I’m not sure when the Christmas jumper first became a “thing”. Once upon a time it seemed only to be a feature of films, worn by Hollywood stars such as Macaulay Culkin in John Hughes’ Home Alone as he merrily detonated Christmas baubles to deter intruders, or corpulent John Candy-types as they made their flatulent passage across the US. In Britain, they appeared as significant extras in class-based seasonal tragicomedies starring Julie Walters or Jim Broadbent, where they were accessorised with glinting Santa earrings and coronary heart failure.
How much time do you spend thinking about what to wear each morning? It’s a question that has taken on new significance in the past couple of weeks: especially for the menfolk.
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
The general take this morning seems to be that Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO (left), is not really such a new type after all: an insider, well-liked, who won’t shake things up too much, etc etc. I am sure this is largely true – the politics of the tech world are not my area of expertise. But in one area at least, I think the analysts are wrong: public image. I mean, take a look at the photograph on front pages everywhere (including our own): Mr Nadella, looking relaxed, staring into the distance in a…hoodie. Let me say that again: a hoodie. A hoodie! This signifies, it seems to me, a real generational shift, and an effort for Microsoft to at least appear to be part of the current buzz-worthy conversation. Read more
Conventional wisdom dictates that a spot in the Super Bowl (which is to say, an ad) is a highly desirable thing, given the game is watched by approximately 100 million people, give or take. And all those eyeballs on your product, be it Audi or Chrysler or David Beckham’s H&M undies, is an invaluable communications moment; hence the enormous cost ($4 million for 30 seconds) for a slot. So how much more lucrative would it be, theoretically speaking, to get your product on the halftime star – effectively free promotion (minus the cost of the garment, possibly)? It’s the equivalent of red carpet PLUS Super Bowl. It should be a mind-blowingly GIGANTIC in terms of marketing potential. So you can understand why Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent created a custom-made outfit – gold leather tux, black trousers – for Bruno Mars’ 12 minute half-time show at last night’s game (above left). What an advertisement! Read more
In Paris for the couture shows, I was tooling around yesterday to some appointments, and stopped by JW Anderson’s showroom to see his pre-fall, pre-Versace (for the latter, if you want to know: Swarovski, skin and very Sunset Boulevard). Anyway, we got to chatting about the change in his life since he signed on as Loewe’s creative director, and LVMH took a minority stake in his eponymous brand, and the YBD (young British designer) reeled off some pretty interesting numbers. 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
Forget the uproar around competing menswear shows LC:M, which starts today and ends Wednesday, and Pitti Uomo, which also starts Wednesday and runs until Friday. Seems to me the real distraction from the menswear scene this week is actually taking place in Las Vegas from tomorrow-Friday, and is the Consumer Electronic Show, aka CES. After all, the buzz word of the event this year is “wearables,” and the market for “wearables” is being projected to grow to $19 billion in the next four years. Shouldn’t fashion companies be chasing a share of that there about-to-be-very-large pie, and fashion-watchers paying all sorts of close attention? Read more
Almost a month after the death of Nelson Mandela, every talking head has weighed in with their own memoir or eulogy so what is there to add? Fair question.
Let me simply say that this is a new year’s column – a look forward, not a look back – and it is about a lesson I think worth taking from Mandela and applying in 2014, a lesson not included in the many “Lessons from Mandela” written in recent weeks. Most of these were concerned with choosing reconciliation over revolution, while this is to do with clothes. It may seem like a frivolous topic where someone such as Mandela is concerned, except he clearly took clothes – and their power – seriously, and perhaps we should, too.