The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 10 February 2016

Image: Getty Images

Fashion fix?

The fashion world has started the year with a bang. Following last week’s string of menswear designers’ resignations, the past few days have seen heavyweights such as Burberry and Tom Ford announce that they will show fewer collections and put their clothes on shelves soon after they are shown on catwalks – rather than four months later, as per the current norm. These announcements have inspired a flurry of articles exclaiming that Burberry and company are heralding a new – better – era. However, not all agree. “I don’t think the fashion system is broken,” says fashion critic and Le Figaro editor at large Godfrey Deeny. What’s more, Deeny adds, while simultaneous catwalk-shop releases might work for the likes of Burberry, for up-and-coming designers the prospect of making thousands of garments before showing them for the first time is anything but practical.

Image: DND-MDN Canada

Canadian character

This week prime minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadian military aircraft will withdraw from the skies above Syria and Iraq on 22 February, fulfilling a longstanding and much-debated election pledge. “Airstrike operations can be very useful to achieve short-term military and territorial gains,” Trudeau told reporters on Monday, “[but] they do not on their own achieve long-term stability for local communities.” Despite pressure from allies, Trudeau has not only kept his word, he has played a tricky diplomatic situation well. The number of Canadian troops sent to the region to train forces will triple under Trudeau’s plan and the mission will last until mid-2017. In reviewing Canada’s role in international conflicts, Trudeau and his minister of defence Harjit Sajjan have asserted the kind of player Canada should be on the world stage: a constructive force in the middle ground, with longer-term goals the priority.

Image: Getty Images

Amazon’s playbook

Seattle is booming, its population is approaching its Gold Rush peak and Amazon continues to hire scores of new people every week. The company’s splash-out on Super Bowl ad space over the weekend clearly showed its intentions for 2016: the tech giant plugged its relatively unknown Echo product, essentially an intelligent Bluetooth speaker system. But Amazon is also flexing its muscles away from tech. After opening its first bricks-and-mortar bookshop in Seattle in November, the company appears to be expanding that side of the business further – if its recent job adverts are any indication.

Image: Getty Images

Monkey business

According to the Chinese calendar, 2016 is the year of the monkey; in Malaysia, 2016 just might be the year of the Chinese tourist. In an effort to boost its economy, the Malaysian government has announced that from March until the end of the year it will be waiving all visa requirements for Chinese tourists. It’s a smart move: they spent €203bn abroad last year. Yet only 1.5 million people from China visited Malaysia between January and November in 2015, while Thailand – a country that doesn’t require Chinese passport-holders to have a visa on short stays – received eight million such visitors. Malaysia’s struggling SMEs, who are expected to be big winners thanks to the new rules, are surely counting on seeing a boost this year.

From Monocle Films

Secure influence

In a former jail, now home to the American College of Building Arts, students are learning traditional restoration techniques and in the process preserving their city of Charleston, South Carolina. David Kaufman visits the school offering hands-on building experience, which included the renovation of its HQ, the Old Jail.

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