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.
Yesterday, the Parisian fashion house @azzaro_official cut the ribbon on a temeporary retrospective at the wing of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The exhibition, which shows the lasting influence of the brand’s founder Loris Azzaro, is titled “Azzaro, Fifty Sparkling Years” and presents 50 looks. In it’s ’70s heyday, fans of the brand included Jane Birkin, pictured here, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot and more. See more photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@trinaturk and @macys Inc International Concepts line are linking up on a collection for summer — filled with accessories, swimwear and shoes. The collection will also include a Mr Turk men’s line, both of which are the designer’s first entry into a more accessibly priced area. “It’s very world-traveler, gypset-inspired,” said Turk. The Trina Turk x INC line will launch on May 15th. #wwdfashion
Assouline is paying homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa with a reprint of "Alaïa Livre de Collection.” The book is comprised of photographs of the designer's summer 1992 runway show with models Christy Turlington Burns, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, pictured here at right. #wwdfashion #alaia #tyrabanks
Fall 2018 accessories take on a painterly hue, with Nebulas Blue among Pantone’s top 10 colors of the season. (📸: @jonghyupstudio ; editor: @twallz21 ; stylist and set designer: @haideefindlaylevin ) #wwdaccessories
@americanapparelusa is relaunching the brand outside of the U.S. today, opening its online store to more than 200 countries. The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, though details have not been confirmed. In tandem with the expanded distribution is a recasting of a social media ad campagn, called “Back to Basics,” pictured here, with a focus on diversity and a cast of models above the age of 21. Read more on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge