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Worldview: BRICS Fashion Summit Debuts in Moscow

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also features PDD’s ascent in China, Kenya’s controversial suit ban and subterfuge in India’s jewellery trade.
A model presents South African designer David Tlale's collection during the BRICS+ Fashion Summit in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 01, 2023.
A model presents South African designer David Tlale's collection during the BRICS+ Fashion Summit in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 01, 2023. (Getty Images)
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🇷🇺 BRICS+ Fashion Summit debuts in Moscow. The inaugural edition of the BRICS+ Fashion Summit took place in Moscow from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, shining a light on cross-border business opportunities and cultural exchange between hundreds of industry leaders from the original group of emerging market nations which comprise the acronymed bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as well as countries that were recently invited to join it (Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). More than 30 designer brands from 21 countries — including Chnnyu, David Tlale, Lucas Leao, Ritesh Kumar and Gapanovich — took part in an expansive programme of shows and events. The summit was organised by Fashion Foundation, the company behind Moscow Fashion Week, a showcase founded in 2022 that replaced Mercedes-Benz Russian Fashion Week. The latter ceased operations shortly after US-led sanctions were imposed on Russia by G7 and other western countries over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With the Russian fashion industry increasingly isolated from its counterparts in Western Europe and North America, the summit provided Moscow professionals with an opportunity to meet with peers from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Eurasian Economic Union countries. [BoF Inbox]

🇨🇳 Wall Street downgrades Alibaba as rival PDD briefly steals its crown. Morgan Stanley cut its rating on Alibaba Group Holding’s American depositary receipts on the same day that fellow Chinese e-commerce giant PDD Holdings closed trading in the US with a market cap that surpassed Alibaba’s for the first time. The recent successes of PDD, whose Pinduoduo and Temu marketplaces are popular in the China and US respectively, prompted Alibaba founder Jack Ma to write a memo encouraging Alibaba employees to embrace change. [Bloomberg, South China Morning Post]

🇮🇳 India is creating a framework to expose fraud in its jewellery sector. The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council is looking to compel companies to disclose the UBOs (‘ultimate beneficial owners’) of their trading partners in a bid to curb money laundering and expose rogue firms using international trade in jewellery, gold and gems as subterfuge for irregular or illegal fund transfers. However, critics say that any initiative’s effectiveness would be limited as similar KYC (know your customer) systems are not universally compulsory overseas. [Economic Times]

🇰🇪 Kenyan designers are worried that a kaunda suit ban will be bad for business. Kenya’s parliament has banned MPs from wearing a suit named after the late Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda who popularised it many decades ago. Usually worn without a tie, the short-sleeved outfit is an Afro-centric design worn by men across the region, including Kenya’s current president, but parliament has said the suit does not adhere to its formal dress code. The move has Nairobi-based designers concerned that the ban could negatively impact demand for other local designs in formal settings. [Semafor]

🇷🇺 Russian diamond export ban prompts Belgian traders to adopt blockchain. With the G7 group of countries (including the EU bloc) planning to phase in sanctions on Russian diamonds next year, the Antwerp diamond district (which handles around 86 percent of the world’s rough diamonds) has turned to the technology to trace and identify the origin of the precious stones. But even with a G7/EU ban, Russian diamonds (which accounted for around a third of the global market before Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine) could find their way to other hubs like Dubai and India. [France 24, AFR]

🇨🇳 French fashion magazine L’Officiel launches a Hong Kong edition. The publication’s new ultimate parent company, Hong Kong-based AMTD Group, has opened a digital edition dedicated to the Chinese luxury hub and special administrative region, with a print version expected next year. The launch comes a year after AMTD acquired L’Officiel Inc. from the founding Jalou family for an undisclosed amount and follows AMTD’s acquisition of The Art Newspaper earlier this year. [Khanh Linh for BoF]

🇰🇷 Korean retail giants Lotte, Shinsegae, Hyundai fined over dealings with tenants. The three department store groups were among four companies fined between 120 and 337 million won ($93,000-261,000) by South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), an antitrust watchdog, for unfairly shifting their marketing costs to tenants without prior notification, while running special sales promotion events between 2019 and 2020. [The Korea Times]

🇯🇵 Tax-free department-store sales in Japan hit record high in October. The Japan Department Stores Association said spending by foreign tourists pushed up sales of tax-free items to 38.3 billion yen ($257 million dollars), the highest amount for a single month since the survey began in 2014, reflecting a year over year surge of 178.9 percent. [NHK World]

🇦🇪 Dubai-based Times Square Group acquires Temperley London. The UAE company founded by Ritesh Punjab, which operates brands including Manolo Blahnik and Furla in the Middle East, has taken a majority stake in the British brand for an undisclosed amount. The investment will be used by founder Alice Temperley, who reportedly restructured her company in 2021 after filing for business administration, to open a flagship in London and add new categories. [Drapers]

🇮🇳 SMCP partners with Reliance Brands Limited (RBL) for the India market. The parent company of Sandro, Maje and other brands, tapped the company owned by oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries to enter the India market and distribute its two main accessible luxury brands there. RBL has a portfolio of 90 brands including partnerships with brands such as Burberry, Coach, Diesel and Valentino for the country. [BoF Inbox]

🇵🇰 Pakistan apparel suppliers benefit from Walmart’s pivot away from China. Andrea Albright, the American retail giant’s executive vice president of sourcing, said that while India is one of the main beneficiaries in categories like toys, electronics and pharmaceuticals, countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are enjoying an uptick in the fashion and home product categories, as Walmart tries to cut costs and diversify its supply chains. [Reuters]

🇨🇱 Fitch downgrades Chile-based Latin American retail giant Falabella. The ratings agency has downgraded the company’s long-term foreign and local currency IDRs (issuer default ratings), amid Q3 earnings showing that the department store group with operations in Chile and other key Latin American markets such as Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia had a net loss of 17 billion Chilean pesos ($19 million). [Fitch, Reuters]

🇨🇳 Burberry taps Chinese actress Tang Wei as its latest brand ambassador. The British luxury brand has signed the award-winning actress known for her roles in both international and local films such as “Late Autumn,” “The Golden Era” and “Decision to Leave”. [BoF Inbox]

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