New York Fashion Week | Marc Bouwer’s online experiment

NEW YORK, United States - While the rest of New York Fashion Week was caught up in its regular Bryant Park frenzy today, designer Marc Bouwer was busy blazing his own fashion trail, exclusively showing his S/S 2009 collection on his website, thereby giving everyone a front row view. Of course, we have seen other designers, notably Stefano Pilati for YSL (first with menswear, and most recently women's resort) and Husein Chalayan, create videos to showcase their collections. And, Giorgio Armani made history when he streamed his Armani Prive couture collection for Spring 2007 online, gaining kudos for democratising the storied world of haute couture. Net-a-Porter also innovated by putting up Roland Mouret's RM19 collection in an online video and…

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NexCen | Meltdown and mystery

NEW YORK, United States - In recent days, NexCen has experienced a meltdown unlike anything the fashion world has seen, leaving Bill Blass,  its star brand, in play as vulture investors circle to assess what value remains. NexCen's failure to disclose a $30m debt that must be paid back by October has sent its stock reeling and could very likely result in the company going bankrupt. Its CEO Robert D'Loren's job is at stake and the company's investors and other stakeholders are furious. The dramatic turn of events underlines the fact that even culturally important brands like Bill Blass can suffer collateral damage in the new era that has brought fashion and finance together. In February, Lauren Goldstein Crowe investigated…

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Breaking News | Is Barneys about to become a basket case?

News has been trickling in all week about confusion around the strategic direction being taken by Barneys and today, the New York Times is reporting that its highly respected CEO Howard Socol will resign next week. This is an abrupt change of tone in the buzz around Barneys, which is arguably the most influential and forward thinking luxury and fashion department store chain in America today. Bergdorf Goodman, of course is a venerable store in its own right, but it only has one location in New York and  its sister company, Neiman Marcus, based in Dallas, is far removed from the New York fashion hub. Yes, Neimans serves an unequaled luxury customer, but it just does not have the fashion…

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New York Fashion Week | Celebrity is the new haute couture

Yesterday at Phillip Lim I heard a videographer complaining "There's no one here, and whenever someone does show up, they bring them out at the last minute so I can't shoot them." Many fashion brands may have been built on the dreams created by out-of-this world haute couture collections, but today, for many brands, this desire is built on the image of celebrity, which can arguably reach more people than the Haute Couture shows ever will. Celebrity is the new Haute Couture. Or, better said, celebrity now plays the dream-weaving and marketing role that Haute Couture has played in the past. However, in a week when the front rows were supposed to be dripping with celebrities, the paparazzi at New…

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New York Fashion Week | Gucci’s finishing touches

On the corner of 57th and 5th in New York, in the Trump Tower space that used to house the failed Asprey flagship, the scaffolding and covering have been removed from the new 46,000 square foot Gucci flagship.  The shelves have been stocked and the windows are already proclaiming Gucci's love for New York, in hopes that New York will love Gucci back - to the tune of an estimated $100m a year. As we walked by the location of the brand new flagship store yesterday afternoon, an army of workmen was putting the finishing touches on what will be one of the largest luxury stores on 5th Avenue and is expected to rake in as much cash as the…

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New York Fashion Week | Furry optimism at Oscar, Peter Som and Proenza Schouler

The day before Super Tuesday in the American primary elections might be called Mega Monday at New York Fashion Week, with established heavyweights like Oscar de la Renta showing alongside the city's new establishment of Proenza Schouler and Peter Som. Young or old, a newfound fancy for fur (and its premium pricepoints) was a common thread, even in these recessionary times. But, Oscar is no old-fogey. His collection came out to the sweet sounds of Regina Spektor, the young hip pianist. During the show, I had the good fortune to be seated next to the company’s CEO, Alex Bolen, who also happens to be Oscar’s son-in-law. It was a great opportunity to have a pre-show chat. Before I could even…

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New York Fashion Week | Iqons, Rodnik and a Manifesto for change

On Sunday night, Rodnik and Iqons teamed up for a buzzing party in New York to celebrate the launch of the first ever Iqons magazine and Rich and Phil'€™s continued creative collaboration in music and fashion. Even the big guns from Vogue (Andre Leon Talley) and the New York Times (Cathy Horyn) were squeezed into the tiny cabaret space at The Box to catch the latest installment of the Rich and Phil show, which included a capsule of looks from their A/W collection to be shown in its entirety during London Fashion Week. It's a good thing that Rich and Phil made the trans-Atlantic trip, because Sarah Mower reported in The Observer on Sunday that that after the global stock…

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New York Fashion Week | Let the circus begin

It's that time of year again when the curious caravan of editors, models, photographers, buyers, fashion icons and celebrities (and their hangers-on) make the rounds of over 400 fashion shows over the next four weeks across four of the world's fashion capitals. First up is New York Fashion Week, known for its commercially-driven collections, slick PR and strategic celebrity appearances. But this year is shaping up to be a humdinger in New York that could make this a fashion week unlike any other in the recent past. First, many young American Contemporary designers may have a real chance at finally cracking the European market. Historically, they have had a hard time convincing European buyers to take on their collections. But,…

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Fashion arbitrage: The US Dollar conundrum

In economics, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price differential between two or more markets by buying something for a lower price in one market and selling it for a higher price in another market, preferably instantaneously, to avoid the risk that price gap will close. With the plummeting US dollar, many European brands have decided to take a hit on margins instead of lifting prices to reflect the current exchange rate. They want to stay competitive with their American counterparts and don't want to turn off American consumers with astronomical prices.  But the resulting lower US prices have led to an opportunity for some seriously lucrative fashion arbitrage. For example, a New York Times article published…

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New York City: Boxing day sales come early

In Canada and the UK, and many other Commonwealth countries, Boxing Day sales are just as much part of the festive season as mistletoe and candy canes. On December 26, shoppers line up outside stores, waiting in anticipation for the doors to open and for the 50%, 60% and 70% sales to begin. The term originates in Victorian England,  when the rich would box up gifts on the day after Christmas and bring them to the poor. In recent times, it has just come to mean Sale, Sale, Sale! This year, Boxing Day came early -- at least in New York City. Earlier this week, we saw sales everywhere we looked: Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Marc Jacobs, Barney's, etc. Even Chanel…

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Discreet Luxury: This is slow fashion

There was quite a bit of interest our recent post  Discreet Luxury - A Segment to watch. Stealth wealth consumers want something special and discreet and therefore reject obvious logos, product ubiquity and sameness. Though the category is dominated by thousands of small, independent brands, Bottega Veneta is the one global brand that has been emblematic of how well this can work from a business standpoint. This video supplements a Wall Street Journal article entitled Inside a Salon that Serves the Logo-Phobic and takes you inside Yuta Powell's discrete luxury boutique in New York's Plaza Athénée Hotel (I didn't know New York had its own Plaza Athenee either!). The store stocks niche luxury brands like Boudicca, Azzaro and Kiton and…

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Breaking News: TSM takes minority stake in Rachel Roy

Rachel Roy, the New-York based designer and wife of hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, has announced that TSM Capital has taken a significant minority stake in her eponymous business. According to WWD, Roy's business is generating $10m in wholesale revenues. The Rachel Roy brand is carried in an impressive set of department store chains including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks 5th Avenue, and Neiman Marcus, and also in reputable international stores like Kuwait's Villa Moda and Moscow's Tsum. With a respectable wholesale business in place, TSM says the capital injection will be used to open retail stores, spur expansion outside the USA, and expand into new categories, likely through external licensing deals. In an interesting twist that runs opposite to the flow of…

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Roberto Cavalli for H&M: Rock-star pandemonium

Karl Lagerfeld for H&M. Roland Mouret for Gap. Giles Deacon for New Look. Proenza Schouler for Target. And the list goes on. You'd think by now that consumers would have started to tire of it all. At a Retail and Luxury Conference earlier this year, Peter Som said that he felt the whole thing was played out and that it was no longer a distinctive way of creating brand buzz, which I thought was a good point. Well, one look at a video from Style.com (see below), which shows the pandemonium that erupted in New York when Roberto Cavalli and Canadian model Jessica Stam unveiled his own H&M collection on Thursday, and it seems there may be some mileage in…

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