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New York Transit Strike
Page 1

China to End Export Tariffs
Page 1

WTO Liberalization Plans 
Page 1

Moss Named Best Dressed Woman
Page 1

Online Retailers Happy With Holiday Sales
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Buyers' Best Sellers
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Ask Andy
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McPete Sez
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Hilfiger Sold
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Gift Card Sales Up in 2005
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  January 1, 2006                                               Issue #160


             McPete -Sez, 
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 Pre-Christmas New York
          Transit Strike
Relieved New Yorkers happily hopped on subways and buses Friday morning, December 23. They drove into the city without carpooling and quit doling out wads of cash to taxi drivers as a strike of the nation's largest mass transit system ended. 
After three days of a bitterly cold commute, temperatures warmed to the high 40s and subways and buses returned to service smoothly for more than 7 million daily riders. NYC Transit said the traffic, on the Friday before Christmas, was lighter than a usual weekday. 
The end of the first transit strike in the city in a quarter-century didn't resolve a bitter contract dispute between Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Union leaders agreed to a state mediator's suggestion to go back to work without a contract, although the mediators said the MTA may consider pulling a proposal to offer less generous pensions to its new employees in exchange for workers' increased contributions to health care. Union leader Roger Toussaint said the pension proposal was unacceptable and the major sticking point in the contract. 
Transit workers, whose contract expired Dec. 16, were troubled by the uncertainty. 
"We wanna know what we gained and what we have to give up," said bus driver Dady Halaby, behind the wheel of a bus traveling through the Upper East Side. 
Also postponed was a court hearing that could decide whether the union will have to pay $3 million in fines levied by a Brooklyn judge. The transit workers will lose six days' pay for the strike because of a state law prohibiting them from walking off the job. 
Commuters crowded onto suburban trains, walked miles in subfreezing temperatures, shared cars with strangers to meet the city's requirement that four people travel in cars going to busier parts of Manhattan and paid taxi and livery car drivers well above the normal meter fare to get around. 
Retailers may have paid the heaviest price in the strike; city officials estimated hundreds of millions of dollars were drained from the economy in lost holiday business, tourism and tax revenue. 


China To End Textile Export
China will axe self-imposed tariffs on textile exports in 2006, according to Finance Minister Jin Renqing.
Jin said that China will keep its flexible import tariff for cotton 
goods that exceed the import quota. 
He pointed out that there would be double restrictions on manufacturers and exporters if it didn’t scrap tariffs as it has signed deals with the US and the EU to limit textile exports.
All current tariffs on textiles will be removed on January 1.
According to Jin, the tariff it imposed earlier this year was aimed at  protecting the equilibrium of the global textile system.

Women wearing their underwear pose in Hyde Park in 
Sydney. More than 50 women wore their underwear as they paraded through the city's central business district to promote
a local magazine and the launch of a body image calendar ahead 
of Christmas. 

H&M's November Sales
       Increase 11% 
High-street fashion favorite H&M has enjoyed an 11% rise in sales in November, compared to the same period last year, boosted by new stores and the sell-out Stella McCartney range.
H&M’s director of investor relations Nils Vinge suggested that an increased number of stores had contributed to the growth and said that the company was "very pleased" with the success of the one-off range created by top designer McCartney, which flew off UK shelves within hours.
The collection failed to boost sales to the same extent as the range designed last year by Karl Lagerfeld, but has given the company a phenomenal amount of press coverage. 
Vinge said the company would not comment on the comparable figures between the two ranges but said: "There are many reasons behind the varying successes of the collections such as the different target markets."
When asked about expansion plans for the next year, Vinge said: "We will boost our store numbers by between 10% and 15% during the year. Key markets will be the US, Germany, the UK, Spain, and France."
The company increased its retail portfolio by 12% by the end of last month, bringing its store total to 1,193.

Cortefiel To Open 1,000 New
        Stores by 2010 
Cortefiel is to open over 1,000 new doors by 2010, elevating its store count to roughly 2,200 points of sale.
The Madrid-based retailer will also launch the Springfield women’s banner, they said, to take on archrivals Zara and Mango and H&M, which have strong footholds in female apparel.
Cortefiel will pursue the expansion by opening self-owned outlets, franchised stores, corners and other retail formats, mostly in Spain, an official with the main Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) syndicate said, requesting anonymity.
Many of the new outlets will open under its existing Cortefiel, Springfield and Women’s Secret banners, he added. The unions' comments came shortly after Cortefiel announced that it won’t open all future stores on its own and that many will be franchised outlets. 
The company said it did not have specific expansion targets. 
However, it noted that it will enter new undisclosed markets and fashion segments and make acquisitions to continue growing around the globe.
Cortefiel’s new owners - private equity firms CVC, PAI and Permira - have said that the company would launch 60 stores per year in Spain and Portugal starting February 2006.
If that strategy were pursued, Cortefiel would have 928 directly operated outlets. The company now has 617 of its own stores and 483 operated under franchises.

                   WTO Trade 
   Liberalization Plans

The decision by trade ministers at the World Trade Organization's sixth ministerial meeting in Hong Kong to provide duty-free and quota-free access for most of the products produced by the world’s poorest countries has been praised by trade groups representing US apparel, footwear, and other sewn products companies and their suppliers.
The proposal stipulates that wealthy countries must allow duty-and quota-free imports of at least 97% of products from so-called Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which will be given special allowances for meeting market-opening requirements.
Responding to the announcement, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) said that not only will the US economy benefit –  but so too will “some of the world’s poorest countries by providing increased market access opportunities for US branded textiles, apparel and footwear.”
The final declaration paves the way for trade liberalization for US branded textiles, apparel, and footwear through reduction and elimination of tariffs worldwide, elimination of non-tariff barriers, and the facilitation and harmonization of customs procedures. Other provisions seek liberalization in services and agricultural trade, including the elimination by rich countries of all cotton export subsidies next year. 
Ministers are expected to spend the next year working out the details.
“We look forward to working with the US government to implement the duty-free, quota-free initiative to ensure that it applies to those articles most important to struggling countries like Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Haiti,” said Kevin M Burke, AAFA President and CEO. 
However, US textile lobbyists argue that giving blanket LDC zero duty, zero quota access to countries such as Bangladesh, which already have developed and competitive textile sectors, would actually lead to shattered and shuttered textile and apparel mills in the LDC’s the measure is purporting to help.
Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said the NCTO will be meeting with the US government in order to assess the impact the WTO statement could have on sensitive textile and apparel product lines. 
       Allure Leather     
Gap & Staton Sign Deal 
Apparel giant Gap’s Business Direct unit has signed a deal with wholesale distributor Staton Corporate & Casual for the distribution of corporate apparel from the Gap and Old Navy brands. 
The deal will enable Business Direct to expand its corporate apparel business through Staton’s established base of promotional products distributors. 
Business Direct Senior director Keith Mercier said: "Partnering with Staton Corporate & Casual brings Business Direct closer to its singular goal: offering corporations, clubs and organizations stylish apparel made for men and women, from brands they know and trust".
Staton president and founder Edward Staton said: “Gap and Old Navy are among the world’s best-known apparel brands. 
"By partnering with Gap Business Direct, Staton will benefit from the tremendous consumer awareness of the brands, as well as Gap Inc’s marketing and merchandising expertise."
The companies will be exhibiting at the Promotional Products Association International Expo in Las Vegas, US, January 11-13, 2006. 
1996-launched Business Direct began by selling gift cards for corporate sales. Today, Business Direct offers an expanded collection of premium clothing and accessories from Gap and Old Navy as well as gift cards from Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. 
Staton Corporate & Casual is a Dallas-based wholesale distributor with 25 years of experience distributing brands into the promotional products and imprinted sportswear markets. 

Wolford Reports Increased 
            H1 Results
Up market lingerie company Wolford has reported increased first-half earnings and sales, thanks to restructuring activity and debt retirement.
Net earnings for the six-month period almost doubled to EUR634,000 compared to EUR322,000 in the same period last year.
First-half sales edged up 2.3% from a year ago, with the share of sales made by company-owned points of sales increasing to 29.5% compared to 26.3% previously.
Wolford said it still expects sales to rise to a minimum of EUR120m in the 2004/05 year compared to EUR116.3m a year ago.

Wacoal to Disband Lingerie
Wacoal Holdings Corp announced it will disband Fukushima Wacoal Sewing Corp, which makes upscale lingerie, as the group firm has been doing poorly in the face of cheap imports. 
Wacoal Holdings also said that at its subsidiary Wacoal Corp, 362 workers have applied for its early retirement program announced this November, which was intended for about 300. Wacoal Holdings now projects its consolidated net profit at 1.4 billion yen for the business year ending next March, down from its previous forecast of 1.9 billion yen.       

Moss Named Best Dressed
       Women in 2005
Despite her much publicized troubles with cocaine use, Kate Moss has come out a winner in the best-dressed fashion by readers of British Magazine Grazia.
The publication, a spin-off from the weekly Italian style magazine of the same name, published its poll this week with the 31-year-old model collecting 34% of the vote.
"Moss remains the style icon of our times," editor Jane Bruton declared.
Scarlett Johansson, 21, came second with Moss's style rival Sienna Miller third.
Others to poll well include singer Gwen Stefani (fourth) and Nicole Kidman (fifth).           

          Cutting Shoe Imports 
   Concerns Argentina's 
          Shoe Industry
Argentina’s shoe industry is worried about the negative impact that a possible reduction of import tariffs could have on the trade.
The specter of such cuts came as part of the World Trade Organization’s six-day Ministerial conference on global trade.
Under the negotiations, aimed at removing global trade barriers by the end of 2006, rich countries pressured developing ones to accept import-duty cuts for certain industrial sectors in exchange for greater access to farming markets in the developed world.
The talks were pursued under the so-called Non-Agricultural Market Access or NAMA proposals.
In a statement, Argentina’s shoe trade federation Camara Industrial del Calzado said the industry made no progress in its pleas for the sector to be exempted from the NAMA proposals, which also calls for lower trade duties for the textiles industry.
If approved, the NAMA could bring a 200% cut to shoe import duties, "destroying the industry", which is currently protected by high import taxes, the CIC’s secretary general Horacio Moschetto said in a statement.

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