Friday. 17/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

New look

This weekend, at a new fashion event in Berlin, there will be appearances from brands including Gucci, Comme des Garçons, Korean eyewear star Gentle Monster and UK talent Martine Rose. But runways and front rows will be replaced with DJs, installations, panels and workshops: for Reference Berlin is a “fashion festival”. The event, which kicks off at midday tomorrow in a car park in Neukölln and runs for 24 hours, is backed by communications agency Reference Studios with help from fashion publication 032c. Gucci will host a dinner, Comme des Garçons Parfums will unveil a film made with photographer Matt Lambert and there will be art and music from the likes of Wolfgang Tillmans and rapper Mykki Blanco.

While details about the event’s specifics remain vague, the idea of a fashion festival is noteworthy. The future of fashion weeks is a much-debated topic and, although Paris and Milan’s catwalks aren’t going anywhere, the industry is crying out for agenda-setting alternatives that keep people engaged. Reference Berlin blends fashion with other disciplines and taps into what the German capital excels at – music, art and all-hours fun. Other cities currently hosting second-tier fashion weeks and wondering how to garner more attention should take note of Reference’s spirited example.

Security / USA

Trump card

On Wednesday Donald Trump declared a national emergency and signed an executive order giving the government powers to ban certain foreign technology firms from dealing with US companies. While there was no explicit mention of Huawei, it is considered to be a measure intended to target the Chinese firm. But is it about national security or another way to score a point in the ongoing trade war with China? Michael Clarke, former director of think-tank Rusi, believes it’s a bit of both. “They [the US] fear that the Chinese are technologically ahead of them,” he tells The Briefing. “There will be a G20 summit in Tokyo next month and this is another bargaining chip.”

Geopolitics / Canada and the Philippines

Trash talk

Relations between Canada and the Philippines continue to rot. On Thursday, Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte recalled the country’s ambassador to Canada after Ottawa failed to remove rows of containers filled with rubbish from the archipelago’s ports before the deadline on 15 May. The international stink began in 2013 when a private company sent 103 containers of rubbish mislabelled as recyclables to the Philippines, prompting protests outside Canada’s embassy in Manila. When Duterte threatened war over the issue in April, it appeared to be the latest example of the erratic strongman’s blustering but the stench of the conflict might end up sticking to his counterpart Justin Trudeau. Experts say that Canada has violated the Basel Convention, which forbids the dumping of waste abroad without that country’s consent. It also draws Trudeau’s environmental record into question just months before October’s federal election.

Media / Venezuela

Out of print

Venezuela is running out of paper. None is manufactured there and it is too expensive for media companies to ship it in amid tariffs and political turbulence. As a result, newspapers are closing down their print operations and publishing online only. The latest casualty came this week as regional newspaper Panorama, founded in 1914, printed its last paper edition (it will continue to be published online). The decision follows a similar move in December by El Nacional, one of the country’s largest anti-government newspapers. With electricity blackouts and government-initiated internet shutdowns, access to information online is becoming sparser. This makes the loss of physical newspapers, which can spread information simply by being handed from person to person, all the more concerning.

Society / Japan

Back to work

Japan is doddering towards a crisis with its ageing population. By 2025 one in three people are expected to be 65 or older – and legally eligible for retirement. Added to this, a diminishing workforce and an underfunded public-pensions programme don’t bode well for the nation’s economy. But Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe might have a solution. This week he announced a proposed revision to the country’s labour laws, meaning that businesses will have a “moral obligation” to help people stay in work after they turn 65 if they want to. Measures include offering aged workers freelance work, supporting their efforts if they want to start their own businesses, or providing funding so that they can work for non-profit organisations. There might be one flaw – Abe hasn’t drawn up any incentives for businesses themselves.

M24 / Meet the writers: Monocle Reads

‘The Universe Speaks in Numbers’

Graham Farmelo is an award-winning science writer and biographer, and the author of ‘The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How Modern Maths Reveals Nature’s Deepest Secrets’.

Monocle Films / New release

Monocle preview: June issue, 2019

Seatbelt securely fastened? In which case, prepare to fly through the new issue of Monocle, with its focus on the mobility movers and shakers who are getting us around by air, on land and by sea. You’ll also meet a couple of private detectives, Norway’s prime minister and a convoy of American truckers. Let’s roll.

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