ack from Prada’s investor day, analysts are musing over the future of the multi-billion euro Italian brand. To recap, after three years of scintillating growth, Prada (which is run by Patrizio Bertelli, center left, and his wife, Miuccia Prada, near left — both pictured with Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani) last year succumbed to the malaise that’s hit the luxury goods industry at large. Net income was flat last year compared with a 45 per cent growth in 2012, and declined in the fourth quarter. So what’s the suddenly-beleaguered brand to do? According to the Prada people: let them eat cake! No, that’s not a joke. Prada plans to help shrug off its slowdown by tapping a new trend in luxury and expanding its recently acquired Milanese coffee house Marchesi. Read more
If there is any doubt that menswear is now the Next Big Hope of luxury, let that be put to rest by last night’s Golden Globes. This morning, waking up as one does to the quazillion emails from brands trumpeting their celebrity “gets,” I was struck – as if by a 10-foot-pole – by how bigged up the men were. This can mean but one thing: glossy fashion brands, historically known more for their womenswear than menswear, are putting even more marketing muscle behind growing the male side of the business. Read more
Oooh, the trash talk out of Milan. Having finally woken up to the fact that London Fashion Week is getting buzzier, and that such a development could be a threat to Milan, its collections, and the related economic windfall that comes to a city during showtime, Milanese designers are joining forces to defend their territory – but the infighting has already begun. The gossip and name-calling is fun to watch, but behind it is a real issue currently afflicting every fashion week: the tension between national industry interest and a brand’s self-interest. Read more
One of the more interesting developments this week has been the growing backlash against Monday’s Met Ball, below left, aka the Costume Institute Gala, aka the fashion party of the season. It’s one of the most talked-about, and blogged-about, events of the year, and yet Wednesday Gwyneth Paltrow was quoted by USA Today as saying she was “never going again,” that night I was at a dinner where a beauty mogul, who shall remain unnamed, announced he wasn’t going anymore, and yesterday the wife of a major brand CEO said the same. What’s going on?
Interesting news today that fursales are at “a record high”, especially in the Far East: Korea, China and so on. So does this mean the animal rights folks have lost? They certainly haven’t ceded the cause – they still pop up on occasion in front of a show (Prada, last season) or a store (Burberry), but I think it has proved more complicated than they ever anticipated. Because they aren’t just fighting a basic totem of luxury, and an industry that is increasingly getting out in front of the issue (see the Origin Assured initiative), but the whole problem of seasonality: the end of.
This weekend marks the opening of designer Marc Jacobs’s first feature film. A “social media thriller” directed by Henry Alex Rubin and entitled “Disconnect”, it stars Jacobs (as well as Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard and Andrea Riseborough) in a supporting role as an sort of e-pimp who provides runaways with shelter and employment doing internet porn. Judging from the trailer he’s pretty good – and really looks the part. In other words, he seems like a legitimate actor, which takes the whole fashion/film thing to a new level. It is a fluke or the future? That si the question. Read more
Ok, Prada is not participating in the couture shows this week, but it did send out this little sneak peek of the dresses the brand made for Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming and much-anticipated film The Great Gatsby. It seems for no immediately apparent reason – the film is not due to open until May, there’s no specific promotional activity happening now around it – until you start thinking about the fact that these sketches (left and below) are one-offs made for Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy Buchanan, and certainly look as intricate and imaginative as most dresses come. Kind of like couture.
That green number is a “radzmire dress with bustier embroidered with pearls, stones and sequin fringes”; the first one below is a “multi-striped sequins dress with a plastic and trimmings embroidery at the bottom”. The one at the bottom is “orange organza dress enriched with plastic fish scale-like sequin embroidery”. Read more
Two interesting announcements this morning, both of which are worth examining: First Labelux announces instead of embracing (and chasing) hard luxury, it is exiting the segment to focus entirely on leathergoods; then Mulberry rejects the outlet model to take its bags and other products further up-market. The moves are complementary, in the context of general industry strategy. They both indicate that in the highly competitive world of leathergoods, current theory says it’s the most special, elaborate, highly worked pieces that sell.
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.
Not only did Hermès report notably good Q2 revenues today – sales growth was 21.9%, certainly more positive than the gloom from Puma and Burberry – but yesterday I discovered something even more shocking: they’re outfitting an Olympic team too! Specifically, the French Equestrian team. Who knew? Read more
So after all the chat about the current economic situation driving a polarisation of price-points – either super-high-end luxury or cheapo Uniqlo – Euromonitor has come out with some research that begs to differ. 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
Introducing the best argument I’ve heard yet about why skinny models are not, actually, ideal selling agents for fashion brands – -and the only one that may actually have some effect on the industry. Read more
Watching Francois Hollande be sworn in as French president today, I was struck by how incredibly color-coordinated the hand-over of power was. I know it wasn’t planned — the Hollande and Sarkozy camps are not that friendly – but Tim Gunn couldn’t have styled it better if he’d tried. Read more
I’ve been thinking recently of a conversation I had with Rodrigo Bazan, President of Alexander Wang, about the problem of pricing in a global luxury world – and his rather clever way of addressing the issue. The trigger was the news that European brands (well, mostly LVMH brands) are raising the prices of their products in Europe to compensate for the slight slowdown of business in Asia – caused, it seems, by Chinese buying luxury brands abroad, where they are notably cheaper than they are locally – which reminded me of something Mr Bazan had said of the luxury consumer in Asia: “when they see something they like, the first thing they do is Google it on the US web site of the brand, to see what the prices are in dollars.”
Aquascutum show at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012. Image by Getty
“Due to unforeseen circumstances the Aquascutum autumn/winter 2012 press day has been cancelled until further notice.”
That was the email that went to the fashion press yesterday, ahead of news that the British label has gone into administration. To be blunt, the autumn issues of glossy magazines aren’t going to collapse if stylists can’t get their hands on an Aquascutum trench to feature in their shoots. The wheels of fashion aren’t going to stop turning.
However, while Aquascutum isn’t one of the labels that shape the style landscape, like a Prada, or a major advertiser, like Armani, because there are few major British designer labels, when one is under threat it’s a big deal. Read more
It’s my belief that the iPad, for all its marvelous abilities to show films, make it look like you are reading actual books, and otherwise replace most electronics in your life, is actually beloved of the majority of men I know because it lets them play Angry Birds, or Zombie Smash, or Hungry Shark no matter where they are. And I do not think I am alone in this, judging by a new Prada video, which taps into exactly those gaming urges.
Looking back over 2011, which I am currently doing for a Christmas Eve column, I’ve been struck by the fact that one trend dominates all others by a significant margin, having held true from last March through year end: the IPO. Read more
Art and fashion have had a notoriously long affair, with the former attracted to the glamour and glitz of the latter, and the latter attracted to the former for the creative legitimacy it can bestow on an essentially commercial endeavor, but rarely has one actually crossed over into the territory of the other. As of this Christmas season, however, Marc Quinn — he of Saatchi Young British Artists, “blood head”, and Traflager Square plinth/disabled marble bust fame – is breaking the rules.
The next big spring Costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – the one that has the difficult job of following in the footsteps of “Savage Beauty,” this year’s Alexander McQueen show that broke every record for a costume show – will focus on Elsa Schiaparelli, the surreal designer from the 1930s, and Miuccia Prada, the intellectual of the late 20th/21st century, and be underwritten by none other than Amazon. This makes it the first costume show not to be sponsored by a fashion brand. Unless…Amazon wants people to think of it as a fashion brand?