EVIAN, France — All the world may be a stage, but the problem with retail is that there’s not enough theater. Bucking the beauty downturn, however, are a handful of stores that are enticing scores of shoppers and eliciting rave reviews....
EVIAN, France — All the world may be a stage, but the problem with retail is that there’s not enough theater. Bucking the beauty downturn, however, are a handful of stores that are enticing scores of shoppers and eliciting rave reviews.
Innovation, entertainment and continual reinvention. That was the consensus reached during The Strategy of Niche Retailing, the second panel conducted at the recent WWD CEO Summit. The panel was led by John Demsey, president of MAC Cosmetics, and its participants were Robin Coe-Hutshing, owner and director of the Los Angeles-based Fred Segal Essentials; Jo Horgan, owner and managing director of the Melbourne, Australia-based Mecca Cosmetics; Nicky Kinnaird, founder and owner of the London-based Space NK Apothecary, Ltd., and David Riddiford, buying and merchandising director of London’s Selfridge’s.
"There is a culture of conservatism around the world, especially since 9/11, that says we ought to retrench and be more careful with our business," said Riddiford. "Maybe now is the time to display a bit more confidence and try to break out of it more like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and create a bit more color and a bit more excitement."
Riddiford practices what he preaches: Selfridge’s is in the midst of reinventing itself. While the effort has largely focused on fashion thus far, the store is now turning its sights toward beauty. "If you look at what we’ve been doing in men’s and women’s apparel, we’ve actively been discontinuing classic brands in the last two years," he said,"brands that have been cash cows for our business; because if we want to reposition Selfridge’s, we have to kill some of our favorite children in order to move customers on."
And beauty, despite accounting for 11 percent, or $70.5 million of overall sales (and "a significantly higher part of our profit,") will be no different, promises Riddiford. "I worry we may be about to have some similar conversations with some of the more classic beauty brands, brands who feel they have a God-given right to own department store space," he said. "There are some brands who are reinventing themselves and some who are talking about reinventing themselves but are not doing it."Indeed, reinvention — and creating in-store excitement — was a recurring theme of the panel. "My job is as an editor," said Coe-Hutshing, whose store remains at the forefront of beauty retailing 18 years after opening. "The minute I stop doing that, I see my business stagnate immediately. The concept is of complete change and reinvention on a constant basis."
"The marketplace is changing and evolving at a rapid pace," agreed Kinnaird. "At the end of the day, the customer is evolving even faster, so we’re all playing catch-up and trying to work out how to really give them the satisfaction they’re seeking."
Service is the key area of differentiation for independent retailers, and each panel member said their business has successfully differentiated itself in its market with a two-pronged service approach. The first aspect involves sales assistants who are equally knowledgeable about the store’s entire product lineup; the second centers around offering actual services, such as nail services, day-spa services or educational seminars, which the retailers use to cement customer loyalty.
Mecca, for example, recently launched in-store nail bars — a concept that hadn’t yet hit the Australian market despite its success in the U.S. and U.K. "If I had to choose one way in which we’ve increased our footfall, it’s Mecca Manicure," said Horgan. "It’s seen as fashion, it’s seen as high service, and it’s a great way to be able to pop into the store on a weekly basis. It’s allowed us to continue to build that relationship with our customer and to build their loyalty." Horgan’s strategy seems to be working: Mecca’s same-store growth is "plus-30" for the last two years.
For its part, Space NK opened Spa NK in October 2000, a 4,500-square-foot full-service day spa.
Fred Segal Essentials’ Coe-Hutshing frequently hosts educational events for customers, such as a recent seminar with dermatologists and product developers, about hot topics such as Botox.
Meanwhile, when asked if Selfridge’s would ever consider offering Botox in its stores, Riddiford didn’t rule out the possibility. "If there is a demand for experience, for services, for products, for entertainment, we’ll be looking to see if we can satisfy that demand in a way that’s contemporary and exciting and radical," he said. "I don’t think there should be any barriers to experiences or products in a store such as ours."Selfridge’s is also completely focused on creating an entertaining retail experience to differentiate itself from the competition. In a market where price-based promotions rule, "we’re trying to move away from a discount driven, midseason operation," said Riddiford. "We believe it’s important to have powerful, positive promotional activity, and in the past two years we’ve made the decision to invest a huge amount of our marketing budget into monthlong promotional activities during May, traditionally a relatively quiet period." This year, the store staged a Bollywood extravaganza, an homage to the Bombay film industry complete with "color, music, glamour, celebrity." The result, said Riddiford: "The street was mobbed."
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)