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
So instead of buying Tiffany or Burberry, as long rumoured, LVMH has snapped up Italian brand Loro Piana, known for their baby cashmere and vicuna, which take soft to a whole other level. It’s a strategic move, on many levels that go far beyond quantifiable profit, even in a world obsessed with putting a number on that amorphous thing known as “brand equity.” There are a lot of reasons why, but if I had to pick the most important, I’d settle on the following: family. Read more
An interesting side show is taking place at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo during couture: Net-a-Porter is unveiling a new initiative involving five artists commissioned to make five one-off pieces of clothing, which you can think of as couture or art, depending, and which will be sold in September in New York – though whether they are to be worn or to be hung on a wall is unclear, as is the price. What is sure, however, is they will be very, very expensive. Take that, Moda Operandi and Farfetch and every other pretender to the throne! Net has just seen your bid for their spot in the e-verse and raised you by a factor of ten. Read more
Does anyone think just taking a picture of a celebrity in your stuff – or taking a picture of a celebrity in your stuff and making a video of the picture-taking – or even taking a picture of an artisan making your stuff, is enough to convince today’s super-suspicious-of-all-marketing consumer of the integrity of a brand? Burberry clears doesn’t think so, and their just unveiled Autumn/Winter campaign is their response. It’s multi-layered! It’s referential! It has history! It has retail! It goes way beyond the usual. Is it a harbinger of what’s coming? Probably.
These days we all hold certain truths to be self-evident: 1) that the Chinese market, while slowing, is still expected to be the biggest fashion market in the world; 2) that the Chinese are attracted to the idea of European heritage and skills; 3) that there is an increasing drive in China to support home-grown design (or to create it); 4) that the Europeans are trying to figure out how to exploit all those two realities to their own profit. Hence, for example, Kering’s purchase last year of Qeelin, the Chinese jewellery brand, and hence Iceberg’s decision to partner with Chinese video artist Yi Zhou for a capsule collection of menswear, womenswear, and accessories, to be launched next Christmas. What’s interesting about both these choices is they are focused much more on East than West. Fair enough: you go where the money is. And with the Iceberg case we reach example number 2 of this approach, thus bringing us ever-closer to critical mass for a trend.
Stuart McCullough, the CEO of Woolmark, wants to relaunch wool as a brand. A luxury brand. Woolmark, of course, is already a logo, and there are unquestionably luxury fibres (see cashmere, vicuna, silk), but to turn a fibre itself into a brand seems like – well, a challenge. Isn’t it a material? Can materials be brands? Is this the ultimate example of the contemporary belief that everything, but everything – people, dogs, washing machines – can be a brand? Maybe. But the does have two recent developments going for him. Read more
I was struck this week by a report from Havas Media on the world’s most “meaningful” brands – struck by the fact there was but ONE luxury brand in the top 20 (L’Oreal), and by the fact that this all was revealed only a day after I returned from the FT’s luxury conference in Vienna, which had culminated in a panel of luxury CEOs all discussing the need to connect meaning to their brands, and how they are going about it (education, sustainable supply chains, philanthropy), and only a few days after Gucci held its Chime for Change concert in London, which raised over GBP4 million for women’s causes around the world. It’s hard not to think that whatever luxury thinks they are doing, it’s not getting through broadly enough. Read more
Interesting move on the part of incoming Hermès CEO/family member Axel Dumas to start off his leadership with an aggressive anti-LVMH statement. Presumably the idea was to do two things in one fell swoop: herald a new sheriff in town and demonstrate his toughness (despite his relative youth, at almost-43). I wonder, though, if it’s also doing a third, perhaps less intentional – or at least, less obvious: giving Hermès , aka the ultimate in classic luxury, some street-fighter edge. And if so, is it actually good for the company’s image, or a mistake? Read more
The WPP/BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands ranking is out today – OMG! OMG! – and, as usual (for me, anyway) what ISN’T on it, when it comes to fashion and luxury, is more interesting than what makes the grade.
Of course, that isn’t hard to parse, since only FOUR (yes, more capital letters, but this is big) traditional luxury brands do make the grade. And yes, you can argue that Apple (#1) and BMW (#24) are luxury brands, but let’s stick to the generally accepted silk/apparel/leathergoods/watch & jewellery categories, for clarity’s sake.
And in those categories, we have: Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and Prada. That’s it.
Yup: no Burberry. No Ralph Lauren. No Cartier. No Armani. No Fendi or Celine. No Bottega Veneta or Balenciaga. No Michael Kors. Uh oh. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Read more
One of the more interesting developments this week has been the growing backlash against Monday’s Met Ball, below left, aka the Costume Institute Gala, aka the fashion party of the season. It’s one of the most talked-about, and blogged-about, events of the year, and yet Wednesday Gwyneth Paltrow was quoted by USA Today as saying she was “never going again,” that night I was at a dinner where a beauty mogul, who shall remain unnamed, announced he wasn’t going anymore, and yesterday the wife of a major brand CEO said the same. What’s going on?