After a long-hard slog through 2017, some retailers and fashion brands are starting to see signs of hope with the holidays — while to others, consumers are still simply saying “nope.”The dividing line is fuzzy with some companies winning with one division and losing with another — take J. Crew Group, where the smaller Madewell’s sales jumped 22.2 percent to $107.5 million in the third quarter, while the flagship brand slipped 11.8 percent to $430.4 million.And shoppers remain fickle creatures, prone to fall in and out of love quickly.The holidays always provide a little lift and momentum to retail, but today’s winners seem to be benefiting from a little luck and a concerted effort over months and years to change the way they manage their businesses and court consumers.PVH Corp., American Eagle Outfitters Inc., G-III Apparel Group and even the debt-laden Neiman Marcus Group have in recent weeks all offered some indication of better business.Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein parent PVH, had multiple points of strength to point to when he spoke with analysts about the third quarter last month.“I'm quite pleased with our results,” he said. “Overall we saw third-quarter revenues grow 5 percent and [earnings per share] increase 16 percent. We saw a tremendous strength across all of our businesses, with our international businesses demonstrating outsized performance. Europe, China and Japan continue to be our healthiest markets in the third quarter. We saw improvements in our North America business, which performed in line with our plan despite multiple natural disasters, particularly in Puerto Rico, that impacted our retail businesses.”And Chirico said the trends continued to “significantly improve” headed into the all-important fourth quarter.On the flip side, Ascena Retail Group Inc. said comparable sales fell 5 percent in the fiscal first quarter, ended Oct. 28, as profits also declined.David Jaffe, ceo of the 4,800-door retailer, which owns Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and more, acknowledged: “We were unable to capitalize on the improving macro traffic environment due to fashion missteps that we cannot afford in today's environment. We continue to deliver double-digit transaction growth in our direct channel, but must improve our overall level of merchandising execution.”Jaffe said the company was deploying the first phase of its new merchandising planning system and would continue to roll out new capabilities over the next year and a half.But even at companies that are picking up steam today, it still is a big question just how they will stand up amid the whirlwind of e-commerce, Amazon, influencers, continued foot traffic declines, the mall’s evolution and more.The companies already on the move are the most likely to keep their balance — and are seen as the most likely to continue to see some lift even after the holiday shopping impulse fades.“There are definitely signs of hope and they are for real,” said Sonia Lapinsky, managing director in AlixPartners’ retail practice. “A few of the ones that are doing a good job are figuring out exactly what the customer wants.”Lapinsky said some players are doing a better job of using data from both the web and loyalty programs to know what customers are looking for and then targeting them individually in direct e-mails or though banner ads as they surf the web.Companies are also seeking to take a page from the fast-fashion playbook and sync up with customers by being ready to make quick turns on styles that are clicking.“If they did the work to get their development cycles much shorter…and make sure they’re betting on trend, they’re going to have the right styles and the right inventory in the stores,” Lapinsky said.While there has been a lot of talk about cutting production times and meeting the needs of consumers for a decade or more, not all of the rhetoric has translated into behind the scenes action.“So many retailers are caught in the cycle of the promotion-trained consumer and just constantly trying to win one, just throwing so much out there, discounting like crazy,” Lapinsky said. “They’re not focused on standing behind the assortment that’s going to fit for the right reason.”That retailers have had such a tough year shows just how badly out of sync they’ve become with shoppers, who have been buoyed by job gains as well as a stock market that’s charged repeatedly to new highs. Consumers have been spending more on social media-ready experiences and less on stuff to clutter their closets.After shuttering hundreds of stores through a long and painful spring and summer, the industry appears to have stabilized headed into the holidays, even if it’s only a temporary respite.Retailers — excluding automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants — hired 12,900 workers in November after losing 10,300 positions in October, compared with the preceding month.The overall economy added 472,000 jobs over the past two months, according to the Labor Department.“This was one of the strongest gains we’ve seen all year,” said Jack Kleinhenz, National Retail Federation’s chief economist, referring to the November retail employment boost. “You expect employment to be up during the holiday season and retailers are expecting strong holiday sales with related job growth, but overall growth in the economy has to be recognized here as well. We’re also seeing new jobs in other sectors of the economy, particularly industrial, and that means more demand for retail goods and a need for more retail workers.”Holiday remains crucial for all retailers, but the real test will be to see which companies and brands are able to keep up the pace in early 2018 and can draw shoppers when they aren’t being nudged by St. Nick.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)