Elizabeth Paton

Elizabeth Paton is the FT's US luxury correspondent

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. Read more

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.

 Read more

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: Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

By Vanessa Friedman and Elizabeth Paton

Once upon a time it was all so easy: everything rode on who had the prettiest dress.

That shot would go around the world, making the brand that made the dress lots and lots of money in free editorial. But today, the red carpet has become a major marketing vehicle.

Not only is EVERY possible item that goes on a celebrity’s body on awards night – be it jewels or shoes or makeup -being identified, dissected and therefore promoted, but celebrities themselves are also monetizing their appearances by cutting exclusivity deals. This means it is getting harder and harder to call a winner.

Because its not just about who looks good anymore. Its about which brand has the most pulling power, and the deepest pockets to snag the most stars who will in turn benefit the most from their investment in the evening. Read more