Designer update | Bontoni breaks out

Bontoni, the men's luxury shoe brand featured on the Business of Fashion during September's New York Fashion Week, is breaking out. Lewis Cutillo tells us that the brand has been making great strides, albeit quietly, in the past few months. "We continue to take a quiet and discreet approach to marketing our shoes," says Lewis. "Despite that, or maybe because of it, we are finding a growing number of clients among hedge fund managers, top CEOs, and well known professional athletes and entertainers." The Robb Report recently posted a piece on the budding brand on its New and Noteworthy blog, and several major media outlets have been making inquiries of late, as the word-of-mouth on Bontoni has picked up. However,…

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Luxury Outlook 2008 | How much padding does that luxury cushion have?

LONDON, United Kingdom - Conventional wisdom is that the luxury sector is cushioned from the ups and downs of the overall economy because its customers are amongst the "happy few" who aren't affected by such trivial matters as making mortgage payments and paying off credit card bills in the midst of a darkening macro-economic environment. But exactly how much padding does that luxury cushion have? According to Luca Solca of BernsteinResearch, not a lot. In his report "PPR: Worsening Macroeconomic Outlook points to slower Luxury Market Growth in 2008," published today, Solca asserts that there is a strong correlation  between the general economy and the luxury sector (R-squared = 66%). Therefore, any problems in the general economy are certain to spill…

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Rad Hourani | Self-styled

MONTREAL, Canada - When Rad Hourani's clothes hit the runway last season, the names that people were whispering included those of fashion royalty like Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester -- or at least that's what Style.com said when they named him one of their Top 10 New Faces for the S/S 2008 collections. This is no mean feat for this young stylist from Montreal. He has no formal fashion training at all. "I am lucky enough to be extremely curious about anything," he says.  Everything I know about fashion design, videomaking or photography, I learned it on my own." He has put all of these skills to use in a series of 15 videos directed and edited from 2006-2007 as he…

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The Business of Fashion: Happy 2008

It's been exactly one year since we launched The Business of Fashion, and what an adventure it has been. From our first ever post on The Gap to the most recent one on Martin Churba, we have seen our little experimental side project grow into something much bigger than we had ever imagined. We were pleasantly surprised when, late last year, Shiny Media ranked The Business of Fashion amongst the world’s Top 100 Fashion & Lifestyle blogs: 17. The Business of Fashion: Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this is the blog to go to for a slightly more professional look at the industry, with really good business advice and insider info. Too big to truly be an…

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Links: The Sheikh of Chic, Fragrance failures, and Made in Italy

Majed Al-Sabah, The Sheikh of Chic (New York Times, The Moment)Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah is the guest blogger on 'The Moment' this week. Majed's first posting gives his perspective on bringing Western luxury brands to the Middle East and the second reflects on the Middle East "youthquake." It makes for interesting reading, particularly as the Middle East is one of the most promising markets for luxury brands. Majed reveals how this wasn't always the case. Why the Perfume Business is Beginning to Stink (The Wall Street Journal)Perfumes used to be a guaranteed money-spinner for fashion brands and a way for the masses to buy into the carefully woven dreams of fashion designers. This article suggests that the economics of perfumes may…

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Prada and Cavalli: Italian fashion titans

Two Italian fashion moguls known for their fiery personalities have been making news this week. Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada announced his company's intention to go public in 2008. The industry has heard a similar announcement from Prada at least three times in the last decade, only to see the IPOs get called off due to unfavourable market conditions. Mr. Bertelli has become known for his astute product eye and his challenging personal style.  He is thought to have control over the leather goods businesses while Mrs. Prada focuses on the creative ready-to-wear businesses. Each has their own domain, as it were, and Bertelli's success with leather goods speaks for itself. However, some have questioned how he will cope with…

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Ungaro: Esteban Cortazar revisited

Yesterday's post on Esteban Cortazar's appointment at Ungaro garnered quite the response from all sides of the issue. Not only was our inbox quickly filled with emails, several comments also came through, including one that could be from someone connected to Ungaro, accusing Cathy Horyn of censorship. Fashion Inc also posted a response on her blog in defense of Mr. Moufarrige, given his reasonably short tenure at Ungaro and the fact that he actually didn't hire 3 previous designers at Ungaro (though this article seems to suggest that he was already very much in the picture when Dundas was hired at the end of 2005). We normally don't respond to emails, comments and other blogs directly in a new post,…

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Ungaro: The story behind Cortazar’s appointment

Ever since the announcement that 23 year-old Esteban Cortazar had been selected as the new designer for Ungaro, fashion people have been scratching their heads. Over at Cathy Horyn's blog, many of the regulars have been noting Cortazar's lack of experience (in design, but also in life and in business), lack of sophistication and lack of a unique vision. While everyone seems to be rooting for the young and talented designer, the path ahead for Ungaro is full of question marks. Cathy Horyn herself says: Esteban Cortazar is a nice kid; he’s outgoing and he’s got some talent. But a number of the fashion-house appointments don’t seem all that well considered, and at some point the mistakes become irritating. I…

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Power trio: Roland, Oscar and JayZ

Three different men, three different strategies for conquering the fashion business. They couldn't be more different from each other (French "cult" fashion designer, legendary American couturier, and rapper entrepreneur), but they are each at the top of their game. Oscar: Why Is This Man Still Fashionable? (Wall Street Journal)75 year old Oscar de la Renta gives a candid interview on his longevity in the "family" business. CEO Alex Bolen, whom we met at the last Oscar show, chimes in towards the end with some business commentary. JayZ: JayZ Expands Fashion Portfolio (BlackEnterprise)JayZ continues to prove himself as a savvy businessman. The latest news is his acquisition of the Artful Dodger brand. Roland: Moon Over Manhattan (New York Post)Roland Mouret's moon…

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Links: Gilt Groupe, Supreme Luxury and ASW

Red Herring: Gilt Groupe Scores VC FundingThe market is beginning to acknowledge the potential of online communities in selling fashion. The Red Herring is reporting that Gilt Groupe, which was featured in a Q&A on The Business of Fashion last week, has raised $5m of venture funding from Matrix Partners. Even the New York Times ran a short article. IHT: Supreme Luxur y 2008All week we have been posting Suzy Menkes' videos from the IHT's Supreme Luxury Conference in Moscow. Don't miss the written content - it's just as interesting, especially this article on India that somehow appears within a sea of articles on Russia. The Wall Street Journal: MySpace for MillionairesAsmallworld is no longer alone. A raft of new…

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BoF Recommends: Look, Stimuli and Issue One

We spend a lot of time here on the BoF discussing the impact of new media on the fashion industry. In fact, yesterday we weighed in on the issue over at JC Report in a full-length article about some of the new online media sites and communities that are popping up. But that doesn't mean we don't like flipping through a good old-fashioned magazine from time to time, as long as it brings a fresh perspective and the images and editorial are strong. Three new magazines recently landed in our mailbox and we thought we'd share them with you. The first issue of New York Look magazine  gives a behind-the-scenes look into the S/S collections and all of the planning…

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IHT Supreme Luxury: Interview with Angela Ahrendts

The IHT is pumping out these videos faster than we can keep up. Each one has revelations of interest, so we're going to keep posting them for easy reference here. Have a look at this video with Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry. Ahrendts reveals that Burberry's wholesale and retail business is almost 70% apparel, making it quite different from many other luxury brands, whose businesses are concentrated in leather goods. She also says that Russian consumers form a significant portion of the business. Burberry's stores in Russia are amongst the most productive in the world and this productivity is based on fewer very large transactions as opposed to many transactions of a smaller size. Not only this, about 20%…

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IHT Supreme Luxury: Interviews with Ford and Arnault

We are seriously enjoying these videos from the IHT Supreme Luxury Conference being held this week in Moscow. Suzy Menkes, while not a natural television interviewer, asks all the right questions and solicits some very interesting responses from her interviewees. Today she quizzes Tom Ford on his new label and asks Bernard Arnault about the impact of the credit crunch on the luxury industry. Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH

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