Thursday, September 24, 2009

Anna Wintour, Price Fixing is Illegal!

By Laura Ng

(c) 2009 Laura Ng and The Docket.  First appeared on The Docket Online, Sept. 24, 2009.

Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue and quite possibly the most powerful person in the fashion industry, may think that she is now above the law.  At the Town Hall meeting of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) on July 28, 2009, Ms. Wintour asked whether “someone [could] lead a committee that would make ground rules for retailers of when the discounting starts, and then all the retailers can agree to it.”[1]  When CFDA president, Diane von Furstenberg, immediately pointed out the illegality of price fixing, Ms. Wintour responded, “Is that something we can change?  We have friends in the White House now!”[2]

Granted, First Lady Michelle Obama does wear the latest frocks from young American high-end fashion designers, and the recession did strike a huge blow to the global fashion industry, but Ms. Wintour is unreasonably overestimating her influence at the White House. American fashion designers, retailers, and magazine editors are not exempt from the federal antitrust law under the Sherman Antitrust Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1-7).  The purpose of antitrust law is to protect trade and commerce from restraints, monopolies, price-fixing, and price discrimination.[3]  Ms. Wintour’s proposed price fixing would directly violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act, because interference with price setting by the free market economy is illegal per se,[4] even when the interference indirectly affects prices.[5]  Ms. Wintour’s suggested ground rules on discounting would interfere with the setting of prices by the free market economy, because the ground rules could hinder desperate retailers, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, from independently setting the record low 70% discounts on high fashion luxury goods that consumers have seen since November 2008.

At least Diane von Furstenberg realizes that a price fixing conspiracy is not a legitimate answer to the luxury fashion industry’s search for a new business model.

[1] Irina Aleksander, At CFDA Town Meeting, Wintour Proposes Discount by Committee; DVF: ‘That’s Illegal!’The New York Observer, July 28, 2009.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Black’s Law Dictionary.

[4] U.S. v. Container Corp. of America, 393 U.S. 333 (1969).

[5] U.S. v. General Motors Corp., 384 U.S. 127 (1966).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Calf-length Skirts

Despite being merely 5'0," I recently developed a seemingly incompatible attraction to fitted, calf-length pencil skirts.  They exude a timeless, sophisticated elegance, especially when paired with really high heels.

Above: Victoria Beckham Collection (modeled by Victoria Beckham herself)
Above and below: Roland Mouret
Below: Black Halo (I have this dress!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How China (and I) See the World

I would say The Economist cover above accurately portrays the current balance of world powers from a socioeconomic and infrastructural perspective.  Today, most Chinese cities are, without a doubt, more glamorous and more technologically advanced than major American and European cities.  Despite the Communist government, China had 364,000 millionaires at the end of 2008 - a millionaire population surpassed only by the United States, Japan, and Germany.

What especially amuses me about the map above is the depiction of a dysfunctional, barren America heavily in debt, with foreclosed homes for sale; Wall Street falling through a huge crack; and Lady Liberty shamelessly soliciting other nations to "please give generously."  Nothing appears to be happening in Canada.  The only notable event in South America seems to be the active bulldozing of the rainforest.  While the Americas may appear useless for the most part to the Chinese, Africa seems like a land of opportunity with its abundant minerals and oil reserves.  Also, multitudes of wealthy Chinese women will continue to rely on Europe for its luxury goods - most notably, Prada and Hermes (Birkin bag, starting at approximately  USD $5000).    

Click on the images above and below to view the full-size pictures.
For reference, Victoria Beckham carries a Hermes Birkin, as pictured below.  I adore her RM by Roland Mouret dress.