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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.