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.
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion
“I’m Russian and I love to use all these little tricks that I got from my grandma or my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money for creams or anything like that so we would use a garden as a beauty treatment regime. We’d put cucumber in the fridge and do a cucumber mask,” says model @irinashayk on one of her beauty hacks. WWD asked celebs what their go-to self-care rituals are. See what Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto and more said on WWD.com. #wwdeye #wwdbeauty (📷: @zefashioninsider)
Exclusive: @viktorandrolf are teaming up with @Zalando on a collection made from leftover clothing. The lineup, which lands at the retailer February 1, includes 17 pieces adorned with sliced up and repurposed overstock from the retailer’s private label collection. Pictured here is a look from the collection –– see more on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
@duewestnyc is the newest bar joining the collection of intimate neighborhood-focused spaces in the West Village. The cocktail menu, which includes bitters and syrups made in-house, offers a “Build Your Own Old-Fashioned” – like the one pictured here – where guests can choose from a list of spirits and unexpected sugars and bitters. #wwdeye
Spotted at last night’s National Board of Review gala in NYC: Angelina Jolie. Jolie – along with Meryl Streep, @lupitanyongo and more – continued the all-black dress code from Sunday’s Golden Globes. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)