Drapers takes a look back at some of the best quotes of the year.
Bill Grimsey vs Mary Portas
These two spent much of 2013 publicly feuding over which of them would be the protector of the high street and between them supplied us with many of the top quotes of the year. Grimsey pulled no punches when he derided Portas for a “sentimental focus on shopping”, saying some of the Portas Review recommendations would make “diddly squat difference”. But my top quote was his comment on the efforts made so far:
“The pilots have backfired on the Government. My review will hold up a mirror in front of an ugly man; if the ugly man doesn’t like what he sees there is nothing I can do about that.”
During her Select Committee grilling in September, Portas admitted to feeling “weary” about the whole affair but we still saw some of the fire from her first days in the spotlight. “I couldn’t go in making over shops while Rome was burning around me,” she snapped at one MP questioning her TV ties. When it came to her war of words with Grimsey, Portas said she “must have done something to him in a former life”, and even got a little dig in about the liquidation of his previous interests.
Philip Day vs Jane Norman
The chief executive of Edinburgh Woollen Mill put a smile on some of our faces earlier this year when he told Drapers of his plans to make Jane Norman “more exclusive”.
But it was his promise to banish “glitzy gypsy wedding-style dresses” for autumn 13 that stuck in our minds.
A quick glance at Jane Norman’s website suggests bling is still very much in vogue.
Nicholas Ghesquiere vs Balenciaga
Back in April the former creative director of Balenciaga gave an explosive interview with new magazine System in which he lifted the lid on why he left the luxury brand so abruptly. He spoke openly about “feeling too alone” and that it “all became so dehumanised”.
“I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore… I started to become unhappy when I realised that there was no esteem, interest, or recognition for the research that I’d done; they only cared about what the merchandisable result would look like.”
In a corporate world where every interview is carefully choreographed to give nothing away, Ghesquiere’s bold move raised more than a few eyebrows. The lawyers were called in and, even though he ends the year on a high as Marc Jacob’s replacement at Louis Vuitton, the threat of a law suit continues.
The Asos chief executive created quite a hoo-ha when he went off piste to describe why Kate Bostock had left the business after just seven months. Although a perfectly uncontroversial quote had been sent out in the official announcement, he later added some comments that caused a stir because of their ageist overtones.
“Strategy wasn’t the issue. It was more about cultural fit and time of life,” he said. “Our average age is 27 or 28. People get to a stage in their career where they’re either up for a very big challenge or they’re not.”
This prompted several angry responses describing it as “outrageous” and “infuriating” but when Bostock resurfaced at Coast a few months later, she was seen to have been vindicated.