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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VPL: The promise of a creative-business partnership

Most of the greatest fashion companies in the world are the result of a creative-business partnership. Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole. Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giametti. Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy. Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli. The list could go on and on. A business partner can share the immense workload of starting and managing a business, shield the designer from the day-to-day management so he or she can focus on the creative side, and provide a different set of skills which are important to the running of any business. This is the role that Kikka Hanazawa, a former classmate of mine, has been playing at VPL, one of New York's most promising fashion start-ups. The company was founded…

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New York Fashion Week: Marc Jacobs is backwards, upside down and inside out

Last night I witnessed the intricate ballet of savvy PR and event-planning that has helped build Marc Jacobs into one of the only truly successful, global luxury brands that has been launched in the past 20 years. It was evidence of the basic human psychological desire to be part of the cool crowd. You know those nightclubs that intentionally keep people waiting outside to give off the impression of being the hot spot of the moment? This was not all that different, except Marc Jacobs has been doing this for almost 20 years, and he has it down to a fine art. Plus, this is not just hype. He has a reputation for delivering collections that will inspire designers and…

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New York Fashion Week: Oscar’s church of posh

Joyous. That's how Natalie Massenet of Net-a-Porter described Oscar de la Renta's Spring/Summer 2008 collection to Alex Bolen, the company's CEO, after today's show. The setting in an Upper East Side church, the lovely dresses in bright gorgeous hues, and music from a band-cum-gospel choir culminated in a show-stopper from this legendary designer. Roger Federer, Victoria Beckham, Anna Wintour and others were there to soak it all in. With utterly beautiful dresses targeted squarely at the ladies who lunch crowd and their daughters (many of whom were in the audience), Oscar showed that he operates in a market where you don't have to change things too much from season to season in order to make your mark. He leaves the…

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New York Fashion Week: A banner day for Peter and Phillip

In the heart of New York's garment district in the same building on 39th Street, two of the city's most exciting young talents have been busy putting together the collections that they unveiled on Sunday. And, what a great showing for both Peter Som and Phillip Lim, who both delivered what their many fans were expecting...and more. Peter, of course, has just sold a significant stake of his business to retail private equity house NRDC and has been confirmed as creative director of his alma mater house Bill Blass. This was his finest collection yet and one of the strongest of the entire New York collections, having perfected that fine balance for his clients who move fluidly from uptown socialite…

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New York Fashion Week: Innovative brand building

Emerging brands usually don't have the marketing budget and editorial muscle to build big brands and it can therefore be extremely difficult to get above all the noise and stand out from the crowd. Yesterday, I was thrilled to see two young brands partner with major retailers in innovative ways to build brand awareness. My favourite guerilla marketers from Rodnik launched their "We are not a rock brand" tour at Barney's New York. They played to an appreciative crowd of lucky customers and industry insiders, with their sidekick Peaches Geldof supporting Phil on vocals. The guys were understandably excited about the tour which rocks up at one retailer after another, from Colette in Paris to Comme des Garcons in Tokyo…

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New York Fashion Week: Sabyasachi’s talking bout a revolution

Sabyasachi showed his S/S 2008 collection in New York last night to a crowd mixed with New York City-based Indian socialites, important fashion journalists like Laird Borrelli-Persson of Style.com and Meredith Melling-Burke of Vogue, and other curious onlookers eager to see what the "Hermes of India" would come up with this season. As Laird told me before the show after she had taken a quick pre-show sneak peek backstage, it was "classic Sabya". He sent out rich Indian fabrics in a deep "revolutionary" colour palette of burnt orange, forest green and indian khaki, cut in classic (sometimes very voluminous) Western silhouettes. Revolutionary symbols from Russia, Cuba and elsewhere accented the clothes, which strummed along to Tracy Chapman and perhaps a…

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Peter Som: Rolling with NRDC?

The early stage fashion investment deals keep on rolling in. A day after the announcement from Matthew Williamson, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Peter Som is close to finalising a deal with NRDC Equity Partners, further confirming a report from WWD back in February. NRDC is the firm behind the investment and turnaround of Lord & Taylor, the American department store. It's an unconventional choice for Som whose savvy business partner, Elana Posner, has been driving the fund raising search for Som for over a year now. While other designers have been taking investments from upstream strategic investors (Sophia Kokosalaki and Staff International, Proenza Schouler and Valentino), this is the first deal in some years that comes…

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Everyone’s talking about: Limited edition luxury

Walk down Madison Avenue in New York, the Bund in Shanghai, and avenues Montaigne and Georges V in Paris, and you will see the same luxury stores teeming with the same luxury products. No matter where you go, there are Balenciaga bags, Jimmy Choo shoes and Dior Homme suits on offer.  It's no wonder then that everyone's talking about limited edition products from established companies like Neiman Marcus and Martin Margiela to start-ups like 20ltd and couturelab. Customers, it seems, are looking for something a little bit special. The phenomenon has the fashion business media chattering too. The Financial Times covered the phenomenon over the weekend with a particular focus on men's luxury products and this week, WWD gave us…

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