PLANO, Tex. — For J.C. Penney, delivering fashion trends in its private label merchandise is a balancing act between edgy and safe.
"The key is you want to have your own personality as a department store, but you don"t want to be off in left field," said David Hacker, Penney"s trend director for women"s apparel and accessories. "Interpretation is a key thing here."
Penney"s analyzes runway shows, magazines, celebrities, TV, the Internet, trend services and global street fashions to pinpoint key styles, he said. The retail chain then interprets them for its customers in 19 private brands sold in 1,017 stores in the U.S. as well as in its catalogue and on its Web site.
Hacker spoke at a seminar on color and trends on May 3 at Penney"s headquarters here to members of the Dallas Fashion Incubator and the Dallas chapter of Fashion Group International. The talk was one of a series the retailer is sponsoring to educate aspiring local designers.
"We know our customer doesn"t want to buy something she"s never seen before," Hacker said. "We don"t always want to be first to have something ... .You have to be a media hog and see what"s going on out there.""
To illustrate, he showed runway images of fall 2004 fashions and discussed trends that would carry through to this fall, such as circle, pleated and full skirts; multicolor tweed short jackets; plaid, cropped pants; fur stoles and trims; coats; prints; feminine dresses, and textured knits.
"So much of what we see is ethereal," he noted, referring to runway fashions. "Color is one of the easiest elements we can do that affects fashion."
Hacker and Penney"s designers examine palettes from Color Services, Percler, Doneger Group and Color Box to help select palettes for each private brand.
The retailer"s women"s apparel labels go from contemporary, such as MixIt and W, to conservative, such as Worthington and St. John"s Bay.
"We focus on trends our customer will accept and that she is geared toward," said Geoffrey Henning, Penney"s design director for MixIt, Worthington and W.Henning and Hacker said they admired the ability of Zara and H&M to produce merchandise in about 90 days and sometimes in as few as 30. They noted these European-based retailers have the advantage of owning fabric mills.
"Zara and H&M translate trends three months after it happens, and basically that"s everybody"s goal now," Henning said. "Everything is getting faster and faster all the time. The time line is getting shorter and shorter, and we need to work closer to cut dates and ship dates."
He said Zara uses many of the same fabrics from year to year, which speeds dyeing and production.
Armed with trend research, Hacker and Henning give guidance to Penney"s buyers about what to purchase from private labels and national brands.
"Part of our job is convincing people that what we are telling them is correct," Hacker said.
"That"s the hardest part of our job," Henning added.
Penney"s designers are midway through creating private label lines for next spring. Hacker declined to discuss plans, but he said fashion is "on the brink of something new" after years of retrospective influence.
"We"re starting to see a departure," he said, citing the volume in Marc Jacobs" and other fall "05 collections.
The seminar also featured a look at how Penney"s conveys 500 to 600 color choices each season to its manufacturers by using digital communication and a staff of color analysts here and in Asia.
"My job is to make sure we get product to the floor quickly and make sure they make the colors the way we want them," said Susan Fox-Forrester, Penney"s color specialist director. "My job didn"t exist seven or eight years ago ... and in seven or eight years, it won"t exist. They"ll take my job and make it seamless so the designers can communicate directly with the mills using computer-aided design systems."
“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
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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