Calvin Klein

How much does Lady Gaga really matter, in a quantifiable way, to fashion? — this is what I want to know. I mean, the Gaga juggernaut has been in full flow this week in the run-up to the Spring/Summer collections, which begin in NY next week; practically every day a new email lands in my in-box with a designer or brand touting the pop singer’s appearance in their wares. Presumably, they think she’s a marketing dream – hence the news – but I wonder: given her brand profligacy, does this actually work to promote any name other than her own?  

Today the third in a series of World Luxury Index BRIC reports from the Digital Luxury Group (and the Luxury Society) is released – after Russia and China, we have Brazil, and the “Top 50 Most Searched-For Brands”. Guess what? One of these things is not like the other ones! Though conventional luxury wisdom says emerging markets always look to the obvious, in-your-face icons of luxury first, Brazil seems the exception to the rule.

 

New York Fashion Week begins today, bringing with it the news that Occupy Wall Street is back and planning a protest. The instigator: Intern Labor Rights, an OWS spin off. The subject: unpaid interns. Seems magazines and fashion houses are exploiting them and not adhering to labour law. Seems the desire among youngsters to 1) raise their employment chances by getting useful experience in their chosen field; and 2) enter the seemingly glamorous world of fashion means there are more than enough kids willing to work for free.

Numerous tweeters have weighed in on the matter, most negatively, as has The Fashion Law Institute , which pointed out that OWS tried this before – a few lonely souls held a widely derided protest outside the Calvin Klein show last February – without much effect. Will this time around be any different?

Professor Susan Scafidi of Fashion Law said: “hard to tell,” but my guess is: “not much.”

Why? Primarily because I’m not sure Fashion Week is the most effective time for OWS to target the fashion industry. It might appear so at first – it’s when the world’s eyes are on the industry – but let’s think about it some more. 

Today PVH, the large US conglomerate that owns Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Izod (among others) announced it was acquiring Waranco, the large US lingerie manufacturer that makes Calvin Klein undies and jeans, among others, in a deal valued at $2.9 billion.
The acquisition was approved by both boards, and will officially make PVH one of the mega-corps, with revenues of about $8 billion. As important, however, is the fact that by buying Warnaco, PVH is also buying Calvin Klein’s two biggest product categories, which had been licensed to the manufacturer since the late 1990s.
 

There’s a really interesting study out today from the Digital Luxury Group. Based on data from over 31 million searches on Google, Bing, Yandex and Bai du, as conducted in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and US, it looked at which American luxury brands were the most popular globally (based on search, natch, not sales). The results would probably surprise you, especially when it comes to who’s on top, and emerging markets. 

Today ex-P&G marketing guru Jim Stengel lists his top 50 brands of the last decade (out of 50,000) as judged by performance, consumer loyalty, and growth. These included the expected names like Apple, Starbucks and Amazon, as well as some less expected: the only fashion/luxury brands that make the list are — wait for it — Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, and Louis Vuitton. Surprised? How about now: Mr Stengel attributes their success largely to four factors, one of which is CEOs who are “artist-businessmen.” 

I had a very interesting conversation with a Calvin Kleiner this morning as we were waiting for the company’s pre-collection show to start. He had just come back from their latest store opening — at a mall in Toronto.

“Toronto?” quoth I, dubiously. “Is that a big market for Calvin Klein?” 

Who is fashion week for? The fact that this is a pressing question has suddenly become as clear as the plaid on a kilt thanks to British Vogue’s web site, which today launched a new initiative: “On-line Fashion Week,” which points up a growing schism in the fashion world.
 

Here is an rather interesting excerpt from Derek Lam’s show notes today:

“As prices for pure raw materials become more and more expensive; cotton, cashmere, merino wool, and silks prices have rose (sic) dramatically in the last two years, many of the mills have responded by mixing less precious yarns into the compositions….Cotton is combined with canepea, a fibre similar to linen…Silk poplin is woven with nylon to take a plain cloth and give it a washed and warm look….Viscose is added to silk twill….Cupro added to satin silk yarns….” 

Which companies will get a business bounce from last night’s Golden Globes? The pictures have been sent round the world, and will play out not just today, or throughout the week in various newspapers and weekly gossip mags, but for months as other glossies re-visit celebrity looks of the year.