The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 16 June 2016

Resignation station

Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned yesterday after a protracted scandal over his misuse of political funds. And now it seems the disgraced politician will cost the Tokyo taxpayer even further. The matter of his substantial severance payment of ¥22m (€185,000) has not escaped the media’s attention but far more expensive will be the cost of another election just halfway through his four-year term. It has been estimated that the emergency funds required for the next election could add up to ¥5bn (€42m); this comes just two years after the 2014 election, which cost ¥4.1bn (€34m) of public money. Masuzoe is the third successive Tokyo governor to leave office early: his predecessor Naoki Inose resigned after being caught in a financial scandal, while Inose’s predecessor Shintaro Ishihara resigned unexpectedly in order to return to national politics.

Super tutor

While many tradeshows pride themselves on championing emerging designers, not all can match Pitti’s commitment. In addition to dedicating many of its stands to small brands (more than 60 per cent of exhibitors here have a turnover of less that €5 million), Pitti has launched a new division dedicated to supporting designers’ careers. Named simply Tutorship, the division is headed by Riccardo Vannetti who, with his own team and the help of the tradeshow’s other divisions, wields Pitti’s international expertise to advise up-and-coming as well as more established designers. “Over the last few years we have understood that designers were not well supported by the system,” says Vannetti. “But there is no fashion without ideas. That’s why we have decided to establish this: to support ideas and provide practical services.” The 17 international creatives that the division is working with (including menswear, womenswear and accessories designers) get advice on everything from legal to strategic matters. With about 400 more on the waiting list, the division proves that the influence of brand Pitti keeps on consolidating.

Image: Getty Images

Lyrical legislation

As far as national anthems go, Canada has it pretty good. First written in French in 1880, “O Canada” inspires just the right amount of heart-swelling pride but avoids being militaristic or completely anachronistic. Yet, with the anthem the subject of a private member’s bill, Canada is now having to weigh up changes to one of its soft-power strengths. Brought forward by MP Mauril Bélanger, the bill seeks to make a gender-neutral tweak to the lyrics, changing the line “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command”. There has been backlash from members of Canada’s Conservative party, who are against the changes, but updating a national anthem isn’t without precedent: Austria modified theirs in 2011 to include a reference to women. “Canada’s not going out on a limb here,” says Alex Marshall, the author of Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems. “[Politicians] have a chance to make their anthem a bit more vital or they could keep ‘O Canada’ as a museum piece. I know what side of the fence I’d prefer to be on.”

Image: Laura June Kirsch

Asian sensation

Tiger might be Singapore’s most mainstream beer brand but abroad it’s achieving cult status, leading a unique movement to champion a more artisan ideal of “Made-in-Asia”. Its latest initiative, a retail pop-up in New York’s Chinatown this month, featured exclusive designs from up-and-coming Asian names such as Hong Kong retail brand Goods of Desire, Singapore’s Square Street and Vietnamese social enterprise Mekong+. It’s part of Tiger’s plans to overturn perceptions of low-quality Asian goods and fly the flag for the region’s boldest and most creative entrepreneurs. Since 2014, championing the independent makers of Asia has been a running theme for the brand’s dominant Uncaged campaign, with viral videos unspooling the inspirational stories of everyone from street artists to chefs such as Michael Ker, whose popiah was served at the New York pop-up.

From Monocle 24

Patagonia’s Rick Ridgeway

What’s the purpose of a business? What are its responsibilities to customers, employees and communities? We examine outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia as Rick Ridgeway climbs down a mountain to explain why sustainability is at the forefront of its massive growth.

From Monocle Films

Lisbon – Road to retail

As well as bringing bright ideas to once-faded façades, Lisbon’s mix of self-starting shopkeepers and keen entrepreneurs has helped lift the mood of a city with plenty more to be optimistic about.

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