The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 15 January 2016

Image: David Evan McDowell

Out of Africa

Menswear buyers and brands flock to Pitti Uomo to read the industry tea leaves: who’s buying what, from where and why. This year in Florence African menswear has been brought to the fashion fore with “Generation Africa”, a show run in conjunction with the International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative and featuring labels such as AKJP and Ikiré Jones (pictured). Menswear on the continent is a small but growing industry; the biannual South African Menswear Week in Cape Town is the most visible vehicle for pushing forward fresh talent but it was launched only last year. “It’s still niche but it’s developing very quickly. It’s one of the looks of the future on the international market,” says Simone Cipriani, the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s head and founder. “Shoppers in New York and Japan are starting to have a taste for this, which was unusual even 10 years ago.” To hear more from Cipriani and other Pitti highlights, tune in to Monocle 24’s business show The Entrepreneurs next Wednesday, 20 January.

Image: Ana Blagojevic

Just his type?

Do you remember the last time you heard “typeface” and “scandal” in the same sentence? Yeah, neither do we. But the selection of a typeface to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary next year has sparked a furore within the country’s design community. When the last Canadian administration was deliberating typography, capturing Canada’s character was not top priority – it had to be cheap, or better yet, free. They settled on a san-serif design called Mesmerize. Later, when it was found on the “free font” section on the website of Japan-based Canadian typographer Raymond Larabie, the backlash began. “When he was designing the type, he wasn’t making it for Canada,” says Katie Daubs, a Toronto Star journalist who spoke with the creator. “Although you could say that because Larabie grew up in Canada, the font is Canadian by osmosis.”

Image: Corbis

Turkish delights

Turkish soaps could conquer the world: in 2015, exports of television series from Turkey were worth more than $250m (€230m), ensuring the country’s crown as the second-biggest exporter of TV. The jewel in said crown is Magnificent Century, a racy costume drama about the Ottoman court, but melodramas such as Gumus have long since transcended their heartland in the Middle East, with Latin America now tuning in to more Turkish shows. Distributors say the future is the African market. “In Western drama series they concentrate more on heroes but normal people – the viewers – see something from their own lives in our programmes,” says Firat Gulgen, CEO of Calinos Holding, which accounts for about 25 per cent of the distribution market. “Our casts are also very good looking, which helps.”

Image: Getty Images

Signs of the time

In a bid to make Japan even more visitor-friendly in time for the 2020 Olympics, the delightfully named Geospatial Information Authority (GSI) of Japan has come up with a proposed set of pictograms for foreign-language maps. Apparently surveys taken last year showed that tourists were unable to decipher a number of symbols that have served Japanese maps perfectly well for years. Many visitors assumed that the sign for a hot spring, for example, looked like a steaming bowl of noodles. GSI has come up with a set of 18 symbols and several will replace existing map signs: the “x” that currently denotes a police box could be replaced by a saluting policeman, while the ancient swastika – a positive symbol before it was hijacked by the Nazis – indicates a temple but could be swapped with a pagoda.

From Monocle 24

Image: Predrag Bubalo

Belgrade’s Ministry of Space

Fighting the establishment is more than just a figure of speech in the countries that once made up Yugoslavia. As communism gave way to klepto-capitalism, many urban amenities were ransacked for the personal profit of the well-connected. But over the past five years the Ministry of Space – a collective of architects, artists and urbanists – has battled to reconnect citizens with development decisions and reclaim public spaces.

From Monocle Films

Cultural Kurdistan

Monocle’s foreign editor Steve Bloomfield and photographer Sebastian Meyer visit Sulaymaniyah, the cultural capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, to meet the artists, journalists and musicians putting the city on the map.

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