luxury retail

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Designer Departures
Image source: Vogue

In July 2015, it was announced that Alexander Wang would be leaving Balenciaga, following a short stint at the helm of the brand. The departure seemed to trigger a ripple effect: over the next few months, Raf Simons left Dior, Jonathan Saunders shuttered his label, and Alber Elbaz stepped down from his 14-year tenure as artistic director of Lanvin.

Last year marked a tumultuous time for the fashion industry, and this year looks set to be a similarly bumpy ride, with Grace Coddington’s departure from her creative director position at Vogue, and Giles Deacon calling time on his ready-to-wear label. Some designers’ reasons for leaving have been publicly outed (Deacon’s decision manifested from his desire to focus on couture; Elbaz was dismissed by Lanvin and its majority shareholder), while others have kept schtum. But in light of these recent shake-ups, one word on the lips of fashion critics, professionals and hobbyists alike is ‘burnout.’

While we do not know where Raf Simons will go next (if anywhere at all, besides the realms of his own label), we do know that he left Dior for “personal reasons” and, prior to his departure, he told Vogue International editor Susy Menkes of the “terrible agenda” that comes with holding the fort at an esteemed luxury brand. “The pressure on retailing, aggravated by online sales and the speed of the digital world, has exacerbated the situation,” said Menkes in a Vogue feature. “Then there is social media, as the voracious demands of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook eat into time and designers fight for attention and links to celebrities,” she added.

Menkes isn’t wrong. In our current, ever-connected climate, the pressure is truly on for fashion brands – as consumers are becoming increasingly fussy with their money, they’re also becoming more demanding. And it’s no wonder we feel entitled to have it all – bricks-and-mortar retailers are falling over themselves to catch up with fast-paced, discount-heavy e-tailers, and luxury brands are inching closer to figuring out which pieces of tech can help to establish relationships with customers.

We live in a world where Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s creative director, is one of fashion’s best-known designers due to his social media savvy; at the time of writing, his glossy, Kardashian-filled Instagram account boasts a cool 2.2 million followers. There’s no doubt that while technology has done fashion so much good, it has also had a detrimental knock-on effect. The ‘noise’ surrounding us may have drowned out one very important point: stress kills creativity. And fashion designers are feeling the brunt of it.

There are, no doubt, more episodes of ‘musical chairs’ in store for fashion in 2016 – this will only be resolved once the industry collectively decides to slow down. In order to innovate, designers need more time – as a WWD journalist put it: “the industry seems to have embraced warp speed as the new black”. In order to keep the conversion rate high, retailers need to put the effort into ditching gimmickry, and finding out what the modern consumer really wants from a shopping experience.

Reported by Grace Howard


“In the fashion world, it’s often luxury designers that set the trends, so it’s no surprise that luxury brands and retailers are leading the mobile marketing way, creating unique digital experiences. Here are 5 ways luxury brands are setting mobile commerce trends.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  Luxury Brands x Mobile Commerce

“When Aslaug Magnusdottir cofounded the luxury fashion e-retailer Moda Operandi in 2010, the timing was perfect. Even though Net a Porter—another full-price fashion e-retailer with a decade’s head start on Moda—was gaining traction, Magnusdottir says the luxury customer was still being underserved online.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  Moda Operandi

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - JL FOUND
Image source: John Lewis FOUND

This week has seen some of the UK’s most traditional retail institutions throw their hats into the in-store technology ring. At 131-year-old retailer Jaeger, CIO Cathy McCabe promised a front-to-back IT revolution in stores – including kitting out staff with iPads to enable them to take payments from customers anywhere on the shop floor. Meanwhile in Birmingham, John Lewis will be trialling a new lifestyle store concept called Found. It will curate lifestyle collections across fashion, homeware and technology – aiming to bring a younger, more stylish audience into stores with a targeted lifestyle ‘edit’.

By making in-store technology their chosen driver for change, both retailers are clearly attempting to get beyond gimmicks in favour of bigger profits. But can the latest in-store tech really drive sales? This question (alongside many others) will be posed at our NYC Summit on 28-29 October, where a dedicated panel will debate how we can optimise in-store tech to create retail concepts of the future.

The matter of whether it can be a true revenue driver has been on many minds at bricks-and-mortar stores in the past year. The most famous investors in this space in the luxury fashion market have been big-name brands like Burberry, Kate Spade and Karl Lagerfeld. The latter, for instance, has deployed in-store tech in all its outlets, such as iPad minis integrated into display racks and fitting rooms equipped with fun photobooths – you can even add a Karl-inspired filter and share on social media.

Start-ups getting in on the action include Perch, an experiential media technology that makes physical displays more immersive – in other words, the display table becomes an interactive digital screen. According to Mary Beech, CMO at Kate Spade, there’s a higher sell-through for products on Perch tables. Other brands that have partnered with Perch include Levi’s, Nordstrom and Estee Lauder.

But there’s also evidence that certain customers feel overwhelmed by the presence of too much technology in their real-life shopping trips. While facial recognition tech could be employed to give individuals more age-appropriate beauty recommendations, for instance, 68% of UK shoppers would find that “creepy” (source: RichRelevance). But that’s no reason not to experiment. The future for more easily digestible in-store technology could lie in lifestyle concepts within larger retail institutions, such as John Lewis’s new Found space.

Retailers’ best bet may be to take cues from lifestyle e-tailers like Warby Parker and Bonobos – stores that, in their model for using technology to create a better fit and lower price for customers, have been huge e-commerce successes. Moreover, both brands have now been able to open physical spaces directly informed by the shopping patterns of a younger customer, rather than trying to anticipate their desires with a random selection of technology gimmicks. Either way, in-store technology is a space that’s bound to make for some trial-and-error success stories in the next year.

Book your ticket for the Decoded Fashion NYC Summit here.

Reported by Claire Healy


“The couple behind luxury retailer are stepping down as joint chief executives after 27 years, in a move that may pave the way for a stock market float.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - MatchesFashion

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Ralph Lauren Hybrid Flagship
Image source: Ralph Lauren’s VIP hybrid flagship, Milan

American luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren is set to open an appointment-only concept store in Milan that will bring hospitality and retail under one roof – solidifying its stance as a full lifestyle brand. The store was conceived as a more immersive brand experience for its most premium shoppers.

Dubbed Milan Palazzo, the 11,840 sq ft flagship will open this September on high-end shopping street Via San Barnaba in the centre of the city, occupying a former private townhouse built in 1941. It will retain many of the building’s architectural features, including the original fireplaces, while the interiors will be decorated with soft furnishings and furniture from the brand’s own Home collection.

On arriving for a one-on-one consultation, guests will be invited to have lunch or drinks on the spacious terrace or in the salon area of the building. From there, staff will present a curated selection of items from the brand’s womenswear and high-end menswear Purple Label collections – and, on occasion, exclusive pieces debuted during New York Fashion Week, just days after the shows. The store will also offer a number of complimentary services including alterations, customised accessories, and made-to-measure suits for men and tailoring for women.

In a similar, albeit much less exclusive version of luxury-focused, mixed-purpose retailing, Burberry has unveiled a two-storey café in its recently extended store on London’s Regent Street. Dubbed Thomas’s in homage to the brand’s founder Thomas Burberry, the cafe operates seven days a week and focuses on British classics with an upmarket twist, such as Mersea rock oysters and lobster and chips. The space also houses a gifting area comprising the British brand’s travel, homeware and stationery lines, and a personalised monogramming service.

According to the brand’s chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, the space was conceived to let consumers “enjoy the world of Burberry in a more social environment”.

Ralph Lauren and Burberry are the latest in a growing number of luxury brands endeavouring to broaden their appeal by incorporating hospitality experiences, including British menswear brand Alfred Dunhill, Italian fashion label Roberto Cavalli and Ralph Lauren’s own café concept, Ralph’s Coffee.

Guest post by Samantha Fox

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Dior, Seoul
Image source: Dior, Seoul

In a bid to strengthen its influence in the Asian market, French luxury fashion house Dior has opened its latest flagship in Seoul’s affluent Cheongdam-dong shopping district. This will allow the brand to tap into South Korea’s $8.3bn luxury market, now ranked as the third largest luxury market in Asia behind China and Japan.

Designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc, the six-storey building – which is already becoming a local landmark thanks to its curvaceous, bright white façade – is the brand’s largest flagship in Asia to date. The elegant interiors take design cues from the brand’s iconic Montaigne flagship in Paris and mix traditionally luxurious materials such as leathers and wood with high-gloss and textural surfaces. The interiors were overseen by NY-based architect Peter Marino – the man behind the flagships of sister brand Louis Vuitton.

To enrich the in-store experience and show off all aspects of its brand personality, Dior has opted for a hybridised store concept that brings retail, hospitality and culture all under one roof. The top floor boasts the Dior Café, helmed by French pastry chef Pierre Hermé, while the lower floors feature a Palace of Versailles-inspired VIP lounge and a gallery, as well as housing the brand’s full collection of products including bags, shoes, watches, jewellery and ready-to-wear. A separate menswear department is located in the basement.

The launch is accompanied by an exhibition at Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza dubbed Esprit Dior, which showcases Dior’s designs, both historic and current, alongside collaborations with Korean artists such as Lee Bul (who also designed a crystal, glass and aluminium installation for the Seoul flagship).

Guest post by Marta PodeszwaKatie Baron

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In the race to synthesise fashion retail and technology, the consumer can get forgotten in the fray. Retailers’ investment in technology can often feel gimmicky, whether you’re browsing the racks or clicking through a targeted advertisement. In one of Molly Young’s Critical Shopper columns for the New York Times, she visits Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo store, with its vending machine wall interface – describing the chaos that could ensue when ordering a coffee. Brands should push the boundaries when it comes to implementing technologies, but they need to address consumer needs in a useful way. In this respect, Minkoff’s adjustable dressing room lights are what will bring shoppers back.

At our London Summit, you will find a panel on this very topic – how to achieve tech in retail that goes beyond the gimmicky, and actually addresses the consumer’s needs. In today’s fast-paced retail world, being able to pick the right technology for your brand is key to delivering amazing, and long-lasting, ROI. This can mean taking a gamble on technologies that are somewhat under the radar – after all, who would have predicted the rise of in person Click & Collect as a result of online shopping? It’s just one trend that asserts the importance of Bricks & Mortar that works in tandem with digital spaces. Our panel will address all this, as well as highlight a newer technologies that is likely to make waves in an increasing number of retail stores soon: beacons technology.

On hand to discuss these emerging technologies in the retail space will be four experts who have taken interesting approaches to how they’ve incorporated technology into their omnichannel strategy. From the traditional high street-turned-digital players, we will hear from River Island’s Doug Gardner and John Lewis’s John Vary. Harvey Nichols’ multi-Channel Director Sandrine Deveaux will also be revealing how she applied her tech background to turn a London-based department store steeped in tradition into a leading online fashion destination.

Catch the panel discussion on 20 May to discover how our experts believe fashion can get a grip on technology while keeping the consumer a priority – no gimmicks allowed.
Book your ticket for the London Summit here

Reported by Claire Healy


“A theme that I’ve always been interested in is the way that the internet will reshape the luxury sector.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Luxury Shopping

Burberry's Regent St Store

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