As retirement funds shrink in value and unemployment figures rise by the day, most people probably would not see this as the best time to spend several thousand dollars on an exotic fur coat.
But based on early projections from outerwear vendors, there are a couple of categories that are continuing to grow — the very high-end merchandise, and that of the more budget- friendly variety.
“Our business is growing, and we are getting a few new accounts each week,” said Julie Schroeder, sales and marketing manager for Denver-based outerwear line 3B West.
While price point is key — many of the label’s jackets sit around the $60 wholesale mark — Schroeder said it was more important than ever to continue creating new things.
“We have to make sure that the consumer is never bored with what’s out there,” she said. “Even in this economy, we are seeing growth this year because there is still demand for something that is affordable and makes people feel good.”
Those at the luxury end of the market, selling coats with $600 to $1,400 wholesale price tags, are surprisingly also seeing some buoyancy.
Karl Matar, vice president of sales at Toronto-based Gimpex, a maker of outerwear under the Hide Society and Aquilo Amiq labels, said not all high-end makers have survived the tumult in the market, allowing him to pick up a few new customers. The key to success in these troubling times, he said, was the fact that his company is fully integrated and able to keep a lid on rising costs.
“Despite the current market conditions, we are on track to be, at the minimum, consistent with last year,” he said.
Another Canadian maker of fur coats, Musi Furs, whose average wholesale price is around $2,000, said that the reality was that the very wealthy were not too affected by the economy.
“We sell luxury, and the very rich still have money,” said company vice president George Musi. Still, because of lower demand, the price of mink has dropped about 20 percent and fuel prices have stabilized, allowing him to keep prices level.
“Things were horrible until the [presidential] election,” he said. “There was a lot of negative advertising and everyone was scared. But in the past couple of months, business has been good. We’ve been surprised.”
For consumers unable to spend thousands of dollars on fur coats, some vendors are offering options. Amanda Van Rooyen, director of sales at Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs in Covington, Ky., said that this is a fine moment for fake fur.
“There are customers out there that aren’t buying the real $20,000 coat, and are coming to us so they can still look glamorous,” she said. “In these times, it’s important to know who your audience is, and to stick with that.”
It’s also critical, said vendors, to keep operating costs low and trim wherever possible — even if business is up.
“We believe that managing your expenses should not only be done in tough times, but also during good times — this ensures that you stay lean, competitive and are able to pass these savings on to your customers,” said Gimpex’s Matar.
Still, it’s not just about the price. Mitch Fazekas, owner of Mitchie’s Matchings in Montreal, said that retailers are looking at great fashion buys, and that anything at the $30 to $50 wholesale price point would work well.
“Thank goodness for accessories,” said Fazekas, who said business was up by about 6 to 10 percent. “A woman might not necessarily buy a new coat, but she’ll pick up a scarf to change her look. Creativity is key; if people want to support their local mom-and-pop store, they need to find something different from what’s in their big-box retailer.”
In honor the @CFDA’s announcement of @iamnaomicampbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 #CFDAAwards, which will take place on June 4, here’s a #tbt of the supermodel on @michaelkors’ runway in 1991. #wwdfashion #wwdarchive (📷: George Chinsee)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.