Let's talk about what to be on the lookout for, now that it's 2014.
As you know me by now, I don't expect everyone or anyone to go out and buy all of my suggestions that I've written about in past columns. I only expect you to go out and buy half of it (just kidding). I'm a fashion columnist who enjoys writing about something that's reflective on who we are, and how we can always be amused by the trends, topics and excitement it brings.
For this week's column, I share with you some of the trends for 2014 that I'm most thrilled for. Some trends have already been around, while others will be breaking news (in my own fashion world mind). Hope you enjoy these influences that, if anything, just help make you feel more educated on the fashion world.
• Men's style lace-up shoes. These shoes, also known as Oxfords, have been around for quite some time, but now for 2014, they've come with a spin. Lace ups with a high wedge, platform or fluorescent block color for the sole are what you'll be seeing more of. Some of my favorites being from Oliver & Clark oliverclarknyc.com, they have shoes and boots made only for the tough-hearted.
• Midi-skirts. Break out your skirt influences from the '90s because the "just below the knee" length is back. Make sure to find a skirt with volume and flare so that you don't look like a pioneer. Lace, sheer, leather or brocade are the ways to go.
• Cropped jackets. Pair up your jeans or wide trousers with a top and a cropped jacket. Cropped blazers, cropped tweed jackets and even your own makeshift DIY version are great ways to fit in for this fashion.
• Crop tops. No, I don't support showing off the midriff. I think more coverage in that area is more elegant. However, since fashion is always so versatile, you can wear your crop tops with ultra-high-waisted jeans, or my favorite way, with a pencil skirt. It breaks up the lines and gives you some movement and makes for a new style.
• Pastels! These are all over for the coming year. Yes, even while it's still winter! Take advantage of the beautiful lilac, rose or peach textiles when you can, they may not stay here forever.
• Statement pieces. You may have seen many styles hit the ground running this year like monogrammed sweatshirts from Old Navy or dresses and skirts with novel writings. The most intriguing influences I've found have been in "Nylon Magazine." It's fun to express your attitude, likes or hobbies written on your body. This may seem a thing of the past, but it's back in action, so express yourself. This is also a very simple thing you could do to a piece of your current clothing with fabric paint, stencils and your own creative genius.
Hope this gets you excited for this upcoming year. Fashion never ceases to amaze me with the brilliance of expressing yourself through a million different ways, whether it's the choice of textile, length, color or the way you pair it with a loud mix of patterns. Fashion is about having fun, not for constant flattery.
• The Wasatch Wardrobe is written by Lindsey Shores, a Utah personal fashion stylist, who's helped clients succeed with higher confidence, better dating lives and their most important events. She exudes the best in everyone by bringing out the personalities they have on the inside without knowing how to represent them on the outside. Lindsey gained expertise in the fashion industry by styling some of Hollywood's A-list celebrities for their red carpet events, and is passionate about bringing that allure to Utah. Lindsey also does the wardrobe costuming for commercials, music videos and television. To see what other stars she's worked with or to schedule time with Lindsey yourself, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.lindseyshores.com.
For January, I'll be doing 31 days of nitty gritty, real, fashion talk called "Forward Fashion". Find me on Facebook Lindsey Shores Styling to follow it and find many of your style questions answered. If you want to participate, I'd love to hear from you. Shoot me over any vogue question and if I don't have an answer to it, I'll find an expert guest who does! Send your email to email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
held on to their cash for bigger items and renovations, leaving electronics, entertainment, and clothing to fill in the little gaps. That meant big brands and small all felt the crush this year, and everyone is looking forward to a brighter 2014. Even with the tough conditions, a few brands did manage to shine, setting themselves up for an excellent next year. Here are your top clothing stocks for 2014.
Over the past three months, brand portfolio Fifth & Pacific (NYSE: FNP ) has emptied its portfolio. The company sold off Juicy Couture in October and dropped Lucky Brand just this month. The result is a slimmed down, ready to roll Kate Spade business. Kate has been killing it this year, and was hampered by the fall of Juicy. Now free to spread its wings, Fifth & Pacific is going into 2014 with a completely different business.
Kate Spade is one of the few brands that came out way ahead in 2013. The brand's revenue grew 76% last quarter over 2012, driven by comparable sales growth of 31%. That speed puts it in the same boat as Michael Kors, but Fifth & Pacific has the benefit of experience.
By shrinking the business, management now has less to focus on, giving it the chance to push Kate Spade and sister brand Kate Spade Saturday as hard as it wants. The business got an influx of cash from the brand sell-off, and is realizing a return from lease terminations, as well. The combination of strong sales, strong management, and a growing pile of resources makes Fifth & Pacific a 2014 winner.
Nike keeps on teaching the world to love sports
If Fifth & Pacific is the growth opportunity in clothing next year, Nike (NYSE: NKE ) is the stable riser. The business commands a $15 billion brand and is shooting for $36 billion in annual sales by 2017. Last quarter, Nike increased revenue by 8% and expanded its gross margin at an even faster rate. That led to a 37% increase in earnings per share.
Want dividends -- Nike's got you covered there, too. Nike has increased its annual dividend for 12 years in a row, giving investors some stability. Consistent growth has been Nike's trademark, and the goal for 2017 just underscores what this company is capable of.
In 2014, the business is expecting double-digit revenue growth in its newer markets, like China and Eastern Europe. That's going to help Nike hit its 2015 milestone of $30 billion in annual sales, up from $25.3 billion in fiscal 2012. In short, 2014 is the launching point for Nike, and investors look set to be well rewarded by its flight.
Taking the long view at VF Corporation
While the scope isn't as broad as at Nike, the plan is no less ambitious over at VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC ) . The owners of The North Face, Timberland, Wrangler, and other household names has its own 2017 plan. While Nike is planning to grow overall revenue by 42% over five years, VF is hoping to jump 59% by 2017. VF has a goal of hitting $17 billion in 2017, up from just $10.9 billion in 2012.
The company is going to make the push based on the strength of its brands. The North Face is at the head of the pack, growing revenue by 10% last year. The brand has shown an incredible ability to appeal to both athletes and casual wearers, and has given the company a real fashion icon to help lead its sales push.
In 2014, look for VF to inch up its operating margin, as the business continues to coalesce. The company is updating its sales technology, addressing its marketing issues, and pushing fashion into some of its older brands, like Lee jeans. That should help boost revenue and keep investors happy all year long.
Controversy may have finally died off at Lululemon
If you want to take a higher risk shot in 2014, lululemon athletica (NASDAQ: LULU ) might be the place for you. The company got crushed this month on a poor outlook, but there are lots of things going right for Lululemon, as well. The business finally ditched its loudmouthed founder, a new CEO has been chosen, and its most recent product issue may be on the way to a resolution under the new head of product.
When it comes down to the wire, this may be what investing is all about. There's a fine line between success and failure here, and Lululemon is over halfway to the failure side. After building a community of yoga practitioners, founder Chip Wilson says something akin to 'we don't sell clothes for fat people' a few months after selling overly sheer pants to everyone, and the community revolts.
Now Lululemon is looking down the barrel of flat comparable sales in its fourth quarter. That's not the year that the company was supposed to have. Luckily, it might not be the year that 2014 brings it. New CEO Laurent Potdevin comes to Lululemon from TOMS, a shoe business built on the value of community and goodwill. Before that, he worked at Burton Snowboards, where he learned the value of technical product design. If anyone can right Lululemon's ship, its Potdevin -- 2014 is his chance to prove his mettle.
Finishing on a high note with Under Armour
You didn't really want to end on Lululemon, right? Under Armour (NYSE: UA ) is the glorious thorn in everyone's side. It's a growth stock like Fifth & Pacific, it's Nike's best competition, it rivals The North Face for college fashion value, and it sells all of the things Lululemon makes for about 15% less.
The company increased its full-year outlook earlier this year, expecting a 22% to 23% increase in revenue. The company continues to drive its brand on its reputation for innovation. This year, the company introduced a new ColdGear line which contains ceramic to help insulate you -- I have no idea how that works. Fortunately, my failures at science haven't held the company back, and the new line is off to a roaring start.
In 2014, Under Armour is going to be releasing new footwear lines, working to integrate its in-store and direct-to-consumer marketing, and expanding its gross margin as its supply chain settles into a routine. For investors, Under Armour offers a lot of great potential with a proven track record of turning neat ideas into cold hard cash -- 2014 should be no different.
The bottom line
Whether you're looking for a grower, a solid player, or a bit of a risk, there's something for every investor in 2014. Macroeconomic conditions may make a positive turn, but even if they don't, these five brands have the potential to turn lemons into lemonade. No matter what you decided to do in 2014, retail investors should be happy to see 2013 disappear into the mist.
The value of investing in 2014
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Menswear fashion shows might seem a world apart from what we wear on a daily basis but, as Stephen Doig discovers, there’s plenty that works into your real life wardrobe.
Ask your average metropolitan, style conscious guy what he’s excited about seeing in this season’s London Collections: Men catwalk presentations, which kick off today, and even the most well-heeled gentleman will most likely shrug his shoulders. Even if you’re a chap who knows your Acne from your Ami or your Drakes from your Dries, the curious fantasia of fashion presentations can seem wildly disconnected to real lifestyle.
As much as the fashion industry might try to shrug off accusations of insularity, closed-ranks cliquishness and occasional ridiculousness, there are times when even the staunchest defender can’t help but acknowledge the high camp Zoolander-ness of it all. Models’ faces obscured by a splintered mash of wooden planks, knitted crop tops with nipples coyly peeping out, and grown men in leather dresses and riding boots (all of which featured in last season’s LC:M shows): when what’s happening on the catwalk looks like dream sequence from 1920s Italian surrealist cinema spliced with a Berlin sex dungeon, you’d be forgiven for thinking it has very little to do with what you’ll be wearing down the Crown and Anchor.
But that’s not the whole story. The catwalk theatrics might be what garners headlines – or at least the snigger of joke-makers on Twitter – but a lot of the ideas on the catwalks of London Collections: Men are viable, relevant ways to inject your wardrobe with a bit of pep and vigour. It might seem like there’s a disconnect between what the average fellow wears and what comes down the catwalk to a blaze of flashbulbs, but the gap isn’t as yawning as you’d think.
"The challenge is in balancing Savile Row tradition with relevant fashion", says Gieves & Hawkes Creative Director Jason Basmajian of how a tailoring institution as august as theirs can work fluidly into a man’s lifestyle. The label’s tailoring, from handsome tuxedos and impeccable suiting to rakish peacock blue velvet smoking jackets, might seem like the stuff of sartorial dreams (or at least the kind of thing you’d reserve for your wedding suit), but as Basmajian points out, a good designer should be able to offer pieces that build on what you have. "Gieves & Hawkes is a brand that is always about style and quality. The collection is very wearable and most of the looks can walk off the runway and onto the street or office without seeming intimidating. However, I always want to show new cuts, textures, colours, fabrics and ways of breaking a Gentleman’s wardrobe down and putting it back together."
Basmajian is perhaps the best advert for how to incorporate something that could be relegated as ‘precious’ – that masterful suit that you keep for Sunday best – into an everyday uniform; a casual bomber jacket with some tailored trousers, a formal jacket worn with a wool roll-neck for 50s matinee idol élan.
Often, it’s the subtlest of suggestions that can have an influence on how we dress. The idea of ‘experimenting’ with your tie might have once conjured images of novelty horrors bought in museum gift shops. But designers like E. Tautz, Richard James, and Gieves & Hawkes have shown how textured ties in knitted wool or raw spun shantung can add depth and richness to your business suit and lend a touch of individuality, without frightening the horses around the conference table.
Similarly, the idea of tampering with the DNA of a well-made suit might seem like sartorial heresy, but designers like Casely-Hayford, the London-based father and son duo who make their impeccably tailored suit jackets in Japan using experimental, lightweight fabric technology, show how deftly it can be done. They've piqued the interest of many a tech geek too; there’s more engineering in these suits than at NASA, with the fabric designed to mold around your frame.
"The average guy on the street might not be au fait with what’s shown on the catwalk beyond seeing something in a newspaper column, but often there’s a way to take elements of what goes on in menswear and apply them", says Other Shop co-owner Matthew Murphy, who runs fashion brand Other and whose store stocks London’s more cutting edge young designers. In fact, Craig Green (the designer who sent models down the catwalk with shards of wood around their head) and Matthew Miller (who showcase psychedelic tie-dye suits) both feature in his boutique. But, says Murphy, look beyond the high jinx and you’ll find wearable offerings too. "What actually filters through to the customer – the really great soft cotton black T-shirt or perfectly fitted shirt – will be the thing that’s totally relevant to them."
And what makes menswear designers so in tune with what we actually want from our clothes is that they appreciate longevity above trends. "Trends don’t really feature in menswear any more", says Murphy. "Which makes it much more appealing to men. Instead, it’s just about finding a way to update a guy’s uniform. The consumer wants to be challenged a bit, they want something different, but they’re often surprised how wearable the clothes are too."