Amazon

Ok, I know the numbers are nearly as big as Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, but still, it’s worth noting: yesterday Groupon, the deal site, bought Ideeli, the fashion-centric flash sale site, for $43 million. Interpreted in the most positive way, this is a vote of confidence in flash sales, which have been under a bit of a question mark recently, and another indication of a more accessible site wanting to get into fashion, a la Amazon. Of course, it could also have been just a really opportunistic punt, since at $43 million Ideeli is relatively cheap (compare it to the $270 million Nordstrom spent on flash sale site HauteLook in 2011 for example). Still, $43 million is $43 million. And while it makes sense to me in the short-term – both Groupon and Ideeli are about making consumption of all kinds accessible – I’m not sure about it as a long-term play. After all, by buying Ideeli, Groupon may have bought entree into fashion, but they have not bought that most elusive and powerful driver of consumer loyalty: a point of view. Read more

Despite its amazing Black Friday results, Amazon has not quite become the player rumour says it would like to be in high-end fashion; luxury brands still see it as overly mass. So news of a new upmarket approach at Zappos, the accessible (and highly successful) shoe site, made all my luxury strategy sensors start vibrating in anticipation. And no, I am not confusing my apples with my oranges. See, Amazon owns Zappos, but “Zappos” doesn’t come with all the strings and global supermarket associations that the name “Amazon” does. Which makes it a great testing ground for any new strategy directed at luring luxury brands and HNWIs into the consumer fold. So what is this brave new strategy?  Read more

Getty Images

The first week of every year is always a week of predictions (fiscal cliff shenanigans aside, it’s generally a slow news week, what with holidays and all). Most of those I’ve seen so far have been non-controversial – Europe will continue to stagnate; there will be political turmoil in the Middle East; a sub-set of Republicans in Congress will behave badly; emerald green is the colour of the year (except please, not for ties) – which makes me wonder why, in the fashion world, no one thought to suggest what I expect will be the single most obvious trend of the year.

What is this glaring opportunity? High-end designer maternity wear.

I mean, really: what other niche is left to fill? And now that super-merchandise-movers/unpaid brand ambassadors the Duchess of Cambridge and Kim Kardashian will both be needing bump-accommodating gear, and people and paparazzi pages everywhere are guaranteed to follow and report on their every clothing choice with slavish devotion during their pregnancies, thus ensuring they will have to look chic and elegant no matter what sized basketball they have attached to their front. What better moment to launch? Read more

Lew Frankfort, CEO of Coach. Getty Images

Today the Harvard Business Review has come out with a new ranking of the 100 best-performing chief executives around the world, as measured by shareholder returns and growth of market capital over their leadership tenure, and guess what? Despite all that ballyhoo about the absolutely extraordinary unprecedented growth of the luxury market, etc, etc, only three luxury CEOs actually make the list. Oops.

But who are these unmasked men? (They are all men.) Lew Frankfort, CEO of Coach, who leads the industry pack by a wide margin at number 21 – the only luxury name in the top 50 (by standard definition); Sidney Toledano of Dior, at 68; and Patrick Thomas, CEO of Hermès, who is retiring this year, who comes in at 72. Chapeau, guys. Read more

What is on-line fashion week? It is the UK-equivalent of Cyber Monday (which is today!): five days of super-special offers and special brand titbits organised by British Vogue to prompt holiday shopping, albeit with a charitable component (a percentage of sakes goes to the Oxfam Girls Education Project, the “official” charity partner) and a branded gloss. In other words, it doesn’t actually have much to do with fashion weeks as we know them at all, though the name is catchy. Even more notably, however, this year, which is its second year, for the first time on-line fashion week will be sponsored by…Amazon! That’s what made little old me sit up and take notice.
 Read more

My favourite fashion week moment so far, three days into the start of the New York collections, has to be Diane von Furstenberg pulling Sergey Brin out of his front-row seat and onto her catwalk to take her victory bow with her and her creative director, Yvan Mispelaere at the end of her show. And all three of them were wearing Google glass in different colours! I feel a new accessory category coming on. Read more

Tonight Jeff Bezos, a man generally pictured in jeans, jackets, and no tie, will stand at the top of the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a tuxedo, shoulder-to-shoulder with designer Miuccia Prada and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. This either speaks to the growing belief among the tech and fashion worlds that on-line is the treasure chest of the future, even if no one if sure what shape it will take, or suggests a desire to go upmarket on the part of what most consider a virtual “wal-mart.” Or both, of course. Read more

I’ve spent the last day playing around on myhabit.com, the flash fashion sale site Amazon sprang on the world Tuesday afternoon. There we were, shopping happily at Gilt and Rue La La and Ideeli, and the next thing you know: BAM! The elephant had entered the arena, ready to crush all in its path.

 Read more