Take that, PPR! You’re not the only luxury player on the block that’s recognised the potential of “sports lifestyle” brands (though you may be the only one with an entire division, and strategy, dedicated to the sector). Compagnie Financiere Richemont, the Swiss luxury group that is normally known for its watch and jewellery expertise – they own Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Jaeger LeCoutre, and so on – just announced it has acquired US-based high-end casual clothing/golf brand Peter Millar. The move raises so many interesting questions! Read more

Anyone in doubt of the rising prominence of the men’s wear market, take note: super-dapper designer Stefano Pilati, who was rather unceremoniously dumped as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent just before his runway show last season, has found a new job as creative director of Ermenegildo Zegna and Agnona. It’s new role for the group, and it’s being announced with much hoo-ha. As well it should: it signals both an aggressive move to up their menswear designer profile, and a potential big move in womenswear. Read more

What’s been happening over the last two weeks? What’s the news we can use? Here are my top three recent titbits — the ones that at first glance don’t seem so important, but on second look have outsize implications, from NY Fashion Week’s first casuality to Prada’s new super-expensive perfume, and the rise of the magazine brand as star.
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Even before its results announcement today, PPR had made some news: it was proceeding apace with its plan to dispose of no-longer-core assets (ie, non-luxury/sports lifestyle rbands), and had agreed to sell 29.8% of its stake in CFAO, an African automotive and pharmaceutical distribution company, to Toyota Tsusho Corporation. This should net the PPR guys about €980 million.The stated plan is to use the money to pay down debt, but in that impossible-to-control way of things, already there is speculation among some watchers about what they might buy, if they were going to use the money to buy something. I love a nice round of speculation. Read more

Here’s a tip: go poke through the applications for ICANN’s new top-level domain name program – you know, the one that will allow companies to have their own .whatever denomination, instead of just .com or .org or .fr. It makes for fascinating reading. You’d think this would get luxury and fashion all a-lather, given their obsession with brand control and intellectual property protection and all that, but it seems not.
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LVMH just announced the acquisition of Arnys, a family-owned French made-to-measure tailor established in 1933. It seems the plan is to combine it with Berluti, to give that brand, run by Antoine Arnault (aka Bernard Arnault’s eldest son) a super-high end suiting service. The former luxury shoe brand also launched men’s ready-to-wear last season. Take that, Savile Row! And take that, PPR! Read more

The assertion that exclusivity is no longer a criteria for luxury came from PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault when he opened our luxury conference last Thursday, and I have to say, it made me sit up in my seat. Not that that was the only striking insight to come out at the end of last week. Here, in no particular order of importance, are the top five items that stayed with me the most Read more

Prada CEO: “We don’t want to be a brand that nobody wants to copy.” This is a quote from an interview Patrizio Bertelli, aka Mr Prada, gave yesterday to Bloomberg TV, and it is probably going to set off something of a hoo-ha in fashion, which has of late become very publicly litiginous when it comes to copying. Read more

Today is the first day of Green Week, the EU’s biggest eco-conference, and to celebrate it LVMH, the EU’s biggest luxury group (in fact, the world’s) has stepped out and announced it, too , is going green, and is going to, “encourage its more than 90,000 employees to adopt state-of-the-art environmental practices.”

Why is this significant? You ask. As far as I remember, it’s the first time I’ve heard LVMH publicly commit to green goals and assume the green mantle. “Public” being the operative word here. Read more

What high-end brands do those unpredictable but desirable, virtually-enabled, live-life-on-Facebook twentysomethings like? This is a question that obsesses luxury — after all, some chunk of said twentysomethings will become the luxury purchasers of the future, and knowing what they respond to is one of the great mysteries of today and potential cash cows of tomorrow. The other day I had an experience that gave me some clues as to the possible answers. And it’s not what you (OK, I) might expect.
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Luxury brands from PPR to LVMH may be announcing more banner results this month, but according to a new report from UK luxury consultancy Ledbury Research, their CEOs are probably a lot more worried about the industry’s prospects in 2012 than they are letting on. Read more

Today at their AGM PPR came out and did two things that I don’t think any other luxury brand has done so far: publicly put its money where its mouth is, officially committing to a group of specific environmental goals for the Group to reach by 2016 and announcing them for all to see (and measure, and wave critically in the air in the company fails to fulfill them), and financially committing to a carbon off-shoot company by buying a 5% stake in Wildlife Works Carbon and getting a seat on the management committee. It all sounds great, but what does it really mean?
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There’s a new entry in the ever-evolving luxury lexicon courtesy of the folks over at Interbrand: “meta-luxury.” The term, coined to replace that old catch-all “luxury,” refers to “luxury after luxury.” For those in search of a fuller (or more logical) explanation, two Interbrand directors, Manfredi Ricca and Rebecca Robins, have written an entire book elucidating the concept, called, not surprisingly, “Meta-luxury.” It’s not perfect, but I think it may come closer to rationalising the current situation than anything else I’ve seen thus far.

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An interesting policy shift is creeping through the luxury industry: from being terrified of talking about their environmental/CSR initiatives except in the most covert whispers, slowly a number of voices are being raised.
Following PPR’s announcement that they were creating an “environmental profit & loss account” for Puma, today Tiffany & Co unveiled a new web site dedicated to their CSR policies. Read more

So it all came true, and PPR did, indeed, buy Italian men’s wear luxury brand Brioni. So far, so rumoured. But what does it mean? Seems to me there are two main implications to the deal. Read more

For everyone who was super-hyper-over-excited about the recent rumours, sparked this weekend by a report in the IHT, that Jil Sander’s Raf Simons was going to take over for Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent – well, Paul Deneuve, the chief executive of YSL, just told me it wasn’t true. Read more

The stylistas attending Milan Fashion Week next month will find themselves with a spare 45 minutes to say, drink 10 espressos in a row, or add up the cost of Vogue’s Anna Dello Russo’s latest look. The reason behind this sudden gap in the schedule on September 25? Brioni’s women’s wear show has been cancelled, because more dramatically, the Brioni women’s wear line has been cancelled.

After speculation on Monday, the label released a statement on Wednesday confirming the news:

“This strategic decision has been made in order for the company to re-focus its resources on the men’s market, which is recently becoming both increasingly competitive and global.”

Brioni spring summer 2011 collection

Brioni spring/summer collection 2011. Image by Catwalking.

Brioni’s women’s wear line was far smaller than its luxury men’s wear business, and enjoyed nothing like the same level of cachet. However, the fact that the label hired designer Alessandro Dell’ Acqua to revamp its women’s wear range in May 2010 means the closure will surprise many.

While Dell’ Acqua’s shows weren’t exactly setting Milan Fashion Week on fire in creative terms, like a Prada or Jil Sander, Brioni showed many stylish pieces rendered in the extremely luxurious fabrics for which the label is known. A highlight of the spring/summer 2011 show was elegantly tailored high waisted red trousers worn with a pussy bow chiffon blouse. Autumn/winter’s tailored trousers were sleek and  flattering. The women’s brand could potentially have forged an identity as a go-to label for classic, but not staid tailoring that didn’t feel aggressive, masculine or corporate. After all, Alessandro knows how to do femininity. And where there’s a women’s brand, however small, if the name is big enough then there’s the potential to launch a fragrance and accessories… Read more

And so the McQueen blockbuster has finally come to an end, the most successful fashion show the Metropolitan Museum has ever put on. So where, inquiring minds want to know, will it go next? No where. Apparently, unlike almost every other cultural arena, from theatre to musicals to music to books to film to other museum shows, a sell-out fashion show is not a transferable proposition. Yeah, right. And I have a bridge I can sell you. Read more

Women’s wear daily is reporting today that PPR is in talks with Brioni about buying the Italian luxury brand. The PPR folk won’t comment, but I think this makes sense. Read more

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!

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