So Alexander Wang, left, is the latest runway designer to team up with H&M in their high/low limited-edition strategy for creating buzz and best-sellers. He’ll be the first American to get the gig. The news was announced yesterday by Mr Wang via Instagram, which was seen as very cool, while at Coachella, which is even more cool. The message being, of course, that he is just cool, and this project is going to be super-cool. Except it always seems to me the appeal of the H&M collaborations was they took names that weren’t cool – they were haute, and generally unreachable – and it was the combination of unlikely bedfellows (the high street and the high fashion) that was actually the cool part. This one seems to indicate a slight switch in strategy. 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
It’s time to call a spade a spade. Or a tulip skirt a skirt. Or something. As New York fashion week kicks off fashion month today (joy! rapture!) I think it’s about time we face up to certain realities of the form that, for whatever reason, we have seemed unwilling to acknowledge in the past. Starting with Fact #1: designers never want to show in a shared venue. Read more
Yesterday LVMH announced it had signed up YBD JW Anderson to be the new designer of Loewe, and taken a minority stake in his brand. Anyone notice anything funky about this? No? It was expected? Well, kind of. But what shouldn’t have been expected, but seems to be increasingly the case, is that while they hired him to be the creative head of one of their not-quite-there-yet brands, they allowed him to keep his own line. And therein lies a change in strategy. Read more
How nice, as fashion week begins, to see a new brand getting some money. Today Kering, the French luxury group formerly known as PPR, announced they were taking a minority stake in young American brand Joseph Altuzarra (that’s Joseph, left, with model Stella Tennant in Altuzarra). This makes their second recent investment in a new name – they bought a 51% stake in British brand Christopher Kane last January – and their first in a US designer. Read more
I’ve been fascinated recently by the game of semantics being played between “showrooms” and “flagships” – and wondering whether the evolution of the second into the first is actually the future of commerce. Or put another way, the place e-commerce and bricks and mortar commerce merge.
It was clean, it was exact, it didn’t rock the boat (or the brand). It was, as the French say, pas mal.
Almost entirely in black and white, Alexander Wang’s first Balenciaga show nodded to the house’s architectural past. Building from a base of a flat suede boot/legging, he layered on skinny black trousers, high-waisted skirts cut in a curve on the hem and waist to dip in back and rise in front. There were white shirts that mixed cotton piqué with a nubbly cloqué added under or over in origami-folds; neat dresses in a marbelised print realised in appliqués on organza; intarsia furs; a cracked painted leather polo neck and matching skirt; and suede trousers flashing bits of flesh between the cracks.
As an interpretation of the now-abstract idea of Balenciaga, it looked exactly like what to expect if one imagined the archives and what a young designer would make of them, which will probably be gratifying from a consumer perspective: not too challenging, but elegant enough, the clothes suggested the past without confronting it. It’s nice to be proved correct when you enter a store (or pick a designer). And they will probably attract Mr Wang’s band of cool, growing-up, society girls – even, possibly, their mothers. Read more
I did a fairly long interview with Francois-Henri Pinault, ceo of PPR, that’s running in the paper next week, about the way he thinks of his luxury brands, but in the process of talking Mr Pinault dropped some titbits I wanted to pass on. Here are three juicy ones. Read more
So it’s official: Alexander Wang, the 28-year-old wunderkind who launched his eponymous brand in New York only five years ago has just been handed the creative director reins at Balenciaga. He will continue to run his own brand (which is owned independently by Wang and his family), and split his time between New York and Paris. His first collection will be autumn/winter 2013 womenswear, next March. I’m wondering, does this indicate a new theory about/stage in luxury brands?
Just as e-tailers have come to realise that a virtual store in not enough, and are increasingly adding bricks and mortar storefronts (or, as folks like Warby Parker and Bonobos tend to call them, “showrooms”) to their offering, so, too, are e-sites. Last year Style.com launched style.com the magazine, a twice-yearly collection-focused oversize print book, and now Mark Sebba, CEO of net-a-porter, has announced they are planning a print magazine.So what is this? Nostalgia for ye olden days? I thought the brilliance of digital was that we were free of so many of the nagging costs and limits associated with the physical world and its products. I thought magazines were seen as dying media. What do they have that e-zines don’t? Read more
Oooooh those PPR folks are making the gossip waters churn. Today reports say NY hipster designer Alexander Wang is the top candidate for the artistic director job (artistic director, creative director, designer – does no one else wish these companies would regularise their titles?), while rumours are that Christopher Kane, the erstwhile favourite for that spot, is actually being looked at in the context of buying his eponymous brand! Good gosh and golly. Two young designers at once! Both would be surprising moves, however, seems to me.
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
I’ve been thinking recently of a conversation I had with Rodrigo Bazan, President of Alexander Wang, about the problem of pricing in a global luxury world – and his rather clever way of addressing the issue. The trigger was the news that European brands (well, mostly LVMH brands) are raising the prices of their products in Europe to compensate for the slight slowdown of business in Asia – caused, it seems, by Chinese buying luxury brands abroad, where they are notably cheaper than they are locally – which reminded me of something Mr Bazan had said of the luxury consumer in Asia: “when they see something they like, the first thing they do is Google it on the US web site of the brand, to see what the prices are in dollars.”