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.
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.
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.”
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!
Luxury brands from PPR to LVMH may be announcing more banner results this month, but according to a new report from UK luxury consultancy Ledbury Research, their CEOs are probably a lot more worried about the industry’s prospects in 2012 than they are letting on. Read more
Today the Hong Kong-based Fung family further enlarged their empire of Western luxury brands when Trinity Limited, the Hong Kong-based, publically-listed subsidiary of Li & Fung Group (whose two main shareholders are Victor and tk Fung) announced it had agreed to purchase British tailor extraordinaire Gieves & Hawkes from Wing Tai Properties Limited.
The deal was priced at £32.5 million “plus annual payments for 18 years up to a cumulative maximum of £60 million” accoding to the announcement.
Much hair-pulling and hand-wringing has gone on in the last few years over the migration of manufacturing jobs from Western nations to Asia, where costs are lower — exemplified in part in the Obama administration’s current “Made in America” campaign — but a piece today in the FT suggests that, when it comes to luxury and Europe at least, the equation may be about to reverse.
Any regular reader of this blog knows that my opinion of fashion film shorts is not exactly sky-high; of all the ones produced by this industry recently as it discovered the joys of YouTube and its gazillion viewers, only one has really worked. That’s because it walked a perfect line between self-mockery and great fun, and was not obsessed with framing its products perfectly in the camera’s eye. (The film of which I speak features models wearing Lanvin and dancing to Pit Bull.)
So I admit: when Cartier called me to tell me about its new commercial, my first reaction was (and I’m not proud of this, but we are going for full disclosure here): oh, no. Not again. Ergghh. And so on. But I took myself off to the unveiling at the Mini Palais restaurant in Paris anyway, sat myself in the plush velvet seat and prepared to grit my teeth. Read more
You know something is up when all the talk runway-side at a fashion show is about how a brand is NOT doing an IPO.
The Facebook listing has tech companies everywhere flirting with Wall Street (latest under discussion: etailer Gilt Group), but Michael Kors’ blockbuster public offering of last year, which saw his company attain a market capitalisation of $6.41bn, has not had the same effect on his fashion peers. Or so the folks at Tory Burch, whose a/w collection bowed this morning, might lead one to believe. Read more