In recent weeks, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds the world over have been awash with videos of triumphant participants taking part in the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, a stunt in which an individual has – you guessed it – a bucket of icy water dumped over their heads, all in the name of charity.
The hook that’s taken this viral is the subsequent nomination of others to take on the challenge within 24 hours, or to donate $100 to the ALS Association, raising both awareness and cash for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known Lou Gehrig’s disease. Read more
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
L’Wren Scott, the celebrated American fashion designer, has been found dead in New York after committing suicide, police sources confirmed on Monday.
The 49-year old launched her haute namesake brand – renowned for its understated, womanly elegance – in 2006, after earlier forays into the industry first as a teenage model then later as a highly sought after Hollywood stylist. Her glamorous, alpha woman designs had most recently found a home on the London Fashion Week calendar, orbited by her make-up, fragrance and accessories partnerships with some of the biggest names in fashion. Read more
Lately it is beginning to feel like for every shopper there is a new technology start-up — maybe because so many new technology start-ups are driven by shoppers trying to solve their own problems. Like, for example, how, when you see a really cute blue blouse by you are not sure who, sold you are not sure where, pinned to someone’s inspiration board, you can find it and buy it. Good luck with googling that one. Which, presumably, is why ASAP54, just raised $3 million from, among others, Carmen Busquets of Net-a-Porter investment fame. Read more
Calling Bill de Blasio: Just in time for fashion week, New York has been crowned “Top Global Fashion Capital” in Digital Language Monitor’s 10th annual survey of most-discussed fashion cities. For a fashion world nervous that post-Bloomberg the City Hall regime might not be quite as friendly to the industry (smacking, as it does, of elitism), this is good news. After all, New York edged out Paris by a mere .005%, while the 2012 and 2011 winner London fell to third place. And there are more surprises! Read more
There’s an interesting note on Francois-Henri Pinault’s official bio page on the Kering website – after a the usual title/school/professional background stuff, the last line is “He takes a personal and professional interest in sustainability and the development of e-business.” It’s the last bit that struck me, given that yesterday M Pinault, through his holding company Artemis, became a meaningful investor in Square, the mobile payments company started by Twitter guy Jack Dorsey. M Pinault was staying mum about the private share purchase, but it makes sense to me on many levels, besides the obvious one above. And I think may hint at some tantalising possibilities for the future. Read more
Ok, I know the numbers are nearly as big as Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, but still, it’s worth noting: yesterday Groupon, the deal site, bought Ideeli, the fashion-centric flash sale site, for $43 million. Interpreted in the most positive way, this is a vote of confidence in flash sales, which have been under a bit of a question mark recently, and another indication of a more accessible site wanting to get into fashion, a la Amazon. Of course, it could also have been just a really opportunistic punt, since at $43 million Ideeli is relatively cheap (compare it to the $270 million Nordstrom spent on flash sale site HauteLook in 2011 for example). Still, $43 million is $43 million. And while it makes sense to me in the short-term – both Groupon and Ideeli are about making consumption of all kinds accessible – I’m not sure about it as a long-term play. After all, by buying Ideeli, Groupon may have bought entree into fashion, but they have not bought that most elusive and powerful driver of consumer loyalty: a point of view. Read more
Following Vogue (“The September Issue”), Gucci (“The Director”), Bergdorf Goodman (“Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s”), and Kate Moss (Paris Premiere’s upcoming “Looking for Kate”, which airs this Sunday), the latest fashion/luxury brand to get the documentary treatment will be Tiffany’s. Matthew Miele, who wrote and directed “Bergdorf’s” is at work on a full-length, fully authorised, documentary about the company, starting back in the day. Anyone else feel their trend-spotting bells a-ringing? Read more
Despite its amazing Black Friday results, Amazon has not quite become the player rumour says it would like to be in high-end fashion; luxury brands still see it as overly mass. So news of a new upmarket approach at Zappos, the accessible (and highly successful) shoe site, made all my luxury strategy sensors start vibrating in anticipation. And no, I am not confusing my apples with my oranges. See, Amazon owns Zappos, but “Zappos” doesn’t come with all the strings and global supermarket associations that the name “Amazon” does. Which makes it a great testing ground for any new strategy directed at luring luxury brands and HNWIs into the consumer fold. So what is this brave new strategy? Read more
This being Black Friday in the US, and the topic of spending money being very much in the news, here’s an interesting study on the latter: BusinessInsider.com has put together a list of the 35 biggest advertisers on Facebook this year. And guess what? Despite all that lip service paid to interaction and transparency and so on and so forth, there’s only ONE luxury brand on it. Also only one fashion brand. And they are probably not the ones you would expect. Read more
What is it with the Vogue franchise and its inability to figure out how to handle the power women of Silicon Valley? First US Vogue comes under fire (as does its subject) for photographing Yahoo chieftain Marissa Mayer (left) reclining glamorously in full fashion regalia on a chaise, and now UK Vogue is being castigated for the mistaken (that’s my take, not theirs) decision to label Ms Mayer et al “SWAGs:” Silicon wives and girlfriends. Read more
There’s a new competitor in the etail space, with a relatively original hook. This is, of course, the brass ring of on-line selling, where it is increasingly apparent that the first to a new idea (or a newish permutation of an old idea) wins big, and everyone else – well, seems to implode. So what is this Next Big Thing? Blake Mycoskie, the founder and CEO of Tom’s – the footwear and now eyewear company with a 1:1 selling/giving model – has launched an on-line department store called Marketplace that showcases 200 products from 30 brands founded with a charity component as part of their modus operandi. Think of it as Nordstrom’s – or Selfridge’s – meets Chime for Change. Read more
Today’s announcement that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts was leaving (mid-next year) to become Apple’s head of retail, and current Chief Creative Officer/designer Christopher Bailey was taking her place while retaining his design responsibilities has the potential to change not just fashion but tech, and the inter-relationship between the two. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. Consider the Butterfly effect: Read more
The news yesterday that Marco Zanini, former creative director of Rochas, would become the new creative director of the relaunched House of Schiaparelli, which would also join the couture calendar, is the sort of news that normally would send the fashion world into such a frenzied show of breast-beating (what will happen to Rochas!!) and excitement (what will this mean for Schiaparelli?!) it would put the actual shows on the runway to shame. Except this time no one batted an eyelash. They yawned, and moved on. How’d that happen? Expectations management via social media. There are lessons here for us all. Read more
It is one of the great ironies of the digital age that, in order to get people’s attention, the best way to do it is with a physical product. Last night, in Paris, the web site the Business of Fashion hand-delivered, ‘round midnight to a big chunk of the fashion crowd, a thin, matte paper magazine entitled “The BoF 500,” aka the Fashion 500. Catchy title, no, for those all obsessed with the Fortune 500? What do you think THEY’RE going to be reading at breakfast/in the car/on the bleachers while they are bored waiting for shows to start (which is when you normally see a spike in Twitter traffic)? Way to grab some eyeballs! Way to be part of a trend! So what is it exactly? Read more
The fashion world loves a ranking – the best-dressed list is a staple of the industry – so I guess it was only a matter of time before someone turned the tables and ranked fashion. That someone is Style.com, and their ranking bears the scarily high-school-like name “The In Cloud.” It’s a genius idea (and a great name), not necessarily because I think it’s reflective of any enormous insight, but because as a way to get EVERY FASHION PERSON checking in with the site on a regular basis – as a traffic-driver and influence-wielder – it’s non-pareil. But it also has certain startling omissions, which are meaningful. Read more
And you thought it was all about self-promotion, or changing the (highly male) image of silicon valley, or positioning herself as the anti-Sheryl “I will never talk about anything as frivolous as clothes” Sandberg. Pshah. That super-controversial Marissa Mayer profile in the very enormous September issue of Vogue, which has ignited all sorts of hoo-ha on the internet, was actually about long-term Yahoo content creation, in an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kind of way. Who’s the canny chief executive now, naysayers?
The other day I was at a dinner arranged by the World Gold Council that featured the usual suspects – David Lamb, MD jewellery; jewellers Pamela Love and Janis Savitt – as well as one thing that was not like the others: Olivia Bolles, aka Olivia Bee, aka an 18-year-old photographic “protégé.” She had just started shooting the new “Love Gold” campaign, aimed at cooling-up the image of the yellow metal, which apparently suffers from a grandmother-complex among Gen Z. Which raises the question, is she a one-off, or the harbinger of change to come? Read more
Today Lyst, the fashion site that allows you to personalise your own wanna-be closet, is adding a feature that its founder, Chris Morton, hopes will throw a big wrench into the e-shopping experience as we know it, and change the status quo. Specifically, it is introducing a universal shopping cart. Imagine it: you surf the web, find stuff from all over, and buy it in one place, with one card, in one stage.
Today Style.com is expanding its contributors list by about oh, say, 10 times, adding 60 new names at one blow (to its 6 person edit staff) by introducing a whole new section that presumably it hopes will 1) set it apart from all those other sites that now have on-line magazines; and 2) reposition it as not just a fashion news site, but a creative hub. Fine; we hear this sort of thing all the time. But what’s really interesting about this is what it reveals about the celebrity-fashion paradigm, and the way the web may be changing it. Read more