Welcome to News Bites, BoF's regular feature of the stories that get the industry talking.
Kendall Jenner is the cover star of the latest issue of Vogue India, guest-edited by Mario Testino.
The photographer's collaboration with Vogue India forms part of the title's 10th anniversary celebrations. The issue also features Bollywood actors Katrina Kaif and Sushant Singh Rajput, fashion stories that mix India's local talent with international models and a collaboration between Testino and artists Mithu Sen and Thukral & Tagra.
Testino said he was influenced by India's people, art and colours for the issue.“I wanted to bring my world truly to this amazing nation by shooting the issue in India. I wanted it to stay true to the Indian spirit,” he said.
Vogue India editor Priya Tanna called Testino's vision "a fresh perspective on the familiar ... Mario Testino is to fashion what Milan is to fashion weeks — simply indispensable," she said. "I’ve always admired Mario’s repertoire. So to work with him, and share his creative vision was nothing short of spectacular."
Testino's Kendall Jenner cover shoot, which was shot at the Samode Palace outside Jaipur, serves a purpose beyond the magazine. A print from the shoot (pictured left) will be sold as a limited edition to raise funds for actress Freida Pinto's charity Girl Rising, a global campaign that promotes young girls' empowerment through education.
"Freida Pinto and I both spoke last year at BoF's VOICES," Testino revealed. "She talked about her charity work with Girl Rising India, and was passionate about its mission educating girls in her home country and, through education, improving their quality of life.
"I can relate to this with my own endeavours in Peru," he continued. "My experience in India gave me so much — I want to give back."
Just 500 editions of the print will be sold via Testino's website. The latest issue of Vogue India will be on sale from May 4. — Limei Hoang
Balmain and L'Oréal Paris have joined forces on a collection of lipsticks.
The limited edition lip colour collection, designed by Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing, will come in 12 shades and is set to debut in September. The collection will also feature three lipstick "jewels" in which the product will be encased in a wearable accessory.
For Rousteing, the partnership was an opportunity to make Balmain accessible to a wider audience. "I'm really close to luxury but at the same time I'm also close to pop culture and I think a lot of people who may love the Balmain universe can't afford the clothes," he told BoF.
"The collaboration with L'Oréal Paris opens up luxury in a different way. For [consumers] to get a piece of Balmain [makeup] is a way for them to get into the Balmain universe. Makeup has always been part of my aesthetic and my silhouette. Having the opportunity to do that with an institution like L'Oréal Paris for me is an incredible dream."
The opportunity to engage with a new audience is key for L'Oréal Paris too. "We’ve contributed our makeup expertise to an accessible luxury collection intended to drive anticipation among ‘seen-it-all-before’ millennials," said Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou, global brand president of L'Oréal Paris, who saw synergies between the two brands. "Like L’Oréal Paris, Balmain is digitally-driven, speaking to new audiences through its designer’s Instagram. This collaboration builds on that digital reach for both."
The range will celebrate diversity and is inspired by Balmain's runway themes. "I want to speak to different girls," said Rousteing. "Colour is not just in the palette of my clothes, it's also in the girls. Some [shades] are really good on white skin, some are really good on Asian skin, some of them on black skin. Each group [of Balmain women] is really powerful but in different ways. This Balmain Army will become the L'Oréal Paris army as well." — Christopher Morency
For New York's multi-cultural shoppers, LVMH helps train immigrant sales force
For luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, ensuring that its store employees are able to fully communicate with Chinese tourists is of utmost importance. Consumers from the region are a shopping force around the world; 135 million Chinese tourists spent $261 billion abroad in 2016. And nearly one million of them visited New York City last year, forming the city’s largest group of foreign visitors.
However, New York City is preparing for a decrease in tourists for the first time in seven years. The city announced that it expects 300,000 fewer visitors in 2017, due in part to President Trump’s “America First” policies and divisive rhetoric.
That shift, in combination with an increasingly challenged brick-and-mortar retail environment marked by store closures and bankruptcies, means that brands must do everything they can to impress foreign visitors — and capture their spending.
To that end, the Chinese-American Planning Council partnered with Parsons and LVMH (and with funding from the Robin Hood Foundation, a poverty-fighting organisation) four years ago to launch a luxury retail job training program for low-income immigrants.
“We have a number of Chinese tourists shopping in our stores and wanted to be able to serve them both in English and in Mandarin,” said Courtney Hagen, senior vice president of human resources for LVMH North America. “They are able to relate to specific questions [customers may have]… that was part of the original impetus for the program.”
Full-time work doesn’t mean you can pay the bills anymore.
The program, which is conducted through Parsons School of Design's Open Campus continuing education department, prepares Chinese-American immigrants and low-income populations for luxury retail jobs. Since 2014, 85 of 96 individuals who embarked on the ten-week program have completed the training, and over 80 percent of those graduates found employment in the New York stores — including Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, Fendi and Thomas Pink.
A year after graduating, over 75 percent of those employed remained in their positions.
On Monday, Chinese-American Planning Council president Wayne Ho and representatives from all four participating organisations announced that the program will continue for another year, with plans to onboard 30 more trainees into the program this summer.
While LVMH organises other job training initiatives, this is its only program in partnership with an external organisation. Over 75 percent of its US workforce represent retail roles.
For participants, the competitive program provides an entrée into a job with above minimum wages and potential for advancement. “Full-time work doesn’t mean you can pay the bills anymore,” said Christine AuYeung, program officer and manager at Robin Hood. “What we do is try to fund job training programs with a career track with quality jobs, good wages and benefits. And that’s exactly what this program does… they connect people with really good jobs — about $15 dollars just to start — and that’s not including bonuses, commissions and all that other wonderful stuff.” Participants in the LVMH Fundamentals in Luxury Retail program must be eligible to work in the US and bilingual in English and one other language.
Of course, New York is a destination for visitors, and luxury shoppers, from all over the world. While the program has been open to people who speak any secondary language in the past, only those who also speak Mandarin have enrolled because it launched with that specific focus and is spearheaded by the Chinese-American Planning Council. This year, organisers hope to get the word out that foreign language speakers in Korean, Russian, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, among other languages, are welcome to apply.
Not to mention the city's own high-income immigrants. “We actually find that this is important not just for tourists, but for local shoppers,” said Hagen. In a multi-cultural city like New York, a retailer’s ability to communicate with shoppers, no matter where they come from, speaks volumes. — Chantal Fernandez
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