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
Next week begins the pre-spring season, starting with Dior in NYC, followed by Chanel in Dubai, Louis Vuitton in Monaco and everyone else in their home towns. Everyone, that is, except Celine’s Phoebe Philo, who just released images of her pre-FALL collection (here’s a peek, sprinkled throughout this blog). Got that? Everyone is doing pre-spring, and she is doing pre-fall. In other words, Ms Philo did that very shocking thing that keeps getting discussed within the fashion world as a way to stop counterfeiting and satisfy consumers, who want what they want when they see it (not six months later), but never actually acted upon, which is: she did not let anyone see her collection until it was in stores. Read more
This morning a very tiny, excessively bland announcement came out from Horseferry House announcing that the long-awaited Burberry power transition had just happened. Here’s what it said:
“Further to the announcement on 15 October 2013, Christopher Bailey [left] has been appointed as chief creative and chief executive officer and as a director of the company from 1 May 2014. Angela Ahrendts stepped down as chief executive officer and resigned her directorship on 30 April 2014. The company confirms there is no further information to be disclosed pursuant to LR 9.6.13 with regard to Christopher Bailey’s appointment.”
Well, that’s exciting. As far as downplaying a potential industry-changing event you don’t get much better than that. I mean, Mr Bailey is now the first creative director (or chief creative officer) of a public luxury company to be also crowned CEO, which either will, or will not, create a whole new job path for his peers and those who come after, depending on how he performs, and today will either mark the moment the creative and corporate sides, long silo-ed, finally merged, or the moment that great experiment failed. Just another day at the office! Read more
Reading all the (somewhat gleeful and ongoing) reports of the Nike Fuelband’s demise over the last few days, I’ve been struck by the fact that while they all seem to agree on the fact that it was maybe a defensive move in anticipation of the looming possible iWatch threat, they also seem divided as to what, exactly, Nike’s problem was: hardware (it didn’t have big enough margins)or software (it didn’t actually do enough). But let’s call a spade a spade: it didn’t look good enough. Read more
So after a season of “team”, beleaguered Jil Sander has a new creative director: Rodolfo Paglialunga. Who? Cast your mind back, and you may remember him as the guy who briefly made the revived Vionnet kinda-sorta interesting in its first seasons back in the public eye, between 2009-2011. Celebs from Madonna (left, in his Vionnet) to Hillary Swank and Diane Kruger wore the dresses, and it was on the verge of hot-ness. Then something happened (who knows what?) and Mr Paglialunga was out. Vionnet, which was later sold to Goga Ashkanazi, has yet to really get back on the rails. But given his success with the brand, does this (short) track record bode well for Sander? Read more
It is rare to have lunch with someone who is so quotable it’s impossible to include all their zingers in a 2500 word piece. And yet, so it was with American Vogue creative director Grace Coddington (left, with Donna Karan), whose willingness to speak her mind is both singular and extremely appealing. Thus, as I promised via Twitter, following are the thoughts that DIDN’T make it into the story – but that, nevertheless, I am very happy to pass on. Read more
This is my last column for the FT – after 11 years and approximately a million words, I am embracing that thing so beloved of the fashion world: change. It’s not nearly as easy to do as it is to watch on the catwalk every season but if covering this industry for the past decade-plus has taught me anything, it’s the value – literally – of new perspectives.
The fashion industry is rooted in constant, cyclical evolution. Nowhere is this truer than at major player Kering, where the times certainly keep a-changing.
This time a year ago the French luxury holding giant was concluding its controversial rebranding exercise; today the group just announced a major restructuring of its luxury division, not to mention some hirings and (potentially) firings at the top of its management chain.
Alexis Babeau, who had overseen Kering’s luxury operations since 2011, is leaving “to take his career in a new direction.”
Then, alongside a better-than-expected set of earnings, the group announced that the luxury division would be split into two core parts: ’Luxury – Couture & Leather Goods’ which will regroup all brands bar Gucci and ‘Watches & Jewellery’. Gucci will remain separate as a standalone business.
Heading up the first grouping will be Marco Bizzarri, CEO of Bottega Veneta – aka the star-performer in Kering’s brand portfolio.
Patrizio di Marco will continue to steer at Gucci, while taking the reins at the ‘hard luxe’ sub-sector is Albert Bensoussan, who lead LVMH’s watch & jewellery division between 2003 and 2010.
So what are we to make of this in-house round of musical chairs? With two empty spots still to be taken – a successor for Bizzarri at Bottega Veneta and a leader for Gucci in China – there’s a great deal in flux – and at stake. My five key takeaways are here: Read more
Much noise has been made about various British brands attempting to take on the American market, and the difficulties many (Tesco, Marks and Spencer) find therein. Not that it stops anyone. The latest brand to make a big push for a bigger slice of the pie: Boden.
Yup – the catalogue known for its brightly coloured kidswear and mummy-wear. Funny, right? After all, the UK brands that have been most successful in the US, from Burberry to Topshop, have had a definite fashion edge, which is not a concept normally associated with Boden. Read more