The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 2 October 2018

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Four-letter word

Canada and the US have finally updated Nafta but there’s still one decision left that threatens to upset their accord.

What’s in a name? Well, for the leaders of Canada and the US who triumphantly unveiled the revamped North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) yesterday, quite a bit. The rancorous year-long renegotiation of Nafta, regarded by many as a Trump-led rebranding exercise, sank Canada-US relations to an all-time low. And despite the smiles in Washington and Ottawa yesterday, there appears to be a fresh niggle between the two sides: which acronym to use. Canada wants USMCA, which gives it the same weight – in lettering terms at least – as the US. Trump, however, reportedly favours USMC, which echoes with the acronym for the US Marine Corps. The acrimony of the past year may appear to be over but something as simple as a humble acronym may become a final sticking point as the governments in Washington, Ottawa and Mexico City move to ratify the deal.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Judgement day

Australians are no closer to resolving the dispute over their national day – and the PM isn’t helping.

Australia’s prime minister says that Australia Day, held annually on 26 January, will remain as it is. Scott Morrison’s declaration comes after he pitched the idea of a celebration for the country’s indigenous people. Just days later, however, he was backpedalling after the indigenous community, business leaders and members of his government expressed concern and The Daily Telegraph, Sydney’s conservative daily tabloid, reported that he had divided MPs and the country. Many indigenous Australians see the date of Australia Day, which recalls the arrival of the First Fleet from Britain in 1788, as a reminder of a terrible time in their history and there is a movement to change the date. As The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton told Monocle 24: “This was Morrison’s attempt to garner some support from those who are raising concerns about the date by at least suggesting that there could be an alternative day.” Morrison has since reassured critics that Australia Day will remain the “top national holiday... where all Australians come together”, leaving even more questions about what the indigenous day might be. For a prime minister with a background in marketing it was an unfortunate failure to communicate.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Reap what you sew

Hedi Slimane has given Celine a new look this season, leaving a gap in the market for other brands to step into.

The spring/summer womenswear season ends in Paris tonight but, after a month of shows, one brand is on everyone’s minds: Celine. Hedi Slimane’s controversial debut collection for the LVMH-owned maison contained some attractive touches, especially the slick tailoring. If viewed in a vacuum, it was somewhat appealing. But you cannot ignore context. At a time when women are fighting to be heard, Slimane took a brand that, under its previous creative director Phoebe Philo, was beloved for its thoughtful female gaze – and ripped up its codes. Philo’s designs were coveted for their elegant sophistication, so where are sophisticated professional women to go now? Fortunately this season several brands presented convincing alternatives, including Salvatore Ferragamo; Chloé, with its boho-chic flair; and New York’s Gabriela Hearst. The race is on to seize this share of the market.

Business

Image: Andreas Gebert

I’ll drink to that

A start-up festival in Munich is cleverly using the city’s much-loved customs to attract new players (and keep the old ones).

Amid the traditionalism of Munich’s Oktoberfest, a new generation of entrepreneurs is capitalising on the city’s cultural legacy. Start-up festival Bits & Pretzels blends old and new as it draws together 5,000 attendees for three days of networking and innovation. Speakers conduct talks wearing lederhosen and dirndls, while today, the festival’s final day, attendees decamp to a beer tent to enjoy what founders Andreas Bruckschlögl and Felix Haas call “liquid networking”. Piggybacking on the pull of Oktoberfest allows them to entice foreign visitors while also sending a message to folks at home. “German engineering does not necessarily stand for speed and agility,” Haas notes. In the face of competition from abroad, the country must adapt – but Bits & Pretzels reassures traditionalists that the new needn’t come at the expense of the old.

From Monocle 24

‘Maniac’

The Monocle Culture Show

Ben Rylan, film critic Anna Smith and writer Candice Carty-Williams attempt to dissect the strange imagined worlds by Cary Fukunaga in his new sci-fi Netflix series, Maniac.

From Monocle Films

Animal architecture

Finding a compromise between an animal’s wellbeing, a farm’s efficiency and local architecture traditions is a fine art and often has to be done with limited resources. For Monocle’s 10-year anniversary issue we pulled on our wellies and went in search of the animal architects who are taking the bull by the horns.

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