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A sense of belonging

Filed by Jack Yan/June 17, 2020/11.16


Jack Yan

Above: Wellington, New Zealand’s Lambton Quay, normally a main thoroughfare, during that country’s lockdown.

Over the last two issues of Lucire KSA, we ran a story each on COVID-19. The first examined how companies fared after previous economic crises, looking at the past for answers. Last month, we examined what companies were doing in response to the pandemic, a report from the present. This month, it may be prudent to take some punts about the future.
   Even before the COVID-19 crisis, China was selling cars with air filtration and purification systems, such as the Oshan X7 and the Geely Icon. These two SUVs were responding to the pollution that plagues Chinese cities, and when the Icon was launched in February, its system was turned into a positive selling point as fears about COVID-19 mounted. When the X7 was revised in March 2020, its system received an upgrade, to allay fears about the novel coronavirus. But these are minor product enhancements, for what is the point of these SUVs during a lockdown when driving is curtailed?
   We often refer to the automotive sector in Lucire because it’s one of the most evident places where brands and trends emerge, and with fewer players than in fashion, it’s often easier to see what those might be. Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice-president for global car design, pointed out to Forbes that after each major crisis—he uses World War II as an example—there is a creative surge, and that the US car industry of the 1950s picked up on it, with ‘a promise of the future.’ He says, ‘Many times, this whole “vision of tomorrow” comes from the difficulties of today. So I think we as people will express our emotions physically and you’ll see this in all the arts.’


GM

Oshan

Above, from top: Oldsmobile Golden Rocket, a 1956 show car from GM that pointed to an optimistic, jet-age future. The Oshan X7 SUV, with a standard air purifier.

   Other emotions that have emerged during this time include loneliness, in those countries or communities that are facing a lockdown, and the desire for human contact, alleviated somewhat by the knowledge that many are in the same boat, and by the ease of digital contact in developed countries, with VR, Skype and Zoom, the latter entering the vernacular and enjoying a massive rise in popularity, despite privacy concerns. But on the flip side are emotions of appreciation, in countries where governments have acted and people have been unified.
   Travel editor Stanley Moss, based in Italy, chatted last month to the general manager of the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia, Gianmatteo Zampieri. Stanley reported in our web edition that the conversation was ‘lively’, rather than pessimistic, when at the time Italy had one of the most troubling COVID-19 numbers on record. He writes, ‘The Rialto Bridge is deserted, and uncrowded phantom vaporetti lazily float by. The St Mark’s Basin stands empty, with only stray small craft passing.’
   Mr Zampieri remarked, ‘The Lagoon is like a mirror. There’s not a boat to be seen, the water is crystal clear, and schools of little fish are swimming in the canals. We have a gondola landing at our entrance, and we are seeing little crabs crawling up the gondola poles. Ducks are nesting on the vaporetto docks, and laying eggs there.’
   Stanley continues, ‘Mr Zampieri has an optimistic perspective on all this. He says that following these difficult times we’ll be given a chance to return to a Venezia renewed, where the air and water are clean, landmarks uncrowded and Baglioni’s teams rested and ready to welcome back guests.’
   Many will have seen the photos of Venezia’s clean waterways, or how the Himalayas are now visible from the state of Punjab, India, where they had been hidden due to air pollution. At Lucire’s HQ in Wellington, New Zealand, native kererū pigeons can be seen flying in flocks and close to homes, whereas before they would be seen individually or in pairs, seldom venturing quite so closely into neighbourhoods.
   Lockdowns saw an appreciation of the quietness and the absence of noise pollution, a silver lining for those who were forced to stay home.
   In economies that are opening up, the hum of traffic has returned, along with rush hours, immediately rendering the rural-like quietness nostalgic.
   It may well accelerate certain emerging movements. It’s not difficult to link this love of nature to better air quality, less pollution, and the desire for improved public transport or alternative fuels. With fashion such a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—Quantis estimates c. 8 per cent can be attributed to apparel and footwear, while 114,000 million items of clothing were sold in 2019—fast fashion has become more exposed during the crisis. A shocking 70 per cent of the product winds up in landfills or is incinerated, and inventory is currently growing in warehouses around the world. The Business of Fashion estimates that fashion is an industry that will need between US$20,000 million and US$30,000 million per annum to meet global climate and development goals in the coming decade.
   With several of my colleagues at Medinge Group, the Swedish think-tank dealing with brands with a conscience, we summarized in one session how we have become more acutely aware of how natural resources should be used sustainably, how many indigenous populations have been appropriate guardians of them and of global biodiversity, and how it has been possible to opt for self-sufficiency and sourcing a lot of our food locally, potentially boosting a localization movement.
   Somewhere in between these truths is an understanding that collaboration and co-creation are potential ways forward for the industry: to both consume more mindfully and produce more responsibly. Climate activists like Greta Thunberg rightly point out that earlier generations could have done better, and COVID-19 may have woken more up to the idea that change can happen, and we can create a better way.
   It would seem more important, then, to look at brands and responsibility, both of which are beginning to be the ways out for many sectors.
   In the 2020s, it is becoming more evident that brands should promote a sense of belonging, because people agree with its values and wish to be seen to be connected with them. Perhaps the analogy of a desirable club is not inaccurate. The top–down approach of the generation before, mass marketing products through mass media, is history: it does not build brands, and is better left to low-cost retailers keen to push short-lived product over quality. In 2020, in the midst of COVID-19, there is no stigma to having less tidy hair or older clothes, because neither signals a lack of standing; and a brand pursuing a profit strategy over one centred around purpose may find such an approach off-putting to its audiences.
   Improving the pay of workers, for instance—something our fashion feature interviewee in this issue, Johan Graffner of the Swedish label Dedicated, does with its suppliers—has been shown to make them more productive. Essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis have been praised as people have come to appreciate the value of their work in providing our necessities. Reworking and reframing the relationship workers have over their work could be a way forward: that those who invest their labour have the same voice as those who invest their capital, something pushed for by a group that counts Profs Nancy Fraser, Thomas Piketty and thousands of scholars from around the planet. They note that a strategy centred purely on profit has led us astray. Providing dignity, however, may be more in line with how people have come to feel over their work.
   Fair Trade impacts the workers living in places where work has been outsourced. Simon Anholt, in his book Brand New Justice, goes further with suggesting a shared equity model. Building environmental and social strategies into the brand is yet another step that could be taken, with measurable outcomes—many metrics for this already exist. Kering (the parent to Gucci, YSL and others), for instance, has an Environmental Profit & Loss Account, which assigns a financial value to environmental impact.
   The other reset must come with our use of resources. If collaboration with one’s own workers is possible, then it must equally be possible to work with those who understand biodiversity best. My colleague at Medinge Dr Nicholas Ind writes, ‘Indigenous people represent 5% of the world population, but manage 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity.’ Yet this traditional knowledge is often overlooked, though it would be fair to say that people appreciate its value far more in the midst of this crisis.
   These greater goals are more appealing to the consumers who will emerge in a post-COVID-19 landscape. However, shifting to it, and giving it more than lip service, will require governmental support, the third limb in making this model work. Many territories have shown that working together with government and governmental agencies can defeat the virus: Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand are among those that have experienced a largely unified approach and brought new daily infections close to zero. We can work on the same side. Intervention may be justified when it comes to wages, to prevent the temptation to force them down in order to maximize profits. Without governmental input, that US$20,000 million to US$30,000 million per annum target cannot be easily achieved.
   In such a context, it has made the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 particularly prescient as it sought to insulate the country from precisely such shocks by diversifying the economy and the labour force. The brands that have emerged now need to visibly demonstrate that they have desire, as well as the means, to be part of a better world—and make us want to belong.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Instagram won’t replace the fashion magazine

Filed by Jack Yan/January 31, 2020/12.14


Lindsay Adler

Above: The cover from Lucire KSA, January 2020, modelled by Camille Hyde with fur by House of Fluff. Photographed by Lindsay Adler Photography, styled by Cannon/the Only Agency, hair by Linh Nguyen, and make-up by Joanne Gair using Danessa Myricks Beauty.

A few weeks ago, I got out of the habit of Instagramming. Since 2012, I did it initially out of fun, then as a way of keeping up with hobbies and a few friends, but when some personal changes happened, the habit left. Facebook I had departed for any personal updates in 2017, after some well documented problems—before Christopher Wylie voiced his concerns to The Observer, incidentally—while Twitter has revealed that its data-gathering doesn’t stop even when you’ve opted out of personalized advertising. Facebook does the same, and it’s public knowledge that it’s quite happy to sell these data to others.
   I thought it was a massive mistake for Facebook to remind us that it owned Instagram and Whatsapp through its latest branding efforts, because surely the parent company and its flagship product are tainted by now? It’s been further tainted by the stench of politics, the tribalism that they exhibit, and the outright lies its bosses tell.
   At some point, some government will develop the cohones to say monopoly power is bad and stifles innovation, changing Big Tech significantly. Perhaps some agency will have the guts to point out that regular deceptive comments to the public do have consequences. But till then, this first year of the decade won’t look too different from the last year of the last in terms of how the majority of people consume media, old and new.
   None of these fleeting media give you much depth, and Instagram is arguably the least tainted by politicking and negativity, showing pretty pictures (for the most part) that you can either like or scroll past.
   I was, therefore, surprised that in the last few years, I read one proclamation that the days were numbered for fashion magazines since there was Instagram. I beg to differ, and it’s not just out of a personal bias, but out of keen observations of the ebbs and flows of social media. Yes, I may have got out of the habit of Facebooking and Instagramming, but millions of others haven’t. But to say fashion magazines were a thing of the past? It’s hard to fathom.
   Instagram does give a few obvious benefits. Immediacy, for one. Users can then link the item to a smartphone-optimized shopping site. As a retail aid, it’s clever. It has video, where brand stories can be told. But, like any new medium, at best this complements what already exists. Instagram doesn’t replace long-form journalism told by an objective observer.
   At home we have a 34-year-old copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly. It’s the Christmas issue, and it’s packed with articles that entertain, with barely any sensationalism. The magazines of this era, buoyed by healthy advertising prices and editors who arguably enjoyed educating as much as entertaining, aren’t, to me, relics. Lucire has always strived to be a decent read, more so in our print editions, and while our presentation is more contemporary, our values haven’t changed. We moved past offering a magazine that was based around today’s news, with retail specials for the following month, long ago. We could see that wasn’t relevant in a digital age. But we repositioned and kept what did work. World-class photography. Interesting articles, properly subbed. You deserve a good read, where you pick up a copy and gain something from it. We also wanted to reflect (perhaps even preempt) your values about the environment and our place in this world. I think that’s why Lucire, in particular our original edition; our newest edition, Lucire KSA; and the former Twinpalms Lucire in Thailand, have reader appeal. It should last you for more than a single sitting. That December 1985 issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly could even last beyond the date the February 1986 issue went on sale.


Aleksandr Mavrin


Hilde Osland, via Instagram

Top: Like travel editor Stanley Moss, Russian model Viki Odintcova headed to Canggu, Bali, and shared this image from Wapa di Ume Sidemen photographed by Aleksandr Mavrin on her Instagram. Above: Hilde Osland models Fashionnova, not far from Lucire’s HQ in Wellington, New Zealand.

   Social media have only really replaced any medium that was fleeting and shallow. You could potentially get more insight into your favourite reality TV stars on their personal ’Grams than in a gossip magazine. Glamour models and certain celebrities—Viki Odintcova of Russia, and Norwegian-born, Australian-based model and singer Hilde Osland for two—may show more on their accounts than in lads’ magazines. Cellphone cameras can rival some professional ones in resolution, and while there’s no substitute for the professionally shot photos, those surfing social media and its small, rectangular, black-mirror format of all of seven inches are quite happy with “near enough”. And, indeed, for those professional images, especially editorials, a beautifully printed page has a totally different effect to something seen on screen.
   Digital is here to stay—and being one of the earliest proponents of that, we should know. Social will also stay, maybe offered by other firms, but we won’t break our addictions easily. Admittedly, as a company, we never expected social to play as big a part as it ultimately did. But print, and the long-form articles that appear in it, are going to stick around for a long time to come, too.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Kelly Rowland and Fabletics release third activewear collaboration for winter ’20

Filed by Lucire staff/January 2, 2020/15.18

Fabletics, the lifestyle brand co-founded by actress Kate Hudson, has teamed up for winter 2020 with musician Kelly Rowland, marking their third collaboration.
   Launched January 1, the affordable collection features warm tones of espresso, maroon and tan, using soft performance fabrics. There are new wide-leg pants, leggings, ribbed seamless bras (with new halter and crossback styles), corset-style bras with lingerie-inspired details, and a bodysuit in sizes XXS to 4X.
   ‘I love how beautiful and luxe this capsule looks and feels. I’m all about embracing your natural curves and being proud of your body, and I think all women will feel amazing in these pieces,’ said Rowland in a release. ‘When I wear this collection, I feel like I’m always walking in my best light and know I can take on anything with confidence.’
   The collection will be sold in 10 countries, online at fabletics.com, and at the 36 Fabletics retail stores in the US.

 


Beyoncé relaunches Ivy Park with an Adidas collaboration

Filed by Lucire staff/December 20, 2019/0.51



Melina Matsoukas


Mason Poole

The Beyoncé–Adidas collaboration will bear fruit on January 18, with the release of the first Adidas × Ivy Park collection.
   Announced last April, after Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment company acquired all of the Ivy Park brand that once partnered with Topshop’s Sir Philip Green, the athleisure collection features performance gear including jumpsuits, cargo pants, hoodies, cycling shorts, and four footwear styles. It includes items that are gender-neutral. Sizes range from XS to XL, with prices from US$25 to US$250.
   Beyoncé said in a release, ‘It is a dream come true to relaunch Ivy Park as the sole owner. My team has worked hard with the Adidas team in bringing my vision to life for this first collection and I am grateful and proud. From the accessories to the clothes and footwear, I wanted to design and reimagine pieces that serve as favourite armour for anyone who acknowledges the strength in their individual style and lives freely and boldly.’
   The brand champions inclusiveness, community and diversity, with the new collection celebrating ‘power, freedom and individuality for anyone who has the confidence to take chances and live unapologetically.’
   Colours are bright, with orange and maroon, complemented by cream, and harness detailing appears through the collection as a design motif and feature.
   Adidas Originals and Style general manager Torben Schumacher said, ‘With Beyoncé we have the shared goal of putting creativity at the forefront of everything we do to go beyond what we’ve done before and create something entirely new. The first Adidas × Ivy Park collection unites the vision of Beyoncé with Adidas’s expertise and authenticity in sport and innovative design; the undeniable work ethic and steadfast point of view of Beyoncé shows through in every detail within the collection.’
   Beyoncé ended the partnership with Sir Philip after allegations of sexual harassment emerged. She faced pressure to cut ties with him, and did so on November 14, 2018 by buying him out. Sir Philip denies the allegations.
   The collection will be available online at adidas.com and at select stores worldwide.

 


Lancôme opens first flagship store at 52 Champs-Élysées

Filed by Lucire staff/December 4, 2019/21.48



Lancôme, part of the L’Oréal group and the number-one luxury beauty brand in the world, has opened its first flagship store at 52, Champs-Élysées, in Paris, with a two-storey, 300 m² space showcasing all their lines, beauty technology, and gift personalization.
   Designed to be immersive, the entrance space is called ‘the Joy of Now’, essentially a pop-up exhibition, with digital and physical displays, that Lancôme says will be updated five times a year. There is a triple-height ceiling, ornamented with hanging rose petals.
   Everything currently offered by Lancôme is stocked within, from perfume to make-up and skin care. The company will also stock unique collections and limited editions.
   After the Joy of Now, there is a fragrance space, with a chandelier hanging from the centre, featuring the range and videos telling the story behind each scent.
   The next space features make-up (foundations, powders, blushes, lipsticks, mascaras and more), and tools and accessories, allowing visitors to test the products. Five beauty advisers are also on hand. Lancôme will host masterclasses in this space.
   Skin care is next, again with on-site experts, who can serve visitors from comfortable armchairs. Visitors can also use diagnostic tools to examine their skin, and learn about what from the Lancôme range suits their skin the best. A private consultation space with ‘poly-sensorial treatment cabins’ is linked from here.
   Technologies include Lancôme’s Shade Finder, which can identify 20,000 skin tones, and Le Teint Particulier, a tailor-made foundation which can be uniquely formulated for each person, with 72,000 possible formulas. Youth Finder uses an Ipad app and scanner to evaluate facial skin, creating a personalized skin care routine.
   Private sessions can be organized, with spaces for the Le Teint Particulier foundation, and Maison Lancôme for fragrance.
   Lancôme also shows its environmental commitment at the flagship store. The store itself has been certified LEED Gold, and is increasing the number of rechargable and refillable products available (such as the Absolue Soft Cream and Absolue L’Extrait Elixir, which are available in capsules that clip into the original jar; and the Idôle fragrance, which can be refilled through a fountain). Visitors can deposit finished products at the store for recycling. Lancôme also shows off its support of Write Her Future, an initiative combatting illiteracy among young women.
   Finally, visitors can get their gifts personalized by engraving, wrapping, and UV printing. There are ‘rose robots’, robotic arms in a display cabinet, that select roses to customize gift bags and boxes.
   ‘We’re proud to see the Lancôme flagship come to life: this new home for Lancôme offers a unique and elevated customer experience,’ says Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme’s global president. ‘This new venue is a true home of beauty and happiness, where our guests are invited to experience and delve into what the brand has to offer in terms of beauty products, services, personalization, gifting and technology. Most importantly of all, we want them to leave feeling happy. We want this flagship to become a “must-see” and an iconic beauty address for Parisians and tourists of the world alike.’



 


Travel editor Stanley Moss to speak, plus Q&A session and book signing in Gurgaon

Filed by Lucire staff/November 10, 2019/14.13


Paula Sweet

Stanley Moss, pictured earlier this month at Brunton Boatyard in Fort Kochi.

Travel editor Stanley Moss will be the guest of honour at the second edition of Converse@Nagarro, an interactive talk series, in Gurgaon on November 13.
   Nagarro, the software development and technology consultancy, was the basis of Stanley’s fictional company Talsera in his novel The Hacker. It hosts the event on Wednesday at 11 a.m., at its Training Room 1, Plot 13.
   Those attending the event will hear Stanley speak, followed by a Q&A, and a book signing.
   In addition to his travel editing at Lucire, Stanley founded the Club of Venice, where he hosts private conversations on branding, and consults for Gottschalk + Ash in Zürich. He has written numerous books, including Nuclear Brands, What Is a Brand?, Hitman in Delhi, The Hacker and Hack Is Back.
   The Converse@Nagarro series sees ‘leaders and expert speakers from political backgrounds, public agencies, private sector, civil society and citizen groups at large to share insight and experience. Experts will share their experience, thinking and work so as to inform, inspire and engage with the audience,’ says the company.

 


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