China

There’s a really interesting study out today from the Digital Luxury Group. Based on data from over 31 million searches on Google, Bing, Yandex and Bai du, as conducted in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and US, it looked at which American luxury brands were the most popular globally (based on search, natch, not sales). The results would probably surprise you, especially when it comes to who’s on top, and emerging markets. Read more

Earlier today I wrote about the odd idea that came to me after reading Bain’s 11th Luxury Goods Market report, but now I’d like to simply list a few more notable — and surprising — conclusions from that exciting document, including facts on outlet shopping, Gen Z, and a new Chinese consumer segment. Read more

Today Bain released its 11th annual Luxury Goods worldwide Market Study, projecting that the luxury market growth will slow to about 10% a year, and then perhaps 4-6% for the next two years, and that all the slack won’t be picked up by China, which is also slowing. When Burberry first noted this trend, the reaction was largely “shock, horror!”, and their stock dropped 20%. However, I wonder if long-term this slowdown might not actually be a useful thing.
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Today Ledbury research is publishing their “CEO Sentiment Indicator,” an exciting document in which they chart the words of luxury execs as they reveal the thoughts of said execs about how things are shaping up for the future. They gave us an exclusive peek at it before release. And guess what? They are not feeling the love.

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The sky is falling! The sky is falling! This tends to be the reaction lately every time a luxury brand reports worse-than-expected earnings. It happened last June with Mulberry, and now it is happening with Burberry. Yet I am not convinced it’s time to call the end of luxury. Read more

Here’s a small pictorial preview of Anna Della Russo’s accessories collection for H&M, which goes on-sale Oct 4, and which she was wearing at Jason Wu’s show in New York. Read more

Last May, Johan Rupert, Richemont’s chairman, issued what is still my favourite quote on the subject of China and luxury, the implication of which was: China is a volcano, and it’s gonna blow. But when? This is, numerous luxury brand H1 results now in, the question bedevilling analysts, investors, and the brands themselves. Read more

You know all that talk in the luxury world about what Asian brand will be the first break-out brand to take Europe, thus providing a riposte to all the European brands currently focused on milking the Asian consumer dry? Well, hot on the heels of Bosideng, the Chinesd down-specialist launching in London, comes some more provocative news out of the East. And though it’s courtesy of a brand, it’s not quite the designer brand everyone was expecting. It’s a department store brand. Specifically, it’s Lane Crawford, aka the iconic Hong Kong luxury department store.
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Recently I was talking to James Carsellis, the entrepreneur behind web start-up Luxup, and he mentioned the theory that Europe was becoming a luxury goods Disneyland for emerging market consumers. You know: a place where the entertainment value/point lies in shopping for expensive stuff. I don’t think the comparison is that far-fetched.
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I come back from holiday, only to find the news that Romeo Gigli has also returned: today Joyce, the fashion-forward Asian boutique, announced a new autumn/winter collaboration: JOYCE by Romeo Gigli. So will it work this time around? Can he be an example to designers everywhere (Herve Leger, for example) who lost their name and their business, and dream of a return. Read more

So after all the chat about the current economic situation driving a polarisation of price-points – either super-high-end luxury or cheapo Uniqlo – Euromonitor has come out with some research that begs to differ.  Read more

LVMH just announced the acquisition of Arnys, a family-owned French made-to-measure tailor established in 1933. It seems the plan is to combine it with Berluti, to give that brand, run by Antoine Arnault (aka Bernard Arnault’s eldest son) a super-high end suiting service. The former luxury shoe brand also launched men’s ready-to-wear last season. Take that, Savile Row! And take that, PPR! Read more

There was an interesting point that didn’t make it into the story today on J Crew’s. expansion into Asia (it was a little too colloquial) that I wanted to pass on. This is the first wholesale arrangement the brand has ever had, a fact I found surprising because when Mr Drexler and I had lunch last year, he told me one of the most important lessons he ever learned – and he learned it in his youth, when he worked at Bloomingdale’s, and then applied it to the Gap, with now-famous success –was that you need to control your brand, from image to product to pricing, which means no wholesale.
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The assertion that exclusivity is no longer a criteria for luxury came from PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault when he opened our luxury conference last Thursday, and I have to say, it made me sit up in my seat. Not that that was the only striking insight to come out at the end of last week. Here, in no particular order of importance, are the top five items that stayed with me the most Read more

Prada CEO: “We don’t want to be a brand that nobody wants to copy.” This is a quote from an interview Patrizio Bertelli, aka Mr Prada, gave yesterday to Bloomberg TV, and it is probably going to set off something of a hoo-ha in fashion, which has of late become very publicly litiginous when it comes to copying. Read more

Introducing the best argument I’ve heard yet about why skinny models are not, actually, ideal selling agents for fashion brands – -and the only one that may actually have some effect on the industry. Read more

You know what they say: if the mountain won’t go to Muhammad….After building enormous flagships, after importing elaborate couture shows, fashion has entered yet another stage in its relationship with that great source of sales, China: tomorrow the Istituto Marangoni, aka one of the most important fashion schools in European luxury (alma mater, for example, of Domenico Dolce and Franco Moschino), is announcing the creation of a Shanghai outpost.
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Will real men buy silk? And not silk ties, but silk shirts, silk suits, silk trench coats, silk sweaters and silk…seersucker? Can silk be sold, successfully, as “the cashmere of summer,” and hence raise the stakes in the race for the next luxury fibre once again? These are the questions. Not that Hamlet had to worry about them, of course. Ermenegildo Zegna does.

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I’ve been thinking recently of a conversation I had with Rodrigo Bazan, President of Alexander Wang, about the problem of pricing in a global luxury world – and his rather clever way of addressing the issue. The trigger was the news that European brands (well, mostly LVMH brands) are raising the prices of their products in Europe to compensate for the slight slowdown of business in Asia – caused, it seems, by Chinese buying luxury brands abroad, where they are notably cheaper than they are locally – which reminded me of something Mr Bazan had said of the luxury consumer in Asia: “when they see something they like, the first thing they do is Google it on the US web site of the brand, to see what the prices are in dollars.”

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Things are heating up on the luxury front. Yesterday I was talking to Ulrik Garde Due, chief executive of Danish silver brand Georg Jensen, and he acknowledged that the recent stories about brand’s private equity owners, Axcel, considering their exit strategy after 11 years were true. They have hired Rothschilds as advisors, and started meeting with potential buyers. Meanwhile, Smythson has just lured Andy Janowski, Burberry’s former COO and Senior Vice-President of Supply Chain (now, that’s a sexy title), over to their side to mastermind the brand’s expansion. Get ready: the heritage accessories brands are on the move!
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