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Uniqlo Launches U.S. E-Commerce Site

If you haven't discovered Uniqlo, then you're missing out. But it's not entirely your fault given that the Japanese retailer only operates five stores in the U.S., four in the New York and one in San Francisco. I discovered Uniqlo when I was out in New York a couple years ago and realized what the buzz was all about. It's a fast-fashion retailer that gives you the chance to buy all those basic "filler" pieces at a great price, but without compromising on the quality (at least that's what my personal experience has been...cashmere sweaters at 80 dolllar price points? Yes please!).

The decision to launch an E-commerce site in the U.S. was a strategic move to help the Japanese retailer continue expanding in the U.S. and figure out where the bulk of their U.S. consumers reside. Through their online sales, the company can then determine where to build more brick-and-mortar stores. Their decision to open a store in San Francisco was also a strategic move, allowing the retailer to be close to Silicon Valley and the Bay area techies to help them launch their site. “Having a San Francisco store is a good opportunity to work with outside [tech] companies and experiment,” Shin Odake, CEO stated to WWD. “Hopefully, we can hire and find the talent. Global e-commerce is headquartered in Japan, but we’re open to moving the global headquarters to the U.S. We feel there’s more talent and more knowledge in the U.S. The fact that our San Francisco store is close to Silicon Valley was very attractive. We want to establish a relationship with the U.S. high-tech industry. We hope to learn from the U.S. market and make our Web experience better than it is today.” More talent and knowledge in the U.S. when it comes to E-commerce? Now that's something this Stanford alumna, former San Francisco resident, and all around fashion geek is proud to hear. To shop Uniqlo's new site, click here


Designers Talk Knock-offs in the Digital Age

This week in New York, Teen Vogue put together a panel of industry insiders to discuss the changes fashion has had to go through in the digital age, which included Joseph Altuzarra and the CEO of Proenza Schouler. Part of the panel discussion was the sharing of information via social media and the impact this has had on designers. While the immediate access to runway presentations have enabled customers to be closer to brands than ever before, it has also increased the challenge of protecting a designers work. 

For example, Proenza Schouler shared  that it has a new bag set to launch in November, and it is under a lock and key so tight, they wouldn’t even send it to Vogue. The only defense designers have in this world of fashion immediacy is to not release pictures. Altuzarra also acknowledged that because of the constant copying “you do try to push yourself more so you become un-copyable.” Customers are more accustomed to searching for "the look" that fast-fashion so quickly can satisfy rather than the quality of the item. As a result, designers must resort to these methods to maintain the originality of their designs for as long as possible. In a digital age, where images of a runway show are immediately available on the Internet and are knocked off before the designer's work is available in the stores, the challenge of protection will only increase. Some on the panel even suggested that designers allow for the knock-offs in exchange for a cut. In any case, it's clear those within the industry are adapting to these rapid changes. 


Narciso Rodriguez Takes Advisory Role for Banana Republic

J.Crew has certainly made a mark in retail with style icon Jenna Lyons as its Creative Director. During her tenure, the brand has grown into that rare combination- a multi-million-dollar mass retailer with serious fashion credibility. It seems as though Banana Republic could be taking a cue from their competitor, as they step up their game and bring on Narciso Rodriguez as an advisor. The famous designer will be working with the company's Creative Director Simon Kneen, in an effort to “build upon the strengths of the brand.” We here at TFG can't wait to see how Rodriguez's sleek and modern aesthetic will be infused into the line. It will also be interesting to see whether his input on the brand's product development will give Banana Republic that fashion edge that J.Crew has managed to achieve through Lyons. TFG will be sure to keep you posted. 



Bloomberg's Fashion.NYC.2020

With NYFW fast approaching this September, people often take for granted the role New York has played as the center of American fashion. And what many may be unaware of is how rapidly the garment district has disappeared as many designers have their lines manufactured abroad. Made in USA has become virtually obsolete in American fashion. 

Both the federal and local government have taken steps to reverse this, as politicians have come to realize the number of jobs that have been eliminated from the exportation of fashion. As mentioned in a previous post, Obama's administration has launched a major campaign focusing on bringing manufacturing jobs back into the United States, and the fashion industry is a major player in this campaign.  Mayor Bloomberg has also been a champion of supporting the growth and progress of the local industry. On January 11, 2010, Bloomberg and the New York Economic Development Center (NYCEDC) launched Fashion.NYC.2020, a strategic study to examine the challenges facing the fashion industry. After conducting surveys and interviews with more than 500 industry professionals, NYCEDC developed six initiatives to maintain and enhance New York City’s position as the global leader in fashion.

  1. Fashion Production Fund: To assist emerging designers with their initial production cycles, the City will establish a fund to help them access capital for production financing and local production resources.

  2. Project Pop-up: To maintain New York City’s position as a retail leader, the City will launch “Project Pop-up,” an annual competition to promote new and innovative retail concepts. This competition will recognize and reward emerging, innovative, New York City-based fashion retailers (both offline and online) and fashion-related technology companies. Up to 3 retailers and up to 8 technology companies will be selected for this first-of-its-kind program. Winners receive 1) One month of free retail or showcase space from September 6th through September 30th beginning around New York Fashion Week within the Chelsea-based retailer STORY with 100% of sales going to the winning companies; and 2) A tool kit of business services, including PR and marketing support, mentoring from industry leaders, and exposure at key industry events

  3. Fashion Draft NYC: Hosted by Parsons, Fashion Draft NYC ensures fashion is in the career decision set for top business-minded students. The initiative consists of a structured “interview week” where selected students have the opportunity to earn full-time, management track positions in the industry.

  4. Fashion Campus NYC: Operated by Parsons The New School for Design, Fashion Campus NYC is a free education and networking program to help interested university-level interns jump-start their careers on the business side of NYC's fashion industry. In order to enrich and expand the overall fashion experience for summer fashion interns, the program organizers seminars by industry leaders and networking opportunities.

  5. NYC Fashion Fellows: NYC Fashion Fellows is a year-long fellowship program, starting in January 2013, designed for rising stars in fashion management. Fellows will receive executive-level mentoring, networking and community-building opportunities, and continuing education and career advancement workshops with industry professionals and their peers to measurably accelerate their careers. The fashion industry has few programs that highlight the “rising stars” in fashion management.

  6. Design Entrepreneurs NYC: An initiative by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and NYCEDC, Design Entrepreneurs NYC is a free, intensive "mini-MBA" program that equips select fashion designers with the skills they need to successfully run a fashion label, including marketing, operations, and financial management. Design Entrepreneurs NYC will essentially serve as an entrepreneurial “boot camp.”

With such amazing initiatives in place, TFG has no doubt that Bloomberg's program will be very successful in ensuring that New York will remain one of the fashion centers of the world. We encourage our readers to support all designers who manufacture locally. To view a copy of the full report of Fashion.NYC.2020's program, click here.


Hedi Slimane Responds to YSL Rebranding Critics

And just when you thought we couldn't post more on the YSL rebranding, Hedi Slimane speaks up about the response to his decision in an interview. We were pleased to see how much it corroborated our assessment of the name change.

“It is interesting to see how much reaction this retro branding has created. Clearly, this period of the history of the house was not well-known, which I trust was a surprise for Pierre Bergé [Saint Laurent's long-term partner]. I went back to 1966 – just before the events of 1968 [when 11 million workers revolted against the conservative politics of then-President Charles de Gaulle - the biggest general strike in history], but the awakening of youth was in the air, and Yves Saint Laurent wanted to dissociate himself from the clientele of haute couture and embrace this new generation.”

Slimane's response confirmed that the retro-branding has strong historical roots and underpinnings and shows that much thought went into the decision. Oh, how the social media tides will probably turn and critics will end up raving about the talented Slimane after he debuts his first collection for the French fashion house. TFG turned out to be right before, and calls it again.