Friday, 28 November 2008

IHT Luxury Conference postponed in India 28/11/08

How quickly things can change. Within 48 hours of our post on the 26th commenting on the increasing foray into India for a number of luxury brands (see: Is India the Luxury Goods White Knight 26/11/08) the terrorist and hostage situation continues to play out in Mumbai.

The International Herald Tribune, had planned their annual luxury conference to take place in New Delhi between 3-4 December, due to the terrorist attacks they announced today it has been postponed and will advise of a new date in early next year.

The early reports coming out of Mumbai of these attacks appears to state that foreign tourists were the target, particularly British and Americans. The terrorist attacks have taken place in two luxury hotels, by all accounts these were coordinated attacks that occurred on Wednesday night 26 November in both the Taj Mahal Palace and Trident Oberoi. According to a report in today's WWD, "News reports said attackers had taken Americans and Britons as hostages, with the number of injured people estimated at 300. The terrorist attacks are sure to have a sobering effect on one of the world’s future growth markets for luxury goods. In recent weeks alone, Hermes and Christian Dior hosted glittering parties to fete their latest retail outposts."

As reported by Wall Street Journal online, "Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the epicenter of the attacks, is the most coveted retail address for luxury goods firms that are tapping into India's growing numbers of wealthy individuals. European brands Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Fendi all have boutiques in the hotel, which was the target of various explosions, hostage-taking and a fire.

The Oberoi Trident Hotel, which was also hit, houses luxury brands including Salvatore Ferragamo. Some of Ferragamo's employees were being held hostage, the Italian fashion house said."

In an area populated by leading global luxury brands. Is this a warning signal that the wealth and status between rich and poor is becoming ever polarised and these luxury destinations are being targeted to highlight the dichotomy of the situation. A non-approval sign to the capitalist west to stay away?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Jeanne Lanvin, Haute Couturier & Art Collector: 27/11/08

Paris a city immersed in culture at every turn from music, food, architecture and of course it's incredible history in fashion with some of the finest couturiers in history honing their skills in the city of lights. Think Worth, Lanvin, Schiaparelli, Chanel, DIOR, Yves Saint Laurent.... Art also has an extraordinary history and maintains its strong heritage and following today, with many an homage being paid to the early artists that form the core of the arts cultural history in Paris and France overall.

Just announced is one of the most exceptional collections of Impressionist paintings to go on sale through Christies in Paris. According to "...the sale of the Exceptional Collection of Jeanne Lanvin and the Polignac Foundations. This Collection pays homage to the eye of a woman who personifies Parisian elegance, Jeanne Lanvin, continuing with her daughter Marie-Blanche de Polignac and then on to a dynasty of patrons and lovers of art, the Polignac family. The benchmark collection of Impressionist paintings is estimated to realize around 20 million Euros. It is the most significant collection of Impressionist Art to be offered on the market in France. Thirty-one works by Pierre Bonnard, Eugène Boudin, Georges Braque, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Jean-Louis Forain, Roger de la Fresnay, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Jean-François Raffaelli, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edouard Vuillard are included in this auction..."

Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946), originally a milliner (Gabrielle Coco Chanel also commenced her career as a milliner), opened her first boutique at aged 22 in rue du Faubourg and with incredible determination the collection from hats quickly grew into a full clothing and accessories collection. She was a well respected and pioneering business woman that forged ahead with her entrepreneurial streak and tenacious qualities. This inquisitive business mind continued and later in her life, in the 1920s she commenced acquiring incredible pieces of art and growing her collection. According to Anika Guntrum, Christie's Head of Department in Paris “This collection carries the imprint of the Lanvin soule, and is a testimony to the way in which Jeanne Lanvin, with her acute business acumen and refined taste, built not only an empire but an eclectic yet perfectly harmonious art collection. An especially modern spirit was required to marry traditional Impressionist pictures with the most innovative compositions by Degas and Picasso. Jeanne Lanvin’s innate vision enabled her to choose, from each of these artists, works of the highest quality”.

Lanvin continues today as one of the finest luxury labels on the world stage, with Alber Elbaz at the helm the innovative spirit of Jeanne Lanvin continues to live on ever so beautifully.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Is India the Luxury Goods White Knight? 26/11/08

CNN ran an essay competition inviting business students and young entrepreneurs to take part in a competition to answer the question, Why India means business? There are some very interesting essay results from the winner and several runner's up.

Of particular interest is Brenton Cordeiro's comments in relation to India in general and also luxury, he was a runner up and he currently works with the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. Brenton says...."It's no wonder that the industrial and services sectors account for over 80 percent of the country's GDP. With increasing margins and an ambitious business appetite, Indian enterprises have embarked on a shopping spree, purchasing companies and signing deals in various countries.

India's Tata Group for instance, made headlines when it bought luxury car icons Jaguar and Land Rover. Anil Ambani's Reliance Entertainment tied up with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios in a $600 million deal in mid-2008. A report by consultancy firm IndusView Advisors said that Indian business houses had finalized overseas mergers and acquisitions worth $26 billion till September-end this year.....

Manufacturers of high-end products have also entered the foray targeting India's growing rich. From Rolls Royce to Cessna, Gucci to Jimmy Choo, the lot of them have descended on Indian cities wooing the potentially huge market of India's young, brand-conscious, professionals and entrepreneurs who take home hefty pay packets."

There is such a huge population in India (and disparate mix therein) and even gaining a very small market share of the very wealthy is opportune. The more India relaxes regulation the more foreign investment is increasing. According to Brenton "India managed a cool $25 billion in foreign direct investment inflows in 2007-08." Increases in internal and external investment ensure India is increasing its importance as a key market on the global stage. Luxury brands are seeing these opportunities and pushing further into this market, with the most recent new store openings being by Hermes and Giorgio Armani. Luxury brands who made their early foray such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel in particular have seen the opportunity and will only invest and venture into new territories with a very long term view. These are early days indeed, and we watch with interest.

And Brenton's final comment "The icing on the cake for India Inc: The Forbes List of Billionaires 2008 included 53 Indians. India dominated the top ten on that list with a tally of four Indians, more than any other country". So take that!

Read more of Brenton's essay plus the other Runners-Up and most importantly the winning essay...

Monday, 3 November 2008

Philanthropic Bulgari - Save the Children, purchase a ring. 31/10/08

The Italian house of Bulgari, 125 years old next year in 2009, has announced a major fundraising and sponsorship project to help protect the defense of children's rights, through Save the Children's Future and Rewrite Campaign, according to "Market Watch" the Rewrite the Future campaign is committed to providing high quality education to 8 million children living in conflict-affected areas by the end of 2010. We believe it is a great time to be philanthropic and Bulgari will score points for this in the mind of the consumer as it is in conjunction with the celebration of their 125 birthday, so the profile of the brand will be at an all time high, thus drawing more consumers into the brand. After all isn't the gift of giving more important than receiving?

Bulgari's objective is to raise euro 10 million for the fund by end of 2009, of which euro 1 million has been pledged in advance by the Company to lay the foundations for the initiative and start the ball rolling. They have created a limited edition ring, available in Bulgari stores globally, it is made of silver and will feature the Save the Children's logo engraved on the inside. Just over 20% of the proceeds of each ring sale will be donated to the Rewrite the Future campaign. The rings will sell for $290.00. The ring is on sale 1st February 1, 30 December 30, 2009, in Bulgari stores worldwide. Read more...

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Chanel is an Apple - 1/11/08

Maureen Chicquet, the Global CEO of Chanel describes Chanel to The Economist, when she came to it, as an apple: "beautiful underneath, but it needed to be dusted off a little bit". Ripe words, the outside objective eyes are always important for any business but particularly one as historic as Chanel, it is a brand steeped in wonderful history, with incredibly luxurious products. It has survived many challenging economic times in the past, the true test lies ahead.

Being a privately held company, this coupled with the security that one buys when purchasing product from the brand, should provide Chanel with greater fortitude for the coming year compared to other luxury brands. More mass produced luxury brands and products, may find the next year more challenging as disposable income begins to dry up.

Where to from here, Chicquet says the Company will have to "get smarter and more aggressive in some ways about how we're going to spend our money". How this translates will be interesting to see and in what areas we may see this in.

Underwear Overexposed...? 28/10/08

Underwear Overexposed?

Victoria Beckham is exposing herself more than usual. She has been selected by Snr Armani to be the spokesperson and model for the spring summer 2009 Emporio Armani lingerie line..... Just because Becks and his pecks have been previously exposed for Emporio Armani underwear does it mean that Victoria can too? Read more...

Who's behind the MO DOWN

Melinda O’Rourke is the founder and Director of MO Luxury, a dynamic, Sydney-based management firm specialising in luxury brands and services. Melinda and her associates at MO work with local and international brands across prestige retail, fashion, fine jewellery, timepieces and specialised services. Melinda is well-connected, well-read, and well-versed in the demands of the luxury market and its client base. Her advice is firmly based in objectivity and ultimately, accountability. Melinda offers constructive counsel and both strategic and creative thinking and is able to draw upon a strong network of specialised talent to compliment the MO Luxury team as needed. Melinda enjoys excellent industry relationships and is regularly quoted in the business and fashion media. Read more about MO Luxury,