"Casual dressing infused with a seaside flair and a bohemian attitude is the unifying message for the spring collections being shown at New York market week. The must-haves are pleated shorter shorts, oversize summer knits and airy trenches. Vendors are favoring creams and beiges in linen and cotton blends for an overall fun and relaxed season."
(the washington post)French burqa ban, Iranian mullets: Faith and the fashion police
"The Washington Post's Edward Cody reported Tuesday that the French parliament's lower house voted 335-1 to ban its female citizens from wearing the burqa or similar Islamic facial veils. The legislation imposes a $185 fine or compulsory 'citizen lessons' to any woman found violating the measure, which awaits final vote in the Senate. Do the citizen lessons include tips on how to wear the beret, instead? The legislation's advocates say that the full facial coverings undermine French values and oppress women. But in previous protests over the legislation, veiled French women have chanted the mantra "Where is France? Where is tolerance? The veil is my choice."
In another faith and fashion moment, last week the Iranian government announced a ban on 'decadent' Western haircuts in order to "confront the cultural assault by the West." On the Iranian chopping block?: The very anti-authoritarian American mullet as well as the manlytail -otherwise known as the male ponytail. Who knew David Beckham, Andre Aggasi and Chuck Norris were so subversive? Gawker called the mullet ban "a move of government oppression we can sort of get behind" and bloggers had a field day. But France and Iran's clash with 'the other' in their midsts is profoundly serious. France struggles to understand and assimilate its Muslim population (5 million strong), while Iran's religious regime lurches for control over its progressive populace. Both states want to legislate what not to wear, despite the desires of their citizens. In the French example, the government seeks to keep the sacred out of the secular; in Iran, the religious government wants to keep the secular West out of its Islamic state. Should France and Iran tell their citizens how to dress? What does such legislation say about French and Iranian values? Are the policies oppressive or true to the ideals of the states? What do the fashion police say? read more
Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB Thursday reported a 9% rise in same-store sales in June after its sales a year earlier were weighed by slow consumer spending in the economic downturn. H&M, the world's third-largest fashion chain after U.S.-based Gap Inc. and Spain's Inditex S.A., slightly underperformed expectations for an 11% rise in stores open longer than one year. The company's total sales, including sales in new stores, were up 20% in June, just below forecasts of a 21% rise. A strong sales increase had been expected after H&M in its second-quarter report last month said its total sales from June 1 to June 22 were up 22% compared with the same period a year earlier. Thursday's sales report comes after H&M's rival Gap last week said its same-store sales in June were largely flat compared with a year earlier. H&M said its total number of stores world-wide increased 13% to 2,062 in June from 1,827 a year earlier. The company, which is expanding rapidly in markets world-wide, last month said it expects to open 180 new stores in the second half of 2010 in countries including Germany, the U.S. and China. read more
Men’s retailers are looking over their shoulders — and hope that ill winds aren’t gaining on them. On the eve of New York market week, men’s merchants said business is stable, but far from spectacular. Sales have picked up from the depths of the recession last year, although customers — including luxury shoppers — are still holding back and looking for value, forcing retailers to adjust their buying strategies and tightly edit assortments. The slow and difficult climb out of the economic downturn is shadowed — and sometimes overshadowed — by concerns about growth, deflation, falling consumer confidence, persistent high unemployment, government budget shortfalls, an uneven stock market and other factors. “Maybe we should have done this when business was good,” said Dan Farrington, general merchandise manager of the Mitchells Family of Stores. Men’s specialty stores will be in New York this week to attend trade shows — Agenda, Capsule, ENK New York and MRket — and shop showrooms. Lightweight sport coats, slim-fit suits and sport shirts to coordinate with denim are at the top of shopping lists. “Things are certainly better,” said Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans, a New York City-based specialty store. “The fear factor is gone, but we’re not racing to the bank with all the money we’re making.” David Rubenstein, owner of Rubensteins in New Orleans, was apprehensive. “I’m kind of concerned, I really don’t know how to project business,” he said. Although his inventories are in good shape — even light in some areas — Rubenstein foresees fall getting off to a late start. Business for spring and summer has been good, however, and he expects to post a high-single-digit increase. Top sellers include seersucker, cotton-linen pants, unconstructed lightweight jackets and hybrid sport dress shirts. Sport coats are still solid and clothing sales are steady, he said. read more
Tommy Hilfiger is out to woo the twentysomething customer with a new men’s and women’s lifestyle collection that has its own retail footprint. Meet Tommy, the brand’s effort to lure customers from American Apparel, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters. The line will target an audience with a median age of 25 and veer away from the preppy looks that are the mainstay of Hilfiger’s collection sold exclusively at Macy’s. Tommy aims to focus on handmade details, distinctive materials and unexpected pairings for unique looks. For example, a washed, tailored jacket could be mixed with vintage-inspired long johns and hand-painted brogues, or a men’s wear shirt coupled with a slouchy boy-fit sweatshirt and destroyed denim and cropped motorcycle boots shown with a feminine clutch. “Tommy gives us more flexibility and freedom to do something truly conceptual,” said company founder and principal designer Tommy Hilfiger. Tommy is “absolutely a reaction” to the ubiquity of specialty store environments, said Gary Sheinbaum, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger USA. “The way we’re going to merchandise Tommy will be distinctive and different, not so formulaic. It will be more of a fun, dynamic experience. The product itself, we feel, is going to be a fresh take on the preppy traffic, done in a fresh, young, cool way. When we look around, we don’t see anyone doing anything like this.” Knits will sell for $24 to $59, and denim, $79 to $129. Outerwear will start at $129 for men and $139 for women. read more