Tuesday. 17/3/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Time to mobilise

It came as no surprise but yesterday Switzerland and the UK went into unprecedented lockdowns in a bid to cope with accelerating rates of coronavirus infection. In the UK people are to be encouraged to work from home with immediate effect and avoid non-essential social contact; those aged over 70 are to take every step to isolate themselves. The measures will probably last for months. In Switzerland troops are to be mobilised as the country goes into semi-lockdown: essential services will stay open and people can go outside but should not congregate en masse. Europe is closing down.

Monocle, headquartered in Zürich and London, will be reshaping our output to reflect this fast-changing world and also launching a series of new products to keep people informed about what’s happening. Because in the coming days we will all need to pull together. And we want to be a place that airs the needs of our readers and listeners as never before; to share all of our joint stories and strategies for getting through the coming weeks. After years covering everything from how cities are run to how to make a business a success, we have built up an extraordinary network of wise commentators and knowledgeable editors whose views we will be bringing to you. Let’s stay safe and united to get through these tough times and emerge together as stronger people and communities.

Politics / Israel

Regime change

Benjamin Netanyahu’s luck might have finally run out. Although his own political alliance came just two seats short of a majority in the country’s election earlier this month (its third in a year), it was the Israeli prime minister’s chief political rival Benny Gantz (pictured) who managed to turn the tables on Sunday. He won a slim majority when 61 of the 120 lawmakers in the knesset, Israel’s national legislature, chose the former army chief to lead negotiations to form a government, which could take up to six weeks. The group of 61 is an extremely fragile coalition: it comprises people ranging from Palestinian politicians to members of far-right ultra-nationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu. But they have one thing in common. “[They would] all like to see the end of Netanyahu,” says Yossi Mekelberg, research fellow of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House. “For that to happen they would need to unite for just a short period – once [Netanyahu]’s gone, it will change the political landscape.”

Business / Global

Helping hand

One of the world’s biggest luxury companies has started ramping up the production of hand sanitiser. Louis Vuitton owner LVMH says that its perfume and cosmetics factories – which normally produce fragrances for labels including Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain – are already producing disinfectant gel to help combat a shortage of hand sanitiser across France. The gel will be free and first shipments to health authorities across the nation were expected to arrive yesterday. Smaller cosmetics businesses are also doing their part – while finding a way to increase revenue. Zürich-based Soeder, which was already in the process of creating a natural-aloe hand sanitiser to add to its range of Swiss-made soap, has sped up the process. “ [Initially] the urgency was not so enormous. But companies were starting to call and ask us to make this, saying: ‘We really need it’,” says company founder Hanna Åkerström. “So then we decided this was priority number one.”

Elections / Paris

Spot the difference

Paris’s incumbent socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo (pictured) finished first in the city’s municipal elections at the weekend, ahead of conservative Rachida Dati, and is well placed to win the run-off vote, which has been postponed until 21 June as things stand. But supporters of Emmanuel Macron’s centrist candidate Agnès Buzyn, who finished third, shouldn’t despair. Though bitter rivals in the campaign, Hidalgo and Buzyn are running on platforms with similarly strong green agendas. Hidalgo promises more trees and a €550m city clean-up, while Buzyn wants to employ street managers and double the amount of recycling in the city. Elsewhere, there is growing support for the Green party, with which Hidalgo is likely to form a coalition. The relative popularity of these candidates suggests that there’s a hunger in Paris – like many other big cities – for sustainability and urban greenery to be placed at the heart of city hall’s policies.

Fashion / Japan

Show must go online

If it hadn’t been cancelled for obvious reasons, Tokyo’s biannual fashion week – currently sponsored by Japanese e-tailer Rakuten – would have been held this week. To compensate, its organisers will be streaming closed-door shows for some labels on the event’s website until Saturday. One of the best shows of any fashion week in Tokyo is by Hyke, the much-admired brand started by husband-and-wife team Hideaki Yoshihara and Yukiko Ode (pictured, Yoshihara on left) in 2013. Hyke, which is known for its clean-cut womenswear as well as collaborations for men and women with Adidas, The North Face and Mackintosh, is taking matters into its own hands and showing its autumn/winter runway show live on its own website and social-media channels today, at 20.00 Tokyo time. Hyke is always a hot ticket and this live stream is a good chance to see the show in real time.

M24 / The Stack

‘WSJ Magazine’ and ‘Record’

We speak to Kristina O’Neill, editor in chief of ‘WSJ’, the lifestyle magazine of the ‘Wall Street Journal’. Plus: we meet the founder of the biannual niche-music title, ‘Record’.

Monocle Films / Japan

The bold business owner: Takeshi Yamanaka

In 1928 Maruni Wood Industry was born out of a fascination with the masterful carpentry in ancient shrines. Today its furniture is found in the Californian headquarters of Apple as well as airport lounges, galleries and restaurants around the world. We meet the company’s president to talk about the challenges of managing a family-run business.

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