Nike losing teens in footrace with Adidas, analysts say

The investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray released the findings of their latest biannual “Taking Stock with Teens” Survey, MarketWatch reports, and apparently, Nike is losing touch with teenagers. Instead, the demographic seems to be spending more with Adidas and Amazon.

Before you throw out your swoosh-covered sweats and socks, Nike (NKE) still holds court as the top clothing and footwear brand. The survey does relay that the sportswear giant is among the top brands that experienced the largest declines. Other household names that suffered sharp declines include: Ralph Lauren (RL); Steve Madden (SHOO); Ugg, (DECK); Fossil (FOSL); and Michael Kors (KORS).

Under Armour (UAA)  also took a hit from the survey, with teen males ranking it as the No. 1 brand classified as “old.” According to CNBC, Under Armour only got one vote among upper-income females as a brand favorite. Nike vs. Adidas aside, it actually seems as though the entire athleisure trend is beginning to lose favor with the teenage demographic. Only a third of teens chose athletic apparel as their preferred fashion pick, down 40 percent from last year. The overall trend moved towards festival fashion.

Piper Jaffray polled 6,100 teens across 44 states for the survey. The average participant’s age was 16; the average household income was $66,100.

After examining the results, analysts were most surprised by Nike’s decline compared to Adidas’ (ADS) surge in popularity. Adidas “doubled its mindshare,” going from 2 percent to 4 percent. Even with their rise, Adidas didn’t fully offset Nike’s losses.

“Overall, larger brands are ceding share for small brands,” Piper Jaffray analysts noted.

Analysts highlighted brands like Vans (VFC) and Supreme as rising in popularity.

Other familiar names ranked highly in the survey as well. Starbucks’ (SBUX) siren call resounded with teens from upper-income households (average yearly income of $101,000) as their top restaurant; it also ranked first among teens from median income households, those bringing in $55,000. Netflix (NFLX) chilled at the top for daily video consumption. Snapchat was the fan favorite for top social media platform. Turns out that teens don’t diverge much from their grownup counterparts when shopping, picking Amazon (AMZN) as their online retailer of choice.

One reason why Amazon has consistently ranked as teen’s favorite site for the past three years could simply be that the company knows their customer base well. Recognizing the opportunity to turn teen shoppers into lifelong customers, Amazon just announced that teens between 13 and 17 years old can now shop on their site with a personal login. Parents or guardians will receive an email or text with order details. Parents can then either approve the purchase or even set limits on their child’s spending.

Christian Magoon, CEO of Amplify ETFs, pointed out that Amazon’s strategy to capture a younger demographic was good for the company’s longevity, considering entire households can now be raised using Amazon smart home products.

“Younger generations rebel against things that are static,” Magoon highlighted, reasoning that other retailers should take notes from Amazon’s strategy.

“Amazon continues to innovate and grow,” he continued. “We’re not at peak Amazon. People are still excited about what’s next.”

Overall though, teen spending is down 4 percent compared to last year, CNBC reports. Teen spending accounts for 7 percent of the country’s retail sales, amounting to nearly $830 billion yearly.

Crocs, Inc. is making a resurgence

After a series of struggles, most recently an abysmal fourth quarter of 2016, Crocs, Inc. and its iconic foam clog are making a comeback, the Washington Post reports.

The company posted a 28.4 percent year-over-year increase in net profit over the first six months of 2017, and according to the Post. Foot traffic in Crocs stores jumped 12 percent during the back to school season.

Founded in Niwot, CO in 2002, Crocs quickly jumped to prominence (or, some might say, infamy) around the world. Former U.S. president George W. Bush, actor Al Pacino, and former model Brooke Shields were all among the shoe’s early adopters, the Post says.

From 2003 through 2007, the company’s annual revenue grew from $1.17 million to $847.35 million.

But in 2008, amidst the recession, Crocs suffered its first annual revenue decrease since 2002, lost over $185 million and, according to the Post, laid off 2,000 workers. A $67.7-billion annual loss followed in 2009, but the company returned to profitability in 2010 and reported continuous profit growth from 2010-2012.

From 2012 to 2013, though, net income declined 92 percent.

In December 2013, Blackstone Group LP invested $200 million in Crocs. The company installed a new permanent CEO, Gregg Ribatt, the following year.

But the bottom line continued to drop. In 2014, Crocs posted a net loss of $4.9 million. The following year, the company lost over $83 million.

In 2016, profits began moving in a positive direction. Crocs cut its annual loss by 80 percent to $16.5 million.

But, the company lost $44.5 million in the fourth quarter of the year.

Back in March, in conjunction with the release of the earnings results for the fourth quarter of 2016, the company announced plans to close almost 160 stores and appointed then-president Andrew Rees to replace Ribatt as CEO.

Since, Crocs has recovered, reporting net income of $11 million in the first quarter of 2017—a 7.8 percent year-over-year increase—and of just under $22 million in quarter two—a 37.8 percent year-over-year spike.

“Crocs is starting to turn itself around, even in these very difficult times,” said Steven Marotta, an analyst at CL King & Associates, per the Post. “This is a company that has successfully gone back to the basics.”

Crocs discontinued a number of unpopular lines, the Post says, and is redoubling its focus on its flagship product, the foam clog.

That shoe, which sells for $35 a pair, now accounts for half of the company’s sales, according to the Post. “The classic clog has re-emerged as our hero,” said Crocs’ chief marketing officer, Terence Reilly, per the Post. “Certainly in 2017, there’s been a resurgence.”

The signature Crocs, which the company originally marketed as boating shoes, are slip resistant and easy to clean, and as a result, have garnered popularity amongst medical professionals and restaurant workers, the Post says. Targeting the latter group, the company has developed classic Crocs featuring prints of eggs and bacon, sushi, and chili peppers.

The culinary angle is one of a number of new augmentations to the classic shoe. Others include glitter-covered Crocs, and Crocs bearing prints of Batman, Spider-Man and Minnie Mouse.

“New colors and prints are selling well,” Rees said in last month’s earnings call, according to the Post. “We’re striking the right balance of comfort and style, and consumers are responding favorably.”

In December 2016, Crocs signed Drew Berrymore as a spokesperson, and in August, Berrymore agreed to collaborate with the company to create two Crocs designs. The first will launch next February; the second will appear next May.

Wrestler John Cena signed on with Crocs in June.

Both celebrities, along with a few others, are promoting Crocs as part of the Come As You Are campaign, which the company calls a “celebration of the rebellious, the impossible to categorize, the uniquely defined in all of us.”

Crocs may not be cool, but that’s exactly what so many new adopters find cool about them. The new marketing campaign is aimed at the alternative crowd, but the appeal is so great that Crocs are climbing back into the mainstream.

The shoe made three appearances at London Fashion Week, the Post says. Fashion designer Christopher Kane, a long-time proponent, featured an accessorized version of the shoe—replete with mink fur and gems—at his Spring 2018 show.

“Whether or not they’re actually cool — well, that’s up for debate,” said Cameron Peebles, chief marketing officer of inMarket, per the Post. “But our data shows that they’re popular again.”

Featured image via Pxhere

ASOS to build $40 million warehouse in Atlanta, GA

ASOS, a British online fashion and beauty store, released a statement announcing plans to build a new warehouse in the United States on Tuesday, August 8, Business Insider reports.

The giant e-commerce fulfillment center will be located in Union City, near Atlanta, GA and will cost the company an initial investment of $40 million to build. The Union City warehouse will be half the size of ASOS’ main warehouse in Barnsley, England and large enough to house 10 million clothing and accessory items.

This plan is to help fuel US sales growth, which makes up 12 percent of ASOS’ total global sales.

In the company statement as released on the London Stock Exchange, the new center will “significantly enhance ASOS’ US customer proposition providing more cost effective, faster and more flexible delivery options.”

ASOS’ CEO, Nick Beighton, commented on the occasion, saying he believed the move to be a “major step forward” and “demonstrates the opportunity we believe lies ahead in [the US] market.”

According to Beighton, in the current financial year, the US market has “delivered 39 percent constant currency growth in the first six months,” with the financial year ending in Aug. 2016 seeing sales of almost $233 million.

ASOS brands itself as the premier fashion destination for 20-somethings, providing fast-fashion to millennials worldwide. ASOS sells and creates fashion and fashion-related content. They sell over 85,000 products both branded and own-label.

Nicola Thompson, ASOS’ global trading director, had the following to say about the company to Racked in May:

“We are the largest fashion label without a store, and that is because of the sheer volume of what we can offer. Shoppers come to us because they know there will be a product offering unlike any other. We have amazing combinations, and an unlimited amount of popular brands, and that is really a unique positioning within the market.”

ASOS has suffered allegations of exploitative contracts with their UK warehouses. This piece published by BBC News in Oct. 2016 details some of the accusations and the scrutiny ASOS endured from British MPs and campaigners.

To see ASOS by the numbers, check out this slideshow by Refinery29.

Beyond the Runway: The Social Goings-On of New York Fashion Week: Mens

Todd Snyder and Raf Simmons, two renowned menswear designers who showcased their work at New York Fashion Week: Men’s this week, have made their livings putting at fashion shows. What turned heads Monday, though, Max Berlinger of The New York Times reports, was each man’s ability to put on a different kind of show: a party.

Immediately following Snyder’s fashion show Monday, the Cadillac House ceased to be a modeling venue and became a makeshift lounge of sorts. Spectator seating disappeared, paving the way for an army of waiters carrying trays filled with avocado, squid crostini, champagne, and vodka.

Snyder himself disappeared as well, just half an hour after the festivities commenced, bound by professional duty to fly to Italy. Still, a gaggle of devotees kept his scepter alive, sported pieces of clothing that bore the Todd Snyder name.

Most attendees wore “streetwear and preppier outfits,” Berlinger says. Sean O’Pry, one of today’s most prolific male models, donned an ensemble from the former category which consisted in part of a white Todd Snyder bomber jacket.

O’Pry, evidently, has been deployed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) as a sort of social media “ambassador” (Berlinger’s word). Berlinger points out that O’Pry, whom 612,000 people follow on Instagram, is aptly suited for the role. O’Pry himself, though, says he feels a little out of place.

“Honestly, it’s so crazy, I have no idea what I’m doing,” he told Berlinger, “but it’s a blast.”

Danny Miller, who stuck around for the revelry after Lewis Del Mar, the musical duo of which he forms half, finished playing as part of Snyder’s show, shared a similar sentiment.

““Whenever you’re performing in a space that’s so brightly lit, you feel very exposed,” he said. “What’s cool is all the models and the crew backstage. They’re very excited.”

Indeed, the bright lights, whether camera flashes or stage lights, can be a little disorienting at times. But one gets the feeling O’Pry and Miller don’t mind much. “After all,” as Berlinger says, “it was just friends.”

If Snyder’s party turned the Cadillac House into an upscale nightclub, Raf Simmons’ turned Bacaro, which Berlinger describes as “a cavelike Italian restaurant on the Lower East Side,” into an old fashioned rave. DJ Justin Strauss filled the epicurean “cave” with electronic music, and most people were too busy dancing to bother much with the plates of steak, risotto, and tiramisu offered.

According to Berlinger, most of the “revelers” wore “track suits and graphic T-shirts.” Much of the clothing on display was designed by Simmons. Simmons, the creative director of Calvin Klein, was not too shy to promote his own brand.

Simmons packed Bacaro with 100 friends, including Humberto Leon, a fashion designer based on the opposite coast; Hanne Gaby Odielle, a Belgian model; singer Lissy Trullie; Nic Galway of Adidas; actor Ashton Sanders; and 18-year-old social media phenom Luka Sabbat, who has over 180,000 Instagram followers and more than 60,000 Twitter followers, and whom The New York Times’ Guy Trebay has called “the coolest teenager on the internet.”

The gathering took place after what Berlinger calls a “Blade-Runner inspired” show by Simmons, which a standing crowd watched in a Chinatown back alley.

Sanders says of Simmons: “I think that Raf is a revolutionary in every way, man. He’s always been ahead of his time.”

Perhaps it is so, but Simmons is not so far ahead of his time that he can’t slow the clock down a little bit and enjoy some time with a few friends. It’s good to know that once the bright lights turn off, the runways become dance floors and the only lights to be seen are the kind under which people can dance.

New York Fashion Week: Reclaiming American Culture One Stitch at a Time

The American fashion industry is struggling. In the past year, a number of formerly iconic American clothing retailers have shut their doors. True Religion Apparel, Inc. became the latest casualty earlier this month.

Such brands are being pushed out of the market by foreign enterprises like H&M of Sweden and Spain’s Zara, which employ a “fast fashion” business model in which clothes move as quickly as possible from runways to store shelves so that companies can keep up with ever-changing consumer tastes.

But New York Fashion Week: Men’s, which kicked off Monday, may provide a much-needed spotlight that will reestablish US designers as major players in the global fashion scene. Over 65 fashion shows will take place throughout New York this week, showcasing the work of many young American designers eager to carve out space for themselves among fashion’s elite.

Many of the outfits showcased will be available on a “see now, buy now” basis, meaning viewers will be able to purchase them immediately. It is the ultimate in fast fashion: before a product even hits the shelves, a trend-setting consumer can have it in his/her hands.

Many designers are using New York Fashion Week as a platform by which to reclaim each of their unique American identities amidst a political climate they feel threatens to compromise those identities.

Julian Woodhouse, a renowned clothing designer who also happens to be a gay, African-American Army veteran, says much of the inspiration for his “Field Day” collection is born out of uneasiness with the political state of affairs in the USA.

“I called the collection ‘Field Day’,” he told Guy Trebay of the New York Times, “because I was feeling so heavy about political shifts.”

Said collection juxtaposes elements of traditional, conservative American culture against backdrops of chaos and disarray. In one outfit, a pair of suspenders is appended to a pair of cargo shorts and left hanging off of the model’s shoulder. Another outfit features “overalls with pegged ankles and bibs cut low for efficiency of escape,” Trebay reports.

The overalls could be taken as a symbol of outdated aspects of American culture, from which Woodhouse is inviting the viewer to escape. At the same time, Woodhouse’s African-American ancestors would have had far more pressing and concrete motivations for escaping from actual pairs of overalls.

Taofeek Abijako, an American of Nigerian descent, orchestrated a show that, in his words, demonstrates how “the African natives adopted European styles and made them their own.”

Abijako’s collection featured brightly colored, oversized clothing that Trebay says “[looked] as though borrowed from an older brother or else…pulled from the bottom of a prop trunk.”

Of course, African “natives” were forced to, in a sense, “borrow” European culture, but they also transformed it, made it fit them. So it’s not surprising that the baggy, belted trousers, are “tailored close to the leg” (Trebay’s words), for instance: they fit, even though they don’t.

Events like New York Fashion Week take place throughout the year in New York, London, Milan, Paris and Miami. Trebay admits that, from one perspective, the New York event is merely “continuation of a seemingly unending loop of clothes” going on tour throughout the world.

But in terms of the impact it could have on the American fashion industry and the American political situation, New York Fashion Week is uniquely American, just like the designers it showcases.

Hopefully, struggling American apparel companies are keeping an eye on the proceedings at New York Fashion Week, looking for cutting-edge designers who can launch their brands back to relevance. If not, maybe some of America’s political figures are keeping an ear tuned to the subtle undercurrents of social protest that run beneath each outfit.

Men’s New York Fashion Week: What You Need to Know

This week marks the fifth season of the “New York Fashion Week: Men’s” fashioned by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. More than 50 brands will be showcasing their spring 2018 collections in the hopes of drawing attention from editors and retail executives. Lower Manhattan has become a playground buzzing with models, designers and the photographers that follow the latest trends.

The New York Fashion Week draws a distinct crowd compared to those of Milan and Paris which house the majority of the big brands and luxury houses. Instead, New York emphasizes an attraction for feisty brands gathering from all around the world. The diverse pool of designers and fashion influences meshes in a cultural mixing pot that provides a unique take of street wear fashion and certainly acts as a frontier for unexplored fashion designs.

One trend that is characteristic of the New York Fashion Week is the emphasis on easy sportswear being present at the runway shows and presentations. This emphasis represents the casual lifestyle and the clothing that goes along with that as an American culture. This adds a layer of complexity that the designers need to deal with, as is it not simply enough to utilize or push the latest trends in the spring collection. Instead, designers need to be flexible enough with their designs to add an idea of practical casualness that would lend the designs to being worn, and not simply displayed.

The New York event is not the first fashion event of the year, which follows a month of men’s wear shows in London, Paris, Milan and Florence, Italy. A noticeable trend this year has been the refocusing on proportion, which many fashion experts and critics expect to be on display in New York as well. Clothing is bigger, adding a fluid effect as pants look more full, while shorts are even being designed to look oversized. These changes are noted to be a reference to the late ’80s and early’90s fashion but interpreted to keep in line with today’s fashion and the need for always designing something new.

The shows are scheduled from July 10 through 14, with all events taking place at Skylight Clarkson Square in West SoHo unless specified otherwise. Cadillac has heightened its commitment for spring and summer 2018 menswear by providing each designer that will have a showing at the Cadillac House Platform with an additional grant. This grant is to further support designers with bringing their fashion visions to life, but will not be provided to those unable to have a showing. It will be interesting to see if any similar grants are provided for those who do not have the means or influence to acquire a Cadillac showing, as a means of incentivizing diversity in fashion, and not just further supporting those who are successful.

One major theme for designers is to take into consideration not only what is displayed at fashion shows, but the nature of the fashion shows itself. There is an ongoing conversation regarding how fashion shows will be performed, with 13 designers pursuing alternative show formats in an attempt to address consumer relevancy towards a more “see now, buy now” model. These hybrid collections will enable faster and more access to new collections, while also providing samples for future deals with editors and fashion executives. Should the suggested changes take off, fast fashion may result in a complete restructuring to address their supply chain to match the ever increasing pace of fashion, for fear of becoming obsolete in how consumers access fashion.

All in all, this will certainly be an interesting week for fashion, especially in determining the position of the Council of Fashion Designers of America on the global stage, and whether American fashion design will retain or gain as much influence as similar institutions in Europe.

True Religion Apparel Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Submits Reconstruction Plan

True Religion Apparel, Inc. announced Wednesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The company joins a host of fellow California apparel enterprises, including American Apparel Inc., Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., Nasty Gal Inc. and Wet Sea, who have also gone bankrupt.

The outbreak of retail failures comes as consumers continue to shun traditional stores in favor of online shopping. According to a 2016 study by performance marketing firm HookLogic, 63% of shoppers make most of their clothing purchases online. Macy’s, J.C. Penny, Sears, and Payless have all shut the doors of many of their physical retail outlets. Last year, True Religion closed 20 of its “brick-and-mortar” stores.

The reeling fashion giant, which lost $78.5 million last fiscal year despite $369.5 million in revenue, will aim to reduce its debt by selling equity in its new, reorganized operation.  Its parent company, Towerbrook Capital Partners, an equity enterprise that bought True Religion off of the public market in 2013 for $835 million, has reached a deal with lenders which would cut the apparel retailer’s debt by about 75%, the LA Times reports.

It could take between three and four months for the bankruptcy court to confirm True Religion’s restructuring plan. If the plan is approved, the company will continue to operate, and will move toward “future growth and success,” Chief Executive John Ermatinger said in a statement. Part of the recovery effort, Ermatinger said, would be to allocate more resources to online operations.

True Religion was established in 2002 and grew exponentially in the late 2000s. From 2007-2012, the company’s size tripled  In 2013, the company generated $490 million in revenue, despite online shopping trends which chipped away at sales numbers. Today, it employs 1900 people across 140 proprietary retail stores.

However, high-end clothing companies like True Religion, which prices many of its jeans above $200, have been marginalized by international “fast fashion” stores like Zara and H&M.

H&M’s website claims to offer “fashion and quality at the best price.” The most expensive pair of men’s jeans listed on the site costs just $69.99. A large banner on the homepage advertises a 70% off summer sale.

H&M’s website also invites the customer to “shop in store or online,” and offers next day delivery and free in-store returns of online orders.

The cheapest pair of men’s jeans to be found on True Religion’s site is listed at $159.00, and prices quickly jump above $250 and then over $300.

Consumers’ preference for companies like H&M indicates that fashion trends have become economical.

According to California Fashion Association president Ilse Metcheck, however, many consumers remain willing to spend high dollar on denim. True Religion stores were just “not exciting enough,” Metcheck says, “and [True Religion wasn’t putting enough marketing energy behind their brand to bring them to an aspirational level — that the consumer would aspire to [buy] True Religion.”

In the bankruptcy petition, Ermadinger acknowledges that his company was “… adversely impacted” when it introduced “new product designs… that failed to resonate with the consumer.”

The restructuring agreement, along with $60 million in “post-petition debtor-in-possession (DIP)” from Citizen’s Bank, has given True Religion new life. The fashion market is fickle and consumer tastes are nearly impossible to predict, but if the reorganized company can build its online presence and once again capture the eyes and wallets of consumers, True Religion Apparel could become a household name in the fashion industry once again.

But Metcheck warns that customers are “no longer excited” by “piles of jeans on the table” in a retail store.

“There has to be a look around it,” she says. “Is there an excitement to it that defines the brand?”

If True Apparel wants to reclaim its place at the heart of the fashion industry, it will have to find the exciting X-Factor Metcheck references.

Add Sears and Kmart to List of Retailers Boycotting Trump Products

Two major United States retailers added their names to the list of companies that refuse to carry Trump products. The boycott on Trump products continues on with the addition of Sears Holdings and Kmart. The two announced on Saturday that they will no longer be the carrier of the Trump Home collection available online. The collection sells furniture, lamps, and chandeliers.

Although it is uncertain which of the Trump Home Collections 31 items will be discontinued from the site, at least 14 of the Trump Home Collection products that are sold by third party sellers still remain on the Sears and Kmart website. Those items have even been discounted. For example, a $942 Trump Home mirror down to $624 is marked down on Sears website. Another mirror that had the original price of $818 is now down to a discounted price of $598. On the Kmart website, two Trump Home lamps have been discounted as well.

However, Sears and Kmart join a growing list of companies that have dropped any and all Trump brands as part of a boycott of the first family’s products. Ivanka Trumps name brand clothing line has suffered quite a bit due to retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Belk dropping her clothing, shoes, and jewelry.

The boycott begins with the Grab Your Wallet campaign. Grab Your Wallet is a list of all the retailers that carry Trump brand merchandise and encourages shoppers to boycott those locations. Though it is clear that none of the companies like Sears, Kmart, Neiman Marcus, Belk, and Nordstrom mentioned the campaign when they announced their discontinuation of Trump merchandise.

The origin of the Grab Your Wallet campaign began back in October after the tape of a 2005 interview with Donald Trump. In the recording, Trump brags on his groping and advancement of women surfaced. The founder of the campaign, Shannon Coulter, posted a tweet which criticized Nordstrom for doing business with Ivanka.

It wasn’t long after the incident that the company reported the rapid drop in sales of Ivanka Trump’s line dropped by 32 percent in the last fiscal year. Ivanka Trump’s products for the third and fourth week of October were even lower by 70 percent.

Even though Sears, Kmart, Nordstrom and the other retailers didn’t say if the list was part of the decision, it is a possibility that consumer feedback had a large part in the prompting of their choice. Some retailers have stopped selling the items online even though they continue to sell in a store, like Belk. In fact, Nordstrom said that its choice to pull Ivanka Trump’s line was due to performance instead of fuss brought on by politics.

Nordstrom made a statement saying, “Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.”

Neiman Marcus even made a similar comment about its choice to get rid of the brand was due to “productivity.”

Trump took to Twitter to show his unhappiness about the incident. He lashed out against Nordstrom about the company dropping his daughter’s line.

Even the White House has jumped to Ivanka Trump’s defense with counselor Kellyanne Conway appearing to have crossed ethical lines during an interview with Fox News for plugging Ivanka’s products.

Conway said, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you. I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”

This endorsement violates an ethics rule that prevents federal employees in office from endorsing products. It wasn’t long after that the White House claimed to have “counseled” Conway about her endorsement.

Wet Seal Says All Stores to Close?

Wet Seal Inc. would appear to be one of the many retailers to close its doors as of late.

Wet Seal was established in 1962 in Newport Beach and named Lorne’s after its founder Lorne Huycke. The name of the company was later changed when Huycke’s wife saw a model in a black bathing suit and thought it looked like a “wet seal.”

It didn’t take long for the store to expand around the country within the 1980s and the 1990s. It provided young women with casual clothing. Wet Seal later started Limbo Lounge

In a round of many mall retail closing, Wet Seal announced its final notice that it will fire all 148 employees at the headquarters located in Irvine. Along with the firing of its employees, the vice president announced that Wet Seal would shut down all locations as well as get rid of all its employees.

Over the years, however, sales began to plummet. There was even a lawsuit filed on racial bias after the company replaced its African American employees with white ones. Wet Seal settled the lawsuit or $7.5 million in 2013.

Yet it would seem that the shut down of Wet Seal was inevitable. The company had to close nearly 330 stores in 2015 after suffering a loss of $150 million that year. To save itself, the company laid off 3,700 of its staff and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Wet Seal isn’t the only retailer to close its doors recently. American Apparel and the Limited went through similar struggles. Gildan Activewear bought American Apparel after it suffered through its second bankruptcy. The Limited closed all of it’s stores, recently causing 4,000 employees to lose their jobs.

As consumers start to rely more on online shopping many retail stores and shopping malls continue to suffer. However, stores like Forever 21 and H&M continue to thrive due to their variety of fashion items at a discount price.

Wet Seal has 171 in over 42 states with over 3,000 employees.

Official Made In Italy Pops Up In NYC

When people think of New York City, they automatically envision fashion. New York has long been the epicenter of fashion icons, inquisitive style, and innovative creativity. The company Official Made in Italy recently joined the chain of stores that line Broadway, and several New York notables made appearances, such as fashion producer and media guru Redeemer Resk ‘Que as well as YRB Magazine Managing Partner and Editor, Jonn Nubian.

Yet this is only temporary.

Official Made in Italy will be hosting a series of pop up stores much like the one currently located in New York. The pop up store intends to show off many Italian made items from jewelry to luggage.

For those who haven’t been by to see the shop, go quickly. The pop up store is only available until February 19th. After that, Official Made in Italy will be moving to Tokyo, Japan and even Dubai.

Check out updates on Official Made Italy’s Facebook page or visit their website.

Severe Changes in Store for American Apparel

Things aren’t going so well for many retail companies in the last few months. Sears Holdings closed dozens of its stores, Macy’s did the same, and The Limited said farewell to all 250 of its stores. Now, American Apparel is shutting down all 110 of its stores.

However, even though American Apparel is gone, the Canadian company that purchased it plans a revamp. At a bankruptcy auction, Gildan Activewear snagged American Apparel for $88 million. Gildan now owns all American Apparel property, factories in L.A., and even manufacturing equipment.

Gildan produces t-shirts and other apparel and says it will shut down all American Apparel stores in effort to rebrand its own company. Yet American Apparel branded its own unique style. The made-in-America style is what kept it customers coming back.

Gildan has not yet announced how it will change the company, but customers can expect that American Apparel won’t ever be the same. A spokesperson for Gildan said, “This was always about buying assets out of bankruptcy. The reality is this wasn’t a purchase of an ongoing concern.”

The closure of all 110 American Apparel stores possibly means that more than 3,500 employees lose their jobs.

Aspire Heads to NYC; Creativity, Achievements and Education to be Highlighted

Whether it be food, business, or fashion New York City has well-earned it reputation as the greatest city in the world. New York City is also known for its diverse creativity. In February, it hosts an event that will hopefully bring inspiration to artist over the world. The event is called the ASPIRE FESTIVAL.

ASP FEST, created by iConcept Media, seeks to give aspiring talent exposure to thousands of people. The audience, in turn, has the chance to get closer to artists who have dedicated so much time to their work. It is the Aspire Series’ hope that not only the artists, but the audience as well, benefit from the event.

The anticipation for what Aspire has in store continues to build as the inaugural event, the first of many like it, draws near. A range of 25 to 50 artists will display their talents. Aspire says that exhibits will vary from fashion, film, cooking, and performing and fine arts. Audiences can look forward to parties, inspirational speeches and conversations as well as art exhibitions each day of the event.

Three various artists will have the opportunity to present their talent within nineteen minute segments. During the segments, the artists will get their chance to perform, converse it the audience, or be interviewed by the host.

After its time in New York City, Aspire says it plans to head to Art Basel Miami Beach. Art Basel Miami Beach has its own set of extraordinary talent. As for New York City, the event will take place from February 23rd to February 26th and hopes to shine light on the imaginative accomplishments of creative minds from around the globe.

China Trades Luxury Goods for Adidas?

China’s luxury market is facing some new competition.

In 2015, half of the global luxury market consisted of Chinese consumers. These consumers are now setting their eyes on sportswear.

But why did this trend surface? There are but two reasons.

Recently, luxury goods are becoming less accessible to the Chinese middle class due to last year’s anti-extravagance campaign led by president Xi Jinping. In addition, the tastes of the elite have moved from visible brand name goods to sportswear.

This trend mirrors the “athleisure” trend, athletic apparel that can be worn in non-athletic settings, in the U.S. Now that China has joined the bandwagon, it presents US companies with huge opportunities to profit from.

The Chinese sportswear market is quickly growing and may threaten to surpass the luxury-goods market in the next few years. Euromonitor International, a market-research firm, reports that the Chinese sportswear market grew to $25.3 billion in 2015 and estimates that the market will continue to grow to $43.1 billion by 2020, topping the Chinese luxury-goods market.

U.S. companies aren’t standing still. To satisfy the growing demand for sports apparel and goods, sports companies are opening more stores. Specifically, Adidas is opening 3,000 more stores in China, expanding from 9,000 to 12,000, after sales in the region increased by 18%. Under Armour and Lululemon also expect to reap benefits. Under Armour estimates that sales will increase up to 25% per year until 2018. Lululemon’s first store in Hong Kong is reportedly on track to making $8 million in sales in 2016.

With this new trend, Chinese sportswear companies are declining. As U.S. companies become bigger and more influential, they are devouring Chinese sportswear sellers. The South China Morning Post reported that Chinese companies were losing profit. The main driving factors for the athleisure boom come from the promotion of sports for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics held in Beijing and the possible boost from the end of China’s one-child policy which, in turn, strengthen the international athletic apparel companies leaving Chinese companies in the dust.

Serena Williams Slams in Every Way

Sports Illustrated states that Serena Williams has one of the most sustained careers in the history of athletics. Williams who is not shy in the athletic world she is just as equal to the fashion world.  Not only is she not afraid to get her hands on new projects,  she has proven her abilities in many other ways. Serena can do no wrong in any way as a woman of today’s times.

Williams hit the stands August 10th on the cover of The New York wearing an Elizabeth and James dress. Showing that Serena is no stranger to fashion. Being on many other covers besides the two Vogue covers just shows how good she is at what she does. With having such success at whatever she touches how could anyone not want to work with someone as talented as Williams is.

Williams has always wanted to not only be a Tennis Pro but also always wanted to be a designer, and not just any, a Wedding Dress Designer. Is this the time for Serena to make the switch over? At 33 years of age, should she start feeling the wear and tear of every day of being the ultimate athlete? She has already beat the odds of being the oldest in her field of being able to play still and still win like it was nothing. Paving the ways for all the youngster that wanting to be the next Williams of this new generations.

After 16 years of playing, the Williams sisters feel that they brought fashion back to Tennis.  So even back then fashion was always on the minds of these two young women. Venus has a line called EleVen in active wear. So Serena following in her sister’s footsteps creates her path in the fashion worlds as well. As HSN and Serena take the shopping network head-on with her new line, Serena Williams Signature Line in athletic wear.

Williams always knew that the plan was to go into fashion as a designer once she retired. She has however decided to make athletic wear as she is still playing tennis and may not stop anytime soon. She explains to the New Yorker, she is fully aware that she has all eyes on her. With her Fashion Career on the path to a great start, protecting her title is also her number one priority.

Serena shuts down her haters about the way, she looks as a woman, she pulls off the chatter of haters by just showing what true grace is by doing what she does best and be just herself as is, by just putting on some clothing and stand out with class and instead of responding. Granted, Williams is hot as hot can be at the moment, and proudly showing every curve in her dress.

In The New Yorker, she becomes very blunt about the passion she has for the fashion world and certainly open to what other opportunities her  future may hold. She also talks about the subject of racism of today’s times. So not only  is Serena Williams the ultimate athlete, not only is she beautiful but she has brains to keep her passions alive. Williams understands her role in today’s world and she wears her crown with honor.

 

Geoffrey Beene Raises Millions for Charity

The clothing company Geoffrey Beene is giving back and raising funds to help cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“Woven into every new garment and accessory is our pledge for a better future for all of us through GBGB Geoffrey Beene Gives Back,” said G. Thomas Hutton, President of Geoffrey Beene LLC.

In 2008, 80 percent of Geoffrey Beene was donated to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and the 20 percent that was left is owned by the Geoffrey Been Foundation.

“The world knew Geoffrey Beene as a person of singular ability and accomplishment, and the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center will embody his remarkable commitment. We are deeply grateful to Tom Hutton and the estate of Geoffrey Been for entrusting MSKCC with this inspiring legacy,” said Douglas A. Warner III, who is a chairman of the MSKCC’s Board of Overseers and Managers.

The Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center was founded at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in fall of 2006 and since has raised $138 million in funding. The center was a request made by Beene two years before he died of squamous cell carcinoma, and this has been carried out by Hutton and Geoffrey Beene LLC.

The critical causes you can help support by buying products made by Geoffrey Beene include: Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative, Welfare of Wome & Children, Educational Scholarships including CFDA and YMA Fashion Scholarship fund, protection of animals, veteran’s support, elderly & underprivileged services, American Heart Association, and Saving Innocence.

Hutton worked closely with the designer, before and during Beene’s diagnosis, and made sure that his wishes were carried out.

The funding for Geoffrey Beene Gives Back comes from the net profits earned by the company under the philanthropic program. As of now Geoffreey Beene is the #1 seller of designer dress shirts for men and designer neckwear.

Since their give back initiative, CoolGraySeven has been hired to help get the word out about the charity aspect of the company. The company was signed on as their creative agency in March.

According to Persian Fashion, Founder of CoolGraySeven, Andrew Egan, said,

“Geoffrey Beene’s contribution to American fashion is remarkable to say the least. We’re excited to leverage the brand’s unique equities to continue to build its products’ business, both here in the U.S. and globally.”

The first of the campaign is set to come out in the fall of 2015 and will feature Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost. It isn’t specified which publication the ads will be in, but Women’s Wear Daily described them as “various men’s magazines, in addition to outdoor and digital media.”

CoolGraySeven works with companies such as Ellen Tracy, Sex and The City and Fashion Tech Forum.

The cancer research done under the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center has led to discovering what foods are most dangerous for our bodies. The research center has also made strides in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, where there was no treatment previously.

According to Geoffreybeene.com, the research center focuses, “on revolutionary new research approaches across a variety of cancers, strategies that will lead to prevention through improved diagnostics and enhanced quality of life treatments toward the ultimate goal of making cancer a more manageable and perhaps one day, a curable disease.”

The company and its charities are estimated to be worth $183 million by July.

 

Levi’s and Google Are Making Your Clothing Into Smart-Clothing

It is one thing for our accessories to go tech, but Levi Strauss & Co and Google Inc. are collaborating to make your clothing from jeans, shirts and underwear tech savvy as well.

The companies are calling it Project Jacquard and it is officially being introduced to Google developers at their Friday May 29 conference. Basically they will be introducing the idea of putting what they develop in their smartwatches and smartglasses to be put into the fabrics of Levi’s clothing.

Google already has the technology to make it happen. The company developed conductive fibers through a Japanese firm and it can be woven into any type of fabric, just as simple as sewing through fabric.

The only problem that may arise is the size in the yarn compared to the thread of Levi’s clothing.

“As far as yarn thickness goes, we’re not almost in the same ballpark. We are already in the same ballpark. Google has accepted the supply chain for what it is and there’s no modification for any of the looms as we’ve been working with this. Fundamentally, this is empowering the garment as a platform, not the garment as a device,” said Paul Dillinger, vice president of innovation for the Levi’s brand.

On the other side, Ivan Poupyrev, the technical program lead for Google’s Advanced Technology and Products group says,

“We’ve been looking at conductive garments for over 20 years. What we’ve done is build the interactive element into the textile. We join the yarns with a connector that enables you to connect to a mobile phone or tablet. It’s about the size of a regular Levi’s button and includes a power source and Bluetooth connection.”

But, how did two different companies from two spectrums of business come about this deal? Well Levi’s came to Google last year and after much talk and consideration, both parties thought it would be greatly beneficial on both sides and too great to pass up.

Of course there is the concern on how a fashion brand can still stay up to date and creative in design while having to suit a tech part into their clothing.

“To make high-tech scalable and profitable, you need large volumes, but it goes against the nature of fashion to make a lot of a single product,” Poupyrev of Levi’s says. “We’re not the military. Fashion means variety, and this technology can work with virtually any kind of textile and any kind of garment, even sheer silks or lingerie.”

With Project Jacquard clothing, we will have the same ability to do what we do on our phones and tablets with our clothing.

Dillinger also brings up the point that many criticize society for being glued their phones and not enjoying what is around us, he says this is “the opportunity to get our faces out of our phones, to be engaged in the real world again, to watch a concert instead of recording one.”

Poupyrev also cites on the issue by bringing up “people’s desires to get back to simplicity.” He believes this is the way.

“Up until now, it’s always been a question of adding another device to those you already have. It’s another purchase, another thing to buy and carry with you. Clothing? It’s something that’s always in the background, so basic. Why create something else to buy when we already have things to wear?”

Though the yarn they have developed is versatile there is still concern in yarn widths and colors. A Google executive says they are still “ugly, in one color, expensive and not conductive enough.”

Still with Project Jacquard still in development, Dillinger has hope that they will improve as the project moves along.

“What they engineered is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he says.

Maybe that is the hope the Levi company grew on with their first ever founder and designer, Levi Strauss, who built his company based on the Gold Rush because gold mining was where the business was at. And now the company has moved from durable gold mining jeans to a fashion empire.

“That’s where the opportunity was then,”  Dillinger says. “Where is it today? Silicon Valley.”

Technology is booming and the possibilities seem to have no boundries. One can only guess what the next big development will be in 10 years.

 

Macy’s Backstage to Open in Fall

Macy’s is offering its shoppers alternative stores with lower prices.

Similar to Nordstrom’s “Off the Rack”, and Sak’s “Off Fifth”, they will have their own version of an “off-price” outlet business. The new store will be called “Macy’s Backstage”.

As of February, TJX, the parent company of T.J. Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls, reported annual sales that exceeded Macy’s, making them even more of a competition to the high-end department store.

The announcement was made a few months ago, but more details have been released as the grand opening draws near.

The exterior of a Macy's department store in d...
The exterior of a Macy’s department store in downtown Cincinnati. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Macy’s Chief Innovation and Business Development Officer Peter Sachse said, “We believe we can deliver a whole new level of value to customers who appreciate fashion and love to hunt for a bargain.”

 

Macy’s Backstage was created to keep up with the on-going trend of shoppers looking for discounts on their favorite high-end brands.

These stores will open in the fall, and as of now there will only be four locations. These stores will all be located in different areas of New York. More specifically, Brooklyn, Queens, New Hyde Park, Melville Mall in Huntington.

“Macy’s Backstage stores will be designed to surprise and delight customers with continuously updated and fresh merchandise assortments focused on delivering current fashion with incredible prices, day-in and day-out, and enthusiastic sales associates,” said Sachse.

At each of these locations Macy’s intends to hire around 30 sales associates to give a pleasant experience along with the new low prices they will be offering.

The stores will stand at 30 thousand square feet and will sell things at a large discount ranging from 20-80 percent off their original price tag. This is a drastic change from its normal business model and store set up.

In a press release, it was said that Macy’s Backstage will be offering, “a compelling assortment of women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, shoes, fashion accessories, housewares, home textiles, intimate apparel and jewelry.”

Other luxuries shoppers can expect free wifi connectivity, large fitting rooms and an unspecified store will be have a café like set up, to test and see how it adds value.

While they will be offering discounts, they will also have special buys from brands that are well known and have worked with Macy’s before.

Macy’s is responsible for over 800 stores in 45 of the states, and a few different countries. This isn’t the first time the company has created an off-site store to sell their products at a discount. They also operate Bloomingdales, which has a discount store Bloomingdale’s Outlet. Macy’s also has a makeup and skin care line at Bluemercury.com.

English: Macy's Department Store in New York City.
English: Macy’s Department Store in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The store has continued to see success, with its fiscal sales of 2014 being at $28.1 billion.

Macy’s intends to see how the four locations provided work out, and with their success will come other locations for customers.

Sachse said, “As with all Macy’s innovations, we will test and learn to see what resonates most with customers so we can adjust before rolling out additional locations.”

The company intends to use the locations as pilot testers to determine what will work and what won’t.

Things won’t be exactly the same as with Macy’s stores though. Macy’s Backstage will not accept Macy’s coupons, nor will it have events promoting certain products, as Macy’s and its other stores tend to do. However, they will be accepting Macy’s credit cards.

This new store didn’t come without a challenge.

According to Washingtonpost.com, Chief Executive Terry Lundgren said in April, “I was the obstacle. Because I said ‘You know what? Macy’s price points are too close to the off-price world.”

Despite this, everyone on the Macy’s board seems to be ready to take this new challenge head-on.

“It will be an exciting shopping experience supported with compelling marketing, both traditional and mobile,” said Sasche.

The Rise of Vince

Do you know Vince? Ever since its Los Angeles-based establishment in 2002, the Vince Camuto label—owned by the Camuto Group, who also holds Tory Burch and BCBG under its expansive belt—has experienced nothing but growth. Here, we delve into how Vince transformed into the literally billion-dollar brand it is today.

Set in mind as a collection of everyday, fashionable essentials for the modern woman, Vince’s exponential growth is (unsurprisingly) largely due to the brand’s merchandise. “The fundamental premise was to create a collection of iconic essentials that women would want to wear everyday — and I have to say, everyday is really key to the equation,” Vince chief executive, Jill Granoff, told The Business of Fashion.

Vince, the first apparel company to offer an IPO since that of Michael Kors Hodings Ltd. in 2011, had an approximate forty percent surge in stock prices, causing the then $726 million dollar brand (according to the New York Stock Exchange) to roll into the billion-dollar range, said The BoF.

But how did a modestly known luxury label climb the charts so quickly (and successfully)? Well, for one, Vince has expanded its product line, even adding an additional brand, Two by Vince Camuto, into the mix. Dresses, pants, leather goods, and (one of their primary markets) shoes are now under the ever-growing Vince umbrella. Vince currently houses twenty-eight retail stores, and remains a burgeoning presence in department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. “We still have a lot of opportunity on the website, so we will be enhancing it further. Our web sales will be probably quadruple from what they were when I joined, as a result of focusing on this channel and having the team in place,” Granoff told The BoF.

Granoff has also developed a six-point plan, which touches on these areas, while also focusing on building brand awareness and increasing Vince’s international presence, though they do sell to forty-eight countries, says The BoF. Vince’s steadfast rise in the American fashion industry and retail market has been a remarkable account of the chance for growth in an economy that still has not fully recovered. The question of whether the brand continues on its quest for expanding profit margins, increasing global presence, and enhancing its e-commerce site are still in the cards—but with a billion-dollar label, someone must be doing something right.

 

Barneys Settles with $525,000 for Racial Profiling Probe

In order to settle claims that the upscale department store mistreated black costumers, Barneys New York agreed to pay a $525,000 penalty. After the retailer was reported to have targeted black costumers with unwarranted, intense scrutiny and falsely accusing them of committing fraudulent crimes, they had to pay for such damages. The company was found to have racially targeting black and Latino shoppers following a 9-month long investigation prompted by accusations of two black shoppers that the store falsely accused them of credit card fraud.

One shopper, Trayon Christian, a college student from Queens, filed lawsuit after he was arrested in April 2013 for buying a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. Undercover officers allegedly stopped the man, accusing him of using a fake ID and fake credit card and asking “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt.” Another woman, Kayla Philips from Brooklyn, was detained after buying a $2,500 Celine bag. She too sued the company for racial profiling.

Trayon Christian. Photo via AARON SHOWALTER/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Trayon Christian. Photo via AARON SHOWALTER
via AARON SHOWALTER/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Kayla Philips. Photo via AARON SHOWALTER

The investigation revealed that many minority shoppers weren’t served by sales associates due to the hassle that came along when in-store detectives repeatedly asked the associates to reprint receipts after purchases to confirm their legitimacy. Additionally, according to the official press release by the lawyer of the case, A.G. Eric T. Schneiderman, the investigation revealed that there was unwarranted and disproportionate surveillance and following of minority customers throughout the store.

In addition to paying a $525,000, Barneys New York will also hire a consultant to prevent racial profiling in investigation of criminal activity as well as implementing anti-profiling policies. Scheiderman told CBS News: “This agreement will correct a number of wrongs, both by fixing past policies and by monitoring the actions of Barneys and its employees to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.”

CEO of the luxury department store, Mike Lee released a press release stating: “During the entirety of our 90-year history, Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand – open and welcoming to one and all.”

 

 

H&M Partners With Kate Mara and Celebrity Stylist Johnny Wujek

To kick off Fall 2014’s New York Fashion Week, H&M has announced a collaboration with actor Kate Mara and celebrity stylish Johnny Wujek. The best friend duo will be curating H&M storefront windows at nine New York store locations.

The window display designs will be inspired by their love for New York City and driven by their own personal styles. The displays will juxtapose Mara’s more approachable, chic style with Wujek’s more bold and quirky approaches. Inspired by New York’s flashing lights, endless skylines, and bridges, the window displays will mirror this New York-inspired lifestyle and showcase the brand’s new H&M Studio collection that will also be shown on the runway in Paris Fashion Week.

The duo was excited to be working together with H&M on such a cool project. “I am thrilled to collaborate with H&M and bring this collection to life with the help of my best friend and inspiration Johnny Wujek. It was a no brainer for us to work together on this as we both have a true appreciation for accessible high fashion and our favorite city of New York.” Says Kate Mara

Wujek, stylist for celebrities such as Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian, also expressed how eager he was to work on the project. “Immediately I said yes to work on this incredibly creative project with H&M and Kate. H&M is a pioneer in the field of fashion and being asked to Creative Direct their store windows for the opening of New York Fashion Week was my Mannequin dream come true – one of my favorite movies growing up. I can’t wait for people to walk by and see the beauty we make in the H&M windows,” says Johnny Wujek

Their work will be unveiled on September 4th, at an exclusive event and panel discussion for fashion students at H&M’s new Fifth Avenue flagship store.

via PRNewsFoto/H&M
via PRNewsFoto/H&M

 

via PRNewsFoto/H&M
via PRNewsFoto/H&M
via PRNewsFoto/H&M
via PRNewsFoto/H&M
via PRNewsFoto/H&M
via PRNewsFoto/H&M

Photo via Linghao