TALKING COTTON: Poor West African cotton-exporting nations renewed their demands that export subsidies on cotton in the U.S. and other rich countries be scrapped by July 1, during a World Trade Organization agricultural forum on Wednesday. In March, a WTO dispute panel ruled that the U.S. Step Two cotton program, which included $2 billion in annual payments to farmers, breached global trade rules and must end the cotton subsidies by July 1, but the U.S. has not taken legislative action to end the programs. If it doesn’t, the U.S. could face WTO sanctions. WTO officials, including U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, are slated to meet in Geneva in late July to discuss how to advance the talks on the role of cotton subsidies and their impact on poor African nations ahead of a crucial WTO ministers’ summit in Hong Kong in December.
SHOW LOUNGE: StyleLounge will be back as a venue for fashion shows and events during New York Fashion Week this September. The space is located in Times Square Studios at 1500 Broadway, which also hosts “Good Morning America,” and will be available to designers Sept. 9-11. StyleLounge can seat 270 people for shows and up to 450 for parties. So far, David Rodriguez, Andrew Harmon, Caroline Hedaya and Sweetooth by Chelsea have committed to shows there. The venue was created by marketing and event production company Livestyle Entertainment and is underwritten by Elle Girl, Elle Decor and American Photo magazines.
THE LONDON EYE: Oakley Inc., the California-based sunglasses and apparel maker, has opened its first U.K. store, a London flagship. The O-Store opened this month on King Street in Covent Garden and covers two floors. “Covent Garden is perfect for the striking and unique design of this store,” said Oakley chief operating officer Link Newcomb. Sunglasses, prescription eyewear frames, apparel, electronics, watches and accessories are on the ground floor, while footwear is on the first floor alongside a “chill-out area” featuring an Internet cafe, in-house DJs and plasma-screen TVs. The store kept the building’s original stone and brick facade while the interior is a mix of glass, stainless steel and brushed aluminum. Oakley operates 43 company-owned O-Stores.