ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Benedict Evans on ten-year future predictions (well as good as anyone can)

YouGov | Who is on top in the Nike vs. Adidas battle? – UK only data

The bitcoin drugs trade is highly centralised | FT Alphaville – looks that the cryptocurrency bubble could burst pronto

How an unknown Chinese phone maker became No 3 in India by solving the oily fingers problem | South China Morning Post – “Big companies which sell smartphones in more than 100 countries are too global to care for one single market,” Chowdhury said in an interview in Shenzhen. “The core strategy for us is to become the favourite mobile phone brand in emerging markets.”

HSBC’s Amy and other soon-to-be released AI chatbots are about to change the way we bank | South China Morning Post

Why Uber Can Find You but 911 Can’t – WSJ – one can understand the reluctance of technology companies to get involved

The Pet Shop Boys are the face (and sound) of Christian Dior’s men’s collection this summer.

Luxury group Kering to spin off Puma to shareholders | RTE – not terribly surprising it fits awkwardly with the other brands

Google Plans to Vet YouTube Premium Video Content – Bloomberg – guessing the News International media campaign and Logan Paul debacle is starting to have an impact

How China’s market economy has fuelled a prostitution boom | South China Morning PostMy grandma was always grateful to Mao, mainly because she was upgraded from a concubine to a wife under the Communists “one wife” rule. – There is also the shredding of culture and community during the cultural revolution probably ruined community / support mechanisms

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Facebook Is Shutting Down Its API That Marketers Lean on for Research – Adweek – big for proprietary agency tools, social media tools and ad platforms

Spicing up Hong Kong’s Café scene | Marketing Interactive – great write-up of Café de Coral

China’s central bank believes bitcoin will die | Quartz – I am more on the bearish side along with the Bank of China. A key function of bitcoin for China was aiding capital flight out of the country

Unilever moves global comms planning to Mindshare from PHD | Media | Campaign Asia – huge win for Mindshare and a move away at the global level between planning guidance and media buying. It would be analogous to investment managers to go back to taking advice from sell-side analysts. I guess part of the problem is trying to get global guidance to be implemented at a country level

Flotogram v1.1 Preview on Vimeo – interesting app that blurs the boundaries between AR and photography

Google’s AI Built its own AI That Outperforms Any Made by Humans – one thing humans jump to is the implications of a more general purpose rather than narrow focus machine learning tool

China’s Tariff Cuts Won’t Hurt Daigou Business For Now | Jing Daily  – China plans to reduce tariffs on 187 consumer goods, including cosmetics, apparel, health supplements, food, and pharmaceuticals. The new policy will go into effect on December 1. The average tax rate will drop to 7.7 percent from 17.3 percent.

China’s Toutiao Tried to Buy Reddit — The InformationOne reason was general skittishness among Reddit’s investors about selling to a Chinese internet company whose user and revenue numbers were tough to assess – and there is the burn

Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Eyes 2018 Stock Market Listing — The Information – interesting move given Xiaomi’s challenges with other Chinese smartphone companies

Futuristic Warfare Arena Ghost in the Shell: Arise Stealth Hounds – VR ZONE SHINJUKU – I’d love to have a go at this

Are we witnessing the end of the jumbo jet? | Quartz – interesting mix of game theory and economics involved

Apple: Chinese Buying Huawei et. al. but Sticking with iPhone, Says Morgan Stanley – Barron’s – The Jigaung data also highlights that in the 4 weeks ending October 22nd, more “switchers” left their Chinese branded smartphone for an iPhone than iPhone users left for a Chinese branded smartphone, across all local vendors. In fact, Apple’s net switching rate, or the net amount of switchers gained/lost as a percentage of all brand switchers increased to 7.6% in the latest 4 week period, up from 6.7% in the prior 4 week period ending October 8th. Comparatively, Vivo was the only Chinese smartphone vendor to gain “net switchers”, albeit at a significantly lower rate. We expect this trend to only accelerate as future data sets will include the period after the iPhone X first began shipping.

Amazon (AMZN) is so good at keeping prices low, it’s changed how economists think about inflation — Quartz

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

WSJ City | Gig work may stifle some startups – a gig firm’s entry into a given area caused a decline in the number of unfunded and underfunded Kickstarter campaigns launched locally a year later

Ctrip launches global rebrand to Trip.com – interesting staking out global ambitions against Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia

Google Translate: Telefonini e patenti | L’Espresso – Umberto Eco making the valid point that communications by phone are often less circumspect because of the immediacy of the medium. Writing a letter allows more time for consideration and weight in the communications

Red Bull Content Pool – interesting that Red Bull has its own inhouse picture agency

Vote Leave donations: the dark ads, the mystery ‘letter’ – and Brexit’s online guru | Politics | The Guardian – The Guardian have the bit between their teeth on this and other media aren’t picking it up at all. How to Use Facebook Dark Posts | Duct Tape Marketing – nice simple explanation of dark ads for non marketers out there – far more elegant than when I have explained it. Despite the name it isn’t sinister

PR Research: The death of Twitter as a marketing tool? Recent research says half of marketers don’t see the point of Twitter any more | PRmoment – probably not the most scientific pieces of research, I think the answer is more nuanced

Understanding “New Power” | Harvard Business Review – interesting read, if you haven’t had the chance already

Is The Streetwear Market Headed For The Mainstream? : NPR  – interesting piece on streetwear by NPR. It echoes some of the concerns I had about the streetwear market. If you want to know how it all got so big: Louis Vuitton, Supreme and the tangled relationship between streetwear and luxury brands

JR Tokai gives media a peek at maglev work underway at Shinagawa Station | The Japan Times – so cool

Chadlington: ban all ads and promotion for gambling | PR Week – (paywall)

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

It’s quite rare for someone who has had as as long a career as Mick Jagger to still do relevant material. His double A side single featuring England’s Lost is an exceptionally political track featuring Skepta. The last track from similar artist would likely be Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It wouldn’t sound out of step with The Stone Roses or The Charlatans and the video with Luke Evans performance is amazing.

Omega seem to have spent most of the summer dwelling on the NASA Apollo programme heritage of the Omega Speedmaster with launches happening around the world including PR people in faux spacesuits for photo shoots and socialite cocktail parties.  The excuse is the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster’s launch in 1957. They’ve supported it with a scripted film using brand spokesperson George Clooney talking with Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin as ever is awesome.

60 years of production makes the Speedmaster a design classic. At the time of the Speedmaster’s launch Omega would have been a more bankable name than Rolex. That seems surprising now given Omega’s move more towards the fashion end of the market. There is a great interview at The Peak Magazine; with Peter Chow the recently retired veteran salesman at The Hour Glass in Singapore. The Hour Glass is a famous watch retailer that has attracted the world’s richest customers.

“You could buy a manual mechanical watch with a fine Swiss movement for S$20 plus,” Mr Chong says. The well-known brands then were Titoni, Titus, Movado and Cyma. “Omega was the best, not Rolex.” Mr Chong quit his job in 1959 and with S$6000 from savings and loans, opened a shop in Bukit Panjang. But within three years, poor sales drove him out of business.

It was something I heard from my parents, though I had partly put this down to both of them having had Omegas – which they bought for each other when they got married.

Northampton’s most famous son, author Alan Moore Interviewed by Greg Wilson and Kermit – real name Paul Leveridge from the Ruthless Rap Assassins and Black Grape. Interesting dissection of modern counterculture and the general sense of ennui.

I am addicted to videos about mesmerising manufacturing processes and vinyl records. This video combines both of them. The hipster movement has done more than drive up the cost of avocados and gentrification. We’ve seen vinyl manufacturing plants revived and thrive. Over time the machinery has needed to be modernised, this has meant modern manufacturing techniques (like SCADA controllers) have been melted to post-war industrial technology. Anyway enough of my blathering check it out.

My week was soundtracked by this epic mix of Herbie Hancock tracks.

Have we reached peak streetwear?

At the end of January I wrote a blog post about the landmark collection by Louis Vuitton and Supreme.

I delved into the history of streetwear and the deep connection it shared with luxury brands. This linkage came from counterfeit products, brand and design language appropriation.

This all came from a place of individuality and self expression of the wearer.

obey

I reposted it from my blog on to LinkedIn. I got a comment from a friend of mine which percolated some of the ideas I’d been thinking about. The comment crystalised some of my fears as a long-time streetwear aficionado.

This is from Andy Jephson who works as a director for consumer brand agency Exposure:

The roots of street and lux that you point to seem to be all about individuality and self expression and for me this is what many modern collabs are missing. To me they seem to be about ostentatious showmanship. I love a collaboration that sees partners sharing their expertise and craft to create something original. The current obsession with creating hype however is creating a badging culture that produces products that could have been made in one of the knock-off factories that you mention. Some collabs that just produce new colourways and hybrid styles can be amazing, reflecting the interests of their audience. But far too many seem gratuitous and are completely unobtainable for the brand fans on one side of the collaborative partnership.

The streetwear business is mad money

From Stüssy in 1980, streetwear has grown into a multi-billion dollar global industry. Streetwear sales are worth more than 75 billion dollars per year.

By comparison the UK government spent about 44.1 billion on defence in 2016. Streetwear sales are more than three times the estimated market value of Snap Inc. Snap Inc., is the owner of Snapchat.

Rise of Streetwear

It is still about one third the size of the luxury industry. Streetwear accounts for the majority of menswear stocked in luxury department stores. Harvey Nichols claimed that 63% of the their contemporary menswear was streetwear. Many luxury brands off-the-peg men’s items blur the boundary between luxe and streetwear.

The industry has spawned some technology start-ups acting as niche secondary markets including:

  • Kixify
  • K’LEKT
  • THRONE
  • StockX
  • SneakerDon
  • GOAT

Large parts of the streetwear industry has become lazy and mercenary. You can see this in:

  • The attention to detail and quality of product isn’t what it used to be. I have vintage Stüssy pieces that are very well-made. I can’t say the same of many newer streetwear brands
  • Colour-ways just for the sake of it. I think Nike’s Jordan brand is a key offender. Because it has continually expands numbers of derivative designs and combinations. New Balance* have lost much of their mojo. Especially when you look at the product their Super Team 33 in Maine came up with over the years. The fish, fanzine or the element packs were both strong creative offerings. By comparison recent collections felt weak
  • The trivial nature of some of the collaborations. This week Supreme sold branded Metro Cards for the New York subway
  • Streetwear brands that sold out to fast moving consumer products. This diluted their own brand values. While working in Hong Kong, I did a Neighborhood Coke Zero collaboration. The idea which had some tie-in to local cycling culture and nightscape. Aape – the second-brand of BAPE did a deal wrapping Pepsi cans in the iconic camouflage

Hong Kong brand Chocoolate did three questionable collaborations over the past 18 months:

  • Vitaminwater
  • Nissin (instant noodles)
  • Dreyer’s (ice cream)

By comparison, Stüssy has a reputation in the industry for careful business management. The idea was to never become too big, too fast. The Sinatra family kept up quality and selective distribution seeing off Mossimo, FUBU and Triple Five Soul. Yes, they’ve done collaborations, but they were canny compared to newer brands:

“The business has grown in a crazy way the past couple of years,” says Sinatra. “We reluctantly did over $50 million last year.”

Reluctant because, according to Sinatra, the company is currently trying to cut back and stay small. “It was probably one of our biggest years ever — and it was an accident.”

Sinatra characterises Stüssy’s third act as having a “brand-first, revenue second” philosophy, in order to avoid becoming “this big monstrosity that doesn’t stand for anything.”

The Evolution of Streetwear. The newfound reality of Streetwear and its luxury-like management academic study uncovered careful brand custodianship.

It’s not clothing; it’s an asset class

Part of the bubble feel within the streetwear industry is due to customer behaviour. For many people, street wear is no longer a wardrobe staple. Instead it becomes an alternative investment instrument. Supreme items and tier zero Nike releases are resold for profit like a day trader on the stock market.

Many of the start-ups supported by the community play to this ‘day trader’ archetype. It is only a matter of time for the likes of Bonham’s and Sotherby’s get in on the act.

A key problem with the market is that trainers aren’t like a Swiss watch or a classic car. They become unusable in less than a decade as the soles degrade and adhesive breaks down.

There is the apocryphal story of a Wall Street stock broker getting out before the great stock market crash. The indicator to pull his money out was a taxi driver or a shoe shine boy giving stock tips.

Streetwear is at a similar stage with school-age teenagers dealing must-have items as a business. What would a reset look like in the streetwear industry? What would be the knock-on effect for the luxury sector?

More information
USA Streetwear Market Research Report 2015 | WeConnectFashion
Louis Vuitton, Supreme and the tangled relationship between streetwear and luxury brands | renaissance chambara
New Balance Super Team 33 – Elements Collection | High Snobriety
New Balance ST33 – The Fanzine Collection | High Snobriety
1400 Super Team 33 (ST33) trio | New Balance blog – the infamous fish pack
How Stüssy Became a $50 Million Global Streetwear Brand Without Selling Out | BoF (Business of Fashion)
The Evolution of Streetwear. The newfound reality of Streetwear and its luxury-like management by de Macedo & Machado, Universidade Católica Portuguesa (2015) – PDF

* in the interest of full disclosure, New Balance is a former client.