Monthly Archives: March 2014

After two weeks in the mountains of Wyoming, come home and what do I find? Not only is Mulberry without a CEO (and still without a designer), but all that conventional wisdom about the super-duper high-speed growth of the Chinese luxury market (shock! Trauma!) slowing down may have been wrong. Or not wrong, exactly, but slightly misguided. 

More signs of the luxury industry shrugging of a slowdown in sales in China.

Versace reported its net profit jumped by nearly a third in 2013 as strong sales to US and still buoyant trade in China offset slower growth in Europe. 

The prospect of a US-based IPO by Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba has triggered a recent wave of short-term conjecture over the eye-watering figures involved.

A listing could garner as much as $25bn for example – making it the largest float in history. Wall Street banks could reap up to $400m in fees. Alibaba’s $170bn annual revenue now accounts for 2 per cent of China’s gross domestic product, and is bigger than those of eBay and Amazon combined.

Basically, there’s been rather a lot of this:

But what there has been surprisingly little Wall Street speculation or media salivation over are the longer-term ramifications of a possible IPO. And, more pertinently for the readers of Material World, what inroads Alibaba may be planning into Western fashion and luxury territory following a float, in order to open up access to these brands to the hundreds of millions of hungry shoppers back home in China.

 

Given the obsessive attention routinely paid to what Michelle Obama or Samantha Cameron wears, it struck me that when Michelle Bachelet was sworn in as president of Chile this month, no one mentioned what she wore: a long navy jacket and matching skirt with a red, white and blue presidential sash.

Even more notably, in a photo taken that day, Bachelet was sandwiched between Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, who was wearing a black straight skirt and a black and white plaid collarless jacket with black lace appliqué, and Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in a white lace dress under a white car coat with white open-toe platform pumps. And no one said anything about them either.

Amid wave after wave of unsavory speculation regarding the state of both her private life and business, the employees of L’Wren Scott have maintained a dignified silence in the wake of her tragic suicide on Monday at the age of 49.

However a spokesperson for the team at Scott’s eponymous fashion brand just released the following statement, with the additional request that it was published in full: 

ACRONYM GLOSSARY:

YUPPIE – ‘Young urban professional’

HENRYs – ‘High-earning not rich yet’ individuals

DINKs – ‘Dual-income, no kids’ couples

YUMMY – ‘Young urban male’

IWWIWWIWI – ‘I want what I want when I want it’

For dedicated followers of fashion, there’s a new acronym in town.

After the YUPPIE, HENRYs, IWWIWWIWIs and DINKs comes the YUMMY. Young, Urban and Male. Three reasons for the industry to rejoice, according to HSBC analysts Erwan Rambourg, Antoine Belge and Cathy Chao.

The YUMMY is riding to the rescue of the luxury industry which is reeling from a slowdown in its traditional markets, economic gloom in Europe and negative foreign exchange swings for mostly European businesses, according to HSBC. 

It’s almost a cliché now that you wait years for a fashion film and then two come along at once. It happened with two Chanel films in 2009, and now this year two YSL biopics are going head to head.

First up is Yves Saint Laurent which opens in the UK on Friday. Starring Pierre Niney as Saint Laurent, it’s the one that has the co-operation of the designer’s long-term boyfriend and civil partner Pierre Bergé, and director Jalil Lespert was therefore able to work with the Pierre Bergé-Saint Laurent Foundation. And the other? Saint Laurent, set for release in October and directed by Bertrand Bonello, has been backed by François Henri-Pinault, head of Kering, which has OK’d use of the fashion house’s logo and designs. Bergé has slammed the project on Twitter and said he wants to ban it. 

Interesting news from Google HQ today: the announcement of an operating system called Android Wear that will extend the Android platform to – yup, you guessed it – wearables.

The eyes of the fashion and luxury worlds will be particularly drawn to the news, given the focus of Google’s attentions has landed squarely on what they term “the most familiar of all wearables” – the wrist watch.

The ‘smart watches’ that use Android Wear will be able to offer a range of snazzy apps and functions, including:

  • Information from social media, messaging, shopping and news providers
  • Straight answers to spoken questions (let’s face it, not light years away from Apple’s Siri)
  • The ability to monitor health and fitness with summaries and alerts
  • Multiscreen portal potential

All very savvy – and to some extent predictable – given the recent stress placed by industry observers on devices having genuine function and utility over form if there is ever to be true mass adoption by consumers.

But when it comes to mega-trends, aesthetics – and perhaps recognizable hallmarks when traversing into the great unknown that is digital jewellery – remain vital too. 

L’Wren Scott, the celebrated American fashion designer, has been found dead in New York after committing suicide, police sources confirmed on Monday.

The 49-year old launched her haute namesake brand – renowned for its understated, womanly elegance – in 2006, after earlier forays into the industry first as a teenage model then later as a highly sought after Hollywood stylist. Her glamorous, alpha woman designs had most recently found a home on the London Fashion Week calendar, orbited by her make-up, fragrance and accessories partnerships with some of the biggest names in fashion.