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RELUX December 2021



 

EDITORS NOTE


This term’s Fall/Winter issue includes several stories that focus, in one way or another, on all the hustle and bustle related to the luxury and retail industry. We hope you enjoy reading the inaugural issue of RELUX; we have put much effort into making an out-and-out magazine related to everything about the industry.


As you read along, you will find articles related to business, finance, sustainability and so on. Our vision is to broadcast everything about the industry through the platform provided by society.

We, Esther Odugbile and Amisha Sharma, the writers and editors of the magazine and the whole team of RELUSO, really hope to publish more future features that provide an all-around eye on the luxury and retail sector.


We hope you enjoy reading our issue and look out for all other writings.


 

BY ESTHER ODUGBILE


Cartier (On behalf of parent company Richemont) and Kering have banded together alongside the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) to improve sustainability within the industry. They have worked to set sustainability commitments in areas that include: preserving resources, fostering inclusiveness and building climates. There are hopes that this is the first step in making positive changes within the industry.


On the 6th of October, Luxury Jewellery Brand Cartier, known for their signature ‘Love’ Bracelet and Kering, owner of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, launched the ‘Watch and Jewellery Initiative 2030’ in partnership with the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). Participation is open to all watch and jewellery makers in the industry, regardless of price point and sets sustainability commitments. This initiative is the Jewellery and Watch industry’s attempt to align itself with Goal 17 of the United Nations, which aims to ‘strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.’ To do this, emphasis has been placed on setting Science-Based Targets for emissions which would require measuring and reducing the negative impact companies have on biodiversity and critically analysing the effect of sourcing raw materials. Degrees of how ethical the procedures used to source these materials will also be examined.


However, many think this will not be enough to already mitigate this industry's harm. The RJC itself has been criticised for not doing much and its certification to mean nothing as it still allows its members to source gold using abusive practices. Van de Verken, the president of the RJC, has said that lessons have been learned as they are looking to improve in the future. Cartier’s CEO Cyrille Vigneron hopes that by using these targets, the company will be carbon negative by the end of 2021 and reduce carbon emissions by 45% before 2030. Others have claimed that these targets are very ambitious. However, there are hopes that Kering and Cartier, as driving forces in the industry,y have a large enough influence to encourage others to participate. This is similar to the Fashion Pact (2019), spearheaded by Kering, which is agreed to by 250 brands, covering 35% of the sector. The hope is to mirror this with the Watch and Jewellery Initiative.


Specific Goals: The Watch and Jewellery Initiative has three main goals.


Goal 1: Building climate resilience.

This looks like accomplishing 100% renewable energy usage across all operations by 2025 and extending this to the whole value chain with the involvement of suppliers and distribution partners by 2030.

It also means executing the best practices for energy efficiency across operations and services, emphasising reducing the impact of digital communication as its usage is rising.


Goal 2: Preserving resources for nature and communities.

This includes implementing sourcing standards that protect biodiversity, natural ecosystems and indigenous peoples. Supply chains need to be free from using the resources of endangered forests, and mines already over-extracted from should be restored.


Goal 3: Fostering Inclusiveness

This looks like making sure that employees are not exposed to chemical risks.

Van Verden shares her hopes saying, “The 2030 Agenda is about leaving no one behind. Business can be a force for positive change and impact by supporting a global economy that protects people, the planet and the natural systems that sustain us. Business, as usual,l is no longer an option. The RJC is determined to helbusinessesss be a force for that change through transformative partnerships. We can greatly contribute to the urgent change needed to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the Decade of Action and create a better, fairer world by 2030. As part of the RJC Roadmap 2030 strategy, designed to deliver immediate and long-term impacts, RJC will continue to seek innovative partnerships to accelerate change and enable action throughout the global jewellery and watch supply chain - this is our promise. To future generations."


This initiative is a significant step towards making the Jewellery and watch industry more sustainable. The emphasis on science-based set targets and the powerful influences of Kering and Cartier as driving forces gives me hope that tangible improvements can be made in the industry as a whole.



 

BY ESTHER ODUGBILE


Telfar is a brand that has taken the fashion industry by storm, and a Telfar drop means non-stop discussion on Twitter. Thanks to its unisex designs and inclusivity, it truly is a breath of fresh air. This is a spotlight on the Luxury brand and how it has skyrocketed in the fashion world.


Founded by Telfar Clemens in 2005, Telfar is a black-owned unisex luxury brand most famous for its vegan leather shopping bag. This is a cult favourite amongst the masses, described as one of Oprah's ‘favourite items’ and featured in Issa Rae’s hit HBO show, insecure. A Telfar bag is now commonplace in the arm of influencers in the world of fashion and celebrities; it is now the 3rd most sought after item, according to Lyst, and searches have increased week by week by 270% since August 2020. It is genuinely a brand taking over fashion at the moment.


This autumn, Telfar introduced Telfar Tv. This is a 24-hour network that allows people to have autonomy over their media and remove the fashion industry's commercialisation. Clemens is against the word ‘content.’ This instead is a channel where creatives have a platform without renouncing ownership of their ideas. Viewers are commit videos that could be broadcast on the track (found on Apple Tv, Google play and a dedicated website) with the chance of possibly winning a free bag. Also introduced are ‘drips’, not a ‘drop’ but a period in which a QR code is briefly displayed on the screen. This QR code can be scanned and bags consequently bought. This is to prevent bots and reseller culture, which Clemens believes destroys the industry. This is also where the bag security programme is announced. This scheme allows customers to order any size bag in any colour and guarantees that it will be produced before March 2022 for a set period on the website.


The Telfar duffle made its debut at New York Fashion Week. It is only available through Telfar Tv; it is a Retro sportswear Duffle bag made of the same vegan leather as the iconic Telfar Shopper. The Logo is embossed on both sides and is available in various sizes and colours. This aligns with Telfar’s plans for expansion, with new outerwear coming soon.

The slogan of Telfar is ‘Not for you – for everyone’, and Clemens emphasis on inclusivity from the brand's conception is what sets it apart. Telfar continues to make waves with its popularity, not dying down any time soon.


 

BY ESTHER ODUGBILE


This autumn, Spanish luxury fashion house Balenciaga has crossed over with Fortnite. This marks the beginning of luxury brands seeing the popularity of the gaming industry and wanting a piece of the pie.


Balenciaga recently became the first fashion brand to partner with Epic Game’s Fortnite. This was a partnership that ran for one week in the middle of September. Four virtual outfits, which players call these ‘skins’, were designed to purchase using a virtual currency known as V-Bucks. Other accessories such as hats, eyes ware, and weaponry were available to buy, mirrored Balenciaga ready-to-wear items from former collections. The pricing of skins was set to 1000 V Bucks which is around $8, which kept the collection accessible to players. These are available to buy in a virtual Balenciaga store located in the game. There is also a more tangible real-life element. Fortnite x Balenciaga clothing is available in stores and the Balenciaga website, and there has already been much success. The $275 hoodie is already out of stock everywhere.


Fortnite has blown up and completely taken over the gaming industry since its conception in 2017. In its first fortnight (excuse the pun), it gained 10 million players, and by the end of its first year, player numbers had reached 125 million. Today it has a player base of 350 million. Its popularity is due to its crossover being a free-to-play game paired with the fact that you can play with others, making it the most popular Battle Royale game, where players play one verses 100 in the industry.


This is not the first time that Fortnite has worked with other forms of media. A Travis Scott x Fortnite concert was held in the game in 2020, and there have also been previous work with Marvel, Rick and Morty and the NFL. This is more than just an advertising opportunity for Balenciaga. A fashion show hosted by a player named Lachlan in 2020 now has 11 million views on YouTube, showing that fashion is an integral part of gameplay. Also, players are spending 50% of their time in the game in creative mode, showing you how important the fashion and design side of the game is to them. Emily Levy, Epic Games’ Senior Manager of Partnerships, has said, ‘Fortnite is essentially at its core all about fashion and self-expression, agency and fantasy.’


This isn’t Balenciaga’s first rodeo with the crossover of fashion and gaming. The luxury fashion house already has existing work in the met-averse. Once speaking an innovation in manner, ‘we were very inspired by how Balenciaga has leaned so heavily into pushing the boundaries of tech in fashion and, Levy has saidboutmanneriaga. To debut their Fall/Winter 2021 collection, they created their own video game, afterworld, built using an unreal engine.

This is only the beginning of this type of collaboration, fashincreasingly having an important place in gaming, and the same goes for technology in manner. Expect to see more of these types of crossover very shortly.

 

BY AMISHA SHARMA


President Xi Jinping said, “Our country must resolutely guard against polarisation, drive common prosperity and maintain social harmony and stability”, in his most specific phrase, he said he wanted to enhance people’s “ability to get rich”. China’s goal of achieving shared prosperity jeopardised the growth run of luxury brands in Asian markets. In August, share prices of luxury giants like LVMH and Kering were hit hard as Xi’s line appeared to harden.


Much of the luxury rebound in the late 2020s and the first half of this year say analysts at Bain&Co. , was led by “insatiable” mainland consumers: In some cases, they drove luxury clothing and accessory brands to triple-digit year-on-year growth and almost doubled their share of the global luxury market to 20% by the end of last year.


It is predicted that by 2025, Chinese consumers’ share of global luxury goods will be the world’s largest.


Investors have worried that new curbs on conspicuous consumption in China would cast a pall over the anti-corruption campaign that began in 2012. Since the summer, this has sent luxury stocks down with LVMH 8.5% lower, Gucci owned Kering down 15% and Hermes with an 8% fall.


Most likely, the fall in people’s confidence towards luxury growth was short-term, as Xi’s statement is targeted towards the ultra-rich bracket of the population than those belonging to upper-middle-class families. In an estimate, it was provided that the ultra-wealthy class of the economy does not participate in luxury retail. Hence, the policies don’t necessarily target the luxury sector. In the longer term, more and more luxury brands will be shifting production aimed at the Chinese market into china itself. LVMH sees no sign of a slowdown in the luxury boom in China; LVMH chief financial officer Jean Jacques Guiony said, “Its difficult to analyse the potential impact but nothing is alarming so far, the bulk of our customers in China are not billionaires but the affluent and upper middle classes”.

 

BY AMISHA SHARMA

The luxury fashion rental business pitched as an affordable, environmental friendly to wear luxury fashion, made its debut on NASDAQ recently this Wednesday. It was severely hit due to pandemic and was forced to raise cash at a 25 per cent discount, valued at $1 billion. However, the initial public offering of the New York-based firm made remarkable returns; it sold more than expected owing to the strong demand. On Wednesday, it rose over 10% and gained $1.7 billion in valuation.


Though surely enough, the deal was not ample notice. Still, it is closely followed as a high profile test of a new business model in the fashion industry and provides a notion of investors’ willingness to continue backing loss heavily making companies.

 

BY AMISHA SHARMA


Sales at Gucci slowed unexpectedly in the third quarter because of a resurgence of Covid-19 in Asia and the timing of a new collection, a setback for owner Kering as the French luxury brand group seeks to revitalise the Italian fashion house.

According to Bloomberg data, Gucci’s quarterly revenues rose 3.8% on a comparable basis from a year earlier to 2.2 billion euros, well short of analysts’ expectations for a 9.3% increase. Overall group like-for-like sales were 4.2 billion euros, ahead of analysts’ expectations for 4.1 billion euros and up 12 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Kering shares were down 4%in the morning trade in Paris on Wednesday, making it the biggest loser on CAC 40 index.

Investors have been scrutinising the performance of Gucci, which accounts for more than half of group sales and the majority of profits, as its growth has slowed recently after years of solid gains. Although Kering’s smaller brands Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, have been expanding strongly, some investors have questioned whether the group remains too reliant on Gucci, prompting some to call for it to diversify through acquisitions.

 

BY AMISHA SHARMA


Fine wine enthusiasts who found time to spare during the lockdown may have experienced a wave of oenophilia.


This comes just as France’s Bordeaux region begins to offer its finest wines of 2019 in the annual en primeur (futures) season. The 2019 harvest compares favourably with most in the past decade and is the best since the very well received vintage of 2016.


Judged against the S&P Global Luxury Index, which tracks 80 of the largest publicly traded luxury goods companies, OK wine prices appear to have relatively steady. The Liv-ex index of the 1000 most traded fine wines on its exchange had fallen only 1.7 per cent by the end of May, versus a 14% drop for the S&P luxury benchmark.


Much more in the investment category is Sassicaia, a Bordeaux like wine produced by Italy’s Tenuta San Guido. Sassicaia is one of the original Super Tuscans wines made in the region, often using non-local grape varieties. 2009 and 2013, two of its vintages stood out among the top performers on the Liv-ex this year. Both have already delivered delicious returns to holders since their release on the market two years after the vintage, each jumping by at least half from their opening offer prices.

 

BY AMISHA SHARMA

Moncler, the upmarket outerwear brand led by Remo Ruffini, has become a case study as a luxury innovator. He took a niche, burnt-out French skiwear brand, found private equity backers and turned it into the leader in a fast-growing segment. As other brands stumbled in 2016 as the Chinese government cracked down on luxury spending at home and abroad, Moncler sales rose 18% to 1.04 billion euros. Passing the 1 billion euros mark for the first time, it nearly made 200 million euros profit.


Luca Solca, an analyst at brokerage Exane BNP Paribas, argues innovation is vital for brands as Chinese luxury consumers- who now account for 30% of luxury spending, according to Bain- have become choosier. And with the Chinese consumption of luxury having slowed down, there is- at least at present- no other emerging group of consumers of equal size to take its place. There is no fresh national market to be tapped, says Mr Solca. “The newness imperative is one of the most critical challenges brands will have to tackle".


 

BY AMISHA SHARMA


The legendary designer Giorgio Armani has long defended his company's independence even as LVMH and Kering swallowed rival Italian Brands such as Fendi and Gucci. These ambitious French groups have grown to dominate the Luxury Sector.

According to people familiar with the matter, Exor, the holding company of the billionaire Agnelli family that owns stakes in carmakers Stellantis and Ferrari, held talks with Armani. The negotiations with Armani, which analyst value at about 7 billion euros, did not lead to an official offer.


However, Armani’s future unfolds; the talk underlines how coronavirus is starting to redraw the map in luxury. While the scale enjoyed by LVMH, Kering and Hermes first cushioned the pandemic’s blow before allowing them to rebound strongly, the remaining Italian family-backed fashion groups are taking longer to recover. That has prompted some to consider deals or partnerships that were once taboo.


In July alone, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, known for its cashmere menswear, said it would go public via a Spac deal that valued it at $3.2bn and signalled it was open to making acquisitions. Meanwhile, the Etro family decided to sell a majority stake in their fashion house to LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton in a 500 million euro deal.


If the last month has been frenetic, the starting gun went off in December when Remo Ruffini, the highly regarded boss of puffy coat maker Moncler, unveiled his first significant acquisition worth a‚1.2bn of smaller domestic rival Stone Island, a sportswear brand popular with celebrities such as rapper Drake.


According to several bankers who know the sector well, some of Italy’s more prominent groups, with annual sales of 1bn or more before the pandemic, will consider their options in the coming years. Privately held Dolce & Gabbana and publicly listed trades, Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada, and smaller ones like Brunello Cucinelli or Missoni, are among them.


Many Italian luxury brands are still family-owned with the founder's name on the door. But as younger generations begin to take the reins, independence may not be valued so highly over the benefits that scale can bring.


 

ESTHER ODUGBILE

Author




AMISHA SHARMA

Author




INES LECERF

Graphic Designer




 

RELUSO DEC.2021

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