Thursday. 11/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

Renewed potential

This week there’s a renewed focus on the secondhand clothing market: H&M has announced that it will begin selling pre-loved items for &Other Stories, one of the retailer’s more upmarket brands, on its Swedish website. The initiative, aimed at promoting sustainability, is clever. It taps into the used-clothing market, a hugely lucrative industry that’s growing rapidly as consumers become increasingly concerned about waste (and getting a good bargain). The secondhand market – for all products, although clothing and accessories lead the way – generated $360bn in 2017 and analysts estimate it will overtake the (firsthand) luxury market by 2022. For the most part, however, fashion brands have been passively watching this movement unfold: the secondhand clothing industry is driven by third-party retailers such as Grailed, eBay or TheRealReal reselling products to consumers. By selling &Other Stories’ goods itself, H&M is cutting out the middle men and keeping control of its sales points.

While this makes sense for a high-street player, luxury brands are in a trickier position when determining the best way to capitalise on the used-goods market. Selling worn items themselves, à la H&M, would remove the aspirational sheen that is so crucial to maintaining a luxury image – not to mention potentially cannibalising sales. A better tactic seems to be investing in a secondhand firm, which is what LVMH did in 2018 when it purchased a stake in trainers reseller Stadium Goods. Expect to see more old clothes given new attention in the future.

Elections / India

Money talks

One of the biggest democratic undertakings in the world starts today with the opening of the Indian general election. As a country with a population of some 1.3 billion goes to the polls (with the count to take place on 23 May), all eyes are on incumbent Narendra Modi. Re-election is never a sure thing for Indian leaders but Modi’s strongman reputation is expected to carry him through to another term, even amid an economic blip and border skirmishes with Pakistan. The incumbent has pledged to make India the world’s third-largest economy by 2030 (it is currently sixth) and pump INR100trn (€1.3trn) into the country’s infrastructure by 2024. Meanwhile he’s drawn the support of an unlikely ally: Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan has said that a Modi-led India is the best shot at restarting peace talks between the two.

Salone del Mobile / Milan

Let there be light

Light sources play a prominent part in our daily (or should that be nightly?) lives so why can’t more products run off solar energy? At Salone del Mobile’s Euroluce lighting exhibition, Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel is taking solar beyond the age of rooftop panels (and tepid showers) and towards elegant objects that could take pride of place in your home. The designer’s Cyanometer floor lamp and wall sconce use Swarovski crystals to gather solar energy and power themselves. The crystals are key as they mean the objects can pull in more solar power. Van Aubel envisions a time when more objects are powered by the sun: “Solar tech is still perceived as something inaccessible to the average household,” she says. “It’s not integrated into our daily environment enough.”

Defence / Japan

Concerted (and concerned) search

The hunt was continuing last night for a Japanese pilot whose state-of-the-art F-35 stealth fighter plane plunged into the sea on Tuesday night. Although the tail section was found 135km off the coast of Aomori – home to the Air Self-Defense Force base at Misawa – the pilot and the wreckage were still to be found. The ¥10bn (€80m) jet, one of 13 new F-35A planes at the base, was taking part in night-time exercises. Defence minister Takeshi Iwaya said that the priority was saving the life of the highly experienced pilot but there will be concerns about the Lockheed Martin-produced aircraft too. Not least because in December prime minister Shinzo Abe approved a budget to buy more of the F-35 jets, bringing the total number to 147.

Culture / Los Angeles

Shrinking solution?

Most museum redesigns are carried out to increase exhibition space. Not so at Lacma – which is why the $650m (€578m) project for Los Angeles’ lauded art museum, approved this week, is a confusing prospect. The new structure, devised by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, will replace all four buildings that make up the complex and reduce gallery space by 33 per cent. While Lacma’s current set-up is arduous to navigate and a rethink is welcome, more space for the museum’s huge collection – much of which is in storage – might have been a savvier move.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Harry Mead, The Court

Harry Mead is the founder of the recently opened London members’ club The Court, an ambitious £2m (€2.3m) venture, inspired by Mead’s favourite classic films. The luxury club recently opened its doors in the former Bag O’Nails site in Soho, an iconic music venue. The menu was created by Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers, the cocktail list by Mr Lyan and artwork by Bradley Theodore.

Film / Global

City crops

As cities fill up with more and more people, urban farming is becoming a crucial element of sustainable living. Monocle visits food entrepreneurs in Cape Town, London and Singapore who are exploring new ways of cultivating organic produce in their downtown homesteads.

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