SUMMER FUN: Flip-flop season has arrived. To celebrate, the Gap — in partnership with Brazilian sandal maker Havaianas — is transforming its New York concept store into an urban beach oasis with a “Make Your Own Havaianas” customization bar. Adjacent to its Fifth Avenue Midtown flagship, the special shop will offer custom-made summer footwear from April 30 through June 13. Styles retail from $18 to $32 and come in bold colors and neutrals. Shoppers can also choose from embellishments and add-ons like pins and crystals. “This urban beach in the heart of the city is the perfect way to transition into the season,” said Ivy Ross, executive vice president of Gap Marketing.
BRAZILIAN BOMBSHELL: Issa, the ready-to-wear label founded by Brazilian-born Daniella Helayel that specializes in slinky jersey dresses, has big plans to expand. According to sources in London, Issa plans to open its first retail shop on Mount Street — home to brands including Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, Christian Louboutin and Balenciaga — over the next few months. Another store at São Paolo’s Iguatemi mall is in the works, as is an e-commerce component to the Web site. The label is defying the downturn in luxury, too, with sales reported to be up 20 percent year-on-year for spring.
SOURCING RAINBOWS: The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Department of International Trade & Marketing got more than it bargained for when it tapped Donald Baum to receive its Global Sourcing Executive of the Year award on Tuesday. After sending out invitations to the breakfast awards presentation and fund-raiser, FIT was so overwhelmed with responses that it moved the event from the school’s campus to the Rainbow Room. In his acceptance speech, Baum recounted his start in the apparel industry some 30 years ago as a cutter with a shirt company. At the time, Baum said he could not have foreseen a career that took him to more than 60 countries and expand his food repertoire to include delicacies like “winter frog soup” and “snake wine.” Baum now oversees some 50 brands at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., producing 170 million garments a year. Christine Pomeranz, chairperson of the International Trade & Marketing department, said a record-setting $600,000 had been raised for the program in Baum’s name, enough to provide between four and five $20,000 scholarships each year.