Category Archives: Luxury

A World for Men to Shop

**Just thought I’d share a feature I contributed to the 2012 Department Store Yearbook. It’s an in-depth look at the shape of men’s retail today (in store and online) and presents a world of possibility for brands and retailers. Enjoy!

Men finally have their very own stores to shop in after sharing retail space with womenswear for decades. The reason for the shift comes as a result of both a more educated male customer, and also because men are more into fashion and largely making their own buying decisions without influence from their female counterparts. That means that the time is right for retailers and e-tailers to finally market to guys, cultivating their very own man cave to explore.

MEN’S-ONLY DESTINATIONS

One of the pioneers of the men’s-only retail concept is J. Crew. In 2008 the Liquor Store (named for its former use) opened in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, selling an expanded selection of men’s products, which had previously only sold under one roof alongside womenswear. J. Crew’s men’s-only stores have had much success and are attributed to revitalizing the menswear business. The stores now boast 4 locations, 3 in New York City and 1 in a mall in New Jersey. Aside from offering a complete universe of J. Crew menswear and select third-party brands, each location retains elements from the store’s former use, such as the aforementioned liquor store signage as well as a bank vault used to display product at another location. Accessories and lifestyle products that inspire each store are also factored in including coffee table books, DVDs and vintage items.

Ralph Lauren has also helped cultivate men’s-only retail by turning his New York City Rhinelander Mansion into a 4-story men’s destination in 2010. While Mr. Lauren has always been a master of visual merchandising, it’s important to note that in this instance, as well as the other examples, simply creating a more “masculine” concept of the women’s stores isn’t the answer. At Mr. Lauren’s men’s-only address, 5 different brand labels are featured amidst displays like a hunting lodge. Customization and personalization services also heighten the experience. And as is the case with most men’s-only stores, the women’s store is located conveniently right across the street.

European luxury brands are also expanding into men’s-only retail outlets. 2010 was a telling year starting with Hermes Man on Madison Avenue in New York. In Paris, Balenciaga opened the first freestanding men’s store with a high-tech look featuring cube displays and an illuminated staircase.

Dries Van Noten also went the route of men’s-only in Paris and sells one-of-a-kind products not sold elsewhere. In Fall 2011, another crop of luxury brands opened men’s-only locales, including Christian Louboutin in Paris, Jimmy Choo in London (a simultaneous men’s collection and store launch) and Valentino in Hong Kong.

With so many designers and brands going the route of brick-and-mortar men’s-only stores, it will become increasingly difficult for department stores to differentiate themselves. If you’re a department store with only a selection of a branded product, the customer is going to go to the designer’s store for greater assortment. One solution would be collaborations between retailers and brands to provide “exclusive” product and drive customers into department stores. It is also becoming more important for department stores to invest in their own private label lines, which can be used to fill a void in merchandise and also help in developing a unique identity. Keeping in mind that men tend to be highly brand/store loyal, department stores have the added advantage of selling familiar labels, while also introducing new ones that customers will be more open to because they’re right next to their favorite brands. The key to this is finding the right balance to make the customer feel at home with the brands they know, while presenting just the right amount of newness.

THE LANGUAGE OF SHOPPING ONLINE & EDITORIALS

Knowing that we are now dealing with a more educated and interested customer, the key to success for brands and retailers is to engage the male audience. Recognizing the fact that men shop differently than women is key, and so far the e-commerce route has been much more editorial, speaking to a man’s quest for information and advice.

Launched in February 2011, Mr Porter, the male extension of Net-a-Porter, has already achieved much success. The e-tailer features extensive editorial content ranging from brand introductions to style icons and lifestyle tips. Much of the point there is to engage the customer into what to wear and how to wear it. The site’s Style Advice section is popular for answering common questions from an expert, and then suggesting related products to purchase. Recognizing that there is still the demand for women shoppers, Mr Porter also launched a guide geared to women buying for men.

Gilt Groupe, the American purveyor of flash sales, has also quickly grown into several male outlets. First there was Gilt Man, the flash sale site in which 400,000 male customers proved that women are not alone in their quest for discounted impulse buys. Then, GiltMANual was introduced as an editorial outlet providing fashion news, mostly drawing viewers back to flash sales.

In August 2011, Gilt launched Park & Bond, a full-priced men’s site which not only offers a full assortment of products, but also provides more extensive advice and editorials. Furthering the cross between editorials and retail, GQ magazine teamed up with Park & Bond for a brick-and-morter pop-up store in New York City just in time for Holiday 2011.

Coach has had men in mind ever since the launch of their first men’s-only store in New York City back in 2010. While the brick-and-mortar store concept continues to expand (a new men’s store recently opened in Las Vegas and a Coach Men’s pop-up opened in London for the holidays), Coach has a men’s Facebook page which has harbored over 14,000 fans since May 2011. The goal here is parallel to other editorial initiatives, featuring products and features such as “Did you Know” with the goal to educate the customer.


The younger male customer is also becoming more responsive to editorials. Topman recently launched Topman Generation, a monthly online magazine that features icons, music, film and art. The only connection to product is noted on items worn by featured personalities, with the end point once again speaking to engage the customer.

A STYLISH RELATIONSHIP: MAN & BRAND

It’s an exciting time in men’s retail. The eagerness of men to listen and learn makes retail and e-tail environments much more enticing. We are no longer only speaking to wife or girlfriend who tends to buy exactly what they’re looking for; instead we’re providing the story behind brands and educating men on what to wear and how to wear it. Knowing that men and women shop differently in both brick-and-mortar and online environments means that we can now provide men with the right options to engage them, increasing loyalty and encouraging an ongoing style relationship.

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Filed under Brands, Collaborations, Designer, Lifestyle, Luxury, Magazines, Retail, Websites

Fashion’s Night Out: MOSCOW Edition!

привет from Moscow! I’m here all week doing seminars as part of the launch of Fashion Snoops in Russia. Exciting stuff AND I just so happened to be here for Fashion’s Night Out Moscow, which was held Tuesday September 6, 2011.

This is the second time Moscow is participating in the global event which is FNO, and since I’m already familiar with NYC and Paris editions, I couldn’t wait to check out Moscow.

For the event, supermodel Natasha Poly partnered with VOGUE magazine to create 1,500 tote bags with her image on it. The tote bags were sold along with Russian VOGUE for 2,000 Rubles (about $65) with proceeds going to the “Who if not I” charity. Although I would never buy FNO NYC or Paris gear, I felt compelled to be a part of this event because it was my first time in Moscow and in general I applaud the FNO efforts to get people shopping.

First stop was department store TsUM, where I purchased my tote bag and Russian VOGUE at a FNO kiosk. The store drew quite a fashion crowd (as well as a personal appearance of Natasha Poly later in the evening) and congregated on the first floor in the midst of Russian designer clothing and sea of beauty counters and free champagne. The well-heeled elitist crowd mingled and interviews were hosted. I found it kind of ironic, though telling, that the crowd was dressed head-to-toe in international non-Russian designers. Labels like Balenciaga and Chloe offered special gifts with purchase, as a FNO incentive.

Next stop was GUM, the stunning luxury shopping mall in Red Square with illuminated exterior (and intriguing history). All the usual luxury brands were present on the ground level including Louis Vuitton, Etro, Dior and Hermes. There was a FNO kiosk in the middle of the mall, however the limited-edition products and/or gifts seemed to be absent from most retailers with the exception of a special Moschino bag and Etro t-shirt for FNO. The mall environment – while spectacular in general – seemed to draw less foot traffic and even though many designer stores served snacks and drinks, the energy was just not there. However, Louis Vuitton featured a fun board cutout of the illustrated F12 collection which I convinced Julia, my FNO partner in crime, to pose for with me. Photos at FNO in front of logo-clad backdrops are fun but I much prefer props like the LV cutout or the double G’s at Gucci in Paris last year.

Unfortunately I think I was a little more excited about FNO Moscow than the event itself, however I was happy to experience another FNO city. In retrospect, NYC is still the ultimate event. Last year I thought the event was too exclusive in Paris (it was invitation only, and only designer stores on 1 street participated). In comparison, Moscow attracted a similar crowd as Paris, though the atmosphere was less enticing. Being a New Yorker I am a strong believer in the democratization of fashion, which I think should be encouraged in major cities. But then again I remind myself that Anna Wintour of Vogue in NY created FNO and each Vogue editor is responsible for the execution of the event in their city. Of course there’s no place like New York, but when it comes to getting people excited and into stores, market expansion beyond luxury brands goes a long way.

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A Cultural History of Louis Vuitton Trunks

In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to catch museum exhibits at the last minute. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Voyage en Capitale: Louis Vuitton & Paris. But this isn’t really about clothes. It’s about Vuittons’ behind the Vuitton. You know, the ones who established those heritage trunks. And I’m not really one for monograms, though I would gladly make an exception for any one of the magnificent trunks featured in the show. The exhibit starts out in the 1850s and progresses through the centuries to current day artistic collaborations. It’s a cultural history that touches upon each and every tailor-made trunk from Jeanne Lanvin to Damien Hirst, doll and Red Cross pharmacy cases. I left the exhibition inspired, and wondering why in this day in age luggage companies don’t take a cue from exquisite compartmentalized Vuitton trunks. Anyone in Paris should surely make their best effort to get there this weekend. For more information, visit the website.

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Fashion’s Night Out: Paris Edition

I just got back from 4 hours of Fashion’s Night Out in Paris. The verdict? Très chic, but not nearly the extravaganza that is FNO New York.

For starters, FNO Paris is held in only 1 neighborhood, the Triangle d’or in the 8th arrondissment which consists of Avenue Montaigne, Rue François 1er, Avenue George V and Avenue Franklin-Roosevelt. If you’re familiar with Paris, you know that this area is where all the luxury flagships are. 60 stores in total participated in the event and of course I plotted out a plan of attack before heading out with my fellow colleagues Laura and Marcos.

1st Stop: Gucci.


Featuring photo shoots with leather G’s as props, most people posed as what I like to refer to as “yearbook” style portraits.


Laura, Marcos and I mixed it up a bit and “fought” with intertwined G’s. They took 2 pics before I think they were scared of what we would do next.. A video screen allowed you to view the photos and print them out. Apparently they’ll also show up on Gucci’s facebook page.


Take 1.


Take 2.


Not to be outdone by French Vogue’s fashion director Emmanuelle Alt who styled looks from Gucci’s F10/11 collection in a live photo shoot.


Styled look #1, a maxi dress, bag and necklace. Really?


The crowd.


On our way out, Laura spotted one of the guys from Daft Punk.. photo op!

2nd Stop: Jil Sander

Jil Sander featured what seemed like all of the new Jil Sander Navy collection for Spring 11 from Parisian blogger Garance Doré. It was a nice opportunity to get up close and personal with the new collection, though most visitors seemed more interested in the champers and macaroons.

3rd Stop: Dior


CrowdED line for champagne.


3D shades.


The showing of Dior’s Fall 10 couture show behind 3D specs.


The images don’t do it justice.. 3D couture Dior runway, simply amazing.

4th & Final Stop: Manoush

Not quite sure if it’s fair to count this one, as we waited on line for quite a while until calling it a night without making it inside. Anyway, Manoush (indeed the ONLY worthwhile non-luxury stop on the list), amplified its circus theme with balloons and clowns.

All in all it was definitely a fun night with copious amounts of champagne at every store and some great events (the 3D couture show at Dior was my favorite). I’d have to say that my big problem with FNO Paris is that it had a very exclusive feel to it, versus NY where the whole point is that everyone is invited. You needed actual INVITES from EACH STORE to enter! I must have missed the memo on that one, but we made it in almost all stores on my list (minus Louis Vuitton which was apparently closed by the time we got there and Marni which insisted on a Marni invite for entry). The other negative which is rather obvious is that limiting FNO Paris to only 1 neighborhood (with 98% luxury flagships) is kind of missing the point of some great (and well known) contemporary French labels. I would have loved to seen events in Le Marais with labels like The Kooples, Isabel Marant, A.P.C., etc.

And of course the entire point is to get people into the stores with buzz-worthy events, which most of the above had. To me the crowds were also bearable without being excessive. The mesh of fashion people and luxury shoppers was kind of something else – with some of the luxe camp gawking at the younger fashion set (i.e. our tug o’ war photo shoot with the Gucci G’s). On the grander scheme of things, NY’s Fashion Night Out is certainly unrivaled by its countless events across several neighborhoods, and I could only hope that in the future Paris’ FNO develops into a more inclusive event with a wider market (and neighborhood) reach. That alone may just do the trick to get the younger fashion set to balance their pocketbooks and champagne at the same time.

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Feel The Film: Burberry

Burberry was one of the first luxury brands to “get it” in terms of relaying a luxurious lifestyle on their website. Art Of The Trench deserves all the endless praise it has achieved from the beginning, especially with relaying the brand’s heritage message to today’s street-obsessed culture. But now chief creative officer Christopher Bailey is up to something else with true WOW factor, that extends beyond the brand’s 3-D runway show in February and previous video look books.

Burberry’s Fall 10 ad campaign, shot by Mario Testino, is now digital and interactive on burberry.com. The photos below don’t do it justice – it’s something you need to see and “feel” to believe. The way you could move the screen to see different views, models walking, picking up bags or trench coat collars, is really kind of amazing. It’s as if you are going deep into the depths of every image to uncover another layer which would otherwise go unnoticed. The music set to this new feature really helps push the “feeling” element forward.

I can only expect that from this initiative, once Fall product is available, there will also be a link from the interactive campaign to buy product, much like the video look books did in the past.

In related news, Bailey has also launched an initiative that channels his passion for music. Burberry Acoustic features hand-picked emerging British bands which so far include Life in Film, Mitsy Miller and Ramona.

While there is no real visual evidence of a marketing tie-in on Burberry Acoustic, apparently some band members are wearing Burberry pieces mixed in with their own clothes. While that’s all good and fine, the recent Spring 11 menswear show video has also been added to the same area of the site. Placing runway right next to new music videos has me kind of puzzled. I’m all for groundbreaking fashion films, technology and music tie-ins; my only concern would be that too many different types of media might become overwhelming to the customers, depending on placement. For example, will customers be able to shop from the ad campaign, video look book, runway and by category? When it comes to videos, I feel like maybe 1 or 2 media formats are enough, more than that may become a bit excessive.

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The Louis Vuitton Maison

The Louis Vuitton website calls its new London flagship “A new store opening to celebrate 125 years of history.. in the fashion capital of the world.” Indeed the luxury giant’s new digs on New Bond Street which opened on Friday seem to be what everyone is talking about. And while I have yet to see it to believe it, the London maison is said to rival that of the house’s Champs Elysées maison in Paris. Oh yeah.

Well, Peter Marino, the same guy who did the Paris flagship is also responsible for the new London maison, so we would expect nothing less extraordinary, non? What to look forward to: 3-levels of LV luxury, a nod to heritage with LV trunks galore, a LED staircase, original artwork from names such as Takashi Murakami, exclusive products, a men’s club area and the Librairie which will host British art books. Oh and the second floor is actually dripping of luxury, as it’s the private client suite whereby access is only granted by invitation. The architect’s idea was to emulate the home of a collector with the ultimate and most rare products.

Indeed, a definite see-to-believe but for all the dough that went into the London maison, it seems as if it may be a bit too much like a gallery, as in see, don’t touch. I’m sure the experience will generate oohs and aahs but might I suggest a lack of interaction between shoppers and LV the great, lest one makes it up to the second floor I suppose.

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McQueen Moves Forward With Burton

This week surely has no shortage of news regarding new designers at luxury houses. We had Giles to Ungaro and then Lemaire to Hermès and now a successor to Alexander McQueen.

Sarah Burton, McQueen’s first assistant has been named Creative Director of the luxury house and everyone seems quite pleased with the decision. Even Cathy Horyn over at the New York Times said that “She’s the only person really qualified for the job.” Point taken. While the name Sarah Burton isn’t as widely known, she was McQueen’s very first assistant back in 1996 while she studied at Central Saint Martins and has worked side-by-side with the late designer up until his death this past February. I think I speak for the industry when I say that everyone is quite pleased with the decision, and I look forward to seeing McQueen’s legacy progress through the eyes of Sarah Burton.


Alexander McQueen, Fall 10

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