Piaget is pushing ahead with expansion in the face of economic turbulence and dire forecasts from some industry analysts.
The 134-year-old fine jewelry and watch firm, which is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont, plans to boost its store count to 80 from 48 around the globe within five years and is increasing its focus on fine jewelry. The U.S. presents a large growth opportunity, said Larry Boland, president of Piaget North America.
"We're very optimistic for 2008," said Boland, adding that the firm has recorded double-digit growth in the U.S. since 2000, tripling the business.
His optimism contrasts with luxury market predictions from several experts. "The mood isn't good for spending," Cathy Leonhardt, managing director at Peter J. Solomon Co., said in January. "All levels of luxury spending are being affected — even the really affluent customer seems to be tightening up."
Piaget in January opened its first shop in Las Vegas, located in the new Palazzo resort. In May, Piaget is to launch a 900-square-foot boutique in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. It also is searching for locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Honolulu. There are three other Piaget stores in the U.S., a Manhattan flagship and in Florida's Bal Harbour and Palm Beach. Piaget wholly owns 70 percent on the stores in its retail network, with the rest done through distributors. Internationally, there are stores in cities such as Paris and Berlin.
The units are 800 to 2,000 square feet and are divided equally between fine watches and jewelry. There is casual day jewelry in 18-karat gold and diamonds, as well as high jewelry. Prices range from $800 for a simple gold band to $1.8 million for a jeweled watch. The average sale is $25,000.
"The boutiques always have a little bit more jewelry to them," Boland said. "The boutiques are where you can find the true base of the brand. In the States, it's most known for [its watches]. That's changing. We're getting better known for high jewelry."
One-of-a-kind pieces are a major initiative for Piaget. The firm has aggressively sought to dress celebrities in an effort to raise awareness of the category. Piaget was a sponsor of the Independent Spirit Awards the night before the Oscars and outfitted the likes of Javier Bardem and Lisa Kudrow.At Salon International de la Haute Holorgerie in Geneva in April, the firm will launch a high jewelry collection called Paris and New York. The collection is inspired by the fashions of Paris and the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Also at the trade fair, the brand will introduce its first perpetual calendar, which doesn't have to be reset. Last year, Piaget revealed its first chronograph. Movements take five years on average to develop.
Despite the company's growth initiatives, it is not immediately planning to greatly increase production. The firm produces 20,000 watches a year in Switzerland. There are proposals to expand the factory, but for now there are space limitations.
Piaget will make its annual price increase in May that will be somewhat higher this year because of record-high gold prices. Boland said there has been no price resistance among the brand's clients.
"There's a natural tendency, when you read so much negativity [about the economy] and you hear so much, [to] be cautious," he said. "But sales in the past two months — we've done great. I'm showing a $1.8 million watch to someone this week."
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)