Tuesday 15 November 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 15/11/2022

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Natalie Theodosi

What’s in store

Last week I travelled to Copenhagen to serve as a judge of the Wessel & Vett Fashion Prize, a competition spearheaded by department store Magasin du Nord. It offers one designer a DKK500,000 (€67,000) award to scale up their business. The calibre of talent was impressive, from Nicklas Skovgaard, a self-taught designer who creates handmade pieces using traditional weaving looms, to Birrot, a brand offering wardrobe staples made from a stretch fabric.

The winner, Tobias Birk Nielsen (pictured) of Iso.Poetism, stood out for his ability to deliver beautifully made casualwear, as well as his acute understanding of what it takes to run a fashion business. He spoke as eloquently about his company’s revenue growth and expansion strategy in Japan as he did about the custom jacquard fabric on his latest piece.

The event also proved how the role of department stores and large multi-brand retailers is changing. It’s no longer enough for buyers to discover young brands and give them space on the shop floor. In a competitive retail landscape, they need to secure exclusive partnerships and get involved in a brand’s journey from earlier on, investing in production and providing mentorship.

Retailers are hungry for brands with new perspectives and stories to tell. It’s why online retailer Mr Porter’s latest Futures competition has backed designers such as New Zealander Kat Tua, whose label, Manaaki, draws inspiration from her Maori heritage, and UK-based Saif Ud Deen, who blends traditional Islamic garments with contemporary lines. The programme gives three creatives the financial support to produce a collection, with the retailer shouldering the costs for at least two seasons. “These are brands that are unique and can appeal to the modern man,” says Sam Kershaw, Mr Porter’s buying director. They’re appealing to smart buyers seeking to redefine the future of fashion retail too.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor.

Image: Reuters

Politics / Mexico

Power games

Thousands of people took to the streets in more than 25 Mexican cities over the weekend to demonstrate against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s plan to overhaul Mexico’s electoral commission and replace it with a new body. The protesters argue that the reforms would put too much power in the government’s hands, threatening the country’s democratic institutions. López Obrador maintains that the measure would allow for more direct citizen participation by replacing the previous organisation, which he accuses of endorsing electoral fraud, with a new one chosen by voters, rather than lawmakers. The new body would also be allocated a smaller budget. The president and his Morena party currently lack the two-thirds majority that they need to approve the measure in Congress so the plan could fail; even so, their attempt to tinker with the country’s electoral institutions ahead of the landmark election in 2024 sends worrying signals.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Hong Kong

Back in the air

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, is hoping to rebuild its fleet now that the Asian hub has eased its strict quarantine rules. The airline says that it aims to operate at 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity by the end of next year, with the goal of restoring full service by the close of 2024. The announcement comes as the carrier rushes to return aircraft to use and hire thousands of staff to meet rising demand. Cathay has been a big casualty of the pandemic: the airline was forced to lay off nearly a quarter of its workforce in 2020.

Hong Kong’s status as the region’s aviation hub hangs in the balance. Rival Singapore Airlines is making a faster recovery, with passenger capacity expected to reach more than 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. Cathay will need a smooth ascent and a turbulence-free couple of years if it hopes to return to its former glory.

Image: Daniel Dorsa

Architecture / USA

Building the world

Though most major architecture schools are based in large cities, remote locations can also be important when it comes to fostering innovation. The School of Architecture in the Arizona desert is a world-famous institution with an unorthodox approach. Set up by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 20th century, it prides itself on an immersive learning method that is rooted in practicality. “This programme is based on making stuff and not just sitting at a computer,” says student Dylan Adams.

The school’s flexible curriculum fosters independently minded, well-organised architects. “The ethos of experimentation is important to creating good design that challenges the status quo,” says Daniel Ayat, who teaches architectural history and theory. The students’ distance from the industry’s biggest studios gives them a sense of freedom and focus.

To find out more about the school and how it is shaping the future of architecture, pick up a copy of ‘The Forecast’, which is out this week.

Image: CoMix Wave Films Inc

Culture / Japan

Springing into action

Many Japanese cinemas were sold out this weekend for the opening of director Makoto Shinkai’s latest anime film, Suzume no Tojimari (Suzume’s Door Locking), which topped the box office, outpacing Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever by some distance. Following the critical and commercial success of Shinkai’s films Kimi no Na Wa (Your Name) in 2016 and Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You) in 2019, expectations were high and this was his biggest opening yet.

A large-scale marketing blitz is under way: the Japanese McDonald’s Happy Meal now includes an original children’s picture book written by Shinkai with illustrations by Senbon Umishima, while telecommunications company KDDI is launching phone filters related to the film, as well as a dedicated website. The plot follows 17-year-old schoolgirl Suzume who attempts to stop a series of earthquakes while contending with her own trauma. (Audiences in Japan have been warned that the earthquake alarms are part of the movie and not real.) The film will be released worldwide early next year. Given anime’s growing international popularity, it’s likely that it will make a splash abroad too.

Image: Steven Klein

Monocle 24 / The Stack

Steven Klein

This week on The Stack we speak to celebrated photographer Steven Klein about his first monograph. Plus: we bring you highlights from The Chiefs, our leadership conference in Dallas, with Katrice Hardy from The Dallas Morning News and Rebecca Wesson Darwin from Garden & Gun magazine.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: November issue

Looking to kit out your home, office or hotel for the colder months ahead? Look no further than our Design Top 20, with furniture finds, inspiring interiors and insights from key industry leaders. Plus: who will be keeping the lights on this winter, the rail industry gets back on track and a hotel special featuring openings from Manhattan to Hakone.


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