Versace Reaches for the Stars with Glittery Hollywood Show

Alexander Edwards, left, and Cher arrive at the Versace Fall/Winter collection presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Alexander Edwards, left, and Cher arrive at the Versace Fall/Winter collection presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
TT

Versace Reaches for the Stars with Glittery Hollywood Show

Alexander Edwards, left, and Cher arrive at the Versace Fall/Winter collection presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Alexander Edwards, left, and Cher arrive at the Versace Fall/Winter collection presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Decamping from her usual base in Milan to show her wares in Los Angeles — only three days before the Oscars — Donatella Versace says she was inspired by the energy, glamour and power of Hollywood. She had plenty of that, but needed one more thing to make it all work: good weather.

And so, with rain expected on Friday, Versace was forced move her show ahead by a day. It may have been chaotic, but it was the right move, The Associated Press said.

Her star-studded runway show Thursday took place on a cool but gorgeous Los Angeles evening on a spectacular rooftop overlooking the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains, sleek skyscrapers, and the Hollywood hills. Oh, and daylight ceded to darkness right as the show ended — just in time to turn on the floodlights, blast “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince and head to cocktails.

The sun was still out when the crowd began making its way up to the roof of the imposing Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue, with its distinctive blue glass exterior.

Guests included a cross-section of the music, film, fashion and sports worlds: Cher was there, as was Elton John, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, and Lil Nas X. From cinema, there were two best supporting actress Oscar winners — Ariana DeBose and Anne Hathaway — plus a favorite for best supporting actor this year, Ke Huy Quan. From sports, former NBA star Dwyane Wade was there with wife Gabrielle Union.

Attendees jostled to take selfies with the spectacular view behind them, and staffers warned them not to step too far backward and fall off the building.

In creating her 2023 fall-winter line, Versace harked back to a 1995 collection of Atelier Versace, the label’s couture line, with a campaign starring Madonna. Color choices began with black and included caramel and chocolate, as well as apricot, turquoise and pink. Prints included an animal print from the Versace archive and a falling flower motif.

Supermodel Gigi Hadid opened the show in a black, hourglass jacket and knee-length pencil skirt, a sleek tailored look that gradually segued to more glittery ensembles. Naomi Campbell came later, in a slinky black dress with elbow-length gloves.

After a cascade of black outfits for both women and men, a sudden burst of bright pink surfaced, in a wool cropped jacket and miniskirt, then a minidress in a tangerine hue. More than halfway through the show came the luxurious, satiny printed dresses — often minis, and accompanied by those elbow-length gloves for added glamour.

Streetwear was nowhere to be seen, and the long gloves seemed to evoke the Golden Age of Hollywood, which began in the mid-1920s and continued for several decades. Paired with the up-to-there minis, and often accessorized with big sunglasses, they aimed to create what Versace described as “energy from clashing Golden Age glamour with contemporary attitude, and confident power."

How confident? The designer has called this collection a form of armor. As for Los Angeles, Versace has called it “a natural home for us" — a place that makes her feel free and close to nature.
Los Angeles is also, of course, a city of stars — and never more than during Oscar week. The moments before the show felt like a dry run for the Oscars red carpet, with celebrities reuniting or meeting for the first time.

Dua Lipa was shown on social media meeting and sitting next to Cher. And one set of stars seemed particularly thrilled to be meeting: Ke Huy Quan of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and Hathaway, who each expressed their fandom for the other.

“I’m fainting!” Hathaway said when she laid eyes on Quan. “Everyone is so happy for you!”

Quan replied: “I love you so much."



AI-Generated Fashion Models Could Bring More Diversity to the Industry - Or Leave It with Less

A model presents a creation by Gefferson Vila Nova during the Sao Paulo Fashion Week 2024 (SPFW) at the Iguatemi shopping mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 13 April 2024. SPFW continues through 14 April with a total of 27 shows. (EPA)
A model presents a creation by Gefferson Vila Nova during the Sao Paulo Fashion Week 2024 (SPFW) at the Iguatemi shopping mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 13 April 2024. SPFW continues through 14 April with a total of 27 shows. (EPA)
TT

AI-Generated Fashion Models Could Bring More Diversity to the Industry - Or Leave It with Less

A model presents a creation by Gefferson Vila Nova during the Sao Paulo Fashion Week 2024 (SPFW) at the Iguatemi shopping mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 13 April 2024. SPFW continues through 14 April with a total of 27 shows. (EPA)
A model presents a creation by Gefferson Vila Nova during the Sao Paulo Fashion Week 2024 (SPFW) at the Iguatemi shopping mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 13 April 2024. SPFW continues through 14 April with a total of 27 shows. (EPA)

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect: Her counterpart is made of pixels instead of flesh and blood.

The virtual twin was generated by artificial intelligence and has already appeared as a stand-in for the real-life Alexsandrah in a photo shoot. Alexsandrah, who goes by her first name professionally, in turn receives credit and compensation whenever the AI version of herself gets used — just like a human model.

Alexsandrah says she and her alter-ego mirror each other “even down to the baby hairs.” And it is yet another example of how AI is transforming creative industries — and the way humans may or may not be compensated.

Proponents say the growing use of AI in fashion modeling showcases diversity in all shapes and sizes, allowing consumers to make more tailored purchase decisions that in turn reduces fashion waste from product returns. And digital modeling saves money for companies and creates opportunities for people who want to work with the technology.

But critics raise concerns that digital models may push human models — and other professionals like makeup artists and photographers — out of a job. Unsuspecting consumers could also be fooled into thinking AI models are real, and companies could claim credit for fulfilling diversity commitments without employing actual humans.

“Fashion is exclusive, with limited opportunities for people of color to break in,” said Sara Ziff, a former fashion model and founder of the Model Alliance, a nonprofit aiming to advance workers’ rights in the fashion industry. “I think the use of AI to distort racial representation and marginalize actual models of color reveals this troubling gap between the industry’s declared intentions and their real actions.”

Women of color in particular have long faced higher barriers to entry in modeling and AI could upend some of the gains they've made. Data suggests that women are more likely to work in occupations in which the technology could be applied, and are more at risk of displacement than men.

In March 2023, iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. announced that it would be testing AI-generated models produced by Amsterdam-based company Lalaland.ai to add a wider range of body types and underrepresented demographics on its website. But after receiving widespread backlash, Levi clarified that it was not pulling back on its plans for live photo shoots, the use of live models or its commitment to working with diverse models.

“We do not see this (AI) pilot as a means to advance diversity or as a substitute for the real action that must be taken to deliver on our diversity, equity and inclusion goals and it should not have been portrayed as such,” Levi said in its statement at the time.

The company last month said that it has no plans to scale the AI program.

The Associated Press reached out to several other retailers to ask whether they use AI fashion models. Target, Kohl’s and fast-fashion giant Shein declined to comment; Temu did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, spokespeople for Nieman Marcus, H&M, Walmart and Macy's said their respective companies do not use AI models, although Walmart clarified that “suppliers may have a different approach to photography they provide for their products but we don’t have that information.”

Nonetheless, companies that generate AI models are finding a demand for the technology, including Lalaland.ai, which was co-founded by Michael Musandu after he was feeling frustrated by the absence of clothing models who looked like him.

“One model does not represent everyone that’s actually shopping and buying a product,” he said. “As a person of color, I felt this painfully myself.”

Musandu says his product is meant to supplement traditional photo shoots, not replace them. Instead of seeing one model, shoppers could see nine to 12 models using different size filters, which would enrich their shopping experience and help reduce product returns and fashion waste.

The technology is actually creating new jobs, since Lalaland.ai pays humans to train its algorithms, Musandu said.

And if brands “are serious about inclusion efforts, they will continue to hire these models of color,” he added.

London-based model Alexsandrah, who is Black, says her digital counterpart has helped her distinguish herself in the fashion industry. In fact, the real-life Alexsandrah has even stood in for a Black computer-generated model named Shudu, created by Cameron Wilson, a former fashion photographer turned CEO of The Diigitals, a UK-based digital modeling agency.

Wilson, who is white, designed Shudu in 2017, described on Instagram as the “The World’s First Digital Supermodel.” But critics at the time accused Wilson of cultural appropriation and digital Blackface.

Wilson took the experience as a lesson and transformed The Diigitals to make sure Shudu — who has been booked by Louis Vuitton and BMW — didn’t take away opportunities but instead opened possibilities for women of color. Alexsandrah, for instance, has modeled in-person as Shudu for Vogue Australia, and writer Ama Badu came up with Shudu’s backstory and portrays her voice for interviews.

Alexsandrah said she is “extremely proud” of her work with The Diigitals, which created her own AI twin: “It’s something that even when we are no longer here, the future generations can look back at and be like, ‘These are the pioneers.’”

But for Yve Edmond, a New York City area-based model who works with major retailers to check the fit of clothing before it's sold to consumers, the rise of AI in fashion modeling feels more insidious.

Edmond worries modeling agencies and companies are taking advantage of models, who are generally independent contractors afforded few labor protections in the US, by using their photos to train AI systems without their consent or compensation.

She described one incident in which a client asked to photograph Edmond moving her arms, squatting and walking for “research" purposes. Edmond refused and later felt swindled — her modeling agency had told her she was being booked for a fitting, not to build an avatar.

“This is a complete violation,” she said. “It was really disappointing for me.”

But absent AI regulations, it’s up to companies to be transparent and ethical about deploying AI technology. And Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, likens the current lack of legal protections for fashion workers to “the Wild West.”

That's why the Model Alliance is pushing for legislation like the one being considered in New York state, in which a provision of the Fashion Workers Act would require management companies and brands to obtain models’ clear written consent to create or use a model’s digital replica; specify the amount and duration of compensation, and prohibit altering or manipulating models’ digital replica without consent.

Alexsandrah says that with ethical use and the right legal regulations, AI might open up doors for more models of color like herself. She has let her clients know that she has an AI replica, and she funnels any inquires for its use through Wilson, who she describes as "somebody that I know, love, trust and is my friend.” Wilson says they make sure any compensation for Alexsandrah's AI is comparable to what she would make in-person.

Edmond, however, is more of a purist: “We have this amazing Earth that we’re living on. And you have a person of every shade, every height, every size. Why not find that person and compensate that person?”


Italian Fashion Designer Roberto Cavalli Dies Aged 83

FILE PHOTO: Italian designer Roberto Cavalli acknowledges applause on the catwalk with US model Cindy Crawford at the end of his Autumn/Winter 2002/03 collection at Milan fashion week March 4, 2002. REUTERS/Paolo Cocco/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Italian designer Roberto Cavalli acknowledges applause on the catwalk with US model Cindy Crawford at the end of his Autumn/Winter 2002/03 collection at Milan fashion week March 4, 2002. REUTERS/Paolo Cocco/File Photo
TT

Italian Fashion Designer Roberto Cavalli Dies Aged 83

FILE PHOTO: Italian designer Roberto Cavalli acknowledges applause on the catwalk with US model Cindy Crawford at the end of his Autumn/Winter 2002/03 collection at Milan fashion week March 4, 2002. REUTERS/Paolo Cocco/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Italian designer Roberto Cavalli acknowledges applause on the catwalk with US model Cindy Crawford at the end of his Autumn/Winter 2002/03 collection at Milan fashion week March 4, 2002. REUTERS/Paolo Cocco/File Photo

Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, known for his animal-print designs loved by showbusiness stars, has died at the age of 83, his company said.
Cavalli, who founded his label in the early 1970s, had been ill for some time. He is survived by his six children and his partner Sandra Bergman Nilsson.
"The Roberto Cavalli company shares condolences with Mr. Cavalli's family, his legacy remains a constant source of inspiration," Sergio Azzolari, chief executive of Roberto Cavalli, said in a post on Instagram.
The designer died on Friday at his home in Florence, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Cavalli, who used bright colors and patchwork effects in his often revealing creations, was an extroverted art lover who wore tinted glasses and smoked a cigar, Reuters reported.
He expanded into real estate and often spent evenings in his popular "Just Cavalli Cafe," a nightclub in central Milan.
Giorgio Armani said he always had "enormous respect" for Cavalli even though his vision of fashion could not have been more different.
"Roberto was a true artist, wild and wonderful in his use of prints, capable of transforming fantasy into seductive clothes," he posted on social media platform X.
A popular image of US model Cindy Crawford in July 2000 shows her descending Rome's Spanish steps in a Cavalli-designed long slip dress depicting a tiger face.
"You will be missed and you are loved by so many that your name will continue on, a beacon of inspiration for others, and especially for me," said Roberto Cavalli's creative director Fausto Puglisi.


Nike Bosses Plan ‘Biggest’ Olympics Spend as Marketing Ramps Up

 This photograph shows a Air Zoom sneaker during a Nike event, in Paris, on April 11, 2024. (AFP)
This photograph shows a Air Zoom sneaker during a Nike event, in Paris, on April 11, 2024. (AFP)
TT

Nike Bosses Plan ‘Biggest’ Olympics Spend as Marketing Ramps Up

 This photograph shows a Air Zoom sneaker during a Nike event, in Paris, on April 11, 2024. (AFP)
This photograph shows a Air Zoom sneaker during a Nike event, in Paris, on April 11, 2024. (AFP)

Nike is spending more on this Olympics than any previous Games, top executives said on Friday, as the US sportswear brand embarks on a marketing push it hopes will revive flagging sales and help compete with upstart rivals.

Sportswear makers are looking to reignite demand on the back of Paris 2024, which represents a return to normalcy after Tokyo 2020, delayed to 2021 and held without spectators due to the global pandemic.

Sponsored athletes including US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson and Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge modeled Nike's Olympics kits at a show in Paris on Thursday, where the brand also unveiled 13 futuristic shoe prototypes developed with athletes.

"This Olympics will be our biggest ... it will be our largest media spend," Heidi O'Neill, president of consumer, product and brand at Nike said in an interview. "This will be the most investment and the biggest moment for Nike in years," she added, without putting a figure on the amount of spending planned.

In Nike's latest quarter, total marketing expense was $1 billion, up 10% on the same period last year. Asked whether spending will continue to ramp up, O'Neill said marketing was "the number one priority investment" for the company.

Nike in general is focusing on "fewer, bigger" marketing campaigns, she added. The $139 billion company hired a new chief marketing officer at the end of last year as it seeks to bolster its brand in an increasingly competitive sportswear market.

Newer running brands such as On and Hoka are taking market share from Nike, while a trend away from chunky basketball sneakers is benefiting its closest rival Adidas and its low-profile "terrace" shoes.

Nike's plans contrast with those of Adidas. The German brand has been cutting back on marketing spend and spent 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) on marketing in 2023, down 8.5% from the previous year. Nike's spend over its latest four quarters was $4.3 billion, an increase of 6%.

Nike's investment should help stimulate demand despite pressure on consumers globally, executives say.

"Consumers are challenged in just about every market we do business in," said Craig Williams, Nike's president of global geographies and marketplace.

Despite that, consumers continue to respond "very positively" to the Olympics as an event, Williams said, adding it is still seen as "the epitome of sport".


Louis Vuitton Hires Advertising Chief to Run Communications

The logo of luxury brand Louis Vuitton is seen in New York City, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
The logo of luxury brand Louis Vuitton is seen in New York City, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
TT

Louis Vuitton Hires Advertising Chief to Run Communications

The logo of luxury brand Louis Vuitton is seen in New York City, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
The logo of luxury brand Louis Vuitton is seen in New York City, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Louis Vuitton said on Thursday it had recruited Blake Harrop to be its next communications chief, replacing industry veteran Stefano Cantino, who was named deputy chief executive officer of Kering-owned Gucci earlier in the day.
Harrop's appointment to be Executive Vice President, Image and Communications at the LVMH-owned label, the world's biggest fashion brand, was first reported by publication WWD.
Harrop and Cantino's new jobs underline how central communications and marketing have become for high-end fashion labels at a time of rapid global growth.
Harrop is a high-profile, international advertising executive from outside the fashion trade - a rarity in the business - while Cantino worked for two decades at Prada before Vuitton.
Harrop, president of advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy since 2022, has extensive international experience, leading the US agency in China, Japan and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, and running business with Nike in Japan, South Korea, the Middle East and Europe.
As part of his new job, Harrop will contribute to new campaigns aimed at elevating Vuitton's image, the brand's Chief Executive Pietro Beccari said in a statement to Reuters.
"I am confident of his capacity to inspire passion and collectiveness," Beccari said.
Louis Vuitton has become increasingly involved in sport, producing trunks specially designed to hold the medals in the upcoming Paris Olympics.


Zara Owner Inditex Demands Clarity from Cotton Certifier Accused of Standard Breaches

 Shoppers visit a Zara store in a shopping mall the day of its reopening after being closed for more than two years due to Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine April 3, 2024. (Reuters)
Shoppers visit a Zara store in a shopping mall the day of its reopening after being closed for more than two years due to Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine April 3, 2024. (Reuters)
TT

Zara Owner Inditex Demands Clarity from Cotton Certifier Accused of Standard Breaches

 Shoppers visit a Zara store in a shopping mall the day of its reopening after being closed for more than two years due to Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine April 3, 2024. (Reuters)
Shoppers visit a Zara store in a shopping mall the day of its reopening after being closed for more than two years due to Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine April 3, 2024. (Reuters)

Zara owner Inditex demanded more transparency from a certifier that vets some of the cotton used by the Spanish fashion giant following an investigation that found evidence of malpractice by two Brazilian certified cotton producers.

Inditex sent a letter dated April 8 to Better Cotton CEO Alan McClay asking for clarity on the certification process and progress on traceability practices after the NGO Earthsight informed the retailer that producers with Better Cotton certifications were involved in land grabbing, illegal deforestation and violent acts against local communities, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.

Inditex said it had waited more than six months for the results of an internal investigation by Better Cotton that was promised for the end of March and began in August 2023, according to the letter.

The allegations "represent a serious breach in the trust placed in Better Cotton's certification process by both our group and our product suppliers," Inditex said in the letter. "The trust that we place in such processes developed by independent organizations, such as yours, is key to our supply chain control strategy."

The contents of the letter was first published by Modaes, a fashion business news site. Inditex confirmed to Reuters it had sent the letter.

Inditex does not purchase cotton directly but its providers are audited by certifiers such as Better Cotton to ensure good practices when obtaining their raw materials.

Geneva-based Better Cotton, one of the world's largest certifiers of sustainable practices in the cotton industry, did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

It said in an April 4 statement that it had concluded a third party audit of three farms implicated by Earthsight but that it would not publish its findings until it had seen the full report, which was due to be published on Thursday.

Better Cotton said its strategic partner in Brazil, the Brazilian Association of Cotton Producers, was revising elements of its standards to align with those of Better Cotton.

Created by companies and several nonprofits including the World Wildlife Fund, Better Cotton says it aims to support improved practices in areas like water and soil stewardship and to promote better working standards.

Fashion retailers face increasing pressures from consumers and activist groups to sell products with less environmental impact and made in safe labor conditions.


Uniqlo Owner Seen Posting 11% Profit Bump on Q2 Overseas Sales

Shoppers walk inside Fast Retailing's Uniqlo casual clothing store in Tokyo, Japan July 10, 2014. (Reuters)
Shoppers walk inside Fast Retailing's Uniqlo casual clothing store in Tokyo, Japan July 10, 2014. (Reuters)
TT

Uniqlo Owner Seen Posting 11% Profit Bump on Q2 Overseas Sales

Shoppers walk inside Fast Retailing's Uniqlo casual clothing store in Tokyo, Japan July 10, 2014. (Reuters)
Shoppers walk inside Fast Retailing's Uniqlo casual clothing store in Tokyo, Japan July 10, 2014. (Reuters)

The Japanese operator of global clothing heavyweight Uniqlo is expected to post a stronger quarterly profit on Thursday as its overseas units make up for slowing growth at home.

Fast Retailing's operating profit in the three months through February likely rose 11% from a year earlier to 114.3 billion yen ($753.4 million), based on the average of five analyst estimates compiled by LSEG.

The increase builds the first quarter, when Fast Retailing posted a 25% jump in earnings on the back of strong results in China, its biggest foreign market.

The company conservatively left its forward guidance unchanged after those results, so second-quarter results may top consensus figures, according to LightStream Research analyst Oshadhi Kumarasiri.

"This optimism is fueled by several factors, including the ongoing recovery of the Uniqlo business in China and South Korea, robust same-store sales performance across the Asia, India, and Oceania regions, and the impressive sales volume of apparel observed in the US in December 2023," he wrote in a report on the Smartkarma platform.

The company founded and run by Tadashi Yanai has posted record results in the past two years and is projecting profits to climb again this year as it continues to aggressively grow overseas.

Yanai, Japan's richest man, is scheduled to speak at Fast Retailing's earnings briefing on Thursday.

With its 922 stores in mainland China, Fast Retailing is a bellwether for global retailers operating in the world's second-biggest economy. Sales in the region have bounced back strongly in the past year from the doldrums of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The yen's slide to a near 34-year low is also a tailwind for Fast Retailing, which gets more than half its revenue from outside Japan.

Fast Retailing's shares are up 28% so far in 2024, compared with a 19% advance in the benchmark Nikkei index.


Puma Hones Focus on Speed in Olympic Battle with Adidas and Nike

Detail picture of Rickie Fowler of the United States Puma golf shoes during the second round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 05, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. (Getty Images/AFP)
Detail picture of Rickie Fowler of the United States Puma golf shoes during the second round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 05, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. (Getty Images/AFP)
TT

Puma Hones Focus on Speed in Olympic Battle with Adidas and Nike

Detail picture of Rickie Fowler of the United States Puma golf shoes during the second round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 05, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. (Getty Images/AFP)
Detail picture of Rickie Fowler of the United States Puma golf shoes during the second round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 05, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. (Getty Images/AFP)

German sportswear brand Puma is using this year's Olympic Games and its partnership with sprint champions Jamaica to focus on speed as it jostles with Adidas and Nike to carve out space in an increasingly competitive running and lifestyle market.

Puma CEO Arne Freundt aims to boost sales of "performance" products like running shoes and soccer cleats, and is revamping Puma's "Forever Faster" message in its first brand campaign in a decade on Wednesday in Paris, host of this year's Games.

As Puma tries to win over more everyday and serious runners, its sponsorship of Jamaica's Olympic team and some of the world's best sprinters like Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah helps to associate the brand with speed, said Geoff Lowery, analyst at Redburn in London.

"You're never going to sell very many running spikes, but in terms of properly iconic teams that credentialize you as a performance brand and associate you with some of the most exciting athletes, Puma have a super-strong relationship there," Lowery said.

Freundt visited Jamaica at the end of March, attending the country's top high school track and field meet for the first time to launch the Jamaican Olympic kit at the event seen as a testing ground for young athletic talent.

"We need to be very clear that Puma is about speed," Freundt, who has been in the top job just over a year, told Reuters in an interview ahead of the campaign launch. "That's something we need to strengthen further in the consumer mindset."

Like other sportswear retailers that sponsor Olympians and pour marketing money into the Games, the bet is that athletes breaking records in Puma gear will nudge spectators towards its whole range of products, creating a potential "halo effect" for everything from marathon shoes to everyday sneakers.

Brands like Puma, Adidas, and Nike will also be allowed to celebrate their Olympic athletes' medal wins on social media during the Games for the first time, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to relax rules governing online marketing in a "pilot project" with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry.

"With the new IOC regulations we will be able to use that moment in a better way, to congratulate them also via social media, I think that's a win-win for both the Olympics as well as us," Freundt said.


Pakistan’s Delicate Eid Bangles Go from Furnace to Forearms

 In this picture taken on March 31, 2024, customers buy bangles at a shop in Hyderabad. Layers of intricately decorated bangles are a staple fashion accessory for women in Pakistan, a carefully considered part of their Islamic Eid al-Fitr celebrations. (AFP)
In this picture taken on March 31, 2024, customers buy bangles at a shop in Hyderabad. Layers of intricately decorated bangles are a staple fashion accessory for women in Pakistan, a carefully considered part of their Islamic Eid al-Fitr celebrations. (AFP)
TT

Pakistan’s Delicate Eid Bangles Go from Furnace to Forearms

 In this picture taken on March 31, 2024, customers buy bangles at a shop in Hyderabad. Layers of intricately decorated bangles are a staple fashion accessory for women in Pakistan, a carefully considered part of their Islamic Eid al-Fitr celebrations. (AFP)
In this picture taken on March 31, 2024, customers buy bangles at a shop in Hyderabad. Layers of intricately decorated bangles are a staple fashion accessory for women in Pakistan, a carefully considered part of their Islamic Eid al-Fitr celebrations. (AFP)

Layers of intricately decorated bangles are a staple fashion accessory for women in Pakistan, a carefully considered part of their Islamic Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

More than a dozen people can be involved in the making of a single bangle, from sweltering factories to the homes of designers who skillfully decorate them by hand.

"Whatever the fashion trends, when we attend any event and wear any outfit it feels incomplete without bangles," said 42-year-old Talat Zahid, who uses beads, stitching and embroidery to embellish bangles.

"Even if you don't wear jewellery but wear bangles or a bracelet with your outfit, the outfit looks complete."

In the lead-up to this week's Eid al-Fitr festivities that mark the end of Ramadan, market stalls are adorned with a glittering array of colorful bangles, each turned over and inspected for their beauty and imperfections by women who haggle for a good price.

They are often sold by the dozen, starting at around 150 rupees (about 50 cents) and rising to 1,000 rupees as stones and silk are added.

Hyderabad is home to the delicate "churi" glass bangle, where a single furnace can produce up to 100 bangles an hour from molten glass wire shaped around an iron rod.

The work is arduous and frustrating -- laborers are exposed to oppressive temperatures in unregulated factories prone to frequent power cuts, while the fragile glass threads can snap easily.

"The work is done without a fan. If we turn on the fan the fire is extinguished. So the heat intensity is high. As it becomes hotter our work slows down," said 24-year-old Sameer, who followed his father into the industry and earns less than the minimum wage of 32,000 rupees ($115) a month.

After the partition of British-ruled India in 1947, migrating Muslims who had produced bangles in the Indian city of Firozabad took their trade to Hyderabad -- where hundreds of thousands of people rely on the industry.

But soaring gas prices after the government slashed subsidies have forced many factories to close or to operate at reduced hours.

"The speed at which the government has increased the gas prices and taxes, (means) the work in this area has started to shrink instead of expand," said 50-year-old factory owner Muhammad Nafees.

Most bangles leave the factory as plain loops, sent off to be embellished to different degrees by women who work from home, before they're finally passed on to traders to be sold in markets.

The production is often a family affair.

Saima Bibi, 25, works from home, carefully adding stones to bangles with the help of her three children when they return from school, while her husband works at the furnaces.

"They go through a lot of hands to be prepared," she said.


Armani Group Company in Receivership over Labor Exploitation Probe

People pass through an installation during the opening of the exhibition "Ground Break" by artist Nari Ward, at Pirelli HangarBicocca, in Milan, Italy, March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco
People pass through an installation during the opening of the exhibition "Ground Break" by artist Nari Ward, at Pirelli HangarBicocca, in Milan, Italy, March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco
TT

Armani Group Company in Receivership over Labor Exploitation Probe

People pass through an installation during the opening of the exhibition "Ground Break" by artist Nari Ward, at Pirelli HangarBicocca, in Milan, Italy, March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco
People pass through an installation during the opening of the exhibition "Ground Break" by artist Nari Ward, at Pirelli HangarBicocca, in Milan, Italy, March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco

An Italian court on Friday placed under judicial administration a company owned by Italian fashion group Armani for indirectly subcontracting its production to Chinese companies that exploited workers.
The court in Milan ordered a one-year receivership for Giorgio Armani Operations, described as an industrial company of the Armani Group, according to the ruling seen by Reuters.
It said Giorgio Armani Operations had entrusted the production of its bags to two firms that subcontracted the work to four Chinese companies which paid their workers 2 to 3 euro per hour.
Armani Group said in a statement that it had "always had control and prevention measures in place to minimize abuses in the supply chain," adding that it would work with the authorities to clarify its position.


Kering Buys Building in Milan’s via Montenapoleone for $1.4 Bln 

The logo of French luxury group Kering is seen at Kering headquarters in Paris, France, February 13, 2023. (Reuters)
The logo of French luxury group Kering is seen at Kering headquarters in Paris, France, February 13, 2023. (Reuters)
TT

Kering Buys Building in Milan’s via Montenapoleone for $1.4 Bln 

The logo of French luxury group Kering is seen at Kering headquarters in Paris, France, February 13, 2023. (Reuters)
The logo of French luxury group Kering is seen at Kering headquarters in Paris, France, February 13, 2023. (Reuters)

French luxury group Kering said on Thursday it acquired an 18th century building in via Montenapoleone, the heart of Milan's most exclusive shopping area, for 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion), from Blackstone Property Partners Europe.

Kering's deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions of buildings in top fashion locations by big luxury groups.

The building, which already hosts Saint Laurent's store, is developed over five floors. It includes more than 5,000 square meters of retail space, making it one of the largest properties in via Montenapoleone, according to the statement.

"This investment is part of Kering's selective real estate strategy, aimed at securing key highly desirable locations for its houses," the group said in a statement.

Kering, which last month warned that its first-quarter sales were likely to drop by around 10%, added that it aimed to manage its real estate portfolio with the goal of retaining a stake in its prime assets alongside co-investors in dedicated vehicles, as it did for a building for its Italian label Bottega Veneta in Tokyo.