Neiman Marcus has caught the travel bug.
On March 1, the retailer will launch “The Art of Travel” campaign in the latest manifestation of its strategy to become a “consumer-centric luxury platform.”
Neiman’s executives portrayed the two-month campaign as ambitious, involving staging “The Art of Travel” shops in all 43 Neiman Marcus stores as well as creating an online “The Art of Travel” hub at neimanmarcus.com/travel, and a 115-page book with editorial on where to go and where to stay overnight with travel tips, itineraries and stories from designers, influencers and travel experts. Officials also said “The Art of Travel” will be conducted annually, each spring.
“We have over 150 brand partners that have created nearly 600 exclusive products for us around this initiative,” said Ed Burstell, who as senior vice president, product innovation for Neiman Marcus leads the company’s Idea Factory to unleash concepts, products and experiences not traditionally found in department stores.
“It’s a lifestyle approach. The Art of Travel initiative doesn’t apply to a singular category,” said Theresa Palermo, senior vice president of marketing for the Neiman Marcus, Last Call and Horchow divisions of the Neiman Marcus Group. The Art of Travel, she explained, will cover women’s and men’s apparel and accessories, including outerwear, swim, jewelry, footwear, sunglasses and luggage, along with beauty and personal care.
Neiman’s has sold travel-oriented merchandise before and as part of its InCircle loyalty program connects customers with getaways, local suggestions and VIP treatments. But with The Art of Travel, the store homes in on the notion of exotic travel and styles that fit the journey.
At the core of the program is the array of exclusive designer products centered on resort and travel essentials from Akris, Brunello Cucinelli, Alice + Olivia, Chloé, Emilio Pucci, J Brand, Etro, Mercedes Salazar, Jimmy Choo, Lafayette 148, Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Rag & Bone, State of Escape, Vince and Ermenegildo Zegna, among many others. There are accessories that help get you to your destination, like passport holders, duffels and carry-on bags, and products for once you’ve arrived, like bathing suits, sunglasses, jogging pants and flowy cocktail dresses in tropical prints.
According to Neiman’s executives, The Art of Travel will be “immersive,” with the retailer providing behind-the-scenes glimpses into the creation of its campaign, editorial covering topics such as how to arrive to a faraway destination feeling refreshed, not jet-lagged, and must-see places. There will also be special events across the chain. At the new Neiman’s in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, for example, Mignonne Gavigan will create custom necklaces April 5 to 7, and Neiman’s NorthPark store in Dallas on March 23, Tourism Ireland will host an Irish calligrapher and whiskey tasting, and there will be an appearance by Waterford master Craftsman Tom Brennan.
The campaign photography was taken in Thailand, Ireland and New York to inspire travel, a sense of discovery, relaxing and having fun.
Each in-store travel shop will vary in size depending on the location, while the trappings will be consistent. There will be life-size travel trunks that shoppers can enter for a selfie moment, giant airport departure boards, and one or two 40-foot runs of fixturing for product. “That’s a good deal of space,” observed Burstell.
Geoffroy van Raemdonck, since becoming chief executive officer of the Neiman Marcus Group in February 2018, has been an advocate for innovation and testing ideas and products. His intent is to create a broader luxury platform for the $4.9 billion Neiman Marcus Group, beyond the status quo of products and services, whether that’s travel, food and beverage, wellness and social consciousness. It’s an attempt to bring greater cultural relevance and engagement to Neiman’s.
As Palermo explained, “We are looking at ways to expand our narrative with customers other than just by fashion.”
One way is with men’s grooming. “We are seeing men’s beauty, as a category, spike,” Palermo said. “We’re taking a more focused angle on it than we have in the past.”
Last year for the holiday, Neiman’s had “curated” gift shops, stocked with headphones, chocolate chip cookies and light-up skates, among other items, for its “crazy good gifts” campaign.
But Palermo stressed that innovation at Neiman’s permeates many areas of the store, such as contemporary sportswear and footwear, and it’s an ongoing effort, rather than a campaign with starting and ending dates.
She characterized travel, wellness, fashion and philanthropy as “constant pillars” of Neiman’s marketing and merchandising, though during certain periods of the year, it becomes appropriate to “amplify” a particular pillar with stepped-up merchandising, marketing and experiences.
In the fall, Neiman’s will launch a campaign revolving around wellness. About a month ago, the retailer started selling serums and body creams with CBD, the oil extracted from cannabis that provides medical benefits. “Cannabis is part of the national discussion,” said Palermo, suggesting that CBD is just one way Neiman’s can be more socially relevant.
She underscored Neiman’s efforts to be relevant, mentioning that the retailer engages in frequent online dialogue with customers to find out what they are looking for. Based primarily on the research, the store sees a sharp shift toward travel and wellness spending.
Asked if travel was underplayed before, Palermo replied, “I don’t think it’s been overlooked as an idea. It’s changed what it means to the consumer. It’s more about the experience, but fashion also comes with that experience.”
Travel Tips from Designers, courtesy Neiman’s
Christian Louboutin’s travel uniform: Comfort first, loafers, a cozy sweater, and for long-distance flights, an eye mask.
Camilla Franks on how to recharge while away: Disconnect from technology, start each day with a meditation, surround yourself with family, friends and laughter.
Simone Rocha on where she eats in Dublin: Dinner at my friend’s restaurant, Etto, just off St. Stephen’s Green Park. For lunch, Cavistons Seafood Restaurant.
Stacey Bendet on overcoming jet lag: Genmaicha green tea and Ashtanga yoga.
Sophia Webster on packing shoes: Stuff them to keep the shape. If you don’t have tissue, socks do the trick. Pack in an interlocking pattern on the bottom of the case; use separate dust bags and layer clothes on top for protection.
Neiman’s men’s fashion director Bruce Pask on creature comforts: Noise-canceling headphones, a tablet fully loaded with movies and binge-worthy TV and an eye mask. Two suitcase essentials: a cashmere sweater to keep warm on board and an Orlebar Brown swimsuit.