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The well-oiled Saks Inc. rumor mill has gone quiet.

There was the initial flurry of stories after it became known the luxe department store company hired Goldman Sachs to explore its options and possibly a sale.

Every once in a great while the fashion industry hits a sleepy patch and a week passes when nobody says much of anything -- at least in a public forum that we can scrutinize.
Richard Baker -- a real estate executive turned retailer -- has found a kindred spirit in the Hudson's Bay Co.
My first day as a reporter at WWD was right after the Fourth of July in 2000. I spent the long weekend out of town and had to take this horribly early bus back into the city.

As the stilettoed crowd prepares to pack into the tents at Lincoln Center next week, let's freshen up on what's changed and what hasn't since the last fashion conclave.

How's the consumer?

It's a question that economists and corporate bigwigs ask each other all the time. Is she buying? What's she buying? What's the latest consumer confidence number? Is unemployment rising? How much are families spending on gas? Kids' clothes? Cable? IPhones? Where are they going to shop?

How much is too much?

It's a tricky question when it comes to executive compensation.

The big worry right now is retail this year is going to be something like the San Diego's Big Bay Boom bust. The city's Fourth of July fireworks went off early and all at once and were over in about 15 seconds. There was a bright flash, lots of smoke and a disappointed crowd.

Price promotions are most often described as a drug -- just its shoppers getting the high and retailers getting the addiction.

For years there have been murmurs, whispers and fears on Seventh Avenue that China was not content to be fashion's manufacturing muscle, that one of the country's powerhouse producers would turn the tide and start exporting its brand to the rest of the world.
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