Lanvin for H&M

Confirming the collaboration with high-street brand H&M, Lanvin’s artistic director Alber Elbaz and head of menswear, Lucas Ossendrijver have agreed to design a range that will arrive in stores 23 November.

Customers will also be able to buy the collection online, following the store’s recent announcement that it is launching its first ecommerce site in September.

Elbaz said, “H&M approached us to collaborate, and to see if we could translate the dream we created at Lanvin to a wider audience, not just a dress for less,” he said, “I have said in the past that I would never do a mass-market collection, but what intrigued me was the idea of H&M going luxury rather than Lanvin going public. This has been an exceptional exercise, where two companies at opposite poles can work together because we share the same philosophy of bringing joy and beauty to men and women around the world.”

Previous successful designer collaborations for the Swedish highstreet giant include Stella McCartney, Sonia Rykiel and Jimmy Choo.

Net-A-Porter head office relocates to Westfield

According to Retail Week, luxury fashion etailer Net-A-Porter is to move its head office to shopping centre Westfield London.

The retailer, which runs the online shops (and website of torture to every poor fashion student) and fashion outlet website, will occupy a unit located above the Luxury Village.

Net-A-Porter chairman Natalie Massenet said: “We are very excited about the possibilities presented by our office move to Westfield London. It is a fitting location and a substantial space that will allow us to increase our organizational capacity and make real headway towards achieving our growth goals.”

Footfall at Westfield has exceeded expectations, pulling in 22 million shoppers; one of which was me when I visited the centre in November 2008 (it opened in October). I thought it was amazing; to those who haven’t visited I really recommend it just because it’s incredible to see the designer boutiques and high street labels together in one building. One minute you could be admiring Mui Mui, a minute later you could travel up the escalators and be in Topshop. I love it, and I genuinely believe it’s only in Britain where high street and high end would combine together.

Jimmy Choo unveil collection for H&M

Next month, the average high street shopper can purchase their very own pair of Jimmy Choo’s, as today hype (and if past collections are anything to go by- mass hysteria) was built with the unveiling of the collection by H&M.

Consumers are generally expected to fork out an extortionate amount to get their hands on the coveted heels, a staunch favourite amongst A-listers (and Carrie Bradshaw), with the average pair costing £500.

But for a credit-crunch friendly-ish £79.99, shoe-lovers can bag a bargain just in time for the party season, as the collection hits shelves on November 14.

The Jimmy Choo for H&M range features more than 40 pieces including clothing as well as footwear and handbags. Prices range from £14.99 for statement jewellery, through to £149.99 for a leather dress and £179.99 for thigh high boots. Key footwear styles include red patent strappy heels, studded pumps (£49.99) and zebra print sandals (£79.99).

There is even something for the men as a selection of ankle boots, bags, wool blazers, leather biker jackets, silk and cashmere mix sweaters, shirts and trousers will also be available in store.

Jimmy Choo was co-founded in 1996 by Malaysian-born Choo and former Vogue accessories editor Tamara Mellon. It has since become a major global upmarket brand with stores on six continents. Mellon, who set up the designer empire with a £150,000 loan from her father, said: ‘It’s such a privilege to design a collection to appeal to fashion savvy, street smart women.

‘Jimmy Choo will bring to H&M a sophisticated, fashion forward, accessible and glamorous collection – the perfect party pieces to wear out at night.’

The partnership is the latest coup by H&M, who have cashed in on collections by designers including Stella McCartney, Matthew Williamson, Madonna and Kylie Minogue.

Scarlett Johansson for Mango

In the past, Spanish store, Mango, has worked with Milla Jovovich and Lizzie Jagger but new poster face Scarlett Johansson is Mango’s most high-profile celebrity model to date.

The Girl with the Pearl Earring actress, who took over from co-star Penelope Cruz as the face of the High Street label earlier this year, has posed in a series of stunning images to promote the store’s new collection, taken by famed fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti.

The fashion label said of its new star: “She is an extraordinary personality, fun, young. She’s Mango’s ideal urban woman, independent and cosmopolitan.”

The photos show the 24 year old with short peroxide blonde hair, smouldering against a graffiti-covered wall. The shoot sees her wear pieces from an Eighties-inspired collection; including T-shirt dresses, embellished miniskirts and polished tailoring, flaunting her famous curves. While the edgy rock-chic leather remains, the leopard-print of early autumn has been replaced with inky blues, black and pale grey.

Scarlett, who recently married fellow actor Ryan Reynolds, made an appearance in Munich, Germany earlier this week to launch the campaign. Dressed, naturally, in head-to-toe Mango, she wore a sleeveless printed pussy-bow blouse with a beige pencil skirt and co-ordinating platform peep-toes (see images to the right, top image). It was a far cry from Scarlett’s usual vintage-inspired look, which is often compared with the style of Marilyn Monroe.

However, it’s these images that have prompted a mixed reception from the fashion press, with some, like Instyle, praising the ‘strong direction’ being taken by the chain and others, for example OSOYOU, criticising its bland neutrality. I’m just surprised that this shot has been publicised as heavily, as it really doesn’t do justice to the collection, let alone to Johansson.

Let’s Clean Up Fashion

I spotted an article on Drapers website today about Primark making improvements to its commitment to paying overseas workers a living minimum wage. This was according to the third Let’s Clean Up Fashion report published by pressure group Labour Behind the Label. I’m quite involved with this group and earlier this year I raised money for them by working at Leeds Festival through Workers Beer.

According to Drapers, Primark, which fell into the “unconvincing” category on Labour Behind the Label’s living wage strategy last year, has moved into the report’s top tier of retailers working to increase wages, having instigated a number of joint projects with trade unions and non-government organisations on a local level to protect wages.

Up Fashion report scores fashion retailers based on submissions they make to the not-for-profit organisation detailing measures they are taking to ensure overseas workers in their supply chains are not exploited.

Primark joined Gap, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, New Look and Next in scoring highly. All of these retailers demonstrated a systematic approach to wage increase.

Meanwhile the fourth annual report said that George at Asda, Clarks, Debenhams, French Connection, John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Levi Strauss & Co, Matalan, River Island and Sainsbury’s had not provided concrete information about any plans to address the living wage issue.

Labour Behind the Label’s campaigns co-ordinator Anna McMullen, said: “We were particularly disappointed with the supermarkets this year. Last year, Asda’s submission made reference to a ‘living wage’ and what they were paying in relation to that, whereas this year they just told us they do audits but didn’t go into detail.”

She added: “Sainsbury’s was also a bit of a disappointment. Each year they say they are planning projects with the Ethical Trading Initiative but never give concrete facts.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson responded: “We have ongoing relationships with suppliers as well as a system of auditing to ensure that our standards are being met.”

Companies said to have gone some way towards making changes were Arcadia Group, Aurora Fashions, Burberry and Tesco, with both Aurora Fashions and Burberry showing an improvement on last year’s rating.

Five other retailers were approached by Labour Behind the Label but the pressure said they did not respond. These were Alexon, Bhs, Ethel Austin, House of Fraser and Peacocks. It is understood that Bhs will contribute next year once its integration into the Arcadia Group is complete. Alexon said it did not remember receiving a request and said it would happily share information with Labour Behind the Label in the future.

None of the retailers questioned met Labour Behind the Label’s own standards of what constitutes a fair living wage.

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.

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.

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 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.