After the growing, and counter-intuitive success of the London Collections: Men, aka the only fashion week on the calendar these days with any buzz; after the purchase of Christopher Kane by the-former-PPR-now-known-as-Kering; after Jefferson Hack’s work with Tod’s; today comes yet another announcement that adds fuel to the growing sense that London is the fashion city of the moment: Katie Hillier, British accessories designer, and Luella Bartley, the YBD, are joining Marc by Marc Jacobs as creative director and design director of womenswear, respectively. Bring on the Brits! If you want to be a buzzy brand, these days, apparently, you need some of your own.
The ECCIA, that odd-acronym’d unified lobbying association for the luxury groups of Europe, just released a new survey about the perception of luxury in Europe, and guess what? Despite Francois Hollande’s tax-the-rich scheme, and other austerity measures, it’s a lot better than you think! In fact, 75% of people surveyed LOVE luxury. To understand why that number is a big deal, know this: it has tripled in three years. Why?
Today my colleague Scheherazade Daneshkhu has written a terrific piece about the luxury race to the vertical – the move among the big groups to own not only their own manufacturing and retail, but their suppliers – and lo! what should happened but yet more proof of the trend: Loro Piana has bought a majority stake in the Argentinian alpaca producer Sanin SA. It ain’t just about leather and python anymore: now fibers are in the mix. And I wonder how far it will go?
It has been a week since David Beckham stepped off the field for Paris Saint-Germain in the final game of his celebrated football career; a week since the tears and hugs and accolades rained; a week since the whispers began.
The speculation is about what he will do next, of course. Though some interesting possibilities have been mooted (Beckham should learn to act and be the next James Bond! He should go into politics!), the majority opinion so far is leaning toward fashion. And by fashion I don’t mean another one-off collaboration for H&M; I mean something long-term that could land on the schedule of the London collections: men. Just imagine the promotional potential, not just for Beckham, but London menswear as a whole.
The other day I was talking to Geraldo da Conceicao, Sonia Rykiel’s new creative director, about his plans for the brand, when he said something that surprised me. “I want us to be an accessible luxury brand,” he announced. Hmmm, I responded: “So you are dropping your price points?” He looked confused. “No, not at all. In fact, they are probably going up.” Now it was my turn to be puzzled.
When we (and I do not mean the royal We, but We the fashion collective) talk about fashion and technology, we almost always talk about Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr and ecommerce, and so on – ways for brands to communicate with consumers – and then we talk about how fashion was so bad at it, and how important it is, an industry-changer, etc. But this week was Internet Week in New York, and I had a conversation with Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler that made me think we’ve all been missing the real revolution. It’s not in comms (or not only); it’s behind-the-scenes, in creativity. Read more
We all know menswear is seen as a Great Luxury Hope, what with the Chinese market being driven by male consumers with money. Hence the Kering acquisition of Brioni; LVMH focusing on Berluti and buying French made-to-measure tailor Arnys to make apparel; Hermes and Coach opening mensonly shops, and so on. Now, however, it seems the on-line folks are also thinking along these lines. Yesterday MenInvest, the slightly cringe-worthy-named Paris-based e-commerce group bought the even odder named upmarket UK site Oki-ni.com, which specialises in “cutting-edge” menswear, for an undisclosed sum.
The WPP/BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands ranking is out today – OMG! OMG! – and, as usual (for me, anyway) what ISN’T on it, when it comes to fashion and luxury, is more interesting than what makes the grade.
Of course, that isn’t hard to parse, since only FOUR (yes, more capital letters, but this is big) traditional luxury brands do make the grade. And yes, you can argue that Apple (#1) and BMW (#24) are luxury brands, but let’s stick to the generally accepted silk/apparel/leathergoods/watch & jewellery categories, for clarity’s sake.
And in those categories, we have: Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and Prada. That’s it.
Yup: no Burberry. No Ralph Lauren. No Cartier. No Armani. No Fendi or Celine. No Bottega Veneta or Balenciaga. No Michael Kors. Uh oh. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Read more
Oooh, the trash talk out of Milan. Having finally woken up to the fact that London Fashion Week is getting buzzier, and that such a development could be a threat to Milan, its collections, and the related economic windfall that comes to a city during showtime, Milanese designers are joining forces to defend their territory – but the infighting has already begun. The gossip and name-calling is fun to watch, but behind it is a real issue currently afflicting every fashion week: the tension between national industry interest and a brand’s self-interest. Read more
The announcement that came along with Richemont’s 2012 annual results this morning that chairman Johan Rupert (left), is taking a year off from running the world’s second biggest luxury company starting this September is by far, to me at least, the most interesting part of the statement. For a man who has built the largest watch and jewellery Group to take a year off at age 62 – which, let’s face is not so old — at a time when the exponential growth trajectory of the luxury sector has started to slow is a little, well, surprising. And leads to all sorts of interesting speculation.
Tonight Donatella Versace is unveiling her new Versus Versace JW Anderson line, a capsule collection with a too-wordy name made in collaboration with YBD J.W. Anderson. She is doing so at 9:30 pm, in the form of a concert/party, which feels old-fashioned: very 1980s big top, like when Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler had shows in stadiums, as opposed to recession-restrained. And yet this is, at least strategically, a very new-fangled brand. Essentially, it has been re-built for the on-line world. Read more
I wonder what the luxury world makes of the new French initiative to protect its culture in the digital age by imposing a tax on sales of tablets, smart phones, etc? They, after all, (the luxury folks, that is) have been promoting themselves as a “cultural industry” for the last few years. I mean, the name of their pan-European lobbying group is the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance. In case you missed it somehow. Yet as far as I know they don’t benefit from any protectionist legislation, in France anyway. Read more
So the other day I was chatting with Safilo CEO Roberto Vedovotto, trying to get to the root of the explosion in optics – they’re fast catching up to handbags as the super-accessory of choice – when he threw out an interesting theory: it’s the baby boomers, stupid. Read more
One of the more interesting developments this week has been the growing backlash against Monday’s Met Ball, below left, aka the Costume Institute Gala, aka the fashion party of the season. It’s one of the most talked-about, and blogged-about, events of the year, and yet Wednesday Gwyneth Paltrow was quoted by USA Today as saying she was “never going again,” that night I was at a dinner where a beauty mogul, who shall remain unnamed, announced he wasn’t going anymore, and yesterday the wife of a major brand CEO said the same. What’s going on?
The news today that Ottavio Missoni, known as Tai and co-founder of the fashion/knitwear brand that bears his surname, has died aged 92 has sent the fashion world into mourning, for a number of reasons — some personal, and some to do with the end of an idea about fashion itself.
So much for that public image rehab. After the excitement, pro and con, generated by Parson’s announcement that disgraced former Dior designer John Galliano would be teaching a masterclass, they have called the whole thing off. On reflection, I think this is too bad. Not because Mr Galliano necessarily belongs in the classroom, but because I think part of the material for the class – a “candid” discussion about his career — would have been valuable for students. We learn from failure often more than we learn from success, after all. Not to mention public implosion.
Though much has been made of the fact that the luxury sector, which has been on a rocket to the moon, growth-wise, is finally slowing –Bain predicts 4-6% for the next two years – a new “UK Luxury Benchmark Study” from Walpole, the British luxury consortium, and Ledbury Research, begs to differ, at least when it comes to the UK. It’s full of surprises! Read more
Interesting news today that fursales are at “a record high”, especially in the Far East: Korea, China and so on. So does this mean the animal rights folks have lost? They certainly haven’t ceded the cause – they still pop up on occasion in front of a show (Prada, last season) or a store (Burberry), but I think it has proved more complicated than they ever anticipated. Because they aren’t just fighting a basic totem of luxury, and an industry that is increasingly getting out in front of the issue (see the Origin Assured initiative), but the whole problem of seasonality: the end of.
Forget art collaborations – they’re so yesterday. Mobile phones, ditto. These days, it seems, the must-have accessory for a luxury brand (not, note, a luxury consumer) is a gig creating costumes for the ballet. It’s the newest stamp of high-art approval. The latest to join the club: Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. So what does it mean? Read more
I had a very illuminating chat yesterday with Jimmy Choo chief executive Pierre Denis. He’s been in the job not quite a year now (previously he was ceo of John Galliano, so you can understand the job change), and has started to articulate the brand’s story going forward. Put simply: it’s history, people. Read more