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  • Vogue's September issue

    Māori designer to grace the pages of Vogue's September issue

    A Māori fashion designer is set to have his designs featured in British Vogue's September issue.

    Te Whānau ā Apanui fashion designer Kharl WiRepa's clothing line has been selected among Vogue's top 22 'Designers of the Future'.

    He is the first designer of Māori descent to have his designs featured in the coveted fashion bible.

    WiRepa told Te Kāea his career started at the age of 15 while he was working as a retail assistant at Supre.

    "I saw the photo of my dress in the issue of vogue and hen it hit me. And then I realised that this is real," he said.

    The September issue of Vogue is a collector's item, which WiRepa described as "the holy grail" of fashion.

    He said his career, which took him from working in retail to the catwalks of NZ Fashion Week, was pioneering.

    "The amount of dreams I've been able to make come true of my own is my greatest achievement," he said.

    "I remember as a child I would watch my nana and her friends get ready for church, with their white heels and pearls, and I was inspired by that."

    WiRepa says that the international attention gained through his Vogue achievement will generate global interest for Māori and Polynesian clothing designers, models, and photographers.

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  • Luxury McDonald’s Burger Box

    Red Carpet Go-To Designer Julien Macdonald Creates Luxury McDonald’s Burger Box

    McDonald’s U.K. has been looking to elevate its image. To do so, the fast-food chain has asked for the helping hand of a London designer who also happens to bear almost the same name: Julien Macdonald.

    Macdonald designed a limited-edition burger box for the McDonald’s signature collection, a newly launched gourmet burger range. The box, which features a baroque-style gold print inspired by the designer’s signature shimmer, sequins and body-baring silhouettes, will be available at a series of showcase events held at McDonald’s locations across the U.K. Customers can buy the box by signing up to attend the showcase events.

    “I drew inspiration from my fashion creations and iconic embellished red carpet dresses. This was translated into a gold baroque crystal-encrusted box, which is the perfect packaging for the luxury McDonald’s collection,” said the designer.

    Macdonald will also reveal a special hand-embellished box at the McDonald’s Leicester Square location, which will later be auctioned, with the proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House charities.

    “This is our first-ever U.K. packaging collaboration. It’s a brave move, and it’s like nothing we’ve ever done before,” said Emily Somers, vice president of marketing at McDonald’s. “It’s a great way to mark our nationwide launch of the signature collection.”

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  • Smaller Chinese Sites Look to Smuggling

    The founder of Chinese luxury online retailer, Xiu.com, has been extradited from Indonesia back to China in order to face smuggling charges, following a year-long investigation into his company by China Customs. According to customs officials in the Guangdong province, Ji Wenhong is on the hook for allegedly overseeing a smuggling operation, which brought luxury goods – including Gucci bags, Miu Miu clothing, Louis Vuitton fragrances, and Chanel eyewear – into China in violation of national customs law.

    The Associated Press reported this week that Wending, who fled China for Indonesia last year after initially being charged with smuggling, has been “accused of arranging for his company to buy designer clothing from Europe and the United States and have it shipped to Hong Kong.” Under Wenhong’s watch, Xiu.com smuggled approximately $65.5 million worth of luxury garments and accessories into China.

    According to Chinese news reports, which cited government officials, Wenhong’s company enlisted professional smugglers, who held themselves out to customs officials as travelers merely carrying “personal belongings." In furtherance of the scheme, the smugglers intentionally failed to declare the true value and nature of the goods to customs, thereby, enabling Xiu to avoid paying import duties on the goods, which range between 47 and 77 percent.

    As noted by Jing Daily, this is something of a commonplace tactic for Chinese e-commerce sites, which “are struggling to make a profit, many of which, unlike the nation’s biggest sites – Alibaba’s TMall and JD.com – "do not benefit from direct relationships with brands.” Without brand connections, Chinese e-commerce sites “cannot offer [consumers] competitive pricing, and the pricing ends up being the same as it would be if consumers bought from the official brand stores in China.” As a result, a number of sites have taken to smuggling schemes to avoid import duties.

    Interestingly, smaller e-commerce sites, "like Xiu.com [tend to] present themselves as more trustworthy than the bigger sites, when it comes to authenticity," according to Jing, as sites like Alibaba are notoriously rife with counterfeit goods posing as the real thing. "Yet, in order to stay competitive with regard to pricing, smuggling is a solution they often resort to."

    As for Xiu.com, things appear to be business as usual. While a spokesman for the company confirmed in a statement that some individuals employed by Xiu are under investigation, he did not specifically mention founder Ji Wenhong. The company is, the rep assured, operating normally, despite the pending action.

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