That’s what Financo Inc. intends to convey at its annual forum today at the Harmonie Club, 4 East 60th Street, even though mobile technology and online sales dominated the retail dialogue last year.
“Stores remain the showcase for brands,” said Colin Welch, Financo’s president and chief operating officer. “People aren’t talking enough about the future of stores, which are critical to the lifestyle positioning that many brands seek to achieve.”
Financo forums have a history of taking some interesting turns and today’s installment should be no exception. Financo’s chairman Gilbert Harrison, chief executive officer John Berg and Welch want to keep the agenda focused on stores and how they will evolve, on how online and mobile technologies can support the brick-and-mortar business and the convergence of the channels. They also expect the panelists to tackle such topics as global growth and which regions are ripe, and “high-low” shopping, which is about consumers creating outfits that mix couture looks with moderate styles, like a Chanel jacket and an H&M jean, to reflect more of their personal style.
The Financo executives pointed out in an interview at their Madison Avenue offices last week that stores will always account for the lion’s share of retail revenues. It’s estimated at roughly 90 percent currently and the rate of online sales growth, while still robust, began to slow last year. According to ComScore Inc., which tracks the digital world, online sales gains for the November to December period rose a healthy 13.8 percent but came in short of the 16 percent expected.
In a break from the past, the Financo Forum won’t feature the usual retail suspects. This year’s panel will include Paul Blum, the new ceo of Juicy Couture who is charged with reinvigorating the once red-hot label; Lew Frankfort, chairman and ceo of Coach Inc., who was ranked 21st on the Harvard Business Review’s list of the best-performing ceo’s in the world, and Eric Wiseman, chairman, president and ceo of VF Corp., one of the best-run fashion conglomerates with about two dozen brands under its umbrella including The North Face, Wrangler, Lee and Timberland.
Danny Meyer, founder and ceo of the Union Square Hospitality Group, will be on the panel as well. He’s been rolling out Shake Shacks, and has a portfolio of fine-dining establishments including the Modern, Gramercy Tavern and Maialino, a Roman-style trattoria in the Gramercy Park Hotel. On the surface, Meyer seems like a choice out of left field for the Financo Forum, though Harrison emphasized that food and restaurants are becoming more important to retail settings. Whether it’s ABC Carpet & Home or Applebee’s, service, hospitality and the experience are key ingredients.
In another break from the past, Sagra Maceira de Rosen, a strategy and investment adviser and author of “The Towering World of Jimmy Choo,” will moderate the group, instead of Harrison. But he will step up to the plate during the Q&A portion, directing questions from the audience and possibly throwing out some zingers of his own.
The 23-year-old Financo Forum will be packed with 275 industry executives, including more than 100 ceo’s. “Almost 70 percent of the attendees are at the c-suite level, compared to 50 percent last year,” Welch said. “Our international representation, about 15 percent of the audience, includes c-level executives of leading retailers from the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China and Canada.”
The by-invitation-only event starts at 4:30 p.m. with the panel and winds up with a cocktail hour.
“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
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye