London College of Fashion is set to open its College Shop pop-up next month, marking the fourth year of the initiative to showcase and sell student and graduate work.

Open from Thursday, December 11 to Tuesday, December 16, the pop-up has a new home at 33 Marshall Street, right in the heart of the Carnaby shopping area. Once again it will be stocking womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories and jewellery, as well as fashion photography and illustrations, some of which will be special limited-edition pieces.

Designers on offer include footwear designer Camilla Elphick, who has gained popularity with her ‘Pez Shoes’, womenswear designer Barbra Kolasinski, who will be selling her acclaimed MA14 collection including the fuzzy pink heart-shaped tartan jumper, and there will be accessories from Nicole Paskauskas.

There will also be pieces by up-and-coming womenswear designer Min Wu, menswear and womenswear designs by C Studio, and jewellery from Esoteric and fashion photography from the BA (Hons) Fashion Photography’s latest work.

Prices start at 20 pounds.

Retailers and business groups are making a last-gasp push to persuade George Osborne, the current government's Chancellor of the Exchequer, to use next week’s Autumn Statement to reform business rates and offer relief on the controversial tax.

The British Retail Consortium has written to industry figures asking them to send letters to their local MPs about the need to reform business rates, while key business groups including the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses have put the controversial tax at the top of their Autumn Statement wishlist

Gap and Zalando enter partnership

US specialty retailer Gap and Europe’s largest online fashion website Zalando just announced a new partnership that will see Gap open its own dedicated online shop within Zalando.

Starting from next summer, Gap will offer a broad assortment of clothing and accessories for its main lines Gap Women, Gap Men, GapKids and BabyGap, and thus growing Gap's brand presence in Europe by bringing the brand to a broader European customer base.

“This partnership represents Gap’s first foray into multi-brand retailing in Europe. Also for the first time, Gap’s collections will be styled alongside other brands available on Zalando, providing customers with new looks to combine American and European casual style,” commented Stefan Laban, SVP International for Gap. “Zalando is the most trafficked e-commerce fashion site in Europe with more than 100 million visits to the site per month. This partnership is a strategic step that will see us continue to grow our brand presence in these markets,” he added.

“We are constantly working to ensure that we are offering our around 14 million active customers new and relevant brands from around the world. Gap is one of the most loved brands in the US and extends our assortment,” said Zalando management board member David Schneider.

Gap has been active in Europe since 1987, when the US retailer launched its first store in the UK. Today, the brand has 190 company-operated stores and 33 franchise locations and ships to 24 countries from its website. The Zalando partnership is meant to complement Gap’s own online presence. Zalando currently offers 15 country-specific websites in Europe.

That online shopping in India has a huge growth potential in view of a growing middle class and tech savvy consumers is no secret but now it's official: According to Google’s annual Online Shopping Growth Trends report, there will be 100 million online shoppers in India by 2016, spending an estimated 15 billion US dollars.

Compared to just four years ago, this means a twelve fold increase from 8 million online shoppers in 2012. In 2014, there are 35 million online shoppers in India, the report found. In terms of volume, India's e-commerce market is expected to grow to 15 billion US dollars in 2016 and even 56 billion US dollars by 2023 according to an Assocham survey.

Forty percent of those predicted 100 million online shoppers will be women who, interestingly, outspend men by two times in tier 1 cities. It is expected that in the next 12-18 months, they will be shopping more online and on their mobile devices.

The survey, conducted by Google India in collaboration with Forrester Research, was carried out between March 31 and July 30 2014. It included 6589 respondents covering 50 cities including tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

The main driver of e-commerce growth in India is the trend to shop from mobile devices. "Mobile is driving most if not all the growth on the internet. All the big markets like China and the US, developed as desktop markets, but India is being developed as a mobile market," confirmed Rajan Anandan, Google India's vice president and managing director.

Snapdeal's Rohit Bansal even goes a step further, seeing India as an m-commerce market: "Mobile is the way for e-commerce, in fact, we believe India is an m-commerce market, not an e-commerce market. In tier 2 and tier 3 cities mobile is driving growth, and in some cases 80 percent of our business is coming from these markets."

The survey confirms this, as according to Google, 1 out of 3 people in tier 1 and tier 2 cities are are already shopping via mobile devices. In tier 3 cities, where access to stores and even the internet may be limited, half of all transactions are carried out via a mobile device.

In terms of motivation to shop online, discounts are not the main driver. According to the survey, 65 percent of people buy due to convenience, 64 percent because of variety and 60 percent to improve social status. Thus, the behaviour of the Indian online shopper mimics that of people in developed markets.

In terms of categories, skin care, baby care and home furnishings are fast growing online shopping categories, and apperal comprises 64 percent of all shopping search queries.

John Lewis and HoF to offer deepest discount during 'Black Friday'

As 'Black Friday' creeps ever closer, more and more UK retailers are gearing up to offer special discounts in the hopes of cashing in on what is predicted to be the biggest online shopping day of the year. According to a new report from Visa Europe, UK consumers are expected to spend over 1 million pounds every three minutes this 'Black Friday,' which falls on November 28.

Although UK retailers usually offer a high rate of discounting in the run up to Christmas, data from Editd, a retail analytics firm, has found that an increasing number of British fashion retailers now consider 'Black Friday' as one of the main shopping dates of the year and are adjusting their offers accordingly.

"In recent years, hype surrounding Thanksgiving holiday sales has reached unprecedented levels, with retailers whipping their customers, and each other, into a frenzy of door busting deals," commented Geoff Watts, CEO at Editd. "Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all that’s in between, is a critical time for retailers in the run up to Christmas."

But which UK retailers will offer the deepest discounts this 'Black Friday,' what items are most likely to go on sale and what products should be discounted in order to capitalized on the retail holiday?

According to Editd's latest report, 'Black Friday: 2014' the biggest discounters in the UK this 'Black Friday' will be department stores or mass market retailers, such as John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams. Last year John Lewis offered discount on over 10,504 products between 25 November and 3 December, and the firm predicts that the department store will offer the most discounted products again this year.

John Lewis predicted to offer the most discounted products for 'Black Friday' 2014

Other fashion retailers predicted to offer deals targeting the younger, more trend led consumer include River Island, Asos and Republic, whilst Zalando is expected to feature special promotions on its footwear assortment and luxury retailers The Corner and Farfetch are expected to offer discount on a selected range of their labels as well.

John Lewis and HoF to offer deepest discount during 'Black Friday'

Studying data gathered during last year's 'Black Friday' Editd found that different divisions of the retail market promote different products during the holiday season. For example in the UK, the women's wear market segment focused the majority of its promotional activity on accessories (23.34 percent) followed by tops (21.80 percent) and footwear (14.33 percent). The men's wear market, on the other hand placed greater importance on discounting tops (38.71 percent) followed by accessories (16.87 percent) and outerwear (14.03 percent).

Online giant Amazon UK previously announced that it will be offering discount on over 3,000 items from 24 to 30 November, and has revealed that a number of those promotions will be on accessories such as fine diamond jewelry and designer sunglasses, which suggests that accessories will once more be listed as one of the main product divisions promoted during this year's 'Black Friday'.

Although top and accessories were the most discounted categories in the women's wear market, the data found an opportunity to boost discounts in the dress category, as dresses were the third most popular category to sell out last year, accounting for nearly 15 percent of sold out items on December 2, following accessories and tops. But the dress category only accounted for 7.4 percent of the discounted stock last 'Black Friday,' highlighting a lack of promotion activity for the category which could have been capitalized on.

The firm also used its analytics software to see which trending items would be smart to promote during 'Black Friday.' The data found that UK fashion retailers should focus on discounting printed trousers, statement outerwear such as oversize coats and capes, faux fur pieces, Christmas sweaters and Onesies in order to optimize their trend lifespan and avoiding having to carry out bigger price cuts at the end of the season to move excess stock.

The ready-to-wear luxury fashion label is set to open its first stand-alone store in Paris. Alexander McQueen has signed the lease on a location on the highly fashionable Rue Saint Honor, previously occupied by American brand Brooks Brothers, FashionMag.com reports.

The opening of a flagship store in Paris marks a new chapter for Alexander McQueen, which has only been available in France via department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. It also just recently opened a boutique in neighboring Monaco.

The label currently has approximately 30 stores worldwide. The majority are located in the United States and Japan, but also has boutiques in London, Rome and Milan. With the Paris addition, the fashion line-up is complete.

Alexander Wang to open first London Store

Alexander Wang fans in the UK need to start saving up this Christmas, as the American designer is set to open his first London store in Mayfair early next year.

Located at 43-44 Albermarle Street, the new store will span over 6,500 square feet and will offer the entire product range from the designer's eponymous label. Alexander Wang's debut UK store is the latest retail venture for the New York based designer, who is said to have his sights set on global expansion.

Alexander Wang to open first store in the UK

Alexander Wang is also the latest international label to open a store on Albermarle Street as Wang is set to join a growing roster of fashion brands located on the street, including Amanda Wakeley, Paul Smith and Garrard & Co.

More and more retailers have their sights set on opening stores in London, as the average vacancy rates in central London have dropped to less than 3 percent, according to a report on central London retail by estate consultancy Knight Frank.

“Competition for prime space is fierce, and demand continues to spread to locations previously considered ‘peripheral,’” commented the report. “Mayfair is a noteworthy example, with emerging streets such as Conduit Street, Dover Street and Brook Street seeing marked improvements to tenant mix, which has resulted in significant rental growth.”

Alexander Wang to open first London Store

According to Knight Frank, central London’s retail market has been boosted by an increase in tourism, with visitor numbers rising by 8 percent in the first quarter to reach 3.6 million, which has led to retail rents and capital values in central London to increase as well.

“Regent Street and Bond Street continue to generate high levels of footfall, which will receive an additional boost from Crossrail,” added the estate agency's report, noting that some locations have “zero availability” and evidence emerging that certain retail units are being marketed one to two years in advance of being released.

Darren Yates, partner and part of Knight Frank's retail research team, commented: “London’s retail market continues to go from strength to strength, with a long line of retailers seeking space and rents still under pressure in both prime and off-prime locations.”

“In the investment market, low levels of supply over the summer months have helped to fuel vendors’ aspirations on pricing, which will be tested in a busier final quarter. However, with rents largely still rising and significant investment demand, there are no signs of a slowdown in capital value growth.”

Alexander Wang's first UK store is expected to open early 2015, but the exact opening date has yet to be officially announced.

Photo: Alexander Wang store in Tokyo

Retailers to see increase in Christmas footfall

The UK high street and retailers can expect an 8 percent increase in footfall this Christmas, as shoppers are encouraged to spend more in store with new click and collect options.

According to research by Springboard, retail parks will benefit the most over the Holiday season due to ease of parking and the accessibility of out of town locations.

High streets will see more shoppers than shopping centres

High streets are set to score a higher footfall than shopping centres, the research predicted, as they have a “more diverse offer" including retail, leisure and hospitality. Today’s shoppers seek an experience when doing their Christmas shopping, it found.

An estimated 45 percent of shoppers are expected to choose click and collect over the Christmas period.

The report also warned many shoppers will hold out for heavy discounting closer to Christmas.

Meanwhile, UK shopper numbers fell 0.8 percent year-on-year during October, according to the BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor, just ahead the 0.9 percent drop recorded in September.

Shopping centres reported the largest decline for the second consecutive month, falling 1.9 percent, while high streets experienced a 1.4 percent dip in footfall, down on the 0.6 percent decline in September. Out-of-town locations fared the best with a 1.9 percent increase year-on-year.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson Helen Dickinson said: "In order to drive up footfall, some local areas need to continue to learn from more successful town centres by encouraging pop-ups, using empty premises as community spaces or even as arts venues to ensure that empty shops don't become a blight on the local area. Consideration needs to be given to how people want to use their high streets now and in the future."

Petit Bateau partners with Fung Kids for entry into China

French baby and children's fashion brand Petit Bateau announced yesterday that it has entered into a distribution partnership with Fung Kids Limited, part of Hong Kong-based Fung Retailing Limited, to enter China's fast growing babies and children's wear market. The brand, which is privately-owned by the Rocher Group, also plans to open retail stores in China already in 2015, namely in Beijing, Shanghai and Qingdao.

“We are thrilled about this collaboration with an experienced retail partner who will open China’s doors to us. We are confident that Chinese mothers will quickly recognise the exceptional quality of our clothes for their children,” said Petit Bateau's CEO Patrick Pergament.

“Petit Bateau is an authentic, trusted brand that has a special French touch about it. At the same time it has the right feel for the discriminating consumers of today’s China," confirmed Pieter Schats, executive director of Fung Retailing Limited, which is part of the Fung Group.

He noted that the two partners had built their reputations on the strength and values of family-owned companies, each with roots going back more than a century: while the Fung Group was founded in 1906, Petit Bateau was created just a few years earlier in 1893.

The French brand designs and manufactures clothes, underwear and high-quality pyjamas for babies, children and adults and distributes them in more than 80 countries worldwide, among them the UK, US, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Fung Retailing Limited focuses its businesses activities in Greater China and Southeast Asia, the two fastest-growing regions globally for the retail industry. The Fung Group with headquarters in Hong Kong engages in trading, logistics, distribution and retail. Global sourcing and garment firm Li & Fung Limited is a member of the Fung Group of companies.

Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear ration sales in Venezuelan stores

The growing demand for 'fast-fashion' continues to spread around the world, leading some apparel retailers to introduce extreme measures.

Founder of 'fast-fashion', Spanish holding company Inditex has seen such success and demand in Venezuela since the launch its labels Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear, that its country franchise, Phoenix World Trade, has begun rationing their garments and has introduced a limit purchase.

Inditex limits customer sales for Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear in Venezuela

Customers are now only allowed to purchase five garments per month, per person in order to keep up the the massive increase in demand. Inditex is thought to have introduced the buying restrictions in response to the growing 'avalanche' of queues, which come after months of chronic stock shortages following the surge in demand for a new, cheaper range of apparel.

Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear ration sales in Venezuelan stores

A number of news sources have indicated different reasons for the Inditex's low-price offering. Colombian newspaper La Republica states that the cheap prices for Zara's, Bershka's and Pull & Bear collections were due to a favorable exchange rate, but Spanish newspaper El Mundo claims that the cheap prices stem from the Venezuelan government, who ordered the Spanish company to cut their prices by 50 percent.

Venezuelan Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear stores now require customers to first register with their identity cards, so that the stores are then able to track the number of customer purchases using their data. Customers are only allowed to purchase five garments per month, per brand and only three of the pieces can be upper garments, such as shirts or sweaters, and the remaining two bottoms such as pants or skirts. Consumers are also unable to reserve any items in store.

Consumers in Venezuela have not reacted kindly to the restrictions and are venting their frustration at the Spanish fashion company online via social media sites, with many posting pictures of increasingly long queues. “As if it was not enough in Venezuela to ration food and medicine! Now it's clothes, it is already happening in Zara and Bershka,” tweeted one user. Despite Inditex's purchase restrictions, queues have been reported up to 11 hours long to enter a store.

Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear ration sales in Venezuelan stores

However, stock shortages in the Latin American country are not new issues for Inditex. Earlier this year, the Spanish holding company was forced to temporarily suspend its activities in several stores due to lack of stock. There are currently 10 Zara stores, 10 Bershka stores and 5 Pull & Bear stores operating in Venezuela, as of 31, July, 2014.