29 July 2010

Macy's Hopes Madonna's Line Puts Retailer On Map With Teens

The Wall Street Journal

Macy's Inc. doesn't plan to sell cone bras to its customers, but the department store is hoping its new line by Madonna and her daughter Lourdes will resonate with a new generation of teens who didn't grow up listening to the Material Girl's music.

The approach is Macy's first deep foray into "fast fashion," apparel that is trendy and moves out of doors quickly. The line, called Material Girl, puts Macy's up against specialty stores like Forever 21 that devote their entire floor spaces and fortunes to teens. The potential return is significant, with roughly $25 billion spent annually on teen apparel, according to NPD Group.

The line also helps Macy's reinvent itself. The retailer for the last year or so has been revamping the way it receives and sells merchandise, with significant emphasis on tailoring inventory to local tastes.

Material Girl makes its debut Aug. 3, when Macy's opens curtained-off areas in stores to introduce a line that aims to be both edgy and accessible. Tutu-style dresses and alligator skin shoes will stand aside corduroy jackets and stone-washed jeans.

The line "is a real image enhancer for us," said Martine Reardon, Macy's executive vice president of marketing. "The fact that Madonna and her daughter are behind this should make it a real winner."

Teens shopping last week in the junior's department at Macy's Herald Square store in midtown Manhattan expressed interest in the line--and added that it might have an added benefit..

"I think it's cool," said Jessica Allen, a 15-year-old from Queens. "My mom wants to see it, too. She likes Madonna and her look."

While there are certainly influences of early-career Madonna in the line--sheer lace tops and midrift-baring black leather jackets--there are no over-the-top items, like the cone bras that brought Madonna personal fashion notoriety.

Macy's and Iconix Brands Group Inc. (ICON), which is collaborating with Madonna and Lourdes on the line, said it was primarily influenced by Lourdes' fashion sense, with research extending to going through Lourdes' closet.

Macy's will not disclose its financial arrangement with Madonna or what the retailer hopes to see in sales. Iconix has said in a regulatory filing that it will pay Madonna as much $30 million to partner with her on fashion brands. An Iconix spokeswoman said Material Girl, which is exclusive to Macy's, is one of the brands and declined to break out what percentage of the $30 million it represents. Madonna and a partner own 50% of Material Girl, with Iconix owning the other half.

Macy's will initially place the line in 200 of its roughly 800 stores, which the company said is a pretty typical number of locations for a merchandise rollout. The department store will gauge demand and consider adding the line to additional locations, Reardon said. The apparel, shoes, jewelry and handbags will range from $12 to $40. Macy's already envisions extending the line into fragrances next year.

Consumers will soon be seeing Material Girl promos, with Macy's planning to advertise the merchandise in magazines, online, on billboards, over the radio, in movie theaters and through social media. Macy's declined to say how much the advertising campaign will cost.

Macy's has chosen the right representatives to step up its presence in teen retailing, while adding to its roster of products backed by celebrities, said John Long, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates. "You have the more youthful element with her daughter, and Madonna has demonstrated staying power, appeal across generations and an edge."

Department stores have to work hard to avoid being thought of as dated, given the proliferation of specialty stores that focus just on teens and young adults, and the only downside would be if Material Girl did not catch on, said John Rosen, executive director of Marketing Consulting Associates. "If it misses the mark, it will be harder to get that audience to give Macy's next attempt a shot."

26 July 2010

New Bratz to Hit Shelves in August

Associated Press

New Bratz dolls are heading to stores after a federal court overturned a ruling that their maker, MGA Entertainment, had to turn over the brand to Mattel Inc.

Two new lines of the doe-eyed dolls should hit stores such as Toys R Us, Target and Walmart by the end of August.

Bratz, the pouty-lipped, provocatively dressed rivals to Mattel's Barbie, have been scarce as Mattel and MGA battled over their rights. Last week an appeals court overturned a lower court's ruling upholding Mattel's claim that Bratz's designer was actually working for Mattel when he created them and Mattel should get ownership of the trademark. The case may be retried.

MGA, which launched the doll 10 years ago, is shipping several new Bratz products:

_ "Passion for Fashion" dolls that retail for $9.99 and come with extra clothes and accessories;

_ "Party" dolls, which retail for $19.99 and come with both day wear and party wear.

_ a pair of twins, Roxxi and Phoebe, in a two-pack for $24.99;

_ two Bratz Boyz at $10.99 each; and

_ play sets such as a spa for $49.99 and a club lounge for $34.99.

The new Bratz have less makeup and more ample clothing and are more flexible than earlier versions, said MGA CEO Isaac Larian. They have been in development since December, when the appeals court put on hold the order for MGA to hand over the trademark to Mattel.

The Bratz franchise was once worth as much as $1 billion and was MGA's biggest brand. But its popularity peaked in 2005 and sales have been sliding since. Meanwhile, MGA launched its "Moxie Girlz" brand. SpinMaster also introduced "Liv" dolls. And Barbie, who long ruled the roost of fashion dolls, has been experiencing a resurgence.

While Bratz will be at all major toy retailers, it is unclear how much shelf space they will get.

"I think retailers are going to expect some special accommodation to be changing their shelf space allocations at such a late date," said Needham & Co. analyst Sean McGowan.

MGA said retailers set aside shelf space for the line in January, however. And Toys R Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said the new Bratz dolls are "being accommodated within the normal flexing of space in the fashion dolls area for the fall set."

MGA is a privately held company based in Van Nuys, Calif. In addition to Bratz and Moxie Girlz it makes Little Tikes, Rescue Pets and Zapf toys.

19 July 2010

Getting a Leg Up on Back-to-School Shoes

Creston News

She lived in sandals all summer long and he barely took his cleats off, even to go to bed. Summer fun and casual style may leave your kids facing back-to-school season in serious need of some new shoes.

"Notebooks, pens and new clothes aren't the only fresh supplies children need when heading back to school. Quality childrens shoes that provide the support growing feet need are among the most important purchases on any back-to-school shopping list," says Dr. Kathleen Stone, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

While your kids will certainly have something to say about the style of shoes they want, back-to-school shoe shopping isn't child's play. Parents should consider several important factors before buying new shoes for their children, the APMA advises.

* Take your child shoe shopping with you, rather than buying something without your child present. Every pair of kids shoes fits differently and buying something in your child's size doesn't necessarily ensure a proper, comfortable fit. Measure your child's feet (both of them, since feet are rarely exactly the same size) and have her try the shoes on. Plus, letting a child have a say in the shoe-buying process can help ensure she adopts healthy foot habits later in life. Children's foot health is as important as adult foot health.

* Feet swell later in the day, so it's best to try on shoes for boys and girls later in the day when feet are their largest.

* When evaluating a shoe, look for a stiff heel. Press on both sides of the heel counter to measure for stiffness; it shouldn't collapse. The shoe should bend with your child's toes. It shouldn't be too stiff or bend too much in the toe box area. It should also be rigid, and should never twist in the middle.

* Don't rely on last year's shoes. Children's feet grow like the rest of their bodies. Shoe and sock sizes may change every few months as their feet grow. Even if last season's shoes are in good condition, they likely won't fit properly after several months of your child's feet growing.

* Never hand down footwear. A used shoe may be the right size for your child, but still might not fit comfortably, especially if it's seen a lot of wear and tear. Just because the shoe fit one child comfortably, doesn't mean it will fit another the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread foot fungi like athlete's foot and nail fungus.

* Buy for the larger foot. Mismatched feet are more common than not. Measure your child's feet to see which is larger and select shoes that best fit the larger foot.

* Choose shoes that are comfortable right away. Avoid shoes that need a "break-in" period. And be sure your child tries shoes on while wearing the type of socks he'll be wearing with the shoes on a regular basis.

"Healthy feet and comfortable shoes play important roles in children's overall health," Stone says. "Parents should monitor their children's foot health and seek the advice of a podiatrist if they notice a problem. Podiatrists are specially trained to diagnose and treat ailments of the foot and ankles in people of all ages." Occasionally, custom shoe inserts may be required.

16 July 2010

Swimwear Shows are Taking over in Miami Beach

Miami Herald

Think of it as the Art Basel of the swimwear world: dripping with international cache, spawning new events each year, filling Miami Beach hotels and dropping millions of dollars into the South Florida economy.

And even art collectors may agree it's sexier showcasing bikinis than Boteros.

Swimwear designers, models, retailers, fashion show producers and international press are all descending on Miami Beach this weekend for the largest and most important swimwear trade show in the world, SwimShow 2011 -- plus various fashion shows and ancillary events surrounding it.

The recognition they bring to Miami -- videos shown round the world, photos gracing the pages of magazines -- make the events the pinnacle of the summer, said Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

``We're the epicenter of sensualness and sexiness on the global scale, and this further validates that point,'' he said.

SwimShow 2011 begins Saturday at the Miami Beach Convention Center and runs through Tuesday, as the opening show of the swimwear season worldwide, where 350 manufacturers, with 2,000 lines, will reveal for the first time next year's collections to more than 2,500 buyers.

In all, 7,500 people are expected to flow through the convention center for the show, said Judy Stein, executive director of the Swimwear Association of Florida, which has produced the trade show in the Miami area for more than two decades.

SwimShow 2011, which Aedo said brings in $1.2 million alone, is the forerunner for other events, and has cemented Miami Beach's position on the swimwear map.

``I absolutely feel that Miami Beach is the swimwear capital of the world,'' Stein said.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim, a series of sexy fashion shows at Miami Beach's Raleigh Hotel, kicked off its sixth year with a Trina Turk fashion show and party Thursday night. In all, 26 designers' fashions will parade on the runway during the evenings, by invitation only, through Monday.

The event, which brings in models, hair and makeup people, lighting and sound producers, and other planners who prepare for weeks, has tripled in size during the last three years, said Peter Levy, senior vice president and managing director of IMG Fashion Worldwide, which produces the show.

Plantation-based DHL is sponsoring the Beach Bunny Swimwear show, which features the design collaborations of Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian Odom.

And more fashion events are cropping up.

Salon Allure, a luxury trade show, is launching this year for the first time, featuring 19 swimwear brands showcasing their wares in a boutique setting inside the W Hotel South Beach, through Tuesday.

Among Salon Allure's designers is Ivana Sert, whose swimsuit, encrusted with Swarovski crystals, was worn by Kim Cattrall in the movie Sex and the City 2. Istanbul-based Sert will be showing 60 pieces to retail buyers in her Miami debut.

``To meet the buyers and show my brand and my designs and my talent, this is a very good step for me,'' said Sert, whose items are priced at wholesale between about $250 and $900.

So far, 250 buyers and retailers and 40 media organizations are expected to attend Salon Allure, said Rick Fatzinger, producer of the event.

``Miami Swim Week has boomed and created this week in the middle of the summer that is usually a slow time here,'' he said.

In fact, in the midst of the oppressive heat and downpours of July, beachfront hotels are sold out, restaurants are booked and Miami Beach's Collins Avenue is filled with traffic.

``Between last year and this year, we feel this has reached a critical mass,'' Aedo said.

Consumers can't attend the fashion shows, but organizers are hoping they will google the designers' names and watch the videos, which will probably be available online the day after the show.

Though the main Swim Week events are not open to the public, they represent the behind-the-scenes steps that take your maillot, swim trunks or cover-up from manufacturer to store rack.

Swimwear, a $4.5 billion industry in the United States, has been resilient during the recession, and is one of the three best performing categories in the apparel industry in the U.S., along with dresses and small leather goods, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for the NPD Group, a market research company based in Port Washington, N.Y.

Unlike other segments of the apparel industry, whose sales were overall down 2.1 percent during the 12 months ended in May, swimwear sales were up 2.5 percent during that timeframe, NPD data shows.

Cohen said the main reasons are that swimwear has diversified uses, and people feel a need to buy a new suit, either because they want a new style or their old one has worn out or doesn't fit anymore.

``If it is too big, you are really in trouble,'' he said, ``and if it too small, you're showing things you don't want to show.''

06 July 2010

George Clooney to Appear in Italian Fasion Court Case

Telegraph U.K.
George Clooney will appear in an Italian court this month in a case in which three people are accused of using the Hollywood actor's name to promote a fashion show and a line of clothing.

The 49-year-old's lawyers have confirmed that he will give evidence as a witness in the case, which starts on July 16 in Milan.

The case goes back to April 2008, when the three people organised a fashion show in a Milan hotel and allegedly used Clooney's name and reputation in an attempt to promote the event.

The trio have been charged with forgery, fraud and possession of stolen goods.

Clooney's lawyer, Grazia Maria Mantelli, confirmed that her client will attend the start of the trial in a ground floor court room in Milan's Palace of Justice.

The judge in the case has requested special security arrangements from Carabinieri police to protect Clooney from the large number of fans who are expected to attend the hearing.

"There will be a lot of people, I imagine," said the judge, Pietro Caccialanza, given Clooney's "celebrity status" as a "noted" actor and director.

He said that while it was important that the trial runs smoothly, he was also mindful of the need to give Clooney's fans a chance "to get close to their hero".

The star of Ocean's Eleven spends a lot of time in Italy.

He has a multi-million pound villa on the shores of Lake Como, north of Milan, and is in a relationship with an Italian actress and model, Elisabetta Canalis.

02 July 2010

Houston Industry Leaders Ready to Launch Fashion Week

Houston Chronicle

Project Runway winner Chloe Dao will show her spring 
collection at Fashion Houston 2010 in October
A contingent of creative-minded types thinks the Bayou City deserves — and needs - its own fashion week. So on the heels of September's big spring shows in New York, they're staging one.

Fashion Houston 2010 will be presented by Audi Oct. 11-15, with runway shows at the Wortham Theater Center Oct. 12-14 bookended by parties and other events.

Project Runway winner Chloe Dao, Cesar Galindo and David Peck (a talented designer who recently moved here from New York) are among the locally based A-listers who will show their spring collections.

Also committed to show, according to Fashion Houston president Jared Lang and organizer Neal Hamil, are Project Runway's Christian Siriano, red carpet favorite Marc Bouwer, the Milan-based luxury menswear label Kiton and Lauren Bush.

Hamil said more names will be added to the roster once they're confirmed. Page Parkes Models is lining up the bodies who will show off the fashions, including mature Texas supermodel Diane DeWitt, America's Top Model winner CariDee English and Models of the Runway's Kalyn Hemphill.

Lynn Wyatt - who looked chic at Wednesday's news conference in a slim gray Giorgio Armani pantsuit and a ruffled Chanel blouse with a Mariquita Masterson brooch as a bow tie - will open up her closet for a special exhibit featuring 12 pieces from her haute couture collection.

Another fashion icon, Eileen Ford, will visit to receive a lifetime achievement award.

Lang said three charities will benefit from some of the events: Houston Community College, Dress for Success and Legacy Community Services.

He expects ticket prices for the runway shows to range from about $35 to $175; they'll go on sale once show details are complete.