WATCH OUT: Is Tom Ford looking at new categories? According to market sources on both sides of the Atlantic, the multitasking designer and filmmaker has men’s underwear and timepieces in the pipeline, although the company has declined all comment. One source said talks with men’s underwear manufacturers were ongoing.
Both moves would make sense for Ford, who launched his business with luxury accessories — niche fragrances and eyewear, later moving into cosmetics. All three have been money-spinners for the brand. The Ford fragrances, manufactured by Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., retail from $80, all the way up to $305. His limited-edition acetate aviator Clint sunglasses featured in the brand’s fall 2016 ad campaign. Ford and Lauder are aiming for his fragrance brand to be a $1 billion business at retail by 2020.
He’s also known for acting quickly. He was a first mover on the instant fashion front, most recently hosting an event at the recently shuttered Four Seasons restaurant in New York. The entire fall collection was shoppable, mere minutes after the models stepped off the stage. In a nod to the importance of accessories to the business, each look on his brand site was tricked-out with accessories and show-specific beauty, exactly as it was presented live.
The move into watches may well prove trickier, as the high-end sector is in deep trouble due to a crackdown on gifting in China, changing tourist patterns, caution in Asia, and cyclical market movements — many high-fliers have already purchased their multi-thousand dollar timepieces, and are sated.
According to the latest statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, exports of Swiss watches declined 16 percent in October, the steepest fall of the year. Only two markets showed improvement: the U.K., rising 9 percent because of the sterling depreciation in the wake of the Brexit referendum, and China, improving 2.8 percent and marking a gradual recovery since July.
Ford could be mulling a move into the $1,500 to $2,500 sweet spot in the market. Only time will tell.