Catwalks in the West, action in the East
THE shows are almost over. Next week the glossy posse, bleached weary from their month’s sprint to the world’s four fashion capitals—New York, London, Milan and finally Paris—will forsake the bright plumage of the catwalks for the mundane headaches of balance-sheets and supply chains.
Everyone now knows what will be in discerning wardrobes next spring: blocks of colour, bold prints and dainty “lingerie for feet” (formerly known as nice shoes). But the fashion industry’s financial future is much murkier. A confusion of trends preoccupies the major brands: the rapid shift east of their customer base, a generational switch, as high earners get younger, and the challenge of making luxurious clothing accessible to new markets, including digital ones, while retaining the sense of exclusivity that makes people want to pay for them in the first place.
First the good news. Luxury brands are coping well despite global economic gloom. This is because the number of “extreme net-worth individuals” (industry jargon for people with so much money that an $8,000 handbag seems a bargain) keeps growing, especially in Asia. Claudia D’Arpizio of Bain & Co, a consultancy, predicts sales will grow by 8% this year, to