As the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Big Show on Monday swung into its second full day, Macy’s Inc. chairman, president and chief executive officer Terry J. Lundgren, the outgoing NRF chairman, passed the baton to Sadove, Saks Inc’s chairman and ceo. Like his predecessor, who championed job creation, Sadove said he’s committed to the cause and NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign. Sadove will also be pushing for the removal of trade barriers and corporate tax reform. Noting that retail accounts for 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, he said, “Retail pays the highest effective tax rate. [Reducing] it would mean lower prices for consumers.”
As head of a luxury retailer, it’s not surprising that one of Sadove’s pet projects is visa reform. “People from China, Russia and Brazil, who wanted to come here and shop, had to wait four months to get an interview to get a visa,” Sadove said. “The NRF got it down to three weeks. We want to make it even shorter.” RELATED STORY: NRF Steps Up Lobbying Efforts >>
The NRF’s decision to give its coveted Gold Medal Award to Amazon.com founder and ceo Bezos could be seen as a changing of the guard. After all, the NRF’s membership base is comprised mainly of brick-and-mortar retailers. Physical stores have been locked in fierce competition over customers with the Web and the growing trend of showrooming, where shoppers visit stores to look, feel and touch the merchandise before making a purchase online.
Bezos’ Gold Medal Award marks the first time a Web-based retailer received such recognition from the organization. If there was any doubt that Amazon is here to stay as a retail player, the NRF would seem to be erasing it.
Bezos, who was dressed more casually than his peers, in a white collared shirt and jacket with no tie, demonstrated a love of computers at an early age, according to a video played before he accepted his award. He started his first business in high school. “I used to drag the packages myself to the post office myself in my Chevy Blazer,” he said.
Bezos said he was surprised to achieve such success. “We had tremendous planetary alignment,” he said, adding that he enjoys taking risks. “We like dark alleys because they can turn into wonderful vistas,” he said. But, it’s OK if they remain dark alleys, because Bezos said he likes them “either way.”
Amazon has been a disruptive force for the traditional retail establishment. The global e-commerce leader has changed the way the world shops, by making products available 24/7. With $48 billion in sales in 2011, Amazon is projected to reach $166 billion in four years. The e-commerce giant upended the book industry with its Kindle e-reader and created a tablet for games, movies and other products. Amazon has declined to collect sales tax for online sales, angering brick-and-mortar retailers who say the Web giant has created an unlevel playing field.
Bezos recently said that he’s interested in opening physical stores for Amazon, sending an additional chill down traditional retailers’ spines.
Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and ceo of Brooks Brothers, acted as emcee. Besides Bezos’ award, Lululemon Athletica Inc. nabbed International Retailer of the Year, which was accepted by Delaney Schweitzer, executive vice president of retail operations, and Crocs Inc.’s John McCarvel received the Retail Innovator of the Year award.
Also on Monday, Kip Tindell, chairman and ceo of The Container Store, was elected first vice chairman of the board, treasurer and chairman of the finance committee, and HSN Inc. ceo Mindy Grossman was elected second vice chair of the board and secretary.
“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