This morning a very tiny, excessively bland announcement came out from Horseferry House announcing that the long-awaited Burberry power transition had just happened. Here’s what it said:
“Further to the announcement on 15 October 2013, Christopher Bailey [left] has been appointed as chief creative and chief executive officer and as a director of the company from 1 May 2014. Angela Ahrendts stepped down as chief executive officer and resigned her directorship on 30 April 2014. The company confirms there is no further information to be disclosed pursuant to LR 9.6.13 with regard to Christopher Bailey’s appointment.”
Well, that’s exciting. As far as downplaying a potential industry-changing event you don’t get much better than that. I mean, Mr Bailey is now the first creative director (or chief creative officer) of a public luxury company to be also crowned CEO, which either will, or will not, create a whole new job path for his peers and those who come after, depending on how he performs, and today will either mark the moment the creative and corporate sides, long silo-ed, finally merged, or the moment that great experiment failed. Just another day at the office! Read more
Reading all the (somewhat gleeful and ongoing) reports of the Nike Fuelband’s demise over the last few days, I’ve been struck by the fact that while they all seem to agree on the fact that it was maybe a defensive move in anticipation of the looming possible iWatch threat, they also seem divided as to what, exactly, Nike’s problem was: hardware (it didn’t have big enough margins)or software (it didn’t actually do enough). But let’s call a spade a spade: it didn’t look good enough. Read more
So after a season of “team”, beleaguered Jil Sander has a new creative director: Rodolfo Paglialunga. Who? Cast your mind back, and you may remember him as the guy who briefly made the revived Vionnet kinda-sorta interesting in its first seasons back in the public eye, between 2009-2011. Celebs from Madonna (left, in his Vionnet) to Hillary Swank and Diane Kruger wore the dresses, and it was on the verge of hot-ness. Then something happened (who knows what?) and Mr Paglialunga was out. Vionnet, which was later sold to Goga Ashkanazi, has yet to really get back on the rails. But given his success with the brand, does this (short) track record bode well for Sander? Read more
It is rare to have lunch with someone who is so quotable it’s impossible to include all their zingers in a 2500 word piece. And yet, so it was with American Vogue creative director Grace Coddington (left, with Donna Karan), whose willingness to speak her mind is both singular and extremely appealing. Thus, as I promised via Twitter, following are the thoughts that DIDN’T make it into the story – but that, nevertheless, I am very happy to pass on. Read more
This is my last column for the FT – after 11 years and approximately a million words, I am embracing that thing so beloved of the fashion world: change. It’s not nearly as easy to do as it is to watch on the catwalk every season but if covering this industry for the past decade-plus has taught me anything, it’s the value – literally – of new perspectives.
The fashion industry is rooted in constant, cyclical evolution. Nowhere is this truer than at major player Kering, where the times certainly keep a-changing.
This time a year ago the French luxury holding giant was concluding its controversial rebranding exercise; today the group just announced a major restructuring of its luxury division, not to mention some hirings and (potentially) firings at the top of its management chain.
Alexis Babeau, who had overseen Kering’s luxury operations since 2011, is leaving “to take his career in a new direction.”
Then, alongside a better-than-expected set of earnings, the group announced that the luxury division would be split into two core parts: ’Luxury – Couture & Leather Goods’ which will regroup all brands bar Gucci and ‘Watches & Jewellery’. Gucci will remain separate as a standalone business.
Heading up the first grouping will be Marco Bizzarri, CEO of Bottega Veneta – aka the star-performer in Kering’s brand portfolio.
Patrizio di Marco will continue to steer at Gucci, while taking the reins at the ‘hard luxe’ sub-sector is Albert Bensoussan, who lead LVMH’s watch & jewellery division between 2003 and 2010.
So what are we to make of this in-house round of musical chairs? With two empty spots still to be taken – a successor for Bizzarri at Bottega Veneta and a leader for Gucci in China – there’s a great deal in flux – and at stake. My five key takeaways are here: Read more
Much noise has been made about various British brands attempting to take on the American market, and the difficulties many (Tesco, Marks and Spencer) find therein. Not that it stops anyone. The latest brand to make a big push for a bigger slice of the pie: Boden.
Yup – the catalogue known for its brightly coloured kidswear and mummy-wear. Funny, right? After all, the UK brands that have been most successful in the US, from Burberry to Topshop, have had a definite fashion edge, which is not a concept normally associated with Boden. Read more
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 on-again/off-again love affair between private equity and fashion seems to be heating up again, what with Blackstone taking a minority stake in Versace, Permira courting Cavalli, and, as of today, a new swain in town making its move on Opening Ceremony. According to WWD, Front Row partners, which was launched earlier this year by Glen Senk, ex-CEO of David Yurman and Anthropologie in conjunction with Berkshire Partners (who threw in $350million) to target “innovative, high-growth retail and consumer businesses”, has taken a minority stake in the hip downtown retailer. The amount was not disclosed, but still: Can you hear the heavy breathing? Anyway, it seems to me this marks the resurgence of the relationship, which has been abandoned in recent years as luxury brands from Prada to Ferragamo, Michael Kors, and Brunello Cucinelli turned to IPOs instead of PE. So what changed? Read more
I have a dream. Not the Martin Luther King kind, I admit; more the nightmare-at-2am kind. In my dream, I am out and about reporting, reviewing or otherwise working, when I discover something big – something I have to tweet or write straight away, like that the Marc Jacobs IPO is set for next week (not really) or that Apple is appointing Hedi Slimane its creative director (also not true; these are just examples of what would make urgent fashion news) – and my BlackBerry (yes, I have a BlackBerry, and I like it) goes kaput. Runs out of juice. You know the scenario. And whichever smartphone you depend upon, I would bet you’ve had the same dream.