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2013 Fashion in Review

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Bloggers were the dominant influential fashion arbitrators. It was a year of pixie haircuts, chunky flat shoes, and overpriced accessories. Accessories reached new heights in conspicuous consumption. The prime example was a burlap bag for $3,400.

It was not an easy year for brick and mortar stores. WWD reported that in a survey by Market Force of 6,821 U.S. and Canadian consumers, Kohl’s was named one of consumer’s favorite fashion stores. Designers Catherine Malandrino and Peter Som are partnering with Kohl to create a DesignNation Collection for Fall 2014. H&M is best known for its limited additions of designer clothing opened on King Street.

Target, a favorite of thrifty fashionistas, suffered a major security breach. Approximately 40 million customer credit and debit accounts were stolen by hackers at Target stores nation wide including those in the Charleston area. Among the stores that have had customers’ accounts hacked into are J.C. Penny, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. The list continues to grow giving a disturbing meaning to the phrase caveat emptor (buyer beware).

Wal-Mart continues to have an image problem. The retailer was fined 81.6 million dollars for negligently violating the Clean Water Act. Donning its good-guy mask, Wal-Mart co-hosted with the National Retail Federation a summit to promote “Made in USA” products. Its “Made in America” initiative and desire to shift apparel manufacturing back to this country is admirable. However, Wal-Mart’s fight against raising the minimum wage and the company’s less than stellar employee relations makes one skeptical. In the legal dispute between Macy’s, Martha Stewart, and J.C. Penny, a court decision will allow J.C. Penny to carry a limited number of Martha Stewart products. Lawsuits were filed against Barney New York and Macy’s for alleged racial profiling of customers.

Last May Vogue editors agreed not to hire models under 16. However, as Sara Ziff, founder of The Model Alliance, commented there is little to no enforcement or oversight. The Council of Fashion Designers of America recommended not hiring models younger than 16. Marc Jacobs, a Council board member, disregarding the Council’s recommendation, used two 14 year olds in his runway show. In October New York passed a child labor law that grants underage models the same protections as child performers.

2013 revealed a glaring lack of diversity among fashion models. Of the models who walked the runways for the February 2013 Fashion Week only 6% were black. Some designers have not employed a black runway model in recent years. In response to this lack of diversity on the fashion runways and in fashion magazines, legendary supermodels Iman and Naomi Campbell founded Balance Diversity.

Charleston made fashion history. At the 2013 Charleston Fashion Week, men’s wear designer Afriyie Poku stole the show. He won both the People’s Choice and Emerging Designer Award, which is a rare occurrence. It is also the first time a men’s wear designer won the Emerging Designer Award.

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