Recession

Yesterday, for the first time, Antonio Tajani, the European Commission’s VP for industry, met with a bunch of luxury companies like Chanel, Dior, Pucci, MaxMara and Harrods to talk about what the brands and the EU might be able to do for each other. Wait — the first time? Yes, weird as that may sound, after two years of lobbying, the ECCIA (European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance) finally succeeded in getting Brussels’ attention. Read more

Things are heating up in a funny old corner of the world: West Hollywood, where the anti-fur movement and retailers are going to war. Yesterday the City Council, or three out of its five members, voted in favor of making it the first city in The Whole United States to ban the sale of fur. They are PETA superheroes!

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So it all came true, and PPR did, indeed, buy Italian men’s wear luxury brand Brioni. So far, so rumoured. But what does it mean? Seems to me there are two main implications to the deal. Read more

Tonight is the beginning of what is being billed as the biggest Fashion’s Night Out ever, although it’s more like Fashion’s Afternoon Out: a noon-9pm (Saturday) shopping extravaganza in Japan launched by an evening pre-shopping gala, with some of the proceeds presumably going to benefit earthquake relief efforts. But that’s not the half of it.

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You know that three’s-a-trend rule? Well, note FOUR recent events in four different countries, beginning with the Van Cleef and Arpels announcement of “L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels,” and the Instituto Marangoni and Ermenegildo Zegna announcement of the renewal of their Masters in Menswear. School, school everywhere! Read more

After the Versace/Missoni condos, and Fendi yachts comes this exciting titbit: Condé Nast International is likewise embracing the lifestyle concept, and opening a Vogue café in Kiev, and a GQ bar in Istanbul. Well, if the companies they cover can do it, why shouldn’t the publishers? Isn’t Vogue as much a brand as the brands in their pages?
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I’ve been perusing a new magazine named “Astonish” that claims to be “the answer to an industry starved for smart, unique and visually-stimulating Fashion & Art content.” I have to say, I wasn’t actually that astonished by the photographs, nor did the contents, leave my mouth agape. But the business strategy is intriguing.

See, “While other publications work with the same pool of talent year after year,

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Fashion can make allies of the most seemingly apposite of pairs. Last week, ex-US Secretary of the Treasury, current Harvard Prof and FT columnist Larry Summers announced that: “One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole.” Then, yesterday, Peter Bingle, chairman of PR company Bell Pottinger, revealed in a blog that he had received “a letter informing me that my membership of Soho House and Shoreditch House was being revoked ‘effective immediately… because I have disregarded Soho House’s ‘casual dress code.’ I have been banned for wearing a suit!”

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The Boston Consulting Group has released an exciting new report: “Navigating the New Consumer Realities,” which involves spending movements and approaches they have been tracking across the globe over the last three-five years, plus a survey of over 24,000 consumers. Guess what? Consumers are not so optimistic about their financial future and spending after all!
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The first thing I thought when I heard the news a few weeks ago that Conde Nast had signed a 25-year, $2 billion lease for a million feet in the new One World Trade Center building was: but where will they shop? Where will they eat? What will they do with their free time? Today the question was answered: they will shop at the new mall in the World Financial Centre!  Read more

The Bain luxury goods “worldwide markets study” spring update is out and – wow, things are looking good. Market growth for 2010 was 12% — 2% more than the most optimistic predictions! But wait: don’t be fooled into thinking all you have to do is ride the coming gold-plated wave.
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I just got a surprising email from Lucien Pellat-Finet, the French luxury cashmere czar, noting he has had a significant uptick in sales in Japan over the last few days.  Read more

I’m interested in the news that Prada has decided to hold its long-postponed IPO in Hong Kong, though not only for the reason everyone else seems to be (namely that it marks the beginning of what will become a flood of western brands listing in HK). Personally, I’m more interested in what this suggests about the Chinese consumer. Read more

Barneys, the department store currently owned by Dubai-based Istithmar that was as close to synonymous with a way of life as any department store ever came, is getting a new creative identity: out with the old, ironic, insider, kitsch-meets-cool force of Simon Doonan, who has been “promoted” from creative director and the man behind the store’s windows (effectively its primary interface with the outside world) to “creative ambassador-at-large” (a minister without portfolio title if I ever heard one) and in with the new vision – whatever that may be – of Dennis Freedman. Read more

Harvey Weinstein is accessorising his production slate.

The Project Runway kingpin realised before everyone that fashion was both visual enough and competitive enough to make great reality employment TV. Now, according to Nikki Finke’s Deadline,  he has created a spin-off series along the lines of Project Handbag (and shoes, and jewellery, and… hats?) that will feature accessory designers, and has sold it to Lifetime.

Harvey Weinstein watches Heidi Klum at the Project Runway Finalists Fashion Show in 2008

Harvey Weinstein watches Heidi Klum at the Project Runway Finalists Fashion Show in 2008 — Getty Images

I can’t quite decide if what is officially, and super-creatively, titled Project Runway: Accessories, will work.

Certainly, no one can argue with the success of the parent show.

On the upside, accessories are famously easier to sell than ready-to-wear: they’re priced more accessibly; independent of sizing and thus simpler to manufacture and more broadly appealing; and widely touted, these days, as recession-friendly, the way to change an outfit without breaking your budget by buying, say, a whole new coat. Accessories are having a moment, and TV might as well exploit that. Read more

Yesterday Ruth La Ferla wrote a provocative story in the NYT about the rise of the fashion editor as star. That’s a big deal, but what she didn’t say was what this meant for the glossies that employ them: bad news.
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US Vogue may have been able to present itself as a champion of the economic recovery via Fashion’s Night Out, the now-annual, global, celebrity-and-champagne-fueled “shopping extravaganza” that was launched as a recession-busting initiative to supposedly get everyone out of their budget funk and into stores to buy! Buy! Buy! again, but tonight UK Vogue is tossing their own Philip Treacy number into the glossy ring. Their big idea: Fashion’s Night In. Instead of going to a store, you get to sit in the comfort of your own home and go on-line to shop for extra special, one-night-only thingamabobs! Sounds good to me. And when it comes to getting people to spend money, smart. Potentially very lucrative.  Read more

Elsewhere in the material world,

- Women’s Wear Daily turns 100 years old. Read more

Over the weekend the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported that, two years after it began, the tax authorities’ probe into Dolce & Gabbana’s business has been closed, and the upshot is…silence from the prosecutors. Has the government decided they were wrong? Or is something more dramatic coming? The fashion world is on the edge of its seat!

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A few years ago during a Mulberry presentation I was talking to chief executive Godfrey Davis, when he asked me what I thought of the brand. I said I thought they should be Coach, the American handbag company having huge success by combining fashion with middle-market pricing – that I thought there was big opportunity in that space. Apparently, so does Coach. Read more