Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ultimo recognition.

The lingerie brand for all sizes, Ultimo - whom Peaches Geldof has just become the "new face" of - was named Retailer of the Year 2009 at the fourth annual Scottish Fashion Awards last night.

The awards took place at Stirling Castle, in the highlands of Scotland. Other winners included; Graeme Black as Scottish Designer of the Year, Harris Tweed as Scottish Textile Brand of the Year and Paul Smith as Best use of Scottish Fabric. 
Ultimo founder Michelle Mone said: 

“Ultimo continues to go from strength to strength, so it’s brilliant to be recognised by Scotland and the fashion world. As a retailer, we strive to deliver the very best product, in terms of designer style and unrivalled fit, and at the right price for our customer. We have exciting plans for the rest of the year to continue to roll out our shop in shop concept to more Debenhams stores across the UK, so hopefully we’ll be here again next year!”

Friday, June 26, 2009

D&G tighten their belts.

Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have shocked the luxury fashion world with news that they want to cut prices of their garments by 10-20% whilst maintaining their creativity and quality standards. The price reductions will occur across the board for both the main and D&G lines and margins will be squeezed to help achieve them. Gabbana said:

"This crisis has 2 key aspects: it's international and social. The first thing people say these days when they walk into a store is 'Nice... but how much?' In this moment of uncertainty, people spend more willingly on travel or spas rather than on a new dress. We want to work for the final consumer."
Evidence of the lower prices is seen in the following items: 
- A pair of five-pocket jeans for spring will sell for $450 (for spring 2009 they cost $695)
- A dress will cost $1,469, down from $2,295
- A leather bomber jacket will be priced at $1,499, compared with $2,296.

“The idea is to peel off the superfluous because there are too many clothes, too many seasons, too much advertising — too much of everything that is tacked onto the final price. We want to go back to how things were 20 years ago. It’s about drawing the line.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Woolies is back

After their disappearance from our high streets 6months ago, Woolworths have made a welcome return with their online store. The company has spent the last half-year finding out what customers really loved about the Woolies brand to optimise sales on their website. The feedback suggested they should focus on children's wear, toys and party gear, and that's exactly what Woolworths are doing. As well as their all-important pick'n'mix selection which can be delivered to your home. (I was so tempted to order my favourites.)
Christmas will tell if there is still a future for the 100 year old brand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hard times for Abercrombie & Fitch

Today it was in the headlines that Abercrombie & Fitch is being sued by a former employee for disability discrimination. 

22 year old law student Riam Dean is seeking up to £20,000 in damages claiming she felt "diminished" and "humiliated" by an incident which took place at the exclusive Saville Row store in London. Riam - who has a prosthetic arm - claims she was made to work in the stockroom as she was told she couldn't wear her cardigan on the shop floor as it didn’t fit with the company’s famous “look policy”.

I know that a lot of fashion retailers are quite pernickety about their dress code and knowing what the typical staff look like in Abercrombie & Fitch (they keep scantily clad models at store entrances), I can't help but think the American brand was in fact aiming to treat all their staff the same in this case... but I'll let the judge decide.

This news comes after the brand recently announced it is closing its Ruehl business saying the economic climate has hampered potential success of the upmarket brand. Ruehl was launched in 2004 as a more high-end sister to its Abercrombie & Fitch fascia.

Chief executive and Chairman Mike Jeffries said: 

“we believe it is in the best interests of the company to focus its efforts and resources on the growth opportunities afforded by our other brands, particularly internationally.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Primark signs up to supplier code.

Primark - who have been heavily criticised for their unethical manufacturing practices in the past - has adopted a government initiative Prompt Payment Code, which aims to stop bigger retailers holding back payments to improve their own cash flow at the expense of smaller suppliers.
If retailers who have signed up to the initiative fail to pay their suppliers within an agreed time frame then they would risk being struck off the register. John Lewis, Tesco and Asda are also believed to have signed up to the scheme but other big high street names are also set to follow.

Now more than ever, retailers and suppliers need to work together and be transparent.

Kate & Phil

Monday, June 22, 2009

So many men, so little time.

Backstage at the Versace Menswear Spring '10 collection. I love this image. Donatella Versace is surrounded by some of the world's most famous and gorgeous male models. Lucky lady. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Textile Trends for Fall '09

(More trends from Stylesight.)

It is no surprise that knitwear was strongly featured in the Fall '09 collections. Knitwear has really come unto its own over the past couple of years with new techniques and forms being adopted. The knit evolution sees the upcoming season mainly featuring extremely shaggy knits in heavy layers and earth tones. 
I'm happy lace reared its head again. Traditional techniques have been used but with playful detailing like the blue shoulder pads showing through in this Givenchy dress and the black piping at Louis Vuitton.
Taking inspiration from underwear and lingerie, sheer layering can be seen in cotton, silk and polyester chiffon. 
Tapestry and upholstery brought a touch of luxury to the catwalk. A rich, textural quality is added using traditional techniques like embossing and flocking. 
Leather! Leather, leather, leather. Moving on from the heavy presence of tight, leather trousers/leggings and biker jackets, leather comes onto its own next season taking the form of seperates and dresses. In each case, the leather was clearly soft and supple to the point where it could be used as an alternative to wool in garments.   
The fur debate. I have never agreed with the use of furs in fashion, but that's a whole other blog post. Fur could be seen in the majority of Fall '09 runway collections whether it was used as a slight detailing like at Dior; with other furs at Lanvin & Fendi, or colour treated which was massive at Michael Kors and Gucci. 

Artificial furs were also present and are likely to be huge on the high street come September so if, like me, you don't want to wear the real deal, don't worry there will be plenty of faux alternatives.  

Murray's homage to hero Fred Perry.

With Wimbledon starting tomorrow, Scot Andy Murray - ranked no.3 in the world - is paying homage to the centenary of Wimbledon winner Fred Perry by adorning the brand again. Perry was the last British male to win at Wimbledon, back in 1936, but many are hopeful that Murray will be the next British champion. 
The outfit is unashamedly retro, with a monogrammed cable knit jumper, (very short) shorts, aertex collared shirt and bag all bearing the Fred Perry laurel wreath logo and Murray's initials. I think the appeal of Wimbledon is definitely its tradition and values so I find the vintage tennis look completely appropriate. 

New "shocking" CK ads.

After Eva Mendes's first Calvin Klein advertisement was banned from TV for being too raunchy, it looks like the brand is trying to push things as far as they can.

Eva is covered in body oil as she frolics with Irish model Jamie Dornan, in the risqué new ad for CK underwear.

The latest advertising campaign is yet more proof that fashion houses are pushing boundaries to extremes in order to gain publicity for their products.

AA's Factory Flea Market

American Apparel apparently make 1 million garments a week in their LA factory. So unsurprisingly, they end up with a whole load of "factory rejects". Rather than throw them out, the company has started having annual (cheap) sales of these rejects in their factory headquarter car park. The hype for these events has become pretty unbelievable and thousands queue for hours for the chance to rummage for a AA bargain.

Under Channel 4's Umbrella.

Channel 4 recently unveiled a new public art commission outside its London headquarters. Artist Stephanie Imbeau - winner of Channel 4's BIG4 public art competition - decided to give discarded umbrellas a second chance to shine. (Reminds me of Tim Walker's lit '50s prom dresses.)

Chanel Cakes!

Discovered these lovely Chanel styled cupcakes via du jour and was prompted to look for more. I don't think I would be able to bring myself to eat these works of art... oh who am I kidding!
Hérmes & Chanel handbags:
Amazing Chanel shopping bag cake:
A Coco Chanel inspired wedding cake!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Colour trends for Fall '09: Part II

Of course the pop coloured brights of the '80s still have such a presence all over the catwalk. As with the blocking of the last couple of seasons, the same has been done again but this time round they have been partnered up with grounding neutrals such as black, navy and creams. If you're scared to go all out, small detailing will work just as well. It will be Fall after all.
A mixture of crimsons, coral, scarlet etc are always great for brightening up your Autumn/Winter wardrobe. Also noticeable is the emphasis Muiccia Prada has placed on the over-sized boyfriend cardigan (here even coming through the shorts). No need to get rid of last year's.
Shades of emerald and jade were seen all over the Fall runway collections. Love the Stella McCartney dress on the left. Chanel (far right) were key in pushing this look with even their accessories. I also saw that they have brought out a similar shade of nail varnish to match.
Organic Erosion is all about texture and earthy elements. Pure golds and silvers have been replaced by bronzes and more aged golds, which appear to have been left to oxidise or be chemically treated. 
Layering  and mixing is key with these darker, again earthy dark tones. Like the greys and the cosmetics, there is still a warmth to the moss green and maroon colours used and again partnered with furs.

Colour trends for Fall '09: Part I

I can't claim credit. I have collected some of the key colour palettes taken from RTW collections from Stylesight. So here they are in all their glory:

Monochrome geometric patterns continue to be big but are more exaggerated and over-scaled than before with harsh contrasts.
There was a luxe survival feel to a lot of the collections; a return to a nomadic look with layers of furs and skins thrown together in different layers in earth tones.
Mixing of different grey tones top-to-toe was key but without the cold minimalist feel from the '90s. 
Usually no-go colours were placed together in unexpected ways. This was most evident with the navy & black combinations. Not only that, but the textiles were often entirely different in surface texture and created a new aesthetic.
Continuing on from the apricots, pinks and blush colours of Spring/Summer, the cosmetics are a more exciting way of looking at neutral colour palettes. The greys and brown tones add richness for Fall.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

H&M meets Jimmy Choo.

Swedish high street brand H&M have recently announced some exciting news. Adding to their list of high-profile, limited edition collaborations (think Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor & Rolf, Stella McCartney...), the latest collection out in November will be designed by luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo!

But the collection will not only include accessories. There will also be a complimentary women's clothing collection as well as a men's accessory collection.
H&M Creative Advisor Margareta van den Bosch stated:

"[Jimmy Choo's shoes and bags] are glamorous and sexy, and add instant style to the simplest of outfits. I like the way we have worked with clothes to accessorise the shoes and bags rather than the other way around. It's an honour to be able to offer top end designer shoes and bags of excellent quality to our customers."

The Uniform Project.

I am in love... with an idea. The brainchild of Sheena Matheiken, who was schooled in India and always found inventive little ways of tweaking it to look more individual. Sheena is going to wear the same dress designed by her friend for an entire year (don't worry about hygiene, she has 7)! Every day she will personalize it with accessories to create an entirely different look and upload the new look to her website
The purpose of the uniform project is to raise money over the year for the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement which is helping fund uniform and educational expenses for slum children in India. Sheena is looking for donations in accessories and sponsorship. $360 = one child's education in India. 

Some of her outfits are gorgeous and the idea is truly inspirational. Good luck Sheena!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Evolution of Beauty

This Dove commercial was apparently quite famous at the time but I don't remember seeing it. Here they take us from model to billboard, shockingly revealing the hair & make-up that is done and the photoshop skills used. Quite unbelievable. (The gorgeous tune is by The Flashbulb).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The mini jumpsuit.

So yet again, jumpsuits are a non-mover for the summer. 
I found this selection of "rompers" at anewmode and thought I would show off mine which I got from the first Kate Moss for Topshop collection 2 years ago now. I also had a denim one but it has went walkabout. 

Burberry behind-the-scenes.

Update from previous post on Emma Watson's photoshoot for the new Burberry campaign. (Appropriate that the soundtrack is Razorlight since Watson has been linked to Johnny Borrell.)

Brave Blair.

Not to turn this into a celebrity gossip magazine with "circles of shame", but what the hell is Leighton Meester wearing at the 'Model as Muse' Costume Institute Gala (see previous post)?? The Gossip Girl is usually immaculately dressed.
Louis Vuitton clad is all very well and good but there is such a thing as overkill. The contrasting prints, statement shoes and big shoulders are all very big trends for this season on their own but together and partnered with bold make-up & hair... boy oh boy. 

The American Dream.

An amazing insight into the American Apparel ethics: how their clothes are made in L.A. and how controversial CEO Dov Charney started the fastest growing apparel company in American history.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We still want luxury.

According to the Fashion Industry’s Key Executives… consumers are spending on “escapist items” instead of ‘boring basics."

“Right now we are championing escapist discreet clothes - ie cashmere loungewear.  Our customers still have film premieres, first dates, cocktail parties and holidays to attend. And because we are a fashion company above all, we celebrate new fashion trends, educate our consumer on why they are exciting, and then offer them to her on a silver tray.” 

Natalie Massenet CEO Net-a-Porter

In fact, the online retailer Net-A-Porter has seen profits increase by 234% from £3million to £10.1million in the past year. The company attributed the dramatic increase to “a well-edited product offering and a strategic approach to buying” as well as the continuation of special projects with designers including Alexander McQueen. Customer growth also significantly increased with an average of 6,500 new customers visiting each month of 2008

According to a recent report by Bain & Company, consumers still want luxury.  They still want to feel they have a special item and escapism is playing a significant role - people don't want to think about the economic climate 24/7.  

“There is a general sense that people will buy fewer items of better quality for the foreseeable future. Customers will demand uniqueness and good value, which is not to say inexpensive” 

Alex Bolen CEO Oscar de la Renta.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Picture Me

"We might need to see you without your bra, he told me. I was 14. I didn't even have breasts yet."

Sara Ziff was earning money as a teen model that most people can only dream of. But there was a price to pay. I have to admit I am dying to see this documentary Sara has made depicting a more realistic (and long-overdue) version of life as a model. Just yesterday, I was encouraging 2 friends to send in images of themselves to American Apparel where they scout for "real people" to model their campaigns... 

Street Art.

Saw this on the Nylon blog. A visual artist has altered lots of bus stop advertisements in California. Sean Woolsey has painted over existing advertisements in "an ongoing experimental campaigne to raise cognitive awareness and more importantly to inspire benevolent action that we often forget, oversee,  or might be in opposition to our often hedonistic culture."

Hermione's all grown up!

So Burberry has signed actress Emma Watson to be the face of their AW'09/'10 campaign. I can't help but think, it's about time!

Burberry picked the British actress to “reinforce the brand’s rich heritage” with the campaign being photographed by Mario Testino near the new Burberry HQ in London. Burberry have also made the decision to return to London Fashion Week instead of Milan. 

The Creative Director of Burberry, Christopher Bailey, said: 

“I wanted the images to represent both the rich history and the modernity of the Burberry brand whilst at the same time reflecting a quiet beauty, timelessness and strength that is particularly significant today... [Emma] was the obvious choice for this campaign who like the images she fronts, has a classic beauty a great character and a modern edge.”

I have been expecting this for a while and it makes sense that it is Burberry, after last October's shoot with Christopher Bailey and that famous feather dress. I am so jealous she got to wear that. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm Running Sainsbury's.

I just watched 'I'm Running Sainsbury's' on 4oD. I was pleasantly surprised at the insight that was given to the running of Britain's oldest supermarket store, which takes £30,000/min over 800 stores nationwide. 
The first episode focuses on 21 year old store trainer Becky's idea, which in theory would save the customer a lot of time in store. Her idea came from the "Feed your family for a FIVER" campaign (made famous by Jamie Oliver). Becky noticed that although customers were informed of the ingredients needed for each meal, the products were spaced out all over the supermarket floor. What if there was a pre-packed bag containing all the items needed? Sounds obvious doesn't it? 
Becky pitched the idea to directors (including CE Justin King - see my post on hearing him speak at the Retail Week Conference) at Sainsbury's "Store Support Centre" (i.e. HQ). They decided to do a week test trial in stores of one of Becky's recipes. The product looked great and the idea seemed a perfect solution! But unfortunately it didn't makes sales targets so the idea wasn't taken forward. I think possibly because it is asking supermarket shoppers to shop in an entirely different way from what they are used to.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Supermarket Sweep

An article on the channel 4 website, describes both the overt and covert signals to customers, designed into the layouts of supermarkets. 

"It’s no coincidence that the sweets are right by the till in supermarkets, nor that the one thing you really came for is at the far corner, past the pet food you don’t need."

Supermarkets interiors are designed to control our movement around the stores. I know that this is something we must take into consideration in my work with fixture placements, key items being in the best sightlines and visual displays reflecting and enticing the customer to the stock. 


The fashion retail industry has went celebrity daft! I'm not even going to go into details... Here are some of the more recent partnerships I can think of off hand:

(the latest rumour) Amy Winehouse for PPQ.
Beth Ditto for Evans.
Barbara Hulanicki (of Biba fame) for Topshop.
Yasmin le Bon for Wallis.
Miley Cyrus & Max Azria for Walmart.
Henry Holland for Topman.
Taylor Swift for Walmart.

I'm sure there will be a lot more in the pipe-line.

The Beth Ditto Doll.

So the Beth Ditto for Evans collection launches in July following months of consultations to create a commercial collection reflecting her personal style. It signals a brave new step in a younger direction for the plus-size brand.
But Beth couldn't make it along for the recent Autumn Winter Arcadia Press Day. Instead, Evans teased visitors by showcasing a replica doll of Beth and promotional postcards wearing 2 garments from the up and coming collection.

Apparently Beth's team decided to commission specialist doll-makers to create a one-off babydoll of her. Arcadia say that the detailing of the hand-crafted doll is indicative of the amount of passion and care that the Gossip's lead singer has put into her first clothing range. 
This range is said to be very vintage and 80's pop culture inspired (check out the sequined slouch dress), particularly drawing from Ska and Two Tone.