NEW YORK — Industry executives celebrating the opening of Ermenegildo Zegna's new flagship at 663 Fifth Avenue Tuesday night needed little prompting, even with Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen in attendance, to talk about pocketbook issues.
"Everybody's trying to figure out what to do about the economy," said Allen Questrom, now a senior adviser to Lee Equity Partners. "It's going to [be] a little longer term than people think."
Retailers, he said, are going to have to keep their heads. "It's a matter of patience and not overreacting."
Beyond the glass staircase and models wearing black tie, Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, noted, "It's challenging, we all know."
The economy has put the brakes on more than consumer spending — deal-making for fashion brands has also slowed as bankers and buyers alike take a cautious stance. Frasch, in response to a question, said he was "advising a friend" who was looking into starting a blank check company that would raise funds specifically to make an acquisition.
"This thing started before the economy [worsened]," he said. "We're proceeding slowly."
But the economic freeze will thaw eventually and deal-making will resume. When it does, Domenico De Sole, the business partner of Tom Ford (whose collection is produced by Zegna), said sovereign wealth funds, large pools of money controlled by governments, would be even bigger players in the luxury market.
"The reality is there's a huge amount of money in those funds," he said. "You'll see more and more." In part, he said it's just a matter of who has the capital and who can use it. Luxury also is an attractive investment in its own right. "It's a great industry with very high margins," he said.
And so it is with Tom Ford. De Sole said the Tom Ford store on Madison Avenue is doing twice as well as expected. "The business is doing so well that we're overjoyed," he said.
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ’Oh I can start my own company, oh I can lear to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing I want to do,” said @brooklyndecker ahead of her @sxsw talk for @createcultivate. The former model took the stage to share wisdom about networking and female-driven entrepreneurship. #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.