Wednesday 17 January 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 17/1/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Fashion / Natalie Theodosi

Slow and steady

After a week of attending runway shows in Florence and Milan, visiting an array of stands across the Pitti Immagine Uomo fair and having conversations with the designers and sales executives who were in town to sell their new collections, it became clear that the fashion industry is in flux and dynamics are quickly changing.

There was a visible reduction in attendees at the world’s premier menswear trade show, particularly US-based buyers and editors. At Milan’s runway shows, the front rows were less densely populated, suggesting that brands are tightening – or at least rethinking – their marketing budgets. It would be easy to look at the subdued mood and draw a bleak picture about what’s next for the luxury-fashion landscape. Brands, especially those that are independent, should brace for a challenging first half of 2024 as consumption slows down and retailers invest more cautiously.

Making tracks: Gucci’s Ancora tram in Milan

Image: Gucci

Walking the runway Gucci Ancora fashion show

Image: Gucci

“Not losing is winning at this stage,” an up-and-coming designer tells Monocle in Florence. But there’s also an opportunity here to restructure, reassess and build healthier business models. Many Italian brands have already taken on the challenge and found that the answer lies in going back to basics, honouring their heritage and aligning themselves with the far-reaching appeal of brand Italy. It’s why Gucci has painted Milan’s trams in its new signature shade of burgundy, taken over the city’s famous Bar Basso, played the famous 1978 Italian song “Ancora, ancora, ancora” at its shows and put Italian classicism and tailoring at the centre of its design direction.

In a market overflowing with new products, you have to look beyond fashion to connect with customers on an emotional level. But for change to take place, industry stakeholders need to get on board and support brands’ new directions, marketers should think beyond generating clicks from digital campaigns, media should stop asking what the latest trends are and retailers should buy smarter. It’s a slower approach but those willing to play the long game will come out as winners.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Diplomacy / Turkey

Missing in action

As world leaders and representatives flock to Davos this week for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, one key player is missing. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has reportedly asked his country’s officials to stay away from the summit, citing the organisers’ support for Israel. Erdogan has not attended Davos since 2009 as a result of a panel dispute with then-Israeli president Shimon Peres.

This year’s decision has prevented treasury and finance minister Mehmet Simsek from travelling and put pressure on Turkish efforts to connect with investors. “This isn’t the first time that Erdogan has used the forum to make a point over Israel’s military operations,” Lizzie Porter, an Istanbul-based Middle East correspondent tells The Monocle Minute. “Even though Israeli-Turkish relations have sunk to near rock bottom in recent months, with ambassadors recalled and plans for energy co-operation put on hold, the countries haven’t completely broken off ties. There are important economic incentives not to do so.”

Urbanism / Japan

Tree radical

A group of 420 urbanists, architects, economists and environmentalists issued an open letter this week urging Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, to suspend a $2.5bn (€2.3bn) project to convert the city’s Jingu Gaien park district into a commercial area.

Turning over a new leaf? Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu Gaien park

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

The redevelopment, whose opponents include prominent figures such as novelist Haruki Murakami, would involve the felling of hundreds of trees and the demolition of a historic baseball stadium to make way for three new skyscrapers. Petitions to scrap the plan have attracted some 325,000 people, while almost 70 per cent of respondents to a poll by the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper were against the initiative. In its Tokyo Green Biz report, published in October 2023, the metropolitan government claimed to be “taking every available opportunity to create and preserve greenery” in the city, working in partnership with residents. With Jingu Gaien, however, Koike – dubbed by critics “the Empress of Tree-Cutting” – seems to be doing the opposite.

Climbing high: the Louvre increases ticket costs

Image: Alamy

Culture / France

Unlucky in Louvre

Entry to the world’s most-visited museum is becoming less accessible as the Louvre announced this week that its ticket prices would increase by almost 30 per cent. Entry into Paris’s coveted glass pyramid will now cost €22. It is the first price hike in seven years, with the institution citing rising energy tariffs as the reason for the jump.

The Château de Versailles and Arc de Triomphe have also raised their ticket prices ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to €21 and €16 respectively. Other Parisian museums, however, including the Musée d’Orsay, have absorbed the costs of rising energy prices. But keeping culture as democratic as possible is becoming increasingly difficult, especially when the city is committed to hosting an event as costly as the Olympics this year.

Beyond the Headlines

The List / Davos

Plane sailing

Monocle correspondents joined 3,000 attendees and representatives from more than 100 governments at the 54th World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos this week. Here are four takeaways from their time on the Promenade.

The prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) has dominated many of the discussions both inside and outside the congress centre, as almost half of the houses on the Promenade belong to technology companies. This year also welcomes the first-ever AI House, led by Berlin-based Merantix, which seeks to connect industry leaders and investors to discuss the global effects of artificial intelligence. Monocle Radio spoke to Merantix co-founder Rasmus Rothe on Tuesday’s edition of The Globalist. Listen here.

Climate change is near the top of the agenda – and its effects are evident in Davos. This year, with temperatures dropping to a chilly minus 11C, WEF organisers included snow grippers in delegates’ welcome packs to help navigate the town’s icy thoroughfares.

China’s premier, Li Qiang, is attending this year’s edition. As the country’s second-highest-ranking official, he is the most senior member of the Chinese government to attend the WEF since Xi Jinping in 2017. Li is joined by a delegation of 10 state ministers, including the minister of commerce and the governor of the People’s Bank of China.

This week is prime time for plane spotters. An impressive number of private and state aircraft are taking off and landing at Zürich Airport, which is operating special tours for spotters and extending its opening hours on observation deck B. Some 1,000 additional flight movements are expected during this period. Jet Aviation, in co-operation with Zürich Airport, is offering WEF guests the opportunity to refuel their aircraft with a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) blend.

Image: Mark Douet

Monocle Radio / On Culture

Treading the boards in 2024

Nancy Durrant and Matt Wolf join Robert Bound in the studio to preview the very best theatre to look forward to in 2024. They discuss a lively ska musical, a new play about the architect of the NHS, a Broadway debut from one of America’s biggest comedic actors and much more.


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