The 2009 Apparel/Retail CEO Summit

The 13th annual WWD Retail/Apparel CEO Summit was held this year at the St. Regis Hotel in New York on November 9 and 10. Topics at the conference ranged from the urgent need to change the fashion system and building a hot brand to the outlook for holiday sales and evolving U.S. trade policy. Round table discussions, talks and Q+As were held with leading CEOs and experts including Martha Stewart, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Sir Martin Sorrell and more.


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Marc Jacobs concluded the WWD summit with a jolt of glamour, candor and unabashed enthusiasm for fashion as he discussed his creative instincts, celebrity designers, the CFDA — and stopping time.

Three top executives, Eric Wiseman, Wesley R. Card and Emanuel Chirico, talk shoppers, cash and the economic outlook.

Calling herself “an infiltrator” in the world of fashion, Stella McCartney, in a wide-ranging Q&A that touched on a variety of topics, offered insight into the challenges facing a nascent luxury brand.

Karan delivered an impassioned reminder of the seasonality campaign: Not only the idea of dressing for the calendar, but the now-ancient practice of shopping for clothes during the season for which they’re intended.

Martha Stewart doesn’t sleep much. She blogs, tweets, hosts her own daily television show, oversees a magazine business, writes best-selling books and seems to unveil a new partnership every month with a megaretailer like Home Depot.

Sir Martin Sorrell doesn’t believe the economy is recovering just yet, but said growth in China, on the Internet, and Western governments’ increasing role as a top advertiser is impacting corporate business and will be key in driving growth.

A town hall meeting discusses lower inventories, fewer markdowns — and the changed consumer.

“You don’t necessarily want to be popping Champagne,” said Michael McNamara, vice president of MasterCard Advisors. “Maybe you have a beer, but not any Champagne yet, in terms of celebrating where we are.”

Executives from Gilt Groupe, Wal-Mart and Lululemon discuss how retailers who take the time to listen, respond, engage and ultimately connect with their customers are more likely to succeed in this new economy.

The future of the apparel industry may resemble its past in some ways, said Bruce Rockowitz: The president of Li & Fung talks China, carbon limits and speed.

The Obama administration understands the importance of trade as an engine for economic growth and is committed to brokering sound trade agreements, said Gail Strickler, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the office of textiles.

The economy may be improving, but it’s still not clear when, or even if, consumers will get back to their old shopping habits. Industry analysts see hope — and potential.

Disputing naysayers who predict the current gains in stocks are just a blip before a possible second slip, an optimistic James E. Glassman says to bank on a recovery.

A big fan of aggressive dictums, Under Armour’s founder Kevin Plank on the brand’s keys to success.

Macy’s may be the nation’s largest department store, but the $25 billion chain is trying to think like a mom-and-pop retailer with its MyMacy’s program.

Social media panelists — consultant and author Marc Gobé and author Lee Eisenberg — discuss how the social media revolution means brands have to communicate more than ever.

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