LONDON — Disrupter, fixation, opportunity. The pandemic has been all that and more for jewelry fans and designers alike.
Just ask Sabine Roemer.
The German-born designer has two brands: the high jewelry line that carries her name (one-off pieces priced from 10,000 pounds, or about $14,095) and Atelier Romy, which sells trendy pieces like stackable chain necklaces and ear party studs online for £50 to £500.
And now that England is easing restrictions, she said, both lines are emerging as direct-to-consumer businesses — and are linked more closely to her own identity as a craftswoman.
“Workmanship is absolutely apparent in everything Sabine does,” said Marisa Drew, a senior investment banker in London who has jewelry from both of Ms. Roemer’s brands. “There’s always a personality in her pieces and she really approaches her designs with a story in mind.”
Ms. Drew said she likes Ms. Roemer’s transformable designs and strong attention to detail, features that also resonate with Sarah Giovanna, a managing director at a private equity firm in London.
“She sits down with you and really creates something that fits you. For me, it’s all about flexibility,” said Ms. Giovanna, who also wears both lines. “I work in a high-intensity environment, dealing with big businesses, and I want pieces that I can dress up and down. Both brands deliver that.”
Last year’s lockdown, however, was “a make-and-break moment,” Ms. Roemer said, especially for Atelier Romy, which was only three years old when the pandemic hit.
“I was forced to look at every single aspect of the business, and not just entrust it to others,” the 41-year-old designer said, admitting she had focused on creation and clients. Suddenly she couldn’t just help clients dream up high jewelry pieces like a pair of diamond and pearl earrings topped with 17-carat citrines or work on a philanthropic collaboration like the jeweled rendition of a postage stamp she created for the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust in 2017 to celebrate the queen’s 65 years on the British throne.
In March 2020, Ms. Roemer canceled her shipping agent. She hadn’t been entirely happy with its service and decided fulfillment should be handled in-house. “I packed, I shipped and tied the ribbon around every box,” she said. “I needed to learn everything — my accountant joked that it was like McDonald’s, where you have to start in the kitchen and work your way up.” (A handwritten card now accompanies every order.)
Ms. Roemer and her team also focused on Atelier Romy’s social media presence, creating stronger digital content and visuals that highlighted Ms. Roemer as the maker behind the jewels. She wouldn’t share sales figures, but Ms. Roemer said shoppers must have liked the changes, as sales increased fivefold.
It’s the kind of online marketing that is here to stay, said Juliet Hutton-Squire, head of global strategy at Adorn, a jewelry market intelligence firm.
When consumers couldn’t spend on travel, she said, they began spending more on luxury items and investment pieces. Fashion brands were well positioned to capture those sales, thanks to their early investments in digital, and “brands with an online presence or shoppable content on social media were even further ahead of the curve as mobile phones became the way we shop,” Ms. Hutton-Squire explained. “That is just going to continue. We are not going back from this.”
In many ways, Ms. Roemer’s early career — which began as a 15-year-old goldsmith apprentice in Germany — led to her roles as a businesswoman and jeweler today.
Crafting jewelry, she said, is not all about “tools, craft and creation,” as she had once imagined. “You soon realized you also have to be good at physics and math, chemicals and chemistry. Thankfully, those were my favorite subjects at school.”
Atelier Romy has exercised her mathematical brain even more. “I love data,” she said. “I find it fascinating sitting at home in lockdown and just looking at data and who’s coming into the virtual shop.”
After graduating from Pforzheim Goldsmith and Watchmaking School in Germany, Ms. Roemer joined Stephen Webster, a London designer she said she particularly admired as “a craftsperson and not just a designer.”
More work for other Bond Street houses followed, plus orders from private clients — turning the early 2000s into something of a golden era for Ms. Roemer’s high jewelry career. Her philanthropic work also was recognized, especially several custom pieces she made in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, like a gold, diamond and emerald bangle inscribed with the South African president’s prison number; Morgan Freeman wore the piece to the 2010 Oscars as a best actor nominee for “Invictus.”
Ms. Roemer said the experience showed her how jewelry could be a form of storytelling. “The easy thing to do was put a bling diamond piece that gets attention, but I wanted to put Mandela’s story on the red carpet,” she said. “In the end, jewelry is emotional — you wear it every day on your skin. I don’t wear my grandmother’s handbag every day but I do wear her ring. It’s close to me, and really carries that emotional value.”
That same year, her first high jewelry collection debuted at Harrods.
Atelier Romy — a name inspired by the birth of Ms. Roemer’s first daughter, Romy — was created as an affordable ready-to-wear line to be sold exclusively online. “I wanted to portray something a bit different,” she recalled. “Something with strong bold designs but still modern and zeitlos” — German for ageless — “depending on how you’d layer and make it your own.”
Soul and purpose
Valery Demure, the London-based brand consultant who represents several independent jewelers (but not Ms. Roemer), said: “Sabine interests me because she doesn’t come from a jewelry family. Everything she’s learned has been through hard work by herself, and the fact that she has all these skills. She is a woman with a real soul and purpose.”
That sense is increasingly relevant in a post-pandemic world. Ms. Hutton-Squire said the pandemic’s “enforced pause button” highlighted the importance of sustainability and the environment, spurring jewelers to act online in more authentic ways. Whether that was creating, for example, a playlist for meditation or sharing home recipes, “it wasn’t all about sell, sell, sell,” she said. “That really kind of separated the authentic bands from the less authentic ones.”
That also explains the growing demand for craft — something Ms. Roemer said she had experienced prepandemic with some of her high jewelry line’s female clients. “They have a very different mind-set: asking who made it and what it is. It’s less about the stone, how big it is and the carat size,” Ms. Roemer said. “They just want to express themselves and their personalities through jewelry.”
She has been bringing the sentiment online. Atelier Romy now has weekly drops of “how to style” videos and footage of Ms. Roemer at the workbench, cutting, soldering and shaping metal, always among her most popular posts. “Few people really know how jewelry is still made,” she said. “It was nice to take people into the workshop and show them the process.”
In March, Ms. Roemer introduced Cornerstones, her first high jewelry collection in more than 10 years. The extra time in lockdown has been a creative boon, she said (“I always found the best pieces happen in the workshop when you don’t have a plan”) and the collection of nine pairs of earrings were muses on travel, with multifunctional pieces like sea-inspired blue topaz, aquamarine and diamond transformable earrings that Ms. Drew purchased.
Ms. Roemer said she hopes to resume meeting clients from both brands, which, thanks to the pandemic, feel more complementary than ever. “It’s like having two babies — you can’t pick a favorite one, they’re equally important,” she said. “But also very different.”
In 2017, four prominent young American fashion brands decided that they would show their new collections on the runways of Paris.
These were largely business decisions and would mean little to the average customer. But cumulatively, within the fashion industry, they constituted an exodus: confirmation of a broader nagging feeling that New York Fashion Week, which typically had attracted 150,000 attendees every February and September, was losing its cachet.
For the next three years, that narrative persisted: New York Fashion Week was either dying or already dead. (Even after two of those departing brands, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte, came back to New York in 2018.)
Now, one long quarantine later, there are signs of resurrection.
The other half of the departed — Altuzarra and Thom Browne — will return to NYFW in September after three years in Paris. All but Mr. Browne are committed to staying in New York for at least three more seasons.
produces the “NYFW: The Shows” calendar, sponsored this year by the “buy now, pay later” start-up Afterpay.
In exchange for a pledge to remain until 2022, IMG will help fund and provide support for a total of 11 designers’ shows or events, which can cost upward of six figures. The goal, IMG said Wednesday when announcing the incentive program: “Ensuring a bold return and bright future” for New York Fashion Week.
It comes as no surprise that IMG, which represents models, photographers, production designers, stylists, hair and makeup artists and more, wants fashion to return to the runway, after 18 months of collections presented largely through “digital activations” (a lot of short films and look books).
2019 report on the economics of fashion week.
Outside the outsize bubble of Spring Studios, IMG’s fashion headquarters, there are more signs of life for New York Fashion Week. The highly anticipated America-themed Met Gala has moved from May to September to close out NYFW. Pyer Moss, arguably the city’s buzziest brand, will also show in September, ending a two-year runway hiatus. Tom Ford, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, announced Monday that he will present a collection, too.
For Joseph Altuzarra, the decision to bring his runway shows back to New York — much like his decision four years ago to take them to Paris, where he was born and raised — was “a very emotional, personal decision.” He made it while working in the city during the pandemic.
“I felt a really strong kinship with the city that I hadn’t felt as deeply in a long time,” Mr. Altuzarra said. “I missed the energy.”
He felt that despite best efforts, no brand had found a “compelling substitute for a show,” he said. The civility of IMG’s initiative also appealed to him. Several designers, including Mr. Altuzarra, signed a letter last May pledging to adhere to a more reasonable seasonal shopping calendar — a rare show of cooperation in fashion.
“Prepandemic, there was very much a sense that everyone was doing their own thing,” he said. “People are so much more open now to thinking about different models and different ways in which we can do things, and building community.”
iconoclastic label headed by the designer Telfar Clemens and the artistic director Babak Radboy. Though its last two live presentations were in Florence and Paris, the fiercely independent company is hardly known for traditional runway shows — more like palace sleepovers and after-parties at discount department stores — and recoils from industry associations (including words like “alliance”).
inauguration, held his first-ever runway show a month before the pandemic, at Spring Studios. It was a lifelong dream, Mr. Hudson said, but then “we pretty much made no sales for the season.”
He hopes a revitalized New York Fashion Week will help business. The more editors, buyers and other various decision makers descend on New York to see the clothes in person — to experience the energy of the room — the better a designer’s chance of survival within the traditional system.
But Mr. Hudson is equally driven by the emotion of it all. He sees this as an opportunity “to show the world that yes, we are a fashion capital,” he said. “And yes, we have something to say, as far as how women should dress.”
What is it with male politicians and their hair these days? After decades — centuries — of nondescript short cuts, their crowning glory has suddenly turned into a form of creative expression. And source of controversy.
It often seemed as if no one could top Donald Trump’s incredibly complicated cream puff of a construction — until Boris Johnson, with his signature flyaway platinum locks (the ones that he uses to distract, amuse, disarm and otherwise manipulate those around him), arrived at 10 Downing Street as Britain’s prime minister.
But then, earlier this week in an ITV television interview, a former prime minister one-upped them both.
Or rather Tony Blair’s long, flowing gray hair did. There hasn’t been a former member of the league of NATO nations who let it all down like that since President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Dr. Who to “the possessed Vigo painting in Ghostbusters.”
The Evening Standard he had not had such long hair since his days in a rock band known as the Ugly Rumours at Oxford University. Which raises all sorts of questions about his later-in-life desire to relive them.
Beyond that, long hair also evokes the Bible, not to mention Moses (and any other number of Old Testament prophets). Also, it connects to Gandalf the Gray and magicians of his ilk, as well as Albert Einstein and the myth of the mad genius scientist too busy experimenting with electricity to deal with a combover.
Also poets, though their long flowing hair tends to not be gray, at least in the collective imagination.
What we do not associate with long hair: former world leaders.
Indeed, what Mr. Blair’s hair shows as much as anything is the unspoken public assumption that once our leaders leave the highest office in whatever land, they will remain frozen as they were at that moment, preserved in amber and memories just as they were when they steered the ship of state. Even if they were relatively young while at the helm.
That way, when they re-emerge as elder statesmen every once in a while to bestow their hard-earned wisdom on the world, their authority is recognizable. Sure, we know they may be getting on with their lives as private citizens, but they aren’t supposed to flaunt it. It makes them seem inconsistent. (Remember the hoo-ha around Hillary Clinton’s first lady hair cuts?) Unreliable.
As Mr. Blair apparently knows. He later told the Standard he was heading to a barber “imminently.”
There is a moment in the first season of “The Crown” when the actor Matt Smith, as the perennially tetchy consort of Queen Elizabeth II, bristles at the constraints of his job. With a case of lockjaw severe enough to cause concern for his molars, Mr. Smith portrays the Duke of Edinburgh (whom the queen would not make a prince until five years after she succeeded to the throne) as an arch complainer, a man who views the 20th-century monarchy as little more than “a coat of paint” on a crumbling Empire.
Prince Philip, who died at age 99 on April 9, may have been wrapped in a cloak of dramatic hooey to become a character in the hit Netflix series. Yet the role, as written, is rooted in established fact.
Headstrong by reputation, opinionated, notoriously brusque (and often, in public, misogynistic and racist), Prince Philip was also in important ways the model of a company man. By the time he stepped down from his official royal duties in August 2017, he had spent seven decades obediently working for the Firm, a term for the royal family credited to the Queen’s father, King George VI. Fulfilling the requirements of a job for which there is no precise standard, unless you consider second fiddle a job description, the prince slogged through a staggering 22,219 solo public engagements over his long lifetime. In doing so, he navigated the most challenging of corporate dress codes for more than 65 years.
The brief was clear from the outset: The queen’s consort should be impeccable yet unassuming, irreproachable in style without drawing your eye away from the one of the richest, and certainly the most famous, woman on earth. If the clothes Queen Elizabeth II wore in public were engineered to meet programmatic requirements — bright colors and lofty hats to make this diminutive human easy to spot; symbolically freighted jewelry (the Japanese pearl choker, the Burmese ruby tiara, the Obama brooch!); symbols and metaphors embroidered onto her gowns — those of Prince Philip were tailored to keep him faultlessly inconspicuous.
As a clotheshorse, he had certain natural advantages, of course.
“He was staggeringly good-looking, tall and athletic,” said Nick Sullivan, the creative director of Esquire. “That never does any harm when it comes to wearing clothes.”
Beyond that, though, were a series of confident and knowing choices. For decades, the prince’s suits were made for him by John N. Kent, a Savile Row artisan who began his tailoring apprenticeship at 15. The prince’s shirts came from Stephens Brothers, his bespoke shoes from the century-and-a-half old boot maker John Lobb. In the neatly folded white handkerchief Prince Philip habitually squared off in his breast pocket (another was kept in his trousers) could be seen a telling contrast with the dandyish puff of silk favored by his eldest son.
Unlike other members of the royal family whose tastes run to costly baubles and fine Swiss timepieces, Prince Philip habitually wore “a plain watch with a brown leather strap,” as the Independent once reported, and a copper bracelet intended to ease arthritis. He left his large hands free of jewelry and roughly manicured.
If he looked best in sporting clothes, it was because he was a true sportsman, captain of both the cricket and hockey teams at boarding school in Scotland, a polo player well past his 40s, an active participant in international coaching competitions until late in life.
He was also the only member of the Firm’s inner circle before Meghan Markle to have been foreign-born. This, too, may have given him a style advantage since it is often true that outsiders can bring a fresh eye to staid sartorial conventions, both enlivening and improving them. (It took the Japanese to explain denim to Americans and the Neapolitans to demonstrate for the English how to perfect English style.)
Search online and you will not find an image of Prince Philip committing a style solecism. There is never a novelty tie or a funny hat. For that matter, and except on obligatory state occasions, there is little enough of the comic operetta regalia beloved of Prince Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten, the First Earl Mountbatten of Burma — no braiding, no frogging, no sashes or fringed and gilded epaulets.
The paradox of Prince Philip’s life may have been that, as the husband of a queen and father of a future king, he was essential to power although insignificant to its workings. And he often jokingly disparaged himself as the “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler.” Yet it was probably in that role that he did his best work for the family business, since a glimpse of this elegant and diffident man was the closest most Britons would ever come to royalty’s attenuated realities and burnished grandeur. In that sense, Prince Philip was never “dressed,” in any conventional manner so much as he was outfitted for purpose.
Prabal Gurung, the Nepalese-American designer, has been a vocal proponent of inclusion and diversity since his first show in 2009. In the wake of the Atlanta shootings and an upswing in anti-Asian violence, he talked to The New York Times about his own experiences and what his work has to do with it.
How do you grapple with what’s going on?
To watch a video of a 65-year-old woman being brutally attacked is triggering and heart-wrenching, not just for me but for my friends and people from my community. We all are so worried for our loved ones. My mother goes on walks every morning and evening. She’s 75-years-old. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a blond wig for her, and I said, “You know, just wear it when you go outside, wear a hat, wear glasses.” She tried it on. But the next day she came over to my place, and she was like: “I’m not going to wear it. Just buy me a big, strong cane.” That is the reality of this.
Is that why you were an organizer of a Black and Asian solidarity march with other designers and activists in March?
We didn’t know how many people were going to show up, but thousands and thousands of people showed up across races and gender: L.G.B.T.Q. friends, Latin friends, Black friends, Asian friends, white friends. What we recognize is that for this particular moment to turn into a movement, we have to have all the marginalized groups and our white counterparts coming together.
Oh, a wave of Asian designers.” Then there’s a wave of Black designers, a wave of women designers. We never say a wave of white designers. We are never considered designers on our own. So that kind of implicit bias, that kind of microaggression, we face it all the time.
Did you experience it when you were trying to get financial backing for your business?
For my 10-year anniversary I was at a potential investors meeting, and one asked, “What does the brand stand for?” I said: “The America that I see is very colorful. The dinner table that I see is very colorful. It’s diverse. That’s the America that was promised to me. That’s why I came here, because I was a misfit back home.” And he says to me, “Well, you don’t look American.” I looked at him, and I was like, “You mean to say I don’t look white?”
“It’s OK,” I said. “I’ve been in business in America for 20 years. I’m a citizen. I make more than 90 percent of my clothes in New York City. I am actively involved in social causes. I’ve contributed to my taxes.”
torrent of hate and violence against people of Asian descent around the U.S. began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Community leaders say the bigotry was spurred by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
In New York, a wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. Many community leaders say racist assaults are being overlooked by the authorities.
In January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was violently slammed to the ground in San Francisco, resulting in his death at a hospital two days later. The attack, captured on video, has become a rallying cry.
Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in the Atlanta massage parlor shootings on March 16. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but Asian communities across the United States are on alert because of a surge in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year.
A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino woman near Times Square on March 30. The attack sparked further outrage after security footage appeared to show bystanders failing to immediately come to the woman’s aid.
Part of what you are trying to do with your work is educate people about the nuances of different Asian cultures, right?
Asian-Americans are the fastest growing immigrant group in the U.S. electorate, with roots all over the world. We are diverse. I look East Asian, right? But I’m from Southeast Asia. I sit in the center of the brown Asians and the other Asians. The wealth disparity between the richest Asian-Americans and the poorest is insanely high. I think maybe the largest of any ethnic group in this country. In spite of that, there is a myth of the model minority, of crazy rich Asians. That’s why “Parasite” is important, why “Minari” is important. Give us the platform so we can tell our stories.
This stereotyping doesn’t make you angry?
I’m OK with people making mistakes because it can start a dialogue that leads to a solution. I refuse to cancel people unless there’s something really harmful.
Fashion is one of the hardest and most arduous industries, but it’s also an industry that can reward you in the most splendid, incredible way. And it is the only industry where in 10 minutes on a runway we can really change the narrative of what the culture can be. That’s the power of fashion.
I am a living example of it, coming from a country like Nepal where nobody believed I could be a designer. To be able to live that dream and to have this platform. It’s been really incredible.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Last week, calls for the cancellation of H&M and other Western brands went out across Chinese social media as human rights campaigns collided with cotton sourcing and political gamesmanship. Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on and how it may affect everything from your T-shirts to your trench coats.
What’s all this I’m hearing about fashion brands and China? Did someone make another dumb racist ad?
No, it’s much more complicated than an offensive and obvious cultural faux pas. The issue centers on the Xinjiang region of China and allegations of forced labor in the cotton industry — allegations denied by the Chinese government. Last summer, many Western brands issued statements expressing concerns about human rights in their supply chain. Some even cut ties with the region all together.
Now, months later, the chickens are coming home to roost: Chinese netizens are reacting with fury, charging the allegations are an offense to the state. Leading Chinese e-commerce platforms have kicked major international labels off their sites, and a slew of celebrities have denounced their former foreign employers.
growing political and economic implications. On the one hand, as the pandemic continues to roil global retail, consumers have become more attuned to who makes their clothes and how they are treated, putting pressure on brands to put their values where their products are. One the other, China has become an evermore important sales hub to the fashion industry, given its scale and the fact that there is less disruption there than in other key markets, like Europe. Then, too, international politicians are getting in on the act, imposing bans and sanctions. Fashion has become a diplomatic football.
This is a perfect case study of what happens when market imperatives come up against global morality.
Tell me more about Xinjiang and why it is so important.
Xinjiang is a region in northwest China that happens to produce about a fifth of the world’s cotton. It is home to many ethnic groups, especially the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority. Though it is officially the largest of China’s five autonomous regions, which in theory means it has more legislative self-control, the central government has been increasingly involved in the area, saying it must exert its authority because of local conflicts with the Han Chinese (the ethnic majority) who have been moving into the region. This has resulted in draconian restrictions, surveillance, criminal prosecutions and forced-labor camps.
OK, and what about the Uyghurs?
A predominantly Muslim Turkic group, the Uyghur population within Xinjiang numbers just over 12 million, according to official figures released by Chinese authorities. As many as one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been retrained to become model workers, obedient to the Chinese Communist Party via coercive labor programs.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Axios and others published reports that connected Uyghurs in forced detention to the supply chains of many of the world’s best-known fashion retailers, including Adidas, Lacoste, H&M, Ralph Lauren and the PVH Corporation, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, many of those brands reassessed their relationships with Xinjiang-based cotton suppliers.
banned all imports of cotton from the region, as well as products made from the material and declared what was happening “genocide.” At the time, the Workers Rights Consortium estimated that material from Xinjiang was involved in more than 1.5 billion garments imported annually by American brands and retailers.
That’s a lot! How do I know if I am wearing a garment made from Xinjiang cotton?
You don’t. The supply chain is so convoluted and subcontracting so common that often it’s hard for brands themselves to know exactly where and how every component of their garments is made.
So if this has been an issue for over a year, why is everyone in China freaking out now?
It isn’t immediately clear. One theory is that it is because of the ramp-up in political brinkmanship between China and the West. On March 22, Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States announced sanctions on Chinese officials in an escalating row over the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Not long after, screenshots from a statement posted in September 2020 by H&M citing “deep concerns” about reports of forced labor in Xinjiang, and confirming that the retailer had stopped buying cotton from growers in the region, began circulating on Chinese social media. The fallout was fast and furious. There were calls for a boycott, and H&M products were soon missing from China’s most popular e-commerce platforms, Alibaba Group’s Tmall and JD.com. The furor was stoked by comments on the microblogging site Sina Weibo from groups like the Communist Youth League, an influential Communist Party organization.
Within hours, other big Western brands like Nike and Burberry began trending for the same reason.
And it’s not just consumers who are up in arms: Influencers and celebrities have also been severing ties with the brands. Even video games are bouncing virtual “looks” created by Burberry from their platforms.
one second (there were 100 made). That’s why H&M worked with Victoria Song, Nike with Wang Yibo and Burberry with Zhou Dongyu.
But Chinese influencers and celebrities are also sensitive to pleasing the central government and publicly affirming their national values, often performatively choosing their country over contracts.
In 2019, for example, Yang Mi, the Chinese actress and a Versace ambassador, publicly repudiated the brand when it made the mistake of creating a T-shirt that listed Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries, seeming to dismiss the “One China” policy and the central government’s sovereignty. Not long afterward, Coach was targeted after making a similar mistake, creating a tee that named Hong Kong and Taiwan separately; Liu Wen, the Chinese supermodel, immediately distanced herself from the brand.
Tencent removed two Burberry-designed “skins” — outfits worn by video game characters that the brand had introduced with great fanfare — from its popular title Honor of Kings as a response to news that the brand had stopped buying cotton produced in the Xinjiang region. The looks had been available for less than a week.
So this is hitting both fast fashion and the high end. How much of the fashion world is involved?
Potentially, most of it. So far Adidas, Nike, Converse and Burberry have all been swept up in the crisis. Even before the ban, additional companies like Patagonia, PVH, Marks & Spencer and the Gap had announced that they did not source material from Xinjiang and had officially taken a stance against human rights abuses.
removed their policies against forced labor from their websites.
That seems squirrelly. Is this likely to escalate?
Brands seem to be concerned that the answer is yes, since, apparently fearful of offending the Chinese government, some companies have proactively announced that they will continue buying cotton from Xinjiang. Hugo Boss, the German company whose suiting is a de facto uniform for the financial world, posted a statement on Weibo saying, “We will continue to purchase and support Xinjiang cotton” (even though last fall the company had announced it was no longer sourcing from the region). Muji, the Japanese brand, is also proudly touting its use of Xinjiang cotton on its Chinese websites, as is Uniqlo.
Wait … I get playing possum, but why would a company publicly pledge its allegiance to Xinjiang cotton?
It’s about the Benjamins, buddy. According to a report from Bain & Company released last December, China is expected to be the world’s largest luxury market by 2025. Last year it was the only part of the world to report year on year growth, with the luxury market reaching 44 billion euros ($52.2 billion).
Is anyone going to come out of this well?
One set of winners could be the Chinese fashion industry, which has long played second fiddle to Western brands, to the frustration of many businesses there. Shares in Chinese apparel groups and textile companies with ties to Xinjiang rallied this week as the backlash gained pace. And more than 20 Chinese brands publicly made statements touting their support for Chinese cotton.
And a former Target marketing executive who had been making luxury cleaning products called Caldrea, pivoted to a more accessible brand, named it for her mother, and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day — plant-based products that smelled like lavender or geranium or basil, not bleach — hit the grocery store shelves. So did Method, designed to match your modernist décor, and which also smelled nice, and the category was forever changed.
That was nearly two decades ago.
What is particular about Safely is not its celebrity boosters, or even its contents. I tried all six of its products, from the Hand Sanitizer, $6, to the Everyday Laundry Detergent, $14. They have pleasant, mild scents: the Universal Cleaner, $6, smells like lemongrass; the Hand Soap, also $6, faintly musky, like sandalwood. They did their jobs.
It is the packaging that is notable.
The containers are simple, and oversize. There is barely any type; the logo, the only discernible graphic, is a large white water drop shape. The different cleaners come in a medley of glowing, minty greens. The whole is distilled into the kind of generic yet brightly colored minimalism that plays so well on Instagram. The products read like Product, with a design so reductive there could be anything in there.
Why not, as Ms. Jenner pointed out, have a coherent array of bottles under your sink, instead of “a bunch of mishmash or doodads that don’t go together?”
I wondered what the greens were. What were their names? Certainly not the Lichen or Mizzles of an English paint company. Or the flat teal that is a foil for so-called Millennial Pink, also known as Baker-Miller Pink or Drunk Tank Pink, from the ’70s-era social science experiment that showed how a certain shade calmed prisoners (and, in 2017, Kendall Jenner, who painted her living room in the rosy hue).
There are photo shoots, there are presidential photo shoots — and then there are Vladimir Putin presidential photo shoots. Rarely has the leader of a global power embraced the staged publicity still with such creative, yet clichéd, fervor, not just feeding the global desire for a caricature of himself, but actually creating it.
Cue, for example, his latest propaganda foray, released by the Kremlin, as bilateral relations with the United States turn frosty, and with the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny’s description of Mr. Putin as a “Vladimir, the Poisoner of Underpants” still reverberating through the air.
“making of” video about his official portrait, depicting himself carefully arranging various symbolic accessories on his desk.
But Mr. Putin has always opted for a different approach. One that emphasizes the physical over namby-pamby paper-pushing, and speaks to old stereotypes of virility, strength and machismo. Not to mention good health. The kind that allows you to stay in office for a long time.
It has become a sort of absurdist art form unto itself.
He was pictured, for example, in a similar sheepskin outfit in 2010 — though without the matching fur hat and mittens — riding through the Siberian snow on horseback, and on a trip to the Russian Arctic, hugging a polar bear. He has ridden a motorbike in black leather (a photo that was so popular, a British company, Matchless London, named a jacket in his honor), played ice hockey (making many goals) and worked out with the Russian judo team.
apogee in 2017, when Mr. Putin was photographed mostly bare chested while hunting, spearfishing and otherwise pursuing manly activities in the Siberian outdoors. Afterward, he was caught basking shirtless in the sun, eyes hidden by black shades.
Moscow newspaper asked at the time. It probably only seemed like a rhetorical question.
By 2019, Mr. Putin had pivoted his image-making to shots that referenced his bond with the earth rather than his dominance of the same, posing while sitting peacefully in a field clutching a bouquet of wildflowers he presumably picked himself, or reclining on a craggy tor. Nevertheless, he remained costumed in shades of olive green and silhouettes that resembled fatigues. The implicit messaging was still tough. It was just more about tough love.
The new Siberia photos are firmly in line with this tradition. If they are not exactly subtle — indeed, the image-making is so obvious, it has inspired a fair share of social media ridicule and memes — it is also true that when it comes to Mr. Putin, subtlety has never really been part of the … well, picture.
Rich people who shopped too much used to be called collectors. Now they — and those belonging merely to the aspirational class — are all investors.
It’s not just that they’ve spent the last year splurging on stakes in untested, newly formed public companies that have yet to produce products, much less profits.It’s that during the pandemic, seemingly every luxury acquisition has become a so-called alternative asset class.
Rather than elbowing past each other for reservations at the latest restaurants from Marcus Samuelsson and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, or getting into bidding wars for apartments at 740 Park Avenue, they are one-upping each other in online auctions for jewelry, watches, furniture, sports cards, vintage cars, limited-edition Nikes and crypto art.
growing wealth inequality.
sold on the secondary market in 2020 for $30,000 are now going for upward of $50,000 on some resale sites. The Nautilus 5980, a rose gold chronograph sports watch from Patek Philippe that has a retail price of $85,000, can seldom be found on 47th Street for much less than $200,000.
One reason for surging prices, according to Benjamin Clymer, the editor of the watch site Hodinkee, is that “Switzerland shut down, so demand was there while the supply was dramatically reduced.”
had sold shortly before the pandemic through the auction site Bring a Trailer (or BaT, as it’s known) for $560,000 but Mr. Clymer figured it might be a buyer’s market. Perhaps he could get it for less.
He found a beauty from a dealership that hadn’t listed the price on its website. It was in mint condition. Mr. Clymer asked for a quote and nearly fainted upon hearing the answer: $1.2 million.
“I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Less than a month later it was sold.”
By Thanksgiving, auction houses were sending out news releases almost daily touting their record-breaking sales.
sold in October 2020 for $23,750 through the Chicago auction house Wright. A Mesa coffee table by T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings, a British architect whose name is barely known outside of the furniture world, brought in $237,500 in December; the overall result of the sale was $2.5 million, roughly double what the house did at the same sale a year before.
In February, a digital artwork of Donald Trump facedown in the grass, covered in words like “loser,” sold for $6.6 million, a record for a nonfungible token, or NFT, so called because there’s no physical piece for the buyer to take possession of.
Fittingly, the image was paid for in Ethereum, a form of cryptocurrency that, among millennials, is almost as well known as bitcoin. Two weeks later, Christie’s sold another NFT by Beeple, this time for $69 million.
sold through PWCC Marketplace for $5.2 million. In March, Goldin Auctions, a sports collectible site, held its annual winter auction. “We grossed $45 million,” said Ken Goldin, the founder and C.E.O. “Last year, it was $4.7 million.”
One of Mr. Goldin’s repeat customers is Clement Kwan, the former president of Yoox Net-a-Porter and a founder of Beboe, an upscale line of cannabis vaporizers and edible pastilles that The New York Times has called “the Hermès of Marijuana.”
along with her sisters Dakota and Dresden Peters, owns what some believe is the most valuable sneaker collection in the world — had her biggest sale in five years of being in business: a pair of autographed 1985 Air Jordans that fetched $275,000.
In 2019, the sisters sold 572 pairs of sneakers, at prices that began at $500, Ariana Peters said in an interview. In 2020, they sold 879.
Ms. Peters actually sounded somewhat surprised talking about all this, perhaps because she and her sisters only got into the business because their father, a retired real estate developer named Douglas Roy Peters, bought so many pairs of sneakers they were running out of places to put them.
sold one for $408,000.
Mr. Abouzeid doesn’t have that kind of money, but in a June 2020 “I.P.O.” from Valley Road, he purchased 125 “shares” of one at a price of $25 each.
vintage whiskey. But Johnson & Johnson and Jack Daniel’s don’t interest him.
His Merrill Lynch account contains shares of companies like Sarepta Therapeutics, a maker of precision genetic medicines that treat rare neuromuscular and central nervous system diseases. His fridge is filled with rare, vintage Kacho Fugetsu.
“When my parents saw them in my apartment, they got really worried,” he said. “They said, ‘Is there something we need to talk about?’ But I don’t even open them.”
Earlier this month, when rising interest rates sent high-flying tech stocks into a tailspin, Kacho Fugetsu provided what Mr. Moses called “the perfect hedge.”
Of course, he’s aware that the ascent of his whiskey collection also could come to an end, but that at least has an upside. “Then I’ll finally have an excuse to drink it,” he said.
So you think the clothes are beside the point in the Oprah-Harry-Meghan tell-all? You think it’s the vocal bombshells and revelations that matter, and no one is going to give two figs what the former royal couple who is uttering them is wearing? You, my friend, should think again. Costumes are always part of the program.
Ever since she first stepped into the spotlight not just as an actress on a pretty successful TV show but as a potential British princess, Meghan Markle has proved herself a master of the visual message.
So whatever she chose for the single-biggest speaking moment of both her career and her marriage thus far — the one that, given the pre-promotion and the public relations warfare being waged by the palace, the Sussexes and the proxies for each, is going to be seen by more people than any other appearance since her wedding — it was not going to be a random, just-because-it’s-comfy schmatta.
It was going to be a dress with purpose. A dress that would set a tone. A dress that would, after all, be seen and re-seen as the photos from the interview went around the world and down in royal history, much as the photos of Princess Diana in her black jacket looking up from under her bangs at Martin Bashir in her 1995 BBC interview still appear whenever the topic of that royal divorce comes up.
$4,700 black silk wrap dress by Giorgio Armani with a white lotus flower print spilling down one shoulder.
According to Town & Country’s royal whisperer, Ms. Markle chose the dress specifically because of the lotus flower symbolism, and the fact the bloom represents rebirth, which was part of what the interview was also supposed represent: The rebirth of Harry and Meghan as an independent entity, authentically themselves apart from the royal family; the rebirth of their voices. Plus, of course, the coming birth of the couple’s next child. Oh — and also the fact that, wrote T & C, the lotus can “flourish despite seemingly challenging conditions.”
Though there is some irony in a very expensive dress being chosen to partly represent the wearer’s victimhood and resilience in the face of pain.
Still, worn belted over her pregnant stomach, with spiky black Aquazzura heels and a diamond Cartier tennis bracelet that was once owned by Princess Diana (chosen so that, the couple told Ms. Winfrey, she could be there with them), it was not exactly your run-of-the-mill maternity look.
Not exactly a “Royals! They’re just like us!” kind of thing. Not even a: “Hey, we’re now in America and we’re going to use all this attention to help an American designer,” kind of thing. Not even an eco-sensitive, or support-the-outsiders kind of thing. (All kinds of things that had been part of Ms. Markle’s public image-making before.)
first Baby Archie photo-op back in May of 2019, and it ticked all sorts of boxes. Accessible! American! Possibly shopping his closet, which is better for the planet. He may not have realized his clothes contained all that, but his wife probably did.