Today the third in a series of World Luxury Index BRIC reports from the Digital Luxury Group (and the Luxury Society) is released – after Russia and China, we have Brazil, and the “Top 50 Most Searched-For Brands”. Guess what? One of these things is not like the other ones! Though conventional luxury wisdom says emerging markets always look to the obvious, in-your-face icons of luxury first, Brazil seems the exception to the rule.
One of the most surprising revelations to come from the FT’s recent mini Business of Luxury summit in NYC was the realisation that architect Peter Marino is busy creating a shadow art world in fashion under all our noses, and almost no one has put it together. At one point, about a decade ago, he noted, the grand pooh-bahs of luxury decided it was time to take things “to the next level” with their stores. And that next level was… art.
Consider: he says he has a deal with brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton that allows him to commission three to five pieces of new art from pretty much any artists he wants. And though he does recycle it from store to store on occasion, mostly this is new. So given that stores get refits every five to seven years – well, you do the maths. He says he has probably been responsible for commissioning about 200 or more works of art from artists including Vik Muniz, Jean-Michel Othoniel (that’s his glass swirl, above, in a Chanel boutique), Richard Prince, and others. That’s practically a museum in itself. You think it’s a coincidence that Louis Vuitton is opening its own art foundation in the Bois de Boulogne this year? Read more
The continued preponderance of celebs at the couture show in Paris this week – Sigourney Weaver, Chloë Moretz, Jessica Alba, Rosamund Pike and Noomi Rapace, among others (left) at Dior; Hilary Swank and Uma Turman at Armani; Charlene, Princess of Monaco and Olivia Munn at Versace; Rita Ora at Chanel – has got me thinking about the expectation this has raised, and how that can backfire for a brand. And no, I’m not talking about the usual problem of celebs behaving badly.
I’m talking about the fact that these relationships have become so common and so public, that now when we see a star in pretty much anything branded, there is an assumption there’s a contractual relationship there. And a contractual relationship implies approbation and shared values. At our recent Business of Luxury conference in New York, Lisa Jacobson, head of branding for United Talent Agency, said there were “maybe” five celebs in Hollywood that didn’t want a relationship with a brand, and the endorsement contract had become a significant part of most stars’ income. Read more
For absolutely riveting reading, let me recommend the first ever World Handbag Report. It’s a collation of 120 million internet searches in 10 markets via four search engines (Google, Bing, Bai du, etc) by the Digital Luxury Group, and is it full of surprising facts – most notably, how incredibly imbalanced the handbag market is. The brands with big market share of search have BIG market share. The rest, well…have piddly squat. Read more
And so Mulberry joins that club no brand wants to be in: “luxury” brands that are experiencing surprising drops in demands and sales. Today they sent out a profit warning noting that due to a drop in wholesale revenues they “expect full year profits to be below last year.” Coming on the heels of Burberry’s profit warning last September, this is sure to send more luxury Chicken Littles scurrying through the streets crying that the sky is falling. This is wrong. It does not signal the end of luxury. It signals, rather, the end of the idea that consumers are suckers who will accept that anything is “luxury” that says it is so, and the rationalisation of the market. Read more
Yesterday Chanel (the Group, not the brand) announced it would acquire Barrie knitwear, a Scottish cashmere producer whose parent company, Dawson International, went into administration last August due to “a large hole in their pension fund”. This is turning into something of a strategic signature for Chanel. Though Barrie is not part of their “Metiers d’Art” group of nine specialist ateliers bought by their Paraffection affiliate, is it fully in line with what seems to be a Group policy regarding buying up and protecting heritage skills, be it glove-making, embroidery, or knitting. Read more
It seems to me Chanel is fast becoming the Swatch of luxury – and no one is really paying attention.
Today WWD is reporting that the couture house’s affiliate, Paraffection, has acquired French super-glove-maker Causse, which joins the other EIGHT specialist ateliers they have bought up in the past decade including embroiderer Lesage and button maker Desrues. The spin goes: Chanel is preserving French know-how for posterity (and indeed, according to our piece on manufacturing in France, if you don’t, say, use Lesage for embroidery, you would probably need to go to India to find the same skills). But at the same time they are acquiring a monopoly on said skills. Which is where the Swatch comparison comes in. Read more
The branded jewellery game, long viewed as an area with the least players and the biggest potential pay-off, has a new entrant: Versace, which just announced it will introduce its first high jewellery line (one-off creations with emeralds, diamonds, etc) this Sunday during its couture show at the Paris Ritz. I’ll see your collection and raise you! Read more
Time magazine has made its first foray into the world of best-dressed lists by releasing its own “All-Time 100 Fashion Icons” list, presumably in an effort to support its recently re-launched “Style and Design” issue.
The criteria, as stated, is “most influential”. This is fair enough, though vague: influential over who? The masses? The industry? International? The US? It’s unclear. The timeline begins in 1923, the year of the magazine’s birth. Again, fine. Fashion as we know it largely began then too (though it means Charles Frederick Worth is not on the list). It includes designers, brands, muses, photographers, models, editors and stylists — a good mix. The problem is in the seemingly random nature of the final choice. Read more
Yup: this is the view from my seat at Chanel, across the aisle. This couture season they created a whole Airbus interior inside the Grand Palais in Paris, complete with faux logo carpet, wheelie carts with orange juice and champagne, and a sky and cloud video that segued into earth from above moving across the ceiling.
Why? Read more