A FREE LOUIS VUITTON HANDBAG?

YES PLEASE!!

Well that’s my story based on a recent experience.

I had a 3 year old LV bag that was starting to show some wear and tear that wasn’t all that desirable, so I took it into a store to ask what could be done. LV sent it away and a week later I got a call saying come in and pick a new handbag… happy days! That simple (and very pleasant) experience of a brand standing behind its product has left me with nothing but good things to say, and I am now “brand loyal” .

I have invested in the LV brand and that emotional tie is why other brands such as Apple, have such loyalty.

Luxury brands that have successfully engaged with customers and have a “cult” following are (based on numerous brand studies):
- BMW who consistently is the chosen number luxury car brand around the world
- Tiffany for jewelry
- Louis Vuitton for fashion
- Rolex for watches

And now not everyone needs to go into a store to ‘feel the love’. Consumers are more than happy to shop for luxury via the internet with 80% of luxury brands having e-commerce facilities (and gaining the highest traffic to their sites versus the 20% who don’t)

What sites are people purchasing from? Ralph Lauren commands 39.2% of traffic (out of 42 luxury brand sites names by PM Digital) followed by LouisVuitton.com (11.8%) and Gucci.com (10.9%).

I said a few months ago in a post and I will say it again… caveat emptor (buyer beware). Check which sites you are purchasing from as most are fakes. 839 websites in the USA alone have been closed down for selling replica merchandise. 80% of Hermes-branded goods sold on the Internet are not real. So if that handbag price is too good to be true, its fake!

‘TIL DEATH DO US STYLE

Where has our sense of style and poise gone people? The days of making an effort to look nice to go out for dinner or to a friend’s party. We have all become lazy and default to jeans and t-shirts… the highlight may be taking off your flip flops and putting on a pair of shoes if you are a guy, and high heels if you are a girl.

The current new group of celebs coming through are not helping – after all Justin Beiber is always seen wearing tracksuits that look like P Diddy’s hand me downs, and Kristen Stewart wears converse high tops to red carpet affairs.

So what are the golden rules of being suitably dressed for a function?

1. At no point in your lifetime is it ok to wear jeans to a wedding
2. Guys – never wear a singlet unless you are 70 and it is under a shirt or you are on a sporting field
3. Black Tie means formal attire. Men wear tuxedos, women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
4. Formal means the same as black tie, but men sometimes wear a long tie instead.
5. Cocktail is an elegant dress for a woman (LBD) and a dark suit for a man. Informal is actually the same as cocktail (so don’t assume it means casual).
6. Business casual think country club
7. Casual – the only time jeans are acceptable.
8. You can’t buy taste, so stick to simple.

And if in doubt, dress up, not down.

VIVE LA LUXURY!

Booking a shopping holiday but not sure where the best value is to buy those luxury goods? Look no further than the home of that famous bike race, cheese, champagne and Louis Vuitton.

France is the most popular international travel destination for tax-free shopping, followed by Singapore, Germany, England and Italy.

The Chinese millionaire accounts for the largest proportion of consumption spent on tax-free shopping across the globe, making up about a quarter of Chinese global consumption.

In Singapore Chinese tourists spend an average of $10,481 on luxury watches and jewelry. And a single Chinese tourist can buy up to 20 branded bags at one shop based on a shopping list of requests from people back home.

Russian & Chinese tourists account for almost 40% of global tax-free spend, followed by Japanese and Indonesians.

And remember it can be worth putting in that tax form at the airport, saving you up to 19% of your purchases which can add up to a lot when you are buying a Louis Vuitton luggage set!

SMART ART

Last week two new pieces of artwork arrived that I had ordered to hang in my office at home (and they look absolutely amazing!). Not wanting to break the bank, but still wanting something unique, I went with some customized art. I know you are probably thinking of those awful pop art prints that hung everywhere at one time, or a massive black and white family shot that has been blown up on to a canvas… you can relax, my taste is a tad more sophisticated. I went with two specific items – and not only are they great for home, but can add a unique feel to an office.

1. A customized map which is available in any colour, size, pattern you like. It comes with pins so you can track any location around the world and you can print whatever wording you like on it too (mine is pictured above).
Perfect for –
a) Remembering family holidays
b) As a gift (especially a wedding present)
c) Business – hang it in reception or a meeting room so you can show office locations around the world

2. A “Favourite Things”. All of your cherished things – quotes, holiday locations, people, movies, experiences, dates, food, values – all on one canvas and the list is endless. Every house should have one. And again completely tailored and available in any colour and size.
Perfect for –
a) Children’s rooms
b) Gifts
c) Business – Company values, office locations, customer lists… whatever your style.

Best place to source this from? After a lot of research from all over the globe, I found one supplier who provides not only a high quality finished product, but has the artistic prowess to design something special for each individual.

Check out the BLANK website to see for yourself – http://www.blankbespokeart.com/Gallery

The best thing… the customized art starts from only USD$425 and they can be shipped anywhere in the world!

SHOES CAN SAVE YOUR JOB!

Can you dress to save your job? Apparently so according to some experts. And before you say it, this does not mean low cut tops and mini-skirts for females!

The key to being retrenchment proof is looking the part all the time. Staying modern and relevant is key. This simply means updating your wardrobe with a few new pieces each season and guys not wearing the 1980’s cartoon character ties, and ladies avoiding that big shoulder-padded shirt or jacket (despite trying, they still have not been made fashionable again)

For men – a well cut suit, trousers or shirt; clean shaven and a decent haircut (not a number 3 all over!). Grey hair works to your advantage too. Wearing a tie that is too short is not a good thing!

Women – not too much make-up; nicely cut dress, trousers or skirt and heels. Grey hair or bad hair roots are not a favourite with employers, and flat ballet shoes or sandals should be saved for the weekend.

You can still show your personality through dressing, but do it in a more subtle way – shoes, socks, belt, a piece of jewelry all work.

A few basic things that can get you on your way –
1. Grooming costs very little, there are no excuses!
2. Don’t go too heavy on the aftershave or perfume
3. Dryclean your suits and iron your clothes (rule 101 people!)
4. Invest in a few pairs of good shoes
5. look at how your CEO dresses and take the cue from there

And remember… perception is everything!

WWW.SHOP

I consider myself an experienced online shopper, buying about 80% of all my clothes and shoes over the internet from stores across the world. And it seems I am not alone…

Global web retail sales are set to hit $1 trillion by 2013, growing at 19.4% a year. And Asia is the growth market – it will overtake Europe this year in online sales with growth of 27.5% to become the world’s leading online shopping region.

Amazon and eBay are still the most popular global shopping sites (282 and 224 million visitors a month), and China’s Alibaba is next, followed by Apple and Japan’s Rakuten.

No longer are you limited by shipping either, as “buy for you” and “ship for you” services make it possible to buy from anywhere. My favourite shopping sites:

www.shopbop.com
www.netaporter.com
www.theoutnet.com
www.mrporter.com (for the guys)
www.yoox.com
www.shopstyle.com (to source it all)

But if you aren’t an online shopper and prefer to put your money elsewhere consider online stocks. In 2010, the Online Retail Index performed at 36% while the S&P 500 was 12.8% and the Dow Jones Industrial 11%.

Sources: Forrester, Goldman Sachs

DON’T FAKE IT

Decided you might treat yourself on your latest business trip and thought that Gucci bag was a bargain at $200… think again.

Counterfeit goods production has risen by over 10,000 percent during the past two decades, partially as a result of existing consumer demand. Fake product sales are now at USD$600 billion worldwide and make up 7 percent of all products traded around the world. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that this figure will double by 2015.

Luxury goods, such as fake Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, footwear and clothing, represent only approximately 4% of the industry. The other 96 percent is made up of pharmaceuticals, auto parts, airplane parts, electrical cords, toys, software, hardware, CDs, DVDs, books, baby formula, alcohol, toothpaste and even eggs!

The World Health Organization, has estimated that 10 percent of all medications worldwide are fake, with sales amounting to approximately $320 billion. And many of these medications are now being made in the UK, not just India or Asia.

In the UK alone over 800 million pounds of fake DVD’s are sold each year
In the Ukraine 90% of all computer software used is fake

So if it’s too good to be true… then it’s usually fake!