STATUS SYMBOLS

Gone are the days of the 1950’s when the most prized status symbol was a toaster and foam sofa, and in the 1960’s a washing machine. Today it’s all about houses around the world, haute couture clothes, cars, art, wine, private jets, yachts and even a trophy wife.

But not in Britain where Hot Tubs are the new status symbol there!

In a survey released today hot tubs are thought of as the greatest status symbol followed by a walk-in wardrobe, US style Sub Zero fridge and music speakers in every room. It looks like everyone will be popping the champagne and getting into their swim suit post Olympics.

Other newer items that have hit status symbol prestige are –

Specialty bikes (as in the peddling type). Retailers of custom bikes command only 14 percent of the market, but 44 percent of the dollars and it’s nothing for someone to spend $30,000 on one that isn’t even made to race.

If cycling isn’t your thing, how about an elite fragrance? A fragrance that is designed from your DNA Genetic code and customized individually.

If you are all about animals a Chinese buyer recently paid $200,000 for a racing pigeon, while another paid $1.5 million for an 11-month old red Tibetan mastiff dog named Big Splash (the world’s most expensive dog)

But if you are old school and still like splurging on a car, in Singapore you can now park your pride and joy in your living room at this new apartment block (apartments go for between $7.5mill and $24mill)

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/luxury-car-in-condo-apartment-at-scotts-road.html

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!

FUNKY LUNCH

Dean & Deluca opened in Singapore this week, which is very exciting. I am secretly loving all these fabulous new retailers and cafes/restaurants that have branched out to Asia, especially Singapore. It can be hard to find a favourite lunch spot that is consistent and of course delivers on service and a good coffee.

So in 2012, what are the options for a good work lunch that is – fast, reasonably priced, good quality and has a “cool factor” or buzz from the café/outlet. Here are a few that may be of interest when you are next in that city.

Dean & Deluca
Singapore, New York, Tokyo, Dubai, Bangkok (I know there are more)
The Dean & Deluca NYC Soho flagship store is great for a fast work lunch as the choice of food is varied and high quality, and while not as big, Singapore ticks the boxes too (even a cheeky glass of wine is an option).

Wholefoods
Stores all across the USA and Canada. Love the one in Seattle and it’s spot a celebrity in the Malibu location. Has now opened locations in the UK too.
LOVE the range of salads, soups… you name it (I actually feel overwhelmed in them sometimes). If you can’t find something to eat in here you aren’t looking hard enough. And of course it is all pretty fresh and healthy. Fingers crossed they come to Asia soon.

Selfridges
London
One of my all-time favourite food halls. Perfect for a Friday lunchtime treat of oysters and a glass of champagne and you can still be back in the office in under an hour.

Hardware Lane
Melboure
Basically you are spoilt for choice in this funky laneway in the city that is full of individual cafes. Try Hardware Societe for a pre-work breakfast or lunch.

Wagamama
UK, Europe, Middle East, USA, Australia, New Zealand
If you are craving Asian food that is stock standard, then this is perfect. While you won’t get a very authentic experience the food is still good and served fast.

If all else fails and you are stuck at your desk, you can always go old school and pack a sandwich and piece of fruit from home!

Where is your favourite lunch place during the working week?

TOYS FOR DUMMIES

I bought a new toy last night, and can’t wait to really see what it can do. What did I buy? A new ultra-light laptop (such a geek!)

After doing countless research I landed on one and found out it was only available for sale this week… so my timing was perfect.

Working in IT means I have half an idea of what I am buying, but I realized most people don’t really know what to look for and what all the terminology actually means.

So here goes I am “dumbing it down”…
a WTF does that mean when buying a laptop!

Going Fast.
This is the processor which determines how fast things boot up and load. Intel’s Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs are excellent for most users, and if you really want to step it up go for a quad-core Core i7 processor

Pretty Pictures.
Graphics – how well everything looks on the screen (including You Tube videos). ATI or nVidia are usually the best, but built in Intel Core i5/i7 CPUs are fine too.

Remember.
This is the memory that drives everything. Go with a minimum of 4GB, but as always – take more if you can get it. To make this memory go even faster choose DDR3 (Tip – the higher the number eg 800HMz versus 1066MHz, the better)

Watch.
This is the size of screen and resolution/quality, backlighting, and surface. Look for things like LED backlit displays (saves energy and battery), an antiglare or matt surface (my preference), and a higher resolution screen is usually the choice of most people.

Space.
This is the storage where you will keep photos, applications, music etc. Normally the HDD won’t be above 256GB (great if you can get it), standard is more likely 128GB. Another factor is a SSD (solid-state drive) versus a standard hard drive. SSDs tend to cost a lot more, but take up far less space, are more power efficient, faster and more durable.

So what did I buy? A Samsung second generation series 9 15” – bigger screen, thinner and lighter than the Mac Air!!

Now I am off to buy a new laptop bag to match.

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)