It’s a truism that high fashion brands have been slow to embrace the internet, and the reason they’ve been slow is that engaging in such a democratic medium means they ipso facto loose some control over their image. In a dialogue with lots of unknown consumers, those consumers can say anything! And then, other consumers can read what they say! And what they say might be not be what brands want other people to hear. And what they say might be not be what brands want other people to hear. Well, there’s a conversation currently going on in cyberspace that’s like their worst nightmare come to life — though (hear the sighs of relief) it has to do with a mass market company.
I woke up this morning after a month of fashion collections to an email from NPD, the market research company, about the dim sale prospects for the holiday season. Turns out Americans at least plan to spend a little less at christmas:
Welcome back to reality!
Still, this pretty much supports what I heard from two jewellers last week. Both Taher Chemirik and Marie-Helene de Taillac, who are equally talented and original (and highly copied) in very different ways, had told me that their US business had effectively dried up over the last year or two, and in Taillac’s case, she said it was growth in Asia and Europe keeping her afloat. Apparently, US stores only want to accept jewellery on consignment (ie, they pay only if, and after, they sell), which makes it pretty hard for an independent jeweller to earn a living. Read more
The other day, sitting waiting for a show to start, I was chatting to the man next to me about the sudden plethora of Louis Vuitton events scheduled for the end of Paris fashion week: Monday, a party celebrating the brand’s history as a reflection of the history of Paris at the Musee Carnavalet; Tuesday, a concert and art exhibit to celebrate Africa hosted by Edun’s Bono and Ali Hewson and Louis Vuitton; and today, Wednesday, the show, at the Louvre.
“I met with the Vuitton people not so long ago to do something,” my bench-mate noted. “But it was a small project, and they said they only like to do things in a big way: put lots of money, and get lots of results.” Guess so. But I’m more interested in the invisible knock-effects of all this spending. Read more
Karl Lagerfeld, the long-time designer of Chanel (as well Fendi, as well as his own eponymous line, as well as, this season, a collection for the Italian shoe brand Hogan) is a provocateur, with little patience for ignorance or stupidity or anything that smacks of the bourgeois. This we know. But even by his standards, the nose-thumbing he just gave to the various budget crackdowns going on in the countries of his various customers, not to mention those customer themselves, was jaw-dropping.
Fashion designers get inspiration from all sorts of places: leaves (Valentino Garavani once told me the green in a dress he made came from some leaf he had picked up in Hyde Park and carried back to his atelier), true life stories (this season John Galliano made an entire collection about a 1920s con artist), and, occasionally, other designers.
Consider these two pictures: Read more
It is interesting that David Cameron has chosen the chief executive of a luxury company as a member of his new business advisory council. Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, is joining Sir Howard Stringer, Ratan Tata, and Michael Queen (among other FTSE luminaries) to “make sure the government is getting really good, high-level advice from some of Britain’s leading business men and women,” according to Mr Cameron. Read more
Out with the old, in with the – well, old-but-newly promoted. Rahm Emanuel is going to run for mayor of Chicago and Pete Rouse is going to be interim chief of staff to President Obama, and the great and good of political punditry are twittering (literally and metaphorically) about the two men and their different “styles.” Read more