Luxury brands from PPR to LVMH may be announcing more banner results this month, but according to a new report from UK luxury consultancy Ledbury Research, their CEOs are probably a lot more worried about the industry’s prospects in 2012 than they are letting on.
Recently, a woman in the midst of a career change came to see me. This former banker, who took time off to get married and have children, was on the verge of beginning a new life in the high-end fragrance business. Her launch product is a limited edition perfume called “Tiara” that will sell for $1,200 and features particularly glitzy packaging: nestling inside a white resin box is a glass vial shaped like a cupcake, “crowned” by a special silvery top studded with sapphire blue Swarovski ovals. The look was, she said, inspired by the late Princess Diana’s engagement ring, as now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Today at their AGM PPR came out and did two things that I don’t think any other luxury brand has done so far: publicly put its money where its mouth is, officially committing to a group of specific environmental goals for the Group to reach by 2016 and announcing them for all to see (and measure, and wave critically in the air in the company fails to fulfill them), and financially committing to a carbon off-shoot company by buying a 5% stake in Wildlife Works Carbon and getting a seat on the management committee. It all sounds great, but what does it really mean?
Anyone else noticed that these days you can’t blink an eye without someone — a designer, blogger, brand — announcing they have just “curated” some on-line content? But isn’t this simply a new word for “editor”? And aren’t both terms being devalued — to the detriment of the consumer?
So a precedent has been set in Russia. Yesterday the Swiss conglomerate won their case in the Russian Federal Supreme Court, where in they sued a Russian company that had registered the trademark Vacheron Constantin and applied it to middle-market clothes. The result is a new legal standard in Russia regarding trademark protections that will be very useful not only to any other luxury brand doing business in the country but any luxury brand doing business in other emerging markets.
As if the Jubilee and the Olympics weren’t enough, this June London fashion will inaugurate its first ever dedicated men’s wear – well, not week. Three days! You have to start somewhere.The announcement marks an interesting evolution in British fashion thinking. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t go far enough.
After YSL and Louboutin, after LVMH and eBay, comes Richemont and Russia. Yes, tomorrow the Swiss luxury giant comes out of the shadows and joins the fight against trademark infringement and IP theft that has been picking up steam across the globe. See, tomorrow the Arbitrazh court of Moscow will hear an appeal by Richemont’s Vacheron Constantin brand that, says the Chairman of the Chamber of Russian patent attorneys, could well determine the shape of Russian IP law going forward. And that, of course, will have wide repercussions for the greater luxury industry.
On Sunday the French electorate goes to the polls for the first round of presidential elections, which are widely expected to result in a François Hollande/Nicolas Sarkozy face-off in round two. Much has been made of this being a quasi-referendum on the future of the euro, France’s relationship with Germany and the rate of taxation on the top 10 per cent of the population (not to mention whether or not France feels it’s time to get a Socialist back in the Elysée). But it seems to me there’s another issue also at stake that hasn’t really been discussed but is equally interesting: the question of what it means to appear presidential in a straitened economic era.
And so yet more proof lands in the in-box that people are still buying luxury – and this time I’m not talking about the products. I’m talking about stocks. Hot on the heels of the revelation that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has bought a 5% stake in jeweler Tiffany comes the news that luggage maker Tumi’s value was up by over 50% after their IPO yesterday raised $338 million.
Well, what else to conclude from the fact Ms Wang’s recent bridal collection (for those who don’t obsessively follow the endless show schedule, this is wedding season) featured 15 — count ‘em — red gowns?