As the global fashion apparel and luxury market is transformed by changes in consumer behavior and spending patterns — especially among Millennials — retailers and fashion brands are retooling their approach to the market.

To connect to today’s shopper, experience matters as well as social media influence, quality products and an ability to facilitate fashion discovery.

Here, Maria Giovanna Matteini and Giulia Boeri, public relations and communication specialists at Italian luxury retailer LuisaViaRoma, share their insights into how these changes are impacting business as well as how the company has worked to solidify its brand’s position in the minds of consumers by using a variety of tactics.

WWD: From your perspective in the market, what trends are driving fashion today? What looks are consumers in the luxury space responding to — and why?

LuisaViaRoma: We have always been fascinated by diversity. Everyone is different and consumers are looking for quality and timeless luxury items that stand out. Character and individuality are the most important factors that drive trends today. It isn’t necessarily about being the most famous or important, it’s about building something that hasn’t been done before.

The best way for designers to establish themselves long-term is to be different and to send a clear message to react to the competitiveness of the fashion market and the higher ambition of consumers.

Luisa Via Roma

The LuisaViaRoma store in Florence. 

WWD: What is your sense of the direction that designers are taking with fall women’s wear this year?

LuisaViaRoma: For the fall collections, we noticed a clear sign of revolution in terms of modern aesthetics and style.
 There is a continuity between the real and the digital world, which means fashion takes inspiration from the street style look, transforming these outfits into iconic pieces.

Designers kept things relatively subdued on the runway, with fewer theatrics and more focus on strong, wearable clothing. Masculine style, big proportions, oversized pieces and power shoulders featured prominently alongside Eighties florals, vibrant patterns and an understated palette.

WWD: There’s been numerous reports noting that Millennials consumers are not loyal to brands. Do you agree with that assessment? Why or why not?

LuisaViaRoma: It is fair to say that Millennials tend to be less loyal to brands, overall, they are less affected than other generations. The relationship between price and quality is an important factor, especially when looking at private labels.

At the same time, it is impossible to ignore that they play a leading role in the larger fashion panorama. Millennial consumers look to their peers for suggestions, particularly online and through social media, and this has resulted in a shift in traditional consumer/brand relationships. They are more demanding and selective, and we have had to change our strategy as a result. For more than a decade, we have worked to build an extensive network of digital influencers who have played a fundamental role in connecting with Millennials.

WWD: Within the entire luxury market (men’s, women’s, girl’s, boys’, accessories and home goods), what segments are doing particularly well — and why?

LuisaViaRoma: Men’s and women’s accessories, bags and shoes always do well. They are universally accepted and transcend distinct cultural dress codes. In recent seasons the brands that have been renewed, such as Gucci, are the ones that have experienced a major increase in sales.

At the same time, new emerging brands that offer special garments and a clean style but a tailored aesthetic are among the most appreciated.

WWD: How is LuisaViaRoma positioned in the market? What are some of the attributes of the retail luxury brand?

LuisaViaRoma: LuisaViaRoma is a top luxury fashion brand retailer and e-tailer. Our identity has always been rooted in diversity and industry expertise. Technology has enabled us to drive our distinct legacy into the digital age so that art and philanthropy continue to define our brand heritage. It has been a natural evolution to expand into other sectors that reflect our values and brand. We sell a selection of more than 600 designers with an important focus on emerging talents and new designer scouting.

WWD: What’s driving growth in your e-commerce business?

LuisaViaRoma: LuisaViaRoma chooses and purchases the best selected products from each brand and sells them to the final customer by delivering them worldwide, mainly by express and airmail. LVR is also responsible for all charges and bureaucracy related to customs clearance and delivery, in all major EU and non-EU markets, by offering free shipment and delivery. In terms of influence it was decisive, considering that from 2008 to 2016 the company’s turnover went from € 8 million [$8.8 million] to around € 120 million [$132 million].

Our customers come to our web site for interactive engagement that reflects the iconic experience of shopping at our store in Via Roma, Florence. Digital innovation has enabled us to share this on a global scale. We prioritize authenticity online and incorporate playlists, expert articles and choice visuals so that our immersive digital experience is as it is in our store.

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