The evening began with a more intimate gathering for the summit's sponsors on the candlelit 14th floor of The Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park with full views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
"Change has become a way of life, and the speed of change will keep increasing, so you better buckle up," quipped Valentino Inc. chief executive officer Graziano de Boni, clustered in a tight group with fellow Italians Matteo Marzotto of Valentino and Claudio Del Vecchio of Brooks Brothers at the opening-night cocktail party for the WWD/DNR CEO Summit.
De Boni's words resonated with many other executives who were in attendance, who took the opportunity before dinner to voice their takes on this year's theme, "The Challenge of Change."
"The speed at which things are moving is even more rapid," Matt Rubel, ceo of Payless ShoeSource, noted. "We have to make sure that we can continue to offer the best as possible."
The evening began with a more intimate gathering for the summit's sponsors on the candlelit 14th floor of The Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park with full views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. It was followed by a cocktail party at the Harbor Vista area of the hotel before guests settled into the ballroom for a dinner sponsored by Americana Manhasset.
Ari Hoffman, ceo of Gant USA, pondered the growing popularity of building retail stores for apparel companies. "Most people have realized by now the importance of opening flagships, and everybody wants space on the same streets in the same cities. We're all chasing the same areas, and that's affecting the price of real estate," he noted. "There's plenty of space in below-average malls, but you can't open a flagship there."
Michael Boroian, managing partner at French recruitment firm Sterling International, said retail faces a different challenge. "The change is in fast retail," he said. "The Zaras of the world are changing the face of how retailers do business. Time is a strategic tool. The challenge is how to keep the originality of the brand, its positioning and price point."
The way in which China impacts U.S. business, meanwhile, was on other executives' minds.
"To me, change is in the way U.S. retailers source their product," said New Zealand designer Trelise Cooper. "So many goods are held up in China."Alex Bolen, Oscar de la Renta's president and ceo, who attended with his wife, Eliza Reed Bolen, struck a similar note. "I would like to find out more about the impact of Chinese manufacturing on our business, and how important it will be in the future," he said.
Consolidation of retailers also became a key subject of conversation that night.
"I'd like to see the small retailers stay in business and not have the big guys swallow everybody up," said Patty Nast Canton, ceo of Nat Nast Luxury Originals. "There's a sameness that happens when everybody is owned by the same people. And the fashion world should be about individuality and diversity."
Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at Kurt Salmon Associates, said, "With consolidation comes the challenge of how big organizations cultivate creativity, innovation and differentiation. By nature, large companies breed bureaucracy and more layers of management, and it can be tougher to get new things done."
Gina Zangrillo of Darien Sport Shop had her own advice for vendors. "I'd like to see them get back to basics and customer service — stock more product on their end so customers can reorder in-season. There's no opportunity now to exchange goods and no opportunity to get an item for a customer, and that's the foundation of the business. The businesses that are successful today are the ones that are specializing in good, old-fashioned customer service," she said.
“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