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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.