LONDON — T.S. Eliot wrote that April was the cruelest month, but for his fellow Brits, it’s most certainly going to be January.Next month will be the moment of truth for British high street retailers — when the winners and losers emerge, retail experts here said.Nick Hood, a partner at the insolvency firm Begbies Traynor, made headlines here when he predicted 10 to 15 national and regional chains would go bust by mid-January.In an interview, Hood stood by that forecast and said fashion chains “would not be exempt” from collapse. However, he declined to name names.
“Fashion retailers are inherently fragile businesses,” he said. “I wonder if the clothing ranges that retailers committed to six to nine months ago are right for a changed, more austere mood.” With consumers cutting back in general, he said an oft-overlooked demographic — middle-class men and women who were living off savings, such as retired people — are putting the brakes on spending because they don’t want to appear extravagant or because they don’t have the cash.“What we are living through is the financial equivalent of 9/11,” Hood said. “It is something that no one alive today has ever been through, and it will change consumers’ mood and behavior for years to come.”According to preliminary figures from Experian FootFall, shopper numbers were down on average 8.7 percent for the weekend of Dec. 20 to 21 in the U.K., despite deep discounting across the board from luxury outlets to high street chains.Hood said the most vulnerable retailers in the New Year will be those with high levels of borrowing — and chains that have expanded too quickly.Already Britain has seen its share of retail casualties: Woolworths; The Officers Club, the discount men’s wear chain, and MFI, the mass market furniture company, all went bust in the last month. Whittard of Chelsea, the Baugur Group-owned retail chain selling tea, coffee and crockery, was on the brink of administration (the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy), according to British press reports.Earlier this year, brands including Biba, Hardy Amies, Ghost and Marchpole, the clothing manufacturer and owner of the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac label, all went into administration.Ghost was rescued by the U.K. retail entrepreneur Touker Suleyman, and Hardy Amies was purchased by the private investment fund Fung Capital.
“I grew up in New York but I hadn’t really experienced the city in any type of touristy way…This was probably the first museum I really explored and took the time to see,” said @haileybaldwin of the @whitneymuseum. On Tuesday night, Baldwin was joined by Jemima Kirke and more at the annual Whitney Museum Gala and Studio Party, which honored Lorna Simpson, Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and Beth Rudin DeWoody. See more photos on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
Displayed starting this week at the @fashiontextilemuseum: An exhibition on designer @orlakiely titled “Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern,” which spans two decades and contains more than 150 pieces. “I want people to come away loving pattern and print. It’s something that makes you feel so good,” said the designer during a preview of the exhibit. Also on show are mood boards, samples, sketches and more. Head to WWD.com to see more photos. #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @dsquared2 signs fragrance licensing agreement with Euroitalia, with the first effort of the new partnership being unveiled in September. The brand will launch two scents – one for men and one for women – in Italy. Read our interview with designer Dean and Dan Caten on WWD.com. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@louisvuitton has officially renewed Nicolas Ghesquière’s contract as artistic director of women's collections. "I am very pleased to open the next chapter of the story I started with Louis Vuitton almost 5 years ago," said Ghesquière, who first signed on to design the French luxury brand's women's line in 2013. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
“I learned then and there that I had to figure out a way in life to maintain and preserve my sense of pride when I felt good about what I did or what I represented or created,” said @saintrecords on how being bullied for wearing capri pants inspired her to be the artist she is today. Knowles was at the 70th Parsons Benefit last night where she outbid the room for a Dapper Dan customized @gucci experience. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“There’s this amazing braintrust of people who know the whole universe so well. So we talked to them and they gave us more input,” said actor Alden Ehrenreich on playing the young Han Solo in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The cast was at NYC’s SVA Theatre last night for an advanced screening of the film, which hits theaters this week. #wwdeye #starwars #hansolo (📷: @aurorarosedecrosta)
@asaprocky spent nearly two hours in a Plexiglas box Sunday night at @sothebys putting himself through a series of “tests” to demonstrate the process of completing his new album called “Testing.” Get all the details and see all the pictures on WWD.com. #wwdeye
“I’ve struggled my whole life to find a bathing suit that fits me that doesn’t look like a maternity bra. I’m proud of the line because it’s an accurate representation of me rather than me putting on someone else’s clothes,” says @atlantabean of her swimwear collaboration with @piaarrobio, LPA X ATL. The two decided on a swimwear collab and increased the industry standard size for the pieces. Read more about the line — and our interview with de Cadenet Taylor and Arrobio — on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Dan Doperalski)