MEDITERRANEAN BLUE: As the blueprint for the modern fashion concept store has evolved to include not just merchandise but also food, entertainment, technology and more, Louis Vuitton is opening a café-flanked resort boutique in the tony seaside destination of Taormina on Sicily.
Dubbed Louis Vuitton Café by Timeo, it marks the first such initiative in Italy of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s flagship brand. It is located on the first floor of the new resort-leaning store and is operated in tandem with the Belmond-owned Grand Hotel Timeo on central Corso Umberto.
The café boasts all-day service, spanning breakfast, lunch and aperitivo, with a dedicated menu overseen by chef Roberto Toro that offers signature Sicilian delicacies, such as arancini (fried stuffed rice balls), and drinks, including the “Taormina Spritz.” Belmond is also owned by LVMH.
Enhancing both the resort and local vibes, the space is furnished with Fernando and Humberto Campana’s Bulbo armchair and features ceramic tiles arranged in white and blue graphic patterns as well as gradient blue tabletops. It has a dedicated entrance and a vista overlooking the sea.
The Taormina store marks one of the many resort boutiques the brand has opened this summer in the Hamptons; Saint Tropez, France; Bodrum, Turkey, and Mykonos, Greece spotlighting its LV by The Pool collection.
Decked in bleached and natural oak and replete with vintage furniture and design objects, glass shelves hanging from ropes, raffia wallpaper and majolica-style carpeting in nods to the Sicilian location, the Taormina store offers ready-to-wear, bags, footwear and accessories from the LV by the Pool collection, as well as a special edition of the signature Neverfull tote bag.
Items in the collection are swathed in white and blue shades, with the brand’s monogram reinvented in multiple ways, including for watercolor effects and graphic arrangements. The store also carries the Objets Nomades home décor and furniture collection as well as the boxed set of Summer Resort City Guides and the latest coffee table book, titled “Italian Rivieras” by Slim Aarons, part of the brand’s Fashion Eye book range.
Vuitton’s latest opening is in sync with the number of pop-ups, ephemeral boutiques and seasonal outposts that luxury brands have opened this summer. Most recently, Etro debuted a new store in Monte Carlo, as reported. — MARTINO CARRERA
ADVOCATING READING: Dollar General has donated $1 million to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides free books to children from birth to age five regardless of family income.
The donation was made through the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and is part of the DGLF’s 30th anniversary celebration this year.
“I first want to congratulate the Dollar General Literacy Foundation on an amazing 30 years of supporting literacy efforts across the country,” said Dolly Parton. “Dollar General has been a longtime supporter of our work with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and this amazing gift will help us expand my Imagination Library to even more children and families. We share such similar personal stories that are at the heart of our passion for inspiring a love of reading, and I look forward to many more years of partnering on this work that means so much to us.”
“Access to quality print materials and books play a critical role in children’s development of reading skills and in improving reading performance, and we are proud to continue our support of the Imagination Library as part of our 30th anniversary celebration,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “Books help inspire imagination and foster critical thinking skills. We look forward to seeing the additional impact these funds and books will have.”
With this latest donation, Dollar General and its Literacy Foundation have provided a total of more than $2.3 million to Imagination Library programs across the U.S.
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation was created by Dollar General’s former chief executive officer, Cal Turner Jr., in honor of his grandfather and Dollar General cofounder, J.L. Turner, who was functionally illiterate. DGLF supports nonprofit organizations, schools and libraries in their efforts to enhance quality classroom instruction, increase access to literacy programming, advance innovation and inspire the joy of reading. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $233 million to support nearly 19.3 million individuals improve their lives through literacy and education.
Founded in 1995 in tribute to her father, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library book-gifting program began as a way to distribute books to Parton’s impoverished hometown community in Sevier County, Tennessee. Following the success, the state of Tennessee pledged to pursue statewide coverage in 2004 and today, Imagination Library serves readers in the U.S.. Canada, the U.K., Australia and the Republic of Ireland. The program recently announced it had gifted more than 2.4 million free books through more than 2,700 local program partners during June 2023, bringing its total to more than 211 million free books gifted since its inception. — DAVID MOIN
LACROIX’S NEW BAGS: The House of Christian Lacroix and the Accessory Headquarters (AHQ Inc) have renewed their partnership and launched handbags, small accessories, and cosmetic bags collections under the CXL by Christian Lacroix brand.
“We are thrilled to embark on this exciting venture with AHQ Inc.,” said Nicolas Topiol, chief executive officer of the House of Christian Lacroix. “Their expertise and dedication to craftsmanship align perfectly with the core values of our brand. Together we aim to craft a handbags and accessories collection that celebrates creativity, individuality, and timeless allure.”
The CXL by Christian Lacroix brand has roots within the legacy of Christian Lacroix haute couture, and has made a mark globally for its approach to fashion. The French brand hopes to open up new possibilities through its collaboration with AHQ Inc.
According to AHQ Inc. CEO Abe Chehebar, the handbags will incorporate elements inspired by CXL by Christian Lacroix’s signature and newly created original prints.
“We are honored to collaborate with the House of Christian Lacroix and its CXL by Christian Lacroix brand,” said Chehebar. “The fusion of our craftsmanship with the House of Christian Lacroix’s unparalleled creativity is a match made in fashion heaven. This collection will undoubtedly redefine the way handbags are perceived in the industry.”
CXL by Christian Lacroix handbags collection will debut for the spring 2024 season at AHQ’s showrooms in New York City. — THOMAS WALLER
STREAMING IN: Fanatics is getting into the streaming business through a long-term partnership signed Thursday with Dazn Group, a leading U.K.-based global sports entertainment and live streaming business.
Under the terms of the deal, Dazn’s 60 million-plus customers will now be able to purchase licensed team merchandise and sports apparel directly through the app beginning in the third quarter of this year. The second phase of the partnership, which is expected to be live within a year, will be a virtual store embedded into the Dazn experience that will be personalized to the profile of the user and offer merchandise tied to his or her favorite teams and players that can be purchased with one click.
Dazn, which operates in Italy, Spain, Germany and Japan, offers a subscription service for users to see live and on-demand sports, news, analysis and highlights as well as betting, ticketing and now, e-commerce.
“Dazn is the perfect partner for them as they expand internationally — we are on a mission to build a single global destination platform for sports fans that removes friction and delivers everything they want in one place,” said group chief executive officer Shay Segev. “Fanatics and Dazn share similar long-term goals, and this is a great beginning of a long-term partnership. Having an integrated online store where fans can buy their team’s official merchandise and sportswear is part of the overall fan experience — it’s an essential expression of support and fan culture to millions.”
Gary Gertzog, Fanatics’ president of business affairs, added, “Like Fanatics, Dazn is committed to providing global sports fans with the best possible experience when they visit its platform, and this partnership will enable Dazn to expand its offering and make it even easier for fans to access their favorite team merchandise. Finding new, innovative and improved ways to better serve sports fans is something we are constantly focused on and enabling Dazn to bring a fully integrated merchandise offering to its platform helps to do this.” — JEAN E. PALMIERI
PETA TARGETS RALPH: Having more or less won the fight against fur in fashion, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is coming for cashmere, the production of which it says involves the inhumane treatment of goats.
As part of that effort, the animal rights group submitted a question at the Ralph Lauren Corp. annual meeting, held virtually on Thursday.
“Ralph Lauren Corporation pledges to offer timeless designs created through responsible sourcing,” PETA said. “The company believes that true luxury encompasses how a product was made. Based on the findings of PETA Asia’s recent investigation into the cashmere industry sourcing practices, the organization raises concerns regarding responsible cashmere. The question is, when will Ralph Lauren embrace its own definition of true luxury and drop cashmere?”
Katie Ioanilli, chief global impact and communications officer, said the company is “very clear on how we treat animals in our supply chain.”
“Our policy commits us to the respectful treatment of animals, which we believe together with other practices can contribute to species conservation and the protection of ecosystems,” Ioanilli said. “We are aware of the PETA report. We, along with other Sustainable Fiber Alliance members, await additional information that would better help us assess the situation and if appropriate to take action.”
The rest of the meeting was made up of more routine corporate matters and an overview of the business, which has been able to keep steadily moving its prices higher despite a mixed-up economy.
Ralph Lauren, executive chairman, said: “I am proud and encouraged by the performance our team delivered this year even with all the challenges around the world. More importantly, I believe we have created the right foundation to continue building the future of our company.” — EVAN CLARK
GAME SURFER: Hurley, the Huntington Beach, California-based surf brand, will introduce a Hurley Super Surfer Game and the Hurleyverse, a way for the brand to merge gaming, the world of blockchain technology, and its surf DNA.
Dropping Aug. 30, Hurley gaming fans can purchase Hurley NFT digital collectible players, which are surf-ready sloths inspired by the sport’s greatest athletes. Available for purchase on Jump.Trade for $50 each, the non-fungible token avatars can be used in the Hurley Super Surfer Game and come with exclusive Hurley styles and an actual Hurley black hoodie.
“Hurley will always be right in the middle of the action, engaging our fans in new ways. We know our athletes and consumers look for immersive and fun experiences, and we wanted them to be able to play across both the physical and digital worlds,” said Ralph Gindi, chief operating officer of Bluestar Alliance, which acquired Hurley in 2019.
Hurley NFTs pre-booking opened Aug. 1. The Hurley Super Loot Box Packs come with a series of NFTs featuring the surfing sloths “Reef” and “Sandy,” and aesthetics and accessories.
NFT avatar or not, gamers are welcome to drop in, dodge sea monsters, and collect Hurley Sand Dollars as they ride waves of varying degree of skill level when the Hurley Super Surfer game becomes available for download on Google Play and the App Store on Aug. 30. The NFT-integrated version of the game updates on Sept. 29. — LISA LOCKWOOD
SEEKING ADVICE: Josh Burris, chief executive officer of Rue21, has joined The Vitamin Shoppe as an advisory board member.
In this new role, Burris will provide strategic advice and counsel to The Vitamin Shoppe, an omnichannel retailer of nutritional products, on a range of business priorities across retail, operations, franchising, wholesale, vendor relationships, international expansion and other growth initiatives.
Prior to joining Rue21 in April, Burris served as CEO of GNC from October 2020 to January 2023, and as president of GNC from December 2019.
Lee Wright, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe, a subsidiary of Franchise Group Inc., commented, “Josh has extensive knowledge and passion for the supplement industry and proven retail capabilities and insights…relevant to The Vitamin Shoppe’s future growth initiatives.”
Prior to joining GNC, Burris was president of AM Retail Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of G-III Apparel Group, which operated retail stores under the Wilsons Leather, G.H. Bass & Co., Calvin Klein Performance, Karl Lagerfeld Paris, DKNY and Vilebrequin brands. Earlier in his career, Burris spent 16 years at Abercrombie & Fitch in positions of increasing responsibility, including senior director, stores and operations. — D.M.