I arrive in Philadelphia today.
The weather in east coast changes like this. I felt like I needed to wear a feathered coat yesterday but I am wearing a T-shirt today. Spring is so short and summer finally comes.
The new trend now is riding a bike instead of driving a car, which is both healthy and environmental friendly.
I come to Philly to attend a luxury management conference. One advantage academic study has over doing business is that doing academic study allows me to travel around the world and make friends with people from different institutions as long as your thesis or topic is attractive enough. Big companies can also make you travel around the world for free but most people you meet are those working in the same industry. Compared to this, doing academic study is more multiple. Another feature of international fashion study is that people of this subject are still focusing on clothes in China while here you can meet scholars doing laws, sociology, anthropology, management, engineering and even psychology besides fashion. The feature of interdisciplinary study is more obvious.
Philly University also has department of fashion. I come across students from Dong Hua. Their university has exchange programs here. According to the teachers, students from Dong Hua are very hardworking and careful in their working. Basically those I met coming abroad to study fashion are all excellent. Well done.
Sustainable fashion is getting more and more popular in the United States. This series of textiles are made from handmade organic cotton. Almost all people in this industry I met are working on products in similar area. And my electronic magazine Ethical and Fashion will also launch the English version with the of several foreign friends. Thank my Lord for all your guidance.
The designer for this series is a professor from Medical School in Harvard. Interesting, right? His interest in textiles dates back to the time when he went to Africa for field study on infectious diseases. He discovered that there were many interesting local handmade textiles and then he started to learn by himself. I find the wider one’s interdisciplinary study is, the more innovative it is.
Zara is the biggest garment retailing store in the world. Its inditex CEO’s management strategy is to promote internal competitiveness continuously. Its several brands all work on their own without sharing spending on management and administration. Traditional companies would share spending if belong to one host company, like sharing office. warehouse and administration. But inditex requires complete independence and even competence.
There are several tendency of the development of luxury market. The first is individualized products – especially with the development of 3D technology which enables individualized products. The second is the use of high technology, especially the quick development of internet. The third is the balance between heritage and innovation.
According to one survey, Americans have regarded LV, Chanel, Hermes as aspirational luxury brands, almost the best one could own. Then comes Gucci and Coach, which are considered as affordable luxury. But what is affordable luxury? If it is affordable is it still luxury? Poor Gucci has been so different from its glorious past.
Luxury industry now has a tendency to become too accessible. Some brands which is not regarded as luxury by classical brands now also claim to be luxury. This makes those classical brands very annoyed. For real luxuries, there are several requirements which are necessary. The first is the culture and value accumulated through history and tradition. This is nothing like a simple slogan on magazines and Internet. However, at the same time, luxury brands have to adapt itself to the development of market. This is why many old European brands die out over years. They stick to their so-called value too rigidly. Second is the rarity of the material and technique. Luxury brands all have their special material supply chain. Now they also require unique manufacturing skills and the combination with high technology. The last part is high-end customer service. Designing is obviously very important but now designing has become so irreplaceable in every aspect of the society that it is no longer exclusive to luxury.
From my point of view, in 20 years, competitiveness only depends on two parts – creativity and execution. Many big companies stop when developed to certain stage. Part of the reason is that their success in the past restricts their mind – too dependent on past successful experience. For example, when the industry changes from traditional retailing mode to Internet retailing service, many traditional companies would be left behind. This is not the problem of changing method but rather changing settled notion and ways of thinking. But the most difficult thing for one to change is how to think. In addition, when one company reaches certain scale, the execution will inevitably slow down. As a consequence, there are few big companies surviving for a long time. Most foreign companies lasting for a long time are those medium size controlled by one family. But such companies in China are also hard to survive. People do not have enough tolerance. Brothers, relatives and even couples could turn against each other for money. If so, who else can tolerate and trust. Also Chinese are in lack of security and goal for future development.