Accessories

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

Big Pants
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

Forget the uproar around competing menswear shows LC:M, which starts today and ends Wednesday, and Pitti Uomo, which also starts Wednesday and runs until Friday. Seems to me the real distraction from the menswear scene this week is actually taking place in Las Vegas from tomorrow-Friday, and is the Consumer Electronic Show, aka CES. After all, the buzz word of the event this year is “wearables,” and the market for “wearables” is being projected to grow to $19 billion in the next four years. Shouldn’t fashion companies be chasing a share of that there about-to-be-very-large pie, and fashion-watchers paying all sorts of close attention? Read more

There was much hoo-ha a few weeks ago about the London opening of American success story J Crew, and whether it would work in the UK, and the great consumer response, and yadda yadda yadda, but in getting excited about the clothes, we seemed to have missed one of the less obvious effects of the opening: its influence on local brands and their thinking – which is to say, the way it has awakened managers to the potential of the accessible luxury/contemporary market (whatever you want to call it: that slice of retail that falls between High Street and very high end). Consider Karen Millen, and its CEO Mike Sherwood, who today told the FT he has decided to take the brand, which was previously at a sort of upper high street level, into new territory. Hello, accessible luxury! But is he right about the opportunity? Read more

Forget obvious battlegrounds like stores (who has got the biggest/luxist/most special) or designers; the most heated fights in luxury are clearly taking place behind the scenes, in the back-end and backrooms. The latest entrants: Chanel and Paco Rabanne, which stepped into the supplier/accessories arenas respectively. Read more