FROSTBITE IN PARIS: Believe it or not, white is hot for fall and winter this coming year. Karl Lagerfeld’s latest collection underwrites the trend, with lots of icy fashion and accessories putting everything in the cooler. Lagerfeld actually went so far as to show off the collection in a fabulous setting complete with a 265-ton iceberg. Freeze-y! But then, Lagerfeld is the pan-ultimate showman!
Among his specialties: a little dress fronted by strands of polar white yarn, all in polar white. Big bold rings in multiples. Silvery bracelets with gemstones. And long chains of white pearls and beads looking like earrings but actually hanging down from the hair. Artic art. Just fabulous!
SCOTTIES ON THE RUN: If you don’t have any plaids in your wardrobe, look at the hot fashion runways and get going yourself. Plaids are a hot number for spring into fall, in everything from cozy traditional plaids to lighter weight plaids in blouses, skirts, scarves, you name it!
Some are just downright Burberry-style, British Isles forever, like the red and black skirt and topper from Comme des Garcons. Others were softer, like the tan and soft gold plaid over-jacket from Rodarte. Tommy Hilfiger eschewed many of the crazy styles out there to present a long, elegant blue and gold plaid jacket, while DKNY mixed patterns with a brown and pale blue plaid mini skirt and long over-jacket with a long good-looking striped scarf.
A kookie long twisted pearl statement necklace with wisps of feathers entwined gave an electric look to a black and grey plaid blanket jacket from Christian Dior. It was also accessorized with a little black handle bag embellished with sparkles.
ACCESSORIZING PLAIDS CAN BE A FUN ACTIVITY. HERE ARE SOME GREAT IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED:
USA HURRAH: The strong trend to American Girl looks just got more designer backing, with Zac Posen’s introduction of a new secondary line, Z Spoke. The collection is aimed at young business women and is highlighted by the launch of a handbag collection which Posen calls his “New York Look.”
The designer says he sees Z Spoke as addressing the real needs of American fashion, with its strong denim push, tailored jackets, and little shift dresses, often trimmed with ribbon.
Colors here are anything but modest: intense black, white and red print mini skirts, purple handbags with pale green handles, navy blue aviator jump suits, and a great looking outfit with gold and white stripe skirt over a black and white top bedecked with white pearls. Dynamite!
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Suppliers, one leading economic report contends, are under greater pressure to give retailers more value in the packages they offer in order to remain more competitive. Different and newer product lines and services are becoming more important and as a result, a shift is taking place as production focus moves from OEM (original equipment manufacturing) to ODM (original design manufacturing).
What does all this mean to you? Bruce Rockowitz, president of the global sourcing giant Li & Fung Ltd., says “value added services” are becoming more important, making you as a retailer, more important, too. Rockowitz sees manufacturers increasing investment in automated equipment in production lines, advanced management systems and computerized systems for research and development in order to hike their over-all capabilities. Bundling design and merchandising services will help sourcing companies boost profit margins and customer loyalty.
Christina Ong, a textiles and garment division director for HSBC, says customers are also becoming more aware of environmental matters and that puts pressure on manufacturers to maintain compliant factories. She contends that highly polluting and resource-consuming industries such as tanning and electroplating also need to be reformed.
Rockowitz adds that in order to ensure sustained growth, global reach is essential. On that level, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius lead the field. John Cheh of the shirt manufacturing firm Esquel Group feels that for value and product quality, China is still unrivaled, and he thinks that other emerging countries have to put a lot more investment into production facilities in order to compete.
While applauding China in many ways, Rockowitz does caution that with the major changes taking place in the export environment, firms that rely on China too much could suffer. Flexibility to move from one country to another is apparently key to the new global production.
ROSES AND THORNS: Don’t look for anything too sweet in the newest jewelry collection from Dior Joaillerie’s Victorie De Castellane. Yes, it’s all about roses, but they’re laden with thorns, so watch out! The new grouping features thorny gold hoop earrings and rings and will run from a hefty $900 or so, to about $31,000, at the current exchange. Also on display at the famed fashion emporium: a new earring and ring set from the house’s Rose Dior Pre Catelan line, featuring translucent carved roses and a rose necklace in diamonds, emeralds and pink sapphires.
THE BIG MESSAGE HERE: ROSES ARE A HOT TRENDY ITEM BUT ADD A THORN OR TWO TO BE EDGY.