What do you get when you combine Versace and 90s supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer and Carla Bruni?
Nothing but nostalgic magic. At Versace’s SS18 show Donatella Versace walked down with the 90's icons for the finale. The shows collection reinvented Gianni’s iconic prints from the Vogue look to Animalier to Barocco. 2017 marked the 20th anniversary to the gruesome death of Gianni Versace.
Nike's decision comes months after H&M closed down outlets in South Africa following protests against the infamous ad that featured a black child with a hoodie with the text “coolest monkey in the jungle.” Race remains a highly sensitive issue in South Africa more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
While the company didn’t comment on the temporary closure, it released a statement saying the firm “opposes discrimination and has a long-standing commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect.”
In the online video that went viral last week, a white man expressed his appreciation for the beach he was visiting by commenting that there weren’t any black people to be seen — using an offensive racial slur. He was promptly fired from the food producer that is owned by his family, Eyewitness News reported, adding that his wife works for Nike.
The stores have reopened as of Friday last week.
We all know that markups in luxury fashion can be ridiculously high. The journey from the factory to floor, gets items to be priced at higher than they cost.
Now E-commerce site Italic is betting that removing the branding and the mark-up will prove a hit with consumers. A big bet indeed!
The start-up’s members-only marketplace, which launched last Thursday, allows manufacturers that create products for luxury brands to sell directly to consumers without the LOGOs adding markups. Shoppers who pay a $120 annual membership fee can choose from a selection of unbranded luxury goods, from bags and wallets to prescription eyewear and leather jackets, produced by the same factories that count names like Prada, Givenchy, Celine and Burberry among their clients.
The company has raised $13 million in funding, from various top end investors. Over 100,000 people joined a waiting list to be notified when membership opens, with signups initially limited to the US, said company founder Jeremy Cai.
Upon launching, the platform will have nearly 60 styles live on the site, with a view to double this number by the end of the year. However, customers won’t find unbranded versions of the Gucci Dionysus bag or any of the latest Celine creations. All products sold on Italic will be unique and exclusive to the platform to avoid infringing on brands’ intellectual property / copyrighted designs.
The start-up joins a growing number of brands, including Everlane and Warby Parker, which provide a premium-feeling, minimally branded product at relatively affordable prices. Within the luxury sector, high-end retailers, including Mr Porter, Joseph and MatchesFashion, are expanding their private label collections, which tend to be priced below standard luxury fare.
Italic goes one step further, selling items that lack even the private label branding. The marketplace will instead focus on providing the infrastructure — from marketing, design and warehousing to customer support — to enable manufacturers to sell products directly. The company will take a commission on sales.
“We essentially do everything that brands do and more, but we do it for the manufacturers,” Cai said.
For example, Italic’s merchandising team will work with factories that have product and pattern libraries to tweak existing designs so they don’t mimic products already on the market. Italic also has two designers, alumni of Armani and Calvin Klein, to work with manufacturers that don’t have in-house creative teams.
“We are very careful about every single product that we sell being originally designed, you won’t find an exact product like it in the market,” Cai said. “We want breadth and coverage of a lot of different styles.”
Branding can be a powerful tool, especially in a sector like luxury, where purchases are emotional rather than practical. That’s especially true for “statement” products, like handbags.
“People buy branded products to be reassured of the quality and style of the item and also for their projected image: they somehow communicate to other people the style, sophistication and preferences of their owner,” said Mario Ortelli, managing partner of luxury advisors Ortelli & Co. “You want to feel and show that you are part of the brand story.”
But Cai doesn’t anticipate the manufacturers on Italic’s marketplace competing head to head with luxury brands.
“For a person who is going to buy a Gucci bag, we are never going to win them over with unbranded product,” he said. “That doesn’t mean in some avenue of their life, they wouldn’t be open to switching up their sheets or maybe a shirt, or a leather jacket, where they actually don’t like a logo on there.”
As well as geographical expansion and international shipping, the platform’s short term goals include expanding into product categories like activewear and beauty. The focus will remain on luxury, Cai said.
“The reason we want to start in luxury is because we can say to the customer: we can make premium product effectively and replace a lot of your aspirational shopping,” he said.
Nike is partnering with Matthew Williams, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Alyx, in a conscious move to make its performance category more fashionable. Matthew's work takes cues from the current youth culture and is recognised for his more practical approach to fashion, will launch his 18-piece fashion collaboration with Nike in mid July, which includes outerwear, monochrome leggings and a wide range of accessories such as logo-ed socks, face masks and towels.
Matthew's partnership with Nike, which has men’s, women’s and unisex collections, will be within Nike’s Training category, making this one of its first major collaborations with a fashion designer within the division. He founded Alyx in 2015 and has been working on the collaboration with Nike for the past year and a half.
He has a young fan base, and his brand's roots in merging street culture with practical garment construction, fits well with Nike’s Training division. But the collection also symbolises a wider strategic shift in the sport firm’s ambition to join its performance and lifestyle divisions, as it responds to the buying behaviours of young consumers, who often see less of a distinction between the two categories.
Nike still remains the world’s leading sportswear player in terms of revenue, but its performance-driven approach to apparel and footwear has lost some degree of “cool” in the eyes of young consumers, who often favour aesthetic and lifestyle features over performance and still make up a majority of the company’s clientele. Nike’s designer collaborations, including those with Kim Jones, Olivier Rousteing and Riccardo Tisci, also made a smaller cultural impact than those launched by Adidas.
( Photos Credit: Nick Knight )