By  on February 11, 2010

Wednesday’s snowstorm that socked the East Coast put a huge dent in retailers’ Valentine’s Day business and had many fashion houses fretting over their New York Fashion Week shows.

Retailers said they hoped to make up some of the lost business and that the buildup really happens this weekend with promotions tied to both Valentine’s Day on Sunday and President’s Day on Monday.

For now, fashion firms said shows were still on schedule, but organizers were concerned about the rash of e-mails from out-of-towners who couldn’t attend because their flights were grounded. Designers were also fretting over seamstresses having difficulty getting to work and runway merchandise backed up at Customs.

Among the schedule changes, Nary Manivong’s presentation, slated from noon to 2 p.m. at the Audi Forum on Wednesday, was postponed until next Wednesday, the 17th, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the same location. The line is designed by Manivong, with stylist Ally Hilfiger.

“There were cancellations of booked models, foreign press, celebrities and talent who missed or had flight delays,” said a spokeswoman. “Shoes being flown in to arrive this morning from London were held up in transit. The tailor upstate finishing alterations to a few pieces was snowed in.”

Movado postponed its annual “Be Mine” Valentine’s Day press preview at the company’s 39th Street showroom scheduled for all day Wednesday. A company representative sent an e-mail alerting editors that they would reschedule next week.

Mifur, the international fur and leather exhibition, which had slated a cocktailparty and presentation for Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., has rescheduled forFriday at the Soho House from 6 to 8 p.m.

Geren Ford reminded editors in an e-mail that “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night…the show will go on.” Ford’s presentation was slated for Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Crosby Street Hotel.

Rebecca Minkoff enticed editors to come to its fall presentation with an e-mail that read, “Come in your galoshes. We’ll have Champagne and macaroons (and a beautiful collection) waiting for you.”

And Kenneth Cole sent snow-defying rubber boots to urge along guests planning to attend the American Foundation of AIDS Research, or amfAR, gala Wednesday night.

Ian Gerard, founder of Gen Art, which was presenting “Plastics Make It Possible,” said he took several steps to prepare for his Wednesday evening show at Drive-In Studios in light of the severe weather. “We overbooked, so we’re hoping it keeps snowing.” He was expecting 1,000 guests. It’s a two-hour presentation, rather than a runway show, “giving people a bigger window to deal with it,” said Gerard.

A spokeswoman for KCD Worldwide said, “Everything is still on target for us from a public relations and production standpoint.”

An IMG spokesman said Wednesday morning there were no changes in the 7th on Sixth schedule and no cancellations due to the weather. “Obviously, it’s not the nicest weather out, but [New York City] is pretty impressive in its ability to overcome inclement weather. The roads are clear, the sidewalks are clear and the subways and buses are running. We’ll be ready for 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.”



As far as the tents are concerned, “It’s a temporary structure, so we do have to deal with that. The show venues and lobby are less of a concern. It’s the intersection and hallways between the tents that have gutters and can get overwhelmed. The company that puts up the tents has a full-time staff that lives, eats and sleeps” the tents.

Most European editors and retailers attending the shows said Wednesday the blizzard would not affect their plans, barring unforeseen delayed or canceled flights. Carine Roitfeld, editor in chief of French Vogue, boarded a flight Wednesday bound for New York, while buyers from Milan’s Biffi specialty stores and London’s Browns had already arrived in the city. Ed Burstell, buying director of Liberty, said he plans to attend New York Fashion Week “even if I have to get a dog sled.”

Yves Carcelle, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, arrived in Manhattan ahead of the storm to attend the amfAR event at which he was honored.

British editors from Condé Nast U.K. and Natmags, the British arm of Hearst Magazines, were either already in New York or were planning to attend as scheduled.

On the retail front, as of noon, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. closed nine stores and one distribution center across Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia, a spokeswoman said. The closures were prompted by the snow build-up on buildings, power outages and limited availability of sales associates. Wal-Mart also has a fleet of trucks contending with snow-clogged roads. “Right now, what our customers are looking for is food merchandise that they’re going to need during the snowstorm, whether it’s canned goods or bottled water,” a spokeswoman said. Shoppers have also been buying winter-emergency standbys such as flashlights, batteries, salt and sand, she added.

About two dozen J.C. Penney Co. Inc. stores closed early on Tuesday as the storm hit Ohio. “It’s been a moving target,” said a spokesman. “We’ve had stores closing early or closed at various places all week. Most of it is temporary. They get dumped on, then they dig out and get back open the next day.”

A spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corp. said the storm forced the retailer to close 12 Sears and four Kmart stores in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Shovels, ice melt, generators and any kind of snow thrower are pacing sales in impacted areas.

“There are no current plans to close the Manhattan flagship, but we are evaluating it as the day goes on,” said a Brooks Brothers spokesman. “Obviously, we have tremendous concern for the safety of our associates.” At around 11 a.m., there were 15 customers on the main floor of the Madison Avenue flagship. “That’s pretty normal for us this time of day,” he said.

Regarding Brooks Brothers stores in outlying areas, “We are really following the mall’s directives.” Several stores in the Washington, D.C.; Tysons Corner, Va.; Baltimore, and Annapolis areas, as well as 15 outlets in the Northeast, were either closing early or stay closed Wednesday.

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