Thursday, 30 September 2010

Morgan Stanley Has Its Eye On China’s Luxury Market 30/9/10


It is certainly all eyes on China at the moment, as far as the luxury industry is concerned. China is a huge, lucrative cake, and everybody wants a piece. Investment banks are taking notice of China’s new found appetite for luxury goods, Morgan Stanley’s private equity arm has just bought a $42m stake in Sparkle Roll, which sells luxury brands such as Bentley, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini. It seems like a wise investment to us. They certainly have a knack for tapping into the money, and the Chinese, for tapping into the luxury brands.

At the rate they are going, there is no shortage of Chinese demand for the kinds of goods Sparkle Roll represents. Particularly in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzou, Shenzen, Chengdu and Shenyang, the ‘nouveau riche’ just keeps on growing. China’s impressive economic growth has resulted in luxury brands bending over backwards to become popular. So far, the Chinese market has proved open, but particular. As we have seen, consumers have specific tastes– fashion houses have been tweaking their images to appeal. Will the investment banks care to invest in the proper marketing of the businesses they invest in? From what we have seen in China so far, marketing is make or break…

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Giorgio Armani goes Gaga 29/9/10


We’ve seen all sorts of collaborations recently, Hermes with Wally, Lanvin with H&M. This one is of a different variety, but certainly intriguing nonetheless. Giorgio Armani will design costumes for Lady Gaga’s Italian concert in December. Its not a collection that will be available to the masses, but it may as well be- this partnership will be worth millions in publicity, not to mention the clothing. An effort to rejuvenate one of the oldest names in fashion, there is not a doubt in our minds that this performance will be as much about the outfits as the music. Clever move by Armani, obviously aware of the pressure on fashion houses to keep up with the times or fade away.

Lady Gaga is at the top of her game. Controversial, vibrant, catchy and, above all, enormously popular, there is a risk that they are pinning a reputation built and refined over hundreds of years, to a firecracker that could burn out at a moment’s notice. Gaga has risen with more speed than the entire Formula 1 racing season put together, but how long does she have at the top? Is it to big a leap for fans of the more traditional GA, and will it reek of ‘selling out?’

As far as we are concerned, you could ask the same question of any bold move that’s ever been made. Fashion critics haven’t looked to Armani for new trends for years. Giorgio is on to a good thing that’s all about right now. If you think about it, this collaboration will be immortalised in a single production, but will not last forever. Gaga does not need to last another season. What will last is Armani’s perception as edgy and creative. What will last, is a whole lot of attention.

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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Brand Confusion in China 28/9/10


Great news for international luxury brands. A recent study has shown that Chinese consumers prefer imported brands to domestic brands. We’ve discussed in detail the increasing importance of the Chinese market to the luxury industry- they are fast becoming the world’s number one consumer of luxury goods. So much do the Chinese prefer international labels, that many Chinese brands are presenting themselves ambiguously, of non-specific origins, faux-foreign, if you will. Will they succeed in crowding out the international competition? We aren’t convinced….

It is interesting that whilst domestic brands want to seem international in China, international brands are working hard to localise- See Hermes and the recent launch of its new Shang Xia label. Much attention is being given to the discussion over which brands will survive as the fittest in the increasingly overcrowded, but extremely lucrative, Chinese market. We think the real issue is going to shift from domestic vs imported, to whether brands can fight themselves apart from the blurry mass of competition.

It is important for brands to remember that identity is everything, but identity does not exist in a vacuum. Clever marketing involves adapting with your market. If the Chinese market demands an international, world-renowned, elegant but youthful, sophisticated but accessible, showy but modest, traditional but edgy brand in line with domestic taste and demonstrating good CSR…. Then that, it seems, is what they shall have. Too confusing? Hermes has it all sorted. Launching an international brand off the back of a global fashion powerhouse, all the while intertwining it with Chinese history and culture? Pure genius. We can’t wait to watch Shang Xia blossom.

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Monday, 27 September 2010

Bid speculation for Burberry? 27/9/10


Just a quick update for this morning based on reassuring data from the US. The FTSE has risen this month, 7.1 per cent so far. On track for the best monthly performance since August 2009, it seems that the global economy might be on the mend! Something that caught our attention, is the bid speculation surrounding Burberry (BRBY.L). The stock gained 6 per cent, with traders talking of bid interest from a US private equity firm... Very early days, but certainly something to watch! Head to Reuters for more info....

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LVMH and Rakuten go to War Against Fakes 27/9/10


LVMH and Rakuten Inc. have just signed a deal to band together in the fight against brand terrorism. As Japan’s biggest online retailer expands into Europe, Rakuten have developed a system that will flag and notify the real brand owners when fake items are sold on the site. It’s an online shopping service similar to Amazon.com, in that it connects consumers with small-scale vendors. We love that they are taking the initiative to ensure that the vendors being connected are legitimate ones only. This will be an enormous deterrent to counterfeiters, who generally like to evade responsibility for the fakes they peddle. By making vendors accountable for their product, it makes life very difficult for the frauds.

Luxury brands have certainly clashed with online retailers as of late- see ebay Vs Tiffany & Co. Brands are increasingly furious that online retailers facilitate the sale of fake goods, and that counterfeits are able to be sold anonymously with no apparent repercussions. Hopefully this move will set a precedent that will see stronger safeguards towards patent protection. It’s a great first step towards protecting the future of the brands we love.


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Friday, 24 September 2010

Luxury Brands Resist Selling Online 24/9/10


Luxury brands are usually at the forefront of all things cutting edge. So why have they been so reluctant to embrace online shopping? Perhaps they are learning from the success of others such as Net-a-porter and shopbop, because it seems some brands are slowly but surely coming around. This week, Marc Jacobs ventured into online retailing, last month Prada made a quantum leap by offering accessories. Stubbornly, not clothes.

It seems that consumer demand and fashion-house pride are engaged in a headlock. The almighty Internet could certainly serve luxury brands, used correctly. But perhaps it asks in return, for something they are not willing to give: their status. It makes sense for the online marketplace to be seen to undermine the aura that surrounds luxury brands. The commodification of luxury is something these brands desperately try to avoid. Will Prada still be ‘Prada’ when it arrives in a box on the front door? Of course. But the in-store ritual is half the experience. Despite the obvious convenience, there is something clinical about online purchases. In the same shopping session, one may as well order vacuum bags.

Nonetheless, the reality is that there is one luxury no amount of money can buy, that no brand nor legacy will ever supersede. Time. Consumers are strapped for time, and luxury brands perhaps must recognise this if they want to maintain their loyal followings. This is not to say that the Internet will ever take over entirely, but online is an option young markets are increasingly refusing to go without. It seems the time has come for luxury brands to shape up, and ship out.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Luxury Brands Find Their Sea Legs 23/9/10


It seems that luxury brands are attempting to anchor in the super yacht market. Two worlds collide as Fashion goes nautical- and if you think we mean stripes and boaters, we don’t. Its an unusual collaboration, but one that is certainly intriguing.

Last year, Hermes and Wally co-created WHY (Wally Hermes yachts), a joint venture that, naturally, inspired a brand of luxury the world has never seen. Wally founder Luca Bassani Antivari, launched a $170 m AUD triangular yacht last year, co-designed, to be seaworthy and unrivalled in elegance. This month, Gucci partnered with PPR and last year, Armani and Ralph Lauren with Feadship.

These kinds of collaborations are much more than a race to the top. Beyond trying to out-do one another, the brands are strategically aligned to maximise their appeal to a very elite group of consumers. It’s a symbiotic relationship, whereby two brands combine their power to create a super brand! Gucci becomes more lifestyle, and PPR becomes more chic- are there any losers in this situation?

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Frauds At It Again, Another Victory Over Counterfeiters 22/9/10


The frauds have been foiled again! Five London men were charged yesterday, in connection with a global multi-million pound designer good counterfeiting ring. We can’t speak out enough against the damage fakes cause. We know that illegal copies of brands like Gucci, Versace, Ralph Lauren, etc. seem harmless. There’s certainly a strong sentiment out there that these brands can ‘afford it.’ It’s not like ripping off a quaint local label, right? True. Luxury brands work with enormous budgets, and we haven’t seen any go under yet. What is all the fuss about?

Counterfeits are like brand cancer. Mutated, replica bag-cells, are out mixing with the population, causing more destruction that most consumers care to realise. Did you know that annual sales of counterfeit goods total around US$600 billion worldwide? And that this figure accounts for almost 7% of global trade? (These figures do include industries other than luxury goods, by the way). In Australia, counterfeiting robs businesses of over $1 billon AUD a year. Slowly but surely, brand integrity, quality, labour standards, and economic performance are slowly eroded. We’ve spoken extensively about intellectual property and brand degradation, but it’s also important to realise that purchasing fake goods has economic ramifications, too. We are glad to see that those behind this pseudo-industry are being held responsible, and are proud to support the fight against it.

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David Jones Shares Underperforming? 22/9/10


Just thought we would bring you a quick update on the ASX this morning. At the close of trading in Sydney yesterday (4:10 p.m), Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index had dropped 0.2 percent. The change that caught our attention, of course, was no other than David Jones Ltd. (DJS AU). The stock retreated 0.8 percent to $5.20 AUD, prompting Credit Suisse Group AG to downgrade it from ‘neutral’ to ‘underperform.’ Not a great time for Australia’s second largest department store chain- we have such faith in the David Jones name, and know they will dust themselves off and recover from this brief downturn.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Getting Down To Business: How To Enter The World Of Luxury 21/9/10


Luxury is magnetic. Intelligent luxury brands understand that their success relies heavily on those who work for them. After all, a business is nothing if not its people. Recruitment strategies are fundamental to total business strategy.
Names such as Gucci, YSL, Hermes, Prada, Chanel, represent legacies- years of excellence and stability. The people behind them keep the wheel turning, and reinforce the power and standing of these iconic luxury brands. But how does one get over the counter, so to speak?

In Australia, one can work within the luxury industry a lot more readily than in other countries. In France, positions in head office are highly coveted by retail staff, who themselves are often well-to-do, society people to begin with. In Korea, you almost need to be royalty- at least from a recognised political or wealthy family. The same can be said for a lot of senior positions in Hong Kong and China. Luxury brands are at the top of the consumer/retail pyramid. Entry into these rarefied environments is highly desired, and highly limited, by very nature of the niche markets themselves. When dealing with people’s ‘dream’ brands on a day-to-day basis, it never ceases to amaze us how difficult potential candidates find it to articulate why.

In order to secure the ‘dream’ job, there is one tactic that almost never fails: research. Passionate people only apply please. Introduce yourself to the brand. Let it become a part of you, consume you even. If you can’t do this, then the brand is not for you. This is a career choice, a lifestyle choice even, not a job. Know the difference. The success of luxury brands is not only driven by innovation, quality and exclusivity, but also by the lifetime loyalty of clients. Working for luxury is an extension of one’s passion. It cannot be feigned.

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Monday, 20 September 2010

Hermes Unveils Shang Xia in China 20/9/10


Hermes’ exclusively Chinese luxury brand, Shang Xia, has finally been unveiled. We are following Chinese blog, Jing Daily, who had exclusive coverage of the event. As the first-ever Chinese high-end luxury brand to be built from the ground up by a major European luxury house, we can’t wait to see how this new brand is received. Designed to strike a balance between the extraordinary and the ordinary (its name literally translating to ‘Up Down’ from Mandarin), it sees the first example of a luxury brand tailored to a specific target market. Hermes has taken advantage of China’s increasingly insatiable thirst for luxury brands, and designed a new label, intricately linked to Chinese culture and traditions. No brand cannibalisation here- Shang Xia is all original, and all Chinese. Last week, we spoke about how clever this is by Hermes, managing to launch an independent and targeted brand off its own identity, without compromising its own image in the slightest- brilliant. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for China. For more information, check out Jing Daily’s extended report here.

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Prada Reports Dazzling First-Half Figures 20/9/10


Prada’s first-half figures for this year are pretty incredible. Will this see the brand finally ready to make an official IPO? They will certainly explore their options, since their first-half operating profit has more than doubled since they opened new stores, revenue reaching £103m (143.3m AUD). Excluding their new stores, Prada’s sales rose 22 per cent.

Prada said in June that it was following market trends to “evaluate the most suitable moment” to sell shares in an IPO, hoping to evade their history of unfortunate timing. If they look to list, it will be at least their fourth attempt over the past ten years to do so. Things are looking good this time. Sales grew in all markets, rising 19 percent in Europe, 30 per cent in the US and 40 per cent in the Far East. All countries and regions posted positive growth. This cannot be said for other luxury brands, so now is perhaps as good an opportunity as ever… We will keep you posted.

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Friday, 17 September 2010

Thailand Agrees- Fakes Are For Frauds! 17/9/10


Thailand has made a dramatic stand against counterfeit goods, burning over 80 tonnes of fakes. We’ve made it quite clear where we stand on this issue– ‘fakes are for frauds’ has become something of a slogan here at MO Luxury. We are pleased by Thailand’s recent demonstration of their commitment to observing intellectual property rights. In destroying fake goods, the Thai government has made a public stand against further production, and delivered a significant blow to the entire ‘fakes’ industry. Counterfeiting is finally being taken seriously.

Research has shown that people will pay twice as much for an item when they think they use it to send cues about their wealth and taste. When consumers can’t afford the original, the fakes do the job just fine. To us, this distorts, and somewhat undermines, everything that luxury brands stand for. Because it implies that the goods some people pay thousands for, aren’t worth the price tags they carry- and they are. We know that when we buy luxury, we are paying for the very best. A handbag from Louis Vuitton is so much more than a nice print, and if you can’t see that, then you probably shouldn’t be buying one in the first place. The price tag signifies the finest and purest of materials, innovation, and thousands of years of heritage. Don’t even get us started on comparing manufacturing processes and labour standards. Contemplating a harmless bargain? Think again.

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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Vuitton Running Out Of Stock? 16/9/10


We find it interesting to hear that Louis Vuitton is closing its Parisian stores an hour early for the rest of the year, to preserve stocks ahead of the Christmas rush. We don’t understand- are they having an amazing year, or did they underestimate their supply? Is there not time between now and Christmas to produce a little more? Stores frequented by tourists, including the brand’s flagship on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, particularly popular among Japanese, Chinese and Russian tourists, are saving their stock for when it counts, according to brand representatives. We wonder whether this is a genuine concern for supply and demand over the holiday period, or a clever tactical promotion. Either way, we take our hats off to the announcement, because it is likely that the perceived shortage of the goods will create a spike in sales, if nothing else. Isn’t luxury about rarity and exclusivity, after all? It seems to be part of human nature that the harder something is to acquire, the more sought after it becomes. We wonder whether the Hermes Birkins would have been quite as popular if there was one available for everyone who wanted one. There is certainly something about the thrill of a chase. Perhaps Vuitton is planning to capitalise on consumers’ fears of missing out, and counteract the increasingly popular opinion that Vuitton is too commercial? We will be curious to see how many disappointed shoppers are turned away on Christmas eve….

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

eBay Defeats Tiffany & Co- Fakes Not Its Fault 15/9/10


It seems that eBay is under scrutiny lately, accused of being a vendor of fake goods. Last week, the MO Down reported on a suit initiated by luxury giant LVMH. On Monday, eBay won dismissal of a lawsuit by Tiffany & Co, that accused the website of deceiving customers and selling counterfeit jewellery. Ultimately, its an issue of trademark infringement, and Tiffany think eBay have been involved in false advertising. Interesting, given that eBay simply host other people’s transactions and are not involved directly with trademark violations. While this does not make counterfeiting their fault, some would say eBay facilitates the sale of fake goods, and that this therefore implicates them in harbouring those actually responsible. Nonetheless, the ruling has been hailed an indisputable validation of eBay’s business practices, and the world’s largest online auctioneer can rest easy.

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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Hermes Launches Shang Xia Brand In China 14/9/10


Hermes is launching a new fashion and lifestyle brand in China this Thursday. Here at the MO Down, we are following Jing Daily, who have the exclusive rights to the story. Mandarin for ‘Up Down’, Shang Xia plans to follow local tastes and employ the best artisans in China, allowing them to tap into the world’s largest emerging luxury goods market, and without altering their brand identity in the slightest. Brilliant! When we think about it, globalisation presents a tricky dilemma for fashion houses like Hermes. You can’t please everybody, after all. On one hand, Hermes has sacred traditions based on its revered (not to mention invaluable) identity. As a brand, Hermes has more self-assuredness than any one could ever expect from a fashion house. Their reputation is key to their business plan– and they are a business, after all. So on the other hand, just like everybody else, and by whatever means, Hermes must market its goods. As a business, Hermes would be crazy to assume they can just march into a foreign market and have everyone go wild. It happens, but tis’ the exception, not the rule. It certainly doesn’t guarantee a large market share.

Hermes is not about to alter its image for China. To do so would be to edit its largest, most fragile asset. What an enormous gamble that would be. Instead, what we may be about to witness from Hermes is a seamless manipulation of ‘glocalisation’– creating a hybrid brand of global and local taste. We find the recent trend of luxury brands partnering with mainstream labels somewhat controversial– see our thoughts on Valentino yesterday. Hermes may be on the verge of proving a way to have its piece of the Chinese cake and eat its profits, too.

Of course, all this is speculation. Shang Xia is a covert operation and all details will remain behind closed doors until Thursday. We will bring you more news when to hand.

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Monday, 13 September 2010

Valentino Announces 'Capsule' Collection With Gap 13/9/10


Valentino is teaming up with Gap to create an affordable women’s wear range, the ‘capsule’ collection. Designed by creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiui and Pier Paolo Piccioli, the announcement follows Lanvin’s collaboration with H&M, last week. Here at the MO Down, we understand the mission behind this project: to bring the iconic world of Valentino into touch with Gap’s everyday fashion essentials. It makes luxury accessible to a wider market, by combining luxury with basics.

Our concern is that this sort of collaboration may be becoming a little too common, so to speak. When we buy luxury, we pay top dollar because we know that Valentino, for instance, we get what we pay for. The quality and rich history the Valentino name has come to represent, guarantees us the best and finest of design and materials. The Valentino name speaks loudly for the calibre of the product. We wonder if the collaboration of luxury with mass-market brands will have a long-term effect on brand value for the luxury partner?

Surely, these sorts of collaborations will do wonders for the everyday woman’s wardrobe. And for the seasoned fashionista, Gap will never know the true Valentino. But will aspirational markets start to question the sense in paying big bucks, when they can get something designed by Valentino For Gap, for a fraction of the price? We are afraid that these ‘spin-off’ labels, will do more damage than good. Time will tell.

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Friday, 10 September 2010

Luxury Brands Go Eco 10/9/10


It seems that calls for luxury brands to show corporate social responsibility are being answered! In the lead up to London Fashion Week, the Environmental Justice Foundation is releasing a series of organic, fair-trade T-shirts alongside big names like Christian Lacriox, Alice Temperley, Luella and Katharine Hamnett. It’s a golden age for eco-fashion in London, with the Environmental Justice Foundation setting up a pop-up shop to sell the ethically made T-shirts, designed to draw attention to the plight of child labourers in Uzbekistan. Aside from looking great, these T-shirts are also making the labels they represent look great! Much of the child labour in Uzbekistan involves cotton farming, and we don’t need to explain the importance of cotton to the fashion industry. Most people probably don’t consider where all these fine materials actually come from, so it’s nice to see labels with some cachet shining some light on important global issues.

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Burberry Has Its Finger On The Pulse.... And One On The iPad 10/9/10


Burberry is embracing online shopping, expanding an iPad-based online shopping program in order to encourage store visits. By setting up iPad’s at 25 outlets worldwide, shoppers will be able to browse and order from the spring-summer 2011 collection with the swish of an index finger. It has been revealed that the service will be available for use during the live broadcast of Burberry’s show during London Fashion Week on September 21. Items purchased during the show will be delivered in seven weeks- three months before the items appear in stores. We think this is a genius strategy, built around the rush of excitement for new products, while simultaneously integrating new media and… Apple products (they had us at hello)… Impulse buyers beware!

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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Bulgrai Pledges $7.4m To Save The Children


Save the Children announced today that Bulgari have pledged $7.4m (AUD$8.1m) to Save the Children’s commitment to provide quality education programs around the world during 2011. Just the other day, we commented on how much luxury brands could benefit from such action. This is a contribution to a great cause that will also undoubtedly do wonders for their bottom line. It will be particularly interesting to see how this effects the brand’s popularity in China- see Luxury Brands & CSR.

Critics will be critics, and already bloggers have accused Bulgari of ‘using’ philanthropy to their own advantage. Let us ask this: does anybody care? Children who wouldn’t otherwise, will now get the chance to go to school. As far as we are concerned, everybody wins! What’s more, this act of charity will not expire come next year’s campaigns, by training teachers, Save the Children can provide communities with a sustainable resource for educating children in years to come. In addition, we look forward to the newest Save the Children ring- proceeds to go to back into the program.


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Richemont Sales On The Rise 9/9/10


Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA– think Cartier, IWC and Dunhill, rose 37 per cent in the past five months. Double-digit increases in every product category and region (except Japan)– not bad! Richemont attributes the growth to the low figures in the same period last year, and to the acquisition of Net-a-Porter, the online retailer we are sure you all know and love! It’s still too soon to declare the recession securely in the past, but even without Net-a-porter, a 5 month growth of 22 per cent, ain’t at all shabby. The biggest growth-region, as expected, was Asia-Pacific. We assume the Chinese have a huge part in this area’s 51 per cent sales increase. Sales in North America rose 52 percent, though in proportion to a terrible year last year. Nice to see things are looking up for consumers around the world, and that our favourite brands are taking back the night!

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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Cavalli Reports Strong First Half 8/9/10


Strong and confident prints, a touch of animal, and gold, have certainly not hindered Cavalli this year. Reporting a profit for first-half, the Roberto Cavalli group reported a net profit of €1.9m ($2.5m), compared with a loss of €3.5m ($4.6m) last year. According to executive director Gianluca Brozetti, CEO, both wholesale and retail sales grew in the first half, compensating for a drop in royalties from its Just Cavalli licensee Ittierre SpA, which has been in government-backed bankruptcy protection since February 2009. “Careful restructuring and cost control” helped to place the group back on solid ground. Looking at the second half, Brozetti remains confident given the uncertainty of the economy, and looks to special edition products and anniversary celebrations to yield further economic return.

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Dior Slammed For 'Racist' Images 8/9/10


Christian Dior is in a spot of hot water following the release of photos from its latest ‘Shanghai Dreamers’ campaign. It will be interesting to see whether photographer Quentin Shih, well known in China, can talk his way out of this!

The photographs depict white models in haute couture posing in front of identical Chinese extras in utilitarian work wear. Fashion bloggers everywhere have been slamming the campaign, calling it discriminatory and racist.

Advertising campaigns, particularly for luxury brands it seems, frequently employ controversial subject matter– Dior Addict, anyone? But this series of images is causing quite a stir.

Shih told journalists, ‘I wanted to show the power of the Chinese people standing together and a kind of socialism in Chinese history.’ All well and good, but if this means suggesting that all Chinese look the same, then the people aren’t happy.

At the same time, perhaps fashion devotees must remember not to take Dior’s statement so literally. Perhaps there is symbolic meaning that can be drawn from these images. Fashion is art, and art often causes a stir. Often, the stir is born from touching on something vital within society.

Playing on history is a clever tactic for fashion publicists- consumers will almost definitely engage with your brand. If Dior is going to parody an era that brought misery, imprisonment, and even death to countless citizens, it might be genius in gaining attention. But they must also remember: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Department Stores Cut Costs As They Get Ready To Talk Numbers 7/9/10


It seems that cost cutting is the new black for Australian department stores. David Jones and Myer have both reigned in their spending– they have to reveal their full-year results later this month, and simply aren’t getting away with the excesses of the past. According to Deutsche’s retail analysts, David Jones is forecast to deliver a full-year net profit after tax of $171m, up 10 per cent, with earnings before interest and tax to rise 11 per cent to $251m. Myer is expected to report underlying net profit after tax of $165m, up 52 per cent with EBIT up 14 per cent to $269m. Gross margins are expected to be resilient in spite of industry discounting that reflects the benefits from supplier negotiations at DJs and the high-margin private label program at Myer. Retail trading conditions are still tough in the wake of the GFC, but things are looking up. Retailers are expecting a better Christmas this year than they have had in a while.

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Shipwrecked In Style 7/9/10


To anyone who doesn’t think that you get what you pay for: divers have just recovered 200-year old bottles of champagne from the bottom of the Baltic Sea. We think this is a lovely example of how luxury lasts.

70 bottles of champagne lie undamaged under 50m of water. The cargo was believed to have been heading to the Russian Imperial Court from France circa 1800- they are nearly as old as Australia! Preserved for 200 years on a seabed, each of the bottles is estimated to be worth tens of thousands of Euros. Most likely, just as they were back then– relatively speaking, of course. Champagne was certainly not a drink enjoyed by the common man. The fact is, luxury is an investment. Luxury brands like to talk about longevity and quality, its great to see such an irrefutable example. Back then, things were made to last, to stand the test of time. Nowadays, things are generally made to be disposable. Luxury is an art, and art is the expression of human creative skill. It lives forever. Perhaps the discovery of this champagne should be taken as a reminder of this, and celebrated over a glass of…

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Monday, 6 September 2010

eBay Counterfeiting Conviction... Too Soft? 6/9/10


We have been very vocal about our objection to counterfeiting lately, here at the MO Down. This week, a Paris court has drastically reduced damages demanded from eBay, following a suit from LVMH for selling fake goods. The original conviction of €38m ($53.4m AUD) was reduced to €5.7m (approx $8m AUD), and we aren't really sure what to make of this. Both sides have claimed victory. Excuse us?

The real issue here cannot be expressed in dollars or euro. eBay have had its wrist slapped, and LVMH is pleased to have a precedent. But will this stop counterfeit products being sold online in the future? Is it enough? We worry that the crime of counterfeiting is not being taken seriously. Sure, fashion knock-offs might not be a crime priority in the realm of drug trafficking and credit card fraud, but they are a breach of intellectual property in the same league as plagiarism and film piracy. The future of the innovation and investment in quality that these brands represent is contingent on their ability to uphold their high standards. These standards falter in the hands of counterfeiters who peddle mediocre products under their names.

LVMH contended that it was hurt by the sale of fake products on its site. Lost revenue is only the half of it. The real damage is to brand identity. No matter what, there is always someone who argues for fakes, claiming they raise brand awareness. We beg to differ– see Fake Goods Are Fine...Not from last week! Luxury companies spend millions of dollars each year to provide an exclusive service to a specific market. Anything less is directly opposed to the interests of their brand awareness. Fakes are not fine!

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Friday, 3 September 2010

Plans For Jimmy Choo To Make An Initial Public Offering 3/9/10


And its looking at being valued at around £500m (approx. $847m AUD). Not that we really needed any proof that women are obsessed with shoes. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are to become advisers for Jimmy Choo, which was bought for £180m ($305m AUD) in 2007 by Towerbrook Capital. Sold by Choo for £18m ($30.5m AUD) in 2001, and later to Lion Capital for £101m ($171m AUD), sales have grown 30 per cent per annum on average since. Not too shabby in just 6 years! If the demand for sky-high stilettos was ever in doubt, let the figures speak for themselves.

Originally shoes, though certainly not just any shoes, the company has since diversified into leather goods, frangrances, handbags and sunglasses. Last November, it forged a partnership with H&M to reach a wider audience- see Lanvin. With more than 110 stores in 32 countries, including recent openings in Singapore, Dubai, Sydney and Macao, CEO Tamara Mellon has certainly brought the brand a long way from its humble origins. She currently maintains an 18 per cent share in the company.

With Towerbrook evidently looking at options for an IPO, one can only assume they have been encouraged by recent successful flotations, including a sale for over £458m ($776m AUD) by French cosmetics brand L’Occitane in Hong Kong. In reality, the IPO or Sale would not occur until next year. Other options include keeping the company, and investing in more stores- particularly in the fast-growing Asian market.


Image credit: AFP

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Lanvin Confirms Holiday Collection With H&M 3/9/10


Will the real collaborator please stand up. Yesterday, we were certain that Bottega Veneta was going to partner with H&M– we were wrong! It seems this was just a rumor, and Lanvin is in fact the actual H&M collaborator. Joining the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Comme des Garcons, we can’t wait to see how Lanvin infuses H&M with its unique style.

Designed by Lanvin’s artistic director Alber Elbaz and menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver, the collections (both men’s and women’s) will become available in over 200 retail stores worldwide on November 23- though eager shoppers will be able to view the collections online from November 2. If there haven’t been enough surprises already, the online revelation will take the form of gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: Ir the occasion. H&M have been very secretive about the whole affair, and have teased followers with
cryptic clips for the past few days– we impatiently await the feature!

Image credit: http://www.lanvin.com

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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Luxury Brands & Corporate Social Responsibility in China- philanthropy, or good public relations? 2/9/10


As the MO Down has already touched on in the past few weeks, China is set to become the world’s largest consumer of luxury goods by the year 2015. As far as the Chinese market is concerned, brands may be forced to, quite literally, help people eat, or be eaten.

Luxury brands will need to compete to assert themselves in this increasingly lucrative market, and it will be interesting to see how they realise the image potential that lies in their CSR. Personal philanthropy is all the rage for the Chinese elite at the moment, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of corporate generosity- or lack thereof.

A survey of 1100 shoppers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, conducted by Albatross Global Solutions and Ruder Finn Asia, found that CSR would influence brand loyalty in 2/3 cases. This seems a golden opportunity for brands to capitalise on doing good. The ‘nouveau riche’ of China are indulging in luxury brands and flaunting their status to distinguish themselves, but are likewise under enormous social pressure to be charitable. As luxury, status and charity become inextricably linked in China, luxury brands will be scrutinised, and perhaps crazy, for not following suit.

Several luxury brands have already showed initiative- Bulgari released a ‘save the children’ charity ring, and Gucci have switched to environmentally friendly packaging. See It seems that the title of most charitable luxury brand may become a coveted one- May the best man win!

Image credit: http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/charles_bremner/2008/06/paris-stores-mi.html
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Bottega Veneta Collaboration With H&M? We Wait And See - 02/09/10

It’s always exciting to see a collaboration between luxury and mainstream fashion, and the latest relationship to form in the industry is between Bottega Veneta and retail giant H&M.

Whilst the duo forming together is still being kept secretive, H&M released a video a few days ago that caused a stir and alluded to the collaboration with Bottega Veneta. The blog world has been in overdrive as readers picked at the clues from the short video clip. The main clue being that a shadow cast figure in the video seems to be Tomas Maier, Bottega Veneta’s creative director.

The video ends with a date that we all wait for- September 9th. The day when the luxury face behind this new duo is revealed. Take a sneak peak here.

Image credit: H&M via Youbtube

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Hermes Net Income Increases 55 Percent - 02/09/10

It’s been a positive week for luxury brand Hermes, as net income increased 55 percent for their first half, with net income rising to $246 million.

Earlier this week HSBC rose their global growth forecast for the sector to 11 percent from 10 percent. Analyst Antoine Belge commented on the roaring nature of Asia in the luxury sector, “luxury companies are still spending cautiously, the China theme is positive for margins and the euro weakness is a poster.” The strongest growth for Hermes currently is in Asia and the US (with the US up 26% at the end of June.)

For Hermes the sky is the limit as shares have risen in the company roughly 52 percent, with sales estimated to increase by as much as 12% this year. With the rapid improved demand coming from the luxury Chinese shopper, Hermes look set to soar even further.

Image credit: hermes.com

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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Bulgari SpA Is Expected To Shine - 01/09/10

Bulgari SpA CEO Francesco Trapani has stated this week to the Wall Street Journal, of his confidence that the company can see an “aggressive rise” for this year. Last month, Bulgari’s second quarter net profit was reported at 600,000 euros ($763,300), and the company are expecting this to improve, alongside an increase in dividend.

Trapani expressed his confidence in the company’s future, yet also reminded us that Bulgari is not for sale- as companies like Switzerland Swatch have been interested in the purchase. While we wait, the result is sure to speak for itself!

Image credit: bulgari.com

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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, www.moluxury.com.au