The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 5 July 2018

Affairs

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Two steps forward

Legal advances in Hong Kong offer hope that Asia is moving in the right direction when it comes to gay rights.

A landmark ruling in Hong Kong’s high court has set a precedent by stating that people in same-sex relationships have the same visa rights as heterosexual couples. The case surrounds a female couple from the UK who have been campaigning to be together since 2014, after one of them relocated to Hong Kong. Many hope that the new ruling represents a watershed moment for gay rights in Asia, with most countries lamentably behind when it comes to laws surrounding same-sex marriage. Taiwan is slightly ahead of the curve, mind you: a 2017 court ruling could result in it becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. While the Hong Kong court now dictates that committed same-sex couples should be given spousal visas, the city still defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Work to be done then if the city-state is to live up to its moniker of “Asia’s global city”.

Design

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A welcome change

US cities with architecture to flaunt are extending an open invitation to visitors in an effort to boost tourism numbers.

The 1960s was a golden decade for design in the US and this week’s opening of a revamped visitor's centre under Eero Saarinen’s St Louis Arch shows a desire among Americans to reconnect with this optimistic era. The opening has thrust the small Missouri city and the Finnish architect's mid-1960s structure (still the tallest man-made monument in the western hemisphere) into the national spotlight, with boosted summer tourism numbers expected to follow. Similarly, Buffalo in upstate New York is enjoying a tourism uptick thanks to its design drawcards, including modernist Frank Lloyd Wright's recently renovated Martin House. While architectural tourism doesn't provide second-tier cities with Disneyland-level visitor numbers, it does deliver discerning crowds with spending power and a new appreciation of heritage – two factors that we’re sure small-city mayors in the US will welcome with open arms.

Fashion

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Berlin, bitte

The German capital’s fashion week isn’t as lauded as some of its European peers but we rather like its style.

While many fashion editors and well-heeled customers are gathered in Paris for Haute Couture week, another fashion get-together is in full swing in Europe. Berlin Fashion Week, which encompasses eight tradeshows as well as off-site presentations and runway events, is one of the most celebrated (if smaller) annual fashion jamborees. One of its standout features is the Seek tradeshow, which puts the emphasis on brands that promote sustainable, transparent production; vendors include New Zealand’s Kowtow and home-grown labels Can Pep Rey and Brosbi. Today proceedings are taking a decidedly Germanic turn, with the Berliner Mode Salon playing host to the best young designers from the country in the form of a series of group presentations and runway shows.

Environment

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Therein lies the rub

Hawaii is putting a block on certain types of suntan lotion in an effort to protect its coral reefs.

The sun-soaked state of Hawaii is taking aim at an unlikely climate-change contributor: sunscreen. Governor David Ige this week signed legislation banning the sale of sun cream that contains oxybenzone and octinoxate, two commonly found ingredients that are both thought to be toxic to coral reefs. Unless it’s been prescribed by a doctor, tourists will only be able to buy sunscreen that lacks the two harmful chemicals. While the bill was supported by a number of environmental organisations, opposition came from the likes of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and sun-cream maker Bayer. The bill comes into effect in 2021 but with coral reefs under threat from pollution and global warming the world over, it can’t happen soon enough.

From Monocle 24

Rapha

The Entrepreneurs

Launched in London in 2004, Rapha sets the benchmark for premium cycling wear. Its 22 shops-cum-cafés around the world act as community hubs for cyclists, selling performance and streetwear as well as skincare, self-produced films and an in-house magazine; it also provides luxury travel experiences. We met Simon Mottram, the founder and CEO.

From Monocle Films

Taking the plunge

Swimming in the city got a boost this summer with the launch of inspiring new concepts in Berlin and London. We took a dip to explore the pool experiences on offer.

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