Ralph Lauren

It yet another indication that high end fashion brands see growth opportunity in charging ever-further upmarket, today Ralph Lauren (that’s their most recent show, left) named Valerie Hermann, latterly CEO of Reed Krakoff, as President of a newly created Luxury Division. This follows announcements by Louis Vuitton and Gucci that they see their future on the tippy-top of the luxury pyramid. At the same time, the move puts the Ralph Lauren strategy at odds with that of his fellow American “premium brand,” Michael Kors, whose phenomenal growth has been driven in large part by exploiting the price-point opening left when peers deserted the high end for the highest end. It suggest Mr Lauren is going after European competitors, as opposed to Mr Kors. Read more

I wonder what the luxury world makes of the new French initiative to protect its culture in the digital age by imposing a tax on sales of tablets, smart phones, etc? They, after all, (the luxury folks, that is) have been promoting themselves as a “cultural industry” for the last few years. I mean, the name of their pan-European lobbying group is the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance. In case you missed it somehow. Yet as far as I know they don’t benefit from any protectionist legislation, in France anyway.  Read more

This will be my last post for 2012, barring an extraordinary luxury industry news event. However, before I don my skidoo suit, I wanted to leave you with two thoughts: one has to do with the new luxury buzzword, and the other with a new kind of luxury group.

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There’s a really interesting study out today from the Digital Luxury Group. Based on data from over 31 million searches on Google, Bing, Yandex and Bai du, as conducted in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and US, it looked at which American luxury brands were the most popular globally (based on search, natch, not sales). The results would probably surprise you, especially when it comes to who’s on top, and emerging markets. Read more

Today Ledbury research is publishing their “CEO Sentiment Indicator,” an exciting document in which they chart the words of luxury execs as they reveal the thoughts of said execs about how things are shaping up for the future. They gave us an exclusive peek at it before release. And guess what? They are not feeling the love.

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Honestly, I thought nothing could top the silliness of the Congressional attack on Ralph Lauren for not making all those FREE Olympic outfits in the US, despite the fact the politicians were fine with a Chinese brand sponsoring the diving team, but the mistaken furore generated by a review written by Cathy Horyn in the New York Times during the – yes – New York collections comes pretty close. I kept thinking it would go away, but instead it seems to be picking up steam — to such an extent that I am starting to wonder if it’s time to ask that perennial question: Who benefits?  Read more

Last May, Johan Rupert, Richemont’s chairman, issued what is still my favourite quote on the subject of China and luxury, the implication of which was: China is a volcano, and it’s gonna blow. But when? This is, numerous luxury brand H1 results now in, the question bedevilling analysts, investors, and the brands themselves. Read more

Allow me to toot our own horn here for a moment, and note there’s a very interesting piece today in the FT by my colleague Stephanie Kirchgaessner on various industries and the presidential candidate they support. Romney seems to have come out on top in a bunch of them, at least as far as donations go but at least one other industry that wasn’t on the list skews very heavily BO (unfortunate initials, I know): fashion.
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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

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. Read more

If there were an Olympic medal for retail (and why not, given the ever-burgeoning sponsorship opportunities?) Stella McCartney would win the first one by a mile.

British athletes, triple jumper Phillips Idowu (L) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis (R) pose with designer Stella McCartney (C) as they unveil the new British Olympic Team GB kit. Getty Images

British athletes, triple jumper Phillips Idowu (L) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis (R) pose with designer Stella McCartney (C) as they unveil the new British Olympic Team GB kit. Getty Images

While the rest of London is complaining about queues at the airport, queues for the tube, and queues for queues, the “Creative Director” of Team GB’s kit is leveraging her moment in the athletic sun far beyond her competitors. Indeed, I’d venture to say a new record has been set that will be a benchmark for years to come. Read more

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.
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Anyone else notice anything surprising about the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearance yesterday at a homeless shelter in a 350 GBP Ralph Lauren polo-neck dress? Let me repeat that: a GBP350 RALPH LAUREN polo neck dress. Ralph Lauren? An American designer on the Princess-to-be? Shocking!

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Last night Ralph Lauren was on stage at Alice Tully Hall being interviewed/memorialised for posterity by Oprah Winfrey. The nominal reason was a benefit event for Lincoln Center and the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, and the great and the good attended: Larry Gagosian, Bruce Weber, Jill Ambramson, Barbara Walters, and so on. The thing that really made the evening for me, however, were two comments buried in the interview. They reveal quite a lot not just about Mr Lauren, but fashion in general.

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Very interesting comment from a reader yesterday, noting that as Michelle Obama has become more established in her role, she has adopted more establishment designers. Read more

In the rapt-making interview that was yesterday’s Oprah-meets-Ralph-Lauren-in-Telluride show one admission stood out a mile: Mr Lauren’s sense that he is “an assistant to Obama.”
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Royal Wedding Day minus 1 and slowly the sartorial chips are falling into place. Read more

Forget all that stuff about old media fashion editors being threatened by the presence of bloggers in various fashion show front rows – that was SO last season. This season, as New York fashion week kicks off (whoopee!!! ), it’s all about old media taking on old media. Read more

Mayor Bloomberg’s love affair with fashion (and what it can bring to the local economy) continues apace. After cutting the ribbon on the Armani flagship store on Fifth Avenue, celebrating Burberry’s new store on Madison, and opening New York Fashion Week’s new home at Lincoln Centre, the Mayor has turned his affection to Ralph Lauren, who was awarded the key to New York City last night during a celebratory cocktail at the new RL womens’ flagship on Madison Avenue.

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It never rains but it pours (and in Brooklyn, where I live, it just hailed). After the Gap on-line logo hoo-ha at the end of last week comes a report from the Stern business school at New York University and the think tank L2 entitled “Digital IQ Index: Luxury,” looking at how 72 luxury brands are handling themselves on-line, on their websites, social media, digital marketing and mobile apps. Guess what? They’re stuck in the mud!

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