"As quickly as they’re seized, more flood the market. Counterfeit products are benefiting from the economy’s woes as consumers still try to flaunt a well-known brand but are perhaps no longer able to afford the real thing, while the criminal element, including terrorists, seeks to generate ever more funds by moving into the counterfeiting business. The result is that, even as federal and local governments crack down harder on fake goods, the activity is increasing at a record rate. The flood of counterfeit goods into the U.S., mostly from China, costs legitimate businesses an estimated $250 billion a year in lost revenues and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 jobs annually, according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. In fiscal year 2009, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized $260.7 million of fake merchandise. Shoes are the most common counterfeit product, accounting for 38 percent of infringing goods seized, but handbags, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, perfumes, pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods continue to be knocked off at alarming rates, according to the most recent figures from Customs. In 2009, seizures netted $99.8 million of footwear, $21.5 million of handbags and wallets, $21.5 million of wearing apparel, $15.53 million of watches and $10.5 million of jewelry. Luxury brands’ counterfeit problems have escalated even as statistics from Customs & Border Protection reveal a slight decline in seizures. The value of goods seized in 2009 dropped 4 percent to $260.7 million from $272.7 million in 2008, and the number of seizures declined 1 percent to 14,841 in 2009." read more
"In the genteel world of luxury, companies long felt that the Web was no place for merchandising exclusive products. And there was a gentlemen’s agreement with department stores not to siphon sales by reaching out directly to wealthy customers. Then, in came the recession, and out went the niceties. Department stores slashed prices on $1,200 handbags, while luxury lines fretted about losing their exclusivity. Now, come September, marcjacobs.com is going retail, 10 years after most brands opened Web showrooms. “I was so annoyed last year that I wished no one had our merchandise,” said Robert Duffy, the president and vice chairman of Marc Jacobs. “All the department stores were panicked, and they were marking things down.” Other luxury brands — Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Vince, Lancôme, St. John, Theory, Kiehl’s, Lilly Pulitzer, Donna Karan and La Perla — have started or soon will start selling their products through their Web sites. If it infuriates department stores or brings in customers who might have earned a glare from haughty clerks, who cares, as long as people are buying at full price? “These brands are finally taking the plunge to establish an online retail presence,” said Jeffrey Max, chief executive of Venda, which handles technology for e-commerce sites. “The recession forced these manufacturers to realize they needed to look for revenue wherever they could.” Adding to the Web’s appeal, profits are much higher on clothes sold directly to consumers, since no middleman takes a cut. And the brands can control pricing and styling on their sites.Hugo Boss uses the same models from its ads so its marketing is consistent, for instance, while Lacoste “won’t have any discount pricing on the Web, never, never, ever,” said Eric Bascle, director of strategic projects and e-commerce. When companies started to sell items online in the 1990s, most luxury brands paid little attention. By the mid-2000s, a few high-end companies were selling their products directly, but most still didn’t bother. “The classic luxury brand Web site is basically a Flash site with lots of beautiful imagery, but no one ever goes to it,” said Aaron Shapiro, a partner at the Web design firm Huge. Brands whose boutiques have fresh flowers and fawning salespeople could not translate that to the Web. “Luxury brands were a little hesitant or reticent, because they were struggling with how to convey and create an experience that was rich,” said Mark Brashear, chairman and chief executive for the Americas at Hugo Boss, which introduced its e-commerce site in April. But by the time the luxury market slid last year, attitudes were changing. Technology was improving, so sites could add features like zoom, videos and live help. And with budgets for store openings frozen, a Web store was a relatively cheap way to expand a business." read more
"Billabong International Limited said Monday that it has reached a “conditional agreement” to buy California.-based skate and lifestyle brand RVCA for an undisclosed amount. “RVCA is not defined by any single sport or culture. It represents a community of culturally aware youth and is inspired by a diverse range of interests, each of which is underpinned by an original, highly creative design element,” Billabong International Limited chief executive officer Derek O’Neill said. “It is a brand that has developed a very strong presence in the United States, particularly in southern California, on the strength of its fashion-forward ranges in categories including art-driven t-shirts, denim, wovens, boardshorts and, more recently, its girls’ line,” the executive said. The acquisition includes the current management team, headed up by RVCA founder Pat Tenore, who established the brand in 2000."
Macy’s Inc. has its fashion guru. Molly Langenstein has been promoted to executive vice president of fashion and new business development, establishing the Macy’s veteran as the department store chain’s first national fashion director. “She’ll be in charge of the overall fashion direction for Macy’s,” said Jim Sluzewski, Macy’s corporate spokesman. It’s the one top national slot Macy’s hasn’t filled since it centralized into a national chain from four divisions last year and seven divisions two years ago, and reorganized the top management with new assignments and titles. Langenstein will work with the market on fashion direction and trends that translate into sales opportunities and will report to chief merchandising officer Jeff Gennette. Nicole Fischelis continues as fashion director for women’s and will report to Langenstein. Other fashion directors in men’s wear and home areas also will report to Langenstein. Langenstein also will be responsible for procuring lease business opportunities and overseeing the multicultural business development organization, which seeks to develop minority- and women-owned merchandise suppliers and identify merchandise for multicultural customers. Macy’s leased operations inside the stores include Sunglass Hut and Motherhood Maternity shops, but the company is seeking to add more leased shops to fill voids in the assortments. “We are always looking to fill any white space,” Sluzewski said. “It tends to be specialty businesses — niche categories that take a special expertise.” Previously, Langenstein was group vice president and divisional merchandise manager for neo sportswear [contemporary brands] and Impulse [young contemporary sportswear]. Moving up to Langenstein’s previous spot is Tim Baxter, who has been group vice president and dmm of fashion jewelry and watches. Langenstein joined Macy’s in January 1985 as a group manager for ready-to-wear in Boynton Beach, Fla., and steadily rose up the merchandising ranks."