His thoughts are never far from this pressing topic, so here our editor in chief scrutinises the future of retail and the changing ways in which we shop.
Where to start this month? Should I rewind slightly and take you back to the Monocle Media Summit and recap some of the best quotes from our panels? Would you like to cosy up by the roaring fireplace while I tell you about the trip high up into Berner Oberland to sample an outstanding little hotel that will feature prominently in our upcoming hotels book? (It’s out in June, so stay tuned for upcoming signing events.) Or should we reserve a place for you on the sofa so you can sit in on a planning meeting for our upcoming Quality of Life Conference in Zürich? Before we get to the extra-curriculars, why not a few words about the current issue.
We’ll kick things off in Southeast Asia where our regional specialist on political affairs, Gwen Robinson, made her way to Indonesia to sit down with President Joko Widodo and discuss the challenges and opportunities as his current term draws to a close and he unveils plans to encourage development of another 10 “Balis” across the archipelago. If he’s to succeed with the latter, he’s going to have to keep religious hardliners in check, lest his country becomes branded as intolerant and not particularly tourist friendly.
Our business editor Matt Alagiah has been wrestling with one of this issue’s bigger themes and has deployed our correspondents to high streets and department stores, design studios and front doors to get a look at the current state of retail. He had a good session with Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s head of retail, as she underlined the importance of physical retail within urban environments and also the central role her stores play within Apple’s broader strategy.
As the world’s biggest cities grapple with more congestion generated by all those delivery vans dropping off parcels for all of us, it’s perhaps not surprising that the solution-minded Swiss are developing a way to get bigger trucks off the road. Being Swiss, it’s also not surprising that it involves a lot of tunnelling and an elaborate public and private consortium to consider how to get the Cargo sous terrain system built. If you think that this is just the thing your city needs to free the streets from too many DHL and FedEx trucks you can read our report on page 81. As the way we consume continues to change and cherished habits, long-standing relationships and once-solid business models are upended, we decided to talk to the real experts in all of this – the shoppers. On the streets of Osaka, Sydney and Madrid our correspondents canvassed the views of residents young and old on what retailers, politicians and landlords need to do in order to keep the streets lively, surprising and – above all – dependable. As the voice of the customer is often compressed into big data that’s then repackaged by consultants and peddled to retail CEOs, we felt that shoppers needed a special place of their own and you’ll find them across our 16 glossy pages in our Expo.
Rounding out the issue we have a snappy report from Stockholm’s furniture fair, a cosy hostel in Kyoto and part one of our 2018 fashion and style overview. Our format has slightly evolved this year and across 22 pages we have a broad take on the best shops, shoes, accessories and silhouettes from emerging talents, traditional ateliers and solid suppliers. This month’s fashion section also serves up a biting report on why it’s unlikely that there’ll be a boom in “Made in USA” garments any time soon and we also crack the spines of the notebooks belonging to some of the industry’s best buyers.
Before I sign off, let’s take it back up to the top. If you missed our Media Summit you can hear snippets on Monocle 24 and try to catch the editor of the Creative Review on programmatic advertising. The headline? It’s not working and probably isn’t long for this world. Hurray! On the book front our editor Josh Fehnert is busy commissioning some 300 pages for our upcoming book devoted to the best in global inn-keeping. The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns and Hideaways will go on sale in late June and will be accompanied by a series of special summits and book signings devoted to the hotel industry. And finally, there’s the fourth edition of our Quality of Life Conference kicking off in Zürich on 28 June with the debut of our new bureau and retail set-up in Seefeld, a full day of discussion and debate on 29 June, special satellite sessions and maybe even a little trip up to the mountains for those who want to wrap up the weekend with some alpine air.
For more details on the line-up you can visit conference.monocle.com or you can always drop my office a note with any questions you might have. Julia Ahern is looking after conference specifics (firstname.lastname@example.org) and more detailed requests can be directed to Hannah Grundy (email@example.com). Enjoy the issue and we look forward to seeing you lakeside in Zürich at the end of June. Merci and thank you for your support.