Sephora closes for half-day diversity training after SZA claims she was racially profiled

May 25, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

On the morning of June 5, 2019, beauty-store company Sephora is temporarily closing all of its U.S. retail stores, distribution centers and corporate offices for a diversity-training program for company employees. The decision came after R&B singer SZA (whose real name is Solána Rowe) went public with an accusation that she was racially profiled by Sephora. According to SZA, the incident happened on April 30, 2019, while she was shopping at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California. SZA says that she had security called on her because she was wrongfully suspected of shoplifting.

SZA tweeted that day, “Lmao Sandy Sephora location 614 Calabasas called security to make sure I wasn’t stealing . We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy.”

In response to SZA’s complaint, Sephora tweeted: “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores.”

In a statement on its community page, Sephora announced: “On the morning of 6/5, every Sephora store, distribution center, and corporate office in the US will close to host inclusion workshops for our employees. These values have always been at the heart of Sephora, and we’re excited to welcome everyone when we reopen. Join us in our commitment to a more inclusive beauty community.

Ironically, SZA says she was at Sephora to shop for Fenty Beauty products. SZA was part of Fenty’s lipstick campaign in 2017. Fenty founder Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, sent a gift card and a handwritten note to SZA that read, “Go buy yo’ Fenty Beauty in peace sis! One love, Rihanna.” SZA shared these messages on an Instagram Story.

SZA is best known for her collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for the song “All the Stars” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack. The song was nominated for numerous awards, including an Oscar and a Grammy.

This isn’t the first accusation of discrimination that Sephora has faced on social media. There are dozens of messages from angry customers who claim that they were racially profiled as potential criminals, even though they say they didn’t do anything wrong.  Sephora has also been getting complaints on social media about discriminating against customers over the age of 40 and customers who have physical and intellectual challenges, by treating them rudely and dismissively. It looks like it took a celebrity to go public with a discrimination complaint before Sephora tried to do anything about it.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show canceled from television

May 10, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Models at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York City (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC)

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been canceled—at least on television. According to the New York Times, L Brands (the company that owns Victoria’s Secret) announced in an internal memo on May 10, 2019, that the famous lingerie show featuring numerous supermodels will no longer be airing on television.

L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner said in the memo that the company had been “taking a fresh look at every aspect of our business” in the past few months, and noted that Victoria’s Secret  “must evolve and change to grow … With that in mind, we have decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Going forward we don’t believe network television is the right fit.” He said the company would develop “a new kind of event” for Victoria’s Secret but did not elaborate on any further details.

It’s the latest blow to Victoria’s Secret, which has been experiencing declining sales and store closures.

TV ratings for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have also been on a rapid decline. The show, which debuted in 1995, wasn’t televised until 2001, when it got 12.4 million U.S. viewers on ABC. It remains the highest-rated Victoria’s Secret show for a single TV network, according to Nielsen. CBS televised the show in 2002, 2003 and from 2005 to 2017. During those years, the ratings ranged from 10.5 million U.S. viewers (in 2002) to 5 million U.S. viewers (in 2017). ABC picked up the show in 2018, when it had 3.3 million U.S viewers.

It’s likely that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show will continue and will have an online platform where people can watch the show.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Other Music’

May 5, 2019

by Carla Hay

“Other Music” (Photo by Robert M. Nielsen)

“Other Music”

Directed by Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 26, 2019.

Brick-and-mortar retail stores that sell music—just like video stores and places to develop film—are a dying breed that the Internet and other digital technology have been killing off since the mid-2000s. From 1995 to 2016, Other Music was an independent music store located in New York City’s East Village. The store had a reputation for being a place that championed obscure and non-mainstream music, but Other Music also carried releases from popular artists, with an emphasis on releases that might not be that easy to find. The documentary “Other Music” is a respectful, nostalgic history of the store, including a behind-the-scenes look at the final days before Other Music closed for good on June 25, 2016.

Other Music’s financial woes weren’t just caused by the Internet. Like many other independent retailers in high-priced urban cities, Other Music (which stayed in the same location throughout its 21-year run) couldn’t keep up with the rising rents in the area. But the store’s history is truly a reflection of what was going on in the music business at the time. Other Music was co-founded by Chris Vanderloo, Josh Madell and Jeff Gibson, at a time (the mid-‘90s) when alternative/indie rock was at the height of its commercial appeal. Vanderloo and Madell were former employees of Kim’s Underground Video, an independently run video store in New York City.

In the documentary, Vanderloo is described as the most customer-oriented; he was the Other Music owner who was most likely to be mingling with store customers. Madell was the managerial taskmaster, who was the most involved in employee hiring and training, as well as community outreach and setting up in-store performances. Gibson was the one who was the most enthusiastic about discovering new music—the more obscure, the better. In 2001, Gibson left Other Music and moved to Belgium, where his wife is from, and he declined to participate in the documentary.

The documentary mentions that, at first, many people thought it was crazy for Other Music to open directly across the street from the East Village location of Tower Records, the music-store behemoth that was considered one of the most powerful music retailers in the U.S. for decades. But it turns out that both stores had overlapping customers, and Tower Records’ foot traffic helped Other Music, which was a place to find releases that Tower Records might not have. Ironically, Other Music would outlast Tower Records (which closed all its U.S. operations in 2006), as well as other corporate music retailers that shut down in the U.S., such as Virgin Megastore and HMV. TransWorld-owned music retailers Musicland, Sam Goody, The Wherehouse and Camelot Music also went out of business years before Other Music did.

Other Music was the kind of store that strived to keep its anti-corporate image intact. The store’s labels and signs were hand-written. Most of the inventory was from independent record companies. The store prided itself on having employees who were extremely knowledgeable about non-mainstream music and weren’t shy about making recommendations to customers. But all of that led to Other Music having a “hipster snob” reputation that was a turnoff and intimidated some people, which the documentary rightfully acknowledges. A few of the employees interviewed also admit that they would be impatient and give attitude to customers if they thought the customers didn’t know much about music.

The film predictably includes a number of celebrities who mostly praise Other Music. Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore opens the movie with this glowing statement about Other Music: “Per square meter, it probably had more interest value than any other shop I’d ever been in, in the world.” Oscar-winning actor Benicio del Toro says that shopping at Other Music was “almost like a religious experience.” Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig, former Le Tigre member JD Sampson, and Animal Collective singer Avey Tare are among the other artists who share fond memories of Other Music.

A few celebrities, such as Jason Schwartzman and Regina Spektor, admit that although they were fans of Other Music, they often felt like their musical tastes were being judged by the staff. Spektor explains that she always had a feeling of “first-day-of-school nervousness” when she shopped at Other Music, because she didn’t want to feel embarrassed. The National lead singer Matt Berninger said that if people felt uncomfortable shopping at Other Music because of the “snob” factor, it was because Other Music “set the bar high” when it came to musical taste. “They should celebrate stuff that’s better-than-average.”

One of the best things about the Other Music documentary is that is gives a spotlight to some of the store’s unsung heroes. Even though Other Music carried a wide variety of music, it still had an image of being dominated by indie rock. It might come as a surprise to many people who see this film that Other Music’s staff was a lot more diverse than the stereotypical white male music nerd, even though the store’s owners/bosses and many of the employees fit that stereotype. There were plenty of female staffers there too (although they don’t get as much screen time in the movie as the male staffers) and some people of color (usually male) who worked at Other Music. Most of the employees describe themselves as music fanatics and misfits who wouldn’t do well if they had to work at a regular 9-to-5 office job. It’s mentioned in the documentary that it was hard to get a job at Other Music because the standards for music knowledge were high and the employee turnover was relatively low. Co-owner Madell said that if employees got fired, it was often because of chronic tardiness.

Many people in the documentary mention Duane Harriott (a black man) as Other Music’s best employee. Harriott, who worked at Other Music from 1997 to 2008, is interviewed in the film, and he says of Other Music: “It wasn’t just a record store. It was a community center.” He also says he was largely responsible for building Other Music’s hip-hop inventory “from scratch.” Harriott is praised by many people in the documentary for his encyclopedic music knowledge and his sales skills—he had a gift of gab with customers, and he loved to tell trivia factoids and stories about artists, which often resulted in people buying music that they originally didn’t intend to buy.

Many of the employees of Other Music were also musicians, and they were encouraged to promote their own music in the store. One former employee, an African American identified in the movie only as Beans, was notorious for relentlessly suggesting that customers buy his music. Beans, who’s interviewed in the movie, freely admits that he was one of those Other Music employees who would get impatient and give attitude to customers if he thought they seemed clueless. Even though he admits this flaw, he’s also clearly one of Other Music’s most loyal employees: He’s seen in the documentary being one of the last employees to stay behind to help clear out the store after it permanently closed.

The documentary also interviews Vanderloo’s wife Lydia and Madell’s wife Dawn, who are perhaps the biggest unsung heroes of Other Music. The wives reveal that because they had more stable incomes than their husbands, the wives kept the business afloat for years when Other Music was losing money. In other words, if Vanderloo and Madell hadn’t been married to people who could give them money to keep the business going, the store would have closed years before 2016. The wives say that they and their husbands kept the business going because they felt obligated to Other Music’s customers and employees. But when they were losing so much money that the business no longer became sustainable, it was time to shut it down for good.

From the beginning, Other Music had issues with being cash-strapped. As Josh Madell says in documentary, the store didn’t pay most of its employees in its early years (the staff knowingly signed up as volunteers), and not even Lydia and Dawn were exempt from working for free. The wives talk about how their pre-marriage dates with their future husbands involved meeting at the store and being unpaid employees. A “dinner date” would be often be ordering pizza while they worked for free at the store.

The documentary also mentions how Other Music was affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which caused most businesses located in downtown Manhattan to be temporarily closed or severely limited in the weeks and sometimes months after the tragedy. William Basinski’s “DLP1.1” composition (one of his “disintegration loop” instrumental recordings) became Other Music’s unofficial anthem in dealing with aftermath of 9/11, according to the documentary. Other Music co-owner Madell says that the store had its biggest sales in the year 2000, and things never really recovered after 2001.

When Napster and other controversial file-sharing services began to eat away at the music industry’s profits, Other Music responded by launching its own digital music store without digital-rights management, but that wasn’t until 2007, when music retail was already in a major downward spiral, and iTunes was already dominating the online music market. Things also got worse for Other Music when corporate stores such as Best Buy had lower prices for CDs than what Other Music’s wholesalers/distributors would charge. Other Music had its own e-newsletter, and when that also shut down, the owners heard that Lou Reed was despondent over it. Other Music also launched its own record label in 2012.

Financial woes aside, Other Music’s biggest legacy is that it was a home for independent artists, many of whom weren’t mainstream enough for commercial radio or corporate chain stores. The documentary includes footage of in-store performances of artists such as Ghost, St. Vincent and Conor Oberst. Former employee Harriott says his most memorable Other Music performance was by the mysterious and elusive singer/songwriter Gary Wilson, who arrived at the store with a blanket over his face. Before his performance, Wilson poured talcum powder over himself and then performed wearing 3-D glasses.

The documentary also notes that in the aftermath of 9/11, the music community in New York City became more vibrant. It was during this period of time that the New York City music scene had LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Interpol, The National, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Other Music helped all of these acts before they broke through to larger audiences.

Although a few people (including Josh Madell) had tears in their eyes and understandably got emotional in the final days and hours before Other Music’s last day in business, the general feeling was one of positivity over all the great experiences they had because of Other Music. There’s plenty of nostalgia and wistfulness, because the closing of Other Music represents a bygone era when most people got their music by physically going to a store and combing through racks of vinyl records, cassettes or CDs. Many of the customers interviewed in the documentary talk about how they prefer the tangible feeling of holding albums in their hands, so that they can better appreciate the artwork or lyrics that came with the packaging.

People who’ve spent countless hours of their lives at a music store know that it’s become an increasingly rare experience to physically be at a store devoted to music where you can find those hidden gems or sought-out items to add to a collection. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common for small, independent businesses such as Other Music to not be able to survive online competitors, technology’s effects or rising rent.

The documentary ends with the “Other Music Forever” farewell concert that took place at the Bowery Ballroom on June 28, 2016. The event, hosted by Janeane Garofalo, included performances by Yoko Ono, Sharon Van Etten, Bill Callahan, Yo La Tengo, OM, Julianna Barwick and Frankie Cosmos. People who didn’t attend the concert can see a few snippets in the movie, as well as how Other Music co-owner Madell had to practically beg a modest Vanderloo to come up on stage.

“Other Music” co-directors Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller do a fine job of telling Other Music’s story in a cohesive and entirely conventional manner. There’s some use of animation, which can be hit-or-miss in a documentary, but it works well-enough in this movie because the animation is used sparingly. And although there are some celebrities and other world travelers who no doubt got to experience Other Music firsthand, the movie might not be compelling enough to watch for the average person who’s never heard of Other Music or has never even been to New York City.

And here’s why the movie might have a challenge in finding an audience that’s larger than those who care about a music store in New York City: Unfortunately, there are any number of beloved, independently owned music stores around the world that have closed over the years. Each store had its own unique impact on its community. Other Music just happened to be in America’s largest-populated city, so it had a bigger profile than most indie record stores. The people who have the most emotional attachment to Other Music are those who had a great experience there and/or those whose careers were affected by Other Music—and that’s a very niche audience indeed.

That’s not to say that the “Other Music” documentary isn’t worth watching, and you don’t have to be a former customer or employee to enjoy the movie. But people who never went to Other Music might have a harder time relating to and engaging in the documentary’s sentimental nostalgia over the store. The “Other Music” documentary would make a great double feature with “All Things Must Pass,” director Colin Hanks’ excellent 2015 documentary about the rise and fall of Tower Records, because, at the very least, the “Other Music” documentary shows how a scrappy underdog outlasted a corporate giant.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘What Will Become of Us’

May 5, 2019

by Carla Hay

Frank Lowy in "What Will Become of Us"
Frank Lowy in “What Will Become of Us” (Photo by Leon Moralić)

“What Will Become of Us”

Directed by Steven Cantor

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on May 2, 2019.

In the documentary “What Will Become of Us,” Frank Lowy, the billionaire founder of the Westfield corporation of shopping malls, has a dilemma: Should he sell his beloved business and go into retirement, or should he keep his business, which he plans to leave to his three sons? At first glance, this might seem like a movie about “rich people’s problems.” However, Lowy (who was born in 1930) has a much more emotionally riveting and fascinating story to tell in this film, which clocks in at a brisk 75 minutes.

Lowy, who was born in the country then known as Czechoslovakia, is not a spoiled heir who was handed his wealth by a privileged parent. He literally has a “rags to riches” story as a Jewish refugee of Nazis who invaded his country and tore his family apart. In “What Will Become of Us,” Lowy, accompanied by his biographer David Kushner, goes back to many of the sites from his childhood that still haunt him.

Growing up, Lowy was bullied and beaten up for being Jewish. His childhood experiences are still painful for him to remember, because he calls the country of his birth “a horrible place” with “sad memories.” From 1943 to 1945, Lowy and his family (his parents, his sister and his brother) lived in Budapest, Hungary. Lowy had a very close relationship with his father, who disappeared when Lowy was 14, during the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Lowy says he still grieves for his father, and he is at his most tearful in the documentary when talks about his father. Later on in the movie, Lowy finds out what finally happened to his long-lost father.

After fleeing Nazi-occupied Hungary, Lowy and his family went their separate ways. He lived in Palestine and Israel from 1946 to 1952. His sister married a lawyer in Australia, where his mother and brother eventually moved. Lowy later joined them in Australia in 1952, when he began his life as a business mogul in Sydney.

Lowy had humble beginnings in Australia, where he started off as a delivery boy. He saved up enough money to eventually buy a deli and a coffee shop, which he sold and used the money to buy real estate. His real-estate dealings evolved into the shopping-mall business that he is known for today. (In 1960, Lowy co-founded Westfield with John Saunders, who sold his interest in the company to Lowy years later.)

“What Will Become of Us” also delves into Lowy’s personal life. Married to his wife Shirley since 1964, Lowy describes their relationship as “love at first sight” for him when he met her at a Hanukkah party. He was 31, and she was 19 when they met, and they married 18 months later. It sounds like an ideal love story, but Shirley now has Alzheimer’s disease. As Frank describes it, “Physically, she’s there, but mentally she’s not.” She is interviewed in the movie, which shows some instances of her memory loss.

Frank also says that he’s been a hardcore workaholic for decades, so that might be why the documentary doesn’t really give much information about the relationships that he’s had with his three sons: Peter and Steven (the co-CEOs of Westfield) and David, a principal of the Lowy Family Group. All three sons are interviewed in the movie, but they don’t reveal anything about the family dynamics in running the business or how they deal with each other on a personal level. Although Frank is shown being a devoted husband tending to Shirley, one has to wonder how small of a fraction of time that is for him, compared to all the time he admits to spending on his business.

At the beginning of the movie, Frank says it’s “painful” for him to open up negotiations to sell Westfield. If you follow corporate business news, then you know what his decision was on whether or not to sell the company. “What Will Become of Us” isn’t really a window into how Westfield is run, but it’s a fairly effective attempt to make billionaire Frank Lowy look more human and emotionally vulnerable than the ruthless image that corporate moguls like him tend to have.

Adidas and Beyoncé announce multi-layered partnership

April 4, 2019

The following is a press release from Adidas:

Adidas and Beyoncé have announced a multi-layered partnership that will include inspiring and empowering the next generation of creators, driving positive change in the world through sport, and identifying new business opportunities.

“This is the partnership of a lifetime for me,” said Beyoncé. “Adidas has had tremendous success in pushing creative boundaries. We share a philosophy that puts creativity, growth and social responsibility at the forefront of business. I look forward to re-launching and expanding Ivy Park on a truly global scale with a proven, dynamic leader.”

Beyoncé and Adidas are natural partners, both with a deep respect for and commitment to creativity, equity and creators. Neither ascribes to the typical stereotypes of athletes and what athleisure clothing and footwear should be, and instead, will bring to life a shared vision of inclusion that will forever alter the opportunities and landscape for all.

The partnership will result in the co-creation of exciting new products – from performance to lifestyle – and a unique purpose-driven program focused on empowering and enabling the next generation of athletes, creators and leaders. Meaningful and rich storytelling will be the foundation for both Beyoncé’s collection with Adidas as well as the re-launch of her Ivy Park brand. This partnership respects Beyoncé’s ownership of her company which continues her journey as one of the first black women to be the sole owner of an athleisure brand.

“As the creator sports brand, Adidas challenges the status quo and pushes the limits of creativity through its open source approach. Beyoncé is an iconic creator but also a proven business leader, and together, we have the ability to inspire change and empower the next generation of creators,” said Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member – Global Brands, Adidas

Adidas is excited to welcome Beyoncé to the family!

About Adidas
Adidas is a global leader in the sporting goods industry with the core brands Adidas and Reebok. Headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany, the company employs 57,000 people across the globe and generated sales of around € 22 billion in 2018.

About Parkwood Entertainment
Parkwood Entertainment is an entertainment and management company founded by entertainer and entrepreneur, Beyoncé in 2010.  With headquarters in New York City the company houses departments in music and video production, management, marketing, digital, creative, philanthropy, publicity and a newly formed record label.  Under its original name, Parkwood Pictures, in 2008, the company released the film Cadillac Records (2008), in which Beyoncé starred and co-produced. The company also released the film, Obsessed (2009), with Beyoncé as star and executive producer. Parkwood Entertainment produced The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (2013-2014) and The Formation World Tour (2016), and co-produced the On the Run Tour (2014) and On the Run II (2018).

Victoria’s Secret business crisis: store shutdowns, PINK brand in decline

April 1, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

Models at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show in New York City (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC)

Victoria’s Secret is experiencing a very public meltdown. The world’s most famous lingerie brand is closing up to 53 stores in North America in 2019, due to a decline in sales. According to Business Insider, most of the stores are located in shopping malls, which have been experiencing their own major financial problems in recent years. Although Victoria’s Secret has swimwear and sportswear, the company’s core business is still lingerie. In November 2018, Victoria’s Secret Lingerie appointed John Mehas its CEO. He replaced Jan Singer, who was with the company for two years.

Meanwhile, PINK—the Victoria’s Secret brand targeted to millennials—has become a big flop. Jefferies analyst Randal Konik told investors that sales for PINK in fell in the “low double digits” for the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Business Insider. Konik gave investors this bleak view of PINK after he attended a PINK consumer event at New Jersey’s Rutgers University on March 29, 2019:  “Our visit to Rutgers University on 3/29 shows the PINK brand without fans and rudderless. We believe PINK sales may be cut in half or more within the next 12-24 months.”

It’s the latest financial problem for Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, which already experienced the shutdown of its Henri Bendel business in January 2019.

So why has Victoria’s Secret been losing so much business? In December 2018, Business Insider reported that it’s a combination of reasons, such as complaints about bad customer service, the declining quality of the clothes and the company’s alienating image that women are “sexy” only if they look like the thin women who are hired to be Victoria’s Secret models. It didn’t help that L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek told Vogue in 2018 that there were no plans for Victoria Secret to have plus-sized on transgender models, and that Victoria’s Secret was not going to add plus-sizes because L Brands already has retail brand Lane Bryant, whose specialty is plus-sized women’s clothing. (What he didn’t mention in the interview is that Lane Bryant is also experiencing financial difficulties and store closures.)

Simply put: In an era where consumers are demanding more inclusive representation, Victoria’s Secret has been increasingly perceived as old-fashioned, out-of-touch and over-priced.

TV ratings for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have also been on a rapid decline. The show, which debuted in 1995, wasn’t televised until 2001, when it got 12.4 million U.S. viewers on ABC. It remains the highest-rated Victoria’s Secret show for a single TV network, according to Nielsen. CBS televised the show in 2002, 2003 and from 2005 to 2017. During those years, the ratings ranged from 10.5 million U.S. viewers (in 2002) to 5 million U.S. viewers (in 2017). ABC picked up the show in 2018, when it had 3.3 million U.S viewers.

Here’s a partial list of the Victoria’s Secret stores that are confirmed to close in 2019, according to Business Insider:

  • Astoria, New York: 31-35 Steinway Street
  • Clay, New York: Great Northern Mall, 4155 NY-31
  • Washington, DC: 1050 Connecticut Avenue NW
  • Reston, Virginia: Reston Town Center, 11929 Market, Suite 50
  • Richmond, Virginia: Stony Point Fashion Park, 9200 Stony Point Parkway
  • Glen Allen, Virginia: Virginia Center Commons, 10101 Brook Road
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Myrtle Beach Mall, 10177 N. Kings Highway
  • Knoxville, Tennessee: West Town Mall, 7600 Kingston Pike
  • Jacksonville, Florida: Regency Square Mall, 9501 Arlington Expressway
  • Cedar Falls, Iowa: College Square Mall, 1 College Square Mall
  • Akron, Ohio: Chapel Hill Mall, 2000 Brittain Road
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: Tri-County Mall, 11700 Princeton Pike
  • Cleveland, Ohio: Tower City Center, 230 W. Huron Road
  • Elyria, Ohio: Midway Mall, 3433 Midway Mall

Karl Lagerfeld passes away: Fashion icon was creative force behind Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi designer labels

February 19, 2019

by Yvette Thomas

Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Karl Lagerfeld—the iconic fashion designer who was the longtime creative force behind Chanel, Fendi, Chloé and his own Karl Lagerfeld Paris label—died at the American Hospital of Paris in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine on February 19, 2019. The cause of death has not yet been officially revealed, but several media outlets are reporting that he had pancreatic cancer. Although his age at the time of his death has been widely reported as 85, the Associated Press reports that Lagerfeld had two birth certificates—one that lists his birth year as 1933 and the other as 1938—and it has not been verified which one is authentic.

Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld and Nicki Minaj in Elle’s July 2018 issue (Photo by Karl Lagerfeld)

What is known for sure is that Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany, to a successful industrialist father and a violinist mother. He went to school in Paris, and apprenticed at Balmain before joining Patou in 1965. Lagerfeld joined Fendi in 1965, and later became the Italian design company’s creative director. He then made his mark at French label Chloe, followed by his career high point as creative director of the legendary Chanel company, beginning in 1983.

Lagerfeld started his own eponymous fashion label (Karl Largerfeld Paris) in 1984, and remained its creative director after it was sold to the Tommy Hilfiger Company in 2005. In addition to being a fashion designer and entrepreneur, Lagerfeld was an author and photographer. At the height of his fame, he became known for his eccentric personal fashion style, which included wearing a ponytail, mostly black clothes and always wearing sunglasses and gloves in public. Even though he was widely admired in the fashion world, Lagerfeld also had his share of critics and made statements that were considered racially or culturally offensive. In August 2018, the New York Times published a blistering critique of Lagerfeld that questioned why more people weren’t boycotting his work because of offensive comments he has made over the years.

Lagerfeld, who was openly gay, never married and did not have children. However, he famously treated his Birman cat called Choupette as if she were a human child. Lagerfeld’s health had been the subject of speculation after he did not take his traditional final bow at Chanel’s fashion show in Paris on January 22, 2019.  Chanel’s studio director Virginie Viard walked in Lagerfeld’s place instead. Chanel announced after Lagerfeld’s death that Viard has been promoted and will replace him at Chanel. Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld Paris have not yet announced who will replace Lagerfeld at their respective companies. Lagerfled’s last Fendi collection will be shown in Milan, Italy, on February 21, 2019.

Charlotte Russe files for bankruptcy, announces store closings

February 4, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

Women’s fashion retailer Charlotte Russe has joined the growing list of financially troubled retailers that are closing stores after filing for bankruptcy. On February 4, 2019, Charlotte Russe announced plans to close 94 of its approximately 500 stores in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, according to Business Insider. The company is hoping to finder a buyer before February 17, 2019.* If no buyer is found, Charlotte Russe, which also owns children’s retailer Peek Kids, will likely liquidate all of its assets and close all its remaining stores. Business Insider reports that Charlotte Russe has received $50 million in debt relief to keep operating during its bankruptcy transition. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Charlotte Russe had more than 8,700 employees.

Here is the list of the first 94 Charlotte Russe stores that are closing because of the bankruptcy:

 

 

Alabama

Florence: Florence Mall, 301 Cox Creek Parkway

California

Arvin: 5701 Outlets at Tejon Parkway

Culver City: Westfield Culver City, 6000 Sepulveda Boulevard

Daly City: 288 Serramonte Center

Fairfield: 1350 Travis Boulevard

Irvine: 71 Fortune Drive

La Mesa: Grossmont Center, 5500 Grossmont Center

San Bernardino: 500 Inland Center Drive

San Jose: Westfield Oakridge, 925 Blossom Hill Road

Santa Ana: MainPlace Mall, 2800 North Main Place

Valencia: Westfield Valencia Town Center, 24201 West Valencia Blvd.

Westminster: Westminster Mall, 2150 East Westminster Mall

Colorado

Grand Junction: Mesa Mall, 2424 US Highway 6

Pueblo: Pueblo Mall, 3429 Dillon Drive

Connecticut

Meriden: Westfield Meriden Mall, 470 Lewis Avenue

Milford: Connecticut Post Mall, 1201 Boston Post Road

Ledyard: 4anger Outlets Foxwoods, 455 Trolley Line Boulevard

Florida

Jacksonville: Markets at Town Center, 4870 Big Island Drive

Port Richey: Gulf View Square, 9409 US Highway 19

Sarasota: The Mall at University Town Center, 140 University Town Center Drive

West Palm Beach: Palm Beach Outlets, 1721 Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard

Georgia

Commerce: Tanger Outlets Commerce, 800 Steven B. Tanger Boulevard

Douglasville: Arbor Place, 1440 Douglas Boulevard

Pooler: Tanger Outlets Savannah, 200 Tanger Outlet Boulevard

Hawaii

Aiea: Pearlridge Center, 98-1005 Moanalua Road

Kahlului: Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, 275 West Kaahumanu Avenue

Kaneohe: Windward Mall, 46-056 Kamehameha Highway

Illinois

Algonquin: 1952 South Randall Road

Joliet: Louis Joliet Mall, 3340 Mall Loop Drive

Lincolnwood: 3333 West Touhy Avenue

Lombard: Yorktown Shopping Center, 203 Yorktown

Peoria: Northwoods Mall, 2200 W. War Memorial Drive

Skokie: 4999 Old Orchard Center

Indiana

Hobart: Southlake Mall, 2063 Southlake Mall

Iowa

West Des Moines: Valley West Mall, 1551 Valley West Drive

Kentucky

Ashland: 500 Winchester Avenue

Louisiana

New Orleans: Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, 500 Port of New Orleans Place

Slidell: Fremaux Town Center, 760 Town Center Parkway

Maryland

Annapolis: Annapolis Mall, 2550 Annapolis Mall

Bel Air: Harford, 696 Bel Air Road

Frederick: 5500 Buckeystown Pike

Gaithersburg: Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Avenue

Hagerstown: Valley Mall, 17301 Valley Mall Road

Ocean City: 12741 Ocean Gateway

Massachusetts

Cambridge: CambridgeSide Galleria, 100 Cambridgeside Place

Kingston: Kingston Collection, 101 Independence Mall Way

Michigan

Dearborn: Fairlane Town Center, 18900 Michigan Avenue

Howell: Tanger Outlets Howell, 1475 North Burkhart Road

Okemos: Meridian Mall, 1982 W. Grand Rive Avenue

Saginaw: Fashion Square Mall, 4667 Fashion Square Mall

Minnesota

Bloomington: Mall of America, 141 East Broadway

Burnsville: 1178 Burnsville Center

Missouri

Kansas City: Zona Rosa, South County Center, 7260 NW 86th Place

Lee’s Summit: Summit Fair, 880 NW Blue Parkway

St. Louis: South County Center, 85 South County Centerway

New Jersey

Atlantic City: Tanger Outlets Atlantic City, 122 Christopher Columbus Boulevard

East Brunswick: Brunswick Square, 755 State Road 18

Moorestown: Moorestown Mall, 400 Route 38

New York

Glendale: 8000 Copper Ave.

Massapequa: Sunrise Mall, 2135 Sunrise Mall

Nanuet: 66 Rockland Plaza Route 59

New Hartford: Sangertown, Route 5 & 5A

New York: 130 W. 34th Street

Niagara Falls: 1982 Military Road

Saratoga Springs: 3065 Route 50

Victor: Eastview Mall, 672 EastView Mall

Yorktown Heights: Jefferson Valley Mall, 650 Lee Boulevard

North Carolina

Gastonia: 246 New Hope Road

Ohio

Liberty Township: Liberty Center, 7100 Foundry Row

Mentor:  Great Lakes Mall, 7850 Mentor Avenue

Toledo: Franklin Park, 5001 Monroe Street

Oregon

Eugene: Valley River Center, 293 Valley River Center

Pennsylvania

Altoona: Logan Valley Mall, Route 220 & Goods Lane

Pittsburgh: Mall at Robinson, 100 Robinson Centre Drive

Willow Grove: Willow Grove Park Mall, 2500 Moreland Road

York: York Galleria, 2899 Whiteford Road

South Carolina

Florence: Magnolia Mall, 2701 David McLeod Boulevard

Myrtle Beach: Coastal Grand Mall, 2000 Coastal Grand Circle

North Charleston: Northwoods Mall, 2150 Northwoods Boulevard

Tennessee

Chattanooga: 2100 Hamilton Place Boulevard

Johnson City: 2011 North Roan Street

Texas

Cedar Hill: Hillside Village, 305 West FM

Fort Worth: 15853 North Freeway

New Braunfels: New Braunfels Town Center at Creekside, 257 Creekside Crossing

Victoria: Victoria Mall, 7800 North Navarro Street

Waco: Richland Mall, 6001 West Waco Drive

Virginia

Dulles: 21100 Dulles Town Circle

McLean: 7860 Tyson’s Corner Center

Springfield: 6767 Springfield Mall

Washington

Auburn: Outlet Collection Seattle, 1101 Outlet Collection Way

West Virginia

Morgantown: Morgantown Mall, 9500 Mall Road

Wisconsin

Brookfield: Brookfield Square, 95 North Moorland Road

Glendale: Bayshore Town Center, 5800 North Bayshore Drive

Madison: East Towne Mall, 375 East Towne Mall

 

*June 5, 2019 UPDATE: Charlotte Russe has found a new buyer and has issued this press release:

YM Inc., new owner of Charlotte Russe, is pleased to announce that it is re-launching Charlotte Russe retail outlets across the U.S., with five of 100 planned locations opening their doors today.

“We are thrilled to be bringing Charlotte Russe retail outlets back for customers who love the brand’s affordable on-trend fashions,” said Eric Grundy, CEO of YM Inc. “We are excited to be back and hiring.”

YM, which operates more than 560 stores across North America, purchased the Charlotte Russe brand in March when its parent company filed for bankruptcy.

“The brand is a great fit for our growth strategy and our mission to exceed customer expectations by delivering fast fashion at amazing value,” Grundy added.

Opening today are retail locations in Southland Center in Michigan, Cumberland Mall in Georgia, Willowbrook Mall in New Jersey, Park City Center in Pennsylvania and Monmouth Mall in New Jersey. Customers can also shop Charlotte Russe’s online store, www.charlotterusse.com, which re-launched June 3, 2019.

Department store decline: Macy’s, Kohl’s, Norsdtrom, JCPenney closing more stores in 2019

January 28, 2019

by Daphne Sorenson

department store retail

 

The decline of department stores continues to affect the retail industry, as Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom and JCPenney have announced that they will be closing more stores in early 2019. It’s part of trend that is hitting fashion retail especially hard, since about half of the retailers that closed the largest number of stores in 2018 have fashion as their core business. Kohl’s will be shuttering all of its stores that are located in shopping malls, while almost all of the stores that Macy’s, Nordstom and JCPenney are closing are also located in shopping malls.

Many of the stores that are closing are not in economically depressed areas but are in areas with middle- or high-income levels, with the highest-income levels in places such as New York City’s Rego Park area; the San Francisco Bay Area’s Silicon Valley; West Los Angeles (near Beverly Hills); Redmond, Washington (a suburb of Seattle); and Fairfax County, Virginia. That’s probably because customers in these high-income areas are more likely to have the resources (credit cards with high credit lines) to do more online shopping than people with lower incomes. But that’s only part of the reason why these stores are closing. Based on customer review sites such as Yelp, these stores have been plagued for quite some time with complaints about bad customer service, declining appearance/cleanliness and unsatisfactory inventory.

According to Business Insider, these are the stores that will be closing in 2019:

Kohl’s
Kohl’s Rego Park at Rego Center in Rego Park, New York
Kohl’s Valley Stream at Green Acres Mall in South Valley Stream, New York
Kohl’s Lenexa in Lenexa, Kansas
Kohl’s Houma at Houma Crossing Mall in Bayou Cane, Louisiana

JCPenney
Three stores to be announced.

Macy’s
Macy’s at Casper Eastridge in Casper, Wyoming
Macy’s at Redmond Town Center in Redmond, Washington
Macy’s at Sunnyvale Town Center in Sunnyvale, California
Macy’s Furniture Gallery at Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles, California
Macy’s at Glendale Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana
Macy’s at Swansea Mall in Swansea, Massachusetts
Macy’s at Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia
Macy’s at Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, New York
Macy’s at Charleston Town Center in Charleston, West Virginia

Nordstrom
Nordstrom at The Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington, Florida
Nordstrom at MacArthur Center Mall in Norfolk, Northern Virginia
Nordstrom at Providence Place Mall in Providence, Rhode Island

 

Gymboree is closing all of its stores after bankruptcy problems

January 14, 2019

by Patricia Garrett

Gymboree

Gymboree, a prominent retailer for children’s clothing and toys, is closing all of its remaining stores (about 900) after the company failed to rebound from a bankruptcy. According to Market Watch, Gymboree is expected to file for a second bankruptcy, which will shutter its remaining stores.

In 2017, Gymboree closed about 350 of its stores in the U.S. as part of its first bankruptcy reorganization. The San Francisco-based Gymboree also operated the retail stores Gymboree Outlet, Crazy 8 and Janie and Jack. According to the Wall Street Journal, the fate of Janie and Jack is uncertain since Gymboree is still seeking a buyer for the brand. If no buyer is found, Janie and Jack stores will also be closed.

Gymboree, which was founded in 1976, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2017. The company reported $1.25 billion in sales for 2016. In July 2016, The Gymboree Corporation sold the Gymboree Play & Music business to Zeavion Holding.