VOL. MMXIII..No. 204

notes from abroad | TRACKING GLOBAL RETAIL

In Korea, Marketing to Women Begins with Men

        In Seoul, it is virtually impossible to walk through the makeup mecca known as the Myeongdong district and not notice that there are life-size cardboard cut-outs of Korean men in front of nearly every store, each of them winking and smiling, and beckoning shoppers into any one of the hundreds of cosmetics stores that line the streets.   But who are they beckoning, men or women? Probably both. That’s because here in Korea, appearances matter...

Why Florence’s Stazione Santa Maria Novella is a Deco Masterpiece

      Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station is rarely noted when anyone tells you they visited this legendary Renaissance city. For many, the station is a rather grey and cold contrast to the ecclesiastical glory of the famous church that lies just across the station’s ragged parking lot of cars, buses, bicycles, and scooters.   Completed in 1935, the Stazione Santa Maria Novella is almost Stonehenge-like with its massive block of horizontal stone,...

In Florence, It’s Farewell to Old England

Historic retailer to close its doors after over 90 years in business Every once in awhile we come across a fantastic legacy business that is in danger of being demolished and we just wish we could find the right person to rescue it.   In Italy, a narrow little shop in the center of Florence called Old England is just one of those places.   One enters and feels as though one has stepped back in time. It’s a store that is just begging to be discovered by a smart...

Somewhere in Time: Eero Saarinen’s Soaring Symphony to Air Travel

      When the TWA Terminal was dedicated 54 years ago this weekend on May 29, 1962, it was in honor of the man for whom the airport was eventually named, President John F. Kennedy, who’s Birthday is also on that day.   A futuristic airport terminal couldn’t have been a better gift -- not counting of course, having Marilyn Monroe sing  “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” which she so famously did just ten days earlier. { "For Saarinen the future of...

In Tulsa, It’s Goodbye to Miss Jackson’s, a 105-year Old Retail Institution

        If you’re not from Tulsa then chances are you would have never heard of Miss Jackson’s, a store that, in the words of one Tulsan we met, “was our little secret.” This Tulsa secret had miraculously survived for over a hundred years – that is, until now.   Rumors had circulated since last summer that the institution would be closing for good. Just before Christmas, the truth was disclosed on the store's website.   What kills...

Will Terrorism Threaten the French Luxury Brand?

  In yesterday’s New York Times, Arts and Style journalist Vanessa Friedman writes of how in the days after last week’s terrorist attacks, luxury brands were at odds over how to handle the unsettling event. In many cases, they canceled or cut back on major marketing initiatives.   The Times’ own luxury conference which was to be held at Versailles, was canceled. A black tie dinner for the exhibition, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, is reduced to a casual...

In London, V&A Exhibition Explores the Meaning of Luxury

    It is virtually impossible to escape the word “luxury,” so much has it become an almost commonplace word used to describe almost anything. Where once, we felt quite sure of its meaning we are now much less convinced.   The latest exhibition at London’s V&A doesn’t shy away from asking the question – and many more – with the exhibition, What is Luxury? (through September 27, 2015.)   “Definitions of luxury are always changing...

Fashion Capital(ization): Paris Takes a Page from New York Fashion Week

    While Paris has long considered itself the fashion capital of the world, it has always allowed the fashion industry to operate in its own universe, with little public celebration or efforts to make it more approachable to the masses.   But that will soon change, now that Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who has decided to fastrack her efforts to amplify how the city supports the high arts in fashion. Her key target is to engage the city’s political institutions...

In Milan, A Fashion Hoarder is a Designer’s Best Kept Secret

        For some, a visit to Milan Fashion Week wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Franco Jacassi’s Vintage Delirium, a boutique that is discovered only by word-of-mouth. A non-descript apartment building in a quiet but fashionable neighborhood gives no indication that just beyond its entrance, lies an unmarked door that leads into Jacassi’s sanctum sanctorum of vintage fashion.   It’s hard to really call this a store, though, since there...

At Baselworld 2015 Some Initial Stabs at Smart Watches, But Grand Luxury Still Reigns

    Before Baselworld even started the buzz was about smart watches, but if you know anything about Swiss timepieces manufacturers, you know that creating a watch that is supposedly “smart” is still the least of their concerns.   That could be changing if the smart watch gains any momentum with consumers, but that’s not what this show is about anyway – not yet.   That’s because Baselworld is all about the ultimate in high luxury timepieces and...

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