Hitha Prabhakar

The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

(wwd)Target Takes Manhattan

Isabel and Rueben Toledo Towel for Target

Target expects its first Manhattan store at East River Plaza, which opens Sunday to conservatively do $60 million to $70 million in annual sales, but is hoping for a volume of $100 million to $115 million, according to sources. The 110,000-square-foot store marks a big step for the $63.5 billion Target after years of searching for a site in New York City. “East River Plaza provides for single-level layouts for the retailers,” said Peter Ripka, a partner in Ripco Real Estate and the project’s leasing agent. “It’s more akin to [Target’s] suburban operations and very familiar to their customers.” It may be difficult for Target to find single floor space in Manhattan for its next store. “[Target] has turned the spigot on again and is now actively looking in Manhattan,” said a source close to the company. “They’re considering some things along the West Side. It may depend on how the [Harlem] store comes out of the box. Target’s Atlantic Terminal store in Brooklyn was a huge success and is consistently one of the top-performing stores in the chain. A lot of customers are going there from lower Manhattan. You can bet Target is going to study where the Harlem store’s shoppers are coming from.” Target already knows that many of its future customers live in the neighborhood. The store appeals to those multiethnic residents with signage in English and Spanish and graphics featuring African-American, Hispanic and white models. “The East Harlem Target is unique to the area due to its urban setting,” said Trish Adams, senior vice president of Target. “The merchandise has been tailored based on shopping patterns and the demographics of the neighborhood. We’ll offer an edited assortment overall, with more space devoted to commodities, basics for the home and items for apartment dwellers such as storage solutions and air beds.” Target’s latest salvo in the price wars, announced Wednesday, is Back in Black Friday. The online event Friday is a play on promotions that usually occur on the day after Thanksgiving. For women, offers will include Zebra rain boots, $15, a 40 percent savings; Mossimo maxidresses, $21.99, buy one, get one free, and a Soap and Glory set for $7.99, a 47 percent savings. read more

(wwd)Luxe Spending Rises, but Apparel Lags

Luxury spending is on the rise, but apparel isn’t feeling the love.  The country’s richest consumers will drive luxury spending up between 6 and 8 percent this year, according to a survey of affluent Americans conducted by American Express Publishing Corp. and Harrison Group, but apparel is unlikely to benefit. Apparel spending by these consumers has recovered somewhat, but continues to slide, falling 5 percent in the first quarter and 4 percent in the second quarter. By comparison, apparel spending by this group slid 8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008 and 9 percent in the first quarter of last year.  Overall spending by the most affluent 10 percent of the U.S. population is expected to surge $56 billion this year versus 2009, and half that amount is expected to go toward the purchase of luxury products. Harrison Group vice chairman Jim Taylor told WWD at a Luxury Marketing Council presentation in New York Wednesday that apparel spending is generally discretionary and not a necessity. “It has become an event-driven business,” he said. “Still, I think it will be a pretty good Christmas.” The survey polled 1,910 respondents from households with incomes representing the top 10 percent of the American population. These consumers collectively account for 50 percent of all retail sales and 70 percent of all retail margins. This group also holds about 80 percent of all non-retirement account assets. read more

(wsj)Fashion Sites Try to Lure Guys


Online fashion shopping sites like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La have been a hit with women since launching over the last three years. A new push to get men to shop in these web boutiques is proving more difficult. As they struggle to figure out ways to reel in male shoppers, the sites are throwing all sorts of things at the wall to see what sticks, including offering sporting gear and gadgets (a high-end ax, anyone?) and making virtual men-only shopping areas so guys won't have to scroll through women's fashions. Gilt Groupe, a two-year-old site that holds limited-time only "flash" discount sales of designer merchandise, added sports gear such as golf clubs and surfboards last fall when it introduced a separate site for guys. Ideeli, a three-year-old flash-sales site, plans to add a men's section with clothing plus sporting goods, gadgets and packaged travel outings aimed at men. Meanwhile, high-end fashion retailer Net-A-Porter announced in June that it would launch Mr. Porter, a dedicated men's-only site, next January. Rue La La, which launched in 2008, plans to "quadruple" the amount of men's brands it carries this year, says CEO Ben Fischman. Though these sites are familiar to many women, they are hardly household names among men. Women make up 75% of Gilt's 2.5 million members, and the numbers are similar for its rivals: women represent 90% of HauteLook's 2.7 million members and 70% of the 1.8 million members at Rue La La. When BIGresearch asked a little more than 8,000 men to write down which sites they shopped for clothes most often, among the top 10 were AmazonWal-MarteBayMacy's and Lands' End. Gilt, HauteLook, and Rue La La weren't mentioned. And in general, men's online spending trails women's—$4.3 billion compared with $9.6 billion during the 12-month period that ended in April, according to market researcher NPD Group.

So why bother with guy shoppers? Because when it comes to the upper income consumers that these sites target, men may buy less than women, but they spend more. Affluent men, those with income levels in the top 20% of U.S. households, spent an average of $3,970 on Internet purchases during the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with $1,958 for women, according to Unity Marketing. read more

(guardian)Are the Guccis fashion's most quarrelsome family?

This week's amusing fashion news story brings bad tidings for Elisabetta Gucci, who is being sued by the Gucci Group for, essentially, being called Gucci. She is the great-grandaughter of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci, so it's not like she isn't one of those Guccis, plus she worked for the Gucci Group until 1995, but now she has had the temerity to plan a group of hotels which will be called Elisabetta Gucci Hotels. Shall we rearrange the words "freaks" and "control"? Has anyone ever used the word Gucci so many times in one paragraph before? Questions, questions. The Gucci Group told WWD "Gucci wants to make clear that it has no relationship to Elisabetta Gucci Hotels and that it is not involved in any project whatsoever with Elisabetta Gucci Hotels." FS is beginning to feel rather sorry for her now. Her managing director (of the hotels, we assume, not her personally) retorted that "Elisabetta Gucci is doing her job. She cannot cancel her name or her background. If she has a famous name or a famous background, that's not her fault and we are not trying to use it as much." FS finds itself rather intrigued by that last word. Simple misquote? Or Freudian slip? As much as what - or should we ask, whom? Elisabetta should probably consider herself lucky to be facing a mere lawsuit, for the Gucci family have a notorious history of feuds, fights and somewhat darker affairs. Paolo Gucci was once the chief designer at the company, and the man who created the famous double 'G' logo. But he kept up a long-running trademark battle with the company after they fired him over his management practices. His father Aldo tried to stop him, so Paolo shopped him for tax evasion, which led to a prison sentence. Oh, and Paolo was imprisoned himself for failling to pay child support. Later, one of Paolo's daughters and his ex-wife were also taken to court and banned from using the family name on the grounds that doing so "infringed and diluted" the Gucci trademark. All this, however, is positively friendly by Gucci standards. Back in 1998 Patrizia Reggiani was jailed for 26 years for arranging the murder of her estranged husband, Maurizio Gucci. When investigating the crime, Italian police found her diary, in which she had written ''There is no crime that money cannot buy" - and, on the day he was shot, the single word entry read "paradise". That, FS friends, is what's known as a bit of a clue. Ridley Scott is now rumoured to be making a film of this delightful episode. Who can he have in mind for the role of Patrizia, a woman who once claimed "I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle?" And surely Tom Ford - once Gucci creative director and now feted film maker - would be the perfect director? read more

The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

(babble)Maternity Fashion For Teens

Forever 21 sells affordable fashion to a mostly under-21 demographic. However, they have dabbled  Menswear, Children's wear and now... Maternity!? Perhaps we can thank MTV shows like I'm 16 and Pregnant for this for this new market. Don't get us wrong, affordable fashion is important, but we just can't help but wonder if this is a new trend we will see in the near future- teen maternity lines:

"Youth-focused trend-purveyors Forever 21 are proving the point with a new maternity wear for their (largely teenaged) customers. Some people are wondering whether a clothing line that sells primarily to teens should be doing a maternity line at all. Is selling maternity clothes to teens marketing teen pregnancy? Or are we beyond that by now? As Heather at Kidglue jokes: “If you’re a pregnant teenager, no doubt the first thought that crosses your mind is, “Darn, if only I could get my hands on some trendy and affordable maternity clothes!”  (I mean, what else could you possibly have to worry about?)” She also points out that the in-store locations are conveniently located in the states with the highest teen pregnancy rates. The Love 21 Maternity line is fashion-forward and wallet-friendly, not unlike Forever 21’s other offerings. And like their other offerings, these clothes will probably be worn by women who are well over the under-21 target audience. (Forever 35 doesn’t have quite the same ring.) read more

(wwd)Levi’s Loss Expands in Second Quarter

"Levi Strauss & Co. said its second-quarter loss widened as financing costs erased the positive effects of higher sales and margins and advantageous currency swings. For the three months ended May 30, the net loss attributable to the San Francisco-based denim and sportswear firm rose to $14.4 million from $4.1 million in the year-ago period. Included in the bottom-line result was a $16.6 million pretax loss on the early extinguishment of debt. Operating income, exclusive of the debt effect, was up 23.4 percent to $69.2 million from $56.1 million a year ago. Sales rose 8.1 percent to $958 million, versus $886.5 million in the 2009 quarter, and licensing revenue grew 3.2 percent to $18.6 million from $18 million. Total revenues moved up 8 percent to $976.5 million from $904.5 million, and gross margin rose 522 basis points to 51.1 percent of sales against 45.9 percent in the year-ago period. The company said that the improvement reflected the increased contribution of the company’s stores and their higher margins compared to wholesale operations. In the Americas, sales were up 8 percent, to $558 million, and grew 6 percent on a constant currency basis. In Europe, sales increased 9 percent, to $240 million, and gained 7 percent at constant currency. Asia-Pacific sales hit $178 million, an 8 percent rise that, upon conversion for currency effects, translated into a 2 percent decline. “We continue to invest behind the brands,” John Anderson, president and chief executive officer, said on a conference call with analysts. “We believe we have a compelling consumer proposition. We selectively look to continue to invest in retail. It’s a battle.”  He said Japan continues to detract from results in the Asia-Pacific region, but added that he was somewhat encouraged by results in Europe: “If there’s good news, it is that there is no further deterioration.” read more

(wwd)EBay Ups Fashion Game With iPhone App

"The Web site, which revolutionized e-commerce in 1995 by connecting buyers and sellers in an auction format where price was set by the convergence of supply and demand, unveiled its first fashion app for the iPhone on Thursday. The company recently introduced an iPad fashion app, and an app for the BlackBerry mobile phone is due next. The new fashion app could have major consequences for eBay and its competitors, and for consumers as well. Users will have access to the 20 million fashion items offered through eBay’s Marketplace. The app can be used to browse, virtually try on and buy products at any time of the day, anywhere the iPhone gets a signal (airplanes, yes; subways, no.) It can be downloaded for free on iTunes. EBay’s core iPhone application has been downloaded 10 million times, the company said. A measure of the iPhone app’s potential: EBay expects to more than double its $600 million gross fashion merchandise volume of last year to $1.5 billion this year. “Over the past year, we have made significant investments in dramatically enhancing the way customers shop for fashion on eBay,” said Dinesh Lathi, eBay Inc.’s vice president of North America. “[We] feel that mobile offers a great medium to continue our innovation in delivering a personalized experience and connecting our buyers with the world’s largest online selection of branded, designer and vintage clothing, shoes and accessories. It also enables our sellers, regardless of their size, to participate in mobile commerce in groundbreaking ways.” With $5.45 billion in worldwide gross merchandise volume in apparel last year, eBay is the largest seller of clothing online. Apparel is also the company’s top mobile category in terms of items sold, and the second-largest after automobiles in terms of volume. Not content with merely selling more apparel online than any other company, eBay wants to offer more exclusive fashion to its client base of more than 90 million active users. For example, eBay this year introduced exclusive capsule collections by Narciso Rodriguez and Norma Kamali. Products are listed under the headings women’s, men’s, kids, baby and vintage, with the latter organized by decade." read more

(wwd)Burberry Buys Back China Operations

"Burberry has agreed to buy back its China operations for 70 million pounds, or $107.8 million at current exchange, in cash. The company said it would acquire the stores and “related assets” in China currently operated by its longstanding franchisees. Burberry said the transaction was in line with its strategy to unify and consolidate operations worldwide, and increase its exposure to high-growth luxury markets. “With a solid foundation of 50 stores across 30 cities, operational expertise and strong brand momentum, this is an optimal time for Burberry to integrate this business,” stated chief executive Angela Ahrendts. She said Burberry planned to “drive productivity” in existing stores and to open new stores, while rapidly implementing digital marketing initiatives. The transaction is expected to add up to 20 million pounds, or $30.8 million, to group operating profit in the fiscal year 2011/12."

(fibre2fashion)IMG, Japan Fashion Week Organization Reach Deal

IMG Fashion announced that it has signed a five year agreement to partner with the Japan Fashion Week Organization (JFWO), which organises and manages Tokyo Collection Week held biannually in Tokyo. IMG Fashion will act as JFWO’s sole and exclusive representative for the exploitation of sponsorship rights. IMG Fashion will help to maximise the efficiency of a series of industry and consumer events that make up Tokyo Collection Week staged by the JFWO. JFWO has been created to strengthen the competitive power of the Japanese textile and fashion industry, and to encourage growth. It is also designed to further increase Tokyo's reputation as a significant textile and fashion hub. The event brings together manufacturers in the textile and fashion industries, fashion designers and distributors from across Japan, greater South East Asia and the world. "This is a very exciting partnership," said Mr. Peter Levy, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of IMG Fashion, Worldwide. "Tokyo Collection Week is one of the more significant fashion events held annually and has reached a stage in its lifecycle where it is capable of achieving substantial growth. Our globally connected team at IMG Fashion is ready to take on this challenge and work closely with the JFWO to realize the event’s true potential."

The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

Kate Spade Resort 2011

"Deborah Lloyd’s resort and holiday collections have Kate Spade’s retro-modern whimsical spirit. Resort looks include navy-and-white-striped jersey jackets and T-shirt dresses along with ruffled blouses and dresses in a shirting fabric with a pop of color in accessories, such as a color-blocked bag or shoes. New this season are denim handbags and Lloyd’s first pair of jeans. Holiday features sparkly, shiny dresses and skirts, made more casual by adding colorful hosiery or chunky scarves."

Vionnet Cruise 2011

"Creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga continues to display his knack for distinctive shapes and cuts this season. Dresses steal the spotlight at Vionnet — from loose jersey numbers to skimpier versions in two-toned sequins and ruched styles featuring rounded hems."

(wwd)Macys.com Names Kantor

"Macy’s Inc.’s Web sites — macys.com and bloomingdales.com — exceeded $1 billion in sales last year, but the corporation wants much more. WWD has learned that Macy’s is developing a strategy to speed growth of its e-commerce businesses and has reassigned a top merchant, Jeff Kantor, to become president of merchandising at macys.com, effective Aug. 1.  Kantor will succeed Helaine Suval, executive vice president of merchandising for macys.com, who is retiring in the spring. In the meantime, she will oversee the development of “an accelerated growth strategy for the e-commerce business,” working closely with Sachse and Kent Anderson, president of macys.com operations, Macy’s said. On the agenda, taking macys.com international. The company will begin to fulfill overseas orders later this year." read more

(Washington Post)Wendy Brandes on why fashion 'torments' women leaders

"Before switching career paths into jewelry design, Wendy Brandes spent 15 years in media and marketing, working at People.com, the Wall Street Journal and investment banking firm Lehman Brothers. In 2004, after designing her own engagement and wedding rings, Brandes became a full-time entrepreneur, drawing on her affinity for strong, powerful women leaders to fuel her own collection. Her website-store offers a mix of whimsical pendants, bold statement rings and eye-catching earrings, some inspired by iconic figures such as Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn, and others taking their story from more obscure sources, such as Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Marie Antoinette. Her latest achievement? Getting a pair of her earrings into the recently released "Sex and the City" sequel. For Brandes, the allure of these luxury items - some cost as much as $15,000 - lies in the backstory of the women who have inspired them. Like so many successful entrepreneurs, Brandes has an eye for detail: Many of her items have a mechanical element, allowing them to open and close, unscrew or twist to reveal some hidden detail, such as a tiny silver chicken tucked inside a gold egg. As she steers her small company and attempts to grow its presence through social media, she draws on her own experiences with good and bad leadership and takes notes from the success and failures of famous women around the world." read the interview with Wendy Brandes and Holly Thomas of the Washington Post.

(wwd)Kabat to Exit Prada

"Randy Kabat, executive vice president, marketing and advertising at Prada USA, is leaving the company, effective July 9. Kabat joined Prada in 1997, immediately taking a leadership role in a business-side trajectory that kept pace with, and reflected, Miuccia Prada’s creativity. Kabat told WWD she considers the past 13 years a privilege, having represented “this company with its incredible brands and visionary leadership...The breath and depth of my role at Prada USA over the years in marketing, advertising and communications has been truly rewarding.” She said that the time “just feels right to make a change. I'm looking forward to leveraging my experience from Prada, and some other great brands before, towards my next professional challenge.” Prior to her arrival at Prada, Kabat worked first at Giorgio Armani, and later, Swatch."

(style.com)In the Mood For Shorts

Style.com has some really cute and affordable alternatives to the light, dark and acid wash jean cutoff's you wore last summer. We love the wrap-front looks and tribal patterned jacquard pair from J.Crew. Here they are at style.com

So excited to use our SFG flip cams for FW10

Since I started blogging I've tried to come up with new and fun ways to document my life. That's why when someone put a Flip Mino HD in my hand a year ago I was DYING. My friends and I marveled at the resolution of the picture and the size of the device. Being video journalists we were so used to lugging around huge cameras-- this fit right in our handbags! For Mercedes Benz Fashion Week FW10, the nice people at Flip video let us design our own Mino HDs (notice the Style File Group logo on the camera and in Pantone color violet for SS10) to record our lives. To create your own go to www.theflip.com.

It's Fashion Week Again and We Need an Intern

It's almost here! Fashion Week is one of our busiest times of the year, so to help out and to ensure a smooth Fashion Week 2010 we are looking for an intern to help us take video and pictures at some of the shows. This is a great opportunity for a student to gain access to the tents and add to your resume! We are looking for someone who is truly dedicated, professional, great with social media, web and video! If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, send us your resume to info@hithaprabhakar.com

Post holiday shopping: the best and worst return policies

I find it strange how 99% of retailers are scrambling to get the consumer to start spending and build customer loyalty through rewards programs, etc., (Eye on you Amazon (AMZN), Target (TGT) and Best Buy (BBY)) meanwhile they have some of the worst return policies on the planet! This morning I discussed the best and worst return policies on NPR's "The Takeaway." Really JCrew (JCG)? Are you REALLY not going to let me return a sale item for a full refund? Ugh. Here are my notes from the interview:

What do you think is the ideal/fair return policy? I think a full refund (which very few stores rarely do) is fair, OR return/exchange a gift without a reciept which is what H&M is doing. Target (TGT) is also sort of doing that just as long as the price of gift does not exceed $70 in one year.

What do you think is an unfair policy?

Definitely "final sale" at J Crew (JCG) on sale items. What is that all about? Also,

Amazon (AMZN) has 29 different product-specific return policies in addition to it's regular one for example: -most unopened items can be returned within 30 days -items they do not accept back: Hazardous materials, Kindles (after 30 days), downloadable software products, gourmet baskets, health and beauty products, some jewelry AND If the value is $75 must have a tracking method, items at $500 must be insured. If you are missing orgininal documentation, there will be a 15% re-stocking fee. Annoying!

JC Penny (JCP) requires special occasion dresses to be returned with the "return tag" still in place which prevents people from wardrobing i.e., buying wearing once, and then returning it.

Overstock.com has a 60% restocking fee for some open used or late items.

Office Max will not accept returns of opened cameras and software unless it is defective.

I don't think a lot of people are fully aware of these return policies at these stores.

What kind of the hardest items to return? Undergarments, swimsuits, software, electronics (due to restocking fees, shorter time to return the item and sometimes stores won't take them back at all).

If I have to retun a gift for a store online do you have suggestions on how to make this return as EASY as possible? Do your research- most stores do not post their return policies for example, Best Buy lengthened its holiday return period for most items by one to three weeks (until Jan. 31st) but computers still have their 14 day return policy so computer bought on Black Friday can not be returned.

Ask about re-stocking fees: If an item is open add the fee, 30% from Overstock.com, Macys, 15%

Be aware of the tier method (what Amazon and Best Buy (BBY) are doing) : apparel that might have a different date you can return at vs. different than electronics

Buy things on your credit card in case you lose your reciepts: I tend to have about 1,000 slips of paper in my wallet/handbag and the most important reciepts get lost in the tsunami of paper. If you put purchases on your credit card the retailer can pull it up your purchase more quickly.

Hi-fi shoes: What fashion week was REALLY about

An $850 million acquisition of online retailer Zappos.com by Amazon. The Sex and the City sequel where extras are clamouring for Carrie Bradshaw's shoes. Children's footwear posting an 11.8% dollar volume in sales increase. While the retail industry in almost all areas is experiencing one of the worst economic downturns in recent history, the shoe industry in the last three months has proven to be a bright light at the end of a very dark, damp, dismal, depressing tunnel. “When the product is right and offers multiple reasons for wear, the purchases will come,” according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group in an interview done by just-style.com.

“Consumers are showing they want footwear and are willing to show their passion on their feet rather than on their backs.”

Cohen's sentiments could not be more true considering what I saw Mercedes- Benz fashion week. While the most of the collections had buyers barely raising an eyebrow, the shoes on the runway caught everyone's attention. here are some of my favorites:

Guiseppe Zanotti Balmain leopard print

Check out these Giuseppe Zanotti for Balmain animal print boots. Yes they are priced at over $1,000 but guess what? People are buying them like crazy. Why? Because this country's mantra when it comes to spending is "where there's a will, there's a way." We'll discuss that later.

Guiseppe Zanotti Balmain zipper shoes

Another Giuseppe Zanotti for Balmain boot. Awesome right?

Guiseppe Zanotti for Balmain

These are my FAVORITE.

Guiseppe Zanotti leopard print shoes

Again, another crazy pair of shoes from Giuseppe Zanotti. What would you wear these with?

Guiseppe Zanotti cut out boots

I think Rhianna was eyeing these...

Roberto Cavalli shoes

While it's not really my thing to a) spend upwards of $300 on a pair of shoes and b) purchase anything at full retail price, these shoes were worth talking about because they are metallic. I have several pairs of metallic shoes and they are the best accessories in my closet!

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Day #1: Lunch

Hitha Prabhakar @ Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek - Lunch from Hitha Prabhakar on Vimeo.

It's been an INSANE 48 hours as you can see from my previous posts. And while I could probably tell you details about all the clothes I saw down the runway, give you my opinion (btw, I not a fashion critic), I am gonna go ahead and give you an insider's look as to how we eat during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Basically whatever we can get...

Part three: GOD I love having my hair done!

I am seriously OBSESSED with getting my hair done. So obsessed, I refused to wash my hair with regular hotel shampoo and style it myself because I wanted it to look PERFECT. And for 20 quid, this blow out was SO worth it. Topshop blow outs = A++ in my book!
Yay! Smooth, straight and clean hair! from Hitha Prabhakar on Vimeo.