Written by ANA COLON
Dolce & Gabbana has been mired in more than its fair share of controversy — yet it's still a bit surprising, and certainly disappointing, when this type of thing happens yet again. The Italian fashion house's latest misstep: a pair of pom-pom accented leather shoes available on its website dubbed the "slave sandal."
The four-figure footwear is a part of Dolce & Gabbana's spring '16 tourist-inspired collection, and the shoe's name has since been changed to "Decorative Flat Sandal." (You can see a screenshot of its cringe-y original classification here and below.) In the item's description, the sandals in question are called "Bianca flat sandals" — no mention of "slave." The same style is also available for pre-order at Moda Operandi and Saks Fifth Avenue, but neither retailer uses the word "slave" to describe the pair. Footwear Newsreports that the term is an outdated descriptor for a lace-up sandal silhouette, now more commonly referred to as gladiator.
We have reached out to Dolce & Gabbana for comment, and will update this story when we hear back.
The spring '16 collection, Dolce & Gabbana's site reads, is a "declaration of love to Italy, told through unique clothing and accessories on an imaginary journey through the wonders of this country." Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's ode to Sicily (where Dolce is from) for spring '13 was also quite contentious: The brand sent a pair of "blackamoor" earrings down the runway — a decision that the designers went on to defend despite public complaint. There was a similar situation on the newsstand in 2011: Vogue Italia ran an editorial featuring oversized golden hoops it described as "slave earrings." The publication's editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, later apologized, citing mistranslation.
Dolce & Gabbana has made a few relatively progressive moves over the past few months, following a series of missteps in the last couple of years (including the blackamoor earrings and the designers' very poorly received comments on same-sex couples having children through adoption and IVF). In January, the brand revealed its first collection of hijabs and abayas. Shortly after, Gabbana teased a capsule collection with the hashtag #DGFamily, depicting same-sex couples and their children on handbags and T-shirts.
As innocuous as the erstwhile name of a pair of sandals might seem, it's a stumble that, unfortunately, detracts from the sligthly more positive inroads D&G has made recently.
Women have abandoned a longtime wardrobe staple — and that's terrifying news for Michael Kors, Coach, and Kate Spade
In April, Elle writer Justine Harman spotted a classic, nylon box-shaped Kate Spade bag on eBay.
The bag, she noted, was knocked down from its original price of $250 to a staggeringly low $39.99. (That particular discounted bag has now been sold, but remaining "vintage" Kate Spade items are still marked down pretty low.)
While this discovery delighted some millennial women who grew up begging their parents for one of these handbags, others might have noticed that this dramatic price dip is indicative of something bigger: The designer handbag industry is losing its luster.
As with all trends, there's an ebb and flow. Not everything can stay relevant forever. Kate Spade has adjusted to a more colorful, bright, fun look, but the company's offshoots, Kate Spade Saturday, targeted towards millennials, and Jack Spade, which tapped into the men's industry, shuttered all their doors in the winter, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In April, Bloomberg noted that Michael Kors was the top handbag for teens, replacing Coach. Kate Spade was in third place.
But Michael Kors' sales growth has been eroding, and prospects do not look good for the brand.
The brand's inventory has risen, suggesting that the brand's products aren't flying off shelves.
FacebookMichael Kors rose to popularity because of its handbags.
It might be because the brand is too popular — or too widely purchased. This is in part due to the presence of outlets — which Michael Kors has aplenty — which can ultimately be brand killers. Outlets devalue a brand, encourage people to not buy at full price, and make luxury items too accessible.
Further, widespread popularity is the "kiss of death for trendy fashion brands, particularly those positioned in the up-market younger consumer sectors," industry expert Robin Lewis wrote on his blog. Lewis compares Michael Kors to Tommy Hilfiger, which reached its peak in the late 1990s.
Michael Kors is considered an aspirational brand, with consumers paying a premium for its label. Once everyone has the product, it is no longer considered cool.
Other brands that have experienced this phenomenon include Juicy Couture, Jordache, and Coach — which Michael Kors dethroned as the most popular high-end handbag brands for teens, as Bloomberg has reported.
But Coach's woes are undeniable. CNBC reported the bizarre disparity for Coach: Sales still dipped amid shares rising. On a recent earnings call, CEO Victor Luis attributed this to how the brand has been cutting back on flash sales.
Sweeping up shoe brand Stuart Weitzman at least helped slightly; "the acquisition of Stuart Weitzman in early May contributed $43 million to fourth-quarter and full-year revenue," CFO Jane Hamilton Nielsen said on the call.
But it might not just be handbags that are at a loss. This pattern is indicative of a much larger trend.
After all, millennials spend their money differently than the generations preceding them did. Old-school retailers like Gap have suffered compared to fast-fashion companies like Zara and H&M, which allure millennials with their quick turnaround and low-price. Traditional retail has been struggling as a result.
And those traditional retailers who attempt to cater to millennials instead of baby boomers or Gen Xers face huge possible risks: Millennials don't spend that much money as it is. Saddled with debt, this generation isn't spending money on luxury items. And by alienating consumers who do have money, retailers inadvertently put themselves in a precarious situation. Who will buy from them?
Hilary Stout illustrated this problem in The New York Times in June: "After all, the millennial generation has less wealth and more debt than other generations did at the same age, thanks to student loans and the lingering effects of the deep recession," she wrote.
And Forrester researchers highlighted in a study that baby boomers, between the ages of 51 and 69, are the "biggest spenders" because they have extra cash from decades of saving and investing — something millennials just can't afford.
Additionally, millennials are flat out not spending on apparel. A study by Morgan Stanley highlighted that millennials are instead choosing to spend money on expenses like rent, cellphones, and services.
Macy's CFO, Karen Hoguet, even blamed Netflix on the sales slumps. "I think part of that is the customers are buying other things, whether the electronics, cable services, Netflix, whatever," Hoguet said.
Ultimately, there's a limited market for selling clothing — let alone designer handbags.
The biggest threat to the industry could be "HENRYs" — a term luxury expert Pam Danziger coined, standing for "high earners not rich yet." These people make over $100,000, and, as she told Bloomberg, are "making very careful decisions" when it comes to spending. But because they're not picking up designer products, the luxury brands are feeling the burn.
"Today, those people feel decidedly middle class and not at all luxury class," Danziger told Marketplace.org.
Which begs the question — why buy luxury items? Especially when you can sweep your favorite items from the aughts on eBay for under $40.
Then again, while some of Kate Spade's bags are relics of the past on the internet, its more fashion-forward bags are thriving — proving that the handbag industry can, in fact, save itself from an ominous fate.
"In wholesale, our business was primarily driven by strong performance in handbags, with data showing a continuing increase in market share, representing a key opportunity for growth as we build on our still modest penetration of market share," CEO Craig Leavitt said on a recent earnings call for the company.
A Michael Kors store in Almaty, Kazakhstan. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)
By Sarah Halzack
A Michael Kors store in Almaty, Kazakhstan. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)If it seems like you see a Michael Kors purse on every shoulder when you walk down the street or hit the mall, there’s something to your observation: The brand had a years-long hot streak after going public in 2011 when its jet-set-inspired handbags and accessories became a must-have for aspirational luxury shoppers.
But in the last year, investors and fashion insiders have begun to wonder if the brand was shooting itself in the foot by muscling into so many malls and by selling its bags for promotional prices that made them more accessible to the masses. Sales growth slowed dramatically, suggesting that as the brand became more ubiquitous, it was starting to lose some of the exclusive vibe that made it a hit in the first place.
On Tuesday, Kors delivered an earnings report that sent a message to its doubters: There is, it seems, a path forward for the brand to thrive and recalibrate in the face of these perceptions.
Kors said that comparable sales — a measure of sales at its stores open more than a year — were down 0.9 percent in most recent quarter. While that figure still pales in comparison to the blockbuster growth it posted two or three years ago, it is a clear improvement over what was seen in the previous three quarters. And the brand managed to notch improvement during a holiday season that was a tough one overall for the retail industry.
Digging into the report more deeply offers some other reasons for optimism about the brand’s future. For one, the company said its average unit retail price was pressured this quarter, but it was pressured for the right reasons. On a conference call with investors, chief executive John D. Idol said the decline was not driven by having to resort to deep discounts to unload slow-selling merchandise, a tactic the brand has had to employ in the past. Instead, he said it was because shoppers are embracing the trend toward small-sized purses, crossbody bags and small wallets — pieces which logically come with a lower price tag than, say, a tote bag.
So, overall, the company saw a strong increase in the number of items it sold in its core handbag business. That sends a message that Kors is figuring out how to score with something other than the $300 mid-sized handbags that have been its bread-and-butter (and which have also been crucial for rivals such as Coach and Kate Spade.)
Kors has earlier stated that it is pulling back on its wholesale business of selling pieces in department stores in an effort to fight the perception that the brand is too omnipresent and thus lacks cachet. The improved results in its own retail outlets this quarter are, in a way, a validation of that strategic tack. While Kors has previously leaned heavily on department store sales — by one estimate, almost half of its sales come from such outlets — the momentum at its own stores and website offers hope that there is a viable iteration of this business that leans more heavily on direct-to-consumer selling.
Investors sent Kors’s stock up a whopping 25 percent today, a sign that they were pleasantly surprised by the brand’s report. The company said revenue was up 6.3 percent to $1.4 billion in the quarter, and profit was $294 million, lower than the same quarter last year.
The results come just days after a key rival, Coach, reported somewhat improved sales amid an ongoing struggle to polish the image of its overexposed brand. Taken together, the results at Kors and Coach suggest that these accessible luxury titans may be getting closer to putting their brands in the sweet spot between being overexposed and underutilized.
Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
Updated Jan. 4, 2013 with an addendum at the end of this post.
Let’s say you have some spare cash after the holidays (maybe from an unwanted gift you returned) and would like to treat yourself to a designer handbag — perhaps by Louis Vuitton , Chanel or Coach COH +0.69%. You could go to one of their boutiques or department store counters. But a growing number of people looking for bargains will shop for these goods through online discounters, or buy them on the secondary market, online or at consignment shops. That’s a bit of a gamble, though, because you can’t be sure you’re getting the real thing.
For example, in the course of reporting the story, Luxury For Less: New Web Sites And Shops Offer Gently Used Designer Goods, Forbes contributor Wendy Goffe bought the handbag pictured above at the San Francisco consignment shop, Cris. The bag says Louis Vuitton on the hardware, and in various spots on the checked pattern. But is it for real?
Cris Zander, owner of the store that bears her name, wouldn’t vouch for the bag, but offered Goffe a full refund of the $500 she spent if it turned out to be a counterfeit. (A comparable Louis Vuitton bag, bought new, would have cost several times that amount.)
We went right to the source, inviting Louis Vuitton to participate in a video at their Fifth Avenue store. Our proposal: have a representative of Louis Vuitton put the bag side by side with the ones in the store, and show us, feature for feature, why it is or is not the real thing.
Our requests to four different Louis Vuitton representatives, over the course of more than a month, went into a black hole. (We did the video anyway, as you can see below.)
Attempts to interview other luxury manufacturers about how to spot a fake of their brand were similarly unsuccessful. Coach did not reply. A representative from Kate Spade said no one was available. Goyard passed. And Chanel sent this statement through a spokesperson: “Authentic Chanel products are only available at Chanel boutiques and authorized dealers.” When we objected that it obviously wasn’t true, the same spokesperson replied by email: “Unfortunately, Chanel has no further comment. Thank you for your understanding.”
Sure, counterfeiting is rampant, but a strong resale market is one sign of a brand’s strength. So it’s too bad companies refuse to help consumers — or talk to the press.
Yes, there’s a small handful of third-party companies that provide authentication services, but proceed with caution. A call to one of them indicated that the phone had been disconnected. The company’s website required an upfront payment before we could get any information. And there was no indication who was running it, who would be doing the work, and what made that person qualified to offer an opinion.
From the consumer’s perspective, there’s surely a need for these services, yet very few businesses have seized the opportunity. The reason, says Susan Scafidi, who heads the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School and writes the Counterfeit Chic blog, Is that “there’s a huge liability if you get it wrong either way.” Designers actively enforce their trademarks, and don’t want a fake identified as the real thing. Likewise, if someone is trying to sell the real thing and it’s wrongly identified as a fake, they too, could sue. All such lawsuits can be costly to defend.
What’s more, if a fake is good, it can be hard for even the company to distinguish it from the real thing, though they have covert, as well as overt, ways of doing that, Scafidi says. For example, the number of stitches per inch in a seam may be a trade secret, and with items like Coach bags that have serial numbers, they can easily tell if it’s for real.
Meanwhile, the proliferation of online sites makes it easier than ever to get snookered. They have professional sounding names; include pictures that look like the real thing (those photos may even violate copyright rules); and price merchandise so it looks like they’re discounting the real thing, rather than overcharging for a knockoff. As with any online vendor you’ll want to consider how long they’ve been in business; how many previous customers there are; and be suspicious if the seller has plenty of stock in an item that’s sold out everywhere else. Good luck getting them to take things back, or expect them to charge a huge restocking fee for the privilege.
You can’t necessarily believe what they say about where something came from either. “It was a gift,” is all too common an explanation. And though you might want to believe that something fell off a truck or went out the back door of the factory at night, these instances are rare, Scafidi says. Don’t be fooled by the presence of a hang tag, either; anyone who can counterfeit a handbag can fake that, too.
What’s a fashionista to do? Train your eye to spot a counterfeit by looking at the real thing in person – at a boutique or an authorized dealer, Scafidi advises. Then, before you buy a bag from another source, give it the once over. Here are the features she recommends you consider.
For “How To Spot A Fake Louis Vuitton,” click here.
Materials. Not all designer bags are made of leather. For example, Louis Vuitton is coated canvas with leather trim. If the trim is supposed to be leather, it should feel dry — not oily, slippery or sticky. The hardware should be heavy — not hollow. If it’s imprinted with the designer’s name, make sure it’s supposed to be.
Workmanship. The stitching should be perfectly even, with no loose threads or back-and-forth stitching at the end of a seam – that’s a sign of sloppy construction. Check the seams for matching–whether of the quilting on a Chanel bag, or the pattern on a Louis Vuitton. A company like Louis Vuitton, which values its logo, wouldn’t divide the letters in a seam. And where the pattern appears on either side of the seam, it should match precisely.
Lining. Counterfeiters rarely have a good view of the inside of a bag. Typically they are working from photographs, which tend to distort color. So if you have gone to a boutique and seen the color in person, you immediately have an advantage. It should be precisely the same shade as the real thing–not a close approximation.
Pockets. Here too, it’s easy for counterfeiters who are working off photographs, rather than copying the real thing, to get it wrong. Scafidi has a fake Chanel tote on which copyists omitted the pocket on the back, and a Coach on which they included the the back pocket but added a zipper.
Place of manufacture. Some counterfeiters routinely mark Louis Vuitton knockoffs “Made in France.” But as it happens, at least one line was made in Spain. An example: a collaboration between Louis Vuitton’s creative director Marc Jacobs, and the artist Takashi Murakami featuring cherry blossoms with whimsical smiley-face centers against the company’s classic brown toile background.
Misspellings. In her collection of counterfeit bags Scafidi has a Coach labeled “eatherware” (the “L” in the word is omitted). Goyard counterfeiters made an even more egregious error, spelling the company’s name “Gooyar” on both the printed canvas of the bag and its dust cover. That’s a dead giveaway.
Based on four of these criteria, Scafadi questioned the authenticity of Goffe’s Louis Vuitton bag, though she couldn’t say for sure whether it was real or fake. The color of the lining isn’t true to the original, she noted; the handles don’t feel like leather; the pattern matching on the seams isn’t perfect; and there is back-and-forth stitching where the seam ends under the tab.
We sent the bag back to Goffe, who made a separate attempt to authenticate it. Without disclosing that she writes for Forbes, she took the bag to the Louis Vuitton store in Seattle and asked if they could repair a scuff on the binding, figuring that they wouldn’t touch a knockoff. The saleswoman looked at it closely and said it was the real deal–an older style that is no longer made.
“She inspected it closely (inside, outside, the lining and in the pockets),” Goffe reported, including the serial number pressed into the felt just above the pocket which would indicate where and when the bag was made. “It was worn off so she couldn’t read it clearly, but based on the overall wear on the bag, the wear on the serial number was normal.” Ordinarily, Louis Vuitton could have redone the piping for $175 but not in this case because the vinyl was cracked, creating the risk of further cracking when they re-piped the seams.
The plot thickened. Could it be that the previous owner had the bag repaired, but not by Louis Vuitton (given how much they charge for those services)? That would explain why the handles weren’t made of the same material as the leather tab at the end of the zipper. In an older bag, with leather handles, they would have shown wear. So maybe the owner had the handles replaced with synthetic ones, which are more durable.
All this suggested that the bag was not a counterfeit–instead call it “custom modified.” Oh the places it might have been before landing in the San Francisco consignment shop. And if only it could talk!
Addendum: Although the bag can’t speak for itself, three days after this article was published Sally A. Carlson, an executive recruiter with Equinox Search in San Francisco, contacted us to speak for it. Carlson, who says she consigned the bag to Zander late last year, wrote in an e-mail that she bought the bag at the Louis Vuitton boutique on Union Square in San Francisco in 2007 and that it has never been altered. She also sent us a receipt showing that she paid $1,120 for it.
How To Spot A Fake Louis Vuitton: 10 Questions to AskTrain your eye to spot a counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag by looking at the real thing in person – at a boutique or an authorized dealer. Susan Scafidi, who heads the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, put these three bags side-by-side to demonstrate the differences. Can you tell which one is the fake? (We'll tell you on the last slide.) To read the full story and watch the video, click here.
1. Leather or not? Many Louis Vuitton bags are made of coated canvas, but the trim is leather. Before making a purchase, familiarize yourself with the style that interests you. If the trim is supposed to be leather, it should feel dry — not oily, slippery or sticky.
2. Is the stitching even? It should be perfect.
3. Are there sloppy spots? There should be no back-and-forth stitching – that's a sign of sloppy construction that doesn't meet Louis Vuitton's high standards. Examine the bag carefully for this sign of a possible counterfeit. In this example, there is back and forth stitching under the tab.
4. Does the pattern match? Look closely at the matching of the pattern in the outside seams. A company like Louis Vuitton, which values its logo, wouldn't divide the letters in a seam. And where the pattern appears on either side of the seam, it should match precisely.
5. What color is the lining? It should be precisely the same shade as the real thing--not a close approximation.
6. How does the hardware feel? It should be heavy — not hollow. If it's imprinted with the Louis Vuitton name or logo, make sure it's supposed to be.
7. Are there imperfections in the print? This style, celebrating Japanese cherry blossoms, was a collaboration between Louis Vuitton's creative director Marc Jacobs, and the artist Takashi Murakami, known, among other things, for his whimsical smiley faces. In the counterfeit shown here, the brown toile peaks through the pink--something that doesn't happen in the original.
8. Does anything else raise suspicion? This bag has leather trim, but there's coloring outside the dark pink border on the blossom.
9. Does the whole thing hang together? Don't be fooled by the presence of a hang tag. Anyone who can counterfeit a handbag can fake that, too.
10. Where was it made? Some counterfeiters routinely mark Louis Vuitton knockoffs "Made in France." But as it happens, this cherry blossom line was made in Spain.
If you guessed that the bag on the right is the real Louis Vuitton, good for you. But it's easy to be fooled by a fake, like the one on the left.
Michael Kors established his brand in 1981 designing clothes and has since extended into jewellery and timepieces. His designs capture the luxurious chic for which his brand is famed.
He has A list celebrities wearing his designs and is constantly featured in glossy magazines such as Vogue and Elle.
Paris Hilton and Jennifer Anniston sporting Michael Kors Watches.
Celebrities just can’t get enough of Michael Kors at the moment.
His favourite gal pals are Heidi Klum, Mary J Blige, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones and Jennifer Hudson, but many other celebs are now fully appreciating Michael Kors on a regular basis on the red carpet.
Natalie Portman turned a few of his dresses into maternity looks during Awards Season, Leighton Meester showed off her sultry side in Michael Kors for “The Roommate” LA Premiere, Catherine Zeta Jones shunned British designers to collect her CBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in Michael Kors, plus Michelle Obama has Michael Kors on rotation for several official engagements.
Since then the floodgates have opened.
We’ve seen Michael Kors on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, the Met Gala, the CFDA Fashion Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, the Tony Awards, the Annual amfAR Inspiration Gala plus several premieres and Letterman show appearances in-between.
Why the extra celebrity love?
It’s hard to pinpoint as Michael Kors still creates all America classic pieces which appeal to all types of women. His collections have timeless looks with plenty of sex appeal or if you prefer a sporty edge.
You can wear Michael Kors in the boardroom, during a weekend at the Hamptons, dinner uptown and most definitely on the red carpet as showcased by these gorgeous gals.
With the new season comes a fresh crop of bags that will help brighten your wardrobe and change the winter blues into something a bit more light and lovely. Michael Kors already has a major grasp on the handbag market, and what I love to see is the continued move towards creating beautiful bags. Earlier we told you the MICHAEL Michael Kors Selma bag is the best thing on the market under $400, and today I’m telling you that celebrities and yours truly alike are loving the Michael Kors Miranda Bag.
From Jessica Chastain, to Amy Adams, to Heidi Klum, to Zoe Saldana, to Karolina Kurkova, the Miranda bag from the Spring 2013 collection has been getting tons of love. It’s easy to see why; the shape is classic and has a little Celine-esque feel to it. What I like most is Michael’s ability to have his own take on the popular shape with a few highly noticeable MK touches. The inside is lined with suede and has three pockets while the outside features a functional tie closure detail. The leather options include natural grained leather, cracked leather, pebbled leather and metallics, and the bag comes in a variety of colors. Buy for $1,195 via Michael Kors.
If you’ve tried to track down a MICHAEL Michael Kors Selma Satchel in the past few months, then you already know that the bag is one of Kors’ biggest bag hits ever – the best colors vanished from stores almost immediately, and pretty soon, even neutrals were scarce. We’ve noticed new shipments of the tote, which we’ve loved from the outset, arriving in stores recently, so now’s a good time to start looking again if you’ve wanted one of these very well-priced bags. Another reason to start shopping? The bag now comes in
colorblocked versions, both neon and trendy black-and-white.
The neon-panelled bags, which have black gussets, are a little bit smaller than the original solid-color version, and for good reason: no one needs that much neon. At their more petite size, the bags make a slick, modern summer option, complete with a crossbody strap for easy carry. The black-and-white version is the same size as the solid bags, which makes it a great choice for work-to-weekend wear. All the versions come in sturdy saffiano leather, and it’s hard to beat this bag for the money. (Want the black-and-white in a smaller size? Don’t worry, it comes in a petite version as well.)
Experience designer style on an everyday basis with Michael Kors watches New York designer Michael Kors made waves with his first line of women's ready-to-wear in the early '80s. The Michael Kors collection used clean lines to create an allusion of simple sophistication. In a world of fashion theatrics, the Michael Kors brand continues to produce timeless luxury goods. Michael Kors watches feature the same great details and enduring style as his apparel and make a great addition to your jewelry wardrobe. Keep reading for a complete list of the best reasons to buy Michael Kors watches.
Buying a Michael Kors Watch:
Rugby stripes, bold blocks of color, digital prints of clouds and pools, hints of the mod 1960s. The words Michael Kors used for
his Spring show were "geometric glamour." The collection had a crisp look and feel, for sure; what it lacked was enough of Kors' trademark sizzle.
With Marc Jacobs taking his own spin through the sixties and stripes getting major play on the Tommy Hilfiger and Belstaff runways, this lineup put Kors
squarely in the center of things this season. That's a point in his favor. So are covetable items like a one-piece tank suit with zips on the sides, a white plonge leather shirtdress with gold snap closures, and trim coats in primary brights. A men's chesterfield put smiles on the faces in the front row close
enough to see that it was made from terry cloth.
Overall, though, there weren't enough of those sit-up-and-take-notice moments. Until the end, that is, when Karlie Kloss slinked down the runway in a black double-face crepe dress with a cutout harness bodice. That girl knows how to sizzle.