"Forever 21 Inc. is set to open a massive new store in New York's Times Square on Friday, the latest and most aggressive step in the low-priced fashion retailer's plan to expand from a clothing boutique into a department store. The privately held, Los Angeles-based company is expanding aggressively at a time when most retailers are holding back or downsizing, a move enabled in large part by the recession. Forever 21 snapped up real estate vacated by brands such as the now-bankrupt Mervyns LLC chain that were forced to downsize or close because of dwindling sales. Teens continue to swarm Forever 21's piles of inexpensive, high-fashion-imitating party dresses and tank tops. But moving into cavernous spaces, like the 90,000-square-foot spot near 46th and Broadway, is forcing the chain into new categories like menswear, children's clothing and beauty, where its hold on consumers is less certain." read more
"Hennes & Mauritz AB, the world’s third-largest fashion retailer, said net profits rose 24 percent in the second quarter, but sales of its spring garments were disappointing due to unusually cold weather in most of its markets. Net profits in the three months ended May 31 amounted to 5.21 billion kronor, or $710 million, on sales of 31.6 billion kronor, or $4.3 billion. Same-store sales were down by 1 percent in the quarter. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the period. Like-for-like sales fell 4 percent in May compared with the same month last year, with the retailer reporting that unspecified calendar effects had a negative impact of 3 to 4 percentage units in the month. Including new stores, sales grew 6 percent in May and 22 percent during the period of June 1-22, it added. The Swedish high-street giant said weaker-than-expected spring sales had left it with 2 percent more stock than last year. “This could lead to a higher price reduction level in the third quarter compared to the corresponding quarter last year,” it said. Gross margin — a key measure of profitability — rose to 65.9 percent in the second quarter from 61 percent a year earlier, boosted by a weaker dollar during the purchasing period for garments sold in the quarter. “Other factors, such as greater surplus capacity at suppliers, lower transportation costs, favorable raw material prices and efficiencies in the buying process also impacted the gross margin positively in the second quarter 2010,” it said. H&M announced it would enter Croatia and Romania in 2011 with store openings in Zagreb and Bucharest in the spring. Also next year, Morocco will become a new franchise market with a store opening in Casablanca in the fall. The company said it had postponed the planned opening of a COS store in Hong Kong from fall 2010 to sometime next year."
"China is beckoning mainstream U.S. retailers as never before. With the country’s middle class growing fast — projected by Euromonitor to total 700 million people in 2020 — companies such as Gap Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Bebe Stores Inc. are making their first forays into China. Others, including Guess Inc., Iconix Brand Group Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co., are enlarging their footprints. The activity comes as China has decided to let its currency appreciate gradually against a basket of currencies, including the dollar, which could — along with rising wages for Chinese workers — boost the purchasing power of its consumers and make the world’s most populous nation an even more enticing market. The push by retail and apparel firms in China, preceded by the expansion of luxury brands, has accelerated as they seek to diversify geographically because the international economic crisis exposed the vulnerability of developed markets while China’s economy grew 8.7 percent last year."
(Independent)Madonna's Fashion Line to Hit Macy's in August
"Macy's has released the first images of popstar Madonna and her daughter Lourdes's first fashion range for the US department store, called Material Girl - due out for back-to-school season in August. Judging from the sketches, there will mainly be 1980s-inspired clothes (complete with a range of fingerless gloves), including flowery bustier dresses, star prints, and 'jeggings.' According to the press release, the new line relies on mixing unexpected items, "like a tutu dress and studded-combat boots, or an oversized boyfriend sweatshirt with a floral print mini skirt." Even though the fashion world is starting to get fed up with celebrity fashion lines, this collection is highly anticipated not just because of Madonna's star power, but also because of her successful design debut for Swedsih retailer H&M a few years back. All items, expected to cost under $40, will hit Macy's stores and its website on August 3." read more
"Cynthia Ruiz, the president of the city’s Department of Public Works—and also known as the mayor’s fashion ambassador—confirmed that the mayor’s Office of Economics & Business Policy, under the jurisdiction of Deputy Mayor Austin Buetner, has started to plan Los Angeles’ participation in the night-long shopping extravaganza. The U.S. edition of Fashion’s Night Out was created last year through a partnership between Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and N.Y.C. & Co. (New York City’s tourism site) as a global initiative to celebrate fashion and boost consumer confidence, shopping and the local economy. The F.N.O./L.A. committee will soon reveal how the city of Los Angeles is planning on translating this much-awaited night into sales, events and an opportunity for local designers to be showcased. “I love the idea of L.A.’s FNO having some of the elements that the Downtown L.A. Art Walk has been able to implement—a little something for everybody,” Commissioner Ruiz said. Last year during the inaugural launch of F.N.O. in New York, Los Angeles held a few in-store shopping events around town. Now, after the efforts of many, L.A. will officially join the lineup of Fashion’s Night Out cities, alongside New York and several other fashion capitals around the world."