China

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

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

Ok, I know it’s the womenswear season and all eyes are on hemlines in New York (and soon London), but something is happening in menswear to which no one seems to be paying much attention, but that strikes me as worth a stop and think: various Chinese groups are snapping up classic western tailoring brands like they are M&Ms. And the ownership change is reaching critical mass. Read more

Here’s a question: what does NYFW’s Jewish problem and the Chinese version of “Project Runway” have in common? You know the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? Well, this is Six Degrees of Parsons. Read more

Seems to me the big question hovering over Apple and Tim Cook – should they or should they not introduce a cheaper iPhone next month, perhaps for the China market? – is actually obvious, or would have been so to Mr Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs. Yes, they should, and it shouldn’t necessarily be for China. Or not just for China. Why do I think this? Fashion, my dear Watson.

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Floriane de Saint Pierre, one of the most powerful luxury headhunters in France (she’s the go-to people placer for Kering), is spearheading yet another fashion award, Eyes on Talent, along with ITS (International Talent Support, an on-line platform) — this one specifically geared toward bringing up and coming design talent to the attention of big brands. Well, they just announced their 2013 winners, and guess what? Of the 13 awards, sponsored by brands like Yoox, Diesel and Swarovski, almost half the winners came from major new markets: South Korea and China. Think this is a coincidence? I don’t.
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According to a new report published today by the Digital Luxury Group, Chanel has ousted Louis Vuitton for the first time as the most-searched-for luxury brand in China (that’s their Beijing store, below). Rock our little velvet-lined world. Especially because why is one of the best arguments I’ve yet heard for why a brand needs to hit every luxury market segment.

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These days we all hold certain truths to be self-evident: 1) that the Chinese market, while slowing, is still expected to be the biggest fashion market in the world; 2) that the Chinese are attracted to the idea of European heritage and skills; 3) that there is an increasing drive in China to support home-grown design (or to create it); 4) that the Europeans are trying to figure out how to exploit all those two realities to their own profit. Hence, for example, Kering’s purchase last year of Qeelin, the Chinese jewellery brand, and hence Iceberg’s decision to partner with Chinese video artist Yi Zhou for a capsule collection of menswear, womenswear, and accessories, to be launched next Christmas. What’s interesting about both these choices is they are focused much more on East than West. Fair enough: you go where the money is. And with the Iceberg case we reach example number 2 of this approach, thus bringing us ever-closer to critical mass for a trend.
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Stuart McCullough, the CEO of Woolmark, wants to relaunch wool as a brand. A luxury brand. Woolmark, of course, is already a logo, and there are unquestionably luxury fibres (see cashmere, vicuna, silk), but to turn a fibre itself into a brand seems like – well, a challenge. Isn’t it a material? Can materials be brands? Is this the ultimate example of the contemporary belief that everything, but everything – people, dogs, washing machines – can be a brand? Maybe. But the does have two recent developments going for him. Read more

We’re used to hearing about how this luxury brand is suing that web site for false advertising, and that one is suing that third party enabler for allowing other to sell counterfeit products, and yet another is suing for a product that looks a little too much like their existing product (OK, can anyone say LVMHand Google or eBay? Gucci and Guess?), but this is largely because the big guys, who have the most money, make the most noise. In fact, talk to the legal set and one of the greatest problems facing young designers in a globalised world is “trade-mark squatting.” Thus far, it’s mostly caused a lot of breast-beating and wallet-opening, but now one young designer has come up with a solution of sorts.

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