Get to know Marbles through the stories behind launching her online boutique.

my plate #hers (at Piet-à-Terre) View high resolution

my plate #hers (at Piet-à-Terre)

Personal Heroes

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal heroes.  

Why?

Probably because my boyfriend has some very clear ones and it made me realize that I may have none.  

Not only does the BF have personal/professional heroes, he also refers to them as such.  It’s pretty cool actually.  It’s made me do some soul searching.

Maybe I did have personal heroes at one point in my life…probably…when I was younger…I must have…?

I certainly can’t think of any.  Not really.  

To feel better about myself, I’m starting a new series on the blog and forming a personal collection of heroes.  

First on my list is Ted Muehling.

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Ted Muehling is a designer that I just discovered this past Saturday at an intimate wedding dinner.  A lovely woman named Lynn was wearing a beautiful necklace he designed.  

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He is now a hero of mine.  Lynn was pretty cool too ;)

Do you guys have clearly defined personal/professional heroes?

Love,

Marbles

My dream #jackspade bag.  Perfect for weekend travels.  #tbt to before they added the lame dipped in paint detail.  I’ll pay more for the old version.  Please bring it back!!! @jackspade View high resolution

My dream #jackspade bag. Perfect for weekend travels. #tbt to before they added the lame dipped in paint detail. I’ll pay more for the old version. Please bring it back!!! @jackspade

The Raw Denim Apron

When I first started the Marbles New York project, I was lending some of my fashion expertise to Richard.  I was looking for examples of an apron idea I had for his company’s baristas when I stumbled upon Red Wite Blue & Co. through some expert Instagram recon.  That is more or less how I started on a collaboration project with the founder of Red Wite Blue & Co., a very cool guy named Mario, from California.  I think Instagram is a great discovery tool, and Mario and I joining forces is evidence of that.

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I loved the raw denim and leather aprons that Mario was making out in California, and knew there was something special we could do together.  I noticed a lot of his customers seemed to be these really cool kind of retro barber guys.  I thought the style they had was pretty dope, and certainly in line with a lot of the raw denim Americana aesthetic that is one major angle in the raw denim movement.

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I also knew, however, that I needed to add my touches and modifications to make this apron appeal to the Marbles customer and represent my brand.  I asked Mario if we could work on a collab and I would sell my first unique-to-Marbles product: the “Marbles for Red Wite Blue & Co. Raw Denim Apron.” 

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The apron project began as a way to introduce some exclusive product on my site, but turned into an interesting way to begin introducing women to my love and obsession: raw denim.  The apron, though targeted to my ladies, is a unisex item, and is one size fits all.   My favorite design element is probably how the selvedge edge is masterfully highlighted throughout, and how there is a nod to the detailing of traditional dungarees at the same time.  The straps are leather and there are a couple of small weathered metal skulls on the back.  The Marbles apron can be worn for cooking, gardening, woodworking, hairstyling, or as a sexy role-playing outfit for the boudoir. 

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Please do keep in mind, however, that even though it’s meant for dirty situations, this apron is not meant for cleaning of any kind.  I will go into this in more detail in it’s own post, but please do be aware of this here and now.  I realize it sounds totally loco to most of you.  It isn’t.  Trust me.  The raw denim will wear in uniquely to you this way, and the fabric is of such high quality and is such a good dark indigo that you really won’t need to wash this bad boy.  Just trust me guys. 

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This is just a little taste to wet everyone’s appetites as Mario and I go into production over the next couple of weeks.  I will be writing about this Marbles Apron much more, and I’ll go into many more style and design details as well as garment care details.  This is only a preview and is getting to be quite a long one (also something I’m working on…shortening my posts!). 

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Hope you like what we’ve done.

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(NOTE:  all photos were taken as a preview of the stock apron, which will say Marbles on the nameplate)

Hello Again

I’m baa-ack!

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in a really really long time. 

Here’s my excuse:

The idea for Marbles, my company, has evolved dramatically.  As a result, I lost the original story I had been weaving and what felt like the direction and purpose of this blog. 

Here’s my plan:

I’m just going to start somewhere new, but related, and go from there.  My approach before my hiatus was very calculated because I was trying to craft a compelling story about how my store would come to life.  I am no longer trying to start an online boutique, however, so that tale must come to a premature end.  I’m not sure what direction this blog is going to take in the future, but it’s definitely going to be more spontaneous. 

Speaking of spontaneous….

This is me at the end of 2013.  ‘Twas the night of December 21st to be exact, and I was on a first date.

It was a surprisingly spectacular evening so we decided to cut each other’s hair.

(each of us holding our hairballs from the haircuts) 

This is me ringing in the New Year with my new honey and our new hairdos.

It’s great to be back, and starting 2014 in a fresh way.

Happy New Year!

xxx,

Marbles

Marbles the Merchant-Chapter 1

Hi, I’m Marbles.  We’ve kind of met before.  You may remember me from the story about how I got this nickname… it takes place about four years ago…well, just in case, you can read that legendary tale here.  I really love that story, but now I want to tell you more about me as a buyer/merchant (terms I use synonymously) so you can trust my expertise in a professional capacity.  Not that it matters, but I’m not just some hobbyist with a sense of style and savoire faire.  I’ve spent my entire career in the fashion and retail industry.  Granted, that certainly doesn’t validate a person’s ability based on my [professional] experience.  Nevertheless, it might at least provide some qualification to assure any skeptics that I actually do know what I’m talking about.

I started my career as Emily (teehee) in 2007 as a buyer for a small chain of Manhattan boutiques called Searle (founded in 1962).  It was there; as I learned the core principles of buying and retailing, that I discovered my natural understanding of this business we call fashion, and where my innate taste-level and ability to select merchandise blossomed.  It’s difficult not to sound like a braggart here as I describe my professional aptitude, but I trust that you, dear reader, will not misinterpret my assessments.  I am not after all, responsible for the evaluations.  I am only responsible for relaying them (Wink).  Now…back to the story…

I had landed my first real, full-time, post-college job.  I was still Emily, and was still years away from what would be the emergence of the Marbles persona.  Actually, at that time, I had a few other nicknames. 

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(this is me on a market appointment at Rachel Comey’s office/studio in TriBeCa before she was discovered and became famous)

Michael, my direct supervisor at that time and now long-time mentor, dubbed me PG, which stood for ‘Pony Girl.’  I had come from a temp position at Ralph Lauren prior to joining the Searle buying team, so that’s the origin of Michael’s pet name for me.  Get it…polo pony…the Ralph Lauren logo….

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(this is Michael in the billiards room at SoHo House)

The two co-workers I had, that both physically and personality-wise could be compared to the stepsisters in Cinderella, nicknamed me, “Mini Me” because they thought I was merely a younger ‘mini’ version of Michael.  They did not mean it as a compliment.  I took it as one anyway.

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Unlike Drizella and Anastasia, Michael and Mini Me were not ‘type A’ personalities (to use a term I despise).  We were comfortable relying on our intuition, interpersonal skill, and charm.  We were not particularly masterful at desk organization or memorization.  At Searle, the buyers (Drizella and Anastasia included) were not encouraged to be highly numbers-focused anyway.  We didn’t use much retail math (if any) to write our orders.  We didn’t work from an Open-to-Buy.  We did, however, look at our selling obsessively and microscopically. 

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(me sitting in Michael’s office.  yup, that’s what i looked like at the start of my professional life)

Steve, the owner and founder, who is probably at least 100 years old by now, and came from the hard knocks of the old school garmentos, fostered a more intellectual approach to buying.  He and his wife Alice did fancy themselves geniuses, after all.  Alice would often brag about Steve’s IQ score, which was within the ‘genius’ stratus, even though none of us gave two shits since he was a turd of a human being, second only to her.  And I mean really.  Even if Steve had been a swell guy, who in his or her right mind knows his or her intelligence quotient, and who puts any stock in it even if he or she does have the number memorized?!  I can’t even remember what the SATs were out of so there’s no way in hell I could brag about my score, which in case you’re wondering, was pretty darn good (hashtag humblebrag). 

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Despite being a company filled with complete assholes and nitwits, Searle was pretty amusing and a great place to learn how to be a real merchant.  Michael made work fun, and Steve taught me how to buy. Steve took a shining to me right away, I think because of my then innocence, my world-famous sense of humor, and my appreciation of Gershwin (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!). Steve really was a great teacher.  I’ll give him that.  I think I always had the eye and intuition of a merchant, but being under Steve’s wing was what helped set those innate talents free.  What does makes a great merchant, you may be asking yourself…?  Well friends, you’ll have to wait for my next post to find out.

Woman to Women: Raw Denim Part I

Fine.  I admit it.  I totally washed my raw denim.  I think it was a mixture of not really knowing that I wasn’t supposed to and just not giving a fuck.  Admittedly, I didn’t understand the relationship between not washing and unique wear-in patterns back then.  I misunderstood and thought that washing raw denim broke-down the fabric in its entirety too quickly.  I didn’t realize that it actually impeded the creation of one-of-a-kind fading—the whole point of wearing raw denim in the first place.  Nevertheless, in the interest of full disclosure, even if I had had a better grasp on the mechanics, I still wouldn’t have gone the recommended six-month minimum without washing my jeans. 

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I think I can speak for most women when I say: we want to smell good.  Wearing the same pair of jeans every day and not washing them is a great way to ensure body odor is indelibly tethered to your being.  I think this dilemma is one of two major reasons why few women have embraced the raw denim movement (and yes, I do think it’s a movement).  The second reason raw has not exploded among ladies is related to fit, cut, and lack of stretch, and I’ll delve into that hurdle in a later post.  In the meantime, I am determined to find a real solution to the war that is proper jean wear-in vs. stinking.

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After all, raw denim is absolutely not about pushing the envelop of societal norms with regard to acceptable smells.  It is, on the other hand, entirely about committing to a killer pair of jeans that fade exclusive to you, and make you feel sexy (sans BO).  As a dude, it’s kind of manly and even a little sexy to have a little raw odor in your raw denim.  It separates the boys from the men.  It is also, however, what separates the men from the women.  

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Women kind of have to wash their jeans…I mean, c’mon!  We typically like to wear a tight fitting style to flatter our tushes, which means that our denim spends all day all up in our coochies’ grills.  So…if, like me, you prefer that your jeans not smell like body odor and/or pussy (pardon my French but someone’s gotta just say it straight!)…We must find a way to truly eliminate ‘natural smells’ without compromising the denim and the process. 

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Of course there are all kinds of existing tricks out there to remove crotch odor without actually washing your jeans.  Personally speaking, I’ve found them wanting, which is why I end up washing my raw denim.  Luckily, my birthday is just around the corner, and in celebration, I am giving everyone a special gift—I am finding a solution to obstacle numero uno in the battle that is women vs. unwashed denim. 

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I have committed (since I did not the first time around) to buy a new pair of raw jeans and not wash them for the requisite six-month period.  The one trick that I’ve already discovered, and am sticking to from my first round of raw purchasing is buying two pair at once.  Trust me.  This is step one, and is extremely helpful.  I understand that this technique is cost-prohibitive, and I do apologize, but I also believe that, in the long run, you might save money or at least come out even by investing upfront to ensure proper garment care.  So…I am actually committing to buying two new pair of raw denim.  I plan to test two different brands.  I consider it research for my store, and its future customers.  After all, Marbles New York is about nothing if not offering the best of the best merchandise.  I do the research so you don’t have to waste your time filtering through an excess of mediocre product.  Everything available to purchase has been personally tested by Marbles herself, and has passed her rigorous approval process.  If an item isn’t good enough for Marbles’ personal closet, it isn’t good enough for yours either.  But let’s not get side-tracked here (typical Marbie), and let’s get back to solving the raw denim crisis.

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While I’m tackling this stinking problem (I made a pun!) I will also be testing for fit and style.  I will be alternating between the chosen two, and documenting my progress and learnings.  Of course, it is summer people so please be kind and patient with me.  This science project is my priority, as are you, but I still want to get a bit of a leg tan if at all possible.  Summer is my best time of year!  So…without further ado…here are the details of my present to you:

I will not wash the new jeans for the requisite six month period, during which time I will personally test techniques to remove odor and stains since I promise you I will not wear them if they have even the slightest aroma. 

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I will report back on my ‘pussy progress’, and my methods for keeping them non-laundry fresh.  I was going to call this ‘stinkiness progress,’ because that’s what I’m actually doing, but I love the way ‘pussy progress’ sounds, and I like that it makes this endeavor female-centric. 

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I will track my fades and wear meticulously through regularly shot imagery. 

At the end of the experiment, which will theoretically take at least a full year since I’m alternating between two pair and realistically won’t wear them every day this summer:

I will compare the new pairs to one another.

I will compare the new ones to my old ones (approx. two-years-old) that have been washed. 

I will provide an exceptional and detailed plan to properly care for your denim, from a female and perfectionist’s perspective, suds free and, more importantly, carefree. 

From one woman to all women out there who love denim and hate smelling as much as I do, happy birthday to me, and let the games begin!

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All imagess courtesy of the internet & my personal archive

 

Raw Denim Redux

I love this guide to raw denim because it masterfully explains both what raw denim is and why it’s so darn cool.  I found this gem on www.highsnobiety.com, please enjoy.

A Beginner’s Guide to Raw Denim


By  posted on November 27, 2012 2:20 pm

A Beginners Guide to Raw Denim

Continuing from where we left off in our history of Japanese denim, we head toward the oftentimes confusing world of “raw”, or “dry”, denim. The topic is no joke for those who have spent countless hours researching the best in raw denim, not to mention a tidy sum of money. Even so, there’s still plenty of educating to be done especially for people who have considered dropping a little extra money but hesitated at the last second due to not quite understanding the hype behind it.

Here we’ll start from the beginning and hopefully give those with a head full of raw denim knowledge a little something extra. Take a look below for the full article.

Like any topic involving subtleties and complexities, it’s necessary to understand the basics before heading off into more advanced territory. To begin, during a pair of jeans’ construction there is usually a step towards the end, once the denim has taken the form of jeans, where the final product is washed. This wash takes place after the dye is applied, meaning some of the dye runs off during this process.

Washing’s main purpose is to make each pair softer and reduce the amount of shrinkage after the wearer’s first wash. With a pair of washed denim, consumers know almost certainly how that pair will look and fit for the foreseeable future. Of course, more fading and stressing is bound to take place over the course of a pair’s life but not nearly to the same extent as raw denim.

A Beginners Guide to Raw Denim

Raw denim, on the other hand, skips the washing process entirely which is why the term “raw” is often used interchangeably with the term “dry”. Each pair is left with the dye clinging tightly to the cotton, leaving the jeans’ first wash to your discretion. Typically, the first wash will come after 6 months or a year of daily wear, although it’s not unheard of to let a pair go its entire life without a wash.

As mentioned earlier, the first wash sheds off a significant amount of dye which implicitly changes the color of the garment. In a pair of pre-washed denim, the jeans haven’t been worn yet so the dye comes off uniformly. Not so with raw denim. By the time the first wash rolls around, your jeans have become a veritable diary of your daily life. They’ve tread dirty city streets, trekked dusty mountain paths, sat bunched up in lecture halls and offices, and grinded against the rear of unwilling participants. Everything you’ve done – from your proudest moments to your most shameful – your raw pair of jeans has done.

A Beginners Guide to Raw Denim

Thus, when the time comes to wash a pair, careful measurements are taken to ensure that the fading to follow is a testament to the trials, triumphs, and tribulations of months past. To the staunchest raw denim enthusiasts, it’s akin to setting up a shrine and sacrificing months of passive devotion in order for each pair to be born anew. It is the caterpillar, with its alien body and slimy legs, becoming a butterfly with wing patterns unique unto itself. The fades, from the whiskers to the combs, are authentic and could only be born of he who chose to wait.

In short, raw denim is created as a “blank slate” for each wearer to carve his or her own life onto. While it often takes months or years of dedication, the end result is worth it in the form of a piece of clothing that is yours and yours alone. During the lifespan of a pair, the wearer and the wearee experience a reciprocal unconditional love rivaled only by the likes of a loyal pet.

All images courtesy of Rawr Denim

Raw vs. Selvedge

I often use the terms raw and selvedge denim interchangeably, but I really shouldn’t.  As discussed in my previous post, raw denim refers to jeans that are unwashed and sold in their purest form.  Selvedge refers to a completely different aspect of denim, and although raw denim is typically made with selvedge (and in my opinion should only be made that way) it does not make the terminology interchangeable.  I apologize for any confusion, and will be sure to use more precise language from now on.

What Is Raw Denim?

It is denim in its purest form. 

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(photo courtesy of Rawr Denim)

Although I am an appreciator and wearer of raw denim I prefer to let a true denim expert explain it.  I’ve decided to re-blog about this topic by quoting highlights from a full article written by an actual aficionado, Nick Coe of Rawr Denim. 

Please see my extractions below:

 

1. What Is Raw Denim?

Also known as “dry denim” for its hard texture, according to Wikipedia, raw denim is “a denim fabric that is not washed after being dyed during its production”.  In our words though…

Raw denim is denim that has been unwashed, untreated, and virtually untouched to the extent that it remains in its pure form.

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We won’t dig too deep into the anatomy, but there are some notable differences to look for. From a higher-level, some of the primary details that you should make special note of:

  • Material:  Raw denim jeans are typically (but not always) produced with 100% cotton and can be sourced from a number of countries.  Some folks will argue that a particular country has the “best” cotton (in terms of durability, resulting denim fades, and worn feel) and some of the most popular sources include U.S.A., Zimbabwe, and Japan.
  • Weight:  Ever notice how some raw denim feels really thick (and heavy) while others are much thinner (and lighter)?  That’s precisely what is referred to as the denim weight – or, technically speaking, how much a yard of raw denim fabric weighs in ounces (Oz.).  Putting aside the manufacturing process, the heavier the denim, the more rigid the garment (also due to starching) and more resistent it will be to abrade.
    • 12 Oz. and Less: Considered light raw denim
    • 12 Oz. – 16 Oz.: Considered mid-range weight and most common
    • 16 Oz. and Up: Considered heavier
  • Fit: Similar to any pair of pants, raw denim jeans comes in a variety of styles, cuts, and fits.  One key element to be cognizant of is whether or not your raw denim is non-sanforized or sanforized.  If it is the former, then after your raw denim’s first soak/wash (see – Soaking Raw Denim: The Critical Preliminary Step and How To Clean and Wash Your Raw Denim), your denim can shrink significantly more (7% – 10%) compared to the latter (1% – 5%).
  • Other: There are many other details to pay attention to when browsing raw denim, from each and every rivet and button donut, to the selvedge and slubbiness.
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2. When Did Raw Denim Come About?

The term “denim” originates from the French town, “de Nîmes”, where the fabric is said to have first been produced.  As the fabric was tough and hard, it was nicknamed “serge de Nîmes” (serge being French for “sturdy”), but later just shortened to “denim”.

In terms of raw denim specifically, it is difficult to trace back the exact time of raw denim’s first emergence, but it was likely between the late 1800′s and mid-1900′s.   At this point, raw denim was widely produced and worn on a larger scale in America by trades workers and miners – hence the vintage Americana appeal of some brands.  It is worth noting that denim produced during this time was primarily, if not entirely, selvedge denim.

By the time the 1950s came about, WWII had ended and youth culture dominated. Denim became so popular that many American mills abandoned the slower shuttle looms to switch in faster, industrial machines with mass production capabilities.

What was done with the shuttle looms?  Long story short, the U.S. helped rebuild many of Japan’s industries, such as the textile industry.  Thus, Japan received many, many shuttle looms; kickstarting numerous denim mills, and leading to today’s “Japanese raw denim” craze.

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A NOTE FROM MARBLES

This is the golden nugget, dear reader:

"Not once during the finishing process is the denim distressed or washed in any way.  It is left in its most pure and rawest state, and will only deteriorate with the wearer’s personal use."

If nothing else I’ve quoted makes sense to you, the above quote from Coe’s article should be enough to understand raw denim it its purist form (ha!  I made a pun!).

Raw denim means that every individual pair of jeans wears in uniquely to its wearer.  The wear-in process of raw denim, therefore, is taken very seriously by its owners.  The number of times you wash your jeans affects the ‘fade,’ and it is recommended that you wait at least 6 months before the first wash.

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(photo courtesy of Rawr Denim’s Fade Friday- 12-14 months old, 2 soaks, 2 washes)

 

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