WWD Week in Review: 3/26

The top stories for the week ending March 26, 2010.

The Next Wave: Fashion Brands Test New Social Media Platforms
Brands are looking beyond Facebook, Twitter and blogs to new emerging platforms. There is no lack of sites and applications to try, from the controversial Chatroulette to Foursquare to Foodspotting. While the variety of collaborations and novelties is seemingly endless, partnerships with various types of fashion social networks such as Polyvore, Chictopia and Lookbook are among the most popular. Many of the newest ideas mix Web, mobile and local. This week also brought several entrants into the e-commerce game, including contemporary label Milly. Alberta Ferretti will be adding a personal touch to her first online store: She will provide styling advice to the site’s most loyal customers.
Independent Stores Face Uphill Battle for Survival
“I’m scared to death about the future of men’s specialty retailing.” Those are the words of Hill Stockton, the third-generation owner of Norman Stockton Inc., one of the country’s premier men’s specialty stores. The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based retailer, which has been in business for 101 years, will be closing its doors on Saturday. Buy-one-get-one-free promotions at chain stores like Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse and the trend toward casual dress have eroded the smaller players in the men’s wear business. Other independent stores are hurting as well: Chicago’s influential boutique Jake, which carries men’s and women’s wear, has filed for bankruptcy and will close soon. Chicago-based Ultimo closed in January and local designer Maria Pinto abandoned her retail and wholesale operations this month.
Tom Ford Builds Women’s Team
Tom Ford women’s wear is getting closer to reality. According to sources, Ford is quietly assembling his design team, having recently tapped Caroline Tixier, a women’s ready-to-wear designer at Givenchy, and Pablo Coppola, an accessories designer at Alexander McQueen. Speculation in Europe is mounting that Ford is plotting a fall 2011 launch for his return to women’s wear, but with a presentation rather than a runway blowout. The designer, who gained fame in the Nineties for catapulting Gucci into fashion’s major leagues as its creative director, is said to be mulling an introduction in Milan or New York. Sources also said Ford is hammering out deals for launch exclusives with key retail partners. Another upcoming launch for Ford is his line of lipsticks, which will debut in June.
LVMH vs. Google: Key European Court Ruling in Search Terms Case
The European Union high court ruled Tuesday that Google Inc. did not violate trademark law by allowing advertisers to buy key words corresponding to registered names such as Louis Vuitton. However, the court said advertisers who buy such key words must make clear where the goods they are selling originate, a partial victory for luxury firms vying to stamp out counterfeits and protect their brands online. The case concerns Google’s AdWords service, in which companies bid to have “sponsored links” appear alongside Internet search results. It is a key revenue stream for search giants. In another old-guard versus new media rivalry, the National Retail Federation and eBay, long at odds over the scope of legislation cracking down on organized retail crime, are changing course and forging a strategic alliance to go after the bad guys, e.g. gangs that steal from brick-and-mortar stores and resell the goods in online marketplaces.
Next Issue for Obama: Trade Enters the Spotlight
Trade will get a bit more attention in Washington now that the Obama administration has succeeded in its long battle for health care reform. President Obama strode boldly into the trade arena during his State of the Union address in January, proclaiming the goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years. Such efforts do little to help sourcing executives trying to cut their costs on goods made in Asia and South America, but the shout-out to trade has been seen by the industry and policy wonks as a sign the issue might slowly come off the Beltway’s back burner. The President also said he will move forward on a regional Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the “Trade Pacific Partnership.”.
Japan Fashion Week, Fall 2010
Japan Fashion Week kicked off in Tokyo with shows that ranged from traditional to avant-garde. At G.V.G.V., the designer, who goes by the name Mug, said David Lynch’s "Mulholland Drive" inspired her collection, rife with fringe, fur and leather. Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi brought modern and fresh twists to Asian silhouettes at Matohu. And Jeremy Scott held court with his fans at the Adidas flagship in Tokyo on Wednesday night to promote the third season of his collaboration with Adidas Originals. Los Angeles Fashion Week continued this week, with designers like Alternative Apparel showcasing their wares.
The Fashion System
"It’s not doing anyone any good to not find a swimsuit in July, and to look at wool sweaters and outerwear in July and August," says Tommy Hilfiger. "It just doesn’t make any sense." Hilfiger shared his views on reforming the fashion seasons in an exclusive interview, during which he also spoke about his belief that the time has come for a pair of shows each season, one for the trade, the other, for consumers. Gucci design director Frida Giannini talked about live-streaming the brand’s fall show online, and how the Internet is democratizing access to fashion. Patrizio Di Marco, the brand’s chief executive officer, maintained that trade-timed shows will remain essential to the development of trends, and also as occasions "with a clear business imperative." See more on the fashion system here>>
Takashimaya to Close New York Store
Takashimaya plans to close its New York flagship in June.The Japanese retailer revealed the move Thursday as it said it has scrapped its plans to merge with H2O Retailing Corp., the parent company of Hankyu and Hanshin department stores. Takashimaya said it plans to sell the real estate and dedicate the proceeds to faster-growing markets in Asia. The New York store opened in April 1993 and sells women’s and men’s apparel, accessories, beauty products, home furnishings, baby products, food and garden products and flowers.
Curtain Call: French Actresses on Film and Stage
French actress Mélanie Laurent, best known Stateside for her turn in “Inglorious Basterds,” has mostly starred in dramas. So it’s understandable she would want to pull a 180 for her theater debut, choosing the light, romantic comedy “Promenade de Santé.” In the work by Nicolas Bedos, Laurent plays a crazy, young nymphomaniac who imagines herself in a love story. “Amélie” and “Coco Avant Chanel” star Audrey Tautou is taking on the classic role of Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” French film stars Emilie Dequenne and Audrey Dana are also taking on stage roles this spring, while British theater actor Eddie Redmayne is set to make his Broadway debut in “Red.” American TV and film actress Rosemarie DeWitt, best known for her role in Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” has reteamed with the director for the play “Family Week.” “I remember being so snobby in my 20s, like, ‘I don’t want to do a pilot. Why would I want to do TV?’ All I wanted to do was theater,” says DeWitt. “And then, at some point, you’re like, ‘Well, I need health insurance.’” 
Back in Time: Oscar de la Renta’s Debut
As Moises de la Renta launches a capsule collection of shirts today for retailer Mango, his father may be thinking about his own beginnings in the rag trade. With a cheering section packed with socials like Nan Kempner and C.Z. Guest, Oscar de la Renta’s Seventh Avenue debut was nothing short of stunning. It was June 1965 and de la Renta was the newly minted designer and vice president of Oscar de la Renta for Jane Derby (the label would be changed to Oscar de la Renta following Derby’s death that August). “Just watch Oscar score and soar,” WWD predicted two days before the show. And they loved what they saw. A skinny camel coat, a cozy gray flannel with white mink at the neckline and a pale brocade dress shaped close in the front and billowing into a smock at the back all got our reporter’s pencil scribbling.