The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

Celebrity, Proprietary Brands Squeeze Independent Labels

How can the little guy compete against Madonna? As retailers seek to add more celebrity and proprietary brands, there’s no end in sight to exclusive pairings.  And it’s getting a lot tougher for other labels to compete. Brand exclusives and private label are increasing their share of big-store real estate, commandeering dedicated advertising and promotional support, not to mention buying dollars. Mary Gleason, president and chief executive officer of Schottenstein Luxury Group, whose brands include Judith Leiber, called the movement to proprietary brands “a game changer.” She noted that if a store has two brands that are similar, and one is an exclusive, “that’s even more reason to leave one out.” Stores such as Macy’s, Penney’s and Kohl’s “are big enough to make the commitments to those brands worthwhile. To get a Sean John or Tommy Hilfiger at Macy’s, or a Liz Claiborne at Penney’s, they’re not going to Dillard’s to make those deals. Those are huge commitments,” she said. “It raises the bar on what you can bring to a retailer. Five, 10 years ago, you could go to Penney’s and Kohl’s with a B-level brand. You can’t go with a B-level brand anymore.” She contended that “A” brands don’t have to worry about being squeezed out. “Where the challenge lies is with the ‘B’ and ‘C’ brands. Brands which have made-up names and are not marketed, or don’t connect with the consumer,” will have problems. “Why should a retailer build a no-name brand for a manufacturer when the store can build up its own brand?” “It’s made the open-to-buy [for non-exclusive brands] that much smaller from the retailers’ point of view,” said Andrew Jassin, managing director of Jassin Consulting. “With department stores narrowing the number of vendors they carry, those without an exclusive will have a much harder time competing. The stores have been reasonably selective. Certain exclusive brands will get all the promotional and advertising dollars behind it and, without that, it doesn’t create any buzz.” read more

Industry Touts Fashion's Night Out

If there was any real news from the press conference to unveil this year’s Fashion’s Night Out at City Hall on Wednesday, it was that, unlike its European peers, the American fashion industry does not go on break in August. Standing behind the podium where Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off a series of speeches, the group of designers and industry executives included Tory Burch, Tommy Hilfiger, Francisco Costa, Donna Karan, Tracy Reese, Kenneth Cole, Zac Posen, Terry Lundgren, Carolina Herrera, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Vera Wang, Mary-Kate Olsen and Prabal Gurung (whom the mayor repeatedly referred to as “Prooble”). Sitting in the audience were Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim and a few others, and they listened to the mayor offer some anecdotes about the launch event last year and outline details of the Sept. 10 event. “Our administration is committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure this industry continues to thrive,” the mayor said. “This September, [New York Fashion Week] will for the first time be at its new home at Lincoln Center,” he added. “We think this new location will give fashion week the space to grow and flourish, and cement its reputation as a premier global event. We want to make sure the entire city reaps the benefits, and that’s why last year we started Fashion’s Night Out.” And the City of New York, Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Company are hoping to make it even bigger this year. So far, almost 1,000 stores have signed up to participate in Fashion’s Night Out and, once again, they have committed to keeping their doors open until 11 p.m. For the first time, the event will feature Fashion’s Night Out: The Show, the city’s largest-ever public fashion show scheduled on Sept. 7 at Lincoln Center, with tickets starting at $25 going on sale on Aug. 19 at the Lincoln Center box office and proceeds benefitting the NYC AIDS Fund. According to the mayor, will live-stream the runway show. The network will also present an hour-long prime-time special on Sept. 14 about the making of the event. read more

Gleek chic: U.S. store launches fashion line inspired by Glee

You've seen the show and memorised the one-liners. Now Glee fans can take their obsession a step further with a fashion line inspired by the hit television show. Among the garments on offer will be 'Cheerio' uniforms for aspiring Quinn Fabrays, and preppy miniskirts in the style of goody-two-shoes Rachel Berry. There will even be tracksuits inspired by the show's antihero Sue Sylvester. The line, which launches on Sunday, is keenly priced, with T-shirts from around £15. But though it will be stocked in over 600 stores, it's exclusive to U.S. department store Macy's - so unfortunately won't be on sale on our side of the Atlantic. Macy's and the Fox television network are anticipating a huge response from the show's fans, who call themselves 'Gleeks', and have invested in an extensive marketing campaign. 'Glee fans just don't watch the show, they live it,' said Robert Marick, of Fox Consumer Products. 'This retail launch will provide fans a very personal way to extend the experience and express their own Glee personality. 'Macy's has treated this launch as the kind of event that is a true homage to the show,' he added. Glee was an international hit when it launched earlier this year, and recently received 19 Emmy nominations. It has made huge stars of its cast, which includes Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, Lea Michele as Rachel Berry and Matthew Morrison as Will Schuster. The second season is due to air in the UK later this year. read more

Chinese spending power underestimated, study says

Chinese households have far more money than previously thought, according to recent research, which says casino operators, property companies and even European luxury goods makers could be about to benefit from the rise of these deep-pocketed consumers. The research -- conducted by China Reform Commission professor Wang Xiaolu and commissioned by Credit Suisse -- found official estimates of household income were well wide of the mark. On average, mainland China's urban household income was 32,150 yuan ($4,746), or 90% above the 16,880 yuan indicated by official data, according to the study which assessed spending and income patterns in China in 2008. The study found that the "hidden" household disposable income could be as high as 9.3 trillion yuan in 2008, equivalent to about 30% of China's gross domestic product. Most of this wealth -- 63%, according to the survey -- is concentrated in the top 10% of Chinese households. That means the top bracket is about 3.2 times richer than official estimates suggest. The report also said the government's flow of funds data don't accurately track the income of top households because much of it are the results of "illegal or quasi-legal" activities. Wang reports "grey" disposable income -- the shortfall in the figures revealed in the economic census and what households really received -- at 5.4 trillion yuan in 2008. Credit Suisse said the finding helps explain China's growing wealth gap and could help explain "the rationale of the Chinese government's recent strong push for faster wage growth and a more equitable income-distribution pattern. Credit Suisse said investors may be setting their sights too low when it comes to gauging the impact of this vast pool of wealth. read more