Last month, Alan Mak, a partner in Public School, told WWD he shifted the business model at the brand to direct-to-consumer only, no longer wholesaling to stores. “At certain points in the life cycle of a brand, different things are appropriate,” he said. “I’m still a big believer in brick-and-mortar,” Mak added, noting that Public School has a pop-up in lower Manhattan.
In May 2017, Michael Kors unveiled a “runway 2020” strategy to move away considerably, but not entirely, from its wholesale channel, with the distribution objective to be 30 percent wholesale and 70 percent retail. The strategy sought to restore cachet, end heavy department store discounting and reduce inventory in that channel, while closing scores of Kors stores and improve the best locations.
Last year, too, Nike Inc. ceo Mark Parker told investors that the group, which had 30,000 retail partners, would favor a few “differentiated retailers” like Nordstrom and Foot Locker, about 40 in all, which would get extra attention from the company in exchange for special branded space and dedicated salespeople for Nike product. “We want as many Nike touch points as possible to live up to those expectations, and that’s why we are investing heavily in our own channel and leading with digital,” Parker said. “And with our strategic partners, we’ll move resources away from undifferentiated retail and toward environments where we can better control with distinct consumer experiences.
“Disintermediation has been happening more on the luxury business than in the middle markets,” one former retail ceo told WWD. “Brands want to control their DNA by telling their stories. There is a movement toward operating more concessions, where brands can make sure they can deliver their DNA.”
Sakai, a Japanese American, who launched her first accessories line, Girlboy by Koco, when she was 18 and at age 21 opened a fashion showroom in Los Angeles, in 2009 received a gift from a friend, a handcrafted gold chain bracelet from Florence. That inspired her to take her first trip to Italy to find the local artisan who created the bracelet, finally finding the boutique nestled on the Ponte Vecchio. That meeting set in motion what would soon become Vita Fede, which means “life” and “faith” in Italian.
The new web site for Vita Fede, vitafede.com, shows male and female models in the same jewelry. “The idea is to have jewelry for all. We have eliminated the gender of our web site. There are no women’s or men’s sections,” said Sakai.