In a turbulent industry, the wheels of change are spinning faster than ever.
The biggest trends: discounting, digital shopping, private equity investment, outlets, ath-leisure, commercializing social media, omni-initiatives and going global. While technology spawns new consumer experiences, products and revenue opportunities, retailers continue their perpetual quest for the next hot fashion item or trend.
Given the frenetic state of the business, this year’s WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit is appropriately themed. It’s about “revolution” and how to cope with and capitalize on it. The objective of the summit, to be held Oct. 27 and 28 at The Pierre in Manhattan, is to gauge the magnitude of change — the speed at which brands and retailers must innovate to stay competitive and relevant — and provide solutions on how to deal with it. Speakers will share insights from their experiences rather than simply conveying their company stories, on the promise to deliver a content-rich program with a heavy volume of takeaway.
On the designer front, Nicolas Ghesquière, who late last year was anointed artistic director of women’s collections at Louis Vuitton, following in the footsteps of Marc Jacobs, will discuss striking a balance between art and commerce. Joseph Altuzarra, creative director of Altuzarra, and Karis Durmer, the brand’s chief executive officer, will consider how creative and business teams can collaborate to build a strong brand.
On retail innovation, there’s a strong lineup including Richard A. Baker, governor and ceo of Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Co. In a few short years, Baker has cobbled together a North American department store conglomerate composed of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor, and he is investing to pump up each nameplate.
Also speaking on innovation is Karen Katz, president and ceo of the Neiman Marcus Group, which last year was purchased for $6 billion by Ares Management LLC and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
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More immediately, all eyes are on Alibaba, the giant Chinese Web site, which, in a few weeks, launches one of the biggest initial public offerings ever. John W. Spelich, Alibaba Group’s vice president of international e-commerce business development, will speak at the summit on Alibaba’s aspirations.
The future of department stores, which looks more bright than dark even with the advent of the Internet, will be addressed by Jeff Gennette, president and chief merchandising officer of Macy’s Inc.; Marigay McKee, president, Saks Fifth Avenue, and David Walker-Smith, managing director, Fenwick of Bond Street.
Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice president, consumables and U.S. manufacturing lead for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., will discuss the retail juggernaut’s challenges.
Technology and how it will impact fashion in the future will be tackled by Steven Holmes, vice president, new devices group and general manager, smart device innovation team, Intel Corp. Holmes will focus on wearable technology and 3-D printing.
Also speaking will be Qing Wu, senior economist, Google, who will give a presentation on consumer insights in big data, as well as Deena Varshavskaya, founder and ceo of Wanelo; Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brand, Nike Inc.; Tom Kartsotis, founder, Shinola; Stefano Rosso, ceo, OTB Group; Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president, market insights, MasterCard Advisors; Nathalie Remy, partner, McKinsey & Co. Inc. France, and Alexei Agratchev, ceo and cofounder, RetailNext.
Andy Dunn, founder and ceo of Bonobos, and Jennifer Hyman, ceo and cofounder of Rent the Runway, will address whether digital retailers require a broader, multichannel approach for success.
On the investment side, Ron Frasch, operating partner, Castanea Partners, and Glen Senk, chairman and ceo of Front Row Partners, will discuss how to unlock a company’s value.
The future of brick-and-mortar will be outlined by José de Jesús Legaspi, president of The Legaspi Co., which has revitalized properties by converting them into Hispanic cultural centers, and Rick J. Caruso, founder and ceo of Caruso Affiliated. He had created human-scale, multiuse, livable projects that embrace and support local communities.
Chip Bergh, president and ceo of Levi Strauss & Co., will chat with Harold D. Reiter, chairman and ceo of Herbert Mines Associates, and there will be a roundtable discussion on funding creativity with Yancey Strickler, ceo of Kickstarter; Maria Pinto, founder and creative director of M2057 by Maria Pinto, and Satya Twena, ceo of Satya Twena Fine Millinery.
Another roundtable on consumer expectations for personalized engagement, rapidly changing technology and digital innovation will include the following chief marketing officers: Mary Beech, senior vice president of Kate Spade & Co.; Ara Katz, cofounder of Spring, and Oliver Walsh of Aritzia.
Short segments on technology, wearable art and other subjects selected by WWD editors will be conducted with Maxine Bédat, cofounder of Zady; Francis Bitonti, president and founding director, Francis Bitonti Studio Inc.; Justin Cooke, founder and ceo, Tunepics; Suzanne Lee, founder of Biocouture Ltd., and Christina Mercando, ceo of Ringly.
For more information on the summit, contact Kim Mancuso, 212-630-4212 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsors include MasterCard, American Express, Berglass + Associates, Herbert Mines Associates, RetailNext, McKinsey & Co., Karen Harvey, Phillips Edison & Co., Alliance Data Retail Services, PayPal and First Insight.