Luxury goods

Just after Burberry’s nice third quarter results prompted a rash of headlines (including in this paper) about positive returns “easing [the industry’s] China slowdown fears,” especially when combined with similar happy stories from Swatch and Tiffany, today we came down to earth with a bump courtesy of Richemont. In their third quarter trading statement, things looked not so rosy in China. In fact, they looked pretty doldrum-like. 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

If there is any doubt that menswear is now the Next Big Hope of luxury, let that be put to rest by last night’s Golden Globes. This morning, waking up as one does to the quazillion emails from brands trumpeting their celebrity “gets,” I was struck – as if by a 10-foot-pole – by how bigged up the men were. This can mean but one thing: glossy fashion brands, historically known more for their womenswear than menswear, are putting even more marketing muscle behind growing the male side of the business.  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

So the rumours were true, and Stacey Cartwright, the ex-Burberry CFO who left that brand last February, has landed at Harvey Nichols as CEO. She’ll start next month. Goody. After all, Ms Cartwright’s appointment underscores two important trends in the fashion industry: first, the action in the department store world, where the fight for consumer attention and wallets is escalating to new heights; and second, the rise of the female executive in a world that, ironically, has long been run by men. Read more

And so it has finally come to pass: a tech company has partnered with a design name to create a wearable product. Hallelujah. Took ‘em long enough. The pioneering duo is Intel and Opening Ceremony, aka the designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim (left, with Justin Beiber), who own trend-setting stores by the same name and are also the designers behind Kenzo, the LVMH-owned brand that is moving into the contemporary space, and had its first show at New York Fashion Week last season. They will work together to create a “smart bracelet” (new word alert!), which will be sold exclusively at Barney’s NY – or so they announced at CES. When exactly it will be sold, and what it will look like, as well as what it will do and how much it will cost, is unclear, but hey: it’s a start. According to one insider, it will be effectively a bracelet that has communication functions. Beam me up, Scottie! Read more

As this is my last post of the year I thought I’d leave you with a few ideas about the five main thing I’m going to be watching in 2014, and where the action might be (aside from the already well-documented worlds of M&A and IPOs), from store wars to legal battles, consumer behaviour and designers that will make the difference. Read on! Read more

Whoopee: the very fun holiday game of “Who’s Going to Buy Who Next Year?” has officially begun with a launch entry from Bernstein Research, an arm of AllianceBernstein. And what are they thinking? Watches. Watches and jewellery galore. Read more

Delphine Arnault, aka the woman who is doing all that designer wooing/moving at LVMH (think Nicolas Ghesquiere to Vuitton, and J.W. Anderson to Loewe), is not the only tall, blonde, smart daughter of a luxury brand founder to be making an impact on the creative side of luxury; now Virginie Courtin-Clarins, aka the granddaughter of the founder of beauty group Clarins, aka the new Director of Development, Marketing and Communications of Mugler Fashion, has just announced the appointment of David Koma as Artistic Director. Like Mr Anderson, Mr Koma is part of the new wave of Hot Young British designers. And like Ms Arnault, Ms Courtin-Clarins, who is in her late 20s, is part of a new generation of luxury scions entering the business and reshaping their brands. Read more

No, that is not a type in the title. A new paper recently landed on my desk from a New York consultancy called Open Mind Strategy that introduces what may be the best acronym I’ve ever heard for one of the biggest trends driving fashion/luxury right now: IWWIWWIWI – aka “”I want what I want when I want it.” It’s certainly the longest. Still, get comfortable saying it ten times fast, because I’m telling you: this is the wave of the future.  Read more

Pity the poor luxury CEO in Francois Hollande’s France: no sooner is your wife speaking to a foreign real estate agent than the rumour mill is rife with speculation that you are about to flee the country (and maybe all those proposed wealth taxes), and set up home somewhere else. What else to conclude from the recent furore over the sight of actress Salma Hayek, aka Mrs Francois-Henri Pinault, aka wife of the CEO of Kering, the second largest French luxury group, lunching with a UK broker earlier this week? Read more

There was much hoo-ha a few weeks ago about the London opening of American success story J Crew, and whether it would work in the UK, and the great consumer response, and yadda yadda yadda, but in getting excited about the clothes, we seemed to have missed one of the less obvious effects of the opening: its influence on local brands and their thinking – which is to say, the way it has awakened managers to the potential of the accessible luxury/contemporary market (whatever you want to call it: that slice of retail that falls between High Street and very high end). Consider Karen Millen, and its CEO Mike Sherwood, who today told the FT he has decided to take the brand, which was previously at a sort of upper high street level, into new territory. Hello, accessible luxury! But is he right about the opportunity? Read more

Forget obvious battlegrounds like stores (who has got the biggest/luxist/most special) or designers; the most heated fights in luxury are clearly taking place behind the scenes, in the back-end and backrooms. The latest entrants: Chanel and Paco Rabanne, which stepped into the supplier/accessories arenas respectively. Read more

Just as the Chinese government cracks down further on luxury spending at home, and more company results demonstrate a flattening of the local market causing fear and trauma in heritage luxury brands with major capex in Asia, enter Antonio Tajani, EU Vice-president and commissioner for industry, to attempt to stem the pain. Their hero! Mr Tajani, aka luxury’s friend in Brussels, has “an action plan on the competitiveness of the European fashion and high-end industries”. Or a kind-of action plan. A beginning action plan? A small movement plan? You know what I mean. The point is: there’s a plan. 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

It’s all about football for men’s luxury brands. What else to make of the fact that Lanvin just became the first French brand to joined the ranks of Paul Smith (Manchester United), Armani (Chelsea, plus the English national football team, twice), Brooks Brothers (InterMilan), and Dolce & Gabbana (the Italian National team and Lionel Messi, the Argentinian football player they dressed for so long, they made a whole book about him), by becoming the “official tailor” to Arsenal, the UK football club immortalised by Nick Hornby in “Fever Pitch”?  Read more

Much ado in New York over the fact that yesterday, while on his “Yeezus” tour, Kanye West gave a radio interview on 92.3 suggesting his fans not buy any Louis Vuitton products from now until January. Apparently, he is upset that the brand’s CEO did not want to meet with him in Paris, and he wants them to feel his pain where it hurts. The problem is, he got the wrong CEO. Read more

Are accessory designers finally getting the recognition they deserve? Following Louis Vuitton’s announcement last summer that Darren Spaziani was joining the house as accessories designer, now Emilio Pucci is revealing a “get”: Elena Ghisellini, aka the woman behind Givenchy’s recent stream of It bags. She’ll work with creative director Peter Dundas. So far, so normal: both are LVMH brands, this is keeping it in the family. So why do we care? Lots of reasons! Read more

It’s about now that a film studio’s fancy turns to thoughts of awards. They need to get their Oscar/Bafta/Golden Globe contenders in by the end of the year, and general wisdom dictates that it is always better to save the most powerful for the end, so that they remain fresh in voters’ minds.

So the holiday season coincides with the release of high-minded movies such as Philomena , Dallas Buyers Club and The Book Thief – films that deal with big subjects such as adoption and motherhood, terminal illness and the Holocaust, as opposed to, say, superheroes and aliens, or bachelors on the loose. And as in film, so in fashion.