Nike

Reading all the (somewhat gleeful and ongoing) reports of the Nike Fuelband’s demise over the last few days, I’ve been struck by the fact that while they all seem to agree on the fact that it was maybe a defensive move in anticipation of the looming possible iWatch threat, they also seem divided as to what, exactly, Nike’s problem was: hardware (it didn’t have big enough margins)or software (it didn’t actually do enough). But let’s call a spade a spade: it didn’t look good enough. 

The other day I was at a dinner arranged by the World Gold Council that featured the usual suspects – David Lamb, MD jewellery; jewellers Pamela Love and Janis Savitt – as well as one thing that was not like the others: Olivia Bolles, aka Olivia Bee, aka an 18-year-old photographic “protégé.” She had just started shooting the new “Love Gold” campaign, aimed at cooling-up the image of the yellow metal, which apparently suffers from a grandmother-complex among Gen Z. Which raises the question, is she a one-off, or the harbinger of change to come? 

I’ve been trying to stay out of the Ralph Lauren/Made in America Olympic controversy since it started last week, under the reasoning that It Is Ridiculous, but having yet more politicians weigh in yet again – three members of the House, both Democrats and Republicans (OMG! United by this issue) sent a letter earlier this week to the Olympic Committee asking if the paraolympic uniforms could be quickly Made in the USA – has finally convinced me that perhaps something needs to be said. Like: Stop Picking On the Fashion Guys. The only thing really clear in this situatopn is that Ralph Lauren the brand has become a fall guy of a sort. 

VF Corp’s $2.3 billion acquisition of Timberland, and the fact that the see the brand as one way to “up their apparel content,” as CEO Eric Wiseman said to Women’s Wear Daily, has my trend sensors all-aflutter. After all, it was one thing listening to Francois-Henri Pinault talk about his acquisition of California surf brand Volcam earlier this year in a bid to increase the “sports lifestyle” component of PPR. But now there’s another big group getting pro-active in the sector. We have competition!

 

PPR is putting luxury on hold and charging forward into sportswear and sustainability. Yesterday, the French conglomerate displayed its trademark dispassionate ability to end (or suspend) industrial dalliances it feels may become less than productive by announcing the creation of – and concentration on — a new “sport and lifestyle” division run by Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz, who has also been promoted to Executive Chairman of Puma. Still, I’m more struck by the lead the group buried: the fact Mr Zeitz is becoming not only Puma’s Executive Chairman, but also PPR’s Chief Sustainability Officer.