Since the financial crisis left them shaking in their Cleverley bespoke shoes and Christian Louboutin heels, bankers say they have started dressing for work more casually.

Some 59 per cent of bankers said their colleagues dressed less smartly than in 2009, with just under half of respondents saying that colleagues did not wear ties to the office, according to an FT poll of 135 bankers in response to the news that Savile Row tailors were feeling the effects of US tax crackdown. Read more

OK, that headline is a bit of an exaggeration; luxury still loves its LA brand ambassadors. But when it comes to fashion week, it’s a legitimate question. Looking at the reports from last night’s Emmy awards, it suddenly hit me that there have been almost no Hollywood moments during Milan Fashion Week. Even given the date clash, and the fact that some may have had to be in the awards auditorium, there are plenty of movie stars who would have been available. No to mention rock stars. So I wonder: Have we finally come to the end? Has the luxury/celebrity balance of power finally shifted? Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

So now we are deep in the London menswear , the beginning of a three-week cycle through Milan and Paris, and I thought in honour of the start of the run, I’d share some astonishing facts I was told recently by the Brioni folks about employment and spend.

 Read more

The other day I was talking to Geraldo da Conceicao, Sonia Rykiel’s new creative director, about his plans for the brand, when he said something that surprised me. “I want us to be an accessible luxury brand,” he announced. Hmmm, I responded: “So you are dropping your price points?” He looked confused. “No, not at all. In fact, they are probably going up.” Now it was my turn to be puzzled.

 Read more

Getty Images

What’s up with Oscar de la Renta? The man is creating news – and potential controversy – right and left. After paving the way for John Galliano’s return to fashion, a move that was both welcomed and castigated by the fashion set (depending on who you asked), today Mr de la Renta, America’s pre-eminent couturier of uptown society thanks to his way with a gown (see actress Jennifer Garner, pictured), announced he was creating a collection for The Outnet, Net-a-porter’s cut-price platform, that will be more “accessible” than his normal line. Effectively, he is remaking old patterns in old fabric and pricing down. The way the company puts it is, to paraphrase, along the lines of “taking out the originality mark-up”.

Actually, this is interesting for a more macro reason than linguistic gymnastics. Mr de la Renta’s move, combined with the recent launch by Barneys NY of its own stand-along cut-price web site,, to sell end-of-season merch, effectively creates a luxury strategy face-off over the issue of outlets: good or bad? Seems to me we are heading towards stilettos at dawn. Read more

The FT’s first New York mini Business of Luxury summit is taking place this afternoon at the Plaza, and I hope all of you will join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FTLuxury13 or following @FTLuxury360.

I’m moderating a panel on developments in counterfeiting with Katrina Burchell, the first group head of intellectual property for PPR, Shirley Cook, chief executive of Proenza Schouler; and Harley Lewin, the lawyer who recently helped Christian Louboutin, so it should be… lively. What Mickey Drexler likes to call “passionate discussion”. It will include how the internet has changed the situation (we can no longer say, as Potter Stewart did, that we know it when we see it) and the greatest threats (3D printing anyone?) . Read more

The Anna-Wintour-for-ambassador rumours that have surrounded the US Vogue editor in chief ever since she became a “super-bundler” for Barack Obama have picked up steam lately: on Monday, even erstwhile presidential non-contender Donald Trump offered his two cents on the matter (“I think she’d be an amazing choice”). But c’mon guys: let’s think about this realistically for the moment.

 Read more

Good golly Miss Molly: there’s a whole new untapped consumer segment out there itching to spend money. Such is the basis, anyway, for a new web site launching next month directed specifically at these “recession-busting” individuals. Check ‘em out! Read more

Today Ledbury research is publishing their “CEO Sentiment Indicator,” an exciting document in which they chart the words of luxury execs as they reveal the thoughts of said execs about how things are shaping up for the future. They gave us an exclusive peek at it before release. And guess what? They are not feeling the love.

 Read more

Wandering around the Paris presentations you pick up some interesting facts. Here are three I wanted to pass on, which have to do with accessories (prospects for the future of), and which surprised me. Read more

Making the rounds at Milan fashion week this season has been interesting; people keep talking about their Big New Idea to improve the Italian fashion business. Consensus seems to be: something needs to be done. But what? Here are some of the suggestions:
 Read more

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! This tends to be the reaction lately every time a luxury brand reports worse-than-expected earnings. It happened last June with Mulberry, and now it is happening with Burberry. Yet I am not convinced it’s time to call the end of luxury. Read more

So after all the chat about the current economic situation driving a polarisation of price-points – either super-high-end luxury or cheapo Uniqlo – Euromonitor has come out with some research that begs to differ.  Read more

The assertion that exclusivity is no longer a criteria for luxury came from PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault when he opened our luxury conference last Thursday, and I have to say, it made me sit up in my seat. Not that that was the only striking insight to come out at the end of last week. Here, in no particular order of importance, are the top five items that stayed with me the most Read more

Luxury brands from PPR to LVMH may be announcing more banner results this month, but according to a new report from UK luxury consultancy Ledbury Research, their CEOs are probably a lot more worried about the industry’s prospects in 2012 than they are letting on. Read more

I’m telling you: ides of March. Rumours have spread like wildfire that Derek Lam, the American designer who has been creative director of Tod’s for the last six years, has parted ways with the brand. The Tod’s folks are have been hiding from all emails and phone calls since last night, but they aren’t denying it. If it’s true, it has interesting implications for the future of luxury.  Read more

Today Jacob Weisberg coined what I think should become a representative catch-phrase of the 2012 US election along the lines of James Carville’s “it’s the economy, stupid,” in 1992 and Ronald Reagan’s “it’s morning in America” in 1984. To wit: he noted that Mitt Romney suffers from “the affliction of excessive handsomeness.”
Who knew there was such a problem? Such is the reality, it seems, of 21st century, recession-ridden America.
 Read more

The question of how to balance virtual stores with bricks and mortar stores is a thorny one, with various theories fighting for dominance. Some say it’s all going virtual and point to the search for value (see the FT today, and the report on shoppers deserting the High Street for home pages), while others say things need to be felt to be appreciated, and point to the recent Zappos debacle as something that will also drive people back into stores (see many luxury executives). The only thing that’s clear is the lack of consensus on best strategy going forward, something that was brought home to me pretty tangibly thanks to two recent bits of information I stumbled onto.

 Read more

Getty Images

Hillary Clinton isn’t the only politician smart enough to let her clothes do the speaking: German chancellor Angela Merkel also demonstrated great fashion fluency when she wore strict, unrelenting, unforgiving, unapologetic black for her speech to the Bundestag. Things were tough, she said, and they were going to get tougher. She wasn’t going to lighten anything up — or distract from her message — by adding a pastel or a pattern to leaven her words. Read more