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Impact on Bangladesh Victims Weighed
Who is going to pay and how much?
That is among the questions being asked as the death toll from the collapse of the apparel factory building in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, rose to 430 on Thursday, with more than 520 injured, out of which 100 amputations have been estimated.
The rest of the rescued workers will also need new jobs, as well as immediate payments. Hundreds of workers are still missing, and eight days after the eight-story building collapsed, bodies are still being recovered from the debris.
Top Retail Execs Weigh In on the Customer
Don’t take former J.C. Penney Co. Inc. chief executive officer Ron Johnson’s absence from the Milken Institute Global Conference panel on retailing in a digital world as evidence that the executives who did appear totally disagreed with his reinvention strategy.
Although Johnson was only alluded to during Monday’s discussion at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, the panelists — especially HSN ceo Mindy Grossman and Claire’s Stores Inc. ceo Jim Fielding — emphasized the idea that enhanced and curated shopping experiences — not just price alone — will help keep traditional retailers relevant as e-commerce continues to boom. Without explicitly saying so, the panelists’ underlying messages suggested support for the rationale behind Johnson’s efforts, if not his execution.
“In order for people to thrive in this new environment, they really have to focus more on experience,” said Grossman, beginning the discussion. She disavowed the idea that retailers should think in terms of different channels in order to maximize that experience. “We don’t even use the word ‘channel’ any more. I think it’s antiquated,” she said, preferring to talk more about “creating networks.”
J.C. Penney’s B-T-S Strategy Seen Key To Revival
Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd is taking pages from his old playbook in what will be a tough year ahead to revive J. C. Penney.
Ullman got at least some good news late last week when investor George Soros took a 7.9 percent stake in the retailer and Goldman Sachs reportedly lined up $1.75 billion in real estate and asset-backed financing to stabilize operations and sustain upgrades, potentially giving the Penney’s chief executive some breathing room.
The ceo has already set about reversing much of what was initiated by his predecessor, Ron Johnson, by:
• Slowing down the aggressive and costly shop rollout;
• Reviving private brands that were downsized;
• Cutting back on the tighter, contemporary fits in apparel in favor of a more classic, traditional balance for customers over 35;
• Bringing back big one-day sales and steeper markdowns and value deals while reducing everyday low pricing.
‘The Great Gatsby’ Premieres at Lincoln Center
The “black carpet” premiere of director Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” on Wednesday night drew the film’s stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan to New York’s Lincoln Center, along with a slew of other celebrities.
Mulligan, in a strapless red Lanvin tea-length dress, said she opted against wearing a flapper dress for the premiere. “I wanted to do something different.”
She said flapper dresses are hard to wear, “if you have hips and an arse.” Mulligan was looking forward to the after party at The Plaza: “Zelda and Scott [Fitzgerald] used to go to The Plaza, get drunk and jump in the fountain.” She said she wasn’t sure if she and DiCaprio would replicate that scene.
Pressure Builds for Action in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is facing growing political pressure from the U.S. and Europe to improve labor conditions in the textile and apparel industry even as union leaders express worries that job cuts could result from the growing furor over the building collapse in Savar, outside Dhaka, that killed more than 400 people.
In Washington, two Democratic lawmakers sitting on House trade and labor committees on Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to convene a meeting of American and European retailers and brands, along with Bangladeshi apparel officials and labor groups, to develop a concrete action plan to address a range of issues relating to working conditions and worker rights in the Bangladeshi garment sector.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is reviewing whether to consider withdrawal, suspension or limitation of Generalized System of Preferences benefits given to Bangladesh, but a decision is not expected until the end of June, according to a spokeswoman. The GSP program in the U.S. does not provide duty-free benefits for apparel, Bangladesh’s largest export.
Suits Still Strong but Sales Dip From Peak
Men’s tailored clothing sales came down to earth last year from a lofty high in 2011, but clothing executives can take comfort in what appears to be a fairly soft landing.
After a 23.7 percent gain in 2011 to $4.61 billion, the category abruptly changed direction last year, with overall sales declining 6.6 percent to $4.3 billion. Even the previously red-hot suit classification decelerated to a 1.2 percent increase, to $2.48 billion, after narrowly missing a 30 percent jump in the previous year, according to figures from The NPD Group Inc.
More recent figures have been slightly better, suggesting the market is essentially coming back to reality. The growth spurt came after decades of difficulty and resulted from young men buying into the slimmer-fit suit as their elders refreshed their wardrobes accordingly in a tight job market.
They Are Wearing: Berlin Gallery Weekend
Art and fashion crowds made for a stunning scene at Berlin’s most recent gallery weekend, where, on Thursday, Yohji Yamamoto presented “Cutting Age,” a runway show of his iconic looks from 1992 to the present. With black being a favorite of both Yamamoto and Berlin, the color was prevalent, as were asymmetric hemlines and voluminous shapes. The themes carried into the next few days’ events with arty-chic looks leading the way — sometimes with the men’s fashion trumping the women’s. Accessories were standouts, from wide-brimmed felt hats to billowy scarves to shoes so cool, we want to hop on the next flight to the German city for the shopping alone.
Estée Lauder to Launch First Major Scent in a Decade
The Estée Lauder brand aims to reclaim its fragrance heritage this fall with the introduction of Modern Muse, its first major women’s scent statement since the 2003 launch of Beyond Paradise.
The company that empowered women to buy their own fragrance in 1953 with the launch of Youth Dew now plans to build upon that legacy. Due out in September, Modern Muse is positioned to cast women as stars in their own lives, noted Jane Hertzmark Hudis, global president of the Estée Lauder brand at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.
“This is the most important fragrance moment we’ve had in a decade,” said Hudis, who noted that the muse concept played well with Lauder’s rich heritage in fragrance. “Modern Muse captures what it means today to be independent and confident in one’s own sense of self and style.” She added that by using the term Modern Muse “we mean the idea of confidence that inspires.”
Demands for Action as Bangladesh Death Toll Mounts
Frustration and anger at the cause of last week’s building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh, that plunged 3,000 apparel workers into a trap of cement and steel continued to mount at the scene and around the world Monday.
Efforts to find survivors continued through Monday as officials said 386 people have been declared dead and about 900 were still counted as missing. An estimated 2,370 have been rescued, but authorities said it was unlikely that there would be any more survivors found. The collapse of the building is the worst tragedy in the history of Bangladesh’s apparel industry, which has been rocked over the last five months by a series of fires and other disasters that have stirred demands worldwide for action to ensure greater worker safety.
An army spokesman at the site told local newspapers, “We are giving the highest priority to saving people, but there is little hope of finding anyone alive.”
Fall 2013 Accessories Trend: Regally Speaking
Once the fabric of royalty, velvet is now decidedly democratic. Fall’s options range from day to night, and when paired with major statement jewelry the look is worthy of any court.