Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau Launches World’s First Travel Marketing Campaign To Feature Transgender Models

Groundbreaking Multi-Audience Advertising Campaign Launching In Mainstream and LGBT Media

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau will launch a new global marketing and advertising campaign on January 9th featuring three transgender models, and will become the world’s first destination to use transgender models in mainstream destination advertising. Greater Fort Lauderdale‘s campaign, which also features straight, gay and lesbian models, follows the destination’s long and storied history in LGBTQ marketing and is directed at a largely millennial and younger mind-set audience to showcase the destination’s image as an authentic, diverse and inclusive brand.Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau Logo

From the seagrass to the sawgrass, Greater Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward County, boasts more than 34,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a “beach chic” vibe. Visitors enjoy 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, discover 300+ miles of inland waterways that run from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Everglades, dine at thousands of restaurants and eateries, get immersed in a thriving arts and culture scene and indulge in top shopping.sunny-org_hero-2

The new advertisements, covering a full-spectrum of destination lifestyle experiences, will appear in print, digital, television, radio and social media throughout South Florida, New York, Boston, Chicago, and in national outlets such as New York TimesT Magazine, USA Today Travel Magazine, Passport, ManAboutWorld as well as on Spotify, Pandora, Hulu and in the destination’s collateral, website and e-blasts.

The campaign had an early premiere in New York City on December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2017 with a Times Square billboard video featuring Isabella Santiago, a Venezuelan model and 2014 Miss World Transgender. Viewed by millions, the video formed the backdrop to New York City’s famous New Year’s Eve ball drop. Campaign imagery was shot throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County, capturing a “beach and beyond” showcase of some of the destination’s most popular areas, including Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach and Wilton Manors.

Using Trans models in our mainstream campaign says who we are as a destination; cosmopolitan, edgy, diverse, inclusive, authentic and accepting,” said Richard Gray, Managing Director LGBTQ Market, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are the only destination in the world that is using Trans people in mainstream marketing initiatives. That is a huge statement in itself highlighting this destination’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality. We want all travelers that visit our destination to be free to be themselves, to be free to be accepted, and most of all to be safe and respected.

Greater Fort Lauderdale recently celebrated another destination first: in December, they were the first CVB to launch a 24/7 digital TV network – “Hello Sunny TV” – highlighting the destination’s growing appeal to affluent and millennial travelers. The Hello Sunny TV network will include a weekly live show planned to launch in early 2017 which will preview the upcoming week’s events and activities, as well as a dining segment and spotlight on the people and personalities behind Greater Fort Lauderdale. Hello Sunny TV and Greater Fort Lauderdale‘s new advertising campaign were developed by the CVB’s advertising agency, Starmark International.

I’m proud that we continue to be a leader in marketing innovation,” said Stacy Ritter, President/CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.We’ve established a popular and highly recognized destination brand presence that reflects the authentic experiences that people today, regardless of age, gender, religion or race, seek when they travel.”100 Continue reading

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World Food Travel Association Announces 2017 FoodTrekking Awards For Excellence In Food And Beverage Tourism

The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) announced today that the application process for the 2017 FoodTrekking Awards for excellence in food and beverage tourism is now open. The first year the awards were held was 2016. For a list of past winners, visit http://foodtrekkingawards.org/winners.awa2017_2596-small

The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization (NGO) and is recognized as the world’s leading authority on food tourism. Its mission is to drive economic development for the food, drink, travel and hospitality trade. The Association was founded in 2003 by its Executive Director Erik Wolf and today brings innovative food tourism solutions and thought leadership to 48,000+ industry professionals in 139 countries.

Rather than another Top 10 or best restaurants list, the FoodTrekking Awards are unique in that they fill a void of recognition of experience excellence in 13 categories within the food and beverage tourism industry. Food and beverage is the fastest-growing sector of travel, which itself is one of the world’s largest and most economically significant industries.

2017 CATEGORIES & APPLICATION PROCESS

The number of categories being recognized has grown from only 5 in 2016 to 13 categories in 2017, as follows:

  • Best Foodie Destination Experience
  • Best Food/Beverage Tour Operations (Land)
  • Best Food/Beverage Tour Operations (Water)
  • Best Beer Experience
  • Best Foodservice Experience for Visitors
  • Best Lodging Experience
  • Best Food/Beverage/Travel Media Professional
  • Best Wine Experience
  • Best Food/Beverage/Travel Blogger
  • Best Farms & Farmers’ Market Experience
  • Best Retail & Grocery Experience
  • Best Cooking/Beverage Class/School
  • Best Food & Beverage Event Experience

Businesses and organizations interested in applying can do so on the Awards website at www.FoodTrekkingAwards.org. Applications are being accepted between January 1 and February 28, 2017, when the application process will close.

2017 JUDGES & SELECTION PROCESS

Ten experts in their specific fields will serve as judges for the 2017 Awards, as follows:

  1. Panna Balazsy (Hungary), Owner, Globalist Kitchen
  2. Andre Morgenthal (South Africa), former Communications Manager, Wines of South Africa
  3. Roberta Garibaldi (Italy), food and wine tourism consultant and coordinator of East Lombardy – European Region of Gastronomy 2017
  4. Livio Colapinto (Italy), Owner, Zest of Italy
  5. Katarzyna Janiszewska (Poland), Founder, pl
  6. Armando Cristofori (Australia), member, La Chaîne de Rôtisseurs
  7. Udi Goldschmidt (Israel), culinary tourism consultant to Israel’s tourism industry
  8. Brian F Lorge (USA), CCTP, HAAC (USA), Chairman, Certified Ambassador World Food Travel Association; Exec. Dir., American Culinary Federation (MCCA); Fellow, American Academy of Chefs & Les Amis d’Escoffier; Industry Consultant
  9. Lawrence Acosta (USA), Owner, Grub Crawl
  10. Sanjeev Shenoy (India), Mystery Shopper, HS Brands International and Owner, Trip on Food

Each judge will review two different applicants according to established criteria in a confidential review process. In the event of a tie, a third judge will review each of the tied applications. A grand prize and a runner-up are selected for each category. A small application fee charged to each applicant helps to offset the cost of managing the awards.

2017 AWARDS ANNOUNCEMENT & CEREMONY

The winners of the 2017 FoodTrekking Awards will be recognized at a special ceremony at the conclusion of FoodTrekking World, the world’s largest food and beverage tourism convention for the trade, on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Portland, Oregon, USA. Award applicants are encouraged to attend FoodTrekking World, but are not required to do so to enter or win.

The Largest Cake Expo, The Americas Cake Fair, in North and South America Rolls Into Orlando October 13-15, 2017

Food Network Star Duff Goldman And Other World-Renowned Celebrities To Appear At The International Celebration Of Caketheamericascakefair-logo2017_160824

More than 10,000 baking industry professionals and consumer cake enthusiasts from around the world will descend on Central Florida next October when The Americas Cake Fair (Cake Fair) makes its sweet return to the area. The Americas’ largest and most dynamic trade and consumer show for the pastry, bakery, sugar art and chocolate industries will be held October 13-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The event is hosted by Satin Ice, which is made by Satin Fine Foods, Inc., an industry-leading manufacturer distributing its premium range of cake decorating products to more than 60 countries worldwide. Pre-registration is now open to receive event updates and special offers.

The highly anticipated international show will once again convene a passionate group of baking professionals, industry buyers, pastry chefs, cake artists, retail bakers, hobbyists and everyday foodies for a three-day celebration of cake, chocolate and sugar artistry. The inaugural Americas Cake Fair – the first show of its kind in North and South America held here in 2015 and became an immediate sensation among professionals and consumers, alike._mg_8889_b

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Cakes on display from the Live Global Cake and Chocolate Challenges, where international teams and individuals, respectively, battled for top honors.

Internationally popular pastry chef and television personality Duff Goldman, star of Food Network reality shows Ace of Cakes, Duff Till Dawn, and Holiday Baking Championship, among others, will delight attendees during his stage appearances on Saturday and Sunday. Other world-renowned cake industry celebrities scheduled to present throughout the weekend include Mich Turner, whose clientele includes The Queen of England, Madonna and David Beckham; and pastry genius Ron Ben-Israel, named “the Manolo Blahnik of wedding cakes” by The New York Times.

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The Sugar Arts Fashion Show, with models strutting the runway adorned by cake costumes and edible ensembles

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Karen Harvey Consulting Group Announces New High Profile Speakers and Moderators for its 3rd Annual Fashion Tech Forum (FTF)

Speakers and Activations Now Include Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Intel, Tamara Mellon, Movado, Away, Evrythng, and KidBox

Moderators Now Include Those From: Fast Company, Digital Times, Business of Fashion, and Refinery29

Karen Harvey, CEO of Karen Harvey Consulting Group is pleased to announce that some of the most important leaders in Fashion Tech will now be joining Fashion Tech Forum (FTF) on October 13 at Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn. Ms. Harvey launched Fashion Tech Forum in 2014 to provide a platform for the fashion, retail, technology and investment communities to better connect and collaborate on how to work together in the future.

The annual conference is an invitation-only event with 800+ industry leaders. Last year, Fashion Tech Forum brought together the most exceptional CEO’s, innovators, thinkers, founders and investors in fashion, retail, media and technology. This year’s conference will engage Founders and CEOs in sharing their stories of leadership and transformation.

FTF Speakers

Karen Harvey Consulting Group Announces New High Profile Speakers and Moderators for its 3rd Annual Fashion Tech Forum (FTF) At Duggal Greenhouse In Brooklyn On October 13th, 2016 (PRNewsFoto/Karen Harvey Consulting Group)

FTF 2016, which was officially announced on August 3rd is a platform for the fashion and technology sectors to gather for powerful conversation and to share new information fostering future collaboration. CEO’s, founders, leaders and investors from both sectors will discuss a broad range of issues, fueling the genesis of the hybrid companies of the future.

Verizon‘s Chief Marketing Officer Diego Scotti will talk about bringing Verizon’s mission to deliver the promise of a digital world to the forefront as they continue to evolve into a lifestyle and entertainment brand engaging with consumers across all aspects of their lives.

EBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), one of FTF’s original partners, will participate again as Bradford Shellhammer their Head of Curation and Merchandising on the eBay Innovation team will lead a discussion on human-led curation. Michael Preysman, Founder and CEO of Everlane returns to FTF’s stage along with Head of Product and Design Rebekka Bay.

Laurent Potdevin, CEO of Lululemon (Nasdaq: LULU), and Creative Director Lee Holman will share their ongoing commitment to innovation, authenticity and creating a design-led company.

Other keynote speakers will include: Robbie MyersEditor in Chief of ELLE, who will share her journey in transforming ELLE into a cultural game-changer for women; and in the areas of evolving fashion companies Diane von Furstenberg along with the brand’s CEO, Paolo Riva and new Chief Creative Officer, Jonathan Saunders will share their transformative experiences.

Ganesh Srivats, VP North American Sales from Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) shares the advancement of luxury retail experiences.

As the leader in mobile storytelling platforms, Snapchat‘s Peter Sellis, Head of Revenue Product, along with Snapchat‘s Farnaz Azmoodeh, Director of Engineering, will discuss how the platform is transforming retail experiences.

New Additions and Updates Being Announced Today Include:

  • Levi’s Strauss & Co: Chip Bergh, CEO interviewed by David Lidsky, Deputy Editor, Fast Company and Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL): Ivan Poupyrev (ATAP) and Levi’s Paul Dillinger, VP, Head of Global Product Innovation, to be interviewed by Elizabeth Segran, Staff Writer, Fast Company about their joint initiative, Project Jaquard.
  • Intel: Sandra Lopez, VP & GM, Wearables to be interviewed around the surging value of data as an essential business commodity.
  • Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA): Ganesh Srivats, VP, North American Sales to be interviewed by Piers Fawkes, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, PSFK on the advancement of luxury retail.
  • Sarah Robb O’Hagan: Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Founder, CEO and author of the upcoming book of the same name, EXTREMEYOU will be giving an inspirational keynote.
  • KidBox: Haim Dabbah, Founder, and Miki Berardelli, CEO, will be talking about the first kids style box that combines cool brands, meaningful savings, and a mission to clothe children in need. They’ll be interviewed by Rebecca Jarvis, Chief Business, Technology, & Economics Correspondent, ABC News.
  • Emblematic Group: Jamie Pallot, Co-Founder, will be making opening remarks to kickoff this year’s event as one of our hosts for the day.
  • Theory: Andrew Rosen, CEO, and Investor, and Former Chairman and CEO of Coach: Lew Frankfort, to be interviewed by Lauren Sherman, New York Editor, Business of Fashion.
  • TMellon Enterprises LLC: Tamara Mellon, President, Movado: Efraim Grinberg, CEO and Maison de Mode: Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre, Co-Founders to be interviewed by Christene Barberich, Refinery29.
  • Evrythng: Andy Hobsbawm, Co-Founder & CMO, Away: Steph Korey, Co-founder and TBC to be interviewed by Robin Raskin, Digital Times on the future of the Innovation of Things (IoT).

“From Snapchat to lululemon the 3rd Annual Fashion Tech Forum brings together our vision for sharing powerful insights that are important for the leaders of both fashion and technology companies as they plan their strategy for the future. As it is my commitment to provide content from the most senior leaders from both sectors, ensuring that our C-level audience will be inspired, I am pleased to announce these new additions to our lineup. They are the experts bringing fashion and technology together and they will share both their challenges and their advances on the journey to shaping the next decade of product, retail, and innovations that will add value to all of our lives.” states Ms. Harvey

The Karen Harvey Consulting Group is an international consulting firm focused on executive search, brand incubation and advisory services for luxury, fashion, retail and innovation-driven companies. In addition to FTF, the firm also launched INDX, a two-sided marketplace for vetted, world-class creative talent to discover, connect and seek employment opportunities with top brands. Karen Harvey Consulting has earned international recognition for bringing some of the industry’s most successful CEOs and creative leaders to powerful global companies. The company is based in New York and London.

Main Partner Etihad Airways to Present its Virtual Reality Movie Featuring Nicole Kidman at the 2016 Zurich Film Festival

Airline to Also Sponsor the Prestigious Audience Award

At this year’s 12th annual Zurich Film Festival, taking place from 22 September to 2 October, visitors will be able to experience Etihad Airways’ 360-degree virtual reality movie featuring Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman and have the chance to win flights to Abu Dhabi by participating in a draw for the Audience Award presented by Etihad Airways.2_logo_e_positiv_datum_rgb

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are excited to continue our partnership with one of the most prestigious cultural events in Switzerland. The sponsorship underscores our active support of global cultural events, engagement in the local communities we serve and it reinforces our long-term commitment to the Swiss market. Switzerland is an important market for our airline, which we have been serving since 2004. Travellers from cities around the world can conveniently reach Zurich and Geneva using Etihad Airways’ daily flights and the domestic and regional European services of our partner airlines, airberlin, Niki, Alitalia, Air Serbia and Etihad Regional.”

Now in its twelfth year, the Zurich Film Festival showcases diverse stories from around the world with screenings of nearly 160 films, offering cinematic treats to more than 85,000 national and international visitors. Participants include both emerging and renowned filmmakers as well as buyers, sellers, distributors, media professionals and industry leaders.etihad-airways-logo

The festival is internationally recognized and has attracted high profile personalities on its green carpet every year, including Hollywood celebrities Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Susan Sarandon, Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Diane Keaton and many more.

In addition to a veritable feast of films on tap (over 172 at last count), guests will also have the opportunity to view Etihad Airways’ 360-degree virtual reality movie starring Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman in the main festival tent. The five-minute feature, titled ‘Reimagine’, which was first released in May 2016, immerses its viewers in a journey following Kidman through one of Etihad Airways’ new Airbus A380s flying between New York and Abu Dhabi. Each scene in the film takes on a theme intended to stimulate the senses of light, sound, motion, and conversation.

For the 2016 edition, Etihad Airways will sponsor the Audience Award. As the culmination of three categories, the Audience Award is one of the festival’s most prestigious and is voted for by festival visitors. By voting, viewers have the opportunity to win two Business Class return-flights with Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi and experience the exclusive business class service of Etihad Airways, or two Economy Class return-flights with airberlin to a destination in the USA. The Director of the winning film will be awarded two Business Class return-flights with Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi and three luxurious nights in a 5-star hotel. What’s more; film fans who buy their movie ticket at an official Zurich Film Festival ticket counter, will receive a 20% discount voucher for all flights with Etihad Airways and a reduction of CHF 20 for flights with airberlin.

Nadja Schildknecht and Karl Spoerri, Zurich Film Festival’s Co-Directors, said: “We are very proud of our partnership with Etihad Airways, which helps us reach audiences worldwide. This partnership has proven to be a great fit as the Zurich Film Festival and Etihad Airways share a vision of bringing people together from across the globe through arts and culture.”

For more information about the festival, visit www.zff.com.

New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 Shows Preview: Kia STYLE360 Announces Star-Studded Designer Line Up, Schedule and Sponsors for New York Fashion Week September 12-15, 2016

Serena Williams, Ashley Graham, Kristin Cavallari and More To Strut Their Stuff On The Runways

Hollywood & fashion special event firm, A-list Communications has announced Kia STYLE360, its New York Spring/Summer 2017 Women’s Runway Previews September 12th – 15th, 2016. This season will mark the 12th annual year at New York Fashion Week, highlighting its signature formula of fashion week events among exciting ready-to-wear celebrity designer brands, musical performances, high fashion designer brands, and fashion-fan favorites each season.710cfe_52d61c2b734e4726b0e8bfeec1d5538b~mv2

Started in 2004, and then called “Style Lounge,” this modest fashion platform launched out of the gate as a stage for some of today’s leading fashion brand designers like Rodarte, Rebecca Minkoff, Patricia Fields, and Zaldy. Over the decade, and after a name change as well, STYLE360 New York Fashion Week has evolved into a launching pad for trending and celebrity designers such as Avril Lavigne, Daisy Fuentes, the Kardashians, and Kristin Cavallari to name a few. Likewise, fashion industry elite models who have graced STYLE360’s stages and venues includes Karolina Kurkova, Naomi Campbell, Carol Alt, Tyson Beckford, Kendall Jenner and Jessica White, as well as countless celebrities including the Kardashians, Brooke Burke, Brittany Snow, Gerard Butler, Chris Noth, Tommy Hilfiger, Lauren Conrad, Rosario Dawson, and dozens more.

An element that always separates Kia STYLE360 shows from the usual fashion week clutter, are the high-profile musical performances each Season. Highlights from the past ten years include performances by Austin Mahone, Wyclef Jean, Natasha Bedingfield, JoJo, Neon Trees, Cher Lloyd, Estelle and appearances by music legends like Richie Sambora, Slash, Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Pete Wentz, Rick Ross and many more.

This year’s schedule builds on the success of last year with many renewing designer names as well as renewed title sponsor, Kia Motors (www.Kia.com). Kia returns this year to invite the fashion industry to discover the all-new 2017 Cadenza sedan with integrated activations, on-site car displays and a fleet of vehicles available to transport fashion editors, celebrities and VIPs to and from the fashion shows and events. The stunningly beautiful Cadenza improves upon all the elements that made its predecessor an award-winning success, boasting a precisely crafted cabin, cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel.

Events kick-off with entertainment and lifestyle retailer HSN’s third successive show presenting their Serena Williams Signature Statement Collection with Ms. Williams taking the stage two days after New York’s U.S. Open Women’s Championship. The week wraps up with Kia STYLE360‘s third annual fashion event with celebrity, actress and fashion designer Kristin Cavallari, who will present her new Emerald Duv Jewelry Collection, new shoe releases from her Chinese Laundry Collection as well as signed copies of her book “Balancing on Heels”.

This September’s line-up of fashion shows and festivities for Kia STYLE360 includes the following:

Monday, September 12th

3:00pm: HSN Presents Serena Williams Signature Statement Collection Runway Show

7:30pm: Designer Fashion Runway Show TBA

9:00pm: KIA STYLE360 Presents Serena Williams Signature Statement Collection by HSN After-party at Bagatelle NYC

Tuesday, September 13th

10:30am: Raul Penaranda Spring 2017 Momentum

3:00pm: Vipe Activewear Collection Fashion Show with Angela Simmons

7:30pm: Tumbler and Tipsy by Michael Kuluva

Wednesday, September 14th

3:00pm: Addition Elle Presents Holiday 2016 RTW + Ashley Graham Lingerie Collection

7:00pm: Row A Seat 4 Collection SS17 by Frontrow

Thursday, September 15th

7:00pm: Kia STYLE360 Hosts Kristin Cavallari Collections for Emerald Duv Jewelry & Chinese Laundry at Row NYC

All fashion shows will again be staged at the two-level Metropolitan West located at 639 West 46th Street with special integrations including live streaming of shows, 360 degree virtual reality broadcasts, and Facebook live streams along with its usual parade of celebrity guests and musical performances to be announced closer to fashion week.

Other renewing sponsors generously supporting the September 2016 season includes Not Your Mother‘s hair care (www.nymbrands.com), who will style all fashion shows by lead hair stylist Michele Carrillo and her NYM branded professional-stylist team. Makeup partners, LimeLight by Alcone (www.limelightbyalcone.com) and MustaeV U.S.A., a prestigious Korean artistry make up brand (www.mustaevusa.com) are also renewed partners this season.

Official hotel and after-party partner for the third consecutive year is Row NYC conveniently located near the Kia STYLE360 fashion pavilion at 700 Eighth Avenue. The art-driven, New York-centric hotel will provide its elegant brand of hospitality and accommodations to celebrity and VIP guests as well as host the closing fashion event. Row NYC is also offering exclusive tickets to a Kia STYLE360 show (winners’ choice) and invitations to the closing event hosted at the hotel. (Details can be found at www.rownyc.com.)

Finally, award winning wine producer, Line 39 Wines (www.line39wines.com) by O’Neill Vintners and Distillers returns in an elevated presence to graciously pour its California Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir across all events.

New sponsors to the program this September include Eternal Water (www.eternalwater.com) who will keep guests hydrated and refreshed with its Pure and Pristine Artesian Water and its beautifully designed BPA free bottle which will be collected for recycling after each event. Additionally, OtterBox Products Inc. (www.otterbox.com) joins to present its line of fashionable, sleek smartphone cases to NYFW in the OtterBox Lounge and will debut some of the new looks across a couple runway shows. New York City hotspot and fashion model sanctuary Bagatelle, one of New York’s trendiest restaurants, will serve as official nightclub partner hosting Kia STYLE360’s intimate VIP event.

Kia STYLE360 also proudly welcomes ChapStick (www.chapstick.com) to its line-up of sponsors this season. ChapStick will help guests feel runway ready with new ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint – which provides long-lasting moisture plus a hint of color from the experts in lip care.

For more information on this season’s designers, to get inside access, view runway trends, special promotional offers, and watch behind the scenes celebrity interviews as well as live streaming from the runway, please visit http://style360nyfw.com/. Twitter @NYFWSTYLE360 and Facebook @STYLE360. Official hashtag this season is #KiaSTYLE360NYFW. Continue reading

Donald J. Pliner Returns To Footwear Industry Launching “From the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain”, the Femme and Homme Collections

Following the year-long completion of a non-complete clause (after having sold his company), iconic footwear designer Donald J. Pliner has returned to the industry as the designer for “From the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain,” the Femme and Homme Collections. The collections were presented to the media and retailers in early August 2016 during FFANY at his stunning new Penthouse Showroom at 14 East 60th Street in New York and will also be showcased at FN PLATFORM in Las Vegas. This marks the first time in over 27 years that he finds himself as an independent designer, away from the eponymous label Donald J Pliner™ he founded in 1989.

Donald J Pliner

Donald J. Pliner (PRNewsFoto/Donald J. Pliner)

Everything I design revolves around the two most important classes I took in design school – Anatomy and Portraiture. Anatomy for the comfort and Portraiture to keep the eye engaged. This has long been my signature style. It’s simply the way I think,” says Pliner. “Colors and materials come first, then the designs, but most important exceptionally comfortable fashion.”

Pliner personally designed the two new collections, spending the last month directing and overseeing the creation of every style first hand in Italy and Spain. Each style is meticulously and expertly beaded, embroidered, and embellished by hand onto the lavish uppers of haircalf, white ostrich, silk and mesh elastic prints, crocodile embossed calfskin, nappa and vachetta leathers, black and pearled patents, and washed suedes. All colors and materials within the collections are seamlessly coordinated in a palette of saturated colors, distinctive prints and bold embroidered designs.

Femme collectionsFrom the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain” include sneakers, smoking slippers, chic slides, footbed sandals, madras wrapped wedges, kitten heels, mules, and stacked platforms.

Homme collectionsFrom the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain” showcase sneakers, smoking slippers, monk straps, oxfords, Chelsea boots, loafers, drivers, and espadrilles. The vast array of styles across the collections are brimming with comfort features ideal for walking such as extra cushioned insoles, rocker bottoms, and rubber soles.

Donald J Pliner Penthouse Showroom

Penthouse Showroom: “From the Mountains of Italy” & “From the Beaches of Spain” Femme and Homme Collections (PRNewsFoto/Donald J. Pliner)

“From jeans to tuxedo dressing.”: The quality of detail and the uniqueness of designs in these collections are of a level normally only found in bespoke footwear. The collections offer exceptional craftsmanship and luxury comfort with price ranging from $250 to $475 rsp.

In other news, Castanea Partners (Owners of DJP Holdings, LLC) is suing Pliner to stop him from launching his new footwear collections. DJP Holdings, LLC filed a lawsuit against Pliner and his wife Lisa Pliner, trying to keep them from proceeding with his new collections.

In 2011, Pliner sold a majority stake in his namesake brand to a private equity firm, Castanea Partners. At the time the new partners recognized that his “talents and abilities” were “unique” and that they were “integral to the success of the company.” After the sale, Pliner remained as Creative Director for the brand. In the following years, however, it became apparent that the new majority partners and the newly appointed management had a different vision for the brand than its founder.

Last year, Pliner stepped down as its Creative Director when he realized that he could no longer identify with the direction the brand was taking. “It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I have decided to leave the company I founded,” said Pliner in a 2015 statement, announcing his departure.

Regarding the new legal action initiated against him by the owners of the namesake brand he founded, designer Donald J. Pliner says: “I am sad and disappointed by this news. In an effort not to publicly harm the brand and the value of the company I founded and in which I hold a minority interest, I did not seek a public confrontation. Instead, I fully complied with my contract obligations after the one-year non-compete period. I just launched two new collections meant to present my vision, craftsmanship, and personalized attention to the public. The only explanation I have is that this must be a misguided attempt to prevent the launch of my new collections. I am delighted to return to my passion of designing, and feel the same joy and excitement for my two new collections that I felt 27 years ago when I founded a brand I believed in. With all of my heart, I want to thank my wife Lisa, daughter Starr (can you believe she just turned 12), my family, my friends, my team, my longstanding buyers who have expressed their support and encouragement, and most of all – my fans for all of your excitement and warm reception. You keep me young and keep my passion alive. In my heart, I am hopeful that Donald J Pliner™ (the brand) and the designer Donald J. Pliner can find a way to co-exist and be one again.