Just after Burberry’s nice third quarter results prompted a rash of headlines (including in this paper) about positive returns “easing [the industry’s] China slowdown fears,” especially when combined with similar happy stories from Swatch and Tiffany, today we came down to earth with a bump courtesy of Richemont. In their third quarter trading statement, things looked not so rosy in China. In fact, they looked pretty doldrum-like. Read more

Whoopee: the very fun holiday game of “Who’s Going to Buy Who Next Year?” has officially begun with a launch entry from Bernstein Research, an arm of AllianceBernstein. And what are they thinking? Watches. Watches and jewellery galore. Read more

The analysts are not happy. Chairman Yves-André Istel’s statement at the Richemont earnings report today that “No disposals are under consideration at this time or for the foreseeable future.” has been met with grim reaction in the city, which was hoping that Johan Rupert’s sabbatical, and the new leadership of co-CEOS Bernard Fornas and Richard Lepeuwould opt for a rationalisation of the Group, where the fashion brands – Chloe, Alfred Dunhill, Lancel, Shanghai Tang, Alaia – have always seemed an anomaly. Clearly, there’s something of a perception gap here between internal and external players. Why? Read more

The announcement that came along with Richemont’s 2012 annual results this morning that chairman Johan Rupert (left), is taking a year off from running the world’s second biggest luxury company starting this September is by far, to me at least, the most interesting part of the statement. For a man who has built the largest watch and jewellery Group to take a year off at age 62 – which, let’s face is not so old — at a time when the exponential growth trajectory of the luxury sector has started to slow is a little, well, surprising. And leads to all sorts of interesting speculation.

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Ledbury Research is releasing its latest Luxury Market Insights report, which includes a CEO Outlook study tomorrow, and guess what? Those chief execs aren’t totally convinced the Chinese consumer demand for luxury, which has been slowing, will zoom back, despite what they often say.

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Earlier today I wrote about the odd idea that came to me after reading Bain’s 11th Luxury Goods Market report, but now I’d like to simply list a few more notable — and surprising — conclusions from that exciting document, including facts on outlet shopping, Gen Z, and a new Chinese consumer segment. Read more

This has been a good week for Richemont’s fashion brands. Tonight a Chloe retrospective opens at the Palais de Tokyo, and last weekend Lady Gaga gave a shout-out in front of millions of fans at the Stade de France to the designer Azzedine Alaia, calling him a genius. You know what that means: sales! Read more

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

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

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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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

So a precedent has been set in Russia. Yesterday the Swiss conglomerate won their case in the Russian Federal Supreme Court, where in they sued a Russian company that had registered the trademark Vacheron Constantin and applied it to middle-market clothes. The result is a new legal standard in Russia regarding trademark protections that will be very useful not only to any other luxury brand doing business in the country but any luxury brand doing business in other emerging markets.

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After YSL and Louboutin, after LVMH and eBay, comes Richemont and Russia. Yes, tomorrow the Swiss luxury giant comes out of the shadows and joins the fight against trademark infringement and IP theft that has been picking up steam across the globe. See, tomorrow the Arbitrazh court of Moscow will hear an appeal by Richemont’s Vacheron Constantin brand that, says the Chairman of the Chamber of Russian patent attorneys, could well determine the shape of Russian IP law going forward. And that, of course, will have wide repercussions for the greater luxury industry.
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After buying Hermes’ 45 per cent stake in Jean-Paul Gaultier last year and talking up its development potential, Spanish luxury group Puig has put yet more money where its mouth is and just announced the appointment of senior luxury executive Ralph Toledano to the newly created position of President of the fashion division. If you want to send a signal to the fashion community that you are intent on being a serious player, this is a pretty efficient way to do it.

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In all the rumours floated about who would be the next big creative director at Dior, from names old (Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz, Vuitton’s Marc Jacobs) to new-ish (Haider Ackerman and Sarah Burton) one that hasn’t been mentioned but has, I discovered, actually been called, is perhaps the most surprising of all: Azzedine Alaia. I had heard whispers, but he just confirmed it.

To be fair, from a sheer talent point of view, this is not surprising: Mr Alaia is often voted by his peers one of the most influential designers ever (really ever; not just of the 20th century), and has been building a house of singular vision for decades.

He is also one of the last hands-on couturiers, beloved by his atelier. Part of the conundrum facing Dior is they need a designer who can work with the couture, and most youngsters, brought up on ready-to-wear, don’t have the know-how. Read more

Well, the rumours have proven true, and Hannah MacGibbon has left Chloe, to be replaced as creative director by yet another English woman, the fourth in a line that began with Stella McCartney: Clare Waight Keller.  Read more

So eBay has gotten itself a creative director, in the form of ex-Lucky mag staffer Andrea Linett, to gloss-up its fashion offerings. At least we know they can recognize a trend when they see one.

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Apparently owners of fashion and luxury stocks are as susceptible to trends as owners of fashion and luxury products. Post-LVMH’s purchase of a stake in Hermes, Women’s Wear Daily notes stocks in LVMH and Hermes were up 5% and 8% respectively on the Paris Bourse; PPR was up 1.5%.  Read more