Monday’s roundtable at WWD’s CEO Summit, “Finding and Fostering the Next Generation of Retail Leaders,” could just as easily have been called, “What’s Up With Generation Y?”
The cohort of young people born between the mid-Seventies and early-Aughts, are more entrepreneurial than previous generations and eager to start companies straight out of college. “People are coming to us because they think there will be jobs in the internet and digital space,” said Susan Lyne, chairman of Gilt Groupe, and one of three panelists. “Young people now all want to start their own businesses.”
Members of Gen-Y also get bored easily and want things on their own terms.
Denise Incandela, chief marketing officer and president of Saks Direct, Saks Fifth Avenue, said some of the most in-demand job candidates are Web site designers. “People who understand how to create the visual product and create a user experience are hard to find,” she said. “Marketing requires a different skill set today — a left brain competency. We’re turning into a bit of a media company,” she said, noting that people who understand social media and technology command a premium. “We’re looking for people who can take us ahead.”
“Five to 10 years ago, internet people came from catalogues,” said Harold Reiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Herbert Mines Associates, a search firm. Today, that is far less the case. “Product jobs are the hardest to find candidates for. At the ceo level it’s not uncommon to find people who haven’t been in the retail industry. Ceo’s aren’t afraid to go out and look for [marketing] people who are completely out of the box.”
“Gen-Y is a group who have to be engaged,” said Incandela. “They’re constantly thinking about their next step. We can move them laterally [so they don’t get bored.] There’s a difference in their work ethic, too. They have an expectation of a greater work-life balance.”
Lyne agreed, adding that 95 percent of the people she works with could be her children — she has two daughters in their 20s. “My daughters will never own a landline phone,” she said. “They program their TV shows” so that they can watch what they want, when they want. “I see an enormous amount that’s positive in these young people,” Lyne said. “There’s enormous transparency. They’re very direct.”
In order to give employees the flexibility and freedom they crave, Lyne said that a lot of Gilt Groupe employees work a day a week from home.”
“The challenge is to accommodate these folks,” said Reiter. “If we burn these kids out they won’t be here when we need them to run businesses.”
According to Lyne, Gen-Y employees are worth the challenges they bring to an organization. “We spend a lot of time mentoring,” she said. “We think they can bring something new. We do a lot of internal recruiting. There’s a sense that you have mobility here and can apply for jobs and we won’t go outside” for candidates.
Incandela said the key to nurturing Gen-Yers is making them feel they have an impact on the business. “We’re giving them opportunities across the organization,” she said. “We’re identifying the top talent and giving them unusual exposure to the president or putting them on steering committees.”
Asked how long people stay in junior positions, Incandela said one to two years. “A lot of people get moved within a year,” added Lyne.
In terms of breaking into Gilt Groupe, Lyne, who was president and ceo of Martha Stewart Omnimedia Inc. before joining Gilt, advised getting a job as an assistant to the editor in chief. “You’ve got the attention of someone that can be important to you long term,” she said.
“We’ve had people who’ve left, come back and then left us again,” said Incandela. “This is a very difficult generation and you manage it the best you can and give them career opportunities.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion