Luxury goods

Despite the economic slowdown recently felt across much of the region, all eyes continue to be fixed firmly upon Asia Pacific, still considered to be the hothouse of luxury industry growth over the next decade: Euromonitor expects sales of goods within the region to hit $125bn by 2018, a spike of 45 per cent.

Recent public plutzing by the industry over the state of China’s softening sales last year now appears to be abating, as the dip proves a short-term bump in the long-term road.

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While we were all distracted this week by the twin red carpets tsunamis of the Met Ball and the Dior Cruise extravaganza, some pretty big news hit the fashion world that, potentially, has more far-reaching import than, say, Sarah Jessica Parker’s mega-skirt. What were these Three Most Important Events Everyone has Kinda Overlooked? They are, in date order: 1) Harvey Weinstein’s decision to attempt to revive the House of Charles James on the back of the Met exhibit; 2) Julien Dossena’s decision to close his new-ish line, ATTO, to focus on his other job as creative director of Paco Rabanne; and 3) Chopard’s purchase of the Union Hoteliere Parisienne. Here’s why they matter — and it’s not necessarily why you might think. Read more

 

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Next week begins the pre-spring season, starting with Dior in NYC, followed by Chanel in Dubai, Louis Vuitton in Monaco and everyone else in their home towns. Everyone, that is, except Celine’s Phoebe Philo, who just released images of her pre-FALL collection (here’s a peek, sprinkled throughout this blog). Got that? Everyone is doing pre-spring, and she is doing pre-fall. In other words, Ms Philo did that very shocking thing that keeps getting discussed within the fashion world as a way to stop counterfeiting and satisfy consumers, who want what they want when they see it (not six months later), but never actually acted upon, which is: she did not let anyone see her collection until it was in stores. Read more

Reading all the (somewhat gleeful and ongoing) reports of the Nike Fuelband’s demise over the last few days, I’ve been struck by the fact that while they all seem to agree on the fact that it was maybe a defensive move in anticipation of the looming possible iWatch threat, they also seem divided as to what, exactly, Nike’s problem was: hardware (it didn’t have big enough margins)or software (it didn’t actually do enough). But let’s call a spade a spade: it didn’t look good enough. Read more

Louis Vuitton is unveiling a new group of celebrity “ambassadors’ today via their web site, and it’s not who you might expect: instead of actress Michelle Williams, who currently fronts their women’s bag campaign, or Angelina Jolie, who has plugged the heritage line, we have a star-studded line-up of… Atiq Rahimi, a French-Afghan author and movie director whose book, “the Patience Stone” won the Prix Goncourt; Tom Reiss, whose biography, “The Black Count:” about the “real” Count of Monte Cristo just won the Pulitzer; political consultant Felix Marquardt (who has advised the Presidents of Colombia, Georgia and Panama) and Dr. Gino Yu of Hong Kong Polytechnic university and Lourenço Bustani, CEO of Mandalah, who is spearheading the cultural planning of Brazil’s 2016 Olympics — all photographed at the most recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland. So here’s the question: is this a super-clever new way of thinking about marketing, or a velvet rope that will prove too much of a barrier to entry even for the insiders? Read more

Maud Lescroart, the CMO of Sophie Hallett, the family-run French lace maker that seems to supply – well, pretty much everyone in fashion – is in New York this week for Wedding Week, and stopped by the office the other day to discuss her company’s life since the royal wedding (Hallett supplied the lace that covered the bodice of Kate Middleton’s Sarah Burton Alexander McQueen gown). Between four key factors: 1) the spotlight cast by the palace fairy tale; 2) the focus on the hand-made and heritage as key to luxury’s appeal; 3) the growing attention to CSR and the desire to control all parts of the supply chain; and 4) and the imperative in the luxury industry to ensure a reliable source of key materials, which has seen big groups buying up skins houses (LVMH and Heng Long; Hermes and Tanneries d’Annonay) and cashmere specialists (LVMH’s purchase of Loro Piana in 2013; Chanel’s purchase of Barrie knitwear in 2012), they have gone from behind-the-scenes player to suddenly very hot property. Read more

What happens when you are a Russian designer who shows in Paris and imports all your materials (except hand-made lace) from abroad, and suddenly your currency falls 30% thanks to an international crisis, and your country’s image gets a little..shall we say…darkened in the eyes of the luxury consumer world? This is the situation currently facing Ulyana Sergeenko (left), the Moscow-based socialite-turned-designer who shows on the Paris couture schedule and who has made something of a mission of preserving and promoting traditional Russian dress and craft and selling it as high-fashion. She was in NYC the other day and stopped by the FT with her brand manager Frol Burimskiy to discuss it. For her, the potential damage is not just about expenses, but identity. Read more

The news that PVH has bought an undisclosed minority stake in Karl Lagerfeld’s namesake brand (otherwise owned by Apax), thus allowing them first dibs on the brand’s entry in North America, has got all my something-is-happening sensors twitching. Seems to me they are sneaking up on dominance of a market segment. Read more

The subject of feminism and fashion, with all its complicated associations, has been percolating along for a season now – ever since Rick Owens’ step dancer show for spring/summer — and for anyone who though it was just a trendy thing, a group of occurrences this week ought to put that idea to rest. If anything, the commitment is being upped. Read more