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Are Canadians Too Welcoming of American Retailers?

It's beginning to feel as though the swarm of stores invading Canada from the States will never end. J. Crew, Marshall's, Ann Taylor, Bloomingdales, Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Nordstrom are just a few of the Goliaths that have been spurred by the stronger Canadian dollar to set up shop next to your local Roots, whether we want them here or not.

Chico's is the latest to park its truck at the Canadian border in anticipation of entry as the clothing retailer announced today its highest fourth-quarter earnings since 2005 and plans to roll out more stores, both domestic and offshore. In a conference call with analysts, CEO David Dyer said that the retailer is expanding in Canada, which he says is a "natural expansion."

"We believe Canada is a great first foray into the international arena for Chico’s FAS, as it represents a natural extension of our brands," said Dyer. "In fact, from our robust customer information, we already know that there is significant number of Chico’s FAS customers in Canada. We expect those customers to welcome our White House Black Market and Chico’s stores into their neighbourhoods."

For those of you not familiar with Chico's (I can't say I've ever shopped there), it targets the 25 to 55, I guess, professional working woman. Kind of your Ann Taylor/Klein crowd. Dyer adds that three stores will open in Canada in late 2013 under its White House Black Market banner, and in 2014, more stores will be set up under the larger Chico’s banner. Maybe we should have expected this sooner since White House Black Market already has a popular Canadian face fronting its campaigns.

Interestingly, as Chico's prepares to move in, many Canadian stores targeting similar 25 to 55 demographics are moving out. Perhaps you'll remember the disappearance of Toronto-based women's chain Tabi in late 2011? Then there's also the Montreal-based Le Chateau who, in recent months, has been reporting dwindling sales and struggling to stay above water. And then there's Sears, not a Canadian chain per se, but a staple in any mall across the country that has been here for 60 years.

Sears is facing big competition from Target, who will be opening 24 stores in Ontario this month and 124 in total across Canada. Making a last ditch effort to save themselves from a bloodbath of red and white bullseyes, Sears recently responded by releasing all kinds of updated semi-hip ad campaigns. You can check one out below and then compare it with Target's almost four-minute ad, which aired in a primetime spot in the middle of last week's Oscars.

Is Sears' attempt to attract younger consumers a case of too little, too late? Maybe they deserve to be Target's primary, um, target given their rather inflated prices (yeah, I said it). But then again, Sears' shortcoming aside, is our rolling out the welcome mat for all American retailers a good thing for Canadian consumers? Sound off in the comments below.

Image via White House Black Market

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The Ones to Watch: Meet the Finalists for the National Designer Award 2013

Those wanting a glimpse into the future of Australian fashion need look no further than the list of finalists shortlisted for L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival’s National Designer Award 2013.

Each one of the five finalists is given a $2000 cash prize, but it’s the prestige of the award that helps each shortlisted designer swim to the top of a very crowded pool of talent. This year the ones to watch are From Britten (Victoria), Kathryn Baker (Victoria), Livia Arena (Victoria), Lui Hon (Victoria) and Michael Lo Sordo (New South Wales). The finalists will present their work to a judging panel including Harper’s Bazaar Fashion Features Editor Clare Maclean and last year’s winner Christopher Esber in the hopes of winning a $1000 cash prize and editorial support in Harper's Bazaar, amongst other business-friendly incentives. 

Clearly, Victoria is blazing right now as a hotbed of young design talent, but Sydney has more than its share of rich creative talent in Lo Sordo. His show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia saw Susie Lau and Candice Lake pull up front row seats, and shortly after he jetted to Milan to tempt buyers and press at Italy’s international textile fair Milano Unica.

Those who have scored the top prize previously include Dion Lee, Josh Goot, Romance Was Born and Toni Maticevski. Winner-turned-judge Christopher Esber went on to deliver a MBFWA collection so strong he was invited by IMG to show in New York.

Images: L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival

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Link Buzz: Frida Giannini Had a Baby; Time to Adjust to New Isabel Marant It Shoes

  • Frida Giannini successfully birthed a girl, it's crazy when that happens. [Fashionologie]
  • The best Oxford flats are the ones in the link, if you click through. [FabSugar]
  • Bradley Cooper didn't even want your stupid Oscar. [HaveUHeard]
  • Here's a beauty look which you can do to your own face all.the.time. [BellaSugar]
  • Now that Beyonce went and ruined Isabel Marant's wedge sneakers, there's a new It shoe for everyone to go gush about. [SheFinds]

Image via WENN

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Rumor: Kendall Jenner Gets the Cover of Harper’s Bazaar

Mere Seventeen mag brand ambassador no more, Harper's Bazaar will likely soon legitimize Kendall Jenner's modeling career with a cover, according to the 17-year-old's Instagram. A couple days ago, she posted the photo above with the accompanying caption: 

at an amazing photoshoot for Harper's Bazaar …. shooting the COVER and an inside spread! so so excited! #NoWords

Seventeen is a personality-driven lifestyle publication for teen girls and Kendall is appropriate-ish for the brand. But Bazaar is supposed to be a "serious" fashion glossy; Bazaar is supposed to be about clothes. Kendall's a cute girl, but there are a lot of cute girls with modeling contracts. This one's riding the coattails of sister Kim Kardashian's tabloid and reality TV fame, which was founded in large part on a sex tape.

#NoWords indeed, Harper's Bazaar. Well okay, maybe just this one: #classy. 

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What’s Missing from Paris Fashion Week? The Answer’s in This Vintage Dior Fashion Video

Wanted to post this blast-from-the-past-y video of Christian Dior's 1969 "Fur Fashion Show" in London [via Fashin].

Yes, for many people, it seems both unethical and disgusting to drape your body in 25 pounds of dead chinchilla (and it's hard to imagine a normal non-heiress type person wearing something like this today in earnest, without getting grossed out), but this was a long time ago (I know even vintage fur is controversial for wearing, but maybe watching vintage fur fashion fashion shows can be okay?), and Dior's modern-day fur products are far worse. Like: ew

Anyway, I know designers typically don't want anything to distract from the clothes (why we see so much austere, sameish stomping during fashion week), but this runway show incorporated an usual performance which made the collection's gaudy fur pelts only more appealing. In the words of the narrator in the newsreel below, "It was more like a cabaret than a fashion show, but that's no cause for complaint: It was the most expensively-dressed cabaret of all time!"


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Get the Timeless Oscars Look with Project D for Simply Be

The red carpet of red carpets has to be at the Oscars, and this year we were delighted that quite a few of those leading ladies, such as Jessica Chastain, had reverted back to that age old glamorous golden era dressing. You have to agree that it’s hard to beat a look that emulates the classical dressing of Hollywood’s former leading ladies like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn.

As golden era dressing seemed quite the reemerging trend, we were extra excited to discover that former X Factor style icon Dannii Minogue and Tabitha Somerset Webb's Project D brand have just teamed up with the high street retailer Simply Be to create a timeless Spring 2013 line. Glamour, elegance and timeless appeal are always key to Project D’s designs, and as they are now collaborating with Simply Be, it means that we can achieve that Golden era Hollywood look at high street prices — with price tags ranging between £60 and £150.

Their Simply Be range is inspired by iconic silhouettes, and as Simply Be caters to the curvier figure, you can of course expect to find some hourglass figure-hugging dresses within the line. Above left, the black Marilyn-esque dress costs £120, and on the right, the versatile polka dot dress would set you back £100. 

Project D’s own line will of course cost you at least double the price of their Simply Be range, but if you’ve got a special occasion on the horizon and you're  looking to spend that little bit more, then the Admiral LBD complete with embellished bolero detail, £213, would be a great way to emulate Audrey Hepburn. If you were totally won over by Jessica’s Oscars’ look, then the gold asymmetric Itala gown, £416, is the one for you! 

Images: Adriana M. Barraza/, Simply Be, Project D

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