No one is raving about the retail business, only parts of it.
Luxury, off-price and online are the best sectors, while regular stores, moderate and lower-priced merchandise are generally flat, according to a group of retail chief executive officers speaking separately on Bloomberg Radio’s “Titans of Retail” show Friday, making for a sobering synopsis.
“In the U.S., the best category is luxury. The highest demographic customers are really shopping in full force,” said Richard Baker, chairman and ceo of Hudson’s Bay Co. The moderate sector is “rather flat, not negative,” he added, in his conversation with show hosts Kathleen Hays and Vonnie Quinn and guest host Kenneth C. Natori, vice president of The Natori Co.
Baker was followed by Tony Spring, Bloomingdale’s chairman and ceo, who said, “We continue to see good business growth across the country. Clearly there are pockets where business is a little softer.”
“Business is good, not great. It’s OK,” Bill Dillard III, vice president of Dillard’s, said later. Told Dillard’s stock is up 25 percent year-to-date, closing at $121.80 on Friday, Dillard said, “We’re not setting the world on fire. We’re grinding it out and making some money....Great products, a good assortment, great service — those things will never go out of vogue.”
“We think there’s a massive opportunity to bring brands online and extend those brands into any channel the customer wants,” said Dave Gilboa, cofounder and co-ceo of Warby Parker, who was inspired to start the company in college when he lost his $700 glasses. Warby, which has raised $115 million, is investing in technology and stores.
Karen Katz, president and ceo of the Neiman Marcus Group, noted that the company had been quick to respond to the challenge of developing e-commerce and that it accounts for more than 23 percent of revenues. “We believe we’ve actually figured out how to sell luxury online to the affluent consumer,” she said.
The investments necessary to develop a strong e-commerce business played a role in the company’s decision last year to sell itself to Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $6 billion, rather than testing the waters of an initial public offering. She said among the criteria considered were a new owners’ understanding of “what it is to serve affluent customers” and a willingness to invest capital for renovations and the e-commerce business.
Starting as an e-commerce pure-play, Bonobos has recently modified its business model to go omnichannel since customers “want to touch and feel clothes,” said Andy Dunn, ceo and cofounder of Bonobos, the men’s pants company that has ventured into men’s tailored clothing, furnishings and through the AYR brand, women’s wear. A recent round of financing, which generated $55 million, will allow Bonobos to “triple or quadruple” the number of its guide shops in the next few years from 10 currently. The shops have taught the company that “customers don’t have to walk out of a store with the product in their hands,” Dunn said.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews