PARIS — Coach may need a referee in its looming gloves-off battle with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
On Thursday, the French luxury giant said that it would “vigorously defend itself, if necessary” against a complaint Coach filed with the Japanese Fair Trade Commission alleging LVMH engaged in harassing and anticompetitive behavior to stymie Coach’s expansion within department stores in Japan.
What’s more, LVMH said it “can only question the motivation of the firm that filed this complaint, which is known to manufacture most of its products in regions with cheap labor.”
Reading from a prepared statement, an LVMH spokesman said it has “no information” about the Coach action beyond what has appeared in press reports Thursday.
However, he said the commercial practices of LVMH — which has been present in Japan for more than 40 years — have “never been criticized in any way whatsoever. Indeed, they are regularly praised.”
He added that “LVMH enjoys excellent relations with a wide variety of businesses and partners in Japan which have brought great satisfaction to its clients in that market, one that is particularly demanding of high-quality products.”
While LVMH executives, up to and including chairman Bernard Arnault, are said to have long admired the financial success of Coach, they also look down their noses at Chinese manufacturing. Louis Vuitton’s leather goods proudly bear a “Made in France” label, despite the high wages and social costs here.
Coach officials declined comment Thursday. However, Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer, while speaking at the Bear Stearns Retail, Restaurants & Apparel Conference on Thursday, said, “We’re just looking for fair play in the marketplace. We at Coach run our business as if it’s a small business with very large sales and we find it offensive and unacceptable if a third party attempts to interfere with our ability even in a single location, and we’re going to vigorously enforce our rights.
“Now the Japanese Fair Trade Commission will conduct its own independent investigation. We believe it will take several months. And regardless of the outcome, we’re confident as a broad-based multichannel, multinational business that we will continue to deliver exceptional results. This is a matter for us, mainly, of principle and no play.”As reported, specifics of the complaint, filed earlier this week in Tokyo, have not been made public, but Coach said LVMH threatened department stores in Japan with pulling Vuitton out of certain locations if the retailers allowed Coach to open or expand shops.
“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