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GOOD JEANS: Stella McCartney and Notify have teamed up for a good cause — and created some great jeans in the process. For pre-spring, the designer tapped the denim house and its technology to create two new jeans styles — a rubberized-feeling cotton with no side leg seams, available in white, gray and purple, and a classic dark blue high-waisted boyfriend silhouette. The jeans hit stores in November and retail for $395 and $375, respectively. In support of McCartney’s lifelong commitment to animal welfare, a percentage of proceeds will be donated to animal protection charities.
FORD DRIVE: Less than two months after Tom Ford opened his first store in Manhattan, sources in Europe and Asia say he’s poised for a strategic retail push that could put his name and his high-end men’s collection in key cities across the globe. Ford alluded to such a development during the store’s opening in April. A source in Hong Kong said the Lane Crawford Joyce Group was expected to sign a deal with Ford to develop the brand in China. The high-end retailer recently inked an agreement with Stella McCartney to distribute the brand’s clothing and accessories in key Far Eastern markets. Like the McCartney agreement, the Ford deal is expected to include the rollout of Ford stores. But the retail push, originally believed to be focused in the Far East, is said to be much more expansive and to include several key retail partners in addition to the Lane Crawford Joyce Group, and make the Tom Ford brand truly global. An announcement could come as early as Wednesday. A Tom Ford spokeswoman declined comment.
GETTING POLITICAL: Benetton’s creative think tank, Fabrica, has brought its traveling multimedia exhibit to Milan’s Triennale and is calling on Al Gore to help commemorate the occasion in its signature socially responsible fashion. The former vice president and presidential candidate will give a speech on global warming and the environment at the contemporary art museum on June 14. “Fabrica: Les Yeux Ouverts,” inaugurated last year in Paris as part of Benetton’s 40th-anniversary celebrations, opens today in Milan and runs through July 15. The exhibit, which examines issues such as multiculturalism, poverty and war, will move on to Palermo’s Sant’Anna museum in August and Shanghai’s Bund 18 in the fall.
SHEPHERDSON’S ETHICAL MOVE: Jane Shepherdson, the former brand director of Topshop, is headed back to the high street — but, this time, she’s steering clear of $12 tank tops. Shepherdson has been named a product adviser and member of the advisory board at People Tree, a London ethical fashion brand that she introduced to Topshop last year. “People Tree is an incredible company, completely committed to producing good-quality, fair-trade clothing,” Shepherdson said in a statement. She will work with People Tree’s founder, Safia Minney, and other members of the board to develop a long-term strategy for the brand. In its latest move, People Tree is set to open a 50-square-foot concession in London’s first Whole Foods Market, which opens on Kensington High Street on Wednesday. Shepherdson’s role at People Tree follows the announcement in March that she had set up a Fashion Enterprise Fund with retail entrepreneur Harold Tillman and the London College of Fashion to support new design talent.
NO SUCH THING AS BAD…: Sydney jeans brand Ksubi, previously Tsubi, built its profile Down Under with a series of provocative stunts, but it has Nicole Richie to thank for its latest publicity coup. And this was something far more politically incorrect than past antics of Ksubi duo George Gorrow and Dan Single, like sending 169 rats down the runway and making their models dive into Sydney Harbour. Richie’s invitation to her Memorial Day barbecue, which was leaked to the press, made headlines worldwide because it said only women weighing less than 100 pounds were welcome. The invitation later was dismissed by the Richie camp as a “joke,” but the hubbub prompted Richie’s mates to turn up in their “sluttiest tops and tightest pair of Tsubi jeans.”
The incident comes at the end of a bit of an annus horribilis for Ksubi, which experienced a cash crunch and was forced to change its name after a trademark dispute with California footwear manufacturer Tsubo. After reportedly lending Ksubi 550,000 Australian dollars ($456,115 at current exchange) late last year, Australian businessman Harry Hodge has just acquired a minority stake in the company. Hodge, chairman and chief executive officer of Quiksilver Europe from 1984 to 2003, knows surfwear, and Gorrow and Single are both surfers, although that’s not their market. (However, Gorrow is the creative director of a separate, rapidly expanding Australian surfwear brand called Insight.) Giving them a leg up in the showbiz connections department is Ksubi’s U.S. ceo, Greg Chait, who also operates L.A. celebrity hot spots The Dime and Winston’s — and recently dated Ashley Olsen, who has, like Richie, been photographed in Ksubi’s jeans.
READY FOR TAKEOFF: For the opening of Qantas Airlines’ new Sydney First lounge, Australian designer Collette Dinnigan gave new meaning to the term jet set by staging a fashion show in the Marc Newson-designed space. Styled by British Vogue’s Charlotte Stockdale, the event reeled in Harriet Quick, Brana Wolf, Paul Davies and other fashion types. Qantas made the most of its travel perks, flying models Sara Ramen and Louise van de Vorst back to Paris after the show. The catwalkers’ hairpieces were flown in just for the day.
FASHION-FRIENDLY FINANCE: There’s a new luxury, fashion and lifestyle investment fund on the scene — and it’s aimed at brand fanatics. The new U.K. fund is called CHIC, and it allows the public to invest in Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, Burberry, Tod’s, Adidas, Hugo Boss, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Nike Inc. and Sony Corp. The open-ended fund is managed by Dominion, an investment management group based in Switzerland and the Channel Islands. Dominion’s chief executive, Alex Bell, is hoping to tap consumers’ enthusiasm for the big brands — and turn it into a money-spinning venture. “While we are all aware of the products these companies produce, what most people don’t see is that the luxury sector companies are amongst the best run and fastest-growing in the world,” said Bell, who is also planning to invest in upcoming luxury IPOs. Investors must put in at least 5,000 pounds, or $10,000 — plus weekly liquidity. The fund is currently available in the U.K., but Bell plans to take it to Italy and Asia.