Big (literally) news today in the FT that yesterday, thanks to a government recalculation, Nigeria’s GDP has not become the biggest in Africa, and the 26th biggest in the world, valued at $509bn. Why do we (we luxury folks, that is) care? “The revision will have a psychological impact. It underlines to foreign investors that this country has a large consumer base. It validates the investment thesis,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the minister for economy and finance. So will luxury, which has thus far been dancing around the edges of the country (only Zegna and Hugo Boss have stand-alone stores in Lagos, opened last year, and Diesel recently joined them), but which these days really loves a new consumer base, rush in? Read more

The subject of feminism and fashion, with all its complicated associations, has been percolating along for a season now – ever since Rick Owens’ step dancer show for spring/summer — and for anyone who though it was just a trendy thing, a group of occurrences this week ought to put that idea to rest. If anything, the commitment is being upped. Read more

ack from Prada’s investor day, analysts are musing over the future of the multi-billion euro Italian brand. To recap, after three years of scintillating growth, Prada (which is run by Patrizio Bertelli, center left, and his wife, Miuccia Prada, near left — both pictured with Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani) last year succumbed to the malaise that’s hit the luxury goods industry at large. Net income was flat last year compared with a 45 per cent growth in 2012, and declined in the fourth quarter. So what’s the suddenly-beleaguered brand to do? According to the Prada people: let them eat cake! No, that’s not a joke. Prada plans to help shrug off its slowdown by tapping a new trend in luxury and expanding its recently acquired Milanese coffee house Marchesi. Read more

Recently a new ranking – you know I can’t resist a ranking! – was release by the Ethisphere Institute, a US-based think tank that encourages good corporate practice, entitled “The World’s Most Ethical Companies”. And guess what? In all the 144 companies and 41 industries included, the only luxury companies on it were Shiseido and L’Oreal. Yup: no luxury clothing brands. No jewellers. Nada. Given how much lip service and is increasingly paid, and investment made, by luxury in the realm of ethics, this struck me as — well, striking. What, I wondered, was going on? Had we all been green-washed? Or was Ethisphere missing something? Read more

All the kvelling and anticipation, all the oh-my-god-wait-for-it-game-changer rumours that have had both the tech and fashion worlds on the edges of their respective metaphoric seats since last summer, when Apple started poaching luxury executives supposedly with an eye toward developing an iWatch – well, it turns out that has all been something of a sleight of hand: while we were staring in one direction, and competitors were rushing THEIR smartwatch to market, the folks in the super-secretive headquarters on the West Coast had other things up their sleeves. In fact, forget the iWatch entirely. Think iWear. Read more

More signs of the luxury industry shrugging of a slowdown in sales in China.

Versace reported its net profit jumped by nearly a third in 2013 as strong sales to US and still buoyant trade in China offset slower growth in Europe. Read more

The prospect of a US-based IPO by Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba has triggered a recent wave of short-term conjecture over the eye-watering figures involved.

A listing could garner as much as $25bn for example – making it the largest float in history. Wall Street banks could reap up to $400m in fees. Alibaba’s $170bn annual revenue now accounts for 2 per cent of China’s gross domestic product, and is bigger than those of eBay and Amazon combined.

Basically, there’s been rather a lot of this:

But what there has been surprisingly little Wall Street speculation or media salivation over are the longer-term ramifications of a possible IPO. And, more pertinently for the readers of Material World, what inroads Alibaba may be planning into Western fashion and luxury territory following a float, in order to open up access to these brands to the hundreds of millions of hungry shoppers back home in China.

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Amid wave after wave of unsavory speculation regarding the state of both her private life and business, the employees of L’Wren Scott have maintained a dignified silence in the wake of her tragic suicide on Monday at the age of 49.

However a spokesperson for the team at Scott’s eponymous fashion brand just released the following statement, with the additional request that it was published in full: Read more


YUPPIE – ‘Young urban professional’

HENRYs – ‘High-earning not rich yet’ individuals

DINKs – ‘Dual-income, no kids’ couples

YUMMY – ‘Young urban male’

IWWIWWIWI – ‘I want what I want when I want it’

For dedicated followers of fashion, there’s a new acronym in town.

After the YUPPIE, HENRYs, IWWIWWIWIs and DINKs comes the YUMMY. Young, Urban and Male. Three reasons for the industry to rejoice, according to HSBC analysts Erwan Rambourg, Antoine Belge and Cathy Chao.

The YUMMY is riding to the rescue of the luxury industry which is reeling from a slowdown in its traditional markets, economic gloom in Europe and negative foreign exchange swings for mostly European businesses, according to HSBC. Read more