Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sydney: Finally relevant to someone

jayson brunsdon SS0809 show, may 2/getty

Those with WWD subscriptions may have already seen my Letter From Sydney on Thursday. Letters From… is a running series that is distinct from WWD’s regular global fashion news coverage in that the reports focus specifically on the cities themselves, looking at growth, real estate, vital stats and of course fashion developments. Here are some interview outtakes from a couple of key local players which did not make it into the story due to space restrictions.

Philip Corne, CEO Oceania, Louis Vuitton (the world’s biggest luxury brand)

On the Australian LV customer:

“I think the Australian consumer sits somewhere for me between London and New York. In terms of the way they shop. We’re part of Asia geographically, but I think shopping in Asia is a recreational activity, whereas in Australia it’s not quite the same. We shop with a purpose I would say, if I could put it that way”.

On where to take the guys from head office when they’re in town:

“The thing that we find impresses, and you can kind of roll a lot of things about Sydney into one, is those great restaurants around the harbour. And we find somewhere like Guilluame at Bennelong or Quay restaurant, if you’re there and you’re looking out over the harbour and you’re experiencing that level of service, that level of food and that level of wine….. For the French, who love their food and wine, to be able to do that and look out over Sydney Harbour, they’re gobsmacked”.

On the long haul factor:

“The day they [jets] get faster I think will be the day that travel to Australia will change dramatically. [It needs to be] Twice as fast. I think that the Americans can handle going to Europe and the Europeans can handle going to America, but it’s once you start to get into 24 hours they go, ‘You’ve got to be joking’. For me I just turn my brain into solid neutral and try not to think about anything, because it’s too hard”.

Robert Jordan, managing director Australia and New Zealand, Westfield Group (the world’s largest listed real estate property group by market equity capitalisation)

On the city of Sydney – and Australian retail culture:

“I think it’s naturally one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But as a retail location, I think the Australian culture of being fashion-conscious, being casual, being free, all leads to an interesting environment for retail, because I believe it’s a fairly open environment to that”.

On the difference between Australian and US malls:

“I think that Sydney and Australia is quite a competitive environment to be in. I think we also have land blocks that aren’t large, that are quite small, that we need to deal with. I think we have been quite entrepreneurial and inventive in being able to cope with a number of issues. It’s different to the US, which is the home of shopping centres, which traditionally have had very large blocks of land available, at intersections to freeways… We’ve had to deal with town centres. We have small blocks of land, have to develop on multi levels, we have to work out how they work. I think our centres are more vibrant. They actually attract a number of different disciplines, from food, fashion, homewares… Whereas a lot of the other countries have just been focussing on fashion, we’ve been focussing on a true town centre”.

On Westfield Group’s Oz roots:

“Australia has always been our base from which we’ve grown and it’s also probably our origins and where our intellectual knowledge has actually come from. Australia really is the breeding ground for what we do around the world. And if you look at [new A$600million CBD development] Sydney City for instance, it’s probably the culmination of many years work, which started at Bondi [Junction]…. I think a lot of people were surprised at what we could do [at WBJ]. We were regional mall developers and we actually challenged ourselves to reinvent ourselves”.

And of course, who could forget the inimitable response from the Sydney Chamber of Commerce communications director Nick Davy, following my request for an interview (for in fact this story) with the Chamber’s executive director Patricia Forsythe:

“this is..... just not relevant".


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