Politics

 

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uch concern in New York last year post-election about whether new Mayor Bill de Blasio would be as much of a FoF (friend of fashion) as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg – especially given de Blasio’s stated goal to even the economic playing field in the city. Turns out, however, this refers not just to the income gap but the manufacturing gap, and in that fashion and the mayor’s office have found common ground.  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

Tory Burch has just been named one of the President’s Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, aka a PAGE (as someone who once worked in Congress as a – well, page, it’s hard not to appreciate the irony of that acronym), a new Obama program intended to promote start-up businesses in the US and around the world. Ms Burch is the only fashion figure in the group, which also includes Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Quincy Jones (Quincy Jones Productions), and Hamdi Ulukaya (Chobani yogurt) among others, so it’s a pretty big deal. For me, it also has echoes of David Cameron’s “trade ambassador” program, an honorary grouping established way back in 2010 of many of Britain’s biggest business figures, from Anthony Bamford of JCB to Sir John Bond of Vodaphone – not to mention Anya Hindmarch and Tamara Mellon. Hey wait — let’s think about those names: Hindmarch, Mellon, Burch. Anyone else sense some striking parallels? Read more

During the penultimate day of the Paris ready-to-wear collections, just before the Alexander McQueen show, was an event that, given the circumstances, might strike many as odd.

There’s an interesting report in the FT today about declining sales of China’s local-brand cars, and it’s got me thinking about the benefits and problems of “national” brands – which is to say, not state-owned brands, but rather the perceptions surrounding the name of a country, ie its own brand, when attached to product, and the way this can work for and against manufacturers. Blame it on the Made in Italy and Made in France strategy the luxury industry so cannily implemented back in the day (a recent BCG/Altagamma/Sanford Bernstein Global Consumer Insight study found a whopping 80% of consumers think “Made in is key”) but seems to me, when it comes to consumers, products don’t just have to be good, they have to somehow come to grips with national stereotype, and either neuter it or exploit it. But what they can’t do is ignore it. Read more

Rebekah Brooks has finally taken the stand to speak for herself in the British phone hacking trial, now entering its fourth month. And what did she choose to wear for the occasion? A plain sapphire blue dress, cream cardigan, thin gold chain, tights, and low-heeled shoes. No makeup. Famous hair restrained. She looked, in other words, not dissimilar to the stereotype of a home counties matron. She did not look like a master of the media universe. For a courtroom observer, it’s a notable choice – as much because of the selections she has made in the past that were seemingly rejected for the stand. Read more

Much joy and rapture and relief greeted new Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement to the fashion world at the end of last week that “The fashion industry…is part of how we will build a more unified city and a city where everyone has opportunities,” and the statement by an aide that de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray would “definitely be out and about” at New York Fashion Week. He got it! He knew how important fashion was, as an industry, to the health of the city! He was sending his wife to shows! Except, as far as I can tell, she never – well, showed. Read more

I know this is heresy of a sort, but sitting in the opening shows of New York Fashion Week, a thought keeps niggling away at the back of my mind: maybe being marketed by Mrs O (because, let’s face it, when she wears your dress it’s free global marketing on an unprecedented scale), is NOT helpful. Maybe, in fact, it creates expectations some designers are simply not ready to bear. Before you rant and rave, hear me out. Read more

Michelle Obama did something last night at the State of the Union address she had never done before – in fact, I think odds-are she did something no First Lady had ever done before. It was pretty radical. Read more