Opinion and Response

Jun 01, 2002 9:30 PM  By

A Rosy Tribute to Cesar Chavez

Marking the first time that Jackson & Perkins has named one of its roses after a Latino figure, the plants cataloger has introduced the Cesar E. Chavez rose. The bright red hybrid tea is named for the founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union, who died in 1993. Jackson & Perkins, part of Medford, OR-based multititle mailer Bear Creek Corp., will donate 10% of sales from the rose to the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates people about Chavez’s life and work. Ironically, Bear Creek spent more than 20 years battling with the union as it tried to mobilize the rose grower’s workers to join forces. Even after the union won in 1994, relations remained thorny, but the cataloger and the union settled their grievances in 1996, and the relationship slowly began to thrive. No doubt the bouquet Bear Creek tossed the workers in the form of the Chavez rose has gone a long way in mending the fences.

See Jane Design

Celebrity models aren’t new to catalogs, but celebrity designers? Women’s apparel catalog Crossing Pointe, from Warren, PA-based Blair Corp., announced this spring that actress Jane Seymour was designing a line of clothing for the title. The moderately priced Jane Seymour Signature Collection includes a sunflower pin for $19.99, a silk doupioni lab coat for $59.99, and a beaded silk dress for $89.99. Seymour, a James Bond girl from the 1973 movie Live and Let Die, spent six years in the mid-1990s as TV’s Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. In a statement posted on the catalog’s Website, Seymour says: “Working with Crossing Pointe on a women’s fashion line fulfills a lifelong aspiration for me.” That’s funny — we bet there are several apparel catalog designers who secretly aspire to be movie stars.

Lands’ End Says Hello, Neuman

Apparel cataloger Lands’ End used an unlikely cover model for its March edition: Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. Mad’s gap-toothed, jug-eared, freckle-faced mascot is showcasing the cataloger’s $18 cotton Super Polo Shirt, which the copy says will provide such carefree comfort that wearers will be saying “What — me worry?” Lands’ End no doubt knew that Alfred E. would be a hit with its baby-boomer audience, but the edition’s popularity may have surpassed the Dodgeville, WI-based mailer’s expectations. The March catalog has already turned up as a collector’s item on eBay. No wonder Neuman is never worried.

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Wisteria, “a catalog of antiques and decorative items for house and garden,” is without question a gorgeous book. But it has a beautiful mind as well. Not only does Wisteria donate part of its money to charity, the cataloger also tells you where the funds went. A blurb in the spring edition reads: “Last issue we committed part of the money from your purchases of wicker baby chairs to an organization called Common Hope. Together, you came up with enough money to build two houses in Guatemala…” Another nice touch: The Dallas-based company’s founders were on their way home from France on Sept. 11 and were grounded — with about 80,000 other fliers — in St. John’s Bay, Newfoundland. The catalog devotes ample space to telling the story and thanking the people of St. John’s Bay; it also notes that part of the sales of a product, a zinc sculpture of a goose, will likely go to the Salvation Army of Canada.

Hang It Up, Guys

Ink-jet personalization can be a wonderful thing — if it’s done properly. And that can be a pretty big if, since an inappropriate or misdirected message can backfire. A Catalog Age staffer and her husband each received the spring edition of home care products cataloger Home Trends, both copies of which had the same ink-jet message. The offer was fine for a woman, but does a man really want to read “Dear Andrew: Satin hangers protect your delicate garments. Now on sale — 8 for $10.50…” Men are always encouraged by women to hang up their clothes, “delicate garments” or otherwise, but somehow we doubt pushing padded, pastel-colored hangers with little bow collars is the way to make them do it.

Sweaty Situation for Shakira

When Latin American pop princess Shakira agreed to pose for the cover of a recent Delia’s catalog, it seemed a win-win situation. The one-time stint increased the Colombia-born singer’s visibility in the U.S., while the teen girls’ apparel marketer got to ride Shakira’s rising star just as her album was climbing the charts. But the sweet deal quickly soured when allegations arose that Delia’s clothing came from sweatshops — specifically, from the Brooklyn, NY-based Danmar Finishing, which has been accused of forcing employees to work unpaid overtime. Danmar had once supplied apparel to a manufacturer that worked with Delia’s, but the New York-based cataloger/retailer says it had stopped working with that company and that the clothes Shakira modeled were not made at Danmar. Shakira immediately released a statement that she was unaware of the dispute with Danmar and that she would “never knowingly wear any clothes or support any company who produced clothing with alleged wage and labor violations…” What must make this bad situation worse for the singer is that many of the Danmar workers hail from Latin America. On the brighter side — for the workers, at least — the flack prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to sue Danmar for unfair labor practices in May.

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