Monthly Archives: September 2011

Is it a tongue twister? No, it’s an acquisition. Sometimes during fashion week it’s what happens when you aren’t looking that’s most interesting.

Fung Brands Limited, the private luxury investment arm of Fung Capital Europe, has bought Delvaux, the Belgium equivalent of Hermes. This follows Fung Brands April purchase of Robert Clergerie, the famous French shoe maker that had almost faded from view.

In other words: since Fung Capital is owned by the Fung family of Hong Kong (aka the Asian retail and distribution powerhouse that owns Li & Fung), the prophesy that western luxury brands will go east, not just for consumers but corporate owners, has once again come true.

The choice of Delvaux is both smart and telling — the latter because it marks a new approach to making east meet west when it comes to luxury. 

After Fashion 4 Development, the UN initiative involving Michelle Obama and Carla Sarkozy and geared toward supporting industry in developing countries, after Fashion Ambassadors (where celebs and socialites are paid to wear a brand’s clothes out and about), comes…Ambassadors 4 Fashion, a new, unofficial initiative launched this week in Paris.

I say “unofficial,” because I just made it up. But what else to think after the quartet of invitations I have received. To be specific: 

In the “can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-giant-branded-oak-tree” category I would like to nominate all luxury industry watchers (myself included), who have been so distracted by Burberry’s public assumption of tech-God status, recently met by Gucci, that they have TOTALLY OVERLOOKED the real challenger to both those thrones: Estee Lauder.

 

For everyone who was super-hyper-over-excited about the recent rumours, sparked this weekend by a report in the IHT, that Jil Sander’s Raf Simons was going to take over for Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent – well, Paul Deneuve, the chief executive of YSL, just told me it wasn’t true. 

After the Versace/Missoni condos, and Fendi yachts comes this exciting titbit: Condé Nast International is likewise embracing the lifestyle concept, and opening a Vogue café in Kiev, and a GQ bar in Istanbul. Well, if the companies they cover can do it, why shouldn’t the publishers? Isn’t Vogue as much a brand as the brands in their pages?
 

Designers – especially, it seems, Italian designers – are busily embracing all sorts of aesthetic product opportunities beyond the runway. Both Missoni and Versace have teamed up with Century Properties in Manila to create the interiors of new high-rise developments, and Fendi just completed a boat with Princess Yachts. We have trend, people.
 

Last week Altgamma published a report aiming to get a handle on the digital life of 187 luxury brands, which together have revenues of E60bn. The conclusions are pretty jaw-dropping. 

Pirelli – it’s not just about tyres and tastefully sexed-up calendars anymore. As of this week, it’s also about fashion, as a new 1,500 square metre store, on prime real estate off ur-shopping drag Montenapoleone, demonstrated. It features rubber! A lot of it.
 

It being Milan fashion week, I have Milan news on the mind, and here’s something interesting: I’ve just learned Yoox Group, the Italian etail experts who build and manage about half the fashion world’s etail outlets, are about to make a move of their own. Next week, thecorner.com, their high-end multi-brand boutique, will become the first multibrand etailer to launch in China. The floodgates are opening! Let the race begin.

 

Tomorrow Gucci will become the first big kahuna to show on day one of Milan Fashion Week – OMG! OMG! — but they’ve already jumped the buzz-generating gun by sending out a curtain-raiser of an announcement: they’ve found a way to make the sci-fi technology of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film “Minority Report” real, and they are putting it in stores.