Internet

Yesterday the relaxation of the UK’s Sunday trading laws during Olympic season (aka until sept 9) went into effect. Now stores can stay open AS LONG AS THEY WANT (OMG! OMG!). I just can’t quite see how the Olympics, or Olympic fever, or whatever you want to call the emotion that is gripping London, will lead to a great surge in consumption of handbags and denim. Read more

I, for one, was quite chuffed at the news that Marissa Mayer, latterly of Google, has just been appointed Yahoo’s new CEO – both because I’m looking forward to seeing what, if anything, she can do with the lagging search engine, and because Ms Mayer is a notably good dresser, and I’m looking forward to seeing what, if anything, she can do with the lacklustre image of an internet superstar. Put another way: she’s not a hoodie-and-Teva sort of exec. Read more

I was fascinated to read some comments by Joseph Giaconda, the lawyer who just won Michael Kors $2.4 million in damages in NY Federal court for the brand’s case against cybersquatters, about the potential new risk for luxury brands from counterfeit bloggers. Ooooh, these tangled webs those fakers weave.  Read more

So Google has unveiled its disruptive hardware technology, Google glass, the smart headgear that the googlers told the FT showed the company “had a healthy disrespect for the impossible.” Maybe so. But looking at the pictures of founder Sergey Brin in the things, not to mention the naturally beauteous models they have posted on their product site looking windblown and ecstatic with their heads bisected by some sort of metallic band, I also think they have a disrespect for the importance of style that may not be healthy for sales. Read more

Here’s a tip: go poke through the applications for ICANN’s new top-level domain name program – you know, the one that will allow companies to have their own .whatever denomination, instead of just .com or .org or .fr. It makes for fascinating reading. You’d think this would get luxury and fashion all a-lather, given their obsession with brand control and intellectual property protection and all that, but it seems not.
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Tonight Jeff Bezos, a man generally pictured in jeans, jackets, and no tie, will stand at the top of the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a tuxedo, shoulder-to-shoulder with designer Miuccia Prada and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. This either speaks to the growing belief among the tech and fashion worlds that on-line is the treasure chest of the future, even if no one if sure what shape it will take, or suggests a desire to go upmarket on the part of what most consider a virtual “wal-mart.” Or both, of course. Read more

Anyone else noticed that these days you can’t blink an eye without someone — a designer, blogger, brand — announcing they have just “curated” some on-line content? But isn’t this simply a new word for “editor”? And aren’t both terms being devalued — to the detriment of the consumer?

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And so Apple is getting the final ingredient in the arsenal of a luxury brand: a fragrance. Admittedly, it wasn’t developed by the company itself; it was commissioned from a scent manufacturer called Air Aroma by an Australian art collective called Greatest Hits as part of a gallery installation. Still, it pretty much confirms what we already knew about that brand: that it has transcended tech to become part of an individual’s socio-political identity — and hence open to artistic commentary. Now, what’s Apple going to do about it? After all, it may sound conceptual, but I think it has quite powerful real-world applications.  Read more

Tomorrow the folks behind yoox.com and thecorner.com, two leading etail ventures, are launching store number three. Unlike the first two sites, which are ready-to-wear boutiques that offer, respectively, less expensive last-season merchandise and cutting edge fashion, this one has a particular focus: shoes. Specifically 1000 styles of shoe, retailing for between €180-1,000. That’s a lot of footwear.

When I asked Federico Marchetti, chief executive of the Yoox Group, the obvious question — is there really such a big market for shoes and only shoes, or is this a niche sideline? — he responded with some pretty striking numbers. Read more

It’s my belief that the iPad, for all its marvelous abilities to show films, make it look like you are reading actual books, and otherwise replace most electronics in your life, is actually beloved of the majority of men I know because it lets them play Angry Birds, or Zombie Smash, or Hungry Shark no matter where they are. And I do not think I am alone in this, judging by a new Prada video, which taps into exactly those gaming urges.
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There’s been a bit of a hoo-ha over the last few days in NYC over a video Stella McCartney made for People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals to convince fashionistas, in town for the ready-to-wear shows (which start tomorrow) that buying leather is bad: for them, the environment, and the cows.

Interestingly, the kerfuffle does not have to do, as one might assume, with the politics of the spot, or the graphic nature of the video (and how they may, or may not, kill the cows), but rather consumer access.
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A mere year after launch Moda Operandi, the etailer that allows crazed fashionistas to order directly from the runway directly after a show, is entering Stage Three of their growth plan: after carving out a niche in the US, and stealing all sorts of glamorous executives from established companies (Marie Claire, Bergdorf Goodman, Net a Porter), they are embarking on world domination with an international site, a new COO (another poach from Net-a-Porter), a European warehouse, translation services, and deals with Chinese, Japanese and Russian Vogues. Mothers, lock up your daughters.

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In case anyone harboured any doubts about Emmanuelle Alt’s French Vogue resembling Carine Roitfeld’s French Vogue In Any Way, Ms Alt has apparently decided to put them to rest by creating the following inexplicable video, starring herself, the French TV personality Mlle Agnes, and assorted models, all looking seriously dorky, to launch the mag’s new website.

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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

In the battle about counterfeits and control of the web that has pitted Google, Facebook and their techneprenuer kin against content producers from Hollywood and the music industry, with congress apparently caught in the middle, little mention has been made of fashion — which is odd, because fashion, especially the luxury end, has been actively policing on-line piracy, and insisting on third party responsibility (eBay, Google) for years.

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The question of how to balance virtual stores with bricks and mortar stores is a thorny one, with various theories fighting for dominance. Some say it’s all going virtual and point to the search for value (see the FT today, and the report on shoppers deserting the High Street for home pages), while others say things need to be felt to be appreciated, and point to the recent Zappos debacle as something that will also drive people back into stores (see many luxury executives). The only thing that’s clear is the lack of consensus on best strategy going forward, something that was brought home to me pretty tangibly thanks to two recent bits of information I stumbled onto.

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Today my colleague Andrew Hill has written a column about the controversy surrounding internet suffixes — and the companies that exploit them — and reading it I felt a startling sense of deja vue. Yesterday I was at a Financo Retail Seminar listening to Chris Burch bemoan the exact same issue, though from a somewhat different perspective, and in somewhat more colourful language.

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For an industry with its own calendar, that runs on a time six months to a year or more ahead of the norm, fashion in general has proven idiotically obtuse about technology. After being famously late to the etail and social media party, and then engaging in a headlong rush to the virtual when it was clear where consumer tides were going, now they are once again dragging their feet when it comes to mobile applications, as a new study from digital think tank L2 shows.
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Forget live-streaming fashion shows or three-dimensional etail; yesterday I went to the “ribbon-cutting” ceremony of the Valentino Garavani virtual museum. Though this is a private venture by Valentino-the-man, not linked to Valentino-the-brand (now owned by Permira) my guess is it will have knock-on-positive results for not only the individual but the house he created, and perhaps the industry in general. In the short term, however, from being generally perceived as relatively un-web-savvy compared with such titans as Burberry and Gucci, Valentino has just vaulted to first place in fashion’s technology race. Read more

Who is fashion week for? The fact that this is a pressing question has suddenly become as clear as the plaid on a kilt thanks to British Vogue’s web site, which today launched a new initiative: “On-line Fashion Week,” which points up a growing schism in the fashion world.
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