Friday, 23 February 2018

Pressing Pause: 

Global Pricing Strategy and Shopping Excursions v Creating Fashion

Gucci 1991

Gucci 2017

Recently companies have started to change their Global pricing strategies to make all purchases similar though perhaps still not exactly equal.   For many years companies charged the cost of exporting their goods to far flung places and more fundamentally for their global domination ambitions though retail expansion only to find that customers preferred to fly and buy and save themselves some money. The knock-on effect of this newer strategy is a) higher prices everywhere for all, repeatedly increased once or twice per annum and b) fluctuations up and down continuously with currency conversion as 'suddenly' even European stores are left empty and SMs not making targets as some other country becomes the better fiscal option.  Even so there are still global shoppers who perhaps quite rightly feel they may well enjoy a nice holiday on the price differences from their luxury foreign shopping spree. 

I have many friends from abroad who marvel at the retail paradise I live in.  Obviously getting whatever at a bargain rate is very important to people whether they're shopping for peas or handbags. I am always amazed at the people who ask a thousand questions on getting tax back when they're off to spend thousands on one item and travel and spend on hotels etc. If I go anywhere save tax-free countries, I can't get a rebate but many come to the United Kingdom specifically because it knocks as much as 20% off when they go home. Everything is more for UK residents v tourists or dual nationalities. That's a factor why although the UK may feel like a shopper's paradise to many, its not always to the people who are stuck paying with the tax, I'm sure it's similar in other countries that operate the same purchase tax MO. 

There is a new optimism surrounding shareholders of luxury brands riding on the designer coattails of Gucci's 49% sales rise of the third quarter 2017 as they look towards a seemingly new generation of consumers who are not yet saturated with 'stuff'. Global expansion is superseded by the apparent new wild frontier of younger folk. However, away from the excitement, closer scrutiny at what is selling at Gucci and why has not been looked into. That current Gucci like Dionysus and Marmont bags are not readily available pre-loved on hundreds of agency resell sites plays into it and so is the pure joy of fun with fashion. It's not just about novelty, or re-branding grannies' glamour. When designers are allowed to create new worlds, build from dreams and conjure extraordinary visions new worlds open up, when investors demand return per annum, it's just numbers moving across a global digitalised board where people crunch numbers to outwit each other. 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Only Room for 'Sparks of Joy'

Marie Kondo's ideas have been linked to 'decluttering' (how I hate that loaded term, basically good ol' fashioned Spring cleaning) and OCD neatness (OCD is an actual anxiety disorder) the much more positive theory of her 'sparks of joy' that objects can give their owners is much less covered.

What a spark of joy it gives me to hear that someone recognise the happiness that a seemingly humble object can bring.  She doesn't mean a wonder of the world (if there'll be any left soon) or a rare museum specimen, but anything coveted by it's owner because they just love it and deem it joyful to have around.  It fights off the idea of having something because it cost a lot or because everybody else has one and puts the responsibility back on to ourselves for choosing what we surround ourselves with. 

Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser (2009) went towards this joyful idea but never thought-up a slogan to fit the theory. The message is with more consideration and discernment and less fervent searching for yet more bargains that often end up stored in the box room we can indeed be happy with our lot.  Though most concentrate on the things that Kondo disposes of, like the things in our own lives that give us our sparks of joy, let's concentrate on the positive side of the message and really enjoy the things we already own. 

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Planning to go to the Sales? Plan Ahead!

Far be it to encourage seasonal sales fever. Just let me give you a few tips that will minimise physical damage, mental anguish or pointless spending:

Photo credit STV


1. Check ^%$^.com site after midnight every evening (if you're still up) or first thing. The sale in the stores will almost certainly start the same day.

2. Check on-line sale inventory, buy on-line if they have what you're looking for, it will go very quickly and they may not have what you are looking for in store. If what you are looking for has gone or they don't have the size then you can think about the stores. 

3. Check the price and talk to yourself. Is 10-20% off really worth settling for your least favourite colour or the not-so-desirable version of the range?

4. If what you wanted is not on sale, but still showing at full price on-line, it very probably won't be in the stand alone stores either this sale, but you could check dept store concessions, because there have been some strange irregularities at sales particularly at dept stores when communications from brand to concessions get muddled. 

5. Some dept stores and big chains also 'price adjust' if you've bought the same item recently and is now on discount. It never hurts to ask (if you can get someone to answer a phone or email). 

6. If you intend to go to the large stores and you know what you want (and you know the store). Prioritise your strategy. Basically, if shoes are the most important go straight to the shoes area and then visit the other sections in order of want/need.

7. At many of the high-end designer leather goods and fashion houses, bags are the most popular trophies (followed by SLGs, fashion jewellery and accessories and shoes and then RTW). If you want a bag, go way before it opens, almost everyone in the queue will be wanting one, so count the people in front and that is your position regards bags.  Quota may apply, go with a list, number 1 being priority number 1. If they stop you from buying after 1 or 2, you won't be so heart broken. 

8. Menswear goes as faster than women's and there's less of it around. Some men will buy their entire wardrobe at sale time, so if you want anything specific, are a popular size (or are a woman needing a present for a man) get to it! Note too that trophy hunting guys tend to be the slimmer sort, XXXL guys will usually score the designer bargains way after everything small and average has gone. The last point doesn't always apply for shoes, as it's the daintier male feet that can afford to be later to the party. Ladies, men's shoes are often better made than ours, if your looking for a brogue, lace-up or loafer you may like to wander into a whole new world ;-). 

9. It's simple arithmetic, but it's hard to think straight at sales. The saving on higher priced goods will save you more money. Buying things which never interested you will actually cost you dearly. Get the thing you really really want or go home

10. Even when returns are possible consider the purchase as though they aren't. Do you really want the bother of hauling a set of 'stuff' back somewhere in/out of town unnecessarily or paying for shipping there and back for nothing? 

11. Nothing's worth losing an eye for and hideous experiences are harder to forget than positive ones, there's always next season. Please.  

* These are tips for seasonal sales and not sample sales which are entirely different, and which I shall pontificate on soon i.e. when the season's sales are over and people can think straight again 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Gucci Charm Offensive

The Onward March Of the 'It' Charm

I was never a big fan of bag charms but I suddenly see the appeal. Never mind buying a new bag, just brighten up an old one with its own accessory. No doubt about it, naming the 'it' bag is over, identifying soles so passe and the trophy jacket has its day, now it's all about that little thing dangling off your oldest carry case, keys attached or not.  

After the Hermes Rodeo galloping up the resale charts and furry Fendi monsters attacking every high-street there are some new cute adult 'toys' up for grabs.

How's about a Gucci Doll Charm? 48 hours in the hand-making and each one slightly different.

My favourite, and totally worth investing for one reason alone: the lift boy was the original Gucci icon. His figure graced luggage and bags way before Guccio Gucci's son Aldo changed him into an aristocratic shopping knight.

Gucci Gucci was that lift boy who fetched and carried in the Savoy built up the Gucci business and name on the back of Florentine expertise and quality in craft and leather making. A rags to riches story any man or woman should be proud of. All that history in the Art Deco shape of one little key chain, that's what I call charm!

Sunday, 26 April 2015


So many wonderful style blogs, practical and purely inspirational, it has never been easier to check up on the latest offerings or feel empowered by the sartorial majesty of someone who doesn't look like a model and shops on a shoestring budget. Whatever image I'd like to create or recreate, it's all here at my fingertips. But while I'm shopping?  Browsing through on-line shopping sites from uptown-uptempo to high-street brands, I'm shocked by how many commercial businesses offer me 'advice'. I can 'get inspired' by the style of celebrities I've never heard about on Matches, I'm told to have a pedicure before you wear our "pretty ugly" shoes (Clarks) and stay away from bolder prints (M&S). When did the store that wants my money start to think it's alright to dictate my grooming habits, what I should be buying and how to dress? If stores spent more care making sure their items didn't fall apart and a bit more time making sure their merchandise fit a human figure and less thinking they were the next Vogue advice column, we'd all dress a lot better and I might decide to spend some money with them.  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Chanel Realigns Pricing for a New Global Pricing Policy

Chanel 5 Euro Coin issued 2008 held by Karl Lagerfeld 
The solid gold version was ltd ed and priced 5900 

Is it a new world order or is Chanel simply trying to cut out the 'middle men' known more commonly 'resellers' that buy in Europe and resell in Asia with a profit to them in between? I am not going to try to explain Chanel's decision  (although many commentators have tried) I promise I won't do my usual history lesson of the development and cultural analysis of these iconic pieces because that would fill a book, and I'm certainly not going to rant about the unfairness of it all (not exactly talking the need to access fresh water here). I will give you quick run through of how the rare and almost sanctified classic Chanel bag began to look ubiquitous on the streets of Asia and beyond, even in schools.  

There was a time that a select few exceedingly discerning ladies of a certain age would take the plunge and 'invest' in a once in a lifetime purchase at a Chanel boutique. Then came a select collective of hip and happening young ladies, rediscovering their mothers', even grandmothers' bags would toss them over jeans, shorts or minis in a cool nonchalant way. The irreverence of treating such a formal artefact so casually part of the charm (and I'm sure very much in the spirit of a young Coco Chanel too). An army of slightly less creative types picked up this trend with (quelle horreur!) brand new bags in ever increasing (and even younger) numbers.  Then the fakes. Then the super fakes. Then the on-line swapsies (selling one to buy another). Then the designer quilted looky-likey bags. Then the high-street copies. Then the realisation that nearly every little 8 year old has a bubble-gum pink, fake, quilted Hello Kitty bag with a shoulder chain. 

There are obviously quite a few factors that are rubbing, one against another.  In previous years Chanel have put up its prices, ostensibly for a way of maintaining these bags' exclusivity. From 2008 many of these pieces have approximately doubled at retail, classic perennials such as Classic Flaps, Reissue quilted shoulder bags and the newer but equally popular Boy bags are now priced out of reach of even most the middle-class, professional lunching ladies, the very market that had bought Chanel's cherished prizes when they were considered too bourgeois and old fashioned for the fashion crowd. Conversely, the company has slashed the traditionally comparatively much higher Asian market prices to tackle the profiteers. 

Strange to think that Chanel that talks of valuing exclusivity so highly, hiking European prices by as much as 20% recently on top of the eye-watering increases year upon year. Though the caché of the 'Frenchness' of the brand (though many leather goods are made in Italy too) is most appealing to the Asian and American market, it will be a very loyal or mega-rich European customer than will consider a Chanel classic bag purchase in the future, whist still no bargain, with tax rebates and a holiday thrown in a non-European can enjoy a little sweetener buying in Europe. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Unexpected All Change at Gucci: Men's AW 15/16

Alessandro Michele (and Team) Takes A Bow At Gucci

I've wondered why, since women have borrowed from men so often in the last century, why there seldom seemed any 'reciprocal arrangement'.  Exceptions of course, for years I've known (male) friends buy women's jeans and T shirts, occasionally and deliberately for the fit, but more for the variety, especially colour, finishes and prints. And of course everyone is screaming 1970s references at Alessandro Michele's Men's collection for Winter. Doesn't anyone remember Kurt Cobain in a dress, the androgyny of utility-wear, and unisex fragrances?  Far more grunge than glam, this show had all the hallmarks of generation X in their heyday. A few more designers now seem to be questioning the devisions between menswear and women's wear, Slimane and Prada included, and so Michele is not alone. The HUGE rise of interest and sales in men's RTW has led to more focused and experimental thinking altogether, perhaps about time, now roles in society have changed so much.  From that point of view I welcome Gucci's collection, why shouldn't a man wear a pussy bow around his neck? However there was a whole lot of unfinished business about this collection, and I'm not just talking about Giannini's early exit.  

Dare we raise the question of who will buy this collection? There are plenty of hipsters, artists and wannabe artists of all kinds who would buy pre-loved women's wear in charity shops (goodwill) but hipsters and my thrifty friends are not going to be buying Gucci, and Gucci's regular customers won't go near anything from this catwalk, so I hope Gucci will have their usual shirts 'at the back' (I'm sure they will). In a way, and maybe sadly, that will make this collection redundant.

No doubt there is also a pressure on designers to concentrate on bottom lines, and I'm not talking about trousers.  Hedi Slimane has taken Saint Laurent back to its bohemian routes in many ways, and with it we are told, huge profitability. Valentino has gone rock star crazy, and Kenzo has re-awakened to the cash tills roaring approval of everything tiger. Obviously, rock n roll, no matter how mainstream is still a money spinner now we can all be Stars for 15 seconds on YouTube. Will it work at Gucci? Only time will tell. Gucci has always been about sex and sensuality. Tom Ford or Frida Giannini, the focus has always been on confident femininity and masculinity, no matter the sexual predilection of the wearer. Butter soft leather, feathers or crisp wild silk, there was never an air of ambiguity and self doubt about the Gucci woman or man, Gucci was never street fashion but a fantasy, light years away from the mundane. The vibe for AW15/16 is entirely different. 

As for the '5 day' wonder collection.  With all the will in the world, Gucci's huge budget and their own factories those clothes were NOT designed, developed, made and styled in five days.  The women's-themed menswear was more style-ploy to join a lot of previous year samples and 'found' clothes together and present it as a show. Michele obviously went shopping from Gucci's own closet plus perhaps a hunt in Rome's own thrift shops (kidding). I can see those trousers have had the hems let down, some of the coats are women's (just look at the black Astrakhan!), the rings are cast offs . I think it was more a case of cast the model and see what we've got that fits :-D

All pictures from