Paris at the Centre of the Fashion Universe

No Competition

  • Paris Fashion Week runs Feb. 28 through March 8
  • The shows are taking place even as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has grabbed the world’s attention. The fashion industry is bracing for economic ripple effects.
  • Virgil Abloh’s final collection, for Off-White, will be shown on Feb. 28; US brands The Row, Vaquera and China’s Rui are the latest labels to leave behind domestic fashion weeks for Paris

As soon as a designer starts to have phrases like “highly anticipated collection” and “gaining traction” attached to them, “will show their next collection in Paris” often follows. It’s no mystery why — Louis Vuitton, Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, Saint Laurent and more billion-dollar brands draw an unrivalled international crowd. The migration slowed a bit in recent years, in part because of the pandemic, in part because there weren’t that many brands left in New York and London that had the buzz and the bucks to show in Paris (one of the exceptions was Cecilie Bahnsen, the one-time star of Copenhagen Fashion Week, who made the jump last year). But now that the schedule’s made a full recovery, the pipeline has reopened, with Vaquera and The Row leaving New York behind to show this week. Also joining the schedule are Nanushka (from Hungary) and Rui (China), along with a handful of others.

One of the week’s most closely watched events is likely to be Off-White’s show. The brand created by Virgil Abloh is set to show the late designer’s final ready-to-wear collection. The tribute show Monday evening is also expected to contain some surprises and industry insiders will be looking for clues as to how the brand (now under the control of LVMH where Abloh worked as men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton) intends to write its future.

Also in Paris on Friday, Dior will reopen its flagship store after a sweeping renovation and expansion. Sales at the LVMH-owned label are estimated to have tripled in the last five years, and the brand will likely have spared no expense in remaking the key location, which is located at the same Avenue Montaigne address where Christian Dior founded the brand in 1946.

The Bottom Line: Paris Fashion Week will take place against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the shows will go on, the world’s attention may be elsewhere. Longer-term, analysts say the war’s economic ripple effects could also threaten the luxury sector’s strong run.

Nordstrom’s High-Stakes Earnings Report

  • Nordstrom will report its fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, March 1
  • Despite strong apparel demand in 2021, the retailer has yet to recover to pre-pandemic sales levels
  • Investors and analysts will be scrutinising the performance of Nordstrom’s off-price channel, Nordstrom Rack, a weaker segment compared to its banner department stores

Nordstrom has a lot of catching up to do. The bulk of American retailers enjoyed a banner year in 2021, with apparel sales soaring far beyond 2019 levels. It was the perfect storm: pent-up demand from the pandemic, restrained levels of inventory due to supply chain issues, and an overall willingness among consumers to pay a little more for dresses and trousers. Even struggling mall chains such as Macy’s and Express benefited from these factors. But not Nordstrom.

In all of its previous 2021 quarterly earnings reports, Nordstrom posted net sales that fell under that of the same periods in 2019. Macy’s, on the other hand, exceeded its pre-pandemic sales performance in the second and third quarters. Part of Nordstrom’s struggle is its off-price Nordstrom Rack segment. In the third quarter, Nordstrom Rack sales decreased 8 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Rack accounts for about a third of Nordstrom’s revenue.

The Bottom Line: Prior to the pandemic, Nordstrom was considered a bright spot in an ailing sector. Yet another disappointing quarter will cast doubt on whether there is a future for any type of department store, even those with avant-garde store formats and e-commerce prowess.

Cathaleen Chen contributed this item.

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