The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 2 March 2017

Image: Getty Images

Planning ahead

China’s top leaders are gathering in Beijing ahead of two weeks of meetings known as the “two sessions”. Setting the target GDP growth for the year ahead is usually one of the highlights of this annual assembly but this month the growth in defence spending will attract similar attention. The meeting comes only days after President Trump proposed a 10 per cent increase in US defence spending. Rising tensions in the South China Sea are also spurring a regional arms race: research from the Stockholm International Peace Institute shows that Vietnam increased its arms exports by 200 per cent between 2012 and 2016, compared with the previous four-year period. After a rare single-digit increase last year, expect Chinese defence spending to shoot up too.

Image: Reuters

Charm offensive

Saudi Arabia's King Salman made an impression this week when he arrived in Malaysia as part of a rare month-long tour around Asia. Much of the attention centred on the scale of his 1,500-strong delegation and cargo – the weight of three blue whales – but his grand entrance couldn’t detract from the Gulf state’s pivot to Asia. The oil-dependent nation is courting Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China, the Maldives, Jordan and Malaysia to draw in investment and diversify its economy. And while Saudi Arabia’s growing presence brings good business to the region, especially in light of a retracting US, it also threatens to shift the balance of power. The nation’s clear favouritism towards Asia’s Islamic countries could shake Southeast Asia’s delicate co-existence, where racial, religious and cultural differences have led to conflicts in the past.

Image: Alamy

Best on show

The New York cultural calendar may be packed but the Armory Show, which opens today on the western flanks of Manhattan, is a trade favourite. Founded in 1994 by four gallerists, the fair’s focus is firmly on 20th and 21st-century artwork, with 209 international galleries from 30 countries exhibiting. New for 2017 is the Platform installation, which will feature 14 “site-specific” pieces by the likes of Ai Weiwei and Evan Roth across the show’s two spaces – Piers 92 and 94 – curated this year by Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum. And, of course, this being New York it’s a bit of a chance for the Big Apple’s cool kids and creatives to see and be seen. It runs until Sunday.

Image: The Skirt Chronicles

Skirting the issue

The new Paris-based magazine, The Skirt Chronicles, sets out to celebrate diverse cultures and generations. The ad-free fashion publication includes work by the likes of photographers Stella Berkofsky and Tim Elkaim as well as fashion maven Gigi Ettedgui. “We founded The Skirt Chronicles because we wanted to offer an alternative with our small-format ad-free publication,” says co-founder Haydée Touitou. “The ambition is to elevate the written word alongside uncompromising photographs. It reflects our feminine voice but we in no way want to exclude anyone from the conversation, quite the contrary.” The magazine will be launched at the Yvon Lambert bookshop in Paris from 18.00 this evening.

From Monocle 24

Image: https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-entrepreneurs/281/play

Perfect fit

Metail is a London-based fashion-technology start-up that allows customers to discover and purchase clothes online that fit them perfectly, based on their personal measurements. It’s a lucrative space that many start-ups have tried to conquer – but few have succeeded. Why? Tom Adeyoola explains Metail’s rocky beginnings and tells us how it’s come out on top.

From Monocle Films

Sydney residence: Harry and Penelope Seidler House

Far removed from the skyscrapers and residential towers for which architect Harry Seidler became known, the house he designed with his wife is governed by Bauhaus aesthetics that are just as forward-thinking today as they were in the 1960s. Monocle Films visits Penelope Seidler in her dream home.

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