"Drunk shopping" represents $30B of annual online sales, putting brick and mortar on the rocks.

"Drunk shopping" represents $30B of annual online sales, putting brick and mortar on the rocks.

Happy post St. Patrick's Day weekend! It's Tuesday, which means if you were out celebrating, your hangovers should be wearing off right about now. :|

According to a survey by, in 2017 68 million Americans admitted to some form of imbibed online spending to the tune of $448 on average per person. In total, us consumers spent $30 billion! What's more, we (ok, really me) have a tendency to think it's the Millennials pushing this digital heavy trend. Not the case. Generation X dished out the most money on average tallying $738.87 while everyone under the age of 34 spent around $206.11.  

Can you Take me High Enough? Consumer sentiment, investing and #DOW20K

Can you Take me High Enough? Consumer sentiment, investing and  #DOW20K

Like it or not, the stock market has been on fire since President elect Donald Trump took office. Since November 9th, the Dow has hit almost 15 record highs. Tuesday was no different, closing at 19,974.62. What the hell is happening? Let me give you the 411. 

Retail Shares Struggle on Tougher Outlook- WWD

(Re-published from Womens Wear Daily January 27th, 2014 written by Arnold J. Karr) For retailers, the disappointments keep coming.

After an abbreviated holiday season in which unprecedented levels of promotion failed to generate increases in traffic and further depleted top-line results, stores are now facing disappointing January sales, observers say, and the inability of promotions to clear inventories as they had hoped.

Adding harsh winter weather to an already icy fiscal mix, expectations for fourth-quarter earnings and inventory levels have taken on a far more negative tone and retail shares have started 2014 by moving in reverse. After rising an eye-opening 43.9 percent in 2013 as hopes for consumer spending strengthened, the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group has fallen back 5 percent so far this year, shedding 2.1 percent last week alone. In 16 trading days so far in 2014, the index has trended down in all but four, including the last seven in a row.

The index’s recent weakness worsened Friday in an abysmal day for the market overall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 318.24 points, or 2 percent, to 15,879.11, and the S&P 500 contracted 38.17 points, or 2.1 percent, to 1,790.29. The retailing index declined 1.9 percent to end the week at 892.58.

In a single day, the Dow, S&P 500 and retail index surrendered the respective milestones of 16,000, 1,800 and 900 attained at the end of 2013. Retail last year outperformed the Dow, which rose 26.5 percent, and the S&P, up 29.6 percent.

But that was before many retailers began reporting disappointing numbers for holiday and pulling down their earnings projections accordingly. In a research note entitled “Frozen by Polar Vortex, Slow Economy,” Jharonne Martis, director of consumer research at Thomson Reuters, noted that “pre-announcements” among retailers, who will begin reporting fourth-quarter results next month, have been overwhelmingly negative. Of 92 companies — apparel and broadlines retailers among them — who have updated guidance for the quarter, 74 have lowered projections, 15 have lifted them and three have left them unchanged.

The biggest declines among U.S. retail stocks so far this year have come from companies that needed to pull down fourth-quarter projections based on in-store and even online weakness. The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. cited “unfavorable winter weather conditions” earlier this month when it said it faced the possibility of a fourth-quarter loss. After boasting of earlier comparable-store gains, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. provided no specific numbers when it reported it was “pleased” with its holiday performance and soon after said it would close 33 underperforming stores in a cost-cutting move. Sears Holdings Corp. projected a larger-than-expected loss for the quarter when it divulged that comps in November and December were down 7.4 percent.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. reduced profit expectations after revising its comp outlook to down in the low- to midsingle digits, after initially expecting a flat quarter as it moves to recover from a problem-plagued year in 2013. On the same day, Ascena Retail Group Inc., Express Inc. and Stage Stores Inc. brought down earnings expectations, as did L Brands Inc., parent of Victoria’s Secret, based on disappointing comps.

Teen retailers struggled through 2013 and have continued to do so as 2014 gets under way. Retail Metrics Inc. expects the teen sector to collectively report a 7 percent decline in fourth-quarter comps and described it as the “weakest of any retail segment.” Fourth-quarter comps among all reporting retailers are expected to grow just 0.7 percent — 1 percent excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Aéropostale Inc. has seen its shares wither 20.1 percent this year, after declining 30.1 percent in 2013, after it canceled plans to appear at the ICR XChange in Orlando, Fla., this month, with speculation that it might be in talks to be taken over by any number of private equity players giving way to complaints among analysts about a lack of transparency.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc., considered by many to be best positioned to recapture some momentum in the teen market, turned heads last week when it said that Robert Hanson was out as its chief executive officer, succeeded on an interim basis by chairman Jay Schottenstein.

“Of the Three A’s” — American Eagle, Aéropostale and Abercrombie — “a lot of people felt that American Eagle was the strongest and Hanson had made a positive difference,” said analyst Janet Kloppenburg, president of JJK Research. “Now they have to bring in a new ceo who’ll go through a honeymoon as he or she figures out what to do with the assortment, how sharply to discount remaining inventory.

“And it’s disturbing when you see heads start to roll at good companies in any case,” she added.

Kloppenburg noted that some of the weakness in stocks in general is derived from doubts about, for instance, the strength of the manufacturing sector in China and uncertainty in many emerging markets. Retailers’ concerns are less global in nature, she said.

“Analysts, myself included, expected margins to be tough and sales to be challenging, but we figured that, with discounting, there’d be some success in working inventories down and moving the needle at least a bit in January,” she said. “But the discounts are deeper and it doesn’t seem to be generating traffic or sales, and a lot of us are beginning to look at our estimates for retailers for the first quarter, both the top and bottom line, and wonder if they need to be brought down. There’s no overwhelming fashion trend coming for spring and there are a lot of questions about inventory. There is a large body of evidence telling investors to be conservative.”

Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, expects that final holiday numbers from the Commerce Department will point to a 3 percent gain in spending for holiday merchandise once adjusted by the government. He noted that while winter storms and the abbreviated holiday calendar hurt results last year, a more fundamental challenge was simply a lack of spending money in consumers’ wallets. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported growth in disposable personal income of just 0.1 percent in November.

“If there’s no real disposable personal income growth, you will never have strong retail spending growth,” he said, noting that the metric ran above 3.5 percent in the years prior to the Great Recession.

He noted that the apparel business has shifted from wants to needs, with consumers more interested in subscriber-based services providing experiential value, such as cable and telecommunications providers. And, with inventories growing faster than comps at retail, promotional proclivity has lingered, driving down dollars per transaction and further limiting revenue gains.

Johnson noted that the growth in online shopping is among the factors pushing up the rate of merchandise returns to retailers, eroding fourth-quarter results further. Promotions have contributed to the growth in returns observed by Johnson and his associates.

“They tend to get people goosed up beyond what they can afford or like,” the CGP official said.

Rebecca Duval, an analyst at BlueFin Research Partners and a former retailer, said that the reluctance to pad inventories was being felt throughout the industry supply chain now, with orders being pushed back, reduced in size or in some cases canceled altogether. “The Street is going to be looking for margin recovery in the first quarter,” she said, “and it’s not going to be easy to come by. Investors are asking who has a fundamentally strong story for 2014, and there will be some winners, but a lot of the analysts’ numbers are going to have to come down for a lot of the companies they cover first.”

Who Wore it Better #Grammys 2014 version: Reem Acra cocktail...

Who Wore it Better #Grammys 2014 version: Reem Acra cocktail dress on Sara Bareilles (who I adore) after she sang a duet w/ Carole King or me, @hithaprabhakar? Discuss.

Target credit card breach: it's worse than you think.


40 million. 70 million. Now close to 110 million customers of Target ($TGT) have not received word their personal data including financial information, phone numbers and home addresses are now in the hands of overseas hackers. Sound like a scene from Girl with a Dragon Tattoo? The executives at Target only wish. Right now the retailer is getting ready for a congressional probe into their consumer protection practices. This is a run down of what you should know (source: Reuters):

What is happening: Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives are calling for the panel to investigate the hacking of credit card data belonging to millions of customers of Target Corp stores.

The letter said a hearing should review current consumer protection laws and determine what could be done to ensure the future security of consumers' card information.

Quote from the letter: "It is incumbent upon our Committee to explore whether industry data protection standards are appropriate, and examine whether heightened regulatory standards are needed to more effectively protect consumers," the Democrats wrote.

What that means: Congress wants to figure out if Target was in violation of failing to effectively protect the consumer.

Hearing is supposed to be scheduled for late January.

What can we expect out of the hearing: Would allow for an airing of grievances and potentially bring Target officials to Washington for a grilling about how the case has been handled, they would not necessarily result in taking any kind of action or in legislation.

In addition: The Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and state attorneys general would potentially look into Target's actions in this situation.

The FTC does not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations and would only get involved if Target is shown to have failed to protect its customers' data.

Target has said it is working in partnership with the Secret Service, the lead agency involved in the data breach case, and the Department of Justice but did not comment on any FTC involvement

Why do we care/why is this important: Not real Federal regulation on the retail side when it comes to security and consumer protection.

A bill by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy remains the only data security bill on tap for now-- THAT'S THE ONLY BILL THAT EXISTS!

FTC has the power to investigate companies’ privacy and information security policies and ensure that they meet proper standards, it has asserted.

It has previously brought cases against companies that it determined didn’t do enough to protect consumer data, and Blumenthal suggested it should consider doing so again.

QUOTE: “Given the scope and duration of Target’s recent data breach, it appears that Target may have failed to employ reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect personal information,” Blumenthal wrote. “If Target failed to adequately protect customer information, it denied customers the protection that they rightly expect when a business collects their personal information. Its conduct would be unfair and deceptive, and it would clearly violate the FTC Act.”

Additional info on $TGT you as a consumer should know:

Point of sale: As a merchant, you’d better make sure shoppers trust that they’re not exposing themselves to identity theft and credit-card fraud every time they swipe. Even Target, a huge company with big bucks to spend on security, hasn’t managed to assure such certainty (source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Methods hackers use to get information:

Skimming: Attaching a physical device to a machine to gather information

"RAM Scraping": "Random Access Memory" Malware scans computer system's memory for personal information.

U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (U.S.-CERT), a cyber watchdog that’s part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Target has not disclosed how malware got into the system

Don't know what to tip this season? Read/watch THIS.

Going over budget for me is like a holiday tradition in itself.Every December since I've started working I put aside a certain amount of money to spend on dinners out, gifts, travel and of course tipping. Without fail, I ALWAYS go over budge. Now when I say "tipping" this isn't referring to servers at restaurants, cafes and bars. But since we are on the subject, you should always tip minimum 20% (or tax x 2) regardless of where you are in the country. In this case, "tipping" means that added cash bonus you give to the people who help you the most during the year. Kids baby sitters, hair/beauty technicians, mechanics, doormen (if you live in an apt), housekeepers (if you are lucky enough to have one) and teachers/trainers. With the economy on shakey ground, and uncertainty creeping into our bank accounts, the last thing you want to do is be a grinch- however, you also don't want to bankrupt yourself. Hence, the dilemma. I had the opportunity to break down my guidelines given the tough economy with Savannah Gutherie on the Today Show last Thursday. Check it:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Who is on your list to tip this year? Let's discuss!

$FB (Facebook) mania begins: will fashion and retail FINALLY get on board?

When I say "on board" I'm not referring to the 200,000 or so "likes" designers like Diane von Furstenberg have on her page. I'm talking about real retail transactions, people. Like buying stuff and shiz. In all seriousness, in the past four years I've listened to retail C-levels drone on about how social media is changing the way their customers shop. However, everytime I sit through these presentations, earnings calls and convos over drinks I've never heard an actionable plan put in place. Now that Facebook has gone public topping out (there is still an hour or so to this trading day) at a $104 Billion valuation, retailers finally have a reason to get a plan together- and quick. This piece on Racked pretty much spells it out. Here are four main reasons for retailers to take this IPO seriously: 1) Hello, acquisitions!: Now that Facebook has a ton of CASH on the books and a keen interest in world wide domination, the next step is for it to start snapping up companies to help make this happen. Instagram is super cool, but so is a technology company that can help facilitate customer engagement, aggregate sales or customer feedback.

2)Advertising: With over 500 million + users, retailers would be dumb not to want to try and target new and returning customers. However there is one sticking point: do you actually click on those ads when they come up? My survey says: NO.

3) People will actually BUY stuff via facebook recommendations: Did you know $JWN has close to 1.5 million likes on facebook? And department stores are banking on the notion those "likes" will translate into sales. Personally just because my little sister likes something doesn't mean I am going to like it enough to buy it, but that's just me.

4) Bigger than just social media: Retail technology companies are actually building their technologies on the Facebook PLATFORM. Why is that a big deal? Because 15 years ago, the same companies were building it on the Microsoft platform. Crazy, right?

Gasoline Prices Rise- Big Box Retailers Feel the Most Pain.

I don't have a car here in NYC. There really is no need. But after I took a trip out to the Gateway Plaza Mall in Brooklyn, NY a couple weeks ago, I realized how much of an impact rising gasoline prices are having on shoppers wallets. I did my research, spoke to analysts at Global Hunter Securities, even analyzed what shoppers cut back on when those prices started to rise. But it wasn't until we filled the car up with gasoline on the way home and saw the bill for $70 for a FULL TANK OF GAS did it hit me-- this is a real problem. For me $70 equals a couple things: a nice dinner at my favorite restaurant, a facial at Mario Badescu, a new handbag at a sample sale, or two weeks of groceries at Whole Foods. Check out my report here:

Is luxury back? Coach beats estimates with 2Q earnings

(A luxury obsessed consumer. Picture courtesy of

Coach reported better than expected profits today. Net income rose to $303.4 million, or $1 a share up from $241 million or 75 cents in 2Q of last year. Sales rose 19% to $1.26 billion and the company expects sales and profit to increase at least 10% through 2011. In addition, Coach plans to repurchase close to $1.5 billion of shares by June 30th, 2013.

With those kind of numbers it's hard not to seriously wonder if the luxury retailers are finally back. Or is it?

Mike Tucci president of Coach's North American retail division credits three main reasons for strong sales during the holiday season: product performance, digital strategy and progress on the new mens intiative. Tucci specifically notes is the fastest growing full price channel in North America and experienced double digit growth during the holiday season. "We will continue to use digital capability as a touch point for the customers," he said on the earnings call. So what are some of the pitfalls for Coach? For one, gross margin estimates missed the street's expectations coming in at 72.4% compared to 73.2% due mostly in part by an increase in sales at their lower priced outlet stores. Second, Coach's market share in Japan continues to contract. But, with expanding market share in China (Frankfort referred to China as "our fastest growing business.") and a potential move of production to lower labor cost countries such as India, Coach may still see some bright days ahead in 2011.

Coach wasn't the only luxury retailer to report stellar earnings supported by significant growth in China. Burberry reported a 36 percent increase in sales reflecting the deal to take over 50 stores from the retailer's Chinese franchise partner. Likewise, the new "digitally enhanced" flagship store in Beijing drove significant traffic. "There is an underlying growth in the Chinese luxury sector anyway, but the main driver has been making sure our stores are properly stocked," said Stacey Cartwright, chief financial officer. "Previously, lean levels of inventory meant a lot of sales were walking out the door."

Luxury conglomerate Richemont reported a 7 percent increase in sales (omitting currency fluctuations) to $2.29 billion beating analysts estimates. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 31 percent of Richemont's sales during the quarter.

It's difficult to ignore numbers like that especially when Consumer Confidence Index rose 7.3 points to 60.6. Feeling better about the economy mixed with a little "frugal fatigue" may be the exact combination luxury retailers need in order to have a full recovery. With that said, there is a Chloe handbag AND a pair Christian Louboutin heels that I've been eyeing for months now. 18 months to be exact.

Speaking of $JCG...

In the wake of their Saturday deadline, J.Crew recieved no additional takeover bids during their "go shop" period a provision that is frequently included in leverage buyout deals (the deadline for other potential companies to throw in their hats was on the 15th). Well today, the retailer announced they would be extending the deadline to February 15th for other/rival bids and to settle a shareholder lawsuit. As it stands, TPG Capital and Leonard Green have been the only ones to come to the table so far with a $3 billion offer. There was some talk about $SHLD and $URBN possibly throwing their hats in (it was reported by DealBook both retailers had signed confidential agreements to study J.Crew's books during the solicitation period) but it was unclear whether they were seriously considering counteroffers.

J.Crew vs. Jack Spade: Which is more "new dad" gift worthy?

My best friend just had a baby. And while I've been busy purchasing cute clothes for him and fun mommy items for her, I sort of forgot about her amazing (and also a dear friend of mine) husband who is putting in double duty as diaper changer, baby feeder and nerve calmer. I know! I'm the WORST.

So you can imagine how psyched I was when the Jack Spade Spring 2011 look book crossed my path/in box today. For me, Jack Spade has always been the go to stop for all things hip-male/ perfect gift source for a new dad who fits the former description. With that said, I was compelled to check out since I've had $JCG on the mind for the past four weeks. Hate to say it, but I think $JCG is encroaching on Jack Spade's market share of snazzy man bags and tailored over coats. Check it:

This Waxwear-Pocket Brief looks like can double as a work and baby bag. It's on the high budget side ($365) but what a great design, no?

My friend's husband does want a coat. This Herringbone Field Coat at $525 seems appropriate for a southern California winter.

I think new dads are in need of new shirts as much as moms. While I don't think my friend's husband will be wearing the Chambray Triple Stitch while burping the little one, at $225 it may be work shirt worthy.

Meanwhile, I am convinced part of the reason why $JCG is killing it on the earnings side is because of the mens business and thier "In Good Company" designer collaborations. For example, the Barbour Sylkoil Bedale Jacket ($379 shown at the top of this post) is almost as awesome, if not more than the Jack Spade Field coat.

And check out the Belstaff Colonial shoulder bag 554. To me t his seems a little more functional as a baby bag for dads than the Waxwear Pocket Brief.

Instead of the present being a surprise I might cave and have him pick something out of the options listed. Can't believe how far Jcrew has come from the roll sweaters of 1990.

CNBC's "Power Lunch": $TGT's move to Canada

YAY. Nothing makes me more happy than reporting on good news and $TGT's announcement that the retailer is officially moving into Canada is exciting.  $TGT agreed to pay Zellers Inc. C$1.825B in two equal payments of C$912.5M to acquire the leasehold interests in up to 220 sites currently operated by Zellers Inc. Target expects to open 100 to 150 stores throughout Canada in 2013 and 2014. What's more $TGT also announced it intends to sell their credit card recievables portfolio which totaled $6.7 billion as of October 30th, 2010. The move is likely to finance CAPEX for the new stores in Canada which is said to exceed $1 billion.

My take:

While expansion is always a good sign of a retailer doing well, we can’t ignore their online business which wavered/lost market share to $AMZN during the holidays. With shopping becoming more mobile/online, how the retailer handles this will be key.  Grocery business is also taking a hit with rising commodity and food prices, but having a variety category mix like $TGT is doing with the one-stop-shop is a good model for them.

Retail hangover?

(Drawing by Seth Herzog) The retail industry was bracing itself for the inevitable and it looks like it happened. No, sillys, Terry Lundgren is not stepping down as chairman and chief executive of Macys (M)-- it seems as though the consumer is experiencing a little bit of a "retail hangover."

While same store sales seemed to beat everyone's expectations for November, December's numbers came with a thud. In the teen retailer space American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Aeropostale (ARO)  reported significant declines of 11 percent and 5 percent. With rumors both retailers may be getting snapped up by private equity in a buy out situation, these numbers only fuel the speculation fire. Meanwhile, Abercrombie and Fitch (ANF) killed it by reporting a 15 percent comp increase due mostly in part to a disciplined inventory management. Joining the promo band wagon by getting rid of last year's full- price sales strategy didn't hurt the company either. This move allowed Abercrombie to slowly take away market share from its direct competitors. Gap (GPS) also reported an 8 percent decline in comp sales. By the looks of the overly promoted merchandise in both Gap and Old Navy stores the day after Christmas (stay tuned I am going to a post about my mall vists post festivus/holiday) and the days following, no wonder no one was in there purchasing! It looked like a clothing bomb went off in the stores and not in a good way; too many cheap sweaters, jeans and active wear spelled disaster for this retailer. Ew.

On the other hand, luxury retailers saw an incredible rebound compared to this time two years ago. Saks Inc. (SKS) and Nordstrom (JWN) reported a gain in same store sales of 11.8 percent and 8.4 percent. Although Tiffany & Co. (TIF) just got downgraded by Jeffries from a "buy" to a "hold" on Thursday, store traffic as well as sales seemed to flourish during the holidays.

"I think the luxury customer came out and actually shopped for pleasure, not replenishment," said Deb Weinswing in an interview with Womens Wear Daily. "There is a 'V-shaped' recovery in luxury, and at the moderate retailers, it's more like a bathtub shaped curve. We're heading in the right direction."

I could not agree with Deb more.

Hitha's picks: Luxury

Ralph Lauren (RL): While a lot of luxury retailers (and retailers in general) are talking about their strategy in Asia, Ralph Lauren is actually executing it. The company has strong wholesale sales across all categories as well as strong online and store comps, net income rose 15.6% total revenues up by 11.5%

Tiffany & Co. (TIF): Yes, many analysts are getting behind Jeffries in their downgrade move on this stock but I'm not so sure I want to go there yet. The company is dillgent about providing inventory mixes across all price points, the stock up more than 51% year-to-date and same store sales jumped 7% for 3Q and management raised guidance. What's more Europe and Asia look like strong growth areas for the retailer. (NILE): Join the club if you were one of the many who asked for a watch or a piece of jewelry for the holidays and got it. The watch and jewelry category posted 15% increase for November/December. Coupled with 12% increase in e-commerce spending in the US for first 40 days of holiday (Comscore) is in a good position going into 2011. According to the chief executive of the company,  Traffic to the website increased 1000% first two weeks of November. But don't think is placing all of its bets on world wide web--this online retailer is  leveraging social media and smart phone Apps to reach customers.

Do you think the luxury consumer will experience the same "hangover" in 2011?

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

This Weekend's High Temps, J Woww's Fashion Sense, Hot Weather Clothing, Recycle NYC, and Givenchy Couture.

(wwd)Heat wave: what NYC wore when it hit 105°.

WWD has a recap of what NYC wore when NYC experienced the hottest weather in a long time. long maxi dresses,floral sun dresses, straw hats and SHORT shorts were among some of the fashion choices this weekend. Here's a slideshow of more pictures if you need ideas for the rest of the week, it's going to be a scorcher!

(wwd)Hot Times at Retail: Soaring Temps Drive Consumers to Stores

"Consumers throughout the Eastern U.S. sought relief from record-breaking temperatures Tuesday any way they could — including going shopping. As the thermometer topped 100 degrees in Manhattan and elsewhere, retail executives said traffic to their air-conditioned stores and malls was heavier than normal. Even the bedbug-plagued Hollister store in SoHo, which reopened Saturday, saw a large influx of consumers. The searing heat followed the warmest July 4th weekend since 2007 and the third-warmest June in 50 years. And the heat wave was forecast to continue through at least Friday, when temperatures are expected to dip to the more-normal mid-80s. Over the weekend, businesses in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. experienced double-digit increases of seasonal purchases compared to the coldest 2009 period in a decade, according to Planalytics, which analyzes and publishes the weather’s impact on retail. While consumers on the West Coast were still waiting for summer to start and holding off on seasonal purchases, other shoppers were able to think about fall wardrobes and even boots — despite the heat. Retailers said that the gain in traffic and sales will likely last as long as the heat wave — a much-needed boost as consumers’ reluctance to spend increases along with unemployment and fears of a second recession. Cold water is likely to be splashed on retailers’ recent good mood on Thursday when stores report comparable-store sales that, while expected to show growth, also will stir concerns over margins and rising inventories going into the key back-to-school season. “We had high double-digit increases,” said Susan Davidson, president and chief executive officer of Scoop. “East Hampton was off the charts. They’re buying fall early, driven by designers like Azzedine Alaïa, Missoni, Michael Kors, Phillip Lim and Marc Jacobs. We’re selling Chloé shoes and boots. Also, swimwear, shorts and little dresses.” She said business was “off to a good start” on Tuesday." read more

(nbc)Pret-A-Re-Porter: NYC Launching Massive Fashion Recycling Program

Starting in September, New York City will launch one of the largest textile recycling initiatives in the nation. The aim is to make it easy to donate clothing, almost as easy as throwing it away. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans pitch almost 10 pounds of socks, jeans, shirts and sheets per year, per person. In New York, where 190,000 tons of textiles entered the city's landfills in 2008 alone, the plan would place 50 collection bins in high-traffic areas. "I moved three times in the last five years, and each time I ended up throwing away clothes," says 25-year-old Tracy Feldman. "It is just too hard to haul it all over the city. If there was a bin on my block, I wouldn't hesitate to recycle them." The city is taking bids for a 10- to 15-year contract with a nonprofit company that will be responsible for the bins. Goodwill Industries International is one of the companies bidding on the contract. "There has not been another program like this that we know of," said Goodwill spokesman Alfred Vanderbilt. "We think they are being very creative and we hope this sets a new standard." A Goodwill Industries survey of 600 adults in the United States and Canada found that more than half of people who donate clothing say they wouldn't go more than 10 minutes out of their way to make a donation. Robert Lange, the director of the Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling in New York, said his department discovered the same problem. "You can open a black bag at the landfill and see what looks like new clothing," he said. "It is easier to throw it out than recycle." Not all used clothing can be recycled into usable clothing — take those old, stinky sneakers and torn clothing. But that doesn't mean those items can't be donated. While Goodwill is mostly looking for clothing that can be resold, there are ways to recycle even the old tattered pieces. At Wearable Collections, a New Jersey-based textile recycling company, almost half of donations are good for resale, according to the owner. The other half is split nearly evenly between being used for rags for businesses like the automotive industry and being broken down for insulation. Less than 5 percent of the total is unusable and goes to the landfill. Officials say that if New York's campaign is successful, it could lead to a nationwide movement to recycle clothing." read more

(dailymail)J not so Woww! (we'll spare you the pictures)

Not that we would want to give her any more publicity for horrible clothing, but we are giggling a bit about the launch of her new line. When we ran into her at Fashion Week back in Feb. 2010 and couldn't stop gawking at her skin-tight clothes, we were slightly curious (just slightly) to see if she would actually follow through with her own line. Not quite sure if you would call this an accomplishment however.

"With her skimpy bikinis, tight miniskirts and plunging dresses, she's not exactly known for her sophisticated sense of style. And JWoww's new  'Filthy Couture' fashion line may have a looked a little trashy to some at its Las Vegas runway show. Models sashayed down the runway in tight padded lace mini dresses, ripped white jeans and clashing corset-style tops with plunging necklines. The Jersey Shore star's range of swimwear looked a little like lingerie, with chains added to one bikini and another decorated with black lace. 'For the bathing suits I wanted to go with a grungy, or sexy-grungy look with the chains, but I also wanted to keep it girly with the lace,’ JWoww explained to, adding that she found her runway debut ‘very unreal.’ The 23-year-old star sported a low cut pink lacy dress - her own design - at the event, held at Vegas hot spot Ghost Bar. ‘I’ve had this vision for a long time, and I’ve been in school for seven years doing it but I never thought it would come true.’" read more

A Couture Treat: New from Givenchy

Givenchy Fall 2010 Couture

"Death, religion, sensuality. Provocative topics for cocktail conversation, and for fashion, as well. As starting points for Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, the themes made for an arresting, finely honed collection. Tisci’s three-part motif stemmed from what the designer called the three obsessions of Frida Kahlo (whose 103rd birthday is today, for those into such coincidences.) The artist’s fascination with the Mexican Day of the Dead inspired the skeletal lace tracings that recurred throughout the tight, 10-look lineup, delivering ample bravura."

The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

(wsj)Forever 21 Pursues Big-Store Branding

"Forever 21 Inc. is set to open a massive new store in New York's Times Square on Friday, the latest and most aggressive step in the low-priced fashion retailer's plan to expand from a clothing boutique into a department store. The privately held, Los Angeles-based company is expanding aggressively at a time when most retailers are holding back or downsizing, a move enabled in large part by the recession. Forever 21 snapped up real estate vacated by brands such as the now-bankrupt Mervyns LLC chain that were forced to downsize or close because of dwindling sales. Teens continue to swarm Forever 21's piles of inexpensive, high-fashion-imitating party dresses and tank tops. But moving into cavernous spaces, like the 90,000-square-foot spot near 46th and Broadway, is forcing the chain into new categories like menswear, children's clothing and beauty, where its hold on consumers is less certain." read more

(wwd)H&M Profits Up 24 Percent in Second Quarter

"Hennes & Mauritz AB, the world’s third-largest fashion retailer, said net profits rose 24 percent in the second quarter, but sales of its spring garments were disappointing due to unusually cold weather in most of its markets. Net profits in the three months ended May 31 amounted to 5.21 billion kronor, or $710 million, on sales of 31.6 billion kronor, or $4.3 billion. Same-store sales were down by 1 percent in the quarter. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the period. Like-for-like sales fell 4 percent in May compared with the same month last year, with the retailer reporting that unspecified calendar effects had a negative impact of 3 to 4 percentage units in the month. Including new stores, sales grew 6 percent in May and 22 percent during the period of June 1-22, it added. The Swedish high-street giant said weaker-than-expected spring sales had left it with 2 percent more stock than last year. “This could lead to a higher price reduction level in the third quarter compared to the corresponding quarter last year,” it said. Gross margin — a key measure of profitability — rose to 65.9 percent in the second quarter from 61 percent a year earlier, boosted by a weaker dollar during the purchasing period for garments sold in the quarter. “Other factors, such as greater surplus capacity at suppliers, lower transportation costs, favorable raw material prices and efficiencies in the buying process also impacted the gross margin positively in the second quarter 2010,” it said. H&M announced it would enter Croatia and Romania in 2011 with store openings in Zagreb and Bucharest in the spring. Also next year, Morocco will become a new franchise market with a store opening in Casablanca in the fall. The company said it had postponed the planned opening of a COS store in Hong Kong from fall 2010 to sometime next year."

(wwd)U.S. Retailers Push in China

"China is beckoning mainstream U.S. retailers as never before. With the country’s middle class growing fast — projected by Euromonitor to total 700 million people in 2020 — companies such as Gap Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Bebe Stores Inc. are making their first forays into China. Others, including Guess Inc., Iconix Brand Group Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co., are enlarging their footprints. The activity comes as China has decided to let its currency appreciate gradually against a basket of currencies, including the dollar, which could — along with rising wages for Chinese workers — boost the purchasing power of its consumers and make the world’s most populous nation an even more enticing market.  The push by retail and apparel firms in China, preceded by the expansion of luxury brands, has accelerated as they seek to diversify geographically because the international economic crisis exposed the vulnerability of developed markets while China’s economy grew 8.7 percent last year."

(Independent)Madonna's Fashion Line to Hit Macy's in August

"Macy's has released the first images of popstar Madonna and her daughter Lourdes's first fashion range for the US department store, called Material Girl - due out for back-to-school season in August. Judging from the sketches, there will mainly be 1980s-inspired clothes (complete with a range of fingerless gloves), including flowery bustier dresses, star prints, and 'jeggings.' According to the press release, the new line relies on mixing unexpected items, "like a tutu dress and studded-combat boots, or an oversized boyfriend sweatshirt with a floral print mini skirt." Even though the fashion world is starting to get fed up with celebrity fashion lines, this collection is highly anticipated not just because of Madonna's star power, but also because of her successful design debut for Swedsih retailer H&M a few years back. All items, expected to cost under $40, will hit Macy's stores and its website on August 3." read more

Fashion's Night Out--Officially--Coming to L.A.!

"Cynthia Ruiz, the president of the city’s Department of Public Works—and also known as the mayor’s fashion ambassador—confirmed that the mayor’s Office of Economics & Business Policy, under the jurisdiction of Deputy Mayor Austin Buetner, has started to plan Los Angeles’ participation in the night-long shopping extravaganza. The U.S. edition of Fashion’s Night Out was created last year through a partnership between Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and N.Y.C. & Co. (New York City’s tourism site) as a global initiative to celebrate fashion and boost consumer confidence, shopping and the local economy. The F.N.O./L.A. committee will soon reveal how the city of Los Angeles is planning on translating this much-awaited night into sales, events and an opportunity for local designers to be showcased. “I love the idea of L.A.’s FNO having some of the elements that the Downtown L.A. Art Walk has been able to implement—a little something for everybody,” Commissioner Ruiz said. Last year during the inaugural launch of F.N.O. in New York, Los Angeles held a few in-store shopping events around town. Now, after the efforts of many, L.A. will officially join the lineup of Fashion’s Night Out cities, alongside New York and several other fashion capitals around the world."

The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

Giles Deacon at Ungaro, Lindsey Lohan's New Accessory, New Projects at LV, Textile Import Fraud, PVH Corp. and Tommy Hilfiger, Fashion on the Tennis Court.

Giles Deacon for Ungaro

(nymag)Emanuel Ungaro Hires Giles Deacon to Design

We are really hoping that after struggling for years with it's so-so Creative Directors and designers, Ungaro has FINALLY made a good decision. "With the housekeeping finally complete and Lindsay Lohan and Estrella Archs tossed out like cigarette-burned leggings, Emanuel Ungaro has finally appointed a new designer: Giles Deacon. The designer — a designer first and foremost by profession, it must be noted — will stage a presentation at Paris Fashion Week in October, and probably another presentation for the following Fashion Week in March. He wants to really get his feet wet before hitting the runway — no slapdash "I wasn’t aware of the nipple tassels on the girls until they were walking out" kinds of collections." read more

(cbs)SCRAM Bracelet: Lindsay Lohan's Newest Court Ordered Fashion Statement

What the heck is a "SCRAM" bracelet?

"Simply put, it's "Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring" or an alcohol monitoring device, like the one Lohan wore after her arrest on a DUI charge in 2007. The actress has been on probation since August 2007 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor drug charges and no contest to three driving charges. A judge ordered her to wear one today after her appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom over a missed probation hearing. You might recall she claimed she was stuck in Cannes after her passport was stolen last week." read more

(wwd)Yves Carcelle Talks Retail Projects for Louis Vuitton

When asked by WWD in an interview on Tuesday, "what is the company’s bigger priority this year, opening stores or optimizing business in the existing stores?",  Yves Carcelle, CEO say's both. "It was clear there was a period when we needed to cover the planet as quickly as possible. I would say that in the last 10 years we really needed to conquer new countries where luxury was appearing. The desire for luxury design had become a worldwide desire. I think today we have already covered [the globe] quite well, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have new countries in our plan. This year, we opened our first stores in Lebanon, Poland and the Dominican Republic — that makes three new countries this year. We will open in three new cities in China — Nanning, Hohhot and Fuzhou — and some second stores in Chinese cities." read more of the interview

(wwd)Congress Seeks Tougher Policing of Textile Import Fraud

"Congress will consider legislation to crack down on textile import fraud, which is battering the weakened domestic industry. Yarn spinners and denim fabric makers said they have suffered major damage from the increasing illegal activity that undercuts their $10.2 billion export business to Central America, Mexico and four Andean countries, all of which have duty preferences with the U.S... The Textile Enforcement and Security Act, sponsored by Reps. John Spratt (D., S.C.), Howard Coble (R., N.C.), Larry Kissell (D., N.C.) and Walter Jones (R., N.C.), is intended to close enforcement loopholes by placing additional Customs inspectors in Central America and Mexico, expanding penalties to more firms in the supply chain, decreasing the use of “blanket” affidavits that certify all imported products comply with U.S. rules and starting a verification system to track yarn and fabric in regions that have free trade agreements with the U.S." read more

(wwd)Hilfiger Buy Weighs on PVH in Qtr.

Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. said Monday that it posted a first-quarter loss, hurt in part by expenses from the $3 billion purchase of Tommy Hilfiger and hedges to cover a portion of that euro-denominated acquisition. For the three months ended May 2, the net loss was $27.6 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, versus net income of $24.7 million, or 48 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Eliminating over $100 million in onetime costs related to the Hilfiger acquisition, earnings per share rose to positive territory, coming in at 83 cents, 4 cents higher than the consensus estimate of 79 cents. The Hilfiger transaction, in tandem with the earlier purchase of Calvin Klein, created a global powerhouse with two of the most recognized designer brands. “This extended brand portfolio and operating platform creates unique growth opportunities across additional geographies and product categories, which we are positioned to capitalize upon to drive future revenue and earnings growth as well as strong returns to our stockholders." read more

(washington post)Williams Sisters Turn Heads with Fashion at the French Open

Fashionable tennis wear? I'm not quite sure the Williams sisters have it down yet... Here are some pictures of their most recent fashions on the court... what do you think?

The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

Lady Gaga's Interest in Millinery, JCP's Future Looking Strong, Wal-Mart and A&F Better Than Expected, Coach and Target Settle Lawsuit, Vena Cava's Garage Sale

(Vogue)Lady Gaga and Milliner Philip Treacy

"Lady Gaga is set to take her relationship with fashion to the next level, by learning to create her own unique headwear under milliner Philip Treacy. The singer has applied for an internship with Treacy after the two worked together on several headpieces to accompany her extravagant stage outfits." read more

(WWD)Penny Reports Strong Performance

( Cava Cleans Out It's Closets

Vena Cava is having a virtual garage sale which runs June 1 through June 30 (or until it’s sold out).  In true garage sale fashion, there will be items for sale that range from paperbacks, decorations, clothes from the designer's personal collection and some archived Vena Cava pieces. But we are really curious as to who will purchase Mayock’s birth certificate and Social Security Card!? To buy go to www.venacavanyc.comread more

(Bloomberg)Settled: Coach vs. Target on Handbag Infringement

"Coach filed the suit last October to impel Target to stop selling the bags. It sought an undetermined amount in damages, injunctive relief and attorney fees in its complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. "We respect the integrity of all brands, including Coach, and are pleased that this matter has been resolved in a manner beneficial to all parties involved," said Rick Darling, LF USA president." read more

(WWD)Retail Stocks Down 1.4%

Quarterly earnings were reported today and all four retail firms surpassed analysts’ expectations for the just-concluded quarter, but their outlooks for the second quarter and beyond fell short of Wall Street’s projections. "While retailers reporting results today — including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Saks Inc., The TJX Cos. Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. — generally registered improved first-quarter results, all expressed some degree of caution about the strength of the economic recovery." read more

(WWD)Gucci America President Vitale to Exit

"Gucci America Inc.'s president Daniella Vitale is leaving the company effective May 26. Vitale joined the company in 1999 as vice president of wholesale, and was promoted to president in 2006. In that time, she has been credited with growing Gucci's retail business in North and South America, as well as Gucci's philanthropic programs, including partnerships with UNICEF, Tribeca Film Institute, The Film Foundation and Dia Art Foundation."