New York Fashion Week may look a bit different this year, but like New York itself, fashion is certainly not ready to sleep. Ahead, see what designers have in store for fall 2021. We may not know what the world will look like then, but we can know that we’ll look great in it.
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There are some brands so extricably linked to New York City that they can’t help but honor the Big Apple as she currently struggles. Cate Holstein hosted a drive in screening with views of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn last night to celebrate her Fall collection with a film, aptly title, “KHAITE,” directed and edited by Sean Baker. “New York feels raw and exposed now, up for grabs in a way I’ve never seen before. It can be frustrating and even feel hopeless, but it’s also exciting, and to live here is to cycle through these emotions, rapidly,” says creative director Cate Holstein. “In talking with Sean, we both traced the intensity of this time to what first drew us each to New York—the intrigue, the edge, even the peril. No one moves to New York to play it safe.” The collection and the film honor New York in the late ’70s and ’80s—with leather jackets with faux fur trim, puffers as armor, lacy slip dresses, and even bold tulle. It’s a collection that exhibits ease, but still makes a statement—these aren’t clothes created for blending in. Sort of like the people drawn to the city itself. —Kerry Pieri
Ushering in the 40th anniversary of the Carolina Herrera brand, designer Wes Gordon decided to present a virtual love letter to the label’s fans. And to showcase the sentiment, he centered his collection around hearts, placing the symbol of love as embroideries on fitted dresses, intarsia knits, buttons, belt buckles, and sweetheart necklines. His silhouettes—from crisp a white shirts with pronounced sleeves tucked under a black skirt to a voluminous gown with polka dot prints—also highlighted the enduring styles that have been beloved by Upper Eastiders and beyond. It was indeed a great start to all the festivities that will no doubt arise throughout the year.—Barry Samaha
Fashion is entertainment, and Coach’s Stuart Vevers is heralding this message loud and clear. For the fall 2021 season, he presented a collection, titled Coach Forever Season Two, through a video with a star-studded cast that reimagined some of the most indelible films, music videos, and television shows in the zeitgeist. Michael B. Jordan, for example, embodied a modern version of Shaft. Jennifer Lopez channeled Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry. And Megan Thee Stallion oozed the sass of Regina George from Mean Girls. “I have always loved exploring the intersection of fashion and pop culture at Coach,” said Vevers. “I am excited to bring my latest vision for the house to life via Coach TV. I wanted both the collection and the presentation to make sense and resonate in these unique times, and I am excited to share both in a way that I hope will entertain and inspire. The clothes, indeed, reflected this sentiment. They included intarsia knits with Mickey Mouse and dinosaurs worn over corduroy trousers or grunge-inspired flannel skirts.—Barry Samaha
Every type of ’70s fantasy came to play for Zimmermann’s fall collection, an aesthetic smorgasbord inspired by Nicky Zimmermann’s love of an era-defining music program she watched in her native Australia while growing up. Texture and print, two elements the label always focuses on, spoke loudly this time too, from silky blouses and rich wool trousers to dresses that floated with soft petal cutouts and whimsical whips of small circles. Whichever ’70s heroine you identify with, whether femme folk goddess or take-charge raider, you’ll find a silhouette you gravitate toward.—Leah Melby Clinton
Even from the confines of video presentations, Proenza Schouler managed to create a newsy fall moment by showcasing Second Daughter Ella Emhoff in her “runway” debut. Splashy casting aside, the collection, a deep dive into soft tailoring and easy separates and dresses, is quietly beautiful. Closet musts like mélange knits, chunky cardigans, matching wool coats and trousers, and standout lambskin trenches and tops are set against pieces that just want to have fun like bold yellow dresses, fringe pieces, and tie-dye. Single-breasted suits feature cutaway tops in black, white, and deep raisin technical wool with lush double-faced cashmere coating. In other words, this is an offering based in luxury with an eye toward the future. One where everyone is dressed to the nines—paired with Tuscan shearling slippers, of course—without skipping a beat. —Kerry Pieri
Gabriela Hearst was inspired by Saint Hildegard of Bingen for her Fall 2021 collection, a woman so well-rounded that Hearst insists “if she were born a man, we would all know her name as we know Leonardo da Vinci’s.” Born in 1098, St. Hildegard was a composer, poet, mystic, philosopher, and more at a time where women were excluded from intellectual life. In dressing her woman for a more modern world, Hearst was most inspired by St. Hildegard’s work as a botanist, and noticed a resemblance in her 12-year-old daughter Mia’s drawings of flowers. Those flowers became embroideries, crochet appliqués, and more on a suite of looks in between Hearst’s signature tailoring, leatherwork, and killer coats.
The newly-minted Creative Director of Chloé’s passion for sustainability, innovation, and trailblazing doesn’t seem dissimilar from her source of inspiration this season. And her collection, which seemed to redefine power dressing, will dress her devotees to be Rennaisance women in their own rights come next Fall. —Carrie Goldberg
Domesticity does not mean that we have to sacrifice style, and Batsheva Hay is highlighting this sentiment with her fall 2021 collection. The New York designer presented a look book of models and real women in their kitchens, outfitted in her signature prairie-inspired dresses. Journalist Amy Fine Collins, for example, poses over her stove in a seafoam green trapeze dress with a print of pretty pink ribbons. Actress Maude Apatow stirs a pot while wearing a black-and-white frilly frock with mutton sleeves and a bow tied at the waist. And chef Tara Thomas stands in front of her oven, sporting a princess-cut red vinyl dress. Shot by Hay’s husband, photographer Alexei Hay, the series of images reflects what many experienced in quarantine—cooking at home with the kitchen tools and appliances that (at least for girls about town) seldom used pre-lockdown. But instead of the custom sweats that have been de rigeur, Hay shows that dressing up, even with nowhere to go, can be the recipe needed for brightening one’s mood.—Barry Samaha
After 2020, none of us could ever claim to not know a superhero. From frontline workers to parents who somehow managed to make full-time work fit alongside an unpaid gig as a teacher’s aide, they most definitely walked among us. Theophilio’s Edvin Thompson sought to explore the idea with a look at what modern heroes might wear, but far from capes and armored plates, this hero’s closet is populated with sculpted jackets, knits built to move, and a few beautiful cutout pieces that read as mock guipure lace. The lean silhouettes might reference The Matrix, but this Neo draws energy from a healthy splash of color (and would get bored of that duster fast). —Leah Melby Clinton
Erin Beatty was all about identifying what sparks joy when designing Rentrayage, looking inward to figure out what she wanted and then bringing it to life. “Comfort, beauty, and something a bit strange and perfectly off. Unexpected functional beauty seems a most pressing sentiment right now,” she wrote. Her version of joy, tactilely speaking, is all about happy hybridization—denim jackets mixed with satin bombers, doily collars laid over crewneck sweatshirts—and plenty of color. The collection is made to mix and match, and wear in different ways, with ties that cinch or release and the aforementioned collars popping on and off. Even if it’s a very personal look at what one person wants right this instant, there’s universal appeal. —Leah Melby Clinton
3.1 Phillip Lim
Phillip Lim is known for reworking essentials, tried-and-true silhouettes and classic styles, with subtle twists every season. For his latest collection, the New York designer showcased slick ’70s-inspired suits, mid-length accordion-pleated skirts, ribbed knit dresses, and elegant camel Chesterfield coats and parkas—pairing these stalwarts with turtleneck sweaters that featured eye-catching cutouts. His daywear will remain de rigueur, and his evening pieces—sublime sequins and silk dresses—follow the same sentiment. For Lim, it is the details that truly make the most impact.
“I believe in just small gestures to just really evolve a conversation,” he tells BAZZAR.com. “My unofficial title of the new collection is The Dance with the Pandemic Devil, because every day is a new move. It’s almost like we’re learning how to dance with our reality of the situation. I love aspiration, but I’m deeply rooted in reality.” —Barry Samaha
Anna Sui’s love of ’60s styles, from Carnaby Street mod-girl to Woodstock hippie queen, continuously shines through in her collections. She didn’t stray off the beaten path in her latest offering, but she did focus on one person in particular: Penny Lane, the psychedelic model played by Jane Birkin in Wonderwall. The 1968 film is filled with an eclectic cast of characters, and to bring her vision to life, Sui enlisted a merry band of her own. The knee socks were provided by Atsugi; appliquéd suede knee high boots were produced by John Fluevog; hand-painted denim came by way of Anna Castellano; tortoise glasses were supplied by Fellow Earthlings for Mondottica; the peacock and snake graphics on the crushed velvet tops were designed by Monika Forsberg; and t-shirts were patches created by Golden Daze Illustration and Olivia Sui.—Barry Samaha
Jonathan Simkhai found himself flipping through a coffee-table book as so many of us are wont to do, but rather than closing it a few mindless minutes later, he ended the session with an inspiration that would direct his fall collection. The image that made the lasting impression, a Tseng Kwong Chi photograph of a Keith Haring work, stuck in his mind for its echoes of connectivity and creativity—two factors always important to artists and in high demand after the isolation we’ve all grown accustomed to. Inspired, Simkhai focused on elements that required a deft touch, and the results included a custom lace and fringe hand-woven into pieces. Fabrications mixed, too, with knits against vegan leather against washed silk, creating a luxurious mélange that makes you yearn for real-life mixing and mingling all the more. —Leah Melby Clinton
Fashion can be at its best when there’s a heavy dose of fantasy involved, and there’s no time like the present to get a real dollop of it. Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour went for broke when it came to playful, debuting the newest collection with a quirky video and GIFs showcasing a cast of characters morphing from human into exotic animal—and that doesn’t even start to touch on the clothes. Prints clashed with exuberance and colors blended loudly (the boldness might come down to the supplies: Taymour continues to work from a sustainable place with deadstock and repurposed pieces). Closer consideration revealed classic pieces, the silhouettes only stepping outside the box due to artful layering. All in all, it’s a fun collection at a time when that’s sorely needed. —Leah Melby Clinton
The term modern sportswear comes to mind for Rosetta Getty’s fall collection. A term that feels like it has staid retail connotations, but truly means cool clothes you can wear all day and feel chic in. Hoodies in luxe fabrications, poplin striped shirtdresses, turtleneck dresses, suiting, and maxi skirt/bralette top combinations fit the bill. Getty is a playful minimalist. She designs things simply, which should never be confused with a lack of true interest and surprise twists. Sign us up for what she’s serving. —Kerry Pieri
Svitlana Bevza showed her fall collection in a literal tabula rasa. “Removing the unnecessary … the emptiness of the background symbolizes hope for the future and what it might bring for us,” she explains. Inspired by Ukrainian royalty, Olga of Kyiv, who ruled in the 10th century, the pieces embodied a strong femininity. The traditional balaclava was the center point. “This particular cut is special because it symbolizes the significance of women as represented by Olga.” In keeping with the brand’s emphasis on sustainability, the mélange cape was made of recycled plastic bottles, hand-knitted vests were upcycled from the fabrics of Bevza’s previous collections, and the “fur” coat was made of technical hemp grown and produced in Ukraine. —Kerry Pieri
Marina Moscone celebrated pre-fall and fall with a new short from director Stefano Ortega, and hidden clues were tucked within for how we ought to interpret the collection. Take, for starters, the format. Shot on Super 8, that go-to throwback from the ’60s, there was nostalgia seeping out of every frame, a fitting lens for the touches of school uniform tailored throughout (like plaid, pleats, and an artfully arranged rugby shirt). The soundtrack accompanying the mini flick was an energized drumroll, prepping us for, well, who really knows what’s to come anymore? Compared to September, when designers seemed intent on showcasing answers to the “new normal,” her fall had a get-set-for-anything attitude, with clothes for staying in and options for going out. No matter what’s on the docket for next fall, we’ll be dressed and ready. —Leah Melby Clinton
Prabal Gurung presented a love letter to New York City with his combined collection for the pre-fall and fall 2021 seasons. He began with a single rose, a “bodega beauty” from the corner store, which he says is “too often overlooked or deemed unimpressive.” This floral motif found itself on fitted ruched cocktail dresses, voluminous evening gowns, and the lapels of sleek blazers. Gurung stuck to a color palette of black, white, red, and shocking pink, focusing on eye-catching silhouettes that blend downtown cool and uptown chic. Polka dots, too, featured prominently, but it was bouquets that, as he explains, really served as “a reminder that amidst uncertainty and darkness, we find light in the true expression of our most real and authentic selves.” —Barry Samaha
It’s been about a year of sitting at home in our new-normal uniforms, dreaming of what we’d wear post-lockdown. And Sandy Liang brought both reality and fantasy to her collection for 2021, considering not only what her client wears every day, but what she dreams of wearing in the future. Per the designer’s show notes, it’s “a marriage between what I really wear, and what I wish I could wear.”
Liang’s signatures, like her almond-shaped cutouts, comfortable shoes, sporty-but-not-sporty vibes, and statement outerwear continued to be through lines this season, but alongside new additions like frothy skirts, floral appliqué, and whimsical accents. A good designer gets their clientele, and Liang knows hers well. Most importantly, she’s equipped to dress them in and out of lockdown; apparently, it’s all about being comfy yet dressed, without ever looking too dressed up. —Carrie Goldberg
Staud celebrated all the joys found at home for its fall 2021 collection. From board games to dainty bouquets to all things comfy and cozy, designer Sarah Staudinger took elements that many of us have experienced in quarantine and placed them in an assortment of sleek separates and elegant frocks. An intarsia sweater, for example, featured a tic-tac-toe pattern. Fitted knit dresses came in exuberant colors, with one standout displaying a heart-shaped cutout on the neckline. And chic puffer coats were covered in Neoclassical florals. Staudinger also showcased her signature leather dresses and coats in a range of pastel hues that, in this crazy time, beckons us to look on the bright side. —Barry Samaha
Interior design has been on our minds lately, and Tanya Taylor shares this sentiment. For her fall 2021 collection, the New York designer was inspired by the work of illustrator Jeremiah Goodman, who painted the living rooms of couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and society swan Betsey Bloomingdale. These fashion doyennes were celebrated for their keen senses of style, which were equal parts whimsical and elegant. Taylor sought to reflect this vibe in flowing frocks, tiered drop-waist dresses, plaid separates, and knits that feature patterns done in Goodman’s painterly style. —Barry Samaha
Hanako Maeda once again looked to her home country of Japan for inspiration—and Japanese artists in particular for fall ’21. Maeda visited the “STARS” exhibition at Mori Art Museum, which showcased the works of six artists who shaped Japanese art from the 1950s to present. They included sculptor and installation artist Yayoi Kusama, photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Takashi Murakami. The latter’s “Superflat” references modern anime and manga, as well as the classical Edo period woodblock prints, ukiyo-e. It’s that melding of current and old world that spoke most strongly to the designer, who put a strong emphasis on tailoring, classic shapes, and beautiful fabrications for this offering, while also having fun with shape, color, and proportions. —Kerry Pieri
Ulla Johnson is the reigning queen of boheme cool. The Brooklyn-based designer has free spirits on lock, with airy tops, printed gowns, a standout shearling, and crochet for days. That handcraft is integral to the Ulla Johnson vision—which supports female artisans across the world. Those braided crochets are created locally in Brooklyn. Linens are hand-embellished in India, and space-dyed crochet is crafted by artisans in Uruguay. This kind of attention to detail, with an eye on global awareness, is the modern definition of luxury. —Kerry Pieri
Victor Glemaud was well ahead of the knitwear curve before it became a mainstay in 2020—and he’s not about to give up the lead. The designer created his fall ’21 offering as an Ode to Hope. The mainly merino wool and cotton cashmere collection utilizes innovative knitwear techniques that bring the fabrics to very cool places. He developed a patchwork knit jacquard designed as a single piece with no linking, as well as a knit pinstripe fabricated in cotton cashmere and recycled rayon stripe. This season also brings a hat collection and Glemaud’s first shoe collaboration with Nigerian accessories brand Shekudo, designed by Akudo Iheakanwa—which will be available on TheRealReal at launch. Those knit bucket hats are sure to be a hit—these thoroughly wearable but comfort-minded pieces are exactly what the market is in need of. —Kerry Pieri
Maisie Wilen staged a virtual runway where models actually walked on water. No audience members were in attendance, leaving the whole affair with a sense of eerie strangeness. The clothes themselves offer a bit of optimism though. Pastels and bright pinks are found in easy-to-wear skirt suiting and coordinating sets. Florals are overlaid with scannable QR codes, and trippy swirls are trimmed with lace. It’s not loungewear; it’s not minimal. It feels like a breath of fresh air with a youthful eye toward the future—and a bit of nostalgia for the early ’90s. —Kerry Pieri
Like so many others during the last year, Jason Wu has also returned to his roots, his hometown, and a more bucolic setting. The designer was inspired by his New England upbringing for fall ’21. “I was feeling nostalgic for my school days … and the very idyllic Americana backdrop of those years,” Wu explains. Wu also fell in love with cooking and food shopping in 2020, putting that new passion into play by building a set that was also a real-life general store based on one from the 1950s—a collaboration with Coca-Cola really drove that idea home. The second showing of his contemporary collection included stripes, blazers, dusters, and knits in navy, gray, and black with hits of bold yellow and red—a nod to true American sportswear. —Kerry Pieri
Heron Preston presented his collection via look book, several weeks before the prescribed calendar dates for New York Fashion Week. His early-bird lineup considered the current climate, landing on OSHA-certified uniforms and giving them a high-fashion spin. “It’s about listening to my athlete, so to speak,” said Preston. “What does it take to bring fashion into real, applicable, usable workwear?”
It’s an idea he has touched on in the past, with his 2016 partnership with the New York City Department of Sanitation. This latest collection, titled Between Two Worlds, however, is a less literal, much more elegant take on the garbs worn by maintenance professionals. The bright, bold colors used for safety measures are cast on slick jackets with pronounced hardware and his signature patches, along with trousers that feature clip-buckle belts. He also used camouflage to great effect, refining the pattern and placing it on a fitted top, gauzy gown, and minidress under a cropped puffer. —Barry Samaha
While the fashion calendar has become about as topsy-turvy as just about everything else now, The Row’s decision to drop its fall offering a couple weeks before the New York Fashion Week, aligned with Men’s Fashion Week in Europe, makes a good bit of sense. After all, both collections leverage sumptuous fabrications in smart cuts and muted colorways (black, white, camel). The women’s collection leverages shoulder pads (removable), oversized knits, skirt suiting, and draped coats and tops that any true fashion lover would want to curl up in. If comfort is going to continue as a mainstay in style well into the future, make it cashmere coats and oversized jeans à la The Row for us. —Kerry Pieri
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Celebrities in the Boardroom: Pros and Cons
Last week, Italian luxury shoemaker Tod’s appointed the globe-trotting mega-influencer Chiara Ferragni to its board, making her the latest celebrity-entrepreneur to become a corporate director, like Oprah Winfrey and basketball star Shaquille O’Neal who sit on company boards in the US.
Ferragni, whose ascent began with her blog The Blonde Salad, now has more than 23 million followers on Instagram and oversees a budding fashion empire that includes her digital publishing business TBS Crew and a multi-category fashion label, Chiara Ferragni Collection.
“Chiara’s knowledge of the world of young people will certainly be extremely valuable,” said Tod’s chairman Diego Della Valle. Investors agreed, sending shares soaring by 12 percent.
Tod’s has struggled to keep pace with a fast-moving fashion market and build relevance with young consumers. In recent years, it has launched initiatives such as its Moncler Genius-like Tod’s Factory to rejuvenate its brand. And Della Valle appears to be betting that hiring Ferragni will not only boost awareness and send a positive signal to shareholders, but help fundamentally transform the company’s business model for a digital, direct-to-consumer world.
There is little precedent for a celebrity board member driving this kind of transformation at a company, though the right partnership between Della Valle, who controls the company, and Ferragni could deliver results for Tod’s, according to executive search specialist Anne Raphaël.
Once upon a time, brands hired celebrities as little more than faces for advertising campaigns. But in recent years, as more entertainers, athletes and other celebrities have become entrepreneurs and built their own sizable businesses, more companies have recruited them to their boards, hoping the combination of star power and marketing savvy will pay off.
Winfrey joined the board of Weight Watchers after buying a 10 percent stake in the company, while O’Neal is a director at pizza chain Papa John’s. In fashion, Emma Watson was appointed to Kering’s board of directors last June, while tennis champion Serena Williams has served on Poshmark’s board since 2019.
But celebrity directors can come with risks as well as rewards.
To be sure, celebrity board appointments bring immediate marketing value to a company, generating buzz with consumers. Celebrities can drive impact by appearing in advertising and representing the company at events, but also by offering valuable behind-the-scenes insights on popular culture and consumer behaviour, as well as fresh thinking on communications.
Celebrities are good at getting attention. Many have built formidable sales and marketing machines of their own and have far greater fluency with social media than typical directors.
Famous board members also come with high-level connections and can help to open doors. They can boost efforts to recruit top talent to a brand. And for companies increasingly under scrutiny on the racial and gender composition of their leadership, the right celebrity appointments can bring greater diversity to boards that are often stacked with white men.
But the disruptive energy that celebrities bring to a board can present challenges.
Managing celebrities can be tough. They typically have limited time to dedicate to their directorships and regular attendance at meetings can be a problem.
Celebrities can also bring challenging dynamics to the boardroom, attracting those angling for some of their stardust, while repelling those who doubt their credibility.
When push comes to shove, celebrities will always put their own personal brands ahead of the interests of the company. And, of course, their skill at generating public attention can backfire spectacularly if they become entangled in scandal.
It’s critical that companies think strategically about celebrity directorships and carefully carve out roles that play to specific profiles and relevant experience. For example, at Kering, actor and activist Emma Watson, known for being a champion of ethical and eco-conscious fashion as well as portraying Hermione in the Harry Potter films, chairs the company’s sustainability committee.
But board roles aren’t the only way to derive value from working with celebrities. Beyond simple marketing deals, companies can work with celebrities as “brand ambassadors” or hire them as consultants. Companies can also invite celebrities to advisory boards.
Celebrity directorships can offer real value. And there’s no doubt they are trendier than ever. But companies should consider the alternatives before plunging into a flashy board appointment.
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
FASHION, BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY
LVMH’s fashion sales surge, setting high bar for rivals. LVMH was the first luxury company to report first-quarter revenue Tuesday, and a sharp jump in its fashion division’s sales not only points to a return to pre-pandemic health for the conglomerate, but has raised the stakes for its competitors.
Gucci presents its centenary collection, “Aria.” Creative director Alessandro Michele incorporated nods to the Italian fashion house’s past, in particular, the Tom Ford era, as well as Balenciaga co-branded pieces, inspired by the brand’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia. The collection was presented online on Thursday.
Growth in China, US fuel more retail optimism. After a dismal year for retail, consumers seem ready to get back to the shops amid signs of strength in key markets. China’s economy grew 18 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with retail sales up 34 percent in March compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, US retail sales accelerated in March by the most in 10 months, while UK shopper numbers surged as shopping districts reopened this week.
The Met Gala will return in September. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on Monday that its next major exhibition will open on September 18 with a theme focused on American fashion. As part of the exhibition’s opening, the Met Gala will also return as a smaller event on September 13, “timed to coincide with the close of what will hopefully be an in-person New York Fashion Week,” according to Vogue.
CFDA plans for in-person New York Fashion Week in September. The CFDA said it anticipates “a return to in-person shows” between September 8 to September 12, following health guidelines. Some designers, the council said, will still choose to present digitally.
American Eagle forecasts sales above estimates on full-price selling. The company has recorded stronger sales as more customers spent their stimulus checks on its jeans, trousers and tops. American Eagle also forecast operating income of about $120 million for the first quarter, compared with $48 million in 2019.
JD Sports reinstates dividend as online boom lifts forecast. Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer struck an optimistic tone as stores reopened across the UK this week. The company has performed well during the pandemic and has embarked on at least three big acquisitions in the US and Europe in the past few months. More deals are expected to follow after the company raised £464 million ($638 million) in equity in February.
German fashion e-tailer About You cracks €1 Billion in revenue. The company is widely reported to be preparing for an IPO. Revenue grew 57 percent to €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) in the year to February, while in the last quarter the company turned its first profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation since its launch in 2014.
The Hut Group upbeat after profit jumps on online demand. In its maiden set of annual results since market listing in September, the company operating retail brands such as Lookfantastic and skin care group ESPA posted a 36 percent jump in annual underlying profit to £46 million ($63 million).
Kohl’s to add two activist group nominees to its board. Kohl’s Corp said on Wednesday it has reached a deal with a group of activist investors to avoid a proxy fight, agreeing to add two of the group’s nominees to its board as independent directors.
US companies and executives unite for voting rights. In a full page advertisement that ran Wednesday in GFN, the signatories called for “all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right.”
THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY
Carlyle Group take a majority stake in Beautycounter. The investment values Beautycounter at $1 billion, and marks a major bet by Carlyle that the brand’s philosophy of avoiding many common synthetic ingredients, and its reliance on customers to sell its products, has staying power.
L’Oréal revenue recovers thanks to help from China. Lancôme maker L’Oréal on Thursday reported a stronger-than-expected 10 percent rise in comparable first-quarter sales from a year earlier.
Report: Indian beauty start-up Nykaa taps banks for $500 million IPO. The online cosmetics retailer is reportedly working with Kotak Mahindra Capital Co. and Morgan Stanley on the potential offering. A listing could value the TPG Capital-backed start-up at about $4 billion.
Courtin-Clarins family invests in clean skin care brand Pai. Pai Skincare, a London-based beauty label known for its clean and vegan products, will use the funding to expand its development and manufacturing.
Guangzhou builds ‘Beauty Park’ to boost Chinese cosmetics industry. The park is expected to generate 8.6 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) worth of cosmetics and skincare products annually and will set up more local brands to compete with international giants in a beauty market valued at $52 billion last year.
Todd Kahn appointed Coach CEO. Thursday’s announcement made Kahn’s appointment to the position, which he has held on an interim basis since last July, permanent. He will report to Joanne Crevoiserat, chief executive officer of Coach parent Tapestry Inc.
Anthropologie names Tricia Smith global CEO. Smith joins the brand from clothing retailer Tilly’s, where she served as chief merchandising officer from 2019. Before that, Smith spent over 26 years in merchandising roles at Nordstrom. She succeeds Hillary Super, whose last day at the company was April 9.
Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company. Three of the e-commerce platform’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s chief executive and founder said in a blog post on Wednesday.
Stitch Fix’s founder Katrina Lake is leaving the CEO post. Lake, who launched the company a decade ago, will remain at Stitch Fix as executive chairperson. The fashion subscription platform’s current president, Elizabeth Spaulding, will assume the top role effective August 1.
MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. The photo-sharing site, which is owned by Facebook Inc, said this latest test came after seeing mixed responses to its experiments in which it removed likes.
Karla Otto doubles down on influencer marketing with new acquisition. On Thursday, the global fashion agency’s parent, The Independents, announced the acquisition of marketing firm Lefty, deepening its offerings in the influencer space, a bright spot during the pandemic.
Robin Meason, PR for Paris Indie Brands, sells agency to OBCM. Olivier Bourgis’ OBCM agency will acquire Ritual Projects, the Paris-based public relations firm which helped to establish Vetements and its then-creative director Demna Gvasalia, as well as brands including Y/Project, Ottolinger and GmbH. Financial terms of the deal, which is set to close May 1, were not disclosed.
Southeast Asian ‘super app’ Grab set for US IPO. Softbank-backed Grab is gearing up to merge with a blank-cheque vehicle in a deal that will value the technology group at about $35 billion, according to a report in The Financial Times.
Kakao reportedly eyeing fashion e-commerce app Zigzag. A deal, said to be in the works by local media outlets last week, could see the South Korean tech giant acquire a controlling stake worth around $1 billion in Zigzag, a six-year-old start-up.
Compiled by Darcey Sergison.
44 of the chicest Amazon fashion finds under $100, according to stylists
From cleaning supplies to personal care products to even groceries, Amazon has it all. And after some extensive perusing through the site, want to know what our latest obsession is? Amazon fashion.
“Amazon has done a great job of breaking down the trends — from utilitarian options, retro prints and women’s suits,” says celebrity stylist Erin Noël, who styles clients for red carpet events, music videos and commercials.
But what should you buy this season? Celebrity stylist Alyssa Sutter, who is known for her work with Rachel Zoe and looks on the red carpet, commercial and editorial shoots, encourages everyone to start with a trench coat, a statement piece of jewelry and a chic sneaker — all of which can go with anything.
Creative manager and celebrity fashion stylist at Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment Kelvin “K.J.” Moody recommends people get their hands on a pair of fitted shorts, some basic T-shirts, lightweight dresses and pops of color — noting that basics and monochromatics are having a serious moment. “These are easy to make into a nice high-low look,” Moody says, a method of styling he calls ‘seesaw.’ “Fashion is most aesthetically pleasing when something is weighted more heavily than something else,” he explains. “It gives it a focal point, looks cohesive and balanced, but adds excitement and interest because something is different.”
Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of their favorite fashion finds at Amazon, all under $100, along with some top-rated options we couldn’t help but show you.
R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress (starting at $29.99; amazon.com)
R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress
Yes, this is the “it” dress of the season, and we aren’t mad about it. The nap dress is equal parts comfortable and feminine, making it practically irresistible.
The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress (starting at $62.96; amazon.com)
The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress
Noël loves this utility dress because it’s an on-the-go option that’s easy and fashionable. What more could we ask for when we’re forced to leave the house, not wearing pajamas.
Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal (starting at $28.02; amazon.com)
Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal
What should you wear with a utility dress like the one above? Noël recommends these cute sandals by Franco Sarto. Although the tangerine shade would be her pick, we think the black or white pairs would be stunning too.
R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress ($31.99; amazon.com)
R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress
If you want to incorporate florals into your spring wardrobe, this puff sleeve midi dress is for you. Pair it with your favorite sneakers for that casual, cool-girl vibe.
The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket ($59.90; amazon.com)
The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket
Designed in partnership with influencer Lisa DiCicco Cahue, this faux leather shirt jacket is giving the ultimate New York vibes, and is one of our favorite trends of the moment.
Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat ($99; amazon.com)
Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat
Accessories are a necessary fashion statement too. Sutter loves the texture and color options of this bucket hat. She can image the hats paired with swimsuits on a beach day or paired with a dress and flats for an everyday look.
Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer (starting at $32.71; amazon.com)
Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer
Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet ($45; amazon.com)
Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet
Sutter believes that “Amazon is a great place to find on-trend jewelry without the splurge.” She loves this chunky gold bracelet to elevate any spring look.
Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress (starting at $18.76; amazon.com)
Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress
We’re finding any way to transfer the comfort of our sweats to other aspects of our wardrobe, which is why we want this tie-waist sweater dress is every color.
Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse ($18.99; amazon.com)
Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse
Noël recommends updating your typical white t-shirt this spring, and try puff sleeves instead. “Wear these with the wide leg jeans I already know you added to your cart.”
The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater ($39.90; amazon.com)
The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater
This sweater by The Drop, designed in partnership with influencer Suyapa Lucy, is easily one of our favorite Amazon finds. The racer tank fit sets it apart from other pieces we have our eyes on.
Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag ($95.31; amazon.com)
Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag
Your handbag is just as important as the outfit at hand. You can’t go wrong with this crossbody by Fossil that’s available in five colors and even features a large front buckle that gives it a sophisticated touch.
London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat (starting at $93.87; amazon.com)
London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat
A trench coat is proven to stand the test of time. Invest is a well-fitted option like this by London Fog that can easily transition through all four seasons.
Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress (starting at $13.98; amazon.com)
Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress
Some dresses are seriously love at first sight. “This bohemian dress will take you from the beach to dinner in style. Throw it on with sandals and some gold necklaces and you are ready to go,” says Noël.
The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress ($59.90; amazon.com)
The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress
Available in sizes XXS to 3X, this poplin maxi dress will suit a wide variety of body types. Better yet: It’s so roomy that you won’t ever feel restricted while you’re out and about.
Puma Carina Sneaker (starting at $49.99, originally $60; amazon.com)
Puma Carina Sneaker
Now introducing your new everyday white sneakers. Don’t be surprised when you want to wear them with everything.
Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean ($39.90; amazon.com)
Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean
“Ditch your skinny jeans, and not just because Gen Z said so, but because a wide leg is in style for spring,” says Noël, noting that the fit is more comfortable and chic. “Wear these with an oversized blazer, or your favorite T-shirt, and you’ve quickly updated your look.”
Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal (starting at $44.29; amazon.com)
Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal
“These lime green heels will look great with all of the neutrals you picked up in 2020,” says Noël. The pop of color this spring and summer is sure to turn heads.
Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag ($36; amazon.com)
Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag
We totally agree with Sutter when she remarks that reusable tote bags can go beyond the grocery store for a cool everyday bag. She loves ones from Baggu like this one because the brand “makes really fun prints and colors to match all your looks this spring.”
The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater ($31.52; amazon.com)
The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater
“Knitwear is a big trend this coming season,” says Sutter. “Try a full knit set, which is a great way to stay comfortable but still look put together.” That’s why she recommends this pullover sweater by The Drop. If you want the full set, pair it with the matching ribbed shorts.
Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans (starting at $47.70; amazon.com)
Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans
“I personally always buy my jeans from Amazon, specifically Levi’s,” exclaims Sutter. “Their styles are always so flattering and never boring, plus they are under $100!”
Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants (starting at $19.79; amazon.com)
Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants
Headed back into the office? These roomy palazzo pants, available in 24 colors, are sure to even impress your most stylish coworker.
Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt (starting at $45; amazon.com)
Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt
According to Sutter, “this celery-colored slip skirt is perfect for spring’s pastel trend, especially when paired with a matching kitten heel for a tonal look.” She recommends completing the look with a faux leather shirt in a camel color to mix in the utilitarian vibe that’s super on trend.
Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt ($49; amazon.com)
Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt
This shirt is a favorite by two of our fashion insiders. Sutter says that this “hits a couple different trends for spring — retro and knitwear all in one.” Noël recommends pairing it with some cropped black pants.
Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch ($28.96; amazon.com)
Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch
Looking for a new watch without breaking the bank? How sleek is this matte black wrist watch that just screams luxury.
Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater (starting at $10.93; amazon.com)
Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater
“Stripes are classic, and this option from Goodthreads would look great with a pair of pants or denim,” says Noël, which obviously makes it a good choice from your Zoom meeting to dinner.
Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis (starting at $16.01; amazon.com)
Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis
If you have to ditch your sweats, the replacement pants should at least be comfortable right? One reviewer wrote that “the relaxed fit shape of these combined with the slight stretch in the fabric makes them super comfortable,” so you know these are a great choice.
Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button-Down (starting at $29.17; amazon.com)
Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button Down
We’re obsessed with the blue striped pattern of this Tommy Hilfiger button-down, vibrant but classic enough to be worn year after year.
Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal (starting at $29.43; amazon.com)
Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal
Not only are Birkenstocks comfy, but they can also be a powerful accessory — especially in a fun color. “I would style these with a straight leg trouser in beige, white tee and printed short sleeve camp shirt,” explains Sutter.
Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt (starting at $19.59; amazon.com)
Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt
A graphic T-shirt is a great way to let a more casual outfit make a statement. Check out this one that’s at the top of Moody’s list.
Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket ($77.10, originally $89.99; amazon.com)
Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket
A trench coat is a quintessential wardrobe staple for warmer temps, for both men and women. Sutter calls this one a “perfect, timeless” option.
Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean (starting at $38.48; amazon.com)
Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean
“This style from Levi’s is giving me serious ‘90s skater nostalgia,” says Sutter. She’s loving the loose fit denim trend for men.
Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket (starting at $24.60; amazon.com)
Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket
Noël let us know that shirt jackets are in as a great lightweight jacket style, so we couldn’t help but find the perfect one on Amazon.
Adidas Performance Samba Shoe (starting at $39.99; amazon.com)
Adidas Performance Samba Shoe
According to Sutter, the Adidas Samba shoe “is making a major comeback in neutrals and fun color combos.” She says you can’t go wrong with this classic pick.
Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt ($17.80; amazon.com)
Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt
This palm tree print just screams vacation, right? You’ll surely reach for this number to frolic around in this summer. ___________________________________________________________________________
WT02 Jogger Pants (starting at $20.99; amazon.com)
WT02 Jogger Pants
Want to dress on trend, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort? Luckily Noël is loving a relaxed feel for menswear this season, so a pair of joggers like these definitely fits the bill.
Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt (starting at $12.13; amazon.com)
Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt
An oxford shirt is essentially an elevated basic. These bad boys should be your go to for that work event or even date night.
Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket (starting at $49.05; amazon.com)
Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket
In case you haven’t heard, bomber jackets are back and better this season, according to Noël. She says that “this Billy Reid sweater bomber jacket is great with a white tee and jeans.” The thing that sets this apart from other bomber is the quilted knit material. She says this “is a nice change from leather or heavier outwear that you may have picked up this winter, in a softer color for spring.”
Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater (starting at $13.43; amazon.com)
Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater
Noël loves a quarter zip sweater like this one because it can “polish up a T-shirt and provide a nice layer under a jacket for both style and warmth.” She remarks that because this option is available in a variety of colors, you can totally pick one that best fits your wardrobe.
The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat (starting at $10.99; amazon.com)
The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat
Moody recommends adding this 100% cotton bucket hat to your casual everyday outfit. Grab one in an unexpected shade, if you want to add a pop of color like he advises.
Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt (starting at $8.77; amazon.com)
Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt
“Casualwear is big right now because of the pandemic,” explains Moody, and what’s more casual than a basic short sleeve T-shirt like this one by Champion.
Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short (starting at $16.50; amazon.com)
Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short
What would Moody pair with a basic T-shirt and the bucket hat above? A pair of shorts by Goodthreads. We love that these are made of a canvas material that’ll remind you of lounging around at home.
Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo (starting at $8.35; amazon.com)
Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo
Can’t go wrong with adding another polo to your collection, especially when you can take your pick of 12 different color options.
Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt (starting at $6.96; amazon.com)
Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt
Imagine all of the possibilities with this linen and cotton blend shirt. Available in 12 colors, this is sure to become a wardrobe staple for $30 or less.
Carolina Herrera’s creative director on fashion post-pandemic
In this episode of Facing Forward, Margaret Brennan talks to Wes Gordon, Creative Director of Carolina Herrera, to discuss what the post-pandemic fashion industry will look like.
HighlightsOn what changes the fashion house made to reflect the pandemic economy: “The first decision we made was to reduce the size of the collection. And that greatly influenced the way I design. My goal is always to give a woman something that’s glamorous and exciting and takes your breath away and makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. But now I wanted to do that with an added layer of comfort and ease and wearability. And by having a tighter collection offering, I really need to make sure that each piece we’re creating serves all of those purposes.”On scrutiny of women in fashion: “I think clothes are incredibly powerful and what people wear can convey so much and there can be so many levels of meaning and communication about what a man or woman is wearing and how he or she is presenting themselves. And I don’t think it’s that we over-scrutinize women, perhaps it’s that we don’t discuss enough the symbolism of what men are wearing and that we should be a little more equal in that because we have a tendency not to talk about the men, but really only focus on the women–and there are extraordinary communication messages that happens in- that happen in a man’s wardrobe as well. And then so- so talk about fashion, I think. You know, I think it’s OK to- to discuss what was the symbolism of the White when Vice President Harris took that stage. I think these are important things. And I don’t think in any way, shape or form that’s a negative conversation. But don’t just do it for the women, you know, I think do it for everyone, be equal about it.”On markets seeing a surge in fashion post-pandemic: “We absolutely saw a correlation, you know, between geography and- and sales numbers, particularly in North America. The regions that, as you pointed out, were less locked down and were opening earlier, we saw those- the spending habits and the retail activity accelerate much more quickly.”
“Facing Forward”: Wes Gordon
Producers: Richard Escobedo, Anne Hsu, Kelsey Micklas
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wes Gordon, welcome to the pod.
WES GORDON: Thank you, MARGARET. I am delighted to be here. It’s an honor and privilege to be chatting with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I think it’s fun- you know, one of the things that people may or may not know is my first official beat as a cub reporter was covering consumer and the retail business. And one of the reasons why I liked it so much is, you know, consumer spending is 70% of economic activity in this country. So it’s a huge part of the economy. But fashion and parts of it are also kind of the more fun, artistic expression of these, like, moments in time. They kind of give windows, I think, into how people are experiencing things, how comfortable they are spending, what they want to look like. And we’ve just gone through this incredible period of time. I’m wondering, coming into this spring, this has been a really long, tough period. What are you looking for for inspiration these days?
GORDON: I love everything you just said. I think the way you just summarized the fashion industry, I think is so beautiful, because in addition to being a reflection of what people are feeling in a moment in time, fashion is also an insight into what people are dreaming and what their hopes are for the future and their level of optimism about what lies around the corner. And all of those things, I think, are- are what we’re witnessing and focusing on right now. The past year was extraordinary, horrible, you know, knock on wood, fingers crossed, something we will never live through again, but we certainly learned a lot from it. And how I design changed over the past year in many ways. But in answer to a question right now, sitting here in my office sketching, I’m focused on the magic that our women are looking forward to, again, coming out of- of the darkness.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I love that, coming out of the darkness. Well, so- so what is it we’re all going to be sort of aspiring for? How is it that you are visualizing what’s to come in?
GORDON: I think what we’re all aspiring for are the very essence of our humanity, you know, laughter, togetherness, family, joy, love, all the things that we’ve been de- deprived of in so many ways over the past year. You know, it’s- it’s- it’s those things that make us human, and it’s not in our nature to live 24/7 in fear and- and sadness and isolation. Right now, you know, everyone’s excited about getting back to life, getting back to being humans, it’s getting back to their friends, their families, celebrations that were postponed, a summer of joy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So does that mean, like, long hair and long beards, those are all going to get shaved and cut? I mean, are people going to drop their sneakers and put on their stilettos?
GORDON: Listen, it’s not that black and white, because I think what happened over the past year wasn’t just a surrender, right? It wasn’t that we all just stopped caring about how we looked. I think in many instances people did a lot of soul searching and better understood what makes them unique and who they really are. So I think, I hope, that there are some expressions of individuality and uniqueness that will remain. But I certainly think that in instances where people maybe stop making the effort, we will see- we will see that resume.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So I read that you cannot keep evening gowns in stock. How is that possible? Who is wearing an evening gown in America right now and where are they wearing it to?
GORDON: So it’s- it’s been an incredible thing, and one of the great signs of optimism for me is when I see this data. You know, it’s not just the idea of an evening gown. It’s- it’s celebration clothes and the clothes that mark those milestone moments and occasions. And you have to remember that for 12 months, so many events and celebrations had to be put on hold, weddings in particular, birthdays, anniversaries. So, of course, the format of those occasions has changed. It’s no longer big groups of hundreds. It’s smaller. It’s more intimate. But in no ways has that minimized the importance of those occasions and those celebrations, and a woman still wants that dress that makes her feel her most beautiful and empowered to mark that day with.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the hottest markets I read were Florida and Texas for you. Is that- I mean, these are two states that opened early. They really kind of shirked some of the health restrictions that the rest of the country did. Does that mean, like, that’s just where events were being held, therefore, that’s where sales were taking place?
GORDON: We absolutely saw a- a correlation, you know, between geography and- and sales numbers, particularly in North America. The regions that, as you pointed out, were- were less locked down and were opening earlier, we saw those- the spending habits and the retail activity accelerate much more quickly. Right now, at this point in time, you know, I’m sitting here in New York and New York State is doing a very good job with vaccinations. There’s definitely an optimism on the sidewalks. It’s- the weather’s beautiful. So we’re seeing those numbers, that- that improvement certainly work its way north. But, yes, we saw our first signs of life, let’s say, in the southeast.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that from what you’re seeing now and what customers are buying, that that signals were like around the corner from this Roaring Twenties moment where it’s just going to go super glam to swing back from pandemic sweatpants wearing?
GORDON: I want to see all the people I haven’t seen for the past year. I want to have dinner with my friends. I want to have drinks with my friends. I want to dance. I want to celebrate. I want to have a great time. And I think there are so many people who are in that same boat. You know, it’s been- it’s been a terrible year, and we’re all so lucky to- to, you know, that what we’re complaining about is that we were isolated and sad and that we kept our health and- and survived it. But it’s- we all want fun right now and color and joy and dancing. We’re a brand about embracing life and treating every moment as a celebration and and being grateful for the here and the now and the people you’re with and your family, and I think that’s never been truer than- than right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’ve had a pretty remarkable career. You worked with Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, you took the reins at this house, Carolina Herrera, about two and a half years ago. You’re only 34 years old. That’s pretty incredible.
GORDON: Thank you. I mean, I went to design school and then as soon as I graduated, I started a small collection and did that for nearly eight years and then had the great fortune of coming to Herrera to consult. And it was right around the time that Mrs. Herrera was stepping down from her role. And I became creative director. So I feel incredibly fortunate to have identified at an early age what it is that that brings me joy and what I feel passionate about, and then to have had, you know, supportive parents and opportunities to- to kind of make that a reality.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s an incredible time to try to also keep a business going. Right? I mean, we had a really horrific contraction in the economy this time last year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We saw big bankruptcies of big names and layoffs across major brands. What was that like for you? Did you feel, at a point that- that this was coming to an end?
GORDON: I never felt it was coming to an end in the sense that I am the most aggressively half glass- glass half-full person you’ll ever meet. I’m very optimistic. But there were very trying moments throughout the past year, and we- I, you know, the president of Herrera, Emilie Rubinfeld, is an incredible leader and did a brilliant job navigating us through it. We’re incredibly grateful to have a parent company, Puig, which is a remarkable group of people. And I think, you know, we did what- what many businesses at the time were doing, which is trying to simultaneously adjust for that immediate moment and also plan ahead, because if you focus too much on that immediate moment and kind of went too far into survival mode, you know, it’s going to make it more challenging, I think, to- to resume activity quickly, which is what we all need to be doing right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said you learned a lot over the past year and, like, changed some of what you were doing. Like what do you mean by that? What- what changes do you think are going to stay with you?
GORDON: The first decision we made was to reduce the size of the collection. And that greatly influenced the way I design. My goal is always to give a woman something that’s glamorous and exciting and takes your breath away and makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. But now I wanted to do that with an added layer of comfort and ease and wearability. And by having a tighter collection offering, I really need to make sure that each piece we’re creating serves all of those purposes. So rather than having a beautiful cotton shirt and a fabulous, over-the-top cocktail dress, can I fuse the two of them? Can I take the versatility and ease and, you know, kind of sportswear chic of the shirt with that magic and spice of the cocktail dress and kind of morph them into one product that- that a woman is able to wear many times and always feel great and maintain that comfort and lifestyle component that she’s become so accustomed to over the past year. So that’s something that has definitely been a learning from the past year, a fantastic improvement to our business, I think a more focused articulation to our clients of my design vision and something that we absolutely will be carrying forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Wes, stay with us. We’re going to take a quick break.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So that was Kamala Harris giving the victory speech, becoming the first woman Vice President of the United States, and you dressed her for that speech. What was that like?
GORDON: I mean, I just- just hearing that sound bite. How cool was that moment? I- I, for one, will never forget watching that. And- and it’s not just because she was wearing a suit that I designed. It was just because it was an extraordinary moment to be an American, to be a human, and I had the great opportunity to- to play a tiny, tiny part in that evening by making her a Carolina Herrera suit and blouse, and Vice President Harris has- frequently now wears Herrera suits, which is so exciting to me. And it’s just- you know, in a year of a lot of sadness and darkness, that evening was so extraordinary.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it was a historic moment. I mean, tell me, what was the image you thought you were helping to project?
GORDON: You know, I- I was incredibly lucky to have met Vice President Harris, and I will say that there are very few people you encounter, and you can probably agree who when you become accustomed with their media image and their social media image and the idea of that person, very often reality is a letdown, unfortunately. And in the case of Vice President Harris she’s even cooler and more brilliant and more amazing and more spectacular and more inspiring in person than you possibly could imagine her to be. So I was so excited at the prospect of creating that shell and that wardrobe and that outer expression of her inner super powers, and that’s really how I thought of it. You know, it wasn’t- it was just about what’s going to make her feel like the best version of herself on this extraordinary night for humanity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There’s a lot of scrutiny about- over what women wear, right? And unfairly women in the public eye. I mean, I- I get it. I- I get the incoming myself just being on television. But like, do you feel as someone who is helping to craft presentation for women at one of the top fashion houses in the country, do you feel responsibility in that, in like how you set trends, and how you source things that you have to somehow become either protective of the women you’re dressing, but also of the industry that you’re representing. You know, there’s so much scrutiny these days over environmentally conscious sourcing and things like that. How much of that do you actually digest when you sit down and design?
GORDON: I think, starting with the- the scrutiny level and what’s appropriate and what’s OK of women in the spotlight and powerful women in particular at this moment in time where we have the second-highest office in the nation occupied by a female. I think that’s a really valid question to ask is what’s OK and what’s not OK to talk about when it comes to fashion?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.
GORDON: And Dr. Jill Biden has taken a particular stance right now about not- not wanting the focus to be on what she’s wearing and something really important that I believe is, number one, it’s up to the woman herself how much she wants to talk about what she’s wearing or not. That’s every woman’s choice. That’s every first lady’s choice. And I think we should respect that. That said, I’m- I’m biased, I work in fashion. I think clothes are incredibly powerful and what people wear can convey so much and there can be so many levels of meaning and communication about what a man or woman is wearing and how he or she is presenting themself. And I don’t think it’s that- that we over-scrutinize women, perhaps it’s that we don’t discuss enough the symbolism of what men are wearing and that we should be a little more equal in that because we have a tendency not to talk about the men, but really only focus on the women–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.
GORDON: –and there are extraordinary communication messages that happens in- that happen in a man’s wardrobe as well. And then so- so talk about fashion, I think. You know, I think it’s OK to- to discuss what was the symbolism of the White when Vice President Harris took that stage. I think these are important things. And I don’t think in any way, shape or form that’s a negative conversation. But don’t just do it for the women, you know, I think do it for everyone, be equal about it. So that was kind of the first part of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
GORDON: Then the next one about, do I feel a responsibility for- for operating with integrity, let’s call it, and- and- absolutely. I’m enormously concerned about the climate crisis and global warming and- all- and- and- unfair treatment of- of workers around the world and all of these things right now that are directly affected by the fashion industry and that are issues that we’re seeing already the consequences of. So it’s critically important to everyone at Herrera that we be the best global citizens possible and that we make a product that represents beauty and joy and celebration and life and color, inside and out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you feel that that- you said that was like your own internal pressure, but like, do you feel like there’s pressure in the market from people who are out and shopping? I mean, how much do people actually think about that? Like- like you said, there isn’t a lot of scrutiny of men. Like I haven’t heard many people worry about whether Joe Biden’s tie was made by a environmentally sustainable line or a responsible manufacturer. Like it’s- it’s really kind of pick and choose when people seem to put that weight behind it.
GORDON: Absolutely, I- I absolutely agree. You don’t see that same level of GFN and scrutiny. And you should, because, you know, there’s- there’s an equal impact from those decisions in terms of the consumer, what they care about and do they care? Had you asked me that, say, three years ago, I would have had a very different answer. Right now, the consumer cares definitely more than ever.I think the idea of sustainability in textiles and fashion has very quickly gone from being kind of a fringe concept to something that is on the top of everyone’s minds, whether they’re designers or consumers or fashion executives or retailers, and that’s great. And we’re seeing just- just from my end and internally the rate of acceleration that fabric mills are quickly now offering, you know, maybe they would have had two or three out of a thousand fabrics previously available sustainably with organic cotton or with a sustainable finish. Now, suddenly we’re seeing that’s gone up several thousand percent. I mean, now we have dozens and dozens of options from each mill of sustainable fabrics. And you’re only seeing that because there’s that consumer demand. So it’s definitely a real thing. And, you know, I- I think was heightened and expedited by the experiences of the past year. And is another great example of something I hope remains people looking for integrity and purpose in the products that they buy and the pieces they bring into their lives.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What is- what do you mean by sustainable? You said organics, is- is that–
MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that mean?
GORDON: Yeah, sustainable is complicated because textiles are made up from so many different components. Right. So we have viscoses. We have silks. We have cottons, wools. And the criteria and classification for what makes each of those different fibers. Be deemed sustainable varies tremendously and how you measure whether something sustainable varies tremendously. Are you talking about it being sustainable because the cotton in the dress was organic or you talking about it being sustainable because it was, you know, included in a bulk shipment rather than shipped piecemeal with more carbon footprint? So there are- there’s so many different levers and- and mechanisms for labeling something sustainable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.
GORDON: And it’s very gray at the moment, I would say. But what matters is that people are trying and I really do believe that they are. And it’s- it’s- it’s thanks to some designers who kind of really stuck their neck out there in the past and were saying that this was something that was possible and they believed in that now the entire industry, I think, is really understanding that this can work, that- that you can make a beautiful product and it doesn’t have to be, you know, bad for the world, let’s say. And you’re as a result, you’re seeing tremendous change happening very quickly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to end with kind of a fun prediction, if you can give it to us.
GORDON: OK. OK.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So everyone wants to know what normal is going to look like. What do you think Fall Fashion Week will be like? Will we be back in-person and gathering?
GORDON: OK, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m going to tell you what I hope is the case. I hope that come September for Fall Fashion Week, which will be Herrera’s fortieth year of New York Fashion Week. I hope that we are presenting a live fashion show. I imagine it will be to a smaller group than it was in the past. Last February, so a year ago from February, we did a fashion show with nearly 800 people in the audience.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.
GORDON: So do I think we’ll be doing that in September? Absolutely not. But am I hoping for, let’s say, 50 to 200 people, you know, very safely assembled? Yes, because there is a magic to a fashion show that I miss. The industry as a whole has come up with so many creative, exciting ways to tell fashion stories over the past year, digitally on social media, with video, with photography. But that in-person experience and seeing the clothes and sharing with people, the clothes in person and the models and the music and the hair and the entire ambience, there’s a magic to it. And New York Fashion Week is- is that goosebump moment that American designers love, and it’s something that I think is- is we should all, as Americans, be proud of and hoping to return to.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wes, thank you so much for your time. Fun talking to you.
GORDON: Thank you. So fun talking to you as well. I really appreciate it. And this has been a- this has been a blast.
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