China

So Havas Media got back to me with the rankings of the Top 50 meaningful global brands (you may remember, no luxury brand made the top 25), and guess what? We finally see some luxury names. Even more interesting, however, is the geographic breakdown of where those luxury names appear – and the fact that all that ubiquity conventional wisdom has is bad for luxury may actually help make it meaningful to more.

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We all know menswear is seen as a Great Luxury Hope, what with the Chinese market being driven by male consumers with money. Hence the Kering acquisition of Brioni; LVMH focusing on Berluti and buying French made-to-measure tailor Arnys to make apparel; Hermes and Coach opening mensonly shops, and so on. Now, however, it seems the on-line folks are also thinking along these lines. Yesterday MenInvest, the slightly cringe-worthy-named Paris-based e-commerce group bought the even odder named upmarket UK site Oki-ni.com, which specialises in “cutting-edge” menswear, for an undisclosed sum.

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So the other day I was chatting with Safilo CEO Roberto Vedovotto, trying to get to the root of the explosion in optics – they’re fast catching up to handbags as the super-accessory of choice – when he threw out an interesting theory: it’s the baby boomers, stupid. Read more

Though much has been made of the fact that the luxury sector, which has been on a rocket to the moon, growth-wise, is finally slowing –Bain predicts 4-6% for the next two years – a new “UK Luxury Benchmark Study” from Walpole, the British luxury consortium, and Ledbury Research, begs to differ, at least when it comes to the UK. It’s full of surprises! Read more

Interesting news today that fursales are at “a record high”, especially in the Far East: Korea, China and so on. So does this mean the animal rights folks have lost? They certainly haven’t ceded the cause – they still pop up on occasion in front of a show (Prada, last season) or a store (Burberry), but I think it has proved more complicated than they ever anticipated. Because they aren’t just fighting a basic totem of luxury, and an industry that is increasingly getting out in front of the issue (see the Origin Assured initiative), but the whole problem of seasonality: the end of.

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I had a very illuminating chat yesterday with Jimmy Choo chief executive Pierre Denis. He’s been in the job not quite a year now (previously he was ceo of John Galliano, so you can understand the job change), and has started to articulate the brand’s story going forward. Put simply: it’s history, people. Read more

Ledbury Research is releasing its latest Luxury Market Insights report, which includes a CEO Outlook study tomorrow, and guess what? Those chief execs aren’t totally convinced the Chinese consumer demand for luxury, which has been slowing, will zoom back, despite what they often say.

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The rest of the luxury world may be quailing in the face of an Asian slowdown; Cassandras may crying doom! as the new Chinese political regime cracks down on bribery and obvious bling; Europe may be seeing flat or no growth, but you’d never know it to look at the Prada Group’s results. Today the Italian luxury Group, which includes Prada, Miu Miu, Car Shoe and Church’s, and is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, reported consolidated net revenues of Euro 3,297 million, a 29% increase (+23% at constant exchange rates) over 2011, making its earnings per share — up 41% in 2012 (from Euro 0.17 in 2011, to Euro 0.24) – the highest in luxury according to a recent report from HSBC.

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Yesterday Farfetch.com, the ecommerce site that acts like a portal between global consumers and global independent boutiques, both editing their offerings and connecting either side, announced $20m in new funding, largely from Condé Nast International. A few days before, Luxup, a UK-based ecommerce travel site that aimed to create a “club” of tourists eager for insider shopping experiences, ceased trading. When such things happen in parallel, it’s tempting to try to find lots of lessons in the news.

What are they? Read more

Much has been made in the US of Heart magazine’s new “ShopBazaar,” a web site linked to their high-fashion flagship title that allows you to effectively shop most of the pages of the book on-line. While such editorial-commercial links are not exactly new, however, what I hadn’t realised, because they’ve been keeping rather mum about it, is that is only ONE of Hearst’s “experiments” in the space – or so explained Duncan Edwards, President of Hearst International, when we were talking earlier this week. The company had a few different such “trials” going on around the world. Trials? Read more