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Monday, 29 November 2010

The London Question.

It takes a special kind of person, one that is in possession of huge amounts of talent and energy, to create and sell desirable objects that are not necessarily needed in massive quantities so as to create a mutli-billion dollar enterprise. It is this form of genius marketing that is in short supply when it comes to London as a fashion capital.


Before I go forward, I would like to differentiate between the high street and high fashion. There are multi-billion dollar high street fashion franchises in London such as Phillip Green's The Arcadia Group that owns Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins etc, Marks and Spencer, Next to name but a few. As for high fashion, I struggle to find any apart from one.


You see, the other three traditional major fashion capitals - Milan, Paris and New York - are home to some of the world's major high fashion houses that are currently multi-billion dollar fashion franchises such as LVMH in Paris, Prada in Milan and Ralph Lauren in New York. When it comes to London, there is only one suitable candidate and that is Burberry.


Why is there no Calvin Klein equivalent or Donna Karan or Tommy Hilfiger in London? And that's just a few examples in New York. In Milan there are houses such as Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Versace. In Paris you got Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton to name but a few. Why is there only one in London?


I once had a conversation with Tim Blanks about this very topic and his take was because there isn't a sufficient infrastructure for designers in London. In terms of business mentoring, manufacturing base and marketing for international exposure.


There's no doubt whatsoever that London is a hot bed for massively talented fashion designers such as John Galliano at Dior, the late Alexander McQueen, Mathew Williamson formerly at Pucci, Stella McCartney, Christopher Bailey at Burberry and many others who all call London their home where they learned and nurtured their talents but soon left for greener and brighter pastures of New York and Paris.


Christopher Bailey worked for Donna Karan in New York before taking the helm at Burberry. John Galliano now resides in Paris with the stewardship of Dior and most recently Gareth Pugh now shows in Paris after a few seasons in London.


London needs much more than talented artists. It needs people like Domenico de Sole ( he and Tom Ford revived Gucci's fortunes in the nineties to become a global fashion power house The Gucci Group that owns a stable of other labels such as Bottega Venetta). Ralph Lauren, a man that grew his business from selling ties to a multi-billion dollar fashion giant. Bertelli at Prada. London needs people such as these that are equally talented business heads as their artist counterparts.


One very good example of a mordern-day Domenico-Ford type partnership in London is Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey. I guess that's why Burberry is doing very well. Why don't we have such business heads in London like Angela Ahrendts. Look what she's done at Burberry. Amazing track record.


London needs many more fashion business heads. It's already got some of the best fashion schools: Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion. There is also a new addition to this: Fashion Retail Academy opened not so long ago at Tottenham Court Road, so I hope that we shall have the next Calvin Kleins coming out of there real soon.


The British Fashion Council and a whole host of other corporate sponsors have a number of initiatives aimed at this very thing whereby they support up and coming designers with programmes such as NewGen, Fashion Forward and so on that provide mentoring programes from the world of international business, manufacturing abilities, sales promos in different cities like New York and Paris.

Such endeavours by the BFC are making a difference in terms of capturing the fashion world's attention that London is a serious contendor.


It doesn't matter to make the best merchandise artistically and getting massive press exposure if it cannot be monetized. We need genius marketeers in London if it is to be taken seriously as a fashion capital.

8 comments:

kirstyb said...

well said x

Nadine2point0 said...

Brilliant. What a way for my brain to wake up on a Monday morning! I've been schooled on London's BFC. Thanks David ;)
I have heard that many European designers take an inspirational vacay to London for months at a time and then wack out great collections for their next season....is it the atmosphere, the people, the bloggers?! Hmmm.

Old Cow said...

I agree!! Go to Mr Nyanzi,,,I nominate you!

Underemployed said...

I agree with Old Cow. Mr. Opportunity is knocking and YOU are a genius!

The Photodiarist said...

Well said. I've often wondered what the deal was in London? Clearly a city full of talent yet no major fashion houses except for Burberry and McQueen. You are right . . . the financial infrastructure isn't there. Which is odd because London is also a financial capital of the world. Where are the venture capitalists in London? Why isn't fashion on their radar?

Prutha said...

its cool for me to read all these posts of your cause like this post sometimes i would have never thought about it till u make me read it... well maybe u can write to the LSE and LBS to have a program within their Business programs that specialize in fashion business and marketing... this very post included. who knows, it may make a difference.

Fashionistable said...

Good post David. I am with OC are you up for going for it? You are spot on here. We sure have a wealth of talent but somehow always manage to export it. Xxxx

Biana said...

Well observed and well written as always, David. I also don't know what the deal is. It's certainly not the lack in talent, cause London is hometown of many icons in fashion.

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