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Kering's Bigger, Bolder Plan for Alexander McQueen

This week, everyone will be talking about the Alexander McQueen show at Paris Fashion Week, Hypebeast's first festival, the Frieze London art fair and Drunk Elephant's UK launch.
  • Brian Baskin

Hello BoF Professionals, welcome to our latest members-only briefing: The Week Ahead. Think of it as your "cheat sheet" to what everyone will be talking about on Monday.


Is McQueen Kering's Next Billion-Dollar Brand?

Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2018 | Source: Indigital

At Kering, Gucci is the cash cow, Saint Laurent the dependable earner and Balenciaga the rising star. Then there's Alexander McQueen, which has the name recognition, but has spun its wheels, financially, since the designer's death in 2010. That's about to change. Kering has big ambitions for the brand, including an expanded product range and a realigned network of stores (including the first McQueen boutique in India). McQueen is a powerful brand; a Met showcase of the designer's work in 2011 was at the time one of the museum's 10 most popular exhibits ever. The industry has had success (and failure) driving new momentum at middling performers: Kering did it with Balenciaga; LVMH did it with Celine, for which it has even bigger plans. Burton's McQueen show may offer clues as to how Kering will repeat the same magic.

The Bottom Line: The logic behind fashion conglomerates is that they have the resources and know-how to turn young or troubled brands into blockbusters. It hasn’t always panned out, but McQueen offers a solid foundation on which to build.

Fashion is Art and Art is Fashion

Dover Street Market's 2014 Frieze window by Rei Kawakubo | Source: Courtesy

  • The Frieze London art fair runs October 4-7
  • Brands and retailers like Gucci, Dover Street Market and MatchesFashion are running related programming
  • Art fairs have become major sales opportunities for luxury brands, rivaling fashion week
Fashion and art have a long creative history together, from Yves Saint Laurent's Mondrian collection in 1965 to the Vans X Van Gogh Museum collaboration this summer. These two worlds are increasingly intertwined commercially. Heavenly Bodies, the Met's exhibit exploring the intersection between fashion and Catholicism closing October 8, drew 1.3 million visitors. And retailers are rolling out the welcome mat for the swarms of wealthy tourists and collectors who will descend on London for the Frieze art fair (including many from China, reflecting a growing reliance in both fashion and art on the country for growth). Dover Street's offerings include installations by brands including Loewe and Moncler plus art-themed book and magazine launches. 
The Bottom Line: Art fairs, like fashion weeks, provide rare opportunities for brands to market to elite buyers, plus the masses on Instagram, all at once. 

Hypebeast Takes Streetwear Marketing to the Next Level

Source: Instagram/@hypefest

  • Hypefest, Hypebeast's multi-day streetwear festival, will take place in Brooklyn next weekend
  • The event will combine concerts, art, panels and shopping targeting streetwear fanatics
  • A growing share of Hypebeast's revenue comes from branded content
The streetwear circus is returning to New York. Online media empire Hypebeast is staging its first large-scale event, a free “cultural festival” where guests can experience music, food, art and designer talks. The event is supported by dozens of sponsors, from Tokyo concept store The Conveni to Adidas and Diesel. Hypefest marks the convergence of two trends: the seemingly unstoppable rise of streetwear as a cultural force, and the precipitous decline in advertising dollars forcing media organisations to find other ways to monetise readers. For Hypebeast, serving up branded content alongside reporting on the latest trends and drops has proven profitable. 

The Bottom Line: Events are a logical next step for Hypebeast, as they've proven to be lucrative for other media organisations; one has only to look across the East River from Hypefest next weekend, where The New Yorker will be holding its annual festival.

Drunk Elephant Stampedes Into the UK

Drunk Elephant's pop-up in Covent Garden | Source: Instagram/@drunkelephant

  • Drunk Elephant is launching in the UK, with products widely available Wednesday
  • The beauty brand has grown rapidly since being founded by Tiffany Masterson in 2013
  • Launch comes one year after Glossier started UK sales; both brands offer tightly edited product ranges and are Instagram marketing masters

It's becoming an annual tradition: every October, a buzzy US beauty brand crosses the pond to conquer the UK market. Last year, Glossier launched with an Instagrammable pop-up shop in London's Marylebone neighbourhood, helping spur an expected $10 million in UK sales in the first year and serving as a template for moves into four more European countries. "Clean-clinical" brand Drunk Elephant is following a similar playbook with a Covent Garden pop-up ahead of the wider launch. One key difference — Glossier sells direct to consumers via its website and a small number of stores, while Drunk Elephant can be found at Sephora, and soon, at Space NK and Cult Beauty in the UK.

The Bottom Line: Drunk Elephant has a simpler road to global conquest as it can let retail partners work out the logistics of international sales. But in bypassing wholesalers, Glossier's path is potentially more lucrative.


"It is very clear that the only way to reach those numbers [$2 billion in annual sales] is by massively increasing distribution and volumes... and that can only be done by democratising the offerings. They will have to target distribution spaces where that target audience shops... maybe not T.J. Maxx but places slightly better may not be far away for them."

-@pinkpeppercorn_sonal, commenting on "Game On: Michael Kors Acquires Versace for $2.1 Billion."


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Editor's Note: This article was revised on 30 September, 2018. An earlier version of this article misstated the opening date for Drunk Elephant’s UK pop up is October 3. This is incorrect. The brand’s products go on sale across the UK on that date.

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