Relaxed Men’s Collections a Good Fit With Milan Buyers

Italian men’s wear designers toned down their collections for spring with more casual, lived-in looks — and hit just the right notes with buyers. “This was not a ho-hum season,” said Tom Kalenderian of Barneys New York. “I think the designers did an excellent job taking chances. They’re very serious about stimulating business. And creativity is king, because you have to create desire that says ‘I have to have it,’ regardless of price.” (Click for reviews and runway shows of men’s 2010 collections in Milan and Paris, as well as designer inspirations.)

Ken Hicks Leaves J.C. Penney, Named Foot Locker CEO

In a surprising move, Ken C. Hicks has resigned as president and chief merchandising officer of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. to become president and chief executive officer of Foot Locker Inc., succeeding Matthew Serra. Hicks has been a key figure in the reinvention of J.C. Penney and advancing the chain’s huge private label business. In another high-profile retail departure, McKay Belk, president and chief merchandising officer of the Belk Inc. department store chain, has found another calling — he’s going on sabbatical for ministry-related work.

Many Bankruptcies Leading to Liquidation

In days when bankruptcy meant reorganization, firms had plenty of breathing room to get their affairs in order and then, hopefully, come out of Chapter 11. No longer. Changes in the bankruptcy code have complicated the quest for retail reincarnation — and the evaporation of financing in the past nine months has made it even harder.

Social Media Rewrites the Rules for Brands

Fashion houses, designers and retailers are tweeting, blogging and updating their Facebook profiles in an effort to mold their brand personalities on real-time global platforms and form relationships with a community of customers, particularly consumers for whom the Web is as important as a limb. “Customers can feel like they are part of the brand’s extended family, and therefore the brand itself, while the interactive element further deepens that relationship,” said Alex Bolen, chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta. “These characteristics address and satisfy that ‘tribal’ part of the fashion consumer — the way in which people identify themselves by the brands they buy.” (Click to see all the images.)

50 Cent’s Lighthouse: Harnessing Hip-Hop’s Muscle

The hip-hop generation has invented a new role for pop stars entering the fragrance business — owner. This week, Curtis Jackson, known better as 50 Cent, represents the fourth such deal in two months to spurn the customary licensing route in favor of a rapidly emerging new business model. In return for his direct involvement, Jackson will have significant equity. His new men’s fragrance, not surprisingly called Power, will be produced and marketed by Lighthouse Beauty, a new company in which the star is a partner. With industry sources’ sales estimates running at $30 million to $40 million at retail worldwide for the first year, it could make quite an impact in his circle. (Click to see more photos and behind-the-scenes video of WWD’s interview with 50 Cent.)

Syms Plots Filene’s Future

Syms is eager to retain the traditions and strengths of Filene’s as it combines the two businesses over the next two months. First up will be the consolidation and integration of back-office operations to create cost-saving synergies.

Possible Burka Ban in France Elicits Mixed Reaction

French President Nicholas Sarkozy stirred pubilc opinion by saying the burka, the traditional Islamic garment worn by women that covers the face entirely, is unwelcome in France. Some — including Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods, owned by Mohamed Al Fayed (who also owns the Ritz hotel in Paris) — believe banning the garment could have a detrimental effect on French business.

WWD List: Manhattan’s Top Retail Corridors

What a difference a year makes. Rents have dropped in several of the hottest retail corridors, including the Meatpacking District and Madison Avenue, since spring 2008. The Real Estate Board of New York’s spring 2009 report said a few areas, such as the West Village and the Financial District, have shown modest gains in the last year. However, since fall 2008, the average asking rent for available retail space has fallen 11 percent, to $115. (Click to see Manhattan’s top retail corridors ranked by changes in average asking rents per square foot.)

Michael Jackson, Style Icon

Say what you will about Michael Jackson during the last few years of his life — and with the baby-dangling-out-the-window behavior, bad plastic surgery and child molestation allegations, a lot has been said — but it takes a certain kind of star to turn a single sequined glove into a cultural symbol. (Click to view images of Michael Jackson.)

Hippie Sportswear: Easy Does It

Taking a relaxed approach to the season, designers add hippie touches to sportswear, as seen in the latest issue of WWD Fast. (Click to see all the looks and exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the WWD Fast photo shoot with Cintia Dicker.)

WWD Back in Time: Roald Dahl

Beloved children’s book author Roald Dahl spoke to WWD in 1983. The interview came on the heels of a controversy that haunts Dahl’s legacy to this day — accusations of anti-Semitism stemming from his review of “God Cried,” journalist Tony Clifton’s account of the 1982 bombing and siege of Beirut by Israeli forces. Dahl’s sympathetic review of the book, which was widely considered an anti-Israel work, incited thousands of angry letters, the pulling of Dahl’s books from many a store shelf, not to mention the end of his long-term relationship with his accountant and, as Dahl told WWD, “I’ve even had a few death threats.” (Click to see all the images.)

Click to read last week’s WWD Week in Review (6/19/09).

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