Archive: September 2009

H&M signs Sonia Rykiel collections

Found on Retail Week:

Swedish clothing chain H&M has signed French fashion veteran Sonia Rykiel to design a range of lingerie and related accessories to be launched on December 5.

The lingerie collection will be launched in 1,500 H&M stores worldwide as well as major Sonia Rykiel boutiques. It is the first time that H&M has extended its designer collaboration in to lingerie and accessories for women.

A second collaboration for spring 2010 will include knitwear aimed at young women and girls aged 18 months to 8 years-old, and also include a range of accessories. The spring collection will launch in around 250 H&M stores on February 20.

Nathalie Rykiel, president and artistic director of Sonia Rykiel, said: “It is a hallmark of Sonia Rykiel to think of all women, because fashion is about a certain spirit more than a question of means. This collaboration fits perfectly with our philosophy.”

H&M creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch said: “Sonia Rykiel is a true fashion icon who invented a signature style around femininity, Parisian chic and modernity – as well as functional, comfortable, wearable clothes. She has an attitude that inspires admiration among women of all ages around the world. We loved the joyful chic of Sonia Rykiel’s 40th anniversary runway show – and in that spirit this collection is all about revelling in great lingerie for its own sake. This is a totally modern, new kind of lingerie look, and when we started to work together with Rykiel on it, we just couldn’t stop.”

Sonia Rykiel opened her first boutique on the Rue de Grenelle in Paris in the spring of 1968, a time of social upheaval that led to what the designer describes as “la demode”, “unfashionable” style.

Her black clothes feature inside-out stitching, lace, strass, colourful stripes and the knitted sweaters that have become her hallmark.

H&M is set to launch its collaboration with Jimmy Choo in November.

House of Fraser unsure about All Saints future

According to Drapers, House of Fraser is in discussions with young fashion retailer All Saints about the future of their relationship.

It is understood that All Saints is concerned about the level of discounting at the department store and is assessing whether to continue with the group. Also, All Saints, which has revealed consistently strong trading throughout the downturn, is keen to avoid taking a margin hit outside of the traditional discounting period. In July, All Saints said like-for-likes had risen 31% for the year to date and that annual turnover was £90m. At the same time, All Saints secured £30m in funding from Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets, to fund UK and international expansion.

Earlier this month, Drapers revealed that House of Fraser would hold back on Christmas discounting and would not hold 20%-off discounting mega days, outside of its planned four for the year.

House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy said: “We are always negotiating with brands about their performance. We are having talks with All Saints. All Saints performs well in some stores and in others densities are not so good.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy said that House of Fraser’s relationship with menswear retailer Crombie was “uncertain”. McCarthy said: “We don’t necessarily see it as a strategic part of the group going forwards. ”

The uncertainty follows the departure of former House of Fraser director of womenswear, accessories and beauty June Lawlor and commercial director Colin Porter, who joined Crombie as joint managing directors earlier this month. All Saints and Crombie were unavailable for comment.

Milan Fashion Week – The best of Day 1

The Italian catwalks are never short of glitz and glamour, why use one sequin when a thousand is better? But even by his nation’s standards, Giorgio Armani pulled out all the stops yesterday.

It was as if the recession had never happened. Armani’s press release suggested this was a collection inspired by body art, “exuberant, head-turning [and] sumptuous”. His girls looked ready to party in their flirtatiously short dresses, gone were the designer’s signature long, elegant evening gowns, replaced with bum-skimming hot pink taffeta, one-shouldered puffballs or wraparound skirts that exposed sequin microshorts underneath. These were dresses to be partied in.

Everything was teamed with flat shoes, from gladiator sandals to patent ballerina pumps, giving the collection a youthful, more playful edge than perhaps it has had before. The collection, in a series of jewelled colours, featured two emerging trends; checks and crystals, showing that Mr Armani has lost none of his design edge following his recent illness and, in my opinion, it’s one of the brands best collections in years.

Over at Moschino Cheap & Chic, the audience were presented with humorous prints as always; Minnie Mouse polka dot, oversized monochrome flowers and – again – checks, making numerous appearances. Colours, shapes and styling had a retro feel – and pink, red, orange and monochrome babydoll dresses, jumpsuits and maxis were styled with flower-shaped sunglasses. Despite the tongue-in-cheek attitude of this collection, I do really like it and most of it I would wear myself…ok, maybe not the dress inspired by Bjork’s Oscar choice from 2001 (the dead swan for those who have forgotten).

Just Cavalli blasted Smells Like Teen Spirit out of the speakers as his artfully dishevelled models – smudged eyeliner and rock chick attitude – took to the runway. The first girl appeared in a long pink chiffon tiered dress that was falling off her to reveal sheer, deliberately ill fitting jersey underclothes. She had “I’ve just been touched by Cavalli” scrawled across her front and “heal the world, make it a Cavalli place” on her back. Cavalli’s known for his humour but the theme of the show combined with the implications of the slogan were pretty dark. Chiffon dresses of green and sunbleached pink-bleeding-into-black, swung airily around the girls over mis-matching T-shirts with rolled up sleeves or sequinned under layers for added grunge glamour.

Shredded denim and snakeskin jeans were teamed with pointed satin bras that came either under or over matching chiffon vests, while the free-for-all silhouette was drawn tightly in for bodycon mini dresses with studded seams. Later on, dresses of lace panels featured long fringing and hung open over sexy fitted underwear, as if the young ravers had come into money but couldn’t bring themselves to give up the grunge entirely – and for the morning after there were moth-eaten black knits over tight leather trousers.

D&G sexed up its collection with stonewashed denim and laser cut corsets, showcasing a rodeo girl procession of tiered denim dresses alongside distressed and destroyed playsuits, and enough chambray shirts to suggest a wardrobe essential come next February. The corsetry theme which underpinned the more subtle structures of next season was woven into laser cut dresses, with boning running along the sides and front adding shape and sexiness. Studded leather skirts, leather panels and cowboy boots brought home the country and western theme.

Milan Fashion Week – Prada moves from austerity to frivolity

Another week means another city; as the world’s glitterati and fashionista’s descend upon the glamour and hedonism of Milan. It’s a week that’s sure to be significantly different from the conservative – although rather well received – London Fashion Week.

One designer who’s already received critical appraisal is, one of my favourites, Muiccia Prada. Prada threw aside last season’s wholesome, 1940s wartime “make do and mend” girl and replaced her with a more frivolous attitude.

Gone are the boiled wool suits and leather waders, replaced by a light-hearted aesthetic of crystal chandelier dresses, tropical prints, bordelloesque perspex shoes and transparent bags.

The set design was that of shifting hotel corridors and seedy nightclub entrances with conspicuous red lights.

Speaking after her show last night, Miuccia Prada explained she was influenced by “the imagination of corridors. The corridors of hotels are mysterious, there is both high and low life.” She also cited the distraction of modern life as another inspiration, mixing the city and the beach in the collection.

Her designs featured matching jackets and shorts, stiff tops that resembled capes, embellished blouses and dresses made to look like chandeliers.

“The transparency was the idea of light and of this sexy woman walking the corridors,” she said.

Prada was not playing peekaboo only with the overtly sexy crystal dresses, there were glimpses of white cotton briefs and shirt-tails revealed under loose fitting running shorts.

“I have a passion for knickers,” she joked. She also worked with revealing sheer fabrics and cut-outs.

Other stand-out pieces from her collection included the unfinished narrow knee-length shorts that looked as though someone had just lopped them off with a pair of scissors.

Prada explained she had worked for months on the prints of beaches and palm trees in yellows and sages. It’s this mix of “contemporary reality” and nostalgia that Prada believes will make it sellable. And a hint of what’s to come? “Platforms are dead,” she said. “Well maybe until the next show.”

Commercial London Fashion Week lives up to the hype

London Fashion Week stamped its mark on the international buying calendar this week, impressing buyers with some of the most commercial collections seen in years.

The designers returning to London Fashion Week were the stars of the schedule. Burberry Prorsum lived up to the hype surrounding the label with a collection that plugged into the trend for commercial yet feminine and playful product. It used sugary tones of mint and baby-pink chiffon, injecting fresh takes on its signature trench coats and girly dresses.

Matthew Williamson firmly shook off his boho mantle to team ethnic undertones with futuristic shiny fabrics and metallic detailing.

The best of the rest went to Christopher Kane, whose signature style of sinister yet innocent, came through with checked prairie dresses and sherbet silks with cutaway panels.

With big British names such as Burberry Prorsum and Pringle returning to London from rival international catwalks, the pressure was on the organiser, British Fashion Council (BFC), to live up to its promise that its 25th anniversary event would restore the buzz the capital had lacked since the late 1990s.

Early reports suggested the BFC largely succeeded, with a 15% rise on last season’s visitor figures and a host of international buyers and press.

BFC chairman Harold Tillman said: “We had great feedback from international and UK attendees. There are always things we can improve and work on but that is what drives us forward.”
Buyers were impressed by new talent as well as the much-hyped big-name returns.

Liberty buying director Ed Burstell said: “London Fashion Week certainly lived up to the hype with the return of Burberry and Matthew Williamson. Both put on outstanding shows. Other favourites were Luella, for her flirty and very saleable dresses, and Mark Fast and Mary Katrantzou as new talent to watch.”

He added that the relocation of the event to Somerset House had been long overdue. That sentiment was echoed by Harvey Nichols’ fashion buying director Averyl Oates, who said Somerset House and 180 The Strand “proved that in London we don’t always need a faceless warehouse space for ambience”.

However, other buyers found the venue confusing. Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous two-store London indie, said: “It was hard to get an overview with all the different rooms in Somerset House.”

Some exhibitors said the new exhibition space at 180 The Strand was quiet, but Tillman argued that brands that marketed themselves well made good sales. He said: “The exhibitors that made appointments and created a focus on their area wrote business.”

Visitors were confident that LFW would now become an essential fixture on the buying calendar. Selfridges’ director of womenswear Anita Barr said: “If the BFC can persuade labels such as Burberry to show here again it will cement London’s importance.”

Tillman added: “We know we have our work cut out but we are confident that we can continue to raise the bar.”

Ann Summers wants larger lingerie share

Found on Retail Week:

Sex toys and lingerie specialist Ann Summers is developing its underwear offer as it seeks to become a destination for the “everyday lingerie customer”.

The retailer, famed for its vibrators and dildos, has launched an everyday lingerie range called Pure Lace. Marketing director Fiona Davies said the lingerie push, which will also involve the Knickerbox range, aims to show shoppers the store is not just a destination for occasion underwear.

She said: “We have an opportunity to really understand where the brand is. It is an incredibly sexy brand. It is about getting women to visit us more frequently.”

The new focus on lingerie is part of a five-year business plan drawn up by Davies with managing director Paula Minowa. Alongside the everyday range, Ann Summers will continue to drive sales of its higher-priced ranges such as Genevieve.

Lingerie sales have increased since the recession started as more consumers are staying in, and spicing up their sex lives with new underwear. According to TNS Worldpanel Fashion, sales of underwired bras increased 10% in the 24 weeks to June 21 and the push-up bra market is now worth £80m.

Davies said: “Lingerie sales are very buoyant with staying in the new going out, so it is even more relevant than before.”

As part of the new strategy, the retailer will open 20 shops in the next year. It will also grow its multichannel offer and develop its Ann Summers parties, where a consumer signs up to act as a party host and receives commission for every Ann Summers product they sell, which it said have been popular during the recession as an extra revenue stream for consumers, with applications rising and about 7,500 parties held each year.

Davies said: “The key opportunity we have is the interesting business model that includes web, stores and parties. It brings us a discreet and interesting relationship with the customer.”

H&M to launch website as profits beat expectations

H&M is to start selling online in the UK from next autumn, following the decision made by its fast fashion arch-rival Zara to do the same last week. The announcement came as the Swedish fashion giant revealed third-quarter pre-tax profits were slightly higher than expected, although August sales were heavily down.

According to Drapers: “H&M’s pre-tax earnings in the nine months to the end of August were up 4% to SEK 4.77bn (£428m) compared with a forecast SEK4.75bn (£426m), and SEK4.59bn (£412m) last year.

However year-on-year sales fell 3% in local currencies compared with an expected rise of 5%.

For the month of August, total sales fell by the same amount, but like-for-like sales plummeted 11%.”

UBS analyst Andy Hughes said the fall was down to a lack of stock. “H&M seems to have run out of Spring/Summer stock as a result of very cautious budgets. Other retailers have been equally cautious but have been able to chase stock to avoid this.”

So far this year H&M has opened 85 stores and closed nine, with the total now numbering 1,840, of which 31 are franchise outlets.

Burberry shares rise following London Fashion Week comeback

Burberry’s shares were up 5.5% to 502.5p yesterday, following a much acclaimed catwalk show, which closed London Fashion Week on Tuesday.

Confidence in the luxury fashion label has grown following comments from chief executive Angela Ahrendts, who reportedly said that, “the UK business has been on fire for quite a while now”.

More than 1,500 guests, including US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green, M&S chief executive Sir Stuart Rose and Sainsbury chairman David Tyler, turned out to see Burberry’s return to the London catwalk. The British fashion house usually shows at Milan Fashion Week but changed location to celebrate LFW’s 25th anniversary.

The collection received rave reviews from the fashion press. See backstage and runway pictures here.

John Lewis opens Cardiff store

In a previous blog I commented on a John Lewis report, despite their decreasing sale figures the fashion part of the department store had been continuously doing well, as sales rose 2.2% over the first half of 2009. Total online sales rose 11.6% to £151.5m over the half and the retailer re-launched its fashion website with 200 brands. Today, John Lewis opened the biggest Department store in Wales in Cardiff’s St David’s Centre.

The 280,000 sq ft shop, the retailer’s largest outside of London, anchors the extended development and was the first to open. It will employ about 800 people.

The store is the first to feature a new-look fashion department including a designer area, denim wall and contemporary jewellery and accessories fixtures. The shop is also the first to include Johnlewis.com computer access points. The retailer said: “The concept has no defined walkways, allowing shoppers a sense of discovery.”

Womenswear brands stocked include Stella McCartney lingerie, Elie Tahari, Mulberry, Tanya Sarne for John Lewis and Les Petites. The store will also house menswear brands such as Ralph Lauren, Belstaff, John Smedley, Zegna Sport and Hackett.

The opening was marked by models, who acted as live mannequins in the city centre to showcase the fashion brands on offer. Waiting consumers were also treated to street entertainment from a samba band and jugglers.

John Lewis Cardiff managing director Liz Mihell said: “Our opening is the culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation. Cardiff is a growing and vibrant city.”

See also Drapers for a full article.

Matt Hudson to leave Monsoon

Monsoon managing director Matt Hudson is to leave the retailer at the end of the month. Hudson joined Monsoon as managing director in April last year after leaving Marks & Spencer where he was trading director for womenswear, lingerie and girlswear.

Peter Ridler, managing director worldwide at Monsoon sister chain Accessorize, will now head up both businesses.

The retailer said in a statement: “As a result of this [Hudson’s departure], the company will be reorganising its management structure and consolidating both brands under the leadership of Peter Ridler.”

A new buying and design director is also being recruited for Monsoon.

See also Retail Week