The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 26 January 2016

Image: Messe Duesseldorf

Anchors aweigh

The weather forecast for Düsseldorf this week is mostly cloudy with a sprinkling of showers – but to wander around the 17 aircraft-hangar-sized halls of the city’s Messe you really wouldn’t know it. At Boot 2016, the world’s biggest boat and water-sports trade fair, visitors are encouraged to stride about on deck, enjoy the sun loungers and generally pretend they’re on the Med in mid-July. For the industry too the horizon is far from gloomy despite recent setbacks. “Unluckily, emerging markets have not helped a lot,” says Carla Demaria, president of Ucina, the Italian yacht-builders’ association. “But countries in Old Europe have been solid and have balanced out the disappointment.” Her prediction for the foreseeable future? “The number one market in the world will be the US. There’s a very solid base and it’s a mature market.”

Image: The Danish Wind Industry Association

Bright and breezy

When the winds of change blew through Tahrir Square in 2011, upending decades of stagnant strongman-rule in Egypt, they also blew a burgeoning industry off course as collateral. Manufacturing wind-power equipment – from rotor blades to wind towers – was a nascent Egyptian export before the instability and economic collapse that followed the uprising. Now the industry is being revived and Elsewedy Electric, an energy outfit that had previously planned to export wind-power technology to Africa, Europe and around the Middle East, is once again looking to expand. Meanwhile Siemens and GE both have plans to open manufacturing and training facilities in Egypt soon. This upswing comes as a welcome breath of fresh air: Monday marked five years since the uprising in Cairo began and the economy is still stuck in the doldrums.

Image: Getty Images

Redressing the balance

It seems that once upon a time the fashion world was a very tidy machine: Paris was the capital of couture, where dresses were crafted by delicate hands over hundreds of hours and worn by only a handful of customers. Yet the rhythm imposed by big groups to satisfy their buyers’ insatiability and the demand for getting collections quickly has forced fashion to speed up its schedule, leading to a kind of chaos. But at Paris Fashion Week – where haute couture shows are on now – some designers are pushing back on the rapid routine and proceeding on their own terms. Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane called time on the frenetic marathon of Paris by organising a show in Los Angeles. Meanwhile UK designers such as Thomas Tait and Giles Deacon, typically expected in London, have decided to desert their hometown in favour of the French capital. They are sticking to a different schedule, with one-on-one showroom appointments and in-season deliveries.

Image: Getty Images

Staying power

Japan’s Seibu Holdings has revealed that on 27 July it will open the 250-room Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho hotel in the centre of the city where the Akasaka Prince Hotel once stood. But there’s a twist: Seibu’s new venue will be part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Luxury Collection. It’s a smart move on Seibu’s part. At home, the company is known for its railways, hotels, golf courses, ski resorts and the Seibu Lions professional baseball team; globally it doesn’t have much cachet. Without the Starwood brand’s marketing might, Seibu probably would have struggled to fill the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho’s rooms with the sort of big-spending guests from overseas that it wants to attract. Seibu hopes that foreign guests will make up more than two thirds of the hotel's bookings; there's a better chance of Starwood bringing in those numbers than Seibu.

From Monocle 24

Musical legacies: Bowie, Cash and The Beatles

With David Bowie still on our minds Will Hodgkinson, rock and pop critic for The Times, chats to Robert Bound about the artists who have nurtured their careers into old age and kept the spirit of their music alive to create great legacies.

From Monocle Films

Japanese mascots

As their cutesy, cartoon profiles – and fanbases – continue to soar, Japan’s cuddly collection of corporate mascots has come to inhabit a central part of the nation’s identity. We meet these celebrated creations and the people who bring them to life.

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