WASHINGTON — Retail apparel prices bucked the trend in July, rising for the second straight month, while economic pressures fueled the sharpest year-to-year decline in retail prices so far in 2009, the Labor Department said in its Consumer Price Index.
Retail apparel prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in July and increased 1.1 percent compared with a year earlier. Apparel prices had increased 0.7 percent in June after falling 0.2 percent in May.
Men’s apparel prices declined 1.1 percent in July and fell 0.9 percent in 12-month comparisons. Women’s apparel prices increased 1.1 percent last month and rose 1.9 percent compared with July 2008.
Apparel prices resisted a general downward trend in pricing for consumer goods in recent months, economists said. Early discounting, historically low apparel prices, seasonal factors, shrinking inventory levels and volatile economic factors all impacted the CPI, economists said.
“I’m very surprised,” said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist with MBG Information Services, of the price increases.
With the exception of a spike in transportation costs earlier this summer, apparel prices have risen at a faster annual rate than any other category in the last three months, he said.
“Apparel retailers got away with price increases, which runs counter to everything going on in the rest of the economy,” said Richard Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research Corp.
Retail sales results did not show a significant increase in consumer purchases this summer. Economists said the relationship between sales figures and prices bears watching in the coming months.
Prices for all goods and services were flat in July, but fell 2.1 percent compared with a year earlier. The decline was the sharpest year-to-year falloff since at least January 1950, beating the previous record drop in May when prices fell 1.3 percent. The so-called core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, increased 0.1 percent in July and rose 1.5 percent compared with a year earlier.
The steep year-over-year decline in consumer prices was driven by lower gas prices, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. Gas prices hit record highs last summer.
Retail prices for women’s dresses increased 1.2 percent in July and spiked 9.2 percent year-over-year. Women’s suits and separates rose 1.4 percent month-to-month and 0.5 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices in the broad women’s underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories category were up 1 percent in July and 2.9 percent year-to-year. Women’s outerwear prices declined 4.6 percent in July, but rose 0.7 percent compared with a year earlier. Girls’ apparel prices were up 1.7 percent month-to-month and 0.3 percent in 12-month comparisons.
Men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear saw prices fall 2.1 percent in July and 9.1 percent year-to-year. Prices for men’s shirts and sweaters declined 1.2 percent month-to-month, but rose 0.9 percent compared with a year earlier. Men’s pants and shorts prices declined 1.4 percent in July and dropped 0.2 percent year-to-year. Men’s furnishings increased 0.1 percent from the previous month and rose 2.5 percent in 12-month comparisons. Boys’ apparel prices increased 0.5 percent in July and 4 percent from a year earlier.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast