Big (literally) news today in the FT that yesterday, thanks to a government recalculation, Nigeria’s GDP has not become the biggest in Africa, and the 26th biggest in the world, valued at $509bn. Why do we (we luxury folks, that is) care? “The revision will have a psychological impact. It underlines to foreign investors that this country has a large consumer base. It validates the investment thesis,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the minister for economy and finance. So will luxury, which has thus far been dancing around the edges of the country (only Zegna and Hugo Boss have stand-alone stores in Lagos, opened last year, and Diesel recently joined them), but which these days really loves a new consumer base, rush in? Read more
All the kvelling and anticipation, all the oh-my-god-wait-for-it-game-changer rumours that have had both the tech and fashion worlds on the edges of their respective metaphoric seats since last summer, when Apple started poaching luxury executives supposedly with an eye toward developing an iWatch – well, it turns out that has all been something of a sleight of hand: while we were staring in one direction, and competitors were rushing THEIR smartwatch to market, the folks in the super-secretive headquarters on the West Coast had other things up their sleeves. In fact, forget the iWatch entirely. Think iWear. Read more
During the penultimate day of the Paris ready-to-wear collections, just before the Alexander McQueen show, was an event that, given the circumstances, might strike many as odd.
Much to-do over the weekend at SXSW following Google SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps Sundar Pichai’s announcement that they were about to release a software development kit for wearables, so that your clothes could talk to Android devices. Immediate speculation on motives followed. They were looking to corner the market by owning the common platform! They were going to make more wearables of their own (Well, duh)! It was sneaky and smart strategy! But here’s what I was thinking, reading about all this: there is enormous fashion potential here, if they want to seize it. Read more
Today the FT is reporting that Blackstone is the clear leader in the race for the Versace minority stake – which is surprising on the surface, given that the private equity firm has never made any forays into high fashion, and private equity as a sector has had mixed results in the sector, sic Permira and Valentino, and TPG and Bally. So why the mutual attraction? I was speculating with a colleague recently, and she mentioned what is probably the magic word: hotels. Aka the Next Big Brand extension of luxury. Read more
Not the Bridget Jones variety – rather, the wide-legged, generously slouchy, swish-as-you walk kind. Blame it on the overarching trend of the season: a return to comfort dressing – or a simple fashion reaction to the past few seasons of skin-tight rocker trousers. Either way, for autumn/winter the trousers on the catwalk are, finally, almost entirely on the upped-side. This is good news physically (they can hide a multitude of issues) and emotionally too; they have the comfort factor of a good pair of sweatpants. Whether in double-faced cashmere or malleable leather, they can go from office to sofa with just a change of top. Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy would approve.
It was probably inevitable after the rise of the multi-thousand-square-foot shoe department (Macy’s: 63,000 square feet; Selfridge’s, 35,000 sq ft). After all, you need something to fill that space. You need stars. And the way star are made, in fashion at least, is during fashion shows. Enter the shoe show. Once a specialty of Milan alone, this season it has gone global. New York fashion week is full of them. Read more
Well, finally: Google glass has made the leap from nerd-wear to pretty acceptable actual glasses. They just unveiled four new styles of titanium frames – lightweight black numbers that range from a kind of sexy secretary style (my personal favourite) called Curve to a thick-rimmed architect look (Bold). They can take both prescription lenses and non. The weird Google viewer that, when worn alone as previous turned people into Star Wars-geeks, attaches to one side. It’s still a little odd, but not odd enough to cause the sort of double-takes it did on its own. It could actually pass as…a fashion statement. Read more
Following Vogue (“The September Issue”), Gucci (“The Director”), Bergdorf Goodman (“Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s”), and Kate Moss (Paris Premiere’s upcoming “Looking for Kate”, which airs this Sunday), the latest fashion/luxury brand to get the documentary treatment will be Tiffany’s. Matthew Miele, who wrote and directed “Bergdorf’s” is at work on a full-length, fully authorised, documentary about the company, starting back in the day. Anyone else feel their trend-spotting bells a-ringing? Read more
And so it has finally come to pass: a tech company has partnered with a design name to create a wearable product. Hallelujah. Took ‘em long enough. The pioneering duo is Intel and Opening Ceremony, aka the designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim (left, with Justin Beiber), who own trend-setting stores by the same name and are also the designers behind Kenzo, the LVMH-owned brand that is moving into the contemporary space, and had its first show at New York Fashion Week last season. They will work together to create a “smart bracelet” (new word alert!), which will be sold exclusively at Barney’s NY – or so they announced at CES. When exactly it will be sold, and what it will look like, as well as what it will do and how much it will cost, is unclear, but hey: it’s a start. According to one insider, it will be effectively a bracelet that has communication functions. Beam me up, Scottie! Read more