Just before the Holidays, on December 21, 2010, VF Corporation announced that it was purchasing the denim label Rock and Republic, which had been dealing with bankruptcy, for $57 million. VF Corp., which also owns of Vans, The North Face, Lee, 7 for All Mankind, John Varvatos, and Wrangler, among others, said the purchase would include only the trademarks and intellectual property of Rock and Republic, and not the business and retail stores.

Buying Rock and Republic clearly adds to VF’s denim portfolio, but some speculate if it’s getting too crowded. John Varvatos, which was rumored to want to leave the VF fold in October, according to the New York Post, may see Rock and Republic in a similar vein to their own label. During Paris fashion week, the rock ‘n roll denim label (John Varvatos) launched an exquisite show featuring top models and musicians, and finally launched their first Paris pop-up store at Galeries Lafayette over the holidays, again in Varvatos’ signature rock ‘r roll style.

Interestingly, around the same time, it was rumored by La Tribune, a French newspaper, that luxury group PPR which also owns Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, may be interested in buying Quiksilver. Quiksilver denied to comment based on speculation. However stay tuned for more on this as the Quiksilver buy-out rumors spin yet again in 2011.

Vans has created a retail collaboration with Thalia Surf Shop in Laguna Beach, CA, as another way to connect with consumers. The Vans Thalia Surf Shop portion includes an area that highlights Vans surfing background with various Vans surf-related products, including limited-edition Vans Triple Crown items, Joel Tudor apparel, and new collabs between Thalia and Vans. Like many brands that are using stores or spaces within large stores (such as Cool Hunting’s pop-up at the 5th avenue Gap gallery space in NYC), it’s a growing concept to create specific awareness through retail within a specific segment of a brand. On the flipside, it also helps larger brands keep a “specialty” or niche vibe by collaborating with a store or brand that’s perceived as having street credibility.

John Eshaya, designer for new Hot Topic and Torrid collections. Photo by Los Angeles Times.

On December 27, 2010, Hot Topic and Torrid announced it was collaborating with LA designer John Eshaya, founder of Jet Clothing, to create a teen-focused collection which will roll-out into 650 Hot Topic stores, and 56 Torrid stories in May, 2011. Eshaya seems like a great choice given what he had done for Ron Herman during his time there creating popular contemporary collections such as Citizens for Humanity and Juicy Couture at relatively low prices.

For his Hot Topic collection, featuring printed jerseys, T-shirts, tank tops, wrap jackets, Capri or cropped sweatpants, totaling 7-8 pieces, prices will be below $40, and below $60 for Torrid.

Lastly, actress Hillary Swank has announced that she’s getting into the design apparel business and is working with Designers Management Agency (DMA) to create the collection and find a designer to partner with. Given Swank’s background in gymnastics and athletics, the collection will be sports-oriented with an outdoor/contemporary feel. Interviews with designers are currently under way.