Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

For Father’s Day, suit shows greener side of Sears


Sears Covington Perfect suitHey guys, this isn’t your pop’s polyester.

Just in time for Father’s Day shopping, Sears will roll out a line of men’s suits made of the first high-tech fabric that blends wool with polyester spun from recycled plastic soda bottles.

The suit separates, sold under Sears’ Covington Perfect brand, will be on racks in about 500 U.S. Sears stores in May.  Price: $175 for the jacket and $75 for the pants, according to Tim Danser, vice president of marketing for Bagir Group Ltd., the Israeli manufacturer that tailors the garments for Sears’ private label.

And get this: This suit is machine washable and can be tossed in the dryer, eliminating the need for dry cleaning and upping the eco-friendly ante, Danser said.

“This isn’t the polyester of the 1970s,” Moses Cohen, sales and marketing manager for N.I. Teijin Shoji (USA), Inc., the New York arm of Teijin, the Japanese chemical company that makes the suit fabric, said during a men’s fashion briefing at the swanky Kitano Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

Fashion’s recession from New York to Milan and back


Backstage at the Miss Sixty show at NY’s fashion week, Italian label Miss Sixty’s head designer and co-founder Wichy Hassan speaks about the effects of the recession on the show and the possible future price of garments at the label’s stores.

From New York and Milan — where the label hails from — he says the industry is feeling the pinch.

Tim Gunn on fur and Project Runway


Check out Tim Gunn talking to Reuters about the fashion industry’s use of animal products including fur, leather and wool. Gunn, creative director of Liz Claiborne and former chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons, has partnered with the activist group PETA to raise awareness about ethical sourcing of fur to his peers in the fashion industry.

We know we gave you the highlights yesterday, but figured you might like to hear straight from the … err… horse’s mouth about synthetic alternatives, attitudes of fashion insiders to the issue and Project Runway.  Sorry if it is hard for you to hear our questions, but we think the answers are pretty self explanatory.

Tim Gunn hopes for fur-free future


USA/Tim Gunn, famous for urging contestants on the reality show Project Runway to “make it work”, has a new message for the fashion industry: Take Responsibility. 

Gunn, also the creative director of Liz Claiborne Inc and a former chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons, is working with PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to spread the word that wearing clothing made from animal products is cruel.

from Raw Japan:

Colour me hopeful

The world's No.2 economy, mired in what may be its longest and ugliest recession, is not wearing its misfortunes on its sleeve -- at least not literally.

Yutaka Sato, a spokesman for Millennium Retailing, which runs the Seibu and Sogo department chains, said Japanese consumers are going green in more ways than one.

Saks goes Canadian, eh


saks.jpgCanadian fashionistas will now be able to order from, as the luxury department store bids to snatch part of the estimated US$16 billion Canadian market for online retail goods.

This is the first time orders submitted on will be shipped outside the United States, says Saks spokeswoman Julia Bentley.

Mizrahi’s Liz Claiborne line getting warm reviews


mizrahi2.jpgIsaac Mizrahi, the ebullient fashion designer tapped by Liz Claiborne Inc to resuscitate its namesake sportswear line, seems to have worked his magic again, according to early analyst and retailer reviews.

The designer, who starred in the 1995 movie “Unzipped” and started the cheap chic trend favored by his former employer Target Corp, was named creative director of the Liz Claiborne brand in January and his first collection for the brand will hit stores in the Spring.

Which fashionista are you endorsing?


michele-obama.jpgIn politics, appearance is everything. And for politicians’ wives, looking great for the cameras is key, whether its the Jackie Kennedy-influenced sheaths favored by Michelle Obama, or the bold, jewel-tone colors Cindy McCain sported at the GOP convention this week.

And for designers, having your outfits worn by a potential First Lady certainly can’t hurt. Witness the press (and extra sales) generated for Chico’s White House Black Market chain after Michelle Obama wore a black and white scoop-neck day dress from the retailer during an appearance on ABC‘s “The View.”
Chico’s could use the lift, given over a year of dwindling sales at its main chain that caters to women over the age of 40. Earlier this week, it announced an endorsement deal with Debbie Phelps, who it said wore its clothes the whole time she was in Beijing cheering her son, Olympic champion Michael Phelps.

“Fashion Foreclosure” and the case for the Maxi dress


maxi11.jpgHow to stop shoppers from “fashion foreclosure?” Give them what they need, make it fun, and provide them with an element of escape, argues The Doneger Group’s David Wolfe.

Wolfe‘s presentation on current fashion trends in womens’ wear attracted a large crowd of buyers earlier this week at the Magic Marketplace apparel trade show in Las Vegas, the largest such show in the United States.

Check Out Line: Talbots leveling off


talbots.jpgCheck out Talbots’ sales forecast.
The struggling women’s apparel retailer said it expects same-store sales to be flat at its namesake stores in the current quarter and down low-to-mid single digits at its J. Jill stores.
That looks like progress, especially at the Talbots’ brand.
But, wait. Hasn’t the weakness in women’s apparel has been going on for some time now. So the glass-half-empty view would be to look at how that forecast compares with a year ago.
Same-store sales at Talbots’ stores fell 8.2 percent last year (and J. Jill same-store sales fell 6.5 percent).
So there might be some improvement coming at Talbots’, but it is off a weak comparison.
Then again, with how women’s apparel has gone lately, flat same-store sales might be a welcome new fashion trend.
Also in the basket:
Dollar Tree posts higher quarterly profit
Brown Shoe 2nd-quarter profit down; cuts outlook
Urban Outfitters Fashion Growth Plan (Wall Street Journal)

(Photo: Reuters)