NEW YORK — In an effort to educate and inspire 150 members of its design and merchandising staff, Liz Claiborne Inc. held its annual "White Space" seminar at the Museum of Natural History here on Thursday.
As part of the event, the company offered a panel discussion titled "Retail's Moment of Redefinition" and called upon industry experts such as Linda Fargo, senior vice president, women's fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman; Stefani Greenfield, co-founder of Scoop stores; Richard Hodos, retail real estate expert with clients including Michael Kors and Jonathan Adler; John Bartlett, creative director of his namesake men's wear brand and of the upcoming Claiborne by John Bartlett men's collection; Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, and Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar. The panel was moderated by Tom Julian, brand and trend consultant.
"It's so important to have something irresistible, to have something that people feel like they have to have," Corlett said about enticing the consumer to buy in tough economic times. "We also need to find ways to make shopping trips more efficient as consumers are bunching their trips together."
Corlett pointed to the rise in gas prices, which is leading consumers to hit the Home Depot and the department store in one day's outing, rather than in multiple trips. She also noted the danger in this behavior becoming a habit, which consumers may not break when the economy recovers.
Greenfield said she doesn't feel like she has changed the way she does business, even in this tough economic time.
"We are always out to edit for our customer, to give them quality and value," she said. "Everyone who walks into my stores is looking for objects of desire. No one needs our stuff, they want our stuff. In a recession, that is no different. Even when you are feeling down, you want to look good to make yourself feel better."
Fargo agreed, "People look for pieces with longevity and they look for pieces with passion," she said. "They buy into the trends when the trends are exciting and especially in times like these there is room for that."Fargo also pointed to good service as key in retail. "It's about simple friendliness, like saying 'Hello' when a customer walks in, but you really shouldn't say 'Can I help you?' since that adds pressure and often gives them the opportunity to turn away," she said. "It's those simple friendly gestures that tell the customer 'This is a nice place,' and she will return."
Bartlett said he opened his 500-square-foot store in the West Village here in order to get closer to his customer and to learn about what he is looking for from him as a designer.
When the conversation turned to the growing trend in partnerships such as the Rogan/Target line, panelists all agreed they won't hurt the higher-end segment of their businesses if it's done with integrity.
"This is the modern way, it's how we live, we all shop high-low these days," Fargo said. "We buy our plates at Crate & Barrel, but we may also have an Hermès blanket. There's nothing wrong with that, so I think these partnerships create name recognition for a brand and that is not harmful."
Panelists all agreed about the growing importance of bringing the Internet and technology to retail — Corlett used the Los Angeles-based Fashionology store as an example, calling it the "Build-A-Bear for Fashion," as a "brilliant tween retail experience."
Panelists pointed to brands like Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Tory Burch, Apple, J. Crew and Lanvin as a select group of brands that will surely thrive in a recession.
"Fashion should be seen as entertainment, and the brands we see as leaders all provide a sort of entertainment to their customers," Bailey said. "Always remember you are in the entertainment industry."
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty