Tag Archives: fashion

1989, 2.0: Japan’s New Economic Threat ‘Looks Like a Department Store’!

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Making Relationships Great Again: From Disenchantment to Magic via Game Theory

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Notwithstanding the tumultuous socio-psychological state of today’s world, there is actually surprisingly little which keeps our Creative Director & CSO awake at night. One of the exceptions to this rule is the seemingly relentless march – particularly, though by far from exclusively, in technology-defined cities such as London – towards a post-human society in which human beings are increasingly perceived as disposable. Within the job market, robots are unquestioningly viewed as superior replacements; within wider society, immigrants and other out-groups are libellously demonised in a way that even two years ago would have seemed almost unthinkable.

The dating scene is not immune to this logic. People – real people with feelings, emotions, sensibilities and fragilities – are now routinely dismissed with not so much as a left swipe on a screen. And for those people who do get dates, the shadow of ritual humiliation is rarely too far from the surface.

In recent years, much of the analysis of post-modern dating’s sub-optimal outcomes has focused on this topic from male perspectives; while this is in some ways entirely understandable, these narratives have tended to marginalise or even ignore a genuinely disturbing phenomenon: that of women in consenting relationships being starved of affection, used and then unceremoniously discarded by men who seem incapable of forming attachments – or beyond this, even basic empathy.

It was therefore with great relief that we at Mediolana came across a recent item at FASHIONARTISTA – a beauty industry/lifestyle blog with a burgeoning and richly-merited following – which addresses this issue head-on. In Why We Are Losing Our Charm And How To Get It Back, game theory is used to great effect in illustrating how the dynamics of male-female dating interactions can be tipped back towards sanity by the latter adopting a classic ‘less skin, more charm’ strategy.

By metaphorically augmenting one’s character with a layer of mystery (and perhaps literally adding a layer of clothing to the evening brand), the terrain of the dating game can be changed from one which is primarily about sex to one which is about the quality of the human being you are having dinner with; sex does not disappear, but instead has a chance to occur at such a time when it can possess some metaphysical significance – and with this, a corresponding leap in quality and connection.

So far, so logical – but what if adoption of this strategy still ends in rejection? After some contemplation, this is where – at least for us at Mediolana – ‘less skin, more charm’ comes into its own. If a young lady is following the rest of the advice given at FASHIONARTISTA’s blog – which can best be summarised as counsel on the art of being more graceful – and there are still no takers in her social circle or dating market, then the course of action is clear. Change your social circle, change your location, change the religion and/or weltanschauung of the people you date (or even your own). Refuse to be stuck in a cycle of second-rate relationships – go to where the great guys are and be appreciated for being you in all your glory. Numbering the days of the disposable society requires nothing less.

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Dressing to Impress, 2016: Butterfly Swarm ‘Will Revolutionise Haute Couture’!

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Poster Girl: Does the Ubiquity of Cara Delevingne Symbolise Non-Textbook Market Failure?

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We at Mediolana have more than a passing interest in the fashion industry, and when our Creative Director & CSO was made aware of the phenomenon that is London-born model Cara Delevingne, he could tell that she was destined for Really Big Things. On a technical level, her signature eyebrows and unusually curvy silhouette (at least for this particular sector) mark Delevingne out from most of her peers; in a homogenous world, distinctiveness has an increasingly large cachet, even in industries with demanding, rigidly-enforced specifications.

However, in the last year or so we have begun to wonder whether the wild success of Cara Delevingne is beginning to epitomise non-textbook market failure. Walking around the fashion retail hotspots of London, Delevingne’s visage has become so ubiquitous that the uninitiated might plausibly believe that they have stumbled into a personality cult-defined dictatorship rivalling those of West and North-East Asia. Brands quotidian and luxury are falling over themselves to present offerings – mostly in the form of lucrative contracts – to the omnipresent. All Cara, All the Time is the mantra du jour.

But does this actually make any sense? After some contemplation, we believe that this trend could be an error for (almost) everyone involved:

  1. Bland Brands. What links TAG Heuer, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté and Topshop? Pretty much nothing – aside from the fact that at the time of writing, Cara Delevingne is the Ace Face of all three companies. Brand differentiation – one of the most important attributes of any commercial IP portfolio – has gone out of the window. Instead, one model appears to have completely eclipsed the corporate identity of billion-dollar entities.
  2. Saturation Point. Cara Delevingne’s ubiquity is at best a risky strategy. Beyond a reasonable point, fatigue will set in. Pop culture is full of models, singers, bands, and actors who were the biggest thing in the world for three weeks and are then confronted with the dreary reality of planned obsolescence. Even in the context of the short careers that the fashion industry offers most of its subjects, great care must be taken to avoid burnout – and encourage selective exposure.
  3. What About Her? As a global media capital, London is a magnet for talent in every conceivable creative industry. However, it can only remain so if the planet’s best and brightest creatives think that they have a hope in hell of making it to the top. Employing the language of economics, for every marginal contract swallowed up by the Delevingne machine, hundreds if not thousands of wonderful models from across Europe and the world – many of whom have made huge sacrifices to try and make it in the UK’s capital – will ponder contemplating pastures fairer that little bit more intensely.

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Flipping HEC: Paris Business School Brings a Touch of Luxury to China!

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A Decade of Mission Creep: Avoiding the Prada Paradox

While most people enjoying a few days in an isolated Mediterranean town a few kilometres away from a deserted beach would probably head for some surf rather than read the latest issue of a seminal commerce periodical, for better or for worse Mediolana’s CSO does not fit into this category; his recent, all-too-brief sojourn in Cyprus was dominated inasmuch as anything else by an article from the September 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review by no less a figure than Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada S.p.A. Staying Independent in a Consolidating Industry is an at times astonishingly frank account of the recent milestones and overarching philosophy of one of the global fashion industry’s most celebrated brands; whether one has any direct interest in this sector or not, the piece is well worth a few minutes of anyone’s attention.

A close reading, however, reveals a company that has had more of its fair share of challenges during the past twenty years or so, particularly those relating to its public flotation on the stock exchange, as Bertelli recalls: ‘Originally we planned to go public in Milan in late September 2001, but the 9/11 tragedy, followed by the second Gulf War, the outbreak of SARS, and a global credit crisis, upset our plans. We reacted to these events in a timely and innovative way, seizing new opportunities, and launched our IPO in Hong Kong in June 2011.’

Despite the (perhaps merited) positive spin put on his company’s trajectory by its charismatic CEO, there is no disguising that Prada suffered a ten-year delay in terms of its intended corporate trajectory – and this from a corporation that enjoys the advantages that only hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in annual revenue and thousands of employees may confer. Clearly, there are lessons to learn from this hiatus – but what are they?

1. Plan for External Shocks. Like a great many companies across the economic spectrum, Prada was held back by a number of serious and mostly unexpected events. But beyond a point, should these events really have been so unfathomable? Certainly by the time of the outbreak of the Iraq War, more prescient analysts should have factored the massive reallocation of resources towards military expenditures into their calculations; moreover, was it really inconceivable that the greatest housing bubble of all time (at least, to date) could eventually pop, particularly given the recency of the dotcom bust?

2. Incorporate Change. Bertelli reminisces about the world in the 1990s as ‘a very different place’, and in some ways it indubitably was: most people were not betting their futures on the economic emergence of the BRIC countries, let alone Indonesia or Vietnam. But as any follower of major international football tournaments will tell you, change is something that has to be incorporated into planning. Croatia did not exist as an independent country in 1990, when Yugoslavia were placed fifth at that year’s FIFA World Cup; in the 1998 World Cup, Croatia finished third.

3. Let the Head Rule. Bertelli freely admits his regret that Prada acquired companies where the founding designer was still working as these were extraordinarily difficult entities to manage: ‘It was challenging to even talk to those designers, let alone meet their marketing expectations.’ Years expended on fulfilling the whims of difficult egos could have been spent, as Bertelli acknowledges, on developing Prada S.p.A.’s core brands – and perhaps getting to that magical IPO that bit sooner in the process.

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Beauty Myth: Vogue Edges Away From Idealising Extreme Thinness + Youth

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