Monday, 2 July 2018

A Word to the Wise

A Word to the Wise 

Credit Bottega Veneta 

There is a preoccupation of LVMH, Kerring and others obsessed with selling to customers they don't have yet, namely the RAM (you heard it first here! Rich Asian Millennials) they are willing to sacrifice their scapegoats like Tomas Maier. In Classical times goats were traditionally sacrificed before a tragedy.

The focus on the Gen. Y & Z not know for their 'stealth' aesthetic is being targeted not for their own good but because they have £$%E! to spend on signifiers of status and allegiance and haven't quite got the access to tons of pop-culture vintage/pre-loved that the West has mountains of that targets our own youth market.

Witness Gucci's new campaign Pre-Fall 2018 that uses the student-led riots in Paris, 1968, the golden anniversary reference of riot and mayhem against the establishment and boredom, events that look quaint and romantic in comparison and disregard of the heated, crimes of hate that have taken place in the city in more recent years where and when the story is a little more complicated and not so easy to sell.

Golden Years? 1968/2018
Credit Gucci 

That commerce needs new blood (money) and has chosen to rework and repackage some vague, nostalgic view of youthful overspill in recognisable clothes of yesteryear is not as silly and random as it may seem to people not born yesterday.

In the race to meet sales targets and move on and up all bets are off for PCness and appropriateness. The proliferation of all things FRESH, YOUTHFUL, FRESH, NEW, FRESH, CURRENT, FRESH NOW, FRESH, EDGY, FRESH, UP-AND-COMMING, FRESH and FRESH what feels dangerous (edgy and pretty) and safe (locked in the past) all at the same time? What can possibly be fresher than repackaging the West's glorious heyday of counterculture stereotyping and aiming at markets that have an even vaguer idea of it than those that can almost remember it (or are bored of tales of it)?

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sustainability and Ethics for Beginners

The New Rules 

Tips for Sustainability and Ethics for Beginners (the Dr. NO Way)

So great to see Vogue discussing ethics and Gucci making sustainable decisions (see links above) but what are magazines and brands now telling us so they can now sell to us (someone's gonna steal that for a song, just remember you saw it here first)? 

What started off years ago as an honest look and review of the horrors of cheap (and not so cheap) fashion 

1.  As we all know by now new fashion looks remarkably like the old fashion. Apart from every gen. of new designers 'designing' what they liked best in their mother's wardrobe there is a tipping point from exclusive to mainstream to naff that fashion needs time to forget. 

1A. Hit 35? Steal your own mother's wardrobe from 15-20 years ago, mothers being mothers will have got rid of the tat and kept the good designer stuff that cost a packet.  Gotta be some advantages of being Gen. Y rather than Gen. Z. 

2. Gold is a sore point. Mining is never environmentally friendly (unless you panning for it in the beginnings of the Clyde, in the Southern Uplands, Scotland).  

2A Instead of scrapping all your old gold earrings (including the odd ones) and investing in Phoebe's last collection of brass bits for Celine for the same money (you may have to top-up ;-) ) and helping replenish saintly Gucci's quest for ethically sourced gold stocks. just wear the ones you have already. I know ingenious! Besides, Celine's are mostly all, all sold out and may turn your ears green.

3. Fur! OMG! Apparently mink are much more precious than cows... or python. How can I break this to people gently, that their suede, leather, nubuck and other dubious material shoes are made out of animal. What about the poor silk worms (one to ask Stella when you see her)? So those so-soft acrylics or nylon puffers, no animal suffers from the environmental 

3A. Before you beat yourself up, go to confession and rush over to PETA to off-load your sables so they can kit out the homeless of NY, how about just wearing what you got. 

4. Anybody else noticed how Indian-inspired Gucci's fine jewellery is getting? For a House famed for its Florentine workmanship it's looking decidedly non-Italian. Not sure how many air-miles  are being clocked-up in the process.

4A Buy beautiful Indian jewellery straight from the source, Jaipur is renowned for it's artistry and where it's at, and you'll help Gucci lessen it's environmental impact even more. Another option is to buy from companies that only employ local craftspeople (of course you may have to check they're not flown in to a sweat shop and had their passports locked away). 

Let's not kid ourselves. What is the promise now? If we can all wear what we like whenever and whenever the only reason to buy clothes is either to replace them from being worn-out  (yeah, right!) or make us feel so guilty about what we have already we feel embarrassed enough to chuck everything away (pretend it never happened) and start over. It's a bit like reading 'free-range milk' at your supermarket (shouldn't that be farmers' market?). Once you see it, you suddenly think every other carton without it written on must be from battery-cows (and why are you still drinking milk from animals anyway?!!! Shouldn't the country side be filled with plastic starter homes and terraced solar fuel panels? ) A label or a pledge often doesn't mean a thing.

If ethical dressing and equilibrium don't shift units and make the shareholders happy, all that is holy-Millennium talk will be trashed and discarded and sent along to the landfill sites. Don't expect the big fireworks or write-ups when Gucci ditches the nylon and polly-blends and brings back the silk-lined mink. When people start thinking why they're paying thousands for the same stuff as down the market and it doesn't matter how GUCCY is spelled, ethics will be the last of  Marco Bizzarri's problems.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

It's Not All Growth but it's All Good

Photo of MJ tee from what's he wearing Matches Fashion

Marc Jacobs is closing his Mount Street, London store after having been there since 2007. A so-called pioneer of the many global brands that have since newly arrived to the street. The designer's brand was still riding high on the popularity of the 'it' bag styles of '00s, his Blakes and Venetias selling out in most department stores worldwide within weeks. MJ (along with Chloe's Paddington) brought the status bag to a whole new crowd, forgoing their mothers' more matronly Birkins, Speedys and Chanel Classic Flaps that had been so popular in the late-1980s and would return with a vengeance. These softer bags with MAJOR hardware referenced growing up in the 1970s, and a whole generation of young women who'd ever seen the like bought every colour and variation of these beautifully made but heavy bags. Somewhere along the timeline, Marc Jacobs and his diffusion line Marc for Marc Jacobs aimed at a even younger crown began to merge in people's heads to a vanishing point.

Mount street, although promoted to the hilt in every commercial and residential estate agent's portfolio is still off the tourist beaten track and the boutiques can often be deathly quiet. Weekday visits can see sales teams staring out at the street in hopeful anticipation of more than footfall or chat among themselves. In the last five years growth of online sales have more than doubled in terms of proportion of the market* and even five-figure sums are regularly spent on the new season fashion's trophy pieces before they sell out in a digital flash.

But this is much more than the ol' bricks and mortar store against digital mail order as global brands are queueing to get a foothold in prime locations in London as well as other capital cities, whatever the cost. These shops represent the pinnacle of a creative vision, a branding opportunity, a showroom dedicated to the senses of seeing and feeling (not to mention smelling whilst greeted by a whiff in the air of designer's scent). Where loyal and hoped-to-be-soon customers are treated to special, by invite only events and previews, the whole pleasurable, theatrical experience of shopping is at it's height in-store.  That's all true and as maybe but many of these flagship stores are also loss leaders.  In many ways it's the same as having a posh address to live in no matter how 'bijou', location, location, location. Nobody need ever really visit, it's about keeping up appearances on headed notepaper. Even if provincial fans of MJ's Daisy scent can't ever visit these stores in far flung cities at all, they can sniff their inside arm and be taken there.

Fashion Houses are now like football teams, there are still die-hard loyalists to each designer's aesthetic but most fans just float around from one brand to another  to another, wanting to wear uniforms of this season's winning team and proudly announcing the(ir) score writ large on their bag, shoes ad belt buckle, perhaps it was ever thus. Maybe the financial papers have Marc Jacobs slipping down to the relegation zone, but with his RTW collections as strong as ever in recent seasons the creative juices are obviously still flowing ad with no Louis Vuitton to distract him perhaps get back to the wearable, quirky, quality items of MJ glory days. Even as part of the LVMH, Jacobs is one of the few global names that heads his own fashion brand and continues to have a strongly recognisable style.

Fashion has always been created with smoke and mirrors, but when one's tied to businesses as big as LVMH the ink on the bottom of the page is indelible and clear.  Since eleven years ago the World is quite a different place and many businesses are having to cut their coat according to their cloth. Fashion would do better to invest in cloth than appearances for appearance sake, at least they stand more chance of retaining the loyal followers they have already and stop all chasing the same markets which don't know what they want so long as it's wanted by millions of others.

Photo credit

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!