Bollywood star Mahima Chaundry will be shopping at Barney’s in what amounts to be an international jiffy.
Bloomingdale’s eyeing the Middle East; Yohji Yamamoto and Nike staging fashion shows in Beijing’s Forbidden City; Istithmar of Dubai buying Barneys New York; Chinese consumers snapping up Vuitton bags and Mercedes cars, and Martin Margiela planting stores in the Middle East.
Talk about pluralism.
Arguably one of today’s most Teflon-coated industries, fashion continues its global advance at breakneck speed, seemingly immune to any geographic, nationalist, political, religious or moral barriers.
To be sure, politics threaten to become the third rail, as anger surges in China toward Carrefour and other French brands as retribution for disrupting the Olympic torch relay in Paris. So far, the Chinese government has been restraining the demonstrations that began last week, and on Monday Carrefour said it had yet to see any impact on its business in China.
But typically such boycotts of foreign products are short-lived ? consider how quickly “freedom fries” went the way of trade quotas ? and are mere glitches in the recent globalization of the fashion industry. And fashion can even break down political barriers: Yamamoto’s show in the Forbidden City Thursday is seen as a watershed moment in relations between Japan and China (see sidebar).
? Tommy Hilfiger
Consider some other headlines that barely caused a ripple or raised an eyebrow:
– Fendi, which sells such extravagant items as 60,000 euro, or about $96,000 at current exchange, knitted sable throws, staged the first fashion show on the Great Wall of China, an event that was concurrent with the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party last fall.
– Louis Vuitton plans to send some of the world’s finest vintage cars roaring through China next month as it opens its second location in Chengdu ? and is considering third and fourth locations in that city alone as demand for European luxury booms in the Asian giant.
– The front rows of Paris Couture Week in January swelled with bigger client contingents from emerging luxury markets such as Russia, India and China ? in addition to regulars from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.
– Istithmar, a private equity fund in Muslim Dubai, acquired Barneys New York, a landmark American retailer founded by a Jewish family.