Yearly Archives: 2013

When, in the course of conversations with fashion friends and acquaintances in the luxury world, I mentioned that I was having lunch with JAR, aka Joel Arthur Rosenthal, aka “the Fabergé of our time”, the following reaction inevitably occurred.

Michael Gould is stepping down as chief executive of Bloomingdale’s after 22 years at the helm of the upmarket department store, which is owned by Macy’s.

He will be replaced in February 2014 by Tony Spring, who is currently president and chief operating officer at the chain.

“I think our business is good,” Mr Gould, 70, told the Financial Times after the change was announced. “I think competition has never been tougher.” Read more

The Americas look set to become the luxury industry’s largest growth market in 2013, as a government clampdown on gift-giving in China and devaluation of the Japanese yen weigh heavily on sales in Asia-Pacific.
A study by Italian luxury goods association Altagamma and consultants Bain expects luxury spending in the Americas to rise 4 per cent this year to €69bn, boosted by brand expansion in many of the US’s largest cities, strong online sales and renewed consumer confidence.
Growth in the US has also benefited from spending by Chinese tourists, particularly in Western cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
“Booming tourist sales, a targeted focus by brands away from a wholesale model plus a stronger economy than other core luxury markets has given the Americas an edge over Asia so far this year,”
said Claudia D’Arpizio, head of Bain’s fashion and luxury goods practice. She added that Canada and Latin America had performed steadily over the last nine months.

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Miuccia Prada has always positioned her stylistic vision firmly at a crossroads where fashion both intersects – and interacts with – a broader cultural discourse.

Her most recent collection in Milan offered a searing feminist dissection of the position of women in society; this summer her label launched a global talent competition with the Qatar Museums Authority, searching for the next generation of curators who could create exhibitions “both far-sighted and critical to the future”; and the Prada Foundation has long been a powerful force in both the art and film worlds, wielding particular influence at the Venice Biennale.

So it is inevitable perhaps that the brand has taken its first tentative steps into the world of book publishing. Last night at the Prada Epicenter Store in New York, it unveiled the winners of the inaugural Prada Journal Literary Contest at a glittering reading and cocktail party. Read more

It never rains but it pours: just a week after the Burberry shake-up comes news that Jil Sander (left) is leaving her namesake label for the third – count’ em – time, for “personal reasons.” (The first two times she left because of strategic differences with the then-owner, Prada Group.) No replacement has been named, and the upcoming fall/winter collection will be designed by an in-house team. So what are we to make of this? Read more

Not long ago, no matter where you were in the world, there was a particular smell to a Burberry store. An earthy scent tickled the memory, sparking thoughts of loamy ground and windswept moors, warm fireplaces and woolly sweaters.

It was also, as it happened, the smell of the Burberry headquarters, a 150-year-old landmark building with a remodelled interior a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament – not to mention an office on the top floor, a broad white expanse of glass belonging to Christopher Bailey, the brand’s chief creative officer.

Speculation that Richemont is looking to offload its poor performing ‘soft luxury’ portfolio assets continues to grow apace, with rumours surfacing online yesterday that the conglomerate was in early stage talks to sell Chloé, its Parisian haute fashion house.

According to people familiar with the matter, Richemont has been informally looking for buyers for some time, with one source saying: “it is not a question of if, but a question of when.”

Reuters also reported that the Swiss luxury conglomerate had received a non-binding offer from PE fund Change Capital for the leather goods maker Lancel. But are the wheels finally turning on a series of acquisitions, or is this just another round of industry Chinese whispers?

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Today’s announcement that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts was leaving (mid-next year) to become Apple’s head of retail, and current Chief Creative Officer/designer Christopher Bailey was taking her place while retaining his design responsibilities has the potential to change not just fashion but tech, and the inter-relationship between the two. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. Consider the Butterfly effect: Read more

Milan’s efforts to become the global hub for luxury stock listings is gathering pace.
Raffaele Jerusalmi, chief executive of the Milan bourse, has promised that there will be another “four or five” luxury goods companies listing on the exchange in the first half of next year. Speaking to more than 130 institutional investors who had come to the exchange to meet with Italian fashion and luxury companies, Mr Jerusalmi said Milan had “all the chances to become the market of reference for luxury goods”.
After stellar listings in Milan from Salvatore Ferragamo and Brunello Cucinelli, which have increased their share values by 50 per cent in the past year, other Italian companies keen to tap international demand are following suit.

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As any observer of the luxury industry knows, tourist spending is increasingly becoming the sales bread and butter of the world’s biggest brands. But it’s not just the flagship, department store and e-commerce channels that reap the multi-billion dollar rewards of cross-border luxury spending,

DFS – or Duty Free Shopping – the world’s leading premium travel retailer, now takes an increasingly hefty chunk of this seriously lucrative pie. Last year alone, they sold a staggering 70m products from 700 prestige labels in 420 locations across the globe.

But here’s a question – have you ever actually heard of them? Would you recognize their logo? The chances are probably not – unless you live or travel extensively in the Asia-Pacific, where the vast majority of DFS Gallerias and airport outlets are based.

But that may all be about to change. Read more

Parallel lines

Life rarely proceeds in a linear direction so it’s nice if at least something can be relied on to trace a straight pathway, even if it’s only in your wardrobe. A nod to the athletic influence that has pervaded runways from New York to Paris – as well as the op-art movement that has designers bedazzled – today’s stripes (the bigger the better) allow you to have your sport and culture too. Not to mention the advantages of visual geometry as associated with the vertical line. Which is a wordy, highfalutin way of saying: they make you look skinny.

A few final thoughts on the last weird development of the week, which is to say: LVMH’s first planned IPO of one of their brands. It’s been rather overshadowed by the news of Twitter’s IPO, which granted, is a more immediate offering, but does anyone else find the Marc Jacobs listing drumroll as odd a development as I do? After all, LVMH has NEVER – let’s repeat that – NEVER, listed a brand they own before.  Read more

Sometimes I think over-protecting a brand may not, actually,be the best thing for the brand. Consider the news, making waves at fashion week, that Saint Laurent has decided to pull all its business from Colette, the Paris super-boutique so dear to the industry, because they are mad about it selling a brand-mocking T-shirt. The big, global company slaps down the little, independent boutique. So who looks like the bully here? It makes me wonder if they really weighed the public image consequences of their action. Read more

The news yesterday that Marco Zanini, former creative director of Rochas, would become the new creative director of the relaunched House of Schiaparelli, which would also join the couture calendar, is the sort of news that normally would send the fashion world into such a frenzied show of breast-beating (what will happen to Rochas!!) and excitement (what will this mean for Schiaparelli?!) it would put the actual shows on the runway to shame. Except this time no one batted an eyelash. They yawned, and moved on. How’d that happen? Expectations management via social media. There are lessons here for us all. Read more

My favourite rumour of the day comes courtesy of WWD, which suggests that ex-Burberry CFO Stacey Cartwright, beloved of the City and regarded as a key player in that brand’s financial success, may find a new C-suite seat as CEO of UK department store Harvey Nichols. Current CEO Joseph Wan, who has been running the store for over a decade, “denied an appointment had been made.” Which doesn’t mean one isn’t coming. So let’s play my favourite game for a moment: “What if…?”  Read more

Bare essentials

Blame it on Michelle Obama’s elegant arms and the related tricep/bicep workout craze, but women want to show off their upper limbs like never before and there are few ways to do so as stylishly as in a one-shoulder top. Once upon a time, a bare shoulder was almost a synonym for disco nights, but these versions are altogether more grown-up, polished and accessible. Read more

It is one of the great ironies of the digital age that, in order to get people’s attention, the best way to do it is with a physical product. Last night, in Paris, the web site the Business of Fashion hand-delivered, ‘round midnight to a big chunk of the fashion crowd, a thin, matte paper magazine entitled “The BoF 500,” aka the Fashion 500. Catchy title, no, for those all obsessed with the Fortune 500? What do you think THEY’RE going to be reading at breakfast/in the car/on the bleachers while they are bored waiting for shows to start (which is when you normally see a spike in Twitter traffic)? Way to grab some eyeballs! Way to be part of a trend! So what is it exactly? Read more

News yesterday that Value Retail – Europe’s most successful luxury fashion outlet operator and owner of the UK’s wildly popular Bicester Village – was launching another high stakes expansion effort in China adds yet another twist to the tale of Western retailers looking east.

The move comes hot on the heels of the group’s earlier announcement this year of their first Chinese outlet opening – the $100m Suhzou Village – which opens its doors in early 2014 about 50 miles from Shanghai.

Wednesday’s unveiling of 540,000 square ft Shanghai Village however, is considerably larger in both ambition and investment. And the decision to locate it directly opposite the country’s new Disney World resort – which will also open in 2015 – only makes this decision more of a game changer.

Why? Read more

Yesterday LVMH announced it had signed up YBD JW Anderson to be the new designer of Loewe, and taken a minority stake in his brand. Anyone notice anything funky about this? No? It was expected? Well, kind of. But what shouldn’t have been expected, but seems to be increasingly the case, is that while they hired him to be the creative head of one of their not-quite-there-yet brands, they allowed him to keep his own line. And therein lies a change in strategy. Read more

To kick off the Paris shows, the final leg in the marathon that are the modern ready-to-wear collections, Louis Vuitton did something I can’t ever remember them doing before: they announced the name of their new accessories designer with all the hoo-ha and accolades that usually come with the unveiling of a new creative director. Step forth Darren Sapziani. In the luxury power structure, things they are a-changin’. Read more