Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
from Shop Talk:
Coach's Lew Frankfort has given up trying to teach American men about fashion, but he still sees opportunity for expanding sales to a male clientele.
"I believe the American male is largely uneducable," Coach Chairman and CEO Frankfort said at the Reuters Global Luxury Summit in New York.
"We need to focus on the segment of males that have real discerning taste. But I can also say that even the undiscerning American male is a smart consumer: that person is looking for a product that is durable, that is classic, that can stand the test of time and that's what our products do," Frankfort said.
Sales of Coach's man-bags, wallets and other accessories represent 5 percent of its total take, and that is one area where the company is trying to build growth. At a test store for men only, on Bleecker Street in Manhattan, it has seen sales results run at about triple its own expectations, Frankfort said.
"There's a lot of appetite among the discerning male for quality accessories made out of excellent materials that are stylish. ... In North America, the male consumer remains heavily utilitarian-driven, replacement-oriented, value-based. There are discerning males in Boise, Idaho. I don't mean to suggest there aren't."
(Photo of Frankfort/Reuters)
from Shop Talk:
Bashful New York bargain hunters may finally be able to guard their modesty at one of the city's biggest annual retail events, as luxury chain Barney's is considering adding dressing rooms at its mobbed New York warehouse sale.
While well-educated and well-heeled professionals don't think twice about unleashing their animal instincts to grab the best designer merchandise at 75 percent off, many are reticent about stripping down in public to make sure they have the right size before ringing up a final sale.
from Shop Talk:
From our apparel reporter Nivedita Bhattacharjee:
Luxury brands in the United States might still have a lot to learn from the entrenched design houses in Europe, but their commitment to pleasing the customer serves them well as the market returns from recession.
Milton Pedraza, Chief Executive of the Luxury Institute, told us during the Reuters Global Luxury Summit today that the commitment to customer service could even become a real point of differentiation for American brands.
"The American brands and even the Burberrys of the world tend to be better at customer-centricity, at service, and could make that a competitive advantage, because the Europeans are not as service-oriented, more product-oriented," he said.
"The Europeans are not as service-oriented, (they are) more product-oriented, and they will even tell you that."
If one is looking for an explanation behind the attitudes, Pedraza invoked a time well before Hermes opened its doors in 1837.
"A French executive told me that the word 'service' ... is equated with servility and (goes) back to the French revolution and is why the French don't like to serve anybody."
from Shop Talk:
Check out what executives at luxury retailers around the world are saying about consumer demand.
Early feedback from the Reuters Global Luxury Summit, which gathered top executives from Asia, Europe and the United States, sounds positive. Some executives even predicted that the sector will rebound this year after suffering during the weak economy.
Hardly a day goes by now without some Chinese firm striking a deal to buy assets overseas, but the country’s best prospects for growth may be right in its own backyard. Vivi Lin in Beijing reports on how the world’s workshop is fast becoming one of the world’s top consumers.
For most of us, printing e-mails or making copies is just part of the daily routine in the office. But, the paper we use does come from somewhere. Last week, we had the opportunity to visit Stora Enso’s Nymolla Mill in southern Sweden to get an exclusive look at how MultiCopy paper is made. Nymolla is an integrated mill (it produces pulp and paper on the same site) and most of the wood used is sourced locally. Also interesting, the mill is the only one I could find in the world that emits zero carbon dioxide from fossil fuels during the paper making process. Check out my look inside the Nymolla Mill.
Today I had the chance to sit down with the CEO of Liz Claiborne in our Times Square studios as part of the 2009 Reuters Global Retail Summit. Bill McComb says “the world has changed and it’s not going back to business as usual.” Click here to listen to what McComb described as the “new normal” and what the fashion company is doing to change the way it does business.
Interior designer Jonathan Adler points to his quirky and irreverent housewares as part of his success during the current economic environment. Click here to listen to what he has to say about his design aesthetic and how gloomy times might be driving people to bring home a little “happy chic.”
This week we’re getting inside views from some of the biggest names in retail…from high-end fashion houses like Hermes to department store chain J.C. Penney. Optimism among those in the industry about a turnaround toward the end of 2009 springs eternal…but what are you seeing? Where are you spending? Or, are you trading down? Ditching Saks and heading to Target? Barclays retail analyst Bob Drbul says the key for consumers in the current economic environment, no matter where they shop, is “value.” Click here to hear his thoughts:
The luxury goods industry has been hit hard by the downturn as consumers, worried about job security and the health of their economy, shied away from indulging in upmarket shopping.
Most-seriously hit products have been big-ticket items such as Swiss watches, followed by jewelery and fashion apparel. Leather goods such as handbags and shoes have proven more resilient.