CHAIN IN DANGER:

Scoop Closes In SoHo As New Troubles Emerge
UPDATED
All Scoop Stores Now Closing

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Scoop NYC, the fast growing retail chain that rode the contemporary designer explosion of the turn of the 21st Century to great success is facing some new challenges. WWD reports that the chain has closed its 10,000 square foot flagship in SoHo (pictured above) and is mulling the future of other branches —possibly that of the entire chain.
The retailer's ailment is not sales, apparently, but its rapid expansion during a time when prime locations have been scarce and renting only at top dollar rates. Margins at scoop are said to be in excess of 46% of sales and over $1,000 per square foot, enviable business levels by anyone's standards, but they are being eaten away by rents that are too high and stores that are too big, hence the closure of the chains largest and possibly most expensive one.
Started just 20 years ago by Stefanie Greenfield and Uzi Ben-Abraham, Scoop helped pioneer the upper contemporary/ designer boutique chain by mixing prestige designer labels like Missoni, Margiela and Derek Lam with resurgent premium denim brands and more casual contemporary fare, and presenting merchandise by lifestyle rather than by label. The billed the store as "The Ultimate Closet", and their concept won acclaim and lots of customers. Eventually, menswear was added in the same manner, and though the results in that category wound up looking fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of fashion, commercially it was a hit, offering side-by-side shopping for couples. Similarly merchandised chains like Intermix and Barneys Co-op also thrived alongside Scoop in its heyday, But Barneys has discontinued the Co-op division and converted its locations to more upscale, small Barneys boutiques, while the broader expansion of Intermix is now backed by Gap Inc. Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. acquired Scoop in 2007, and is said to have ruled out a bankruptcy filing, though liquidation may not be off the table. The chain still has 15 stores left, mostly in New York City and Long Island, but also in key cities including Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta but only with single units. Its most recently opened store is in Brookfield Place in the financial district. It sounds like we should expect to see a few more Scoop store closures in the coming months, but hopefully, the chain isn't ready to give up the ghost just yet.

UPDATE:
Or maybe it is.
Over the weekend, Scoop stores started running 10% Off storewide store closing sales in all remaining 15 locations with merchandise expected to hold out for 8 to 12 weeks. The aforementioned overhead costs have reportedly clobbered the chain out of viability, with with unrealistic double digit comp numbers required to ensure profitability against high rents on oversized stores. In other words, there is no feasible path forward for the chain. In New York City, the remaining Scoop locations are on Third Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets, Brookfield Place, and separate men's and women's stores on Washington Street between 13th and 14th Streets in the Meatpacking District as well as East Hampton and Wheatley Plaza stores on Long Island.

Scoop Succumbs to Market Forces; All Stores Closing (WWD)


NEW YORK DESIGNER SHAKE-UP:

Francisco Costa & Italo Zucchelli Out At Calvin Klein As Raf Simons Rumors Swirl

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Courtesy Images by Danny Clinch for Calvin Klein

Perhaps his own women's line is not what Raf Simons has in the works after all. Maybe he's heading Stateside.
The revolving door of Europe's biggest designer brands has opened in New York today as the exits of both Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli (pictured left and right above), creative directors at Calvin Klein Collection for women and men respectively, have been announced. The company has indicated that all Calvin Klein products will be unified under a single creative director yet to be disclosed, while fashion insiders filled in the blank with Raf Simons' name, a rumor that has apparently been percolating recently. The new creative head will be announced "in due course” according to the company, which is in keeping with the belief that a non-compete clause in Raf Simons' former contract with Dior is delaying the completion of any transition until this summer.
While both Costa and Zucchelli have been credited with maintaining the fashion authority of the Calvin Klein brand after its purchase by PVH and the retirement of it's namesake, commercially, the Calvin Klein Collection business plummeted after Klein's retirement as the company turned its attention toward the newly introduced Calvin Klein White Label moderate line for profits and growth. The Collection lines remained beloved by the press, and Costa was a recipient of the CFDA award. The runway collections gained some traction in recent seasons as the parent company increased support for the neglected lines. Zucchelli's menswear has been embraced by avant-garde retailers like Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market, and Costa's womenswear has found its way back into Bergdorf Goodman, but not all the way back to the prized, spacious in-store shop overlooking the Plaza  it commanded in its heyday through the 1990s. While Costa has had great success with red carpet dressing, he often dressed his stars in simpler gowns that recalled classic Calvin Klein styles like the sleek red tank gown Jennifer Lawrence wore at her first Oscar ceremony rather than his own more complex runway designs, causing a stylistic disconnect for the collection.
As for Simons, his success at the modernistic Jil Sander as well as his own influential men's label and balancing of ornate and minimalist looks at Dior make him a perfect choice to lead Calvin Klein —if it's true.
We will all have to wait a few months to find out for sure, but the prospect of a Simons led Calvin Klein is a promising idea for one of New York's greatest designer brands.

Francisco Costa, Italo Zucchelli to Exit Calvin Klein, Raf in Wings? (WWD)


NEW HORIZONS:

Is Raf Simons Finally Launching His Own Women's Collection?

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Image by Willy Vanderperre via WWD

Raf Simons' surprise exit from Christian Dior last year seemed to spark an unprecedented upheaval of Europe's luxury brands with designers leaving or being forced out of what seemed to be secure creative director positions. For Simons part, he was said to be leaving because he wanted to spend more time at home in Belgium and also wanted to focus on his own signature label, the one that brought him his initial fame and had continued uninterrupted even as the designer took on more high profile creative responsibilities first at Jil Sander and then Dior. What is curious about Simons' trajectory is that even as he established his bona fides as a premier women's designer at Sander and Dior, his own label has always been restricted to menswear —until now?
Pitti Uomo, the prestigious mens' trade show that begins its Spring 2017 edition in a couple of months in Florence, has announced that Simons will be given the coveted spotlight this season to present his Spring-Summer 2017 collection and well as a "Special Project". Though this is a men's show, its spotlight is often used as an opportunity to launch new projects including women's or other additional collections. Could that special project be the first official Raf Simons women's collection? It would seem to be the obvious next move for the designer. One of the rumored reasons for his departure from Dior —from a position that fashion watchers are still waiting to be filled— was a lack of autonomy over the highly compartmentalized brand. Though he was responsible for the marquee Haute Couture and Women's ready-to-wear and accessory collections, he had little to no authority over other aspects of the brand such as store design, cosmetics and the choice of celebrity spokesmodels. Most surprising was that instead of turning over Dior Homme to innovative men's designer Simons to create a more unified brand image, Dior decided instead to renew Dior Homme creative director Kris van Assche's contract. It's not that van Assche was failing, but it seemed curious to have one of menswear's most highly regarded designers under the Dior roof but to keep him restricted to women's collections.
Now that Simons has streamlined his professional life, it seems like the perfect time to fortify his own label's profile by finally entering the much larger and potentially more lucrative women's market under his own name with an eye on the female customers he has cultivated over the years at Sander and Dior. Is this the special project set for Pitti? So far no details have been released, and this is pure speculation on our part, but we can't be the only ones who are taking bets on when Raf Simons for women will inevitably be launched. The proverbial iron is still hot, so now would logically be the time to strike before it cools.

 

Raf Simons to Present at Pitti Uomo (WWD)


POSITION FILLED:

Bouchra Jarrar Is Your New Lanvin Designer

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Courtesy Image via WWD

As has been widely rumored, Paris based designer Bouchra Jarrar (pictured at right) has been named artistic director of women’s collections at Lanvin starting this Monday. Jarrar replaces Alber Elbaz whose departure last year stunned fans and customers and left his design staff not only heartbroken, but litigious, taking the storied house and its owner to court to protest the designers ouster. The first collection without Elbaz, shown last week, elicited scathing reviews, indicating that leaving the design direction to Elbaz's remaining staff was not a viable 'place holder' option for even one more season as has been done at houses like Dior which is currently between creative directors. For her part, Jarrar is a well-liked choice who seems qualified to help push Lanvin beyond the controversy of Elbaz's departure and reassure nervous retailers who have invested in the label and built loyal customer followings. After stints at Jean-Paul Gaultier, Balenciaga under both Josephus Thimister and Nicolas Ghesquiere, Jean-Louis Scherrer and Christian Lacroix, Jarrar started her own house in 2010 and has shown both ready-to-wear and haute couture collections as an official member of the Chamber Syndicale de la Haute Couture. It has not been confirmed that she will continue on with her own label as she concurrently designs for Lanvin, however she is reported to have taken on minority investment for it as recently as last year. Her own company is relatively small compared to Lanvin, however, and she will presumably have to contend with the same challenges that faced Elbaz and led to the conflict that ended in his dismissal, namely the lack of company owned stores to even out the brand's balance between wholesale and retail as well as the widely reported lack of funding that has hindered Lanvin's ability to compete with bigger labels in the most profitable handbag and accessory categories. She will, however, be able to restore some good will for the brand and confidence that it will not fall back into the obscurity from whence it emerged when Elbaz became its creative director. “Joining Lanvin satisfies my desire to create and express myself in a space of larger expression,” she says as part of today's announcement, and all eyes will be on her when she shows her first collection this fall for Spring 2017.

 

Lanvin Confirms Bouchra Jarrar as New Women’s Designer (WWD)


FASHION SHOW FRACAS

Burberry Will Shift To Buy-Now Runway Shows
UPDATED: Tom Ford Follows Suit

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Burberry's Fall/Winter 2016 Runway Show held in London last month

As as public fascination for the once industry-only runway shows of Fashion Weeks around the world, the entire runway show system is being upended, Designers are now questioning the wisdom of presenting their collections six months ahead of the time when they will be available for customers to purchase, and several designers have already announced that the collections they present at New York Fashion Week for when next week will be composed of merchandise to be immediately available. So far, the biggest luxury names have mused about possible changes, none have pulled the trigger on radically altering their presentation concepts —until today. Burberry's chief creative and executive officer Christopher Bailey has announced that starting this September, the label's runway shows will present only merchandise available immediately after the conclusion of the runway show. Only two shows will be presented per year mixing both men's and women's collections, eliminating separate men's shows of which the one held a few weeks ago at London Fashion Week Men's (pictured above) will have been the company's last.
Burberry has been dynamic in recent months when it comes to taking a hard look at how it does business and communicates to customers. Last year, the brand made the decision to consolidate its various diffusion labels under a singular Burberry Brand, merging both its luxury Prorsum and more accessible London and Brit collections. It's a move that eliminates the question of what is the "real" label for customers and puts it more in line with international mega-brands like Gucci or Louis Vuitton which have always eschewed sub-brands.
How this will affect other luxury level designers remains to be seen, but the restlessness in the crowded runway show schedule is clear with major designers increasingly using their clout to show their collections when they see fit. Hedi Slimane has announced that both the men's and part of the women's Fall 2016 Saint Laurent would be held next Wednesday, February 10th in Los Angeles where he lives and maintains his studio rather than in Paris, the home of one of France's most revered fashion maisons. Tom Ford, for his part has often moved his shows around to suit his own convenience, showing in different fashion capitals and even moving his show to Oscar Weekend in Los Angeles a year ago to accommodate the shooting schedule for his upcoming movie. Last season, he abandoned the runway altogether in favor of a music video starring Lady Gaga and a Soul Train line of dancing models, and for Fall 2016, he has announced that he will show both men's and women's lines to buyers and press in intimate presentations in New York.
So no livestream, then?
The longtime paradigm of multiple Fashion Weeks in various international cities is now entering a stage of flux that could change the way fashion is presented everywhere. Hang on. This is just the beginning.

UPDATE:
Tom Ford has announced in Burberry's wake that he too would be showing Fall 2016 Collections in September of this year. He tells WWD, “Our customers today want a collection that is immediately available. Fashion shows and the traditional fashion calendar, as we know them, no longer work in the way that they once did. We spend an enormous amount of money and energy to stage an event that creates excitement too far in advance of when the collection is available to the consumer."

Burberry’s Bold Move: To Make Shows Direct to Consumer, Tom Ford Switches Show to Consumer Schedule (WWD)


MEN'S FASHION WEEK SNAPSHOT:

Duckie Brown Pares Down

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They weren't kidding when they called it "Just A Little Duckie".
Steven Cox and Daniel Silver gave the menswear crowd a jolt yesterday morning with their surprising Duckie Brown show at NYFW Men's which lasted for exactly six looks. That's the entire collection pictured above.
What did it all mean? 
It seems clear that the duo was presenting a 'Back to Basics' moment. The label has had its ups and downs over the past few years with a surprise hit shoe collaboration with Florsheim that put the brand in front of en exponentially larger customer base than it had ever seen before. A follow-up apparel line with Perry Ellis fizzled, however, with nothing of the collaboration ever seeing production. The designers have been candid lately about the struggles of being independent designers once the lucrative collaborations end, and their response has been to pare down their collection to the most basic pieces. As the fashion world has finally caught up with Duckie Brown's signature explorations in androgyny, Cox and Silver have turned to the core items of men's clothing. Blazers, pants, shirts and coats all reshaped with Duckie Brown proportions. Sometimes, less really is more, especially when it's time to start again from scratch.


COURSE CORRECTION BLOODBATH:

Macy's Is Closing 40 Stores & Planning Off-Price Outlets Inside Existing Stores

MacysHSIs it really such a big deal to close 40 stores if you have 773 of them?
Maybe not. After all, it's less than 10% of the Macy's store count, but it just goes to show that the kind of course correction that might be seen as relatively innocuous for another company becomes an event of a completely different scale when you are the 800 (or possibly 773) pound gorilla of the department store industry.
In fact, 40 stores is substantially bigger than most of the regional chains that have been absorbed over the years by what is now known as Macy's Inc. The mega-chain didn't get that big organically. It is the result of individual acquisitions like the Bamburger's chain once well expanded through the Mid-Atlantic region, but more importantly mergers with larger consolidated retailers that operated many individual nameplates. The current chain includes the remnants of former retail giants Allied Stores, Federated Department Stores and May Company which have ultimately put Macy's in every major market in America.
One could argue that despite pruning its fleet less dramatically over the years, those mergers and acquisitions have still left Macy's over-stored. In many cases acquired stores in the same mall as an existing location have been converted to separate Home or Menswear units and in at least one case, Tyson's Corner Virginia, there are two full Macy's stores literally across the street from each other in competing malls. Both of those stores are remaining open, a testament to the strength of that particular market where elsewhere it would be clearly redundant.
Three to four sales jobs will be cut from each of Macy's existing stores —which doesn't do much to respond to the recurring complaint that it is hard to find a salesperson in Macy's. That will still be a whopping loss of about 3,000 jobs. In addition only about 30% of retiring or voluntarily departing senior executives will be replaced, and about 600 back office jobs will be eliminated with 450 of those workers being laid off permanently rather than reassigned within the company. The total job loss is expected to be about 3,500 positions.
All of this is a response to a 4.7% decide in sales over the past few months which was higher than predicted. It is almost certain that the extremely unseasonably warm weather in most of the United States over the Fall season has contributed to the drop.
“In light of our disappointing 2015 sales and earnings performance, we are making adjustments to become more efficient and productive in our operations," says Macy's Chairman and CEO Terry J. Lundgren in a press release issued yesterday outlining the chain's strategy, "Moreover, we believe we can operate more effectively with an organization that is flatter and more agile so we can pursue growth and regain market share in our core Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s omnichannel businesses faster and with more intensity."
It's not all grim news, however. Three new Macy's stores and Two Bloomingdale's branches are set to open by Fall 2018, but more interestingly, the Macy's Backstage format, a budding off-price chain meant to compete with Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off-5th and the like, is set to grow with 50 new units, most of which will be opening within existing Macy's stores rather than as freestanding entities.
We remind ourselves that 50 stores is only a fraction of the 733 stores that will remain after the store culling, but it means that an off-price or clearance department will become a permanent fixture in some of the chain's full-line stores. What will this be like, and how will it affect the chain's full-price selling and its typically heavy promotional activity? Also unknown is how the chain's key vendors will feel about having to compete with discounted merchandise in the same store that normally would have been diverted to other channels after seasonal clearance sales. That will be very interesting to see unfold as, traditionally, most other chains have chosen to at least keep their outlet stores in separate buildings, though they have been losing in on their full-line mothership locations in recent years. We are reminded that Filene's Basement began literally in the basement of the flagship Filene's department store in Downtown Boston. Though it was eventually spun off into a separate company, it ultimately lasted longer than its namesake progenitor. Do we dare draw comparisons?

Macy’s, Inc. Outlines Cost Efficiency Initiatives and Lists Store Locations to Be Closed (Press Release)


FASHION WEEK FALLOUT:

Fashion Week Is Falling Apart Again, But It's OK Because Tom Ford Is Coming Back!

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Now that it has abandoned its unloved tent complex at Lincoln Center for some alarmingly stark quarters in SoHo and the glacially developing Moynihan Station in Midtown, the future of New York Fashion Week still seems to be in question. The CFDA has retained Boston Consulting Group to conduct a multi-week study to determine how designers should proceed with their seasonal runway shows in the future. With Thakoon's new owners promising to upend the runway system to provide a stronger buy-now wear-now business plan and  Rebecca Minkoff promising to put on an in-season show of her Spring 2016 collection this February (does that mean she is going to re-show the collection she already presented last September?) and replace some editors and press in the audience with customers, Designers are once again questioning the wisdom of heavily publicizing their newest collections online and through social media half a year before anyone can actually buy anything. Retailers and designers are again offering opinions, without seeming to realize that if they turned fashion week into a series of buy-now promotional events, they would have to the put on some other kinds of presentations for the next season for retailers and editors who still need long lead times to fill their stores and shoot their stories. European designers -for whom live streaming runway shows to anyone with a high-speed internet connection is far more prevalent- seem to have looked in the direction of New York to basically say, "Let us know how that goes. We're going to keep doing things the way we always have".
While New York's designers quibble about what to put on runways —their main concern seems to be keeping their collections under wraps to avoid fast-fashion copyists— one expat has announced that he will be returning to show his Fall 2016 collections for men and women in New York. Yes, Tom Ford, who has been bending the fashion system to his fit his own needs for the past two seasons, has announced that he will be doing small presentations in New York on February 18th to buyers and press rather than showing in Milan or London where he has been showing in the past. Ford has been busy moonlighting on his next movie which is why last Spring he debuted his Fall 2015 collection with a star-studded show in Los Angeles during Oscar week, and stayed off the runways altogether for his Spring 2016 collection by releasing a secretly produced virtual runway show/disco party/music video starring Lady Gaga which was a hell of a lot more entertaining than a good portion of the runway shows that The Shophound has ever attended (we have embedded it below again because it is still just so much fun to watch). For the past two seasons, Ford has proved that he has enough clout and control over his wholly owned business to basically do whatever he wants for fashion week, but like Givenchy's visit to New York last September, you can now count on Ford's intimate showings in February to be the hottest ticket that will overshadow everyone else. Perhaps he is telling us that the way to win Fashion Week is to be bold and show however you want wherever it suits you. Who will have the guts to follow his lead?

Tom Ford to Show Women’s Wear, Men’s Wear in New York in February (WWD)


BRAND MANAGEMENT:

Burberry To Consolidate Brit, London And Prorsum Labels Into A Single Monobrand By Next Year

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More than a few eyebrows were discreetly raised several months ago when Marc Jacobs said he would do it, and now Burberry is the next designer  brand to follow suit and combine all of its various sub-labels into a singular, all encompassing Burberry brand. After next Spring, you will say goodbye to the separate Prorsum, Brit and London labels as creative director Christopher Bailey undoes the tiered strategy installed by former CEO Rose Marie Bravo who spearheaded the British brand's reinvention in the late 1990s. In a statement to the press yesterday, Bailey says he is after “a much more consistent experience of the collections. Those categories were created when Burberry sales were 70 percent wholesale and 30 percent retail. Now it’s the opposite, with retail sales that are bigger. The key is to present a cohesive brand experience.”
In doing so, Bailey is adopting the model of European luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton which have generally eschewed diffusion offshoot labels. A few years ago, Dolce & Gabbana closed its lower priced D&G collection which had originally been a more casual licensed jeans and sportswear line that developed into fully fledged sub-brand. Folding it back into the main collection may have lost it a few retail doors, but ultimately, it has left the hugely popular label with a stronger, more focused fashion image. Similarly, Marc Jacobs  announced late last year that his Marc by Marc Jacobs contemporary label will be merged into a more broadly defined main collection for Spring 2016, and now Burberry is following a similar path to strengthen its brand image.
While there are two main Burberry boutiques on East 57th Street and in SoHo, the smaller Brit and London shops on Bleecker Street, Madison Avenue and at Brookfield Place will be rebranded simply as Burberry by next Summer. Bailey has already begun to mix the three labels in his runway shows (including Spring 2016 pictured above) which had previously been restricted to the most luxurious Prorsum label. In case you are wondering if the company is just trying to put a spin on cutting losses, there will reportedly be no jobs eliminated in the brand consolidation. In fact, the company is doing so well that it has announced a plans for a new factory in Leeds, England which will allow it to increaser its iconic trench coats. The new facility will include state of the art technology that will alleviate pressure on the two Yorkshire factories which have been pushed to capacity manufacturing the coveted coats from the weaving of the fabric to the finished product.

Burberry to Merge Brands, Open New Factory (WWD)


REPORT:

Lanvin Employees In Turmoil Following Alber Elbaz Dismissal

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Alber Elbaz takes his final bow at Lanvin's Spring/Summer 2016 runway show in a still from the video on Lanvin's website

While the luxury industry's collective head is still spinning from the unexpected turn of events at some of the most prominent labels in Paris, it looks like the story of Alber Elbaz at Lanvin might not be completely over. WWD is reporting that the house's 330 employees are devastated that the beloved designer has been pushed out and are using whatever resources available to them to protest. The company's works council, an employee board that that French companies apparently have, is demanding that Taiwan-based Lanvin owner Shawn-Lan Wang return to Paris to answer their concerns and hear their pleas to reinstate Elbaz. 
Shortly after Elbaz's departure from Lanvin was confirmed, it became clear that he did not resign, but was dismissed by the owner over disagreements not about the label's creative direction or his workload, but about business issues, specifically, Ms. Wang's failure to secure sufficient financing to successfully support Lanvin's continued growth. Elbaz, along with other minority shareholders, have been pressuring her to sell her majority stake to someone better able to fund the company's expansion, specifically the rollout of more company owned boutiques. This is an area where Lanvin lags behind its competitors, receiving only about 20% of its revenue from its own stores, causing it to rely too heavily on the wholesale business. This has slowed Lanvin's growth as well as development of ancillary divisions like handbags and accessories. WWD had previously reported that Ms. Wang has been reluctant to sell, demanding too high of a price for the company and requiring a handpicked buyer which .
Whether Lanvin's employees have the clout to reverse their boss's decision, or Elbaz will even return if asked remains to be seen, but it seems that Ms. Wang has not only turned out her golden goose, but also alienated the rest of the company, whose support she will need to move forward.

Lanvin Employees Contest Alber Elbaz Ouster (WWD)