Fashion under attack in New York and Paris

NEW YORK • Fashion houses are deserting New York as online competition changes the business model.

Lord & Taylor closed its 104-year-old flagship store in Fifth Avenue early this month. Gap is set to move out of its massive Fifth Avenue outlet.

Now comes news that Calvin Klein plans to close its flagship store in Madison Avenue this spring.

According to a statement from the company, the brand has adopted a digital-first approach and will reorganise its North American division, combining operations in sportswear and jeans.

"These strategic initiatives will enable us to run a more modern, dynamic and effective business, as well as allow us to reinvest in the brand," said Mr Steve Shiffman, chief executive of Calvin Klein.

"Now more than ever, we must double down on meeting consumer demands by creating culturally relevant products and experiences that engage communities by pushing fashion and culture forward."

Over in Paris, the brands are not moving out, but are at risk of attacks.

Luxury brand Dior said last week it was bringing forward its Paris Fashion Week show this weekend, after its flagship shop was looted during "yellow vests" protests.

Its men's spring-summer show was to have taken place on Saturday, when more anti-government protests are likely in the city.

Demonstrators had smashed up Dior's Champs Elysees boutique on Nov 26, stealing goods and causing damage reportedly to the tune of €1 million (S$1.55 million). Others scrawled graffiti that mocked the rich and immigrants.

Luxury boutiques have become a frequent target of the protests, which began in November as a revolt against a rise in fuel prices, but which have since morphed into an expression of general discontent.

Chanel, which protected the windows of its shops with fashionably black plywood cladding, has also become a magnet for graffiti.

American designer Thom Browne also moved his Saturday show to earlier in the day, while other brands have so far not said whether they will be affected.

Many Paris fashion shows traditionally take place near the Champs Elysees, which has been the focus for the "yellow vests" weekly Saturday demonstrations that often end in violence.

Police have tried to contain protesters by closing train stations and redirecting traffic from the area.

The Paris men's fashion week begins tomorrow and is followed by the haute couture shows, which will run until Jan 24.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Fashion under attack in New York and Paris'. Print Edition | Subscribe