Women's Wear Daily

The State of American Fashion: Amy Smilovic

WWD: What is the state of American fashion today? AMY SMILOVIC: People feel that they’re in this rat race, on this gerbil wheel we’ve all built for ourselves. You could characterize American fashion as dominated by brands that are completely faceless and driven by venture capitalists or private equity, or it’s driven by struggling brands who are trying to figure out: “I’m 22, I just graduated and I’ve been sold this idea that you, too, can start a line tomorrow.” I’m not in either of those camps. I’m not burdened by the investors checking in on me, and I hate that these 21-year-olds are sold this bill of goods, that they should open a collection tomorrow. I’m a big believer in going out and getting lots of life experience and applying that to opening a business. WWD: What are the strengths of American fashion? AS: Typically, Americans would be described as optimistic. My European friends are always saying, ‘it’s always sunny in America; you guys always have this rosy outlook.” You never see runway shows that are too angry. As tough as it’s been the last two years, that general optimism comes through. Right now, these European brands — it seems like they’re eating everyone’s lunch with a lot of creative

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Edward S. Lampert: Close Up

Edward S. Lampert: Close Up A look at the financier’s path from Wall Street fast track to retail ruin. • Lampert is born on July 19,1962, in Roslyn, N.Y. • He graduated from Yale, summa cum laude, in 1984 with a B.A. in economics. • Lampert marries Kinga Lampert in 2001. They have three children. • From 1985 to 1988 he works with Robert Rubin in the Goldman Sachs risk arbitrage department. • In 1988, he becomes founder, chairman and chief executive officer of ESL Investments, which was started with $28 million in seed money from Richard Rainwater. • The hedge fund grows to $9 billion. • In 2003, he brings Kmart Holdings Corp. out of bankruptcy by acquiring a controlling stake for $1 billion. • The same year, Lampert escapes from kidnappers after being held for two days. • In 2004, his earnings top $1 billion. He is believed to be the first Wall Streeter to hit the mark in a single year. • In 2005, he acquires Sears Roebuck & Co. and merges it with Kmart to create Sears Holdings; he becomes its chairman. • In 2006, Lampert makes Time 100 list as one of the most influential individuals in the world who leads a new group of activist hedge

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The Sears Saga

The Sears Saga The retailer’s journey from catalogue innovator to retail powerhouse to bankruptcy. • In 1886, Richard Sears starts the R.W. Sears Watch Co. in Minneapolis. The following year, Sears moves to Chicago. • Alvah C. Roebuck joins the business as a watchmaker. • In 1893, the company changes its name to Sears Roebuck & Co. • In 1895, the catalogue, a 532-page magazine for apparel, wagons, fishing tackle, stoves, furniture, china, saddles, firearms, watches and jewelry, is produced. • Sears goes public in 1901.   • Kenmore is introduced in 1913.   • In 1925, the first Sears store opens at a Chicago mail-order plant. • In 1927, Craftsman is launched. • In 1931, Sears’ retail stores account for 53.4 percent of the total $180 million in sales. • In 1945, sales top $1 billion. • In 1967, Diehard launches. • In 1976, Sears introduces its “Where America Shops” campaign. • In 1985, Sears rolls out Discover credit card. • In 1986, Sears turns 100. • In 1990, ground breaks for new headquarters at Hoffman Estates, Ill. • In 1993, “The Softer Side of Sears” campaign launches. U.S. catalogue operations are closed. • In 1999, Sears Direct is launched, combining specialty catalogues, telemarketing, direct mail and Internet operations. Sears.com debuts. • In 2001, the Sears flagship on

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Independent Retailers Upbeat at Paris Apparel Trade Shows

PARIS — It seems that reports of the death of independent retailers have been exaggerated. Buyers at the recent women’s wear Tranoï, Woman and Première Classe Dressing trade shows in Paris were mostly enthusiastic, refuting talk of small boutiques suffering under changes to the industry. “I’ve seen a big revival the last few years of small, individual stores. People say retail is over, that all shops are closing, but it’s really the big stores that are closing,” Christiane Celle, founder of Calypso and owner of the Clic concept stores, said at the Woman show. “Shoppers and the younger generation are different today. People don’t want to look exactly like everybody else, and they’re more educated,” she said. Celle’s business continues to expand with a new store in Larkspur, Calif. “There’s a niche for individual things, so I still do amazingly well,” she reported. Among the spring looks she saw, “there’s a trend of not revealing as much. A lot of women realize that being sexy doesn’t mean showing off all your body.” Celle sees Paris adopting more streetwear, while New York is leaning more minimal. Still, colorful tailored and unisex suits made their mark. Among her finds was the Japanese brand Toujours, and

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