Selfridges

News that the Hudsons Bay Company is buying Saks Fifth Avenue for $2.9 billion may take many by surprise (recent rumours focused on Neiman Marcus and NY real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht), but it also throws a new light on Canada’s relationship to the luxury industry.

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Museums have always had shops where they sell pieces “inspired” by exhibits; this is nothing new. But London’s Victoria & Albert appears to be taking it to the next level, inking deals with Selfridge’s and Coast to sell exhibit-inspired pieces in those retail emporia. It strikes me as an interesting development, and one with potentially broader fall-out.

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Has anyone else notice the bizarre and unending proliferation of super-size shoe departments at megastores everywhere? Today Selfridges unveiled its new gigantic men’s footwear floor, trumpeting it as “the largest men shoe department in the world:” over 15,000 square feet and 250 brands. Yoiks! This follows the recent creation of the “world’s largest woman’s shoe floor” at Macy’s NY, a whopping 39,000 square feet; last summer’s reveal of Barneys new unisex shoe floor, which is 40% bigger than its last piddly pair of shoe departments; and Saks’ addition of 7,000 square feet of women’s shoe space to its existing shoe department. Call me Scrooge, but this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
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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.

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The Jones Group, the American contemporary megalith that owns such brands as Nine West, Stuart Weitzman, and Dockers (plus 32 others), has just announced they have acquired Kurt Geiger from private equity group Graphite Capital for gBP 215 million. This is a big deal.

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