The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

(wwd)Indian Cotton Harvest May Benefit Manufacturers

India, the world’s second-biggest exporter of raw cotton after China, is positioned to produce a healthy harvest this year that could help lower world prices and lift global garment manufacturers. During July, the wettest month in India’s June-to-September monsoon season, farmers planted 9.5 million hectares of cotton, up from 8 million last year. Cotton farmers have been encouraged to plant bigger crops to cash in on higher prices amid concerns over global cotton shortages. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has warned that demand this year may outstrip supply. World cotton production is forecast to increase to 113.9 million bales in 2010-11, an 11 percent increase from 102.9 million bales in 2009-10, the USDA said. However, world consumption may rise to 119.1 million bales next season from an estimated 115.9 million. A strong monsoon season, which followed last year’s drought-like weather conditions across much of India, bodes well for the cotton crop, experts said. India’s repeal of curbs on raw cotton exports also has given a boost to cotton farmers. In April, India imposed a ban on cotton exports in an effort to cool down domestic prices that had risen more than 25 percent since October. It partly lifted the ban a month later and, starting Oct. 1, will remove all limits on cotton exports. While that’s good news for Indian cotton farmers and global textile manufacturers, especially in textile-dependent countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, Indian garment manufacturers are unhappy the ban has been lifted. As prices rise and cotton stocks fall, their margins could suffer.  “The government should put a total, permanent ban on cotton exports,” said Rajesh Goyal, owner of Ankit International, a garment factory in the north Indian city of Jaipur that exports to the U.S. and Europe.  Goyal said it was important for the government to support India’s textiles industry, which employs 35 million people directly and 88 million indirectly. Rita Menon, secretary at the textiles ministry, said the Indian government was developing a policy to govern cotton exports. It would determine how much cotton was needed by the domestic textiles industry and how much Indian cotton farmers would produce before deciding whether export limits were necessary, she said. read more

(reuters)Chelsea Clinton Marries in 'Royal Wedding'

Chelsea Clinton -- the only child of the former U.S. president and the U.S. secretary of state -- wed Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday at Astor Courts, an historic 50-acre (20-hectare) estate about 100 miles north of New York City. "Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends," Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a statement. "We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family," the statement said. Photos showed the bride and groom walking down a broad outdoor aisle between rows of guests. Chelsea wore a strapless white gown with a fitted bodice and full skirt with platinum-colored beading at the waist and a long white veil. The groom wore a simple black tuxedo going down the aisle and in a photo with the Clinton family, and a white prayer shawl and yarmulke in separate photos with Chelsea under a flowering tree and amid wedding guests. In the one photo in which she appeared, Hillary Clinton wore a magenta gown. Bill Clinton, who is pictured walking Chelsea down the aisle, wore a simple black tux with a white boutonniere in his lapel.


Apart from the parents of the bride, the only other high profile guests seen in Rhinebeck were Bill Clinton's former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen and fashion designer Vera Wang. Also spotted was real estate scion and movie producer billionaire Steve Bing. Chelsea Clinton, 30, and Mezvinsky, 32, have known each other since they were teenagers. He is an investment banker, whose parents Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky and Edward Mezvinsky were once Democratic U.S. House of Representatives members. Chelsea Clinton, who worked at a New York hedge fund and has more recently studied health policy at Columbia University, has kept a low profile since her father left the White House in January 2001, although she campaigned for her mother during her failed run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Signs and pictures congratulating the newlyweds hang in many shop windows in Rhinebeck, which has been swarmed by media around the world for an event that experts estimate to have cost between $3 million and $5 million. Airspace above Rhinebeck was closed for 12 hours on Saturday for the wedding and media were kept well away from the entrance to Astor Courts. Security in the area was comparable to that surrounding state visits.The guest list was reported to be between 400 and 500, but did not include President Barack Obama. "Hillary and Bill properly want to keep this as a thing for Chelsea and her soon-to-be husband," Obama said on "The View" talk show Thursday. "It would be tough enough to have one president at a wedding. You don't want two presidents." read more

(wired)Why Do We Care About Luxury Brands?

The pricing of fakes reveals something important about how the human mind calculates value. In many instances, we crave authenticity as an end unto itself. We want the real iPhone not because it works better but because it’s the real one. The same logic explains why we splurge on Hermes bags, Rolex watches, Prada T-shirts, fancy Bordeaux, and expensive art. (How much would you pay for a fake Picasso print?) While a Rolex is a lovely piece of time keeping machinery, the value of the watch has nothing to do with its function. Instead, it depends on the intact authenticity of the brand. It’s easy to ridicule this behavior as mere snobbery. We might look down on the pretentious fools carrying Louis Vuitton luggage, or bragging about their Vertu phone, or wearing underwear with a big logo. We probably assume that they’ve just wasted a lot of money on some costly social signaling, or that they’re using the brands to assuage their deep insecurity. Unfortunately, we’re all vulnerable to the same tendency. There’s now suggestive evidence that our faith in the authentic — especially when the authenticity is supported by effective marketing campaigns — is a deep-seated human instinct, which emerges at an extremely early age. Consider a clever experiment led by the psychologists Bruce Hood and Paul Bloom. The scientists tested 43 children between the ages of three and six. The children were shown a “copying machine” — it was actually tachistoscopes that were modified to have flashing lights and buzzers — and told that it could make an exact copy of any object. After the machine was demonstrated for the kids — the scientists “copied” a block and a rubber animal — Hood and Bloom then told the kids that the machine could also duplicate toys. A ‘‘stretchy man’’ was then placed in the box and the illusion repeated. Interestingly, the young children actually preferred the “duplicate” toy and chose it 62 percent of the time. The kids didn’t worry about the “authenticity” of the stretchy man. But Hood and Bloom didn’t stop there. They also had many of the young kids bring in their “attachment objects,” such as their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. (I still remember losing Johnny, my stuffed penguin, at the tender age of five. Grief.) The scientists then offered to “copy” the object for the kids. Four of the children simply refused — they wouldn’t let their blankie anywhere near that nefarious device. But even those kids who allowed their attachment object to be “copied” almost always refused to see the objects as equivalent. The new duplicate was a bootleg blankie, an ersatz stuffed animal. Even though the children were assured that the objects were identical, they intuitively believed that the copy wasn’t the same. It lacked a history, a bond, a sentimental attachment. It was inauthentic. The same principle applies to brands. Although we outgrow stuffed animals, we never get beyond the irrational logic of authenticity and essentialism. There are certain things whose value depends largely on their legitimacy. While I might listen to bootleg music on my iPhone, I want the phone to be genuine. I want that Apple logo to be real. Why? Because the brand has effectively woven itself into my emotional brain. Because when I see that logo, I don’t see a functional object. Instead, I’ve learned to respond to everything that isn’t functional, all those subtle connotations conveyed in the glossy ads. There are many blankets in the world. But there is only one blankie. The best brands are blankies. read more

(wwd)Retail Stocks Climb Monday

Retail stocks began August by padding their 5 percent bounce in July, rising 2.1 percent on Monday amid signs the economic recovery, while not strong or swift, is being sustained. The S&P Retail Index advanced 8.15 points to 413.21 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 208.44 points, or 2 percent, to end the trading day at 10,674.38. The Dow’s advance came on top of a 7.1 percent rebound last month. Investors were reassured, if not necessarily elated, over several pieces of economic news Monday. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told a conference he expects a pickup in consumer spending in the “coming quarters from its recent modest pace.” The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index stood at 55.5 for July, down from 56.2 in June but still above the 50 mark indicative of production growth. Additionally, The Conference Board reported online job openings increased by 139,200 in July, above the recent monthly average of 43,000. Mid-Atlantic states have been “posting steady and strong upward trends throughout the year,” noted June Shelp, vice president of The Conference Board. Liz Claiborne Inc. logged the biggest advance of the 172 equities tracked by WWD, rising 7.2 percent to $5.08. Retailers leaping at least twice as fast as retail stocks in general included Abercrombie & Fitch Co., up 5.1 percent to $38.84; Nordstrom Inc., 4.4 percent to $35.51, and Macy’s Inc., 4.3 percent to $19.46. The Bon-Ton Stores continued its recent upward trajectory with a 4.7 percent pickup to $10.01, and Zale Corp. continued to gain following Golden Gate Capital’s recent expansion of its stake in the troubled jeweler to 34.5 percent, growing 5.1 percent to $1.85. The advance in U.S. equities followed strong days for stocks in Europe and Asia. The CAC 40 was up 3 percent to 3,752.03 in Paris and London’s FTSE 100 rose 2.7 percent to 5,397.11. Frankfurt’s DAX ended the trading day at 6,292.13, up 2.3 percent. While Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 managed just a 0.4 percent gain, to 9,570.31, Hong Kong’s Hang Sang Index logged a 1.8 percent advance, to 21,412.79, and Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index enjoyed a 1.3 percent increase, to 2,672.52. read more