Anya Hindmarch is going to be late. I know this because her office emailed me twice on the day of our dinner to alert me to the probability; she is coming from a meeting with Bergdorf Goodman on 57th Street and we are eating downtown and, well … traffic.
Much hoo-ha this week about Marks & Spencer’s announcement they hired photographer Annie Leibovitz for their autumn/winter ad campaign – mostly because Ms Leibovitz is famous for her creative high-celebrity portraiture (as seen in Vanity Fair), and M&S is famous for…well, not reaching for quite such exclusive stars. And I mean that both literally and metaphorically. The pictures, which feature famous British women from actress Helen Mirren to artists Tracy Emin and model/singer Karen Elson, are very pretty, but I still wonder if, for a company that has been making headlines because of falling clothing sales, this was actually money well spent.
I had a very illuminating chat yesterday with Jimmy Choo chief executive Pierre Denis. He’s been in the job not quite a year now (previously he was ceo of John Galliano, so you can understand the job change), and has started to articulate the brand’s story going forward. Put simply: it’s history, people.
What do you do when you are stuck in a non-compete for a year? Write a memoir, which is in part a tell-all about your former employer! Such, anyway, seems the approach of Tamara Mellon, who left Jimmy Choo, the shoe brand she built into a global luxury powerhouse after it was sold to Labelux, and whose book, In My Shoes, is slated to appear on October 1. It seems to me the timing is particularly canny.
Yesterday LNK Partners, a White Plains, NY-based P.E. firm, announced they had closed a second $400 million fund (oversubscribed, natch), specifically aimed at investing in “the consumer/retail sector.” Yes, yet more proof that all of us who thought when Permira sold Valentino to the Qatari royal family, it marked the end of PE’s brief flirtation with the unpredictable world of fashion were wrong. There’s life in that there investment relationship yet.
Does anyone else feel like suddenly everywhere they turn, another erstwhile satisfied luxury brand is re-christening themselves a “luxury lifestyle” brand, talking about their “global universe” and otherwise attempting to own every aspect of a consumer purse? It’s like The Birds: you see one example circling and think, “oh, that’s interesting,” and the next thing you know the whole flock has obliterated the sky.
But here’s what I want to know: why? And what, exactly, do these brands mean when they attach the word “lifestyle” to themselves?
For anyone wondering why a few days ago there was another post on this blog about Jimmy Choo’s new bridal collection — and then there wasn’t: mea culpa.
There’s an industry truism which holds that fashion brands should focus, publicly at least, on their “fashion” lines — the ones that change every season, demonstrate their “vision” and drive consumers into stores — as opposed to their more commercial endeavours (e.g. bridal).
The other day I got a nice email informing me that Marigay McKee, formerly Harrods’ Fashion & Beauty director, had been promoted to “Chief Merchant Officer,” a relatively new title in the luxury world as far as I can tell (and one not to be confused with that other CMO, chief marketing officer), but one that, I think, reflects not just a titular promotion, but a systemic change in industry thinking.
Not so long ago I spoke to Tamara Mellon about Labelux, the German luxury group that is privately owned by the reclusive Reimann family, and the fact they had bought her company, Jimmy Choo, from TowerBrook private equity. She was thrilled. And yet, here we are, a mere half year later, and Ms Mellon and her CEO, Josh Schulman, have both resigned. What happened?
It’s shaping up to be a big weekend for British fashion. On one hand we have Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, doing her best to represent every level of British brand available on the Canadian leg of her North American tour; on the other we have Kate Moss’s wedding. After all, just think about what it means for a designer every time they appear in a brand.