Thursday. 1/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Natalie Theodosi

Dressing down?

The fashion industry is ending 2022 uncertain whether it can sustain the impressive growth that it has enjoyed over the past two years. According to The State of Fashion 2023, a new report by McKinsey & Company and The Business of Fashion, the sector is heading for a global slowdown. More than 56 per cent of the fashion executives polled for the report are expecting market conditions to worsen, pointing to issues including the war in Ukraine, high inflation and skills shortages.

What the report couldn’t have predicted are the rising tensions among some of the biggest luxury houses, which are bound to shift dynamics and move both spending and attention away from several of the top players. The exit of Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele last month, for example, highlighted fashion’s ongoing dependence on fleeting trends. Michele (pictured) was best known for sticking to his aesthetic rather than churning out entirely different collections every six months. As the brand’s owner, Kering, searches for his replacement, what lies ahead for Gucci remains unclear. The same goes for Balenciaga, another of Kering’s highest earners, which is facing criticism over controversial advertising featuring children.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The top end of the market has been unaffected by economic downturns and luxury demand remains robust, with attention now shifting to the Middle Eastern and North American markets. The global appetite for dressing up has also stayed strong, with formalwear for special events among the top-three growth categories for the year ahead, according to the report. So, despite the challenges ahead, the new year offers the fashion industry a chance to rethink its values, explore new territories and bring back the joy of dressing for the occasion.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor.

Image: Reuters

Geopolitics / Ukraine

Head on the bloc

The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, has outlined the EU’s plans to investigate alleged Russian war crimes and prosecute their perpetrators. Following calls from Ukraine to bring Moscow’s political and military leadership to justice, Von der Leyen (pictured) announced that she wants to establish a “specialised court” with the backing of the UN. But is that the most effective way of going about it? “I’m surprised that she believes the best way forward is for the EU to set up a specialised tribunal,” said Mark Lyall Grant, who served as the UK’s ambassador to the UN between 2009 and 2015, speaking to Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “It will be very difficult to get international support – and certainly UN support – for such a venture. It seems to me that a more sensible way forward is for Ukraine to offer to set up that sort of tribunal.” Pursuing legal justice, however, will need to wait for the horrors on the ground to cease.

Image: American Airline

Aviation / New York

Cleared for takeoff

Yesterday a British Airways (BA) plane took off from Terminal 7 at New York’s JFK Airport for the final time. From today the British flag carrier will move to Terminal 8, with its partner American Airlines. Inside the new terminal, all-new check-in zones and lounges shared by the carriers have sprung to life. The check-ins include a First Class area and no luggage conveyor belt: bags are wheeled away through a discreet door instead.

The Business Class lounge has been renamed from Admiral’s Club to Greenwich, joining two others named Soho and Chelsea – neighbourhood names that New York shares with London. Chelsea is elegant and understated, while Soho is brighter, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the runway. The only downside of the new arrangements is that the Chelsea lounge replaces the legendary BA Concorde Room. Overall, however, BA’s move to Terminal 8 promises a smoother, more comfortable route in and out of North America’s busiest international airport.

Image: Getty Images

Urbanism / Japan

Light relief

Kyoto’s prefectural and city governments are at loggerheads over a project to allow digital signage along the picturesque city’s riverside pavements. The plan, proposed by the former and rejected by the latter, would have brought colourful electric lights to the area around the Sanjo Ohashi bridge on the banks of the Kamogawa river (pictured). Kyoto’s urban landscape is heavily regulated: its planning rules, which govern building height, design and signage, are perhaps the strictest in Japan.

Though other big cities in the country feature a kaleidoscope of digital signage, many Kyoto neighbourhoods, including the historic Kamogawa and Pontocho areas, are illuminated only by muted street lights or the moon. This adds to their charm and is probably one reason why they have become such popular tourist destinations. City hall recognises this and is right to rebuff the dazzling overtures of the prefecture.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / Switzerland

What’s tax got to do with it?

Residents of Stäfa have received an unexpected windfall with the arrival of Tina Turner in their town. In 2021 the singer and her husband, German record executive Erwin Bach, acquired a 24,000 sq m property, valued at about CHF70m (€71m) in the small Swiss municipality. As a result, Stäfa enjoyed a bumper year for capital gains tax – estimated to be in the region of CHF21m (€21.3m) – and has passed on that bonus to its residents, reducing local taxes by two percentage points.

Turner is no stranger to the shores of Lake Zürich, having lived in the area since 1994. Her new residence, which is made up of 10 buildings as well as a lake, stream, swimming pool and jetty, is one of the largest in an area known as Zürich’s Gold Coast. In the run-up to Christmas, this windfall is simply the best way for the singer to ingratiate herself with her new neighbours.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

The Hancock, Boston

Jessica Bridger tells us the story of a beloved and iconic feature of the Boston skyline.

Monocle Films / Global

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