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

NAILED!

Getting your nails done is not a new thing. After all, artificial nails were worn during the Ming Dynasty in China. During the 19th century in Greece many upper-class women wore empty pistachio shells over their nails, spreading the artificial nail trend across Europe.

Women (and yes, men too) are very partial to a mani/pedi or opting for gel or acrylic nails. In the UK alone nail polish sales have doubled in the last 5 years which is a serious threat to everyone’s favourite cosmetic… lipstick.

Some information to dazzle your nail technician with on your next visit:

- Nails are actually the same as hair, both are made of the same protein, keratin.
- For a finger nail to regrow completely it takes 4 to 6 months, and a toe nail is 12 to 18 months.
- Men’s nails grow faster than women’s nails.
- Toe nails are about twice thicker than finger nails.
- The fastest growing nail is on the middle finger. The slowest, is the thumbnail.
- Nails grow faster in warm climates and during daytime, than in cold climates and at night.

Now… what colour to buy? The best-selling colours over the past 12 months were:

OPI Black Shatter Coat
Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Quartz
Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips in Wild Child (stick ons)
Dior Vernis in Gris Montaigne
Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers

PS I have to give a plug for the most talented nail technicians and my fav salon in the world… Bellissima in Singapore (www.bellissimanails.com)

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!

MUST HAVE MONDAY – Run to Me


I love my Nike Free running shoes (and no, I don’t get paid to mention them) so when I found out you can personalize them I was even more excited. Gone are the days when you have to pay an artist located in Tribeca a year’s wage to get a pair of custom painted sneakers – now it costs you about $20 extra to come up with your design and all from the comfort of home. A ‘must have” for anyone who wears sneakers for exercise or pleasure.

NikePick materials, colours and even have a one-on-one design session with a consultant for you or a group thanks to NIKEiD studio. http://nikeid.nike.com/nikeid/index.jsp#home

ConverseThe Converse MAKE project is pretty irresistible. And they have some funky kids options. http://www.converse.com/#/products/shoes/converseOne/scratch/all

Not satisfied? New Balance and Reebok have also joined in to offer online design services.

And ever wondered what happened to one of the original “design sneakers”… LA Gear! Introduced in 1992 the immortal L.A. Lights, was the shoe line from L.A. Gear that featured red LED bulbs in the heels that blinked every time you took a step. Alongside Reebok’s Pump series, the wildly popular sneakers dominated the shoe scene in the early ’90s with athlete endorsers such as Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep the company going and they filed for bankruptcy in 1998. LA Gear has since eased its way back into the market, and re-released the classic L.A. Lights hoping to take piece of the retro market.