New York Fashion Week: Marc Jacobs is backwards, upside down and inside out

Last night I witnessed the intricate ballet of savvy PR and event-planning that has helped build Marc Jacobs into one of the only truly successful, global luxury brands that has been launched in the past 20 years. It was evidence of the basic human psychological desire to be part of the cool crowd. You know those nightclubs that intentionally keep people waiting outside to give off the impression of being the hot spot of the moment? This was not all that different, except Marc Jacobs has been doing this for almost 20 years, and he has it down to a fine art. Plus, this is not just hype. He has a reputation for delivering collections that will inspire designers and…

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Bahamian luxury: Gambling with franchising

The Business of Fashion is on the road. Our first stop is in Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, an archipelago of islands which has long been a stopping off point for people cruising around the Caribbean. San Salvador Island is where Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World in 1492 to trade with the Lucayan people. When British loyalists came over in 1717, the islands fell under British control and did not gain full independence until more than 250 years later. Today, the Bahamas is a rich country, with the 3rd highest GDP per capita in the Western Hemisphere and an economy driven primarily by tourism and offshore banking. A recent mega real-estate development called The…

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YSL: Interactive experimentation

For years now, the Yves Saint-Laurent brand has been a drag on the otherwise strong results posted by many other fashion brands in the Gucci Group, owned by parent-company PPR. Most recently, Bottega Veneta has been on a tear with strong financial results (eclipsing YSL's top line revenue in 2006) and a leading position in the luxury consumer league tables, making it the number two luxury brand in PPR's stable. The story for YSL is a lot less fairytale, and a lot more Nightmare on Elm Street. The brand has not been profitable since Gucci Group purchased it in 1999 and is still reportedly losing around €50m a year. The brand turned over €194m in sales in 2006. PPR doesn't…

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Valentino: Fashioning change from private equity

This week's Economist ominously warns of "The Trouble with Private Equity" at a time when many in the fashion world are wondering how the infusion of private capital will impact their industry. In the last month alone, La Perla, Samsonite and Valentino have all been snapped up by private equity funds. Just today, The Sunday Times broke the news that Prada has also been in talks with private investors. (Not surprisingly, Prada has denied these reports, but it is not hard to see why this would be a natural option for Patrizio Bertelli, especially given several failed attempts at taking Prada public.) The recent investment exuberance around fashion brands is a dramatic departure from the stance that many professional investors…

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Tom Ford in person: Go Beta First, New York

On my last trip to New York, I finally managed to see the new Tom Ford flagship store in person. After all of the hubbub about its "Hermes and Oprah" similarities, I wanted to judge for myself. Was Cathy Horyn right in criticising the high price-points as being out of reach even for the most discerning male customers? Was Horacio Silva on the mark for panning the store for its overly-exclusive environment? I'm afraid the answer is yes. In spades. For all of the talk about the luxurious feel of the store, I have to say it all felt quite ordinary to me. That is to say, it didn't feel different from most of the other masses of luxury stores…

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Links of the week: Tom Ford, Fashion 2.0, Kate Moss for Top Shop and Chloe’s future

Top fashion business links for the week of 30 April, 2007: New York Times - No Store is a Hero to its ValetEither the New York Times really has it in for Tom Ford (perhaps he spurned and interview request or declined an editors request for a discount?) or there is a real issue with Tom Ford's new eponymous business. First, Cathy Horyn criticized Ford's new business for being too niche and too grand (after Ford had provided her with a private tour - you can't buy this woman's vote) and today, in its Critical Shopper feature, Horacio Silva pans the store for confusing "exclusionary for exclusive." Modabot.de - Brave New Internet World - How the Internet is changing the…

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Marc Jacobs: The Cult of Corporate Cool, New York

Who said that big brands can't retain the DNA of what made them interesting in the first place? This past week in New York, I visited the Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Bleecker Street, the little brother store to Marc Jacobs mainline collection. Both businesses are owned by LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods conglomerate. Marc Jacobs is also the Creative Director for Louis Vuitton, the company's largest fashion brand. So, you might expect that the company feels corporate and over marketed. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to walk into the Marc store and see a huge yellow chicken mascot sitting in the store window. A (suitably cool) photographer named Thom was taking photos of customers posing with…

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Pax Americana: Abercrombie & Fitch

This marks the week that one of America's most successful fashion brands hits the shores of Europe, with the opening of the first European Abercrombie and Fitch flagship in London's Savile Row. The hype has been nonstop, with the media going crazy,  London buses trumpeting the new store's appearance by draping themselves in images of perfectly proportioned models baring their torsos (and the preferred Abercrombie aesthetic) for all to see. According to reports, there will always be two models in swimwear in the store at all times. Shopping at an AF store is about the experience of Abercrombie and Fitch. It speaks volumes about the brand and what it stands for. The signature music. The achingly hip (an invariably attractive)…

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Creativity and Commerce: The Arcade Fire

Yes, this blog is a commentary on the Business of Fashion. But, it is also a blog, more generally, on how you can take artistic and creative ideas and channel them in a way that is economically sustainable (and commercially lucrative) over the long term; how you can make the worlds of creativity and commerce co-exisit and feed off of each other harmoniously, without worrying about "selling out." Yes there is always a tension between the creatives and the corporates, but if the right balance is struck, the results can be magical. For example, when John Galliano takes his fantastical ideas from Haute Couture origami and oriental dreams and declines them for his RTW show in a way that is…

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Another round for Jimmy Choo

Big news in fashion investment circles over the weekend has been the sale of Jimmy Choo to Towerbrook Partners, a private equity firm that has bought out the state owned by Lion Capital. Here is an article from the Financial Times announcing the deal. More thoughts on this later. Jimmy Choo sells for £185mBy Peter Smith,Private Equity Correspondent Published: February 3 2007 02:00 | Last updated: February 3 2007 02:00 Jimmy Choo, the fashionistas' favourite shoemaker, has been sold by its private equity owner Lion Capital in a deal worth £185m. The sale will result in a gain of close to £25m for Tamara Mellon, the company president and joint founder who owns just over 15 per cent, although she…

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Magnificent Milan

The semi-annual harvesting of the fruits of menswear designers from all over the world has just ended In Milan, and I have to say, it was a bumper crop. I never planned use this blog as an editorial on fashion trends or styling, but the menswear looks that have come out of Milan this season are really strong, and give strong direction for mens fashion. For the first time in awhile, things look fresh, and that's got to be good for business. I have selected a few of my favourite looks - these are the styles that I seriously dig - and I am no conceptualist. I think these are wearable commercial looks as well. Best looks From sharp tailoring …

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Pinup Madonna

Speaking of the new trends I mentioned in a previous post, style.com just posted a summary of trends (well, its 221 photos, so not a summary in actuality) for women's S/S 07. My favourites, as I mentioned, were the eighties revival and futurism. I couldn't help but take note of the pinup girls trend. It made me think right back to the launch of Madonna's Confessions on  Dancefloor album in the Autumn of 2005, where she pranced around in a purple leotard in Hung Up video. Some people (and countries) were scandalised by it at the time (see this article about her purple-leotarded performance being banned in Malaysia ). Let's just say not everyone could appreciate this latest Madonna avatar.…

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