Everybody’s talking about | Fashion copycats

At what point does referencing and inspiration turn into blatant copying? It's a question that is increasingly on the minds of designers -- particularly young designers and small brands -- who don't have the legal muscle (read: cold hard cash) and time to defend the integrity of their designs. In other creative disciplines like music, writing and visual art, it is much easier to defend copying. In fashion, referencing, inspiration, and trends form the backbone of our industry (just check out this long list of adventures in fashion copyright). So, where do we draw the line? Case 1:  Steve MaddenSometimes it's quite straightforward to see what is going on.  A post on Manolo's shoe blog alerted us to this blatant…

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Breaking News | Gucci sales growth disappoints

News flashes have been coming in today from investment analysts covering PPR, which reported its 1Q08 results earlier today. The news is not good for the Gucci brand, but Bottega Veneta has managed to beat market expectations, even in this downbeat economic environment. Gucci sales only increased by 2.4% to €513m, versus market expectations in the neighbourhood of 7% growth. As a result, some analysts are considering posting downgrades to their ratings on the PPR stock. Given it's self-stated positioning as an 'Aspirational luxury' brand, it may not seem surprising that Gucci would be one of the first brands to show signs of the economic slowdown. But that's not the whole story. Interestingly, the slowdown in sales growth is not…

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The Business of Fashion | Talks to Vogue Korea

It's turning out to be fashion magazine week on the Business of Fashion. A couple of months ago, Dominic Sohn, a newly appointed Fashion Editor at Vogue Korea, contacted me to get some thoughts on the revolving doors for designers at major fashion houses. This was before Lars Nilsson was turfed from Gianfranco Ferre (just days before his first runway show) only to be replaced by Tomasso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi of 6267 and before Paulo Melim Andersson was sent packing after three seasons at Chloe, making way for Hannah MacGibbon. Dominic's questions were timely indeed. Excerpts from the interview have just been published in an article in the May 2008 edition of Vogue Korea, along with the reflections of…

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Fashion Magazines | Balancing advertising and editorial

The other day I nipped out to grab a coffee in London's Hanover Square. As I was waiting, who should walk in but Alexandra Shulman, the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue. There was no entourage or chauffeur or huge sunglasses. Rather, she very normally ordered her skinny cappuccino (without assistance and without attitude) and waited like the rest of us to be served. It got me to thinking that (thankfully) some people in the fashion industry are completely normal (despite the caricatures that may be painted of them in the Press), and it also got me thinking about the business of magazines -- fashion magazines in particular. It turns out Ms. Shulman has been quite the business woman during her respected…

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Angel Chang | High-tech meets high-fashion

NEW YORK, United States - I'm sure you've all had one of those moments when a friend or colleague picked up your phone by accident, because it looked the exactly the same as theirs. I know it's happened to me on more than one occasion. Today, Paul Taylor of the FT cleverly compared the uniform style and design of most mobile phones to the Ford Model T, when Henry Ford declared that “the customer can have any colour he wants, so long as it’s black”. Just the other day, we dove into the marriage of fashion and technology for the first time, looking at the emergence of the fashion phone. But, the ideas, questions and suggestions have kept coming since…

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Festival d’Hyères | A different kind of fashion competition

Held each year at the Villa Noailles in the South of France, The Festival International de Mode et de Photographie à Hyères offers up an unparalleled cornucopia of fashion and photographic talent. It has been an invaluable incubator and launchpad for some of fashion's top up-and-coming names, including Viktor & Rolf, Gaspard Yurkievich, Christian Wijnants, and Charles Anastase. The list of previous jury members reads like a who's who of the fashion world. In the past, Azzedine Alaïa, John Galliano, Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Helmut Lang, Karl Lagerfeld, and Jean Paul Gaultier have have all had the honour of selecting the winners. This year's jury, which includes Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy,Maria Luisa of the Maria Luisa boutiques in Paris, and …

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Investment opportunity | Luxury stocks take unjustified beating

Our colleagues over at Savigny Partners released their regular newsletter today, demonstrating just how tough things have been for many luxury and fashion stocks in recent months and highlighting an investment opportunity for those who believe in the long-term fundamentals of the luxury market. The Savigny Luxury Index (SLI) has plummeted by 29% since its peak in June 2007, underperforming the overall market as measured by the performance of the FTSE All World Index. But, longtime industry watchers will recall that the luxury industry was one of the first to bounce back after the post 9/11 economic malaise. Stocks with exposure to accessible luxury have been hit the hardest with Coach, Tods, Burberry and Tiffany seeing their Enterprise Value/EBITDA multiples…

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Kellogg | Fashion management 101

Kellogg, the prestigious school of management at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago, has announced plans for a business course on fashion -- or at least, how fashion can play a role in industries as varied as fast-moving consumer goods to consumer electronics and home computers. ESSEC, the French business school, has an entire MBA program dedicated to a Luxury.  And, fashion and luxury clubs are popping up at business schools around the world, from Harvard to Columbia to London Business School. These are the latest signs that professional general managers are playing a more prominent role in the fashion and luxury industry. Before the emergence of major luxury groups, first LVMH, and then Gucci Group and Richemont, many fashion and…

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Links | JC Report, Wear Palettes and Tom Fishburne

In the run-up to the Easter long weekend, which has already begun here in London, we thought we'd share some our new favourites for lazy Sunday reading from the ever expanding fashion  and business blogosphere. JC ReportNot technically a blog, but now presented in a blog format, JC Report is one of the leading online authorities for thoughtful fashion content on the cutting edge. We've been working with Jason Campbell, JC Report's charismatic founder, on restructuring the JCR value proposition, launching a newly designed site, and engaging JCR's truly global fashion community. We're delighted with the results: daily news, editorial and intelligence that you can't find anywhere else.  The latest issue, released yesterday, features a denim hunter from London, shopping…

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Breaking News | Paulo Melim Andersson out at Chloé

In fashion's latest revolving designer door saga (we've already seen this play out at Vionnet, Ungaro, Nina Ricci, etc.), Chloé has removed Paulo Melim Andersson as Creative Director. Andersson stepped into the role after Phoebe Philo left the Parisian fashion house two years ago. He has been replaced by Hannah MacGibbon who previously worked under Philo. Melim Andersson's ouster should come as no surprise to fashion industry insiders, many of whom have been whispering about significant drops in retail sales and wholesale orders ever since Andersson unveiled his first Chloé collection, which was  a dramatic departure from the floaty feminine styles that propelled the brand back onto the fashion radar. Are we going back to the girly Chloé girl then?…

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BoF Recommends | In the Know: The Classic Guide to Being Cultured and Cool

Even for the most culturally-savvy business types, the world of fashion can be daunting. Everyday, fashion people will mention places, names, books, buildings, restaurants and other references that they assume you must know: Truman Capote. Madeleine Vionnet. Diana Vreeland. Zaha Hadid. The Faena Hotel. Leigh Bowery. Patrick Demarchelier. The Misshapes. Jane Birkin. Matthew Barney. Marcel Breuer. Mies van der Rohe. Steven Meisel. These cultural references form the basis of evaluating and understanding what is going on in fashion today.  So, while  you may not need to have curatorial knowledge of Dior's New Look or be able to map out the influence of Oscar Neimeyer's architecture on fashion, it is still important to have some basic understanding of how all of…

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Escada | In private equity’s crosshairs?

Not long after Valentino Fashion Group was acquired by Permira in 2007, Escada AG is the latest major European fashion company to find itself in the crosshairs of a private equity firm. The German newspaper Handelsblatt is reporting that Apax Partners is considering taking a stake in the the German fashion company -- and possibly looking to execute an outright takeover. Escada's stock lost more than one third of its value in 2007, and another third of value was obliterated in the first few months of 2008, making it a very ripe target for acquisition. But any Escada-turnaround effort backed by private equity will not be easy, even if the price is cheap. Last week, Escada reported that its sales…

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The new icons | La Roitfeld and Queen Agy

Two articles this week gave an inside look into two of the women who are changing the face of fashion. And unlike the mysterious, impenetrable images that helped to create previous fashion icons, these women seem to be comfortable just being themselves, even if it is politically incorrect. Is authenticity the new must-have? The Anti-Anna (New York Magazine) In an unabashedly honest look into one one most important women in fashion, the editor of Paris Vogue, Carine Roitfeld makes no apologies for who she is. Comparison to Anna Wintour aside, we were most intrigued by Ms. Roitfeld's comments on the fashion business, saying "Right now, I think that fashion in the world becomes a bit boring. There is so much…

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