LONDON, United Kingdom — The lazy days of summer may have slowed down the fashion news cycle, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting people to meet or stories to tell.
A furor erupted last weekend after news broke that American media mogul Oprah Winfrey had been snubbed in the ritzy Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich by a salesperson who declined to show her a $38,000 handbag, something Ms Winfrey perceived as racism.
But according to Colin McDowell, the real story here was not Winfrey’s complaint of discrimination — which of course is unacceptable — but the fact that prices of luxury goods have risen to such impossible highs. Some of you may remember our piece on fashion inflation a few weeks ago. The recent Winfrey incident seems to have brought this phenomenon into the spotlight, resulting in a slew of commentary from outside the industry saying that prices in luxury fashion are simply out of control. Later on, Ms Winfrey even commented that, had she known the price of the bag, she wouldn’t have asked to see it in the first place.
A few weeks ago, Tom Kartsotis, the founder of Fossil watches, was visiting London and told me the incredible and unexpected story of his latest venture Shinola. Starting with the rights to a storied shoe polish brand (the colloquial expression, “you don’t know shit from Shinola” sits in the consciousness of a certain generation of Americans who were alive in the first half of the 20th century) Kartosis and his team have launched a new kind of high-expertise watch manufacturing enterprise within the context of Detroit’s highly publicised urban decay.
I also recently attended a “Tech City” breakfast at No. 10 Downing Street, where I met Charles Armstrong, founder of The Trampery, a tech-focused shared workspace enterprise whose third location in London’s Hackney is aimed at emerging fashion businesses. This week, BoF visited The Trampery and spoke with Mr Armstrong and some of the young designers who are the first to take up residence in the newly opened space.
Mr Armstrong says there are more than 2,000 designers trying to set up new labels in East London. More than 90 percent of these will not survive their first five years. But one designer we are betting on is statement accessories designer Sarah Angold, featured in this month’s BoF Spotlight. Sarah’s story is amazing. From a persistently sought out elevator pitch to Hussein Chalayan to a collaboration with Topshop, she has the talent and the chutzpah to go places — and to introduce herself to me at the recent Fashion Monitor Journalism Awards. I am very glad to have discovered her work.
Maybe one day she will achieve the success of Adam Brown, founder of the six year old booming swimwear brand Orlebar Brown, which recently closed an £8 million (about $12.4 million) round of funding to turbo-boost its growth. Set within the context of a men’s luxury swimwear market dominated by Vilebrequin, it was interested to hear the strategies of both brands — incumbent and upstart — in the context of a wider menswear market that continues to grow quickly. Both brands have their eyes firmly set on the US market, which remains underpenetrated.
Speaking of menswear, we also met with Andy Rogers, now the brand director of Fred Perry, whose previous roles at Stella McCartney and Reiss have enabled him to play multi-disciplinary creative roles that have helped to define these brands in the contemporary fashion consciousness. Andy is now tasked with taking an iconic British brand to new heights. The story of how he got there is nothing short of inspiring.
And with that, enjoy your weekends and some well deserved rest.
New York Fashion Week is less than three weeks away.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
A $38,000 Handbag? (News & Analysis)
Fashion Inflation: Why Are Prices Rising So Fast? (Intelligence)
Made in America | From Detroit’s Urban Decay, Shinola Rises (Intelligence)
The Spotlight | Sarah Angold (People)
Trunks of Treasure (Intelligence)