Simone Cipriani, Ethical Fashion Initiative
The day in review
By admin on June 25, 2013
Simone Cipriani, Ethical Fashion Initiative
The day in review
By admin on June 12, 2013
Good morning everyone.
Welcome aboard Bespoke.
As you took your seats, you saw a visual celebration of Australia’s raw luxuries.
We may not be Paris – the undisputed capital of fashion – we ARE right at the world’s luxury source.
Let’s start on Sydney Harbour. The Australian Financial Review is headquartered at Pyrmont, on land once sold for a gallon of rum to Captain James Macarthur.
Sailing on the Second Fleet, it was Captain James Macarthur who brought the first merino sheep to Australia.
Industrial architecture – the massive finger wharfs stretching out into the water – reminds us that this city – this nation – was built on a sheep’s back. Yet perhaps we overlook the vital role played by wool in fashion today.
Superfine suits by Zegna, Paul Smith, Burberry?
Dion Lee reached the finals of the Woolmark awards in London, where one of the judges was Victoria Beckham, whose designs – in Australian superfine – have re-defined what women wear in the boardroom.
Our ancient island continent is rich indeed. For the wealthy woman in Shanghai considering the purchase of an Hermes Crocodile Birkin or the one in Paris who desires a Victoire de Castellaine opal ring from Dior; the trail starts here.
There’s Australian gold, sunburst yellow diamonds from Ellendale and from out beyond the tin-roofed town of Broome, in the sparkling Arafura sea; Pinctada maxima – the shells the size of dinner plates, south sea pearls lustrous to behold. These greenest of gems which thrive only in pristine waters – become jewelled creations by Paspaley, Kailis and Harry Winston and Tiffany & Co on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
Our mineral wealth inspires our artists. In 1983, Jenny Kee created Opal Oz which Karl Lagerfeld used in his first ready-to-wear collection for Chanel.
In 2007, Gloria Pet-yar-ee’s art became “Gloria’s Dream”, a silk scarf for Hermes.
Just a few weeks ago, Zegna revealed a collaboration with Dorothy Nap-an-gardi, whose artwork, Salt, was incorporated in to the menswear collection.
Then there’s the Argyle Diamond mine. Argyle’s peerless pinks find their way into the hands – or actually, the tweezers – of only the world’s finest jewellers – the Australians celebrated in the Beyond Rare brochure today – with others around the world including Chow Tai Fook in Beijing, Nirav Modi in Mumbai and Van Cleef & Arpels on Place Vendome… which takes us back, again, to Paris.
…A city which has its eye on us.
A few weeks ago, the world’s largest luxury group, LVMH – which is helmed by the richest man in France, Bernard Arnault – took a stake – through its investment arm – in RM Williams.
Some of my business colleagues at the AFR were perplexed. What could the chi-chic French want with work boots worn by everyone here, from the boss to a jackaroo?
One word – macho.
The French might have the lead on romance, but when it comes to footwear, a bloke wants to look like a bloke. The appeal is somewhat like our actors – Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Joel Edgerton, Sam Worthington, Jason Clark – we send em out tough and rugged.
Equally, Australia brands like RM Williams promise a deeply male authenticity, which, to the purveyors of luxury looking – especially – to sell menswear into China, is as desirable as our diamonds.
Akubra is not for sale. This family firm just turned 100 and the whispers are that the hatters of the Outback have exciting plans ahead. They certainly have unusual customers – the second biggest market for Australia’s celebrated hats? It’s … Tibet.
Might a brand go global from here? The best-known luxury brands trace their roots back to hard work; Louis Vuitton made steamer trunks, Thierry Hermes was a saddler. So why not one from the land of hard yakka?
Still, it’s got to be said, we’re pretty good at relaxing too – and creating sand-between-the-toes chic which labels – such as Zimmerman – export to the world.
Australia today has one of the world’s most robust economies, thanks largely to a resource not connected to the fashion world; iron ore.
Yet we also breed entrepreneurs who are focusing – not – on what we can sell over there, but on what – they – can buy over here.
I’m talking about a sophisticated focus on inbound tourism aimed in particular at top-tier Chinese visitors.
Their expenditure in Australia is expected to top $9 billion by 2020.
Our isolation of old has been replaced by a central position in the trade maps of a new world.
Global economies have shifted and Sydney is perfectly positioned as the modern metropolis-on-the-ocean.
And what does the tyranny of distance mean anymore, anyway?
In a scan-and-shop digital age?
The theme of Bespoke is creative collaboration. The Sydney Opera House is stunning example of what can be achieved when talents, from many disciplines, come together with a shared ambition to be outstanding.
Today, fashion has to be collaborative if it is to fly. The days of the designer issuing edits from an ivory tower are gone. This global industry thrives on partnerships. Yet we must not ignore new paradigms. Where we must be bold is in ways that make fashion more fair.
So what does Australian luxury mean?
To me, it is all about encapsulating how we live, how diverse we are, this vast land and the blue sea.
In the past few days, it’s been a joy to welcome our speakers from around the world and to watch them, falling in love, as I did when I first landed here in 1996.
“Why can’t I live here?”
“Why can’t I live by the water?”
They’ve been saying to me, “Why can’t I live like you do?”
Sydney is a shiny city of fresh thinking and new beginnings.
Literally – in that, every New Year’s Eve, the world turns in this direction and watches as fireworks on the Harbour Bridge illuminate the Opera House sails.
Our first speaker is the creative director of a brand which has a direct relationship to The Sydney Opera House.
Please welcome – in the brave and bold position of walking on first – Ana Maria Escobar, the Creative Director of Oroton Group.
By admin on June 11, 2013
Good evening everyone.
Welcome to this stunning dinner on the eve of Bespoke.
It was my pleasure, last year, to come to the reopening of the MCA and I must thank the director, Elizabeth Ann McGregor – who I have known since she very first landed in Sydney years ago – for pushing through with her vision for this glorious room and terrace
…. so thoughtful to give us all a view of where we will be tomorrow!
Welcome first to those of you from Sydney. We try not to be smug. But we know ours is the most beautiful city in the world.
Welcome, especially to the business titans, the entrepreneurs, the luxury tsars of Australia – who have been so supportive of our ambition to make Bespoke a reality.
One year and two weeks ago, there was a meeting at The Australian Financial Review in which our commercial director, Simon Smith, said “Let’s launch a luxury conference!”
Having heard that request before and bored with the notion of hiring a hotel ballroom, filling it with uncomfortable chairs and booking a few people with power points, I think I yawned and said, “Let’s not.”
But he was so keen.
“What would it take to make it work?”
“The Sydney Opera House,” I said.
Be careful what you wish for – or better still, relish what you wish for. And then when it comes true; be visionary, be bold, be Bespoke.
Many people have worked hard to get us to tonight and of course, ready for tomorrow. Brett Clegg, the publisher of The Australian Financial Review has been a tireless supporter – signing off on this wild idea to start with and – and having the guts to stick with it over the past 12 months. Thank you Brett.
This is the Sydney Opera House’s 40th anniversary year. In planning what you will witness tomorrow, I have been inspired by the Opera House’s own founding story – how a star architect called Eero Saarinen – in the 50s, the most famous architect in the world – persuaded the other judges that something brilliant, not something ordinary, should stand at Bennelong point.
At a stroke, that bold ambition ensured Sydney became a place of innovation that continues to lead the world.
An unknown designer called Jorn Utzon got a chance over far better known names – at Bespoke tomorrow, among the big names will be a few you know less – I’ll wager they might be the best ones on the stage.
A clever engineer called Ove Arup took Utzon’s design and made it possible for it to stand up. Bespoke, tomorrow, will celebrate sometimes unlikely partnerships, that brilliant alchemy when 1 + 1 does not equal 2, but instead equals infinite possibility.
Of course, many of you here know that the story of the building of the Sydney Opera House was a long one – it took 20 years – and it broke some hearts along the way. But whenever our commercial director got a little bit jumpy -and who wouldn’t – I liked to remind him that, as the Opera House budget was $7 million and it came in at $102 million – a cost over run of 1,400% – however much we overran would simply be in keeping with a UNESCO world-heritage building’s own founding story.
Simon, I’m sure that helped you sleep so well.
Thank you for keeping the faith.
Pulling Bespoke together has been a challenge – for a small but unstoppable team. I have kept in mind the mantra of one of Sydney’s great talents Baz Luhrmann – tonight, across the globe, opening his movie at Cannes.
“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”
We have tried to be fearless.
Whatever happens tomorrow – everyone – taking part has shown how gutsy they are; by being prepared to go out, live, on the wire.
Which brings me to our SPEAKERS gathered in the room.
From Australia, please welcome a designer with a vision for a cutting edge urban fashion brand; Josh Goot.
Also from Sydney, Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, who started a fashion company in their parents’ garage by the beach and now have stores in New York and Los Angeles.
From across the Tasman, Karen Walker, who has built a global brand from the edge of the fashion universe.
Taking us on across the Pacific, we come to Los Angeles, the jeans manufacturing capital of the world. There, Jeff Rudes has built the jeans behemoth that is J Brand by doing exactly what everyone else isn’t doing.
He must be getting it right; who else can boast that Kates – Moss and Middleton – wear their fashion label? Also worn by the stern editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour and racy Rihanna.
It’s an Australian trait to do exactly what you are told not to. For many years, geologists up in the rugged Kimberley searched for signs of the volcanic pipes which can transport precious diamonds from the centre of the earth.
It wasn’t looking good. Indeed, it was looking so bleak – and it was so bloody hot – that anyone else would have packed up their utes and departed. Not the Aussies who instead of digging over there, dug over – there – and Eureka, on October 2nd 1979, they hit the world’s richest source of rare pink diamonds.
Jean-Marc Lieberherr is not one of those geologists, he is however the diamond Tsar of Rio Tinto, owners of the Argyle mine and he joins us from the world diamond capital, Antwerp.
When it comes to far flung Aussie blokes – how about one living out near Uluru, one on Lord Howe Island and one living up on a vast cattle station on the Birdsville Track. The men of the Never Never – and many of you in this room, I’ll wager – are what brings Jeremy Langmead of London to Bespoke.
The leading luxury men’s e-tailer is Mr Porter. Its second biggest market – after the UK, ahead, even of the US of A – is Australia. Who knew the Aussie block was such a peacock?
Welcome Jeremy Langmead of Mr Porter.
A Eurostar trip from London to Paris, brings us to the home of a man who took a luxury candle brand dating from 1643 - a mere 137 years before Captain Cook, recorded his observations of Botany Bay by the light of ships’ tallow candles – and turned it the chicest candle label, Cire Trudon.
But Cire Trudon is history now to Ramdane Touhami who will reveal his next historical romp of derring-do from the stage tomorrow.
Elizabeth de Feydeau is the woman who knows the scents of the past. She is an expert of the aromas of Versailles and can take us back into a rich, fragrant France of time gone by. She is the queen of fragrance. From France, Elizabeth de Feydeau.
From the past to the present and to the country where every luxury brand wants to have a presence now; the mighty middle kingdom of China.
Joining us from – literally right across China – from Hong Kong and from Shanghai – are Regina Lam and Lisa Chang who will be talking about cracking the Chinese market not five years ago, not six months ago, but now.
David Briskin will be familiar to many in this room. He was one of the group that made Mimco – and made millions while they were at it – now the CEO of Sass & Bide, which is currently expanding into New York. David will be joined on the Sydney Opera House stage by two women who were once two girls with the nicknames Sass, and Bide. Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton.
Certainly the person who had the longest journey to reach Australia is Simone Cipriani. Simone, whose correct title at ITC, which is a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, is Head poor communities and trade programme, chief technical adviser ethical fashion. In my parallel life at the Ethical Fashion Initiative, I just call him Boss.
Simone is the man who connects the world’s top designers – Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney etc – to marginalised artisans across Africa and Haiti– NOT for pity purchasing charity stuff, but for great fashion accessories. Among those great designers, Sass & Bide.
Simone travelled from Burkino Faso, one of the poorest nations in the world, to be with us.
In contrast, it took Eugene Tan about 20 minutes – although it is hard to lure Yooj from the Beach. This is man has turned his love of Bondi into a business with, at least, 40,000 daily obsessives around the world. He’s the photographer behind Aquabumps, the daily fix from the beach that makes people smile , for a moment, from their desks, wherever they are. Welcome Aquabumps Eugene Tan.
You want surfing with that?
And so in this city of surf, from probably the only big business magazine in the world with a surfing correspondent,
A surfing-meets-fashion success story, the globe’s hottest surfing brand from… Broadway, Manhattan.
Morgan Collett, Josh Rosen and Colin Tunstall are Saturdays Surf NYC.
Surfing the water, surfing online – maybe the latter phrase is so old fashioned, it marks me out as clearly NOT a digital native. Good thing we welcome Imran Amed, who went to Harvard Business School, was a management consultant at McKinsey and spotted a gap in the way fashion business is reported.
The result is the fashion industry’s daily online must-read, The Business of Fashion, which creates both original material and aggregates the best fashion writing from around the world – some of it, we are proud to say, from the AFR magazine. The Business of Fashion recently received some $2.5 million in investment from the worlds of fashion, media and technology.
Two of our speakers aren’t here, because their plane is only just landing. Tomorrow we will welcome the world’s first digital supermodel, Coco Rocha, who has among the highest social media engagement online and works alongside her husband, film maker, James Conran.
Here in the room, one we will claim as Australia’s own, in that she was born in Perth, raised in Melbourne and now she lives in Mumbai where she is one of Bollywood cinema’s rising stars.
I’m delighted to welcome Pallavi Sharda.
Ana Maria Escobar and I have something in common. We are both honoured to be Australian – and yet with accents that suggest that we are not. Ana was born here, of Columbian parents, returned to South American, then returned here. The love affair we share with Sydney is deep and both of us are often amazed by this incredible city. We’ll stop a business conversation to watch a flock of lorikeets flying past the window.
Ana Maria has channelled that love into her work as the creative director of Australia’s oldest luxury brand, Oroton. She will speaking about a very special connection to the opera house tomorrow.
Two weeks ago, a bold man made a statement that he has dreams to build something to rival the Sydney Opera House.
That man is our host tonight, Crown Resorts’ Mr James Packer.
Our theme tomorrow is creative collaboration.
It is in that spirit that our presenting partner Crown Resorts has laid on a special collaboration for your delight.
Dinner tonight has been created not by ONE of Sydney’s great chefs but by TWO of Sydney’s great chefs, Neil Perry and Guillaume Brahimi.
Enjoy your evening and see you tomorrow at Bespoke.