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If you had to guess which of the world’s luxury groups would prove most nimble at staying ahead of the fashion curve, the one that started out selling lumber and building materials might not come top of the list. But Kering, which owns Gucci and a string of other fashion houses, has done exactly that. 

In his latest column, John Gapper gives three reasons for the group’s success. First, Kering takes risks — notably by appointing the extravagant Alessandro Michele as creative director at Gucci. Second, the Gucci brand has (for now, at least) won over the inconstant hearts of that most fickle tribe: the millennial buyer. Gucci’s soaring sales last year were buoyed by younger spenders. Third, being a multi-brand group gives Kering stability in a volatile market.

So it is not surprising that Kering’s rivals are mimicking its style. The challenge now is for the group to hold on to its new fans. That, John fears, will not be an easy task.

Gender wars
Edward Luce predicts that the political ‘pink wave’ of the #MeToo movement will be followed by an ‘orange backlash’ from Donald Trump and his supporters. But, he says, as both parties are pulled towards extremes, one magnifying male anger and the other female, the complexity of the average American voter is being overlooked.

Measles and mistrust
Twenty years after Andrew Wakefield sparked a public panic by publishing faulty research linking measles to autism, vaccination programmes are still recovering, says Heidi Larson. But Mr Wakefield’s article is not all to blame for vaccine refusal. From Brazil to the Philippines, a wider distrust of government and the rapid spread of false information on social media are the most worrying trends.

Dirty money
The predicament of Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui, who has been charged with embezzlement and fraud, can be read as a lesson in Chinese history, writes Jamil Anderlini. In ancient times merchants were considered parasites, at the lowest rung of the social hierarchy. These days, Beijing still views tycoons with suspicion — especially those who stray too close to politics.

Best of the rest

The rise of woke capital — Ross Douthat in The New York Times

The UK’s Brexit negotiating strategy is to drive our fellow Europeans mad — Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian

Jared Kushner has been humiliated. Will Trump now throw him under the bus? — Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post

Brexiteers, you were warned about Ireland — Alex Massie in The Spectator

The living memorial to Boris Nemstov is the most radical political statement in Russia — Masha Gessen in The New Yorker

What you’ve been saying

Underestimating the US was never a wise policy — letter from Paul Drexler

Admittedly, America has recently been scoring a rather large number of own goals. A Mexican observer, however, once noted that while America makes more mistakes than any other nation, it also corrects its mistakes faster than any other country. As someone who admires China and wishes it well, I hope its policymakers will not get carried away with the idea of American decline. Underestimating the US has not proved a wise policy for any power over the past two centuries.

Comment from Nullius on How my bitcoin frustration led to a cryptocurrency conversion

It is very complicated for a new entrant to set up a wallet and buy some Bitcoin or Ether (and thence exchange into other coins). Not only must one navigate the increasingly arduous ‘know your client’ requirements (that criminals seem to have no bother avoiding), but you then have to learn about the ins and outs of wallets, security, and how to move crypto around without falling prey to some scam there is no comeback, no one to call, no ombudsman, if you lose your money, none at all. Hopefully in the future the banks will take care of all this back-room stuff as they do with fiat today. A handful of banks offer custodianship services, as does the Coinbase exchange (for those with plenty of money). Instead of hostility, banks should be lining up to take this business.

What directors can do to prevent identity theft — letter from Lady Barbara Judge

As the chairman of Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service, I highlighted last year the results of research Cifas commissioned which clearly found that one-fifth of all victims of identity fraud are now company directors (as covered in your front-page report “Directors suffer higher risk of identity theft as hackers tap Companies House” on June 15 2017). I am delighted that the government has now taken the findings of this research, and the threat of identity fraud, seriously by introducing this long overdue change in legislation. This is a big step in the fight against the identity fraudsters. However, identity fraud hit record levels last year, and with vast amounts of information about those who run businesses easily accessible via the internet, company directors need to do all they can to separate their personal and company personas. Limit the personal information you share on social media and professional networking sites; shred all your financial documents; redirect your mail if you move home and actively check your credit file and your accounts. The quicker you spot that your details have been used fraudulently, the easier it will be to limit the damage caused.

Today’s opinion

FT View: Boko Haram’s cowardly assault on Nigerian girls Fresh abductions come four years after Chibok shocked the world

FT View: The simple logic of the Irish border after Brexit The UK should put forward its own ideas rather than complain about the EU’s plans

#MeToo, the pink wave crashing over Donald Trump The movement has two excesses the US president will be sure to exploit

Brexit: 10 observations on the draft withdrawal agreement The devils will emerge from the detail of the EU’s document

Off-piste fun lures younger skiers away from the Alpine slopes Skiing slides out of fashion with millennials while China builds its own industry

To wipe out measles, governments must regain social trust Twenty years after autism was falsely linked to vaccines, anxiety is still high

Disparaging the Good Friday Agreement threatens the UK Peace in Northern Ireland has been hard won. It cannot be taken for granted

Free Lunch: Welfare lessons from Finland Basic income and universal credit, mano a mano

Opinion today: Forever Xi China needs to beware rule by unchecked personal whim

Anbang arrest demonstrates Beijing’s hostility to business Not all tycoons are equal in China, where capitalists face enduring suspicion

FT View

FT View: Boko Haram’s cowardly assault on Nigerian girls Fresh abductions come four years after Chibok shocked the world

FT View: The simple logic of the Irish border after Brexit The UK should put forward its own ideas rather than complain about the EU’s plans

The Big Read

The Big Read: Consumer goods: big brands battle with the ‘little guys’ Large companies squeezed by innovative offerings from smaller rivals are now adopting their business models in search of higher growth

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