LAS VEGAS — Project is expanding its scope.
Amidst the challenging retail environment, the men’s trade show, which takes place this week in Las Vegas, has introduced Pivot, a new area dedicated to technology solutions for fashion brands and retailers.
To mark the new section, Project hosted a panel on Monday morning moderated by Deborah Weinswig, managing director of Fung Global Retail and Technology, that attempted to offer definitive answers surrounding the question that’s top of mind for many trade show attendees: what do Millennial men want at retail?
According to panelist Nick Graham, the chief executive officer of the Nick Graham Organization, the entrepreneurial Millennial male doesn’t want to look like he works at IBM — Graham cited a 75 percent decrease in neckwear over the last 20 years. Because of this, Graham is banking on a look he calls post-prep — he likened prep to a Prius and post-prep to a Tesla — which consists of affordable pieces that make the customer feel like an individual.
“Three years ago it was all about elevated basics, but now guys want those special pieces,” said panelist Matthew Sebra, the digital style director at GQ who attributed some of this trend to NBA players who are dressing competitively.
Panelist Nelson Mui, vice president men’s fashion director at Hudson’s Bay, agreed with this sentiment.
“People are looking for differentiated product and customization,” said Mui, who said Hudson’s Bay has offered that with in-store activations that enable customers to update their pieces with patches and embellishments. For holiday, Mui said the retailer’s Lord & Taylor division will provide unique product with its “190 Ways To Shine,” initiative, which will feature exclusive pieces across all of its categories.
Lord & Taylor has also tried to speed up the process of bringing more trends to the floor with its private label that offers on-trend silhouettes at affordable prices. For example, a souvenir jacket retails for around $98.
“We are trying to create a shift and quickly respond to what the consumer is telling us because they are now the fashion director,” said Mui.
On the technology side, panelists Greg Petro, the chief executive officer and founder of analytics firm First Insight; and Karthik Sridhar, chief executive officer of Supply.AI, a technology platform that helps retailers prevent returns by using artificial intelligence, both believe that retailers and brands need to focus on minimizing mistakes.
“Because of e-commerce, the propensity to return things becomes easier and constrains brands’ cash flow,” said Sridhar. “There needs to be more focus on what people aren’t buying, which gives retailers the information they need to make better choices.”
Petro agreed and added that because it will be hard for retailers to compete with fast-fashion manufacturers, they need to hone in on things they can control by using analytics.
“Retailers need to know what consumers want out of the products and how much they want to pay for it,” said Petro. “They need to know what side of the table should we be on to get the highest return and how can we minimize the wrong.”