Finance

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

There’s a piece in the paper today I did about Joseph and Karen Altuzarra, his mother and CEO, and their impressive working relationship and in the course of our conversation, something came up that didn’t make it into the story, but I thought was worth passing on: Mrs Altuzarra is convinced, as is her son, that the fact she didn’t know much about the fashion system when they launched really worked to their benefit, financially. Read more

Vionnet has gone gaga for Goga.

Today the classic French brand that was relaunched by Matteo Marzotto, the ex-president of Valentino, and Gianni Castiglione, CEO of Marni, three years ago, has just entered “Stage Two” thanks to a majority share purchase by Goga Ashkenazi, a London-based Kazakh businesswoman. Read more

Those international Vogues are fast becoming the action heroes of the fashion world.

Only last week they banded together to declare war on underage models, and now Vogue India has now announced it is following in the footsteps of American Vogue, British Vogue, and Italian Vogue and creating its own Fashion Fund initiative to promote the businesses of young Indian designers. Go team! Read more

As I was leaving Italy after Milan Fashion Week, I was chatting to Guglielmo Miani, the young-ish CEO of Larusmiani, a family-owned manufacturer of luxurious materials, when he let drop an interesting fact. Last week the Italian government quietly changed the law it passed in November that banned retail establishments from accepting more than €1,000 in cash. Surprise!

What changed?

Now, retail establishments have no limit on the cash they can accept from foreigners, as long as they take a photocopy of said foreigner’s passport. I’ll say that again: no limit. Italians are still restricted to €1,000. Read more

During fashion show season, which is any time between January’s men’s wear shows and this weekend, when their women’s wear collection is shown in Milan, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana don’t go out to lunch.

Maybe we should have expected this from someone who has built their business on cashmere and other super-soft, swaddling fabrics, but I was still somewhat taken aback when Brunello Cucinelli, the Italian luxury lifestyle entrepreneur who began his €250m business hand-dyeing sweaters, told me yesterday that he was excited about his planned IPO in May because he wanted “investors who would help take care of the company into the future.”

He had children, he continued as we were looking at his A/W collection, and he was in his late 50s, and soon they would need partners that would walk alongside them and help them nurture their brand.This is, in my experience, not the view most brand executives take on the benefits of going to market. They usually get excited about opening multiple stores in Asia or something. Read more

Yesterday, two days before his much-anticipated women’s wear show taking place this Saturday in Milan, it was announced that designer Raf Simons was leaving Jil Sander, the brand he joined five years ago and effectively resuscitated, for…parts unknown. And that he would be replaced by…creative director to come. This strike anyone else as weird?

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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

By far the most exciting thing I saw last week during the couture in Paris wasn’t couture at all, but a web site that is launching today: www.honestby.com. The brainchild of Belgian designer Bruno Pieters, late of Hugo Boss, it is the most subversive etail initiative I have ever seen. I think it has the power to transform the fashion industry.  Read more

The other day I got a nice email informing me that Marigay McKee, formerly Harrods’ Fashion & Beauty director, had been promoted to “Chief Merchant Officer,” a relatively new title in the luxury world as far as I can tell (and one not to be confused with that other CMO, chief marketing officer), but one that, I think, reflects not just a titular promotion, but a systemic change in industry thinking.  Read more

Looking back over 2011, which I am currently doing for a Christmas Eve column, I’ve been struck by the fact that one trend dominates all others by a significant margin, having held true from last March through year end: the IPO. Read more

The news that the dress Amy Winehouse wore on the cover of “Back to Black” just sold for an unexpected £43,200 (four times its estimate) is interesting. Not just because it’s a lot of money for a generally unremarkable, non-provenance, frock, but because of who bought it and what that signifies: Fundacion Museo De La Moda in Chile. Either Ms Winehouse enjoyed a surprisingly amount of popularity in that country, or there’s a new way of valuing fashion in the offing.

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After Fashion 4 Development, the UN initiative involving Michelle Obama and Carla Sarkozy and geared toward supporting industry in developing countries, after Fashion Ambassadors (where celebs and socialites are paid to wear a brand’s clothes out and about), comes…Ambassadors 4 Fashion, a new, unofficial initiative launched this week in Paris.

I say “unofficial,” because I just made it up. But what else to think after the quartet of invitations I have received. To be specific: Read more

The fashion industry has plenty of tactics for confronting economic turmoil, especially when it comes to conflating need and desire. Witness the fact that the ante has been upped on “investment pieces”, and they’re now referred to as “forever pieces”. Beyond imaginative vocabulary, though, decorative escapism, or even bright colours to lift the mood, there’s another more obvious tactic retailers could employ to sustain sales: focusing on career-enhancing clothing. Read more

Prada did it. Moncler almost did it. Ferragamo is about to do it and so, at some point, is Renzo Rosso of Diesel and Brunello Cucinelli. But Giorgio Armani thinks no one should do it – and Diego Della Valle, chairman of Tod’s, has now taken him to task. “It,” of course, is a public listing, currently the trendiest way to raise funds among Italian fashion brands.
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The rumours that Hillary Clinton wants to be the next president of the World Bank have now gone public thanks to Reuters, and though they’ve also been publicly denied by her camp, I can’t help keeping my fingers crossed. After all, if she did want/get the post, and Christine Lagarde does succeed in her quest to head the IMF, think what this will do to the image of bankers around the world!
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Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, the wife-and-husband team behind Italian luxury goods group Prada, will next week throw a party in Hong Kong they have been a decade in organising.

The occasion is to mark the launch of the fifth attempt in 10 years by Prada, the group behind Prada, MiuMiu and Church’s brands, to list a minority stake. The guests are top investors in the region; the entertainment will be a private catwalk show. Read more

One love affair ends and another begins: after three (count ‘em) relationships with private equity firms, Tamara Mellon, chief creative officer and founder of Jimmy Choo has hooked up with a long-term partner in the form of Labelux. Or at least that’s how she sees it.

“It feels like we have finally come home,” she said, when I called her hours after the commitment ceremony that was the private group’s acquisition of the luxury accessory brand. “They are in this for the long-term,” she continued happily. “Ten years is a short horizon for them.”
According to Ms Mellon, this is a huge relief after the upheaval that was her brand’s various private equity pairings, each of which lasted the usual three to five years. Read more