Yesterday Farfetch.com, the ecommerce site that acts like a portal between global consumers and global independent boutiques, both editing their offerings and connecting either side, announced $20m in new funding, largely from Condé Nast International. A few days before, Luxup, a UK-based ecommerce travel site that aimed to create a “club” of tourists eager for insider shopping experiences, ceased trading. When such things happen in parallel, it’s tempting to try to find lots of lessons in the news.
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In a few hours (4pm UK time) Burberry will take to the runway at London Fashion Week (that’s chief creative officer Christopher Bailey with Samantha Cameron at the opening reception for LFW, left), and viewers will take to their smart phones not just to watch the show, which is being streamed on pretty much every part of social media you can imagine, but to order coats and bags… with their names on them! They will arrive on their doorstep in nine weeks, which is much earlier than in stores. Not only that: they will also be able to access video of their product being made, just for them. The knees go weak.
Ok, so that sarcasm was maybe a bit uncalled for. On one level I think offering videos of the customised product is a very smart thing. It pulls customers into the process, which provides an increased sense of ownership and also underscores the hand-made side of things, partly justifying the price and categorisation of Burberry as a luxury brand. But on another, this feels a little smoke and mirrors to me. Read more
Yes, it’s more Marc Jacobs news! The Jacobs show, aka the most-anticipated show of NY Fashion week due to the designer’s ability to turn on a dime season after season, has just emailed all of us fashion types to announce they are moving the show from Monday, the usual slot, to Thursday at 8pm due to “weather and production problems”.
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Marc Jacobs. Getty images
The post I wrote about the fashionisation of life? Well, today comes the news that stubbly zeitgeist-channeller/designer Marc Jacobs is the 2013 creative director of Diet Coke. See what I mean?
Diet Coke’s gig is a year-long stint involving the redesign of some bottles and cans, and a commercial that seems to feature Jacobs mostly shirtless. Previously they worked with Karl Lagerfeld, who, post-2001-diet became famous for his love of Diet Coke (he drinks 10 cans a day), and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Marc says he drinks two to three cans a day, so the choice makes sense – though the Coke folks have missed the boat with buzzy new Dior designer Raf Simons, who told me he used to drink two big litre bottles of Coke Zero daily, but quit this January in fear of aspartame.
Anyway, the point is less that fashion has a thing for Diet Coke – what else would anyone expect, given the industry’s body image issues? – but rather that Coca Cola, the behemoth that is #3 on Forbes’ most powerful brands list, has sussed that having a fashion name design their bottles gives them a new reason to get consumers to buy. Read more
What’s up with Oscar de la Renta? The man is creating news – and potential controversy – right and left. After paving the way for John Galliano’s return to fashion, a move that was both welcomed and castigated by the fashion set (depending on who you asked), today Mr de la Renta, America’s pre-eminent couturier of uptown society thanks to his way with a gown (see actress Jennifer Garner, pictured), announced he was creating a collection for The Outnet, Net-a-porter’s cut-price platform, that will be more “accessible” than his normal line. Effectively, he is remaking old patterns in old fabric and pricing down. The way the company puts it is, to paraphrase, along the lines of “taking out the originality mark-up”.
Actually, this is interesting for a more macro reason than linguistic gymnastics. Mr de la Renta’s move, combined with the recent launch by Barneys NY of its own stand-along cut-price web site, barneyswarehouse.com, to sell end-of-season merch, effectively creates a luxury strategy face-off over the issue of outlets: good or bad? Seems to me we are heading towards stilettos at dawn. Read more
The other day a man who had recently bought a famous fashion trademark, Mainbocher, with interesting plans for reinvention came to see me. It turns out he bought the marque from a man whose father had been very canny in snapping up these defunct-but-aromatic names, and still in the vault is Paul Poiret, among others. Which means that post-Worth and Vionnet and Schiaparelli, there are still a bunch of once-famous fashion houses that are potential relaunches. But should they be? Increasingly, I think that the old arguments in favour no longer hold true, largely because of the Brave New World of social media.
The FT’s first New York mini Business of Luxury summit is taking place this afternoon at the Plaza, and I hope all of you will join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FTLuxury13 or following @FTLuxury360.
I’m moderating a panel on developments in counterfeiting with Katrina Burchell, the first group head of intellectual property for PPR, Shirley Cook, chief executive of Proenza Schouler; and Harley Lewin, the lawyer who recently helped Christian Louboutin, so it should be… lively. What Mickey Drexler likes to call “passionate discussion”. It will include how the internet has changed the situation (we can no longer say, as Potter Stewart did, that we know it when we see it) and the greatest threats (3D printing anyone?) . 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
I did a Lunch with the FT with Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, (looking snazzy, left), which is running tomorrow, and in our long – and fun – conversation, the thing that struck me most was the revelation that he limits his technology interaction largely to his professional life. Yup: no Facebook, no Twitter. It’s a work-only thing.
Why is this interesting? Well, because Mr Bailey has been a driving force behind Burberry, which is streaming its men’s show tomorrow on numerous social media platforms from Europe to China, becoming the number one high-end fashion company in the digital space.
And the Burberry flagship on Regent Street was revamped, under Mr Bailey’s direction, with an astonishing number of screens that can do such things as show you how your trench coat would look in the rain. Read more
Much has been made in the US of Heart magazine’s new “ShopBazaar,” a web site linked to their high-fashion flagship title that allows you to effectively shop most of the pages of the book on-line. While such editorial-commercial links are not exactly new, however, what I hadn’t realised, because they’ve been keeping rather mum about it, is that is only ONE of Hearst’s “experiments” in the space – or so explained Duncan Edwards, President of Hearst International, when we were talking earlier this week. The company had a few different such “trials” going on around the world. Trials? Read more