Securing Europe’s competitiveness: Addressing its technology gap – The Coolest Boutique Hotel in Stockholm Doubles in Size – Underwire and Push-Up Bra Sales Signal a ‘Return to Sexy’ – Fashion: Are You Too Old to Wear That Now?
Today’s edition of the TextileFuture Newsletter suggests four features to read.
The first feature is entitled “Securing Europe’s competitiveness: Addressing its technology gap”, it is by guest authors of the McKinsey Consultancy.
The second item bears the title “The Coolest Boutique Hotel in Stockholm Doubles in Size”. It was firstly published in the Wall Street Magazine and entails rich captions of style.
The third feature is entitled “Underwire and Push-Up Bra Sales Signal a ‘Return to Sexy’”, it was also firstly published in the Wall Street Magazine.
The fourth item is on fashion and raises the question “Are You Too Old to Wear That Now?”, the item stems also from the Wall Street Magazine, and it is very pleasant to read.
We from the Editorial Team of TextileFuture wish you an outstanding week and do hope that you will return next Tuesday to our website to read the new edition of the TextileFuture Newsletter. To make things easier for you, please subscribe free of costs to our Newsletter.
Best regards and see you again,
The TextileFuture Editorial Team
This is the start of the first feature:
Securing Europe’s competitiveness: Addressing its technology gap
By Sven Smit, Magnus Tyreman, Jan Mischke, Philipp Ernst, Eric Hazan, Jurica Novak, Solveigh Hieronimus, and Guillaume Dagorret, all from McKinsey Consultancy.
Sven Smit is a McKinsey senior partner in Amsterdam and chairman of MGI. Magnus Tyreman is the managing partner for McKinsey in Europe based in Stockholm. Jan Mischke is an MGI partner in Zurich. Philipp Ernst is a McKinsey senior expert in Hamburg. Eric Hazan is a McKinsey senior partner in Paris. Jurica Novak is a McKinsey senior partner in Warsaw. Solveigh Hieronimus is a McKinsey senior partner in Munich. Guillaume Dagorret is a McKinsey consultant in Paris.
Janet Bush, an MGI executive editor in London, edited this article.
Even amid war in Europe and the energy and cost of living crisis that has resulted, the region needs to pay attention to its slow-motion corporate and technology crisis.
This report builds on an MGI article from May 2022, “Securing Europe’s future beyond energy: Addressing its corporate and technology gap.”
Europe as it is today has been forged in times of crisis. The European Union (EU) was created in response to the ravages of World War II. The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the start of a period of economic catching up by economies in Central and Eastern Europe. The 2008 financial crisis and the eurozone crisis that followed led to more financial cooperation among European countries. The COVID-19 pandemic then triggered a higher level of fiscal coordination through the NextGeneration EU fund.
Most recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine not only is a humanitarian catastrophe but has exposed a range of fragilities, from food security and energy to defence. The war has accentuated the reality that resilience depends on a strong economy with strategic autonomy in these critical areas that has long been taken for granted.
Technology is pivotal, too. Unless Europe catches up with other major regions on key technologies, it will be vulnerable across all sectors on growth and competitiveness—compromising the region’s relatively robust record on sustainability and inclusion—as well as security and strategic strength, hindering long-term resilience. Given seismic events within its own continent, a robust Europe is arguably needed more than ever. Yet to make that a reality will require the region to address a slow-motion competitiveness crisis that has quietly been unfolding for two decades, centred on its corporate and technology gap with other major regions. That is the topic of this article. Confronting this gap will require leaders to show the same resolve and collaboration as they initially displayed in their response to the war in Ukraine.
Although Europe has many high-performing companies, in aggregate European companies underperform relative to those in other major regions: they are growing more slowly, creating lower returns, and investing less in R&D than their US counterparts. This largely reflects the fact that Europe missed the boat on the last technology revolution, lagging behind on value and growth in information and communications technology (ICT) and on other disruptive innovations.
ICT and other tech sectors have spawned a range of transversal technologies, which are spreading horizontally across sectors and determining competitive dynamics. This research looks at ten transversal technologies and finds that Europe leads on only two of the ten. If Europe is not successful in competing in these technologies, it could also lose its strongholds in traditional industries. To give just one example, Europe has been a leader in automotive but could become a laggard in autonomous driving.
The stakes are high. We estimate that corporate value added of EUR 2 trillion to EUR 4 trillion a year could be at stake by 2040—value that could generate wages, employment, investment, and economic growth to the broader benefit of society. To put the estimated value at stake into perspective, that would be equivalent to 30 to 70 percent of Europe’s forecast GDP growth between 2019 and 2040, or one percentage point of growth a year; six times the gross amount needed in Europe to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050; and about 90 percent of all current European social expenditure, or €500 monthly universal income for each European citizen. 1
Unless tackled, this crisis will handicap Europe on many dimensions, including growth, inclusion, and sustainability, and its strategic autonomy and voice in the world. 2 Europe can continue to build on its strengths. Its socioeconomic model has served well thus far. But if companies are to play at the scale and speed needed to compete in a world in which technology disruption is spreading everywhere, often with winner-takes-most dynamics, a reevaluation of long-held beliefs and trade-offs may be needed. An integrated package of initiatives could create an environment that enables them to do so—in the process helping to ensure that today’s high quality of life for many of Europe’s citizens is preserved for the long term.
Europe has historically had a strong record on sustainability and inclusion, with a mixed picture on growth
Europe: Geographic scope of research
Unless specified otherwise, in our analysis, Europe comprises the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) plus Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. We group these economies as Europe 30. This article discusses these economies as a region, but we acknowledge that Europe comprises independent countries, often with very different economic profiles. Moreover, these countries have a number of neighbours to the east, including Ukraine, that are part of the European continent and may in the future forge closer economic ties with the group of 30 countries analysed in this research. In the final section, on potential actions that Europe can take, many of the measures described would need to happen at the level of the EU, ideally in collaboration and coordination with the other nations in the geographic region.
Continuing to better the lives of all Europeans over the long haul requires sustainability, inclusion, and growth. The three reinforce—or can undermine—one another; it is not a question of or, but and. 3 Where does Europe stand? (See sidebar, “Europe: Geographic scope of research”).
Europe is a leader on sustainability and inclusion, at least in Northern and continental Europe, our analysis shows (Exhibit 1). When Europe works, it works well. However, the region’s performance on growth is less strong. As in the United States, per capita GDP growth was sluggish over the past two decades. The per capita GDP of Europe today is 30 percent below that of the United States. That gap had been narrowing but is no longer doing so.
On sustainability, Europe has 2.4 times lower CO2 emissions per capita than the United States, and 1.8 times lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP. 4 Both emissions per capita and emissions per unit of GDP have decreased faster in Europe than in the United States since 1990. Europe has also pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions before other regions. 5
On inclusion, Europe leads on most dimensions, including equality, social progress, and life satisfaction. Income inequality as measured by the Gini index is only 30. 6 It is 41 in the United States. On social mobility, all top ten countries in the Social Mobility Index published by the World Economic Forum are European. 7 Europe overall has the highest life expectancy in the world: the EU-27 average is 80 years (80.3 for the EU-30); it is 79 in the United States and 77 in China.
On growth and prosperity, Europe tracked other advanced economies’ sluggish growth of per capita GDP at a compound annual rate of 1.2 %, similar to 1.1 % in the United States, between 2000 and 2019. However, the United States has been growing in total GDP terms at 1.9 % a year, compared with Europe at 1.4 % annually, reflecting higher population growth. Europe’s per capita GDP is still some 30 % lower than that of the United States. Forty percent of this gap is due to consciously different labor choices (for instance, earlier retirement ages and more vacation and parental leave). An additional 30 % is driven by persistently large divides between different regions of Europe. Still, along the income distribution, earnings are higher in the United States for the first nine deciles, while only the bottom 10 % of Europeans have higher income than those in the United States. 8
Corporate Europe is falling behind as tech weakness permeates sectors
Corporate Europe’s long-standing weakness in tech is ever more evident in today’s figures. This gap has long been considered a result of specialization and competitive advantage elsewhere—that Europe is strong in other sectors such as chemicals, materials, and fashion, for instance—meaning that the weakness is therefore not something to worry about. However, this is no longer true. Technology is now permeating all sectors via transversal technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Bio Revolution, and the cloud.
Technology is now permeating all sectors via transversal technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Bio Revolution, and the cloud.
Europe’s clear and well-known weakness in tech is the source of a large and growing corporate performance challenge
Data show that Europe’s corporate performance is underwhelming in aggregate. To understand differences in corporate performance, we used McKinsey’s Corporate Performance and Analytics Tool (CPAT) to examine a sample of more than 2000 US and European companies with revenue of more than USD 1 billion.
Between 2014 and 2019, large European companies were 20 % less profitable (measured by return on invested capital, or ROIC), grew revenues 40 % more slowly, invested 8 % less (capital expenditure relative to the stock of invested capital), and spent 40 % less on R&D than other companies in the sample. 9
Most of the differences are observable in technology-creating industries, specifically ICT and pharmaceuticals. 10 Together, these sectors account for 90 % of the ROIC gap, 80 % of the investment gap, 60 % of the growth gap, and 75 % of the R&D gap (Exhibit 2).
As technology permeates all sectors and corporate scale advantages and winner-take-most dynamics increase, Europe’s current approach is no longer tenable.
ICT used to be a sector; now it is everywhere. The technology base built in ICT has spawned a range of transversal technologies that are spreading horizontally across most vertical sectors. Value creation is shifting to these horizontal areas, with winner-take-most dynamics and network effects in technology creation and scale advantages in technology adoption. The World Economic Forum estimates that 70 percent of the new value created in the whole economy over the next ten years will be digitally enabled, a momentum further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic (Exhibit 3). 11
Europe’s lack of scale in transversal technologies jeopardizes its position in nearly all sectors, including current strongholds like automotive and luxury goods.
The fact that Europe did not keep pace with the United States in the first technology wave centered on the internet and software now means that Europe is in a weakened position in transversal technologies across sectors. Our analysis looks at ten such transversal technologies on which Europe’s future performance and prosperity hinge. Europe leads on only two of the ten (Exhibit 4).
To give just a few examples, in quantum computing, 50 % of the top ten major tech companies investing in this transversal technology are in the United States, 40 % in China, and none in in the EU. In 5G, a key element of the future of connectivity, China captures nearly 60 % of external funding, with the United States at 27 % and Europe at 11 %. In AI, the United States captured 40 % of external funding in 2015–20. Europe captured 12 % and Asia (including China) 32 %. In biotech, Europe has a strong science base and a robust pool of talent, and it proved during the pandemic that it can innovate. However, investment in biotech varies among regions. In 2018–20, the United States spent USD 260 billion, Europe USD 42 billion, and China USD 19 billion.12
The fact that Europe did not keep pace with the United States in the first technology wave centered on the internet and software now means that Europe is in a weakened position in transversal technologies across sectors.
In cleantech, Europe is more ambitious than most other regions on targets for the reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 but is losing ground in the next wave of cleantech. European players hold 38 % more cleantech patents than firms in the United States, and more than double the number in China, and have more installed mature technologies per capita. Overall, however, Europe’s prospects of leading on cleantech are fading. China leads on cleantech production in nearly all areas, often with market shares of more than 50 %, and the United States leads on most breakthrough technologies.
Europe’s lack of scale in transversal technologies jeopardizes its position in nearly all sectors, including current strongholds like automotive and luxury goods. In automotive, US manufacturers account for close to 70 % of all kilometres made by level 4 fully autonomous vehicles.
The value at stake is high, not only for growth but also for sustainability, inclusion, and Europe’s strategic autonomy
At stake are not only the performance of Europe’s companies, its tech prowess, and its economic growth and prosperity, but also its progress thus far on sustainability and inclusion. Although there are debates over whether lower growth is needed to achieve sustainability and arrest climate change, the opposite argument is compelling: growth strengthens confidence and creates a healthy investment climate to generate sustainability-related innovation and new income streams that are needed to pay for the energy transition. Lagging growth could, moreover, undermine inclusion by limiting the pool of funds available to spend on social programmes.
If Europe is not able to improve on transversal technologies, European firms could miss out on a value-added opportunity of €2 trillion to €4 trillion a year by 2040—value that could translate into higher wages, better healthcare, more sustainability investments, and so on. The value at stake equates to 30 to 70 % of Europe’s forecast GDP growth in GDP between 2019 and 2040, or one percentage point of growth a year. 13 For further context, this would be equivalent to six times the amount needed to transition to net-zero emissions. 14 And it would amount to about 90 % of all current social expenditure in Europe (Exhibit 5). 15
There has been much discussion about energy dependence and autonomy, but global economic shifts accentuate the need for strategic autonomy on critical technologies. Technological autonomy is compatible with open economies and global collaboration. It can be achieved via multiple independent global sourcing options as well as a strong footprint of globally leading firms in Europe. But it will also require capability buildup by, and scaling of, European firms. Today, for instance, semiconductors produced in Europe meet just 9 % of European demand, and European companies have only about 10 % of the market across the semiconductor value chain. And Europe has no market player with a market share in infrastructure-as-a-service of more than 1 %.
Much discussion has been taking place about energy dependence and autonomy, but geopolitical shifts also accentuate the need for strategic autonomy on critical technologies.
European decision makers and companies need to go on the offensive for a step change on technological capabilities and competitiveness.
Europe can, and should, continue to leverage its many strengths. They include its high-quality education systems, which produce leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent as well as some of the most productive vocationally educated workers. 16 Europe is also the most open and connected large economy in the world. 17 However, the stakes are so high for Europe that decision makers may want to consider breaking new ground and reevaluating trade-offs in a way that has been uncomfortable heretofore.
As winner-takes-most dynamics spread, Europe needs to play at greater scale and speed and to level the playing field for its firms to compete
As the sources of competition—and growth—shift toward disruptive innovation and intangibles, a winner-takes-most dynamic emerges in which scale, speed, and established tech ecosystems are increasingly vital. A changing geopolitical landscape complicates and deepens that challenge.
In this context, a range of challenges put Europe at a disadvantage. Among them, four stand out and mutually reinforce one another: fragmentation and lack of scale; lack of established technology ecosystems; less developed risk-capital funding; and a regulatory environment that could be more supportive of disruption and innovation.
These challenges are well known among Europe’s leaders, who keenly appreciate what needs to be done at the institutional level. Many initiatives are being designed and launched. In the EU, the EUR 95 billion Horizon Europe programme, the Smart Specialisation initiative, the Important Projects of Common European Interest framework, and the Digital Decade programme are but a few recent examples. 18
Yet, if Europe wants to address its corporate performance gap and avoid a slow-motion crisis unfolding over the years ahead, it could usefully consider one question: does the sum total of all the initiatives under way and planned not only match the scale of what leading regions are doing but exceed it, and therefore enable catch-up from today’s weaker position?
To help European firms to compete, Europe could reevaluate trade-offs on 11 policy and regulatory initiatives
As a thought starter, we offer 11 initiatives that could form part of an integrated package to change the rules of the game for European firms and overcome a range of handicaps (Exhibit 6). They would enable firms to build scale and attract scale-up funding, operate at higher speed and with greater degrees of freedom, and level the playing field with other regions and established firms. Many have been topics of long-running debates and come with major trade-offs, yet this diagnostic suggests revisiting the current stance on them. The initial response to the invasion of Ukraine shows that Europe can leverage its scale and move rapidly when faced with a severe challenge. A similar approach will also be needed to address its slow-motion technology and competitiveness crisis. We invite comments and collaboration to progress these initial ideas.
- Scale and scale-up funding. In transversal technologies where scale of markets, firms, and investment matters, could Europe increase and pool its resources, develop a European corporate rule book for high-growth firms, and facilitate and encourage cross-border consolidation, including by completing the Single Market? Could Europe amplify the pool of scale-up capital and consider pooling more public procurement and R&D support among a coalition of the willing? Europe might consider increasing development support to Central, Eastern, and parts of Southern Europe.
- Speed and simplicity. In certain breakthrough technologies, could Europe rebalance its regulatory approach from a precautionary consumer-protection imperative to one that balances costs and benefits of rapid experimentation and disruptive innovation? Could Europe consider developing fast-track regulatory approval and decision-making processes, particularly in the case of disruptive innovation? And what scope is there to embrace faster labor reallocation and reskilling in the face of spreading disruption?
- Level playing field. Where might state intervention support the competitiveness of European firms in a global context? Could Europe consider ensuring a level playing field for smaller firms around natural digital monopolies? Could Europe initiate a debate about how to protect nascent technology-savvy firms before they face the full force of global-scale competitors? Finally, could Europe consider ways of becoming a stronger magnet for talent?
Whether the competitive arena improves or not, corporate leaders and owners need to step up their game to take risks and compete
Even if policy and regulation create a more enabling environment in which European firms can compete, they, too, need to step up, developing scale and agility in order to grow and succeed not only on the national and regional levels, but globally. Options to consider include the following:
- Set stretch long-term targets and adjust incentives. In the current environment of disruptions, corporations need to aim beyond their incumbent business, develop a vision for global leadership ten to 20 years out, and take risks and deploy capital and R&D investment commensurate with that vision. European companies and their boards could also consider adjusting executive and employee compensation to better align with those visions and the risk-taking needed. Today, only about 5 % of the private-sector workforce in Europe has some kind of employee ownership, compared with about 20 % in the United States. 19 The largest European tech companies have already taken this approach.
- Leverage programmatic M&A and alliances to acquire the scale and capabilities needed. This would include cross-border European and global consolidation, including—painfully—sell-side M&A where global leadership is out of reach. It would also include using vertical and capability-based acquisitions to ramp up the development of innovation strengths and ecosystems, for instance using corporate venture capital. Companies should also be proactive in seeking and developing cross-sector alliances to accelerate the development of transversal technologies. Companies and entrepreneurs can also seek to set up new disruptors.
- Invest in innovation and technology governance and capabilities at scale and pace. Companies will need to implement agile and more customer-centric innovation governance able to deal with higher-risk, long-term projects. They will need to find or reallocate funds for long-term innovation and business development at a larger scale than they used to. And they will need to build skills.
European countries have been leaders on sustainability and inclusion. They are now concerned with the security of supply chains, energy, food, and defence. How much should the region also worry about its corporate and technology gap, which is jeopardising future growth and strategic autonomy—and when? Can the momentum of common action triggered by war in Ukraine now also provide the impetus to make the trade-offs needed for technology and competitiveness that have long felt difficult?
More work will likely be needed to determine how to tackle Europe’s gaps in corporate performance and innovation in detail and in practice, technology by technology and sector by sector, building resilience into the European model for the long term. This article marks the start of a McKinsey initiative to gather insights across Europe in an effort to make a contribution to addressing these questions.
Janet Bush, an MGI executive editor in London, edited this article.
Cover image illustrated by Sinelab.
The full report can be downloaded here
Here starts the second item:
The Coolest Boutique Hotel in Stockholm Doubles in Size
For years, whenever I’m in Sweden, I’ve stayed at Jeanette Mix’s Ett Hem. The Stockholm hotel’s intimate and welcoming “hometel” approach—cozy design and delicious food—have made the space one of my favorite places to stay in the world. Now, Ett Hem is doubling in size, with help from its neighbor (and now co-owner) Max Martin, the legendary songwriter and producer. Mix has always sought to create a hotel that serves as an extension of her own living room, and it’s now been extended into two more houses on the premises, complete with 10 additional guest rooms, public and private living rooms and a larger ground-floor kitchen. Like the original Ett Hem, these expansions were designed by Ilse Crawford and her London-based design firm, Studioilse. The goal of the ongoing assignment, Crawford says, is “making this lovely space so that people feel connected and happy the minute they walk in.” Check out the story by Sarah Medford, with original photography by Mike Karlsson Lundgren. Kristina O’Neill, Editor-in-Chief-of the Wall Street Magazine
By popular demand, Ett Hem founder Jeanette Mix has expanded her beloved Stockholm hotel into two neighbouring buildings.
By guest author Sarah Medford | Photography by Mike Karlsson Lundgren for WSJ. Magazine.
One of the more pointed lessons of the past two-and-a-half years has been that home, even on the darkest days, can offer consolation, comfort, intimacy, sustenance, entertainment, community, distraction—the list goes on. Who were we to take it for granted?
Swedish hotelier Jeanette Mix has known these things for years, and a decade ago they led her to open Ett Hem (“a home”), an unusual boutique hotel in the capital’s leafy Lärkstaden neighborhood. Gaining access to Ett Hem means ringing the bell at a walled gate and stepping over a raised entryway, a small but essential act that prepares you to be treated as a member of the family in this rambling arts and crafts–era house, with privileges that extend into the cookie jar in the kitchen and the bar in the living room, the bikes in the courtyard and the puzzles on the shelf.
“There is no back-of-house,” says Mix, standing at the four-burner Marrone stove in Ett Hem’s compact kitchen. “We show everything we do.”
Her daughter Alexandra Mix, a mid-20s version of her mother, joins her at the communal kitchen table for a quick lunch: agnolotti with fresh goat cheese, Parmesan, andouille sausage and asparagus from southern Sweden, followed by lotte poached in white wine and some rhubarb cake for dessert. It’s the same meal the house chef will cook to order for guests throughout the afternoon.
When she was in her 20s, Mix trained as a chef and sommelier at Le Cordon Bleu in London, but she had no hands-on hotel experience before opening Ett Hem. She did, however, vacation frequently with her husband, private-equity investor Harald Mix, and their three children, becoming a very discerning and inquisitive hotel guest. “I like to be connected to the community wherever I go,” she says, unfolding her napkin. “I want to go to neighborhood places. I want to go to the local bakery. Where do the fashionable ladies in the city do their shopping?”
Back home, she took the informal but attentive service she’d admired at Thailand’s Amanpuri resort and South Africa’s Kurland Estate and pushed it further, breaking the fourth wall between guests and staff. There is no check-in desk at Ett Hem, and every staffer aims to help you out or answer a question with just the right proportion of deference, humor and sunny self-confidence. As one online reviewer put it, “If you don’t like people, you may not like this ‘hometel.’ ”
An overwhelming number of people do, though. Ett Hem’s concept has been so successful that its 12 guest rooms and artfully scattered dining tables are perpetually booked, which can be a frustration for travellers, especially celebrities and other VIPs who might want to book a few adjacent rooms. (Mix says they often work around the situation by staying elsewhere and hanging out in Ett Hem’s living room and garden.)
Almost as soon as the hotel took off, Mix was already thinking about expanding. She wanted a bigger kitchen, where guests could feel free to join in the daily pasta-making, and more gathering spots for hotel guests as well as friends from the neighbourhood who might want to come by for dinner. Just across the garden lay the answer: a second house, built in the same unpretentious arts and crafts style and dating to the same year, 1910. But it was in the hands of another owner, who definitely wasn’t selling. By the time the owner came around, Mix says, another problem emerged: “That house is actually connected to a third house. And that’s when my neighbour came in.”
Living within whistling distance of Ett Hem, in the same tidy neighborhood, is Max Martin, the Swedish music producer who’s written or co-written more Billboard No. 1 singles—for artists like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Britney Spears—than anyone in history outside of Lennon-McCartney. Martin spends part of each year in Los Angeles. But when he’s at home, Mix explains, he’s often at Ett Hem.
“We got to know each other very early on,” she says. “I just told him one morning over breakfast, ‘You know what, there is finally a possibility to buy the house, but now it’s two.’ And he said, after a very short breakfast, ‘You know what, maybe we should buy it together.’ ”
When the project was still in the planning stages, Crawford says, she got wind of a sale of Axel Einar Hjorth furnishings and advised Mix to snag as many examples as she could of the Swedish modernist’s work, which has since gotten trendy. “Jeanette bought an enormous collection,” Crawford boasts. “And now it’s unaffordable.” One of the multipurpose rooms pairs Hjorth’s scoop-backed chairs with a Venetian-red lacquer table and a tubular chandelier that’s part Fernand Léger, part Formula 1. It’s a journey, literally and figuratively, from there up to the top-floor attic suite, where a hand-painted floral ceiling original to the building and landmarked by the Swedish government dips down to meet panelled walls, lending the space a folktale romanticism.
In 2018 they did, and a multiyear construction project began. As she’d done with the first Ett Hem, Mix partnered on the renovation with Ilse Crawford and her London-based design firm, Studioilse. Crawford believes that well-designed interiors can be transformative, and she sees her ongoing assignment in Stockholm as “making this lovely space so that people feel connected and happy the minute they walk in.” As far as Mix is concerned, Crawford understood what she was trying to do with Ett Hem at least as well as she did herself, and challenged her to go further than she thought possible.
“I think you two are very aligned in work philosophy,” Alexandra says to her mother before skipping out on dessert. “Because this is a philosophy more than a place, just like you say.”
The new building, known for now as Number 4 (for its address on the street called Sköldungagatan—the original is Number 2), is sunnier and offers better views than the original, with balconies overlooking a puzzle of rooftops and the pleached crab-apple trees in the hotel garden. Crawford and Mix have filled it with a generous ground-floor kitchen, public and private living rooms, 10 guest rooms and a new Relax (Ett Hem–ese for “spa”), while the third building, Number 6, is being converted into three short-stay apartments slated to be ready this winter. The notion of a flat with access to hotel amenities is foreign to Swedes, Mix says: “I think actually, maybe I will be the first one to do it.” To knit Number 6 together with the other houses, the two women de-signed an airy ground-floor gym open to all hotel guests.
A decade ago, Ett Hem sparked a fashion for living rooms with seal-gray walls and low-riding Danish chairs strewn with sheepskins, a cozy combination that continues to play well during Stockholm’s long winters. The new rooms are brighter and quirkier, peppered with contemporary art and rustic-modern furniture arrayed on soft-coloured wool rugs.
Crawford says that, for all its variety, Number 4 has the same DNA and values as Number 2. “But it’s not a copy-paste on any level,” she says. “It would be a development.” There are spaces for flower arranging and for casual public readings, a firelit room for dinner with a friend and an even more enticing spa where you can unwind at the end of the day. Just as crucially, Number 4 offers the staff easier access to fresh linens and the hotel’s 3,000-bottle wine cellar.
“Ett Hem is not a collective, exactly, but very close,” Crawford says. “It’s very much a shared project and a community.” That the venture took root in Sweden is no accident, she adds. “There’s a belief in a better world, and one you can be instrumental in helping to shape. It’s not idealistic—Sweden is all about being together.”
In the months leading up to the summer opening of Number 4, as construction crews worked long and hard to make up for Covid-related delays, Ett Hem made the rounds of the neighborhood with bottles of gratis champagne and small gifts from Svenskt Tenn, the carriage-trade boutique in nearby Östermalm. Neighbors have been among the first to sample the new kitchen’s uncontrived cuisine, served on the hand-glazed ceramics of octogenarian Stockholm potter Birgitta Watz—an extended member of the Ett Hem family whose plates and cups are available for sale if you ask.
Mix is betting that as people re-embrace international travel, they will crave the same intimate experiences she’s come to value, and that will be good for business. “I have created something that I’m looking for myself,” she says. And when Mix’s guests arrive, they’ll find her pocket-size guide to the neighbourhood in their rooms.
Here is the beginning of the third feature:
Underwire and Push-Up Bra Sales Signal a ‘Return to Sexy’
Wired lingerie is selling well and showing up in a new Skims collection, after years of remote workers and young shoppers opting for unstructured undergarments.
By guest author Chavie Lieber from the Wall Street Journal. Sept. 20, 2022.
The pandemic dealt a blow to the underwire bra, as women working from home traded structured and restrictive undergarments for lacy bralettes, stretchy sports bras or nothing at all.
But today’s market tells a different story: Underwire styles, including bras with push-up padding, are selling better than they have in years. Lingerie makers and market analysts say it’s a sign that customers aren’t just looking for support but a certain va-va-voom factor.
At the digital lingerie retailer Thirdlove, underwire styles accounted for 80 percent of bra sales in the year’s first quarter, according to Sheyna Horowitz, senior director of merchandising and planning. Journelle, an upscale bra boutique with locations in New York City and Chicago, recently hired an “underwire specialist” to keep up with demand, said its chief executive Sapna Palep. At Cosabella, a brand recognized for its lace bralettes, sales of push-up bras more than doubled in July, according to managing director Guido Campello; the brand is adding more push-up styles, he said.
“I like that it enhances what you already have, and gives you that lift and confidence,” said Diamond Garza, a 20-year-old mother who works in packaging facilities in Denver and recently bought a Victoria’s Secret push-up bra.
In keeping with these trends, Kim Kardashian’s Skims line, known for its wireless and seamless shapewear, is releasing new wired bras this month.
Ms. Kardashian knows that underwire has its detractors, who say it can cause pain and even bruising. “Our bras with underwire are so comfortable, and are just a completely different purpose of shaping and lifting and ultimately confidence than a typical bralette,” she said. “I do hope to change the conversation.”
She noted that Skims spent three years developing its new wired garments, which will be available Sept. 27. “With all of the newest technology, you can have the support and the shape, with the softness and the comfiness that I think everyone’s really looking for these days,” Ms. Kardashian said.
Even before sweeping work-from-home policies shifted apparel preferences toward the nonrestrictive, soft bralettes had earned the affection of consumers seeking comfort. Young shoppers in particular had been flocking to stores like Aerie for years to buy bralettes, which is part of why Victoria’s Secret lost market share and embarked on an effort to rebrand the company as body-positive. In videos on TikTok, Gen Zers have treated underwire bras as punchlines and the basis of traumatic middle-school memories.
Underwire never went away, but the pandemic accelerated the shift toward styles that eschewed it. Over the past few years, Instagram has become filled with shoppers posting mirror selfies in cute cotton bralettes, and celebrities and models have been wearing them out as tops.
Though wired-bra sales have yet to return to 2019 levels, their current rise reflects preferences beyond bralettes.
“Some people feel like it’s been great to not wear underwire,” said Kimmay Caldwell, a bra-fitting expert in Philadelphia, “and others are like, ‘I freaking miss wearing bras. I want that underwire.’”
Kristen Classi-Zummo, a fashion analyst with the NPD Group, a market-analysis firm, said sales of push-up bras across the industry are up 9 percent compared with last year. She said that demand for underwire and push-up bras could be a sign of “a return to sexy.”
On TikTok, young shoppers discovering push-up bras for the first time sing their praises, and on resale platform Depop, some users are even selling “vintage” Victoria’s Secret push-up styles from the turn of the millennium.
“Having a wire-free bra that’s comfortable during the day is not going to win her over anymore,” said Ms. Classi-Zummo. “She wants to feel pretty, she wants to feel sexy.”
Janie Schaffer, executive vice president of design for Victoria’s Secret, said that the company is bringing some of its structured-bra features to bralette designs. In August, for instance, the company released a wireless version of its So Obsessed push-up bra.
“Bralettes come and go, but the truth is, women always want some form of structure that makes them feel supported when they’re going through their daily life,” Ms. Schaffer said.
Andrea Castillo, a 36-year-old artist in Brooklyn who went shopping over the weekend for an underwire T-shirt bra, said she is seeking undergarments that are smooth and sculpting.
“With certain bralettes, it was looking too casual, and I was feeling too comfortable, like I’m still at home,” Ms. Castillo said. “Now that I’m out, going to more events, I don’t want outfits where you see lace, strange colours or a weird shape.”
Aerie says bralettes still make up more than half of its bra sales, but the company is also rolling out new structured styles, said Jennifer Foyle, the president and executive creative director of American Eagle and Aerie. The company recently rolled out a “Bra-ish Wireless Bralette,” which, despite its name, is very much a bra.
Here starts the last item on fashion:
Fashion: Are You Too Old to Wear That Now?
Lockdown wrought a lot of changes—and, for many men, the clothes they wore pre-Covid don’t match who they are now. Two writers of different generations hunt for cool, age-appropriate solutions.
By guest author Jamie Waters and Vincent Boucher / Photographs by F. Martin Ramin/ The Wall Street Journal. Sept. 24, 2022.
WE ALL MATURED in one way or another during lockdown. Some men became fathers, celebrated a milestone birthday or changed careers. And everyone got older.
As we re-enter a world of ever-hazier dress codes, some folks are grappling with how to dress in a way that makes sense for who they are now.
Below, two writers of different generations seek solutions. Plus, find the jeans that work for any age and read about the worst style missteps older men can make.
The Guy in His 30s: Jamie Waters
I swam into the pandemic, still in my 20s, in a pool of oversize clothes. I tossed big knits over big T-shirts, billowy pants and bloated sneakers. I turned 30 during lockdown—blowing out candles in a park while dwarfed by an XXL paisley hoodie—and in the ensuing months, a seed of doubt began to germinate: Had I outgrown my youthfully baggy wardrobe?
When I turned up to a post-lockdown dinner in a T-shirt that almost skimmed my knees, I asked a friend if I resembled an “overgrown skater boy.” She blurted, “You absolutely don’t!” her eyes darting to her menu in a way that confirmed I absolutely did. I began retiring items that felt forced now that I’d entered my fourth decade: a hoodie with awkward, jutting pockets placed high on the sleeves; an alphabet soup of logoed sweaters.
I swapped my chunky sneakers for chunky Blundstone boots, whose comfy, no-nonsense sturdiness suggests I’m getting things done. And I tried limiting myself to a sober, all-navy-blue uniform that signaled efficiency. I was a busy grown-up, I told myself, with no time for juvenile clothes. Then I got bored and, in a moment of weakness, bought a sweatshirt featuring a huge embroidered avocado with eyes. I can’t take it off.
“There’s a difference between growing up and growing old,” said Jian DeLeon, Nordstrom’s men’s fashion and editorial director. Clearly I had taken the dull minimalism thing too far, but the underlying sentiment was right. In my 20s, I had embraced the graphic prints, bold logos and slouchy silhouettes dominating much of menswear. Now, like many of my fellow millennials, it was time for my style to mature.
I have plenty of options for my rebrand: The menswear market is filled with clothes for guys who are weary of streetwear that’s notably outré. There’s even a growing category of brands referred to as “post-streetwear.” Often their collections mix formal-ish tailoring with familiar streetwear references and crafty textiles; Mr. DeLeon cites 4SDesigns and 18 East as two standout brands.
Have fun but also go see a tailor. Your 30s are when you ‘realise that fit is crucial.’
I’m drawn to New York’s Corridor, which creates intrigue with texture, not logos. Founder Dan Snyder said he likes knitwear because it lets you play with dimensions, “almost like sculpture.” His cardigans combine yarns of different colors (pinks, greens, grays) and thicknesses to make the eye dance. They’re slyly cool—and Mr. Snyder, a 37-year-old dad living in Brooklyn, wears them as a whimsical alternative to blazers. “It’s a way of layering without being serious,” he said. Another irreverent option: Kapital, a Japanese brand that sprinkles its jeans with raver-like smiley faces.
Have fun but also go see a tailor, said Los Angeles stylist Chris Kim. Your 30s are when you “realize that fit is crucial.” To elevate your look, he advised getting a few key pieces custom fit including a blazer and trousers.
My friend Tom Reynolds, an editor at a London magazine, has been sharpening his style since becoming a dad in lockdown. His goal: “cool dad not lame dad.” Cue a vintage Paul Smith trench coat and a crossbody bag from Manhattan Portage, a brand that is intriguingly obscure rather than hyped, he said, so there’s no danger of his looking like a streetwear-trend victim.
In a bid to be taken more seriously, Mr. Reynolds, 35, also bought his first loafers. “I was wearing trainers (sneakers) nonstop, so I was like, ‘I’ve got to sort this out,’” he said. He chose brown, textured leather penny loafers that ooze sophistication. There’s just one problem: They hurt too much, he said. After two wince-filled outings, he’s reverted to wearing his Nikes. Growing up is tough. I’m getting him some Blundstones.
The Man in His 60s: Vincent Boucher
I was in Midtown Manhattan the other day thinking about new clothes for fall, so I ducked into Saks Fifth Avenue. I remembered the earnest young man from the Midwest who moved to New York in the 1980s and bought an Italian linen suit, right there in the men’s enclave on Saks’s sixth floor. I hadn’t yet snared my first job, but Milanese tailoring was all the rage and I needed to partake.
Today, the sixth floor is no longer wood-paneled, and it displays a sea of designer sneakers. The Italian tailors are still there, but they’re hiding in the shadows: Like other retailers, Saks doesn’t whisper the quiet language of suits and sport coats anymore but comes at you with bold luxury streetwear and dressed-down everything.
If you’re over 50, your first reaction to the creep of casualization might be to retreat to your trusty suit. Traditional tailoring can be a safety net for older gents. But this 69-year-old believes there’s fun to be had by branching out. Look at Brad Pitt, 58, who’s having the time of his life on the “Bullet Train” press tour, wearing a skirt to one premiere and an orange outfit to another. When one reporter asked why, Mr. Pitt said: “I don’t know! We’re all going to die, so let’s mess it up.” That’s as good a style credo as I can think of, especially after being cooped up indoors for so long.
Post-lockdown, such freewheeling thinking is popular among the silver-haired set, said New York stylist Jim Moore. Many “upper-age” guys, he noted, wish to move past the quilted vests and chinos common among their peers. According to him, they’re saying, “I want to play in the new style sandbox.”
Hollywood style consultant Andrew Weitz suggests replacing a blazer with a statement shirt jacket—perhaps a gray cashmere Thom Browne take. And Los Angeles stylist Jeanne Yang recommends a Rick Owens high-top sneaker for an idiosyncratic touch. Or follow the lead of stars like Ethan Hawke (51), Hugh Jackman (53) and Bryan Cranston (66). According to their stylist, Michael Fisher, all three are telling him, “Let’s not wear a tie [or] the typical premiere suit.” Try a casual suit variation with an elasticized waist instead; I’m eyeing one by Ami Paris with a wide, swagger-inducing cut.
To up the fashion stakes, consider Dries Van Noten, Prada and Yohji Yamamoto, legendary brands whose clothes can be worn by men of any age. I recently spotted a black Dries cashmere button-down. Part-shirt, part-cardigan, it’s easy but unsloppy. I’m going to need it—but in the hot-pink alternative. Now’s the time to be seen.
Fashion Styling by Lizzy Wholley; Grooming by Mirna Jose/See Management; Models Garrett Swann/Bella Agency; Bradley Evans/Bella Agency; Dogs Rugby and Wyatt/All Creatures Great & Small.
Not sure where to start? Style an outfit around dark-wash jeans, which have cross-generational versatility.
“Older guys wearing Allbirds sneakers with jeans, khakis or more formal pants. To be honest, don’t wear them at all—no matter what you pair them with, it won’t look good.” —Cassandra Sethi, personal stylist, Los Angeles
“The client was a recently divorced banker in his late 50s. His hair was dyed too dark for his complexion and he wore baggy sweatshirts and skinny jeans. Plus: a proliferation of jewelry that made him look like he was on several random spiritual journeys.” —José Ramón Reyes, founder of wardrobe consulting service the Custom Project, New York
“There’s nothing more unappealing than an older gentleman wearing an outdated, ill-fitting suit.”—Andrew Weitz, celebrity style consultant, Los Angeles
“In New York, I always notice older men wearing graphic T-shirts and embellished jeans. Those work on younger guys; [on anyone else] it makes you look like you’re trying really hard to dress like the kids.”—Peter Nguyen, personal men’s stylist, New York
“Too-tight clothes! I’m talking to you, Mr. Bezos.” —Michael Fisher, stylist, New York
The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.
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FedEx to Close Offices, Park Aircraft After Warning of Sales Shortfall https://textile-future.com/archives/96543
Lenzing suspends 2022 guidance due to limited market visibility and high volatilityof energy and raw material market https://textile-future.com/archives/96742
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European Statistical Recovery Dashboard: September edition https://textile-future.com/archives/96536
The McKinsey Week in Charts https://textile-future.com/archives/96765
August 2022: Swiss Foreign Trade with a slight plus https://textile-future.com/archives/96792
How do nationals and non-nationals in the EU see their health? https://textile-future.com/archives/96892
EU sold production of chemicals on the rise https://textile-future.com/archives/96901
What languages are studied the most in the EU? https://textile-future.com/archives/96997
EU Commission seeks public’s views on better protection for passengers https://textile-future.com/archives/96516
Trade and Labour Ministers of the US, Japan and the EU release a joint Statement on the International Labour Organization’s Global Forced Labour Estimates https://textile-future.com/archives/96520
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EC adopts Media Freedom Act https://textile-future.com/archives/96555
EU budget: Commission proposes measures to the Council under the conditionality regulation https://textile-future.com/archives/96630
Winners of the 2022 EU Contest for Young Scientists and first-ever EU TalentOn https://textile-future.com/archives/96692
UNGA77: EU delegation kicks off meetings in New York https://textile-future.com/archives/96705
UNGA77: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges https://textile-future.com/archives/96890
European Aviation Environmental Report 2022: Ramping up sustainability is crucial for sector’s long-term viability https://textile-future.com/archives/96862
Mergers: EU Commission clears acquisition of Natra by CapVest https://textile-future.com/archives/96866
Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles Spring Edition confirms its return in March 2023 https://textile-future.com/archives/96831
The Role of the Media in Financial Transparency https://textile-future.com/archives/96964
FIVE FROM FINLAND: Game studios https://textile-future.com/archives/96919
Agriculture meeting highlights food security, urgency of implementing MC12 outcomes https://textile-future.com/archives/96816
WIPO: Pre-release of the Global Science & Technology Clusters Ranking https://textile-future.com/archives/96959
BASF and Evonik partner to reduce the environmental footprint of the feed and animal protein industries https://textile-future.com/archives/96776
BASF announces innovation partnership with RiKarbon on emollients derived from bio-waste https://textile-future.com/archives/96837
Energiekontor and BASF agree on a programme to increase the efficiency of wind turbines https://textile-future.com/archives/96912
Swiss Nestlé appoints Lisa Gibby as Chief Communications Officer https://textile-future.com/archives/96975
Opinion Guest Essay: Humans Have a Long History of Making ‘Very Bad Decisions’ to Save Animals https://textile-future.com/archives/96699
Swiss Empa: 3D printing of the future – following nature’s example -A swarm of 3D printing drones for construction and repair https://textile-future.com/archives/96876
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Unique waxed cotton finishing with new Monforts line https://textile-future.com/archives/96745
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Swiss State Secretary Livia Leu signs memorandum of understanding to persue strategic partnership dialogue with the United States https://textile-future.com/archives/96559
Channel 4 privitisation to be “re-examined” https://textile-future.com/archives/96800
‘Phantom of the Opera,’ Broadway’s (New York’s) Longest-Running Show, to Close https://textile-future.com/archives/96585
Crypto Fees Are High. The Stock Market May Hold the Answer https://textile-future.com/archives/96599
At eBay, Lurid Crimes and the Search for Punishment https://textile-future.com/archives/96605
Gap Is Cutting 500 Corporate Jobs https://textile-future.com/archives/96808
Threads of Power – Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen (CH) with exhibition in New York City (USA) https://textile-future.com/archives/96549