The Cashu Nova Story, Part II–A new fashion house rises

Posted on July 21, 2008

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Because of Cashū Nova, the hottest new fashion house in Hollywood, the land of the valley girl suddenly leads the planet in a completely new fashion trend. Manhattan is jealous. And there are mumbles and murmurs from Paris and Milan. And it began with a dip in the sea off the Oregon coast.

“I had never been swimming that far north before,” explained Axel Gladden, Santa Barbara native and president, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Cashū Nova Fashion House. He was discussing his emergency vacation in Oregon, which followed immediately upon the career reverses detailed in our previous instalment.

“It was cold.”

And that’s when it happened. “You know, every man has experienced it swimming. And on the Oregon coast, you go out deep, the water is so cold, that your package, um, you know, shrinks really small.”

“Think four year old,” said his wife and business partner Emmaline Gladden, who had joined Axel for the interview. She spoke earnestly and gestured with her pinkie finger.

“Really small,” repeated Axel.

“And then it came to him,” she said.

“There could be a cup insert into men’s swimming trunks. Not like an athletic cup. Not solid. And with, you know, natural contours.”

“And he even had a slogan.”

“It came to me there on the beach. ‘You don’t have to be afraid of the water.’”

“He knew he got it right this time.”

“No more Mr. Pregnant fashion line. No man wants a belly.”

“Except Santa Claus,” said Mrs. Gladden.

“…And he’s a fairy tale,” said Mr. Gladden. “I knew that I now had an idea that would work. We drove all that night back to California. The next day Emmaline started putting together some prototypes. And we started negotiating a loan from our bank.”

“The bank insisted that we do a focus group first,” continued Emmaline. “All these men sat around the room the whole time telling jokes. Suddenly they were all teenagers. They drew little pictures on the survey forms. Impolite little pictures. Not one of them even tried to take it seriously. They were, I swear, competing with each other over how not-serious they were taking it. I monitored the focus group through closed circuit, and I was crying before it was over. I mean, really. Some guy from the bank was in the room with me. He didn’t look too impressed about the results, either. And in fact he said so.”

Cashū Nova business manager and chief of design, Emmaline Gladden paused for a moment to look out her ocean-view living room window and think back to that difficult moment, which was, in fact, so short-lived.

“He wasn’t going to be able to give us a positive report, the man from the bank said,” she continued. “He couldn’t recommend proceeding any further based on what he had seen. So, no second part of our loan. No Cashū Nova Fashion House. I could see it all going away.” She stopped a moment to smile. “Then, then he asked whether he could buy one of the prototypes. I know they’re unique, he said. He would have to pay for a custom order. But he was sure we could work it out. The man from the bank was still talking about it when Axel came and found us.”

“What I had to say changed his mind about the recommendation he was going to give us,” said Axel, taking over the story. “What happened to our male focus group is that as soon as they got away from the other men, all these jokers phoned us back and pre-ordered swimsuits for themselves. I swear. Every single one of them.”

“The same thing happened when we did a local test market in Santa Barbara,” continued Emmaline. “Everybody laughed and joked about the swimsuits with the unshrinkable bundle, and then, when no one was looking, all these men ordered a couple of pairs for themselves. We almost started making a profit right away.”

“We might have made a profit immediately,” said Axel, “if we hadn’t miscalculated and ordered too many suits in the smaller sizes.”

“We could’ve got away with not issuing suits in small and medium sizes at all. Oh, I can see what you’re thinking. I mean, we’re not really talking about swim suit sizes at all,” said Emmaline. “Obviously there’s a market for swim suits in all sizes.”

“Everybody wanted extra protection,” said Axel, poker-faced, “for their bundle.”

“Sometimes you buy a house with a fenced yard and an extra room because you expect your family to grow,” said Emmaline.

The ‘You don’t need to be afraid of the water campaign’ moved to Los Angeles, and the infant Cashū Nova Fashion House was launched. The campaign was a raging success, quickly dominating the look of the beaches and swimming pools all along the south coast of California and beyond. By the end of the summer, Cashū Nova, as expected, was beginning to generate imitators and competition. But while others imitated, the little fashion house that could was ready with its next generation of ideas.

“We couldn’t patent the idea of ‘bundle trunks’ anymore that you could patent the idea of an underwire bra,” said Axel Gladden. “But we could keep it fresh and stay ahead, and after awhile the Cashū Nova label itself would sell product. This is Hollywood. No one wants to be caught with an imitation.”

Oh yes, there was a lot more to come.

Posted in: tall tales