the Insiders


csr_source.jpgAs someone who has spent much of my career figuring out or writing about how to make clothes, it was encouraging to see the stiff-upper-lip attitude from a theater full of more than 130 manufacturing executives at the WWD Sourcing & Supply Chain Forum.

Certainly the speakers were brutally honest about how difficult it is out there. It's tough to find a stable place to manufacture their merchandise, given the political instability around the world. It's hard to negotiate the right price, given the volatility of labor conditions in places like China and Pakistan and the global economic turmoil that affects currency rates, shipping costs and credit availability. It's also risky to employ factories in countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, where poverty and climatic conditions threaten production on a regular basis.

The paparazzi may have to look for another hunting ground.

Retailing in Los Angeles and environs is being slammed in the recession and even celebrity-friendly shopping streets like Robertson Boulevard are feeling it. Dozens of specialty retailers have closed across the metro area and others are shrinking.
As a veteran of H&M designer collection launches, I've been pushed, shoved, elbowed, prodded, mauled, stepped on and bear-hugged by none other than Roberto Cavalli, who enveloped me in his arms during the November 2007 debut of his line at the retailer's Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan.

That particular event stands out for the level of frenzy and sheer absurdity of celebrity worship Cavalli fans displayed. Shoppers climbed on top of displays and stripped mannequins of their clothing, picked racks clean of gold lame gowns and zebra print dresses, and grabbed merchandise indiscriminately out of the hands of sales associates who were trying to restock the floor.

When Cavalli pulled up to the store in a black Town Car and dropped his cigar on the ground, a woman on line wasted no time in picking it up and tossing it into a Ziploc bag -- she said she planned to sell it on eBay.

One of the most unsettling things about economic booms is the knowledge, bitterly reinforced in the past year, that one day the bubble is going to burst. Similarly, it's one of the few consolations in an economic decline that it, too, will end one day and that recovery will at some point become unstoppable and undeniable.

WWD recently asked a lot of very smart people when the recovery would begin and what would precipitate it. Not surprisingly, few were able to predict the "when" and "what" with much certainty or commitment, and a few even had the candor to admit they had no idea. One source, who politely opted out when asked for an on-the-record comment, said, "The patient will get better when he stops being so sick."

LOS ANGELES -- Guess Inc. co-founder Georges Marciano...for governor of California?

Well, stranger things have happened in Golden State politics. Remember, California is the state that elected as governor a former B-movie actor and General Electric TV pitchman -- as well as Screen Actors Guild president -- named Ronald Reagan.
contributions by Sarah Haight

Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour

Compiling a list of illegal or simply ill-advised antics on the parts of supermodels and athletes may not fall under an obvious fashion beat, but after the bullets flew at Gisele Bÿndchen and Tom Brady's Costa Rican second wedding last weekend, we were compelled to take a look back at some of the more egregious examples of fashion and sports stars' bad behavior.

We divvied up the categories -- ladies, Sarah; gents, Jessica -- and embarked on a hilarious and, at times, truly horrifying online trip through mugshots and headlines.

It's show-and-tell time for executive paychecks.

And with profits and shareholder value falling in the recession, those pay stubs are coming under intense scrutiny.
Poppy Delevigne and Julia Restoin Roitfeld try out Topshop wares.
There's a huge halo hanging over Topshop's first U.S. store.

After days of celebrity packed parties, viral hype, guerrilla marketing and distributing discounts and cheese biscuits in the streets, the 40,000-square-foot SoHo emporium opened Thursday to big crowds, predominantly teenage and twentysomething girls -- an audience of intrepid shoppers and fashion bloggers keeping up on the latest trends. Whether traffic patterns hold up sufficiently over time remains to be seen.

Colton and Bernard at their wedding at San Francisco City Hall in 2004.
After the double suicide last month of Harry Bernard and Roy Colton, two longtime San Francisco-based marketing consultants and headhunters, I heard whispers their deaths weren't as "operatic and romantic" as was initially portrayed, and there was a darker side to the couple.

I'd known Bernard and Colton for over 20 years and had frequently interviewed Bernard for stories. He gave insightful (although sometimes long-winded) quotes and always seemed to be knowledgeable about industry developments, whether or not he was working with the company in question. But in recent years, I would hear less and less from Bernard, who had suffered from a bout with cancer.

miracle-mile.jpgIf knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em is the key to gambling success, Sin City might have misjudged its bet on luxury retail.

Reinvention has long been among Las Vegas' strengths and the construction cranes that hover over the Strip are symbolic of the city's ability to recast itself: a desert boomtown, gangsters' paradise, cheap getaway, family friendly playground, haven for bacchanal and an outpost of preeminent hospitality, dining and shopping. 
ciara.jpgWednesday's fashion feature story explored Ciara's superhero style, but in her WWD interview, the singer revealed another, more personal reason for her superhero fascination of late.

"There's so much negative energy in the world, especially within the blogging world," Ciara said. "They try so hard to tear you down. [With the superhero concept] it's like, 'I refuse to let you and that negative energy tear me down or stop any blessing that I know is there for me. That's when the inner superhero comes out."

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