July Comps Weak, Stores See Hope for Future

The anxiety-building trend of steep comparable-store sales declines continued for most chains last month and made for a weak ending for most retailers’ second quarters. The pressure means fall could be the make-or-break season for small fashion companies. Meanwhile, several larger firms have taken advantage of the refinancing window that’s opened.

Polo Balance Shifts Toward Retail

Polo Ralph Lauren’s plans for expansion of its own retail operations, particularly in Southeast Asia, was one of the main topics of discussion at the company’s annual meeting. Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer, told shareholders, “By the end of 2010 or 2011, we will be disproportionately invested in new store growth.” Earlier in the week, its shares jumped after the company posted lower first-quarter results that still managed to easily beat Wall Street estimates.

Barneys’ Top Execs Lead the Way

For Barneys New York, it’s been an eventful — and sometimes stormy — year so far. Double-digit sales declines and a customer base hit hard by the recession sparked layoffs, expense cuts, jitters in the market and sharp downgrades by rating agencies. Not to mention the specialty store has been without a chief executive officer for 13 months. But amid the turmoil, the Barneys ship is still afloat and the waters — for now, at least — appear to have calmed. (Click to read a Who’s Who at Barneys New York.)

Gearing Up for Back-to-School

With merchandise ready to hit the floors and marketing campaigns in place, retailers are hoping back-to-school can lift them out of the doldrums. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average family with students in kindergarten through 12th grade is expected to spend $548.72, a decline of 7.7 percent from $594.24 last year. Here’s a list of the top store categories where families plan to shop for b-t-s items.

Cavalli Sale Talks Break Down

Roberto Cavalli’s reluctance to reduce the lofty valuation he places on his fashion brand has resulted in talks breaking down between Cavalli and Italian private equity firm Clessidra SGR SpA, which had been in exclusive negotiations since the start of the year about taking a stake in Roberto Cavalli SpA. “Relations have cooled,” a person familiar with the situation said. It was not clear if they have done so permanently.

Rodarte a ‘Go’ With Target

Designing sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy will be bringing their ethereal sensibility to a wider world when Target introduces Rodarte in December as part of its Go International series of limited collections. The 55-piece Rodarte line for Go International will launch at most Target stores nationwide and on target.com on Dec. 20, and will be available through Feb. 6.

They Are Wearing: At the ‘Sex and the City 2’ Casting Call

The open casting call for extras for “Sex and the City 2” sought out “international types, professional soccer players, fashion models, urban club goers, gays and lesbians, celebrity types and upscale socialites.” And the wide swath of characters — both professional and amateur — that flocked to the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea on a sunny afternoon reflected just that. As the hopefuls marched along, WWD asked a few about their look for the big audition, and what role they’d be best suited for. (Click to see all the looks.)

Fashion Scoops: Kanye West vs. The World

Recent interactions with Kanye West have found him skittish around the media, and his attitude at Wednesday night’s Casio G-Shock party was no exception. The rapper avoided all press, staying true to his statement at last week’s dinner celebrating Hussein Chalayan, when he said, “I don’t do interviews anymore. With anyone. For the rest of my life.”

Trend Report: Nautical Looks

Nautical means a lot more than navy and white or even just a great pea jacket and sailor pants. This season the spirit surfaces everywhere — in boat-inspired prints, emblematic embroideries and, of course, all those naval-inspired stripes and shiny gold buttons. (Click to see all the looks.)

WWD Back in Time: Naomi Sims

The untimely passing of Naomi Sims — one of fashion’s first prominent African-American models— at 61 on Saturday saddened the editors at WWD. Over the years, the paper and its reporters often encountered the stunning, always elegant Sims, who was a trailblazer in the ethnic beauty category, launching the Naomi Sims Collection of cosmetics for African-American women in the Seventies and publishing books including “All About Health & Beauty for the Black Woman” (1976). (Click to see all the images.)

Click to see the previous WWD Week in Review (7/31/09).

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