Paris fashion Week 2013-14

The FashionTV review of the Paris Fashion Week – they were all there Christian Dior, Balmain, Chloe, Viktor & Rolf, Gareth Pugh, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Lanvin, Manish Arora, Rick Owens, Rochas, Sonia Rykiel, Alexander McQueen, and Valentino…

Stars Show Off Punk Side at Met Costume Gala

Hollywood stars embraced the punk theme at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Gala evening on Monday night.

The Spring exhibition, “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” launched in New York and was attended by stars such as Madonna, Jennifer Lawrence and Beyonce.

The annual ball celebrates the opening of the Metropolitan Museum’s (The Met) fashion exhibition at the Costume Institute. The red carpet evening is described as the fashion industry’s equivalent to the Oscars.


The U.S. Postal Service Tries its Hand at Fashion

The U.S. Postal Service Tries its Hand at Fashion

Snail mail is quickly fading away into a thing of the past. It’s no wonder then that the U.S. Postal Service is going broke and has even announced plans to halt mail delivery on Saturdays. However, in a desperate and dramatic effort to stay afloat financially, it has started its own line of fashion apparel and accessories.

The collection is called “Rain Heat & Snow,” and will be released through a license agreement with Wahconah Group, an apparel company based in Cleveland, Ohio. So far, the brand is still in its testing phase though consumers can expect casual wear, outerwear, seasonal wear and sportswear.

Rain Heat & Snow will not just be another apparel line. Its garments combine fashion with the latest trends in technology. A jacket, for example, may come with a socket where you can hook up your mp3 player with volume controls embedded on the sleeve. This has been dubbed by some as “wearable electronics” and “functional fashion.” This idea, however, is not a new one and has been previously implemented by Old Navy.

So far, the company only has plans to release apparel for men though it does expect to eventually release a line for women. Rain Heat & Snow is expected to make its debut in department stores in 2014.

While releasing a clothing line is a bizarre move for the postal service, it just might be what the organization needs if it hopes not to fade into oblivion. The agency reported a nearly 16 billion dollar loss last year with 20 billion dollar annual deficits.

This actually isn’t the Postal Service’s first attempt to make a name for itself in the retail industry. The agency introduced a limited retail line backs in the ‘80s, which includes items like T-shirts, neckties and coffee mugs, all of which were available for purchase in post offices.

Actress Urges Americans to Purchase Jewelry from Conflict-free Areas

Congo Gold Miners

As Valentine’s Day approaches, jewelry sales are expected to skyrocket as men and women in committed relationships set out to look for that perfect piece of gift for their significant other. However, most shoppers do not realize that the seemingly harmless purchase of a bracelet or ring could be contributing to violence and warfare halfway around the world.

In eastern Congo, war is raging as factions fight for control over the region’s lucrative gold trade industry. Many armed groups are resorting to coercion and threats of lethal force to gain access to mines and trade routes.

The sad part is that the people most affected by the fighting are those who are not even directly involved. This includes civilians, most of whom are children who are forced to work in the mines under hazardous conditions. The conflict has also resulted in the mass rape of women at the hands of soldiers.

Actress and activist Emmanuelle Chiriqui is now urging Americans to only purchase jewelry from dealers that obtain their gold from local sources. By choosing to buy gold derived elsewhere, warlords would be driven out of business. This would also provide paid jobs for miners in Congo who would otherwise be exploited by armed groups.

Human rights groups have now set up conflict-free gold projects in Congo. Chiriqui is reaching out to jewelers to get involved with the project, which helps to increase profit for the workers and not the warlords.

Aside from jewelry dealers, electronic companies have also joined similar projects as this industry is a big consumer of tin, tantalum and tungsten, which are also resources that are attributing to warfare in Congo. Companies like Motorola have started projects, such as the Solutions for Hope Project and the Conflict-free Tin Initiative, which have led to better wages for Congolese miners.

Retailers Brace for Valentine’s Day Shopping

Retailers Brace for Valentine’s Day Shopping

There is no holiday that gets a more mixed reaction than Valentine’s Day. Those who are without a romantic partner often detest February 14th. The day, however, is a favorite among retailers. It is an opportunity for companies to bring in additional revenue through the sales of chocolates, roses, balloons, teddy bears and lingerie.

According to the National Retail Federation, spending is expected to remain roughly the same at $130.97 per shopper. Valentine’s Day spending last year came in at $126.02 for each person. The projected total spending for this year is estimated at $18.6 billion. In light of the economy, shoppers are also more likely this year to look for cheaper alternatives.

National surveys show that about 20 percent of Valentine’s Day gifts will come in the form of jewelry, which amounts to a total spending of $4.4 billion in gold, silver and diamonds. Half of shoppers are also expected to purchase chocolates or other form of sweet confections. About one third will buy a bouquet of flowers. 15 percent will buy clothing with another 15 percent purchasing gift cards.

About a fourth of shoppers indicated that some or all of their Valentine’s Day shopping will be done online, which is about a five percent increase from last year. About 40 percent of those with a smartphone are also expected to make purchases using their mobile device. Just under half of tablet owners are expected to do the same with their devices. Additionally, the survey also shows that the overwhelming majority of shoppers will at least use the Web for researching gift ideas and looking for deals.

While those who are single may find themselves alone on Valentine’s Day, at least they will save a lot of money by not having to purchase lavish gifts for a significant other.

Designer Introduces Fashion Theory Class to Female Inmates

Designer Introduces Fashion Theory Class to Female Inmates

In 2004, a prison education system was introduced to the female ward of Riker’s Island, a jailing complex in New York. The program is designed to empower incarcerated women with good quality education so they can live a more meaningful life upon their release. Typical courses include math, law and even hip hop. Now, another course has just been added that is garnering a lot of popularity among the inmates: fashion theory.

The class is led by handbag designer Anna Lynett Moss. She instructs the class on the many faces of the fashion industry and how collections are inspired by culture and how beauty is largely determined by social norms. Class discussions also include the subject of race as it relates to fashion both on and off the catwalk.

In an interview, Moss mentions the need for a more racially diverse profile of models in the industry. She says most of her minority students tend to feel alienated when they look at fashion ads and fashion shows and see mostly models of Caucasian decent.

Moss stresses to her pupils that beauty is subjective and shows them images of fashion trends from other parts of the world and how their standards of beauty is far different from what we would define as beautiful.

The class also delves into length about the reality of sweatshop conditions and how mass-produced and low-priced clothing are produced in developing nations under horrid work environments. Moss introduces alternatives like shopping for second hand clothing, which is a great alternative to buying high quality apparel at a low price.

Moss’ fashion theory course is the most popular academic program at Riker’s Island and normally fills to capacity with 30 inmates, while other classes typically only generate around 20 inmates or less. Moss’ class actively engages women in discussion about deep-rooted social concerns by encouraging them to think from a different angle and perspective.

Jewelry Designer Fights Gun Violence With Her Latest Jewelry Collection

The issue of gun control has really taken center stage in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. Jessica Mindich, a jewelry designer, has now made it her mission to combat gun violence with her latest collection.

Mindich’s latest line is known as the Caliber Collection and consists of iron bangles and shiny steel cuffs made from recycled gun parts, all of which were seized by police after being used in a crime.

Each of the bracelets come with an engraved serial number of a seized gun. Each piece is retailed at $150 to $300, with part of the proceeds going to a gun amnesty buyback program. This is a charitable program that allows people to hand over an illegal gun to authorities for $200 cash with no questions asked.

The Caliber Collection also consists of brass bangles made from shell casings collected at crime scenes and are sold for $175 to $375. Mindich, who is also a former lawyer and longtime activist, began the project, Jewelry for a Cause in 2008. The program was started to raise funds for causes like Alzheimer’s disease and drinking water shortages in third world countries.

The Caliber Collection is made from over 250 guns seized as evidence from crime scenes. Future batches, however, will be made from guns received from the aforementioned buyback program.

Mindich added that while the aim of the Caliber Collection is to raise awareness of gun violence, it is unfortunate that she will always have an endless cycle of incoming batches to make her jewelry from. This is because there are so many illegal guns in the wrong hands in most urban cities.

Mindich currently operates her jewelry line in Newark, New Jersey, though she hopes to expand the program in other cities where gun crimes are part of the norm.

Authorities Continue Their Search for Missing Fashion Mogul

The fashion community is holding out hope that Vittorio Missoni turns up alive and well after his plane dropped off the radar as it headed for Caracas, Venezuela. So far, rescuers have turned up empty after scouring by air and sea for signs of wreckage and debris.

Missoni is a fashion mogul widely credited for turning his father’s small business into a global empire. Missoni, 58, was on board the twin-engine aircraft with his wife along with two friends and two pilots. A mere half hour after the takeoff, the plane seemingly vanished in thin air off the Caribbean coast.

The Missoni brand was started by Vittori’s father, Ottavio, in 1953 and began as a local business that specialized in knitwear. After Vittori and his two siblings inherited the business in 1996, they turned their brand into an internationally known label and directed their efforts to market towards a younger audience. Some of their clientele includes notables like Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss and Kate Middleton. The brand was especially known for its trademark zigzag pattern that was incorporated into most of the sweaters and dresses.

The Missoni family soon expanded their business beyond the fashion industry and also started their own brand of housewares and a hotel chain. By 2011, the label formed a partnership with Target to develop a low-cost line of apparel that featured its patented zigzag. Upon its release, the apparel became a hot item and sold out in minutes at most Target stores. Target’s website even reportedly crashed at one point due to the high volume of visitors hoping to order their own Missoni apparel online.

The fashion house also planned a show featuring the latest lineup of menswear for 2013. So far, the show will proceed as planned even in light of Missoni’s disappearance. The Missoni family is often credited for turning Italy into one of the world’s biggest fashion hubs.

The Spirit of Post-Christmas Sales and Shopping

Another year of Christmas has come and went. However, the chaotic shopping scenes we are so used to experiencing and seeing by now is far from over. Post-Christmas shopping is just as much as tradition for some people as the days leading up to it. In fact, most retailers rely on Post-Christmas sales to make up for lackluster sales during the holiday.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, total retail sales for last week only shot up by 0.7 percent from last year. The goal is to see an increase of 3 percent in sales for the whole holiday season, and that includes revenue brought in from after Christmas sales. The week after Christmas usually accounts for about 15 percent of the total sales for the entire holiday month.

There is normally a spike in sales in the days between Christmas and New Years as shoppers redeem their gift cards and exchange or return gifts. Gift cards are popular stocking stuffers and last minute gifts, and their sales will be counted once they are redeemed. As for returned presents, even though it may seem like a bad thing for stores, it actually helps to increase sales as customers may stick around to do a little extra shopping.

Sales figures overall has not been bad. Holiday sales made online have jumped by over 22 percent from last year. It has also been a pleasant year for the mobile industry and particularly for iPads, which accounted for over 12 percent of online sales for the holiday with more units sold than any other mobile gadget.

People tend to experience post-holiday blues knowing that Christmas is over and will have to wait another 12 months for the next holiday season. However, there is some consolation knowing that they can buy a few items for themselves at clearance prices in the days that follow.

Online Stores Using “Discriminatory” Sales Practices to Determine Merchandise Prices

People mainly shop online for the convenience. The other reason is because it enables them to easily compare prices. However, if you think making purchases online helps you save money, then you may want to think again. A recent research revealed that some well-known retail chains are resorting to shady sales strategies to ramp up profits. This includes using information like income and location to determine the final price of online merchandise.

The research was conducted by Wall Street Journal, and Staples was the retail chain that was selected as the guinea pig for the experiment. What WSJ discovered was that Staples’ online store showed price discrepancies about 86 percent of the time. Prices would normally be higher if the shopper is from an area code that had a Staples store in the region with no competing stores within the vicinity.

The test concluded that Staples would obtain the zip code of the shopper by spying on their computer’s IP address. The results may lead some to think that Staples would give a bigger discount to online shoppers who are from low income zip codes. However, this is far from the case; the experiment revealed that those who were shown the lowest prices tend to be people from higher income areas.

When confronted about its questionable online tactics, Staples admitted that it changes its pricing depending on factors that include labor, rent, costs and distribution.

Staples is not the only company that adopted such methods. Orbitz, a company for booking flights and hotel reservations, also exhibited different prices ranges for different shoppers. Orbitz, along with CheapTicket, actually provides higher discounts to those who checked prices on their iPhone or Android phone.

This is not to discourage anyone from shopping online though those who prefer to do so should be aware that they may not be receiving the best bargains they thought they were getting.

Israel Juggles With Two Fashion Weeks

Israel always suffered from having one of the weakest global presences in the fashion industry. This is due to the lack of a fashion week to attract media attention. Now, out of the blue, it is juggling two of them at once.

The dilemma started when two rival designers hosted a fashion week just one month apart. The showcases were Gindi TLV Fashion Week hosted by fashion show producer Motif Reif and Tel Aviv Fashion Week held by designer and former air force intelligence officer Ofir Lev.

The two had actually worked together in the past but have since had a fall out due to a feud over control of funding. What was a former partnership has now brewed into bitter rivalry and has forced other designers to take sides. Some speculate that the scuffle will undermine Israel’s fashion scene, which is desperately trying to crawl back from a three decade slump.

Things did not start out this terrible for Israel’s fashion industry. In the 1960s, there was an influx of Zionist immigrants, many of whom were furriers and dressmakers. This created a successful textile industry with notable figures like Jacqueline Kennedy seen wearing brands by Israeli designer Beged-Or and Elizabeth Taylor wearing swimwear by Gottex.

However, the prosperity would not last and the fashion industry came crashing after textile factories shut its doors after manufacturing began moving to countries in the east. The final Tel Aviv Fashion Week ended in the mid-80s when Palestinian conflicts prevented international buyers from taking part.

Fashion week was revived in 2011 when Reif and Lev partnered up and created a success that attracted the much needed media buzz. However, before the scheduled 2012 show, the two got into a feud over some financial losses regarding last year’s show, which led to the two separate showcases this year.