What Does Luxury E-Tail Look Like?

The New York Times: “High-end e-commerce remains a bright spot in the shopping landscape: flooded with more cash than ever before and with bubblelike sky-high valuations to boot. It’s a world dominated by two behemoth competitors … Yoox Net-a-Porter, the largest luxury e-tailer by sales, is one of them. It owns the e-tailers Net-a-Porter, the Outnet, Mr Porter and Yoox; it also operates the e-commerce sites for over 30 luxury brands including Stella McCartney, Dolce & Gabbana and Chloé.”

“Farfetch, the other big name, is an online marketplace for 500 independent luxury boutiques and 200 brands as well as the owner of the bricks-and-mortar store Browns in London … Little wonder that during the past year barely a month went by without Yoox Net-a-Porter or Farfetch unveiling a snazzy new strategy or service in a thinly veiled bid to outmaneuver the other. In April, for example, Yoox Net-a-Porter introduced ‘You Try, We Wait’: a same-day try-on-and-wait premium delivery service with at-home shopping consultations. Six days later, Farfetch started a ‘store-to-door service’ in 90 minutes with Gucci in 10 cities worldwide.”

“Then Farfetch revealed a suite of technologies based on responding to consumers in the ‘Store of the Future.’ Yoox Net-a-Porter promptly responded with ‘Next Era’: a partnership with brands that debuted with Valentino giving customers access to Valentino products wherever they are, and however they want them.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What’s Next in Luxury Ecommerce?

According to The New York Times, here are three “next wave” luxury e-retailers: “Secondhand luxury (often known as the ‘recommerce market’) is fast becoming big business. The RealReal, an online marketplace that sells pre-owned and authenticated luxury items, was founded by the former Pets.com C.E.O. Julie Wainwright in 2011 and is expected to generate $500 million in revenue for 2017. It has raised $173 million in funding, and last month it opened its first store, in SoHo.”

Depop: “A mobile marketplace that says it has 350,000 active daily users, Depop has been described as “part Instagram and part eBay.” It is particularly popular with teenagers, who like the way users can personalize their digital storefronts.”

The Modist: “The so-called modest fashion market is booming, with the global Muslim clothing market forecast to be worth $368 billion by 2021, according to the latest Global Islamic Economy report. The Modist, poised to take advantage of the wave, started earlier this year.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Everlane Experiments with Community & Commerce

The Washington Post: Everlane founder Michael Preysman “has spent the past two years experimenting with different types of formats … to find the right approach for Everlane stores. One concept, called Shoe Park, required customers to take off their shoes at the door … Shoppers were encouraged to try on a pair while they grabbed coffee or sipped a cocktail. It turned out to be fun, Preysman said, but not very practical.” He adds: “We turned it into such a playground that at the end of the month, we ended up with all sorts of damaged shoes.”

“Last winter’s ‘Cashmere Cabin,’ a six-week pop-up in New York’s West Village, allowed shoppers to browse sweaters while they drank mulled wine and hot chocolate. Cozy and enjoyable, sure. But a long-term business model? No. Other experiments, which the company called open houses, were built around Everlane’s mission to be as transparent as possible. Evening events showed customers where products were sourced and how they were made but didn’t offer many items for sale. That didn’t work, either, Preysman said.”

“That just confused everybody,” he said. “We learned that while people want experiences, they also want to shop. It’s got to be a mix of both community and commerce.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Gucci Gobble: The $300 Turkey

The Wall Street Journal: “When it comes to this year’s holiday bird, New Yorkers aren’t afraid to break out their wallets. A number of gourmet markets and high-end butchers throughout the city are selling specialty turkeys for Thanksgiving that run $200-$300-plus. And in most cases, that doesn’t include sides. At Eli’s Market on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, options start at $6 per pound for a free-range, all-natural turkey, but can go as high as $11 a pound for a ‘heritage’ breed variety.”

“Purveyors of these pricey birds say they have no problem finding customers. Le Coq Rico, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District that specializes in poultry, says it has sold out of its allotment of heritage turkeys for to-go orders, priced at $280 each with sides. The restaurant is offering a variety sourced from a Kansas farm, where, according to Le Coq Rico manager Patricia Grunler Westermann, the birds have plenty of pasture to explore. The result, she says, is one tasty turkey. ‘You really feel how they live’ with every mouthful, she said.”

“Still, some food experts remain skeptical, noting that turkey isn’t very flavorful—no matter where it is sourced or how it is raised. Hence, the reason the Thanksgiving meal is so much about the side dishes. ‘Unless a turkey can get up, turn on the oven and put itself in the roasting pan, it is rarely worth much more than a dollar a pound,’ said Allen Salkin, a New York-based food writer.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Quotes of the Day: Earl Lucas

Earl Lucas, Chief Exterior Designer, Lincoln Motor Company: “I always knew I wanted to do something with design. I studied industrial design focusing on jewelry — rings, pendants and earrings — for two years at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. The college also happened to have an outstanding automobile design curriculum. After taking one class in that program, I was hooked. It turns out the principles of designing a ring are the same as designing a car.”

“I try to reflect the personality of the brand. In the case of Lincoln, our cars embody effortless luxury. We think of our car as a friend. We convey that through form, shape, color and texture. The most influential design element may be the front grille. It has to stand out but be in proportion with everything else. The centerpiece is our logo — called the Lincoln Star — which was developed in the 1950s. I have managed to tweak it a little.”

“While there’s something to be said for autonomous cars, I believe people will still want to drive. They want to be in control. They want to enjoy just taking a drive without knowing where they are going and being able to decide en route. It comes down to a bigger question: Do humans want to be part of a collective or be an individual? It’s a matter of how much freedom we want.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What’s That Smell? Eu de Holiday Inn

The Wall Street Journal: “What does a cheap hotel smell like? These days, it may be notes of jasmine mixed with wood and honeysuckle. Luxury hotels have scented lobbies, hallways and other public spaces with carefully crafted perfumes for several years to create a memorable brand image and stealthily calm guests as they arrive. Now budget chains are spritzing, too. Hotels have arguably never paid so much attention to how they smell, employing expert “noses” from leading perfume makers to entice travelers with just the right amount of sandalwood.”

“ScentAir, a Charlotte, N.C., company that develops and delivers scents for hotels and other industries, says its highest area of growth right now is in value hotels. Hotels say the scent has to fit the brand, and mixing the right fragrance is crucial to marketing. Experts say what we smell and hear can create lasting impressions stronger than visual cues. Just as favorite songs get attached to memories, so, too, can pleasing smells link a certain brand or place with happy thoughts.”

“A side benefit for hotels: Just about every brand now sells its scent in candles and other products for home use. Marriott says sales of all its scents, such as a room spritzer to add the lemony, seductive W smell to your own bathroom or bedroom, are up 35% compared with a year earlier. The Carlyle in New York, a Rosewood hotel, sells more than 2,500 bars of its scented soap each year at $6 a bar. The soap grew so popular, Carlyle now uses the scent in the lobby.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tiffany’s & The ‘Tin Can’ Gambit

The New York Times: “Since joining Tiffany & Co. in January as chief artistic officer, Reed Krakoff has undertaken to freshen the image of the 180-year-old jewelry company. His first major footprint is on the fourth-floor home and accessories floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship, where the sacred and the profane are now commingling cheerfully … Which is how the world came to know the Tiffany Tin Can (actually sterling silver and vermeil, $1,000) … (‘When panhandling before the big riot, don’t be caught without this stunning $1,000 tin can from Tiffany’s.’)”

“Mr. Krakoff’s injection of levity is not an unwelcome twist on the usual gilded or silvered theme … Old luxury: Founder’s portrait. New luxury: Founder’s portrait in Sheetrock screws and plywood … Tiffany’s entry-level dog bowls read, merely, ‘dog.’ — bone china, $125 for a small version and $175 for a large — but on display is a sterling silver option that Joan Rivers had engraved for her dog, Spike, for those inspired to go bigger ($1,800 for a small version, $2,500 for a large) … Not recommended for cat play: Tiffany’s sterling silver ball of yarn, $9,000.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Toyota Yui: Your Father the Car

The Wall Street Journal: “If you love your car, Toyota Motor Corp. thinks your car should love you back. That’s the reasoning behind the company’s artificial-intelligence project, dubbed Yui: an onboard virtual assistant that gauges your mood, indulges in personal chitchat and offers to drive if it senses you are sleepy or distracted. In one Toyota video, shown at the Tokyo Motor Show, a woman sits on a seaside cliff, talking about her father with her car. ‘He sounds like a great father,’ says Yui, in a baritone male voice. ‘You’re a bit like him,’ the woman says.”

“To be sure, rarely do futuristic vehicles at auto shows make it to the roads. But Toyota plans to start testing a car equipped with Yui on Japanese roads in 2020. In autonomous-driving mode, the seats recline and massage your back in a manner Toyota says will slow your breathing and calm you down … Toyota imagines Yui being treated like a friend or family member, with whom access to social-media accounts is shared.”

“It wants to monitor your social-media posts to know if you are obsessed with a particular band or sports team. It also wants to monitor the news, so it has potential context when you look happy or sad. Did your favorite team drop out of the playoffs? Did your favorite singer come out with a new song? … Not all car makers see people wanting a humanlike relationship with their cars … ‘I’d rather not have this, because I’m a private person,’ said Yasuko Takahashi, a 54-year-old office worker… ‘I’d rather have the cars talk to each other, instead of me,’ she said.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Gucci Cracks The Millennial Code

The Wall Street Journal: “Classic brands often blame millennials for sales downturns, but the younger generation is giving Gucci a sensational boost. This could assure the luxury goods maker years of growth, or leave it grumbling like everyone else about that fickle group … Gucci’s success comes from a new look under creative director Alessandro Michele … It draws eclectically on a wide range of colors, patterns and periods, often in the same garment. It could hardly be further removed from the classic, business-friendly vibe favored by previous top designer Frida Giannini.”

“Millennial luxury consumers value experimentation and self-expression more than their seniors … Mr. Michele seems to have hit on a brand identity that reflects this spirit. Gucci has done a good job getting the word out: The brand is very active on the digital media millennials grew up with. Last year Gucci moved to top place in research company L2’s Digital IQ index, replacing longtime leader Burberry.”

“Resonating with the consumers of the future is something many brands aspire to. There is just one snag: As big consumer groups have discovered, experimental consumers make more fickle consumers.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Threesome Tollbooth: Seclusion as Luxury

The New York Times: Threesome Tollbooth, in Brooklyn, caters “to patrons who prefer to take their cocktails in extreme seclusion. About as wide as the average human arm span, it sits inside the supply closet of a shuttered Italian restaurant. Capacity is limited to three: the bartender, you and your date.”

“’You own the space,’ said the artist N.D. Austin who opened the tiny tavern … After making a reservation, guests are asked by email to meet him — or his partner, Jesse Sheidlower, a lexicographer — outside a graffitied metal door in Bushwick. A brief walk through that door and down an alley leads inside to the supply closet. The closet, one discovers, has been transformed into a small, wood-paneled chamber — the sort of place to which a professor emeritus of English might retire to sip his Scotch and page through Keats.”

“The evening isn’t cheap: The going rate is $100 to $120 a head for about an hour of service. For that you get a menu of five or six 3-ounce mini-cocktails, bearing names like Johann Goes to Mexico; you also get the close-quarter company of your partner and your host. Mr. Sheidlower said the tightness of the Tollbooth has had interesting effects on the clientele … His favorite customers, however, are those who walk in and spontaneously burst into laughter.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail