Fashion designer Tadashi Shoji says e-commerce saved his brand during pandemic


(Reuters) – After closing all his stores, veteran fashion designer Tadashi Shoji said he has been able to keep his business afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the success of e-commerce and custom sales.

The Los Angeles, California-based brand released its digital runway show online on Saturday during New York Fashion Week.

Keeping costs low, the video was filmed in the company’s cafeteria with creative lighting and editing.

“Logistically it’s very hard, but it’s very fortunate for us because of COVID our e-com is increasing tremendously. That’s helping me to survive in this COVID time,” Shoji said.

“If we didn’t have this strong e-com infrastructure for us I think, I think our business went down,” he said.

Shoji said this season was inspired by “boundless expression” and has added different silhouettes to his normal body-con repertoire.

Menswear was the inspiration for many looks with stretch velvet, shimmer and slits providing femininity.

The designer’s signature draped tulle, lace and hand beading made the collection look familiar to his long-time fans.

New York Fashion Week will end on Feb. 16 with over 150 designers having presented their collections live or online.

(Reporting by Alicia Powell; editing by Diane Craft)

Film alluding to violence made by Denver shooter released


DENVER (AP) — A man who fatally shot five people before being killed by police alluded to violence in a film for sale on a website that previously sold fictional e-books he’s believed to have written, with victims and scenes similar to the attacks.

Lyndon McCleod, 47, wounded two others including a police officer in the rampage Dec. 27 at several locations around Denver.

The 47-minute film, “Warhorse,” shows McCleod in a hotel room with a briefcase full of $100 bills, riding a custom motorcycle around Denver, standing in an art museum and sitting in a van outside World Tattoo Studio, where McLeod once owned a business called Flat Black Ink Corp.

The film intersperses action sequences, often edited as animation, with snippets of still photos, animal skulls, marked-up texts, forest fires, artwork, totems and Civil War references. Throughout, an audio-distorted, male voice-over reads texts about subjects including Genghis Khan and Jesse James, the Denver Gazette reported.

One brief scene shows a figure in a black, hockey-type mask carrying a long gun and stepping out of a van. The film, which at one point shows McCleod removing the mask, solely credits McCleod at the end and he’s the only person featured in it.

The movie’s sale doesn’t sit well with Jeremy Costilow, whose name was mentioned 100 times in McLeod’s self-published book trilogy. Costilow was nearly killed in the rampage.

“Nobody should make money off of that. It’s terrible,” Costilow told the Gazette. “I know people are fascinated by killers, but I don’t think anybody should own that movie at all.”

Amanda Knight, a friend of McLeod’s who warned police about him a year before the slayings, is helping sell the movie to help McLeod’s former girlfriend recoup money and property she lost. A statement on the website says, “Proceeds of this film go to victims of the crime.”

McLeod’s friends are also traumatized from the killings, Knight said.

“People have to heal. People have to survive. We’re not rich,” said Knight.

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Jimmy Maldonado, who was injured in the killer’s first stop at a tattoo shop, was shown a screenshot from the film showing McLeod in tactical gear.

“He was wearing that same helmet as what’s in the movie,” Maldonado said. “At first I thought it was the police who shot me.”

McLeod was wearing all black, Maldonado said, when he walked in the door of a tattoo shop and killed Maldonado’s wife, Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, 35, and her friend, Alicia Cardenas, 44, who owned the shop. McLeod in the next hour went on to kill Michael Swinyard, 67; Danny Scofield, 38; and finally hotel clerk Sarah Steck, 28.

Three killed were at tattoo shops and police have said McLeod knew most of the victims through business or personal relationships.

The self-published, fictional books written under the pen name Roman McClay named some of McLeod’s real-life victims and described similar attacks. The books were no longer available for download Sunday but the film could be downloaded for $30.

In the first book, a character named Lyndon shoots everyone at a poker party held by a character named “Michael Swinyard." The second novel also features a character named Lyndon and names “Alicia Cardenas” as a victim.

Investigators know about the movie and will be reviewing it, Denver and Lakewood police said.

The FBI can’t comment on an ongoing investigation but continues to work with Denver and Lakewood police to determine the motive for the shooting, FBI spokeswoman Dana M. Plumhoff said by email Sunday.

This story has been corrected to show that three were killed at tattoo shops, not four.

Mandatory masks, tests as NY Fashion Week embraces ‘new normal’


NEW YORK, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Fashionistas will be accessorising their outfits with mandatory masks to attend New York Fashion Week this season, adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols put in place for smaller catwalk shows.

With a return to physical shows in September following virtual fashion weeks earlier in the pandemic, organisers are embracing a “new normal” mix of in-person and digital presentations.

Designers like Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera and Christian Siriano will present their latest creations live during the Feb. 11 - 16 event, according to IMG Fashion which runs New York Fashion Week: The Shows.

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Others like Badgley Mischka and Tadashi Shoji will provide digital releases, all keen to capitalise on soaring demand for luxury goods as customers splash out following lockdowns.

“It’s the new normal. This season there will be indoor mask wearing that’ll be a requirement across all shows, proof of vaccination, that will be a must,” Noah Kozlowski, director of designer relations and development at IMG Fashion, told Reuters.

“Those who are eligible to be boosted will be required to show proof of doing so. If not, they’ll have to provide a PCR test within 48 hours or an Antigen test within six hours.”

A model presents a creation from the Jason Wu collection during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Like last season, guest lists are smaller with about 200 spectators expected on average.

“The biggest challenge will be for the decision makers of who gets to attend the shows since across the board there will be decreased capacities similar to what we saw last season,” Kozlowski said.

Some designers are absent from the schedule. Tom Ford cancelled his show while Thom Brown postponed his to April due to COVID-19.

New York, which kicks off the seasonal catwalk calendar, is known for established brands and newer streetwear labels.

“American fashion has never been as powerful as it (is) right now,” Women’s Wear Daily style director Alex Badia said.

After New York, fellow fashion capitals London, Milan and Paris also plan busy in-person show schedules.

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Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian

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Blake Lively Is ‘Freaking Out’ At Her And Taylor Swift’s News


Blake Lively and Taylor Swift have been friends for a while, having met in 2015.

During the pair’s friendship they’ve done everything from holiday in Australia together to publicly support each other’s careers.

One of their most prominent friendship milestones was when Lively co-wrote and directed the singer’s music video for 2021 song ‘I Bet You Think About Me’, from her album Red (Taylor’s Version).

As we’d expect from a music video dreamt up by the strong female duo, it’s received over 32 million views on Youtube (and counting), and now Swift’s video has been nominated for ‘video of the year’ at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards, with Lively in the running to earn an accolade for both directing and co-producing it.


One person who’s particularly ecstatic about the news is Lively’s husband, The Adam Project co-producer Ryan Reynolds, who shared the announcement on his Instagram account, with a GIF that reads ‘Hello’, seemingly alerting Lively and Swift - both of whom he tagged via his story - to the news.

Lively later re-shared the Maximum Effort co-founder’s post with her own response to the announcement.

The 34-year-old Gossip Girl alumni accompanied it with a GIF that read: ‘I am freaking out,’ which she tagged Swift in.


She also thanked AMC awards, sweetly showing her gratitude with a message that she concluded with several emojis highlighting her amazement.

Echoing the mother-of-three’s delight, Swift also posted about the news, writing: ‘Ahhhhhhh congrats @blakelively, Miles and @keleighteller!!!!Bi group hug!

‘I loved making this video and it’s so cool to see the @acmawards nominate it for video of the year.’


The conversation didn’t end there either, as, following Swift’s post, Betty Buzz founder Lively took to her Instagram story yet again to repost her friend’s message, along with her own humbling sentiment that reads: ‘This is entirely shared with every actor in front of the screen and our team of heroes behind the screen.’

Last November, Lively shared an image on her Instagram feed of her wearing the large 8-carat rubellite heart ring from Canadian jewellery brand Retrouvaí, worn by Swift in the music video.


The caption accompanying the photo of Lively wearing the ring, which is edged with classic round brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 2.5 carats, reads: ‘My hand modelling career is really taking off [sic].’

Seemingly, at the time, Lively was subtly promoting Swift’s wedding-themed video, which stars actor Miles Teller in the role of a groom who’s unable to get his ex-girlfriend out of his mind on his wedding day.

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Swift, who portrays Teller’s former girlfriend in the video, is seen appearing in Teller’s mirror as he practices his wedding speech in one scene and destroying an enormous tiered cake in another.

The latter scene shows her donning a vivid red ruffle-trimmed Tadashi Shoji gown, paired with the aforementioned ring. She’s later shown as a bride in a breathtaking Nicole + Felicia Couture wedding gown.

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Lively has publicly expressed her admiration for Swift before, like when she commemorated Swift’s birthday in 2020, and praised her album Evermore, released in the same year.

She wrote: ‘There was happiness because of you.

‘Happy happy birthday. Thank you for #Evermore Absolutely nothing better than getting presents on other people’s birthdays.’

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She concluded: ‘love you.’

Similarly, ahead of the music video’s release, Swift, who also featured the names of Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ daughters (James, seven, Inez, five and Betty, two) on her hit single ‘Betty’, wrote a heartwarming message about Lively on her Instagram feed, which read: ‘I finally got to work with the brilliant, brave, & wickedly funny @blakelively on her directorial debut. Join us as we raise a toast, and a little hell [sic].’

Sakaynah Hunter Sakaynah Hunter is the Digital News Editor at ELLE, covering subjects including politics, health, women’s interest, the royals and entertainment.

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John Lennon wrote ‘best Beatles song lyrics’ about his first wife


John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote countless songs for both The Beatles and some other artists. But Lennon said he peaked lyrically back in 1969 when he wrote a song for a charity compilation album: No One’s Gonna Change Our World. For their contribution to the album – which also included such artists as Lulu, Cilla Black, and Rolf Harris – The Beatles included the song Across the Universe.

The psychedelic Across the Universe was featured on the aforementioned compilation record but was later included in the band’s final album, Let It Be, a year later. The same year, in 1970, Lennon was asked in an interview what his favourite Beatles tracks were. He revealed his top five were: Strawberry Fields Forever, I Want To Hold Your Hand, I Am The Walrus, Girl and Across The Universe. He then went into some detail about the track. He said: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best. It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it.”

Lennon continued: “See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.” Although Across the Universe is full of emotionally visceral lyrics and a mystical tone, it was actually borne from a dreadful argument he had with his wife at the time, Cynthia. Lennon married Blackpool local Cynthia in 1962 and had a son with her, Julian Lennon. Six years later, Lennon met Yoko Ono, divorced Cynthia, and married the artist in 1969. Six years after that, in 1975, Ono gave birth to Sean Ono Lennon. But back in 1968, songwriting became Lennon’s method of dealing with the breakdown of his marriage to Cynthia. READ MORE: ‘It’s real’ John Lennon defended his favourite Beatles song

Lennon told Playboy magazine: “I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated, and I was thinking. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream.” Sound familiar? The incredible first lyrics to Across the Universe were inspired by this exact moment. On the recorded track, Lennon croons: “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup / They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe / Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind / Possessing and caressing me.” Lennon jumped into action and started writing straight away. DON’T MISS…

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Lennon continued: “I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song. Rather than a ‘Why are you always mouthing off at me?’ [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don’t own it you know; it came through like that.” Although Across the Universe has gone down as one of The Beatles’ most famous songs, it never won any awards – but it was shot into the galaxy.

Across the Universe was not released as a single by the band, but its legacy has lived on past even some of the band members, before being used by NASA. Across the Universe was transmitted towards the star Polaris, approximately 431 light-years away from Earth. This was the first time a song had ever been intentionally transmitted into deep space. The marketing event was approved by McCartney, Ono, and Apple Corps. SOURCE / SOURCE

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Shopware, an e-commerce platform that powers 100K brands, raises its first outside funding: $100M from PayPal and Carlyle


The e-commerce boom that started with the COVID-19 pandemic shows little sign of slowing down, and today a company called Shopware, which provides a set of open source tools to power online shopping experiences for some 100,000 mid-sized and larger brands, is announcing $100 million in funding to capture the opportunity.

The money is notable not just for its nine-figure size, but also because of its context. This is the first outside funding that Shopware has ever raised – it has been bootstrapped and profitable since being founded back in 2000, when e-commerce was really only getting its start – and it’s coming in part from a big strategic backer: the payments behemoth PayPal and Carlyle (by way of its Carlyle Europe Technology Partners fund) are its two first outside investors.

“This funding will help us supercharge our international growth – enabling Shopware to capture the significant opportunities ahead of us," said Stefan Hamann, co-CEO of Shopware, in a statement. “As a business, we are proud to have been profitable from day one, and are excited to work closely alongside Carlyle and PayPal to build on Shopware’s positioning in the long term.”

Shopware is not disclosing its valuation but notes that Carlyle and PayPal are coming on as minority investors. Sebastian and Stefan Hamann – the brothers who co-founded Shopware in the modest (population: around 7,000) town of Schöppingen in the northwest of Germany near the Dutch border – will retain a significant majority stake in Shopware, the company said in a statement. They will also stay on as co-CEOs.

Shopware’s sweet spot up to now has been serving mid-market companies and brands that are not necessarily digitally-native businesses but very much have had to take on digital channels to keep up with the times and how consumers discover and shop for goods and services today.

In other words, the tools that it has built are there to help companies have a presence and stack up against the rest of the online landscape, but they are built with a view to making them easy enough for non-tech companies and their partners to use. Its customer list includes the likes of M&Ms and Haribo (finally justifying the use of the phrase “sweet spot”), consumer electronics company Philips, Stabilo and many others.

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The mid-market segment has in many ways been underserved for years: The very biggest companies typically build solutions in-house or work with systems integrators to build customized e-commerce backends; and smaller companies had/have a range of website builders, purpose-built platforms like Shopify and a plethora of marketplaces to sell online.

But as e-commerce has continued to become increasingly mainstream – and for a period of time during the height of the pandemic essentially became the only game in town – not only has the funnel of potential brands and companies needing help getting online become much wider, but the companies building tools to serve those customers have also increased in number. Shopware competitors now include the likes of Shopify Plus, Magento and others building a mixture of headless and other components, which brands and others can mix and match to power online shopping experiences, be they via their own websites, via mobile apps or by way of third-party platforms like social media sites or marketplaces.

Indeed, the fact that there are so many touch points today underscores the complexity of the market, but also the opportunity. This is partly where PayPal fits into the picture. It’s one of several payment providers that Shopware already works with, and so the two had an existing relationship. This investment will potentially mean that Shopware will be a vehicle for PayPal to channel more of its newer initiatives as it looks to grow its own payments business beyond basic transactions. But from what we understand, it will not preclude Shopware from continuing to work with PayPal competitors.

“The past few years have accelerated the need for an open-source approach that provides outstanding shopping experiences for customers, and we are poised to further benefit from this growth opportunity,” said Sebastian Hamann in a statement. “We’re looking forward to working with Carlyle and PayPal – two companies with strong expertise in digital commerce – on the next stage of our journey.”

Shopware’s tools today include a platform where its customers can integrate the many other services that are brought together in e-commerce experiences (including inventory management, billing and so on), an engine to build progressive web apps to run a site’s front end, guided shopping tools and a business process automation builder.

The plan will be to use the funding both to continue expanding those tools against those being built by Shopware’s competition but also to tap into what are some newer, burgeoning opportunities in areas like B2B – that is, brands selling not to consumers but business users. That will need its own dedicated investment to develop because, like its B2C counterpart, sites selling to business users have seen a boom in the last couple of years, but they have their own particular challenges, integrating complex workflows and handling omnichannel landscapes different from those a consumer-focused business might encounter.

“Shopware, a company 100% bootstrapped prior to this investment, is ideally suited to CETP’s strategy of partnering with ambitious, founder-led technology companies. We were attracted to the company’s highly flexible omnichannel platform, its strong momentum in the underserved mid-market merchant segment, and the entrepreneurial drive of the two co-founders,” said Michael Wand, MD and co-head of Carlyle’s CETP, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Sebastian and Stefan and the rest of the Shopware team in supporting the business become an international leader in digital commerce technology.” Wand and CETP director Constantin Boye are joining Shopware’s board with this round.