At next week's National Retail Federation convention, known as the BIG Show, the big question will be how to survive 2009.
And the NRF hopes to provide some answers to thousands of retailers, suppliers and consultants from around the world who are expected to attend the annual convention and expo, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Sunday through Wednesday.
“We’ve got a ton of chief executives talking this year, which is astonishing given the economic environment and how badly everybody is doing,” said NRF president and chief executive Tracy Mullin.
In years past, the convention has been criticized for having its sessions dominated by consultants and analysts, and lacking retailer participation. But Mullin noted that this year, Burt Tansky, Roger Farah and Kip Kindall will be on a panel on “inspired leadership” and the importance of communicating with staff and customers. Tansky and Kindall are ceo’s of Neiman Marcus Inc. and The Container Store Inc., respectively. Farah is president of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.
The NRF will also have an economic session with Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd, chairman and ceo of J.C. Penney Co. Inc., and Peter Solomon. Lee Scott, the outgoing ceo of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., will give a keynote address focused on sustainability, which will be followed by a Q&A with Mullin.
There will also be sessions with the ceo’s of Home Depot in Canada and Asia, and Tesco.com, and Michael S. Jeffries, ceo of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., will receive the NRF’s prestigious Gold Medal Award, recognizing “creative genius and inspirational leadership.” Nick Badminton, ceo of Pick ’n Pay Stores Ltd., South Africa, will accept the award for the International Retailer of the Year.
With any luck, the ceo’s will serve up some pragmatic solutions for the near-term challenges. However, the convention also has an eye for the future, putting the spotlight on “greentailing” with sessions on sustainability and by showcasing the latest green technologies. A concept store will highlight products like digital name tags and coupon redemption technology, energy-saving fabrics and floor coverings, eco-friendly virtual graphics and even digital receipts. There will also be sessions on greentailing in tough times.
In addition, the NRF has set up a studio exhibiting the latest trends in store design and innovations that help overcome economic challenges, and its first blog. “The BIG Show Blog takes this community into the blogosphere, keeping people plugged in and connected before, during and after the show,” Mullin said. The blog, sponsored by Microsoft, will feature real-time coverage of the event through previews of sessions and events, a section for feedback and discussion, tips on restaurants and attractions in New York City, and streaming video of select sessions.
Overall, Mullin characterized the 2009 convention as “really a departure in the traditional NRF take. We tend to be very technology-oriented. The expo has been kind of hard-edged. This year, it’s a very rounded environment. It appeals to all your senses,” though without showing merchandise because there are so many fashion trade shows staged through the year.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion