Wal-Mart has announced plans to source an additional $50 billion worth of goods from the U.S. over the next decade. Speaking of U.S. stores, Wal-Mart U.S. C.E.O. Bill Simon said U.S.-made goods already account for two-thirds of what Wal-Mart sells — it's not clear whether Simon figured that statistic by dollar value or number of individual items or just made it up because it sounded good — which would be news to anyone who's visited a Wal-Mart and been dazzled by the array of unsustainably made clothing and electronics imported from countries that lack basic wage and workplace safety regulations. (Wal-Mart representatives led the effort to block improvements in safety standards at apparel factories in Bangladesh, according to those present at meetings held to discuss the proposed changes. Then there was a factory fire at a Wal-Mart supplier that killed more than 111 workers.) Simon anticipated your surprise:
"I know, according to urban legend, Wal-Mart's shelves are filled with foreign products. But the truth may surprise you. Don't forget, we run a pretty large grocery business. According to data from our suppliers, items that are made here, sourced here or grown here account for about two-thirds of what we spend to buy products at Wal-Mart U.S. Of course, there's room for more."
Wal-Mart has tried the Made-in-America thing before; in 1985, founder Sam Walton pledged to source any item from any American factory that could get within 5% of the price of a foreign competitor. With the Bangladeshi fire and increasing scrutiny of its U.S. labor practices — including that still-simmering sex-discrimination lawsuit — the announcement comes at a time when the world's largest retailer could badly use some good P.R. [WWD]
Celebrity stylist Jessica Paster says one reason we don't see very many buzz-y, emerging designers on the red carpet at events like the Golden Globes — she name-checks Prabal Gurung and Jason Wu — is that they and their PR teams are always holding out for better clients. "Everyone is like, 'No, I want to dress Cate Blanchett, no, I want to dress Cate Blanchett, no, I want to dress Cate Blanchett,'" says Paster, who styled Emily Blunt, Miranda Kerr, and Carla Gugino for the awards. "You didn't see Jason Wu or Prabal Gurung on the red carpet last night, because instead of them being a little open-minded, they're waiting to get these other people that they think they deserve. If you would've put a Prabal Gurung on a beautiful actresses, it would have been showcased and he would have sold four more dresses." Paster also doesn't like shows like Fashion Police:
"These are not fashion people. If Kelly Obsourne didn't have Fashion Police, what is she going to do? Did she go to school to be a lawyer? Did she go to school to be a stylist? What I'm trying to say…it's not derogatory. I think she's nice and cute at what she does. But it's just an opinion. [...]
We all know when something looks bad. But other than that? For instance, I loved Lucy Liu's Carolina Herrera dress. During the summer when everyone's wearing prints, they'll love it, but right now they don't get it."
Fashion is a matter of opinion; some opinions are better than others. [Fashionista]
- Bangladesh is drafting new workplace safety standards in the wake of the country's worst industrial disaster to date, the garment factory fire that killed over 111 workers in November. Many of the victims were trapped in the factory, which lacked emergency exits and sprinklers. Some were ordered by managers to remain at their work stations even as the building caught fire. The Bangladeshi government is working with the representatives of garment manufacturers and the International Labor Organization to develop a set of recommended new laws that will be put forward for discussion by the end of February. [WWD]
- Nicki Minaj and Adam Levine each signed clothing licensing deals with KMart. [Style MTV]
- Chanel opened an exhibit in Guangzhou dedicated to the history of the brand and of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel herself. (Not the Nazi parts, though.) [WWD]
- Nigel Barker says the process of playing Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker on ANTM was not without its career risks. Most notably, when he started on the show, clients like Vogue and Jil Sander mysteriously lost his number. Barker also gives some details about the new show he's on, The Face, which is modeled on The Voice and co-hosted by Coco Rocha, Naomi Campbell, and Karolina Kurkova:
"Every week you have these three teams going up against one another to try to win a real contract from a client. One week the girls will do a story for W Magazine shot by Patrick Demarchelier, and at the end, [W editor-in-chief] Stefano Tonchi decides which team wins. And it's an actual story in the magazine that gets published. On any other show, the judges pick the winner. On The Face, the winner is picked by the clients. That's the real deal."
- Photographer Norman Jean Roy:
"Part of a perfect image is that it is imperfect. With digital photography, it's very easy to perfect the image. You kill the image when you perfect it. You basically suck the life out of it."
- As the search continues for Missoni C.E.O. Vittorio Missoni and five other people continues off the coast of Venezuela, the Associated Press is reporting that the pilot of the small plane carrying Missoni had an expired medical certificate and that the company that owns the aircraft didn't have the license required to operate as a small airline. The pilot, also missing, was 72. [WWD]
- Carven designer Guillaume Henri says he believes in "brands, not designers." He continues:
"I don't want to talk about designers like we're talking about soccer players. It's about a team, it's about a house, it's about a name — that's the most important thing. I don't care who's the designer; is the dress nice? Is the coat well-cut? That's the main thing about it."
- And now, a moment with Burberry's Christopher Bailey. Christopher, does the fashion industry have a tendency to be overly insular?
"Fashion has a tendency to be overly insular, and shows are the perfect example. We think we're so innovative but shows haven't really changed in 50 years. We want to let people into that experience, which is really entertainment: beautiful girls, handsome guys, nice clothes, good music. These [the non-fashion people] are people who are excited about fashion. Why should we tell them they can't see this too?"
Bailey also says that he wants Burberry to feel inclusive even though its prices are high. This is because of something that happened when a younger Bailey went shopping for a watch for his mother:
"When I was a student in London, my father wanted to buy my mother a watch from a luxury brand. This was a really big thing in my family, because we didn't buy a lot of luxury objects. So he sent me the money and asked me to get it. That should have been a really beautiful experience, going in, choosing this special present ... but it wasn't. It was terrible. It was so intimidating, and I was made to feel so inferior, probably because of my clothes and my very strong Yorkshire accent, and that ended up defining a lot of the way I think. Why should we be exclusive?"