BRINGING THE RED CARPET HOME
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — “I always believed the concept Randolph Duke had was a smart one based on five easy pieces. In our world, clothes just can’t sit on the hanger. It has to be demonstrated well,” said Mark Bozek, president and chief executive officer of HSN, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based home-shopping network.
“We have a lot of things that aren’t just fake jewelry,” he added.
As reported, Randolph Duke and HSN struck a deal earlier this month for an exclusive moderate-to-better price line of apparel, footwear and accessories called The Look by Randolph Duke to be sold on HSN, beginning in August.
According to Bozek, the key to selling on TV is to be able to communicate “with a very aware TV shopper.”
Bozek said HSN’S total volume from TV and HSN.com, its Internet counterpart, reached $1.5 billion last year. He said he expects HSN.com to hit $100 million in sales this year, up from $40 million in 2000. He declined to give a total volume projection for HSN in 2001. HSN, a division of USA Networks Inc., launched its cable network in 1977. Its 24-hour programming reaches more than 74 million households, according to the company. In 1999, HSN launched HSN.com, an e-tail site that integrates content and community with HSN’s TV programming.
Bozek said The Look by Randolph Duke obviously won’t be at the price level of the designer fashions Duke designs for celebrities.
“There’s a whole way of accessorizing and styling yourself at a price that’s far more affordable than the runway,” said Bozek. Apparel and accessories will retail from $39 to $199 and includes sportswear, knitwear, evening separates, belts and handbags.
“My goal is to make women look beautiful,” said Duke, in a separate interview. He said women everywhere have the same fit problems as celebrities. Duke said his goal “is to be able to reach a broader and mass-market audience and make them look good.” Often, he said, women look at what the celebrities are wearing, but can’t afford that price point.
Duke emphasized that The Look isn’t a diffusion line, but rather “a completely different range of products. The Look is based on my interpreting hot looks of the moment, such as the crocodile or embossed trenchcoat or the faux fur shrug or clutch bag.”
Duke is no stranger to the home-shopping experience. For two years in the mid-Nineties, he designed a signature sportswear line for QVC, which sold on the air eight times a year.
“It was a fun experience,” said Duke. “It was early on in the TV-shopping days. I learned how the medium defines what’s easy to sell and what’s hard to sell. You are selling in a two-dimensional environment with graphic appeal that translates differently on the screen. You learn a lot about how you can help the consumer,” he said, in terms of giving her advice on which clothes and which accessories work well together.
He said The Look “is really about creating items so the woman can create a wardrobe.” He’s offering items such as cashmere blend sweaters, sweaters with beading embellishments and fur collars, for example, all at an affordable price point.
Creating a look “has nothing to do with price point,” stressed Duke. “We’re in an age where price shouldn’t connote style.” He noted that the reason he’s able to sell things inexpensively is because of the big quantities. “They have so many million viewers,” he added.
The Look by Randolph Duke will be manufactured in HSN’s factories, as well as contracted out. He said that 85 percent of what HSN sells is exclusive to HSN. It will be designed by Duke, who will work with HSN merchants in getting it produced.
Duke praised HSN’s manufacturing capabilities. “They make sure the quality and execution is right,” said Duke, citing HSN’s high quality control. “There’s such a high viewership, they have to protect their returns.”
Bozek noted that what’s particularly appealing to HSN consumers is that a size 8 in one line will be identically sized to any other line that’s sold on HSN. “A size 8 is a size 8,” he said. This, he noted, is important on TV because it cuts down on returns.
Duke believes there are more opportunities for him on HSN beyond apparel.
“The first year, we’re looking to build a large business with no parameters or boundaries.” He said ultimately he’d like to add beauty products and makeup and skin care, exclusive to HSN.
Bozek said he couldn’t predict a volume projection on Look by Randolph Duke until after the first show appears.
“Anytime we enter into these relationships with personalities, we determine what type of acceptance he’ll have by the customer in categories they come from,” said Bozek, which in Duke’s case, is apparel. “We first establish what they do well,” and then the designer branches out into other areas, such as fragrances, health, beauty and home.
Duke is expected to appear on HSN about six to 10 times a year for a three- to four-day period, several hours a day. He’ll talk about the collection and his philosophy of design.
“It’s TV and it’s entertainment. They watch us for the entertainment and aspirational value,” said Bozek.
Other apparel lines that sell well on HSN are Maggie Sweet, designed by Daniel Kiviat, which does an annual volume of $40 million, and Marie Claire R2R Collection: “Runway to Realway” that is expected to generate between $5 million and $6 million this year. HSN also carries apparel designed by Diane Gilman and Anthony Mark Hankins, among others.
Bozek said that the reason HSN does well online, is because it’s often an impulse buy.
“People will check on HSN to sell what we’re selling that day.” He noted that “The Today Special,” which appears at 12 p.m. on TV and online and then another six to seven times during the course of the day is its most successful item. “The Today Special” drums up an annual volume of $400 million.
Meantime, Duke — who’s been getting requests from actresses to design gowns for the Oscars — is still heavily courting his couture customer. He plans to show his fall 2001 couture line in Los Angeles March 15 at the Tony Duquette estate, sponsored by DuPont Lycra. “I have such a big following out there. We plan to bring Hollywood to couture and invite actresses and the media.”