Stallone has one, too,” he said.

Manuel also sells sterling silver jewelry embedded with turquoise, coral or rubies; hand-tooled belts; hand-embroidered or hand-tooled leather or fabric boots; and blouses, shirts, jackets, dresses, and suits that are usually embroidered, fringed or trimmed with rhinestones. Prices range from $200 to four figures.

Store Shows Style

His open, airy store, with its blond hardwood floors, provides more evidence of his sense of style. Manuel embroidered the pillows that are artfully tossed on the sand-colored couches. He also fringed and tooled Indian designs into the store’s smattering of antique chairs and he painted the Western mural on a partition near the back of the store. “I did do a couple of chairs for Johnny Cash, and for Elvis,” he said, “but I prefer to do clothes and jewelry. Really, the chairs and pillows are just for myself, to liven up the store.”

The walls are covered with gold records sent by singing celebrities and rows and rows of photographs of smiling celebrities in Manuel-designed outfits. “I made the first Western suit that John Lennon ever wore,” he said.

Clients arrange to meet with Manuel in his store by appointment only. And his clothes, like his service, are so personalized that Manuel always makes a point of sewing a label that says “Designed For (blank) By Manuel” into each garment.

Lynn Landon, former wife of actor-producer Michael Landon, has been going to Manuel for 15 years. “I discovered him when he was working at Nudi’s,” she said. “I love his country and Western clothes. If I wear jeans, I’ll have a jacket or coat or vest that’s country and Western. He did the dress I wore when my son got married. It’s a blue silk, then there’s a design in rhinestones on the back of a cropped jacket.”

‘Looks Like Art’

Landon also owns one of Manuel’s Indian blanket coats. “He did an Indian blanket coat for me and added little beads. I wore it in New York City, and people said, ‘Where did you get that coat?’ A lot of people think his work looks like art.”

Manuel is now working on a black Western jacket for Landon. “It’s from a very old design,” she said. “I think to wear it with a little black dress and heels would be fabulous, but it’s also a jacket you could wear with a pair of jeans.”

Cohn said Manuel’s designs fit his casual sense of style. “I wear a lot of boots and jeans and suits,” he said. “He makes my regular suits, and he’s also made a tuxedo for me. It’s a velvet jacket with a twill vest, twill slacks and no buttons, no pockets. I wear that with black, patent leather sandals and no socks–that’s my style.”

“I’m very comfortable there in his store. Even if his store were a warehouse, you’d still feel good being there. He makes you feel special.”

Ballroom Costumes: Less Glitz, Better Fits

Ballroom Costumes: Less Glitz, Better Fits

Today’s dance gowns and tuxes, designed with muscular endurance in mind, are not as showy but could still pass as evening wear. ‘Even though what we do is athletic, it’s also cosmetic,’ says one fox-trotter.


In the rarefied, regimented world of ballroom dancing, an incident in 1982 proved nothing short of a fashion coup: During an international competition, half a dozen of the world’s reigning ballroom dancers–queens of the floor–threw down their tutus.

For decades they’d been consigned to wear short skirts with layer upon layer of netting that made them look as if they had stick legs and huge hips. They’d had enough. So the world’s top dancers banded together and showed up for the final round of the British Open in the long, fluid gowns that have become the ballroom standard.

“Overnight they all started wearing Ginger Rogers dresses. Within a matter of months, no one wore the net styles,” says Elizabeth Knoll, a national champion ballroom dancer who teaches at the Imperial Academy in Buena Park.

Like Knoll, today’s ballroom dancers owe a debt of gratitude to the revolutionaries who made ballroom dance costumes more palatable.

Those who have seriously taken up the fox trot, waltz and other moves must also master the strict dress code of ballroom dancing, but they no longer look like extras in Swan Lake. Gowns for women have become infinitely more flattering, while would-be Fred Astaires have toned down the glitz in favor of understated elegance.

For Knoll and her partner, Dennis Lyle, a Fred Astaire National Champion ballroom dancer and owner of the Imperial Academy, the art of the dance has as much to do with the costumes as choreography.

“Costuming is very important,” Knoll says, “if for no other reason than to boost your psyche. Even though what we do is athletic, it’s also cosmetic. Judges certainly take into account the look of the couple.”

Ballroom costumes may look like elegant evening wear, but they’re designed with athletic endurance in mind.

“We have to move in them,” Knoll says.

International ballroom dancing–the competitive style that audiences watch on PBS specials in which partners remain in each other’s arms throughout the performance–calls for gowns that complement the frame and posture.

The trend today is full-skirted dresses that hit midcalf to the ankle, reinforced with boning or fish line in the hems for added volume. Feathers are optional and fall in and out of favor. Knoll senses a comeback and has ordered her next gown with a feathery hem.

One of Knoll’s gowns has a teal crepe-back satin skirt over a layer of lavender organza, and a purple lace bodice studded with Austrian crystals.

“It’s very streamlined and fitted. There’s no froufrou,” she says.

Men once matched their partners in glitz. They would wear a unitard with “ruffles and rhinestones all over,” Lyle says.

Now they wear traditional tail suits–tuxedos with modifications. Their tuxedo shirts are worn with detachable collars made of plastic that rise high on the neck, which makes for a crisp, elegant line but also an uncomfortable fit.

“They don’t wilt when you sweat,” Lyle says. Trousers have high waists to elongate the legs. The jackets are specially cut so the shoulders don’t bunch up, and the sleeves lie flat when the arms are holding their partners.

Lyle, whom Knoll jokingly calls “Mr. Sartorial Spendor,” has his tails made by a tailor in Los Angeles for about $1,400.

“They wear studs, cuff links, the works,” Knoll says. “The men look great. I think that’s why I got into ballroom dancing.”

For American-style ballroom dancing, which calls for more athletic maneuvers, guys can ditch the jacket and wear a vest for greater movement. Women wear longer gowns with extra-full skirts that can be raised high above their heads, with folds of fabric to spare.

“They’re designed for when we do dips, drops and little swoopy things,” Knoll says.

She has a royal blue polyester backless number with a black velvet collar and large rhinestone buttons. The dress has a slit up the center for showing some leg during high kicks.

Dresses for Latin-style dances “tend to have a lot less material,” she says.

Dancers want to show off their backs, legs and hips. Skirts can be short and tight, and slit into panels. Knoll considers her dresses conservative; one style features an asymmetrical skirt and comes in a form-fitting black stretch velvet.

Men wear fitted black pants with everything from muscle T-shirts to tailored shirts, which many guys like to wear unbuttoned.

“They’re a lot less gaudy than they used to be,” Lyle says.

Costumes are made to withstand the rigors of the dance, but most competitors have stories of zippers popping, heels catching in hems and straps snapping.

One of Knoll’s worst fashion mishaps took place in 1991, when she was U.S. champion representing the United States at a world competition in Berlin. Her lace bodice caught on the button of her partner’s tailcoat, and she spun to the floor still hooked to his jacket.

“I was hanging on by a piece of lace,” she says. She tried to fix the snag with nail polish during a break in the routine, and unwittingly spilled the polish all over her dress.

Step into Jack Denny’s office at World Jungle Clothing…

Step into Jack Denny’s office at World Jungle Clothing…


Step into Jack Denny’s office at World Jungle Clothing Co. in Costa Mesa, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world–that of a 1970s-era college dorm.

There’s an old Jimi Hendrix poster on the wall, a remnant of a brown-and-white South Pacific tapa cloth tacked over a window and an eye-popping orange velour easy chair, rescued from a thrift store, in the corner.

Denny even looks like a college kid; on this day he’s sporting baggy corduroy pants and a ’70s-style shirt. And when you ask him what he loves about his job, he sounds like a kid:

“It’s the surfing,” he says. “That’s why I work hard. So I can go to neat places and surf.”

Denny, 31, isn’t quite as laid-back as his clothing or his office would suggest. As co-owner and director of design for World Jungle, he is helping the $8-million-a-year company thrive in the competitive world of surf/sportswear. He would like to see World Jungle be the next Stussy or Mossimo, and he’s worked hard to quickly expand the company since it began in 1990.

World Jungle has prospered mainly by avoiding the fashion mainstream and gimmicky looks, earning the respect of surfers. Denny has shown a knack for riding a trend just as it is starting to swell, then pulling out when the look has saturated the market.

He had been designing for Gotcha for six years when, during a three-week surfing trip to Bali, he decided to start a “small, hard-core” surfwear company that made clothes and trunks with an ethnic look.

“At the start, the clothes were unique,” Denny says. “They were so tribal.”

They were also hot. Soon, other companies were doing tiki-type trims and primitive prints.

Denny recently decided it was time for a new look. With his latest spring collection, he’s departed from World Jungle’s roots.

“The old World Jungle was ethnic and tribal-driven,” he says. “We’ve eliminated that. The clothing is much cleaner.”

There are no busy prints in the new collection. Fabrics are plain but sometimes textured. There are knit shirts reminiscent of vintage gas station uniforms, with simple striping and ribbed trim. One shirt has a textured herringbone weave with engineered stripes in earth tones.

“It’s our best-selling shirt for spring, and it’s very different from what we’ve done in the past,” Denny says.

Another shirt has a single vertical stripe down the front. There are also retro-looking woven shirts, including one in a brown-and-cream plaid, and corduroy shorts in light earth tones such as sage and blue.

World Jungle’s graphics have gone Americana. There are stars and stripes and a pair of swim trunks color-blocked in red, white and blue ($40 for shirts and trunks, $50 for pants).

The company’s snowboarding line features two-tone and color-blocked jackets and pants that look as if they might have been designed in the ’50s for factory workers and firefighters–in retro hues such as khaki, dark green, chocolate and navy ($100 to $140).

World Jungle sells to about 400 retailers in the United States, Brazil, Australia, Fiji, Peru and Japan.

“Between the small, 3- to 5-year-old companies and Billabong and Rusty, there’s a gap where there’s plenty of room for sales and growth,” Denny says.

To fill that gap, Denny and partner Macy Barton recently added Michelle Tripi to design World Jungle’s expanding sportswear line, while Denny continues to design surf trunks and walking shorts while overseeing T-shirt graphics.

Denny, who was born in Ohio, has lived in Laguna Beach since he was in the eighth grade. He surfs “a lot” and enjoys the waves in Hawaii and Fiji.

“I was just in Hawaii watching the Pipe masters,” he says. “It’s a lifestyle.”

Denny loves to travel, but he often finds fashion ideas close to home. He likes to rummage through thrift shops for inspiration. La Brea in Los Angeles is a favorite shopping hangout.

“Instead of going to Europe, I go to thrift stores and spend a couple hundred dollars,” he says. “I like the ’70s stuff. I want to make a shiny polyester shirt.”

World Jungle has a large collection of vintage clothing handy, should inspiration on a collection lag.

“The old ’40s and ’50s shirts are still the cleanest you can find,” Denny says.

Blagojevich and his wife had expensive taste in clothes

Blagojevich and his wife had expensive taste in clothes

An IRS agent testifies during the former Illinois governor’s corruption trial that the couple spent more than $400,000 on clothes from 2002 through December 2008, when Blagojevich was arrested.

Staff and wire reports

Reporting from Chicago — Rod and Patti Blagojevich were awash in more than $200,000 in consumer debt when the former Illinois governor was arrested, after a lavish, six-year shopping spree on custom-tailored suits and other luxury clothing, a federal agent testified Thursday.

Blagojevich and his wife spent more than $400,000 on clothes, mainly for themselves and not their children, from 2002 through December 2008 when he was arrested, Internal Revenue Service agent Shari Schindler said at Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial.

“Sometimes they used credit cards to pay for other credit cards,” Schindler said.

Prosecutors are suggesting that the debts facing the impeached and removed governor and his wife could explain his alleged plan to get a Cabinet post or high-paying labor union or foundation job in exchange for filling the Senate seat that Barack Obama was leaving to become president.

Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to receive a high-paying job or other financial benefit in exchange for the Senate seat. He also has pleaded not guilty to scheming to launch a racketeering operation in the governor’s office. If convicted, he could face up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison, though he is sure to get much less time under federal guidelines.

The former governor and his wife spent more on clothing than they did on the mortgage for their Chicago home, Schindler testified.

Blagojevich dropped $205,706 alone with Oxxford, a tailor with a reputation for sewing high-end custom suits. On a single day in December 2006, Blagojevich charged $20,000 with the suit maker, his credit card records show.

Schindler noted that the expenditures over the six years Blagojevich was governor did not reflect any money spent on personal vehicles. Blagojevich and his family relied on state cars and drivers.

Schindler also said Blagojevich spent nothing out of his pocket for legal bills. Those expenses, associated with the mounting federal investigations into his administration, were covered by his campaign account.

Credit card statements entered into evidence show that Blagojevich or his wife on many occasions charged thousands of dollars at a time at high-end clothiers or shoe stores. They also later returned many of those items. In January 2005, for example, more than $12,000 worth of clothing was returned to Saks Fifth Avenue.

Several entries, Schindler said, show Blagojevich spent more than $10,000 in a day on suits. A basketweave tie from Saks cost $179.85. About the same time, she said, he spent $2,590 in a single store on shirts. A charge on Patti Blagojevich’s card showed a payment for furs of $3,800.

Clippers’ Glen Davis is getting it covered, from clothing to teammates

Clippers’ Glen Davis is getting it covered, from clothing to teammates

Signed as a free agent Feb. 24, Davis took advantage of his two-day break from practice to see his family and grab his clothes. He says it’s a work in progress getting to know how other Clippers play.

By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers power forward Glen Davis, left, battles Cleveland Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller for a rebound during a March 16 game. Davis says he's still in the process of getting to know his Clippers teammates.
Clippers power forward Glen Davis, left, battles Cleveland Cavaliers… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Finally, the Clippers had two days off with no practice and no games and finally, Glen Davis had a chance to get his off-the-court life in order.

Davis had been a solid frontcourt player for the Clippers since he was signed as a free agent Feb. 24, backing up center DeAndre Jordan and forward Blake Griffin.

But with Tuesday and Wednesday off before the Clippers went back to practice Thursday and Friday, Davis said he went to visit his wife and daughter rather than stay in L.A. to get settled.

“I just got my clothes,” Davis said.

So, Davis was asked, what have you been wearing, Clippers gear?

“I’ve been wearing nothing,” Davis joked. “I just got some new drawers. I’ve literally had like four pairs of drawers since I’ve been here, washing them, wash, re-wash. So thank God for washing machines.

“It’s been tough. It’s been really brutal. But, hey, I realized that in L.A., you can wear anything. You walk around and you see guys in like five-star restaurants in cut-off jeans. Hey, it’s cool. So I’m loving that type of lifestyle and I’ve been fitting in. So, I have no complaints.”

Jokes aside, when the Clippers did practice Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center, it was a big benefit for Davis.

“This was only my second practice,” Davis said. “It’s kind of tough to kind of be on the same accord, like with Chris [Paul] and being in the game with him. When DeAndre goes out early and I have to go in, I just haven’t had a feel for the guys.”

Davis said players usually learn how to play with their teammates during training camp.

He didn’t have that luxury because he was just picked up about a month ago.

“I wasn’t there for that,” Davis said about the Clippers’ training camp. “I’m not looking to get a real groove, as far as thinking without thinking kind of method, until the playoffs. So every day is a grind and just a way to get to know everybody.”

Having played for Clippers Coach Doc Rivers when both won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, Davis is familiar enough with Los Angeles’ offense.

Davis even knows the defense that Rivers likes to run.

For Davis, it’s about learning how to play with his teammates better.

“It’s just what guys want,” Davis said. “What Chris Paul wants. How he wants it done. What Blake wants. How I should play with Blake, because he’s usually playing with a guy who’s above the rim all the time. So it’s easy for him. I’m different. I’m a different player. I’m below the rim. I’m different from DeAndre. So it’s learning that system and just knowing the guys on the floor.”

L’Wren Scott dies at 49; model who became fashion designer

L’Wren Scott dies at 49; model who became fashion designer

Scott, who was 6 feet 4, created her own high-end clothing line and dressed Nicole Kidman and Michelle Obama. She had dated Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.

By Booth Moore
  • Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, left, and L'Wren Scott at a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit in May 2012. The designer was found dead Monday in her New York City apartment.
Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, left, and L’Wren Scott at a Metropolitan… (Evan Agostini, Associated…)

L’Wren Scott, a towering 6-foot, 4-inch fashion figure who started modeling in her teens, created her own high-end clothing line and dressed fashion fans including Nicole Kidman and First Lady Michelle Obama, was found dead Monday.

Sources differ on her age but police said she was 49.

Her body was found in her New York City apartment by an assistant. Though there were widespread reports that she was found hanged, police said no criminal activity was suspected and the coroner’s office is investigating.

Scott was romantically linked to Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger and helped style the band’s stage looks. In Hollywood, she helped forge a new role for celebrity stylists in the fashion world, parlaying her tastemaker status and access to celebrities into a clothing and accessory brand.

Her death prompted an outpouring of reaction.

“She is someone who will always inspire me both personally and professionally,” said Los Angeles-based stylist Cristina Ehrlich. “I always addressed her ‘Lady LS’ because for me, L’Wren was the chicest woman I’ve ever known and I felt she deserved a title.”

With her leggy physique and raven hair, Scott had a striking appearance. “I always thought she was the actual celebrity,” said Julie Gilhart, a fashion consultant and former fashion director of Barneys New York. “L’Wren was so gorgeous in person and in heart.”

Laura “Luann” Bambrough was adopted by Mormon parents and raised in Roy, Utah. Her fascination with fashion began when, at age 12 and already 6 feet tall, she began scouring local thrift stores for vintage clothing that she could rework at her sewing machine to fit her unusual proportions.

In her teens, she was discovered by photographer Bruce Weber while he was shooting an ad campaign in Utah. She changed her name to L’Wren Scott and moved to Paris, where she modeled for Chanel and is said to have inspired many of designer Thierry Mugler’s creations.

She came to Los Angeles in the 1990s, where she worked on commercials, music videos and fashion shoots for publications such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. She also was photographer Herb Ritts’ creative stylist.

As the first style director for the Academy Awards, Scott also designed red-carpet gowns for Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Penelope Cruz, Rene Zellweger and others.

She launched her clothing collection in 2006, selling it at Barneys New York, Maxfield and other high-end stores. In December 2013, she brought her fiercely feminine aesthetic to the masses with a collection for Banana Republic.

She met Jagger on a shoot in 2001. He was a fixture at the intimate lunches she hosted to show her collections during New York Fashion Week and premiered two songs at her 2008 show.

In February, the showing of her fall 2014 collection was canceled because of production delays.

Earth-friendly clothing that doesn’t involve burlap

Earth-friendly clothing that doesn’t involve burlap

As Earth Day approaches, it’s good to know there are now some chic, sustainable options.

By Melissa Magsaysay, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Eco-conscious and sustainably produced clothing has long been associated with murky-colored, burlap-reminiscent items focused more on sending an Earth-friendly message than on looking runway-ready. So as Earth Day approaches on Tuesday, it’s good to know there are now some chic, sustainable options. From sourcing fabrics to creating hangtags, each of the brands highlighted here considers impact on the Earth in production choices and uses recycled materials as often as possible — in some cases, building an entire line on repurposed materials.

Amour Vert

Based in: San Francisco.

The look: Day-to-night pieces, including splashy print blazers and matching shorts, silk dresses and tailored, menswear-inspired jackets.

The practice: The brand uses only organic and sustainable fabrics, such as organic cotton, linen, silk, tencel and recycled polyester, along with low-impact dyes. Amour Vert packages all products in biodegradable bags.

The price: $75 for solid T-shirts to $300 for tailored jackets.

Side note: A tree is planted for every T-shirt purchased from the line’s T(r)ee collection.

Where to buy:

Faherty Brand

Based in: New York.

The look: Beach-to-street separates for men and women. Plaid button-downs, Baja ponchos, sweatshirts and floral print bathing suits are collection mainstays.

The practice: Each swimsuit in the line is made of Lycra blended with polyester fabric that contains six recycled plastic water bottles. All cotton used for the rest of the line is organic.

The price: $135 for a men’s plaid button-down shirt to $325 for a women’s eyelet caftan. Women’s swimwear ranges from $85 for a bikini top or bottom to $115 for a printed one-piece suit.

Side note: Faherty Brand was started by twin brothers Alex and Mike Faherty, who previously worked in finance and as a designer at Ralph Lauren, respectively.

Where to buy:, select Barneys New York locations and

H&M Conscious Collection

Based in: Stockholm.

The look: A Flamenco-inspired collection that includes hand-embroidered, matador-style boleros; blush-colored leather bustiers, and a full lace wedding dress.

The practice: Organic cotton, leather and dye are used throughout the line. H&M also employs women in India unable to leave their homes for work. The women hand-embroider many pieces, helping them earn an income.

The price: Conscious Collection pieces range from $14.95 for a textured knit tank top to $549 for a lace gown.

Side note: For the spring 2014 collection, H&M teamed up with Ever Manifesto, a think tank and publication dedicated to promoting sustainable practices in fashion. The issue created around H&M’s Conscious collection features Pharrell Williams, Liya Kebede and Amber Valetta.

Where to buy: The line is stocked at 150 of H&M’s largest locations around the world, locally at H&M Beverly Center, Los Angeles.

The People’s Movement

Based in: Solana Beach, Calif.

The look: Lace-up oxfords, skimmers and feminine wedges in neutral solids and graphic prints.

The practice: The line upcycles single-use plastic bags that are cleaned and brought in from Bali, Indonesia, and parts of California for use as the main material in the shoes. In the company’s first year more than 175,000 plastic bags were reused to create footwear and accessories.

The price: $55 for a solid-color ballet flat to $89 for a printed high-top sneaker.

Side note: A portion of sales from the People’s Movement is donated to 5 Gyres, an organization that aims to stop plastic pollution.

Where to buy: and American Rag on La Brea Avenue, L.A.

Wal-Mart supplier denies knowing clothes made in Bangladesh factory

Wal-Mart supplier denies knowing clothes made in Bangladesh factory

By Shan Li
  • The Tazreen garment factory in Bangladesh, where a fire killed more than 100 people last month.
The Tazreen garment factory in Bangladesh, where a fire killed more than… (A.M. Ahad / Associated Press )

After the Bangladesh factory fire that killed more than 100 workers in November, retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fired a supplier making clothes at the facility. Now that supplier has come forward to say it wasn’t aware its clothes were stitched there, reports say.

Success Apparel said in a statement to Bloomberg that it placed an order with Simco, a Wal-Mart-approved supplier, to fulfill orders. Simco then doled out about 7% of the order to Tuba Group, owner of the now infamous Tazreen Design factory in Bangladesh, according to Success.

“This factory is not on our matrix and we have never done business with them,” Success said in the statement to Bloomberg. “We have been a trusted supplier to Walmart for over two decades, never had any violations and complied with the highest ethical and safety standards that our company sets forth.”

A workers’ rights group found documents in the remains of the fire that reportedly pointed to at least five suppliers making clothes for Wal-Mart at the factory this year.

Wal-Mart was not the only retailer connected to the factory. After the fire, Sears said a supplier was using the facility to make apparel without informing the company.

Industry experts say the tragedy highlights the complexity of the global supply chain, where retailers use vast networks of vendors and manufacturers to churn out their products. Analysts say it can be extremely difficult to keep tabs on every part of the process.

Protests have erupted in Bangladesh as textile workers rally. Police have arrested three factory supervisors who are suspected of locking in workers after survivors told authorities that exit doors would not open when they tried to flee, the Associated Press reported.

Chip could let smartphones see through walls — and clothes

Chip could let smartphones see through walls — and clothes

By Deborah Netburn

In the not-too-distant future, your smartphone may be able to help you see through walls, cardboard boxes, paper and even clothing.

Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas have designed an imaging chipthat measures invisible terahertz light waves that is small enough to fit on a smartphone and inexpensive enough that normal people could actually afford to buy one.

Terahertz waves can be detected through opaque surfaces such as paper, walls and clothing — enabling a person with an accurate terahertz measuring device to see beyond what our visible eye can see.

Some applications of this technology, which is still in development, include early detecting of skin cancer, finding studs hidden in walls, finding hidden cracks in vases and authenticating documents.

As for the creepy applications (such as seeing through clothes), rest assured that Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas and director of the Texas Analog Center for Excellence, who led this research, has considered them.

“The major concern for this technology is privacy, so we’ve made it that you need to place the imaging device very close to the object you are looking at,” he said. “We are talking about a distance of 10 centimeters, so it would be very difficult for someone to sneak up on you and…you know.”

Scientists have known about terahertz waves for a long time, but the devices that measured them were prohibitively expensive for most people, and also large and bulky.

O and his team’s imaging chip, which was made with CMOS technology, is small and cheap.

“This is literally small enough that it can be placed on the back of the cellphone,” he said.

Modified X-ray vision, here we come!

Shawn Merriman sues Nike over its ‘Lights Out’ clothing line

Shawn Merriman sues Nike over its ‘Lights Out’ clothing line

By Chuck Schilken
  • Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman celebrates a sack in 2007.
Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman celebrates a sack in 2007. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Shawne Merriman once knocked four opposing players unconscious during a single high school football game.

Can Nike make such a claim? Doubt it.

Yet, the company is using “Lights Out” — the nickname Merriman says he earned after that game — as the name of one of its athletic apparel lines.

That strikes a nerve with the former NFL star, who used the nickname throughout his career and performed a celebratory dance of the same name after sacks.

And he’s doing something about it. On Monday a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Merriman’s Lights Out Holdings LLC against Nike for trademark infringement and unfair competition. It seeks an injunction as well as damages to be determined at trial.

According to the suit, Merriman acquired the federal trademark rights for Lights Out in 2007. The suit also claims that Merriman once negotiated with Nike about starting a line bearing his nickname in 2006 or 2007, but nothing came to fruition.

“I earned my ‘Lights Out’ nickname in high school when I knocked out four opposing players in one football game,” Merriman said in a statement. “I made things official by securing the federal rights to my LIGHTS OUT trademark and have been using it ever since. I am suing Nike as a last resort, not only to protect my brand, but to protect other athletes who are trying to develop a brand after their professional career, like myself.”

A Nike spokesman told the Associated Press that the company doesn’t comment on litigation.