Top Stories In Footwear Business: Retail’s Recovery, Apple’s Fashionable Support, Trump-Clinton TPP Talk

Trump, Clinton Presidential Election
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Michigan.
AP Images.

Trump, Clinton Agree On One Thing
The Trans-Pacific Partnership hasn’t had much love from the candidates during this election cycle. Donald Trump came out swinging against the deal from the start of the campaign, and after getting pressure from Bernie Sanders during the primaries, Hillary Clinton also flip-flopped her stance and opposed the deal.

This week in Michigan, both presidential candidates gave economic policy speeches and the 12-nation trade deal. Trump called the agreement a disaster and went as far to say “a vote for Clinton is a vote for TPP.” Clinton, in her speech Thursday, took a tougher stance: “I oppose it now. I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.” Not everyone, Trump included, seems convinced Clinton won’t flip-flop again if she’s elected.

Ultimately, the deal is an economic boon for the majority of the footwear industry, and for the U.S., it’s seen as a national security move to check Chinese power in the region.

Apple Store An Apple store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. REX Shutterstock.

Fashion Pro-Apple: Design Is Everything

The Apple lawsuit against Samsung for patent infringement over its iPhone features has been one of Silicon Valley’s splashiest. Now that the case is headed to the Supreme Court, fashion is taking sides. In an amicus brief filed with the courts last week, designers including Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein and Nicolas Ghesquière filed in support of Apple. Tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have sided with Samsung.

The court will answer whether a company violating another’s patents is required to forfeit all profits, when only parts of an item are in violation. Historically, brands will surrender all profits, even for a partial violation.

“If you think about it in terms of the fashion industry and footwear, there are hundreds of design patents on different aspects of the shoe, like the sole,” explained IP attorney Aaron Parker with Finnegan. “Should you be entitled to all profits of the entire shoe if we’re only talking about a specific portion of a shoe?”

IP experts say if the courts rule in favor of Samsung it would blow open previous precedents regarding patents, force designers to more seriously seek design protection and raise serious questions about the value of design. Another important thing to note: The law as it reads now acts as a deterrent preventing patent and intellectual property theft.

South China Seas Heating Up

New photos revealed this week appear to show reefs and islands built by China in the international trade thoroughfare are being militarized. The news comes just weeks after the International Court of Justice declared that China didn’t have the right to build islands in the area, and after China’s President Xi Jinping promised not to militarized the zone last fall while visiting the U.S. For footwear, the all-important Asian sourcing route will most certainly be affected by the increased tensions with the Chinese moves.

Macy's store in Herald Square Macy’s flagship store in NYC’s Herald Square. Courtesy image.

Department Stores Turned a Corner

After months of missed comps, disappointing consumer traffic, high promotions and static inventory, Q2 looks like department stores might be turning a corner for 2016. Macy’s, Nordstrom, JCPenney’s and Kohl’s reported better-than-expected earnings that showed steps toward improvement.

Most notably, Macy’s garnered attention Thursday after reporting it would close 100 stores and distribute more resources to improving profitable stores, in-store experience and digital efforts. The share price soared 17 percent.

Losses at Nordstrom and JCPenney were smaller than expected as stores became increasingly proactive on cutting inventory levels. Kohl’s also picked up pace. “We see reason for increased optimism for the second half based on sequentially improving comp momentum, clean-ish inventories and easy comparisons,” wrote Cowen & Co.’s Olivier Chen in a note to investors about Kohl’s and Macy’s. Analysts say while the steps are in the right direction, department stores aren’t out of the woods yet.