“LVFW”: Las Vegas Fashion Week. The caption on Lewis Hamilton’s Instagram post — featuring the veteran driver and style star decked out in looks by Versace, Valentino, Bottega Veneta and Burberry during Formula One’s inaugural Grand Prix in the American gambling and entertainment capital — said it all.
The blockbuster race, which took place last weekend, saw the fashion industry launch itself full-throttle into the world of Formula One, with a flurry of partnership announcements, product launches and events.
French team Alpine unveiled a three-way apparel “collab” with streetwear brand Palace and its official apparel partner Kappa (the football brand owned by Italian licensor BasicNet). Japanese designer label Sacai launched a capsule collection with German carmaker Mercedes-AMG, while sportswear giant Puma flexed its new F1 deal by revealing the first products from a partnership with the league and rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been named creative director of the collaboration.
Did the event live up to the hype? Early stumbling blocks included underwhelming ticket sales (many felt the event aimed too high with its prices), concern over frigid desert temperatures at night (risking perilous driving conditions and uncomfortable viewing), and early discontent from event-goers, who filed a class-action lawsuit against organisers for failing to refund tickets to a cancelled practice.
Still, the race — won by Dutch champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing — turned out to be a thrilling contest, attracting an average TV audience of 1.3 million viewers in the US, according to ESPN. The event also drew 300,000 fans in person including a VIP guestlist that most sporting events could only dream of, including David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Rihanna.
The Grand Prix came to Las Vegas for the first time as fashion brands invest unprecedented sums to embed themselves at the intersection of sports, entertainment and pop culture. Labels well beyond sports marketing stalwarts like Nike and Adidas, from luxury houses to fast-fashion retailers, increasingly see sports as key to reaching a young and diverse consumer audience. This has led to a boom in the sports-sponsorship market, which is expected to grow from $63.1 billion in 2021 to $109.1 billion by 2030, according to PwC.
But with so much excitement on and off the track, it was tricky for brands to cut through the noise and make an impact.
Louis Vuitton pulled ahead of luxury rivals by being the first of the weekend to dress Hamilton, the league’s seven-time champion, who wore a black knitted vest with pearl buttons signed by new creative director Pharrell Williams for his arrival at the racetrack for the first practice session. With brands clamouring to dress Hamilton for each appearance at every race, it felt like a coup for Vuitton to get there first.
But ultimately it was the brands who dressed Hamilton in extravagant ensembles later in the race weekend who reaped the most attention: His Burberry, Bottega Veneta and Valentino looks each garnered media impressions valued between $780,000 and $830,000 according to consultancy Launchmetrics, roughly 10 times the estimated value of Vuitton’s look for the driver.
British streetwear label Palace also won big on its Vegas gamble. Limited-edition jackets — with its famous triangle logo stretched across the back — designed for the Alpine F1 team with Kappa were worn by fans across the racetrack throughout the weekend and stood out among the typical F1 merch assortments. Palace also placed its logo on the team’s cars on the racetrack as part of the collaboration, which garnered $1.2 million worth of media impact, according to Launchmetrics.
The biggest winner, however, was likely Puma. On the evening of 17 November, motorbikes roared through the streets clearing the way for a black truck where A$AP Rocky was filmed leaning out the window, waving at screaming fans dressed head-to-toe in products from his inaugural collection for the Puma-F1 tie-up. Rihanna — Rocky’s partner and fellow Puma collaborator — joined soon after, sending the crowd into a further frenzy.
The products also hit the mark. Puma dropped items including neon gloves with a spider-web motif, a tattered balaclava, and distressed baseball cap — a considerable departure from the logo-heavy replica jerseys which make up the bulk of F1′s merch offering.
The brand feted the launch at a petrol station on the outskirts of town, with pieces from the collection up for grabs amid customisation pumps, backdropped by neon signs celebrating the collaboration. Despite all the fanfare on the Las Vegas Strip, Puma’s less-central event showed how a mixture of star power, design and a unique pop-up can pull consumers’ attention, securing a spot in the narrative at one of the most hotly-anticipated sporting events in recent history.
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
FASHION, BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY
Louis Vuitton is set to stage its first ever fashion show in Hong Kong. The show was planned in partnership with the billionaire Cheng family and will debut Pharrell Williams’ second collection for the brand on Nov. 30.
Nordstrom revenue sags as inflation turns holiday shoppers picky. The company’s eponymous label recorded a 9.4 percent drop in sales while discount banner Rack declined only 1.8 percent. Shares of the upmarket department store chain fell nearly 1 percent in volatile after-market trading.
Designer Nancy Gonzalez pled guilty to smuggling exotic-skin designer handbags. The designer was charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of smuggling handbags made from python and caiman skins between February 2016 and April 2019 into the US. She is facing up 20 years in prison, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Moncler and EssilorLuxottica announced a licensing agreement. The agreement, which goes into effect January 2024, will allow EssilorLuxottica to design, produce and globally distribute Moncler eyewear. The agreement will be in effect until December 2028 with an option to renew the partnership for an additional five years.
Amazon’s logistics workers in Spain plan Cyber Monday walk-outs. The Spanish union CCOO called on 20,000 warehouse workers to stage a one-hour strike on each shift on Nov. 27. Logistics workers on both sides of the Atlantic have complained about working conditions and unionisation is starting to build pressure on the company.
Kohl’s sales miss estimates as shoppers trim spending on non-essential items. The retailer’s shares dropped more than 4 percent and its comparable sales decreased for a seventh-straight quarter. The company reported a profit of 53 cents per share in the third quarter.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending is projected to hit a new high. Consumers plan to spend an average of $567 during Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events, up 13 percent from last year. About 84 percent of shoppers plan to stay within budget limits during the economic downturn and will do most of their shopping during this period.
Abercrombie & Fitch lifted its annual sales forecast after an upbeat quarter. The move sends a signal that there is strong demand for its lifestyle brands heading into the crucial holiday shopping season. Net sales at Abercrombie namesake brand soared 30 percent in the quarter ended Oct. 28.
American Eagle raised its annual revenue on strong holiday-season demand. The company now expects annual revenue to be up mid single digits, compared with its prior forecast of a rise in low single digits. Analysts on average had expected revenue to grow 2.61 percent, according to LSEG data.
Billionaire separation erases $180 million at Raymond Ltd. The company, which is the world’s largest producer of suit fabric, fell for the seventh day as the acrimonious separation between its chairman Gautam Singhania and his wife Nawaz Singhania sparked uncertainty among investors.
Waste from Adidas, Walmart and other brands is fuelling Cambodia brick kilns. The factories were burning garment waste to save on fuel costs. Workers are falling ill, especially pregnant workers, who reported the burning of garment waste is causing headaches and respiratory problems.
Renewcell launched a strategic review to explore fresh funding options. The company has been under pressure since October, when a weaker-than-expected sales update sent its share price plummeting and prompted the abrupt replacement of its CEO.
THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY
Bankrupt male-focused skincare brand Disco shuttered. Founded in 2019, the label raised over $8 million in funding. By 2022, access to capital dried up, as interest rates began to rise and investors began to shift focus onto profitable brands. The label filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Nov. 16.
Antoine Arnault relinquished his role as CEO at Berluti. The move has triggered an executive shuffle in LVMH’s watches and jewellery unit. Chaumet chief executive Jean-Marc Mansvelt will succeed Arnault at the French menswear brand, while Fred chief executive Charles Leung will succeed Mansvelt at Chaumet.
Amandine Ohayon named CEO of Stella McCartney. She will succeed Gabriele Maggio, who is exiting the business next month “to pursue other opportunities,” the company said.
Terry Richardson accused of sexual assault in new lawsuit. Model Minerva Portillo alleged she was abused by the photographer after concerns she raised were dismissed by her agents at Trump Model Management.
MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
Temu and Shein lag behind Amazon as online shopping ramps up. The e-tailers are drawing millions of window shoppers to their websites this holiday season but are having trouble turning the visitors into shoppers. Amazon trounces both online retailers with 56 percent of its 268 million unique monthly visits in October resulting in purchases, its data shows.
Compiled by Yola Mzizi and Darcey Sergison.