The just-style guest blog
The apparel and textile business guest blog on just-style
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Drizzly Istanbul hosts apparel conference
04 May 2011 22:01
It is a pleasure this week to report from Turkey, where just-style has been invited to the Istanbul Fashion Apparel Conference 2011.
Overcast weather and slight drizzle here comes as somewhat of a surprise though, especially given the tropical climate we've become accustomed to in the UK over the past few weeks.
It makes me wonder whether colleagues back home did some kind of Turkish rain dance on learning of my trip.
Nevertheless, having glanced at the city's culinary, architectural and retail prowess during my journey from the airport tonight, it will be intriguing to find out more about Turkish industry.
And while the language barrier was a slight thorn in my side finding the hotel this evening, vast colourful displays of fabric in shop after shop ensured 'tekstil' was one word I did learn.
Turkish apparel and textile exports showed signs of recovery last year after feeling the effects of the downturn in 2008 and 2009. However, recent moves to apply safeguard measures on certain imports into the country suggests it is not out of the woods just yet.
Speakers at this week's conference, which begins tomorrow morning, include Paolo Zegna, president of Ermenegildo Zegna, and Abel Lopez Cernadas, import/export and transport director for Inditex Group.
And come rain or shine, just-style will be there to break developments from Istanbul as they happen throughout the next few days.
Retailers expand despite margin hit
03 May 2011 13:15
Last week saw value fashion retailer Primark warn of continued weakness in the UK retail market, while planning further store openings in mainland Europe.
Reporting an 11% revenue rise for the first half of the year, Primark said that a combination of price competition and higher cotton prices remained a challenge to margins.
Nevertheless, Primark now operates 214 stores and is planning to open five stores in Germany early next year.
Another UK high street operator, JJB Sports, secured a GBP65m (US$106m) fundraising plan last week, while US retailer American Apparel has been rescued by $14.9m in new financing from a group of Canadian investors.
Also last week, Italian luxury fashion house Prada Group inked a deal to open retail stores for its Prada and Miu Miu brands across the Middle East. A joint venture company, with UAE-based Al Tayer Insignia, will be established in Dubai.
UK footwear chain Clarks, meanwhile, whose expansion into global retail markets including China and North America now rivals its domestic sales, has completed a joint venture deal to operate in India.
The venture, with Indian retail powerhouse Future Group, has opened a first Clarks store in New Delhi - with 20 more stores due by the end of the year.
Last week's news demonstrates how some clothing and footwear retailers are exploring the potential of new retail markets as they fight against rising cost pressures. Others, such as JJB and American Apparel, meanwhile, will remain focused on keeping their heads above the water.
Royal Wedding fever strikes
28 Apr 2011 17:12
Believe it or not we have another public holiday in the UK this weekend, to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Style-wise, tomorrow promises to end rife speculation about the designer of Kate Middleton's dress(es), together with the length of its train and possible colours.
The present favourite to be named as wedding dress designer is Sarah Burton, while Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney are joint favourites to have supplied the evening dress.
Various street parties and gatherings are obviously being planned in the UK, but substantial celebrations further afield - especially in the US - suggest us Brits aren't the only ones who should get a holiday.
just-style will next hit your inbox on Tuesday (3 May) with all the latest industry news and insights, because we have also been granted a holiday for May Day on Monday.
21 Apr 2011 15:10
UK fashion designer Ted Baker has designed the latest 'Little Red Dress' - used in iconic adverts by cereal brand Special K and featuring in the just-style blog a year ago.
Last year it was clothing retailer Marks and Spencer that launched a version of the trademark dress, as blogged in in April 2010.
It comes as no surprise that fashion brands are clamoring to be associated with Special K, with Kellogg saying it is the largest cereal brand in the UK with sales of over GBP120m (US$199m).
Kellogg, meanwhile, is also backing the reputation of Ted Baker, by throwing GBP1m into a marketing campaign for the dress it calls Betsi.
The dresses are being sold at Ted Baker stores and on websites operated by Special K owner Kellogg. Special K is also giving away a collection of sophisticated Ted Baker handbags through competitions, a statement said.
Craig Smith, brand communication director at Ted Baker, said: "The tie-up is an excellent fit giving us a great opportunity to showcase our women's wear and further develop our relationships with Special K's female audience."
It remains to be seen whether this 'cereal blogging' will continue, or whether cereal fashion makes the transition from breakfast table to catwalk.
Talking shop at Tesco
19 Apr 2011 11:04
just-style has been invited into London this morning for a media briefing on UK retail giant Tesco's full-year results. The figures could hardly be described as sluggish - with profits soaring 11.3% on strong Asian demand - but domestic demand was down.
In terms of clothing sales, which reached the GBP1bn mark last year, the UK is where its at for Tesco.
On the way here I encountered the bullish tactics of another western food bohemoth, McDonald's, when a street rep handed me not one but 25 Big Mac vouchers. Not only that, but the vouchers are only valid today. Tesco will need a more effective tactic to continue its progress on UK soil.
The venue for today's briefing is The Royal Bank Of Scotland, and where else for a supermarket raking in GBP3.54bn profits last year.
Follow further coverage on just-style throughout the day and also on Twitter.
What to do with old furs?
14 Apr 2011 16:19
Just 5% of the UK population are still willing to parade around in a fur jacket, according to UK animal rights charity The RSPCA.
The findings come as no great surprise, especially given the appalling press that fur fashion has got in the past few years.
Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see a survey of how many of the other 95% still have a fur item stashed away in the wardrobe.
This poses the question of what should become of these old furs?
It is unlikely that such items will ever make a mainstream comeback, but reports of real mink, fox and raccoon dog furs on the catwalk suggests there is still a market among the rich.
In this way the phrase "money can't buy fashion" really holds true, because it appears nobody else is wearing fur. But with those who insist on wearing fur paying a pretty penny to do so, could such items become antiques?
Animals farmed for their fur are often confined to tiny, barren cages and are denied opportunities to behave as they would in the wild, the RSPCA says.
While this obviously holds true, a bonfire of old fur jackets would only create further injustice, with many homeless people freezing on Britain's streets. Donations would create a problem of their own though in the likely event that a black market should open up.
Fur is always an emotive topic, and is fast becoming the ultimate skeleton in the closet.
E-commerce eating up high street
06 Apr 2011 11:44
It's day two of the Retail London Conference and so far there has been no mention of Marks and Spencer's sloping general merchandise sales this morning.
Much of the pre-coffee break talk was instead about e-commerce, which together with the downturn and supermarket competition is killing the high street.
Indeed, Javelin Group boss Tony Stockil told delegates that 25% of the UK's physical store network is expected to disappear by 2020. "What are we going to do with all this empty space," he says. "I don't know."
We are fast approaching the post-coffee break session now, when speakers will include the man who transformed global giant Tesco, Sir Terry Leahy.
Stay online for further Retail London installments on just-style and through Twitter.
Wax lightens up retail event
05 Apr 2011 15:22
just-style headed into London this afternoon for the Retail London Conference, only to find out it was being hosted by comedian Ruby Wax.
"I would've been a model if my legs were longer," she opens up. In fairness, Wax is doing herself proud, using her humour and substantial shopping experience to keep delegates entertained.
First up was former Asda chairman Andy Bond, who, with Wax unaware beforehand he had left the company, was quizzed about what he was up to.
Now consulting for retailers including Republic in the UK, Bond has kept pace with the consumer environment, and feels the real retail recession is still to come. "2011 and 2012 are going to be very tough years," he says.
Nevertheless, Wax sees opportunities right here right now, tapping up attendees from Harvey Nicholls and Urban Outfitters for goodies regardless.
Follow further coverage of Retail London on just-style and on Twitter.
Japan earthquake leaves lasting impact
28 Mar 2011 13:06
As the tragic results of Japan's earthquake and tsunami continue to unfold, it is clear that the impact on business will be far-reaching too.
While exports of Japanese cars and electronics are suffering badly, imports of fashion goods are expected to falter as the country's huge retail market puts spending on ice.
As reported by just-style last week, manufacturers in major sourcing markets such as China and Vietnam are already bracing themselves for a drop in orders. And for most apparel suppliers, Japan is the third largest global export market for clothing and textile, behind only the US and EU regions.
The wider fallout from the disaster, which struck a fortnight ago, has been a rising death toll and nuclear power crisis in the country. Major retailers including Wal-Mart and Fast Retailing have donated millions towards relief efforts, but latest reports say more than 10,000 lost their lives in the disaster.
Japan remains a key supplier of advanced high-tech fibres, but most significantly provides a lucrative consumer market for high-end brands, representing 11% of global luxury goods sales. But the sheer scale of the tsunami means that repairing the damage is going to take up significant future investment.
Indeed, Kurt Cavano, CEO of the TradeCard sourcing platform, told just-style last week: "If Japan has to refocus all its resources on rebuilding then there's going to be less spending on clothing."
Although retailers including H&M, Mango and Uniqlo shut some stores in the aftermath of the earthquake, most are now back to normal.
However, it will be some time before life gets back to normal for Japan's shell-shocked communities.
Retailers take on 'price' issue
17 Mar 2011 09:46
It is day two of the Retail Week Conference in London, where Asda boss Andy Clarke will be presenting to the masses.
The supermarket recently vowed to make its grocery products 10% cheaper at the till than its rivals. Should Clarke follow suit with clothing, its value jeans will be
cheaper to replace than wash.
Yesterday's speakers said much about changing consumer needs, and whether value clothing is part of this remains to be seen. Many in the industry would like to see people buy frewer but better quality products, but the reality is that the likes of George and Primark thrived during the downturn.
In this morning's schedule at the Hilton Metropole, Clarke will follow on from the managing director of rival Waitrose, who is aply named Mark 'Price'. Also speaking today are Joseph Wan, CEO of Harvey Nichols, and John Lewis' head of multi-channel Simon Russell.
Check back for further coverage on just-style as the day goes on.