Luxury

8 editor-approved sneaker collaborations needed for your soles

8 editor-approved sneaker collaborations needed for your soles

Fashion

by Sarah Joseph
1 minute ago

Sneakers have the power to make or break a look.
Over the years new collaborations have added twists to some of the most popular sneaker designs of all time.
From two powerhouses joining hands to pop singers collaborating, there’s no limit put on each creative sneaker drop.
So as we dig through the archives, Emirates Woman has curated a guide of all the luxe high-fashion collaborations that shook the sneaker world.

– For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram
Images: Supplied & Feature image: Instagram @bilieeilish

Eid Al Adha 2022: The ultimate gift guide

Eid Al Adha 2022: The ultimate gift guide

Fashion

by Sarah Joseph
1 minute ago

With Eid Al Adha just around the corner – and most likely to fall on July 9, 2022 – it’s time to make sure you make the occasion extra special.
As loved ones reunite together, exchanging presents is a simple way to show much people mean to you.
From oud-infused fragrances to raffia tote bags to complement any kaftan, there’s something for everyone in our editor-approved gift guide.

– For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram
Images: Supplied, Feature Image: Instagram @fatmaa

U.S., Europe Help Drive Resilience of Luxury Goods Market

U.S., Europe Help Drive Resilience of Luxury Goods Market

MILAN — The luxury goods market continues to show resilience and is expected to reach revenues of between 360 billion and 380 billion euros by 2025.Despite the challenges and disruptions that took place in early 2022, from the war in Ukraine to inflation and the zero-tolerance COVID-19 restrictions in China, the midterm direction of the luxury market remains unchanged, according to Bain & Company, which on Tuesday presented the spring update of its Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study 2022, “Rerouting the Future” in collaboration with Fondazione Altagamma.
The study presents two scenarios. An optimistic one that sees the growth path experienced in the first half of 2022 continuing throughout the year, closing 2022 with revenues of around 320 billion to 330 billion euros, growing 10 to 15 percent over 2021. Another scenario forecasts a slower recovery of mainland China and challenged spending in mature markets caused by inflationary pressure and a macroeconomic slowdown, with sales reaching 305 billion to 320 billion euros by the end of 2022, growing 5 to 10 percent over 2021.

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“Luxury goods brands started this year showing especially strong growth while also playing a leading role in the world’s ongoing sustainable and digital transformation,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain & Company partner and lead author of the study.
After its worst dip in history, the personal luxury goods market in 2021 experienced a V-shaped rebound, reaching 288 billion euros in value and it registered “a remarkable performance” in the first quarter of 2022, growing by 17 to 19 percent at current exchange rates or 13 to 15 percent at constant exchange rates over the same period in 2021. The appreciation of currencies compared with the euro and a very strong Chinese New Year as well as a successful vaccination campaign also boosted the first quarter.
The U.S. and Europe led the growth in the first quarter of the year, with a surprising recovery of the latter, admitted D’Arpizio, underscoring the “enormous potential of local consumers,” which were likely neglected by luxury brands before the pandemic, and are now enticed by more marketing initiatives, events, promotions and communication.
The market benefited from a “flamboyant” 2021 holiday shopping season across the regions, said D’Arpizio, with a 7 percent increase over the same period in 2019. Additionally, China continued to see double-digit growth last year and the U.S. maintained momentum, even after the end of the federal stimulus. China’s local consumer appetite remains strong and will potentially lead the country to recover between late 2022 and early 2023, she offered.
The impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has so far been restricted to local markets, showing limited consequences on global luxury customer sentiment and spending. The weight of Russian and Ukrainian spending is around 2 percent so it did not really impact business, and “compared to other crises, it’s as if consumers got used to turbulence,” said D’Arpizio, although “there’s been a lot of reaction to the war, but there’s also been a strong desire to return to life,” she said characterizing this trend as YOLO — the “you only live once” effect.

While she admitted there may be a recession in the second half of the year, Europe is accelerating its recovery, despite the war. The region is on the path to recover 2019 levels of sales one year before expectations, thanks to booming local demand driven by a fierce “back to normal” attitude and a rebound in intra-regional tourism.
The U.S. is “tapping into the power of diversity and inclusion” discovering an expanded American customer base and second-tier cities.
South Korea is undergoing a profound transformation, increasing its size and cultural relevance, defined as “the new Japan,” by the study, replacing in the last two years tourist spending with local demand.
In terms of categories, iconic bags are driving the accessories segment, and high jewelry is at its peak. A recovery of social life and a return to the office are pushing new formalwear.
The virtual world is offering new opportunities for luxury brands, including the metaverse, social media and gaming. By the end of 2030, the estimated weight of digital assets and the metaverse will account for between 5 and 10 percent of the luxury market. “There are 3 billion people involved in gaming and 300 million in luxury, and the potential connection for luxury brands is huge,” D’Arpizio said.
The growing relevance of direct-to-consumer channels and responding to the call of sustainability are also key, she said.
“In the last few months, luxury brands have been forced to reroute their futures,” said Federica Levato, a Bain & Company partner and coauthor of the report. “Winners will rapidly embrace the changes, ensuring they fully understand the implications of new geopolitical dynamics and cultural trends for all of their stakeholders: consumers, investors, employees and society at large. Those that come out ahead will take advantage of the opportunities presented by the virtual world, the sustainability transformation and preferences of younger generations.”
Matteo Lunelli, president of Altagamma, and Stefania Lazzaroni, general manager of the association, also presented an update of its Consensus 2022 study. The year 2021 saw a post-COVID-19 recovery, and 2022, despite the impact of the war and the lockdowns in China, began with a very positive first quarter, showing a 17 to 19 percent growth compared with the same period in 2021.

“The confidence of American and European consumers is solid,” Lazzaroni said. As per the update, Europe is seen growing 12 percent in the year compared with a Consensus forecast of 8 percent made in November. North America is expected to grow 10 percent compared with a 7 percent growth estimated in November. Asia was expected to grow 9 percent, but the update forecasts a 5 percent gain. The Middle East is expected to grow 10 percent compared with the 7 percent gain forecast in November. Hard luxury is the category seen growing the most, up 9 percent, driven by branded jewelry, while watches have slowed down, seen growing 6.5 percent.
Lunelli said the “long-term trends remain somewhat constant” and, while admitting the existence of “strong macroeconomic uncertainties,” he said that the Consensus estimates an average 9 percent growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the companies in the segment, driven by a strong demand of the American consumer and an acceleration of Europe.

China’s Retail Sales Contract, but Demand for Luxury Is Back

China’s Retail Sales Contract, but Demand for Luxury Is Back

LONDON — China’s strict COVID-19 restrictions, especially with Shanghai under a two-month lockdown, led to a 6.7 percent year-over-year decline in retail sales of consumer goods in May, to 3.35 trillion renminbi, or $496.16 billion, the National Bureau of Statistics revealed on Wednesday.The contraction in May was better than in April, which logged an 11.1 percent dip from the prior year. In the period between January and May, China’s retail sales of consumer goods were 17.17 trillion renminbi, down 1.5 percent from the same period in 2021, when the country enjoyed relatively robust growth while other economies struggled due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
In the past month, the Chinese government has been adjusting its dynamic-zero COVD-19 policy, and announced a broad package of economic support measures to stimulate the economy.

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A Bernstein report published Thursday predicts that the luxury and beauty industry will bounce back quicker than those catering to the mass market in China.
“Early signs indicate that luxury demand is reviving in China, as lockdowns are lifted — with shopping malls in Shanghai reporting sales 80 percent of pre-lockdown levels, albeit with the support of double loyalty points,” the report said.
Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Dior were among the first to recover. Local media reported that long lines formed outside their stores in Shanghai’s luxury shopping mall Plaza 66 on the first day they reopened on May 29, after the city came out of the lockdown.

Shoppers wearing face masks line up to visit a Dior store at a shopping mall in Shanghai.
AP

It’s also been reported in the local media that luxury brands in Shanghai were coming up with creative ways to entice high-spending customers during the lockdown, such as sending fancy takeaway meals and putting rare bags worth more than 100,000 renminbi, or $15,000, on delivery platforms.
Despite the promising signs, Berstein noted that logistics disruption has impacted luxury sales well beyond Shanghai. Online and physical supply in major luxury spending cities like Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shenzhen was impacted as most of the luxury brands’ warehouses are located in Shanghai, which has reopened since June, but a negative test within 72 hours is still required for anyone entering public areas.
“Exiting the lockdowns, demand seems back to an even keel and growth trajectory — equally to what we had seen up to Chinese New Year,” Bernstein said, adding that “for affordable luxury, strong pent-up demand will drive continued growth through the remainder of this year.”
Luca Solca, senior research analyst of global luxury goods at Bernstein, added that “contacts within the luxury goods industry and real estate companies point to a rapid demand rebound in China after exiting lockdowns. What remains to be seen is if this demand level will sustain, despite macro-economic indicators being weak.”
An earlier research report from Barclays warned that luxury brands may face additional headwinds in China as pandemic-related restrictions widen to cities like Beijing. The city for the past week went through rounds of mass testing, as hundreds contracted the COVID-19 virus after partying at Heaven Supermarket, a nightclub in downtown’s Sanlitun area, which has been shut permanently following the outbreak.

A survey from Oliver Wyman released this week, which reflects feedback from more than 30 of the consulting firm’s clients across premium consumer and luxury goods, also revealed that luxury brands have slashed expectations for their China business this year. Forecasted 2022 growth for luxury and premium consumer brands in Mainland China was reduced to a mere 3 percent from the 18 percent Oliver Wyman expected months ago.

A worker wearing a face mask assists a man on the health code scanner at a reopening shopping mall in Shanghai.
AP

As for the beauty sector, Bernstein expects that “long-term demand remains intact,” and that demand recovery will come “as soon as restrictions ease, but the path to when this might occur remains unclear.”
The group also said companies with robust China supply chains like L’Oréal and Proya are gaining share during disruptions, while companies with supply chains disrupted by Shanghai lockdowns, including Estée Lauder and Shiseido, may see slow shipment recovery in the second quarter, despite strong online sell-through.
With regard to the broader apparel and sectors, Bernstein suggests there will be a bounceback as restrictions ease, led by e-commerce, as China distribution centers and last-mile delivery are back on track, while in-store recovery will be slower as people remain nervous about going back to stores until mass testing eases.
Related:
The Secret to Connecting with Chinese Consumers
Lunar New Year Spending Dipped as COVID-19 Concerns Loom in China
Bain Warns China Luxury Growth to Further Decelerate in 2022

Gruppo Florence Adds Jersey Specialist to Its Portfolio

Gruppo Florence Adds Jersey Specialist to Its Portfolio

MILAN — Gruppo Florence is continuing its brisk M&A activity, adding the 13th fashion manufacturing company to its roster.The group, established in October 2020 to develop a platform supplying high-quality, Made in Italy products to major luxury fashion brands, is now taking control of Barbetta, a Lecce, Italy-based business that specializes in jersey production.
Founded in 1973 by Luciano Barbetta and his wife Ileana, the company operates as a network of 10 facilities relying on around 40 workshops, directly employing 180 people but involving around 800 workers. In 2021, it posted sales of 60 million euros.
As is customary for Gruppo Florence’s acquisitions, the founding family has agreed to maintain minority ownership of the company they run.

“I am pleased that the Barbetta family has joined the shareholders of Gruppo Florence and content to welcome on board a company from the Apulia region, known for its luxury artisanship,” said Francesco Trapani, Gruppo Florence president and chairman of VAM Investments.

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Attila Kiss, the group’s chief executive officer, touted Barbetta’s ties with the territory and responsibility toward its workforce as among the jersey manufacturer’s winning assets.
“We’re happy to bring our employees within an innovative context, focused on improving services and preserving our heritage,” said Luciano Barbetta, the firm’s president and founder. “For our family, the company represents an asset of the territory and we, entrepreneurs, are tasked with safeguarding it with the goal of securing it a future and hand it over to next generations,” he added.
In the wake of the latest M&A activities, Gruppo Florence, which is controlled by private equity fund VAM Investments, Fondo Italiano d’Investimento and Italmobiliare, owns controlling shares of 13 companies, including Metaphor, which produces high-end knitwear; informal outerwear manufacturers Emmegi and Giuntini; jersey specialist Manifatture Cesari; Ciemmeci, a company specialized in the production of leather and fur pieces; scarves and shawls specialist Antica Valserchio, and knitwear firm Mely’s.
As reported, last month Gruppo Florence acquired majority stakes in Bergamo, Italy-based ready-to-wear manufacturer Cam; Confezioni Elledue, a specialist in casual outerwear based in Tuscany; Turin-based Frediani, which produces luxury outerwear; Parmamoda, which manufactures rtw, and Pigolotti, a family-run specialist in jerseys combined with precious textiles such as cashmere and silk.

Walmart Earnings Fall Short Thanks to Rising Gas and Food Prices

Walmart Earnings Fall Short Thanks to Rising Gas and Food Prices

Walmart is proving that even the nation’s largest retailer may not be immune to the economic pressures that are causing consumers to reevaluate their spending habits. 

Rising food prices meant more shoppers flocked to Walmart in the most recent quarter in search of grocery deals.
Courtesy Photo

The Bentonville, Ark.-based firm revealed quarterly earnings Tuesday before the market opened, improving on top-line revenues, but failing to meet Wall Street’s expectations after falling short on bottom-line profits. Company shares fell nearly 9 percent at the start of Tuesday’s trading session. 
“Bottom-line results were unexpected and reflected the unusual environment,” Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart, said in a statement. “U.S. inflation levels, particularly in food and fuel, created more pressure on the margin mix and operating costs than we expected. We’re adjusting and will balance the needs of our customers for value with the need to deliver profit growth for our future.”  

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For the most recent quarter, or the three-month period ending April 30, total revenues grew 2.4 percent to about $141 billion, up from more than $138 billion a year ago. Comp sales at Sam’s Club grew 10.2 percent, and 17.4 percent on a two-year stack. Membership income rose 10.5 percent. 
Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales increased 1 percent, or 38 percent on a two-year stack. Last August, McMillon said the company’s global e-commerce business was on track to reach $75 billion in revenues by the end of the year. The company still hasn’t said whether it has reached that goal yet.
Meanwhile, ​​net sales at Walmart International fell $3.5 billion during the most recent quarter, or 13 percent to $23.8 billion, negatively impacted by $5 billion, due to divestitures. The retailer logged $2.05 billion, down from $2.73 billion during last year’s first quarter, as a result. 
The results are a mixed bag. Walmart’s affordably priced food selection means consumers are increasingly flocking to the mass channel for their grocery needs. But McMillon added on Tuesday morning’s conference call with analysts that inflation is also lifting the average ticket price. Shoppers are responding by purchasing fewer discretionary items, resulting in smaller overall basket sizes. 
“As expected, consumers are increasingly drawn to the lower price points that Walmart can offer for groceries and Walmart is taking market share in food, but higher food sales is also putting pressure on gross margin,” Moody’s retail analyst Mickey Chadha wrote in a note. He added that the higher inventory levels “could lead to increased promotional cadence in the coming quarters if consumers continue to pull back, which could increase pressure on earnings. It is increasingly difficult to pass on higher prices to consumers while dealing with higher wages and employee costs.”
In terms of food costs, McMillon said there’s been double-digit inflation. “And I’m concerned that inflation may continue to increase. As it relates to Walmart U.S. general merchandise sales, we knew that we were up against stimulus dollars from last year, but the rate of inflation in food pulled more dollars away from [general merchandise] than we expected as customers needed to pay for the inflation in food,” he said.

Aside from rising consumer food and gasoline prices, executives on the call told analysts that additional headwinds came from higher-than-expected inventory levels (up 32 percent for the quarter, year-over-year), added fuel costs in the supply chain and increased labor expenses. 
“As the Omicron variant case count declined rapidly in the first half of the quarter, more of our associates [who] were out on COVID-19 leave came back to work faster than we expected,” McMillon said. “We hired more associates at the end of last year to cover for those on leave. So we ended up with weeks of overstaffing. That issue was resolved during the quarter, primarily through attrition.”
In addition, U.S. fuel cost the retailer more than $160 million more during the quarter than originally expected.

Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart
Courtesy Photo

Still, McMillon expressed optimism for the future. 
“Across our businesses, we had a strong top-line quarter,” he said. “There were some things that happened during the quarter that were different than we expected and we’re trying to be very transparent about those things. There seems to be more uncertainty now in a very fluid environment. And so, we’ll just deal with that.”
One way will be by slashing prices in high-margin areas, such as apparel, in an effort to manage excess inventory. While this might seem counterintuitive, McMillon said shoppers on a budget are more likely to notice. 
“Part of what’s at play here is [that] you’ve got food inflation moving up, but we’ve got general merchandise categories, like apparel and some of our hardlines categories, to play with,” he said. “And the beauty of it is [that] customers are even more price sensitive right now. They’re attention to fuel prices and high-food prices is high. And so when you bring [a price of] something down in sporting goods or hardware, one of these other categories, they notice even more than they would notice before and that makes the elasticity impact be different than it would be otherwise, which blends the mix up.” 
In addition, some tailwinds for the quarter included things like game consoles, as well as patio furniture, grills and gardening supplies, thanks to warming temperatures.

“In terms of the consumer themselves, we’ve seen strong growth with higher-income consumers, middle-income and lower-income, but we do see a definite strength with high-ticket items,” John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said on the call. “With some consumers and others, we do see some switching, which would include switching specifically from brands to private brands. And where we see the switching from brands to private brands, we’ll continue to watch that for a group of customers, but we’ve got to all work harder to keep prices low for the American consumer.”
McMillon added: “It’s important to recognize that there’s more than one consumer. We serve the whole country. [With] the U.S. in particular, we’ve got a breadth of customers and they behave differently. [With] some customers, we are seeing some indications of change throughout the quarter, but that’s not true for all of them.”

Pieces from Walmart’s Love & Sports brand.
Courtesy Photo

Walmart has worked hard over the last few years to expand its assortment of merchandise, particularly in fashion. The big-box retailer now sells more than 1,000 third-party apparel, accessories, and beauty and wellness brands — such as Levi’s, Reebok, Free People, Jordache, Eloquii, Space NK and Kris Jenner’s home cleaning brand Safely — and continues to add to the scale and breadth of its portfolio of brands each quarter. Earlier this month, the firm expanded its distribution of period-panty brand Proof to approximately 4,000 Walmart stores.
In addition, Walmart has an extensive list of its own apparel brands, three of which are worth more than $2 billion, although the company declined to say which ones. The list includes sustainable innerwear and maternity brand Kindly, swimwear and activewear brand Love & Sports, and apparel brands Free Assembly and Scoop, of which luxury designer Brandon Maxwell serves as creative director.
“Maintaining price competitiveness is the key risk for Walmart in today’s inflationary environment,” Landon Luxembourg, senior analyst at research firm Third Bridge, wrote in a note. “As consumer wallets come under pressure, private brands will likely take the stage as consumers trade down from a pure decision of opting for lower-cost items. Walmart’s private brand portfolio, which was a focus area over the last four to five years, has now doubled its assortment. However, it has not grown consumer mind share and lack recognizability versus Target and Costco’s competing private assortment, which may be more sought after by consumers.”

Walmart anticipates current quarter revenues will increase more than 5 percent, excluding divestitures. U.S. comp sales are also expected to grow — between 4 percent and 5 percent — excluding fuel, while earnings per share are expected to be flat to up slightly, excluding divestitures.  
For the full year, the company expects net revenues will rise about 4 percent, excluding divestitures. Walmart U.S. comp sales are expected to increase roughly 3.5 percent, excluding fuel, while earnings per share for the year will decrease about 1 percent, excluding divestitures.
The company ended the quarter with $11.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and more than $32 million in long-term debt. 
Shares of Walmart, which closed up 0.11 percent Monday to $148.21, are up 6.7 percent, year-over-year.
“We don’t expect this miss to become a norm, seeing that Walmart has historically outperformed competition during tough economic times,” Arun Sundaram, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research, wrote in a note. His firm maintained its “buy” position on Walmart’s stock, but cut the 12-year price target by $3 to $162 a share. “The good news is most of these issues seem to be isolated to the quarter and margins should improve in the second quarter and the back half of the year as Walmart works through excess inventory and better matches pricing with costs.”

Fashion and Art Meet for Luxury Swimwear Collaboration

Fashion and Art Meet for Luxury Swimwear Collaboration

French luxury swimwear brand Vilebrequin and contemporary art Swiss publishing house JRP Editions are pooling their resources for a museum-ready swimwear collection. 

Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist Kenny Scharf.
Courtesy Photo

“Bringing art to the beach has always been the dream,” said Roland Herlory, chief executive officer of Vilebrequin, which is part of the G-III Apparel Group. “This long-term collaboration with JRP Editions will push our artistry to new places over the coming seasons.”
That includes the original Saint-Tropez trunk, men’s and women’s swimsuits, tops and accessories, like bags, hats, beach towels and even custom-print ping-pong sets. There are 25 pieces in total, that come in various hues such as purple hot rod flames, rainbow-color happy faces, sea turtles, graffiti-like splashes of paint and shades of sky blue, while exploring such themes and topics as elitism, feminism, fetishized luxury, randomness, gender-identity and artists of color.  

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Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist John Armleder.
Courtesy Photo

“Our swimsuit fabrics are an entirely new terrain for artists,” Herlory explained. “We do not consider what we do art; we’re more focused on reproducing artists’ work as closely as possible to the original in the most honest and respectful manner. With the know-how of Vilebrequin studio and ateliers, we are capable of delivering printing techniques that reproduce an original artwork’s unique color and contrast as faithfully as possible.” 
John Armleder, one of the artists featured in the collaboration, added: “There is no essential difference between a painting, a print or a swimsuit. What changes fundamentally here is the context and the distribution modes of the object. The forms and compositions can thus migrate freely from one support to the other.”

Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist John Armleder.
Courtesy Photo

Additional artists include Kenny Scharf, Sylvie Fleury, and Racquel Chevremont and Mickalene Thomas, also known professionally as “Deux Femmes Noires.” The collaboration was curated in partnership with JRP Editions founder Lionel Bovier, who also serves as director of MAMCO, a contemporary art museum in Geneva, and Arnaud Hubert, chief executive officer of JRP Editions. 
“We wanted to curate a collection that would allow us to explore as many voices and designs as possible,” Bovier said. “This meant bringing together artists with radically different approaches, but who share an interest in how their work can migrate from the canvas or walls to textile. They are united by a common thread: the power of their work, the clarity of their artistic language and the integrity with which Vilebrequin handled their projects.”

Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist Kenny Scharf.
Courtesy Photo

The limited-edition collection launched May 3, just in time for warm weather and summer travels, on vilebrequin.com and JRP-editions.com, as well as select global Vilebrequin stores. The collection, though now out as the world reopens, was actually conceptualized during the pandemic when people were still just dreaming of far-flung getaways. A second drop, the “Faces in Places” print by artist Kenny Scharf will come out June 21, followed by a second capsule later this year and a third in early 2023. Sizes range from XS to 3XL in men’s and XS to XL in women’s, with prices ranging from $105 to $315.

Vilebrequin was founded by Fred Prysquel in Saint-Tropez in 1971 as a men’s swimwear business. In 2012, G-lll Apparel Group purchased the brand. The following year, women’s swimwear was added to the mix.

Hermès Touts Craftsmanship Over Metaverse at Shareholders’ Meeting

Hermès Touts Craftsmanship Over Metaverse at Shareholders’ Meeting

PARIS — Digital commerce has become second nature for Hermès International, which boasts that 78 percent of customers at its online store are new to the brand.But how about the metaverse? Not so much.
“I don’t know,” Hermès executive chairman Axel Dumas shrugged when confronted with a question about its metaverse intentions at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting here Wednesday. “For the time being, we’re interested to see how this world evolves and changes.”
Dumas noted that it “could conceivably” offer Hermès a “great means of communications” in the future — and in its quirky fashion.
“But this is not a priority of ours,” he stressed. “We’re mainly interested to learn and to monitor, rather than rush into the metaverse.”

Hosting its first in-person meeting since 2019, Hermès made no mistake that it is a company rooted in physical objects, human creativity and exceptional craftsmanship, screening countless videos of its artisans caressing, cutting and stitching its coveted leather goods in light, airy workshops set in the picturesque French countryside. “We still devote 15 hours to making each handbag,” Dumas declared proudly.

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The two-hour session opened with a pianist engaged in a duet with exotic birds singing and strutting on a giant screen, electronic gurgles and a flute player adding to the cacophony.
Hermès has every right to chirp, having logged a “record year” in 2021 that saw revenues vault 41.8 percent to 8.982 billion euros — this despite price increases amounting to less than 2 percent, Dumas pointed out.
The executive gave no specific guidance for 2022, while declaring: “We are full of confidence about the future.”
The French luxury house certainly galloped ahead in the first quarter of 2022, recording a 27.1 percent rise in revenues at constant exchange to 2.76 billion euros and touting double-digit growth across all business lines and territories.
Looking ahead, Hermès plans to continue to increase its production capacity, especially in leather goods, and expand its retail network. Major openings planned for this year include New York City, Shanghai, Strasbourg, Barcelona and Doha.
“Our stores are all unique places,” Dumas asserted, explaining that its boutique buyers are fully empowered to tailor product assortments to local tastes and needs.
The French firm ended 2021 with 303 boutiques in the world, having added or expanded locations in cities including Detroit, Tokyo, Macau and Shenzhen.
The gathering served as a recap of how mightily Hermès weathered the pandemic, with executives touting the exceptional flexibility and devotion of its artisans, HR managers and sales associates; its culture of “French excellence,” and the unity of the family shareholders. About 100 or so family members last year decided to block 54 percent of the share capital until at least 2041 under the nonlisted holding company known as H51.
Responding to shareholder questions about its large cash reserves, Dumas said not having any financial constraints or debt is “of paramount importance” to its resilience, allowing it to maintain jobs and wages, while continuing to invest in retail operations and factories.

Hermès operates 52 production sites in France, 19 of them for leather goods. Last month, the company said it would open two more leather goods workshops in France within the next five years, adding 500 more artisans to its payroll. Three other sites are already under construction in France, meaning it will boast 24 workshops for leather goods and saddlery by 2026.
Meanwhile, other Hermès sectors logged faster growth than handbags in 2021. By product sector for the full-year versus 2019, watches rose 76.6 percent and ready-to-wear and accessories 44.3 percent, outpacing leather goods and saddlery at 22.8 percent.
Hermès added about 1,000 jobs in 2021, bringing the worldwide employee count to 17,600, all of whom received a 3,000 euro bonus and 100 euro a month salary bump.
“We are pleased to share with employees, the benefits of our growth,” Dumas said.
SEE ALSO:
Hermès Touts ‘Genuine’ Pricing
Hermès Rides Luxury Wave, Driven by Europe and Americas
LVMH Q1 Revenues Jump Despite War in Ukraine, China Lockdowns

EXCLUSIVE: Roman Sipe Named Creative Director of Men’s Division at Cosabella and Journelle

EXCLUSIVE: Roman Sipe Named Creative Director of Men’s Division at Cosabella and Journelle

Cosabella’s men’s division has a new creative director.Starting this month, Roman Sipe will take the helm as creative director of the men’s division at the Italian innerwear and underwear brand, as well as creative director of men’s at luxury boutique Journelle. Both firms are owned and operated by the Campello family. 
“Roman is a pioneer in men’s underwear; he’s a true creative,” Guido Campello told WWD. 
Campello, whose parents Valeria and Ugo Campello founded Cosabella in 1983, currently serves as creative director of women’s at Cosabella, as well as co-chief executive officer, along with his sister Silvia Campello. “And Roman is an operator,” Campello continued. “He runs his business.”

Luxury lingerie brand Cosabella offers underwear in sizes that fit across all body forms.
Courtesy Photo

Sipe’s business ventures include luxury men’s underwear brand Menagerie Intimates, which he launched in 2015. The designer said he was excited to work with Cosabella — and Campello, in particular — because of the company’s nearly 40-year history. 

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“I’m a self-taught designer. I’m a self-taught brand owner,” Sipe said. “And to have Guido [Campello] as a mentor, as well as Giorgio [Latini], the production manager that we work with in Italy…the research and the knowledge that these men bring to the industry that I’m new to is key. I focus on the beauty of my lingerie and who I am trying to reach. But in order to scale and in order to build brand awareness and grow, I need a mentor within our [intimates] world.”
But Sipe, who is based in Fabriano, Italy, near Cosabella’s factories, is not completely new to the industry. In fact, he’s been in the fashion scene for at least 10 years, between L.A. and New York. His résumé includes celebrity stylist, fashion stylist (with brands such as G-Star and Seven For All Mankind), designer and founder. He also has a bachelor’s degree in finance, styled music videos, contestants on “America’s Next Top Model” and won Macy’s The Next Style Star Competition, a reality show competition that gave him the chance to produce a fashion campaign for the department store. 
“And that is exactly when I decided I wanted to design,” Sipe explained. “And I was like, what am I going to design? The first thing that came to mind was underwear. And I was googling underwear and I didn’t see anything that I would wear.”

Luxury lingerie brand Cosabella now offers underwear in sizes that fit across all body forms.
Courtesy Photo

In the new role, Sipe has been tasked with building out the male body form division, starting with the spring 2023 collections, across Cosabella and Journelle. (Campello and his wife Sapna Palep purchased luxury lingerie boutique Journelle, which has locations in New York and Chicago, along with the e-commerce business, in 2019.) Sipe will also assist Campello on creative direction for Cosabella’s and Journelle’s women’s collections. 
“I always thought I would be the creative director [of Cosabella] forever,” Campello explained. “I thought I had enough creative direction in understanding trends and movement, because I’ve been in this space forever. But very clearly, I think the speed at which the last two years moved, I realized there’s all these worlds out there now that are getting exposure and they need premium products, better products. And one of those places is men’s. The biggest step I took was to understand that I can’t speak to everybody. I know my world. 

“Ultimately, [Sipe] has a comfort level with teaching and talking about that product that’s different from other people,” Campello continued. “I’ve learned a lot already from him, about utility, solution underwear, solution undergarments in that space.”
Campello, who is based in New York, will continue to act as creative director of women’s, with some input from Sipe on the division. He added that it makes sense for Sipe to be based in Italy, near production facilities, in order for him to gain a better understanding of the entire process, starting with the supply chain. 

Luxury lingerie boutique Journelle in New York City. Campello and his wife Sapna Palep purchased the business in 2019.
Courtesy Photo

Meanwhile, Cosabella continues to build out his assortment for men, which launched last fall. Campello is quick to point out, however, that it’s not so much for men, as it is for the male body form. That could take the shape of underwear — which is cut in the same style and fabric across both men’s and women’s — but with added volume in the crotch area to accommodate for men, or bras for men, he explained. 
“We’re a very inclusive brand at Cosabella,” Campello said. “Journelle is becoming inclusive. But to truly be inclusive you need to bring in the people who do those things. Journelle does it by bringing in other brands that we sell. But Cosabella needs that influence,” he added, explaining the need to onboard Sipe. 

Sapna Palep and Guido Campello.
Courtesy Photo

For his part, Sipe’s wish list for the company includes creating sizing guides for men, adding in more lace and bra options, as well as bra fittings for men, while breaking down long-held societal stigmas around men — or the male form — in the lingerie space. He also wants to help expand the range of women who feel comfortable at Journelle by adding more choices for plus-size and transgender shoppers, among others. 
“The most exciting part is coming in and optimizing the male shopping experience: the product, the styles, what we want to do,” Sipe said. “And building what men’s lingerie actually looks like and what it means to actually design for the male form. We have the opportunity to expand what men’s lingerie means. 
“For instance, the fit chart is a really interesting thing for me,” he continued. “Because I know a lot of men who say, I wear a boxer brief. I want to build out a men’s fit guide that lets you know what is proper for what style of pants you’re wearing. I think that’s where my styling experience comes in. And to create a shopping space for men, because most of the time they’re shopping for their partners, their girlfriend, wife, for a woman. But now the goal is to have them come into the store [independently] for Cosabella’s men’s line and with my line. 

“I knew starting my brand, the gays were going to love it,” Sipe added. “The fashion men and women were going to love it. But as my brand grew, I started getting contacted by all different men. And [that experience] has been so much fun. Because all it takes is for people to see [men’s lingerie], to accept it. But also, to see it done right. To understand it and to break down all the walls.”

WWDownload: Hermès Brings NFT Lawsuit

WWDownload: Hermès Brings NFT Lawsuit

There’s nowhere Hermès won’t go to defend its signature Birkin bag — including the virtual world.The French luxury brand filed suit in a New York federal court on Friday against Mason Rothschild, creator of MetaBirkins NFTs, to allege trademark infringement and dilution. The digital collection featured 100 virtual bags resembling furry versions of Hermès’ signature bag.
The complaint, submitted to New York’s Southern District Court, described Rothschild as “a digital speculator” with a get-rich-quick scheme to “rip off Hermès’ famous Birkin trademark by adding the generic prefix ‘meta.’”
Hermès is not the first to sue over NFTs. A May 2021 lawsuit against Dapper Labs alleged that sales on its NBA Top Shot platform violated securities laws. Miramax accused Quentin Tarantino of breaking copyright in November 2021, in a legal tussle over “Pulp Fiction” NFTs that the filmmaker ultimately ignored on Monday, when he released the first of several chapters.

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But as the first major luxury fashion house to tie NFTs to trademark infringement, the maison could deliver a landmark case for the industry.
The MetaBirkins creator responded to the lawsuit via Instagram on Monday, arguing that his collection amounts to art. “I am not creating or selling fake Birkin bags,” he wrote. “I’ve made art works that depict imaginary, fur-covered Birkin bags.
“My lawyers at Lex Lumina PLLC put it well when they said that the First Amendment gives me the right to make and sell art that depicts Birkin bags, just as it gave Andy Warhol the right to make and sell art depicting Campbell’s soup cans.”
New York-based Lex Lumina does not yet have a track record to speak of, since it just launched last fall as a boutique firm specializing in intellectual property. Cofounder Chris Sprigman, a New York University professor, author and attorney, has deep experience in intellectual property law, antitrust and comparative constitutional law and has appeared in the media to discuss issues like fashion law or technology and creative commerce.
It’s not clear when Rothschild hired the firm, but the need looked apparent when the fashion house issued a cease-and-desist letter on Dec. 16. At the time, Hermès also notified OpenSea, the NFT platform that offered the collection.
Earlier reports indicated that the marketplace pulled the items, although WWD spotted listings under the MetaBirkins name briefly on Monday. They were taken down later that afternoon. According to the filing, Rothschild ironically complained about “counterfeit” MetaBirkins, so the listings could have been posted by someone else.
In the real world, genuine Birkin bags can run anywhere from $9,000 to $500,000, and resellers like The RealReal saw interest grow during the pandemic, particularly among Millennials.
The demand apparently translates to virtual goods — or, if Rothschild’s argument has any merit, digital art. In December, he sold his first MetaBirkin for 10 Ethereum, the equivalent of more than $40,000, and moved some 600,000 NFTs in five days. This followed a previous Baby Birkin NFT sale in May, which sold for 5.5 Ethereum, roughly more than $23,000. Then it resold to a collector for $42,000.

The current collection may be stymied, but not blocked. According to Metabirkin.com, sales remain active on alternate sites Rarible, Zora and LooksRare.

WWD spotted MetaBirkins listed on OpenSea on Monday, but the listings were pulled down before the seller could be verified.
Screen capture/WWD

For a brief time, it seemed that negotiation might be possible, at least according to Rothschild. “We told them that we believed that the dispute could be resolved through an informal conversation between me and an Hermès representative. Hermès chose instead to break off negotiations and sue me,” he added on Instagram.
But the company could be less worried about what he’s already done than what he does next.
In the filing, Hermès wrote, “He encourages others to create ‘MetaBirkins’ with his ‘Build-a-MetaBirkin’ contest, which further damages and dilutes the Birkin Mark. He has announced to his followers his plans to develop his own ‘decentralized NF exchange’ under the MetaBirkins brand.”
Essentially, it believes he’s trying to build a whole marketplace, exchange and community. It also doesn’t buy his “artistic license” rationale. The complaint distinguishes between exercising artistic creativity and using a trademark “in a manner calculated to mislead consumers.…He is stealing the goodwill in Hermès’ famous intellectual property to create and sell his own line of products.”
Debates over artistic license and trademarks have raged for years, both online and offline. Now it’s heading to the virtual world via exclusive digital fashion, which is untested territory.
The value in these types of NFTs lies in their ability to prove their own authenticity and ownership. Interest exploded last year across art, fashion and other categories, drawing millions for high-profile transactions. But the law hasn’t kept pace — even though ongoing demand for NFTs, intensifying hype and a rush of corporate and independent efforts look poised to drive a wave of lawsuits.
The gold rush around digital fashion may be underway, but this iteration is still in its infancy. From here, signs point to NFTs maturing in the metaverse. After all, if everyone will spend time in that new form of immersive internet, it’s not a stretch to believe they’ll want to dress their avatars or show off their virtual trophies. This is one way NFTs are expected to fuel metaversal commerce. At least eventually.

It’s worth noting that the sprawling metaverse envisioned by companies like Facebook’s Meta doesn’t exist yet. Someday, a massive, hyper-connected virtual 3D environment may come, but it’s likely 10 years away, if it arrives at all. Until then, the landscape remains a disjointed patchwork of separate platforms.
Fashion has been adapting to or even embracing the chaos. Brands have been striking partnerships with platforms like Roblox, Fortnite, Zepeto and others, while making long-term plans. Nike filed trademarks for “use online and in virtual worlds” in November, and others are weighing similar moves. Some companies have even launched entire metaverse-focused divisions, like Balenciaga and Diesel owner OTB Group, and many more have launched NFTs or will soon.
Hermès sees Rothschild’s effort as driven by metaverse ambitions, starting principally with the name and its widespread use on social media and e-commerce. The company believes he’s trying to replicate the Birkin bag’s real-world success and using the “MetaBirkins to brand all of his ‘metaverse’ business activities.”
Its confidence in filing the lawsuit is understandable. For years, the company has put up a ferocious and often successful defense of its products. In 2008, a judge sided with the luxury fashion company over eBay, finding that the site didn’t do enough to block sales of fakes on its platform. Last year, a Paris court convicted 23 counterfeiters with prison time and damages worth 10.4 million euros, or nearly $12 million.
In between, a 2012 ruling handed Hermès a major victory against 34 websites for peddling phony Birkins, Kelly bags and other items and granted $100 million in damages. But the company doesn’t always win. The same year, it also fought and lost a trademark battle in China.
Hermès now argues that its existing rights should cover the virtual world, or metaverse, as well. It remains to be seen if a judge will agree. There’s some legal debate over the issue, especially if the brand doesn’t actually do business there. But if the company prevails, it stands to collect damages, including all MetaBirkins profit, and end Rothschild’s use of the Birkin name or likeness as part of any products or services without express authorization.

But whether it wins or loses, the case may help define fashion’s claim in the digital future.

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