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.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)