Ongoing challenges at Gap, Zara in Brazil investigation, Cautious retailers, Big store strategy, Louboutin fights on

Gap cautious on full-year sales outlook (Reuters)
Gap Inc Chief Executive Glenn Murphy said on Thursday that consumer sentiment may deteriorate in the second half of 2011 and was cautious about future sales growth at the apparel retailer… Gap has lost about a quarter of its market value this year as investors questioned the company’s ability to grow sales after several quarters of losing market share.”

Zara accused in Brazil sweatshop inquiry (Guardian)
“Retail fashion chain Zara is under investigation by Brazil’s ministry of labour after a contractor in São Paulo was found to be using employees in sweatshop conditions to make garments for the Spanish company… Zara is a family business founded in 1975 in La Coruña, north-west Spain by Amancio Ortega… According to Forbes magazine, half of production remains in Spain, with 26% per cent in Europe and the remainder spread around the world.”

Caution on Main Street: retailers fret ahead of key sales season (Reuters)
“Caution is the watchword for apparel executives heading into the all-important holiday season and their lack of confidence is scaring investors. Wary of talk of a double-dip recession, consumers are waiting on bargains, leaving retailers in the dark over how sales trends will turn out in the key year-end shopping season.”

Louis Vuitton’s “Big Store Strategy” Spreads (Jing Daily)
“Luxury giant Louis Vuitton has spent the last several years in China ramping up its inland expansion and rethinking its strategy in top-tier cities… A new LV store might not seem like big news, considering the brand is expanding perhaps more quickly than any other luxury brand in China, but in second- and third-tier markets, the arrival of Louis Vuitton means they’ve reached a certain level.”

Fashion; red in tooth and claw? (FT)
“The story so far: in 2008 Louboutin trademarked a lacquered red sole on footwear ( Pantone No. 18-1663 TP, or “Chinese Red,” FYI). In April this year Louboutin filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in New York saying that YSL had breached its copyright by using the red sole… Potentially worse for Christian Louboutin, who has another hearing in the case scheduled this Friday, the judge also implied that his 2008 trademark could be cancelled.”