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Monday Fashion News: Human Resources Edition

GlennmurphyGap has finally found a new CEO in Canadian Glenn Murphy who comes from a drugstore and supermarket background, but is said to have much needed expertise in turning around ailing businesses. The move surprised the industry, who generally expected the retail giant to choose a strong apparel merchant, especially since the last guy who screwed up royally there held the position came from Disney. but potential candidates those resumes couldn't be swayed from their current positions. Frankly, it's not an enticing position unless you are looking for a huge challenge, or you are hungry to impress people. Murphy will be in charge of all Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy business, which each need varying degrees of revamp.
Gap Picks a Canadian Retailer as Its New Chief (NYTimes)
Gap Inc. Taps Glenn Murphy to Be CEO (WWD)

Som ◊ Also newly hired, Peter Som , who will take over creative direction at Bill Blass after Michael Vollbracht's departure earlier this year. In a surprising move, the brand also named up-and-coming menswear Michael Bastian in the same position for menswear. Both designers will oversee all products including licensees in their respective divisions. Som, who had been an assistant to Mr. Blass earlier in his career, will begin to make his influence visible for the Pre-Fall '08 collection. Bastian, a current finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and former Men's Fashion Director at Bergdorf Goodman who launched his eponymous line last fall, will be in charge of launching a new designer-level men's collection at Blass as well as managing existing lines. While the label is know known as a more moderate Men's resource, it was actually one of the first American designer men's lines, and was highly influential in the 1960s and '70s. Bastian's debut collection for Blass will happen sometime after Som's, and both will continue to design for the labels which bear their own names.Kateandyspade
◊ Kate and Andy Spade will be exiting the label that bears their name as the terms of its sale to Liz Claiborne Inc. are fulfilled. Kate, in particular, has been such a public face for the brand that one would have thought the folks at Liz would have wanted to hang on to her in some capacity, but with the company in a state of flux, new management may have its own ideas about what to do with the Kate Spade brand which has been at a critical point in its growth, and those ideas evidently don't include the Spades.
The Spades Bow Out (Vogue UK)
Alaia ◊ Tunisian-born designer Azzedine Alaïa has bought his own label back from Prada. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. Choosing to focus on their core labels as they prepare for the IPO we have been hearing about for 15 years, Prada has mostly pared away the brands they purchased in the 1990's when they were attempting to become a luxury conglomerate. Paris-based Alaïa was the only designer not driven out by disagreements with management after selling to them, and the only one to have experienced significant growth under their stewardship. This is not surprising since before Prada's involvement, Alaïa refrained from following any set fashion calendar choosing to produce collections pretty much whenever he felt like it, often frustrating retailers who were used to a steadier flow of goods. For their part, Prada will continue to develop and produce Alaïa's shoe and accessory collections, but otherwise the diminutive man with the cultlike following will be on his own again.
Alaïa Buys Back Prada’s Stake in his House (FWD)

G-Star Leads a Migration to Broadway

GstarinteriorIn the Flatiron District, fashion and home furnishings seemed to have an agreement. Fashion would take Fifth Avenue while home furnishings and furniture would populate the stretch of Broadway below 23rd street. Union Square with its Greenmarket was left to a mixed bag of restaurants and miscellany like Barnes & Noble and the Virgin Megastore. But now, denim is making a calculated assault on Broadway with the opening salvo being fired by Dutch denim giant G-Star across the street from mainstay ABC Carpet and Home. This is G-Star's second store in the city after its larger SoHo unit, and they are doing their best to solidify their presence in the U.S. before the premium denim market collapses completely. As denim fiends find their closets filling up with jeans, the once unstoppable demand for the latest labels has cooled, and while it once seemed that prices for coveted brands knew no upper limit, customers have finally started balking at yet another pair for $300 or more while dramatically lower priced lines like Cheap Monday have started poping up in places like Barneys Co-op. This puts G-Star in a good position. Energiemissixty_2 With international cachet and relatively restrained prices (most models are well under $200) and they have avoided the overexposure and burnout of lines like Seven for All Mankind, and provide an alternative to the ubiquitous Diesel. The new store provides a sleek backdrop to their signature high-tech/military look with wood and brushed steel acents, placing the emphasis on their men's collection with women's styles pushed to the back. With Italian co-brands Miss Sixty/Energie set to open soon in the old Lord & Taylor building at 20th and Broadway, a denim invasion appears to be well underway. Can ABC and its colleagues hold them off?
G-Star Raw 873 Broadway, Flatiron/Union Square

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists Announced. Are Rogan and 3.1 Phillip Lim still Young and Struggling?

Cfda_logoThe Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue have announced the finalists for this years grants from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion fund that benefits young designers. Past winners have incuded Trovata, Proenza Schouler and Doo.Ri, so the $200,000 award goes a long way to boost struggling designers who also receive mentoring  to help them build solid business foundations. The nominees this year are:
Phillip Lim of 3.1 Phillip Lim; Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders; Erin Fetherston of Fetherston Design Group; Nunthirat Koi Suwannagate of Koi; Rogan Gregory of Rogan; Gabriel Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil of Threeasfour; Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai of Vena Cava; Victoria Bartlett of VPL; Michael Bastian, and Philip Crangi of Philip Crangi Jewelry.
It actually makes a good cross mix of all sorts of collections including men's and accessories.
the winner and runners up will be announced at the Seventh on Sale Gala this November.
It's a worthy bunch. Our only quibble is why Phillip Lim is included among the bunch?
Don't get us wrong. We love the  Lim, but with a successful collaboration with UNIQLO introducing his label to Japan and the far east, and a splashy new SoHo boutique, we have trouble seeing him as someone in need of a $200,000 grant. His business seems way more developed than the rest of the finalists, while when Doo Ri Chung won last year, the money allowed her to move her business out of her parent's store's basement. For that matter, Rogan, with three separate collections including the main line, Loomstate and Edun, the collaboration with Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, also seems beyond the struggling young designer stage.
We would hate to see Lim or Gregory take the prize from a designer whose survival depends on it more.

Employee of the Week: Elizabeth Doyle at Doyle & Doyle

Shopclerk070730_198At this point, we should really just call it "Employee of the Month", and as we have seen before, Elizabeth Doyle current star of New York Magazine's Ask A Shop Clerk column, is clearly boss, not clerk.
Having established that, this week's edition is a little on the dry and service-ey side. Wasn't the point of asking the clerk to get some inside story, or even a little dirt? Elizabeth Doyle is obviously (and perfectly understandably) interested in promoting Doyle & Doyle, her Orchard Street store, and proceeds to dispense antique jewelry shopping advice, and little else.
Useful, yes, but not particularly colorful.
Ask A Shop Clerk has become the neglected stepchild of the Strategist section at the back of the book. We even forgot to check to see of it was running at all this week. Here's hoping interviewer Denise Penny finds a way to liven things up in the future, or maybe they should just let the column die already.
Nice picture, though.
Ask A Shop Clerk: Elizabeth Doyle of Doyle & Doyle (NYMag)
Doyle & Doyle 189 Orchard Street, Lower East Side

Forever 21 Grows Fast and Gathers Lawsuits

Forever21California fast fashion chain Forever 21 seems unstoppable these days with a total of about 400 stores so far.
The Shophound hopes they have good lawyers because they are currently being besieged by lawsuits from designers claiming that the chain has shamelessly copied their merchandise. The latest and most heavily covered suit has been filed by Gwen Stefani who claims her Harajuku Lovers t-shirt designs have been copied, but others come from Anna Sui, Diane von Furstenberg, Bebe and Anthropologie. In fact, they are facing a good 20 or so suits so far.
It's not easy to sue for copying fashion design in the U.S., although stricter laws are said to be in the works for the future. Ralph Lauren was famously and successfully sued in France by Yves Saint Laurent a few years back for allegedly copying a tuxedo style dress in a case that would never have made it through U.S. courts. Stefani's and von Furstenberg's suits may have more teeth as they concern not only garment design but copyrighted prints which are easier to defend. Forever 21 may have trouble defending itself because despite having 400 stores and selling private label merchandise, the company has no actual design staff, and claims that they are simply buying the items their suppliers have designed. It has also been courting controversy lately not only for its reputation as a knock-off house, but also for its insistence on printing "John 3:16" on its shopping bags, reflecting its owners' Christian faith.
Isn't there something in the Bible about not stealing?

The De-Babe-ing: Marc Ecko Goes Chaste in Chelsea



Well, it seems that The Shophound wasn't alone in noticing that the advertising images in the window of the future Marc Ecko Cut & Sew boutique were a little bit out of place smack in the middle of Chelsea.
After only a few days of bodacious boobs on display, in addition to finally having dismantled the Bang Bang sign, the photos have been blacked out, leaving a more minimal and elegant appearance. It's possible that someone complained about the racy images, although the windows of Universal Gear, Rainbow Station and The Blue Store would indicate that this neighborhood is not exactly prudish. More likely, someone figured out that it was just the wrong kind of racy.
Previously: Marc Ecko Set to Invade Chelsea

Phillip Lim Takes Over New Space on Mercer


And Phillip Lim's roll continues. This week the 3.1 Phillip Lim boutique debuted, and while its midweek opening was quieted by thunderstorms and exploding midtown sidewalks, we expect the heavy weekend crowds to more than make up for it. Lim's capsule collection for UNIQLO was the one that caused a bona fide frenzy, and with support from the CFDA and major press, Lim has found himself in the position of "designer to watch". Phillipliminterior While many have wilted under such pressure, Lim seems more than prepared, and has carved out a niche for himself somewhere between the upper reached of the Contemporary category and the increasingly lofty Designer department. For his own store, he hired young architect Jeremy Barbour to transform the sadly short-lived Space Mercer store into something that reflects Lim's subtle aesthetic that transforms often humble materials into something rich. Oak floorboards are stacked horizontally to create a textured wall while cinder blocks are cunningly used to create the small downstairs which holds the line's most elegant pieces. His lucite display tables will now forever be associated with Wonder Woman's invisible plane, giving the rough hewn interior a light, high-tech gloss.
As for the clothes, the newly delivered fall line reflects that Lim clearly has the skill to compete in fashion's top levels, but has strategically chosen to keep his prices at least relatively more affordable. The collection reflects much greater sophistication than your typical contemporary line. The menswear collection, launched at Barneys this past spring, may need a bit more development. Equally sophisticated as the women's line, Lim adds covered buttons and softer fabrics to classic pieces, but beautifully draped tees in featherweight jersey with hand rolled necklines and edges may, for example, be a bit too androgynous to reach the kind of commercial success of his main collection. A fly-front gabardine trench, however is a winner, and Lim is nothing if not commercially savvy. We're guessing it won't take him long to get the men's line up to speed. Coming up, a capsule children's line for Holiday, and in the Spring, a collaboration with Birkenstock as well as a redesigned label that takes his full name out of shadow script.
It's about time.
3.1 Phillip Lim 115 Mercer Street, SoHo

Mike Albo Goes Shopping: More Than We Needed to Know Edition

Photographs byCasey Kelbaugh for The New York Times
We have been a booster for Mike Albo, we really have, but in today's Thursday Styles our favorite of the current Critical Shopper crew seems off his game. Maybe its because we simply can't muster up much excitement for the new Wall Street branch of Thomas Pink. It's only the fourth one in Manhattan. It's not that there's anything wrong with Thomas Pink. It's perfectly fine, and they make lovely, colorful shirts, and are an excellent source for anyone looking for a well priced, high quality, classic shirt with a little flair.19pink4504 It always struck us, however, as a starter brand for people who weren't quite ready for the more expensive and exclusive Turnbull & Asser or Hilditch & Key, which are honest-to-goodness Jermyn Street bespoke shirtmakers, royal warrants and all. Pink was actually started in 1984, with a catchy name and a retro logo which suggested a heritage that wasn't actually there. Now a part of the well-oiled LVMH luxury machine, the brand has jumped from advertisements on the back pages of The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker to a fully fledged luxury chain with an ever growing series of stores which are remarkably consistent in their design and focused product offerings, kind of like McDonald's in the way that Big Macs are always the same no matter where you are. It has even spawned its own imitator in Charles Tyrwhitt.
Frankly, we're not completely sold on the Financial District luxury boom either, which so far consists of exactly three stores. It's not as if it will ever rival Madison Avenue or 57th Street. Opening an expensive shirt store on Wall Street hardly seems daring. Really, one wonders why this location is Pink's fourth store in the city instead of its first. What took them so long? That said, it will surely save some good customers a trip to midtown.
As for our Mike, well, we told you that the column was really about you, not the store, but your embarrassing personal information should at least be amusing.

...I suppose this isn’t a store for people like me with money issues who go to Barnes & Noble and buy self-help books like “Credit Hell: How to Dig Out of Debt.” These clothes are more suited for the hard-working finance types who have that Suze Orman glint in their eyes and who, when going to Barnes & Noble, select titles like The 48 Laws of Power and You, Inc.

Oh Mike, we don't want to know that about you! It's sort of depressing, and has cast a pall over the rest of your droll observations about shopping. It ruined our image of you jauntily shopping around town when not pursuing your other career as a glittery, dancing performance artist.
Keeping it real is overrated.
Critical Shopper: Colors to Match Every Shade of Credit Card by Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Thomas Pink 63 Wall Street, Financial District, also 520 Madison Avenue, 1155 Avenue of the Americas and The Shops at Columbus Circle.

Seventh on Sale Returns for a Fifth Time...This Time You're Invited.

The CFDA and Vogue are reviving their popular Seventh on Sale AIDS benefit sample sale for a fifth time, and for the first time in 12 years, the public will again be invited to shop in person. It was previously revived in 2005 after a long hiatus, but aside from the requisite gala shopping event for celebrities and socialites, the public was relegated to participating by bidding for items on eBay. This time, the Gala will be held on November 15, providing yet another opportunity for designers to squire random famous people around in their latest creations, and an online auction will continue through December 6 on 7thonSale.ebay.com. Stampede inducing public shopping (often hosted by the designers themselves) to include men's, women's children's and home goods will be held at a soon to be announced location on November 16th through 18th with tickets to be sold for around $25. Co-sponsors will include MAC, Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren, and in encouraging news, Topshop, which suggests that the hot British chain will be here very soon.
Seventh on Sale Back With Bigger Goal (WWD)