Hermès Is Politely Feuding With The Birkin Bag's Namesake

Hermes-birkinWhat do you do when the person whom you have named your most famous product after slams you in the press?
This week, actress Jane Birkin caused a fashion scandal by publicly asking Hermès to remove her name from the crocodile version of its signature Birkin bag after having seen a video produced by People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals that detailed brutal slaughtering and skinning methods of alligators and crocodiles. It appears that Birkin would like for her name to remain on the other versions of the famous handbag, but be removed from the luxury crocodile version (pictured at left) which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
In a response statement issued today, Hermès International states, “Jane Birkin has expressed her concerns regarding practices for slaughtering crocodiles. Her comments do not in any way influence the friendship and confidence that we have shared for many years. Hermès respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.”
While it declined to rename any of its products, the French luxury label stated that the farm depicted in the video is not one of its suppliers and is also under investigation for violating approved slaughter methods for alligators and crocodiles, whose use has been highly regulated since being removed from the endangered species list decades ago. The company indicated that not only does it meticulously follow established rules and regulations in acquiring animal skins for its products, it also visits its suppliers on a monthly basis to ensure that standards are being upheld.
Ultimately, this is a case of PETA attacking a famous animal product using brand and taking advantage of a celebrity connection for extra publicity. The advocacy group is famous for showing grisly videos of animal abuse and slaughter to gather support for its cause, but it may now be better understood that one cruel and abusive factory does not accurately represent an entire industry. Hermès like many other famous companies focused on leathergoods (Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton etc.) has probably become used to attacks from PETA and other similar groups and appears unfazed. Where Jane Birkin will ultimately fall on the dispute remains to be seen, but while PETA has gotten a few days of publicity out of the deal, it seems unlikely that anything will change at Hermès.

Hermès Responds to Jane Birkin Appeal (WWD)


Alexander Wang Said To Be Already Exiting Balenciaga

AlexanderWangbyStevenKleinDidn't he just get there?
It's never a good sign when your supposedly confidential contract renewal negotiations are breathlessly reported upon for weeks, and while there has been no official announcement, WWD is reporting that Alexander Wang (pictured at right) is already leaving his post as creative director at Balenciaga after barely three years at the fabled house. Wang was hired to replace Nicolas Ghesquiere who left abruptly in 2012 and now appears to be comfortably ensconced at Louis Vuitton.
While Wang's tenure at the house has been favorably but not rapturously received by critics and the press, business is said to have been good under the designer whose notoriety kept attention on the label after Ghesquiere's unceremonious exit. He has revamped the company's retail design templates, kept its important handbag and accessory business humming with new styles and even tweaked the logo. Unlike his predecessor, however, Wang's design approach at Balenciaga has been much more reverent of the style of the brand's namesake, offering a sleeker, more elegant fashion image often focused on a black and while color schemes, which has dismayed fashion watchers who were expecting more adventuresome looks. Ghesquiere revived the nearly dormant label by veering between collections that only occasionally paid tribute to the archives and ones that highlighted streetwear looks or innovative materials that looked to the future. His signature item, the motorcycle bag, is decidedly not a reference to the sculptural couture designs of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and yet it remains an important component of the accessory collection well over a decade after its introduction.
It is also thought that Wang's expected departure signals the designer's interest in focusing more on his own New York based label which continues to grow. The rumored move suggests that the paradigm of a star designer heading two big brands based on two different continents may be over as creative directors find the constant commuting exhausting and the corporately owned couture houses increasingly want designers who will focus all their creativity on one label. Designers like Christophe Lemaire and Marc Jacobs have both indicated a desire to consolidate their attention on their own labels as part of the reason for their leaving Hermès and Vuitton respectively. For its part, WWD is reporting that executives from Balenciaga and Kering, its parent company, are looking for a lesser known emerging designer who can be promoted to replace Wang and hopefully create the kind of excitement and press attention that Gucci designer Alessandro Michele has enjoyed since replacing Frida Giannini at the Kering-owned Gucci earlier this year —although the jury is still out on how customers will react to Gucci's dramatically changed fashion offerings. Wang's final collection for Balenciaga is said to be for Spring 2016 to be shown this fall in Paris. If there is to be a replacement announced, look for it to happen after Paris Fashion Week — if the company can keep it under wraps until then.

Alexander Wang, Balenciaga Said Parting Ways (WWD)


New York Fashion Week Men's Is Unveiled With Shinola, Timo Weiland, Duckie Brown & Robert Geller

Yesterday The Shophound finally got a look at the long awaited New York Fashion Week: Men's at Skylight Clarkson Square on the northwestern edge of SoHo —and it looks good. Pretty much anything would be an improvement over cramming the American men's designer shows into the overstuffed women's schedule, but the new set-up seem to be working well, as far as we could tell, though some designers seemed to have growing pains in leaving their familiar showing spaces.
The good part is that the oppressive promotional atmosphere of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is gone, and on a day where scattered showers could make traveling around town problematic, a central location saved us and others from potential drenching.  Also, since the shows are in a real building, there are real bathrooms —an amenity whose importance is not to be underestimated. The sponsors are fewer and more relevant. Cadillac's show car is parked on the sidewalk where it belongs rather than in the middle of things leaving lots of room for showgoers to sit down, charge their devices and get to work without having to squeeze into some cramped press pen. Amazon has kept its promotional presence relevant, focusing on the fashion division it is dedicated to growing. Another major sponsor, SHINOLA (pictured above), used its space to present its Spring 2016 collection, giving the Shophound a chance to chat with our friend Richard Lambertson of Lambertson Truex who have transformed the Detroit-based brand's  artisanally styled leather line into a fully fledged accessories collection ready to compete at the top levels in quality and design with other luxury brands. No longer a charming side offering to the watches and bikes, the line boasts the same sumptuous leathers we are used to seeing from Shinola, now made into beautifully constructed duffels, backpacks, messenger bags and small leather goods featuring the thoughtful topstitching and details that erstwhile Lambertson Truex fans will recognize. Lambertson now shuttles between New York and Detroit where his design studio and sample workrooms are located, and like all of Shinola's products, the entire collection is manufactured in the U.S.A.

Next we were off to check out TIMO WEILAND's presentation. Platform 3, as the venue was called is a smaller room meant for static presentations. In recent seasons, the label has been showing its menswear at the Highline Hotel's cavernous space, and the move to a smaller room was not without its glitches. perhaps next season, they will avoid making a v-shaped presentation format that basically pushed the showers into a bottleneck against the narrower end of the room. Live and learn, but the collection looked fresh, a priority with the added attention a dedicated men's fashion week will bring. Known for a twisted take on preppy clothes, designers Weiland, Alan Eckstein and Donna Kang gave us more twist and less preppy for a more sophisticated feeling and a more international look. The line looked great. The presentation format needs rethinking.

Shophound Faves DUCKIE BROWN also had some relocation pains in moving from their longtime venue at Industria to the larger Platform 2 room at Clarkson Square. Menswear's current fascination with androgyny should put the veteran indie label right in its spotlight, as Steven Cox and Daniel Silver have been mixing masculine elements and traditionally feminine materials since day one. Their Spring 2016 collection found a way to continue their techniques without looking like their models stumbled through their mothers' closets or ransacked an overpriced thrift shop like a few high-profile European luxury brands have. Unfortunately, what was uncharacteristically awkward was the show staging which had half of the models walking the runway in shadow, frustrating the photographers who, as they will, made their displeasure known vocally. Having guest seated only on one side of the runway also left large portion of the room unused which seemed ill-advised. Again, with added attention to menswear this week, one would have liked such an accomplished collection to simply be seen better.

ROBERT GELLER, however, made the most of his new space. Used to showing in along, narrow, sometimes problematic space at Pier 59 Studios, the designer took to the spacious Platform 1 with apparent ease, constructing a northern European seaside-inspired set and a J-shaped runway format that made the most of the complex's largest room. Geller's sportswear beautifully reflected menswear's slow but steady move away from tight silhouettes toward looser fitting clothes with his rich color sense in full effect. Quirky hats and knitted cummerbunds pulled the looks together. Overall it was an upgrade in presentation for Geller along with a further evolution for his label.
Have a glimpse at the shows in the gallery below

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  • TimoWeiland-SS16-A
  • TimoWeiland-SS16-B
  • RobertGellerSS16-1
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  • RobertGellerSS16-Finale


Donna Karan To Step Down With Her Signature Collection To Be Suspended

Donna_Karan_VF_2012_ShankboneAs the fashion press prepares for Haute Couture collections in Paris and the debut of New York's first organized Men's Fashion Week, one of the pillars of modern American fashion has dropped a bombshell. Donna Karan is stepping down as the chief designer of Donna Karan International, the company she founded on 1984.
She plans to maintain a close advisory role at the company, now a division of LVMH, but is expected to devote greater time to her own Urban Zen company and foundation. Karan's reduced role does not come as a total surprise to those in the industry who have observed over a period of years that the designer's interest seemed more focused on her personal projects than on the labels she created in the 1980s. What is a surprise, however is that rather than replacing her as designer for the flagship Donna Karan Collection as PVI did at Calvin Klein with Francisco Costa when its namesake designer reduced his role, DKI will suspend those collections and runway shows "for now", WWD reports. That leaves a very changed DKI, with DKNY as its main fashion driver. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School will be presenting their debut as DKNY's creative directors at New York Fashion Week this September.
While one might have expected that the Donna Karan collection would have been strong enough to continue with a new creative director, it has now been many years since Karan's original label has been the retail powerhouse that it was in the 80s and 90s when its deceptively simple designs powered by its designer's charisma and a rabidly devoted customer base racked up huge numbers for retailers. Her seasonal public appearance at Bergdorf Goodman regularly drew record-busting crowds to meet her, but it has been decades since Karan has presided over a trunk show, and collection no longer commands the prized real estate in department stores that it once did, despite more enthusiastic reviews for her runway shows in recent years along with a resurgence in her label's favorable appearance at red-carpet events and award shows.
Still, it's hard to imagine a New York fashion scene without a collection designed by Donna Karan who has been fixture since she took over the reins at Anne Klein in 1974 with Louis Dell'Olio. Look for lots of retrospectives and much deserved tributes in the days ahead.

Donna Karan to Step Down at DKI (WWD)


Band Of Outsiders
Appears To Be Shutting Down

BandOfOutsidersFW15Perhaps that big Band Of Outsiders sample sale a few weeks ago was more of an effort to raise funds than just a warehouse clearance. Multiple fashion media sites are reporting that the widely admired decade old label has laid off most of its staff, cancelled Fall 2015 (pictured left) orders and is either closing down completely or undergoing a radical reorganization. 
While no official comment was offered, WWD managed to get ahold of the founder and designer Scott Sternberg who was also non committal. "Nobody knows anything at this point but me," he was quoted as saying, "and I’ve been advised not to comment at this time."

Just last year, the label appeared to be chugging along more than nicely with its first retail store recently opened in Tokyo, and another about to open in SoHo. Exactly what is plaguing the brand remains unclear, and while it appears to be folding, there remains the possibility that the label could be revived under a new business arrangement. The SoHo store is reportedly still open, and the entire industry seems to be awaiting an official announcement.

Band of Outsiders Reportedly Shuttering Business (WWD)


American Apparel Battles Dov Charney With More Abuse Complaints


Two controversial apparel CEOs lost their jobs last year.
One, Abercrombie & Fitch's Mike Jeffries apparently recognized when it was finally over for him and left without creating a public spectacle.
The other, Dov Charney (pictured right), the founder of American Apparel, has been fighting tooth and nail to regain his position and control of the company he created, but it's not looking good. After his initial ouster, Charney joined forces with hedge fund Standard General in an unusual deal that combined his stock with their financial backing to regain control of the chain. Ultimately Standard General wound up supporting the board in its firing of Charney for a host of reasons, the most attention getting being his inappropriate behavior in the workplace over the years as well as allegedly misusing funds. Feeling double crossed, Charney has been pursuing legal action, but new reports have American Apparel gathering a sizable dossier of complaints from employees over the years about workplace conditions regarding their former boss's behavior. According to Bloomberg News, the complaints are recorded in e-mails as well as video and audio recordings and include incidents of Charney throwing a medicine bottle at an employee as well as calling another a "slut" and a "whore". A departing employee reportedly stated, "I’m afraid to return to work and face further abuse," in a resignation letter. An unnamed former American Apparel executive is said to confirm the reports that the former CEO was verbally abusive in the workplace causing several employees to quit as he was given to foul, derogatory language and embarrassing staffers in front of coworkers. Aside from the obvious inappropriateness of the behavior, it seems clear that Charney created a reputation for the company's workplace that made it difficult to retain highly qualified employees as well as attract new ones.
Charney denies the reports, and his lawyers are questioning the authenticity of the documents, though it is known that the company settled several sexual harassment lawsuits out of court during Charney's time running the company. What we do know for sure is that this feud is getting uglier and isn't looking like it will end anytime soon. One would have to ask the question, if Charney did somehow regain his position at American Apparel, how would he and the company look after the dirty fight that would have gotten him back there?
As the company attempts a turnaround under new CEO Paula Schneider, it's stock price has tumbled, and th  most recent quarterly reports indicate a wider loss that the company will make up for by selling stock. Charney claims that he has been pushed out because the board wants to sell the company, which it denies, but if business doesn't pick up for American Apparel, it's hard to imagine how it can remain independent for much longer.

American Apparel Has a Dossier of Complaints Against Former CEO It Can Use (Bloomberg)


DKNY Is Getting A Public School Degree

Public-school-dknyIn a surprising and intriguing bit of personnel change, Dao-Yi Chao and Maxwell Osborne (pictured at right) who have reaped acclaim as the designers of the Public School label have just been named creative directors of the DKNY brand. There have been rumors the longtime DKNY creative director Jane Chung would be replaced, and WWD confirms that she will be transitioned out of the position while Chao and Osborne will show their first DKNY collection in September for women. Their menswear will debut the next season for Fall 2016.
The designers have been recipients of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and are currently nominated for the CFDA Award for Menswear and the Swarovski Award for Womenswear. They released a statement, “We both grew up in New York and DKNY has always been part of the landscape of this city in our formative years as designers and as New Yorkers. It is one of the brands that helped change the game for us and for American fashion. It evokes everything our city was always about — energy, disruption, new thinking and transcending all boundaries. We are extremely proud and excited to be joining the company and to contribute to the next chapter of DKNY, one of the most iconic American brands created by Donna Karan, a true inspiration.”

As for the DKNY brand, WWD confirms that parent company LVMH is actively investing in the label to reinvigorate it and to that end have made another lower profile but no less interesting hire in Hector Muelas as the newly created post of chief image officer at Donna Karan International. Mules was formerly creative director of worldwide marketing communications of Apple Inc. and represents something for a turnabout as Apple has been raiding top fashion companies in recent years for retail and marketing executives.
Things are expected to remain as they are, personnel-wise, at the flagship Donna Karan New York label where the designer herself will remain the creative director. Karan has been said to support the design change at DKNY and the efforts to restore it to a more prominent profile in the contemporary world. One thing we can definitely predict is that the DKNY show will be a much hotter ticket than it has been in years. What happens after that is up to Chao and Osborne.

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne Tapped as DKNY Creative Directors (WWD)


Fashion Week's New Homes Are Just Where We Thought They Would Be

There were no big surprises as IMG officially announced the new homes for its New York Fashion Week shows, and it will be just the pain in the ass we predicted. Next season's official shows will be taking place at two far flung locations as had been widely predicted. The schedule will be split between Skylight at Moynihan Station at 360 West 33rd Street and Skylight Clarkson Square at 550 Washington Street. In addition, IMG has full acquired Made at Milk which has been providing show space for designers at little or no rental cost, and it will continue to operate independent of the other locations. That means that This September's fashion week shows will have press and buyers shuttling between 33rd Street, the western end of 15th street and the far western edge of SoHo just below Houston street. That doesn't include other popular venues like Industria, Spring Studios in Tribeca, the various Armories and any other of the off-site locations that will be required to host the hundreds of shows that aren't officially on IMG's misleadingly tight schedule.
So it really won't be that much different, although Moynihan station shaves about 30 blocks off the span of territory now that Lincoln Center is off the map. One plus is that the men's shows will be consolidated at Skylight Clarkson Square in July, so they won't have to compete for venues and production teams, and that might ease the schedule just a bit. Moynihan Station, the Farley Post Office which will ultimately become a full train station has the advantage of being right on an express stop for the A, C and E trains, but the other two locations are at least a couple of crosstown blocks away from the subway, so expect Uber to be as busy and peak priced as ever. Eventually, Fashion Week is expected to consolidate itself at the fabled Culture Shed planned for Hudson Yards, but since that isn't really expected to be ready until 2019, it looks like this is what Fashion Week is going to look like for the foreseeable future.
Get your comfortable shoes ready, fashion folks.
Oh, who are we kidding, they're never going to wear comfortable shoes.

NYFW’s New Homes: Midtown and SoHo (WWD)


Is Marc Jacobs About To Consolidate His Collections Under A Single Label?

MBMJ-35-FW15Ever since Marc Jacobs left Louis Vuitton to fully concentrate on his own signature label, there have been rumors of major reorganization, and it's looking more and more like the future of the brand will be under a single label. WWD has gone on record as suggesting that the Marc by Marc Jacobs (A fall 2015 look is pictured at rightline was increasingly likely to be folded back into Jacobs' main collection which would then proceed with an expanded price point that would range from the contemporary to the designer level. A few weeks ago, similar rumors circulated about the men's Marc Jacobs labels, but it seems that the consolidation would cover the entire company's offerings.
The Marc by Marc Jacobs label has been struggling to redefine its identity over the past couple of years. In 2013, women's designer Luella Bartley was hired to refresh the brand's fashion direction, and at last season's show, it was announced that the label would be relaunched as MBMJ —which actually never happened.
A consolidation move would echo the strategy of currently disgraced designers Dolce & Gabbana who, a few years ago, surprisingly discontinued their D&G diffusion brand and folded it back into the main collection promising a similarly broadened scope for their single label. How that has played out seems more like the lower priced line vanished and the designer collection stayed pretty much the same, but it may simply demonstrate that at the luxury level, less is sometimes more.
WWD also notes that Marc Jacobs' parent company LVMH is closely involved in recalibrating the brand's organization, and a stronger retail presence is considered imperative by LVMH chair Bernard Arnault. Jacobs' own series of boutiques is expected to be expanded. Though he has long had a retail presence in Manhattan with his SoHo collection store and the series of West Village shops which have often traded off between his signature and diffusion lines, they ultimately are too small to make the kind of impact the brand needs and that a major Marc Jacobs flagship would provide. While the label has often hinted that a major uptown store has been in the works —even going so far as to identifying a Madison Avenue location at one point— the store has never materialized.
Exactly what is going to happen to the Marc Jacobs label lineup and retail network remains to be seen, and the company has made no official announcements, but if it hat hit WWD, that means that some major changes are in the air to steady the brand and position it for a stronger future. Stay tuned.

Hear Marc by Marc Jacobs Folding into Jacobs Line (WWD)


The CFDA Awards Adds Pharrell Williams As This Year's Fashion Icon

We aren't sure if an extended rollout or if it was a last-minute addition, but The CFDA announced today that Pharrell Williams would be receiving the Fashion Icon award this coming June 1st when the awards are presented at Alice Tully Hall. While Williams has certainly shown he is able to get attention for his style —people still can't stop talking about the famous Vivienne Westwood hat he wore an entire year ago— he has been in the fashion industry for years before his current musical renaissance. Aside from several collaborations including ongoing projects with Uniqlo and Adidas, He cofounded the fashion brands Billionaire Boys Club, Bee Line, BBC Black and Ice Cream. CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg said of the award, “If cool was a person, it would be Pharrell, not just for his looks and sense of style but for his kindness and openness. I cannot imagine anyone not seduced by him.” Look for him in a cool outfit at the awards ceremony, and, since it will be nearly Summer, bet on him wearing shorts.

Pharrell, 2015 Fashion Icon (CFDA Official Site)