Monthly Archives: April 2008


by Sally Applin

So, whilst (hey, whilst!) we were all minding our own, the young persons of today ressurrected that old favorite word of the grandparents (their great grandparents) “shenanigans.”

Its in “Juno,” its in advertising, its in the mouths of salespeople at the mall. 

Everyone is gettin’ into shenanigans.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


by Sally Applin

Am I the only person who has noticed that the design on the back pocket of Victoria Beckham jeans is actually the Scientology star logo?

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Fawlty Towers Everywhere

by Sally Applin

I’ve been staying in a lot of hotels lately and there are a few things in common amongst them. Mostly that there are people from all different countries working in them, and that some people that are in positions where they are required to communicate by telephone with the guests, have limited English speaking skills.
This in itself is nothing to belittle them about. English is a tough language, but it speaks to the management of these institutions–they have a very limited scope as to what their hotel will do and any variation is met with surprise.

I ordered toast with butter on the side from room service. This is not a hard order. The person that took my order was not a native English speaker, but understood toast and butter.

15 minutes later, toast with margarine showed up.  Why margarine? The man delivering the toast didn’t know the difference between butter and margarine. He couldn’t read the package. 

While he went to get butter, the toast got cold, and the milk I’d ordered got warm. 

I’m not blaming the waiter at all, I blame the hotel manager. How does it get to this point, that a person responsible for room service, doesn’t know the difference between butter and margarine? 

This is a 4 star hotel. 

I think its because I ordered it on the side. If the kitchen had ran the “toast program” the butter would have been automatically put on by the chef. But because I varied, by ordering it on the side, it didn’t make it and the commands got lost in the translation.

When I called to let them know the mistake, and ask for butter, the Guest Relations clerk told me I was demanding. In US customer service terms, “demanding” is a very severe word. This person again was not a native English speaker. To her, “demanding” meant “specific” — or something like that. But I can forecast the offense that may be taken by someone in the future who doesn’t understand the translation issues for non native speakers.

Its a customer service issue. Not necessarily that people have to speak perfect English, but if they are going to engage with a community who does mostly as a rule, than they’d better work out a scheme in the background so that we get butter if we order it and we aren’t called demanding if we call to request that it be corrected.

Or, maybe I’m wrong in my assumption–maybe the trend of speaking English as a rule will not be the rule as we move towards a more global-centric economy.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Excuse me?

by Sally Applin

“Excuse me…” went missing yesterday and either its a trend, or it was the corner I was standing on.

I was walking towards a crosswalk and a man was coming towards me. He was talking on a cell phone. Without moving the phone from his ear, covering it with his hand, or any other indication that he might be talking to me except that he looked at me and asked where the street was that was clearly marked 10′ away at a visible level.

He was making me an avatar.

This is the way its going folks, get used to it. People with cellphones who are concurrently participating in their virtual networks, are going to temporarily disengage to ask you, Avatar “Keeper of the Analog,” questions to help them navigate the physical world, while they remain plugged in.

Trend: We are the shepherds of the new narcissists.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


by Sally Applin

John Malkovich is selling clothing.This, in itself is not news, but its interesting for several reasons:

  1. as an actor, he’s not affiliated with the garment industry,
  2. he hasn’t been on many best dressed lists, and
  3. he tends to fly under the radar, even as an actor, and he doesn’t seem to be part of that trend of appealing to the young people

In general, it seems epidemic as a trend: actors, singers, and other celebrities getting involved in licensing/designing/manufacturing/and otherwise imprinting “their” particular stamp on clothing and other “wares.”

What gives this time? Why Malkovich?

In a way, aging celebrities, like other smart business types, are looking for ways to increase their longevity in the marketplace though extending their “brand.” In other words, they bank on the idea that “if you like the celebrity, you’ll love the: clothing, drink, shoes,” etc…

So, do you, buy it? Let’s get back to JM. His clothing has a tweedy English, yet hip-to-NYC vibe, at kind of high prices, but seemingly good quality fabrics–or at least they look that way in the photos. The tees at $49 bucks, seem to be the worst value, but perhaps the sweaters or berets offer better quality. For $2000, custom suits are available.

The real key here for 52 year old Malkovich is how well he can get the boomers to identify with him. They are aging to be sure, and they have a _lot_ of money, which they spend. There is much effort in this website to create John Malkovich as a lifestyle brand. You can have the John Malkovich “Uncle Kimono” brand Personal Sylist dress you. Their ad? “Mid-life clothing crisis? Let our Personal Stylist help dress you.” Nuff said. That’s a boomer call to clothe if I’ve ever heard one.

But wait, there’s more!

“Uncle Kimono” is only one brand under the Mrs. Mudd umbrella, which includes “Providing services ranging from trend forecasting, to graphic design, branding, to fashion film production and clothing design.”

We are invited to “Get a glimpse of tomorrow’s life.”

With the fashion veterans Francesco and Thommaso Rulli joining JM at the helm, there is a wonder where this brand is going to lead. As a outside trend observer, I’m going to wait and see, but I’m skeptical. Malkovich is an actor. Its not that he doesn’t have a chance in the market, but Malkovich isn’t a strong brand. No matter what muscle is behind him, as CEO, he’s going to need more to convince me as a someone who studies brands and trends, that he is qualified for the role of heading a branding and trend company.

That said, as a clothing brand, perhaps individual consumers will feel that they too, can have the “mark of Malkovich” and be the sinister cool guy who gets away with it. If it works.

Good luck to him and Mrs. Mudd.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.