Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Liberty London Department Store

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People only buy expensive things once they’ve done their research online, right? Well according to new findings from research and advisory firm the Luxury Institute, wealthy shoppers still want their shopping experience to be firmly ensconced in the physical world.

As reported by Bloomberg Business, a survey of 1,600 men and women who earn at least $150,000 a year found that the majority prefer to go to shops first, browse items up-close and in person, and receive expert advice from the salesperson. The report goes against the ‘Compare the Market’ myth pervading attitudes in luxury retail – something that has led to retail brands placing less importance on the customer service shoppers receive in-store.

One place where the customer is (still) always right, however, is the traditional department store. Here’s our rundown of the department stores whose forays into new retail technologies are designed to straddle the offline and online worlds with ease – and are championing the kind of multichannel models that will keep affluent shoppers in their ideal comfort zone

Liberty, London

Department stores don’t get much more traditional than the Tudor-style enclaves of Liberty. The store was set up in 1875 with just three dedicated staff and a focus on Eastern furnishings. But fast forward to 2015, and the company has been laying the foundations for an omni-channel strategy that it says is both “functional and fun”. Always careful not to alienate its core customer – who appreciates the in-store experience and the brand’s pared-back marketing compared to its competitors – Liberty has nevertheless launched new technologies in line with how people are really shopping.

A traditional loyalty scheme has gone mobile via the Tapestry app, which adds Instagram into the equation of the usual points and perks – you can browse your favourite brands, and save an item when you see something you like into your “Tapestry.” Then, you can see where it’s located in-store. Moreover, when you want to redeem your points, in-store sales associates will scan phones as well as the usual cards. The scheme allows Liberty’s core customer base to choose whether to sync their existing loyalty card with the app, while attracting new customers through its fun take on utility and bespoke perks.

El Corte Inglés, Spain & Portugal

Founded in 1940, Spanish retail powerhouse El Corte Inglés is Europe’s biggest department store group. It is also one of the most traditional, selling luxury designer clothing alongside electronics, furniture, books, cars, real estate and food. Rather than targeting the entire business, the company is using new retail technologies to optimise particular aspects. This month, for example, it announced it will be launching a mobile shopping platform in its Portuguese market with technology company Grability, following the launch in its home market of Spain last December. Focusing on grocery shopping, the app offers El Corte Inglés customers an intuitive mobile shopping experience that, according to the company, has resulted in marked enthusiasm for the new platform and boosted sales.

Nordstrom, USA

As Lauren Sherman wrote in her report on the Great American Department Store for Fashionista in April, “the role of department stores is changing, and only those willing to recognise the need to transform will survive”. In an era of struggle, some stores are faring better at moving on from mid-20th century models than others.

Nordstrom, based in Seattle, is spending big on technology, warehouses and acquiring businesses like e-commerce site Trunk Club. At the same time, however, it is putting its reputation for great customer service to good use in the age of e-commerce. It takes risks with brands rather than veering towards the conservative, and ex-Opening Ceremony hire Olivia Kim creates monthly shop-in-shops, dubbed Pop-in @ Nordstrom. Schemes like this show how Nordstrom is capitalising on a younger customer’s desire for newness offline, as well as online.

Reported by Claire Healy


“Online luxury consignment site The RealReal announced this morning its largest round of financing to date with news that it has closed on $40 million in Series D funding, as the company is poised to double its $100 million in annual revenue in 2015. The round was led by Industry Ventures and included participation from new investors Greycroft Growth, Growth, and DBL Partners.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  The RealReal


When it comes to global luxury groups, it can be hard to see past the endless sparring between the industry’s biggest players, KERING and LVMH. But with the burst of digital making its presence felt from East to West, the current marketplace is more open than you might think. Today, a number of newer groups are vying for attention – and, with some big acquisitions and unique strategy under their belts, 2015 could be the year you hear less from KERING and LVMH and more from some of the following names.

First Heritage Brands Limited Paris

Headed up by Jean-Marc Loubier, First Heritage Brands is the investment arm of the Fung group which oversees shoemaker Robert Clergerie and luxury leather brand Delvaux. The aim, for the Hong Kong based Fung Group, was to invest in established European luxury houses in need of a boost – and, in tandem, to develop their international potential back home in China. First Heritage was behind the recently relaunched Sonia Rykiel, with its new artistic director and fresh look.

Cheil Industries Fashion Division Seoul

Seoul-based Cheil Industries might have a domestic focus, but that’s no reason to underestimate this leading investor. At the helm is Lee Seo-Hyun, the daughter of Samsung’s chairman and powerful, Parsons school-educated businesswoman in her own right. South Korean brands to watch under the Cheil umbrella include Juun J, Beanpole and 8 Seconds, while the recently acquired Italian crocodile handbag house Colombo Via Della Spiga demonstrates the group’s international ambitions.


Famous for its portfolio of iconic British luxury brands, Labelux was integrated into the JAB Holding Company in July 2014. Originally founded in 2007, the progressive group boasts well-known lifestyle brands rooted in leather goods and accessories – think Jimmy Choo, Bally, Belstaff and Zagliani.

Come May, Labelux Group Multichannel Director Harriet Williams and Bally’s Global eCommerce Director, Kirsty Garrish will be speaking at our London Summit about omnichannel strategy – to find out how seamlessly blur digital and retail, catch their talk on the 20th.

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The homepage, according to popular belief, died sometime in the summer of 2014.

At its funeral, the bell that tolled most deafeningly was the leaked New York Times innovation report: homepage traffic had fallen by a whopping 50% in recent years. But its not just news brands that have hastened to alternative traffic sources; fashion brands informed that user engagement now occurs predominantly through “side doors”, and have flocked to maintain an omni-social approach: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest are supposedly the only platforms their customers care about.

Right? Wrong – at least when it comes to luxury fashion retail. In fact, a rising trend of customers “researching online, purchasing offline” – dubbed ROPO – is clear to see in customer engagement with luxury labels (emphasis on the ‘customer’, rather than the ‘user’). Whilst some fans may view the latest runway shows and lookbooks by indirect means, those who actually intend to buy, say, a Dior handbag, will want to research the brand ethos and product specifications thoroughly. Moreover, whilst he or she is there, they are likely to follow through with the purchase in one of two ways: within the same e-commerce destination, or in-store at a local retailor. Either way, a good-looking, intuitive homepage is key.

There is evidence to suggest that some established luxury brands, too quick to offload engagement paths to their social media channels, are falling behind when it comes to their own stand-alone site and e-commerce platform. In the sixth annual iteration of L2’s Fashion Digital IQ Index, released last month, 90 leading fashion labels have been assessed for their Digital IQ: a combination of not only their digital marketing on mobile and social media, but, crucially their own sites. Burberry, long a forerunner in the digitized retail stakes, is seen to fall to sixth place in the ranking, behind brands like Coach, Gucci and Tory Burch. This might not be so surprising, looking at the brand’s mobile platform, in an ironic twist, feels older and less up-to-date simply because they got there first.

Alternatively, sites like Gucci and Coach are one-step ahead because their back-end digital optimization precisely suits the ROPO model: customers can order online and pick up in store, and the in-house digital system knows both what inventory is there and when and where it is needed. Digital interaction and technical competence shouldn’t just mean relying on NET-A-PORTER: when it comes to luxury purchasing, a strong, defined environment in which customers can research (and fall in love) with their investments is essential to maintaining brand loyalty – as well as driving sales, even in the real world.

Reported by: Claire Healy


“Christian Louboutin is turning to its fiercely active social following — 3.5 million fans on Instagram alone — to help populate its Web site. With the help of Olapic, the three-year-old tech startup that helps brands use images and videos from social media to boost sales, Louboutin will unveil its first user-generated gallery online, #LouboutinWorld.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Christian Louboutin #Louboutinworld

“Coach Inc will buy women’s luxury footwear company Stuart Weitzman Holdings LLC, as it looks to expand its high-end offerings to better compete with rivals such as Michael Kors Holdings Ltd and Kate Spade & Co.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Coach

“Dior’s Tokyo pre-fall event represents an emerging strategy by the great Parisian fashion houses to retain status by detaching themselves from the decline of France, and reposition themselves as global brands.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Christian Dior in Tokyo

“‘It’s a way to make a first step into a new territory that is more than a pop-up for a few months,’ Guillaume Davin, Moynat chief executive officer, said to WWD in an interview. ‘They’re small, but we try to tell the story about the history and our savoir faire.'”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Moynat

“Fashion marketplace Poshmark, which lets women shop for items sold from others’ closets, is now able to authenticate the purchases of luxury goods through a new service it’s calling “Posh Concierge.” The addition puts the previously peer-to-peer marketplace on a more even playing field with regard to competitors in the luxury goods/high fashion resale space like The RealReal, thredUP, Twice and others.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Poshmark

Seafolly announced a “new partnership […] with L Capital, the Asian private equity fund sponsored by LVMH, which has acquired a majority stake in the brand. The financial terms of the arrangement were not released; however, Seafolly’s CEO, Anthony Halas, says the deal was 12 months in the making.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Seafolly
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