Nick V. talks with shoe care magnate Sergio Barange (Styleforum Blog)
“What we must not do is decrease our quality, reducing cost and keeping very little margins. We need to maintain our levels, and reinvest in research and development, new machinery, be stronger and propose valid and high-quality alternatives. Fighting against low prices is no future for a family business or even any developed countries’ brand that wants to survive against low salary countries’ brands. We have recently seen what happened to Tacco Footcare in Germany, where they went into a financial distress last November, because of low prices, offering some Asian production, insufficient margins, and no machinery renewal.”

Patagonia’s Founder Is America’s Most Unlikely Business Guru (Wall Street Journal)
“The evolution of Patagonia into a clothing company began in the 1970s, when Chouinard—then a world-class mountain climber and a designer of mountaineering equipment—started importing durable rugby shirts and corduroy knickers for his climber pals to wear. Soon enough, Patagonia was designing its own line of clothes. Soon after that, sales of the clothes far outstripped sales of the climbing gear. This is how Yvon Chouinard became an accidental apparel mogul. This truly hit home when fashion models in New York City started wearing Patagonia fleece vests. He had no idea why, and didn’t really care. But he realized his life had changed.”

A Humbled Gap Tries a Fresh Coat of Pep (New York Times)
“What went wrong? Dozens of interviews with current and former executives depict a company that chased after rivals, rather than charting its own course, and that cut quality and lost touch with customers. Simply put, it filled its stores with stuff that people didn’t want.”

Bay Rum, The Scent of Madison Avenue (Ivy Style)
“Perhaps it’s the word rum (sometimes spelled “rhum”) in the name, with its connotations of maritime adventure, that accounts for bay rum’s longstanding popularity. Or perhaps women adore it. They must, or else bay rum would have been selected for extinction long ago. But compared to the luxury brands whose scents fill the pages of glossy magazines, bay rum seems made for the man who frankly doesn’t give a damn. He wears it because he knows he owes good hygiene both to his fellow man and himself, not for a direct payoff in the mating game. Bay rum is what men think a man should smell like. It’s not for the man who orders a bottled pheromone, discretely billed, that’s guaranteed to aid seduction.”

YKK zippers: Why so many designers use them. (Slate)
“One zipper gone wrong can render an entire garment unwearable. Thus consistent quality is a must for reputable fashion brands. For decades now, apparel makers who can’t afford to gamble on cut-rate fasteners have overwhelmingly turned to a single manufacturer. YKK, the Japanese zipper behemoth, makes roughly half of all the zippers on earth. More than 7 billion zippers each year. Those three capital letters are ubiquitous—no doubt you’ve seen them while zipping up your windbreaker or unzipping someone else’s jeans. How did YKK come to dominate this quirky corner of industry?”