Finance meets Frocks on the Second Day of the FT Luxury Summit

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I met the FT’s charming Chief Economics Commentator, Martin Wolf at dinner, who had flown from Australia to enlighten us on the prospects of the world’s economy, and I knew we would be given an interesting insight into the forthcoming US Election and Brexit. We were not disappointed. According to Martin, sanity and common sense along with a strong woman’s vote will ensure the right decisions are made.

In this second session, a theme emerged of the UK being a creative hotspot. A number of major brands have English creative geniuses at their head. Central St Martins in London is educating designers who are not only taught to think creativity, but also to understand the financial aspects of running a company. Victor Luis, CEO of Coach Inc., said ‘London is a wonderful centre of culture and creative spark’.

Deloittes, in their report Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2016, commented ‘the UK is a leader for digital development in the market, for example through the use of social media and the emergence of wearable technology and special supply-side innovations’. There is a definite shift in the ‘path to purchase’, for consumers which can only continue.

BrunelloCuccinelli

Italy has more top 100 luxury goods companies than anywhere else and Brunello Cucinelli was on hand to provide some insight. Speaking in Italian, the fashion designer and Chief Executive of his brand, Brunello Cucinelli informed us that we had to change our ways – no more e-mails after 5.30pm; we have to relax and spend more time with our families. Now worth 1.3billion euros, Brunello Cucinelli is an uber-luxury fashion and cashmere brand based in a 14 century castle in Umbria. The happiness of Brunello’s employees is primary to his success. He pays his staff 20% more than the industry average and they are told to go home at 5.30pm every day. You could see the CVs being dusted off as Brunello entertained us.

PeterCopping

In a world of divas, Peter Copping, Creative Director of the brand Oscar de la Renta, is probably the nicest man in fashion (The Retrospective of Oscar’s work held at the De Young museum in San Francisco was superbly creative and a packed out show). A Central St Martins and Royal Collage of Art graduate, Peter has worked with Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton and secured the creative role at Oscar de la Renta in 2014. Very commercially minded as well as creative, Peter talked eloquently about working closely with marketing and management – ‘it is a two-way street’ – and staying true to a brand adored by powerful woman throughout the world.

Oscar de la Renta InstallationatDeYoung

Silvana BottegaThis has been an amazing experience and was extremely well-organised by the FT. A number of the delegates were seasoned Luxury Summit participants and the whole summit was a masterclass in new creative synergies. The delegate list was full of companies from all over the world including Silvana Bottega from the Sothern Africa Luxury Association (www.sa-la.org) and Dinaz Madhukar from DLF who is Senior Vice President of the luxury retail and hospitality sector of this leading Indian property conglomerate (http://www.dlf.in). However, it was interesting to note the companies who were not there and perhaps were not ready or willing to learn from the organisations who were prepared to share their secrets.

One of the best moments was at the end, Lionel Barber, editor of the FT, who has been suited and booted throughout the Summit, skipped onto the stage to say ‘bon voyage’ wearing bright red trainers. How long will it be before the FT becomes a ‘jeans all day’ company?

Lional Barber

Oscar de la Renta Dresses image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Silvana Bottega image courtesy of Silvana’s LinkedIn; Lionel Barber image courtesy of the LSE; all other images courtesy of Financial Times Live.