Friday, 30 October 2009

Will French Luxury Brands Charm The Chinese With cColbert? – 30/10/09

In our recent article on Customer Connection Is Crucial, a marketing expert suggested that European luxury brands have to woo the Asian market by educating potential customers about their brands. His exact words were, “Tell them a story, tell them the history. A watch, a bag, a pair of shoes can become so much more if you educate people."

So now it seems the French luxury brands at least are listening. This week’s release of cColbert is proof.

cColbert is a website designed by the Comite Colbert, France’s leading luxury federation, that’s targeted at Chinese consumers and designed to create “a virtual voyage through French luxury.”

According to its website -, “the Comité Colbert, a group representing 70 French luxury houses, invites you to embark on an interactive journey in three dimensions to discover the world of French luxury.”

Whether or not cColbert will win Chinese customers over, we can’t predict, but we do think this is a step in the right direction for French luxury brands intent on charming the Asian market.

Boucheron Set To Sparkle In China? – 30/10/09

High-end Gucci Group jeweller Boucheron has inked a deal with Sparkle Roll Group Limited, a major Chinese distributor of prestige products, to create a chain of six to ten stores in China over the next five years.

“With their unique ability to bring luxury to the region, Sparkle Roll is the ideal partner to help us develop and strengthen Boucheron’s presence in China,” said Boucheron’s C.E.O, Jean-Christophe Bedos, in a FWD article.

Versace Forced To Cut 350 Jobs – 30/10/09

As we speak, Versace is in crisis mode. A quarter of their workforce will be axed and the company expects to make a loss for 2009.

In an AFP article, Versace's C.E.O, Gian Giacomo Ferraris, said, "Trading conditions in the wake of the global financial crisis have been severe and the company expects to make a loss in 2009.”

Versace announced earlier this month that they were closing their Japanese stores (see the MO Down for 8 October). Let’s hope all this cost-cutting combats their financial downturn.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Christian Lacroix Buy-Out Hearing Adjourned – 29/10/09

We expected Christian Lacroix to have a new owner by now. But the latest word is that the French tribunal set another hearing for November 17, due to procedural delays.

According to an AFP report, an Ajman sheikh, Al Hassan Bin Al Nuaimi, is the frontrunner in the buyout. Other contenders are Bernard Krief Consulting and La Financiere Saint Germain.

For more information, consult the MO Down on October 1.

Giorgio Armani Ready To Retire? – 29/10/09

"I'm already organizing staff who will continue my work. Of course I am not eternal, there comes a time when you must hand it over." - Giorgio Armani.

There you have it – straight from the horse’s mouth (via Reuters). Or is this just Armani’s way of toying with the media?

We can’t be sure. All we know is that earlier in the month, there was a major reshuffle of Armani’s senior management team (see the MO Down for 2 October) so perhaps an official announcement is imminent?... We’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Examining The New Breed Of Luxury Customer – 28/10/09

The ‘Luxe Market Faces [a] Wealth Of Challenges’ according to an Adweek article we came across today.

This in-depth four-page article put many interesting issues on the table. However, the section that caught our attention was subtitled, ‘The Importance Of Pedigree.’ Its crux was that a luxury brand's long-standing heritage is often an important part of its value to shoppers. Milton Pedraza, C.E.O. of the Luxury Institute, supported this argument, saying, "There are very few new luxury brands. It's extremely hard to be a luxury brand without the pedigree and longevity… In this market, people are gravitating toward quality and history.” This has always been a simple truth to us.

Another section that stood out was the ‘Rise And Fall Of The 'Aspirational.’ It stated, “One problem for the luxury market, though, is that it came to rely partly on customers who weren't really wealthy enough to be buying such goods in the first place -- the "aspirational" consumers who relied on credit to indulge in the luxe life.”

It also goes on to suggest that wooing the genuinely affluent customers requires a completely different marketing strategy. Another argument we strongly agree with. For more of our thoughts on this, consult our earlier article: What The Luxury Customer Always Wants.

To read the full article, click here. There is also a Part 2 to be released next week.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Burberry Branches Out Into Cosmetics – 27/10/09

The latest word from WWD Fashion is that Burberry has a cosmetics line in the pipeline.

This cosmetics line, to be produced by Inter Parfums SA., will incorporate a “complete colour line with about 100 references for eyes, lips and skin.”

We wonder what Burberry will call this range - ‘Colour Me Plaid’, perhaps?

On a more serious note, we suspect Burberry cosmetics will be successful. Their perfume range has proved very profitable for Inter Parfums. In fact, when Inter Parfums released their third quarter sales* last week to Reuters, their C.E.O., Jean Madar, singled out Burberry perfumes, saying, "Despite the difficult launch schedule comparison and the weak economic environment, [there was] strong growth of Burberry fragrances (up 19% in local currency) …”

* The third quarter net sales for Inter Parfums were $117.5 million, 5 percent below last year’s third quarter net sales of $123.5 million.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Asian Luxury Sales Predicted To Rise, While Other Countries Drop – 26/10/09

There are some “glimmers of hope” on the horizon for the luxury industry, in the wake of last week’s Bain & Co. annual ‘Luxury Good Worldwide Market’ study.

Claudia D`Arpizio from Bain & Co. said, "Luxury has been down, but it’s not out. The world of luxury will see dramatic shifts in the decade ahead."

Bain & Co. predicts that 2009 sales will be down 16 percent in America, 10 percent in Japan and 8 percent in Europe versus 2008 levels. But 10 percent projected growth in Asia will partially dull the impact of those declines.

Online sales are also proving to be a growth area, with a roughly 20 percent increase worldwide, but this channel still accounts for less than 3 percent of total sales.

Other predictions included:
- Jewellery, watches and other hard luxury items will be hit hardest in 2009, with a forecast decline of 18 percent.
- Apparel sales will fall by 11 percent worldwide.
- Perfume and cosmetics are expected to drop by a more than anticipated 4 percent in 2009.
- Leather, shoes and accessories will hold the line with only a projected 1 percent decline.

To read more of the Bain & Co. predictions, click here to go to Reuters.

Swiss Watchmakers Are Alarmed Over Another Sales Slump – 26/10/09

Time has not healed all for the Swiss watch industry – in fact Reuters revealed that demand slipped 26 percent in September, reversing the improvements seen in the previous two months.

These latest figures revealed, “Exports to Hong Kong, the industry's biggest market, slumped 30 percent, while demand in the United States fell 43 percent. China was down 1.1 percent and exports to Singapore fell 3.3 percent.”

Due to this disappointing data, Richemont shares also dropped 1.6 percent.

How times have changed. If we go back to late August (see the MO Down’s special Richemont report), Swiss watchmaker IWC, part of the Richemont Group, was said to be performing “astonishingly well” with “Hong Kong proving to be robust.” It looks like luxury customers are back to watching their spending…

Friday, 23 October 2009

Which Do You Prefer? Chanel Snoopy or Hermes Snoopy? – 23/10/09

We never thought we would say this but Snoopy is looking pretty suave these days. In honour of Japanese Fashion Week, everyone’s favourite cartoon dog has been dressed by Hermes, Chanel, Chloé and Balenciaga.

We adore the Chanel Snoopy and want to take him home! To see all of Snoopy’s high-end looks, click here to go to WWD Fashion.

Shop ’Til You Drop… The Guilt – 23/10/2009

Shopping has long been described as a guilty pleasure, but according to consulting firm Bain & Co., the economic crisis has caused the guilt factor to override the pleasure for some luxury shoppers.

Bain & Co. suggested “shoppers are suffering from luxury shame.” Brand strategist Martin Lindstrom agreed, saying, “Guilt has really increased in the last year.”

This Wall Street Journal article discussed how luxury brands might absolve that guilt, including: “touting a special justification for splurging—profits are channelled to a charity, for instance—or offering novel shopping experiences that can make people forget their guilt.”

Internet shopping was also promoted as a way of reducing guilt. As was the use of pop-up stores -boutiques that exist for a few weeks or months - in unexpected places that aren’t traditional luxury shopping districts. “The idea is that pop-ups may not activate the psychological barriers that prevent shoppers from entering traditional stores.”

Another strategy is that companies are putting more emphasis on the "guilt-free shopping" that is said to come with buying environmentally safe products.

This article really got us thinking. If you felt the same, click here to read more.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Louis Vuitton Streaks Ahead Due To Strong Demand In China – 22/10/09

This week is continuing to be a rollercoaster of ups and downs for the luxury goods industry.

We’ll start with the up side: Bloomberg reported that LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA’s third-quarter revenue beat analysts’ estimates after “exceptional” demand for Louis Vuitton bags in China. LVMH shares also rose 3.4 percent, to their highest point in more than a year.

Now to the down side: The Wall Street Journal revealed that PPR SA announced a 7.6 percent decline in third-quarter revenue as sales slumped in almost all divisions. "PPR faced the convergence...of several unfavourable factors," said Chairman and Chief Executive François-Henri Pinault, citing a lacklustre macroeconomic environment and lower tourist activity. He said the company plans to re-double their efforts to revitalise its business units with marketing initiatives.

Unfortunately, the bad news continues with Coach reporting a 3.4 percent drop in their fiscal first-quarter profit. But according to The Wall Street Journal, they are planning to reverse that trend by opening a flagship boutique in China and an Asian distribution centre. They are also wooing the budget-conscious consumer with their new Poppy collection, and are expanding their lower-priced handbag range.

For our detailed critique of Coach, consult the MO Down for July 20: Coach Is A Clear Winner In Tough Times.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Burberry Is Being Dogged By Plaid Plagiarism – 21/10/2009

Burberry definitely didn’t want to let sleeping dogs lie after they caught pets accessories chain Pets At Home using a plaid design on their dog coats and baskets, sold in 250 stores. Burberry claims this amounts to a copyright infringement - so Pets At Home may be in the legal doghouse…

Read more on this case in The Guardian.

Mixed Results On The Luxury Industry Recovery Front – 21/10/09

Today we are torn between two conflicting reports on the future of the luxury goods industry.

If we believe a Financial Times article, the glass is half full and the headline reads: ‘Luxury Goods Industry On Track For Recovery.’ And within this article, a Bain & Co. consultant is optimistic, saying, “Markets are stabilising. We are seeing less discounting and markdowns and more signs of increasing consumer confidence. Growth will be timid in 2010 but it’s movement in the right direction.”

But on the other hand, the glass is definitely half empty over at the Wall Street Journal, where the headline reads, ‘Luxury-Goods Sales Still Soft, Recovery Unlikely Before 2011.’ Referencing the same consulting firm as the Financial Times, Bain & Co., this article predicts the luxury goods industry “won't fully recover from the downturn until 2011 or 2012. This year's decline in sales of luxury goods, including apparel, jewellery and fashion accessories, will be steep, off 8% to about $227 billion.”

So which article do we believe? We definitely prefer the Financial Times report; their talk of “cautious optimism” and “fast-growing luxury goods sales in China will return the industry to growth next year” is music to our ears.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

French Government Pledges Aid To Struggling Couture Industry – 20/10/09

French couture artisans are slowly becoming a dying breed. But their chances of survival are destined to improve if the French Government goes ahead with plans to offer them a rescue package.

We read in a Wall Street Journal article that France's Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, is meeting with government advisers, luxury-goods executives and artisans to draw up an aid package for the country's craftsmen.

The article also goes on to remind us that “in an attempt to preserve technical know-how and guarantee quality, some fashion houses have sought to buy up the artisans themselves. Over the past 15 years, Chanel has bought out several Paris-based artisans who make garments for ‘haute-couture,’ the highest-end of the designer clothes spectrum.”

We hope that France can save its haute-couture industry, which some say is fighting for its life. We would hate to see it go out of fashion. As we concluded in the July 12 MO Down, it is ‘the top of the pyramid’, the lofty heights most customers aspire to. It also helps to sell brands’ ready-to-wear lines, accessories and, most importantly, their fragrance and beauty products – making it very valuable indeed!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Luxury Brands Should Update Their Social Networking Status – 19/10/09

According to Facebook statistics, 96 percent of the next generation of luxury consumers - Generation Y - are using social media. And 27 percent of them claim their purchase decisions are influenced by such sites. These facts, sourced from a Forbes article, are another clear indicator of the growing power of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

This compelling article argued that social media can not be overlooked, saying “Brand makers that don't create their own conversation with their most passionate customers through social networks risk having a passionate consumer create that presence instead. Facebook and Twitter are cluttered with brand sites that weren't created and aren't maintained by marketers. And, what happens when brand makers don't initiate the conversation? Two good examples can be found on @123dolcegabbana on Twitter and the Emporio Armani fan page on Facebook. Both feature fans boasting of their discount brand purchases and fashion critiques, but no voice from anyone who officially represents the brand."

We had a quick look at 123dolcegabbana on Twitter and found they had 2,800 followers. And the Emporio Armani site had 204,725 fans. That’s a large window of opportunity for these brands, one that would be a huge shame to waste.

For more on the social media debate, consult our recent MO Down reports: Luxury Car Brands Hitting The Brakes On Social Networking and Louis Vuitton’s Paris Fashion Show To Be A Facebook Spectacular.

What The Luxury Customer Always Wants – 19/10/09

"Luxury consumers buy from brands they trust and part of that trust is authenticity. Part of the reason why consumers buy from a particular brand is because the brand's heritage and history resonates with them. These have always been important to the luxury consumer and I doubt this will change” – Desiree Tung, Executive Director, Asia Pacific and Middle East, Worldwide Business Research*.

This is a vital point from an Emirates Business 24/7 article. It is an important truth that all luxury brands should keep at the heart of their business development plans.

Tung also continued on to say: “Also what will not change is their demand for quality, value and exclusivity. For luxury brands, the importance of fostering long-term relationships with luxury consumers and continually ensuring their brand resonates with them cannot be understated." Tung is a very wise man in our eyes.

*Worldwide Business Research will host the Leaders in Luxury Middle East conference in Dubai from November 2.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Giorgio Armani For Senator – 16/10/09

We did a double take today when we read in WWD that Giorgio Armani has been nominated for the Italian senate by his fashion rival, Santo Versace.

This news came as such a shock to us that we quickly researched other sources and discovered it was indeed true. Armani has been recommended for a Senator of Life position*. And Versace did nominate him - for his “earnestness, creativity and excellence”, saying to WWD that “there is nobody that deserves it more or who better represents our country.”

This is a huge honour for Armani and if he does become appointed, we expect Italian politics to become much chicer.

*The Senator for Life post is appointed for outstanding merits in the social, scientific, artistic and literary fields. Only five Senators for Life can be appointed at one time. And there is only one post vacant at the moment.

After Yamamoto’s Lucky Escape, Is Escada Next? – 16/10/09

It is clear that you can’t keep a good brand down. Yohji Yamamoto, the Japanese designer who filed for bankruptcy this week, is being bailed out by Integral Corp., an investment company based in Tokyo, according to Bloomberg.

And in another Bloomberg report, we discovered that Escada, who filed for insolvency in August, has received acquisition bids from at least five investors. So, there could be another happy ending on the cards.

For background info on the Escada insolvency, see the MO Down for 13 August.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Luxury Car Brands Hitting The Brakes On Social Networking? – 15/10/09

The luxury car industry is not jumping on the social networking bandwagon fast enough, according to a study by New York-based consultancies MH Group Communications and Forum Strategies & Communications.

The study, "Luxury Auto Brands and their Presence in Social Media," measured the level of activity on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and concluded that German automakers dominate the luxury auto business category, while Japanese and American brands are largely absent and unimpressive within social media.

The nine brands that ranked the highest in their social network involvement were:
1. BMW (with a sizeable lead in conversation levels)
2. Porsche
3. Audi
4. Mercedes
5. Cadillac
6. Lexus
7. Acura
8. Infiniti
9. Lincoln

Jeffrey Sindone, President of Forum Media, Forum Strategies & Communications, had this savvy piece of advice for the auto brands: "The use of social media can no longer be regarded as an afterthought, but must be viewed as a foundational element that is part of any holistic communications strategy.”

Yes, you can’t discount the power of positive word-of-mouth. Perhaps the luxury auto brands should look to the luxe fashion sector for guidance. Last month, Burberry even launched their own social networking site,, (see our report on 21 September). And this month, Louis Vuitton pleased their internet-savvy fans by broadcasting their Paris Fashion Show on Facebook for the very first time (see the MO Down for 5 October).

For more key findings from this study, click here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Gucci Looks To A Greener Future – 14/10/09

Our eco-friendly radar has picked up an exciting new development in the Gucci camp.

The luxury brand has pledged to sponsor a three-year Ph.D scholarship devoted to innovations in sustainable fashion and textiles. “We are always searching for innovative new ways to sustainably improve the way we work,” said Gucci spokesperson Mimma Viglezio.

This commitment to greener practices is likely to work in Gucci’s favour. As we said in our earlier report on July 6, luxury brands are keen to please their young, more eco-friendly clients.

To read more about Gucci’s scholarship, click here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Imagine A World Where Fans Pay To Keep Brands In Business - 13/10/09

In the wake of Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto filing for bankruptcy (see yesterday’s MO Down), we thought we would draw your attention to Catwalk Genius, a relatively new fashion investment website, where fans can pay to keep their favourite designers in business.

According to a New York Times article: ‘Putting Your Money Where Your Style Is, the site uses “the Internet’s social networks to raise capital in return for a share of the profits in individual collections.”

The program, which has been operating for a year, has drawn US $11,000 in investments. Not a huge amount, but enough to make us mark Catwalk Genius as a website to watch. If this business model does take off at a phenomenal level, it may herald a new revolution in the fashion world.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Tiffany & Co. Tipped To “Outperform” – 12/10/09

Last week, we revealed that Tiffany & Co. shares climbed a huge 4.6 percent (see the MO Down on 8 October). Today, it’s come to our attention that Zacks Equity Research singled Tiffany out as their “Bull of the Day” on October 7.

We read in a Reuters article that Zacks concluded, “Tiffany is well positioned to deliver robust sales and earnings growth.”

“Tiffany is concentrating more on smaller size store formats that offer selected collections of lower priced higher-margin products, which in turn enhance store productivity.” We’ve previously discussed Tiffany’s expansion of their ‘entry point’ sterling silver lines (see the MO Down for September 9).

Zacks went onto say that cost cutting through “reducing its headcount and trimming capital expenditure with fewer store openings” is contributing to the brand’s improved position.

Another Fashion Designer Files For Bankruptcy – 12/10/09

There has been another crushing blow to the fashion industry - with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto filing for bankruptcy protection.

According to a report in The New York Times, Yamamoto’s debt woes stem from the luxury market downturn that caused Japanese women, who were once the world’s most avid luxury shoppers, to turn to cheaper fashion. Swedish brand H&M was named as one of the new labels of choice for many Japanese.

The Yamamoto design house, founded in 1979, will continue to operate under Japan’s corporate rehabilitation law. So perhaps – like Christian Lacroix - there may be light at the end of the tunnel…

Bulgari Sales Are On The Rise Due To Asian Growth – 12/10/09

Two months ago, we announced Bulgari’s Down But Not Out (August 4) after the luxury jewellery brand revealed their second-quarter sales were 20.5 percent down versus last year. Now, Bulgari is back and they’re bigger than ever!

According to a Bloomberg article, “Sales have improved in the second part of the year, led by gains in Asia, its biggest market, and higher demand for handbags.”

Bulgari’s C.E.O, Francesco Trapani, said,“In the last three or four months things have been significantly better than the first part of the year, both for retail and wholesale.”

He also said demand for watches have shown signs of improvement in the past three months.

And there was some surprising news on the Japanese front. Trapani said that Japan remains profitable for Bulgari, and they plan to keep about 40 stores there. We were a little taken back by this revelation, considering Versace’s decision last week to close its Japanese stores (see the MO Down for October 8).

After all this unbridled positivity, the company’s shares jumped 5.9 percent to an 11-month high. More news to celebrate.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Coach vs. Target In The Battle Of The Handbags – 9/10/09

In the case of Coach vs. Target, Coach is adamant that Target copied one of their handbag designs. But it will be up to a Manhattan court to decide whether Target will receive another black mark against their name (Coach also sued Target in 2006 for the same offence. The companies settled outside of court.)

Coach is alleging that Target sold handbags with "exact and/or confusingly similar reproductions of Coach's Ergo designs and Signature Patchwork designs." In a complaint filed at a U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the company requested Target stop selling the bags and pay an undetermined amount in damages, injunctive relief and attorney fees.

Representatives for Target were said to be reviewing the case and have defended their actions, saying that it is their policy “to respect the intellectual property rights of others."

We will be watching this case carefully, and will let you know when the judge makes his final ruling.

Click here to read more on this case.

Christian Lacroix Rumoured To Be Sold – 9/10/09

No official word has been given yet, but according to a reliable source (WWD Fashion), Lacroix’s new owner is an Ajman sheikh, Al Hassan Bin Al Nuaimi.

If this is the first you’ve heard of the Sheikh, see our comprehensive report on the 1st October. And keep watching this space for confirmation.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Versace To Close Their Japanese Stores – 8/10/09

Versace is set to say ‘sayonara’ to Japan, as they close down their three Japanese stores and review their business strategy.

“The Versace boutiques in Japan no longer represented the brand image and it was felt to be more advantageous for the company to close them and start with a clean slate,” Versace said in a statement.

This news from Bloomberg once again highlights the major decline in the Japanese luxury market. Hermes CEO, Patrick Thomas, may just be proved right with his recent statement: “I’m not expecting to see the light of the tunnel before 2010. The Japanese economy is not good and we all feel it.” (see the MO Down for 25 September for the full article on Hermes’ Japanese sales slump).

Tiffany & Co. Shares Reach New Heights – 8/10/09

Tiffany & Co.’s shares have risen to the highest level in more than a year, after Citigroup recommended buying their shares, according to Bloomberg.

The stock climbed 4.6 percent after a Citigroup report announced, “We believe Tiffany will benefit from market-share gains given capacity withdrawal -- liquidations, store closures -- beginning in the fourth quarter of 2009 as consumer spending stabilizes.”

For more facts and figures, read the full Bloomberg article.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Sweet Scent Of Success For Jimmy Choo? – 7/10/09

Breaking news: Jimmy Choo will be branching out from footwear to fragrance. The brand has signed a 12-year global fragrance licensing agreement with Inter Parfums SA, according to WWD Fashion.

Inter Parfums holds numerous high-end fragrance licenses, including Burberry, Lanvin, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paul Smith and Christian Lacroix, so we are expecting big things from this licensing deal.

Licensing is a hot topic on the MO Down. If done well, it can expand the brands’ market presence. We discussed this very issue in detail earlier in the year (see the MO Down on 16 June: Licensing Still Has Its Place In The Luxury Industry).

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Customer Connection Is Crucial – 6/10/09

Q: What could be holding luxury brands back from succeeding in Asia?
A: "Service is the weakest link in the luxury business model," according to Michel Phan, Assistant Professor of marketing at the Paris-based ESSEC Business School.

Talking in a Reuters article, Phan continues on to say, “It's not enough to say 'Our brand is expensive, or known'. You have to make customers connect with your brand, especially during this crisis, when they're more reluctant to buy on the spur of the moment. You have to give people a good reason to buy."

When wooing the Asian market, Phan also believes “luxury retailers need to educate potential customers about their wares.” In reference to the Chinese consumers, he said, “Tell them a story, tell them the history. A watch, a bag, a pair of shoes can become so much more if you educate people."

We believe Phan is a man after our own heart. Customer Relationship Management and adapting to each market is crucially important (for more of our thoughts, refer to the MO Down for August 21).

Tod’s Shows More Signs Of Recovery – 6/10/09

Italy's Tod's rose as much as 3.5 percent to levels last reached in December 2007, after UBS upgraded the luxury shoe and bag maker to "buy" from "neutral", according to a Reuters article.

UBS says it sees potential benefits for Tod’s from increased store traffic and expects the negative sales trend of handbags to reverse next year.

The MO Down pegged Tod’s as showing signs of recovery in July (see our report: Tod’s Plays On Their Strengths In Shoes.)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Louis Vuitton’s Paris Fashion Show To Be A Facebook Spectacular – 5/10/09

For the first time in history, Louis Vuitton will offer a live broadcast of its Women’s Spring/Summer 2010 show exclusively on Facebook on October 7.

On Facebook, a Louis Vuitton event invitation announced:“Current and future fans of the Louis Vuitton Facebook page will be able to watch the latest Marc Jacobs creations for Louis Vuitton streamed live from Paris Fashion Week. Viewers will also be given the opportunity to comment on the event live from their Facebook status. Following the event, the video of the show will be available on demand exclusively on the fan page for 24 hours.”

We were alerted to this development by an article in The Independent, which suggested this event comes “as part of a trend that sees brands increasingly involve the masses instead of focusing on just a select 'high-end' audience.”
We’ve certainly noticed a growth in luxury brands focus on social networking sites. Refer to the MO Down on June 25 for our thoughts on this recent communication revolution.

The Prada Transformer Takes Its Fourth And Final Form – 5/10/09

The Prada Transformer in Seoul is still going strong as it recently entered its final transformation.

The Transformer was rotated and reconfigured to host the final stage of its transformation cycle: a day of events entitled “The Student Takeover.” The program was based around Korean students exhibiting new design ideas and artwork using the theme of ‘transformation’. Click here to read more on this special event.

Launched in April this year, this has been a project that has captured the world’s attention. We have been following it since January (see the MO Down for 16 January) and have been intrigued by its creativity and unique collaboration between fashion and the arts.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Hermes Makes A Big Splash With Their Luxury Yacht Concept – 2/10/09

Last month, we revealed the Hermes helicopter (see the MO Down for 10 August). Now we have the pleasure to unveil Hermes’ vision for a luxury wedged-shaped yacht.

Part of a collaborative effort with Monaco-based Wally Construct, this innovative new craft boasts an on-board salt water swimming pool, a 2,200 square foot master-suite decorated by Hermes, cinema and many other state-of-the-art features.

Even if you don’t usually care for yachts, you’ll want to see this designer beauty. Click here to view CNN’s gallery of photos.

Giorgio Armani Reshuffles His Management Team – 2/10/09

Fresh from his success at Milan Fashion Week, Giorgio Armani is shaking things up. According to a Reuters article, he just named a new deputy chairman and an executive in charge of financial management and investments.

The brand said in a statement that Gianni Gerbotto would leave his position as General Manager of Giorgio Armani SpA and would now be responsible for the company's financial management and investments.

Deputy General Manager John Hooks will become deputy chairman and will join the board with responsibility for global commercial strategy and markets and brands development.

Livio Proli, currently General Manager of controlled subsidiary Simint SpA, will become general manager of Giorgio Armani SpA, responsible for operational and commercial management.

This article also hinted at the ‘Armani Enigma’: the fact that Armani has “kept investors guessing on the future of his company, at times hinting at a bourse listing and at other times signalling he could sell the group.”

Burberry Shares Climb Again After RBS Upgrade – 2/10/09

Shares in luxury goods brand Burberry Group rose 1.6 percent after the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) upgraded its stance on the stock to "buy" from "hold".

RBS says the brand remains deeply under-developed, providing attractive opportunities for growth. Click here for more from Reuters. And also consult the MO Down for 25 September, when we reported that Burberry Shares Surge Over 5 Percent.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Mexico Is The Strongest Luxury Market Says Ferragamo Chief – 1/10/09

For the first time, Mexico has hit the MO Down’s radar with reports that Michele Norsa, Salvatore Ferragamo SpA’s Chief Executive Officer, revealed it is a new growth hot spot.

Norsa revealed the Italian fashion brand’s strongest sales growth this year was in Mexico, where the wealthy spent more at home as the peso fell.

“Sales are up 30 percent” in Mexico, “where Ferragamo sells from about 15 outlets,” Norsa said.

Norsa also stated, the U.S. market is also “not as bad as it was before,” while Chinese demand “is much more consistent and the number of new projects is uncomparable” to other nations. Around eight new Chinese stores are planned for next year.

For more of this interview with Norsa, click here to go to Bloomberg.

The Luxury Brand Lowdown On Paris Fashion Week – 1/10/09

Still on the hot topic of Paris Fashion Week, we noticed that tongues are still wagging about Emanuel Ungaro’s shock decision to appoint Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan as their official artistic adviser (see the MO Down on September 16 for more juicy details).

Also, everyone is keenly awaiting British designer Phoebe Philo's collection for Celine. Personally, we can’t wait to see what Chloé’s former It girl has up her sleeve. See the MO Down on 15 June for our comments on Philo’s preview show, held in June.

A Surprise Twist In The Christian Lacroix Bailout – 1/10/09

Hallelujah! Christian Lacroix’s saviour may have finally arrived - with the French luxury brand’s administrators interested in an offer from an Ajman sheikh.

According to a Reuters article, one of Lacroix’s administrators, Regis Valliot, said, "We are close to reaching a solution with the sheikh of Ajman... generally speaking, it's very satisfactory."

Valliot also said the sheikh's offer envisaged a 70 million euro capital injection into the brand and keeping all employees.

However, nothing has been set in stone. The sheikh faces rival proposals from Italian businessman Maurizio Borletti, Bernard Krief Consulting and the Financiere Saint-Germain holding company that owns the Daum and Lalique crystalware firms.

So the Lacroix bidding war is definitely heating up. If you have missed our prior rundowns of these ‘battles’, consult the MO Down for 9 September (Lacroix Moves One Step Closer To A Borletti Bailout’).

Christian Lacroix is also in the headlines for another reason – he is noticeably absent from Paris Fashion Week. We read in an AFP report that his couture house has only failed to stage a catwalk presentation twice since it was founded in 1987. And this will be "the first time that a collection has not even been made." This is a sad state of affairs, but with a sheikh in his corner, hopefully he won’t be missing in action for much longer.

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,