Is China in Big Trouble? – DO I KNOW YOU? – “We should find again our respect for nature and the fact that we are part of everything surrounding us,” says Eicca Toppinen – Victoria Beckham on Her ’90s Style: “If I Dressed Like That Now, I’d Be Locked Away By the Fashion Police”

Today’s edition of the TextileFuture Newsletter offers you again three items and of different ideas.

The first one analyses the situation of China’s economy and is an opinion written by Paul Krugman from the New York Times.

The second one is the story of a Finnish cellist and is offering some interesting aspects of his life.

The third feature is an interview with “Victoria Beckham on Her ’90s Style: “If I Dressed Like That Now, I’d Be Locked Away By the Fashion Police” and gives you insights into her life between fashion and family.

We at TextileFuture hope that you do enjoy all readings.

Here is the first item starting:

Is China in Big Trouble?

By guest author Paul Krugman from the New York Times. He has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography.

Caption and graphics courtesy by the New York Times

These are scary times in America, with one of our major parties careening into authoritarianism and the other having difficulty moving forward thanks to two uncooperative senators. Most of what I write, inevitably, focuses on the troubled prospects for our republic. But everyone needs a break. So today I want to talk about a happier topic: The risks of an economic crisis in China.

OK, not exactly happier. But a change in subject, anyway.

Warnings about the Chinese economy aren’t new — but until now the worriers, myself included, have been consistently wrong. Back in 2013 I suggested that China’s growth model was becoming unsustainable, and that its economy might be about to hit a Great Wall; obviously that didn’t happen.

Yet the more closely you look at how China has been able to keep its economy going, the more problematic it looks. Basically, China has masked underlying imbalances by creating an immense housing bubble. And it’s hard to see how this ends well.

The background: The reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping at the end of the 1970s created an economic miracle. China, which was desperately poor, is now a middle-income nation, and given its size, that makes it an economic superpower. But China’s economic growth has been gradually slowing. Here’s a five-year moving average of the country’s growth rate:

There’s nothing mysterious about this slowdown. China was able to achieve incredibly rapid growth through a combination of technological borrowing from more advanced nations and a huge transfer of population from rural areas to cities. As its technological sophistication grew and the reservoir of rural labor shrank, growth was bound to slow. In addition, the one-child policy gave China the kind of demography we usually associate with richer countries: The working-age population peaked a few years ago and is now shrinking:

In and of themselves, slower growth and a demographic transition needn’t imply a crisis. But here’s the problem: Chinese spending patterns haven’t adjusted to the needs of a slower-growth economy. In particular, the country still has a very high savings rate, so to maintain full employment it needs to invest an incredibly high share of G.D.P. — more than 40 percent.

What drives investment? Normally, it depends a lot on how fast the economy is growing: growth is what creates a demand for new factories, office buildings, shopping malls and so on. So very high investment as a share of G.D.P. is sustainable if the economy is growing at 9 or 10 percent a year. If growth drops to 3 or 4 percent, however, the returns on investment drop. That’s why China really needs to change its economic mix — to save less and consume more.

But Chinese savings have stayed stubbornly high — and yes, excessive saving is an economic problem.

A few years ago a study from the International Monetary Fund tried to explain high Chinese savings. It suggested that the biggest culprit was the same demographic transition that is one cause of slowing growth: A declining birthrate means that Chinese adults can’t expect their children to support them later in life, so they save a lot to prepare for retirement. This demographic factor is reinforced by the weakness of China’s social safety net: People can’t count on the government to support them in their later years or to pay for health care, so they feel the need to accumulate assets as a precaution.

Chinese policymakers know all this, but somehow haven’t been able to deal with these underlying issues. Instead, they’ve kept the rate of investment very high despite slowing growth — mainly by encouraging huge spending on housing construction. A 2020 paper by Kenneth Rogoff and Yuanchen Yang shows that Chinese investment in real estate now greatly exceeds U.S. levels at the height of the 2000s housing bubble, both in dollar terms and as a share of G.D.P.:

Rogoff and Yang also show both that housing prices in China are extremely high relative to incomes and that the real estate sector has become an incredibly large share of China’s economy.

None of this looks sustainable, which is why many observers worry that the debt problems of the giant property developer Evergrande are just the leading edge of a broader economic crisis.

I’ve already pointed out that until now China has been able to defy the doomsayers. So you might be tempted to give Chinese policymakers the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they’ll manage to deal with this situation. It turns out, however, that they haven’t really been dealing with their economy’s underlying problems, they’ve been masking those problems by creating a housing bubble that will ultimately magnify the problem.

But why should the rest of the world care? China, which maintains controls on the flow of capital into and out of the country, isn’t deeply integrated with world financial markets. So the fall of Evergrande isn’t likely to provoke a global financial crisis in the same way that the fall of Lehman Brothers did in 2008. A Chinese slowdown would have some economic spillover via reduced Chinese demand, especially for raw materials. But in purely economic terms, the global economic risks from China’s problems don’t look all that large.

China does, however, have an autocratic government — the kind of government that in other times and places has tended to respond to internal problems by looking for an external enemy. And China is also a superpower. It’s not hard to tell scary stories about where all this might lead.

And with that, I return you to your regular worries about what’s going on in the United States.

The second item begins here:

DO I KNOW YOU? – “We should find again our respect for nature and the fact that we are part of everything surrounding us,” says Eicca Toppinen

Eicca Toppinen, a Finnish cellist and co-founder of Apocalyptica, is a perfect embodiment of the cutting-edge Finnish heavy metal scene.

By guest author Tuomas Koivisto from Good News Finland

Even Barack Obama knows it, Finland is the Capital of Metal. The country has more metal bands per capita than any other. It has also been claimed that Finland is the only country in the world where metal is considered mainstream music. What underlines the country’s position at the centre of the worldwide heavy metal community is that lots of foreigners have studied Finnish to capture not only the tone, but also the atmosphere, the sounds and the smells of hard-working heavy metal bands.

This thriving heavy metal scene keeps endlessly producing respected works of art. Nightwish’s Hvman.:II: Natvre was released in 2020, while Tarja Turunen published her latest recording, In the Raw, in 2019, to mention some. Alongside of these, Apocalyptica started the year 2020 by delivering a new album for fans who have waited a follow-up to 2015’s Shadowmaker.

One of the mainstay names in the Finnish heavy metal scene is Eicca Toppinen, a classically trained cellist who formed the quartet Apocalyptica together with three other cellist friends back in 1993. Toppinen is a character whose look is a textbook example of a heavy metal icon, with long hair and all-black apparel. However, appearances can be misleading. Toppinen is also known as a producer and a songwriter, who has composed the opera Indigo for the Finnish National Opera together with his band mate Perttu Kivilaakso.

It is fair to say that Toppinen and Apocalyptica, described as a symphonic or neoclassical metal band, have never shied away from trying new things. Since the first album released some 25 years ago, the band has added many new elements to its music, such as moving beyond the novelty of being a cello-only cover band playing Metallica by writing original material and adding drums, vocals and choirs. Now, with its latest release, the multi-platinum band manages to go back to its roots with much inspiration without sounding old-fashioned but rather timeless.

What’s your unmissable breakfast item?

I can easily miss breakfast on tour, but, when I am home where I can decide what to eat, I eat berries, natural yogurt and crushed linseeds. And have café latte.

Why did you become a cellist?

I started to play when I was nine. I never thought that playing could become my profession until I got into the Sibelius Academy at the age of 17. There I realised I might have the skills to become a professional, but I still didn’t think about what it meant, I just enjoyed playing.Apocalyptica has released nine albums already. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

Apocalyptica has released nine albums already. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

It has evolved in soooo many ways… In the beginning, we were just bunch of friends who played cello but also loved metal music. After our second album, we started to feel more like a band and it was time to start to find our own musical identity, and writing our own music was the key to that. Therefore our third album, Cult, was a very important turning point. And since we started to write our own music, we started to add elements like drums and vocals to our music as well. So, our nine studio albums are very different from each other because it has been very important for us to always try new approaches and ways to make music, to challenge ourselves and to get inspired by something new and exciting.Released in 2020, your latest album is called Cell-0. How was the production process this time?

Released in 2020, your latest album is called Cell-0. How was the production process this time?

The process of making Cell-0 was very interesting for us. We were on our 20th anniversary tour playing thePlays Metallica By Four Cellos concept for almost three years. The concept was fully instrumental and we brought it into 230 concert halls around the world. To us, it really meant going back to our roots – how we originally started this band. This made us dive into the original core of Apocalyptica, but, with the experience we have gained over these years, also made us to think of our musical roots with our own compositions as we made the album Cult. Therefore we decided to make a fully instrumental album and to work without arecord label or producer. We locked ourselves into a studio with one recording engineer with us and began the search of the core soul of our musical selves. We wanted to be totally free of any expectations and outer influences. Although the core of the compositions was already taking shape when we stepped into the studio, the album was pretty much built in the studio. We made the production, sounds and all the arrangements during the recording and built up the songs the best way we could.

The new album comes with a strong message. Where did the environmental themes originate from?

I think that, in general, writing music or doing any kind of art is filtering your experiences and what you see, feel and think through your own personality. We all have had a very strong connection to nature, and during the recording process it started to become one of the main themes of the album. How we should find again our respect for nature and the fact that we are part of everything surrounding us – the nature, animals, other people. The greediness and carelessness of today’s people is a growing disease we all should work on to cure. This could be done by raising environmental awareness, helping people to use their very capable brains to start to make a difference for the future. With this album, we are not trying to tell anyone what to think but to give a good platform to let your mind fly and feel and raise its own thoughts. I guess every listener will experience this very colourful and emotionally strong album in their own unique way.

Let’s change tack for a moment to talk about some more personal questions. What is your own relation with nature?

I have always had a very strong connection to nature, and I need to feel that I am part of it. This helps me to stay sane and understand how small I am in the bigger picture. I feel big respect towards nature, and, for me, nature’s creations beat human creations with flying colours. I love spending time at the sea or in a forest and just follow how the weather is changing. There is so much happening when you just stop what you are doing and observe your surroundings. Nature is almost never boring.

Eicca is a true nature enthusiast and has always encouraged people to care for the environment, also through his music. Image: Facebook / Eicca Toppinen

What makes you lose track of time?

Whatever, I guess, as I am constantly losing track of time. I can’t remember which day it is and, many times, what the time is. Sometimes this happens because I am concentrating so much on something – it can be basically whatever: work, conversation, etc. And sometimes I lose track of time because I am not concentrating at all. Usually, I am late because of this.

Which media and/or social media do you follow?

I use Facebook very randomly, mainly checking and posting stuff between my friends. I know everybody on my friend list personally. I also have a public profile, but it follows my Instagram, which I mostly use. I never got into Twitter, even though I also have an account on Snapchat.

What do you like to do most when not playing cello?

Multiple things. As mentioned, nature is important for me. I spend my time either gardening, doing forestry work, boating or running in the forest. In addition, I like cooking and hanging out with friends and family and, of course, sauna. That’s one of my huge passions.

According to Eicca, Apocalyptica is all about creating something unique, original and fresh with an attitude of no fear. Image: Matěj Třasák, Facebook / Apocalyptica

What band best represents Finnishness?

Many bands do, but I would say we represent it very well. We have the combination of a raw and beautiful sound, an attitude of no fear and a mission to create something unique, original and fresh.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced professionally?

It is hard to say. My career has been full of challenges that have felt impossible at first glance, so it is not possible to name one. In general, the biggest challenge is to avoid getting cynical and negative, as the music business can also be full of shit and things that are not real or good for you.

Who is your hero?

I don’t really have heroes I could name. I think anyone who is living his/her life truthfully, with passion, ambition and vision, while respecting other people and nature, can be my hero.

In his spare time, Eicca enjoys gardening, boating, jogging, cooking, hanging out with his loved ones and, what’s typical of all Finns, going to sauna. Image: Facebook / Eicca Toppinen

If Finland was a flavour, what would it be?

Havunneula. Whatever that is in English. [Coniferous needle]

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I never think so far ahead. I rather try to keep myself in the moment. However, if I had to think about it, I hope our great band is still vital and motivated to make great music. Besides Apocalyptica, I am also expecting new interesting projects to come up, which will help me to reach new ways of making music and develop myself. Hopefully staying healthy and having a good positive drive no matter what I am actually doing.

Today’s last feature starts here:

Victoria Beckham on Her ’90s Style: “If I Dressed Like That Now, I’d Be Locked Away By the Fashion Police”

Despite that, her kids are pleading for a comeback of the giant puffers, the leather, the little Gucci dress…

By Derek Blasberg from the Wall Street Journal

All captions courtesy by the Wall Street Journal

“I will never, ever, ever, ever be allowed to forget that look,” Victoria Beckham, the Spice Girl–turned–fashion entrepreneur, says about the matching his-and-hers black leather Gucci motorcycle ensembles she and David Beckham, her footballer-turned–lifestyle entrepreneur husband, were photographed wearing in 1999. “The irony is that we wore full-on leather Gucci to a Versace event for Donatella. Which in itself was just so wrong.” 

Beckham is discussing her evolution in style, which began when she was 20 percent of what has been called the most successful girl group in history. Posh Spice was the fashion-obsessed member of the group who wore a camouflage slip dress and stilettos to boot camp in the cult classic 1997 film, Spice World. As the ’90s have seeped back into fashion, her children (Brooklyn, 22; Romeo, 19; Cruz, 16; and Harper, 10) keep digging up old pics. “There’s one of me and David walking our Rottweiler dogs, which, by the way, were called Puffy and Snoop, when we lived in Manchester,” she says. “And my kids are like, ‘Mom, you look really cool!’ ” 

In the 2000s, Beckham launched an eponymous fashion line, and, more recently a beauty brand and a sneaker and sportswear collaboration with Reebok. The brand has a flagship store in London’s Mayfair neighborhood and is sold in 320 stores in 40 countries. After weathering the pandemic-induced lockdowns, Beckham pivoted strategies by combining her self-named brand with her contemporary line, VVB. Beckham says she wanted to create a more accessible entry-level price point, and the unified brand, which remains under the name Victoria Beckham, has cut prices by up to 40 percent. The brand is also introducing more streamlined silhouettes to accommodate the move towards casualization. 

This week, Beckham is introducing a knitwear capsule collection in partnership with Woolmark. Starting this Thursday, the 34-piece line will be available via the Victoria Beckham website and store, as well as on and and at Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods, among others. There are color-blocked crew-neck sweaters for women and girls, as well as coordinating intarsia sweaters with matching beanies and scarves—14 of the pieces are for children. “Now Harper Seven can dress up like mommy,” says Beckham.  

From her home in the United Kingdom, Beckham discusses her first official forays into the fashion business, as well as her role as Beckham family matriarch. 

Derek Blasberg: You launched your own fashion label in 2008. Were you nervous?  

Victoria Beckham: Actually, no, I wasn’t nervous. [But] if I had just known then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to do it! There was an innocence and naivete at the time because I was coming from the music industry. 

DB: What made you want to start a label? 

VB: I had a point of view. I wanted to create dresses that I wanted to wear myself. I did [my first shows] in a very low-key way. I knew people were going to have preconceptions because of my past, so I did very small presentations and I narrated [the audience] through the collections. I would talk about the inspiration, the fabrics, the seaming details, the corsetry. It was all about the product…. I didn’t know anybody was going to review me. I didn’t even know if anyone was going to buy the collection. I really had no clue. I remember saying to Marc Jacobs that people must have left their preconceptions at the door. And he said, ‘Actually, they did not. The product is just really good.’ It was selling out before it was even hitting the shop floor. 

DB: Has your design process changed in the past 13 years? Are you still draping on yourself? 

VB: Well, lucky for my design team, I’m still standing there in my knickers and bra, trying on our garments, or trying on vintage inspiration that I want the team to see. I do like to work a lot on myself. Ultimately, I’m still creating collections that I want to wear, and I feel like I know my customer more and more, the more that I do. 

DB: And what— 

VB: So sorry to interrupt, but please don’t do an American translation of “panties.” That word freaks me out. 

DB: Let the record show, the lady said she is in her “bra and knickers.” 

VB: Thank you.

DB: This year, you merged Victoria Beckham and VVB, the brand’s contemporary line. Why did you do that? 

VB: It felt like the right thing to do for my business. My business dresses women to go to work, to travel and to stand on the red carpet. None of those things were happening during the pandemic. The question on my mind mid-pandemic was, What are people going to want when they get out of the house? And it made sense to merge the two brands. I think people will want to dress in an easier manner. By that, I didn’t mean tracksuit bottoms. I want to create clothes that are desirable and fashionable, but have a sense of ease about them. The first collection we did under the merger was beautiful pajama sets that still felt elevated, still made of beautiful fabrics with exciting prints. The merge of the two brands hasn’t felt like a compromise to me. I take on every challenge as an opportunity, and in the pandemic we saw a gap in the market. 

DB: Do you think your customer has shifted in the pandemic? Will she put her high heels back on the other side of this?  

VB: I’ve got to be honest: I didn’t take my high heels off. At all. I can certainly see the more categories that I go into, like Reebok for example, and see a new customer buying that. There’s always an opportunity for a new customer. But ultimately, I’d say my customer is still me. 

DB: And your next venture is with the wool not-for-profit organization, Woolmark.

VB: I judged their annual Fashion Prize three times. So, I was thrilled when they approached me to partner on a collection. Merino wool is an essential fiber to luxury fashion. [According to Woolmark] it uses 18 % less energy than polyester and nearly 70 % less water than cotton to produce [100 sweaters]. It’s 100 % biodegradable and it doesn’t contribute to microplastic pollution. We’ve done really great hats and scarves and cozy jumpers, but they still feel very elevated. I was worried if we were going to be able to get bright, vibrant colors, which is something that is very much part of my brand DNA. But the colours are great. 

DB: One of your most iconic early looks was, essentially, a white bikini outfit, which you wore onstage at the 1997 Brit Awards. Now you’re making turtleneck sweaters. Are you amused by your style journey? 

VB: I look back and I smile because it has been a journey. I didn’t know about fashion then, and I wasn’t scared to try new things. There’s something so nice about that. Would I have the courage to wear that now, after being in the industry for 15 years? Probably not. 

DB: What do your kids say about your ’90s looks? 

VB: My kids pull out all my old pictures! There’s one paparazzi picture of me going into Marks & Spencers and I’m on the phone, wearing tracksuit bottoms, some sort of trainer, and I’ve got a big silver puffer [jacket]. Cruz sent me that image a couple weeks ago and was like, “Mom you look so cool; why don’t you dress like that anymore?” And I’m thinking, if I dressed like that now I’d be locked away by the fashion police. 

DB: But the ’90s are back! Anything that you’d want to re-wear? 

VB: There’s some bad taste there that I embrace and find inspiring now. For example, there’s nothing wrong with PVC pants if you’re going to pair it with a beautiful white tuxedo shirt. That’s a different interpretation of how I would have worn it in the 90s. Back then, I would have worn [PVC pants] with a bikini top with my boobs up by my chin, whereas now I’d wear [them] with a beautiful shoe and a tuxedo blouse. 

DB: Let’s talk about Victoria Beckham Beauty. 

VB: I call myself a beauty [obsessive]: I’ve collected so much makeup over the years and I’ve worked with the best makeup artists in the industry. I did a collaboration with Estée Lauder [in 2016 and 2017] and when I had my first creative meeting I had an entire dining room table full of stuff I had collected. I obsess over every detail, like the size of the pigments in the eyeshadow. After working with Lauder, I realized it was definitely something that I wanted to roll my sleeves up and delve into more. 

DB: You started your own line in September of 2019. 

VB: Myself and [Victoria Beckham Beauty co-founder and CEO] Sarah Creal were, and still are to a certain extent, a true start-up. We’re a small team and [when we launched] we were working out of a WeWork in New York. We built the website ourselves. The business is profitable already, which is a big deal after just two years. We’ve seen triple-digit sales growth this year. 

DB: What makes your brand special?

VB: I realised there was a conversation going on in the clean beauty space and it was quite confusing. I wanted to educate myself and challenge our lab and create makeup with a strong focus on clean beauty without compromising on quality, whatsoever. We’re really working with our community through our social media to create not just what I want, but what we know our community wants. We just launched a lip gloss and Cheeky Posh, which is a cream blush that comes in different shades. Beauty is also about inclusivity and creating products that work on every single skin tone. So when we do a lip story, for example, I said I wanted to find the perfect nude lip, something that you would think would be easy to achieve, but actually really difficult. It’s always either too mauve or too orange. 

DB: Your eldest, Brooklyn, is getting married. Did you and David give any marriage tips to Brooklyn? 

VB: No.There’s nothing worse than someone giving advice. I remember Geri Halliwell saying to me, “When you get a TV, you get a TV manual. But when you have a baby there’s no manual. You just got to figure that shit out for yourself.” That’s the truth. I’ve always been lucky that I’ve got a strong family unit, not just with David and the kids but with my parents and David’s parents. I feel very blessed that I have that. The kids always come first to me and David.

DB: Anthony Vaccarello told me you were on set with Romeo when photographer David Sims shot him for the Saint Laurent campaign.

VB: I love those pictures of Romeo. I love Anthony, and Saint Laurent was a great company to work with. 

DB: Do your kids call you a momager? 

VB: No, they don’t. We offer advice. There’s a difference between offering advice and being there to support them. If you offer it and they want to take it, that’s great. Sometimes they want it and sometimes they don’t. And that’s OK, too. Sometimes you have to learn by our own mistakes. But we’re always there to support and we have a lot of fun in the process.

DB: Do you still work out every morning? 

VB: I work out with the trainer five or six days a week. I changed my workouts slightly because it’s good to keep your body guessing. Tracy Anderson said that to me years ago. Right now, I’m doing lots of weights and sometimes David and I work out together. [Exercise is] good not just for how you look but for your mind. It’s always been very important for me to get up and work out. It’s the one place where I go and no one can bother me. I can’t receive an email or WhatsApp or text. I’m literally in that gym with my playlist on for an hour.

DB: Last question: Where did you take the picture of David’s bare butt that you put on Instagram? 

VB: That was taken in Palm Beach—we were in the U.K. during the first lockdown, and then the second one we were in Miami. David’s got the club [he is part owner of the Inter Miami CF Major League Soccer club], which is a lot of fun. It’s a passion project for him and something he’d been working on for many, many years. 

DB: You seem quite content in Miami. 

VB: I love it down there! There’s a real energy about it. I’ve never been somewhere and met so many nice, kind, generous people. Harper was doing dancing lessons and she was playing tennis. Cruz was with a contemporary spray-painting artist, which is a lot of fun. He was in the studio a lot as well: Marc Anthony is his godfather. Romeo was training with the [soccer] team. David was able to go to the club every single day, which he hadn’t been able to do for a year because of the lockdown. I surprised myself because I never spent long enough there to get to know it. 

DB: Were you sartorially inspired while you were in Miami?

VB: The fashion there is very, very different to what we do in London, New York, and Paris. But that can be quite inspiring as well. It’s always good to push boundaries.

DB: You could have used that white bikini outfit when you’re down there. 

VB: I’m pretty sure my mum’s got it in a locker somewhere. Maybe it’s time to get it back out. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Derek Blasberg is the head of fashion and beauty for YouTube and a senior staffer at Gagosian gallery.

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