Italy’s luxury brands defy economic crisis

Italy’s luxury brands defied the country’s economic downturn to record impressive growth in 2014, according to the latest research by a Milan consultancy firm.

Italy's luxury brands defy economic crisis
Some of the biggest names in Italian fashion, including Salvatore Ferragamo, posted positive revenue growth in 2014. Salvatore Ferragamo photo: Shutterstock

Studio Pambianco said some of the biggest names in Italian fashion, including Salvatore Ferragamo, Tod’s leather goods, cashmere king Brunello Cucinelli and eyewear giant Luxottica, posted positive revenue growth – ranging from slight to substantial – from worldwide sales in the first nine months of 2014.

The Milan-based studio, which specializes in market research and consultancy to fashion and luxury brands, said 11 leading Italian companies had posted total turnover of €12.4 billion in the first nine months of 2014, 1.5% higher than for the same period in 2013.

Profits before tax for these companies totalled €2.6 billion for the first nine months, up 21.4% in 2013.

Research showed that Luxottica, the world leader in eyewear production and distribution, posted revenues of nearly €5.8 billion ( + 2.1%) and Salvatore Ferragamo had recorded €957 million (+4.6%) in the same period.

Prada’s turnover for the first three quarters of 2014 was slightly down (0.9%) but the global fashion giant still posted revenues totalling €2.5 billion.

The research showed the fashion company’s profits remained strong despite protests in Hong Kong, while Brunello Cucinelli’s revenues were up 10.2% to €277 million.

Alessio Candi, a consultant with Studio Pambianco, told The Local that these luxury brands had weathered Italy’s economic crisis better than others.

He also noted the luxury brands had not suffered seriously from the downturn in two major emerging markets Russia and China.

Meanwhile, annual sales were beginning earlier than expected across Italy on Friday in a bid to stimulate sluggish consumer spending, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

According to research by employer group Confcommercio, one in two Italians is expected to take advantage of discounted prices even though consumer spending at Italian sales fell 7.3 percent in 2014, Ansa reported.

Sales with 40 percent price cuts began in the southern regions of Basilicata and Campania on Friday and were expected to begin elsewhere in Italy on Saturday.

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Paris exhibition celebrates 100 years of French Vogue

A new exhibition in Paris will tell the story of 100 years of French Vogue - from the post-war 'New Look' of Christian Dior through the sexual liberation of the 1960s to the dangling-cigarette waifs of the 2000s.

French Vogue celebrates 100 years
French Vogue celebrates 100 years. Photo: Thomas Olva/AFP

But as well as celebrating the magazine’s storied history, the exhibit comes at a time of turbulence for the publication.

Just last month, it was confirmed that its editor of 10 years, Emmanuelle Alt, was out and wouldn’t be replaced.

She was not alone.

Looking to cut costs, owner Conde Nast International has axed editors across Europe over the past year, and put international Vogue editions under the direct control of global editorial director, Anna Wintour, in New York.

New York-based Anna Wintour now has overall control of French Vogue. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Like much of the media industry, Vogue is struggling with tumbling sales and ad revenue in the digital era.

But the latest twist is also part of the endless push and pull between New York and Paris going back to its early days.

“The whole history of French Vogue is one of back-and-forth with Conde Nast in New York – growing more independent for a while, then being reined back in,” said Sylvie Lecallier, curator of the new exhibition, “Vogue Paris 1920-2020″, which opened this weekend after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

The Paris edition was often the loftier, more bohemian sibling to its more hard-nosed New York version.

But it was also the hotbed in which much of 20th century style and womenhood came to be defined.

“Paris was the place to hunt out talent and content and bring it to New York,” said Lecallier.

The exhibition charts the evolution from art deco drawings of the 1920s through the erotic image-making of photographers like Helmut Newton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its last peak was under editor Carine Roitfeld in the 2000s, who brought back a provocative Gallic identity by ridding the newsroom of foreign staff and becoming a fashion icon in her own right.

Her successor, Alt, was a quieter presence, though she still oversaw key moments including its first transgender cover star, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio, in 2017.

But internet culture has created “a perfect storm” for Vogue, says media expert Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

“The first 80 years of Vogue’s life, it had the market to itself, it was the bible for fashion,” McCabe told AFP.

“But online today, there are so many other ways to get your information. Influencers, Instagram, YouTube — everyone’s a threat.”

In a world where new fashion trends can blow up around the world in seconds, it has become much harder for a monthly magazine to set the pace.

“It’s not that they can’t survive for another 100 years — but they will be differently sized,” McCabe said.

Vogue has tried to branch out into different areas, including events.

“I used to work for a magazine, and today I work for a brand,” Alt said on the eve of French Vogue’s 1,000th issue in 2019.

But the big money was always in print, and Vogue Paris sales are dropping steadily from 98,345 in 2017 to 81,962 to 2020, according to data site ACPM.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the new top job in Paris, redefined as “head of editorial content”, went to Eugenie Trochu, who was key to building the magazine’s online presence.

She declared herself “thrilled to be part of Vogue’s international transformation”.

For the curator of the exhibition, it is ironic timing.

“We had no idea it would end like this when we started work on the exhibition,” said Lecallier.

“Who knows where it will go from here.”

The exhibition Vogue Paris 1920-2020 is at the Palais Galliera in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for the exhibition are €14 (€12 for concessions and under 18s go free) and must be reserved online in advance.