With retail in sharp decline, Plaza Too owner John Mendes had little patience on Monday for trend talk of boyfriend jackets, accessories that can be spotted blocks away and absurdly high heels.
At the Fashion Group International’s panel discussion at the Time & Life Building in Manhattan, Mendes, who was seated in the audience, said, “Actually, it’s very hard to listen to all of this because October has been a bloodbath. And I totally believe by the end of December a lot of people will not be standing, including one major department store. What’s actually happening out there is all the wealthy people have simply stopped walking through the door.”
Moderator Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, acknowledged, “Everyone who is in retail and fashion right now is seeing what you described as ‘a bloodbath.’ We see it, we feel it. We’re all doing expense cutting. It’s really terrifying. But I think my job is to sustain the idea that fashion is exciting and glamorous. We really need to do our best even if sales are plunging — and maximize what [sales] they might be.”
Afterwards, Mendes and Stacey Pecor, owner of Olive & Bette’s, talked about how more of their customers are trying to barter because of the drastic markdowns at department stores and better specialty stores. “All they have to do is go online. Even all the stuff that hasn’t even come into the [department] stores is on sale,” Pecor said.
But she won’t negotiate price with shoppers. “We’re a full-priced store. We don’t do that.”
Mendes added, “It’s not ‘Let’s Make a Deal’” at his nine-store chain.
During the discussion, Mendes stressed the need to connect with consumers in a meaningful way, whether it be through the election, a holiday or another experience that resonates with them. Earlier, Doonan noted that Barneys New York is planning a so-called hippie holiday with products and store windows that celebrate the anniversary of the peace sign and the breakthrough year of 1968.
For the first time, the Madison Avenue flagship will celebrate the unveiling of its holiday window displays with a sidewalk celebration on Nov. 16. “We’re doing a lot and they are things that are accessible to people, and we feel really communicate to people and that goes beyond fashion,” Doonan said. “And I think that is very important, conversing with customers as well as bigger things in culture that they are hearing about.”
The panelists were: Linda Dresner, president of Linda Dresner Inc.; Bloomingdale’s vice president and fashion director Stephanie Solomon; Neiman Marcus accessories director Sondra Wilson; Vogue fashion news and features director Sally Singer, and In Style beauty director Amy Synnott.
Solomon said price is playing a bigger role and stores should tout the range of prices they offer. Dresner said a mix of high and low is needed to entice shoppers. “Otherwise you have a dull atmosphere and I don’t see why people would even want to come through the door.”
Singer added, “With editorial, again, we have told all designers that we are not going to show the extreme ends of a collection.”
Earlier, Singer noted magazines are more willing to show less expensive designer items. In Vogue’s December issue, the Index section will have designer items retailing for $500 or less — something the magazine requested. Price is also coming into play with young designers who started out in contemporary sportswear. Many have “inched” their prices up as a way to be taken more seriously, but “we keep telling them to keep their prices down,” Singer said.
Asked about ideas to get people shopping, Solomon said, “The word ‘escape’ comes to mind immediately. Bloomingdale’s is always a place to escape. They should not feel the pressure to buy something. That’s not the point. The point is to be entertained, to learn something,” she added, pointing to the 40th anniversaries of Woodstock and the moon landing as upcoming tie-ins.
“Because of the change that is going on in the White House, everyone has a sense of freedom. People are going to find their own way and look themselves and not feel so pressured to look like someone else. It’s the mood of hope, confidence, let me find my own way — just as Barack Obama has done,” Solomon said.
When an audience member asked panelists to name a few must-have accessories under $200, Wilson was hard-pressed, but Solomon jumped in, “Shop at Bloomingdale’s — we have tons.”
But Doonan left attendees on an upbeat note. “When war broke out, Quentin Crisp went out and bought 10 pounds of henna. You don’t get it, do you? It means when times are tough, you have to be even more fabulous and more glamorous, and you have to rise above it,” he said.
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
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye