WASHINGTON — Rising food costs drove prices up on consumer goods, but women's retail apparel prices were flat in April compared with the previous month and dropped 4.3 percent versus a year ago, the Labor Department reported Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index.
Women's apparel prices declined in March by 2.7 percent and in February by 1.8 percent. January was the last month that showed an increase in retail prices in the product category.
Apparel costs overall crept up 0.5 percent compared with the previous month, but dropped 0.7 percent compared with April 2007. Men's apparel prices increased 0.9 percent for the month and 0.8 percent compared with a year ago. Girls' apparel prices increased 0.1 percent on a monthly basis, but dropped 8.7 percent versus April 2007.
Spikes in food costs drove retail prices up 0.2 percent overall after rising 0.2 percent in March. Prices were flat in February and up 0.3 percent in January. March consumer prices just missed consensus estimates of a 0.3 percent increase for the month.
Core prices, excluding the unpredictable food and energy sectors, increased 0.1 percent compared with the previous month and 2.3 percent versus a year ago. Food prices continued to rise in April, but energy costs showed a lull in the increases of the last few months. Sources said the flat energy prices reported in April were temporary, however.
Prices for suits and separates, the most heavily weighted women's apparel category, fell in both monthly and year-over-year comparisons. The category dropped 1.4 percent versus the previous month and 6.2 percent from the prior year. Underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories prices were flat compared with the previous month and fell compared with April 2007.
Suits and separates prices were impacted by discounting, said Malinda Harrell, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The results were typical for April, when prices often fluctuate based on discounting and when the Easter holiday falls, Harrell said.
The flat prices for apparel reflect correction of the decline in prices reported for March, said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist for MBG Information Services.
"Prices were cut so sharply in March they show up as a bounce back in April," McMillion said.The slight downtick in the core rate for April was a "pleasant surprise" and should help alleviate some of the concern about the outlook for inflation, said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist for Global Insight.
"Nevertheless, plenty of risk remains. The remarkable consistency of the 'across the board' increases in food prices emanates from a number of sources, including the soaring energy prices of recent months. To what extent, and when, the energy price onslaught embeds itself into core consumer prices, is an open question," Beauchemin 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