Fashion

Interesting news surfaced last night: according to Reuters, flash sale site Rue La La is putting itself up for sale with a price tag of $400m and has hired JP Morgan as advisors for any potential deal. This grabbed my attention for a number of reasons.

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Earlier this week Hermès’ womenswear designer Christophe Lemaire announced his impending exit from the ultra-luxe label to focus on his namesake collection.

This news, coming just days after the company undershot expectations in its latest quarterly performance, got me thinking about the rapidly evolving status quo forming for one of the star brands in the luxury galaxy. Read more

So Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder and self-anointed hero of media freedom, is adding yet another headline-grabbing feather to his cap this September: modelling at London Fashion Week.

The Australian, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the best part of two years, will appear in a show modelling a collection inspired by Clint Eastwood by Ben Westwood, son of the industry’s most famous designer anarchist, Dame Vivienne.

“My view about Julian is that he is a popular hero and he’s done a great deal to change public opinion. I think it’s a citizen’s duty to stand up for justice and freedom of speech,”

said Mr Westwood about his decision to make Mr Assange a fashion model.

“I want to highlight his plight. What happened to him is totally unfair. Julian’s been in the embassy for two years and it’s important that he doesn’t slip into obscurity.”

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Another day, another high-profile auction house hits the headlines with a juicy legal scandal. Weeks after a 6-month siege of the Sotheby’s boardroom by Dan Loeb ended in a trip to the courthouse and the activist hedgie getting a seat at the top table, Christie’s is facing a $60m lawsuit filed by a rival for allegedly poaching its luxury handbags experts.

Does this mean that accessories could be the new flashpoint in the fight for market share in the auction world?

Papers were filed in Manhattan last Friday by Heritage, a Dallas, Texas-based company that specialises in auctioning ultra-luxe accessories. It was behind the sale of the world’s most expensive handbag in 2011 (this $203,150 scarlet red crocodile skin Hermès Birkin bag below in case you are interested, and the price included a juicy buyer’s premium of almost 20 per cent.) Read more

I read an interesting note to investors from the luxury analysts at Exane BNP Paribas last week, exploring the idea of measuring brand temperature.

Rather than focusing on the elements over which a brand has complete control, the team looked at the ‘hot’ or ‘not’ variables which it can only influence remotely via its marketing efforts.

Comparisons included equal marketing spends by one ‘hot’ and one ‘cold’ brand, then monitoring the spontaneous global marketing and editorial coverage triggered, as well as the potentially increased brand recognition in the minds of consumers. Read more

Fashion, just like the tech world, is borne from, reflective of and defined by the cyclical and cultural trends that continually evolve and adapt around it.

Both are businesses that are high-risk and tricky to be in, balancing books around supply and demand. But, more specifically, the real art that defines leaders from the pack is preemptively being able to guess what people want and need before they manage to recognize it for themselves. The best at this are making billions, both in fashion and tech.

But there’s one overlapping sector which both the titans of Silicon Valley and tastemakers of London, New York, Paris and Milan are still struggling to get en vogue.

Wearables. Read more

In a world where online control of both brand name and territory is considered increasingly essential, it is of little surprise that digital land-grabbing by luxury’s biggest players stepped up a notch last week with the launch of a new top level domain name – .luxury

Think it sounds a little gimmicky? That perhaps it won’t take off?

Then maybe think again – because some of the industry’s biggest players in the industry appear to be more than happy to pay the relatively modest $699 annual fee in order to take a stake in this new luxury e-space. Read more

After months of hype and incessant drum-rolling, the recipient of the inaugural LVMH Young Designer Prize was announced in Paris today – and rather refreshingly, its not who I would have expected.

The winner? Canadian-born, London-based Thomas Tait.

Who, I hear you ask?

Well you’ll certainly be hearing more from him from now on, after some of the fashion world’s biggest names decided he was the worthiest young designer out of an incredibly strong shortlist of a dozen international names and some very stiff wider competition. Read more

The gold price might have dropped by 28 per cent in the last year, and central bank acquisitions of the yellow metal might have fallen. But according to data just released by the World Gold Council, demand for jewellery – particularly in emerging markets – is still rock steady.

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Since the financial crisis left them shaking in their Cleverley bespoke shoes and Christian Louboutin heels, bankers say they have started dressing for work more casually.

Some 59 per cent of bankers said their colleagues dressed less smartly than in 2009, with just under half of respondents saying that colleagues did not wear ties to the office, according to an FT poll of 135 bankers in response to the news that Savile Row tailors were feeling the effects of US tax crackdown. Read more

Dismissed for decades by the industry, it has only been in the past 18 months that sub-Saharan Africa has really started garnering the attentions of international luxury heavyweights. Home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the region is second only to Asia-Pacific in terms of consumer market growth, according to a Euromonitor report.

Its luxury goods market remains tiny, at around €2bn in 2013, according to Bain & Company. But countries like Nigeria are showing explosive potential growth.

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Despite the economic slowdown recently felt across much of the region, all eyes continue to be fixed firmly upon Asia Pacific, still considered to be the hothouse of luxury industry growth over the next decade: Euromonitor expects sales of goods within the region to hit $125bn by 2018, a spike of 45 per cent.

Recent public plutzing by the industry over the state of China’s softening sales last year now appears to be abating, as the dip proves a short-term bump in the long-term road.

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While we were all distracted this week by the twin red carpets tsunamis of the Met Ball and the Dior Cruise extravaganza, some pretty big news hit the fashion world that, potentially, has more far-reaching import than, say, Sarah Jessica Parker’s mega-skirt. What were these Three Most Important Events Everyone has Kinda Overlooked? They are, in date order: 1) Harvey Weinstein’s decision to attempt to revive the House of Charles James on the back of the Met exhibit; 2) Julien Dossena’s decision to close his new-ish line, ATTO, to focus on his other job as creative director of Paco Rabanne; and 3) Chopard’s purchase of the Union Hoteliere Parisienne. Here’s why they matter — and it’s not necessarily why you might think. Read more

When it comes to luxury goods sales and some of the gargantuan figures spilling out of Asia-Pacific contemporaries, the South American emerging markets remain relatively modest in terms of size.

But make no mistake, Latin Americans have started spending serious cash – both at home and abroad.

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And so that extended and amorphous season known as “Cruise” or “Pre-fall” – you know, the clothes that go on sale in late October/November, and hang around until February, and thus constitute the bulk of a brand’s winter revenues — has semi-officially kicked off. Last night the Dior juggernaut came to Brooklyn for a show in the Navy Yards before a few thousand retailers, press and clients. Mostly clients. Which makes sense, right? They’re the buyers. Shouldn’t they see it first? Direct communication (direct sales?) ahoy! Read more

Just as skirts go up and down and up again, the Photoshopping controversy – which is linked to the skinny models controversy – rears its righteous head in public before giving way to another fashion-related controversy (lack of diversity on the runways, say). Well, we’re in one of those moments: there’s a bill currently sitting before the US Congress, entitled The Truth in Advertising Act, that aims to legislate acceptable use of Photoshop in ads.

Kinda. Actually, it aims to get the Federal Trade Commission to do a report on “(1) a strategy to reduce the use, in advertising and other media for the promotion of commercial products, of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted; and (2) recommendations for a risk-based regulatory framework with respect to such use”.

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All the hoo-has recently over North America retaking China as the source of luxury growth may be greatly exaggerated—at least when it comes to the consumers doing the spending. Or so a new report called “China Reality Check” from Exane BNP Paribas and ContactLab suggests.

Check out this chart! Read more

“Why does the Met Ball matter?” — this question was asked of me by a British colleague recently, who had gotten tired, I suppose, of revisiting the subject every year with me. And it’s a fair question: why does this gala, of all galas, get so much international attention? I mean, it squishes all benefit competitors in the social media game. It’s not just because of the celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, left, at last year’s Ball – there are celebs at the NYCB gala, coming up Thursday, and Elton John’s White Tie & Tiara Ball. It’s not because there’s so much news-worthy behaviour behind the closed doors (it’s on a Monday night; half the crowd go home to bed after the main course). Rather, I think it’s because it’s current maestro, Anna Wintour, understood something about it that no other benefit chairperson, as far as I can tell, has understood about their yearly event. Read more