Peter Dundas: ‘The Face of Fashion is Changing’

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Peter Dundas is back. Sat in his gold-panelled Art Deco property in London’s Notting Hill, the spiritual homeland of the 1970s bohemian set that is a perennial lodestone for the Norwegian-born designer, Dundas and his partner Evangelo Bousis are explaining the finer details of Dundas, the brand they will debut on Sunday in Paris during the couture shows.

The 20 looks will distill the core of Dundas’ continent-hopping aesthetic, and launch exclusively with Moda Operandi on July 7. It will be followed by a partnership with Farfetch in the autumn, which will feature more accessibly-priced jeans, t-shirts and dresses that will complement the high-octane occasion-wear for which Dundas is renowned. The launch comes after Dundas exited his role as creative director of Roberto Cavalli in October last year, which was followed by a succession of personal projects, most notably the custom-made outfits worn by Beyoncé Knowles at the 2017 Grammys.Natasha Poly in Dundas, with Ev Bousis and Peter Dundas | Photo: German Larkin

“You want things your way and to feel comfortable,” says Dundas of his new project. “It’s constantly asking, ‘Is it really me?’ For us, it made sense to start a company from that point of view, where you have a fresh slate to do that and you’re not dependent on or economically burdened by needing to do traditional collections.”

Instead, the brand will be “seasonless” in the sense that it will be released in succinct and carefully timed drops, avoiding the climatic restrictions of traditional seasons. “We’re not doing these bombastic collections, resort collections with every garment you think you may need,” he says. “My woman has always been a nomad. There’s always a place with snow in July and a beach in December.”

Certainly, Dundas’ season-free approach reflects a rapidly shifting fashion landscape. “The face of fashion is changing in that sense,” he says. “How to express yourself in a way that’s rewarding to yourself but also interesting to the client and to the press.”

There’s always a place with snow in July and a beach in December.

During his time at Roberto Cavalli, which lasted just over a year, as well as his tenure at Emilio Pucci from 2008 to 2015, Dundas became loved by the international jet-set and countless celebrities. During his time at Pucci, he reinvented the Florentine house, which was once known for its printed silks and resort-wear, into a key luxury brand with a presence at Milan Fashion Week. During his brief time at Cavalli, he established an aesthetic that paid homage to the ‘70s heyday of the Italian brand, complete with references to exotic locations and the rock stars and icons of the era, such as Jimi Hendrix and Talitha Getty — it reached its climax when Beyoncé wore a tiered yellow dress in her music video for “Hold Up” from the Autumn/Winter 2016 collection.

However Dundas is adamant that his new project will not just focus on red-carpet gowns and highly embellished party dresses. “Peter’s girl has so many different levels of being able to access things,” says Bousis, who began unofficially working with Dundas during his tenure at Roberto Cavalli, and remains his partner in business and in life. “We live in an age where things are constantly changing and especially with social media, no one wants to wear the same thing twice. They want to be able to access whatever they can at any price point. You really have to give them that. Just because something is less expensive, doesn’t mean there’s not the wow factor to it.”

fabric detail from Dundas’ upcoming collection | Source: Courtesy

Although Dundas is reticent about the sartorial details of his collection, he says it will reflect the lives of the glamorous women that he surrounds himself with, and continue the design narrative he established at Cavalli and Pucci. Dundas and Bousis themselves are constantly on the move, having started the year in Mustique and since flitted between Los Angeles, New York, Italy, Paris, Cannes, Rio, India and Greece. “We travel a lot and we enjoy that and enjoy being in lots of different places,” says Dundas. “Our woman will always get inspiration from places that we’ve seen or she’s seen.”

What marks the ‘Dundas World’ from other newborn brands is that its founders already have a major platform: the red carpet. Dundas and Bousis’ own circle is starry to say the least and earlier this year, Dundas created three custom-made looks for Beyoncé for the 2017 Grammys. The result was a different kind of debut that garnered worldwide attention.

“I had previously made multiple costumes for several of her tours, so we know each other very well and by chance, her stylist Marni [Senofonte] was at BoF VOICES and we bumped into her,” he explains. “She said, ‘We need to do something now, because she’s going to be focusing on her family.’”

It transpired that Knowles was pregnant with twins, a fact still unknown to the world, and Dundas flew to Los Angeles to meet with her. “I’m very good at keeping secrets, so I couldn’t tell my team,” he recalls. “I just gave them the measurements and they were like, ‘Oh you know she’s put some weight on,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, you know, she’s not working right now.’”

The Beyoncé moment was also a great alternative to the fashion calendar as it happened during the womenswear ready-to-wear shows in February. “It kind of matched up in every way for us because I think that the red carpet has been so important for me and it is something that I have a lot of fun with, so it connected with the fashion world in an additional way,” he says.

Peter Dundas’ sketches of Beyoncé’s Grammys looks | Source Instagram.com/Peter_Dundas

Dundas is currently self-funded, but Dundas and Bousis have been in talks with potential investors. The pair say that they are “far along in conversations” but will wait until after Sunday’s presentation to continue them.

“Some of the people that have shown interest in us have shown interest in us because we’re they actually want that fresh point of view, even within their groups that have more established brands,” says Dundas. “For me, today that is also very much what I think gives us the mental and emotional wings to do something like this… I don’t think that you can rely on saying, ‘I’ve been around for 70 years and that’s why we’re such a strong company.’”

Until only a week ago, the team was “three-and-a-half” people and has recently become five. Dundas will continue to work with the same Italian suppliers he previously worked with in Italy, as well as embroiderers in India.

“We’re building the company [like] … a family,” says Bousis. “We don’t want it to be a fashion company that sits in hierarchies and all these people who feel entitled. We want everyone to really feel loved and really love the project and believe in it, that’s kind of the mentality that we have and the mentality that we want to keep.”

 

Meet the fashion archeologist whose Canada 150 dress is fit for 1867

Patrician Preston calls herself a fashion archeologist — someone who takes antique, two-dimensional pattern designs and brings them to life. (Submitted by Patricia Preston)

While everyday technology like smartphones will be used to capture celebrations of Canada 150, one Nova Scotia woman who calls herself a fashion archeologist is commemorating the milestone in a different way.

Patricia Preston, who has a background in linguistics, history and some costume making, designed and sewed a flowing white and red dress accurate to the fashions of Canada’s confederation in 1867.

“That was quite a job,” recalled Preston from her home in Annapolis Royal, the town near Canada’s first European settlement.

“This was a labour of love. I don’t often do this sort of thing.”

From page to sewing table

Preston primarily makes replicas of period-specific patterns. From her “fairly large collection” of French fashion magazines dated from the 1860s to the 1930s, she’s been making and selling patterns since 2007.

“It’s what fashion writers call fashion archeology — to go back in time into old archives and find old designs and basically bring them back for the world to see,” said Preston.

“[The magazines] were never intended to last 100 years or more.”

Canada 150 dress

Preston plans to wear the dress at other events in Nova Scotia this summer. (Submitted by Patricia Preston)

The magazines supply her with pages of superimposed patterns and couture (dressmaking) terminology. She said it takes a special combination of skills to bring them into the present.

Preston said she’ll indulge in making a full garment occasionally or by special request.

Red and white was ‘fashionable’

The pattern for Preston’s Canada 150 dress comes from a French magazine called La Mode Illustrée dated July 1, 1866, she said. The design is inspired by an antique photo album brought to her attention through the local historical society. A resident had found the old photos in their home and was about to throw them out.

“From my understanding and knowledge of history of costume at the time, white and red was a common colour scheme — it was a very fashionable colour scheme,” said Preston.

The finished product is made of cotton Jacquard fabric and silk and took more than a week of five-hour days to complete.

“I looked all over the internet for the right red. A Canada flag sort of red. A clear pure red,” she said. “All the trim is hand applied.”

There’s always next time

Preston said because those French designs were republished in other magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, the style and colour of dress could very easily have been worn by a woman in Annapolis Royal in 1867.

“[The designs] had pretty wide distribution, even in the 1860s,” she said.

Preston said the dress was made for Canada 150, not just for July 1. She plans to wear it later in the summer during the Tall Ship Festival in Halifax and other events.

Canada 150 dress

Preston said it took her a long time on the internet to find the right colour of red silk. (Submitted by Patricia Preston)

THE INTERNET IS FREAKING THE HELL OUT OVER THIS CREEPY VIRAL PHOTO

 

It takes you a moment. At first you think you’re looking at just another selfie of a couple. Every day, people are posting millions of these online. Then you see it. Just over the girl’s right shoulder, in the mirror—the back of the guy’s head, just like normal—and the girl’s evilly grinning twin.

As the Daily Mail determined upon probing this photo by Twitter user Andy Fuentes, there is an obvious explanation, and it’s right there in the text of Fuentes’s tweet.It suddenly seems obvious—using Photoshop or some other image manipulation program, Fuentes decided to make a joke based on his girlfriend’s sign, Gemini—the twins. Everybody have a good laugh and pat the guy on the back, right? Nope. Twitter users weren’t having it.creepy photo

Seriously though, nothing to be scared of here. But as the Mail noted, we still don’t know what was going on almost exactly a year ago when an Twitter user with the handle @itsthemans posted this selfie, which gets more chilling the longer you look at it.

 It’d be easy to ask Mansour, the guy who took the pic, of course. But—his account no longer exists. That’s not creepy at all, right?

‘Proust is the godfather of fashion’: what writers’ clothes reveal about them

The title reads like a provocation: Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore. What? Shouldn’t authors, especially “legendary” ones, be exempt from fashion scrutiny? Surely we should look at their words, not their outfits. If they produced great works of art, who cares how they dressed?

Gertrude Stein at Her Desk in 1936.
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 Gertrude Stein at Her Desk in 1936. Photograph: Hulton Deutsch/Corbis via Getty Images

“When I sat down the first morning and started writing about Samuel Beckett, I thought: ‘Oh, my goodness. Am I doing something completely outrageous?’” says the book’s author, Terry Newman, who teaches fashion journalism at the University for the Creative Arts, Epsom. As it happens, she soon discovered that Beckett was a great place to start: he carried a Gucci bag and loved Clarks Wallabee shoes.

Hemingway working while on safari in 1952.
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 Hemingway working while on safari in 1952. Photograph: Earl Theisen Collection/Getty Images

Newman’s book is full of these crossovers between literature and fashion. There are obvious examples, such as Joan Didion, who appeared in a Céline campaign in 2015, and Dorothy Parker, whose writing career began at Vogue. But some alliances are more surprising. Gertrude Stein, with her monkish hair and opulent brooches, exchanged postcards with couturier Pierre Balmain. Vivienne Westwood was inspired by Joe Orton, and pretty much everyone was inspired by Proust. “Oh, Proust!” Newman says wearily. “He is the godfather of fashion. That 70s disco crowd was all so obsessed with him.” Especially Yves Saint Laurent. This is unlike any Proust criticism I have heard.

Samuel Beckett in 1975.
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 Samuel Beckett in 1975. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Living authors are underrepresented. Zadie Smith is here, as is Donna Tartt. But there is no Stephen King, with his curated casual look, and Karl Ove Knausgaard could feel unappreciated with only a brief entry in the “hair” section. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is another omission since she has a clear look based around graphic dresses. Her 2012 TED talk, We Should All Be Feminists, became a slogan on a Dior T-shirt.

Marcel Proust in 1896.
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 Marcel Proust in 1896. Photograph: Corbis via Getty Images

No one questions the link between fashion style and artistic style for visual artists or actors or musicians, yet the idea seems controversial for authors. The writing-in-pyjamas trope is partly to blame. But writers don’t spend all their time at a desk. They go into the world as authors, and, when they do, there may well be continuity between writing style and clothing style. “Strong voice” – that commodity so prized by agents and editors – is the verbal equivalent of a strong look. It follows that an author’s style might unfold seamlessly from their wardrobes to their books.

Zadie Smith in 2001.
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 Zadie Smith in 2001. Photograph: Sygma via Getty Images

“When people talk about fashion, they think of it as frivolous,” Newman says, although it never seemed so to her. She grew up loving clothes and books. And if you love both, you know that it is possible to critique an outfit just like a sentence. The Booker-longlisted novelist Ned Beauman plays with volume in his prose and dress (he likes Rick Owens). Donna Tartt cultivates sharp angles in her bobbed hair, crisp collars and many-cornered sentences.

Tom Wolfe in 1976.
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 Tom Wolfe in 1976. Photograph: Alamy

Sometimes, a style can reinforce a writerly image and help to sell books, as it did for Ernest Hemingway, Tom Wolfe, Tartt herself – whose first author photo showed her severely bobbed in a snowy graveyard – or David Foster Wallace. His sports socks, trainers and very short shorts are the closest things to the mythical writer’s tracksuit in Newman’s book, but the mishmash doesn’t look effortless. As befits his prose, every item of clothing looks like a footnote to some other outfit.

David Foster Wallace in New York in 2005.
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 David Foster Wallace in New York in 2005. Photograph: Janette Beckman/Getty Images

As Wallace knew, style is inescapable. You cannot opt out of it, in clothing nor in writing. All you can do is to appear not to care. But, of course, that would be just another style.

Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore by Terry Newman is published on 27 July by Harper Design (£20). To order a copy for £17, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Mark Zuckerberg’s dream for education is for kids to learn mostly without teachers

 

Microsoft peddles laptops. Google touts services such as collaborative calendars and spreadsheet-making software. After building their businesses on products that students use, it’s not surprising that tech giants—from actual computer companies to other Silicon Valley darlings like Salesforce and Netflix—are wedging their way into education itself, especially as the US market for education technology is predicted to bloom to $21 billion by 2020. Most tech leaders are getting in by making learning apps, donating to policy campaigns, or partnering with individual schools.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has a slightly different, and much more audacious, idea.

Zuckerberg’s goal is for “a billion students” across the world to be able to learn on their own, via software that his company helps build, with teachers merely looking over their shoulders. As the New York Times (paywall) describes it it:Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, center, greets graduating Harvard students as he walks in a procession though Harvard Yard at the start of Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg is giving a commencement address at Harvard, where he dropped out 12 years ago to focus on Facebook. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

It’s a conception that upends a longstanding teaching dynamic. Now educators are no longer classroom leaders, but helpmates. In public remarks and Facebook posts, Mr. Zuckerberg has described how it works. Students cluster together, working at laptops. They use software to select their own assignments, working at their own pace. And, should they struggle at teaching themselves, teachers are on hand to guide them.

In 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, announced they will eventually give 99% of their Facebook shares to—among a few other causes—transforming education through technology. Their organization to accomplish that aim, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said in March that it will offer a free online software for customizing classroom instruction by the end of the year. The tool “empowers teachers to customize instruction to meet their students’ individual needs and interests”—but its ultimate aim is to have teachers serve as mentors and evaluators, not instructors.

“It’s time for our generation-defining public works,” Zuckerberg said during his graduation speech at Harvard last month. “We can fix this. How about modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online, and personalizing education so everyone can learn?”

Of course, these plans are still more dreams than reality. What Zuckerberg hasn’t done so far is lay out his organization’s detailed path to those lofty goals.

BlackBerry is leveraging its most popular assets to tackle enterprise communications

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On Monday, BlackBerry moved its BBM Enterprise SDK out of beta and is now offering the service to Android and iOS apps, according to VentureBeat.

Developers can use the SDK as a messaging infrastructure, allowing them to focus on building additional parts into their apps. The announcement is in line with BlackBerry’s recent services focus. The company’s turbulent relationship with hardware has forced it to shift focus to software and services over the past 18 months.

BlackBerry is leveraging its messaging app experience, from BBM, to give it an edge over rival enterprise communications companies, such as Twilio. BBM was once the crown jewel of the BlackBerry ecosystem, supporting a wide range of features including read receipts, file sharing, and message editing, as well as voice and video chat. The chat app has been touted as one of BlackBerry’s stickiest offerings.

Moreover, BBM’s strong ties to security could make it an appealing option for businesses. Encryption and cybersecurity continue to be hot topics in the enterprise, particularly as messaging becomes an increasingly important mode of communication, both between businesses and businesses, and businesses and customers. For example, Tundra Core Studios used the BBM SDK to build a messaging function into its app, something possible only due to BlackBerry’s stringent security features, VentureBeat notes.

Cloud computing — on-demand, internet-based computing services — has been successfully applied to many computing functions in recent years. From consumer-facing, web-based productivity apps like Google Docs to enterprise database management suites, the tools businesses rely on are increasingly moving to the cloud.Image result for BlackBerry is leveraging its most popular assets to tackle enterprise communications

But developing a cloud strategy is no easy task. Public cloud solutions will likely come to dominate the market over the next decade, but business constraints, such as security concerns and the limitations of existing infrastructure, make it difficult for companies to fully adopt the public cloud right now.

That means that hybrid clouds, in which multiple cloud implementations (including public and private) are connected, will remain popular for the time being, at least until these constraints are addressed. The tech giants that dominate the IaaS market — Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and Google — are constantly expanding their offerings to address current business constraints as they compete for market share.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on cloud computing that:

  • Explains the different cloud computing strategies and benefits of cloud computing.
  • Evaluates key business considerations – security needs, demand predictability, existing infrastructure, and maintenance capabilities – for enterprises choosing between cloud implementations..

 

Is Nokia Ready to Take India by Storm?

 

This episode of Orbital focuses on Nokia’s new smartphone launches. Nokia launched three Android phones – Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. These three Android phones have been hotly anticipated but will they be able to make a mark in a market where there are so many good mid-range Android phones? Games editor Rishi Alwani and “former” host Pranay Parab join host Aditya Shenoy to discuss.

We start the episode by talking about the three Nokia smartphones and whether the hardware matches up against what the competition has to offer. We look at the specifications of the three Nokia smartphones and wonder whether they can take on excellent mid-range and budget smartphones from rivals.Is Nokia Ready to Take India by Storm?

Nokia’s distribution strategy is also a big point of discussion. We wonder why Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 are offline exclusive and why Nokia 6 is an Amazon exclusive. Rishi and Pranay offer theories about this, before we look at Nokia’s official comments on its strategy.
Then Aditya brings up the topic of after sales service. We talk about how difficult it is to provide good service and whether Nokia can differentiate itself from competition on this front. Finally, we close the episode by talking about Nokia’s naming strategy for its smartphones.

 

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is like an ultra-realistic Skyrim set in the Holy Roman Empire

Kingdom Come: Deliverance has positioned itself as a “realistic Elder Scrolls game.” Taking the first-person viewpoint, the wide-open world, and the get-better-at-a-skill-by-using-it talent system, there are definite similarities.

Just leave all the magic and dragons and whatever behind. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a period drama set in the Holy Roman Empire of the early 1400s, within the kingdom of Bohemia. You play the lazy son of a master blacksmith whose village is invaded and burned to the ground by King Sigismund.

That really happened. King Sigismund did in fact invade this village and raze it, we were told during our demo. It’s excellent impetus for your own rags-to-riches adventure, but has basis in actual historical fact.

kingdom come deliverance 4

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

So “Realistic Elder Scrolls game” is perhaps understating the whole endeavor. It’s obsessive. Listening to Warhorse Studios describe Kingdom Come: Deliverance, it seems like a game tailor-made for history buffs. Every village in the game is an actual historical village in the 1400s. Most of the important characters were also pulled straight from history, with accompanying codex entries the length of a mini-encyclopedia hidden within the menus. Even the maps are done up in the style of the times, with a hand-drawn medieval look I don’t think I’ve seen used in a game before.

It’s like Assassin’s Creed without the accompanying layer of conspiracy theories, more a work of living history than a game in some regards.

Don’t get me wrong, though: It’s an ambitious game too. Our demo focused on the opening 30 minutes of the game, so we didn’t get to see much in the way of story. I pretty much spent my time hauling coal to my father’s forge and then helping him create a sword for the nearby lord.

kingdom come deliverance 2

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

But Warhorse did speak in broader terms about the world it’s building—one that’s a far more reactive take on the open-world RPG. For instance, an early quest tasked us with recovering a debt from a local drunkard. With the right stats we could of course talk the money out of him, or we could beat it out of him. If we fail in that regard, we could return and tell our father, at which point he’ll take care of it. Or if you keep exploring, you might find some other way around the quest, maybe some fellow youths to teach you how to break into the drunkard’s house.

Many of these quests are also time-limited, which further changes how events play out. Another early quest has you grab a beer for your father on the way home. “Get one from the cellar so it’s still cold,” he says as you dash off. Buy the beer and come back immediately and your dear ol’ dad will drink full to bursting. Get distracted, though? The beer warms up, and your dad will lament his lazy son again.

This is a minor example, but from the looks of it Kingdom Come is studded with time-sensitive events that lead to entire quests or quest paths, all sorts of people actually going about their lives and you’re just one more peasant in their midst. It’s very A Mind Forever Voyaging in that regard, or Pathologic—the latter another Elder Scrolls-alike, actually.

kingdom come deliverance 6

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

You can even lock yourself out of quests entirely. Warhorse stated that it wants the main quest to be modular, easily completed no matter the path you choose, but side quests can end at any moment, either before you’ve even started or (if you really screw up) right in the middle of one. If you’re feeling truly sadistic you can even kill quest givers. That’s one way to fail.

Then there are the small touches I’ve already come to love. Saving the game requires drinking alcohol, and only a certain amount can be carried at a time, limiting the amount of save-scumming. And if you wear a helmet into a battle the screen occludes appropriately—you’ll get a narrow band of vision in the middle, surrounded by black.

 

The Ryzen 7 1700X is less than $300 at Walmart right now

 

Today you can get a high-end AMD Ryzen 7 CPU for less than $300 if you’re willing to put in a little physical effort. The processor in question is the Ryzen 7 1700X, an eight-core, 3.4GHz processor.

This particular price can be found at Walmart. While you can also grab the 1700X on sale at Newegg ($350 until midnight PDT), Walmart has an extra discount available for people willing to head to a store. As Slickdeals points out, if you opt for in-store pickup, the retailer will drop another $59.38 off the sale price of $355. That’s a final cost of about $296.

The Ryzen 7 1700X has a 3.4GHz clock speed with a max boost of 3.8GHz, and it features eight cores, 16 threads, and a TDP of 95W. It doesn’t come with a fan, though, so you’ll have to pick-up your own CPU cooler. We usually recommend the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, since it’s cheap and effective.

 ryzen box 1 of 1

Not a whole lot has changed with the Ryzen 7 series since we looked at it last. They’re fantastic for tasks such as productivity and content creation, but the chips aren’t quite as fast as Intel’s Kaby Lake chips in gaming. Still, they’re fine processors nonetheless, and getting even better with updates.

If you do go for this deal make sure you check out our tutorial on 7 tips and tricks to maximize your PC’s performance with AMD Ryzen.

ryzen1700xAM

[ Today’s deal: The Ryzen 7 1700X for $350 at Newegg and $296 at Walmart with in-store pickup ]

Sony consolidating its flagships is probably for the best

 

Despite not performing as well as many of the other big brands in the smartphone business, Sony has made it clear that it will stick it out in the handset market. The latest reports suggest that the company has two more flagship models heading our way this year.

While still unconfirmed, it appears that Sony is looking to consolidate its premium tier of smartphones with its upcoming releases. A move that I believe not only makes financial sense, but is likely to help the company’s struggling brand awareness too. Even if this means that a few consumer favourites, such as the Compact range, may be sacrificed.

Xperia XYZ

Sony has long been criticized for releasing too many smartphones, and this goes right back to the days of the Z1, Z3, and Z3+, etc. Arguably, the situation has become even more confusing in the past year or so, following Sony’s adoption of its Premium and Performance branding.

400 quatloos to whoever can detail the differences between the Xperia XZ, XZs, XZ Premium, X Compact, X Performance, and the regular X model off the top of their head.

400 quatloos to whoever can detail the differences between the Xperia XZ, XZs, XZ Premium, X Compact, X Performance, and the regular X model off the top of their head. Remember, that’s just over one year’s worth of premium tier releases from Sony. While we enthusiasts have the benefit of breaking down spec sheets for fun, imagine how bewildering this range would look stacked up on a physical store display. How would you pick?

It’s no wonder that marketing seems completely absent for so many of Sony’s phones, yet a clear cut message and notable differentiation is essential when trying to market premium tier products to consumers. By cutting out its “Premium Standard” models – which includes the Xperia X and X Compact – Sony will almost certainly see an improvement to consumer understanding of its product range. This instantly helps with marketing and will importantly make its product range easier to breakdown and compare to other flagship models.

That being said, releasing four premium tier products a year is still probably a couple too many. Although if there’s a notable differentiation between some of them, such as a Compact or Phablet model released part way through the year ala LG’s V series or Samsung’s Note, then this might just fly.

It’s time to cut costs

Furthermore, eliminating the diversity of its top-tier products could be a sensible cost cutting measure for a company whose mobile division pulls in considerably less revenue than the likes of Apple and Samsung. We know that Sony Mobile has been underperforming financially for a while now, so this is a much needed move.

Even if Sony doesn’t actually cut down the number of high-end products it releases each year, it’s still looking like four, manufacturing phones with more components in common saves hugely on costs. Component stock can be shared between models, meaning that Sony won’t get caught out holding a lot of mid-tier processors if a phone doesn’t sell. Similarly, software development and support costs and times are lowered, as chip and hardware feature implementations can be shared.

Currently, across Sony’s Premium Standard and Flagship models you’ll find a Snapdragon 650, 820, and 835, combined with a selection of 4K, 1080p, and 720p panels and various Quick Charge implementations. Distilling this down to a single core specification but packaged in different sized units, as Samsung is does with the S8 and S8 Plus, would be more cost effective. But we’ll have to wait and see if that’s actually what Sony has planned.

The drawbacks

Of course, such a move makes it inevitable that some of Sony’s more interesting products will disappear. The Compact range remains a favourite of those who want a powerful phone in a small form factor, but it’s always been a more niche product than more profitable phablets. It’s likely that the Compact range will be a casualty if Sony follows through with this plan, unless the company makes an unlikely move and releases a sub 5-inch flagship as one of its two releases reportedly planned for later in the year.

The Compact range remains a favourite of those who want a powerful phone in a small form factor, but it’s likely to be a casualty of Sony’s reshuffle.

Similarly, the value proposition of the Xperia X also looks set to disappear. While this diversity is part of Sony’s problem, there’s something to be said about offering a cost competitive alternative to the big players in order to gain market share. I don’t know how well this would work out for Sony as a Plan A, but the overshadowed Xperia X didn’t exactly seem like a solid commitment that we could use to gauge consumer appetite from. Sony would clearly rather view itself competing at the premium tier rather than fighting it out in the bargain bin.

These and other interesting products, such as the Z Ultra, have previously helped Sony stand out, and there is a risk that simply copying the a formula used by others could cause Sony’s Xperia handsets to become further lost in the crowd, especially if the hardware isn’t all that different between generations.

Could Sony consolidate further?

Perhaps then, simply reshuffling its flagship models doesn’t go far enough to revamp the company’s image and portfolio in a way that will make a meaningful difference. In reality, it looks like Sony is essentially going back to its previous method of two major announcements a year, which will probably be just as infuriating as it was with the Xperia Z series.

Instead, I think Sony could do with being bolder, releasing yet fewer products but with a clearer purpose to each. Really, only one major flagship per year is required, with perhaps a secondary product released to maintain momentum. Apple, Samsung, LG, and to a lesser extent Huawei have done quite well using this model.

I would quite happily take a bells and whistles flagship Xperia launch at the start of the year, followed up by a compelling aggressively priced S or Compact model part way through the year to cater to those who didn’t fancy splashing the cash on one of the year’s flagships. Two meaningful handsets that don’t cannibalize each other and that could be marketed with a suitable budget to finally give the brand some much needed recognition. But what do I know?