Milliner Luke Song has been crazed with new orders since Aretha Franklin wore one of his hats at the inauguration. Those include more than 5,000 for the spring version of the Aretha hat, which comes in an assortment of pastel hues (he won't replicate the original). His hats are made by hand by six women in his workshop who can crank out 100 hats a day. He'd like to expand his workforce, but laments that millinery "is a dead art" and he can't find experienced seamstresses. Is that opportunity we hear knocking? Because we can think of no better time to bring millinery — and hats — back. For one thing, think of the job creation! Not only in Luke's workshop but in new workshops and millinery departments in existing fashion houses across the nation. Also, if designers can convince ladies that hats are a must-have, women will have to go out and spend money on them — you know, that thing we haven't been doing for months that has sent retail on a tumultuous downward spiral of doom. And just look at Luke Song. He did $1 million in sales in 2008 but expects to do seven times more than that in 2009. With the Aretha hat going for $179, he's making $895,000 on those 5,000 orders alone — almost as much as his sales for 2008 — and he could get more. True, his is a special case, but it's inspiring nonetheless.
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