The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 23 October 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Alamy

Political animal

As relations between China and Japan continue to improve, let’s hope Shinzo Abe’s latest diplomatic mission bears fruit.

Chinese and Japanese media are abuzz ahead of a state visit to China by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe later this week. Abe and China’s president Xi Jinping will have plenty to discuss, from North Korean denuclearisation to disputed islands. However a possible loan agreement for two giant pandas could generate the biggest headlines. Bilateral relations between Beijing and Tokyo have vastly improved in recent years; especially when compared to earlier in the decade when similar bear-related negotiations stalled as the partnership soured. The revival of panda diplomacy between the two fractious neighbours would be highly symbolic. This year marks the 40th anniversary of a landmark peace and friendship treaty between the two Asian powerhouses. It's pandering in the most literal sense.

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Seal the deal

Whispers abound that Lebanon is finally close to forming a government and, after months of stalemate and economic woes, it’s about time too.

After five months of negotiations following the first election in nine years, Lebanese politicians are rumoured to be on the cusp of announcing the formation of a badly needed new government. The former war rivals have been arguing over allocation of key positions such as the justice ministry, but time is running out to get things sorted. Leading daily An-Nahar recently published a blank edition protesting the stalemate; “People are tired,” said editor in chief Nayla Tueni. Further, an $11bn international aid package is at risk and the IMF has warned that immediate public spending cuts are needed to prevent a default on debts worth more than 150 per cent of Lebanon’s GDP, the third-highest ratio globally. The stakes for finding that elusive consensus have never been higher.

Fashion

Suit yourself

Casely-Hayford’s first London shop will prove a snug fit for discerning shoppers who want smart threads that are made to last.

The UK’s menswear industry has tended to be split between Savile Row tailoring and boundary-pushing designers such as JW Anderson. Few brands occupy the space in-between: creating fashionable yet tailored pieces for men who want things that fit just-so. Casely-Hayford, the London label by father-son team Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford, is one. Ten years since launching, they have opened their first shop: a charming Marylebone outpost designed by Charlie’s wife, Sophie Ashby. Men – and women – can buy ready-to-wear coats, trousers and T-shirts. But the bespoke service sets the brand apart. “If someone wants our trainers made in a different colour, we can do that,” says Charlie. “There really aren’t that many brands that can offer that – alongside a custom bomber jacket and alpaca coat.” As the slow-fashion movement gains momentum, there’s a growing pool of shoppers who will part with their money for clothes that are made to last – and feel special. Casely-Hayford seems to have the market sewn up.

Trade show

Image: Shutterstock

Full steam ahead

The exhibitors of cutting-edge naval technologies convene in Paris – and there’s room for small and nimble companies as well as the big guns.

The calendar’s most anticipated maritime trade expo kicked off this morning in Paris’s Le Bourget Exhibition Centre. The event, which has been running since 1968, features 400 exhibitors from across the world presenting cutting-edge developments in the fields of naval defence, shipping, maritime safety and navigation. While the big names are there, such as Thales from France and the UK’s BAE Systems, Euronaval has made this year’s installations more inclusive and accessible to smaller companies too. “This year’s edition focuses on innovation, with a start-up dedicated area (called SEAnnovation), trade and training in the naval industry, and strategic and technological issues,” says Hugues D’Argentré, CEO of Euronaval. It would appear that a real sea change is underway.

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