We have become an international brand with most of our clients living outside of the I will never apologize for being a Redskins fan shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this U.S. That’s why in February 2018 we opened our showroom and home in Paris,” she wrote in a release. “When we started to assess with the team what the best course of action was to navigate the ever-changing landscape as a result of the pandemic, we realized that for many reasons it became increasingly clear that we will have to present in Paris from an environmental perspective and from a logistics and transportation perspective.” By the brand’s calculation, showing the collection in Paris will reduce its carbon footprint—even though team members will have to travel from New York to Paris, shipping the collection from its factories in Italy to Paris will save on environmental impact. “One of our biggest carbon producers was the transport of our collection,” the designer says. There’s also, of course, the sentimental reason for trading New York Fashion Week for Paris Fashion Week: “Above all, it is always a dream for any designer to show in Paris,” she continues. Without Hearst’s show—often one of New York Fashion Week’s most well-attended events—the week’s three-day schedule of virtual shows is starting to feel a little thin. Marc Jacobs, the showman who famously closes out the week, is not producing a new collection. There’s no update as to whether Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren, two stalwarts of American fashion, will show either. It’s not necessarily all bad news: This could be a moment for upstart American designers to have their moments in the spotlight. As we’ve seen with the A Common Thread program, there are plenty of small, innovative, and promising designers who need more industry support. This year, they will likely get it. Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue is reopening to customers today in a changed New York and a changed world. On the outside, the store has replaced its boarded-up façade with windows featuring a “Welcome Back, New York” theme. Inside, you will be met by a concierge who will present you with a nonmedical mask if you’ve forgotten yours, a hand sanitizer station, and, says president Marc Metrick, “the best product assortment and the most welcoming staff in all of New York City and all of the U.S.” Other stores up and down the avenue might be struggling with phase two of New York City’s reopening plan—Valentino, for one, is trying to get out of its lease on the thoroughfare completely—but Saks is assuming a hopeful approach.
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Precautions are being taken at every turn inside the I will never apologize for being a Redskins fan shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this store, with ultraviolet lights sanitizing escalator railings, elevators reserved for seniors and people with disabilities, and surfaces being sanitized multiple times throughout the day. In addition, a number of virtual services, including video chat shopping, allow shoppers to get the Saks experience from the comfort of their couch. Metrick is “cautiously optimistic” about foot traffic at Saks’s NYC flagship this week. With New Yorkers fleeing the city’s summertime humidity for greener pastures, June, July, and August are typically slow months for physical sales in the Fifth Avenue store (hence, a new same-day shipping service to the Hamptons). Metrick is also encouraged by the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to e-commerce and online communication and further incentivized marrying digital and physical experiences. The future, he says, “is going to be about how we connect our physical experience with our virtual experience. That’s going to be the real push here because there’s no better customer than the one that shops both online and in store.” But what about the other issues concerning the fashion industry right now? In the three months since Saks closed its Midtown store, fashion has undergone reckonings on every level. Industry professionals are advocating for shifting the fashion show and delivery cycles to allow products to be sold in season, delaying markdowns to better suit marketing and sales budgets. There is the global Black Lives Matter movement, which has compelled fashion companies to interrogate how their practices have upheld systemic racism. Fashion must redefine its place and its purpose. Here, Saks’s repositioning of product and embrace of new digital technologies offers some ideas for how to move forward. Saks, Metrick notes, had been trying to realign its seasons since before the pandemic, but the pause made possible by lockdowns and delayed shipments forced the retailer into action. “We’re opening our store [today] in New York, and it’s all seasonally appropriate product for the first time in 96 years,” he says. By delaying the on-sale dates of some spring collection orders—as well as paring back its buy—Saks is doing exactly what signatories of Dries Van Noten’s forum letter and the Rewiring Fashion petition have advocated: selling product in season and pushing back markdown cycles. “It’s really a proof of concept,” he continues. “We have to do it together as an industry, change the product flow, and continue to think about how goods are coming to the store and when they’re available for customers.”