Southeast designer retailers report spring business as flat with last year, and say it is being driven by affluent consumers less affected by economic factors. "It's now harder to sell a $198 sweater than a $1,100 jacket," said Cami Krablin, women's buyer at James Davis, a high-end Memphis specialty store.
With the weak dollar, soaring prices on European goods are forcing retailers to adjust buying strategies. In Miami, an influx of European tourists shopping for designer deals has helped mitigate the rising cost.
Tourists have always been 80 percent of the clientele at Oxygene, a designer store at the Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, Fla. But the mix has shifted from Latin Americans to Europeans, especially Russians, who now contribute half of sales. "This customer is label-driven, wants the latest thing, and can afford it," said Shayne Cohen, co-owner of Oxygene with husband Felix. "Selling a $20,000 dress is not uncommon."
Spring bestsellers are jeweled gowns by Galliano, London's Jenny Packham and Jasmine di Milo; Share Spirit's embroidered lace, and leather rock 'n' roll-inspired sportswear. European lines are 80 percent of the mix.
Roma Cohen, Felix Cohen's son, owns Alchemist, a South Beach, Fla., designer boutique, where European tourists are 90 percent of the clientele. He offers Jil Sander, Rick Owens and Hervé Léger, and will pick up Givenchy for fall. He carries U.S. lines, including Phillip Lim, for European bargain hunters. Hervé Léger's bandage dresses, from $700 to $2200, sold more than 150 units, and Rick Owens' chiffon pants, at $900, sold 20 this spring.
At Gus Meyer, a Birmingham, Ala.-based specialty store with a Nashville unit, designer business has been erratic, with sales off during spring break and tax deadline week, according to Janice Elliott, designer buyer.
"People bought sundresses, hats and evening gowns for events," said Elliott. Color has been strong, in tangerine, lemon and white sundresses by Michael Kors. The white pant has been a key item, also from Kors and Dolce & Gabbana, to mix with jackets. Giambattista Valli, Peter Som and Pamella Roland have also been key resources."Prices and the euro have been challenging, and American designers are using European fabrics," said Elliott. "Our open-to-buy doesn't increase because prices are up, so we have to edit more carefully."
At James Davis in Memphis, Cami Krablin said she has taken lower margins, as prices have increased, to protect customers. She also has dropped marginal lines or ordered fewer deliveries. "Some European vendors now require up-front minimums," she said. "If it's a line I need, I still have to go for it."
Armani is the number-one seller, due to "timeless versatility," said Krablin, who added that M Missoni and L.A.M.B. also are doing well. "Customers don't want something for a onetime event," she said. "They want to extend wear and expand their wardrobes." To entice customers, the store is increasing the number of events, including multiline trunk shows, upgrading interiors and offering more conveniences. "We're making our numbers, but we're working harder than ever," she said.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“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