L2

This being Black Friday in the US, and the topic of spending money being very much in the news, here’s an interesting study on the latter: BusinessInsider.com has put together a list of the 35 biggest advertisers on Facebook this year. And guess what? Despite all that lip service paid to interaction and transparency and so on and so forth, there’s only ONE luxury brand on it. Also only one fashion brand. And they are probably not the ones you would expect. 

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.

 

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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? 

By now we hold these truths to be self-evident: that the extreme resilience of luxury brands in the face of European economic turmoil can be traced largely to the traveling luxury consumer heralding from Asia, Brazil and Russia; that this trend is probably going to continue; and that the smart luxury brand will shift its retail strategy accordingly. What else to make, anyway, of two new initiatives geared specifically toward making money from the phenomenon?

 

For an industry with its own calendar, that runs on a time six months to a year or more ahead of the norm, fashion in general has proven idiotically obtuse about technology. After being famously late to the etail and social media party, and then engaging in a headlong rush to the virtual when it was clear where consumer tides were going, now they are once again dragging their feet when it comes to mobile applications, as a new study from digital think tank L2 shows.
 

So Google is moving from search to shops. Rumours have been circulating since last week, when Save the Date invites started going out about a party being held in New York Wednesday, hosted by the search company and theoretically filled with fashion people, and now Women’s Wear has confirmed: plans are in the works for boutiques.com (that seems to be the working name, anyway), a new Google site, where you can set up your own virtual boutique, and then, if you like the stuff you’ve picked (or if you mom likes it, or your best friend, and thus approves of your choices), click through to the source of the product – ie Gucci — and buy it yourself.