Monthly Archives: May 2012

Tonight Jeff Bezos, a man generally pictured in jeans, jackets, and no tie, will stand at the top of the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a tuxedo, shoulder-to-shoulder with designer Miuccia Prada and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. This either speaks to the growing belief among the tech and fashion worlds that on-line is the treasure chest of the future, even if no one if sure what shape it will take, or suggests a desire to go upmarket on the part of what most consider a virtual “wal-mart.” Or both, of course. Read more

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney celebrate their victory in the Illinois GOP primary. Getty Images

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney celebrate their victory in the Illinois GOP primary. Getty Images

The elevation of Mitt Romney to Republican nominee presumptive appears to have acted as a sort of spur to his wife Ann when it comes to her entrance into the imagineering race.

Michelle Obama famously has a blog (mrs-o.org) devoted to her style, after all, which puts her front and centre in many cultural conversations and positions her as a champion of business without her or her camp having to say a word — other than “J Crew” or “Jason Wu” or ”Narciso Rodriguez.” It’s taken until now for Mrs Romney to begin to fight fashion fire with fashion fire.

Mitt and Ann Romney on 'CBS This Morning'. CBS image

Mitt and Ann Romney on 'CBS This Morning'. CBS image

Or so it seems. After a primary season marked mostly by a sea of unidentifiable red suits, earlier this week Mrs R appeared with her husband on “CBS This Morning” wearing a T-shirt printed with bird images by the New York designer Reed Krakoff. It was the first time as far as I know that Mrs Romney had dipped a public toe in the branded fashion world.

And it was an…interesting choice, for two reasons. Read more

Will real men buy silk? And not silk ties, but silk shirts, silk suits, silk trench coats, silk sweaters and silk…seersucker? Can silk be sold, successfully, as “the cashmere of summer,” and hence raise the stakes in the race for the next luxury fibre once again? These are the questions. Not that Hamlet had to worry about them, of course. Ermenegildo Zegna does.

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I’ve been thinking recently of a conversation I had with Rodrigo Bazan, President of Alexander Wang, about the problem of pricing in a global luxury world – and his rather clever way of addressing the issue. The trigger was the news that European brands (well, mostly LVMH brands) are raising the prices of their products in Europe to compensate for the slight slowdown of business in Asia – caused, it seems, by Chinese buying luxury brands abroad, where they are notably cheaper than they are locally – which reminded me of something Mr Bazan had said of the luxury consumer in Asia: “when they see something they like, the first thing they do is Google it on the US web site of the brand, to see what the prices are in dollars.”

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Things are heating up on the luxury front. Yesterday I was talking to Ulrik Garde Due, chief executive of Danish silver brand Georg Jensen, and he acknowledged that the recent stories about brand’s private equity owners, Axcel, considering their exit strategy after 11 years were true. They have hired Rothschilds as advisors, and started meeting with potential buyers. Meanwhile, Smythson has just lured Andy Janowski, Burberry’s former COO and Senior Vice-President of Supply Chain (now, that’s a sexy title), over to their side to mastermind the brand’s expansion. Get ready: the heritage accessories brands are on the move!
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