November 24, 2012

The Tool by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels

The Tool by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels
Transform your problems into courage, confidence and creativity.

‘Reversal of desire’ tool

Use this tool when you need to make an action you have been avoiding. We avoid doing the things that are most painful for us, preferring to live in a Comfort Zone that severely limits what we get out of life. The tool lets you act in the face of pain and helps you get your life moving again.

Pain avoidance is a powerful habit. You get immediate relief when you defer something painful. The penalty - helpless regret at a life you wasted - won’t come until far in the future. This is why most people can’t move forward and live life to the fullest.

The first cue comes when you have to do something uncomfortable and you feel fear or resistance. Use the tool right before you act.

The second cue occurs whenever you think about doing something painful or difficult.  If you use the tool every time you have these thoughts, you will build a force that will allow you to act when the time comes.

Tool in brief:
Focus on the pain you are avoiding.; see it appear in front of you as a cloud. Silently scream, “Bring it on” to demand the pain; you want it because it has great value.

Scream silently, “I love pain” as you keep moving forward. Move so deeply into the pain you are at one with it.

Feel the cloud spit you out and close behind you. Say inwardly, “Pain sets me free”. As you leave the cloud, feel yourself propelled forward into a realm of pure light.

Once the tool connects you to the Force of Forward Motion, the world is less intimidating, your energy is greater and the future seems more hopeful.

Between the comfort zone and unlimited possibilities, it the pain zone. You have to cross the pain-zone to reach the unlimited possibilities.
‘Active of Love’ tool

When someone enrages you and you can’t get the person out of your head. You may replay what he or she did or fantasize about getting revenge. This is the Maze. It puts your life on hold while the world moves forward without you.

The childish belief that people will treat you ‘fairly’. You refuse to move forward with life until the wrong you experienced is rectified. Since that rarely happens, you are trapped.

Use active love the moment someone does something that angers you.
Use it when you find yourself reliving a personal injustice whether it was in the recent or distant past.
Use it to prepare yourself to confront a difficult person.

Tool in brief:
Concentration: Feel your heart expand to encompass the world of infinite love surrounding you. When your heart contracts back to normal size, it concentrates all this love inside your chest.

Transmission: Send all the love from your chest to the other person, holding nothing back.
Penetration: When the love enters the other person, don’t just watch, feel it enter; sense a oneness with him or her. Then relax, and you will feel all the energy you gave away returned to you.

Active Love creates Outflow which is the force that accepts everything as it is. This dissolves your sense of unfairness so you can give without reservation. Once you are in that state, nothing can make you withdraw.

Inner Authority’ tool:

In intimidating situations, you will find it difficult to express yourself or even connect with other people. These are moments when you freeze become wooden or stiff, unable to express yourself in a natural, spontaneous way. Underlying this is an irrational sense of insecurity. the tool allows you to overcome the insecurity and be yourself.

Insecurity is universal but badly misunderstood human trait. We think we know what is making us insecure - our appearance, level of education or socioeconomic status, In fact, there is something deep inside us that is the cause of all insecurity. It is called Shadow - the embodiment of all our negative traits - and we are terrified that someone will see it. As a consequence, we expand a lot of energy hiding it, which makes it impossible for us to be ourselves. The tool gives us a new way to deal with the problem of having Shadow.

Whenever you feel performance anxiety. This could be triggered by social events, confrontations, speaking in public.
Use this tool right before the event as well as during it.
A less-obvious cue would be when you are anticipating the event and worrying about it.

Tool in brief:

Standing in front of any kind of audience, see your Shadow off to one side, facing you(it works just as well with an imaginary audience or an audience composed of only one person). Ignore the audience and silently command them to ‘LISTEN’. Feel the authority that comes when you and your shadow speak with one voice.

The force of self-expression allows us to reveal ourselves in a truthful, genuine way - without caring about others' approval. It speaks through us with unusual clarity and authority, but it also expresses itself non-verbally like when an athlete is in the zone. In adults, this force gets buried in the Shadow. The tool, by connecting you to the Shadow, enables you to resurrect the force and have it flow through you.

“The Grateful Flow” tool.

When your mind is filled with worry, self-hatred or any other form of negative thinking, you have been taken over by the Black Cloud. It limits what you can do with your life, deprives your loved ones of what is best about you. Life is becomes a struggle to survive instead of the fulfillment of great promise.

The unconscious delusion that negative thoughts can control the universe. Because we think the universe is indifferent to us, we cling to the sense of  control negative thinking gives us.

Use the Grateful Flow immediately whenever you are attacked by negative thoughts. If unchallenged, negative thinking will just gets stronger.

Use the Grateful Flow any time your mind becomes undirected - when you are on hold during a phone call, stuck in traffic, or standing in line at the market.

You can even make the tool part of your daily schedule. That turns specific times (waking up, going to sleep, mealtimes) into cues.

Tool in Brief:

Start by silently stating to yourself specific things in your life you are grateful for, particularly items you’d normally take for granted. You can also include bad things that aren’t happening. Go slowly so you really feel the gratefulness for each item. Don’t use the same items each time you use the tool. You should feel a slight strain from having to come up with new ideas.

After about thirty seconds, stop thinking and focus on the physical sensation of gratefulness. You will feel it coming directly from your heart. This energy you are giving out is the grateful Flow.

As this energy emanates from your heart,  your chest will soften and open. In this state, you will feel an overwhelming presence approach you, filled with the power of infinite giving. You have made a connection to the source.

Far from being indifferent to us, there is a higher force in the universe that created us and remains intimately involved with our well-being. We call that higher force the Source. The experience of its overwhelming power dissolves all negativity. But without Gratefulness, we can’t perceive the Source.

Jeopardy Tool

The illusion that you can obtain a ‘magical something’ that will exonerate you from using the tools. This is reinforced day and night by the consumer culture that surrounds you. the illusion always leads to the same result” you quit. In success, you think the tools are no longer necessary; in failure, you are too demoralized to use them.

In any situation where you know you need a tool but, for whatever reason, can’t get yourself to use one.
When you feel you’ve grown beyond the need for the tools.

Tool in brief:

See yourself lying on your deathbed. having run out of time, this older self screams at you not to waste the present moment. You feel a deep, hidden fear that you have been squandering your life. This creates an urgent desire to use whichever basic tool you need at that moment.

You cannot overcome the tendency to quit by thinking about it. You need a higher force. We call that force willpower. It’s the one higher force you must create yourself; all the universe can do is provide a challenge that demands you generate it.

November 22, 2012

The power of mindful learning by Ellen J. Langer

The power of mindful learning by Ellen J. Langer

Author says the following are just myths.

The basics must be learned so well that they become second nature
Paying attention means staying focused on one thing at a time
Delaying gratification is necessary in education
Forgetting is a problem
Intelligence is knowing ‘what is out there’
There are right and wrong answers.

The way the information is learned will determine how, why and when it is used. A mindful approach to any activity has three characteristics: the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective.

When Practice makes Imperfect:

[When he arrived on the planet he respectfully saluted the lamplighter.
"Good morning. Why have you just put out your lamp?"
"Those are the orders," replied the lamplighter. "Good morning."
"What are the orders?"
"The orders are that I put out my lamp. Good evening."
And he lighted his lamp again.
"But why have you just lighted it again?"
"Those are the orders," replied the lamplighter.
"I do not understand," said the little prince.
"There is nothing to understand," said the lamplighter. "Orders are orders. Good morning."
And he put out his lamp.
Then he mopped his forehead with a handkerchief decorated with red squares.
"I follow a terrible profession. In the old days it was reasonable. I put the lamp out in the morning, and in the evening I lighted it again. I had the rest of the day for relaxation and the rest of the night for sleep."
"And the orders have been changed since that time?"
"The orders have not been changed," said the lamplighter. "That is the tragedy! From year to year the planet has turned more rapidly and the orders have not been changed!"
"Then what?" asked the little prince.
"Then--the planet now makes a complete turn every minute, and I no longer have a single second for repose. Once every minute I have to light my lamp and put it out!"
(from The little prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry)].

When we first learn a skill, we necessarily attend to each individual step. If we over-learn the drill, we essentially lose sight of the individual components and we find it hard to make small adjustments. If we learn the basics but do not over-learn them, we can vary them as we change or as the situation changes. We found that only those students taught conditionally thought to use the objects in creative ways.

Our hypothesis was that motivation to be a good girl would lead to taking in information about the basics in an absolute or mindless way. Similarly, being a bit rebellious (real boy attitude) was expected to result in conditional or mindful learning. While girls outperform boys in early math classes, the reverse typically becomes the case in late high school and college. Much of what we are taught about math initially has to be amended as we approach more advanced topics. Initially there are numbers; later we find out that there are prime numbers, irrational numbers, different number systems, etc. The more rigidly we learn the original information, the harder it may be open up those closed packages to accommodate the new information. ‘Good girls’ learn the basics in an absolute way from the teacher /authority.

The two standard approaches to teaching new skills are top-down and bottom-up. The top-down method relies on discursive lecturing to instruct students. The bottom-up path relies on direct experience, repeated practice of the new activity in a systematic way. The third method suggested by the author is called sideways learning which aims at maintaining a mindful state. As we saw the concept of mindfulness revolves around certain psychological states that are really different versions of the same thing:

Openness to novelty
Alertness to distinction
Sensitivity to different contexts
Implicit awareness of multiple perspectives
Orientation in the present.

This makes us receptive to changes in an ongoing situation. J.R. Anderson has described three stages of experience that result in the acquisition of a new skill.  The cognitive stage involves first taking in enough information about the skill to permit the learner to perform the desired behavior in at least some crude approximation. The associative stage involves smoothing out performance. The autonomous stage is one of ongoing gradual improvement in performance. In this stage improvement can continue indefinitely.

The most effective way to increase our ability to pay attention is to look for the novelty within the stimulus situation. How to seek out novelty and thus pay mindful attention appear to enhance performance.

Pleasure is the state of being
brought about by what you
learning is the process of
entering into the experience of this
kind of pleasure.
No pleasure, no learning.
No learning, no pleasure.

When we are mindful, we implicitly or explicitly do the following
View a situation from several perspective
See information presented in the situation as novel
Attend to the context in which we are perceiving the information and eventually
Create a new categories through which this information may be understood.

In ancient times the beautiful woman Mi Tzu-hsia was the favorite of the lord of Wei. Now, according to the law of Wei, anyone who rode in the king's carriage without permission would be punished by amputation of the foot. When Mi Tzu-hsia's mother fell ill, someone brought the news to her in the middle of the night. So she took the king's carriage and went out, and the king only praised her for it. "Such filial devotion!" he said. "For her mother's sake she risked the punishment of amputation!"
Another day she was dallying with the lord of Wei in the fruit garden. She took a peach, which she found so sweet that instead of finishing it she handed it to the lord to taste. "How she loves me," said the lord of Wei, "forgetting the pleasure of her own taste to share with me!"
But when Mi Tzu-hsia's beauty began to fade, the lord of Wei's affection cooled. And when she offended the lord of Wei, he said, "Didn't she once take my carriage without permission? And didn't she once give me a peach theat she had already chewed on?"
- by Han Fei Tzu]

Mi Tzu-hsia, like all of us, was dealing with an ever-shifting environment. She was so confident of the king’s devotion that she did not protect herself against the possibility that circumstances could change. The lord of Wei, however was bound by no such single perspective. While he clearly had the upper hand, perhaps an awareness of the possibility of shifting affections could have kept Mi Tzu-hsia in some control, more wary, more capable of ensuring her own survival.

[One day Soshi was walking on the bank of a river with a friend.

"How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves in the water!" exclaimed Soshi.

His friend spoke to him thus: "You are not a fish; how do you know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?"

"You are not myself," returned Soshi; "how do you know that I do not know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?"

—from Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea]

How can we know if we do not ask? Why should we ask if we are certain we know? All answers come out of the question. If we pay attention to our questions, we increase power of mindful learning.

November 17, 2012

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
The art and science of remembering everything.
[A USA memory champion’s path to the title]

The year 2005 USA memory championship had five events. First the contestants had to learn by heart a 50-line unpublished poem called ‘The Tapestry of Me:. Then they were provided with 99 photographic shots accompanied by first and last names and given 15 minutes to memorize as many as them possible.Then they had another 15 minutes to memorize a list of 300 random words, five minutes to memories a page of 1000 random digits (25 lines of numbers, forty numbers to a line) and another 5 minutes to learn the order of a shuffled deck of playing cards.

All the mental athletes I met in that championship, kept insisting, as Ben Pridmore had in his interview, that anyone could do what they do. It was simply a matter of learning to ‘think in more memorable ways’ using the ‘extraordinary simple’ 2,500 year old mnemonic technique known as ‘memory palace’ that Simonides of Ceos had supposedly invented in the rubble of the great banquet hall of collapse.

The techniques of the memory palace - as known as the journey method or the method of loci, and more broadly as the 'ars memorativa' or art of memory - were refined and codified in an extensive set of rules and instruction manuals by Romans like Cicero and Quintilian and flowered in the Middle ages as a way for the pious to memories everything from sermons and prayers to the punishments awaiting the wicked hell.

The leader of the renaissance in memory training is a slick 67 year old British educator and self-styled guru named Tony Buzan who claims to have the highest ‘creative quotient’ in the world. He founded the World Memory Championship in 1991 and has since established national championship in more than a dozen countries from China to South Africa to Mexico. According to press reports, Michael Jackson ran up a $343,000 bill for Buzan’s mind-boosting services shortly before his death).

Simonides reputedly invented a technique that would form the basis of what came to be known as the art of memory. To use Simonides’ technique, all one has to do is convert something unmemorable, like a string of numbers or a deck of cards or a shopping list into series of engrossing visual images and mentally arrange them within an imagined  space and suddenly those forgettable items become unforgettable.

Visually all the nitty-gritty details we have about classical memory training were first described in a short, anonymously authored Latin rhetoric textbook called the ‘Rhetorica ad Herennium, written sometime between 86 & 82 B.C. It is only truly complete discussion of the memory technique invented by Simonides to have survived into the Middle ages. Though the intervening 2000 years have seen quite a few innovations in the art of memory, the basic techniques have remained fundamentally unchanged from those described in the ‘Ad Herennium’. In addition to Ad Herennium, there would be translated excerpts of Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria and Cicero's De Oratore, for me to read, followed by a collection of medieval writings on memory by Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Hugh of St. Victor and Peter of Ravenna.

Memory training was considered a centerpiece of classical education in the language arts, on par with grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Students were taught not just what to remember, but how to remember it. Just look at Pliny the Elder’s natural History, the first-century encyclopedia that chronicled all things wondrous and useful for winning bar ebts in the classical world, including the bar bets in the classical world, including the most exceptional memories then known to history.

The Ad Herennium begins by making a distinction between natural memory and artificial memory. ‘the natural memory which is embedded in our minds, born simultaneously with thought. The artificial memory is that memory which is strengthened by a kind of training and system of discipline”. In other words, natural memory is the hardware you are born with. Artificial memory is the software you run on your hardware. Artificial memory has two components: images and places. Images represent the contents of what one wishes to remember. Places - or loci, are where those images are stored. The idea is to create a space in the mind’s eye, a place that you know well and can easily visualize and then populate that imagined place with images representing whatever you want to remember. Known as the ‘method of loci’ by the Romans, such a building would later come to be called a ‘memory palace’. Authors of Ad Herennium urged his readers to do the same with every image they wanted to remember; the funnier, lewder and more bizarre, the better.

‘When we see in everyday life things that are pretty, ordinary and banal, we generally fail to remember them, because the mind is not being stirred by anything novel or marvelous. but if we see or hear something exceptionally base, dishonorable, extraordinary, great, unbelievable, or laughable, that we are likely to remember for a long time”. Peter of Ravenna, author of the most famous memory textbook of the 15th century, first asks the pardon of chaste and religious men before revealing “a secret which I have long remained silent about” if you wish to remember quickly, dispose the images of the most beautiful virgins into memory places; the memory is marvelously excited by images of women”.

Even though the best American mnemonics can memorize 100s of random digits in an hour, USA records still pale in comparison to those of the Europeans. Generally, nobody in N.America takes memory sport seriously enough to stop drinking three months before the world championship, like the 8 time world memory champion Dominic O”Brien used to do, and from the looks of it, few competitors engage in the rigorous physical training regimen that Buzan recommends. (One of Buzan’s first recommendation is to get in shape) Nobody downs daily glasses of cod liver oil or takes omega -3 supplements.

Ed Kicks daily schedule for the championship - early rise, yoga, skipping, superfoods(including blueberries and cod liver oil), four hour training, two glasses of wine per day (from the potassium rich soil of the Languedoc-Roussillon in the South France), 30 minutes reflection period sunset each evening and keeping a journal online.

Unlike US championship, which has just five events, none lasting longer than 15 minutes, the World Memory Championship is frequently referred as a ‘mental decathlon’ Its 10 events called ‘disciplines’ span three grueling days, and each tests the competitors’ memories in a slightly different way. Contestants have to memorize a previously unpublished poem spanning several pages, pages of random words (record: 280 in 15 minutes), lists of binary digits (record:4,140 in 30 minutes), shuffled decks of playing cards, a list of historical dates, and names and faces. Some disciplines called ‘speed events’ test shows much the contestants can memorize in 5 minutes (record: 405 digits). Two marathon disciplines test how many decks of cards and random digits they can memorize in an hour (records: 2,080 digits and 27 decks of cards).

The earliest memory treatises described two types of recollection: memoria rerum and memoria verborum, memory for things and memory for words. The Roman rhetoric teacher Quintilian looked down on memoria verborum on the grounds that creating such a vast number of images was not only inefficient, since it would require a gargantuan memory palace, but also unstable. Cicero agreed that the best way to memorize a speech is point by point not word by word, by employing memoria rerum. In his De Oratore, he suggests, that an orator delivering a speech should make one image for each major topic he wants to cover and place each of those images at a locus.

The anonymous author of the Ad Herennium suggests that the best method for remembering poetry for remembering poetry ad verbum is to repeat a line two or three times before trying to see it as a series of images. The Ad Herennium mentions that “most of the Greeks who have written on memory have taken the course of listing images that correspond to a great memory have taken the course of listing images that corresponds to a great many words so that persons who wished to learn these images by heart would have them ready without expending effort in search of them”.

In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates describes how the Egyptian god Theuth, inventor of writing, came to Thamus, the king of Egypt and offered to bestow his wonderful invention upon the Egyptian people. “here is the branch of learning that will.... improves their memories,” Theuth said to the Egyptian king. “My discovery provides a recipe for both memory and wisdom”. But Thamus was reluctant to accept the gift. “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls’ he told the god. “They will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory but for reminding. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them anything, you will make them seem to know much, while for the most past they will know nothing”

In the sixteenth century, an italian philosopher and alchemist named Giulio Camillo - known as Divine Camillo- had the clever idea of making concrete what had for the previous 2000 years always been an ethereal idea. It occurred to him that the system would work a whole lot better if someone transformed the metaphor of the memory palace  into a real wooden building. He imagined creating a ‘theater of memory’  that would serve as a universal library containing all the knowledge of mankind. Camillo’s wooden memory palace was shaped like a Roman amphitheater, but instead of the spectator sitting in the seats looking down on the stage, he stood in the center and looked up at around, seven-tiered edifice. All around the theater were paintings of Kabbalistic and mythological figures as well as endless rows of drawers and boxes filled with cards, on which were printed everything that was known and everything that was knowable, including quotations from all the great authors, categorized according to subject.

Even more than Camillo, the greatest practitioner of this dark, mystical form of mnemonics was the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno. In this book ‘On the shadow of ideas’, published in 1582, Bruno promised that his art ‘will help not only the memory but also all the powers of the soul”. Memory training for Bruno was the key to spiritual enlightenment. Bruno had literally come up with a new twist on the old art of memory. Drawing inspiration from the palindromically named 13th century Catalan philosopher and mystic Ramon Lulull, Bruno invented a device that would allow him turn any word into a unique image.

Over a hundred treatises on mnemonics were published in the nineteenth century, with titles like ‘American Mnemotechny’ and ‘how to remember’. They bear a conspicuous resemblance to the memory improvement books that can be found in the self-help aisle at bookstores today. The most popular of these 19th century mnemonic books was written by Professor Alphonse Loisette, an American ‘memory doctor’ who despite his prolific remembering, ‘had somehow forgotten that he was born Marcus Dwight Larrowe and that he had no degree’ as one article notes. The fact that I was able to find 136 used copies of Lisette's 1886 book Physiological Memory:The instantaneous Art of Never Forgetting’ selling for as little as $1.25 on the internet is evidence of its once immense popularity.

In 1966, the same year that Frances Yates published ‘The Art of Memory’ the first major modern academic work to delve into the rich history of mnemonics, Tony Buzan returned to London to become the editor of Intelligence, the international journal of Mensa, the high-IQ society. In 1973, the BBC caught wind of Buzan’s work on Mind mapping and mnemonics and brought him in for a meeting with the network’s head of education. The ten-program BBC series and accompanying book came out of that meeting, both of which were titled ‘Use Your Head’, helped turn Buzan into a minor British celebrity and made him realize that there was enormous commercial potential in the memory technique he was promoting. He published 120 titles on memory related topic.

November 12, 2012

Over-Dressed by Elisabeth L. Cline.
The shocking high cost of cheap fashion.

For the last fifteen years, Americans have enjoyed an almost unabated and unprecedented free fall in the average price of clothing. We pay less for for clothes, when measured as a share of our income, than ever in history. In 2009 American consumers dedicated less than 3 percent of their annual household budget to apparel. The price of just about everything in America has climbed in recent decades - housing, gas, education, healthcare, and movie tickets. Meanwhile, clothing is a better bargain than ever.

The retailers with the lowest prices are the ones that have earned American’s loyalty. According to S&P’s industry surveys, the three retailers with the highest brand value (meaning a store’s ability to generate excitement and demand) during the recession are H&M, Walmart and Zara. Forever 21 would probably be on the list if it weren’t a privately held company.

American style was for hundreds of years handmade or made by a dressmaker or tailor. The places we shop for clothes today are the survivors of three decades of ruthless competition based largely on price. The fashion industry has become so homogenous that most consumers now shop at retailers who give us the lowest price first and do so year-end. Even high-end designer clothes can now be had for cut-rate prices on web sites such as Bluefly, Gilt Groupe, and (, , ).,,, , & are the famous blog sites exclusively for bargain hunter. is a site devoted to handcrafted and locally made in new York.

According to recent estimates, raw materials account for 25 to 50 percent of the cost of producing an item of clothing, while labor ranges from 20 to 40 percent. Cheap fashion does rely on cheaper materials. The difference in fabric prices between two countries, for example Japan and China, might be fifty cents, not enough to really impact price tags. It’s labor cost that makes the all the difference.

In the world of designer stuff, people go to Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan.  Bergdorf Goodman sells some of the finest clothing money can buy, including couture and very established ready-to-wear lines by Oscar de la Renta, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent. They also carry contemporary designers as Jason Wu, Norma Kamali and Michael Kors.

French tycoon Bernard Arnault acquired Christian Dior in 1987 and thus the luxury good conglomerate Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton (LVMH) was born. In the years since, as Dana Thomas explains in her book, ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster’, almost the entire luxury market has sold its small family owned flavor for global expansion funded by shareholder brands, including fashion labels Fendi, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs. A second major luxury conglomerate, PPR, owns Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, and half of Alexander McQueen and Stella Mccartney.

The tinted fortresses of the luxury brands Armani, Bottega Veneta, Escada, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Pucci, and Sergio Rossi are all lined up near center park on Manhattan’s fifth avenue. These companies put on a good show of being Old World and exclusive, yet there are clearly marketing to every Jane Doe from Idaho to Georgia who walks that stretch sidewalk. They all have similar layouts. the first floor is the most welcoming, well lit and staffed. This floor is dedicated to scarves, jewelry and other small accessories, but mostly handbags. Luxury handbags are one of the biggest scams in the retail world and they are marked up as much as ten to twelve times over the cost of the production. On highest floors, the environs get far more exclusive. This is where the clothes are. A representative from luxury branding from BETC Luxe mentioned that clothing is understood to be an actual loss for most luxury brands.

Most fashion labels historically produced two main collections: spring/summer and autumn/winter. A department store had four major selling seasons. A mass-market retailer such as Gaps updated their color scheme throughout the year, but focused on seasonal output.

Forever 21 is infamous for ripping off fashion designers. US Copyright law does not protect fashion design, only fabric prints and jewelry. the copyright office has always said very consistently that clothing is just functional and therefore can’t be copyrighted. One of the reason is that US is a manufacturing hub and Europe is designers hub. Both H&M (Swedish), Zara (Spain) are almost following the same style but with a spine on designer styles as opposed to doing direct copies like Forever 21 is doing. The reason is that they are from Europe and hence bound to copy-protected laws. For example, Zara sells very similar takes on designer’s signature pieces such as Prada’s striped sombrero from its 2011 collections. Zara’s version was black and white instead of neon colored.  The original silk tuxedo shirt would cost around  $990 and Zara sells it for 90 percent less. Both H&M and Zara has limited in-house designers, but Forever 21 does not have any designers. Mrs. Chang (owner of Forever 21) will go shopping all over the world, circle things in magazines, buy samples and take pictures and then handover her research to her buying team to find a vendor who can produce replica.

“We know they copy the runaway, but nobody talks about how they bluntly copy everything vintage”, Brooklyn based vintage dealer Sara Bereket says. One customer bought a ‘70s cashmere sweater by Calvin Klein from Bereket stall and then admitted she was shipping it to China the next day to be replicated. Vintage designs are in the public domain and can be freely copied. ‘90s floral dresses and tops as well as jumpsuits from the 1980s, all hot sellers in regular retailers at the moment. ‘What styles did we have from the 2000s era? Low Pants? Other than that, it was all copied from the past.”

In 1904 German sociologist Georg Simmel wrote a landmark article, ‘Fashion. In it, he laid out a very clear view on how price and the pace of fashion are tied. “The more an article becomes subject to rapid changes of fashion, the greater the demand for cheap products of its kind”. Today, it is very difficult to convince the average consumer to buy clothing at reasonable price, and fast fashion gets around this conundrum by selling a treadmill of fresh trends for cheap. But in their race to sell new products, they speed up the pace of fashion, which in turn makes the average consumer even cheaper.

Customers uses these fast fashion dress and drop them off at Salvation Army bins after using it for two or three times. These less used dresses resold as second hand stuff in many thrift shops around US. After keeping it for few weeks, it will be exported to sell it in other countries.