NEW YORK -- Regardless of the tough economy, fine jewelry is one of the hottest things going right now for several major specialty retailers. Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue each recorded double-digit increases in fine jewelry...
NEW YORK -- Regardless of the tough economy, fine jewelry is one of the hottest things going right now for several major specialty retailers. Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue each recorded double-digit increases in fine jewelry over the holidays.
These stores already attract an affluent audience, and they have found fine jewelry to be a natural area for expansion, especially since the category itself has become more designer-conscious.
To keep this momentum going through this year, these retailers are planning more of the same tactics they used to draw Christmas shoppers -- in-store events and aggressive advertising.
Tim Braun, precious jewelry and watch buyer for Neiman's, said catalog promotions and billboard advertising, as well as the addition of strong new resources, contributed to the store's big gains at Christmas and are expected to keep fueling growth this spring.
While Neiman's has traditionally had a strong fine jewelry business, it was only a year ago that the store went heavily into designer jewelry collections, giving the business an additional boost.
According to Braun, Neiman's fine jewelry sales had already surpassed its planned figures for last fall, even before Christmas. Overall for the fourth quarter, precious jewelry scored double-digit increases, but watches in particular were a standout, with sales doubling over a year ago.
Part of the success with watches has come simply from offering shoppers plenty of options. Through the holidays, stores ran programs called "watch extravaganzas," where all fine watch inventory was showcased together.
"These events really increased customer awareness of what we were carrying, particularly in terms of the newest watch lines we brought in," Braun pointed out. Exclusive offerings, such as the Henry Dunay watch that was launched last October, also stirred interest.
During the extravaganzas, Braun said, "We saw increased sales in all gold watches, retailing from about $7,000 to as high as $100,000, with $15,000 to $25,000 being the best-selling range."
To give in-store events an added push, Neiman's also ran a billboard campaign featuring luxury watch brands such as Audemars Piguet, Piaget, Chopard and Cartier.
Having found a good formula, the merchant will continue promoting watches this spring. The next series of extravaganzas, in April, is set to coincide with the release of Neiman's watch catalog, which will be mailed to 100,000 customers and distributed over the counter.Similar efforts will continue to be focused on fine jewelry, according to Braun.
"To maintain some momentum, we're showcasing key collections for spring with designer personal appearances and special jewelry shows," he said.
Beginning in March, Neiman's will start a traveling designer jewelry show with stops in 16 cities promoting a dozen or more designers, including Henry Dunay, David Yurman, Elizabeth Locke, Jean Mahie and Marlene Stowe.
Braun noted that the hot spots for spring fine jewelry sales so far this year have been resort and vacation areas including Las Vegas, Denver, Scottsdale and Florida.
For Bergdorf's, the designer category of fine jewelry -- backed up with in-store appearances by some of the designers -- was one of the holiday season's winning areas.
According to Simonetta Morrison, Bergdorf's vice president and divisional merchandise manager for accessories and fine jewelry, December fine jewelry sales showed a 25 percent year-over-year increase.
She cited brisk turnover in designer collections from such names as Barry Kieselstein Cord, Angela Cummings, David Yurman and newcomer Darlene de Sedle.
Among the more popular holiday promotions, Morrison pointed out, were an appearance by Yurman, an event showcasing a dozen key designers where customers were given calendars featuring sketches by the designers, and Cummings's "Key to the Heart" event, which introduced a pin, the sales of which benefits the Mount Sinai breast resource program. The Cummings pin sold throughout the holiday season.
For spring, the store will continue with strategies that worked so well for the holidays, Morrison said. For instance, the advertising of upcoming fine jewelry events in local publications -- a tactic employed for holidays -- will be increased.
Bridge jewelry, another hot holiday category, will be melded with fine jewelry, Morrison said. Bridge jewelry designers will recreate some of their pieces in fine materials, effectively bringing the two areas closer.
The store will also start spreading the introduction of new merchandise throughout the spring season, rather than bringing it all in early, Morrison said.
Fine jewelry posted one of the largest departmental increases for the holidays at Saks, according to Helen Welsh, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for accessories."Our estate and gold businesses were both very good, as were designer sales," Welsh said. She pointed to Jeffrey Stephens, Steppenjay and David Yurman as leaders in the designer area.
Welsh said that while spring comprises a relatively small portion of Saks' annual fine jewelry sales, several promotions are planned for the season to keep shoppers interested.
Prior to its annual gold sale in August, the store will feature a February sale on gold merchandise timed for Valentine's Day, and a May precious stone event prior to Mother's Day.
Welsh pointed out that fine jewelry has posted a slightly higher growth rate than fashion jewelry for the past several years. She noted, however, that bridge business has become increasingly important and is expected to keep growing. The designer sterling area, a key part of the bridge business, she pointed out, has recorded double-digit increases with vendors such as John Hardy, Lagos and Lisa Jenks leading the way.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
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