Speaking Of Fashion

Weekly Fashion Podcast on Communication and Fashion in Our Everyday Lives. Listen Up!

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This week’s Speaking Of Fashion podcast is live! We chat on luxury sportswear. Is it here to stay? Diversity in fashion - huzzah! Brooks Brothers taps Zac Posen, Twitter commerce and more. Listen up!

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Speaking Of Fashion Podcast Ep. 84 Transcript

Let’s talk Millennials (and their price tag)

  • First sentence: “Millennial women, a unique voice and a shopping basket are just three ingredients for a profitable fash-tech website.”

  • So why are Millennial women a point of attraction for investment? Only because they’re born in the capital of fashion: the dream shopping destination for all consumers with a soft spot for designer wear.

    • These women have it all on their doorstep and are the first to set the trends that now dictate marketing. As they have access to fresh-off-the-catwalk fashion, puts them on top of the ladder of futuristic fash-tech.

  • For editorial - their content is more shoppable (ecommerce and affiliate marketing)

  • For advertisers/brands, there are digital ad buys, licensing partnerships and percentages of revenue sold

    • This can be covered by usual forms of marketing like events, designer collaborations and curated shopping guides

    • At the forefront, Editorialist started out with just two founders and was able to obtain investment through a committed readership that was built on content that is tailored to them. Co-founder Davidson Hudson says, ‘We’re also realizing very strong sell-through’s and an extremely high user engagement in the way of time spent consuming the content on our site, which is proof that our model is working,’ highlighting the importance of investing time in talking with the customers, not just to them. Yes, that’s in bold.

  • So what does the millennial want? Immediate content with relevant e-commerce. Read: relevant.

Want to know what else is relevant? Clothes that fit!

  • Melissa McCarthy is designing a plus size fashion line

  • Direct quote: “Two Oscars ago, I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me,” McCarthy told Redbook in an interview appearing in their July Issue. “I asked five or six designers — very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people — and they all said no.”

  • Her line is called Pearl — a line of plus-size clothing she is creating with designer Daniella Pearl, with whom she collaborated on her 2011 Emmys gown.

  • Apparently McCarthy originally went to school for clothes and textiles at FIT - fitting

  • There’s no actual information out yet about what’s to come in the collection, but Refinery29 posted a slideshow of her style so we can guess what to expect!

In other socialite news…

  • This post highlighting Olivia Palermo brought forward some good points

  • First off, she’s successful. Her blog, OliviaPalermo.com, runs primarily on revenue from affiliate links. Well done.

  • One of those brands is Westward Leaning, for whom she’s been driving sales for years, only now she’s getting paid for it. She’s inked a deal to collaborate with the sunglasses company on a collection of eight styles to be sold exclusively on said blog for $210 per pair.

  • The question was asked: Why don’t we see Palermo collaborating with brands more often when there’s such concrete evidence of her ability to drive sales?

    • Is it A: She’s being discerning to sell her own line?

    • Or B: Do brands still not really get collaboration and still focus on just sending product and crossing fingers?

Speaking of not getting it…or is this (finally) a smart JCP move?

  • J.C. Penney is ripping up its marketing playbook once again, this time fashioning itself as the department-store destination for Hispanics.

  • In a push for growth, J.C. Penney isn’t just zeroing in on the Hispanic customer — it’s identified the demographic as its “North Star.”

  • The push will be on display this week with an expansive World Cup campaign that specifically addresses Latinas (there is no general-market component, a first for the retailer) and a sponsorship of Univision’s World Cup coverage.

  • Lyris Leos, director-multicultural marketing at J.C. Penney stated that until now, the department store has “never overtly stated and assertively made the claim that the Latina is our brand muse.” *sigh

  • The numbers: Hispanics make up 9% of J.C. Penney’s customer base and account for a double-digit percentage of store sales, in addition to a single-digit percentage of online sales. The segment is expected to be the single-biggest source of growth for the retailer in 2014.

  • Internally, J.C. Penney has done away with its dedicated Hispanic marketing group, embedding those execs into existing marketing groups and hiring new talent. It’s added Havas to its roster, which already includes Grupo Gallegos. And recently it introduced a new, inclusive tagline, “when it fits, you feel it.”

  • JCP has launched a Hispanic Facebook page and a revamped rewards program. It has rolled out two lines of cookware targeting Hispanics — Simplemente Delicioso and IMUSA — and more products could be on the way.

  • The retailer has also updated its list of Hispanic-designated stores — now more than 180 — which are defined as stores in areas that have twice the national average of Hispanics or stores where sales from that demographic are higher than average. In those stores, bilingual associates are identified; Latin music is mixed in with popular tunes; and bilingual signage, a casualty under former CEO Ron Johnson, is being reintroduced.

  • With the coming World Cup, J.C. Penney is looking to stand out by speaking to women in a typically male-dominated environment. Ms. Leos, citing a Nielsen study, said that more Hispanic women watch World Cup than non-Hispanic men. She described that realization as a “breakthrough moment.” Yes, yes it is.

  • The campaign includes two 30-second spots that will air during each of the tournament’s 56 games on TV, as well as online. There have also been integrations with the Univision morning show “Despierta America,” which began in early May.

  • According to YouGov BrandIndex, the plan seems to be working. While J.C. Penney has always been in Hispanic women’s consideration set, along with Kohl’s and Macy’s, it has seen a bounce in perception during the last two weeks. “Clearly, something from J.C. Penney has caught the attention of Hispanic women,” a YouGov spokesman said.

  • Hm, maybe a “finally!” is in order?

You know what goes great with fashion? COFFEE! (And make it a stylish one)

  • Starbucks is partnering with Los Angeles-based clothing label Band of Outsiders for a collection of two exclusive mugs.

  • The Band of Outsiders for Starbucks Limited Edition Designer Ceramic Mugs (12 oz.) feature a design that pays tribute to founder and creative director Scott Sternberg’s favorite slang word for coffee, “drip.”

  • The mugs feature black or multicolor paint dripping down Starbucks’ signature coffee cups. The mugs retail for $14.95 in the U.S., and $16.95 in Canada. They will be available today (6/10) and be in 9,000 stores.

  • Sternberg said the deal came through Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America

  • This is Starbucks’ fifth designer collaboration. Previous collaborations have been with Jonathan Adler, Rodarte, Charlotte Ronson and Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia.

This “collaboration”…not so stylish

  • An Italian socialite who is about to be released after 16 years in prison for ordering the murder of her husband, an heir to the Gucci empire, says the fashion house should now give her a job.

  • Patrizia Reggiani, known in Italy as “the black widow” or “Lady Gucci”, was jailed in 1998 after being found guilty of paying a hit man €300,000 to murder her 46-year-old husband Maurizio Gucci.

  • Her initial 29-year sentence, after a trial that transfixed Italy, was reduced to 26 years on appeal, which in turn has been further reduced for good behaviour. For the past three years, she has been allowed out on day release to work in a jewellery shop in Milan, with her full release expected soon.

  • Um, random: In recent weeks she has been photographed shopping in the city’s upmarket boulevards with a blue and yellow macaw on her shoulder.

  • Her overriding ambition was to find a job with Gucci, she said – despite having been found guilty of ordering the assassination of one of the multi-millionaire scions of the family.

  • “I dream of returning to Gucci. I still feel like a Gucci – in fact, the most Gucci of all,” she told the daily paper La Repubblica. “I have the qualifications – for years I went shopping around the world. I came from the world of jewels and it is to that world that I want to return.”

  • And um, she has a macaw on her shoulder. Watch out as she might have it bite you.

Maybe she should consider an education?

  • Marketplace reported that Conde Nast is partnering with a venture capital firm and some as-yet-unnamed universities to launch a set of co-branded certificate courses, and eventually a master’s degree.

  • In response to “why”: “We have a very strong interest in being part of developing the next generation of talent,” Jill Bright, chief administrative officer at Condé Nast, told Inside Higher Ed. “It is an opportunity to introduce our brands to new audiences by creating something that’s unique in an educational setting.” Wow…thanks for that clarity.

  • And no, this isn’t new. Corporate-branded forays into the world of higher education are nothing new. Conde Nast itself is involved with the Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design in the UK, where you can get a 10-week Vogue Fashion Certificate.

  • Now the real question why - publishers need more money and they’re trying to be creative in finding it. And no, they said this is not regarding their shuttered internship program due to the lawsuit settlement two months ago.

  • To end with, we want to share a reader comment: “wow starting a degree to introduce brands to people. what a lofty goal.”

And just to end things on a smelly note…

  • When one thinks of Burberry, their iconic trenchcoat often comes to mind. That school of thought is exactly what Burberry is going after with their latest fragrance, My Burberry, which was developed with their well-known trench in mind and is scheduled to be released in early September.

  • With Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne leading the ad campaign that was photographed by Mario Testino, Burberry is keeping its British roots in check and, as WWD pointed out, also highlighting the range of women Burberry is targeting with this fragrance.

  • Additionally, the packaging was created to evoke the thought of the trenchcoat as the bottle has a horn-finished cap, which is a nod to the buttons on the trench.

  • The color of the fragrance can be seen through the glass bottle and is reflective of the tan trench.

  • Another touch is the hand-tied gabardine bow that adorns each bottle as its made from the same fabric as the trench, and it’s even woven in Castleford, Yorkshire, which is home to Burberry’s factory.

  • The scent will have “the feeling of the light of London: clouds, wetness, rain and flowers,” commented Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer that worked with Burberry, to WWD. Yay I want to smell damp!

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Speaking Of Fashion Ep. 83 Transcript

Louis Vuitton wants you to meet…the Iconoclasts! 

  • Louis Vuitton has recruited Karl Lagerfeld to design for the label. The Chanel helmer has been asked by Vuitton’s executive vice president, Delphine Arnault, to give his interpretation of the signature LV monogram for a series of bags to celebrate the label’s 160th anniversary.

  • Designers Marc Newson, Christian Louboutin, and Rei Kawakubo, photographer Cindy Sherman, and architect Frank Gehry are also taking part in the collaborative project - called The Icon and the Iconoclasts

  • Priced between €2,000 to €4,000, the bags will be available in mid-October.


Alpha Sizing: As bad as it sounds 

  • Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported on the rise of “alpha sizing,” meaning using small, medium, and large designations as opposed to numbers. More retailers are adopting it for a very simple reason: It’s way cheaper. And for shoppers, it’s way more frustrating.

  • According to the WSJ, megachains like Zara, Old Navy, and Uniqlo use the alphanumeric system, but Activewear chains Athleta and Lululemon are sticking with numbers for now, dubbed “vanity sizing”.

  • Please, for the love of God, give us measurements!

Who pays the bill for Michelle Obama’s clothes? 

  • Some first lady fashion history:

    • Mary Todd Lincoln racked up tens of thousands of dollars in clothing bills and considered selling manure from the White House grounds to pay them off, according to the National First Ladies’ Library.

    • Jacqueline Kennedy’s father-in-law stepped in to finance her Oleg Cassini wardrobe to keep clothes from becoming a political liability for President John Kennedy.

    • Nancy Reagan got grief for borrowing designer gowns and not always returning them or reporting them as gifts.

    • Laura Bush, in her memoir, said she was “amazed by the sheer number of designer clothes that I was expected to buy” as first lady.

      • Anita McBride, chief of staff to Laura Bush during her time as first lady, said Mrs. Bush paid for all her clothes, including her two inaugural gowns: a red crystal-embroidered gown by Texan Michael Faircloth and a silver and blue V-neck creation of Oscar de la Renta.

      • McBride credits the Obama White House with finding a cost-saving way to “keep Mrs. Obama in all those incredible clothes and to have the use of them not once but multiple times.”

  • So how does she do it?

    • For starters, the Obamas reported adjusted income of $481,000 last year, and assets worth $1.8 million to $7 million.

    • And like most people, Mrs. Obama (mostly her personal aide, really) looks for discounts.

    • And, for really big events, the first lady has an option not available to every fashionista.

  • Here’s how Joanna Rosholm, press secretary to the first lady, explains it: 

    • "Mrs. Obama pays for her clothing. For official events of public or historic significance, such as a state visit, the first lady’s clothes may be given as a gift by a designer and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government. They are then stored by the National Archives."

  • Mrs. Obama and Jason Wu both were there when the first inaugural gown was presented to the Smithsonian in March 2010. The first lady said in her remarks: “The dress I donated today, made by Jason Wu, is a masterpiece.” But the Smithsonian lists the gown as a “gift of Jason Wu in honor of first lady” Michelle Obama, making clear it came from him. The first lady’s office had no comment on that.

  • Two other examples of gowns worn by the first lady that were donated by designers: the blue Carolina Herrera gown that Mrs. Obama wore to February ‘s state dinner for French President Francois Hollande and the gold beaded Naeem Khan gown that Mrs. Obama wore to the 2012 governors ball, now on display at the American Museum of Natural History. Herrera and Khan declined comment.

  • In a 2011 Washington Post story about Mrs. Obama’s personal assistant, Meredith Koop, the first lady’s office said Koop acted on Mrs. Obama’s behalf “in arranging for purchases, including considering the best offered price and buying on discount if discounts are available.”

    • That’s still true today, the first lady’s office says, without elaborating.

  • Smithsonian: http://americanhistory.si.edu/first-ladies/michelle-obama

Taking luxury from the White House to Africa… 

  • Businesswoman Reni Folawiyo is building a concept store with celebrated architect David Adjaye on Victoria Island in Lagos. The mission? To redefine African luxury for Nigerians—and for the rest of the world.

  • Folawiyo is the founder and CEO of the luxury concept store that will open in a new 3-story building in Lagos, which she named Alara—”wondrous performer” in Yoruba. It will stock both Western brands and pan-African design.

  • She and the building’s designer—the internationally recognized Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, whose design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington, D.C., broke ground in 2012—imagined Alara as a multiphase project. It will eventually include two adjacent buildings, a restaurant and a landscaped garden

  • The shop’s offerings will include a mix of fashion, design and art, in the manner of Milan’s 10 Corso Como, Paris’s Colette and London’s Dover Street Market

  • A glass-enclosed cubicle will display accessories. A terrace on the roof will double as an event space, while the first-floor will showcase design. Small movable stairways will allow the space to be reconfigured for exhibitions and to accommodate new products. Adjaye designed the large, open-plan interior with references to Nigerian architecture

  • Customers at Alara will be able to browse a selection of brands previously unavailable in West Africa, including Stella McCartney, Dries Van Noten, Marni and Valentino.

  • Here’s why: Victoria Island has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the world. With the energy sector leading Nigeria’s fast-growing economy, the government released new gross domestic product figures this year that placed the country well ahead of South Africa, the continent’s long-standing economic powerhouse. Abundant natural resources; burgeoning telecom, banking and tech enterprises; and a lucrative “Nollywood” film industry put Nigeria’s GDP at $510 billion—89 percent higher than previous projections. - Rachel

  • Now we get to the meat of it: Folawiyo’s ambitions for Alara go far beyond filling a gap in Lagos’s luxury-retail landscape. She hopes to address a deeper issue—the fact that so little of what’s made in Africa is considered luxurious in the first place.

    • "Reni wanted to create an African-inspired store that would be a destination for clients in Nigeria but also for pan-African travelers," says Adjaye, describing Folawiyo’s initial pitch, "one that would curate the incredible talent pool on the continent that’s been invisible."

  • Tokini Peterside, Alara’s strategy and project manager, explains that many African intellectuals feel that the responsibility for changing perceptions about the continent ultimately lies with Africans themselves. More than a half-century after Nigeria and many of its neighbors claimed independence from European powers, certain countries in the region are poised to surge ahead culturally and economically within a newly globalized economy—accompanied by a renewed sense of what defines African culture. The conditions for change are right: Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world, with 70 percent of the population under 30 years old

  • With this mission in mind, Folawiyo ranks fashion designer Amaka Osakwe among Alara’s most important brand ambassadors. The 28-year-old Lagosian debuted her first collection in 2011 under the name Maki Oh. Though her clothing is made in Nigeria using traditional techniques, it looks right at home alongside the other edgy designers at the Manhattan boutique Maryam Nassir Zadeh, where her line is stocked. ( Michelle Obama wore one of her blouses when she visited Africa last year. See how we tied that Obama mention in there?)

  • She doesn’t just struggle with the cultural perception though. Think logistics. Inter-African travel is rare, in part because it is difficult and often harrowing. In Nigeria, where only a small percentage of the population can afford to fly, departure times are erratic and the aircraft are often outdated. (Folawiyo arrived in Senegal’s coastal capital city, Dakar, the night before on a carrier that left Lagos several hours late, without explanation, and failed to make a scheduled stop in Cotonou, Benin.) She explains that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—established in 1975 to promote economic trade and the free movement of people and services between West African countries, rather like the region’s version of NAFTA—should make the shipping of products to Alara easy. In reality, underdeveloped trade infrastructure and the high cost of aviation make shipping difficult. She has considered renting a truck and hiring a driver to chart a giant loop, stopping at the studios of every artisan she hopes to represent at Alara.

Betsey Johnson going for activewear 

  • First reported by WWD, Johnson, who is bouncing back after declaring bankrupty and shuttering her brick-and-mortar stores two years ago, will release a collection of activewear inspired by her fall 2013 runway show (with the apt theme “BJ kicks A!”). The line has been in the works for some time now — models in the fall 2013 show not only wore workout-appropriate gear, they did calisthenics on the runway — and will finally hit stores this fall.

  • Johnson told WWD that the collection will be “the perfect mix of performance, prettiness and punk,” and according to a release from the brand, it will include a number of her signature details, like fishnet, peplums and bows.

  • Pieces from Johnson’s activewear line will be priced at $49 and up and will be sold in-store and online at Nordstrom and Macy’s.

CFDA Winner and Roundup! 

  • Joseph Altuzarra awarded Womenswear Designer of the Year!

    • This is a big deal as the up and coming designer beat out more established designers Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang for the evening’s top honor.

    • This was the second time Altuzarra has been recognized by the CFDA, having picked up the award for emerging womenswear designer in 2012.

  • Menswear Designer of the Year: Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow for Public School

  • Accessory Designer of the Year: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for The Row

  • Swarovski Award for Womenswear:Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters for Creatures of the Wind

  • Swarovski Award for Menswear: Tim Coppens

  • Swarovski Award for Accessory Design:Irene Neuwirth

  • Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Ford

  • Media Award: Paul Cavaco

  • Founders Award: Bethann Hardison

  • Board of Director’s Tribute: Ruth Finley

  • International Award: Raf Simons

  • And ummmm….

    • Rihanna: Style icon of the year

And the CFDA also went to Instagram - Ryan

  • The first-ever Instagrammer of the Year Award went to one of the following colorful nominees: @donalddrawbertson, @dapperlou, @aguynamedpatrick, @paridust, @troprouge, @amy_stone, @hokaytokay, or @bessnyc4.

  • The winner? Drumroll….

    • Patrick Janelle (@AGuyNamedPatrick)

  • The group — selected by a panel of judges including Rachel Zoe, the Coveteur, and the Editorialist — was voted on by the public (you could vote on the CFDA site or by liking one of the nominees’ Instagrams hashtagged #MyCFDA), and the winner was announced on May 30 before the awards took place on June 2. Mr. Janelle got to attend the ceremony as the CFDA’s official Instagrammer for the event. Lucky fella.

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Speaking Of Fashion Transcript: Ep. 81

Daily Candy no more 

  • On Thursday afternoon, DailyCandy announced via Twitter that it will shut down permanently April 4. The popular fashion and lifestyle site was founded in 2000 by Dany Levy.

  • The tweet: Good-byes are never easy. After 14 years of bringing you the best, we will close our doors on 4/4. Thanks for the memories. Xoxo

  • The background: DailyCandy began as a newsletter that highlighted the newest and best in the realms of fashion, beauty, food and more, and was purchased by Comcast in 2008 for $125 million. Comcast was then acquired by NBCUniversal, but despite big-name hires and ties to major TV networks such as Bravo and E!, the site didn’t flourish as expected in terms of traffic.

  • The dirt: According to tech news site Re/code, who originally reported the news, NBCUniversal attempted to sell DailyCandy — along with TV-focused entertainment site Television Without Pity, which will also close on Apr. 4 — and was unsuccessful. The closing reportedly affects 64 employees, many of whom may be hired by other NBCU properties. Sad face.

Adidas is Going Places

  • Pharrell collaboration 

    • Following in the footsteps of Raf Simons, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens, Pharrell Williams will launch his new line of products for Adidas Originals later this summer. The Simons, Yamamoto and Owens collaborations continue, meanwhile.

    • This guy’s busy! The collection will be the latest in a string of fashion tie-ups for the 40-year-old producer, singer and fashion designer — who already is working with G-Star, Comme des Garçons on a fragrance line, Moncler on sunglasses and Uniqlo on a shirt collaboration. That is on top of his own collection, Billionaire Boys Club, and in the wake of past collaborations with brands such as Louis Vuitton.

    • This is cool — Williams has his own textile company, The Bionic Yarn, and the fabrics will be used in some of his upcoming products for Adidas. It will also mark the first time the German-based activewear company will partner with a designer who owns his own textile company. The textile initiative, which is with Parley for the Oceans, turns plastic debris from the oceans into yarn and fabric. Insert warm and fuzzy feeling.

  • Digital makeover to Originals store 

    • Adidas has launched a new store blueprint for its Originals fashion brand with a Wi-Fi equipped lounge and mobile charging points

    • The goal? To encourage 16-24 year-olds to browse longer - or to provide solace to bored significant others

    • Adidas plans to roll out the concept to Originals stores in over 30 cities, with London and Shanghai next for the makeover. It also has big ambitions for its new teen fashion brand NEO, which is being extended to Poland and the Czech Republic.

    • With the growing competition in sportswear, it is also revamping its flagship sportswear stores, seeking to create a stadium-like experience and, like the new Originals store, putting a focus on footwear and creating a multi-media experience for shoppers.

    • Stay tuned!

Custom clothing clone wars 

  • There are just so many!

    • JHilburn and Trumaker send “tailors” to your home to measure you for button down shirts.

    • Threadmason and Stantt provides T-shirts with 24 and 50 “custom” sizes

    • Vastrm makes polo shirts and uses online questionnaires to figure out men’s sizes

    • On the East and West coasts,  Arden Reed rolled out two Tailor Trucks with 3D scanners so you can get measured for the “perfect” suit

      • They’re biggest competitor is Indochino, which sends Tailor’s Kits to customers to measure themselves for a custom suit - no 3D scanner or augmented reality? And no time travel?! How quaint…

    • Some aren’t faring so well in this crazy booming niche: Custom Fit Jeans collected more than $47,000 via Kickstarter, but two and a half years later they have yet to ship their line.

    • Don’t worry ladies, we haven’t forgotten you. Women’s custom fit companies largely focus on lingerie. Women’s bra company Third Love measures you for the perfect fit via a phone app, and True&Co has women complete questionnaires that funnel information into an algorithm to help them find the perfect brand and bra size for their body shape.

    • From the article: “There’s no proof yet that custom sizing is a sustainable e-commerce venture that can scale the way a startup needs to. These companies are all young enough that they haven’t proved themselves. Their success depends on whether consumers are truly so vain they’re willing to track down cheaper ways to get perfect fitting clothing.” — Burn.

What about the brands? They’re keeping busy…

  • Burberry teams with WeChat to promote fashion shows directly to the user

    • Burberry has teamed up with WeChat, Weixin in Chinese (we will not pronounce that well), to offer an immersive fashion experience for fans, which began in February with Burberry’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show.

    • WeChat users will have the opportunity to receive exclusive audio from the designers with the inspiration and details of key runway looks, as well as exclusive pictures, audio, and text messages from celebrities in attendance, including Chinese actress and model Angelababy. The Burberry WeChat platform will also allow followers to customize a digital “Made For” plaque with their name in English or Chinese characters that will commemorate a specific element of the show.

    • This marks the first of a series of creative collaborations and platform innovations that would be revealed throughout 2014. Oh Burberry, you smart cookie of a brand, you.

    • This partnership with WeChat will allow Burberry to capitalize on last year’s double-digit growth in Asia, which includes two recently opened flagship stores in China. Meanwhile, WeChat, which is the hottest mobile social app in China right now, has become an important channel of collaboration for western luxury brands.

    • High five.

  • Elie Tahari is tapped for Kohl’s DesigNation (it’ll be the 5th collaboration for DesigNation)

    • The capsule collection said to draw from New York City as an inspiration.

    • It will feature apparel for her and will include dresses, sweaters, knit tops and bottoms in shades of blue, black and ivory. Retail prices for the collection will range from $40 to $175.

    • It will be available exclusively at Kohl’s and Kohls.com beginning fall 2014.

    • Oh and 2014 marks Tahari’s 40th anniversary as a brand. Cheers to that!

  • Spin-off brands on the rise

    • The ones we know:  Free People sprung from the racks of Urban Outfitters. (In fact, Urban was originally named Free People when it opened in Philadelphia in 1970. It reemerged as an Urban in-house brand in 1984, and eventually got its own stores in the early aughts. Fun fact!)

    • Banana Republic joined Gap in 1983. Eleven years later, Gap opened affordable chain Old Navy under the purview of Mickey Drexler. (Another interesting tidbit: Old Navy started out as “Gap Warehouse” in 1993.)

    • J.Crew has Madewell

    • Kate Spade has Kate Spade Saturday

    • Ann Taylor has Loft — which it launched in 1996 — and now Lou & Grey, which was recently announced.

      • Lou & Grey is a loungewear line that came to life within LOFT shop-in-shops, will open four standalone stores this year. (It’ll also have a designated space in all 537 Loft locations — for now.)

    • Much like a contemporary collection does for a ready-to-wear designer, these spin-off brands are often targeted toward a younger demographic. The goal — as of the last half-decade, at least — seems to be to appeal to your core customer in a new way, but also to attract shoppers who have traditionally spent their money at teen retailers or fast-fashion houses.

    • Guess what - it’s working!

      • Quarterly sales at LOFT often exceed Ann Taylor by $100 million. Gap has benefited from having brands at varied price points: one will pick up the slack for another during different retail cycles. There was so much buzz around Kate Spade Saturday that the company quickly nixed its plans to launch in Japan only, where it now has six stores. A U.S. e-commerce launch was shortly followed by pop-up events. Now, there are permanent Kate Spade Saturday stores in New York, Los Angeles and Houston, with more on the way. And while Madewell, a heritage brand relaunched by J.Crew in 2006, is obviously not the juggernaut that its sister brand J.Crew has become, it certainly has a following amongst “influencers”: ie, editors, bloggers and fashion-forward customers.

  • But there is still some bad news. J. Crew profits fall…excuse us we need to resuscitate Tenisha

    • J. Crew Group Inc. reported a 42% drop in 4th quarter profit amid a broader decline in shopping mall traffic

    • Net income was reported as $5.92 million - it was $10.2 million a year earlier

    • Silver lining: Revenue grew almost 7%

    • As we reported, they are considering an initial public offering for later this year

      • The chain could fetch a valuation of as much as $5 billion in a potential public offering, “one person familiar with the situation said.”

    • J. Crew has $1.6 billion in total debt. Moody’s Investors Service rates J. Crew at B2, five levels below investment grade due to its high debt burden, Scott Tuhy, a senior credit officer at the credit rating company, said in an interview. When the retailer was still public, Moody’s rated it as high as Ba1, one level below investment grade, in April 2010.

    • Let’s compare: Burlington Stores Inc., which is backed by Bain Capital LLC, is up 83 percent since its October debut. Vince Holding Corp., the apparel company backed by Sun Capital Partners Inc., has gained almost 23 percent since its November debut.

    • And J. Crew will open two additional stores in London in 2014 and its first two Asia locations in Hong Kong in May. So they’re doing alright.

  • DVF reality show

    • Diane von Furstenberg, the “founder” of the wrap dress and proponent of Google Glass, will apparently be featured in a reality TV series on E!

    • In a press release, the network has the as-yet untitled program listed under their “Unscripted/Topical projects in development.”

    • According to the release, the docu-series “explores the relationships between an ultra-successful boss who controls the fashion world and her eight eager-to-please associates in training” — i.e., von Furstenberg and the contestants. The show will culminate at New York Fashion Week where a winner will be chosen. Original, yes? (Note, sarcasm)

    • Von Furstenberg will also serve as one of the show’s executive producers. No official debut date has been announced.

  • Google Glass is trying to sit pretty…repeat: Trying…

    • As Google Glass is hitting the market soon, it’s trying to make sure its eyewear is accessible

      • In January, a new line of frame shapes brought the technology that much closer to actually being wearable

      • Now, Google is teaming up with eyewear giant Luxottica

    • Luxottica brings the design capabilities of portfolio companies like Oliver Peoples, Persol, Oakley and Ray-Ban to the table. Google plans to work with Ray-Ban and Oakley right off the bat

    • According to Google, Luxottica will “manufacture [the] frames and lead distribution” in optical stores, kiosks and other sales outlets.

    • This partnership also lays to rest those rumors that Warby Parker would be creating frames for Glass

Who’s also on the rise? Nicolas Ghesquiere, that’s who! 

  • How so? After leaving Balenciaga, Nicolas will succeed Marc Jacobs as Louis Vuitton’s creative director

  • In his first interview since the announcement, the 42-year-old designer tells Ingrid Sischy about the challenge ahead, while devotees from Cindy Sherman to Catherine Deneuve explain their excitement. And um, can we say gorgeous to that photo by Annie Leibovitz?!

  • From the article: With so many of today’s most original fashion talents out of the picture—Helmut Lang’s checking out to focus on his art; Alexander McQueen’s suicide; John Galliano’s self-immolation; Martin Margiela’s Houdini act; Ann Demeulemeester’s saying adieu; Jil Sander’s quitting for the third time—the relief with which the fashion community responded to the news that Ghesquière would be back was palpable.

  • Background: Ghesquière’s odyssey in fashion started when he was 14. Born in 1971, he grew up in the Loire Valley wine country, in Loudun. He interned for a summer at Agnès B.’s company. Then he was hired by Corinne Cobson to work on weekends and holidays. Then…pause for reaction…he was hired by Jean Paul Gaultier. After a couple of years with Gaultier, the young designer struck out on his own as a freelancer, to hone his skills as an interpreter of various brands, including Thierry Mugler. At 25 he was crowned creative director at Balenciaga, and the rest is history.

  • From the article: When he nails it: Hello, fashion’s Matisse. And once your eyes have adjusted to the newness of Ghesquière’s clothes, you find they become more beautiful over time, making a lot of the rest of what’s out there seem tired.

  • Oh, and Ghesquière is the only designer with whom the actress Jennifer Connelly has developed a personal relationship over the years. Well done, good sir.

Who’s not on the rise…apparently not Gwyneth 

  • Did you read her “Unconscious Coupling” post on Goop?

    • If you didn’t (and you’d be the only one), Gwyneth Paltrow announced her divorce via blog post…is that better than via a tweet?

  • We’re not recapping it - just reacting to it.

    • Tenisha’s suggested headline: Conscious Uncoupling…AKA #GiveMeAFuckingBreak

  • Okay just one recap. It’s kind of hilarious that the doctoral explanation begins with the phrase, “During the upper Paleolithic period of human history”

Sick of that topic? We can always talk about Russia!

  • So this Russian craziness isn’t just affecting the government.

  • Well it is, but that also affects the pocketbooks of the people. As of now, U.S. sanctions on Russia are mostly confined to members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and don’t stand in the way of iPads, Air Jordan high-tops, or the delicious bourbon pouring out of Kentucky distilleries. But it’s getting much harder for Russians to pay for them. Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) stopped processing some Russian transactions in order to comply with new U.S. sanctions. And the ruble is getting crushed as investors worry about where the diplomatic standoff over Ukraine may lead.

  • Did you know how much retailers really loved Russia? Like, a lot.

    • Over the past year, companies that belong to the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index crowed about Russia at least 350 times during conference calls to discuss financial results, according to a Bloomberg analysis of transcripts.

    • At BorderFree (BRDR), a company that handles international e-commerce for such U.S. companies as J. Crew, Macy’s (M), and Williams-Sonoma (WSM), Russia is a top-five market, behind Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

  • Now Russia, behave so people can afford their Nike sportswear

Now let’s talk about something fun! 

  • Barbour/Barbour International just ran a contest for best comic film - this is one of them

  • Here’s the official site - how people entered:

    • The Barbour International Tour Instagram competition ran from 12pm on Friday 21st February 2014 and closed Thursday 13th March 2014 at midnight.

    • To enter you needed to submit a video or still photograph (via Instagram) which captured your most inspiring place. Your entry must include the hashtag #inspiringplaces.

  • The prizes:

    • There are six prize categories: 1. Best Cinematography, 2. Best Stop Motion, 3. Best Comic Film, 4. Best Still, 5. Most Inventive use of Instagram and 6. National Film (UK, US & Canada, Europe and Rest of the World).

    • You will not select which category your film is entered into. The judging panel will decide into which category or categories will fall into.

    • There will be one winner for each prize category from 1-5. For 6. National Film, there will be one winner per region and four winners in total (i.e. 1. UK, 2. US & Canada, 3. Europe (excluding UK) and Rest of the World).

    • Each winner will receive a Barbour International Atlantis Map Canvas Explorer Bag and will have the choice to fill it with one jacket, one piece of knitwear, one shirt or t-shirt and one accessory (hat, scarf or socks) up to the value of £335 from the Spring Summer 2014 Barbour International collection, excluding items from the Barbour International Steve McQueen collection.

    • One of these winners will be named our ‘People’s Choice’and will receive an additional prize of a £100 or $100 or €100 gift card for their chosen mobile app store of either Apple iTunes Store, Google Play for Android or Windows Phone Store.

  • We kind of love this.

What are the magazines doing?

  • Teen Vogue surveyed its readership to learn how millennials use social

    • Teen Vogue’s survey “Seeing Social Through the Millennial Mindset” examines the social media proclivities of 1,074 members of the magazine’s readership, a U.S. sample aged 13 to 29

    • For Teen Vogue readers, different apps perform different functions. For example, Instagram builds awareness, Pinterest drives word of mouth, and both apps inspire transactions.

    • The shopping process per the survey: Millennials use YouTube videos for how-to tutorials. Before they buy, they comparison shop, looking for additional product images on Pinterest. They then read reviews and recommendations on YouTube and, finally, check out sales and deals on Facebook. About one in four respondents, or 26 percent, have made a purchase directly from a social network and 47 percent would like the ability to buy directly off a social feed. Instagram is the number-one app, according to the survey.

    • Interesting results but it’s a really small pool - still good data but keep that in mind.

  • Hearst is going Dutch!

    • Premiering with a September issue, followed by two additional issues in 2014, Harper’s BAZAAR (Dutch edition) will publish 10 issues in 2015.

    • Tenisha has it on preorder.

  • The Cut hired a fashion news editor

    • According to editorial director Stella Bugbee, the site has tapped Véronique Hyland for the new position of fashion news editor.

    • The move is part of a broader push for New York magazine and its affiliate site The Cut to up its fashion and luxury coverage.

    • Hyland comes to The Cut from Elle magazine, where she served as fashion news editor since 2012. She has also held positions at Harper’s Bazaar and WWD.

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