Upcoming fashion studies conference at LIM College (NYC): “Fashion, Now & Then: From Antiquity to Visionary”"

FashionNowAndThen

Check out the diverse and interesting line-up of speakers at LIM College’s upcoming fashion-studies conference, Fashion, Now & Then: From Antiquity to Visionary which includes a presentation by CSFLS founder Charles E. Colman on his latest piece, “Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodies.”

Summer hiatus

This is likely apparent from the date of the last post, but CSFLS will be on a summer hiatus until early September 2014.  In the meantime, check out this essay on fashion, society, and trademark law, by CSFLS founder Charles Colman.  You can (and should!) download the working draft of the piece, tentatively titled Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodiesat SSRN.

Enjoy your summer!

FLS Digest for Monday, May 5, 2014

Adidas Claims Under Armour Infringed Fitness Patents” (California Patent Lawyer)

Adidas AG has sued Under Armour Inc. in Delaware federal court, claiming that Under Armour infringed 10 Adidas patents for a “location aware” fitness training system.

The patents at issue were issued between 2007 and 2013 and include one for a “method of monitoring an individual’s performance during a physical activity with a portable performance monitoring device,” using GPS and “systems and methods for a portable electronic journal.”

Adidas products using the patented technology let users monitor their heart rates, calculate the number of calories they have burned, and collect other data via their smartphones.

The Adidas suit targets the Armour39 exercise monitoring system, which uses sensors, a chest strap, and mobile apps to track athletic performance metrics.

Swatch may attempt to block Apple from trademarking iWatch name” (Digital Spy)

Swatch is reportedly planning to block any attempts by Apple to trademark the ‘iWatch’ name.

According to Businessweek, the Swiss watch maker is concerned that the label is too similar to its own product, iSwatch.

The 31-year-old company said it wants to protect its brand names, despite the fact Apple has still not officially announced a wearable watch, or revealed its name.Swatch CEO Nick Hayek told the publication that it does not intend to take Apple to court over the matter, but revealed it has made contact with authorities in countries where the iWatch is registered as a trademark.

Luxury Institute Examines Luxe Rebound” (WWD)

There are few generational divides when it concerns spending decisions and luxury goods, a report released Wednesday by The Luxury Institute revealed.

Although volatility has returned to the stock market, the luxury sector of fashion apparel and accessories is being driven by a nascent rebound in the global economy and a growing appetite for top-quality products by Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials.

The overall trend remains higher, producing a significant wealth effect, and retailers in the luxury space are benefiting from the improving economic outlook in the global market as well as from climbing equity rates and real estate prices in China, the U.S. and Europe, which show double-digit percentage gains in year-over-year median sales prices. Confidence is on the rise across Europe and in China, where fears of inflation and currency issues are subsiding as GDP growth continues to move north of 7 percent.

Older models on the runway – are we in the midst of a fashion revolution or a flash in the pan?” (The Independent)

The most memorable show of the spring 2014 season? The American designer Rick Owens recruited a trio of steppers – for a dance form that combines cheerleading, step-dancing and military drill – to model his sports-inspired spring wares.

Clad in hefty trainers and stretch jersey, not a standard model size among them, the dancers were dynamic, energetic and emphatically real. It was the latest – and greatest – manifestation of the rise of the real in fashion.

Pro-reality, anti-fantasy, even anti-fashion to a degree, this new feeling is manifested in images forcibly rinsed of retouching or digital manipulation, in advertising campaigns and editorials featuring “models” cast from the street, in a new breadth of aesthetic on the catwalks. There’s even a reflection in an emergent trend that has fast been given the irritating moniker “Normcore”. Fashion is eschewing elitism, and embracing the everyday, and the everyman and woman. Fashion is out of fashion.

Building Vogue China” (Business of Fashion)

When Angelica Cheung first became editor-in-chief of Vogue China in 2005, more than 100 issues ago, the Chinese luxury market was just beginning to flex its muscle. A taste for luxury and fashion was starting to gather steam and real awareness of major international luxury brands was still largely limited to those Chinese who had studied or worked abroad.

But soon, the market caught fire, growing at astonishing double-digit percentage rates for several years. At launch, Vogue China stepped into a media landscape already crowded with fashion magazines. But since then, it has taken a leadership role in educating and informing consumers and expanding demand for luxury goods through close collaborations with international brands clamouring for the attention of an ascendant Chinese luxury consumer.

Today, growth in the Chinese luxury market has slowed significantly, impacted by decelerating economic growth, a government anti-corruption drive and shoppers choosing to buy their luxury goods abroad…

FLS Digest for Friday, May 2, 2014

Legal Strategies to Avoid a Real Estate Nightmare for Retailers” (Fashion Law and Business)

A fewrecentarticles in the New York-area media highlight the importance of brick-and-mortar retail locations that allow consumers to physically engage with fashion products – to feel the fabrics, to view the construction, to test the drape and fit.  Because it is often difficult to predict what retail developments and locations will be a hit with consumers and which ones will not, it is equally important for fashion companies to seek to negotiate lease provisions that give appropriate protections to mitigate their risks if a particular retail location does not work out.

For example, many fashion companies negotiate for the option to surrender space in certain circumstances.  If surrender options are available, then they are usually limited to specified space and exercisable at a specified time, and they are often conditioned upon the company’s failure to meet certain sales targets by such time and/or the payment of a fee to the landlord, which may be specified in the lease or based on a calculation set forth in the lease…

Men’s Socks Are Having a $2.8 Billion Moment” (Business Week)

The sock surge, however, is particularly interesting. Socks, like toothpaste or tonic water, have always been basically a commodity. Demand shouldn’t change that much from one year to the next.

So the only way to generate more sales dollars—as consumer goods execs know well—is to come out with some new style to justify higher prices or get people to buy more. Or, preferably, both. That strategy is why toothpaste aisles are now stocked with a seemingly endless array of whitening scrubs and why cocktail aficionados now forgo the Schweppes for $16 “small batch” tonic.

Treat your product like a commodity, and people will buy it like a commodity. Treat it as something special, and you may be able to raise prices by multiples. The sock bosses, it seems, are finally taking a cue from Starbucks (SBUX).

Adventures in the skin trade” (The Economist)

Denmark is home to 1,500 mink farmers who together rear about 17.2m of the mammals a year—about one-fifth of the world’s supply. It also produces much smaller quantities of other furs such as white fox and chinchilla. Danish food companies produce the world’s most nutritious mink food, a mephitic, fishy concoction. Danish design firms drive fur fashions. And the auction house sells fur from all over the world: last year it auctioned 21m pelts and had a turnover of €2.1 billion ($2.8 billion).

Kopenhagen Fur has so many Chinese buyers at its auctions—about half of the 600 who typically attend—that it has a Chinese restaurant on the premises, produces a special Chinese edition of Fur Times, and even puts up discreet notices on how to use Western lavatories. Inside the building pop-up shops do a roaring trade in expensive watches and jewellery. Outside, Chinese fur traders in brightly coloured tracksuits wreathe the place in tobacco smoke. In all, Kopenhagen Fur accounts for about a third of Denmark’s exports to China.

Michael Kors Wins Over Europe’s Fashionistas” (Business Week)

Sophie Fiszman, a finance executive in Paris, used to buy only European fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Now she shops at the Michael Kors (KORS) store on Paris’s posh Rue Saint-Honoré. She recently bought a blue python-print bag at the store and was pleased that she’d found a purse she liked for less than €300 ($412). “The price is very good for what you get,” says Fiszman, deputy chief executive officer of OFI Asset Management. “I like the new style they have.”

New York-based Michael Kors has found a niche as an accessible—in other words, less expensive—luxury brand with the look and feel of a higher-end label. By producing goods at lower prices and adding a dash of American novelty, the label appeals to cost-conscious European consumers who still want high style, says Allegra Perry, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald in London.

Bailey takes the helm at Burberry” (Reuters)

Christopher Bailey started his job as chief executive of Burberry on Thursday, six months after the British luxury goods group said he would take over the top role from Angela Ahrendts who leaves for Apple. Burberry, the 157-year-old-group known for its camel, red and black check pattern, named its creative director Bailey as Ahrendts’s successor in October and said the change would take place by mid-2014.

The pair had been credited with helping restore Burberry’s cachet after it became a victim of its own success in the 1990s when its trademark pattern was embraced by the mass market, losing its appeal to its core wealthy clientele.

Bailey, who will hold a dual role of chief creative and chief executive officer, faces significant challenges, including the planned integration of Japan into the group on expiry of an apparel licence in 2015, as well as growing revenue in fragrance and beauty after the firm began directly operating that business last year.

FLS Digest for Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fashion’s Missed Muslim Market Opportunity” (Business of Fashion)

Muslim fashion. Simply juxtaposing these two words can cause consternation in some circles. Interpretations of a Koranic verse (an-Nur chapter 24, verse 30) advocating modesty and espousing appropriate female attire (enforced by law in some countries) have long restricted what many Muslim women can wear, distancing them from Western fashion culture. But, today, experts say, things are changing and increasing numbers of Muslim women want to dress fashionably and express their individuality through clothing.

The shift is being driven, in part, by significant demographic trends in the Muslim world. “There are varying estimates of the Muslim population, but what we use is 1.8 billion, of which about 43 percent, so just shy of 800 million, are under 25,” said Shelina Janmohamed, vice president of Ogilvy Noor, an Islamic branding practice that’s part of global marketing and public relations giant Ogilvy & Mather. “Muslims under 25 make up approximately 11 percent of the global population. Thus, not only do you have more Muslims to target, but they are increasing in numbers faster and they are young. And, contrary to a lot of expectations, they are interested in brands and they are interested in asserting some kind of individuality through what they purchase.”

Rachel Roy Files Lawsuit Against Jones” (WWD)

Rachel Roy is trying to stop Jones Apparel Group from selling her business to Bluestar Alliance for $14.6 million, a move that allegedly was done without her consent.

Roy has filed a lawsuit against Jones claiming breach of a contractual agreement in connection with the sale of her business, which allegedly was done “free and clear” of the designer’s approval rights. The lawsuit was filed April 11 in a New York state court in Manhattan. Named as defendants were Jones Investment Co. Inc., Jones Apparel Group USA Inc. and The Jones Group Inc. Jones has since been acquired by Sycamore Partners in a transaction valued at $2.2 billion.

Dressing the Man of Means” (NY Times)

The lexicon describing male shopping has been lately enriched with newly minted acronyms and portmanteaux, following in the vaunted (and derided) footsteps of “metrosexual.” Bain & Company calls this spender-to-be Henry (High Earner, Not Rich Yet); the bank HSBC, more cringe-worthily, calls him a Yummy (Young Urban Male). But if you christen him, will he come?

The largest players in the industry are hoping yes.

“Finally the men’s business is waking up,” said Gildo Zegna, the chief executive of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, one Saturday afternoon in his sunny office in Milan. “We’re taking it more seriously. We’re trying to make it more fun.”

Whitepaper: The future of retail.” (Medium)

Whether shopping with desktop, mobile, social or in-store, the retail experience should be one that feels less like a path to purchase and more like a first date that went really, really well. So well that the customer is already thinking of the 10th date—so well, that neither brand, nor customer, can think of being with anyone else.

It means every digital tactic must be executed in the pursuit of getting to know the consumer, so that every message intrigues her, appreciates her, and continues to draw her into a personalized brand experience—because in the “future of retail,” it is all about the consumer. Consumers make the rules and now have total access to whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it. The power has shifted away from retailers who long held it—and now the ball is in the consumer’s court. Brands and retailers are forced to play on the consumer’s terms to be successful. And the more brands can understand, connect and delight consumers instead of sell to them, the more long-term success and sustainability they will enjoy.

10 of the Worst Fast-Fashion Knockoffs From the Spring Runways” (Fashionista)

There’s a fun game that people who pay attention to runway fashion like to play — or, really, can’t help playing — every time they walk into a fast-fashion store, and that’s the game of looking at a garment and figuring out what runway collection it was “inspired” by…

FLS Digest for Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dolce, Gabbana Found Guilty of Tax Evasion” (Business of Fashion)

An Italian appeals court has upheld the decision of a lower court, ruling Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of fashion label Dolce & Gabbana guilty of tax evasion. Dolce, Gabbana and accountant Luciano Patellito were sentenced to one year and six months of jail time. They will not have to serve time in custody, however, as the sentences handed down are below the two-year minimum sentence requiring actual jail time.

In 2008, the two designers were charged with tax evasion relating to the 2004 sale of their brands Dolce & Gabbana and diffusion label D&G to the designers’ Luxembourg-based holding company Gado Srl. The Italian authorities called the sale a move to avoid paying higher corporate taxes in Italy. Dolce and Gabbana have consistently denied the charges.

Court rules on (fashion) design law” (Lexology)

The District Court of The Hague recently issued a judgment in a case involving well-known clothing brand O’Neill and Scandinavian clothing manufacturer L-Fashion. The subject: the design of a ski jacket.

O’Neill has been selling a ladies’ jacket since 2011. In 2013 O’Neill discovered that L-Fashion was selling a similar jacket (below).

O’Neill claimed that it held design rights and copyright in the design of the jacket. According to L-Fashion, in 2005 it had already introduced a similar jacket to the market, meaning that the O’Neill jacket was no longer new and original. For that reason, L-Fashion argued, O’Neill did not have design rights or copyright…

Aéropostale Sues Hennes & Mauritz” (WWD)

The New York-based specialty chain sued Swedish fast-fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz in Manhattan federal court Thursday over use of the Live Love Dream, Aero and 87 trademarks.

“H&M engaged in a pattern of conduct involving the use of identical, or nearly identical marks on some of the same goods for which Aéropostale uses its marks, namely, clothing and tote bags,” Aéropostale said in the suit.

Aéropostale said it discovered in March that H&M was selling a graphic T-shirt and a cloth bag with the words Live Love Dream and upon further investigation discovered other looks that it claims infringe on other trademarks…

China’s addiction to luxury goods” (The Economist)

The Chinese only recently started making enough money to splurge. Now, with the middle classes expanding fast and the number of millionaires soaring (2.8m at the latest count), they have been catching up rapidly. In a country that is finely attuned to social-status signals, branded goods and sophisticated travel are high on many people’s wishlists. Global Blue, a retail-tourism company, found that for 82% of Chinese travellers shopping was a crucial part of their travel plans. In Britain they spend nearly £1,700 ($2,800) per person per trip, three times the market average. Much of it is spent on shopping; Chinese tourists have no problem buying Prada by day but sleeping in two-star hotels by night.

The main reason why they buy abroad is price. Hefty import tariffs and consumption taxes, as well as higher pricing strategies, can increase prices in China to 50% more than a shopper would pay elsewhere…

FLS Digest for Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Preparation for International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation; Public Meeting” (Federal Register)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is announcing a public meeting entitled, “International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR)—Preparation for ICCR-8 Meeting.” The purpose of the meeting is to invite public input on various topics pertaining to the regulation of cosmetics. We may use this input to help us prepare for the ICCR-8 meeting that will be held in Canada from July 8 to 10, 2014.

Date and Time: The meeting will be held on June 4, 2014, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: The meeting will be held at the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., Wiley Auditorium (first floor), College Park, MD 20740.

Swatch Suffers Swiss Court Setback” (WWD)

Swatch Group has suffered a legal setback after the commercial court here rejected its claim for damages of 24.8 million Swiss francs, or $28 million at current exchange, against Swiss bank UBS over an unsuccessful investment.

The world’s biggest watch group said it would appeal against the ruling and turn to Switzerland’s highest court instead.

The case dates back to a big Swatch Group investment in a UBS product on the eve of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. After the value of the investment plunged, Swatch Group claimed it had been ill advised. Attempts to secure an out-of-court settlement failed, prompting the company to file suit. UBS argued the investment had been made in good faith, attention had been drawn to the risks and Swatch Group was a professional investor.

BCG-BoF Report | The Race For Talent in Fashion and Luxury” (Business of Fashion)

The race for top talent will define the next decade for the luxury and fashion industries.

A new research study finds that many executives in fashion and luxury, like their peers in other industries, are very concerned about securing talented professionals (1). One specific tell-tale: the new study — a collaboration between The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Business of Fashion (BoF) — finds that 50 percent of respondents believe they lack access to the best creative talent; this appears to be especially pressing for smaller independent firms. Their concern is not only about creative roles; they are also anxious to acquire the skills needed to support a wide range of functions.

Earlier research by BCG confirms that companies that excel in a range of key talent development practices see clear economic benefits. The best practitioners see revenue growth that is fully 3.5 times faster than those of companies that have not mastered those HR areas (2). They also demonstrate profit margins that are twice as robust as those of the laggards.

Modern workout clothes fuse function, fashion and self-expression” (Reuters)

Function and fashion must blend seamlessly in modern workout clothes, which have come a long way from the bulky gray cotton sweatshirts and canvas sneakers of years past, fitness experts say.

From sophisticated sweat-absorbing synthetics to cycling pants with strategically placed padding, today’s exercise apparel must be durable enough to withstand a hardcore workout, stylish enough to meet friends or run errands, and distinct enough to let the world know who you are.

Chris Froio, head of training for Reebok International Ltd, the running shoe and apparel company, said consumers of both sexes are expecting their clothes not only perform but express the fitness lifestyle of the wearer.

FLS Digest for Monday, April 28, 2014

Iran’s New Wave of Women Fashion Designers ” (Global Voices Online)

Years ago, Iranian women, especially the younger generation, avidly sought the right “brands” – meaning foreign, most preferably western labels. Foreign brands seemed cooler, more fashionable and were therefore more expensive. There were few domestic brands out there, and the ones that were, weren’t regarded as tasteful by the young generation’s standards.

But a few years ago, things began to change. Domestic designers emerged with their own unique ideas. Colourful local designs for women started to appear and catch interest.

Nowadays, there are dozens of local brands, registered and unregistered, in Iran. Like others in the global fashion industry, the new designs hit the market every season. Like other fashion designers, they have their own models, but unlike others in the business, they are not so much into advertising around town. Their professional photos have instead made a home on social media.

US Firms Hail Defense Policy Change” (WWD)

The new U.S. Department of Defense policy mandating American-manufactured athletic shoes for service members could be a financial windfall in the short term — and a driver of the domestic supply chain in the longer term, brands told Footwear News.

Last week, the DOD announced it would begin requiring that the stipends provided by military branches for their recruits to buy new athletic shoes be used for wholly American-made styles, where they exist. (In categories where no American-made shoe exists, foreign-produced shoes will continue to be offered.)

The decision was hailed by Boston-based New Balance and Rockford, Mich.-based Wolverine World Wide Inc., both of which have U.S. manufacturing capabilities and have been lobbying for the policy to be changed.

Design Museum honours Prada” (Fashion United)

Miuccia Prada’s pop-art prints and sporty details for Spring/Summer 2014 has won the fashion category at this year’s Design Museum’s Design of the Year awards. Prada beat off competition from Raf Simons’ first ready-to-wear collection for Dior,  featuring teams of female step-dance crews, and a collection of 3D embossed dresses designed by Sadie Williams to win the prestigious accolade.

Other fashion collections shortlisted included a magazine curated by Stephen Jones, Dubai-based DAS Collection’s abaya line, Brazilian designer Ronaldo Fraga’s Hinterland line, and Tracey Neuls Bike Geek’s hybrid dress-and-casual shoe.

The annual awards celebrate “cutting-edge innovation and original talent” and name the best across seven categories: architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphic, product and transport design. The seven winning names will now compete for the overall Design of the Year accolade, which will be announced at an award ceremony on June 30. All of the 69 nominated designs are on display in the Design Museum until August 30 and visitors can vote for their favourite.

French retailer sued over Rana Plaza disaster” (Fashion United)

In a first, French supermarket giant Auchan has been sued by three organizations for its involvement in the deadly Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka that killed more than 1,100 workers a year ago.

Though Auchan denied ever having placed orders at any of the five garment factories housed at Rana Plaza, labels of the chain’s “In Extenso” range were found among the debris during an investigation.

Three lobby groups – Sherpa, a non-profit organization for the “victims of economic crimes”, Peuples Solidaires (People’s Solidarity) and the collective Ethique sur l’etiquette (Ethics on Labels) – accuse Auchun of misleading customers about working conditions overseas and have filed a complaint with a public prosecutor in France. They are calling on a number of witnesses in Europe and Bangladesh to provide evidence and are keen to carry out a preliminary investigation as soon as possible.

Making Wearable Tech More Wearable” (The New Yorker)

This week, Ahrendts will join Apple as its head of retail. With her pedigree, she has a chance to solve tech companies’ fashion dilemma: how to create wearable technologies that people actually want to wear. (Ahrendts also has considerable experience in China, where Apple currently has thirteen stores and plans to triple that number within two years.) Although Apple stores are still a big draw, devotees are becoming impatient for new products worth lining up for; on Wednesday, the company said that it sold forty-three million iPhones during its most recent quarter, but the iPhone has been around for seven years now, and Apple’s last major new product, the iPad, was released four years ago. Rumors have been building about an iWatch, which would be Apple’s first attempt at a computer disguised as a fashion accessory. (Apple declined to comment.)

If Ahrendts’s appointment is a signal that Apple is seriously considering building technology into clothes and accessories, a newish category of tech products known as “wearables,” the company wouldn’t be alone in Silicon Valley. Last year, investors put four hundred and fifty-eight million dollars into companies that make wearable products like fitness trackers and baby monitors; last month, Facebook agreed to pay two billion dollars to buy Oculus VR, a virtual-reality technology firm whose Oculus Rift gaming headset looks like a scuba mask with a metal plate bolted on the front. Companies love the idea of wearable technology because that constant data stream would be a bonanza for marketers, measuring what people are doing every second, even while they’re asleep.

FLS Digest for Friday, April 25, 2014

Livia Firth Blasts Fast-Fashion Players” (WWD)

“If fast fashion didn’t exist, we wouldn’t need a summit in Copenhagen,” declared Livia Firth, creative director of Eco Age and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge.

Citing high-street retailers as key to cracking the sustainability conundrum, Firth berated them for a slovenly approach to basic human rights through the inhumane speed, bulk and price at which garments are produced. She challenged the industry to prove we can have “this big cheap cake and eat it.”

Consumers have become adept at “[divorcing] the clothes we buy from the fact that living, breathing people make them,” meaning the key to change lies in “reconnection and recognition that the supply chain is comprised of real people,” she said.

For Bangladeshi Women, Factory Work Is Worth the Risks” (Business Week)

For Akhter, who guesses she’s in her early thirties, the fallout from Tazreen has been severe. She unravels her sari to show the scar on her back from hours of surgery after she jumped out of the building, falling two stories, to escape the fire. She still can’t work. But she says she’d do it all again if it meant that Riza, now 10 and an excellent student, could get a good education and a shot at an office job—the girl’s dream. Nothing could be further from the life lived by Akhter’s mother, who still pulls stalks of rice in paddy fields. “God, she worked so hard,” says Akhter, whispering in the shed as her three children sleep in the afternoon heat. “My mother couldn’t stand straight anymore. I couldn’t live like that. I couldn’t make my daughter live like that.” (…)

In 2011 about 12 percent of Bangladeshi women ages 15 to 30 worked in the garment industry, according to a study by Rachel Heath of the University of Washington and Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University’s School of Management. Pay was 13 percent greater than in other industries that rely on manual labor. Perhaps most important, the researchers found, 27 percent more young girls were attending school than before the garment industry existed.

An Apparel-Making Revival? This ‘Made in USA’ Story Doesn’t Hold Up” (Business Week)

The logic for reshoring seems sound enough. All else equal, many American shoppers would prefer to support employment in the U.S. Wages for apparel workers in China are rising fast, reducing the cost edge for overseas manufacturers. And while Bangladesh, Vietnam, and other countries remain considerably cheaper, American customers don’t want clothes made in unsafe conditions. (…)

The only problem with this red, white, and blue story about the return of the apparel makers is that it isn’t actually happening. As the above chart shows, employment in the U.S. apparel industry has continued to decline. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in March stood at 136,000—less than half the total a decade earlier. Last month’s total is also 6 percent lower than a year ago, which spoils the theory that a slow recovery of apparel jobs is underway.

Lunch with the FT: Grace Coddington” (Financial Times)

This is an opportune moment to ask her how she feels about the current discussion over whether the fashion world promotes unrealistic body images. “That’s a very big can of worms,” she says. “We [Vogue] simply don’t shoot very skinny girls. But, to a certain extent, youth and skinny go hand in hand – I was pretty skinny when I was 16. And the constant demand for more, with more shows and more models, means that the supply of girls necessarily goes past maybe what one would want.” (…)

“There was a wedding story to be done,” she explains. “And Anna probably had them in mind, because she had been seeing a lot of Kanye, so she said, ‘Maybe we should shoot it on lookalikes.’ And I thought, ‘Why not just do it on the real thing? This is Vogue.’ And I do think Kim Kardashian represents this moment in our culture. I’m fascinated by her, in the same way I’m fascinated by the people I see on the street or the subway.”

Facebook Confirms Terry Richardson’s Facebook Message Was Fake” (Fashionista)

The New York Post reported on Wednesday that Richardson hired an online forensic expert Theo Yedinsky, who claims to have discovered that the account was set up two weeks ago through a bogus Gmail account.

A representative from Facebook acknowledged that in this case, an account had been reported for violating the site’s terms of service and subsequently removed, but couldn’t comment any further on the matter. Facebook looks into all accounts which are flagged, either for abusive language or for violating standards of authenticity, and deals with each on a case by case basis; it would not have been possible for a third party to remove the account on his or her own…

Charles James and Me” (NY Times)

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute opens “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” on May 8, the exhibition will have 70 outfits, making it the largest show devoted to the designer, who died in 1978 at age 72. Among them are the Taxi dress, designed in 1929, which wrapped around the body and fastened with Bakelite clasps, so that a woman could slip into it while in the back of a taxi, and the Clover Leaf dress of 1952, which did not touch the floor but undulated while the woman walked.

There is also a black silk bias-cut dress designed 20 years before that, with short kimono sleeves, a deep V-back and two black silk streamers that fluttered in the back, at the waist, as the breeze blew.

FLS Digest for Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thieves Hit Chanel Boutique in London” (WWD)

The Chanel boutique in London’s South Kensington was hit by a trio of men early Friday, a bank holiday in the U.K., according to British press reports. Police are searching for three men who drove a stolen Audi Q7 into the front window of the Chanel boutique at the store in Brompton Cross, and stole about 26 bags worth more than 50,000 pounds, or $84,150. No arrests have been made. The store has estimated damages of 25,000 pounds, or $42,000. Neither the police nor the Chanel press office returned phone calls on Tuesday.

Fashion really does matter” (The Guardian)

A couple of interesting books arrived on my desk the other week – and you know how much I love a book, right? The first, Why Fashion Matters, is written by Frances Corner, head of London College of Fashion (LCF). LCF gave us the inspirational Mirror Mirror conference last year and run the annual Better Lives series of lectures. One of this year’s talks tackled ageism in fashion – one “ism” among the many that populate life in 2014

Why Fashion Matters, which comprises 101 statements and questions, is, in itself, provocative. Almost every week in the comments on this column there is a remark along the lines of: “Why are you writing about fashion when there’s so much war/famine/disease/poverty in the world?” Well, obviously these are the fashion pages so of course I’m going to write about … hang on … oh yes, fashion. The simple fact is that fashion, or more accurately style, infiltrates every life, wherever we live, and whatever we do. It always has. From the design of a tea towel to the floor coverings in a Mongolian ger – fashion, design, style, art – it’s all linked. Fashion generates billions of pounds, dollars, euros and yen in a never-ending cycle of consumerism. It also provides millions of jobs. So yes, it matters.

Dior Paris Latest Victim of Luxury Thefts” (WWD)

Just days after thieves hit a Chanel store in London, two masked men robbed the stockroom of Dior in Paris.

The venue, located on Rue Jean-Goujon behind Dior’s flagship on Avenue Montaigne, was hit at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to a police spokesman.

The unidentified perpetrators made away with a number of bags and shoes, whose value Dior estimates at less than 100,000 euros, or $137,516 at current exchange, a Dior official told WWD. According to French media reports, the thieves were armed and threatened a security guard.

Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Tackle Misleadingly Photoshopped Ads” (Huffington Post)

In an effort to shield young children and teenagers from the damaging effects of photoshopped images, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.) have co-sponsored legislation to reduce the use of misleadingly altered images in advertisements.

“Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women,” Capps said in April. “And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops.”

While the proposal would not implement new regulatory standards, the “Truth in Advertising Act” would mandate the Federal Trade Commission to report on advertisements photoshopped to “materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted.”

The legislation would also require the FTC to coordinate with health and business experts to develop an ongoing strategy aimed at reducing the use of photoshopped images.

Lawsuit: Magically Slimming Underwear Didn’t Do Any Magical Slimming” (Consumerist)

Why would you buy a slimming garment? Because you want it to make you slim, obviously. So when two Massachusetts women bought special skivvies marketed based on their weight-reducing ingredients and felt that no such weight reduction happened, they decided to sue.

The two women filed a civil lawsuit in federal court today against Maidenform and Wacoal America, claiming deceptive advertising of products like iPant and Instant Slimmer tricked them into buying the garments, reports the Boston Business Journal.

They’re seeking class action status, saying the garments made by both companies use a fabric that is marketed as being “constructed with minerals and nutrients that are absorbed by the skin and can permanently change women’s body shape and skin tone.”