NEW FASHION WEEK: Japan’s fashion industry plans to launch a Tokyo Fashion Week this fall to better promote Japanese brands worldwide. The week will be supported by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The original Tokyo Collections, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, will join the promotional event and a large tent will be set up in one of the parks in Tokyo for it. The event is scheduled to run during the last week of October. Economy Minister Shoichi Nakagawa presented the plan for the fashion shows at a news conference here earlier this week and department stores, manufacturers and others met Wednesday to hear the details. “Japanese designers and their products are popular overseas,” said Nakagawa. “Designs from Japanese motifs such as Japanese letters are often printed on T-shirts. We will promote fashion design from Japan to the world.”

WAL-MART CHALLENGE: A group of prominent shareholders on Wednesday urged Wal-Mart to establish a committee of independent directors to review its legal and regulatory controls as well as its internal system for ensuring compliance with company policies and standards. The shareholders include New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., investment adviser to the $85 billion city pension fund; Edward M. Smith, chairman of the $10.8 billion Illinois State Board of Investment; Karina Litvack, head of governance and socially responsible investing at F&C Asset Management, with $250 billion under management, and Jason Fletcher, Americas equity manager of the $36 billion U.K. University Superannuation Scheme. The holdings of Wal-Mart common stock have an estimated market value of more than $545 million. The group cited concerns pertaining to illegal immigrant workers, child labor law violations and a class-action gender bias case as well as charges that former vice chairman Thomas Coughlin abused his expense account. Wal-Mart said it received the letter and will respond appropriately.

EBAY GOES SHOPPING: EBay has agreed to acquire, a five-year-old comparison shopping Web site, for $21 a share in cash, or $620 million. “The acquisition will allow us to provide even more opportunities for our sellers,” said Bill Cobb, president, eBay North America, in a statement Wednesday. “’s comparison technology simplifies the online shopping experience and the ‘Epinions’ community of reviewers is a great match with our own.”

This story first appeared in the June 2, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“EBay will provide our shoppers greater convenience and comprehensiveness and will help our merchants increase sales,” said Lorrie Norrington, president and ceo of Epinions has 400,000 reviewers who have generated nearly two million reviews to help consumers make informed buying decisions.

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