Finance

My favourite rumour of the day comes courtesy of WWD, which suggests that ex-Burberry CFO Stacey Cartwright, beloved of the City and regarded as a key player in that brand’s financial success, may find a new C-suite seat as CEO of UK department store Harvey Nichols. Current CEO Joseph Wan, who has been running the store for over a decade, “denied an appointment had been made.” Which doesn’t mean one isn’t coming. So let’s play my favourite game for a moment: “What if…?”  Read more

Take that Kering. You have a hot young British designer? Now WE have a hot young British designer. Today LVMH announced it has purchased a majority stake in UK shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood for an undisclosed amount (that’s actress Rooney Mara wearing his shoes, left), making him the second YBD this year to get snapped up by a big brand, following Kering’s acquisition of Christopher Kane. As one British style watcher said, “they’re buying like it’s 1999.” So what’s going on? Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

The news yesterday that Marigay McKee (left, with Michael Kors), former Chief Merchant of Harrod’s, was moving to New York to become President of Saks was interesting — but not as interesting as the news today that Richard Baker, the new owner of the store chain (and a sudden department store mogul along the lines of Galen Weston: he also owns Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay) was planning a $200 million refit of the flagship. $200 million on one store? If I was a speculating gal – and you know I am – I would guess this means the Fifth Ave branch is going WAY upmarket. WAY upmarket. And you know what that means? We have new strategy in the department store wars. Read more

Moda Operandi’s announcement this morning that it would be selling designer gowns seen on celebrities and society mavens direct from next week’s New York Met Ball has really lifted the veil on the extent of the commercialisation of the 21st century red carpet.

The three-year-old company, which made its name offering high fashion looks straight from the catwalk and has widely been touted as one of the few e-commerce start-ups with a real shot at competing with queen bee of the pack Net-a-Porter, first made waves earlier this year by announcing its sponsorship of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” themed event. Read more

Lloyd Blankfein. Getty Images

The new stubbly look of Goldman Sachs’ chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was the subject of much buzz at Davos last week. Sometimes you have to talk about something besides the Eurozone and exciting new tech breakthroughs, and in so doing, it caused endless irritation for the Goldman communications team – it didn’t see why everyone cared so much.

Do they really have to ask? Methinks that is a bit disengenuous. After all, Mr Blankfein’s new look was unveiled at: 1) the most public gathering of his peers all year, and one he was returning to for the first time in five years; and 2) bore a striking resemblance to the facial hair sported by that most considered and controlled of all aesthetic men, Tom Ford – the man who transformed the role of the designer into an executive position, and became a public figure in the process. Take a look at the pictures and tell me what you think. Read more

IBM monitors electronic conversations to pick up on and predict trends. Getty Images

IBM has gotten into the trend-spotting business. You know that thing designers refer to as “zeitgeist”. Well, it can identify it, track it, determine when it turns from vague mumblings into larger movements, and then sell the information to clients. It’s not an art anymore; it’s a science.

Actually, it’s the Social Sentiment Index, a tool for monitoring the global electronic conversations on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as blogs. When people start talking a lot about a certain topic: bingo. Read more

Today PVH, the large US conglomerate that owns Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Izod (among others) announced it was acquiring Waranco, the large US lingerie manufacturer that makes Calvin Klein undies and jeans, among others, in a deal valued at $2.9 billion.
The acquisition was approved by both boards, and will officially make PVH one of the mega-corps, with revenues of about $8 billion. As important, however, is the fact that by buying Warnaco, PVH is also buying Calvin Klein’s two biggest product categories, which had been licensed to the manufacturer since the late 1990s.
 Read more

Yesterday Chanel (the Group, not the brand) announced it would acquire Barrie knitwear, a Scottish cashmere producer whose parent company, Dawson International, went into administration last August due to “a large hole in their pension fund”. This is turning into something of a strategic signature for Chanel. Though Barrie is not part of their “Metiers d’Art” group of nine specialist ateliers bought by their Paraffection affiliate, is it fully in line with what seems to be a Group policy regarding buying up and protecting heritage skills, be it glove-making, embroidery, or knitting.  Read more

Yesterday LNK Partners, a White Plains, NY-based P.E. firm, announced they had closed a second $400 million fund (oversubscribed, natch), specifically aimed at investing in “the consumer/retail sector.” Yes, yet more proof that all of us who thought when Permira sold Valentino to the Qatari royal family, it marked the end of PE’s brief flirtation with the unpredictable world of fashion were wrong. There’s life in that there investment relationship yet. Read more